Ekev / As A Result Of
Ancient Greece was a visual culture, a culture of art, architecture, theatre and spectacle. For the Greeks knowing was a form of seeing. Judaism, and to be a Hebrew is a non-visual culture. We worship a God who cannot be seen; and making sacred images is absolutely forbidden. In our walk we do not see God; we hear God. Knowing is a form of listening.
This parsha begins with ‘Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers…’ Deuteronomy 7:12. The verb is sh-m-a. It occurred in last week’s parsha in the most famous line of the Torah ‘Shema Yisrael’. In Deuteronomy 11:13 it occurs as the second paragraph of the Shema, “It shall be if you surely listen shamoa tishme’u. In fact, this verb appears more than 92 times in Devarim as a whole. Sh-m-a can also mean to ‘understand’. One has to listen and hear to understand. God wants us to understand the Torah. He wants us to understand Him. He wants us to listen, to reflect, to seek to understand, and respond. He wants us to become a listening people and to be doers of the word as James 1:22 reiterates.
The notion that knowing is seeing is the dominant theology in our culture today. We speak of insight, foresight, and hindsight. We offer an observation. We adopt a perspective. We illustrate and illuminate. We shed light on an issue and when we understand something, we say, “I see.”
But we are to have faith in a God we cannot see, we are commanded to listen.
Often, shema is translated into obey. But there is no exact Hebrew words that translates into obey. The word that is most used is shema.
In Ekev, we are told many times to not forget God and His statutes. Deuteronomy 8:11 ‘Beware that you do not forget the Lord your God by not keeping His commandments, His judgments, and His statutes which I command you today.’ Deuteronomy 8:19 ‘Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish.’
If we don’t listen to what God is saying, and if we do not keep His statutes and commandments, we will forget.
Ekiev/As A Result Of
Ekiev is an unusual word to translate into English. It can mean as a result of, because, if and consequences. It can also be translated as on the heels of, or footprints. This makes sense because last week’s parsha we read about the Shema – to hear and to listen! This parsha continues with ‘because you listened…’
“Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. 13 And He will love you and bless you and multiply you; He will also bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your land, your grain and your new wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the offspring of your flock, in the land of which He swore to your fathers to give you. 14 You shall be blessed above all peoples; there shall not be a male or female barren among you or among your livestock. 15 And the Lord will take away from you all sickness, and will afflict you with none of the terrible diseases of Egypt which you have known, but will lay them on all those who hate you. 16 Also you shall destroy all the peoples whom the Lord your God delivers over to you; your eye shall have no pity on them; nor shall you serve their gods, for that will be a snare to you.” Deuteronomy 7:12-16.
Our own desires will be our snares, ‘But each person is tempted when he is lured and enticed by his own desire.’ James 1:14. This becomes a trap that we actually set for ourselves.
Ekiev is a call from Adonai to us. Can we answer to this call? To do so, we have to admit that other gods are a snare to us. The blessings are a consequence for obeying Adonai, our obedience because we love Him. It is not our salvation, but rather a redeemed life.
It is when we allow the ‘snare of serving other gods’ to captivate us, that the blessings turn to curses. In Deuteronomy 9, Moshe is reminding the people of their hardened hearts and the golden calf. Nehemiah reiterates this, too.
Deuteronomy 9:13 ‘Furthermore the Lord spoke to me, saying, ‘I have seen this people, and indeed they are a stiff-necked people.’
Nehemiah 9:16-17a ‘“But they and our fathers acted proudly, hardened their necks, and did not heed Your commandments. 17 They refused to obey, and they were not mindful of Your wonders that You did among them. But they hardened their necks…’
Do people desire the ways of God, the blessings and His mercy, but fail to be obedient? If we fashion our lives around other gods – gods and holidays that were created by man, then we indeed worship other gods. There is no difference between serving the god of x-mas and serving one of the 20+ gods of the Ancient Greek religions. It is a worldly servanthood.
There is one truth, and that is His word. The world cannot know it His Word.
John 14:15-17 ‘If you love Me, keep My commandments. 16 And I will pray the Father, and He will give you another Helper, that He may abide with you forever— 17 the Spirit of truth, whom the world cannot receive, because it neither sees Him nor knows Him; but you know Him, for He dwells with you and will be in you.’
Psalm 119:142 ‘Your righteousness is an everlasting righteousness, and Your law is truth.’
John 17:17 ‘Sanctify them by Your truth. Your word is truth.’
The prophet Isaiah speaks of the rebellious children: ‘Woe to the rebellious children,” says the Lord,
“Who take counsel, but not of Me, and who devise plans, but not of My Spirit, that they may add sin to sin; 2 Who walk to go down to Egypt, and have not asked My advice, to strengthen themselves in the strength of Pharaoh, and to trust in the shadow of Egypt!’ Isaiah 30:1-2.
Isaiah 30:9-10 continues: ‘That this is a rebellious people, lying children, children who will not hear the law of the Lord; 10 Who say to the seers, “Do not see,” and to the prophets, “Do not prophesy to us right things; Speak to us smooth things, prophesy deceits.’
When people turn from God’s word, they desire smooth talk and prophesy of their own belief system, wanting to hear something that agrees with their way. They will always try and find someone ‘spiritual’ to agree with them.
Do we remember or do we forget…
Deuteronomy 8:18-20 ‘And you shall remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19 Then it shall be, if you by any means forget the Lord your God, and follow other gods, and serve them and worship them, I testify against you this day that you shall surely perish. 20 As the nations which the Lord destroys before you, so you shall perish, because you would not be obedient to the voice of the Lord your God.’
Deuteronomy 9:7 ‘Remember! Do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness.’
The Torah is for our good as stated in Deuteronomy 10:12-13 ‘And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good?’
Deuteronomy 11:8-9 states that our days are prolonged ‘Therefore you shall keep every commandment which I command you today, that you may be strong, and go in and possess the land which you cross over to possess, 9 and that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord…’
Deuteronomy 11:13-14 -we are given rain, ‘And it shall be that if you earnestly obey My commandments which I command you today, to love the Lord your God and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, 14 then I will give you the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the latter rain, that you may gather in your grain, your new wine, and your oil.’
Ekiev also contains the second part of the Shema in Deuteronomy 8:18-21 ‘“Therefore you shall lay up these words of mine in your heart and in your soul, and bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. 19 You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way, when you lie down, and when you rise up. 20 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21 that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land of which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, like the days of the heavens above the earth.’
Ekiev ends with the declaration that when His people obey Him they are victorious, ‘No man shall be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the dread of you and the fear of you upon all the land where you tread, just as He has said to you.’ Deuteronomy 11:25.
Psalm 68:35 ‘O God, You are awesome from Your sanctuary. The God of Israel Himself gives strength and power to the people. Blessed be God!’
2 Thessalonians 3:3 states that we are strengthened and protected: ‘But the Lord is faithful, and He will strengthen and protect you from the evil one.’
If we abide in His Word, which is Truth, and obey His Commandments, then the Spirit of Truth is within us. Therefore, He is protecting us from the ‘evil one’. There is no opportunity for the ‘evil one’ to take hold of our behavior, for we are protected by God.
In the same chapter, 2 Thessalonians 3:6, Rabbi Shaul (Paul) I says; ‘But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Yeshua, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us…’
Kefa (Peter) teaches us to listen to what others say. Do they speak with the truth of the Torah? Or are they making their own utterances. ‘If anyone speaks, let him speak as the Oracles of God. If anyone ministers, let him do it as with the ability which God supplies, that in all things God may be glorified through Yeshua, to whom belong the glory and the dominion forever and ever. Amen.’ 1 Peter 4:11.
2 Timothy 4:2-4 ‘Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching. 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers; 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.’
Many are those that are not in Covenant with God, but rather in their own rendition of His Word. Yeshua speaks of such in Matthew 7:21-23 ‘Not everyone who says to Me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. 22 Many will say to Me in that day, ‘Lord, Lord, have we not prophesied in Your name, cast out demons in Your name, and done many wonders in Your name?’ 23 And then I will declare to them, ‘I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!’ (Torahlessness).
When we listen and agree with speech that contains teachings that go against the Word of God, we then open ourselves up to the ‘evil one’ as stated in 2 Thessalonians 3:3 because we are agreeing with the smooth talk, the deceitful prophesies, and the words that are contrary to The Word, the Truth. We listen to lies (John 8:44). When someone is challenged by the Word, they twist it, making it say what they want it to say (2 Peter 3:16).
Deuteronomy 10:12 ‘And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul.’
Eikev/As a Result Of
HafTorah Portion Isaiah 49:14-51:3
Brit Chadasha Romans 8:31-39
This Parsah derives its name from the first sentence, ‘Then it shall come to pass, because you listen to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers. Deuteronomy 7:12
Eikev contains the seven species, Deuteronomy 8:8 and the second part of the Sh’ma is in Deuteronomy 11:18-21. Chapter 9 reviews Israel’s rebellion and in chapter 10 Moses recounts the second set of tablets. In the final chapter 11, love and obedience are rewarded.
But in Deuteronomy 10:12-22 is really the essence of the Torah: “And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13 and to keep the commandments of the Lord and His statutes which I command you today for your good? 14 Indeed heaven and the highest heavens belong to the Lord your God, also the earth with all that is in it. 15 The Lord delighted only in your fathers, to love them; and He chose their descendants after them, you above all peoples, as it is this day. 16 Therefore circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and be stiff-necked no longer. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality nor takes a bribe. 18 He administers justice for the fatherless and the widow, and loves the stranger, giving him food and clothing. 19 Therefore love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20 You shall fear the Lord your God; you shall serve Him, and to Him you shall hold fast, and take oaths in His name. 21 He is your praise, and He is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen. 22 Your fathers went down to Egypt with seventy persons, and now the Lord your God has made you as the stars of heaven in multitude.’
Listen, remember, do not forget, keep, obey, careful to observe, walk in His ways, be careful to not forget, Hear O Israel. But how to listen? How to sh’ma? It is a word that is fundamentally untranslatable into English since it means so many things: to hear, to listen, to pay attention, to understand, to internalize, to respond, to obey. It no less than 92 times in the book of Devarim – more than in any other book of the Torah. Over and over again in the last month of his life Moses told the people, Shema: listen, heed, pay attention. Hear what I am saying. Hear what God is saying. Listen to what He wants from us.
Western culture was built with ideas from ancient Greece and ancient Israel. These two cultures could not have been more different. Greece was a profoundly visual culture. Its greatest achievements had to do with the eye, with seeing. Art and sculptures and amazing architecture the world has ever seen. It devised grand theatrical performances and the Olympic games. Everything had to do with the ‘eye’. Even Plato thought of knowledge as a kind of depth vision, seeing beneath the surface to the true form of things. This idea – that knowing is seeing – has all but held captive as the main symbol of most cultures today. We use words like insight, foresight and hindsight. We make ‘observations’, and when we understand something, we say, “I see”.
To be one with God is to live within a faith in a God we cannot see, a God who cannot be represented visually. The very act of making something to see is called a graven image which is idolatry. We are reminded that God is not something to see but to hear’ Deuteronomy 4:12 ‘You heard the sound of words, but saw no image; there was only a voice.”
Listening lies at the very heart of every relationship and to listen opens the door to our spirituality. We can not learn God if we don’t listen. And how does He speak to us? With His Word. It is after we truly listen that we put what we heard into practice. We must ‘do His Word’ for if we hear only and not obey then we are as James 1:22-25 states, ‘But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. 23 For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man observing his natural face in a mirror; 24 for he observes himself, goes away, and immediately forgets what kind of man he was. 25 But he who looks into the perfect law of liberty and continues in it, and is not a forgetful hearer but a doer of the work, this one will be blessed in what he does.’