“‘Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand, and your enemies will fall by the sword before you.’” — Leviticus 26:8
NOTE TO READERS: 2018 is an important year for Israel and the Jewish people as we celebrate the modern State of Israel’s 70th Birthday. As we mark this momentous milestone, we are offering 70 devotions between now and April 19th, Israel’s Independence Day, tied to our Keys to Israel – six fundamental principles underlying God’s covenantal relationship with His chosen people and His Holy Land built upon the acrostic I.S.R.A.E.L. These first ten devotions provide an overview to Israel and her people.
An old farmer had five sons who couldn’t get along. When the aged farmer felt that his time was near, he called his sons to his deathbed and advised them to live in unity. It was clear to him that his sons ignored his advice.
So the farmer asked a servant to bring in a bundle of sticks. He asked each son to try and break the bundle, but not one succeeded. Then he ordered the servant to untie the bundle and set the sticks free. Now the sons could easily break all the sticks that had been in the bundle. The father urged his sons to live like the bundle of sticks – together they would be strong and unbreakable; but if they separated from each other, all would be vulnerable to harm.
Earlier in chapter 26 of Leviticus, God had given a series of blessings that would come upon His children of Israel “if you follow my decrees and are careful to obey my commands” (Leviticus 26: 3). There would be plenty of rain, an abundance of crops, and peace. When it came to the promises about safety and security, God gave this blessing: “Five of you will chase a hundred, and a hundred of you will chase ten thousand . . .” Few would defeat many, and this blessing came true for Israel both in biblical times and in modern times as well.
However, as the Jewish sages point out, the math in this verse doesn’t add up. If five can chase 100, then that is a ratio of 1-to-20. If that is the kind of strength that God is promising, then 100 Israelites should be able to defeat 2,000. Yet the verse promises that 100 men will chase 10,000! That’s a ratio of 1-to-100!
The sages clarify this apparent inconsistency by explaining that we cannot compare the unity of five people with the unity of 100. As the old farmer tried to teach his sons, there is strength in unity. The greater the unity, the greater the strength.
United we stand, and united we are blessed. This is why I founded the International Fellowship of Christians and Jews more than 30 years ago. In fact, in 2018, we will celebrate our 35th anniversary Together, Christians and Jews, we are millions of people united together for the sake of Israel. Alone, each of us can do some good, but together as partners, we are having a major impact on God’s land and His people. Together we can continue to bring great strength and blessings to Israel, and God will bless us in return. As He promises in Genesis: “I will bless those who bless you” (12:3).
For more information on our Keys to I.S.R.A.E.L. resources visit www.ifcj.org/keystoisrael.
With prayers for shalom, peace,
Rabbi Yechiel Eckstein
Founder and President