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Deuteronomy: Chapter 10

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1At that time the LORD said to me, “Carve out two tablets of stone like the former ones, and come up to me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood. 2I will write on the tablets the words that were on the former tablets, which you smashed, and you shall put them in the ark.” 3So I made an ark of acacia wood, cut two tablets of stone like the former ones, and went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hand. 4Then he wrote on the tablets the same words as before, the ten commandments b Q Ms Gk Syr: MT lacks your God that the LORD had spoken to you on the mountain out of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the LORD gave them to me. 5So I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tablets in the ark that I had made; and there they are, as the LORD commanded me.

6(The Israelites journeyed from Beeroth‐bene‐jaakan c Or Sea of Reeds to Moserah. There Aaron died, and there he was buried; his son Eleazar succeeded him as priest. 7From there they journeyed to Gudgodah, and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land with flowing streams. 8At that time the LORD set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister to him, and to bless in his name, to this day. 9Therefore Levi has no allotment or inheritance with his kindred; the LORD is his inheritance, as the LORD your God promised him.)

10I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights, as I had done the first time. And once again the LORD listened to me. The LORD was unwilling to destroy you. 11The LORD said to me, “Get up, go on your journey at the head of the people, that they may go in and occupy the land that I swore to their ancestors to give them.”

12So now, O Israel, what does the LORD your God require of you? Only to fear the LORD your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, 13and to keep the commandments of the LORD your God a Compare Gk: Heb my commandments and his decrees that I am commanding you today, for your own well‐being. 14Although heaven and the heaven of heavens belong to the LORD your God, the earth with all that is in it, 15yet the LORD set his heart in love on your ancestors alone and chose you, their descendants after them, out of all the peoples, as it is today. 16Circumcise, then, the foreskin of your heart, and do not be stubborn any longer. 17For the LORD your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, 18who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. 19You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20You shall fear the LORD your God; him alone you shall worship; to him you shall hold fast, and by his name you shall swear. 21He is your praise; he is your God, who has done for you these great and awesome things that your own eyes have seen. 22Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy persons; and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars in heaven.


a Q Ms Gk Syr: MT lacks your God

b Or Sea of Reeds

a Compare Gk: Heb my commandments

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

7.1–10.11 : Risks to covenantal faith upon entry to the land.

The first issue is that Israel enters an already inhabited land, whose greater population and worship apparatus it must confront (ch 7 ). Thereafter, successful habitation carries its own risks: complacency and loss of historical memory (ch 8 ).

9.1–10.11 : The already broken and renewed covenant.

God does not give the land to the people as a reward for righteousness, for in the wilderness they acted rebelliously.

9.2 :

See Num 13.22, 33n.

4–5 :

Victory will be given in the holy war because (negatively) Canaan has been irrevocably corrupted by the actions of its present occupants and because (positively) of God's enduring commitment to the promises made to Israel's ancestors.

6–24 :

The historical record shows that Israel has been rebellious since the Exodus (Ezek 20.5–8 ; contrast Hos 2.14–20; Jer 2.2–3 ).

8–10 :

Ex 24.12–18; 31.18 .

11–21 :

Ex 32 , revised.

17 :

Smashing them, not simple anger but a legal ceremony to confirm breach of treaty.

22 :

Num 11.1–3; Ex 17.1–7; Num 11.31–34 .

23 :

Num 13–14 .

25–29 :

A paraphrase of Ex 32.11–14 . Deuteronomy portrays Moses as the ideal prophet ( 34.10–12 ); he intercedes for the people and vicariously suffers for them ( 1.37n.; cf. Isa 53 ).

10.1–11 : The second ascent of the mountain

(cf. Ex 34.1–4,27–28 ).

1–3 :

These verses reflect a tradition that Moses made the ark and put the stone tablets in it (1 Kings 8.9 ).

6–9 :

An editorial insertion; vv. 6–7 seem to quote a wilderness itinerary from the Priestly literature (cf. Num 33.30–38 ).

6 :

Num 20.22–29 .

8 :

Ex 32.25–29 . The Levites’ role is to bear the ark (Num 4.4–15 ), to minister, i.e., conduct the sacrificial services (Num 18 ), and to bless the people (Num 6.22–27 ).

9 :

See 12.12n.; 18.2n.

10.12–11.32 : Obedience as the condition for prosperity in the land.

This section provides the climax and conclusion of the historical review found in 8.1–10.11 .

10.12–13 :

A striking transformation of the Decalogue. Earlier, breach of the first and second commandments, with their focus specifically on God, had been redefined and equated with “failing to keep his commandments … ordinances … and … statutes” ( 8.11n. ). Now obedience to God is similarly redefined as compliance with the fixed command‐ments … and … decrees (v. 13 ) of Deuteronomy, i.e., the laws of chs 12–26 (see 28.15,45 ). For a similar catechism that does not extend the traditional focus upon God to law, see Mic 6.8 . And to keep (lit. “by keeping”) the precise antithesis of 8.11 . The sequence love … keep … commandments cites 5.10 .

16 :

Circumcise … the … heart means to open oneself to God (Lev 26.41 ); no distinction is intended between mind, will, and emotion. The metaphorical formulation, which challenges any attempt to reduce Deuteronomy to narrow “legalism,” corresponds to prophetic ideals (cf. Jer 4.4; 31.33 ).

17–18 :

Integrity in the administration of court justice (v. 17; cf. 1.17; 16.19 ) and protection of the marginalized (v. 18 ) are given a theological foundation, making the remarkable argument that human social ethics amounts to “imitatio dei.” Responsibility for ensuring justice in court and for defending the marginalized were conventional royal prerogatives (Laws of Hammurabi prologue; Ps 72.4 ). Deuteronomy contemplates no such role for the monarch (17.14–20n.). Instead, here it is God who protects the rights of the marginalized, entering history to do so (cf. Ex 3.7–10; Phil 2.6–7 ). Love of neighbor thus originates in divine action.

18–19 :

Strangers … stranger, better, the legal term “resident alien” in both cases. Just as justice must be rendered to Israelite and alien alike (see 1.16n. ), so must “love” reach across national or ethnic lines (cf. Lev 19.33–34 ).

18 :

Loves … providing, note love's concrete expression in action and service (see 5.10n.; 6.5n. ).

19 :

For you were, see Ex 22.21; 23.9 .

22 :

Seventy persons (Gen 46.27; Ex 1.5 ) comes first in the Hebrew, emphasizing Israel's miraculous transformation into a nation. Stars in heaven, see 1.10n.

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