DEVARIM (DEUTERONOMY) 21:10–25:19
As I was reading our portion this week from Deuteronomy 21:10–25:19, two verses “jumped out”, causing me to pause and reflect upon them a little longer. These verses can really shed more light on the events surrounding the death of our Messiah; once again, I am both amazed and blessed by the price that He paid for me/us!
And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you as an inheritance.
As we can see in these verses, some sins were worthy of death. These included, for example, sins of the wayward and rebellious son (Deuteronomy 21:18–21) and idol worshiping (Deuteronomy 17:1–6).
An interesting point that we find in Deuteronomy 17:6 is the way a fair trial should take place and the condition required to put someone to death:
On the evidence of two witnesses or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness.
How does this connect to Messiah Yeshua? The books of Matthew and Mark describe the unfair trial that Yeshua faced. Specifically, they both tell of the way that two witnesses were not able to give the same testimony (since they were false witnesses). However, in both accounts we see that the turning point took place once the High Priest approached Yeshua with a question:
But Yeshua kept silent. And the high priest said to Him, “I adjure You by the living God, that You tell us whether You are the Messiah, the Son of God.” Yeshua said to him, “You have said it yourself; nevertheless I tell you, hereafter you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING ON THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” Then the high priest tore his robes, saying, “He has blasphemed! What further need do we have of witnesses? Behold, you have now heard the blasphemy; what do you think?” They answered and said, “He is deserving of death!”
Again the high priest was questioning Him, and saying to Him, “Are You the Messiah, the Son of the Blessed One?” And Yeshua said, “I am; and you shall see THE SON OF MAN SITTING AT THE RIGHT HAND OF POWER, and COMING WITH THE CLOUDS OF HEAVEN.” And tearing his clothes, the high priest *said, “What further need do we have of witnesses? You have heard the blasphemy; how does it seem to you?” And they all condemned Him to be deserving of death.
As we know, Yeshua was put to death – He had to be since He is the ultimate fulfillment of God’s Word. However, the way in which He died was very different from the way the Torah commands it to be done. In the Torah, the guilty person must be put to death first (mainly by stoning them), and then is to be hanged on a tree as a form of shaming. However, Yeshua was put to death in a Roman (gentile) way when He was crucified on the Tree (Cross). The Romans would put the person on the tree while still alive so that he would suffer a slow and torturous death, and then leave the body on the tree so that it would rot, or for the birds to eat.
Note that in the Biblical instructions, the person’s corpse should not hang all night on the tree, but rather the body should be buried the same day before sundown. This explains the multiple accounts in Matthew 27:50–60, Mark 15:37–46, and John 19:30–38, in which once Yeshua’s death was confirmed, Joseph of Arimathea asked to bury His body before sundown.
In closing, I want to point us to the book of Galatians, in which Rav Sha’ul (the Apostle Paul) references Deuteronomy 21 when he explains the incredible significance behind Yeshua’s death on a tree:
Messiah redeemed us from the curse of the Law, having become a curse for us — for it is written, “CURSED IS EVERYONE WHO HANGS ON A TREE” — in order that in Messiah Yeshua the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.
Yeshua is the fulfillment of the Torah (law) and the Prophets! He took upon Himself our curse (Isaiah 53), and through faith in Him, we can all — Jew and Gentile alike — be restored to the Father. This is the GOOD NEWS of Messiah!
This article originally appeared on Hope for Israel and is reposted with permission.