Commentary - Year 3 Sabbath 42

Deuteronomy 23:21 - 24:18   -   Isaiah 19:1-25   -   Psalm 139   -   Matthew 5:30-37

              Hebrew Bibles = Deut 23:22 - 24:18


Tevet 23, 5764 / January 17, 2004

Tevet 23, 5767 / January 13, 2007

Tevet 23, 5770 / January   9, 2010

Tevet 23, 5773 / January   5, 2013

Tevet 21, 5776 / January   2, 2016


Ki-chidor neder  / When You Make a Vow   SCRIPTURES should be read first


Today’s Psalm sets the tone for the Torah portion: (Psalm 139) “1O Yahweh, You have searched me and known me. 2 You know when I sit down and when I rise up; You understand my thought from afar. 3 You scrutinize my path and my lying down, and are intimately acquainted with all my ways. 4 Even before there is a word on my tongue, behold, O Yahweh, You know it all. 5 You have enclosed me behind and before, and laid Your hand upon me. 6 Such knowledge is too wonderful for me; it is too high, I cannot attain to it.


Deuteronomy 23:21-23

Remembering that God knows our words before we say them, (v.21) “When you make a vow to Yahweh your God, you shall not delay to pay it”, and (v.23) “You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips”.


Some first-century rabbis took the Torah to require fulfillment only of oaths to Yahweh, stating His name: vain oaths were inconsequential. Rabbi Aben Ezra and Rabbi David Kimchi said, “He that swears by the heavens and by the earth, and by the sun, and the like, though his intention is nothing less than to Him that created them, this is no oath” [Gill’s Commentary: Matthew 5:33].


Yeshua’s words, “But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven . . . etc.” (Matthew 5:33) are not to be taken as contradictory to Torah, Psalms, and Prophets, which require oaths to Yahweh, but should be seen as referring to vain oaths.

Of required vows to Yahweh:

(Numbers 6:21) “This is the law of the Nazirite, who vows his offering to Yahweh.

(Psalm 76:11) “Make vows to Yahweh your God and fulfill them.

(Jeremiah 12:16) “Then it will come about that if they will really learn the ways of My people, to swear by My name, ‘As Yahweh lives,’ . . . then they will be built up in the midst of My people.

 (Isaiah 19:20-21) “And it will become a sign and a witness to Yahweh of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to Yahweh because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. Thus Yahweh will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know Yahweh in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to Yahweh and perform it.

(Proverbs 20:25) “It is a snare for a man to say rashly, ‘It is holy!’ And after the vows to make inquiry.” In other words, after vowing to dedicate something to God, one should not afterwards reconsider.


(Hebrews 6:16) “For men swear by one greater than themselves, and with them an oath given as confirmation is an end of every dispute.

Of vain oaths:

(Matthew 5:36) “Let your statement be, 'Yes, yes' or 'No, no'; and anything beyond these is of the evil one.

(James 5:12) “But above all, my brethren, do not swear, either by heaven or by earth or with any other oath; but let your yes be yes, and your no, no; so that you may not fall under judgment.


Deuteronomy 23:24-25

A laborer in the harvest may eat of the harvest:

(1 Timothy 5:18) “For the Scripture says, ‘You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing,’ and ‘The laborer is worthy of his wages’ ”,

but he may not take anything home or sell any to others.


Deuteronomy 24:1-4

Biblically, divorce generally applies to a man divorcing a betrothed wife, only up to the time the marriage is consummated, and only for specific reasons. An exception is when a marriage was between disallowed parties, then divorce was required.


Two weeks ago we covered the subject of death being required for fornication and divorce being allowed for lack of virginity: today’s text is actually the basis for such divorce. We looked at the case of Joseph and Mary, where Joseph considered divorcing Mary, because she was found with child when they were betrothed.


Today we see the additional rule: a man who divorces his (betrothed) wife, and she subsequently marries another man who then dies – the first man may not take her back to be his wife.


Deuteronomy 24:6, 10-15, 17-18

Today, in this country, we have laws limiting what a creditor can take. A creditor cannot take more than one-half of a person’s wages by garnishment. Also, a debtor has to be left with basic housing and transportation, though luxurious houses or vehicles may not be allowed.


(V.10) This passage is about a debtor who is overdue in repaying, such that the creditor may require him to appear before the court. The dignity of the debtor may not be damaged by the creditor or agent of the court entering the debtor’s house to seek security. And, any security offered must not be kept so long as to endanger the debtor’s living.


For a poor man, three kinds of items must be returned when they are needed: clothing for the day, bedding for the night, and anything needed for the debtor’s livelihood; one kind may be exchanged for another by day and night.


Even if the debtor does not show appreciation, God will bless the creditor who acts righteously.


When a servant is poor and needy, his employer must not take advantage of the situation. His wages are to be paid at the end of each work day, because it is needed.


(V.17) This paragraph stresses being kind and fair to the vulnerable – aliens, orphans, and widows. We are to remember that we were delivered by God’s grace, and that we are stewards of all that God has given us to control.


Deuteronomy 24:7

We have recently seen other Scriptures where God establishes capital punishment to “purge evil from among you”. Here it is for kidnapping that incorporates violence or slavery. While every precaution needs to be taken to ensure that a guilty verdict is proper, it is not left to our discretion to determine life or death: God holds all of the rights, and He has decreed capital punishment for certain crimes.


Deuteronomy 24:8-9

Being “careful against an infection of tzaraat” represents being careful against slandering others. (Tzaraat is commonly mistranslated ‘leprosy’; it is a skin disease given to a slanderer – see commentaries Y2-33 and Y2-34.) As we started with warnings about vain oaths, we are coming to a conclusion with warnings about slander.


Deuteronomy 24:16

Tyrants punish by wiping out families of rebels. In a court, we are not to judge a person for the crimes of his father or son, but only for one’s own sins. This is not a contradiction of Exodus 20:5 – “For I, Yahweh your God, am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, on the third and the fourth generations of those who hate Me”; the latter has to do with learned or copied behavior, not imputing one’s sins to another.


We have been purchased with a great price; we are to be overcomers. Salvation is not about being free to do whatever we imagine feels good: it is about overcoming, then we will feel good about doing what God designed for us.


(Psalm 139:23-24) “Search me, O God, and know my heart; try me and know my anxious thoughts; 24 and see if there be any hurtful way in me, and lead me in the everlasting way.


"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. 21 "When you make a vow to Yahweh your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and Yahweh your God will surely require it of you. 22 "However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23 "You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to Yahweh your God, what you have promised.

Reader 2* Amen.  24 "When you enter your neighbor's vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket. 25 "When you enter your neighbor's standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor's standing grain.

Reader 3* Amen. 24:1 "When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house, 2 and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife, 3 and if the latter husband turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, 4 then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before Yahweh, and you shall not bring sin on the land which Yahweh your God gives you as an inheritance.

Reader 4* Amen. 5 "When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken. 6 "No one shall take a handmill or an upper millstone in pledge, for he would be taking a life in pledge. 7 "If a man is caught kidnapping any of his countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.

Reader 5* Amen. 8 "Be careful against an infection of leprosy, that you diligently observe and do according to all that the Levitical priests teach you; as I have commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. 9 "Remember what Yahweh your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.

Reader 6* Amen. 10 "When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not enter his house to take his pledge. 11 "You shall remain outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. 12 "If he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. 13 "When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before Yahweh your God. 14 "You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. 15 "You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to Yahweh and it become sin in you.

Reader 7* Amen. 16 "Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin. 17 "You shall not pervert the justice due an alien or an orphan, nor take a widow's garment in pledge. 18 "But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that Yahweh your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.


"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."


Isaiah 19

Reader 8* Amen. 1 The oracle concerning Egypt. Behold, Yahweh is riding on a swift cloud and is about to come to Egypt; the idols of Egypt will tremble at His presence, and the heart of the Egyptians will melt within them. 2 "So I will incite Egyptians against Egyptians; and they will each fight against his brother and each against his neighbor, city against city and kingdom against kingdom. 3 "Then the spirit of the Egyptians will be demoralized within them; and I will confound their strategy, so that they will resort to idols and ghosts of the dead and to mediums and spiritists. 4 "Moreover, I will deliver the Egyptians into the hand of a cruel master, and a mighty king will rule over them," declares Lord Yahweh of hosts.

Reader 9* Amen. 5 The waters from the sea will dry up, and the river will be parched and dry. 6 The canals will emit a stench, the streams of Egypt will thin out and dry up; the reeds and rushes will rot away. 7 The bulrushes by the Nile, by the edge of the Nile and all the sown fields by the Nile will become dry, be driven away, and be no more. 8 And the fishermen will lament, and all those who cast a line into the Nile will mourn, and those who spread nets on the waters will pine away. 9 Moreover, the manufacturers of linen made from combed flax and the weavers of white cloth will be utterly dejected. 10 And the pillars of Egypt will be crushed; all the hired laborers will be grieved in soul.

Reader 10* Amen. 11 The princes of Zoan are mere fools; the advice of Pharaoh's wisest advisers has become stupid. How can you men say to Pharaoh, "I am a son of the wise, a son of ancient kings "? 12 Well then, where are your wise men? Please let them tell you, and let them understand what Yahweh of hosts has purposed against Egypt. 13 The princes of Zoan have acted foolishly, the princes of Memphis are deluded; those who are the cornerstone of her tribes have led Egypt astray. 14 Yahweh has mixed within her a spirit of distortion; they have led Egypt astray in all that it does, as a drunken man staggers in his vomit. 15 There will be no work for Egypt which its head or tail, its palm branch or bulrush, may do. 16 In that day the Egyptians will become like women, and they will tremble and be in dread because of the waving of the hand of Yahweh of hosts, which He is going to wave over them. 17 The land of Judah will become a terror to Egypt; everyone to whom it is mentioned will be in dread of it, because of the purpose of Yahweh of hosts which He is purposing against them.

Reader 11* Amen. 18 In that day five cities in the land of Egypt will be speaking the language of Canaan and swearing allegiance to Yahweh of hosts; one will be called the City of Destruction. 19 In that day there will be an altar to Yahweh in the midst of the land of Egypt, and a pillar to Yahweh near its border. 20 It will become a sign and a witness to Yahweh of hosts in the land of Egypt; for they will cry to Yahweh because of oppressors, and He will send them a Savior and a Champion, and He will deliver them. 21 Thus Yahweh will make Himself known to Egypt, and the Egyptians will know Yahweh in that day. They will even worship with sacrifice and offering, and will make a vow to Yahweh and perform it. 22 Yahweh will strike Egypt, striking but healing; so they will return to Yahweh, and He will respond to them and will heal them. 23 In that day there will be a highway from Egypt to Assyria, and the Assyrians will come into Egypt and the Egyptians into Assyria, and the Egyptians will worship with the Assyrians. 24 In that day Israel will be the third party with Egypt and Assyria, a blessing in the midst of the earth, 25 whom Yahweh of hosts has blessed, saying, "Blessed is Egypt My people, and Assyria the work of My hands, and Israel My inheritance."


Psalm 139   (To be sung.)   For the choir director. A Psalm of David.


1.  Yahweh you searched me, and have known

My rising and my sitting down;

And from afar you know so well

The very thoughts that in me dwell.


2.  You know all the ways I plan,

My path, and lying down, You scan;

For in my tongue no word can be,

But, lo, Yahweh, ‘tis known to Thee.


3.  Behind and before me do You stand

And lay on me Your mighty hand;

Such knowledge is for me too strange

And high beyond my utmost range.


4.  Where from Your Spirit shall I flee,

Or from Your presence hidden be?

In heav’n You are, if there I fly,

In death’s abode, if there I lie.


5.  If I the wings of morning take

And utmost sea my dwelling make,

E’en there Your hand shall guide my way,

And Your right hand shall be my stay.


6.  If I say “Darkness covers me,”

The darkness hides me not from Thee.

To You both night and day are bright;

The darkness shines, as does the light.


7.  My inward parts were formed by Thee;

You from my birth have covered me;

And I Your praises will proclaim,

For strange and wondrous is my frame.


8.  Your wondrous works I surely know;

When as in depths of earth below

My frame in secret was first made.

T’was all before Your eyes displayed.


9.  My unformed substance You did see;

The days that were ordained for me

Were written in Your book, each one,

When as of them there yet was none.


10.  Your thoughts, O God, to me are dear;

How great their sum! They more appear

In number than the sand to me.

When I awake, I’m still with Thee.


11.  The wicked You will slay, O God;

Depart from me, you men of blood.

They speak of You in words profane,

The foes who take Your Name in vain.


12.  Do not I hate Your foes, O Lord?

And Your assailants hold abhorred?

I truly hate all foes of Thine;

I count them enemies of mine.


13.  Search me, O God, my heart discern;

And try me, every thought to learn,

And see if any sin holds sway.

Lead in the everlasting way.


Matthew 5:30-37

Reader 12* Amen. 30 "If your right hand makes you stumble, cut it off and throw it from you; for it is better for you to lose one of the parts of your body, than for your whole body to go into hell. 31 "It was said, Whoever sends his wife away, let him give her a certificate of divorce; 32 but I say to you that everyone who divorces his wife, except for the reason of unchastity, makes her commit adultery; and whoever marries a divorced woman commits adultery.

Reader 13* Amen. 33 "Again, you have heard that the ancients were told, You shall not make false vows, but shall fulfill your vows to the Lord.' 34 "But I say to you, make no oath at all, either by heaven, for it is the throne of God, 35 or by the earth, for it is the footstool of His feet, or by Jerusalem, for it is the City of the Great King. 36 "Nor shall you make an oath by your head, for you cannot make one hair white or black. 37 "But let your statement be, 'Yes, yes ' or 'No, no'; anything beyond these is of evil.


"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."

© 2004  Beikvot HaMashiach
(Followers of the Messiah)