Category Archives: Torah

Deuteronomy 4:12-20: You saw no form (of God) on the Mountain

Moses reminds the children of Israel in Deu. 4:15 that they are to “…Watch yourselves carefully, since you did not see any form on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire.” This is repeated several times to emphasize God’s admonition against idolatry but Moses also prophesies they will ignore this warning and God will have to rebuke them harshly for their idolatry.

Thought Questions

  • What subject matter starts Deut. 4?
    • What is the common perceptions of Moses in movies?
    • How does Deuteronomy change that picture of him?
    • Does it give a clue as to what is meant by the saying “a prophet after Moses”?
  • How does this book describe an interaction between Moshe and God that is similar to the ineteractions and relationship between Yeshua and the Father?
  • What do you think of as attributes of “the kingdom of God”?
    • What does God wan us to do in his Kingdom as described in Deut. 4?
  • How can we have love flowing from our hearts from the 10 Words, the 10 commandments?
  • Why did God give the 10 words as described in the “First Word”, aka the “Jewish version” of the First commandment?
  • Which one of the Words is aimed at government?
  • What did Moshe say about the importance of the 10 words in Deut. 4:9?
  • What’s the difference between saying “I believe God” and “I believe in God”?
  • WHy does Moshe say “you saw no form” (Deut. 4:15) again and again?
    • How is this connected with the temptation of idolatry?
    • How does depicting God limit your belief?
    • How is this similar to the reaction of Yeshua’s neigbors in Nazareth to his Minstry?
    • What is dangerous about dwelling on the passage “God is love” or saying “God is this or that”?
  • How is this connected to the challenge in obeying the commandment to “honor your mother and father”?
  • Should we make images of fish, doves, stars of David?
    • What are God’s symbols?
    • Are they images of God?
  • Are there any other spiritual beings who have brought human beings to themselves for the benefit of their followers?
    • Which “prinicipalities of the air” really loves you?
  • What was the purpose of the 40 years in the wilderness for Israel?
    • How is this similar to Messiah’s saying that He can make sons of Abraham out of stones?
  • Does God love you with all His heart, with all His soul, and all His strength?
    • What are we looking into through the book of Deuteronomy?


Deuteronomy 4:1–11: Keep your soul diligently

Scripture tells us that man’s heart is “deceitful above all things.” This chapter gives us some guidelines on how a believer is to train his/her heart so it is inclined towards God rather than towards the cares of this world. Deut. 4 teaches us to follow God’s statutes, judgements and commands. We are also called to understand that giving our heart to God is not a one time decision but as it says in Deut. 4:9, “Only give heed to yourself and keep your soul diligently, so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life…”

Thought questions Continue reading Deuteronomy 4:1–11: Keep your soul diligently

Deuteronomy 2–3: Conquering foes old and new

As the second generation of Israel post-Mitsraim (Egypt) prepared to enter the Promised Land after 40 years of banishment, the people must face foes that wouldn’t quit and had long histories with Israel. Trust in Israel’s Savior gave the people courage to conquer those enemies. Likewise, our trust in God can bring us through even the most seemingly unwinnable struggle.

Thought questions

  • Was YHWH’s (the LORD) action to make Sihon king of Heshbon “stubborn” and “obstinate” (Deuteronomy 2:30) similar to the “hardening” of Pharoah’s heart during the 10 plagues before the exodus of Israel from Egypt (Exodus 7–14)?
  • What does it mean when God said He “hated” Esau and “loved” Ya’akov (Jacob) in Malachi 1?
    • If God hated Esau, why would he not allow Israel to conquer the land of Esau’s descendants, Edom?
  • Some translations of the Bible have passages in parentheses, like Deuteronomy 2:10–12. Why is that?
    • Who was Amalek, as first mentioned in Exodus 17?
      • How was Amalek related to Israel?
    • When did Israel actually conquer Seir and regions east of the Yarden (Jordan) River, which forms Israel’s eastern border?
    • Why is the other name for the book of Deuteronomy Devarim, Hebrew for “words”?
  • Where in the Land of Israel is the Zered Valley?
    • What was so significant about the people and cities of the two kings that Israel had to displace?
  • What does the Hebrew word for “courage” communicate?
    • How is “courage” related to faith in God?
      • How did Israel have faith — courage — in God in entering the Promised Land?
    • Why did Moshe fall face-down before God when the people challenged his authority (Numbers 16:3–5)?
      • How, then, do we face challenges in our lives?
      • What does God do with our boasting in our strength?

Deuteronomy 1: Charter for born-again Israel

There are times we just want a do-over on our lives, to hit the reset button. Ancient Israel needed such a new beginning after repeated rebellions against the LORD, the Savior from bondage in Mitsraim (Egypt), led to the nation’s judgment to remain outside the Promised Land for 40 years, until the first generation died out.

Thus begins the “second telling,” or deuteronomy, of who Israel was, where the nation was going and why. It’s also lesson for the “new creation” we become in the eyes of Heaven because of Yeshua haMashiakh (Jesus the Christ).

Thought questions

  • Why does it say “Mt. Sinai” and “Mt. Horeb” when referring to the same mountain?
    • What writer wrote Deuteronomy?
    • How are the three different authors found in the Torah compare to the three synoptic gospels?
    • How do critics use the book of Deuteronomy to dispute the route Israel took from Egypt to the Promised Land, i.e. the Land of Israel?
  • Why did Moshe (Moses) go through this history in this chapter?
    • Why is that history so important to our spiritual lives?
  • Where is Mt. Seir, and how do we know whether it was on what is now called the Sinai Peninsula?
  • Where is the desert of Paran in relation to the Promised Land?
  • What does suph mean in Hebrew, commonly translated as “reed,” as in the “Sea of Reeds”?
    • How language does suph actually come from, rather than from Hebrew?
    • What is the Hebrew meaning of Edom, the nation descended from Yitzkhak’s (Isaac) son Esau that occupied the area southeast of the Dead Sea south to the northeastern shore of what is now called the Gulf of Aqabah?
    • How does that meaning of Edom point to where the Red Sea really is?
  • How does this account give us a deeper perspective of the events of the exodus of Israel from slavery in Egypt and the wanderings of Israel in the wilderness?
  • What was the difference between how Moshe related to God and how other prophets related to Him?
    • What did YHWH (the LORD) mean when He told Moshe that He would “raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him” (Deuteronomy 18:15)?
    • Why is it important to “hear Moshe” first then “hear the Lamb,” or the Messiah, as suggested in Revelation 15:13?
    • What was the purpose of the “New Testament,” according to Jeremiah 31?
    • If we can enter the kingdom of God without “listening to Moshe,” i.e. just focusing on the Apostolic Scriptures, is it really necessary to “listen,” to read the Torah and the Prophetic Writings (a.k.a. Old Testament)?
    • What does Messiah’s Parable of the 10 Virgins (Matthew 25) say to this question?
    • Is that parable teaching that God isn’t working in the lives of those who don’t have God’s oil, His Word, in their minds?
  • Why did Moshe go to the mountain a second time?
    • How does it relate to Moshe’s relationship with God?
    • Why did God have Moshe cut the two stone tablets out to have God write on them?
    • How does it relate to Jeremiah 31?
    • Where were the second set of tablets put versus being broken?

Numbers 34–36: Big vision for Israel’s borders in Messianic age

The borders of the modern state of Israel are a fraction of the territory the LORD granted the long ago. The promises for a much larger area from Genesis to Revelation speak to the wider vision of many nations in the Kingdom of Heaven and how our vision for our own potential may be too narrow.

Thought questions

Numbers 34

  • Why is it important to know the borders of the Promised Land God brought Israel into?
    • Which location did God start from in delineating Israel’s borders?
    • What are the meanings of the names of these places?
    • What’s the connection of the location of the southern border and where the spies entered?
    • Where is Mt. Hor on the northern border?
  • When looking at modern Israel, how does it compare to the land God established?
    • What about the writings in the prophets about Israel being cast out of the land?
    • Upon Messiah’s return, will the inheritance go to the original owners (Ezek. 47:13-20)?

Numbers 35

  • What is the significance of the names of people?
    • What do the names mean, such as Ephraim and Manasseh?
  • How many cities did the Levites inherit in the land and where were those cities located?
  • How does God view murder and capital punishment?
    • Is the ransoming of a murderer what we call a “plea bargain”?
      • Does God see different degrees of murder, like we do today?
      • How does this compare with the passage, “Vengeance is mine, says the LORD, I will repay” (Deut. 32:35)?
    • Is the rite about the “blood avenger” advocating lynching?
      • How do the refuge cities factor into this?
    • Modern case law and pundits say that capital punishment makes society no better than the murderer. Does this mean that God is “mean,” “barbaric” or “archaic”?
      • How does the account of the Flood and God’s reaction to having to send it answer this question?
      • What does this chapter say about the attitude of the blood avenger in carrying out the execution?
    • How does bloodshed pollute the land?
    • What is the lesson of capital punishment and the sacrifices?
      • What is the connection between the Messiah and the blood avenger?

Numbers 32–33: Reuben and Gad linger east of Jordan; remembering the Exodus

We may be tempted to give up when the end of our jobs, our relationships or lives are looming. Yet Moshe embodies apostle Paul’s encouragement to “fight the good fight” and “run the race” with all we have until we reach our goal or it’s time to pass the baton to the next person. Moshe encouraged the tribes of Reuben and Gad to pitch in to the hard settlement of Canaan, even when their new home was secured.

Thought questions

  • What are the “high places”?
  • How many campsites were there between Egypt to the entry into Canaan?
    • What’s the significance of the number of sites?
  • What is the setting of the book of Deuteronomy?
  • Why did Reuben and Gad want to stay on the east side of the Jordan?
    • What was involved in conquering that?
    • What geography is east of that area?
    • What was Moses’ response to their request?
    • What would be the consequence if they weren’t part of the conquest of Canaan?
    • How did God deal with the first generation that rebelled against God?
      • How did God impress this upon the second generation?
    • How would Reuben’s and Gad’s reticence affect the rest of the tribes?
    • How was the message that God got across during the 40 years in the desert related to their relationship to each other and to God?
    • How did Gad and Reuben respond?
      • Did all the people of those two tribes go over the Jordan with the other tribes?
  • Who were the leaders of the people and did most of the leadership?
    • Moshe (Moses)?
    • Aharon (Aaron)?
    • Eleazar?
    • How’s that form of government similar to our form of government?
  • Num. 32:28-30 is one of the first times Moshe makes provision for how things will work after he is no longer around. How long did Moshe have to conquer the east side of Jordan?
    • How was that timeframe connected to Moshe’s  coming death?
    • What does that diligence say about Moshe’s character?
    • What did he realize about the importance of what God has been building in the people of Israel after the Exodus?
  • How is the division of the territory of Manasseh important to keeping the tribes together?
    • What was the significance of the half-tribe that was on the east side of the Jordan?
    • What did Gad andf Reuben do with the cities they conquered? How did the east half of Manasseh do it?
    • How much did Moshe know about Israel’s future?
      • How did that play into the division of the territory of Manasseh?
      • What does that say?
  • Most of the meanings of the of place names in Moses’ list  of camps has been lost. What’s the signifcance in the number of generations to Messiah and the number of campsites from Moshe’s leaving Egypt to Joshua’s entering Canaan?
    • What’s the significance of the multiples of 6 and 7?
    • Some ideas have surfaced about the meaning of the 42 camp sites:
      1. Could they be 42 steps to achieve godliness?
      2. Could the place names be symbolic of the generations connected in the previously mentioned time spans?
        • Ramses to Sukkot
        • Abram to when Abram was called out
  • What were the five requirements for Israel in conquering the land?
    1. Expel people.
    2. Destroy carved images.
    3. Demolish high places.
    4. Divide the land by lots.
    5. Live in the land.
  • How successful was Israel in these five?
    • How do the sages interpret “barbs” and “thorns” in the curse for nonobedience?
    • How did God follow through with this promise to “to to you what I plan to do to them”?

Numbers 31: Israel battles Midian after prurient sneak attack

The call for Israel to attack Midian, located on the southwestern coast of modern-day Saudi Arabia, comes after Midian’s plot to send in women to lure Israel away from the LORD. That, in turn, came because the LORD wouldn’t allow Bilam (Balaam) to curse Israel.