Metaphors in the Torah: “Shoftim” (Deuteronomy 16.18 – 21.9)




Illustration: "They Shall Shew Thee the Sentence of Judgement"

By: Paul Hardy
Public Domain 

In the beginning of this week’s Torah portion the discussion surrounds “the judges”, which most people take to be the forerunners of today’s rabbis. What is very interesting in these passages is that there is absolutely no mention of “an oral law” being handed down to these judges themselves.

In previous parts of the Torah when Moses spoke to these appointed leaders of the community, he told them that if a case was too difficult for them to decide, then they should bring it to him and Moses would give a judgment (i.e. God did not speak directly to these judges and tell them what to do).

Here in “Shoftim” we are told about what should be the procedure after Moses has died and, once again, it is NOT the judges who have the final say in legal decisions. The judges are told to go to the priests of the tribe of Levy and allow them to consult God who would provide them with the answers. This is fairly logical since Moses himself was a Levy….

Hence, these judges were NOT to consult the Talmud or to study the Torah or bring their problems to “the greatest judges of the day”. They were supposed to consult God himself thru his priests. This we can see in the story about Aaron’s rod which sprouts almond nuts while the staffs of the other tribes remain the same. The Hebrew word for “almond” is also the word used for “tonsils” and the Hebrew words for “wood” and for “advisor” share the same root.

Thus, the people are to be ruled by God’s word, NOT the legal opinions of the judges, Pharisees and rabbis.

“Shoftim” then goes on to discuss a future king and three things should be noticed here:

a)      It is said that the king should NOT breed horses, nor should he lead the people back to Egypt.

Why this is interesting is that later Isaiah will later say that:

“The Egyptians are men, not God and their horses are flesh, not spirit”

In many, many articles in this series we have discussed that the Hebrew word for “flesh/meat” is also the word for “religious preachings” and “the gospels”.


Thus,  what we are being told in this week’s Torah passage is that the Israelites (i.e. “we”) should NOT follow the teachings of men, nor their religious tracts.


b)       The future king must keep a copy of the words of Moses, there is no mention of an oral law and certainly there is no mention of keeping the legal rulings of “the judges”.

c)      The people should NEVER allow a foreigner to become their king

This then brings up the discussion of conversions which you can reference in a previous article:

 What is important here is that King Herod went on to “re-build” and “expand” the temple. If the Pharisees/rabbis had not converted him illegally, then he could not have done this. The rabbis now claim that the Temple built by Herod was the “most beautiful” temple one could imagine. Really? So, in other words, the temple built by King Herod the Edomite murderer was better than the temple that God permitted Solomon to build?

The temple is a metaphor for the word of God (i.e. God speaks to his priests in the temple). The Torah is universally accepted as the word of God.

Hence, Herod expanded and improved upon the temple of God in the exact same way that the Pharisees and rabbis have expanded and improved upon the word of God with the Talmud.

No wonder they reap so much praise on Herod’s Temple and, even till this very day, pray at the wall built by the Edomite murderer.


Finally, this week’s Torah portion gives reasons why a man shall be excused from battle and not required to serve in the army.


Studying the Talmud is NOT one of them…..