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Deuteronomy: Chapter 28

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1Now, if you obey the LORD your God, to observe faithfully all His commandments which I enjoin upon you this day, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations of the earth. 2All these blessings shall come upon you and take effect, if you will but heed the word of the LORD your God:

3Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the country.

4Blessed shall be the issue of your womb, the produce of your soil, and the offspring of your cattle, the calving of your herd and the lambing of your flock.

5Blessed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

6Blessed shall you be in your comings and blessed shall you be in your goings.

7The LORD will put to rout before you the enemies who attack you; they will march out against you by a single road, but flee from you by many a Lit. “seven.” roads. 8The LORD will ordain blessings for you upon your barns and upon all your undertakings: He will bless you in the land that the LORD your God is giving you. 9The LORD will establish you as His holy people, as He swore to you, if you keep the commandments of the LORD your God and walk in His ways. 10And all the peoples of the earth shall see that the LORD's name is proclaimed over you, b I.e., the LORD recognizes you as His own; cf. Isa. 4.1 . and they shall stand in fear of you. 11The LORD will give you abounding prosperity in the issue of your womb, the offspring of your cattle, and the produce of your soil in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers to assign to you. 12The LORD will open for you His bounteous store, the heavens, to provide rain for your land in season and to bless all your undertakings. You will be creditor to many nations, but debtor to none.

13The LORD will make you the head, not the tail; you will always be at the top and never at the bottom—if only you obey and faithfully observe the commandments of the LORD your God that I enjoinupon you this day, 14and do not deviate to the right or to the left from any of the commandments that I enjoin upon you this day and turn to the worship of other gods.

15But if you do not obey the LORD your God to observe faithfully all His commandments and laws which I enjoin upon you this day, all these curses shall come upon you and take effect:

16Cursed shall you be in the city and cursed shall you be in the country.

17Cursed shall be your basket and your kneading bowl.

18Cursed shall be the issue of your womb and the produce of your soil, the calving of your herd and the lambing of your flock.

19Cursed shall you be in your comings and cursed shall you be in your goings.

20The LORD will let loose against you calamity, panic, and frustration in all the enterprises you undertake, so that you shall soon be utterly wiped out because of your evildoing in forsaking Me. 21The LORD will make pestilence cling to you, until He has put an end to you in the land that you are entering to possess. 22The LORD will strike you with a Exact nature of these afflictions uncertain. consumption, fever, and inflammation, with scorching heat and drought, with blight and mildew; they shall hound you until you perish. 23The skies above your head shall be copper and the earth under you iron. 24The LORD will make the rain of your land dust, and sand shall drop on you from the sky, until you are wiped out.

25The LORD will put you to rout before your enemies; you shall march out against them by a single road, but flee from them by many b Lit. “seven.” roads; and you shall become a horror to all the kingdoms of the earth. 26Your carcasses shall become food for all the birds of the sky and all the beasts of the earth, with none to frighten them off.

27The LORD will strike you with the Egyptian inflammation, c See Exod. 9.9–10 . with hemorrhoids, boilscars, and itch, from which you shall never recover.

28The LORD will strike you with madness, blindness, and dismay. a Lit. “numbness of heart.” 29You shall grope at noon as a blind man gropes in the dark; you shall not prosper in your ventures, but shall be constantly abused and robbed, with none to give help.

30If you pay the brideprice for a wife, another man shall enjoy her. If you build a house, you shall not live in it. If you plant a vineyard, you shall not harvest it. b Cf. 20.6 . 31Your ox shall be slaughtered before your eyes, but you shall not eat of it; your ass shall be seized in front of you, and it shall not be returned to you; your flock shall be delivered to your enemies, with none to help you. 32Your sons and daughters shall be delivered to another people, while you look on; and your eyes shall strain for them constantly, but you shall be helpless. 33A people you do not know shall eat up the produce of your soil and all your gains; you shall be abused and downtrodden continually, 34until you are driven mad by what your eyes behold. 35The LORD will afflict you at the knees and thighs with a severe inflammation, from which you shall never recover—from the sole of your foot to the crown of your head.

36The LORD will drive you, and the king you have set over you, to a nation unknown to you or your fathers, where you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone. 37You shall be a consternation, a proverb, and a byword among all the peoples to which the LORD will drive you.

38Though you take much seed out to the field, you shall gather in little, for the locust shall consume it. 39Though you plant vineyards and till them, you shall have no wine to drink or store, for the worm shall devour them. 40Though you have olive trees throughout your territory, you shall have no oil for anointment, for your olives shall drop off. 41Though you beget sons and daughters, they shall not remain with you, for they shall go into captivity. 42The cricket shall take over all the trees and produce of your land.

43The stranger in your midst shall rise above you higher and higher, while you sink lower and lower: 44he shall be your creditor, but you shall not be his; he shall be the head and you the tail.

45All these curses shall befall you; they shall pursue you and overtake you, until you are wiped out, because you did not heed the LORD your God and keep the commandments and laws that He enjoined upon you. 46They shall serve as signs and proofs against you and your offspring for all time. 47Because you would not serve the LORD your God in joy and gladness over the abundance of everything, 48you shall have to serve—in hunger and thirst, naked and lacking everything—the enemies whom the LORD will let loose against you. He will put an iron yoke upon your neck until He has wiped you out.

49The LORD will bring a nation against you from afar, from the end of the earth, which will swoop down like the eagle—a nation whose language you do not understand, 50a ruthless nation, that will show the old no regard and the young no mercy. 51It shall devour the offspring of your cattle and the produce of your soil, until you have been wiped out, leaving you nothing of new grain, wine, or oil, of the calving of your herds and the lambing of your flocks, until it has brought you to ruin. 52It shall shut you up in all your towns throughout your land until every mighty, towering wall in which you trust has come down. And when you are shut up in all your towns throughout your land that the LORD your God has assigned to you, 53you shall eat your own issue, the flesh of your sons and daughters that the LORD your God has assigned to you, because of the desperate straits to which your enemy shall reduce you. 54He who is most tender and fastidious among you shall be too mean to his brother and the wife of his bosom and the children he has spared 55to share with any of them the flesh of the children that he eats, because he has nothing else left as a result of the desperate straits to which your enemy shall reduce you in all your towns. 56And she who is most tender and dainty among you, so tender and dainty that she would never venture to set a foot on the ground, shall begrudge the husband of her bosom, and her son and her daughter, 57the afterbirth that issues from between her legs and the babies she bears; she shall eat them secretly, because of utter want, in the desperate straits to which your enemy shall reduce you in your towns.

58If you fail to observe faithfully all the terms of this Teaching that are written in this book, to reverence thishonored and awesome Name, the LORD your God, 59the LORD will inflict extraordinary plagues upon you and your offspring, strange and lasting plagues, malignant and chronic diseases. 60He will bring back upon you all the sicknesses of Egypt that you dreaded so, and they shall cling to you. 61Moreover, the LORD will bring upon you all the other diseases and plagues that are not mentioned in this book of Teaching, until you are wiped out. 62You shall be left a scant few, after having been as numerous as the stars in the skies, because you did not heed the command of the LORD your God. 63And as the LORD once delighted in making you prosperous and many, so will the LORD now delight in causing you to perish and in wiping you out; you shall be torn from the land that you are about to enter and possess.

64The LORD will scatter you among all the peoples from one end of the earth to the other, and there you shall serve other gods, wood and stone, whom neither you nor your ancestors have experienced. a See note at 11.28 . 65Yet even among those nations you shall find no peace, nor shall your foot find a place to rest. The LORD will give you there an anguished heart and eyes that pine and a despondent spirit. 66The life you face shall be precarious; you shall be in terror, night and day, with no assurance of survival. 67In the morning you shall say, “If only it were evening!” and in the evening you shall say, “If only it were morning!”—because of what your heart shall dread and your eyes shall see. 68The LORD will send you back to Egypt in galleys, by a route which I told you you should not see again. There you shall offer yourselves for sale to your enemies as male and female slaves, but none will buy.

69These are the terms of the covenant which the LORD commanded Moses to conclude with the Israelites in theland of Moab, in addition to the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb.

Notes:

a Lit. “seven.”

b I.e., the LORD recognizes you as His own; cf. Isa. 4.1 .

a Exact nature of these afflictions uncertain.

b Lit. “seven.”

c See Exod. 9.9–10 .

a Lit. “numbness of heart.”

b Cf. 20.6 .

a See note at 11.28 .

Text Commentary view alone
Commentary spanning earlier chapters

4.15–31:

Reinterpretation of the second commandment. The Decalogue concedes the existence of other gods, while prohibiting Israel from worshipping them ( 5.7; cf. 32.8; Exod. 15.11; Ps. 82.1 ). It then separately prohibits the making of images ( 5.8 ). The distinction between those two commandments is dissolved here. The existence of other gods is no longer conceivable; the sole focus is the prohibition against idols. Here and elsewhere (see v. 19 n. ), key ideas in Deuteronomy are reinterpreted from a later theological perspective; such passages therefore represent a later textual layer within Deuteronomy that dates to the exilic period.

16b–19a:

This catalogue follows the order of creation in Gen. ch 1 in reverse order, consistent with an ancient scribal practice when quoting an earlier text.

18:

Waters below the earth, seas, rivers, and lakes. Ancient cosmology conceived the earth to be a disk floating on such waters (cf. Gen. 1.9 ).

19:

Sunʾheavenly host: This polemic against astral cults may reflect images derived from the Neo‐Assyrian pantheon that were brought into the Jerusalem Temple by Manasseh but removed by Josiah (2 Kings 21.5; 23.4–5; Jer. 8.2 ). The idea of idols or of celestial phenomena literally being worshipped sharply distorts ancient Near Eastern religion, which regarded such phenomena as visible manifestations or emblems of a deity, not as themselves alive or divine. This polemic, with the idea that God allotted the celestial phenomena to other nations while reserving Israel as “his very own people” (v. 20; cf. 7.6 n. ), reinterprets the earlier biblical idea that God, as head of the pantheon, assigned other nations to the supervision of lesser gods but retained Israel as “His allotment” (lit. “His very own possession”; 32.8–9 ). The author de‐animates those gods, reducing them to lifeless celestial objects.

21:

See 1.37 n.

26:

Heavenʾwitness, similarly, 30.19; 31.28; 32.1; Isa. 1.2; 44.23; Pss. 69.35; 96.11.

27–28:

These verses allude to the exile of conquered populations, a policy used effectively by the Assyrians and the Babylonians.

4.44–28.68:

The second discourse of Moses.

28.1–68 :

The consequences of obedience or disobedience: blessing or curse. The Mosaic covenant specifies a series of blessings and curses that follow upon national obedience or disobedience to the law. These are modeled after ancient Near Eastern state treaties, in which the consequences of breach of the treaty are spelled out at its conclusion; this chapter has several close parallels to the Vassal Treaty of Esarhaddon (VTE), a Neo‐Assyrian treaty dating to 672 BCE. The present strong disproportion between the sections devoted to blessing (vv. 1–14 ) and to curse (vv. 15–68 ) most likely reflects the actual historical experience of the Babylonian conquest, deportation, and exile of Judah (597 and 586 BCE), here recast as a prophetic warning. The two appendices which have expanded the section (vv. 47–57, 58–68 ) each seek to make theological sense of that catastrophe. The two other legal collections of the Torah (the Covenant Collection of Exod. chs 21–23 ; the Holiness Collection of Lev. chs 17–26 ) similarly end with exhortations to obedience, accompanied by blessings and curses (Exod. 23.20–33; Lev ch 26 ), as does the Code of Hammurabi. Here an inclusio frames and defines the blessings section: if you obey…observe faithfully (vv. 1, 13 ).

1–2 :

The proem emphasizes the conditionality of the elected status of Israel. The repetition of the conditional nature of the fulfillment, If you obey the Lord your God (vv. 1 and 2 ), places a frame around the central idea of divine election of Israel. Set you high above all the nations of the earth (see also v. 13 ): The metaphor, which is also used to denote the elected status of the Davidic dynasty (Ps. 89.28 ), here denotes the divine election of the nation. The same affirmation of Israel's election appears at 26.19 , where it is not conditional; instead, it fulfills God's past promises. Here, in contrast, the nation's elected status is presented as a future promise that is conditional upon obedience. The marked change may well reflect the revision of earlier expectations in light of the catastrophe of exile.

3–6 :

The six benedictions have their malediction counterpart at vv. 16–19 . The two antonym pairs (vv. 3, 6 ) provide a frame to the unit. The opposites form a merism to stress totality (like “night and day”); see 6.7 n.

3 :

City and country, “everywhere,” urban and rural.

4 :

Issue-.-.-.-lambing: For womb, ground, and livestock, obedience to the Torah is rewarded with comprehensive fertility. Fecundity is contingent upon obedience to the covenant—and thus not upon either natural fertility or competing fertility gods (see 7.12–14 n. ).

6 :

Comings-.-.-.-goings, whenever and wherever you go.

7 :

Military success is conditional upon covenantal obedience rather than strength of arms ( 9.1–3; Josh. 1.6–8 ).

9 :

The Lord will establish you-.-.-.-if you keep: The assertion here that the nation’s holiness or election is conditional upon obedience represents a remarkable shift from other contexts in Deuteronomy where Israel’s holiness is not future but present, and not conditional but unconditional ( 7.6; 14.2; cf. 26.18 ).

10 :

The Lord’s name is proclaimed over you signifies a special relationship with God, which includes particular accountability to God and corresponding divine oversight. The formula can apply to either the nation (here; Isa. 63.19; Jer. 14.9; 2 Chron. 7.14 ) or an individual (Exod. 33.12; Jer. 15.16 ).

12 :

Store: In Israelite and Near Eastern cosmology, primordial waters remained above the dome of the sky and were released as rain (Gen. 1.7; 7.11 ). Creditor-.-.-.-debtor: For the use of the same image as a metaphor for national sovereignty, see 15.6 .

13 :

Further metaphors for autonomy, as at 15.6 .

14 :

And turn-.-.-.-gods, lit. “to go after other gods to worship them.” See 6.14 n.

28.15–68 :

Consequences of disobedience. This long section has two subsections. The focus of the first (vv. 15–46 ) is a broad range of misfortunes, extending from infertility of crops, livestock, or the human population through to military defeat. The second unit (vv. 47–68 ) places its focus specifically on foreign invasion, siege, national defeat, and exile, reversing key components of the covenantal promises and of the nation's history of salvation. By disobeying the covenant, the nation undoes its own history.

15–46 :

The first section is framed by an ancient editorial device, a chiastic inclusio, whereby the initial sequence AB is repeated at the end of the unit as B'A'. Thus, the sequence in v. 15 , not obey…to observe (A) and these curses shall come upon you and take effect (B) is reversed in v. 45 as these curses shall befall you…overtake you (B', identical in the Hebrew) and not heed…keep the commandments (A').

15 :

A precise negation of v. 1 : Disobedience negates blessing and occasions punishment. Come upon you and take effect: The verbs are animate and active; the curses are almost personified, as if they had agency or acted by themselves to punish those who infringe the covenant (cf. Exod. 12.23 ).

16–19 :

Negating vv. 3–6 .

20 :

Corresponding to the promise of tripartite blessing for obedience (v. 8 : agriculture, activity, and land) stands the triple threat of calamity, panic, and frustration. The first term would more accurately be translated “curse,” as the precise negation of blessing. The threats summarized by this verse are spelled out in the rest of the section (vv. 21–44 ). Me: Moses speaks on behalf of God directly: Note the shift to the first person from third person reference to God (as at 7.4; 17.3 ). The shift takes place in the opposite direction in the Decalogue (cf. 5.6, 11 ).

21–44 :

This section echoes the state treaties imposed by the Neo‐Assyrian empire upon its vassal states in order to ensure loyalty and tribute (826–625 BCE). The degree of similarity suggests that the curse section of these state treaties, either directly or by way of Aramaic translation, provided a model for the authors of this chapter to use in describing Israel's relationship to God. According to biblical narratives, Judah was a vassal to the Assyrian empire (2 Kings 18.13–18 ) and both Neo‐Assyrian and Judean officials freely employed Aramaic (2 Kings 18.26–27 ).

23 :

Copper…iron: See VTE §63–64: “May [the gods] make your ground like iron…Just as rain does not fall from a bronze sky.…”

25 :

The routers of v. 7 become the routed. You shall become a horror: The Septuagint reads “you shall become a ‘diaspora,'‐” reinterpreting the Hebrew so as to reflect the historical circumstances of its 3rd century BCE Alexandrian authors.

26 :

Deuteronomic law requires even executed criminals to be buried by sundown, lest their corpses become carrion ( 21.22–23 ); the abrogation of that religious norm here underscores the punishment's horror (Jer 7.33 ).

27–35 :

The sequence of punishments specified in this section initially seems arbitrary: skin inflammation (v. 27 ); blindness (vv. 28–29 ); and loss of wife, house, and property (vv. 30a, 30b, 33 ). The sequence finds its explanation, however, in VTE §39–43, where each curse is associated with a particular god within the Neo‐Assyrian pantheon. The moon god Sin is responsible for leprosy; the sun god Shamash for blindness; and Dilipat (the planet Venus) for rape, dispossession, and pillage by a foreign army. The arrangement of the curses follows the rank of the deities within that pantheon's hierarchy.

27 :

Egyptian inflammation: inversion of 7.15 ; see Exod. 9.9–11 .

28–29 :

Blindness: The Mesopotamian sun god Shamash punishes disobedience by withholding light and vision. Shamash is also the god of justice. Thus, his punishment entails the breakdown of civil order and legal standards: You shall be constantly abused and robbed.

30 :

Wife…house…vineyard: Contrast 20.7 , which provides the same conditions for exemption from conscription, in different order.

32 :

The sale of the children to foreigners as slaves guarantees their non‐return (Gen. 37.25–38 ).

36 :

Both the Neo‐Assyrian army (2 Kings ch 17 ) and the Neo‐Babylonian invaders (2 Kings chs 24–25 ) practiced deportation.

37 :

Byword: The nation's fate will become a negative standard that all other peoples will hope to avoid. The opposite idea was central to God's covenant with Abraham, whose people were to become the paradigm of divine providence (Gen. 12.3 ).

38–42 :

Futility curses. The frustration of human labor through infertility of the harvest (caused by insects or other natural enemies) is here presented as punishment for infringement of the covenant, reversing the blessings of vv. 7–14 . From this perspective, crop fail‐ ure is interpreted as divine judgment (Lev. 26.20; Amos 4.7–12 ).

43–44 :

Reversing vv. 12b–13 .

45–46 :

Summary statement that, in conjunction with vv. 38–44 , shows systematically how disobedience undoes blessing: (A) the blessings of agricultural and reproductive fertility (vv. 11–12a ) and (B) economic independence and political sovereignty (vv. 12b–13 ), which result from (C) obedience (vv. 13b–14 ), are reversed with (A') failure of crops and loss of progeny (vv. 38–42 ) and (B') political and economic domination by foreigners (vv. 43–44 ), all of which result from (C') disobedience to the covenant (v. 45 ).

46 :

Signs and proofs, more commonly translated “sign(s) and marvel(s),” as at 29.2 . These terms normally specify the miracles performed by God on behalf of Israel at the time of the exodus ( 4.34; 6.22; 7.19; 34.11; Exod. 7.3; 8.19; 10.1–2; 11.9–10 ). They now threaten instead to immortalize the divine punishment of Israel, as even language is now inverted against the nation.

28.47–57 :

Scenario of foreign invasion. This unit, outside the frame provided by vv. 15, 45–46 , seems like a later appendix.

47 :

Because you would not serve: Here the detailed depiction of the future curse is based upon wrongdoing already committed in the past, in contrast to the conditional formulation of v. 15 , which presents the disobedience as a future possibility. Abundance: The threat that prosperity in the land will cause Israel to forget the source of that comfort is here realized (see 6.11–12; 8.11–20; 33.15, 18 ).

48 :

The punishment corresponds precisely to the offense: Because you would not serve…(v. 47 ) you shall have to serve: Israel is judged by talionic justice (“an eye for an eye”). The formulation works on the double meaning of the key Hebrew word: “to serve” can refer to sacrificial worship of God ( 13.5 ) as well as to labor as a servant or slave (see 5.13 n. ). God thus redeemed Israel from servitude in Egypt so that, in freedom, they serve Him in the covenant (Lev. 25.42, 55 ). Iron yoke, symbolizing vassal status, as in Jer. chs 27–28 .

49–57 :

Systematic presentation of foreign conquest, proceeding from invasion (vv. 48–50 ), to the invaders' plunder and despoiling of the land (v. 51 ), to crippling siege (v. 52 ), and culminating in the horrors of starvation that arise from the siege (vv. 53–57 ). These descriptions of the invader and of the consequences of the siege are based upon the literary model of the Vassal Treaty of Essarhadon.

49–52 :

Closely parallels Jer. 5.15–19 .

49 :

Like the eagle, cf. Ezek. 17.3–7; Hab. 1.8 .

51 :

Contrast the idealistic war laws of 20.19–20 , which prohibit occupiers from despoiling the land.

52 :

It shall shut you up…until every…wall…has come down: The Neo‐Assyrian (2 Kings 17.5 ) and Neo‐Babylonian armies (2 Kings 24.3; 25.1–7 ) employed advanced engineering to mount a siege campaign involving ramparts, battering rams, and catapults.

53–57 :

The starvation resulting from the siege causes a complete breakdown of the normal social order, as parents become predators of their children and family members compete for food. For cannibalism under siege conditions, see Lev. 26.29; 2 Kings 6.28–32; Jer. 19.9; Ezek. 5.10; Lam. 2.20; 4.10 ; and VTE §§47, 69, 71, 75.

28.58–68 :

Undoing the exodus. The orientation here differs considerably from what precedes; the unit seems to represent a third layer to the chapter.

58 :

The Mosaic speaker has thus far urged Israel to obey God's “commandments which I enjoin upon you this day” (v. 1; similarly, vv. 13–14 ). Here, in contrast, Israel must obey the terms of this Teaching that are written in this book. How the commandments have already become transformed from oral proclamation into a written text, i.e., Torah in its later sense, is unexplained, since it is not until 31.9, 24 that Moses commands that the Torah be put into writing as a book. Moreover, hitherto the required obedience was to the plural “commandments” (vv. 1, 9, 13, 15, 45 ). Here, for the first time in the chapter, Israel must obey a codified, single Teaching. This…Name: distinctively, Name stands directly for God (elsewhere in the Torah only Lev. 24.11 ). The word's special reference is explained by the following the Lord, which denotes the Tetragrammaton (Yhvh), God's personal name.

59–68 :

Consistent with the “book” perspective, the consequences for breach of the written Torah have a different focus than the preceding horrors of foreign invasion. Contravention of the Torah triggers a systematic reversal of the national history, covenantal promises, and theology included in that Torah. The punishment amounts to an anti‐Torah that will dissolve the national identity.

59–61 :

Bring back…sicknesses: After the miracle of the exodus, God had promised, if the people obeyed, “I will not bring upon you any of the diseases that I brought upon the Egyptians” (Exod. 15.26 ). Now the threat implicit in that conditional promise becomes realized (also vv. 21–22, 35; 7.15 ).

62 :

Stars…skies: God will cancel the promise made to Abraham that his people shall be as numerous as the stars of heaven (Gen. 15.5–6 ). The covenantal promise of peoplehood (Gen. 12.2 ) will thus be rescinded.

63 :

Dispossession and exile (as in 4.26; Lev. 26.33–39 ) rescinds the covenantal promise of the land, contravening even the unconditional divine promises of Gen. 12.7 and 13.17 .

64 :

The double loss of Israel's identity: Dispersion of the population dissolves its political identity, and idol worship dissolves its religious identity.

65–67 :

In the absence of the national destiny provided by the covenant, historical existence has no meaning.

68 :

Forced return to Egypt, where the former taskmasters now spurn Israel's desperate bid to sell itself back into slavery and thus to undo its own history. For selling oneself into slavery under financial hardship to pay off debts or gain support (“indenture”), see Lev. 25.39 . Route which I told you you should not see again (cf. 17.16 ): Although the reference to the “route” or “direction” is unclear, the threat reverses the unconditional promise by Moses at the time of the exodus: “the Egyptians whom you see today you will never see again” (Exod. 14.13 ). The covenant violations by Israel are so serious that Moses threatens to abrogate that promise.

28.69–30.20 :

The third discourse of Moses: The ratification ceremony for the covenant on the plains of Moab. Israel is formally adjured to enter the covenant: to swear to obey the laws of chs 12–26 under penalty of the sanctions of ch 28 .

28.69–29.28 :

A didactic review of Israel's history ( 29.1–8 ) precedes an imprecation to ensure loyal adherence to the covenant (vv. 9–28 ). The people are formally assembled and instructed in the serious consequences of what they are about to undertake.

28.69 :

Editorial Heading. NJPS follows the Masoretic textual di‐ vision, understanding the verse as a colophon that concludes the second discourse of Moses ( 4.44–28.69 ). In contrast, most English translations follow the more logical Septuagint system, which regards the verse (as 29.1 ) as a superscription to the third discourse ( 29.1–30.20 ). Similar formulae (these are the…) are used to introduce the first and second discourses ( 1.1; 4.45 ). The covenant…Moab: This editorial heading provides two new perspectives on the legal corpus. ( 1 ) The earlier “laws and rules” ( 12.1 ) are now seen as a unified, single covenant between God and Israel. This perspective is absent from the legal corpus itself, where the word “covenant” appears only at 17.2 . In this third discourse, however, that understanding becomes the norm (see 28.69; 29.8, 11, 13, 20, 24; 31.16, 20 ). ( 2 ) The second new perspective regards the laws of Moab as a covenant in addition to the one made at Horeb; the phrase suggests an editor's attempt to work in a later version of a law or narrative alongside an earlier one (Gen. 26.1; Lev. 23.38 ). This view stylizes Deuteronomy—originally intended as an independent body of law—as now working in tandem with prior law. It is striking that, in other contexts, Deuteronomy does not take the covenant at Horeb into account but presents itself as an independent and autonomous covenant. There is no reference to Horeb in the redundant introductory formulae of 4.44–45 or, more importantly, in the superscription to the legal corpus at 12.1 .

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