My notes on Vaetchanan

This Bible portion “Vaetchanan” teaches oneness of Gd and forbids idol worship. So my notes will explain why Jesus in Christianity is not an idol, nor a second gd. Christians wouldn’t worship Jesus if they weren’t really worshiping the one and only true Gd of Israel. Nevertheless, I personally prefer to use the name L-RD (“y-h-v-h”, see Exodus 3:15) in worship, since it’s the most commonly used name for the purpose of worship in the Bible.

Parashat Vaetchanan

Deuteronomy 3

3:27   Go up to the top of Pisgah, and turning your eyes to the west and the north, to the south and the east, see the land with your eyes: for you are not to go over Jordan.

Comment: As measured by a high standard befitting a holy man of Gd, Moses’ current sin, which seems so minor compared to the sins of most other people, prevents him from going to the other side of Jordan. But in the future, after he is resurrected from death, with his sin fully atoned for, Moses is destined to enter the kingdom of Gd, which is better than the current other side of Jordan.  We are sure that this will happen, since the New Testament records three witnesses who saw Moses talking with the Messiah Jesus on a high mountain, together with the prophet Elijah, at a wonderful place where one of the witnesses said “it is good for us to be here” (Matthew 17:1-9). Due to the surrounding verses Matthew 16:28 and 17:9, I interpret this event as a vision of preview for the future kingdom of Gd, after the resurrection of the dead. The location of this high mountain is unspecified in the New Testament, since the future kingdom of Gd will not be confined to just one side of Jordan, but will be everywhere on the earth; as Zechariah 14:9 says, “the LORD shall be king over all the earth …”


Deuteronomy 4

4:15   Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:

Comment: This is because no “similitude” can properly reflect the true greatness of the infinite Gd.


4:16   Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,

Comment: The Chinese carved a huge figure of a buddha out of an entire mountain. However, any figure, however big, is really reducing the true greatness of Gd. When you go to space, the earth looks like a moon and that mountain-sized buddha figure disappears. On a larger scale, the earth may only look like a pea in the whole solar system, or a speck of sand in our galaxy. There are so many galaxies discovered that we couldn’t count them… How can you then use any figure to liken the Creator of all these things! No wonder, idol worship usually is associated with foolishness.

In my opinion, it is not even appropriate to make a figure of Jesus in order to worship it. Many Jews think Christians are worshiping an idol. The correct way is not to worship Jesus as a figure or as a human body, but instead, to worship the infinite Gd behind him, who is willing to humble his infinite self so much,  as to live in a finite human body, in order to feel our pain, to suffer for us, and to atone for our sins. This is like the LRD or the Angel of the LRD, manifested in a thornbush on fire (Exodus 3:2,4), in order to save his people from suffering in the Egyptian slavery. Gd is not only infinitely great, but He is even greater than infinity, in that he can humble himself and limit his infinite greatness voluntarily, due to his love.

Jews believe that Gd is incorporeal, as one of the 13 principles of faith In my opinion, this is not completely biblical, but only a summary made in the middle-ages in order to counter Christian influence. An objective reading of the Old Testament can find quite a few passages where Gd manifests in human form. These include, for example, Genesis 3:8 where Adam and Eve try to hide from the LRD who walks in the garden; Genesis 18 where the LRD appears to Abraham in a visit of three guests; Exodus 3:2,4 where Moses encounters the Angel of the LRD in the fiery thornbush. It is true that Gd’s power is not limited in any way by a human form. He can act simultaneously at different places, for example, so as to save newborn babies both in China and in America simultaneously;  but when he wants to be close to human beings to communicate with them, he can voluntarily limit his infiniteness and manifest himself in a limited human form, according to the Bible.

          Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.

Comment: Anyone who is not L-RD (y-h-v-h in transliteration of the original text) is not Gd. There is no room for Jesus to be worshiped as a different Gd. He is either a personalfication of y-h-v-h Himself, or a nonGd that is forbidden to be worshiped. No middle ground! 

For a long time, I used to think that the Father=y-h-v-h, and the Son=Jesus. However, if this were true, then our current verse would imply that the Son would be a nonGd, since our verse says emphatically that only y-h-v-h can be Gd, none else! I now think that y-h-v-h is not the Father alone. Y-h-v-h should include both manifestations in the Father and in the Son. Jesus (the Son) must be the manifestation of y-h-v-h Himself in a mortal human form, in order to die for us and to decisively pay for our debts of sins.

The manifestation of y-h-v-h in this 5th book of the Bible, however, is (predominantly) the Father, invisible and immortal.


Deuteronomy 5

5:15   And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.

Comment : Gd commands us to keep the sabbath, and not to work on the seventh day. This seems to be a constraint, but is really giving us freedom: the freedom to rest. In Egypt we were free from keeping the sabbath day, but we were not free from slavery labors.  Similar things can be said with many other commandments. We are commanded not to murder, but this way our society can be free of bloodshed. We are commanded not to commit adultery, but this way our family can be free of betrayals. We are commanded not to covet, but this way we are free to fully enjoy our own portions.

It is better to keep Gd’s commandments, which gives us real freedom.


Deuteronomy 6

6:4   Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God is one LORD:

Comment: It is the main teaching of the Old Testament that Gd is *one*. Christians also worship Jesus, but Jesus is not another Gd. Jesus and the Heavenly Father are One (John 10:30). Jesus is the manifestation of the infinite, incorporeal, and invisible Gd, manifested in finite human form, in order to suffer for us and atone for our sins. Nowadays when mankind has created computer-based virtual worlds, we can better understand this as follows: This is somewhat like a human being of flesh and blood, who lives outside of the computer, can take a digital representation in a virtual world that he created. For example, he can take a fictitious role to play in an electronic game, or a user’s id or badge to participate in an online forum, or an on-screen personification in the “metaverse”. Jesus is not the name of another deity, but like the “user id” taken by the one and only L-RD, when He wants to participate in His created world most directly and “personally”. Just like a human being usually chooses his userid with a proper meaning, the “user id” “Jesus” is also befitting of Gd’s mission: its Hebrew form “yehoshua” means “the L-RD saves”. Therefore, Gd’s proper name is the L-RD (“y-h-v-h”, see Exodus 3:15),  and Gd’s “user id” in the human world is Jesus (“y-h-v-shua”), which is used for  His mission of salvation.

When Christians worship Jesus, they are really worshiping the infinite Gd (y-h-v-h) behind the scene, and they are also reminded of how strong Gd’s *love* is: He humbled himself so much from the most transcendent infinity to a less than 6-feet-tall, in order to suffer from humanly death to save us from our sin, the sin that is too much for us to bear on our own. By the way, the Hebrew word “one” in this verse,  a-ch-d אחד, has the same numerical value 13 as the  word “love” a-h-v-h אהבה. No wonder, the main message of the New Testament proclaims that “Gd is love” (1st John 4:8,16). 

“Gd is one”, and “Gd is love”, both are true; many times we suffer in life and we crave more intensely for His love, but never forget that He also is One. Interestingly, Gd’s proper name y-h-v-h (L-RD) carries a numerical value of 26, equal to that of both “one (a-ch-d13) + love (a-h-v-h13)”, which are the two main attributes of Gd, proclaimed in the Old and New Testaments. See, e.g., this related online debate and I wish you to have your own objective opinion:


Deuteronomy 7

7:10   And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.

Comment: Then why do evil people sometimes prosper and die peacefully? Rashi’s comment recorded a wonderful and unexpected way of interpreting this current verse. Rephrased in my own understanding, the word “repay” here means to repay any good things done by those who hate Gd. Their good deeds will be repaid in *this* world, so that it will be fair “to destroy them” and not let them enjoy the world to come. Conversely, Gd’s people may be punished in this world for their bad deeds, so that they can enjoy their eternal life better in the world to come. (See