|This week’s portion begins with the words “V’Hayah Ekev Tishmaun.”|
Most English translations render these words as something along the lines of “If you listen.” However, this would be an incorrect translation; or, a not completely accurate translation. A good translation would translate these words as closer to, “And it will be, because you listen…” If you look at the verse above you will see I have underlined two words which are important to the makeup and understanding of this statement.
First of all, the word “And” joins the first verse of this week’s Torah portion with the ending verse of last week’s portion. The final verse of last week’s Torah portion was, Deuteronomy 7:11, which states, “And you shall keep the commandment, the statutes, and the judgments which I command you today, to observe them.” Verse 11 reminds us, even as Moses says, “the commandment…which I command you today” are commandments that we should be keeping on a daily basis. This is why Moses says, “I command you today.” Everyday is a day that we must keep and guard the instructions of God. This is why verse 12 begins “And it will be…” Which, in other words means, “This will happen.” Verse 12 hinges on the fact that the Israelites obey verse 11.
From here, we come to the 2nd word I underlined in the verse above (verse 12). That word would be the name of this week’s Torah portion. The word “Ekev” which most translators translate as “If” actually means “consequence or because.” Verse 12 goes on basically to say “And it will be because…” Because what? “…Because you listen to these judgments…the Lord your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers.”
And now I want to stop. Here is the problem that arises when you translate the word “Ekev” as “if.” The word “If” gives this verse a questioning aspect to it; as in, the promise in this verse may or may not happen. However, in reality there is no chance concerning this verse. The word “Ekev” when translated as “because” gives this verse an authority concerning the future of Israel as a predictive word from the prophet Moses himself. There are no ifs or buts about this verse. It states “because” meaning that there will be a time when Israel shall listen and follow the judgments of God; which means there will be a time when God will keep His “et-habrit v’et-hachesed—covenant and loving-kindness” which He swore to the forefathers of the nation of Israel.
Now, I want to take a look at the words “et-habrit v’et-hachesed.” As you can see above I translated these words as “covenant and loving-kindness.” However, some English translations have instead translated this Hebrew sentence as a “Covenant of love” or “Covenant Loyalty.” Here is my reason why this seemingly small difference in wording, is important to differentiate between.
You see; God didn’t make a “Covenant of Love” with His people. This doesn’t mean there wasn’t love within the covenant; it means that God’s covenant with Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, Moses and their descendants was not based on love.
|It went beyond love. This is why even when Israel lost their love for God, the covenant continued. Even when love failed, the covenant remained. God is faithful to His promises and His covenants. In verse 8 of Deuteronomy 7 (last week’s portion) Moses tells the Israelites why God chose them as a nation. Here was the reason, “…because the Lord loves you, and because He would keep the oath which He swore to your fathers…” God loves His people. But notice the “and” in the middle of the sentence. God loves His people “and” He will keep His covenant. What does this remind us of? “et-habrit v’et-hachesed—covenant and loving-kindness.” It is not a “Covenant of Loving-Kindness” it is a “Covenant and Loving-Kindness.” God keeps His covenants because He is faithful to His word. God shows His people loving-kindness because even though we fall short in keeping the covenant, His unmerited favor upholds us; though, we have done nothing to deserve it. Here is the difference. If God had made a “Covenant of Loving-Kindness,” then it would mean nothing when He showed us unmerited favor. In fact, if this were the covenant, we might even begin to expect and demand God’s undeserved favor for ourselves. But instead, God shows His “covenant and loving-kindness.” God will always keep His end of a deal. He keeps His promises and His covenants. However, it is not required that He show loving-kindness = unmerited grace and favor as well. God goes beyond what His covenants require of Him. As it says in Psalm 89, “Olam Chesed Yibaneh—The world is built with loving-kindness.” The great Torah Scholar Maimonides noted concerning this verse from the Psalms, “Creation was an act of pure chessed/lovingkindness. No one ever creates something because it deserves to be created.” God’s unmerited favor sustains the world. God shows Himself to us through His covenant faithfulness and His undeserved loving-kindness. |
Over the ages we have seen God demonstrate His faithfulness to His covenant with Israel and many of us have personally experienced His loving-kindness toward us. But throughout history, have we ever seen the fullness of Israel “listen[ing] to [God’s] judgments?” For it is only then that we will see the complete fullness of the second half of the verse, when “God keep[s] the covenant and the mercy which He swore to [the] fathers.” The answer is: No. We have not seen the complete fulfillment of this verse. Which makes this verse a verse of prophecy waiting to happen in the future.
As I wrote earlier; there will be a time when Israel shall listen and follow the judgments of God; which means there will be a time when God will keep His “et-habrit v’et-hachesed—covenant and loving-kindness.” Therefore, if this verse is a prophecy of a future we still wait to see, we must ask the question, “What time is it?”
Let’s read the verse one more time. “And it will be 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.”
See the underlined word? Once again, it is our key word. The word that carries the name of this portion; the word “Ekev.” I already told you that this word can mean “consequence or because.” But there is another meaning to this word that hints to when this prophetic verse will happen. Does anyone remember how the Biblical character Jacob got his name? Let’s go over to the story found in Genesis 25 and read it. In the story, Rebekah, Jacob’s mother is about to give birth to him. Here’s the story. “So when her days were fulfilled for her to give birth, indeed there were twins in her womb. And the first came out red…so they called his name Esau. Afterward his brother came out, and his hand took hold of Esau’s heel; so his name was called Jacob.”
Jacob got his name from the way he came out of the womb. And how did he come out of the womb? As a “Heel-Holder.” Jacob grabbed Esau’s…can you guess the Hebrew word? He grabbed Esau’s “Ekev!” In Hebrew Jacob’s name would be Ya’AKoV, which, as you can see, shares the same Hebrew root as the word “EkeV.” “Ekev” can mean heel. So, something connected to a heel is what will bring this prophetic verse to pass.
The heel is the lowest and toughest part of the body. So, in connection to our verse, this means that whatever this verse is referring to has to do with low and tough.
The heel is the part of the body that takes us where we want to go. So, in connection to our verse, it means that this verse is speaking of a time that people will be going where they want to go.
Lastly, the heel is the part of the body that our Rabbi, Rabbi Yeshua, cleans on His disciples. In John 13, we read that Yeshua washed the “heels” or the feet of His disciples. He said, “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet.”
Now, how does all this tell us when this verse in Deuteronomy will come about?
Here’s the quick answer…Just as the heel is the lowest and toughest part of the body, so too, the days in which Deuteronomy 7:12 will comes to pass will be a time in which humanity will be at its lowest point. The people of that generation will be tough and hard to God’s word. They will trample the word of God underfoot = under their heels. And just as the heel takes a person where they want to go, so with that generation. That generation will choose evil because it is where they want to go, for there will be no excuses before God’s Throne. It will be a time when people will trample God and walk after their own lusts. These days are known in Judaism as the “heels of Messiah;” the time right before the Messiah’s coming. We could also refer to them as the “End times…”
I don’t know if we live in “that” generation, but I do know we have come far from God’s “covenant and loving-kindness.” And with this in mind, what is our job in these days, which seem to be the “heels of Messiah?”
We must learn to live like Yeshua, as I pointed out earlier. The Lord of Lords and Teacher of Teachers knelt down and washed the heels of His disciples. He wouldn’t allow the filth of the world or the toughness of some people’s hearts and feet stop Him from being a servant.
|As Yeshua Himself said in Matthew 24, “…because lawlessness will abound, the love of many will grow cold.” If we allow the lawless things that are happening in our world today to harden our hearts, eventually, we will become what we hate. Our heels should be taking us toward Deuteronomy 7:12 as those who “listen to [God’s] judgments, and keep and do them…” We are called to emulate our Messiah. Do you know one of the things Yeshua our Messiah did? He crushed the head of the serpent as was prophesied in Genesis 3, in the Garden of Eden|
Here is what God said to the serpent, “I will put enmity between you and the woman, and between your seed and her Seed; He shall bruise your head, and you shall bruise His heel.” This verse is about the Messiah, concerning His role and mission in the world. The heel of the Messiah crushed the head of the serpent, but in the process He (the Messiah) was bruised.
Therefore, if we know this already happened, why do we still await the end times = the heels of the Messiah? The answer is this. In today’s world, we are the heels of the Messiah! We are Messiah’s representatives in the world. We are His “Shlichim—Agents/Messengers.” In Modern Hebrew the word “Shlichim” can also stand for a “delivery person.” We are the Messiah’s UPS or FedEx drivers. We deliver His will and His ways to the world. And as we follow “hot on His heels” it will lead to that great day of fullness as found in Deuteronomy 7:12 “And it will be because (Ekev) 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.”Until then run in the footsteps of the Messiah and may
“…the God of peace soon crush Satan under your feet!”
Grace and peace from God’s bondservant,