This chapter is about kings - singular masculine. Could equally be about sovereigns, singular gender inclusive.
Theocracy might appear to be an unavoidable consequence of this chapter. But some things are not clear and have not been made clear except through prejudice and custom. How much can be broken? How presumptuous am I? Does the theocracy have an absolute ability to determine justice or can it say 'I do not know'?
I find myself opposed in principle to any person, institute, or other human or divine organization that cannot say, I do not know. I guess this puts omniscience outside of my possible attributions to an entity. To what is a non-entity, I can attribute omniscience. If there is any logic, and if G-d is omniscient, then G-d is not an entity in the class of entities that I am considering. But the priesthood is such an entity and is therefore not omniscient, (nor all-powerful, nor all-wise, etc, etc. and if anyone says otherwise, such a one is beyond my pale.)
You could say I am among the presumptuous even perhaps especially in my ignorance. I cannot name all the uncertainties I wrestle with. Who can be sure of any knowledge or fact in these days? I actually trust the opinions of many. What I don't trust is power claimed without evidence of good will. It seems to me that priestly power can be claimed without evidence. And (even) good will tends to be self interested. Political and financial power are not different once they are established.
Yet the concatenation in this chapter of the process for difficult case law and the instruction to the monarch to be instructed in the collected written record and to learn with it by copying it - these are all good will though filled with difficulty. I am so tempted to hear קרב as close combat in the last verse, but I guess the simple preposition will do.
You will see that I had plenty of trouble with glosses in this chapter. The use of shrive for בער is one example of my stretch to comprehend this tongue. I tried brutalize. The word can mean a brute, but the verb could not be used. I have used this root regularly for kindle. (Not burn but initiate burning, particularly the burning related to shame - something we are very short of among the rulers of this world at present. And the reason the rulers have no shame is that they worship mammon and raw power. But that's too much of an inexplicable jump in thought - nonetheless we all tend to bypass the covenant with the mystery of good. Note in this first section just how many conditions are required before public shame is to be exposed.)
Note the optimism of verse 13. Hear and see - Isaiah's favorite words. Do we indeed have evidence here that the texts were created nearer the same time than one might think, i.e. during a common period, perhaps during the exile and resettlement?
|לֹא־תִזְבַּח֩ לַיהוָ֨ה אֱלֹהֶ֜יךָ שׁ֣וֹר וָשֶׂ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר יִהְיֶ֥ה בוֹ֙ מ֔וּם כֹּ֖ל דָּבָ֣ר רָ֑ע |
כִּ֧י תוֹעֲבַ֛ת יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ הֽוּא
|1||You will not offer to Yahweh your God bull or lamb in which there is a spot, any thing injured, |
for an abomination to Yahweh your God it is.
|כִּֽי־יִמָּצֵ֤א בְקִרְבְּךָ֙ בְּאַחַ֣ד שְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ נֹתֵ֣ן לָ֑ךְ |
אִ֣ישׁ אוֹ־אִשָּׁ֗ה אֲשֶׁ֨ר יַעֲשֶׂ֧ה אֶת־הָרַ֛ע בְּעֵינֵ֥י יְהוָֽה־אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ לַעֲבֹ֥ר בְּרִיתֽוֹ
|2||If there is found among you in one of your gates that Yahweh your God is giving to you, |
a man or a woman that does evil in the eyes of Yahweh your God, to bypass his covenant,
|וַיֵּ֗לֶךְ וַֽיַּעֲבֹד֙ אֱלֹהִ֣ים אֲחֵרִ֔ים וַיִּשְׁתַּ֖חוּ לָהֶ֑ם |
וְלַשֶּׁ֣מֶשׁ ׀ א֣וֹ לַיָּרֵ֗חַ א֛וֹ לְכָל־צְבָ֥א הַשָּׁמַ֖יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹא־צִוִּֽיתִי
|3||And it went and served other gods and it worshiped them, |
either to the sun or to the moon or to all the host of the heavens, which I did not command,
|וְהֻֽגַּד־לְךָ֖ וְשָׁמָ֑עְתָּ |
וְדָרַשְׁתָּ֣ הֵיטֵ֔ב וְהִנֵּ֤ה אֱמֶת֙ נָכ֣וֹן הַדָּבָ֔ר נֶעֶשְׂתָ֛ה הַתּוֹעֵבָ֥ה הַזֹּ֖את בְּיִשְׂרָאֵֽל
|4||And it is made clear to you, and you hear, |
and you search well and behold, truth is established of the matter, this abomination is done in Israel,
|וְהֽוֹצֵאתָ֣ אֶת־הָאִ֣ישׁ הַה֡וּא אוֹ֩ אֶת־הָאִשָּׁ֨ה הַהִ֜וא אֲשֶׁ֣ר עָ֠שׂוּ אֶת־הַדָּבָ֨ר הָרָ֤ע הַזֶּה֙ אֶל־שְׁעָרֶ֔יךָ אֶת־הָאִ֕ישׁ א֖וֹ אֶת־הָאִשָּׁ֑ה |
וּסְקַלְתָּ֥ם בָּאֲבָנִ֖ים וָמֵֽתוּ
|5||Then you will bring forth this man or that woman that has dealt with this evil matter to your gates, the man or the woman, |
and you will engulf them with stones and they will die.
|עַל־פִּ֣י ׀ שְׁנַ֣יִם עֵדִ֗ים א֛וֹ שְׁלֹשָׁ֥ה עֵדִ֖ים יוּמַ֣ת הַמֵּ֑ת |
לֹ֣א יוּמַ֔ת עַל־פִּ֖י עֵ֥ד אֶחָֽד
|6||At the mouth of two witnesses or three witnesses the dead will be put to death, |
Such will not be put to death at the mouth of one.
|יַ֣ד הָעֵדִ֞ים תִּֽהְיֶה־בּ֤וֹ בָרִאשֹׁנָה֙ לַהֲמִית֔וֹ וְיַ֥ד כָּל־הָעָ֖ם בָּאַחֲרֹנָ֑ה |
וּבִֽעַרְתָּ֥ הָרָ֖ע מִקִּרְבֶּֽךָ
|7||B||The hand of the witnesses will be on it at the beginning, to have it executed, and the hand of all the people afterwards. |
And you will shrive the evil from within you.
|כִּ֣י יִפָּלֵא֩ מִמְּךָ֨ דָבָ֜ר לַמִּשְׁפָּ֗ט בֵּֽין־דָּ֨ם ׀ לְדָ֜ם בֵּֽין־דִּ֣ין לְדִ֗ין וּבֵ֥ין נֶ֙גַע֙ לָנֶ֔גַע דִּבְרֵ֥י רִיבֹ֖ת בִּשְׁעָרֶ֑יךָ |
וְקַמְתָּ֣ וְעָלִ֔יתָ אֶל־הַמָּק֔וֹם אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִבְחַ֛ר יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ בּֽוֹ
|8||B||If a matter is too extraordinary for you to judge, between blood to blood, sentence to sentence, and contagion to contagion, matters of contention in your gates, |
then you will arise and ascend to the place where Yahweh your God will choose,
|וּבָאתָ֗ אֶל־הַכֹּהֲנִים֙ הַלְוִיִּ֔ם וְאֶל־הַשֹּׁפֵ֔ט אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִהְיֶ֖ה בַּיָּמִ֣ים הָהֵ֑ם |
וְדָרַשְׁתָּ֙ וְהִגִּ֣ידוּ לְךָ֔ אֵ֖ת דְּבַ֥ר הַמִּשְׁפָּֽט
|9||And you will come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge that will be in those days, |
and you will search, and they will make clear to you the word of judgment.
|וְעָשִׂ֗יתָ עַל־פִּ֤י הַדָּבָר֙ אֲשֶׁ֣ר יַגִּ֣ידֽוּ לְךָ֔ מִן־הַמָּק֣וֹם הַה֔וּא אֲשֶׁ֖ר יִבְחַ֣ר יְהוָ֑ה |
וְשָׁמַרְתָּ֣ לַעֲשׂ֔וֹת כְּכֹ֖ל אֲשֶׁ֥ר יוֹרֽוּךָ
|10||And you will do by the mandate of the matter that they have made evident to you from the place that which Yahweh will choose, |
and you will keep and do according to all that they instruct you.
|עַל־פִּ֨י הַתּוֹרָ֜ה אֲשֶׁ֣ר יוֹר֗וּךָ וְעַל־הַמִּשְׁפָּ֛ט אֲשֶׁר־יֹאמְר֥וּ לְךָ֖ תַּעֲשֶׂ֑ה |
לֹ֣א תָס֗וּר מִן־הַדָּבָ֛ר אֲשֶׁר־יַגִּ֥ידֽוּ לְךָ֖ יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאל
|11||By the mandate of the instruction that they instruct you, and by the judgment that they say to you, you will do. |
You will not turn aside from the matter that they have made clear to you, right or left.
|וְהָאִ֞ישׁ אֲשֶׁר־יַעֲשֶׂ֣ה בְזָד֗וֹן לְבִלְתִּ֨י שְׁמֹ֤עַ אֶל־הַכֹּהֵן֙ הָעֹמֵ֞ד לְשָׁ֤רֶת שָׁם֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ א֖וֹ אֶל־הַשֹּׁפֵ֑ט |
וּמֵת֙ הָאִ֣ישׁ הַה֔וּא וּבִֽעַרְתָּ֥ הָרָ֖ע מִיִּשְׂרָאֵֽל
|12||And a person that acts with presumption so as not to hear the priest, the one standing to minister there to Yahweh your God, or to the judge, |
this person will die and you will shrive the evil from Israel.
|וְכָל־הָעָ֖ם יִשְׁמְע֣וּ וְיִרָ֑אוּ |
וְלֹ֥א יְזִיד֖וּן עֽוֹד
|13||And all the people will hear and see, |
and not be presumptuous any longer.
|כִּֽי־תָבֹ֣א אֶל־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁ֨ר יְהוָ֤ה אֱלֹהֶ֙יךָ֙ נֹתֵ֣ן לָ֔ךְ וִֽירִשְׁתָּ֖הּ וְיָשַׁ֣בְתָּה בָּ֑הּ |
וְאָמַרְתָּ֗ אָשִׂ֤ימָה עָלַי֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ כְּכָל־הַגּוֹיִ֖ם אֲשֶׁ֥ר סְבִיבֹתָֽי
|14||When you enter into the land that Yahweh your God is giving to you, and you possess it, and you have settled in it, |
and you say, I will set over me a king like all the nations who who are round about me,
|שׂ֣וֹם תָּשִׂ֤ים עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ אֲשֶׁ֥ר יִבְחַ֛ר יְהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ בּ֑וֹ |
מִקֶּ֣רֶב אַחֶ֗יךָ תָּשִׂ֤ים עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ מֶ֔לֶךְ לֹ֣א תוּכַ֗ל לָתֵ֤ת עָלֶ֙יךָ֙ אִ֣ישׁ נָכְרִ֔י אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־אָחִ֖יךָ הֽוּא
|15||B||You will set over you a king which Yahweh your God will choose. |
From among your kin, you will set over you a king. You can not position over you someone else who is not your kin.
|רַק֮ לֹא־יַרְבֶּה־לּ֣וֹ סוּסִים֒ וְלֹֽא־יָשִׁ֤יב אֶת־הָעָם֙ מִצְרַ֔יְמָה לְמַ֖עַן הַרְבּ֣וֹת ס֑וּס |
וַֽיהוָה֙ אָמַ֣ר לָכֶ֔ם לֹ֣א תֹסִפ֗וּן לָשׁ֛וּב בַּדֶּ֥רֶךְ הַזֶּ֖ה עֽוֹד
|16||But he will not increase for himself horses, nor will he make the people return toward Egypt for the sake of increasing horses, |
for Yahweh said to you, You are not again to return in this way any more.
|וְלֹ֤א יַרְבֶּה־לּוֹ֙ נָשִׁ֔ים וְלֹ֥א יָס֖וּר לְבָב֑וֹ |
וְכֶ֣סֶף וְזָהָ֔ב לֹ֥א יַרְבֶּה־לּ֖וֹ מְאֹֽד
|17||And he will not increase for himself women, nor will his heart be stubborn, |
and silver and gold he will not increase for himself especially.
|וְהָיָ֣ה כְשִׁבְתּ֔וֹ עַ֖ל כִּסֵּ֣א מַמְלַכְתּ֑וֹ |
וְכָ֨תַב ל֜וֹ אֶת־מִשְׁנֵ֨ה הַתּוֹרָ֤ה הַזֹּאת֙ עַל־סֵ֔פֶר מִלִּפְנֵ֥י הַכֹּהֲנִ֖ים הַלְוִיִּֽם
|18||And it will be, as he sits on the throne of his kingdom, |
that he will write for himself the equivalent of this instruction in a book, from what is before the priests, the Levites.
|וְהָיְתָ֣ה עִמּ֔וֹ וְקָ֥רָא ב֖וֹ כָּל־יְמֵ֣י חַיָּ֑יו |
לְמַ֣עַן יִלְמַ֗ד לְיִרְאָה֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהָ֔יו לִ֠שְׁמֹר אֶֽת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵ֞י הַתּוֹרָ֥ה הַזֹּ֛את וְאֶת־הַחֻקִּ֥ים הָאֵ֖לֶּה לַעֲשֹׂתָֽם
|19||And it will be with him that he will recite in it all the days of his life, |
so that he may learn to fear Yahweh his God, to keep all the words of this instruction and these statutes to do them.
|לְבִלְתִּ֤י רוּם־לְבָבוֹ֙ מֵֽאֶחָ֔יו וּלְבִלְתִּ֛י ס֥וּר מִן־הַמִּצְוָ֖ה יָמִ֣ין וּשְׂמֹ֑אול |
לְמַעַן֩ יַאֲרִ֨יךְ יָמִ֧ים עַל־מַמְלַכְתּ֛וֹ ה֥וּא וּבָנָ֖יו בְּקֶ֥רֶב יִשְׂרָאֵֽל
|20||So as not to exalt his heart over his kin, and so as not to turn aside from the commandment on the right hand or on the left, |
so that he will prolong days over his kingdom, he and his children within Israel.