Parashat D’varim (Words) Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22


By Baruch

Parashat D’varim (Words) Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22

Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27

This Shabbat we finish the third of the three special prophetic readings. This final portion is always read prior to Tisha B’Av.

In this week’s Torah reading, the book of Deuteronomy opens with the following few verses,

These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Aravah, before the (Sea of) Reeds, between Paran, and Tophel, and Lavan, and Chatzerot, and Di-Zahav. Eleven days from Chorev, by way of Mt. Seir, unto Kadesh-Barnea. And it came about in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, in the first day of the month, Moses spoke to the Children of Israel, according to all which HaShem commanded him unto them.” Deuteronomy 1:1-3

The book of Deuteronomy deals with Moses instructing the Children of Israel the Laws of G-d. This is actually the second time that he has done this. The reason for the repetition is simply because those who were adults when they first received the Torah had died out in the wilderness during the forty years of wandering. Now only their children and those who were born during these forty years are present with Moses. Therefore, Moses repeats the Laws to prepare the people to enter into the Land of Israel.

In verse three, Moses was very specific concerning time. First of all, the reader is told that it was the fortieth year. When studying the numerous occurrences of the number forty in the Scriptures, one learns that there is a relationship between this number and the concept of change or transition. Such an understanding certainly fits the context of this verse, as the Children of Israel are changing location. They are transitioning from the wilderness to the Promised Land. Next, the number eleven appears in this verse. Actually the previous verse also mentions the eleven-day journey from Mount Chorev (also known as Mount Sinai) to Kadesh-Barnea. What is the significance of the number eleven? The Jewish sages usually consider the number eleven as a combination of the numbers one and ten. The number one relates to HaShem Who is one, and the number ten expresses wholeness or completion. Therefore, what is being taught in this passage is this: The Children of Israel completing their journey and arriving at the point where they are being made ready to cross into the Land, is completely or thoroughly the work of G-d.

We are told that this process of preparing the people began on the first day of the eleventh month. The first day of any month is called Rosh Chodesh, literally the new month. In this verse, because the number one is used in connection with the new month, then the idea which is being expressed, is newness or renewal. It is of course only HaShem Who can bring true renewal into a person. For believers in Messiah Yeshua, we understand the ultimate renewal is a Kingdom renewal. In the same way that our passage speaks of Israel being renewed for entrance into the Promised Land, we can expect a time of renewal in the Last Days as Paul promised in Acts 3:19.

Shabbat Shalom

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