Editor's note: The HuffTorah is an overview of the Torah reading of the week, which is found in the Book of Deuteronomy 7:12-11:25, and includes links to additional resources for study and discussion. Read the full text of Parshat Ekev in interlinear Hebrew/English.
Listen to these laws -- observe them -- and God will keep God's promise: to love, bless and multiply you, your crops and your animals. Do this and no nation will be as great. Do this and no woman will be barren, no man sterile. Do this and sickness will depart from you. Do this and ill will befall your enemies.
Destroy the nations placed before you. Do not take pity on them. Do not worship their idols; this is a trap.
Do not fear their numbers. Do not become demoralized by how long it takes. Remember what God did to Pharaoh in Egypt. God will do likewise to your enemies. God will send swarms of hornets upon them. God will destroy them. God will deliver you.
Burn their gods in fire, but do not take the silver or gold for yourself. Do not make or take idols to your home.
Safeguard God's commandments, and you will live and multiply.
Remember the path on which you stand. Remember that God brought you here -- that it took 40 years of sandy affliction. Years of hunger. Years of manna. Years of miracles.
And now God is bringing you to a land that flows. A land of flow. A land of fruit: what, barleys, grapes, figs and pomegranates. A land of honey. A land of oil. A land in which you will lack nothing. When you eat, you will be satisfied. And then, you must bless God for such goodness.
Do not forget God. Follow God's commandments. Do not forget God's guidance. Do not forget God's sustenance and affliction both.
If you do forget God -- if you bow before other gods -- you will be destroyed.
Hear, O Israel! Today is the day that you will cross the river and chase the nations -- your enemies. God will destroy them. You will destroy them.
Hear, O Stiff-Necked Nation! Recognize: God is not giving you this land because of your righteousness. It is because of the wickedness of the other nations. It is because God promised your forefathers.
Do not forget how you angered God. Do not forget your rebelliousness: in the desert and below the mountain. I went up that mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. I did not eat. I did not drink. God gave me two stone tablets written by God's own finger with God's own fire in God's own words. And then, at the end of the 40 days, God told me to hurry down that mountain. God told me that you had become corrupt. God told me to leave -- that God wanted to destroy you. God said I would be made into a greater nation instead.
I descended from the mountain in flames. I saw your sin against God. I smashed the stone tablets in anger. I prayed on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. I did not eat. I did not drink. I prayed for you. I prayed for Aaron, who made the idol on your behalf. I burned the Golden Calf. I turned it to dust.
Even since then, you have rebelled. You have angered God. You have mistrusted God. You have disobeyed God.
But I prayed on your behalf. I reminded God of the covenant.
And God forgave. God commanded me to write two new stone tablets, to build an ark to house them. I did this. After another 40 days and 40 nights, I descended the mountain.
Later, some of you rose up and plotted to bring this people back to Egypt.
God designated the tribe of Levi to bear the holy ark because they did not participate in the sins of the rest of the people.
God told me to lead you and take possession of the land.
Now, O Israel! God asks only that you fear God, follow God and love God with all of your heart and all of your soul. And know that this is beyond amazing, for God could choose anything from the highest heights or the deepest depths to love. But God has chosen to love you. You!
So circumcise your hearts. Soften your stiff necks. Know this: God, your God, is God of all gods, Master of all masters, Great of all greats, Mighty of all mights. And though God shows no favor and is incorruptible, God judges the orphan and the widow favorably, and loves and feeds and clothes the convert. So you, too, should love the convert. And you must fear God. You must serve God. You must cling to God.
Your forefathers went down into Egypt as 70 souls. Now, your numbers are as countless as the stars. You should love God. You should keep God's commandments -- all of them, forever -- so that you may take possession of the land and remain there for long days.
This land is not like Egypt: Water will fall from the skies to nourish your fields. If you keep the commandments with all of your heart and all of your soul, rain will come at the proper time and you will gather your crops and your fruits and your wines and your oils and your livestock. And you will eat and be satisfied.
Satisfied though you may be, do not forget. Do not stray. Do not worship other gods. For the one God will become angry. The skies will dry. The land will perish.
Even when you are sent into exile, place my words, which are God's words, upon your hearts and upon your souls. Bind them as a sign upon your hand, a reminder between your eyes. From birth, teach these words to your children. Speak them in your home and when you walk; when you lie down and when you rise up. Write them on your doorposts and upon your gates. All of this will lengthen your days in the land.
Do all of this, and God will prepare the land for your arrival. No one will stand before you. Where you tread will be fear and dread. Just as God said.
Questions: Why does Moses have to repeat the same warnings so much? If he's trying to encourage the people to follow God, why remind them that God is giving them the land because the of the other nations' wicked ways? Why is memory so important?
Resources for further commentary, discussion and reflection:
- When Do We Have Enough Stuff? -- "The danger here is forgetting -- forgetting where we've come from (our own experience of poverty and oppression) and forgetting that no one person, or one community, creates wealth by themselves." (ON Scripture - The Torah)
- Haftorah Ekev -- In the supplemental haftorah, found in Isaiah 49:14-51:3, God and Israel are likened to a married couple, even as the prophet and the people languish in exile. (My Jewish Learning)
- Rashi on Parshat Ekev -- The classic commentator in all his interpretive glory. (Chabad)
- The Animated Parshat Ekev -- "Why on earth would Moses tell the people, to circumcise their hearts? (Like, ouch!) And how do you do that anyway?" (G-dcast)
- The Seven Fruits of Israel -- "The Torah's mention of the seven species is not incidental. Rather, these foods are central to a Jewish spiritual path that endeavors to elevate the physical through intentional living." (Canfei Nesharim)
- Soul Connections -- "We assume that it is the bread that is nurturing us, when, in fact, it's the Divine energy within the bread that we connect to that sustains us." (IYYUN)
- Additional sources and related texts compiled on Wikipedia.