“Justice, and only justice, you shall follow, that you may live and inherit the land that the LORD your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 16:20

Seems simple enough, right? Just follow justice and be blessed with the inheritance of the land. As with every word in the Bible there lies more significance and accuracy in the Hebrew.  Most translations read, “Justice…justice” except the Young’s Literal Translation which translates “justice” as “righteousness.” The word in Hebrew is actually tzedek. Gesenius’s Lexicon defines tzedek as “(1) in a physical sense, straightness, rightness (2) rectitude, right, what is right and just, what is so, or ought to be so.” In English it is easy to assume the “justice” in verse 19 is the same as the “justice” in verse 20. Indeed there is overlap but tzedek more accurately describes this command in verse 20 because not everyone can serve as a literal judge (as described by the word mishpat used in verse 19). However, everyone can and is commanded to follow righteousness and act justly. How much more than shall the Righteous One, Messiah Yeshua, be followed! The following verse also contains the word tzedek.

“My righteousness (tzidki) draws near, my salvation has gone out, and my arms will judge the peoples; the coastlands hope for me, and for my arm they wait.” Isaiah 51:5

Yeshua came and perfectly demonstrated how to follow righteousness. Look to Him. Follow His example. Heed His Word. As it is written:

“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ.” Romans 10:17

Additionally, there is an excellent example in this week’s portion of the result of hearing and hearing the Law.

“And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them, that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.” Deuteronomy 17:19-20

The context of this passage is the commandment for the king to write a copy of the Law. Why did he need to write his own copy? To keep with him, to read, to study, and ultimately to obey every single word possible. The passage also said, “that he may learn to fear the LORD his God.” Summarized here in one verse describes the learning process to fear G-d; that by reading and hearing the Law the king would practice all the words of the Law. Once G-d has set us apart unto Him both fear and love must follow. May we follow the king’s example and learn to fear G-d and only follow Messiah Yeshua, the Righteous One!