The Haftarah for Parashat Chukat is taken from the book of Judges (Shoftim), specifically Judges 11:1-33. This Haftarah offers a profound connection to the themes and lessons of Parashat Chukat.It explores the significance of covenant in countering claims and upholding divine promises, as seen through the story of Jephthah (Yiftach), and the lacking of man in doing so. This commentary delves into the events of the Haftarah, shedding light on its concrete implications in understanding Parashat Chukat from a new perspective.
The Haftarah for Parashat Chukat introduces us to Jephthah, a judge and leader of Israel. The Ammonites launch an attack against the Israelites, claiming that the land east of the Jordan River belongs to them. In response, Jephthah counters their claims by recounting the historical events from the Israelites’ departure from Egypt to their present situation in which the Ammorites of Sihon attacked and the Israelites won a defensive war, taking the lands from the Ammorites they had not set out for. He emphasizes that God had given the land of the Ammonites to the Israelites and argues that their possession is grounded in divine covenant.
The Haftarah highlights the central role of covenant in asserting ownership and countering territorial claims. Parashat Chukat also emphasizes the importance of covenant as it details the journey of the Israelites in the wilderness and their reliance on God’s guidance. The Torah portion contains numerous instances where God reaffirms the covenant with the people, underscoring the special relationship between God and the Israelites.
Jephthah’s Appeal to Covenant: Jephthah, aware of the historical covenant between God and the Israelites, presents a compelling case against the Ammonites’ claim. He cites their liberation from Egypt, their conquest of the Amorite king Sihon, and God’s command not to encroach upon the Ammonites’ territory. By invoking these events, Jephthah challenges the Ammonites to acknowledge and respect the divine covenant, asserting that the land in question rightfully belongs to Israel.
Understanding Parashat Chukat in a New Light: The Haftarah for Parashat Chukat prompts us to reconsider the significance of covenant within the broader context of the Torah portion. Parashat Chukat delves into the laws of the red heifer, the deaths of Miriam and Aaron, and the journey toward the Promised Land. It highlights the intricate relationship between obedience to God’s commandments and the preservation of the covenantal relationship.
The Haftarah reinforces this theme by illustrating the practical application of covenant in a real-life scenario. It demonstrates that the covenant serves as more than a mere legal agreement; it is a powerful tool for asserting ownership, defending rights, and establishing justice.
Message of Faith and Covenant: The Haftarah for Parashat Chukat offers a powerful message about the enduring nature of God’s covenant and the faithfulness required of God’s people. Just as Jephthah relied on the covenant to assert Israel’s rights, we too are called to recognize and uphold the covenantal relationship with God. Our faithfulness to the covenant, as expressed through obedience and reverence, ensures the preservation of our spiritual inheritance and the fulfillment of God’s promises.
Conclusion: The Haftarah for Parashat Chukat, from the book of Judges, provides us with valuable insights into the significance of covenant in countering claims and upholding ownership. It illuminates the concrete implications of covenant as a guiding principle and calls us to embrace our role as custodians of the covenant, faithfully observing God’s commandments and trusting in His promises.