Commentary on Parashat Ekev

The Parasha this week is from Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25 – Ekev [עקב] – this Hebrew Word can be interpreted in many ways: “because”, “as a result of”. This word indicates causality – there was some effect and it caused something new or different to become a reality. In our reading of the Torah last week and this week this word is used in an important way.

Deuteronomy 7:12, “Then it shall come to pass, because [Ekev – עקב] 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.” There is a relationship between our hearing / listening / taking to heart – the words / judgments / precepts/ and keep the instructions of the Lord and the mercy / grace that He promised to our Fathers. You can’t claim the mercy and grace of God, which we all need in order to be “saved” and live without at least paying attention hearing, listening, and obeying God. The causality between hearing and believing is clear in the New Testament and I will show it after the looking at another verse from the same reading of this Shabbat: Deut. 8:20, “As the nations which the LORD destroys before you, so you shall perish, because [Ekev – עקב] you would not be obedient/hear to the voice of the LORD your God.”

We see the came causality in the negative. Hearing and listening and being wise to obey the Word of the Lord brings you a blessing. Not hearing and disobedience will bring you downfall and destruction. Yeshua gave us the story of the wise and foolish builders. The wise one who built his house upon the rock is the one who heard the word of the Lord and obeyed it. The foolish one who built his house on the sand is the one who heard the word of the Lord and did not obey it. These texts underline the basic differences between the Greco-Roman way and the Biblical way, between the Jews and the Greeks. The Greco-Roman culture is visual – visiting Greek ancient cities is a pleasure because some of the most beautiful buildings and statues and vessels are the work of greek sculptors and architects invested their talents to make things look beautiful to the eyes. The Hebrews have concentrated on the WORDS, on the audio much more than on the video. Hearing is the center paradigm of the Hebrew culture. Hearing is a big word in Hebrew. The most important and holy text in the Bible, for the Jews and for Yeshua and for Paul and Peter is the “Shema” – “Hear O Israel, the Lord our God is ONE.” The Hebrews didn’t see an image at the foot of Mt. Sinai. They only heard a voice speak from the mountain: Deut. 4:12, “And the LORD spoke to you out of the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; you only heard a voice.”

It is interesting to note that the whole sacrificial system is downgraded by Jeremiah and makes the sacrifices a tool for testing the faithfulness of Israel if they really hear the Lord: Jer. 7:22, “For I did not speak to your fathers, or command them in the day that I brought them out of the land of Egypt, concerning burnt offerings or sacrifices. 23 But this is what I commanded them, saying, “Obey [hear – שמעו] My voice, and I will be your God, and you shall be My people. And walk in all the ways that I have commanded you, that it may be well with you.’ 24 Yet they did not obey or incline their ear, but followed the counsels and the dictates of their evil hearts, and went backward and not forward.” In my opinion this is an important lesson to learn and teach our brothers today. The sacrifice system is important only to the degree that it is a result of hearing the Lord with all our mind and heart and soul. Hearing is a sign of relationship and interest and care for the one who is speaking to us. Isaiah, Jeremiah, Hosea, and others of Israel’s prophets repeatedly declared that HEARING God is the basis of our relationship with Him. The definitive verse that defines our relationship is from Romans 10:14, “How then shall they call on Him in whom they have not believed? And how shall they believe in Him of whom they have not heard? And how shall they hear without a preacher?” There is no replacement for speaking the Word of God. The present culture is “icon” oriented, pictures are ruling the western culture now days, but we must not forget that the power of the WORD is God’s choice of communication for the most powerful truth the only one that can change names and change history. Don’t be shy to share the Word of God with your mouth and with your life.

This article originally appeared as a part of The Jerusalem Prayer List by Netivyah Bible Instruction Ministry, August 11, 2017, and reposted with permission.