King of the Jews

The laws of Deuteronomy 17 apply to Yeshua as much as they applied to King Saul, King David, or King Solomon.

Statue of King David, Mount Zion, Israel (Image: Wikimedia Commons)

Shoftim

Regular Shabbat Readings

Read / Listen to these Portions

  • Shoftim (שופטים | Judges)
  • Torah: Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9
  • Haftarah: Isaiah 51:12-52:12
  • Gospel: John 14:9-20

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 16:18 | Municipal Judges and Officers
    • Deuteronomy 16:21 | Forbidden Forms of Worship
    • Deuteronomy 17:8 | Legal Decisions by Priests and Judges
    • Deuteronomy 17:14 | Limitations of Royal Authority
    • Deuteronomy 18:1 | Privileges of Priests and Levites
    • Deuteronomy 18:9 | Child-Sacrifice, Divination, and Magic Prohibited
    • Deuteronomy 18:15 | A New Prophet Like Moses
    • Deuteronomy 19:1 | Laws concerning the Cities of Refuge
    • Deuteronomy 19:14 | Property Boundaries
    • Deuteronomy 19:15 | Law concerning Witnesses
    • Deuteronomy 20:1 | Rules of Warfare
    • Deuteronomy 21:1 | Law concerning Murder by Persons Unknown
  • Prophets
    • Isaiah 51:1 | Blessings in Store for God's People
    • Isaiah 52:1 | Let Zion Rejoice

Portion Summary

The commandment for the king to write a copy of the Torah demonstrates the work of Messiah. He Himself is the Word made flesh. He is the copy of the Torah in human form. Furthermore, He writes a copy of the Torah as He writes the Torah upon our hearts. The Torah of King Messiah is written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone, but on tablets of human hearts (2 Corinthians 3:3).


The Torah commands Israel to set a king over them from among their countrymen—in other words, a fellow Jew. To be a true king of Israel, the king must be Jewish. In the days of the apostles, men like Herod the Great and Herod Antipas took the title “king of the Jews” for themselves, but their pedigree was not Jewish. They were not legitimate kings of Israel.

You shall surely set a king over you whom the LORD your God chooses, one from among your countrymen you shall set as king over yourselves; you may not put a foreigner over yourselves who is not your countryman. (Deuteronomy 17:15)

Yeshua possessed a long, impressive genealogy that reached all the way back to King David. Ironically, some Gentile Christians try to suppress His Jewish identity or dismiss it as irrelevant. Some people even claim, “Jesus was a Jew until His resurrection.” They refuse to admit that He is Jewish now and will still be Jewish when He returns. When we diminish the Jewishness of Yeshua, we diminish the legitimacy of His claim to the throne of Israel.

The Torah gives laws that pertain specifically to the king of Israel. The king of Israel must not multiply wealth, horses, or wives. He must write a copy of the Torah for himself and keep it with him, studying it all the days of his life. He must carefully observe “all the words of this Torah and these statutes … that he may not turn aside from the commandment, to the right or the left” (Deuteronomy 17:19-20).

These laws ensured that the king himself submitted to the Torah and did not become a despot without accountability or boundary. Specifically, the passage says that he shall write a copy of the Torah so “that his heart may not be lifted up above his countrymen” (Deuteronomy 17:20). The king of Israel is subject to the laws of Torah just like everybody else. The obligation of writing a copy of the Torah for himself reminded the king that he is not above God’s law—even if He is the Messiah. Since the Messiah is the King of Israel, the laws that pertain to the king of Israel are incumbent upon the Messiah:

If a king will arise from the house of David who delves deeply into the study of the Torah and, like David his forefather, observes its commandments as prescribed by the written Torah and the oral Torah, and if he will prevail upon Israel to walk in the way of Torah, and repair its breaches, and if he fights the wars of God, we may with assurance consider him the Messiah. (Mishneh Torah, Shoftim, Hilchot Melachim 11:4)

Does Yeshua of Nazareth meet these qualifications? If we had to judge merely by the conventional theological presentation of Jesus, we would have to conclude that He is not the Messiah. The conventional interpretation of Jesus presents a Messiah who sets men free from the commandments of the Torah, breaks them Himself, and overrides Moses.

Ordinarily, when Jewish people become believers, they are encouraged to abandon Judaism and the laws of the Torah. Since they are “set free from the law,” they are encouraged to live like Gentiles in every respect. Rather than a Messiah who “prevails upon Israel to walk in the way of Torah,” Jewish people commonly encounter a Messiah who prevails upon them to abandon the ways of Torah. The conventional Jesus of traditional church teaching simply does not qualify as 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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