Saturday 28th August 2021 PARASHAT KI TAVO Herschel
Deut. 26:1-29:9 (29:8 in TaNaCH); Isaiah 60:1-22; Matt 4:13-24 (Rev. 21:10-27)
1 And it shall be, when you come into (Ki
Tavo) the land which the LORD
your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you possess it and dwell in it,
2 that you shall take some of the first ("mereishit") of all the produce of the ground which you gather from
your land that Adonai your God is giving you, put it
in a basket and go to the place Adonai your God chooses to make His
3 you are to go to the kohen in charge in those days and say to him, ‘I
declare today to Adonai your God, that I have entered into the land
Adonai swore to our fathers to give us.'
4 The kohen is to take the basket from your hand and set it down before the
altar of Adonai your God.
‘First’ is the Hebrew ‘reishit’, which infers that the choicest part of the harvest is offered to the Lord. The book of Genesis commences with ‘In the beginning’. In Hebrew, this is bereishit and therefore, the first parasha and the entire book of Genesis is called Bereishit – in the beginning.
The idea of giving the first portion of one’s harvest is first mentioned in Leviticus 23 with regard to Shavuoth – Pentecost.
“When you come into the land which I give you and reap its harvest, then you shall bring a sheaf of the first fruits of your harvest to the priest.” And he shall wave the sheaf before Adonai, to be accepted for you: on the morrow after the Sabbath the priest shall wave it.
On the day after the festival Sabbath, they brought the first ripened sheaths of the barley harvest to the temple where the priest presented it as a wave offering to the LORD. The principle was that if the first portion offering received God’s approval, then His blessing would also be on the entire future harvest. You presented the first-fruits of the harvest to HaShem, and He in turn ensured that the harvest would be plentiful.
The concept of first fruits is rooted in biblical times when people lived in an agrarian society. Harvest time was significant because that was when the hard work the farmers had poured into their crops all year began to pay off. They were literally reaping what they sowed.
The Hebrew word for first fruit is bikkur—literally translated as the “promise to come.” The Israelites saw these first fruits as an investment into their future, the harvesting of what they had sown. This offering acknowledged that “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow” (James 1 :17).
The giving of the first-fruit or bikkur is interpreted as an act of reverencing God, of putting Him first and, as we all know, that when we set Yeshua first and foremost in our lives, blessings flow, even in the midst of shakings!
What is very important is the understanding that this first portion offering (the bikkur) belonged to God and because it was set apart for His usage alone, it became kadosh or holy. And, that which is kadosh or holy cannot be used for the ‘chol or the mundane things of the world. For example, because the bikkur – the 1st portion offering - is kadosh, holy, set apart for God alone - you cannot pay you municipal account with it. It belongs to HaShem! It must be brought as an offering to HaShem to the House of God, which is the gathering of the saints!
Proverbs 3 :9-10
Honour Adonai with your wealth and with the first of your entire harvest. Then your barns will be filled with plenty, your vats will overflow with new wine.
The Hebrew word for ‘honour’ is ‘kaved’ – כָּבֵד. It shares the same root as ‘kavod’, which means ‘to be weighty with glory’, a term that is usually applied to God! What I found interesting is that the Hebrew word for “abundance, riches, wealth’, is ‘kevudah’ which shares the same root as kavod (heavy with glory).
When we honour God with this first portion offering (the bikkur - which is holy, kadosh, set apart for God’s usage alone),
He promises to reward us with kevudah, with abundance and riches.
Devarim 26:16 – 19
16. This day, Hashem, your God, commands (root - mitzvah) you to perform
these decrees (Chukim) and the statutes (mishpatim), and you shall
observe (v’samartah) and perform (v’asitah) them with all your heart and
with all your soul:
17. You have distinguished Hashem today to be a God for you, and to walk in
His ways, and to observe His decrees, His commandments, and His
statutes, and to hearken to His voice:
18. And Hashem has distinguished you today to be for Him a treasured
people (am segulah), as He spoke to you, and to observe all His
19. and to make you supreme over all the nations that He made, for praise,
for renown, and for splendour, and so that you will be a holy people to
Hashem, your God,
Remember, that the context here has to do with bringing the first portion offering to HaShem in the temple. So then, how do we ‘distinguish’ God? By ‘walking in His ways, and to observe His decrees, His commandments, and His statutes, and to hearken to His voice”.
Because Israel accepted the Torah and bound herself to observe the covenant stipulations (na’aseh v’nishmah – we will hear and we will do), it was as if God and Israel entered into a mutually beneficial admiration arrangement. Israel committed herself to allegiance to God and HaShem’s ongoing promise is that “I will be your God and you will be My people”!
You kavod (regard Me as holy), and I will kevudah (bless you with abundance).
19. and to make you supreme over all the nations that He made, for praise, for
renown, and for splendour, and so that you will be a holy people to
Hashem, your God, as He spoke:
You honour and reverence HaShem by giving Him the first-portion offering which is the particular context of this verse (but it applies to all the mitzvot) and He will ensure that as a nation, Israel will be regarded with praise, fame and honour from the nations. Proverbs 14:34 says that ‘righteousness exalts a nation’.
However, the key in bringing this first portion offering – or any offering for that matter – is the heart attitude. It is given to God from a heart of gladness and gratitude, and it sets a high standard of giving that ought to characterise our giving of our time, resources and money as Messiah’s disciples.
This thought lead to two concepts within Jewish theology that many of us are familiar with but just as many are not familiar with. And, these two concepts are:
1. Kiddush HaShem – to honour and distinguish the Father’s great Name and
קִדּוּשׁ הַשֵּׁם Reputation.
2. Chillul HaShem - the direct opposite. To disparage or bring into disrepute
חִלּוּל הַשֵּׁם His great Name and reputation.
They are complementary antonyms and denote the two aspects of one of the most significant concepts in Judaism. They imply, respectively, the glorification of the God of Israel (Kiddush HaShem) or the diminishing of His honour (Chillul HaShem). Although the specific terms are rabbinic, the concepts themselves are biblical in origin and are included among the 613 commandments. All Israelites as a nation were subject to these principles, although the priests were especially cautioned to avoid Cḥillul ha-Shem (Lev. 21:6; 22:2), because they served closest to the divine Presence.
Making a Kiddush HaShem isn’t just about the big things; it’s something we can do every day. Ultimately, every believer should see themselves as a living billboard testifying to the risen Lord and the gift of the Ru’ach in our lives. When we live lives that honour God, we have a ripple effect on the people around us. We are taught about Kiddush HaShem by Yeshua Himself:
"You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. Neither do people light a lamp and put it under a basket. Instead, they put it on a lampstand so it gives light to all in the house. In the same way, let your light shine before men so they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven."
May you and I determine to be light, salt and a fragrance that will lift up the Name of Yeshua in our going to, and coming from, especially in these confusing days that we are living in. Now is the time to shine!