Deuteronomy 11

Reiteration of the Call to Obedience

1You must love the Lord your God and do what he requires; keep his statutes, ordinances, and commandments
This collocation of technical terms for elements of the covenant text lends support to its importance and also signals a new section of paraenesis in which Moses will exhort Israel to covenant obedience. The Hebrew term מִשְׁמָרוֹת (mishmarot, “obligations”) sums up the three terms that follow – חֻקֹּת (khuqot), מִשְׁפָּטִים (mishppatim), and מִצְוֹת (mitsot).
at all times.
2Bear in mind today that I am not speaking
Heb “that not.” The words “I am speaking” have been supplied in the translation for stylistic reasons.
to your children who have not personally experienced the judgments
Heb “who have not known and who have not seen the discipline of the Lord.” The collocation of the verbs “know” and “see” indicates that personal experience (knowing by seeing) is in view. The term translated “discipline” (KJV, ASV “chastisement”) may also be rendered “instruction,” but vv. 2b–6 indicate that the referent of the term is the various acts of divine judgment the Israelites had witnessed.
of the Lord your God, which revealed
The words “which revealed” have been supplied in the translation to show the logical relationship between the terms that follow and the divine judgments. In the Hebrew text the former are in apposition to the latter.
his greatness, strength, and power.
Heb “his strong hand and his stretched-out arm.”
3They did not see
In the Hebrew text vv. 2–7 are one long sentence. For stylistic reasons the English translation divides the passage into three sentences. To facilitate this stylistic decision the words “They did not see” are supplied at the beginning of both v. 3 and v. 5, and “I am speaking” at the beginning of v. 7.
the awesome deeds he performed
Heb “his signs and his deeds which he did” (NRSV similar). The collocation of “signs” and “deeds” indicates that these acts were intended to make an impression on observers and reveal something about God’s power (cf. v. 2b). The word “awesome” has been employed to bring out the force of the word “signs” in this context.
in the midst of Egypt against Pharaoh king of Egypt and his whole land,
4or what he did to the army of Egypt, including their horses and chariots, when he made the waters of the Red Sea
Heb “Reed Sea.” “Reed Sea” (or “Sea of Reeds”) is a more accurate rendering of the Hebrew expression יָם סוּף (yam suf), traditionally translated “Red Sea.” See note on the term “Red Sea” in Exod 13:18.
overwhelm them while they were pursuing you and he
Heb “the Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
annihilated them.
Heb “and the Lord destroyed them to this day” (cf. NRSV); NLT “he has kept them devastated to this very day.” The translation uses the verb “annihilated” to indicate the permanency of the action.
5They did not see
See note on these same words in v. 3.
what he did to you in the desert before you reached this place,
6or what he did to Dathan and Abiram,
Dathan and Abiram. These two (along with others) had challenged Moses’ leadership in the desert with the result that the earth beneath them opened up and they and their families disappeared (Num 16:1–3, 31–35).
sons of Eliab the Reubenite,
Or “the descendant of Reuben”; Heb “son of Reuben.”
when the earth opened its mouth in the middle of the Israelite camp
Heb “in the midst of all Israel” (so KJV, ASV, NRSV); NASB “among all Israel.” In the Hebrew text these words appear at the end of the verse, but they are logically connected with the verbs. To make this clear the translation places the phrase after the first verb.
and swallowed them, their families,
Heb “their houses,” referring to all who lived in their household. Cf. KJV, ASV, NASB, NIV, NRSV, NLT “households.”
their tents, and all the property they brought with them.
Heb “and all the substance which was at their feet.”
7I am speaking to you
On the addition of these words in the translation see note on “They did not see” in v. 3.
because you are the ones who saw all the great deeds of the Lord!

The Abundance of the Land of Promise

8 Now pay attention to all the commandments
Heb “the commandment.” The singular מִצְוָה (mitsvah, “commandment”) speaks here as elsewhere of the whole corpus of covenant stipulations in Deuteronomy (cf. 6:1, 25; 7:11; 8:1).
I am giving
Heb “commanding” (so NASB, NRSV). For stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy, “giving” has been used in the translation (likewise in vv. 13, 27).
you today, so that you may be strong enough to enter and possess the land where you are headed,
Heb “which you are crossing over there to possess it.”
9and that you may enjoy long life in the land the Lord promised to give to your ancestors
Heb “fathers” (also in v. 21).
and their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey.
10For the land where you are headed
Heb “you are going there to possess it”; NASB “into which you are about to cross to possess it”; NRSV “that you are crossing over to occupy.”
is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, a land where you planted seed and which you irrigated by hand
Heb “with your foot” (so NASB, NLT). There is a two-fold significance to this phrase. First, Egypt had no rain so water supply depended on human efforts at irrigation. Second, the Nile was the source of irrigation waters but those waters sometimes had to be pumped into fields and gardens by foot-power, perhaps the kind of machinery (Arabic shaduf) still used by Egyptian farmers (see C. Aldred, The Egyptians, 181). Nevertheless, the translation uses “by hand,” since that expression is the more common English idiom for an activity performed by manual labor.
like a vegetable garden.
11Instead, the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy
Heb “which you are crossing over there to possess it.”
is one of hills and valleys, a land that drinks in water from the rains,
Heb “rain of heaven.”
12a land the Lord your God looks after.
Heb “seeks.” The statement reflects the ancient belief that God (Baal in Canaanite thinking) directly controlled storms and rainfall.
He is constantly attentive to it
Heb “the eyes of the Lord your God are continually on it” (so NIV); NASB, NRSV “always on it.”
Constantly attentive to it. This attention to the land by the Lord is understandable in light of the centrality of the land in the Abrahamic covenant (cf. Gen 12:1, 7; 13:15; 15:7, 16, 18; 17:8; 26:3).
from the beginning to the end of the year.
From the beginning to the end of the year. This refers to the agricultural year that was marked by the onset of the heavy rains, thus the autumn. See note on the phrase “the former and the latter rains” in v. 14.
13Now, if you pay close attention
Heb “if hearing, you will hear.” The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute to emphasize the verbal idea. The translation renders this emphasis with the word “close.”
to my commandments that I am giving you today and love
Again, the Hebrew term אָהַב (’ahav) draws attention to the reciprocation of divine love as a condition or sign of covenant loyalty (cf. Deut 6:5).
the Lord your God and serve him with all your mind and being,
Heb “heart and soul” or “heart and being.” See note on the word “being” in Deut 6:5.
14then he promises,
The words “he promises” do not appear in the Hebrew text but are needed in the translation to facilitate the transition from the condition (v. 13) to the promise and make it clear that the Lord is speaking the words of vv. 14–15.
“I will send rain for your land
Heb “the rain of your land.” In this case the genitive (modifying term) indicates the recipient of the rain.
in its season, the autumn and the spring rains,
The autumn and the spring rains. The “former” (יוֹרֶה, yoreh) and “latter” (מַלְקוֹשׁ, malqosh) rains come in abundance respectively in September/October and March/April. Planting of most crops takes place before the former rains fall and the harvests follow the latter rains.
so that you may gather in your grain, new wine, and olive oil.
15I will provide pasture
Heb “grass in your field.”
for your livestock and you will eat your fill.”

Exhortation to Instruction and Obedience

16 Make sure you do not turn away to serve and worship other gods!
Heb “Watch yourselves lest your heart turns and you turn aside and serve other gods and bow down to them.”
17Then the anger of the Lord will erupt
Heb “will become hot”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “will be kindled”; NAB “will flare up”; NIV, NLT “will burn.”
against you and he will close up the sky
Or “heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven(s)” or “sky” depending on the context.
so that it does not rain. The land will not yield its produce, and you will soon be removed
Or “be destroyed”; NAB, NIV “will soon perish.”
from the good land that the Lord
Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 11:4.
is about to give you.
18Fix these words of mine into your mind and being,
Heb “heart and soul” or “heart and being.” See note on the word “being” in Deut 6:5.
and tie them as a reminder on your hands and let them be symbols
On the Hebrew term טוֹטָפֹת (totafot, “reminders”), cf. Deut 6:4–9.
on your forehead.
19Teach them to your children and speak of them as you sit in your house, as you walk along the road,
Or “as you are away on a journey” (cf. NRSV, TEV, NLT); NAB “at home and abroad.”
as you lie down, and as you get up.
20Inscribe them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates 21so that your days and those of your descendants may be extended in the land which the Lord promised to give to your ancestors, like the days of heaven itself.
Heb “like the days of the heavens upon the earth,” that is, forever.
22For if you carefully observe all of these commandments
Heb “this commandment.” See note at Deut 5:30.
I am giving you
Heb “commanding you to do it.” For stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy, “giving” has been used in the translation and “to do it” has been left untranslated.
and love the Lord your God, live according to his standards,
Heb “walk in all his ways” (so KJV, NIV); TEV “do everything he commands.”
and remain loyal to him,
23then he
Heb “the Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
will drive out all these nations ahead of you, and you will dispossess nations greater and stronger than you.
24Every place you set your foot
Heb “the sole of your foot walks.” The placing of the foot symbolizes conquest and dominion, especially on land or on the necks of enemies (cf. Deut 1:36; Ps 7:13; Isa 63:3 Hab 3:19; Zech 9:13). See E. H. Merrill, NIDOTTE 1:992.
will be yours; your border will extend from the desert to Lebanon and from the River (that is, the Euphrates) as far as the Mediterranean Sea.
Heb “the after sea,” that is, the sea behind one when one is facing east, which is the normal OT orientation. Cf. ASV “the hinder sea.”
25Nobody will be able to resist you; the Lord your God will spread the fear and terror of you over the whole land on which you walk, just as he promised you.

Anticipation of a Blessing and Cursing Ceremony

26 Take note – I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse:
A blessing and a curse. Every extant treaty text of the late Bronze Age attests to a section known as the “blessings and curses,” the former for covenant loyalty and the latter for covenant breach. Blessings were promised rewards for obedience; curses were threatened judgments for disobedience. In the Book of Deuteronomy these are fully developed in 27:1–28:68. Here Moses adumbrates the whole by way of anticipation.
27the blessing if you take to heart
Heb “listen to,” that is, obey.
the commandments of the Lord your God that I am giving you today,
28and the curse if you pay no attention
Heb “do not listen to,” that is, do not obey.
to his
Heb “the commandments of the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
commandments and turn from the way I am setting before
Heb “am commanding” (so NASB, NRSV).
you today to pursue
Heb “walk after”; NIV “by following”; NLT “by worshiping.” This is a violation of the first commandment, the most serious of the covenant violations (Deut 5:6–7).
other gods you have not known.
29When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are to possess, you must pronounce the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.
Mount Gerizim…Mount Ebal. These two mountains are near the ancient site of Shechem and the modern city of Nablus. The valley between them is like a great amphitheater with the mountain slopes as seating sections. The place was sacred because it was there that Abraham pitched his camp and built his first altar after coming to Canaan (Gen 12:6). Jacob also settled at Shechem for a time and dug a well from which Jesus once requested a drink of water (Gen 33:18–20; John 4:5–7). When Joshua and the Israelites finally brought Canaan under control they assembled at Shechem as Moses commanded and undertook a ritual of covenant reaffirmation (Josh 8:30–35; 24:1, 25). Half the tribes stood on Mt. Gerizim and half on Mt. Ebal and in antiphonal chorus pledged their loyalty to the Lord before Joshua and the Levites who stood in the valley below (Josh 8:33; cf. Deut 27:11–13).
30Are they not across the Jordan River,
The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.
toward the west, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah opposite Gilgal
Gilgal. From a Hebrew verb root גָלַל (galal, “to roll”) this place name means “circle” or “rolling,” a name given because God had “rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you” (Josh 5:9). It is perhaps to be identified with Khirbet el-Metjir, 1.2 mi (2 km) northeast of OT Jericho.
near the oak
The MT plural “oaks” (אֵלוֹנֵי, ’eloney) should probably be altered (with many Greek texts) to the singular “oak” (אֵלוֹן, ’elon; cf. NRSV) in line with the only other occurrence of the phrase (Gen 12:6). The Syriac, Tg. Ps.-J. read mmrʾ, confusing this place with the “oaks of Mamre” near Hebron (Gen 13:18). Smr also appears to confuse “Moreh” with “Mamre” (reading mwr’, a combined form), adding the clarification mwl shkm (“near Shechem”) apparently to distinguish it from Mamre near Hebron.
of Moreh?
31For you are about to cross the Jordan to possess the land the Lord your God is giving you, and you will possess and inhabit it. 32Be certain to keep all the statutes and ordinances that I am presenting to you today.

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