We have recently finished going through the Torah this year, finishing with Deuteronomy. This means that soon we will have the pleasure to start again with Genesis. Each year I wonder if I am actually reading the same book, as new ideas and concepts jump out at me.
Almost at the end of Deuteronomy is Chapter 32, the Parasha Ha-aziynu, the song of Moses. Moses recounts in verses 8 and 9, how YHVH separated the nations, and separated out a portion to be His people, His inheritance.
Verses 11 and following talk about how He has protected and nourished His chosen people in language that is very poetic.
But where, when, and how was this people found? Let’s look at verse 10. The following translations are from The Koren Tanakh (The Magerman Edition, published by Koren Publishers Jerusalem, 2021):
“He found him in a desert land
in a barren, howling waste;
He encircled him, watched over him,
guarded him close like the apple of His eye.”
What I would like to focus on are the first two lines. God found him (His people) in what is translated as a desert land. The word for desert or wilderness, “midbar” (מדבר), has another meaning: the M at the beginning of a Hebrew word means “from” and dabar means “word” or “speech”. So a reference to the desert or wilderness is actually “from the Word.” [As an aside, if you are wandering in the wilderness you are in a postion to be hearing the Word (of God).]
The next line – “in a barren (or empty) howling waste” is even more interesting. The word being translated as barren is “tohu” (תהו). This word is also found in Genesis 1:1 – “When God began creating the heaven and the earth, the earth was void and desolate …” or “tohu vavohu” (תהו ובהו).
So what does all this mean? God found what would be His people, in this void or barren wasteland of the earth, BEFORE God actually created anything else. It appears that the entire process of creation as set forth in the beginning of Genesis, was to make a place for those who would be His people. After everything else was created, God created Man to rule over His creation. Genesis 1:16.
But how did God create everything? By speaking. From a Word, spoken in a barren land. And there He found the people who would be His own possession.
So we finish Deuteronomy, only to end up back in Genesis.
Switching over for a moment to the New Testament, the Gospel of John confirms that creation was done through the Word:
“In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things came into being by Him, and apart from Him nothing came into being that has come into being.” John 1:1-3.
And Ephesians we find that:
“He chose us in Him before the foundation of the world, that we should be holy and blameless before Him.” Eph 1:4.
So how long has God been searching for a people who would be His own possession? At least since He created our world. Let it be soon that our world once again becomes fully His.