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Thursday, July 19, 2018

Your Daily Pesuk July 19, 2018

 Devarim /  דברים

  • Thu, 19 July 2018 = 7th of Av, 5778
  • ז׳ בְּאָב תשע״ח
Deuteronomy 2:2-30 (29 p'sukim)

The 29 Pesukim we have before us today are filled with various themes and topics that could be elucidated.  However, today, I feel it is important to comment on names of the various "people groups" mentioned in the Parasha, for a specific reason.  I want to discuss the topic of "Biblical Morality".  I'm not talking about traditional "family values" that are so often disregarded as "outdated" in our modern society; rather I want the reader to recognize the problem with inserting our cultural and 21st century values into the Biblical Text. 

Many people object to God and the Bible because they see its morality as "Flawed" and "Uncivilized" and frankly "Unfair".  Recently, I heard a caller on the Dennis Prager show call and complain to a guest host, (Bob Frantz, I believe) that the Bible is no better than the Koran with all of its immoral treatment of woman, and barbarism of cutting off head and hands; cruel punishments for even minor infractions and the caller said that the Bible is no different and she cited how the Children of Israel were told "by God" to go and kill women and children and wipe out whole nations - yet the Jews are the first ones today to cry out against genocide and Holocaust - when "they", she said, were the ones to start it all.

That's a pretty high indictment against the God of Israel and the Bible.  Bob did the best he could to argue against it, albeit admitting he was NOT a theologian.  So how can we look at the Torah and see the difference between the barbarism of Islam, and the judgement of a Righteous God to disposes a nation from its lands and possessions? 

Today, we see these various "Pre-Canaanite Nations" listed.  (i.e. Nations that dwelled in the area of Israel today even before the Canaanites did!).  See this list...

Deut. 2:10 (The Emim used to live there—a great and numerous people, as tall as the Anakim. 11 These people also are considered Rephaim, like the Anakim; but the Moabites call them Emim. 12 Now the Horites used to live in Seir, but the sons of Esau drove them out and destroyed them from before themselves and settled in their place—just as Israel did to the land of its possession that Adonai gave to them.)...

17 Adonai spoke to me saying, 18 ‘Today you are about to cross the border of Moab at Ar. 19 When you come opposite the sons of Ammon, do not harass or provoke them—for I will not give you any of the land of the sons of Ammon for a possession, because I have given it to the sons of Lot for a possession. 20 (That also is considered a land of Rephaim. Rephaim used to live there, but the Ammonites call them Zamzummim— 21 a great and numerous people, as tall as the Anakim. 

So who are all these Pre-Canaanite people and who cares, how does that relate to us today?

The three most significant names mentioned are the Emim, Rephaim, and Anakim.  According to the Jewish Encyclopedia:

"Josephus ("Ant." 3:14) relates that the spies found at Hebron the posterity of the giants and this tallies with Joshua 14:15 , according to which Hebron was the city of Arba, "the greatest man among the Anakim" ("the father of Anak," Joshua 21:11 the Septuagint has the "brother" of Anak). See Moore, "Judges," pp. 24 et seq. and Driver, "Commentary on Deuteronomy," pp. 23,40 (note) the letter refers also to Goliath as one of the sons of Rafa, the giant of Gath."

This account by Josephus seems to be the predicate for the Jewish tradition that these "Giants" (as Goliath was thought to be a descendant of...), were some how survivors of the Flood of Noah. 

According to rabbinical tradition (Gen. Rabbah 26.), the Anakim are of the same Titanic race as the Rephaim, Nefilim, Gibborim, Zamzummim, and Emim. The name (as though containing the element ' anak = neck) is explained in the Midrash (Gen. R. 26.) as indicating that they wore "neck-chains heaped upon neck-chains," or, as if from the verb "to press," "force," that they seized the solar disk and cried, "Send us rain," or that "they squeezed their heads into the sun" (Soṭ ah, 34 b see Rashi on Yoma, 10 a ). Of the three sons of Anak who filled the spies with awe and fear by their gigantic stature, Ahiman, Sheshai, and Talmai (Numbers 12:22-33 ), the first is represented in Num. R. 16: Tan., Shelaḥ , 7, ed. Buber, 11, as challenging passers-by, saying: "Whose brother will fight with me?" (a play upon "Ahiman" = brother of whom) the second stood there stolid as a block of marble (a play upon shesh = marble), and the third made deep furrows (a play upon telamim = furrows) in the soil with every step. (Compare Soṭ ah, 34 b Yoma, 10 a , which has a somewhat different and possibly corrupt version see Buber, notes to Tan. l.c. ) And when the spies saw these men towering up to the sky and looking as if piercing the sun, they were afraid and said: "We are not able to go up against these people, for they are stronger than He, that is, stronger than even the Lord Himself!" (Numbers 13:31 ).

This is the key pesuk to unpacking the "Giants" tradition that some "survived" the Flood.  The testimony of the 10 spies was nothing but pure hysteria.  It was an embellished account of what they actually saw.  And indeed while the fruit was quite large (as the cluster of grapes that they had brought back with them were); that however does not translate to "Giants who Survived the Flood"!!!! 

Remember, the purpose of the 10 spies testimony was to put fear into the hearts of the B'nei Yisrael to get them to question Moses and God and reject the Land. 

The Adversary, (Hasatan) is a liar, and the Father of Lies.  The Torah clearly states:

Genesis 7:21 All flesh perished—those that crawl on the land, the flying creatures, livestock, wild animals, all creatures that swarm upon the land, and all humankind. 22 Everything that had the breath of the spirit of life in its nostrils—everything on dry land—died. 23 So He wiped out all existence that was upon the surface of the ground, everything from people to livestock, to crawling creatures, and to flying creatures of the sky. They were wiped out off the land. Only Noah and those with him in the ark survived

The Nefilim were indeed Giants prior to the flood, and were likely the offspring of demons consorting with the "daughters of men"; (Gen.6:1-2); in a Satanic attempt to corrupt human seed to prevent the coming of Messiah whom was prophesied to come and "bruise the head of the serpent" (Gen. 3:15).  Humanity had indeed become so corrupt; not only physically, but also SPIRITUALLY.  There is a point of spiritual contamination that human beings can achieve in where they forfeit their right to exist.  And this is where Biblical Morality comes into the discussion about these Pre-Canaanite nations.

You see, just before the Flood back in Gen. 6, it is written:

Gen. 6:5 Then Adonai saw that the wickedness of humankind was great on the earth, and that every inclination of the thoughts of their heart was only evil all the time. 6 So Adonai regretted that He made humankind on the earth, and His heart was deeply pained. 7 So Adonai said, “I will wipe out humankind, whom I have created, from the face of the ground, from humankind to livestock, crawling things and the flying creatures of the sky, because I regret that I made them.”

This was no less than genocide.  But was it "immoral"?  That is the question.  It is God's creation, it is His to possess and His prerogative.  At this point Human Kind had fallen to a level of spiritual impurity that was no longer tolerable to the Almighty.  Apparently then, there is a limit of how evil a person or a nation becomes before it is judged.  This is Biblical Morality and it is defined by God and His Word, not by anyone else.

According to the Talmud, "Fifty gates of understanding were created in the world, and all of them were given to Moses, except for one gate, for it is stated: “The words of the Lord are purified shivatayim,” which he understands to mean seven times seven, i.e., forty-nine, and it is stated: “And You have made him a little less than God” (Psalms 8:6). God created fifty gates of understanding, but He made man a little lower than God, giving him only forty-nine of them. (Rosh Hashanah 21b).

Humanity had reached the 50th level of spiritual impurity and contamination, which required a purging.  God promised though He'd never do it again on a universal scale: (Gen. 9:11).  However, that does NOT mean a group of people or a single nation cannot fall to this level of evil and not warrant capital punishment.

Based on this rabbinic understanding, we are taught that when Israel worshiped the Golden Calf, they fell to the 49th level of spiritual impurity; and were in grave danger of one more level and God would have wiped them out.  In fact right after that incident God did offer to kill them all and make a new nation out of Moses!  (Exodus 32:9-14).  Had it not been for an intercessor, Moses, Israel certainly would've been destroyed.

If God could wipe out all humanity (save for Noah and his sons), and if He also was about to wipe out Israel for their sin... it is not outside of logic to understand how we find that these Pre-Canaanite nations mentioned in our Pesukim today: Emim, Rephaim, and the Anakim; had all reached that level themselves and were dispossessed by the Canaanites.  

And so too were the Canaanites who were guilty of child sacrifice as well as all the abominations listed in the Torah telling Israel what NOT to commit, as the Torah says:

Leviticus 18:27 “For all these abominations were done by the men of the land who were before you, and the land became defiled. 28 If you defile it, the land will vomit you out as it vomited out the nation that was before you. 29 For whoever does any of these detestable things, the souls that do them are to be cut off from the midst of their people. 30 Therefore you are to keep My charge, so that you do not practice any of these detestable customs that were practiced before you, so that you do not defile yourselves by them. I am Adonai your God.”

In conclusion:  the Pre-Canaanite nations that are mentioned today, were NOT descendants of the Pre-Flood Giants known as the Nefilim!  THEY SIMPLY WERE NATIONS THAT HAD BECOME SO CONTAMINATED THEY FORFEITED THEIR RIGHT TO EXIST (i.e. Just like Sodom & Gomorrah) - 

These three nations were replaced by the Canaanites, and in turn they were replaced by Israel.  Israel too sinned against the Lord and all of the plagues and exiles have come upon the Jews, just as Adonai had warned.

Therefore, there is nothing immoral with God's Biblical Morality.  He is Righteous when He judges and finally, THERE IS NO CONTRADICTION IN HIS PERFECT WORD.

When the Bible says that no one survived the Flood (other than Noah's family); that means NO ONE.

May Israel and the U.S. never fall to those spiritual levels of contamination!  Amen.

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