By: William Jackson
Does HaShem test us? The answer is “yes“, I think you remember the story of Abraham sacrificing his son (Genesis 22:1-18). HaShem never intended us to be put on Earth with no challenges, as if on auto pilot. It’s these test that develop and shape us. Even the Psalmist David said “Examine me, God, and know my heart; test me, and know my thoughts” (Psalm 139:23). Deuteronomy 13 gives us guidelines to pass His test, have you applied them?
“Everything I am commanding you, you are to take care to do. Do not add to it or subtract from it. “If a prophet or someone who gets messages while dreaming arises among you and he gives you a sign or wonder, and the sign or wonder comes about as he predicted when he said, ‘Let’s follow other gods, which you have not known; and let us serve them,’ you are not to listen to what that prophet or dreamer says. For Adonai your God is testing you, in order to find out whether you really do love Adonai your God with all your heart and being.
(Read more; Deuteronomy 13:5-6)
“Do not add to it or subtract from it (Torah)”.
HaShem forbids people to add to His word (Deuteronomy 4:2, Joshua 1:7, Proverbs 30:6). So anything added to the Torah would be incorrect, right? What about the other books that make up the Tanakh (Old Testament)? If we skip forward five more chapters in Deuteronomy we come to Deut 18. In verses 15-19 Moses states “Adonai will raise up for you a prophet…” and “You are to pay attention to him”.
Now we have in Deuteronomy 13 certain prophets we are not to follow, and in Deuteronomy 18 we have certain prophets we are required to follow. Maybe we should start with this question; “what is a prophet?” We do know that “no prophet has risen in Israel like Moses” since his time (Deuteronomy 34:10) . So Moses serves as a model for the prophets (1). It appears that Moses’ chief purpose was to be a spokesman for YHVH to talk to His people. Thus a prophet is a conduit for Adonai. In addition to the garden verity prophets, there were some who saw visions, these were “Seers”. In 2 Chronicles 9:29 it hints at the deferent types of prophets (2). So when Moses and HaShem talk about the prophet they are referring to the prophets that will pen their respective books in the Tanakh (3). But, what about the other authors in the Tanakh? How did they end up there?
Let’s start with King David. Now he was a poet, and the rabbis believe that David wrote the Book of Psalms, or at least edited it (4). Also David’s son, King Solomon, wrote the Song of Songs, the Book of Proverbs and Ecclesiastes (5). Although these great figures in Israel’s history used prophets they were not prophets. So, how did their books make it into Tanakh? Their books come under a category called “writings” (3) . The writings do not add to or take away from the law of Torah, they heighten it. These are mostly poems and hymns. If you were to compare Torah to a movie the “writings” are comparative to a “sound track”. Although a sound track can enhance a movie it doesn’t change it’s storyline.
As stated in Deuteronomy 13:1-4 Adonai warns us against following certain prophets, ones that cause you to “follow other gods“. Then in Deuteronomy 18:15-19 Adonai tells use to follow certain prophets. In these verses there are two qualifiers for the prophet that we are to follow: he will be like Moses, and he will be a Israelite. The Islamic religion points to this and says it’s Mohammed, whereas the Christian religion points to this and says it’s Jesus/Yeshua. We need to remember Mohammed was not an Israelite and Jesus was not a prophet, actually Jesus claimed to be a deity.
Have you ever been in noisy building without windows, like a factory, conference room or bowling alley? Did you notice the feeling when you opened a door to go outside? Your disorientated, it’s like the day light is blinding and the silence is deafening. Even being by yourself, at first, feels weird after leaving the noise and the crowd. Yet, it has a peaceful quality once you soak it in. This is the feeling I had when I left my previous faith and dedicate my life to just being Tanakh centric. It’s like you can see truths you haven’t seen before and you realize how bewildering the world you left was. Following the One Elohim (G-d), makes a lot more sense and if we do so we passed the test. Notice how everything got calm and tranquil.
(1) PROPHETS AND PROPHECY, The unedited full-text of the 1906 Jewish Encyclopedia, JewishEncyclopedia.com
(2) What was a seer in the Bible?, GotQuestions.Org
(3) The Tanakh, My Jewish Learning
(4) By Cohen, Barbara (1995) King David, Jewish Virtual Library
(5) King Solomon, Jewish Virtual Library