Parashat Shoftim - August 26th

שפטים Shoftim

Deuteronomy 16.18—21.9

In Deuteronomy 18.18-19 Moses brings to Israel the following promise of God:

“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

These words of Moses clearly establish three facts.

1. Moses here describes one particular prophet, whom God promises to send to Israel at a later time. The language that Moses uses is in the singular throughout: “a prophet” – “his mouth” – “he shall speak.” These words cannot describe the later prophets in Israel as a whole. They must refer to one special prophet.

2. This special prophet was to have unique authority, above all others who had gone before him, and if anyone in Israel refused to hearken to this prophet, God would bring judgment upon that person.

3. This prophet was to be like Moses in ways that would distinguish him from all other prophets who would ever come to Israel.

In the New Covenant, in Acts 3.22-26, the apostle Peter quotes these words of Moses, and applies them directly to Jesus of Nazareth.

A careful comparison of the First Covenant and the New Covenant shows nearly thirty distinct points of resemblance between Moses and Jesus. In the chart that follows these points of resemblance are set out opposite each other. Below each point of resemblance the appropriate passages of scripture are quoted.



He was born in a period when Israel was under foreign rule.

Luke 2.1-7: 1 In those days a decree went out from Caesar Augustus that all the world should be enrolled. 2 This was the first enrollment, when Quirinius was governor of Syria. 3 And all went to be enrolled, each to his own city. 4 And Joseph also went up from Galilee, from the city of Nazareth, to Judea, to the city of David, which is called Bethlehem, because he was of the house and lineage of David, 5 to be enrolled with Mary, his betrothed, who was with child. 6 And while they were there, the time came for her to be delivered. 7 And she gave birth to her first-born son and wrapped him in swaddling cloths, and laid him in a manger, because there was no place for them in the inn.

Exodus 1.8-14: 8 Now there arose a new king over Egypt, who did not know Joseph. 9 And he said to his people, “Behold, the people of Israel are too many and too mighty for us. 10 Come, let us deal shrewdly with them, lest they multiply, and, if war befall us, they join our enemies and fight against us and escape from the land.” 11 Therefore they set taskmasters over them to afflict them with heavy burdens; and they built for Pharaoh store-cities, Pithom and Ra-amses. 12 But the more they were oppressed, the more they multiplied and the more they spread abroad. And the Egyptians were in dread of the people of Israel. 13 So they made the people of Israel serve with rigor, 14 and made their lives bitter with hard service, in mortar and brick, and in all kinds of work in the field; in all their work they made them serve with rigor.

A cruel king made a decree for him to be killed.

Matthew 2.16: Then Herod, when he saw that he had been tricked by the wise men, was in a furious rage, and he sent and killed all the male children in Bethlehem and in all that region who were two years old or under, according to the time which he had ascertained from the wise men.

Exodus 1.15-16: 15 Then the king of Egypt said to the Hebrew midwives, one of whom was named Shiphrah and the other Puah, 16 “When you serve as midwife to the Hebrew women, and see them upon the birthstool, if it is a son, you shall kill him; but if it is a daughter, she shall live.”

The faith of his parents saved his life.

Matthew 2.13-14: 13 Now when they had departed, behold, an angel of the Lord appeared to Joseph in a dream and said, “Rise, take the child and his mother, and flee to Egypt, and remain there till I tell you; for Herod is about to search for the child, to destroy him.” 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt.

Exodus 2.2: The woman conceived and bore a son; and when she saw that he was a goodly child, she hid him three months.

Hebrews 11.23: By faith Moses, when he was born, was hid for three months by his parents, because they saw that the child was beautiful; and they were not afraid of the king's edict.

He found protection for a time with the people of Egypt.

Matthew 2.14-15: 14 And he rose and took the child and his mother by night, and departed to Egypt, 15 and remained there until the death of Herod. This was to fulfill what the Lord had spoken by the prophet, “Out of Egypt have I called my son.”

Exodus 2.10: And the child grew, and she brought him to Pharaoh's daughter, and he became her son; and she named him Moses, for she said, “Because I drew him out of the water.”

He displayed unusual wisdom and understanding.

Luke 2.46-47: 46 After three days they found him in the temple, sitting among the teachers, listening to them and asking them questions; 47 and all who heard him were amazed at his understanding and his answers.

Acts 7.22: Moses was instructed in all the wisdom of the Egyptians, and he was mighty in his words and deeds.

He was extremely meek.

Matthew 11.29: “Take my yoke upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will find rest for your souls.”

Numbers 12.3: Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth.

He was completely faithful to God.

Hebrews 3.1-6: 1 Therefore, holy brethren, who share in a heavenly call, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession. 2 He was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in God's house. 3 Yet Jesus has been counted worthy of as much more glory than Moses as the builder of a house has more honor than the house. 4 (For every house is built by some one, but the builder of all things is God.) 5 Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, 6 but Christ was faithful over God's house as a son. And we are his house if we hold fast our confidence and pride in our hope.

Numbers 12.7: “Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with [faithful in] all my house.”

He was rejected for a time by Israel.

Matthew 27.21-22: 21 The governor again said to them, “Which of the two do you want me to release for you?” And they said, “Barabbas.” 22 Pilate said to them, “Then what shall I do with Jesus who is called Christ?” They all said, “Let him be crucified.”

Exodus 2.14: He answered, “Who made you a prince and a judge over us? Do you mean to kill me as you killed the Egyptian?”

Exodus 32.1: When the people saw that Moses delayed to come down from the mountain, the people gathered themselves together to Aaron, and said to him, “Up, make us gods, who shall go before us; as for this Moses, the man who brought us up out of the land of Egypt, we do not know what has become of him.”

He was criticized by his own brothers and sisters.

Matthew 13.54-57: 54 Coming to his own country he taught them in their synagogue, so that they were astonished, and said, “Where did this man get this wisdom and these mighty works? 55 Is not this the carpenter's son? Is not his mother called Mary? And are not his brothers James and Joseph and Simon and Judas? 56 And are not all his sisters with us? Where then did this man get all this?” 57 And they took offense at him. But Jesus said to them, “A prophet is not without honor except in his own country and in his own house.”

John 7.5: For even his brothers did not believe in him.

Numbers 12.1: Miriam and Aaron spoke against Moses because of the Cushite woman whom he had married, for he had married a Cushite woman.

He was received by Gentiles when rejected by Israel.

Acts 13.44-48: 44 The next sabbath almost the whole city gathered together to hear the word of God. 45 But when the Jews saw the multitudes, they were filled with jealousy, and contradicted what was spoken by Paul, and reviled him. 46 And Paul and Barnabas spoke out boldly, saying, “It was necessary that the word of God should be spoken first to you. Since you thrust it from you, and judge yourselves unworthy of eternal life, behold, we turn to the Gentiles. 47 For so the Lord has commanded us, saying, ‘I have set you to be a light for the Gentiles, that you may bring salvation to the uttermost parts of the earth.’ ” 48 And when the Gentiles heard this, they were glad and glorified the word of God; and as many as were ordained to eternal life believed.


Exodus 2.15, 21: 15 When Pharaoh heard of it, he sought to kill Moses. But Moses fled from Pharaoh, and stayed in the land of Midian; and he sat down by a well.

21 And Moses was content to dwell with the man, and he gave Moses his daughter Zipporah.

He prayed to God to forgive his people.

Luke 23.34: Jesus said, “Father, forgive them; for they know not what they do.” 

Exodus 32.31-32: 31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people have sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”

He was willing to bear the punishment of God’s people.

1 Peter 2.21-24: 21 For to this you have been called, because Christ also suffered for you, leaving you an example, that you should follow in his steps. 22 He committed no sin; no guile was found on his lips. 23 When he was reviled, he did not revile in return; when he suffered, he did not threaten; but he trusted to him who judges justly. 24 He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

1 Peter 3.18: For Christ also died for sins once for all, the righteous for the unrighteous, that he might bring us to God, being put to death in the flesh but made alive in the spirit.

Exodus 32.31-32: 31 So Moses returned to the Lord and said, “Alas, this people have sinned a great sin. They have made for themselves gods of gold. 32 But now, if you will forgive their sin—but if not, please blot me out of your book that you have written.”

He fasted forty days.

Matthew 4.2: [Jesus] fasted forty days and forty nights, and afterward he was hungry.

Exodus 34.28: [Moses] was there with the Lord forty days and forty nights; he neither ate bread nor drank water. And he wrote upon the tables the words of the covenant, the ten commandments.

He spoke face to face with God.

John 1.18: No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.

Numbers 12.7-8: 7 “Not so with my servant Moses; he is entrusted with all my house. 8 With him I speak mouth to mouth, clearly, and not in dark speech; and he beholds the form of the Lord. Why then were you not afraid to speak against my servant Moses?”

Deuteronomy 34.10: There has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face.

He went up into a high mountain to have communion with God, taking some of his closest followers with him.

Matthew 17.1, 5: 1 And after six days Jesus took with him Peter and James and John his brother, and led them up a high mountain apart.

5 He was still speaking, when lo, a bright cloud overshadowed them, and a voice from the cloud said, “This is my beloved Son, with whom I am well pleased; listen to him.”

Exodus 24.9-10: 9 Then Moses and Aaron, Nadab, and Abihu, and seventy of the elders of Israel went up, 10 and they saw the God of Israel; and there was under his feet as it were a pavement of sapphire stone, like the very heaven for clearness.

Afterwards his face was seen to shine with supernatural glory.

Matthew 17.2: [Jesus] was transfigured before them, and his face shone like the sun, and his garments became white as light.

Exodus 34.35: The people of Israel saw the face of Moses, that the skin of Moses’ face shone; and Moses would put the veil upon his face again, until he went in to speak with him.

God spoke to him audibly from heaven.

John 12.23, 28: 23 Jesus answered them, “The hour has come for the Son of Man to be glorified . . . 28 Father, glorify your name.” Then a voice came from heaven: “I have glorified it, and I will glorify it again.”

Exodus 19.19-20: 19 And as the sound of the trumpet grew louder and louder, Moses spoke, and God answered him in thunder. 20 And the Lord came down upon Mount Sinai, to the top of the mountain; and the Lord called Moses to the top of the mountain, and Moses went up.

His place of burial was guarded by an angel.

Matthew 28.2-6: 2 And behold, there was a great earthquake; for an angel of the Lord descended from heaven and came and rolled back the stone, and sat upon it. 3 His appearance was like lightning, and his raiment white as snow. 4 And for fear of him the guards trembled and became like dead men. 5 But the angel said to the women, “Do not be afraid; for I know that you seek Jesus who was crucified. 6 He is not here; for he has risen, as he said. Come, see the place where he lay.

Jude 9: When the archangel Michael, contending with the devil, disputed about the body of Moses, he did not presume to pronounce a reviling judgment upon him, but said, “The Lord rebuke you.”

After death he appeared alive to those who believed in him.

John 20.19-20: 19 On the evening of that day, the first day of the week, the doors being shut where the disciples were, for fear of the Jews, Jesus came and stood among them and said to them, “Peace be with you.” 20 When he had said this, he showed them his hands and his side. Then the disciples were glad when they saw the Lord.

Matthew 17.3: There appeared to them Moses and Elijah, talking with him.

He was a teacher as well as a prophet.

Matthew 5.1-2: 1 Seeing the crowds, he went up on the mountain, and when he sat down his disciples came to him. 2 And he opened his mouth and taught them.

John 3.1-2: 1 Now there was a man of the Pharisees, named Nicodemus, a ruler of the Jews. 2 This man came to Jesus by night and said to him, “Rabbi, we know that you are a teacher come from God; for no one can do these signs that you do, unless God is with him.”

Deuteronomy 4.1: “And now, O Israel, give heed to the statutes and the ordinances which I teach you, and do them; that you may live, and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, gives you.”

He was also a shepherd to God’s people.

John 10.11, 27: 11 “I am the good shepherd. The good shepherd lays down his life for the sheep.”

27 “My sheep hear my voice, and I know them, and they follow me.”

Psalms 77.20: You lead your people like a flock by the hand of Moses and Aaron.

Isaiah 63.11: Then he remembered the days of old, of Moses his servant. Where is he who brought up out of the sea the shepherds of his flock?

He revealed God’s name to his people.

John 17.6, 11, 12: 6 “I have manifested your name to the people whom you gave me out of the world. Yours they were, and you gave them to me, and they have kept your word . . . 11 And I am no longer in the world, but they are in the world, and I am coming to you. Holy Father, keep them in your name, which you have given me, that they may be one, even as we are one. 12 While I was with them, I kept them in your name, which you have given me. I have guarded them, and not one of them has been lost except the son of destruction, that the Scripture might be fulfilled.”

Exodus 3.13-14: 13 Then Moses said to God, “If I come to the people of Israel and say to them, ‘The God of your fathers has sent me to you,’ and they ask me, ‘What is his name?’ what shall I say to them?” 14 God said to Moses, “I AM WHO I AM.” And he said, “Say this to the people of Israel, ‘I AM has sent me to you.’ ”

Through him God gave his people supernatural food.

Matthew 14.19-21: 19 Then he ordered the crowds to sit down on the grass; and taking the five loaves and the two fish he looked up to heaven, and blessed, and broke and gave the loaves to the disciples, and the disciples gave them to the crowds. 20 And they all ate and were satisfied. And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over. 21 And those who ate were about five thousand men, besides women and children.

John 6.51: “I am the living bread which came down from heaven; if any one eats of this bread, he will live for ever; and the bread which I shall give for the life of the world is my flesh.”

Exodus 16.14-15: 14 And when the dew had gone up, there was on the face of the wilderness a fine, flake-like thing, fine as hoarfrost on the ground. 15 When the people of Israel saw it, they said to one another, “What is it?” For they did not know what it was. And Moses said to them, “It is the bread which the Lord has given you to eat.

He brought deliverance to God’s people.

Luke 4.17-21: 17 There was given to him the book of the prophet Isaiah. He opened the book and found the place where it was written, 18 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to preach good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives and recovering of sight to the blind, to set at liberty those who are oppressed, 19 to proclaim the acceptable year of the Lord.” 20 And he closed the book, and gave it back to the attendant, and sat down; and the eyes of all in the synagogue were fixed on him. 21 And he began to say to them, “Today this scripture has been fulfilled in your hearing.”


Exodus 3.7, 8, 10: 7 Then the Lord said, “I have seen the affliction of my people who are in Egypt, and have heard their cry because of their taskmasters; I know their sufferings, 8 and I have come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land to a good and broad land, a land flowing with milk and honey, to the place of the Canaanites, the Hittites, the Amorites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites.”

10 “Come, I will send you to Pharaoh that you may bring forth my people, the sons of Israel, out of Egypt.”

He brought healing to God’s people.

Matthew 4.23: He went throughout all Galilee, teaching in their synagogues and proclaiming the gospel of the kingdom and healing every disease and every affliction among the people.

Matthew 8.16-17: 16 That evening they brought to him many who were oppressed by demons, and he cast out the spirits with a word and healed all who were sick. 17 This was to fulfill what was spoken by the prophet Isaiah: “He took our illnesses and bore our diseases.”

1 Peter 2.24: He himself bore our sins in his body on the tree, that we might die to sin and live to righteousness. By his wounds you have been healed.

Exodus 15.25-26: 25 And he cried to the Lord, and the Lord showed him a log, and he threw it into the water, and the water became sweet. There the Lord made for them a statute and a rule, and there he tested them, 26 saying, “If you will diligently listen to the voice of the Lord your God, and do that which is right in his eyes, and give ear to his commandments and keep all his statutes, I will put none of the diseases on you that I put on the Egyptians, for I am the Lord, your healer.”

Numbers 21.9: So Moses made a bronze serpent and set it on a pole. And if a serpent bit anyone, he would look at the bronze serpent and live.

He worked great miracles, such as no other man ever worked.

John 5.36: “But the testimony that I have is greater than that of John. For the works that the Father has given me to accomplish, the very works that I am doing, bear witness about me that the Father has sent me.”

John 15.24: “If I had not done among them the works that no one else did, they would not be guilty of sin, but now they have seen and hated both me and my Father.”

Luke 24.19: And he said to them, “What things?” And they said to him, “Concerning Jesus of Nazareth, a man who was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people

Acts 2.22: “Men of Israel, hear these words: Jesus of Nazareth, a man attested to you by God with mighty works and wonders and signs that God did through him in your midst, as you yourselves know.”

Deuteronomy 34.10-12: 10 And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, 11 none like him for all the signs and the wonders that the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 12 and for all the mighty power and all the great deeds of terror that Moses did in the sight of all Israel.

He established a covenant between God and his people, which was sealed with blood.

Matthew 26.26-28: 26 Now as they were eating, Jesus took bread, and after blessing it broke it and gave it to the disciples, and said, “Take, eat; this is my body.” 27 And he took a cup, and when he had given thanks he gave it to them, saying, “Drink of it, all of you, 28 for this is my blood of the covenant, which is poured out for many for the forgiveness of sins.

Hebrews 9.11-15: 11 But when Christ appeared as a high priest of the good things that have come, then through the greater and more perfect tent (not made with hands, that is, not of this creation) 12 he entered once for all into the holy places, not by means of the blood of goats and calves but by means of his own blood, thus securing an eternal redemption. 13 For if the sprinkling of defiled persons with the blood of goats and bulls and with the ashes of a heifer sanctifies for the purification of the flesh, 14 how much more will the blood of Christ, who through the eternal Spirit offered himself without blemish to God, purify our conscience from dead works to serve the living God. 15 Therefore he is the mediator of a new covenant, so that those who are called may receive the promised eternal inheritance, since a death has occurred that redeems them from the transgressions committed under the first covenant.


Exodus 24.7-8: 7 Then he took the Book of the Covenant and read it in the hearing of the people. And they said, “All that the Lord has spoken we will do, and we will be obedient.” 8 And Moses took the blood and threw it on the people and said, “Behold the blood of the covenant that the Lord has made with you in accordance with all these words.”


Without reference to any books except the First Covenant and the New Covenant, we have shown twenty-seven points of clear resemblance between Moses and Jesus. It would be impossible to find any other prophet who has arisen in Israel, except Jesus, who resembles Moses in even a small number of these points. Therefore, it is unreasonable to deny that Jesus is the prophet whom Moses foretold in Deuteronomy 18.18-19.

But if Jesus is indeed the prophet whom Moses foretold, then it is of the greatest importance for Israel to recognize this fact and to act upon it. For the Lord warned Israel concerning this prophet: “He shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

To these words of Moses we could also add the warning of King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chronicles 20.20: “Hear me, Judah and inhabitants of Jerusalem! Believe in the Lord your God, and you will be established; believe his prophets, and you will succeed.”

It is clear that Israel can never prosper as God desires that they should, until they acknowledge Jesus to be this prophet concerning whom Moses gave them such clear and solemn warning.



Deuteronomy 18.15, 18-19: “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed— . . . I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

This prophecy emphasizes the fact that the promised prophet will speak in the name of God and with his authority. Jewish exegetes reckon that reference is being made here to Joshua the son of Nun or to the “prophet of the nations,” Jeremiah. It seems, however, more reasonable to consider, as Rabbi Levi Ben Gershom has said, that these verses speak of the Messiah:

“Truly, the Messiah is such a prophet, as the Midrash states, ‘Behold, my servant will prosper’ (Isaiah 52.13) . . . By means of the miracles he performed Moses succeeded in getting only one nation to serve God, but the Messiah will cause all the peoples on earth to serve him.”

The Targum attaches an interpretation to this verse which from the point of view of Christian theology is of great importance:

“The Lord your God will raise up from your midst a prophet by the Holy Spirit who will be like me,” and, “A prophet I will raise up from amongst your brethren, through the Holy Spirit.”

Once again we encounter a messianic expectation in which there are as it were supra-historical features: God will give his people a prophet who will speak in his name, who will be conceived by the Holy Spirit, and whose work will be characterized by the performance of miracles.



Deuteronomy 18.18-19: “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

The midrash finds an important parallel between Moses and the Messiah: “Rabbi Berechiah said in the name of Rabbi Levi: ‘The future messiah will be like his predecessor (Moses): Just as the first redeemer was revealed and then afterward was hidden from them, so too the future redeemer will be revealed to them and then will be hidden from them.’ . . . He who believes in him will live, and he who does not believe will depart to the Gentile nations and they will put him to death.” [Midrash Ruth 5,6 (on Ruth 2.14)]


Deuteronomy 18.18: While we naturally read this verse and look for ways that the Messiah was like Moses, there is an important consideration that should make us consider it from the opposite side. Hebrews 3.1-6: “Therefore, holy brothers, you who share in a heavenly calling, consider Jesus, the apostle and high priest of our confession, who was faithful to him who appointed him, just as Moses also was faithful in all God's house. For Jesus has been counted worthy of more glory than Moses—as much more glory as the builder of a house has more honor than the house itself. (For every house is built by someone, but the builder of all things is God.) Now Moses was faithful in all God's house as a servant, to testify to the things that were to be spoken later, but Christ is faithful over God's house as a son.”

The New Testament teaches us that the Messiah was with God before history began, even before the creation. What he would do here on earth when he finally came had been determined by God from eternity. God had, in fact, determined his entire plan of salvation from before creation. The things that he showed Moses on Mount Sinai were a copy of those real things in heaven. But in the same way, Moses himself was only a shadow, a copy of the real Messiah who was to come. The prophet/Messiah to come was only “like Moses” from our time perspective. From the perspective of eternity, Moses was the copy, like the original Messiah in enough ways that we would be able to recognize him when he came.




Haftarah: Isaiah 51.12—52.12

Isaiah 52.7: “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him who brings good tidings, who publishes peace, who brings good tidings of good, who publishes salvation, who says to Zion, ‘Your God reigns.’”

“In the hour when the Holy One, blessed be his name! redeems Israel, three days before Messiah, comes Elijah, and stands upon the mountains of Israel and weeps and mourns for them, and says to them, ‘You mountains of the land of Israel, how long shall you stand in a dry and desolate land?’ And his voice is heard from the world’s end to the world’s end, and after that he says to them: ‘Peace has come to the world, peace has come to the world; as it is said, “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings,” etc.’ And when the wicked hear it, they rejoice, and they say one to the other: ‘Peace has come to us.’ On the second day he shall stand upon the mountains of Israel and shall say: ‘Good has come to the world, good has come to the world; for it is said, “that brings good tidings of good.”’ On the third day he shall come and stand upon the mountains of Israel, and say: ‘salvation has come to the world, salvation has come to the world; for it is said, “that publishes salvation.”’ And when he will see the wicked say so, he will say unto Zion, “your God reigns.” (Yalkut Shimoni on Isaiah 52.7)


Shabbat Shalom!

All material copyright © 2017, unless stated otherwise for specific material