Parashat BeChukotai - May 12th

בחקתי BeChukotai

Lev. 26.3 — Lev. 27.34

This week's parasha summarizes the blessiings of walking in God's ordinances and commands and the curse for those who reject His ways.

In Leviticus 26.12 God says to His people, “I will walk among you, and will be your God, and you shall be my people.” The midrash Pesikta Zotarta (fol. 34, col. 1) comments on this verse: “’And I will walk among you.’ This refers to the messianic time, as it is said, ‘For eye to eye they see the return of the Lord to Zion. (Isaiah 52.8).”

[BP]

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Haftarah: (A,S) Jer. 16.19 — Jer. 17.14; (T) Ezekiel 34.1-27

Ezekiel 34: It is here that Ezekiel gives us a picture of the Messiah under the figure of the Good Shepherd and contrasts him with the leaders of that day who have led their people astray. Note the differences:

The wicked shepherds scattered the flock (vss 5, 6).

The Good Shepherd will gather them (vs 13).

The false shepherds feed themselves (vs 3).

The Good Shepherd will feed his sheep (vss 14, 15).

The false shepherds neglected the sheep (vs 4).

The Good Shepherd will seek after them and deliver them (vss 12, 14).

The parable closes with the promise that the Lord, the faithful shepherd of Israel, will recover his scattered flock and care for them. The shepherd is called both the Lord (34.11, 30, 31) and David (34.23, 24). This is in line with the prophetic utterances in other parts of the Bible that are distinctly messianic and closely related to the Davidic Covenant:

“When your days are fulfilled to go to be with your fathers, I will raise up your offspring after you, one of your own sons, and I will establish his kingdom.” (1 Chr 17.11).

“Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up for David a righteous Branch, and he shall reign as king and deal wisely, and shall execute justice and righteousness in the land.” (Jeremiah 23.5).

“They shall serve the Lord their God and David their king, whom I will raise up for them.” (Jeremiah 30.9).

“The children of Israel shall dwell many days without king or prince, without sacrifice or pillar, without ephod or teraphim. Afterward the children of Israel shall return and seek the Lord their God, and David their king; and they shall come in fear to the Lord and to his goodness in the latter days.” (Hosea 3.4,5).

David, in these passages, is evidently a prophetic name of the Messiah of whom the shepherd king was a type. In this some of the rabbis agree. The Targum, Aramaic translation of the Bible, has it, “Afterwards shall the children of Israel return and seek the help of the Lord, and shall be obedient to the Messiah the son of David their king.”

Ibn Ezra, the well-known Jewish commentator of the Spanish Period, also makes Hosea 3.5 messianic. “David, their king,” says he, “this is the Messiah, the same of whom it is said, 'And my Servant David shall be a prince among them’” (Ezekiel 34.23). In still another commentary, “Mezudoth David” speaks of those who will “seek the King Messiah, who comes from the seed of David, and of him they will ask their petitions, for he shall reign over them.”

The Lord Jesus likened himself to the Good Shepherd of this parable in Ezekiel, and fully displayed all of the noble qualities and characteristics of the True Shepherd of John 10:

1. He is the Royal Shepherd. He is David’s righteous Branch, who should reign as King and execute judgment and justice on earth. What a contrast to the wicked shepherds denounced by Jeremiah (Jer. 23.1-3).

2. He is the Divine Shepherd. Isaiah bids us to look forward to the appearing of the Messiah and his forerunner preparing his way before him: “Get you up to a high mountain, O Zion, herald of good tidings; lift up your voice with strength, O Jerusalem, herald of good tidings, lift it up, fear not; say to the cities of Judah, ‘Behold your God!’” (Isaiah 40.9).

Then he continues, “Behold, the Lord GOD comes with might, and his arm rules for him; . . . He will feed his flock like a shepherd, he will gather the lambs in his arms, he will carry them in his bosom, and gently lead those that are with young.” (Isaiah 40.10-11).

3. He is the Smitten Shepherd. The Rev. E. Bender Samuel in his messages on Ezekiel says:

There is a remarkable prediction in Zechariah 13.7 of our Lord that would be most difficult to understand without the light that the New Testament sheds on it, “’Awake, O sword, against my shepherd, against the man who stands next to me,’” says the Lord of hosts. ‘strike the shepherd, that the sheep may be scattered; I will turn my hand against the little ones.’” How wonderful! It is the Lord’s Shepherd and the Strong Man his equal whom the sword of his justice, the same as the piercing spear thrust into the Savior’s side (Zechariah 12.10; John 19.34-37), smote and opened a fountain unto the house of David and the inhabitants of Jerusalem for sin and uncleanness (Zechariah 13.1).

Messiah was the messianic Shepherd prophesied, the Good Shepherd who came to recover his sheep and in connection with this restoration a new covenant is established, “a covenant of peace, that will cause the evil beasts to cease out of the land: and they shall dwell safely in the wilderness, and sleep in the woods” (Ezekiel 34.25).

[AK]

 

This week's parasha is the last parasha of the book vaYikra (Leviticus), and when it is finished we say "Chazak, chazak venitchazek" - Be strong, be strong, and let us be strengthened.

 

Shabbat Shalom!

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