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Drash for 9/17/22 Ki Tavo


2022 Supporter
Jul 27, 2021
Drash for 9/17/22 Ki Tavo

The title of this week’s passage – Ki Tavo means when you come, referring to the Israelites coming into the Land.
Deuteronomy 27:11-14
Isaiah 60:1-5
Galatians 3:13-14

Deuteronomy 27:11-14
Moses also charged the people on that day, saying, 12 “When you cross the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13 For the curse, these shall stand on Mount Ebal: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14 The Levites shall then answer and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice,

Isaiah 60:1-5
“Arise, shine; for your light has come, And the glory of the Lord has risen upon you. 2 “For behold, darkness will cover the earth And deep darkness the peoples; But the Lord will rise upon you And His glory will appear upon you. 3 “Nations will come to your light, And kings to the brightness of your rising. 4 “Lift up your eyes round about and see; They all gather together, they come to you. Your sons will come from afar, And your daughters will be carried in the arms. 5 “Then you will see and be radiant, And your heart will thrill and rejoice; Because the abundance of the sea will be turned to you, The wealth of the nations will come to you.

Galatians 3:13-14
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”— 14 in order that in Messiah Yeshua the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we would receive the promise of the Spirit through faith.

The purpose of the Drash is to tie together the Torah, the Hebrew Prophets, and the Apostolic scriptures; to show it as one seamless account.

Ki Tavo, as usual, has a lot going on. There are instructions on bringing the first fruits of your crops to the Lord, laws about the disposition of the tithes, and Moses telling the people that after 40 years, they have finally developed hearts to know, eyes to see and ears to hear. There are 6 commands in this portion, 3 positive and 3 negative. That is compared with 74 mitzvot in last week’s portion.

But the bulk of the portion is taken up with blessings and curses. And that is what I want to talk about today.

Years ago there was a commercial for some light beer that had a stadium full of people with half of them shouting “LESS FILLING” and the other half shouting “GREAT TASTE!” And it went back and forth each trying to out-shout the others.

At our previous congregation I would sometimes lead them in reciting the Amidah prayer – the first 3 stanzas. In the John Fischer Messianic Siddur the 3rd stanza – the Kedusha – has a responsive part, and I had the congregation divided and try to out-shout each other on the various parts.

In Deut 27, Moses commands a similar scene, which is carried out in Joshua chapter 8. Half of the tribes were to stand on Mount Ebal and the other half on Mount Gerezim; with the priests and Levites in the valley between them. They were to shout the blessings and curses of Torah back and forth to each other. (blessing for obedience and curses for disobedience) And when each blessing or curse was declared, everyone was to reply “AMEN AMEN!” This was first mentioned in chapter 11:

Deuteronomy 11:29
“It shall come about, when the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, that you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.

We read in Joshua 8:33 where that command was carried out:

Joshua 8:33
All Israel with their elders and officers and their judges were standing on both sides of the ark before the Levitical priests who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, the stranger as well as the native. Half of them stood in front of Mount Gerizim and half of them in front of Mount Ebal, just as Moses the servant of the Lord had given command at first to bless the people of Israel.

There were 7 blessings and 7 curses. In Deut 28.2-6, the word Baruch (blessed) is used 7 times:

1 All these blessings will come upon you and overtake you if you obey the Lord your God:
2 Blessed shall you be in the city,
3 blessed shall you be in the country.
4 Blessed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground and the offspring of your beasts, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.
5 Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
6 Blessed shall you be when you come in,
7 blessed shall you be when you go out.

These correspond to 7 actions God Himself promised to do:

1 God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. (v1)
2 The Lord shall cause your enemies .. to be defeated (v7)
3 The Lord will command the blessing upon you (v8)
4 The Lord will establish you as a holy people (v9)
5 The Lord will make you abound in prosperity (v11)
6 The Lord will open for you His good storehouse (v12)
7 The Lord will make you the head (v13)

The 7 curses are listed in the next 5 verses, and they are an exact 1:1 match:

1 all these curses will come upon you and overtake you:
2 Cursed shall you be in the city,
3 cursed shall you be in the country.
4 Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.
5 Cursed shall be the offspring of your body and the produce of your ground, the increase of your herd and the young of your flock.
6 Cursed shall you be when you come in,
7 cursed shall you be when you go out.

And again, there are 7 specific actions:

1 The Lord will send upon you curses, (v20)
2 The Lord will make the pestilence cling to you (v21)
3 The Lord will smite you with consumption (v22)
4 The Lord will make the rain of your land powder and dust (v24)
5 The Lord shall cause you to be defeated before your enemies (v25)
6 The Lord will smite you with boils (v27)
7 The Lord will smite you with madness (v28)

Then chapter 28 goes on to list a whole lot more curses.

In our Haftara portion, we read in Isaiah 60 “Arise and Shine for your light has come.” The sages have agreed (mostly) that the time of this is the Messianic kingdom and the light is the light of Messiah. I think we also would mostly agree with that.

In our Apostolic reading, we read that we have been redeemed from the “curse of the Law” (Torah) and this Torah portion is what Paul was talking about. Curses on top of curses. For disobedience.

Traditional Christianity has taken Galatians to mean we are not to follow Torah at all, failing to make the distinction between The Law itself, and the curse of the Law.

But what Paul was actually saying is that by the death and resurrection of Messiah, the whole Mount Ebal side of the equation was satisfied. The curses were all taken on by Messiah. And they died with Him, never to be resurrected.

The altar Moses instructed the people to build at the beginning of chapter 27 with uncut stones was on Mount Ebal. So both the curse and the sacrifice for disobedience were nullified. That leaves the Mount Gerezim side; the blessings for obedience.

Both in that passage in Galatians 3 and our Haftara reading, it is made clear that the light of Messiah and redemption from the curses is not only for the Jews but the Gentiles are included as well.

Lord Rabbi Johnathan Sacks (of blessed memory) who was the former chief rabbi of Great Britain, described the Torah, the Prophets and the subsequent rabbinic writings as the Text, commentary on the Text, and commentary on the commentary of the Text. Had he been a messianic, I am sure he would have included the Apostolic scriptures as another layer of commentary. That ties in to our stance that the Apostolic scriptures are a continuous story with Torah and the rest of Tenach. What is in our Galatians passage is commentary on how this Torah and Haftara portion is applied to both Jews and gentiles in the New Covenant.

So what is our take away from all of those blessings and curses?

We should remember that, even though Messiah took the curses, we are not free to just do as we like. We still need to obey. But it should also be remembered that the motive of our obedience is NOT to obtain some status (like salvation) or to gain reward points. It is not to avoid punishment. If any of those things are our motive for being obedient, we should re-examine our hearts.

Our obedience is to be an expression of our covenantal love and respect for our Lord.

Yeshua said “If you love Me you will keep my commands.” John 14:15

It should also be noted that the blessings are not some kind of “get rich” scheme where we can manipulate God into giving us what we want. How His blessings are distributed, and when, is entirely up to HIM. And a lack of seeing someone blessed is NOT a reason to criticize them for a lack of faith or some kind of hidden sin. We see how far that got the so-called friends of Job.


Remember God’s blessings.
Remember the curses.
Love God with all of your heart, soul and strength.
Obey His voice, both written and spoken.

Proverbs 3:5
Trust in the Lord with all your heart And do not lean on your own understanding. 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He will make your paths straight.

Shabbat Shalom!