Hebrew Roots/Torah observance/Shoftim

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Shoftim-Judges Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9

A detailed description is given in this parasha of the government which is to be set up to rule over the people and to guide them. Defined in the Scriptures are: the status of judges, how they are to be appointed, the principle by which they are to serve, the judicial system, the qualifications and selection of the king, the roles of the prophets, priests and Levites. These include the requirements for a judicial system, specific guidelines for a government headed by a king or regent, inheritance for the priesthood, prohibitions against various forms of false worship, how to deal with true or false prophets, the establishment of cities of refuge, laws regarding boundaries, commands for military warfare, and how to handle the discovery of a slain person in any tribal territory.

The main theme of this portion of Torah is summed up in one of the first verses: “Justice, only justice, you must pursue;…” Whether discussing the testimony of witnesses or the support of the Levites or the cities of refuge; justice has to be pursued in our lives. Moving boundary markers or going to war or cutting down trees; we must know what is just. And the purpose of providing judges is that if we aren’t sure, because sometimes the issue can get muddled, then Yahweh has provided that there be men and women (i.e. Deborah) with wisdom who sit in the position of ‘judges’.


The Shoftim portion concentrates on justice and what God requires of His people as they enter the Land of Promise. The Creator, who is absolutely righteous and just, is very concerned that His chosen people maintain justice as they establish a governing system in Canaan. For without righteous justice, God knows that any society will fail due to the human inclination toward evil inherited in the fallen nature. Yahweh is very specific about these different areas of concern, because He recognizes that conflict is inevitable and that people need absolute rules and regulations in order to resolve conflict. By detailing these ordinances from God, Moshe is giving the sons of Israel some fundamental guidelines for handling the different issues that will arise in the life of the nation. Chapter 20 deals with the national army and war, a natural continuation of the subject of government in Israel.

Israel has been called to be a “light unto the nations.” Now, as the sons of Israel are preparing to enter into the Promised Land, Moshe will no longer be the person to turn to for resolution of conflict as he did in the wilderness. As the different tribes inherit their specific territories, it will be incumbent upon each tribe to appoint judges to handle the conflict that is inevitable in human affairs and then over all a high court (the Sanhedrin) where matters which are not resolved by the lower courts in each locality may be taken.

Moshe lists a number of commands and criteria for the people who are to be appointed by the various tribes to function as judges and officers over disputes between people. Yahweh God has designed man to be self-correcting and self-governing in order to maintain a testimony before Him in order to not incur His stricter judgment.

These principles were that they were to “judge the people with righteous judgment”, “not distort justice; .. not be partial, .. not take a bribe, .. .. “Justice, and only justice, you shall pursue, that you may live and possess the land which Yahweh your God is giving you” (Deuteronomy 16:18-20).

The three basic criteria that Jethro originally counseled Moshe to discern in a judge were: “men who fear God, men of truth and those who hate dishonest gain.” (Exodus 18:13-24) In many respects, these are similar character traits that Moshe is instructing the sons of Israel to find in the judges that will preside over conflict in each of the cities that will be established in the tribal territories about to be conquered.

The first attribute that a judge must have is a healthy fear of Yahweh. In selecting judges, one must understand that the fear of Yahweh is the beginning of wisdom. (Proverbs 9:10). Therefore, in the selection of judges, the people must discern that the judges truly fear the Holy One of Israel. Fear generates wisdom, which in turn gives one knowledge and then understanding of the Holy One. By fearing the Creator, one recognizes that His justice is absolutely perfect in all of its ways. The goal is then to attempt to emulate His perfect justice and be partial toward the wealthy or the poor.

The second attribute that a judge must have is to be a man of truth. In other words, one needs to recognize that truth comes from the very Word of God embodied in the covenants and the testimonies of the Almighty. By studying and applying the absolutes of the written Word, a judge is not relying upon his own standards but the standards of the Holy One. (Psalm 25:9-10).

The third attribute that is required of a judge is that he hates dishonest gain. Moshe elaborates this point in this portion to further qualify the perversion of justice that comes from a bribe: “and you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous” (Deuteronomy 16:18). In this statement Moshe indicates that even the wise and righteous will be blinded if he is bribed. Therefore, the need to hate dishonest gain is paramount.

The etymology of the Hebrew word for bribery “shochad” is “chad” - “one.” When a judge accepts bribery from a litigant he becomes “one” with him and he can no longer judge objectively the argument of the other litigant. (according to the Gemara (Ketubot 105b) Alternatively, according to the Gemara (Shabbat 10a), when a judge rules a case honestly he becomes a partner with Yahweh God. An honest judge is one who has a mind of his own. He does not permit people to influence him, nor does he waiver one iota from Torah teaching. An improper judge is one who permits himself to be easily influenced by the whims and wills of those around him. He is compared to a tree since he bends and sways to all sides in the wind of public opinion, trying to satisfy the group with the most potential for advancing his interests. The Torah must be the basis of all judgement and although Rashi advocates obedience even if the authorities are in error this is not the meaning of the scripture.

The bottom line for Israel is that God requires His judges to exercise, to the best of their human ability, justice that is a reflection of His perfect justice. By placing the above criteria upon the judges selected for the different cities, Israel, or any subsequent society has the best chance of administering justice in a fair and equitable manner.

The Legal System

“Judges (Shophtim) and police (or officers - shotrim) shall you give yourselves in all of your gates...” (16:18). If a matter arises which is too complex [lit. too wonderful] for them to adjudicate and there was a controversy or disagreement which arose as to the guilt or punishment to be executed in the lower court of an area, then they were to get up and go to the Place, where Yahweh had placed His name to the priests and presiding judge there of the high court (the Sanhedrin) and bring the matter to them for them to make a ruling which then would be binding upon the lower court to execute.

Thus, the lower courts would not dispute with one another and the High Court would take final responsibility for transmitting the laws accurately. Hence the Torah prescribes a legal system that consists of two circles. The outer circle involves the establishment of courts in “all of your gates,” while the inner circle describes a court that is located in the “place that God will choose” (i.e. the Temple), which serves as the final arbiter in all matters of doubt arising in the courts that are “in your gates.” “...for out of Zion shall go forth the law and the word of God from Jerusalem (Isaiah 2:3).” A full measure of justice can take place only in the ‘presence’ of God - “...in the midst of the judges, He gives judgment” (Psalms 82:1).

There were three types of courts in Israel. One had three judges, another had 23 judges, and the last one had 71 judges. Cities with a population of less than 120 people had a court, beit din, with three judges. Cities with a population greater than 120 people had a beit din that consisted of 23 judges, which was called “a little sanhedrin”. Courts consisting of three judges could only judge cases concerning money . There had to be a court with 23 judges in order to pass judgments concerning life and death. In Yerushalayim there were three courts, two with 23 judges and one with 71, where the high priest presided as the leader. The one with 71 judges was called “the great Sanhedrin”, and is often translated as “the Sanhedrin”. The men who made up the great Sanhedrin had a designated gathering place in the temple.

Authorities Ordained by Yahweh

In Exodus 21:22 and 22: 8 instructions for courts to resolve disputes was taught. Now a formal command is given that they be established in every city of Israel. In addition to judges (shoftim), ‘shoterim’ also are required which function as officers of the court to carry out the court’s decisions and enforce the laws of the shoftim (judges). These would circulate in the public places and summon violators and bring them to the court for adjudication. A modern counterpart would be the function of sheriffs and deputies as officers of the peace (i.e. - police) Officers are necessary to execute the decisions of the courts of justice.

These men were to serve Yahweh and teach the people according to Torah. The Father was so sure of His appointments that He told the people they should be put to death if the people did not “then act according to what they (the Judges) have told you.” And, it was to be the hand of the witness to the offence that was to be the first to execute the judgement, thus making that person responsible for their testimony, knowing that they would have to follow through and put their hand to the person, making a witness more careful to be correct in his testimony, understanding that it would mean the person’s life if they made wrong assumptions or their ‘evidence’ was not valid. The life sentence also deters offenders.

When we come to the new covenant, the apostles were chosen by our Messiah Himself. Those apostles then fasted and prayed before laying hands on others, thus imparting to them the ordained authority to judge. In our scriptures in Timothy, Paul warns “Do not be hasty in granting s’mikhah to anyone,” S’mikhah is the granting of authority by the laying on of hands, a Hebrew custom. Yeshua referred to this system of justice in Matthew 18:15-20 where two or three are to decree the judgement.

We are supposed to be able to trust the authorities Yahweh places over us if they have been divinely appointed.  Yeshua transferred the role of the ‘shoftim’ and ‘shoferim’ from the scribes and Pharisees who had continued the line of succession and sat in “Moshe’s seat” of authority,  to His chosen ministry of apostles and prophets.  (Matthew 18:15-20; 16:19; 23:2-3)

We see the exercise of this authority in Acts 15 regarding regulations for the believers coming to the faith from the “Gentiles”. We must begin to pray for mature men to arise in our assemblies and fellowships. People who are humble, but sure of the place Yahweh has chosen for them to serve Him. Older women also are to have a role in teaching the younger women - Titus 2:4 Let us seek after the wisdom of Yahweh for the controversies in our lives. He has set up those to be judges. Let us not presume to know what is best. 1 Timothy 5:17-21

“If a case comes before you at your city gate which is too difficult for you to judge, concerning bloodshed, civil suit, personal injury or ANY OTHER controversial issue; you are to get up, go to the place which Yahweh your God will choose, and appear before the priests, who are Levites, and the judge in office at the time. Seek their opinion, and they will render a verdict for you. You will then act according to what they have told you there in that place which Yahweh will choose; you are to take care to act according to all their instructions. In accordance with the Torah they teach you, you are to carry out the judgment they render, not turning aside to the right or the left from the verdict they declare to you. Anyone presumptuous enough not to pay attention to the priest appointed there to serve Yahweh your Elohim or to the judge---that person must die. Thus you will exterminate such wickedness from Isra’el---all the people will hear about it and be afraid to continue acting presumptuously.” (17:8-13) Moshe is teaching respect and obedient to the spiritual leaders Yahweh has placed over us. We must follow their wise counsel at all times and not only when it suits our fleshly nature, understanding of course that the leader’s appointment is legitimate.

Establishing Evidence

Evidence is to be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses (17:6 and 19:15). One could not be accused of a crime without the testimony of two or three eyewitnesses. This admonition is repeated in the apostolic scriptures.

• Matthew 18:16, “But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established."

• 2 Corinthians 13:1, “This is the third time I am coming to you. In the mouth of two or three witnesses shall every word be established."

• 1 Timothy 5:19, “Against an elder receive not an accusation, but before two or three witnesses."

• Hebrews 10:28, “He that despised Moshe’ law died without mercy under two or three witnesses.”

Most gossip and slander would stop if this commandment were followed, and hence much division and strife within the Body of Believers. How many times have you repeated hearsay and gossip without checking the source. Even if you know it to be true, is it beneficial and righteous to report it to others? One Jewish rabbi goes so far as to say that Messiah has not come back because of all our gossip and slander. At the very least, the Ruach is greatly grieved, our intimacy with Yahweh God is diminished, our marriages, families, friendships and congregations are hurt or destroyed because we speak things which should not be uttered.

How often do we accuse, slander, gossip about other people through use of the “evil tongue” (lashon hora) without going through proper channels and following proper protocols as Yeshua instructed in Matthew 18? How often do we attack others and spread our evil reports and accusations about others when we were not eyewitnesses to what occurred or were not even involved in the matter? How often do we attack Yahweh’s leaders and accuse them of evil when there are no other witnesses? Yahweh hates those who sow discord among brethren and lying false witnesses (Prov. 6:16-17,19).

Cities of Refuge

Our parasha details the command to establish cities that are intended so that “anyone who has killed may flee there.” The parasha is quite similar to the command to establish cities of refuge found in parashat Mas’ei (Numbers 35).

In the Numbers portion, the definition of intentional murder and unintentional murder is made (35: 3-28). In Numbers, the impression is that the city of refuge has legal significance, and that it serves two functions. Firstly, it serves as a sort of detention center, facilitating protection of the slayer until he is brought to justice: “The cities shall be for you a refuge from the avenger, so that the slayer shall not die before he stands before the congregation in judgment.” Secondly, after the trial, it serves as a sort of prison, where the slayer must stay – even against his will – until the death of the Kohen Gadol. During this period, he benefits from the protection that the city of refuge provides from the avenger of the blood who is threatening him but also it is a form of punishment, and even if he wishes to leave, he may not. It appears that, in principle, even an unintentional slayer is deserving of death, and under certain conditions he may in fact be put to death by the court – if he leaves the city of refuge. Because he killed unintentionally, the Torah treats him leniently and allows him to exchange the death penalty – which he deserves – for a punishment of imprisonment. It would seem, according to the Torah’s approach in this parasha, that a person is always held responsible for causing another person’s death, even if he did so unintentionally. Therefore, the city is referred to as a “city of refuge,” serving as a “refuge from the avenger.” This is based on the view that an unintentional slayer needs a city where he will be protected from the avenger, who is entitled to kill him. The congregation is to make judgement on the situation and restore his to the city of refuge where he fled after the incident, if he is not found guilty of actual murder. Numbers 35: 5-6 He must remain there - until the death of the High Priest which then serves as an atonement for his life. Numbers 35:25-28

In contrast, in our parasha here, it seems that the city of refuge is not a punishment, but rather – on the contrary – a privilege for the unintentional slayer. The difference is that this passage covers a more accidental situation which were not so much a matter of negligence or events which were not premeditated. Society is obligated to attend to the unfortunate plight of these truly unintentional slayers – similarly to the institutions that exist today, such as shelters for women who fear husbands who seek to harm or even kill them. This, then, is a public obligation: to ensure convenient access to the cities of refuge. No mention is made of the prohibition of not being able to leave the city here, this arrangement arises from the wishes of the slayer and his fear of the avenger; if he so wishes, he may leave the city. This is a type of amendment to cover more accidental types of manslaughter - compare negligent or drunken driving to an accident that occurred from lack of visibility or an unexpected heart attack.

The entire unit is intended precisely to prevent the shedding of the innocent blood of the unintentional slayer, and this is the reason for the establishment of the cities of flight and the signposting of the way to them. Bloodshed has a particular power to corrupt and pollute the earth. (Genesis 4:10; Numbers 35:33) Therefore, aside from the demands of justice that murder be punished, there is a social necessity first of all prevent unintentional murderer, and secondly to atone for the blood spilled without any murderer apprehended. This is the responsibility of society as a whole, as part of the mechanism of setting up a working responsible government whose role is to protect the foundations of society. No other sin (other than idolatry) has this social effect, this degree of social perniciousness.

Numbers 35.30 and Deuteronomy 17.6-7and 19.15 require that the death penalty not be imposed unless there are at least two eyewitnesses who identify the murderer. Criminals convicted of murder without the required two eyewitnesses were sentenced to life without parole, actually living out their life and dying in prison. The requirement of two eyewitnesses was likely to avoid executing an innocent person based on false testimony of a lone vindictive enemy of the accused. Complicity of two false witnesses was considerably more difficult and risky. Police today know, however, that eyewitnesses are notoriously inaccurate. In the panic of the moment eyewitnesses often misperceive what actually transpired, later disagreeing with one another. Modern standards of DNA pattern-matching, fingerprinting and the like arguably make murder convictions more certain than the testimony of two eyewitnesses.

A King in Israel (17:14-20).

It was Yahweh’s will for Israel to be ruled by a king, although when they did ask for a king it was born out of their fleshly desires and was therefore a rejection of Yahweh’s direct reign over them. It was the desire to have a king ‘like’ the nations around them, according to secular law, rather than have a king Of God’s appointment ruling according to His Torah. They were in effect, in rebellion against Yahweh and His laws. Their first king Saul was the people’s choice, the second, David, was God’s choice.

We see in the negative things outlined in this passage, its fulfilment in Solomon, through his spiritual decline. 1 Kings 4:26 Solomon also had 40,000 stalls of horses for his chariots, and 12,000 horsemen. 1 Kings 11:3 He had seven hundred royal wives and three hundred concubines; and his wives turned his heart away. Not only is this passage talking about Solomon but it is also talking about anyone who would sit on the throne of Israel who is not part of Israel (v.15) “you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your brother.” (05237 nokri (648d) Meaning: foreign, alien Origin: from the same as 5235b) A perfect example of this is Herod. He was not a native son of Israel but was a “nokri”, a foreigner.

Yahweh ordained righteous leadership to help guide His people in the ways of truth and righteousness. When there is no leadership everyone does what is right in his own eyes as occurred during the time of the judges. The king was to know the Torah so that he could rule righteously based on the Word of Yahweh (vs.18-19). He was to make two copies of the Torah and he was do this in the presence of the Priests and keep it with him and study it all the days of his life. He was to keep one in his treasure chamber and the other was to go with him when he wherever he went so he would read from it daily and follow it in all that he did so that all would be well with him and his sons who would follow after him.

We might take this for granted but we know from reading the books of 1 and 2 Kings and Chronicles that the kings of Israel and then Judah and Ephraim, in most cases, did not do what the Torah said to do here. Had the kings followed the Torah as Moshe had instructed at the command of God, things might have turned out differently.

The book of Revelation says that the saints will be kings and priests ruling with Yeshua in the Millennium. To be in that position of leadership we need to be preparing ourselves now. The study of Yahweh’s Word needs to be a priority in our lives so that we may know how to execute righteous judgement in His kingdom. How we prepare now for the future by our study and practice of Torah - His commandments, will determine our level of reward in Yahweh’s kingdom. See Matthew 5:19

The Office of the Levites

Moshe outlines the support for the Levites (18:1-8) who are to serve the people and then goes on to define the abominable practices practices by which the idolatrous people round about them seek guidance for their lives in contrast to the system He has established through the general instructions in His Word and officers and judges for specific needs. (18:9- )

The listed abominations are -- By Divination through

  • An Astrologer:- an observer of clouds,: a star gazer, :and a soothsayer. A horoscope reader today.
  • An Enchanter:- an omen reader or a fortune teller, this also includes superstitions
  • A Sorcerer :- one who uses drugs or herbs to cure or inflict disease
  • A Charmer:- one who casts spells
  • A Spiritualist:- one who consults spirits or who impersonates the dead - a medium.
  • A Wizard/Witch:: - one who consults familiar spirits or who has a spirit guide, i.e. occult practices
  • A Necromancer - one who enquires of the dead

Yahweh makes it very clear that He has not appointed this form of spiritual guidance and that it was the cause of His judgement on the nations inhabiting the land prior to them. But that He will raise up a Prophet like unto Moshe and to Him we are to listen. The prophetic word of Yahweh would come through that One to guide and teach them in the way they should go.

The Prophet Like Moshe

In Deuteronomy 18:15–19 Moshe told the Children of Israel that Yahweh would one day raise a prophet “like me from among you, from your own countrymen.” The greatest of the prophets is Moshe, therefore the Torah is the greatest source of revelation. Yet the Torah itself speaks of another prophet, a prophet equal to Moshe… Messiah is the prophet like unto Moshe. Therefore the life and ministry of Moshe serve as a Messianic prototype that the ultimate Messiah is expected to reflect. The Jewish commentaries often refers to Moshe and Messiah, respectively, as the First Redeemer and the Ultimate Redeemer. As a prophet like Moshe, the life and work of Messiah must reflect the pattern set by Moshe.

Both Moshe and Messiah are born in a time of national bondage. Both redeemers appear after Israel waits generations for redemption. Both redeemers are destined to break the bondage of Israel and lead her into the promised land. Both perform unparalleled signs and wonders to validate their ministry. Both act in the role of Law-giver and singular authority of Torah. Both fill the role of intercessor between God and the nation. Both do the work of reconciliation, renewing God’s covenant relationship with Israel when that covenant is compromised.

Through the course of His ministry, Moshe filled all three of the ‘Messianic’ offices for which a person received anointing with oil: prophet, priest and king. He was the quintessential prophet, speaking on God’s behalf to the entire nation. He served in the priesthood, sacrificing and performing the rites of a priest before Aaron and his sons were ordained. As leader, judge and law-giver, Moshe served as a sort of king over Israel. As with the First Redeemer, so too the Ultimate Redeemer. Yeshua is prophet, priest and king!

Moshe was unlike all other prophets because God spoke directly to him: conversationally, without riddles or mysteries. Because of this unique level of revelation, when Moshe spoke as a prophet, his voice was the equivalent of the voice of God. No other prophet attained the level of prophecy in which Moshe operated. But the writer of the book of Hebrews demonstrates that Messiah’s revelation supersedes even that of Moshe. Messiah is like unto Moshe in that He alone speaks directly for the Father.

Therefore, it is a command to listen to and obey the words of Messiah as if they were the words of Moshe—and even greater. By calling Him a prophet like unto Moshe, and instructing us to heed Him, the Torah grants its own authority to Yeshua the Messiah. In inaugurating the new covenant, He imparted the spirit of the Father (Ruach haKodesh) to His people to guide and teach them.

This was the ultimate fulfilment of this prediction, where every man would “know Yahweh” and discern His will, through the prophetic guidance of the Ruach Ha Kodesh (the holy Spirit) John 16:12-15

Idolatrous Practices

Idolatry was singled out in this parasha as transgressing the covenant. (17:2-3). It is not so much as having violated a specific commandment, but that he is undermining the covenant in the Land of Israel.

The second section states the prohibition of planting an ‘ashairah’ which was a grove of trees that was planted by the ancients for the purposes of idolatry. “Do not plant for yourselves an ashairah (i.e. a grove) of any tree...”. There is an ancient custom to plant trees at the entrance of pagan temples, see Judges 6:30. For this reason it is forbidden to plant trees on the temple mount.

In Canaanite culture the placement of the tree next to an altar signified the presence of this goddess to whom the sacrifices were offered. The same thing was done in Baal worship. The tree thus represented the presence of the ‘god’ to whom the sacrifice was offered on the altar beside it. The tree planted is like any other tree. It is the concept attached to it that transforms it into a forbidden object. The literal meaning of the text seems to indicate a connection between the tree and the act of calling in God’s Name. It is therefore likely that the planting of the tree was meant to indicate the sanctity of the place, as an expression of a god’s presence. Thus, we are forbidden to erect objects even if they are meant only to represent the presence of God, as it were, and not Yahweh Himself. Even if this action is meant to indicate to Whom we are offering our sacrifices or make the place itself sanctified/holy.

Child Sacrifice

Child sacrifice (the ancient form of modern abortion/infanticide) though a pagan practice that Yahweh abhorred was practiced by both Houses of Israel as they drifted into syncretism with the heathen cultures around them (see 1 Kings 11:7; 2 Kings 23:10,13; 2 Kings 16:3;21:6; Jer. 7:31; 11:5; Ezek. 16:20; 23:37). Baal appears to be a synonym of Molach (see Jer. 19:5) (Ency. Britan. eleventh edit, vol. 18, p. 676). The dead bodies of sacrificed children were thrown into the garbage dump of the Valley of Hinnom or Tophet just below the Temple Mount in Jerusalem (Jer. 7:31; 19:5-6). Apparently, the children were not burned alive, but were slain (by knife) like any other sacrifice before being thrown into the fire and then into the garbage dump

The ancients sacrificed their children to appease their blood thirsty gods of prosperity, sensuality and fertility (The Story of Civilization, vol 1, by Will Durant, pp. 66-67, 297). It was done in honor of their deity, i.e., that which was the king of their lives, i.e. it ruled their lives. The chief deities of the modern world are Money and wealth - Sex and pleasure - Fun and entertainment. Today parents abort their babies for much the same ‘gods’ as those of the ancients: prosperity, greed, hedonism and so on. Are we any different or any more “civilized” than the ancients? Yahweh called abortion an abomination (which means disgusting, abominable, abhorrent, detestable or loathsome) (Deut. 17:9).

The Ultimate Prophet and Judge of All

In this passage that Moshe is declaring that eventually Yahweh will raise up a prophet like him, whose words MUST be followed. It is from this passage that the ultimate justice for humanity will be executed. Moshe declares that a future prophet will make declarations that must be believed. As he introduces this future prophet, Moshe recalls the incidence that takes place at Mt. Horeb when he is receiving the Ten Commandments directly from the Almighty: (Ex. 20:18-22).

The thunder, the lightning, the sound of the Heavenly Shofar and the smoking mountain terrified the sons of Israel witnessing this awesome display of His power. It was at this time that they asked that Moshe be the spokesperson for Yahweh to avoid Him speaking to them personally again with all the manifestations thereof. As Moshe describes a future prophet, he adds a statement that the sons of Israel MUST listen to him. In fact, the future prophet will serve a similar role as Moshe. God will put His words in his mouth which he will speak to all that he is commanded to speak.

“Yahweh your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your countrymen, you shall listen to him.” Then this sobering caveat is added: ‘It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him” (Deut. 18:15-19).

In the Gospel of John, Yeshua brings this passage of Scripture to light as He declares in so many words that He is the prophet that Moshe was speaking of in this passage rebuking them for not listening to him. “For if you believed Moshe, you would believe Me, for he wrote about Me. “But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe My words?” (John 5:18-47)

Yeshua makes it perfectly clear that He is from the Father and that He does nothing on His own initiative. The words that He declares are the words of the Father. These are the words that the Holy One requires all to heed. Interestingly, it is in this passage that Yeshua states that in searching the Scriptures, men think they have eternal life. Instead, it is the words of Scriptures that actually testify about the Messiah. Those who search the Scriptures and do not understand that Yeshua is the future prophet that Moshe speaks of, are unwilling to come to Him in order that they might receive eternal life.

After Shavuot (Pentecost), the Apostle Peter is explaining about the Resurrection and Ascension of the Messiah to his listeners in Jerusalem and he had these words to declare: “But the things which God announced beforehand by the mouth of all the prophets, that His Messiah would suffer, He has thus fulfilled. “Therefore repent and return, so that your sins may be wiped away, in order that times of refreshing may come from the presence of Yahweh; and that He may send Yeshua, the Messiah appointed for you, whom heaven must receive until the period of restoration of all things about which God spoke by the mouth of His holy prophets from ancient time. “Moshe said, ‘Yahweh GOD WILL RAISE UP FOR YOU A PROPHET LIKE ME FROM YOUR BRETHREN; TO HIM YOU SHALL GIVE HEED to everything He says to you. ‘And it will be that every soul that does not heed that prophet shall be utterly destroyed from among the people.’ “ (Acts 3:18-26). As Moshe had said, God would require it of the person who did not listen to Him.

When you take this to heart and read and consider the words of Yeshua, recognizing that He is the future prophet that Moshe is speaking of in the Shoftim portion, you realize that His words MUST be believed or you will face eternal separation from the Holy One. According to the statements of Moshe, Yahweh will require His children to believe the words of this future prophet. For those without faith, it is impossible to believe His words. And yet God requires us to believe in them.