Tanak Foundations- Concepts in Deuteronomy-Part 32

The next Torah portion is called “Ha’azeinu” and it means to “give ear.” It goes from Deut 32.1-52. Moses knows the people will rebel against the Lord and he tells the people to assemble before him and he will tell them about the evil that will befall them in the “latter days.” Deut 29.14 this was written to a future generation also.

The Ha’azeinu is very eschatological and it was sung by the Levitical choir when the drink offering was poured in the Temple on the Sabbath and Mussaf (additional offerings on Sabbath). It has six sections (verses 1-6, 7-12, 13-18, 19-28- 29-39 and 40-43) and one section is sung every Sabbath.

Here is an important concept to remember. If you want to see what prayer and worship really is, study the Temple services. If you lived in the first century and wanted to know what prayer and worship was, you went to the Temple. Num 28-29, 1 Chr 28.11-19 and Ezek 43.10-12 says that God gave the services to the people to teach these concepts, so it is important to know what is being prayed and when.

The Temple is a choreographed epic on a stage. The Torah is the script and the music, and the priests and the people are the actors. There was a set time when everything is done, with no impromptu demonstrations. For example, you can’t start the Tamid service till sunrise. The priests would look south towards Hebron to see if the sun was up. If it was, then they said, “Bar Chai” (sunrise), and that was the signal to start the morning Tamid service. Now, why was Hebron significant? You could see other towns in the area from the Temple, so what made Hebron so special?

The cave of Machpelah is there and that is where Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Sarah, Rebecca and Leah are buried. Rachel is buried near Bethlehem. It is the belief that the resurrection of the righteous will begin there in Jewish eschatology. Every dawn is a rehearsal for the resurrection. The people “sleep” and then arise to a brighter day. Everything during the Tamid service is timed, conveying a message.

After the mizbeach (altar) is cleansed, the priests go into the Lishkat Ha Gazit (Chamber of Hewn Stone) for certain prayers. Why do they go to the Chamber of Hewn Stone? The mizbeach was not to be made of hewn stone (man’s action) because whatever business was conducted there was all of God. Man’s works and judgments were not recognized, but it is a place of God’s judgment. But the Chamber of Hewn Stone conveys man’s action, man’s self-evaluation and judgment. They were the “living stones.” But, not all business was conducted in the Temple.

There is a place on the Mount of Olives called “the Seat of the Shekinah.” Another name is “Ha Rosh” or “the head.” Ezek 8 through 11 tells us the Shekinah departed from the Temple and rested on the Mount of Olives for three years, waiting for the people to repent, but they didn’t. So, The Shekinah lifted into heaven from the mount. The Mount of Olives had four significant things happen there. David went over the mount when he fled from Absalom. He wept over the city like Yeshua did, in the same place (1 Sam 15.30; Luke 19.37-41). We also have the departure of the presence of God, as we have said, in Ezek 8-11, and the Shekinah departed just like Yeshua did in Acts 1.4-12. Lastly, we have a ceremony called the Parah Adumah (Red Heifer) performed at the Miphkad (appointed place) Altar outside of the Temple, on the Mount of Olives. David’s altar was there and both of these altars were seen as part of the Temple (1 Chr 21.24-26; 2 Sam 24.18-25).

Previously, we talked about, “Hear, O Israel” and how the people were instructed to “choose the blessing, not the curse.” But here we have a special Torah portion called the “Song of Moses.” Like David, Moses sings at certain times. In Exo 15 we have another song called the “Shirat ha Yam” or the “Song at the Sea.” This was sung after Israel was delivered from Pharaoh at the Red Sea. Both of these songs are very eschatological and were recited in the Temple. The Shirat ha Yam is sung in the Temple on the Sabbath, but it may be sung in Rev 15.1-4 when Israel is victorious over the False Messiah. But, this is a prophetic song and it is in seven parts which allude to the seven thousand year plan of God, and it is called a “new song” in Jewish thought (Hertz Siddur, p. 449). But, let’s get back to the Ha’azeinu.

Israel is entering the land and Moses is at the end of his life. He has done what the Lord asked and has seen a whole generation die in the wilderness. Now, their children are getting ready to cross over the Jordan into Canaan and into the promises of God. Deut 29.14 has already told us that this was spoken to a future generation and Deut 31.29 says this is also about the “latter years.” Deut 32 contains a message for this future generation.

This was one of the first things prayed daily in the Temple. It begins with an appeal to the universe (v 1-3). Teaching in the Scriptures is seen as drops of rain and the “dew” (tal). Rain and dew are seen as “resurrection” also because it brings life. Moses is telling the people to not look elsewhere for truth. His teaching (Torah) is seen as the dew (resurrection/life). Mic 5.7, Isa 45.8, Isa 26.19, Joel 2.23 and James 5.7-8 also will convey this idea. We have three types of rain in Deut 32.2 and this alludes to three types of student. Moses is saying that the Lord will punish Israel at the “end of days” or the “latter years” but they will be resurrected with true teaching (Hos 6.1-3).

In Deut 32.4-6 we have the faithfulness of the Lord. The word “rock” (tzur) will be used in verses 4,15,18,30 and 31. Now, the “rock” is a clear allusion to the Messiah in Gen 28.10-22, Isa 51.1, 1 Cor 10.4 and Matt 16.18. The “rock” was also an issue that most strongly affected the life of Moses. He did not honor the rock correctly by striking it instead of speaking to it in Num 20.8-12. He could not enter the promised land because of this interaction with the “rock.”

There are several other words for “rock” in the Scriptures. One is “cela” and that is a clefted rock (Num 20.8), which is different than “tzur” (Exo 17). Also, the word for “stone” is “aven” which consists of an aleph, beit and nun. If you take the first two letters (aleph, beit) you spell “Av” or “father.” If you take the last two letters (Beit, Nun) it spells “Ben” or “son.” The Father and the Son are alluded to in the concept of the rock/stone. Moses is a person who most embodied Israel, and Israel will “strike the rock down” (Messiah) in the future, and they will eventually be driven out of the land also (Acts 2.36, 3.14-15, 5.30). The rock is God in Psa 18.2.

Deut 32.4-5 tell us also that God’s work is perfect and his ways are just. There is perfect justification for what happens in the world, even when we don’t see it. We must try to understand that certain events are beneficial for us. His work is perfect, which also includes the Torah. But, the people acted corruptly towards the Lord and they are not his children because of this defect. The word “defect” alludes to the marks people make on their skin or foreheads with paint in various colors to their favorite gods. They are a perverse and crooked generation (their works, and natures-Matt 17.17). Their ingratitude and lack of wisdom led to rejecting him (Deut 32.15). Deut 32.6 Moses says, “Do you thus repay your Father who has bought you (from Egypt)? He has made you and established you.” This verse has the first usage of “Father” in the Tanak.

In Part 33, we will pick up here with Deut 32.7-14 of the Ha’azeinu.

Posted in All Teachings, Articles, Idioms, Phrases and Concepts, Prophecy/Eschatology, The Feasts of the Lord, The Tanach, Understanding the New Testament

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