Summary: Tree of Life Messianic Congregation. God promised us a garden - we lost it. He promised a land of our own. We lost it. He promised us a Messiah - Don't lose this promise, please.

20210717 Parsha Devarim – Promises, Promises


Torah: Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22 Reading Deut 1:1-8

Haftarah: Isaiah 1:1-27 Reading Isaiah 1:21-27

Brit Chadashah: 1 John 4:7-14

Devarim (?????) is both the title for the last book from the scroll of the Torah and the title of the first Torah portion therein. Devarim means "words." The English-speaking world calls this book Deuteronomy. The Hebrew title for the book comes from the opening phrase of the book: "These are the words (devarim) which Moses spoke to all Israel across the Jordan in the wilderness" (Deuteronomy 1:1).

One ancient name for the book of Deuteronomy is Mishnah HaTorah (???? ????), which means "repetition of the Torah." This is similar to the Greek Septuagint name Deuteronomos, which means "second law." The English name Deuteronomy is derived from Deuteronomos.

The book of Deuteronomy is dominated by Moses' farewell address to the children of Israel as he urges them to remain faithful to the covenant and prepares them for entering Canaan. During the course of the book, Moses reviews the story of the giving of the Torah at Sinai and the trip to the Promised Land, reiterates several laws of Torah and introduces new laws.

As we study the first week's reading from the book of Deuteronomy, the children of Israel are poised on the plains of Moab across the Jordan from Jericho ready to go in and take the land.

We must remember, however, that the generation of B’nei Israel who are about to embark in this campaign to claim the Promises of ADONAI, are not the ones who were originally intended to make the triumphant march. Recall that, in Numbers 13 the Twelve Spies sent by Moses to observe the land of Canaan returned from their mission.

27 They gave their account to him and said, “We went into the land where you sent us. It IS flowing with milk and honey — this is some of its fruit. 28 Except, the people living in the land are powerful, and the cities are fortified and very large.” 32They spread among Bnei-Yisrael a bad report about the land they had explored…

Only two of the spies, Joshua and Caleb, brought a positive report, while the others spoke disparagingly about the land. The majority report caused B’nei Israel to cry, panic and despair of ever entering the "Promised Land".

For this, the Mishnah (Taanit 4:6) declares that they were punished by God and that their generation would not enter the land. The midrash further implies that God addressed the grumbling and disbelieving masses, saying "You cried before me pointlessly, I will fix for you [this day as a day of] crying for the generations." Tradition holds that the day that B’nei Israel rejected God’s gift of Canaan was on the 9th of Av, and that the date of Tisha B’Av has become, and continues to evolve as a Jewish day of Mourning for a host of tragedies which occurred on or near the 9th of Av.

After the rejection of the first generation of Israelite refugees from Egypt, which established the ominous date of Tisha B’Av, other significant events that firmly cemented the date as an anniversary of destruction include:

• The First Temple, built by King Solomon, was destroyed by Nebuchadnezzar in 587 BCE, on the 7th of Av (2 Kings 25:8) and continued until the 10th (Jeremiah 52:12) and the elite of the Kingdom of Judah were sent into the Babylonian exile.


• The Second Temple built by Zerubbabel was destroyed by the Romans in 70 CE, scattering the people of Judea and commencing the Jewish exile from the Holy Land.


• The Romans subsequently crushed Bar Kokhba's revolt and destroyed the city of Betar, killing over 500,000 Jewish civilians (approximately 580,000) on August 4, 135 CE.


• Following the Bar Kokhba revolt, Roman commander Turnus Rufus plowed the site of the Temple in Jerusalem and the surrounding area, in 135 CE.


Throughout the generations, in addition to the tragedies of ancient Jewish history, other events which have occurred around the 9th of Av include:

• The First Crusade officially commenced on August 15, 1096 (Av 24, AM 4856), killing 10,000 Jews in its first month and destroying Jewish communities in France and the Rhineland.


• The Jews were expelled from England on July 18, 1290 (Av 9, AM 5050)

• The Jews were expelled from France on July 22, 1306 (Av 10, AM 5066).

• The Jews were expelled from Spain on July 31, 1492 (Av 7, AM 5252).


• Germany entered World War I on August 1–2, 1914 (Av 9–10, AM 5674), which caused massive upheaval in European Jewry and whose aftermath led to the Holocaust.

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