Picking & Choosing
Those that are Torah-observant will know what I mean by the phrase “picking and choosing.” It’s a term that gets tossed at us a lot by those that either don’t understand, or by those that disagree. If you’re unfamiliar with the phrase, I’ll offer a brief explanation. On many occasions, while explaining my beliefs to someone, they ask why I do what I do. I tell them that I keep the commands of The Father because I love Him (John 14:15) and that obedience is the way to express devotion. The whole duty of mankind is to Fear Elohim, and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
From there, I get a couple of different responses, based on the belief system of the person I am speaking with. If they are not very religious, I get something along the lines of, “That sounds interesting.” If they have a somewhat lax Christian background, the response is something like, “That sounds Jewish. Is it Jewish?” This response, of course, requires an entirely different answer. The last but most common answer I get is usually from Christians that are very well-learned in their own doctrine. It is usually something like, “Well don’t you know that the law is bondage? If you try to keep it, you’re sinning! And why do you only keep Saturday, and feasts and food laws? Do YOU stone your rebellious children? Are you going to drag me out of work and stone me because I work on Saturday? Would you tell a girl that she has to marry the man that raped her?! Because if not, you’re just picking and choosing!”
To be sure, if I lived in ancient Israel, and I found the man collecting wood on the Sabbath (Numbers 15), I wouldn’t want to turn him in knowing he would be put to death. But there are a lot of pieces missing to this Torah puzzle.
First, not all commandments given in the Torah CAN be kept today. There are a lot of them that we cannot keep. Now I know there is a large debate over whether or not any type of sacrifice or offering will take place when Yeshua reigns on earth for a thousand years. That’s not what this is about. Remember, Paul went to the Temple and was cleansed with men that took a vow and offered the offering with them. We are told that he “joined in their purification rites,” in Acts 21:20-25. So why was Paul able to do it, if the entire sacrificial system and all the offerings were “done away with” at the death of Messiah? All throughout the Book of Acts, as it follows Paul’s journeys, he desired a number of times to return to Jerusalem for the High Holy Days. The Torah lists the reason for this in Deuteronomy 16:16-17:
“Three times in a year all your males shall appear before YHWH your Elohim in the place which He chooses: at the Feast of Unleavened Bread and at the Feast of Weeks (Pentecost) and at the Feast of Tabernacles, and they shall not appear before YHWH empty-handed. 17 Every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of YHWH your Elohim which He has given you.”
These laws were observable during the time of the Apostles because the Temple was still standing, and the Levitical priesthood was still in place. The offering and purification at the completion of a vow, the presentation of offerings during the High Holy Days, etc. Nowadays, there is no Temple. Even when we celebrate the Feasts, we do them as a sort of “practice” to get ready for the return of Yeshua, where Feasts are instituted forever (Zech. 14). We practice doing them because they are “a shadow of things to come.” (Colossians 2:17). Regardless of this, and regardless of whether any sort of offering will be offered after His return, we should agree that we will obey Him.
Next,I feel like I should address the “civil, ceremonial, and moral” issue that usually gets brought up. If you are unfamiliar with this belief, it basically splits all of the Laws given in the Torah into the three aforementioned categories. For instance the prohibition against adultery is a moral law, because the act is immoral. The requirement for a priest to “ritually” bathe himself is considered a ceremonial law. The laws governing the year of Jubilee, slaves, rest for the land (Leviticus 25:3-4) and so on are all considered to be civil laws, as they were designed to govern the civic lives of Israelites in the land.
This doctrine of splitting all the laws into three categories was invented as a means to explain why some laws had passed away and some hadn’t. For instance, if a Christian says “The Torah has been abolished” they are then also saying it is okay to lie, steal, murder, commit adultery. They know that this can’t be true, so they had to find a way to reconcile it. Their solution? Split the law into three parts and “abolish” two of them. That way, you’re left with the parts you want to keep. The major problem with this, of course, is that Torah is NOT three separate laws. It is ONE Law. Nowhere in Scripture will you find the terms “moral law, civil law, or ceremonial law.”
So what about some of the other, more “obscure” laws? Do we (Torah observant believers) really refrain from wearing different fabrics mixed together? Do we stone our children? Does a woman have to marry her rapist? If your house has mold do you have to burn it down?
I list these because these seem to be the most common “laws” that get brought up by people who don’t truly understand. Though it is not entirely their fault, they are merely ignorant. Ignorance and stupidity are not the same thing. Many people are ignorant. That is, they are simply without knowledge of the truth.
So what about mixed fabrics? The command for this is issued in Leviticus then reiterated in Deuteronomy.
Leviticus 19:19 “You are to keep My statutes. You shall not breed together two kinds of your cattle; you shall not sow your field with two kinds of seed, nor wear a garment upon you of two kinds of material mixed together.”
Deuteronomy 22:11 “You shall not wear a garment of linen and wool mixed.”
To begin, start with Leviticus 19. It lists a number of things not to mix together. This is another example (of many) where The Father is trying to teach us a spiritual lesson using the physical. The reason is, a mixture is almost always seen as a bad thing. Mixing seed, cattle, or linen and wool teaches the physical lesson. There is a reason for all of it. Breeding together two kinds of cattle could produce offspring that is genetically inferior. Similar to how children conceived through incest can be born with genetic problems and birth defects today. Remember, a donkey and a horse can mate, but their offspring (a mule) is sterile. The only way to breed a mule is for a female to breed with a purebred horse or donkey, and even then cases of conception are extremely rare. Two mules cannot reproduce.
The spiritual lesson here is a mixture can be very dangerous. Mixing the worship of YHWH with the worship of idols, for instance. This practice led to the golden calf incident. Even Satan himself knows this principle. That is why Satan tells 99% truth and 1% lie. Because as he is mixing it, it is all rendered a lie. Like the old adage, “a half truth is a full lie.” Satan masquerades as an angel of light (2 Corinthians 11:14), mixing his nature of darkness with the image of light. Remember in Matthew 4 when Satan is tempting Yeshua. Satan even quotes scripture to try to convince Yeshua to submit to him. He quoted that which is light (the Word) for his own purposes, which are dark. Notice Yeshua never told Satan, “You don’t have the power to give me all the kingdoms of the world.” He never told the devil that he was lying. He simply rebuked him with Scripture.
So back to linen and wool then. What about Leviticus 19:19? It says no mixed fibers, right? Does that mean ANY mixed fiber? Many will argue this, but I will say no. Linen and wool cannot be mixed, that much is clear from Deuteronomy 22:11. But the words used in Deuteronomy are not the same words used in Leviticus 19:19. Word for word, Deuteronomy literally says, “Shall not wear a material wool and linen together.” Pretty straight forward. Leviticus 19:19 says, “…a garment kinds material of not wear and.”
The word for material used is Strong’s #H8162 shaatnez. It is only used twice. According to Strong’s concordance and Brown-Driver-Briggs’ concordance, it is a foreign word. Meaning it is not an original Hebrew word. Most likely borrowed from one of the languages of the peoples’ land that Israel passed through, or possibly an Egyptian loanword. The word is translated to mean “material” but it is not the typical word used. Like I said, this word is only used twice, both times referring to the mixed fabrics, and the word is of foreign derivation. That is why Strong’s Exhaustive Concordance states that it means, “linsey-woolsey,” as it is only used in conjunction with this specific command. The typical words for garments include “simlah” meaning clothes, used nearly 30 times. The most common word used, however, is “beged” meaning apparel. It is used over 200 times in the Tanakh (OT). All this to say, simply translating it as “material” does not correctly render the word. The more correct form, as Strong’s explains, is “linsey-woolsey.” It is the word used for “garment” in Leviticus 19:19. Hebrew does not have a standard word for “material” or “fabric.”
The scientific reason for this is believed to be that the two fabrics are not made to be stitched together. That is, they are too different in their makeup. Wool, when combined with linen, increases its power of passing off electricity from the body (think of static). In hot climates, it brings on malignant fevers and causes exhaustion; and when passing off from the body, it meets with the heated air, inflames and excoriates like a blister. Also note Ezekiel 44:17,18. The laws for the “priests of Zadok” include not wearing anything that makes you sweat. So linen would have been ideal for summer, since it is light, cool and breathes. Wool is ideal for winter, since it is thicker and traps heat. However, the two together produce conflicting results (think of hot/cold together).
The solution? Don’t wear anything that has wool mixed with linen. Wool is fine and so is linen, just not mixed together. It may seem weird, it may seem unnecessary, yet it is there for a reason, and is simply to be obeyed.
Next, what about stoning our children? Or stoning a Sabbath-breaker? The simple answer is, no. According to Deuteronomy 21:18-21, if a man has a stubborn and rebellious child he brings the child before the elders of the city at the gateway. These elders are the judges, the leaders chosen by the people because of their great knowledge and wisdom. It was common practice that the elders (like judges) would sit out by the gates. This is why Absalom (2 Samuel 15) would wait near the gate of the city when looking for people needing advice, or judgment. These elders were basically like our court judges today. They would form what would eventually become known as the Sanhedrin. Think of it as the Supreme Court that hears cases and makes judgments based on YHWH’s Law.
In this day and age, we don’t have a Sanhedrin. We don’t have a religious court of law. We don’t have an entire nation of Israelites capable of electing such elders, because we are still in the diaspora (dispersion). Thus, since there is no court and we are not in the land, we cannot carry out sentences. The same reason we don’t drag our neighbors out of work on Sabbath and stone them. But even our own court systems condemn convicted murderers, rapists, thieves and so on, do they not?
People don’t like to think a "loving and merciful God" would command His people to kill those that broke a Law, especially for something as simple as breaking the Sabbath. However, YHWH is perfect, and He never changes (Malachi 3:6). If something was a sin worthy of death 4,000 years ago, then it is STILL a sin worthy of death. But all sin is worthy of total death (Romans 6:23). If we lived in the Torah land, ruled by Torah Law (not just man’s laws), and had an established Sanhedrin of Torah judges, then these cases would indeed be brought before them.
But just think for a moment. How many parents would honestly bring their children before the judges? It must have gotten to the point where the parents could no longer control the child, or were simply afraid of him/her. This would be a time where the parents were fearful of the child, not simply dealing with a disobedient kid. Scripture is very clear that every person that is put to death is put to death for their own sin, and that sin must be one that merits capital punishment. [Jeremiah 31:30, Deuteronomy 24:16 and Ezekiel 18:1-20.] Ezekiel 18 actually gives the example that the son may be one who “is violent, shedding blood.” It also lists other sins that merit death, such as defiling of a neighbors wife. At any rate, this command (to stone the rebellious child) is applicable only if the child has done something worthy of the death penalty.
Marrying a Rapist
So, then, does a woman have to marry her rapist? This one is a clear example of not understanding the entire text as it is written, as well as not understand the cultural context. Key words and phrases are used in the text to convey an idea that gets overlooked by those only wishing to see evil in YHWH’s Law. This comes from Deuteronomy 22:28-29.
28 If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.
What is key to remember here is that just because it says he “seizes her and lies with her,” it does not mean she did not go willing. The terminology used means to seize, but not by force. This is shown in the Hebrew word used which is Strong’s #H8610 “taphas.” It is used in Deuteronomy 9:17 in the phrase, “I took hold of the tablets…” It is used to mean seize, hold, handle, grasp, wield, and a few other ways. So in the context of a man “seizing” a young woman, it would more accurately be rendered as “takes hold of her.”
The context of this verse and similar verses also show us the difference (in Scriptural terms) between consent and non-consent. Verses 23-27 show us a difference here. If an engaged woman lies with a man in the city, they are both put to death for adultery. The word used in verse 24 for “cry out” is VERY important here. It means that she was consenting since she did not cry out. Since she consented to adultery, they are both put to death. In verse 27, it says if the engaged woman is found in the field, she is NOT put to death, because she cried out and no one heard her. She “cried out” and therefore did not consent to having relations with him. So HE is put to death for rape, while she goes free because she did not consent to adultery. The last piece of this puzzle is back to the first verse mentioned, verses 28-29. She does not “cry out,” therefore she consents to it.
The woman has not committed adultery, because she is not engaged/married. However, the man must marry her now that he has laid with her. To sum this bit up, it comes down to consent. If she consents, she marries the guy. However, if she was already married or engaged and consents, then this is adultery and she is put to death (same as the guy). If she does not consent, then the man is put to death for rape. The term “cry out” will be seen in all instances where she did not consent. If she did not “cry out,” then she DID consent. That was the way the Hebrew culture described it. In modern times, we would simply use the word consent, though they used the actual action of “crying out.”
What about verses 20-21? If the girl is found by her husband to not be a virgin (when she had previously said she was) he can then divorce her, and she is put to death. Why? Because according to verses 28-29, whomever she had previously laid with SHOULD have already become her husband. The first one was supposed to have been her husband, and therefore when she goes and marries another man (while lying about previous relations) she would be committing adultery. Of course, the ideal situation would be: a person would only lie with their spouse, and even then only after marriage. We know nowadays that divorce happens, along with remarriage. We know that people may not have knowledge of Torah when they divorce and remarry, and then come into knowledge afterwards. And many other situations. This is not a study on divorce/remarriage. Rather, simply to show that a woman does not have to marry the man that raped her.
So the simple answer is no, a woman is not forced to marry her rapist. The rapist is put to death. However, if an unmarried couple is found together, they are compelled to get married. Sort of like a “shotgun wedding” of the ancient world, if you will. However, that is how YHWH designed it. One man for one woman, as it was with Adam and Eve.
Mold and Mildew
Lastly, what about burning down the house that has mold? This is taken from Leviticus 14:34-57. It does not say to burn the house down, it says that everything is taken out of the house and the house is closed for a week. If, after a week, it remains, then they would scrape out the mold and replace the stones and mortar. If the mold comes back after this, then the house is to be torn down. Its stones and its timbers removed and taken to an unclean place outside the city. The reason for this is because the mold continues to come back. At the time, they didn’t have bleach and other things to kill mold. If mold was growing in one of the beams of the house, that beam had to be replaced. If it continued to grow all throughout the house, then the whole house had a problem and therefore would need to be rebuilt. Notice that is never says to burn the house down. The question, though, is: are we supposed to still do this today? The answer is yes. However, we do have bleach and other cleaners that can easily remove mold in our homes. Though if the mold were a constant recurring problem, and no amount of cleaning or replacing drywall could fix it, then the house would need to be torn down. Though, as I said, in our day and age we have many cleaners and such that can eliminate the necessity of tearing down the house for mold. Though sometimes, when mold and dry-rot and termites set in to old houses, even local cities will condemn them.
So in conclusion, we are responsible to keep all of the commandments we are able to keep. It is not about picking and choosing the ones we like. We should not have an attitude of “How much do I HAVE to do?” Rather, we should have an attitude of “How much CAN I do,” and “How much do I GET to do?” There is no Temple for us to bring offerings to, there is no Sanhedrin to hear our cases, and so on. But we are able to keep food laws. We are able to “Remember the Sabbath Day, to keep it holy (set-apart).” We are able to “practice” keeping the Feast Days. We are able to wear tzitziyot (see articles More Tassel, Less Hassle and More Tassel, Less Hassle Part 2). We are able to avoid wearing linen and wool mixed together. We are able to not murder, not commit adultery, not steal, etc. We are able to love YHWH our Elohim, and love our neighbor. We are able to do MANY things that we are commanded to do. If we love Him, we will strive to do these things to the best of our ability (John 14:15).
I pray this study has blessed you.
Be Berean. Shalom.
1/14/2017 10:25:14 am
Well thought out and presented. Keep up the good work!
5/8/2017 07:31:21 pm
Nice article. I will be sharing it with my fellowship.
5/9/2017 08:49:07 am
5/9/2017 07:33:18 pm
J. A. Brown,
4/7/2022 12:01:42 am
I really think it’s important to have the attitude of “how much can I do?” And “what do I get to do?” God is so good! I find it interesting that they translate the word Commandments exodus 34:28 as the Hebrew word debar which means to speak. I Just enjoy learning Hebrew words and sharing them. Shalom!
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J. A. Brown