Commentary - Year 3 Sabbath 38

Deuteronomy 20:10 - 21:9   -   Joshua 24:1   -   Psalm 135   -   John 10:11-31


Kislev 25, 5764 / December 20, 2003

Kislev 25, 5767 / December 16, 2006  

Kislev 25, 5770 / December 12, 2009  

Tevet    2, 5773 / December 15, 2012  

Tevet    2, 5776 / December   5, 2015

Kislev 23, 5779 / December   1, 2018


Ki Tiqrav el Iyr / When You Approach a City   SCRIPTURES should be read first


Who lives, and who dies?


Yeshua said, Do not fear those who kill the body, but are unable to kill the soul; but rather fear Him (God) who is able to destroy both soul and body in hell (gehenna) (Matthew 10:28).


God makes the decisions as to when mortal life begins and when mortal life ends; He also determines who has eternal life – not after some judgment of deeds, but before one is born.


God holds all of the rights: He, who creates life, holds the right to determine when a person should be executed for a crime, and when a group of people should be killed by war because of idolatry. And, He determines who shall live eternally (John 1:12-13).

12 But as many as received Him, to them He had given the right to become children of God, even to those who believe in His name, 13 who were born not of blood (by ancestry), nor of the will of the flesh (one’s own will), nor of the will of man (convinced by another), but of God.


Psalm 135:6 “Whatever Yahweh pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps.”


Deuteronomy 20

(V.10) “When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace.” Shalom (peace) means spiritual prosperity, material prosperity, safety, health – all that is good.


The word teshuqah / desire is known for its four uses in Scripture. The four desires concern peace:

Woman will desire to rule over man (Gen 3:16), but man is to be the responsible leader of spiritual and material prosperity.

Sin will desire to rule over us (Gen 4:7), but we are to overcome it for spiritual and material prosperity.

The rains desire to flood the earth (Ps 65:10), but God restrains them for shalom.

Yeshua Sar Shalom – the Prince of Peace (Isaiah 9:6), desires his bride (Sol 7:10) for spiritual and material prosperity for her. Note that this is the only one that is a right desire: the others are to be overcome.


If the idolatrous city does not accept the terms of peace, then:

(1) if it is a distant city, only the men are to be killed, as they are supposed to be leading in truth;

(2) if it is a nearby city, it is to be completely destroyed, so as not to bring idolatry to God’s land.


(V.19-20) When gentiles go to war, they freely cut down trees, being unsure of victory. When Israel goes to war, it should expect to eat of the trees, because of certain victory.


Today we hear about Israel bulldozing olive tree plantations belonging to Arabs; but that is only where terrorists are using the trees for cover to fire at Israelites.


The USA tries to minimize damage to the infrastructure when they attack another country: that helps in their rebuilding efforts after the war. They even have a nuclear bomb – called a neutron bomb – that kills people but does not destroy the buildings.


Yeshua gave a similar instruction to His apostles: “And into whatever city or village you enter, inquire who is worthy in it; and abide there until you go away. And as you enter the house, give it your greeting. And if the house is worthy, let your greeting of peace (Gr. eirene = Heb. shalom) come upon it; but if it is not worthy, let your greeting of peace return to you. And whoever does not receive you, nor heed your words, as you go out of that house or that city, shake off the dust of your feet. Truly I say to you, it will be more tolerable for the land of Sodom and Gomorrah in the day of judgment, than for that city.” (Matthew 10:11-15).

John 10:11-31

It was Hanukkah – the Feast of Dedication (v.22), and Yeshua was walking in the Temple. The week’s Temple and Synagogue services may have been at this third-year point in the Triennial Cycle, concerning life and death: Yeshua was speaking of this topic.


This apparently (see www.messianic.ws/hanukkah.htm) was the season of His conception, when His temple was dedicated through an angel (Luke 1:30-33). He was conceived, and born nine months later at the Feast of Tabernacles (John 1:14 – The Word became flesh, and tabernacled among us), for this purpose: to lay down His own life for “the sheep”.


Others die from reasons outside of their control – disease, accident, or by death inflicted by others, including execution and war. But, Yeshua willingly laid down His own life, and took it up again! And while others die the common death of sinners, Yeshua, being righteous, gave His life as a ransom for others to be accounted righteous – and thus receive eternal life.


Yeshua said, “I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand” (v.28-29). And these sheep, whom Yeshua gave His life to ransom (v.15), who can never perish (because they {present-tense} have eternal life), also hear His voice, and He knows them, and they follow Him (v.27). Those, who do not follow Him, are unbelievers because they “are not of My sheep” (v.26).


So, if we really believe, then we follow Him, all because we are His sheep!


When we come into difficult circumstances in life, we should “fight” against whatever would lead us into idolatry, without destroying those things that will bring good fruit in our lives.


Deuteronomy 21:

When a person was found murdered, and there were no witnesses

(witnesses are required to testify to the judges: “forgive and forget” is not allowed),

then the elders must go to the nearest city, and take a heifer down into a valley

(out of sight, representing the murder being out of sight of witnesses)

and break its neck. Then the priests shall say (v.7-8), “Our hands have not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it. (“We have purged the land of every known murderer.” If the court had knowledge of the killer, they would have properly judged him.) Forgive Thy people Israel whom Thou hast redeemed, O Yahweh, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Thy people Israel.


We are required to cleanse our own lives of sin, and to work to help others cleanse their lives of sin. As we saw last week, concerning “an eye for an eye and a tooth for a tooth” (Deuteronomy 19:16-21), we may not seek personal retribution, but neither may we ignore injurious acts which we witness: we must seek the sinner’s repentance or judgment, lest he meet the judgment that is worse than Sodom and Gomorrah’s.


"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who chose us from among all peoples by giving us Your Torah.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."


Reader 1* Amen 10 "When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall offer it terms of peace. 11 "And it shall come about, if it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then it shall be that all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. 12 "However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 "When Yahweh your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the men in it with the edge of the sword. 14 "Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which Yahweh your God has given you. 15 "Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations nearby.


Reader 2* Amen 16 "Only in the cities of these peoples that Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 "But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as Yahweh your God has commanded you, 18 in order that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against Yahweh your God. 19 "When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you? 20 "Only the trees which you know are not fruit-bearing trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.


Reader 3* Amen 21:1 "If a slain person is found lying in the open country in the land which Yahweh your God gives you to possess, and it is not known who has struck him, 2 then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance to the cities which are around the slain one. 3 "And it shall be that the city which is nearest to the slain man, that is, the elders of that city, shall take a heifer of the herd, which has not been worked and which has not pulled in a yoke; 4 and the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which has not been plowed or sown, and shall break the heifer's neck there in the valley. 5 "Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for Yahweh your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the name of Yahweh; and every dispute and every assault shall be settled by them. 6 "And all the elders of that city which is nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley; 7 and they shall answer and say, 'Our hands have not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it. 8 'Forgive Thy people Israel whom Thou hast redeemed, O Yahweh, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Thy people Israel.' And the bloodguiltiness shall be forgiven them. 9 "So you shall remove the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the eyes of Yahweh.


"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who in giving us Yeshua, the Living Torah, has planted everlasting life in our midst.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, giver of the Torah."


"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Who selected good prophets, delighting in their words which were spoken truthfully.

Blessed are You, Yahweh, Who chose the Torah, Your servant Moses, Your people Israel,

and the prophets of truth and righteousness."


Joshua 24:1

Then Joshua gathered all the tribes of Israel to Shechem, and called for the elders of Israel and for their heads and their judges and their officers; and they presented themselves before God.


Psalm 135

1 Praise Yahweh! Praise the name of Yahweh; Praise Him, O servants of Yahweh, 2 you who stand in the house of Yahweh, in the courts of the house of our God! 3 Praise Yahweh, for Yahweh is good; sing praises to His name, for it is lovely. 4 For Yahweh has chosen Jacob for Himself, Israel for His own possession. 5 For I know that Yahweh is great, and that our Yahweh is above all gods. 6 Whatever Yahweh pleases, He does, in heaven and in earth, in the seas and in all deeps. 7 He causes the vapors to ascend from the ends of the earth; Who makes lightnings for the rain; Who brings forth the wind from His treasuries. 8 He smote the first-born of Egypt, both of man and beast. 9 He sent signs and wonders into your midst, O Egypt, upon Pharaoh and all his servants. 10 He smote many nations, and slew mighty kings, 11 Sihon, king of the Amorites, and Og, king of Bashan, and all the kingdoms of Canaan; 12 And He gave their land as a heritage, a heritage to Israel His people. 13 Thy name, O Yahweh, is everlasting, Thy remembrance, O Yahweh, throughout all generations. 14 For Yahweh will judge His people, and will have compassion on His servants. 15 The idols of the nations are but silver and gold, the work of man's hands. 16 They have mouths, but they do not speak; they have eyes, but they do not see; 17 They have ears, but they do not hear; nor is there any breath at all in their mouths. 18 Those who make them will be like them, yes, everyone who trusts in them. 19 O house of Israel, bless Yahweh; O house of Aaron, bless Yahweh; 20 O house of Levi, bless Yahweh; you who revere Yahweh, bless Yahweh. 21 Blessed be Yahweh from Zion, Who dwells in Jerusalem. Praise Yahweh!


John 10:11-31

11 "I am the good shepherd; the good shepherd lays down His life for the sheep. 12 "He who is a hireling, and not a shepherd, who is not the owner of the sheep, beholds the wolf coming, and leaves the sheep, and flees, and the wolf snatches them, and scatters them. 13 "He flees because he is a hireling, and is not concerned about the sheep. 14 "I am the good shepherd; and I know My own, and My own know Me, 15 even as the Father knows Me and I know the Father; and I lay down My life for the sheep. 16 "And I have other sheep, which are not of this fold; I must bring them also, and they shall hear My voice; and they shall become one flock with one shepherd. 17 "For this reason the Father loves Me, because I lay down My life that I may take it again. 18 "No one has taken it away from Me, but I lay it down on My own initiative. I have authority to lay it down, and I have authority to take it up again. This commandment I received from My Father." 19 There arose a division again among the Jews because of these words. 20 And many of them were saying, "He has a demon and is insane. Why do you listen to Him?" 21 Others were saying, "These are not the sayings of one demon-possessed. A demon cannot open the eyes of the blind, can he?" 22 At that time the Feast of the Dedication took place at Jerusalem; 23 it was winter, and Yeshua was walking in the temple in the portico of Solomon. 24 The Jews therefore gathered around Him, and were saying to Him, "How long will You keep us in suspense? If You are the Messiah, tell us plainly." 25 Yeshua answered them, "I told you, and you do not believe; the works that I do in My Father's name, these bear witness of Me. 26 "But you do not believe, because you are not of My sheep. 27 "My sheep hear My voice, and I know them, and they follow Me; 28 and I give eternal life to them, and they shall never perish; and no one shall snatch them out of My hand. 29 "My Father, who has given them to Me, is greater than all; and no one is able to snatch them out of the Father's hand. 30 "I and the Father are one." 31 The Jews took up stones again to stone Him.


"Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, King of the Universe,

Rock of Ages, righteous throughout all generations.

You are the faithful God, promising and then performing, speaking and then fulfilling,

for all Your words are true and righteous.

Faithful are You, Yahweh our God, and faithful are Your words,

for no word of Yours shall remain unfulfilled;

You are a faithful and merciful God and King.

Blessed are You, Yahweh our God, Who are faithful in fulfilling all Your words."

© 2003  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)