D’varim – Echoes Through Scripture

[This was written by Tabernacle of David teacher Ryan White, and was originally posted at Rooted In Torah.]

Torah Portion D’varim

Deuteronomy 1:1 – 3:22

This year we will be going through the Torah portion cycle looking for themes which occur in each Torah portion that recurs throughout the rest of Scripture with a special focus on connecting them to the Apostolic Writings (New Testament).

In D’varim, we will discuss the covenant renewal format of Deuteronomy and how this relates to Yeshua’s covenant renewal. We will investigate how both Deuteronomy and the Apostolic Writings update the laws and terms of the covenant to modernize them to current conditions. This understanding is important for us to understand why certain things change.

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Recommended Reading list:

  • The Bible

  • The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy by Daniel I. Block
  • How I Love Your Torah, O Lord!: Studies in the Book of Deuteronomy by Daniel I. Block

 

On how to apply OT Law for today:

(a) One must ascertain in as much depth as possible the function of particular laws within the overall Israelite social system and use all appropriate critical tools in doing so. This requires historical and sociological understanding of Israel and its sense of community identity, worldview, and social objectives. There is an increasing body of research in this field.31 This will help us to discern what kind of law any particular legislation represents and whether it is central or more peripheral in relation to Israel’s major ideals.

(b) One should then articulate as precisely as possible the objective, within the ancient Israelite context, of any particular law or institution. What was it there for? This can best be done by asking further questions. What kind of situation was this law designed to promote, or to prevent? Whose interests did it protect—i.e., who would have benefited from it? Whose power was restricted or controlled by it? What social ideals are expressed or implicit in it? What effect would the functioning of this law have had on the social shape and ethos of Israel?

(c) Finally, one steps out of the ancient Israelite world into one’s own modern socio-cultural context and seeks to preserve the objective while changing the context. If the answers to the questions above express something of God’s intentions and ideals for Israel, then, assuming Israel’s paradigmatic nature and God’s moral consistency, what should we be aiming at in our own society? What policies, laws, structures do we need in order to achieve comparable or equivalent objectives? What critique can we bring to bear on existing social realities in the light of the biblical paradigm? Clearly we will not all come up with the same answers or identical proposals. But we will have released the power and authority of the ot law to affect and shape our ethical responses.

 

Christopher J. H. Wright, Deuteronomy, ed. W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K. Johnston, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), 13–14.

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Recommended Reading list:

  • The Bible

  • The NIV Application Commentary: Deuteronomy by Daniel I. Block
  • How I Love Your Torah, O Lord!: Studies in the Book of Deuteronomy by Daniel I. Block

 

On how to apply OT Law for today:

(a) One must ascertain in as much depth as possible the function of particular laws within the overall Israelite social system and use all appropriate critical tools in doing so. This requires historical and sociological understanding of Israel and its sense of community identity, worldview, and social objectives. There is an increasing body of research in this field.31 This will help us to discern what kind of law any particular legislation represents and whether it is central or more peripheral in relation to Israel’s major ideals.

(b) One should then articulate as precisely as possible the objective, within the ancient Israelite context, of any particular law or institution. What was it there for? This can best be done by asking further questions. What kind of situation was this law designed to promote, or to prevent? Whose interests did it protect—i.e., who would have benefited from it? Whose power was restricted or controlled by it? What social ideals are expressed or implicit in it? What effect would the functioning of this law have had on the social shape and ethos of Israel?

(c) Finally, one steps out of the ancient Israelite world into one’s own modern socio-cultural context and seeks to preserve the objective while changing the context. If the answers to the questions above express something of God’s intentions and ideals for Israel, then, assuming Israel’s paradigmatic nature and God’s moral consistency, what should we be aiming at in our own society? What policies, laws, structures do we need in order to achieve comparable or equivalent objectives? What critique can we bring to bear on existing social realities in the light of the biblical paradigm? Clearly we will not all come up with the same answers or identical proposals. But we will have released the power and authority of the ot law to affect and shape our ethical responses.

 

Christopher J. H. Wright, Deuteronomy, ed. W. Ward Gasque, Robert L. Hubbard Jr., and Robert K. Johnston, Understanding the Bible Commentary Series (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Books, 2012), 13–14.


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