Parshat Bechukotai – how true were the prophecies!

In this week’s Torah reading, we read about the rewards God promises the Jewish people for following His commandments and the punishments that await the Jewish people if they do not keep His commandments.

This section can be found in Leviticus chapter 26. Click here for to read the chapter in english with hebrew original next to it.

The chapter can basically be summarised as follows:

  • If the Children of Israel follow the Torah they will be rewarded (verses 3-13).
  • If they forsake the Torah they will be punished (verses 14-41).
  • God will never forsake the Jewish people and He will remember His original covenant with them (verses 42-26).

The majority of the chapter speaks about the punishments that will befall the Jews.

It’s quite amazing how this chapter has come so accurately true. The Torah was given to the Jews by God over 3300 years ago (even non-believers accept it was written well over 2500 years ago). To make such a claim and for it to come true is truly remarkable.

I do not bring this chapter of the Torah as scientific proof that it was written by God. Although the Torah is making a prediction, I don’t think we can view it as a scientific prediction because the Torah claims that the Jews will only be punished if the Jews sin and be rewarded if they are good. Do we know if the Jews sinned or not? No. As a believer in the Torah, I believe that the Jews did sin and this is why the Jews were exiled from their land and this is why they underwent so much suffering throughout the past two thousand years, but I do not believe this can be used as “scientific evidence” for the veracity of a Torah written by God.

One could also argue that the Torah got lucky in predicting Jewish history.

I don’t view things this way and I think anyone that is not amazed by the accuracy of the Torah’s predictions is a fool and dishonest. One must at least admit that this chapter of Leviticus turned out to be extremely accurate; whether this leads to belief in the divinity of the Torah is another matter. No one bases their belief on one chapter of the Torah, their are many, many more factors that play a part. However, to deny the amazingness of this chapter is intellectual dishonesty. I don’t mind someone saying I think this chapter was amazingly accurate but I don’t believe because of XYZ.

I will now explain why I believe this chapter is so incredible. The Jews have been around forever and have had the most difficult history. Which other nation do we know that were around at the same time as the Jews and survived to this day? Who’s ever heard of Hammurabi or the Amorites or the Amalekites (except for in the Torah)? What happened to the Greeks, Roman, Egyptians, Persians, etc. They don’t exist anymore. The Jews do. This tiny nation has survived the course of history despite the dread persecutions. Has there ever been a more persecuted nation? Yet somehow the Jew has survived.

Some quotes from the chapter (Leviticus chapter 26, verses 41-45):

41 I also will walk contrary unto them, and bring them into the land of their enemies; if then perchance their uncircumcised heart be humbled, and they then be paid the punishment of their iniquity; 42 then will I remember My covenant with Jacob, and also My covenant with Isaac, and also My covenant with Abraham will I remember; and I will remember the land. 43 For the land shall lie forsaken without them, and shall be paid her sabbaths, while she lieth desolate without them; and they shall be paid the punishment of their iniquity; because, even because they rejected Mine ordinances, and their soul abhorred My statutes. 44 And yet for all that, when they are in the land of their enemies, I will not reject them, neither will I abhor them, to destroy them utterly, and to break My covenant with them; for I am the LORD their God. 45 But I will for their sakes remember the covenant of their ancestors, whom I brought forth out of the land of Egypt in the sight of the nations, that I might be their God: I am the LORD.

Many believe that God created the world and left it. Others don’t believe in a God. Jewish history says differently. The Jew will never be destroyed and will continue to sing God’s praise. This is what it means to be a Jew – a Yehudi – from the tribe of Judah which stems from the Hebrew root “hoda” meaning to thank, to admit and to praise. The other nations of the world may deny the existence of a Creator that cares, but the Hebrew will stand against them and proclaim God’s majesty (the word Hebrew is Ivri in Hebrew and means “from across the river”. Abraham was called an Ivri because he stood on one side and the world stood against him on the other).

The Jewish people have returned to their homeland after a two thousand year exile. They have miraculously returned to Jerusalem – their holy capital. No nation has EVER returned after an exile. For two thousand years the Jews have been mourning the destruction of the Temple. Others thought they were crazy. Why couldn’t they just get over it? They didn’t get over it and they still haven’t gotten over it. We mourn the destruction till this day and await its rebuilding.

If the amazingness of this chapter hasn’t yet struck you, try predicting the future yourself. Try guessing what will be in the next decade. I bet you’ll fail. Now try imaging what will be in 3300 years time. You don’t stand a chance. Did any human predict what would happen two thousand years ago? No. Only a prophet sent by God could make such a prediction.

Again, you might think it was pot luck, but if you contemplate Leviticus 26 just a bit you’ll realise that it really is quite extraordinary how precisely it predicted the Jewish people’s history. Read The Black Swan by Nassim Taleb to get an idea of how hard it is to make predictions about the future (and how unlikely it is for a nation to return to its homeland after exile, let alone with its beliefs still intact. Taleb is neither Jewish nor religious).

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