Parsha Nitzavim and Yeshua’s Haftorah Reading (Lk. 4:16-22)

Parsha Nitzavim and Yeshua’s Haftorah Reading (Lk. 4:16-22)
James Scott Trimm

This week’s Parsha is Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:9–30:2).

In Luke 4:16-22 Yeshua delivers a haftorah reading:

16 And He came to Natzaret, where He had been raised. And He entered the synagogue, on the day of the Sabbath, as He was accustomed.
17 And the scroll of Yeshayahu the prophet was given to Him, and He stood up to read. And Yeshua opened the scroll and found the place where it was written,
18 The Spirit of YHWH is upon Me, and because of this, He has anointed Me to proclaim to the poor, and has sent Me to heal the brokenhearted, and to proclaim to the captives forgiveness, and to the blind, sight, and to send away the broken (hearted) with forgiveness,
19 And to proclaim the acceptable year of YHWH.(Is. 61:1-2; 58:6).
20 And He rolled up the scroll and gave it to the shammash, and went and sat down: and all of those in the synagogue had their eyes fixed, on Him.
21 And He began to speak to them: Today, this Scripture is fulfilled in your ears.
22 And all were witnessing about Him, and were amazed at the words of blessing that proceeded from His mouth: and they were saying, Is not this man Bar Yosef?
(Luke 4:16-22 HRV)

Each Sabbath in the synagogues a portion of the Torah is read so that over the period of a year the entire Torah has been read. For a time, under the Hellene Empire, Jews were forbidden from reading the Torah in the synagogues. As a result parallel selections from the Prophets were chosen for each weeks reading. This reading, called a haftorah reading, was intended to bring to memory the parallel Torah reading. After Torah reading was again permitted in the synagogues, the haftorah readings were also retained, so that both sets of readings are done to this very day. Yeshua’s haftorah reading begins in Isaiah 61:1-2 although Yeshua abruptly stops after verse 2, rolls the scroll back up and says “Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.”

Today Isaiah 61:1-2 is not part of the haftorah readings, but there is a haftorah reading which begins at 61:10 and runs thru 63:9. It would appear that this reading originally began in Isaiah 61:1. This haftorah reading is intended to remind us of the Torah reading known as Nitzavim (“standing”) (Deut. 29:9 (10)-30:20).

Thus the Torah reading which this haftorah reading is supposed to bring to our mind begins:

You are standing this day all of you
before YHWH your Elohim…

This Torah reading was being brought to mind as Yeshua said:

Today this scripture is fulfilled in your ears.

This verse is also applied to the “Melchizadek” figure in the “Melchizadek Document” found among the Dead Sea Scrolls:

…Isaiah said: “To proclaim the Jubilee to the
captives” (Isa. 61;1) (…) just as (…) and from
the inheritance of Melchizedek, for (… Melchizedek) ,
who will return them to what is rightfully theirs.
He will proclaim to them the Jubilee, thereby
releasing them from the debt of all their sins…
Then the “Day of Atonement” shall follow …,
when he shall atone for all the Sons of Light,
and the people who are predestined to Melchizedek….
The visitation is the Day of Salvation that He has
decreed through Isaiah the prophet concerning
all the captives, inasmuch as Scripture says, “How
beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of the
messenger who announces peace, who brings
good news, who announces salvation, who says to
Zion “Your divine being reigns”.” (Isa. 52;7)
This scriptures interpretation : “the mountains”
are the prophets, they who were sent to proclaim
God’s truth and to prophesy to all Israel. “The
messengers” is the Messiah of the spirit, of whom
Daniel spoke; “After the sixty-two weeks, Messiah
shall be cut off” (Dan. 9;26) The “messenger who
brings good news, who announces Salvation”
is the one of whom it is written; “to proclaim the
year of the LORD`s favor, the day of the vengeance
of our God; to comfort all who mourn” (Isa. 61;2)

(extracts from 11Q13)

For a great study on this Parsha see my recent blog The Torah Appeared upon Earth and Lived Among Men and Rabbi Miller’s Blog Milah: The Express Word

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