Ki Tavo / When You Enter In
Special Treasure / Am Segula
Ki Tavo contains the blessings and curses, IF we obey Adonai and IF we don’t, but it begins with a very important part of our lives. Deuteronomy 26:1 states: “And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it…’ In this sentence not only is God telling His people that they will come into the land, but also that they will possess it. Anyone can go into a land, but to possess it is something extreme. We can go into Torah, but do we possess it?
When the people were to cross over, God instructed them to inscribe the Ten Words on stones covered with plaster, ‘When you cross the Yarden to the land Adonai your God is giving you, you are to set up large stones, put plaster on them, 3 and, after crossing over, write this Torah on them, every word — so that you can enter the land Adonai your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as Adonai, the God of your ancestors, promised you.’ Deuteronomy 27:2-3. This instruction makes it obvious just how important and connected the Torah is to the land, to the people – and to us.
Deuteronomy 27:9-10 instructs us to listen, be still, be quiet and obey. How can we obey if we don’t listen? ‘Then Moses and the priests, the Levites, spoke to all Israel, saying, “Take heed (be quiet) and listen, O Israel: This day you have become the people of the Lord your God. 10 Therefore you shall obey the voice of the Lord your God, and observe His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.’
Psalm 46:10 ‘Be still, and know that I am God. I will be exalted among the nations, I will be exalted in the earth!’
Exodus 14:14 ‘The Lord will fight for you, and you have only to be silent.’
Deuteronomy 27 contains the curses if we aren’t still, don’t listen and don’t obey. Deuteronomy 27:26 verifies this to those that will not and do not establish the Torah. ‘Cursed is the one who does not confirm all the words of this law by observing them.’ The Complete Jewish Bible translates it this way: ‘A curse on anyone who does not confirm the words of this Torah by putting them into practice.’ All the people are to say, ‘Amen!’
In Deuteronomy 28 God gives His people blessings IF they will listen and obey. Deuteronomy 28:1-2 ‘If you listen closely to what Adonai your God says, observing and obeying all his mitzvot which I am giving you today, Adonai your God will raise you high above all the nations on earth; 2 and all the following blessings will be yours in abundance — if you will do what Adonai your God says…’
Ki Tavo ends with ‘Therefore, observe the words of this covenant and obey them; so that you can make everything you do prosper.’ Deuteronomy 29:9.
Backing up to Deuteronomy 26:18-19, God describes His people as a treasure. ‘Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, 19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.’
The Hebrew words are ‘treasured possession, a treasured people’.
The concept of God’s people being His am segulah is first introduced in Exodus 19:5-6: ‘And now, if you obey Me and keep My covenant, you shall be to Me a treasure out of all peoples (segulah mikol ha’amim), for the earth is Mine. And you shall be to Me a kingdom of priests and a holy nation.’ These are the words which you shall speak to the children of Israel.’
A special possession or treasure continues through-out Deuteronomy.
Deuteronomy 7:6 ‘For you are a holy people to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples on the face of the earth.’
Deuteronomy 14:2 ‘For you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for Himself, a special treasure above all the peoples who are on the face of the earth.’
In these instances, segulah means a treasure. The word Segula is also translated as a remedy, protection, something that protects a person from harm or a benevolent charm.
But this description follows on the heels of God stating IF you obey, IF you listen and do the words of the Torah. How can we be His special treasure, His special people, if we turn away from His decrees? How can we be His beloved possession if we live outside of His covenant?
When we disobey God causing us to live outside of His covenants, we create an environment where God does not operate in our lives.
Isaiah 3:8 speaks of the time when Jerusalem and Judah disobeyed. ‘For Jerusalem has stumbled and Judah has fallen, because their speech and their actions are against the Lord, to rebel against His glorious presence.’
Jeremiah 18:9-10 ‘And the instant I speak concerning a nation and concerning a kingdom, to build and to plant it, if it does evil in My sight by not obeying My voice, then I will think better of the good with which I had promised to bless it.’
Deuteronomy 11:28 ‘…and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.’
Ephesians 5:6 ‘Let no one deceive you with empty words, for because of these things the wrath of God comes upon the sons of disobedience.’
The prophet Samuel warns against disobedience in 1Samuel 12:15 ‘If you will not listen to the voice of the Lord, but rebel against the command of the Lord, then the hand of the Lord will be against you, as it was against your fathers.’
One of the strongest testimonies of faith, obedience and trust in God comes from the book of Daniel. Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah and their friend Daniel were taken captive from their homes in Jerusalem in 605 B.C. during a siege by King Nebuchadnezzar of Babylon.
In Daniel 1:3-7, ‘…the king instructed Ashpenaz, the master of his eunuchs, to bring some of the children of Israel and some of the king’s descendants and some of the nobles, 4 young men in whom there was no blemish, but good-looking, gifted in all wisdom, possessing knowledge and quick to understand, who had ability to serve in the king’s palace, and whom they might teach the language and literature of the Chaldeans. 5 And the king appointed for them a daily provision of the king’s delicacies and of the wine which he drank, and three years of training for them, so that at the end of that time they might serve before the king. 6 Now from among those of the sons of Judah were Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael, and Azariah. 7 To them the chief of the eunuchs gave names: he gave Daniel the name Belteshazzar; to Hananiah, Shadrach; to Mishael, Meshach; and to Azariah, Abed-Nego.’
The point of this was to make these four men forget God and His covenant by immersing them in the Chaldean literature, the worship of their gods, the eating of unclean foods, and the changing their names. The goal was to erase Elohim from their lives. One of the first things that happened to these four young men was the changing of their names.
Their Hebrew names given at the time of circumcision, connected them with God/Yah. Dan’el—God is my Judge; Hananiah—the chesed of Adonai or God is gracious; Misha’el—He that is the strong God; and Azariah—The Lord is a Help or God is help.
To make them forget the God of their fathers, they gave them names of the Chaldean idolatry. Daniel became Belteshazzar which signifies the keeper of the hidden treasures of Bel. Hananiah became Shadrach—the inspiration of the sun or command of the moon god, which the Chaldeans worshipped. Misha’el became Meshach—Of the goddess Shach or who is Aku, under which name Venus was worshipped. Azariah became Abed-nego—the servant of the shining fire or slave of god Nebo, which they also worshipped.
In Daniel 3:20-25 we read; ‘And he commanded certain mighty men of valor who were in his army to bind Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, and cast them into the burning fiery furnace. 21 Then these men were bound in their coats, their trousers, their turbans, and their other garments, and were cast into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 22 Therefore, because the king’s command was [c]urgent, and the furnace exceedingly hot, the flame of the fire killed those men who took up Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. 23 And these three men, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, fell down bound into the midst of the burning fiery furnace. 24 Then King Nebuchadnezzar was astonished; and he rose in haste and spoke, saying to his counselors, “Did we not cast three men bound into the midst of the fire?” They answered and said to the king, “True, O king.” 25 “Look!” he answered, “I see four men loose, walking in the midst of the fire; and they are not hurt, and the form of the fourth is like the Son of God.”
We see that the new, pagan names given to the four Israelites did not change their underlying identities. Although they were now officials in Babylonian society, they retained their loyalty to the God of their fathers, refusing to do what Nebuchadnezzar ordered, which was to bow down in worship to a golden statue. Even when they were faced being burned alive in a fiery furnace, they held fast to their faith in Almighty God.
We see another act of Divine trust and faith of the two midwives, Shiphrah and Puah, who let the Hebrew newborn baby boys live. The Torah says that the midwives take this risk because they “feared God” Exodus 1:17. And of course Mordechi who would not bow to Haman in the book of Esther fear God.
Our test is of faith. Do we have the faith to live in obedience no matter the worldly consequences might be?
Psalm 73:26 ‘My flesh and my heart may fail, but God is the strength of my heart and my portion forever.’
1 Corinthians 2:5 ‘…so that your faith would not rest on the wisdom of men, but on the power of God.’
Romans 10:17 ‘So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Yeshua.’
This is how we become and remain Am Segula.
Ki Tavo / When You Enter In
Ki Tavo is known for the blessings and the curses. The blessings IF you hear the voice of Adonai and obey His commandments and the curses IF you turn away from His Word. The blessings were to be read on Mount Gerizim and the curses on Mount Ebal.
But Ki Tavo also contains a very important piece of information, a bit of wisdom that would lead the people towards the blessings and keep them from the curses. Reminiscing about the land, Moshe reminds the Israelites, ‘So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and with an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders. 9 He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, “a land flowing with milk and honey”; 10 and now, behold, I have brought the first fruits of the land which you, O Lord, have given me. Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God. ‘Deuteronomy 26:8-10.
Moshe continues with an instruction concerning joy, simchat: Deuteronomy 26:11 ‘So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.’
Joy plays a key role in two parts of Ki Tavo. The first one in Deuteronomy 26:11 is about bringing of first-fruits to the Temple in Jerusalem. The other one is rather bleak, something the people did not do. This is at the end the curses in Deuteronomy 28:45-47 ‘Moreover all these curses shall come upon you and pursue and overtake you, until you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep His commandments and His statutes which He commanded you. 46 And they shall be upon you for a sign and a wonder, and on your descendants forever. 47 “Because you did not serve the Lord your God with joy and gladness of heart, for the abundance of everything…’
What is it to serve the Lord with joy? Joy is a different concept than happiness. Happiness will come and go, often quickly. But joy is a part of life that can only be sustained with and through Adonai. It is deep, it is a solid; where happiness is more like a liquid, flowing in and out, sometimes even becoming dry.
In Nehemiah chapter 8, Ezra brings forth the Torah to read from it. Nehemiah 8:2-3 states: ‘So Ezra the priest brought the Law before the assembly of men and women and all who could hear with understanding on the first day of the seventh month. 3 Then he read from it in the open square that was in front of the Water Gate rom morning until midday, before the men and women and those who could understand; and the ears of all the people were attentive to the Book of the Law.’
Taking place on Yom Teruah, Ezra stood on a platform and read the Torah. The people also stood and Ezra blessed the Lord. Worshipping the Lord, they said, ‘Amen and Amen’, raised their hands and bowed to Adonai. This ends with a profound declaration in: Nehemiah 8:9-10 ‘And Nehemiah, who was the governor, Ezra the priest and scribe, and the Levites who taught the people said to all the people, “This day is holy to the Lord your God; do not mourn nor weep.” For all the people wept, when they heard the words of the Law. 10 Then he said to them, “Go your way, eat the fat, drink the sweet, and send portions to those for whom nothing is prepared; for this day is holy to our Lord. Do not sorrow, for the joy of the Lord is your strength.”
In these passages of Nehemiah, he makes reference about: ‘hearing and to those who could understand- they heard the words of the law and wept.’
In conclusion of Ki Tavo, Moshe references that: ‘only today, forty years after their beginning as a people, have they attained “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.’
What gives us joy? The strength of Adonai. Where is His strength? In The Torah. To be people of His strength we have to not only hear, but listen and obey. We have to hear His Word; we have to see His Word and we have to feel it.
Psalm 16:11 ‘You will show me the path of life; In Your presence is fullness of joy; At Your right hand are pleasures forevermore.’
Psalm 4:7 ‘You have put gladness in my heart, more than in the season that their grain and wine increased.
Proverbs 10:28 ‘The hope of the righteous brings joy, but the expectation of the wicked will perish.’
Galatians 5:22-23 ‘But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control; against such things there is no law.’
Psalm 71:23 ‘My lips shall greatly rejoice when I sing to You, and my soul, which You have redeemed.’
1 Chronicles 16:17 ‘Honor and majesty are before Him; Strength and gladness are in His place.’
Bitterness, anger, rage, despair, fear; all these and more can keep us from the joy of Adonai. We become engulfed in our own moment of time instead of listening to the wisdom of Adonai.
Hebrews 12:14-15 ‘Pursue peace with all people, and holiness, without which no one will see the Lord: looking carefully lest anyone fall short of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up cause trouble, and by this many become defiled.’
Ephesians 4:30-32 ‘And do not grieve the Holy Spirit of God, by whom you were sealed for the day of redemption. Let all bitterness, wrath, anger, clamor, and evil speaking be put away from you, with all malice. And be kind to one another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God in Christ forgave you.’
Sarcasm is also a trait that can keep us from the true joy in the Lord. His word is true, never cynical, never confusing. Words of sarcasm are often confusing and the opposite of what is being said.
Proverbs 26:7-9 ‘Like the legs of the lame that hang limp Is a proverb in the mouth of fools.
Like one who binds a stone in a sling is he who gives honor to a fool. 9 Like a thorn that goes into the hand of a drunkard is a proverb in the mouth of fools.’
Ephesians 4:29 ‘Let no corrupting talk come out of your mouths, but only such as is good for building up, as fits the occasion, that it may give grace to those who hear.’
Ephesians 5:4 ‘Let there be no filthiness nor foolish talk nor crude joking, which are out of place, but instead let there be thanksgiving.’
Matthew 5:37 ‘Let what you say be simply ‘Yes’ or ‘No’; anything more than this comes from evil.’
Proverbs 18:21 ‘Death and life are in the power of the tongue, and those who love it will eat its fruits.’
We live in a confusing world, full of grief, doubt and despair. But deep within our core, we have the joy of the Lord, which gives us strength and leads us to His Truth.
Ki Tavo / When You Enter In
HafTorah portion Isaiah 60:1-22
Brit Chadasha Acts 7:30-36
This parsha contains many examples of our devotion to God and His Divine devotion for us. We are given many opportunities to express gratefulness, we are given many opportunities to show our obedience and we are given many opportunities to live life abundantly as expressed in John 10:9-10.
Ki Tavo begins with instructions for the people regarding entering into the land. ‘And it shall be, when you come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it, 2 that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground, which you shall bring from your land that the Lord your God is giving you, and put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to make His name abide. Deuteronomy 26:1-2.
God’s instructions are followed up with the promise of our joy – through Him. ‘Then you shall set it before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God. 11 So you shall rejoice in every good thing which the Lord your God has given to you and your house, you and the Levite and the stranger who is among you.’ Deuteronomy 26:10-11.
Deuteronomy 26:18-19 follows with His devotion to us. ‘Also today the Lord has proclaimed you to be His special people, just as He promised you, that you should keep all His commandments, 19 and that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, in praise, in name, and in honor, and that you may be a holy people to the Lord your God, just as He has spoken.’
Devotion: love, loyalty, or enthusiasm for a person, activity, or cause. What does it mean to be devoted to God? Does our devotion waiver or fluctuate depending on our ‘belief systems’? Of course, it does. One cannot truly be devoted to someone/something if they have altered the meaning of that entity and the meaning of the Divineness of God has been altered. No one can change Him or His Divine will, but throughout the centuries people, denominations, and causes have rewritten His purpose to fit their agendas.
Ki Tavo in Deuteronomy 27 continues with the reiteration of the importance of the Ten Words, and the devotion, again that God has for His people, if they obey. ‘…which the Lord your God is giving you, ‘a land flowing with milk and honey,’ just as the Lord God of your fathers promised you.’ Deuteronomy 27:3.
Obedience to anything or anyone is a choice. Even a child has the option to obey or not to obey. There will be consequences for either action, but the choice is for the individual, at any age. Wrong choices produce a negative reaction, where the right choice, in obedience produces a positive reaction. In Deuteronomy 28 we are given many examples of His devotion for us and how we can show our devotion to Him. Deuteronomy 28 begins with: ‘Now it shall come to pass, if you diligently obey the voice of the Lord your God, to observe carefully all His commandments which I command you today, that the Lord your God will set you high above all nations of the earth. 2 And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, because you obey the voice of the Lord your God…’Deuteronomy 28:1-2. What a remarkable way to show and express devotion to a group of people – His children who choose life – His Will and Ways.
When we listen/hear and obey His word as in Ki Tavo, then we in turn reciprocate the devotion towards Him. We are devoted to His Will, His Ways, His Cause and our choices to obey show devotion, which in turn blesses us as in Deuteronomy 28:3-14.
Deuteronomy 28 concludes with results if we choose to defy Him.
The last sentence of this parsha is quite clear, ‘Therefore keep the words of this covenant, and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.’ Deuteronomy 29:9.
1 Samuel 12:24 ‘Only fear the Lord and serve Him in truth with all your heart; for consider what great things He has done for you.’
1 Thessalonians 2:12 ‘so that you would walk in a manner worthy of the God who calls you into His own kingdom and glory.’
Our devotion to Adonai is shown by our reciprocation. Going back to Deuteronomy 26:1-2 the word land equals inheritance and the Hebrew word for First Fruits is ray sheeth. This means beginning, first, chief, best, choice part. Putting these together; we have land, inheritance and first fruits which brings honor. Ki Tao, To Enter In - so as we enter into His Name, His Word, His land, we understand that everything in and above the heavens and the earth was made by Him and brings glory to Him.
Bringing the seven species that the land is noted for, is a sign of devotion back to God in the fruit of His promise. A completed reminder that what God promises He keeps, is a great way to enter in, KiTavo to the reality of the blessings and curses that He sets in motion and that He set in motion.