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Deuteronomy 11-13 Listen
1 Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.
2 And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm,
3 And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land;
4 And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD hath destroyed them unto this day;
5 And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place;
6 And what he did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel:
7 But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did.
8 Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it;
9 And that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
11 But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:
12 A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.
13 And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,
14 That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.
15 And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.
16 Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;
17 And then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.
18 Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.
19 And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.
20 And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates:
21 That your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
22 For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, and to cleave unto him;
23 Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.
24 Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.
25 There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.
26 Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;
27 A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:
28 And a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known.
29 And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.
30 Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plains of Moreh?
31 For ye shall pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein.
32 And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.
Great land - rain when you need rain - a great life...if you obey God's law when you possess the land over Jordan - that's the positive part of the overview of chapter 11. But what if you disobey? Well...remember back in Exodus 14 (see notes) how much trouble the Egyptians had crossing the Red Sea (verse 4)? And you must also recall in Numbers 16:20-50 (see notes) how Dathan and Abiram were swallowed up in the earth (verse 6). Just worship God exclusively and you'll be blessed (11-15). Fall away from God and...well...you don't even want God at odds with you (verses 16-17)! That's the negative part of chapter 11. Then we have the emphasis of 18-21 mentioned again. HERE'S HOW YOU RAISE CHILDREN - REPETITION, REPETITION, REPETITION on the important things. It's the Shema from Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (see notes) restated all over again with the same emphasis. If you need a refresher on the place of the Shema in daily Jewish life, do make certain to read the commentary on Deuteronomy 6:4-9 (see notes).
Incidentally, verse 14 is specific in referencing "the first rain" (the fall rain) and "the latter rain" (the spring rain). Sufficient rain during these two periods of time created an ideal sowing and harvesting season.
We have a restatement of national territories again in verse 24; the Hebrew word translated "uttermost" in the King James Version is a direct reference to the Mediterranean Sea. To the Jews, the "front" sea when facing east was the Dead Sea, and the "behind" aka "uttermost" sea to their back was the Mediterranean. There's no question that God gave Canaan to the Jews. And...by the way...there's no indication whatsoever that he awarded the WEST BANK for Israel's enemies to possess. Let's notice again the northern boundary - the Euphrates River.
A point of clarification is in order here regarding Israel's new boundaries. Take note of Genesis 15:18 (see notes), "In the same day the LORD made a covenant with Abraham, saying, Unto thy seed have I given this land, from the river of Egypt unto the great river, the river Euphrates:" That's from the Nile to the Euphrates. That passage has caused some confusion because the tribes of Israel did not inhabit all of that land when they arrived in the Book of Joshua, nor is that large of a land survey specified in this passage. However, later on King David apparently did control the territory all the way over to the Euphrates. We see this in I Chronicles 18:3 (see notes) "And David smote Hadarezer king of Zobah unto Hamath, as he went to stablish his dominion by the river Euphrates." A similar statement is found in II Samuel 8:3 (see notes). So, while the Israelites did not choose to live that far away, nonetheless David's kingdom and control extended to that point, thus fulfilling the promise God made to Abraham in Genesis 15:18 (see notes). So...to put it more succinctly, Israel's living area was smaller than the actual kingdom area would be when the covenant with Abraham would be fulfilled under King David.
Take note of the map to get an overview of the territory included in the Abrahamic Covenant and later controlled during King David's reign.
There are some fascinating verses at the end of this chapter regarding the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. These blessings/curses will be shouted from atop these two mountains. The wording for these blessings and curses are found in Deuteronomy 28 (see notes), which is a repeat of what was proclaimed to Israel in Leviticus 26 (see notes). Obey God and everything will be perpetually great. Later we'll see the Levites standing in the middle of these two half-mile high mounts while reading the blessings and cursings of the law REALLY LOUDLY. Half of the 2,000,000+ people will stand on Mount Ebal and the other half on Mount Gerizim responding REALLY LOUDLY - Ebal when the curses are read and Gerizim when the blessings are read. What a sight! It's mentioned again in Deuteronomy 27 (see notes) and carried out in Joshua 8 (see notes). It must have been a sight for their enemies to hear 2,000,000+ people respond in unison to the reading of God's law (WHAT A PRAISE TEAM!). Obviously their objective won't be a sneak attack! Intimidation...maybe, but not a sneak attack.
1 These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye live upon the earth.
2 Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree:
3 And ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place.
4 Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God.
5 But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put his name there, even unto his habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come:
6 And thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and of your flocks:
7 And there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.
8 Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes.
9 For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you.
10 But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD your God giveth you to inherit, and when he giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety;
11 Then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause his name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you; your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, your tithes, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD:
12 And ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye, and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you.
13 Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:
14 But in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee.
15 Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which he hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart.
16 Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.
17 Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand:
18 But thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto.
19 Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.
20 When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as he hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh; thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
21 If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put his name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after.
22 Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike.
23 Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life; and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh.
24 Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water.
25 Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.
26 Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose:
27 And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the LORD thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh.
28 Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is good and right in the sight of the LORD thy God.
29 When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land;
30 Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.
31 Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods.
32 What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
Here we have a monotheistic nation (Israel) moving into a land that has been dominated by polytheistic culture. Since the Hebrews will come across many heathen places of worship, God establishes in this passage that the Hebrews will have only one place for making sacrifices. Those Canaanites had some interesting ways of worshiping their many gods. Steer clear of those heathen practices. Rid the land of those outdoor shrines, sacred stones and Asherah poles; it's all very, very evil. Notice verse 13, "Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest:" When they get to Canaan, God will appoint a place to worship. That place will be at the tabernacle itself; it was placed in Shiloh in Joshua 18:1-10 (see notes) after the Hebrews moved into Canaan and remained there for the next 200 years or so. Take special note of what God is doing among the Jews here. By centralizing worship at the Tabernacle in a single place, God heads off the temptation of the Israelites to adopt the polytheistic practices of the heathen they are ejecting from the land. If those widely distributed pagan altars are not destroyed, the Israelites will start using them - hard to believe, but true. Through the centuries on many occasions we see the Israelites picking up worship of the pagan idols worshipped by the heathen people around them.
Moses alludes to a promise from God in verse 9 when he says, "For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD your God giveth you." One might very well wonder when that "rest...which the LORD your God giveth" is actually realized by the nation of Israel. In fact, we see Solomon's declaration that this "rest" has been realized in his dedicatory prayer at the temple in Jerusalem in I Kings 8:56 (see notes).
Remember how they had all that livestock in the wilderness, but were not permitted to eat from their herds at will? (Click here to see this discussion on Leviticus 17.) Well, when they possess their land, they will be permitted to eat from their herds whenever they want (verse 15), and they will no longer be required to do so as a process of sacrificing a peace offering with the assistance of a priest. We see that the sacrificial process is still to be intact (verses 14, 17-19), but that will no longer be the only scenario where one can indulge in a nice juicy steak dinner (well done, naturally). Moreover, they'll be able to eat other meats that are clean, but not designated appropriate for sacrifice. But remember, NO BLOOD! WARNING: God will appoint a place for the sacrifice when you arrive; do it only there! Notice the precautions being taken to insure that Israel does not fall into those heathen worship practices of the previous inhabitants of Canaan. Keep in mind, all of these issues are being thoroughly stated to the people before they actually enter Canaan.
The reference to the Levite in verse 19 might seem somewhat out of place, but not really. The peace offering of Leviticus 3 (see notes) was the sacrifice one made where he took some of the meat home and left some for the priest and his family. That had to be done at the Tabernacle. When they possess their new land, who's gonna walk 100 miles to the Tabernacle to sacrifice an animal so they can have steak for supper? That's why they are told in this passage that this trip will no longer be necessary. So...what about the Levite? He apparently was the beneficiary of some of this peace-offering meat as well. Verse 19 would seem to indicate that, though the peace offering no longer needs to be made at the Tabernacle, meat is still to be shared with the Levite.
One other abominable practice of the Canaanites that is mentioned here is that of human sacrifice in verse 31, "Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which he hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods." We see this prohibition clearly stated in Leviticus 18:21 (see notes), a heathen practice of sacrificing their children on the altar of their pagan god, Molech. How could a society sink to the level where they have no regard for human life, especially that of a child - no respect for the sanctity of life.
1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
2 And the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them;
3 Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him.
5 And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, which brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put the evil away from the midst of thee.
6 If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou, nor thy fathers;
7 Namely, of the gods of the people which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth;
8 Thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him:
9 But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people.
10 And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die; because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
11 And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more any such wickedness as this is among you.
12 If thou shalt hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying,
13 Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;
14 Then shalt thou enquire, and make search, and ask diligently; and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing certain, that such abomination is wrought among you;
15 Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword.
16 And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: and it shall be an heap for ever; it shall not be built again.
17 And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of his anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as he hath sworn unto thy fathers;
18 When thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all his commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.
When you get to the new land, only service to the ONE TRUE GOD will be tolerated. The penalty for deviation? DEATH! For whom? ANYONE! HEBREW OR STRANGER! Any so-called prophet who would turn people away from the one true God is to be put to death (verse 5). Moreover, apostasy is not to be tolerated...period, and all the people will be responsible for the execution of the apostate...even if it is a relative (verse 6) - your wife even! Look at verse 9, "But thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people." Literally, God despises apostasy!
The Hebrew word translated "Belial" in the King James Version in verse 13 is really a general term denoting "worthlessness" and not to be taken here as depicting any particular false god. It's a transliteration of the Hebrew word "bel-e-yah´-al." Notice at the end of the chapter the command to destroy apostate cities and burn the spoil. With all of this emphasis on avoiding apostasy, centuries later the fall of Israel (II Kings 17, see notes) would follow a pattern of drifting away from this mandate with a subsequent diluting of their commitment to the One True God, a tolerance for diversity, a loss of national pride. Finally we see Israel's demise followed by the fall of the Northern Tribes in 721 B.C. (II Kings 17, see notes) and the Southern Kingdom in 586 B.C. (II Kings 24, see notes) DO YOU SEE A CONTEMPORARY PARALLEL HERE?
The subject of punishment for false worship is also dealt with in Deuteronomy 17:1-7 (see notes).