Rest In Torah
By Jeff A Benner
Yeshua said; “Come to me all who labor and are burdened and I will find rest for you. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am humble and gentle of spirit, you will find peace for your heart. For my yoke is pleasant and light is my burden.” (Mathew 11:28-30)
A simple reading (peshat) of this verse is that Yeshua will give rest to those who are burdened. But Yeshua was teaching a deeper meaning(drash) based on the Hebrew understanding of the word “rest”.
In the first part of the passage we read; “Come to me all who labor and are burdened and I will find rest for you.” The Hebrew word for rest is nuach. Nachah, a word related to nuach, means to guide or lead another into a place or state of rest. This can be seen in Exodus 32:34 “Now go, lead (nachah) the people (Israel) to the place I spoke of (the promised land, the land of rest)”. When one has experienced a place or state of rest, he desires to lead others into that rest.
Yeshua begins to identify this rest when he says; “take my yoke upon you and learn from me”. Here Yeshua is referring to the Hebrews understanding of “learning” which can be seen as two oxen yoked together for plowing. An older, stronger more experienced ox is placed in a yoke next to a younger less experienced ox. The young then learns his responsibilities from the older through the yoke. The rest Yeshua offers is the yoke with which we are bound to him. What is the yoke? How do we, as the younger ox, learn from Yeshua, the older ox? The yoke is the Torah, the teachings of God. As Yeshua walked the Torah, we who are yoked to him learn the ways of Yeshua through the yoke, the Torah.
Yeshua then says that he is “humble and gentle of spirit, you will find peace for your heart”. He is telling us that as the older and stronger ox, he will be gentle with us and not force us to move faster or work harder than we can bare. The stronger we get, the faster he will move and the harder he will work us.
We could easily translate Yeshua’s next statement; “for my yoke is pleasent and light is my burden” as “my Torah is easy”. In Deuteronomy 30:11 God said “this command which I command today is not difficult and it is not out of your reach”.
In summary, Yeshua wishes to yoke us to himself through the Torah which will not be a burden that we cannot carry but rather a delightful rest.