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בּחקתי - "In My Statutes"

Weekly parashah #33: B'chukotai

  • Torah: Vayikra (Leviticus) 26:3-27:34
  • Haftarah: Yirme'yahu (Jeremiah) 16:19-17:14
  • Greek Scriptures: Luke 23-24

(In regular years read with previous parashah.
In leap years read by itself.)

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Leviticus 26:3

'If you walk in My statutes and keep My commandments so as to carry them out...

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The Hebrew Word

Chukkah (Strong's #2708) means "statute". It is used 106 times in 100 verses in the Tanakh.

First use in Scripture

The first time chukkah is used in Scripture is in Genesis 26:4-5.

Genesis 26:4-5

"I will multiply your descendants as the stars of heaven, and will give your descendants all these lands; and by your descendants all the nations of the earth shall be blessed; because Abraham obeyed Me and kept My charge, My commandments, My statutes and My laws."

 

Last use in Scripture

The last time chukkah is used in Scripture is in Micah 6:16.

Micah 6:16

"The statutes of Omri And all the works of the house of Ahab are observed; And in their devices you walk. Therefore I will give you up for destruction And your inhabitants for derision, And you will bear the reproach of My people."

 

Parashah Outline

  • Penalties of Disobedience - Leviticus 26:14
  • Rules Concerning Valuations - Leviticus 27:1

 

Portraits of Messiah

 

Verse by Verse Notes

Leviticus 26:3

Some Jewish commentators point to this verse and the phrasing that involves the offering of covenant conditions (including verse 9) as evidence of a new covenant given to the nation of Israel after they broke the original covenant in the sin of the golden calf. This, in the eyes of some, is the new covenant.

 

Leviticus 26:11

This appears to be one of only two verses in Scripture (the other is in verse 30 of this same chapter) where it is explicitly stated that G-d has a "soul" (Hebrew: nephesh). It is interesting to note that it is not the "higher soul" (neshamah) that humans have but the "lower soul". See our article on "Body, Soul, and Spirit" for more information on this.

This is the first verse in Scripture where the Hebrew verb ga'al (Strong's #1602) is used. This word is used 10 times in 9 verses in all of Scripture. Five of those instances are found in this chapter (Leviticus 26:11,15,30,43,44). It has the meaning of "loathe", "abhor", or "cast off" according to Strong's Hebrew Dictionary.

 

Leviticus 26:46

In this verse the word translated as "laws" is the plural form of torah: torot. Jewish commentators specifically point to this plural form of torah in the Torah to explain that two Torahs were given to Moshe at Mt. Sinai: the written Torah and the oral Torah.

 

Other Observations

In terms of the curses listed out in Leviticus 26 there is an apparent progression of correction and effort on G-d's part to bring His people back to the covenant and back to their G-d:

  • Step 1:
    • Appointment of sudden terror, consumption, and fever that will waste away the eyes and cause the soul to pine away (Lev 26:16)
    • Israel will sow seed uselessly because their enemies will eat up the crops (Lev 26:16)
    • G-d will set His face against his people so that they will be struck down before their enemies (Lev 26:17)
    • Those who hate Israel will rule over them (Lev 26:17)
    • Israel will flee when no one is pursuing them (Lev 26:17)
  • Step 2: "seven times more"
    • Break down Israel's pride of power (the Temple?) (Lev 26:19)
    • The sky will be like iron and their earth (the land) like bronze (Lev 26:19)
    • Israel's strength will be spent uselessly for the land will not yield its produce nor the trees their fruit (Lev 26:20)
  • Step 3: "seven times more"
    • Plague increased seven times according to their sins (Lev 26:21)
    • The beasts of the field will be set loose "which will bereave you of your children", destroy cattle and reduce their population "so that your roads lie deserted" (Lev 26:22)
  • Step 4: "with hostility...seven times more"
    • Bringing upon them a sword executing vengeance for the covenant (Lev 26:25)
    • Pestilence for those who gather in cities to escape the sword (Lev 26:25)
    • "Staff of bread" will be broken (food rationing) (Lev 26:26)
  • Step 5: "with wrathful hostility...seven times more"
    • They will eat the flesh of their sons and daughters (Lev 26:29)
    • G-d will destroy their high places and cut down their incense altars and heap their remains upon the remains of their idols (Lev 26:30)
    • G-d's "soul" nephesh will abhor (Strong's #1602) them (Lev 26:30)
    • G-d will lay waste to the cities and make their sanctuaries desolate (Lev 26:31)
    • G-d will not smell their soothing aromas (sacrifices) (Lev 26:31)
    • G-d will make the land so desolate that Israel's enemies who settle in it will be appalled (Lev 26:32)
    • Israel will be scattered among the nations and "draw out a sword" after them (Lev 26:33)
    • Those of Israel left in the nations will be weak-hearted and fearful (Lev 26:36-37)
    • Those of Israel left in the nations will rot away because of their iniquity and the iniquities of their forefathers (Lev 26:39)

 

Following all of this is the promise of redemption:

Leviticus 26:41-42

...If their uncircumcised heart becomes humbled so that they then make amends for their iniquity, then I will remember My covenant with Jacob, and I will remember also My covenant with Isaac, and My covenant with Abraham as well, and I will remember the land.

G-d indicates that He will remember the covenant promises with the forefathers rather than mentioning the covenant promises of this covenant. It is likely that Paul is pointing to this very concept in Galatians 3:17 when he states "the Law, which came 430 years later, does not invalidate a covenant previously ratified by G-d, so as to nullify the promise".

 

Torah Portion

נח (Noach)

 

 

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Today is

Yom Shabbat, 1 Cheshvan, 5778

Saturday, October 21, 2017

 

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