Parashat Shoftim is the second one, after Re’eh, in which Moshe mentions the commandments found in Devarim (Deuteronomy). Next week will be the third parasha in that series. In parasha Shoftim Moshe instructs concerning courts in every city of the Land. And each tribe will have a high court, a Sanhedrin. And next to those who make decisions in the justice system Moshe also orders officers for what we would call police activities. And then the leaders of the Land are ordered to behave in a manner which shows example. Israel is called to be a people of justice and righteousness.
Hashem knows that Israel will have a king and He wants Israel to have it, see 17:14-15. The king will not be allowed to have too many horses because of the danger of returning to Egypt. Too many wives is forbidden as well, because of the danger of worshipping other gods. The third prohibition is to have too much wealth. And the king will have to write two copies of the Torah by himself in order to stay humble and to have a long period of kingship. The righteous power of a human king is an image of the Kingship of Hashem.
In parashat Re’eh Moshe warned against a false prophet. In the current parasha the prophecy of a future prophet is given, read 18:14-22. Like the future king the future prophet will need to come from the people of Israel and furthermore he will need to be like the status, grandeur and high quality like Moshe’s. See the three high functions described in this parasha: priest, king and prophet. These are the functions Yeshua exercised on earth. And He is from Israel. His status, grandeur and high quality are like Moshe’s. All He spoke came about and will come about, because it is only and completely according to Torah. That is the sign of a true prophet, read 18:22.
All these developments will take place in the future says Moshe. That is how the context of Torah is set. In the meantime there will be wars against our enemies. Israel receives the assurance that whatever the size and strength of the enemy, it does not have to fear any enemy. Reason is that Hashem is with us. And the Kohen will encourage the people and tell them to not be weak or afraid, to not panic, and to not be broken before them. These are important elements of inner security which we can use in our own struggles as well. Hashem shows that He is in control of everything. He cares for you and me, in every detail. Even when the circumstances are not so nice, even when the things to do seem too much. He loves you. That is His Art.
Concluding we can see that this parasha bears the promises of Israel as a righteous people under a righteous king. The reign of this king over his people is the image of our relationship with Hashem on earth in the person of Yeshua, who is also prophet and priest. The fact that Hashem on earth in the person of Yeshua is king, prophet and priest is important for Israel as people because it shows G-d’s complete care for us: the king who has complete power and authority who gives us safety and security, the priest who ministers to our souls and hearts with healing in His wings and the prophet who confirms and fulfills G-d’s promises for now and the bright future.
Lion S. Erwteman, Rosh Kehilla of Beth Yeshua