The Song of the Lamb

The Song of Moses peered across the centuries, far into the future, to reveal the light of the final redemption.

The opening verses from parashat Ha'azinu against dramatic clouds. (Image © FFOZ)


Special Shabbat Reading

Special readings are applicable this Shabbat.

  • Shabbat Shuvah (שבת שובה | Shabbat of Return)
  • Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-27
  • Gospel: Matthew 18:21-35

Shabbat Shuvah or Shabbat T'shuvah ("Sabbath [of] Return" שבת שובה or "Sabbath [of] Repentance" שבת תשובה) refers to the Shabbat that occurs during the Ten Days of Repentance, but is between (i.e. not including): the two consecutive Days of Rosh Hashanah; and the Day of Yom Kippur. The name Shabbat Shuvah comes from the first word of the Haftarah that is read on that day, Hosea 14:2-10, and literally means "Return!" It is alternately known as Shabbat T'shuvah owing to its being one of the Aseret Y'mei T'shuvah (Ten Day of Repentance).

Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Ha'azinu (האזינו | Listen)
  • Torah: Deuteronomy 32:1-32:52
  • Haftarah: 2 Samuel 22:1-51
  • Gospel: John 6:26-35

Note: The regular readings are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.

Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Deuteronomy 31:30 | The Song of Moses
    • Deuteronomy 32:48 | Moses' Death Foretold
  • Prophets
    • 2 Samuel 22:1 | David's Song of Thanksgiving

Portion Summary

The word Ha'azinu (האזינו) literally means "give ear," an expression meaning "Listen to this." It is also the name of the fifty-third and second-to-last reading from the Torah. It is the first word of the Song of Moses, which begins with the words "Give ear (Ha'azinu), O heavens, and let me speak" (Deuteronomy 32:1). This Torah portion is only a single chapter long, and the majority of it consists of the Song of Moses. The Song of Moses is a prophetic oracle warning Israel about apostasy to come and the resulting wrath of God. The song looks far into the future, even envisioning the Messianic advent amid rich and frightening apocalyptic imagery. After the conclusion of the song, Moses is told to ascend Mount Nebo and overlook the Promised Land before dying.

Apocalyptic, prophetic glimpses of the future fill the "Song of Moses," telling the story of Israel, sin, exile, and redemption. In the book of Revelation, the song has another name. It is also called "The Song of the Lamb."

The Almighty instructed Moses to compose a song and teach it to the children of Israel. The people of Israel memorized the song and passed it on from generation to generation. The song, which describes the coming apostasy of Israel and God’s subsequent judgment on the nation, serves as a witness for all generations. The LORD told Moses, “They will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant” (Deuteronomy 31:20). The song explains the calamity that befalls the nation when they fall into apostasy, but it concludes with the hope of the final redemption and God’s judgment on the nations.

The song calls the Jewish people to learn from the past and look to the future. It warns them of the dangers in apostasy and violation of the covenant, and it reminds them that the ultimate goal is the final redemption.

Moses composed the song and then assembled Israel to teach it to them. He told them, “I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days” (Deuteronomy 31:29).

Revelation draws some of its apocalyptic imagery and energy from the Song of Moses. Like the Song of Moses, the book of Revelation looks toward the coming time of God’s wrath upon the earth. Though He will punish Israel for her misdeeds, He will ultimately rescue His people and redeem them. The Song of Moses ends triumphantly describing the time of vengeance when God’s people will be finally be redeemed and vindicated.

The book of Revelation speaks of that apocalyptic future during which God directly intervenes in human events and unleashes His vengeance on the ungodly nations that have martyred His people. As God’s wrath pours out upon the earth, Revelation 15 reports a vision of the martyred standing before the throne of God singing “the song of Moses, the bond-servant of God, and the song of the Lamb” (Revelation 15:3). Readers unfamiliar with the Torah have often mistakenly understood the title “Song of the Lamb” to refer to the short liturgical refrain presented in Revelation 15:3-4. Instead, the writer of Revelation intends his readers to understand that the souls of the righteous martyrs will sing the words of Deuteronomy 32 before the throne. He calls the “Song of Moses” by a new title: “Song of the Lamb.” The souls of the martyrs will conclude the Song of Moses with the brief liturgical refrain which appears in Revelation 15:

Great and marvelous are Your works, O Lord God, the Almighty; Righteous and true are Your ways, King of the nations! Who will not fear, O Lord, and glorify Your name? For You alone are holy; for all the nations will come and worship before You, for Your righteous acts have been revealed. (Revelation 15:3-4)

Why does the writer of the book of Revelation refer to the Song of Moses as the “Song of the Lamb”? Because the Messiah will be the agent of the final redemption of which the song speaks. He will vindicate God’s people as Moses prophesied in the song. When we study the Song of Moses, we are studying about the work of the Messiah.

Adapted From: Torah Club Commentary Set: Shadows of the Messiah. 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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This coming year Torah Clubs are studying the Gospels from a Messianic Jewish perspective. Club members will encounter Yeshua of Nazareth in his Jewish context. Discover the historical and cultural backdrops of the gospels and be amazed as the teachings of Yeshua snap into focus and clarity. Unravel his difficult words and parables; study Jewish parallels to his teachings; and ultimately know Jesus better.



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