In our desire to provide you with the teaching of Messiah Yeshua in a Jewish context, we provide in-depth teachings of the weekly Torah portions throughout the year. Below are various perspectives from various teachers and staff members from Netivyah Bible Instruction ministry.

Joseph Shulam: The Song of Moses is for Us [2021]

Parashat Ha’azinu is chapter 32 of the book of Deuteronomy. We are approaching the end of our yearly reading cycle.

We are getting to the end of the Pentateuch reading. The Jewish traditional year is finished and the end of the Torah reading cycle is at the end of the Feast of Sukkot (Tabernacles).

The last day of the Feast of Sukkot is also the beginning of a new reading circle of the Torah. We read the last chapters of Deuteronomy and immediately roll the Torah scroll back to the beginning and start reading Genesis chapter 1 to start a new cycle of reading from Genesis 1:1.

This move that is repeated every year is of such a great spiritual meaning, and also connection with the whole nation of Israel, worldwide.

Chapter 32 of the book of Deuteronomy is actually a court hearing. God is the plaintiff, Israel is the accused, the Heavens and the Earth are the judges, and there are a set of witnesses.

Paul’s theology and mission to the nations (Gentiles) is all based on and empowered by this reading of Deuteronomy Chapter 32, if you look at Paul’s letter to the Romans, that is Paul’s opus magnum, his concise presentation of his theology with no small touch of polemics.

Paul wants to justify the Jewish nation by demonstration of the righteousness of God in the choice that He made of Abraham and the seed of Abraham to be the father of the nation of Israel and the father of all the believers and faithful disciples of Yeshua.

So, I repeat, Parashat Ha’azinu (“Hear this”) is a programmatic text that Moses presents to the people of Israel just before they cross the Jordan River, and He, Moses, climbs Moint Horeb (Pisgah) alone, never to come down from there in the flesh.

Yes, Christians ought to realize that God, in His grace, did allow Moses to cross the river Jordan, but not in his flesh. Both Moses and Elijah come to meet Yeshua on the Mount of Transfiguration.

The goal that we all have is to read the word of God (especially chapter 32 of Deuteronomy) and discern God’s plan for Israel and its relationship with the nations (the Gentiles). I would like to just mention a few short points of the opening of this Song of Moses and get to the core of the relationship of God with Israel, and especially with Israel’s idolatry and unfaithfulness.

  1. God is inviting the Heavens and the Earth to hear His complaints in the court of justice!
  2. Moses identifies and witnesses God’s case by stating His righteousness and His just treatment of Israel over the years.
    • “For I proclaim the name of the Lord: Ascribe greatness to our God.

    • He is the Rock, His work is perfect; For all His ways are justice, A God of truth and without injustice; Righteous and upright is He.

    • They have corrupted themselves; They are not His children, Because of their blemish: A perverse and crooked generation.

    • Do you thus deal with the Lord, O foolish and unwise people? Is He not your Father, who bought you? Has He not made you and established you?” – Deuteronomy 32:3-6 [NKJV]

  3. God explains to Israel how He has chosen Israel and created a nation that has a different beginning from all the other nations that were created in the falling of the tower of Babylon. Abraham’s seed was not there when God divided the nations and chose Israel (Jacob) to become His inheritance!
    • “Remember the days of old, Consider the years of many generations. Ask your father, and he will show you; Your elders, and they will tell you:

    • When the Most High divided their inheritance to the nations, When He separated the sons of Adam, He set the boundaries of the peoples According to the number of the children of Israel.

    • For the Lord’s portion is His people; Jacob is the place of His inheritance.” – Deuteronomy 32:7-9 [NKJV]

  4. God lists how well and how special He treated and took care of Israel throughout His long relationship with the nation of Israel.
    • “He found him in a desert land And in the wasteland, a howling wilderness; He encircled him, He instructed him, He kept him as the apple of His eye.

    • As an eagle stirs up its nest, Hovers over its young, Spreading out its wings, taking them up, Carrying them on its wings,

    • So the Lord alone led him, And there was no foreign god with him.

    • He made him ride in the heights of the earth, That he might eat the produce of the fields; He made him draw honey from the rock, And oil from the flinty rock;

    • Curds from the cattle, and milk of the flock, With fat of lambs; And rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, With the choicest wheat; And you drank wine, the blood of the grapes.” – Deuteronomy 32:10-14 [NKJV]

  5. Israel spurned the Lord and didn’t appreciate or respect Him enough to show appreciation or walk faithfully with the Lord.
    • “But Jeshurun grew fat and kicked; You grew fat, you grew thick, You are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation.

    • They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger.

    • They sacrificed to demons, not to God, To gods they did not know, To new gods, new arrivals That your fathers did not fear.

    • Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, And have forgotten the God who fathered you.” – Deuteronomy 32:15-18 [NKJV]

  6. God is going to do something to show the children of Israel His anger and His provision for correcting Israel’s folly and restore Israel by using the Gentiles, the Nations, to provoke Israel to jealousy.
    • “And when the Lord saw it, He spurned them, Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters.

    • And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, For they are a perverse generation, Children in whom is no faith.

    • They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation.’” – Deuteronomy 32:19-21 [NKJV]

In verses 19-21 of this very important chapter we see the capsule of Paul’s theology as he uses the matrix of these words of Moses to explain the importance of the role of the nations.

(The Nations – those who are not a part of the seed of Abraham, through Isaac and Jacob, the chosen nation of Israel. The relationship of Paul’s theology of Israel and the relationship with the nations that are turning to God through the life and work of Yeshua.)

Paul sees the mission to the nations (Gentiles) as a tool to provoke Israel to jealousy, and by doing this bring about the fulfillment of God’s redemptive plan for Israel, and the whole world.

If we examine the history of Christianity in the last 1900 years, and look on this history, we will see that just as much as Israel failed to crown the Creator of the World as King and walk in His faithfulness, the Gentiles have failed miserably to provoke Israel to jealousy.

On the contrary, Christianity has driven Jews away from Christ the Messiah, instead of showing love and appreciation for Israel and the Jews, in the nearly 1900 years of Christian history.

The fact is that Israel still exists, and is returning back home to the land of the Bible, building a successful state, excelling in high-tech as a start-up nation. The fact that Israel is growing a country against all odds ought to be the envy of the whole neighborhood.

But instead of standing with Israel and learning from the Jews who are returning home after 1,930 years of exile – the Arabs are seeking to kill us, and the Christians are still exhibiting hate and rejection and persecution of Jews worldwide. What should be done among Christians so that they take the words of the apostles seriously and the words of our Lord and act as the redeemed of the Lord.

What has to happen in the Christian world so that love would be our paradigm and Good News would be our broadcast on every Christian TV channel?

If Christians are waiting for the return of Yeshua to Jerusalem, if they are not taking the words and teachings and demands and commandments of the Son of God, the divine Messiah, the Son of David, the Redeemer of the world, the embodiment of God’s love for His children, the sons of Adam and Eve, the human race, seriously enough, to obey and do the King’s requests, what will happen when He returns?!

I don’t have to write or tell you what will happen just read the words of Yeshua in your bibles. In some of your bibles it is easy because they are the words in your bible that are printed in red ink.

You actually ought to do just this, just open up your bible in the New Testament, start from the first page where you see text printed in red, and just read only the words that are in red. I believe that you will receive an important revelation.

In our Torah portion from Deuteronomy chapter 32, you will find a kind of short outline of God’s divine plan for Israel and for the world. You will see what God did for Israel and through Israel and what God expects the nations to do for Him and for Israel, His chosen!

You can than compare this with Romans chapters 9-11, and find the quotations of and allusions to chapter 32 of Deuteronomy in Romans chapters 9-11!

This is homework for you dear brothers and sisters. Yes, a good teacher gives homework!

Sometimes people don’t learn from others very much, but if they see it for themselves in God’s word, ink on paper, something happens in their mind that filters down to their hearts and from there starts flowing to their hands, and feet, and pockets and they become Kingdom-of-God-builders and not just church attendees.

Faith and religion is not a culture, or a game, or a pleasant pastime with people who are just like ourselves. It is a challenge from God to make the world ready for the Kingdom of Heaven down here on Earth.

We pray every day, “Your Kingdom come down on Earth as it is in Heaven!” (Read for yourselves Matthew 6:9-13.)

From the prophets this Shabbat, the synagogues around the world will be reading from 2 Samuel 22:1-51.

This text, which is read in the synagogues following the reading from the Torah from Deuteronomy 32, makes for a very interesting combination.

Like the Torah reading that is written in verse (song), so this text is David’s song, a Psalm that is outside of the book of Psalms. David is echoing and confessing the very thing that Moses is condemning Israel for not doing!

King David is one of the biggest sinners in the Bible, but the difference between David and other sinners in the Bible is that David confessed his sins and did his best to repent.

In this Psalm recorded in 2 Samuel chapter 22, David is at the end of his life. He is a tired old man who has been victorious in his battles against his enemies, but has lost the battle with his children and in his home.

Now at the end of his rope, David is humbled and the best thing he can do at this point, is to compose a song of confession of God’s greatness and compassion for the weakness of the man King David, and of reflecting by David on us all and on our relationship with our Heavenly Father, the Creator of the world and our Messiah Yeshua who was sent by God to redeem us and restore us to the Father! Us meaning all mankind!

Here are the opening words of this Song of David that is read in the synagogues this Sabbath after Yom Kippur (The Day of Atonement.)

“Then David spoke to the Lord the words of this song, on the day when the Lord had delivered him from the hand of all his enemies, and from the hand of Saul. And he said: ‘The Lord is my rock and my fortress and my deliverer; The God of my strength, in whom I will trust; My shield and the horn of my salvation, My stronghold and my refuge; My Savior, You save me from violence.’” – 2 Samuel 22:1-3 [NKJV]

I have to ask myself in my own difficulties and challenges and weaknesses: “Joseph Shulam can you say the words of David in his place and mean every one of these words and make them your own?”
My answer would be, without any hesitation: Yes, dear brothers and sisters!

I can say and claim these words and confess that without the Lord being my rock, and fortress, and deliverer, God, refuge and fortress, and the one who saved me from violence many times, I would be nothing, and a totally worthless human being!

My life and my wife’s life are nothing more than a fiddler on the roof. Nothing is stable, nothing is firm or secure, other than those words of King David that are my security and the reality of my past and my hope for the eternal future!

I hope and pray that you can say the same!

There is one verse in our Torah reading that describes my situation and probably your situation, and God’s action on our behalf!

“For the Lord will judge His people And have compassion on His servants, When He sees that their power is gone, And there is no one remaining, bond or free.” – Deuteronomy 32:36 [NKJV]

Joseph Shulam: Understanding Paul’s Life and Mission [2019]

The weekly portion of the Torah is Haazinu, Deuteronomy chapter 32. This portion of the Torah is the most important scripture for understanding all of the apostle Paul’s theology. I have to ask myself what was it that changed the attorney general of the Supreme Court in Jerusalem to give up his career, his family, and his good name and dedicate his life to bring the Gentiles to know God and God’s commandments through Yeshua of Nazareth! This is a very important question that demands an answer!

Yes, Saul/Paul had a vision on the way to Damascus. In the vision, Yeshua appears to Paul and speaks to him a few words. I believe that the vision was a catalyst that awakened in this great Torah scholar, student of Gamaliel, the Chief Justice of the Sanhedrin, AG of the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem, to give up all he was and all he had for a vision of a crucified Galilean Jew. What’s more is that Paul was on his way to Damascus on official business to arrest the followers of that same crucified Galilean Jew Yeshua. I believe that several things happened to Paul in consequence to the vision of Yeshua.

Paul realized that the Roman cross was not the end of Yeshua! Yeshua is alive and Yeshua is still active and in control. Paul understood that Yeshua knows him personally, by name. Therefore, Yeshua also knows his mission to Damascus.

He goes to the home of a Jew named Judah, who lived in the cardo of Damascus. Yeshua appears to Ananias and sends him to the house of this Judah to pray for Paul to receive his sight. Paul was blinded by the bright light in the vision.

He finds out from Ananias something shocking: Yeshua’s mission is not only about Israel. Yeshua’s mission is about the whole world, about all the nations, all the “Goyim” (Gentiles)! Here is what Ananias communicates to Paul from the words of Yeshua: You are a chosen vessel of Yeshua to bear His name before Gentiles, kings, and the children of Israel.

When Paul hears that God, through Yeshua, has a plan for the salvation of the nations and Israel, I am sure that his brain was running at high speed. He must have remembered God’s promises to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He must have recalled the prophets like Amos 9:7-13, Isaiah 60-62, 66, Zechariah 14… Above all these, Paul must have remembered the reading of Haazinu, Deuteronomy 32…

The main influence on Paul’s ideas, theology, and mission come from this chapter in Deuteronomy, verses 15-22:

“But Jeshurun [Israel] grew fat and kicked; You grew fat, you grew thick, You are obese! Then he forsook God who made him, And scornfully esteemed the Rock of his salvation. They provoked Him to jealousy with foreign gods; With abominations they provoked Him to anger. They sacrificed to demons, not to God, To gods they did not know, To new gods, new arrivals That your fathers did not fear. Of the Rock who begot you, you are unmindful, And have forgotten the God who fathered you. And when the Lord saw it, He spurned them, Because of the provocation of His sons and His daughters. And He said: ‘I will hide My face from them, I will see what their end will be, for they are a perverse generation, Children in whom is no faith. They have provoked Me to jealousy by what is not God; They have moved Me to anger by their foolish idols. But I will provoke them to jealousy by those who are not a nation; I will move them to anger by a foolish nation. For a fire is kindled in My anger and shall burn to the lowest hell; It shall consume the earth with her increase, And set on fire the foundations of the mountains.’” – Deuteronomy 32:15–22 [NKJV]

Now look at what Paul is programming for the non-Jewish disciples of Yeshua, Romans 10:19–11:16:

“But I say, did Israel not know? First Moses says: ‘I will provoke you to jealousy by those who are not a nation, I will move you to anger by a foolish nation.’ But Isaiah is very bold and says: ‘I was found by those who did not seek Me; I was made manifest to those who did not ask for Me.’ But to Israel he says: ‘All day long I have stretched out My hands To a disobedient and contrary people.’ I say then, has God cast away His people? Certainly not! For I also am an Israelite, of the seed of Abraham, of the tribe of Benjamin. God has not cast away His people whom He foreknew. Or do you not know what the Scripture says of Elijah, how he pleads with God against Israel, saying, ‘Lord, they have killed Your prophets and torn down Your altars, and I alone am left, and they seek my life’? But what does the divine response say to him? ‘I have reserved for Myself seven thousand men who have not bowed the knee to Baal.’ Even so then, at this present time there is a remnant according to the election of grace. And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work. What then? Israel has not obtained what it seeks; but the elect have obtained it, and the rest were blinded. Just as it is written: ‘God has given them a spirit of stupor, Eyes that they should not see And ears that they should not hear, To this very day.’ And David says: ‘Let their table become a snare and a trap, A stumbling block and recompense to them. Let their eyes be darkened, so that they do not see, And bow down their back always.’ I say then, have they stumbled that they should fall? Certainly not! But through their fall, to provoke them to jealousy, salvation has come to the Gentiles. Now if their fall is riches for the world, and their failure riches for the Gentiles, how much more their fullness! For I speak to you Gentiles; inasmuch as I am an apostle to the Gentiles, I magnify my ministry, if by any means I may provoke to jealousy those who are my flesh and save some of them. For if their being cast away is the reconciling of the world, what will their acceptance be but life from the dead? For if the firstfruit is holy, the lump is also holy; and if the root is holy, so are the branches.” – Romans 10:19–11:16 [NKJV]

Please note the word “jealousy” in this text, and you will understand so much better what Paul’s ministry was all about, and how much it was influenced by Deuteronomy chapter 32! When you see where Paul is getting his ideas, i.e. from the Torah, you can much better understand Paul’s life and mission.

Yehuda Bachana: Moses’ Distressing Prophecy Amidst a Season of Change [2018]

Read the teaching below, or watch a video of the teaching by Yehuda Bachana.

This Shabbat we read Parashat Haazinu, which includes the Song of Moses. It’s a rather difficult passage to read because it is full of criticism and prophecies of wrath. Why was it written and what can we glean from it?

The Prophecy that Gave a Final Warning to the Israelites

Netivyah | Haazinu | Jonah Preaching to the Ninevites (1866) by Gustave Doré

In the portion, we read about the moments before Moses’ life ends, when the reins of leadership pass from him onto Joshua. It is no coincidence that the last chapters of the Torah discuss the numerous warnings that Moses gave to the people of Israel. He knew that his time was limited and that they were approaching the entrance to the Land of Israel.

In the Promised Land, the natural order of the universe would finally resume and things would go back to normal. This means that there would no longer be manna falling from heaven, a pillar of cloud by day and a pillar of fire by night to guide them, and Moses to keep an eye on everyone. Therefore, the last chapters, including the Song of Moses, serve as a final will and testament.

God Revealed Israel’s Grievous Future to Moses’

After many warnings from Moses about all the evil that could fall upon the people of Israel, the Lord revealed to him on his last day that the Israelites would eventually leave the path of righteousness and would suffer as a result. They would suffer so much that they would even be in danger of extinction.

In the prophetic Song of Moses there is a direct threat to the continued existence of the people of Israel:

“I said I would scatter them and erase their name from human memory…” – Deuteronomy 32:26 [NIV]

In this verse, God threatened to erase the memory of the people of Israel from the face of the earth. In my opinion, this verse and others like it should be a warning light to Israel today, and even more so to us as the body of Messiah.

If God was willing to destroy the people of Israel, and He did not destroy them by virtue of His promises, where do we stand today? Are we any better? Are our countries, nations, and communities any better than this? Like in the case of Sodom and Gomorrah, are we similar to the 50 righteous people that by virtue of our existence God would choose not to destroy our nation?

Why Do We Still Need to Repent?

This Shabbat, we are just a few days following Yom Kippur, the holiday that is considered to be the most feared day in all existence, the day of God’s judgment. We all know that Yeshua is the pure and perfect atonement for us, our Messiah is the true sacrifice of Yom Kippur. However, His sacrifice comes not to replace the act of repentance, but as a result of it. We repent, admit that we made a mistake, express a sincere intent to change our ways, and then we offer our sacrifice. The sacrifice shows the seriousness of our words, it pays the price on our behalf. In our case, the sacrifice we have is the purest and holiest, Yeshua.

In Ecclesiastes, Solomon said that there is a time for everything: there is a time to be silent, and a time to speak, there is a time to cry, and a time to laugh, and there is even a time to kill, and a time to save lives. The same goes for us as believers, we endure different seasons. There is a time to rest, full of confidence in the salvation of our Messiah, and a time to reflect on the course of our lives, to rethink and examine our faith.

Yom Kippur is the Opportune Time for Self-Reflection

The Ten Days of Repentance and Yom Kippur are the most appropriate days for self-reflection and soul-searching.These days are meant to make us pause the crazy race of life and do a personal reckoning, in which one examines himself in order to consider his very existence and his standing before God.

Man tends to see himself as the center of the world, and these days are supposed to cause him to think about himself and his true dimensions. Such as his dependence on power and the fact that he has no control over numerous things in life, this includes blessings and curses, natural disasters, sickness, and death.

We sometimes think that we are invincible to God’s wrath, but if we do not repent, we too will suffer from the anger of the Almighty.

If God was willing to punish the people of Israel with 2000 years of exile, plagues, and enemy occupation, what prevents Him from punishing us now? Could it be the very fact that we are believers? Is this belief prevalent in our daily lives? What will we take with us after Yom Kippur and after reading this week’s parasha?

Jonah’s Catastrophic Revelation from God

On the second day of Yom Kippur it is customary to read the Book of Jonah. I want to combine Moses’ prophecy of calamity in the Song of Moses with Jonah’s revelation.

We read together the story of Jonah every year; a wonderful book from which we can learn a great deal. You can learn about prophecy, mercy, forgiveness, and morality, to the important lesson that all of creation is the masterpiece of God.

God gave Jonah a mission to go to Nineveh in order to tell them a prophecy of calamity. Why did Jonah evade this mission? He already knew the attribute of God’s mercy, which is:

“…a gracious and compassionate God, slow to anger and abounding in love, a God who relents from sending calamity.” – Jonah 4:2b [NIV]

Jonah had a professional fear; he knew that his prophecy of calamity would not come true. You could say that he already expected that God would spare the city of Nineveh, and he would be seen as a false prophet.

The Value of Life is Critical

It is customary to think that the repentance of Nineveh is the central lesson in the Book of Jonah. In my opinion, one of the main points in this book is that there are higher values ​​than personal dignity and the fulfillment of prophecy. These values are saving lives and mercy from the hands of God.

The book concludes with the following idea: If Jonah was concerned about the plant which he did not grow, how much more would God be concerned about His creation? This is the final point of this book.

The second lesson I take is that we cannot sit and look at our surroundings from afar, just like Jonah sat under the safety and shade of the plant. We are a part of this people, and everyone is part of a community and a nation. We must not separate ourselves as believers from the people and the environment in which we live.

We are Called to Advocate for the Sake of Others

Our work as believers is to plead with God in order to spare our nation from the severity of the decree, because in the end, when our people are punished, we suffer as a whole. Our lesson from Jonah is that God’s desire to forgive is bigger than His desire to punish, and our job is to intercede on behalf of other people, to tip the scales in favor of forgiveness rather than punishment.

I believe that this is also the lesson that we can take away from the Song of Moses, which ends with the promise of atonement for the Promised Land and the people of Israel.

I pray that God would bless this new year, that it would be a blessing for all of you and all of Israel, that the people of Israel would open their eyes to the true Yom Kippur sacrifice, Yeshua the Messiah.