Weekly Torah Commentary – Shoftim August 25, 2017

Torah reading:  Deuteronomy 16:18 – 21:9

Haftorah reading: Isaiah 51:12 – 52:12

How beautiful on the mountains are the feet of those who bring good news, who proclaim peace, who bring good tidings, who proclaim salvation, who say to Zion, “Your God reigns!”  Isaiah 52:7


Beautiful feet?  A beautiful smile, a beautiful outfit; beautiful children:  I can envision all of those. But has anyone ever called your feet “beautiful?”  Achy?  Cold?  Smelly?  Ugly?  Yes!  But beautiful?

There are all sorts of feet. There are large feet, small feet, long feet, short feet, lean feet, and pudgy feet. Some people have strange looking feet. Others have beautiful feet. Did you know that there are foot models who get paid to have their feet photographed?

Take a look at your feet. Do you like your feet? On a scale of one to ten; one being ugly and ten being beautiful, how would you rate your feet? While God has made many beautiful things, I don’t imagine any of us would rate our feet as a ten! However, it is possible for all of us to have beautiful feet, at least in God’s eyes.

God thinks some feet are very beautiful! I’m not suggesting a pedicure. God is not so much concerned about how your feet look, but where they go and what they do.


Some feet lead to trouble, strife, and heartache. Isaiah 59:7-8 reads, “Their feet run to evil, and they make haste to shed innocent blood: their thoughts are thoughts of iniquity; wasting and destruction are in their paths. The way of peace they know not; and there is no judgment in their goings: they have made themselves crooked paths: whosoever goes there shall not know peace.”

Other’s feet are yielded to God for service to others. Job said in his defense in Job 29:15, “I was eyes to the blind, and I was feet to the lame.” The psalmist in Psalms 119:59-60 said, “I thought on my ways, and turned my feet to Your testimonies. I made haste, and delayed not to keep Your commandments.”

But Isaiah sees a messenger running to deliver news from a distant battle, before satellites & cell phones offer us instant information everywhere.  Isaiah pictures him first popping into sight over a mountaintop.  But why label his undoubtedly dirty, dusty, tired feet ‘beautiful?’

The Lord’s prophet knows that the ‘good news’ this messenger will deliver is so good that everything about him will seem ‘beautiful.’  A beautiful message makes a messenger beautiful from head to toe in the Lord’s eyes.

Setting the stage for his prophet’s promise, “the sovereign Lord” – a Lord who rules our world — recalls three troubled times: “First my people went down to Egypt to live; lately Assyria has oppressed them…Now my people have been taken away for nothing; those who rule them mock the Lord.”

What happened when the Israelites were slaves in Egypt?  The Lord – using ten plagues; miraculously opened a path through the Red Sea — powerfully walked his people out of Egypt, through the wilderness; into their promised land.

What happened when king Sennacherib’s Assyrian army surrounded Jerusalem to starve God’s people into submission?  The Lord’s angel put 185,000 Assyrian soldiers to death in one night; Sennacherib headed for home a loser.

What happened when Babylon ransacked Jerusalem; carried God’s people into captivity?  In Isaiah 52:7, Isaiah prophecies concerning those Jews who were exiled in Persia.  In that day, King Cyrus permitted the Jews held captive in Babylon, to return to their native land. “How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that brings good tidings, that announces peace; that brings good news, that proclaims salvation; that says unto Zion, Your God reigns!” Isaiah’s words referred to the heralds who proclaimed the liberating message to the Jewish people, “You’re free! No more captivity! It’s time to go home!” What good news!

In Tune with Torah this week = Your feet were designed to go places. They say that your feet will carry you the equivalent of five times around the earth in an average life span. Your feet may take you up and down a soccer field; they make take you to school or to work.

However, your feet are at their best when 1) they take you to worship the LORD God of heaven and earth, and 2) when they take you to perform acts of kindness towards others: to proclaim peace to the troubled soul, comfort to the grieving soul, encouragement to the discouraged soul and the love of God to the despairing soul.

In worship and in service to others our feet are the most beautiful.

Shabbat Shalom



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