Self Righteousness

Never rely on your own good deeds or assume that God is blessing you because you deserve it.

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Portion Summary & Scripture Reading
Ekev

Regular Shabbat Readings

  • Ekev (עֵקֶב | Consequence)
  • Torah: Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 49:14-51:3
  • Gospel: Matthew 16:13-20

The above audio readings are for the regular weekly Torah portions, but are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. We only provide the regular audio readings when these interruptions occur. Refer to the current Torah Portion Schedule or the curent year's readings for variations.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Deuteronomy 7:12 | Blessings for Obedience
    • Deuteronomy 8:1 | A Warning Not to Forget God in Prosperity
    • Deuteronomy 9:1 | The Consequences of Rebelling against God
    • Deuteronomy 10:1 | The Second Pair of Tablets
    • Deuteronomy 10:12 | The Essence of the Law
    • Deuteronomy 11:1 | Rewards for Obedience
  • Prophets
    • Isaiah 49:8 | Zion's Children to Be Brought Home
    • Isaiah 50:4 | The Servant's Humiliation and Vindication
    • Isaiah 51:1 | Blessings in Store for God's People

Portion Summary

The forty-sixth reading from the Torah and the third reading from the book of Deuteronomy is named Ekev, a word from the first verse of the portion. Deuteronomy 7:12 says, "Then it shall come about, because (ekev, עֵקֶב) you listen to these judgments and keep and do them, that the LORD your God will keep with you His covenant and His lovingkindness which He swore to your forefathers." Usually the word ekev means "heel." In fact, this word shares the same three-letter root as the name Jacob (Yaakov, יַעֲקֹב), whose name actually means "heel." He was born holding on to Esau's heel. However, in Deuteronomy 7:12, the word ekev means "on the heels of" or "because of." This portion of Deuteronomy speaks of the rewards that will come to Israel on the heels of keeping God's covenant and commandments.


Moses assured the Israelites that God will give them the conquest of Canaan. He warned them three times lest they presume that their righteousness provided sufficient merit for their success. Moses had already told them that their future success would be guaranteed “because” of their obedience to the commandments. The people of Israel might naturally assume, then, that success was an indication of their own righteousness.

We might be prone to make a similar mistake. A pastor with a successful, growing congregation might assume that he is in God’s favor because of the numbers. A businessman who lands a lucrative contract may suppose that he is being rewarded for his godliness. In both cases, the assumptions may be correct, but there might be other factors at work not at all related to one’s personal righteousness.

Moses stressed three times that “it is not because of your righteousness that the LORD your God is giving you this good land to possess, for you are a stubborn people” (Deuteronomy 9:6). He went on to rehearse the sin of the golden calf and the incidents in the wilderness that provoked God to anger. He recounted how he fasted on their behalf and pleaded for their forgiveness. He retold the story of how God, in His mercy, relented, and did not punish them as their deeds deserved. If not for Moses’ intercession and atonement on their behalf, Israel would not have even survived the journey from Egypt. They had Moses to thank for their deliverance thus far. There could be no talk of their merit and righteousness. Their observance of the Torah was not sufficient to merit the conquest of the land.

If the children of Israel did not deserve to take possession of the land, why did God give it to them? Moses gave two reasons: The sin of the Canaanites and the covenant promises to the patriarchs.

It is not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart that you are going to possess their land, but it is because of the wickedness of these nations that the LORD your God is driving them out before you, in order to confirm the oath which the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. (Deuteronomy 9:5)

For the promise to Abraham or to his descendants that he would be heir of the world was not through the Law, but through the righteousness of faith. (Romans 4:13)


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Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Depths of the Torah. Learn more about Torah Club and how you can start a Club of your own, or join a Torah Club in your area. Visit TORAHCLUB.ORG

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