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
A didactic review of Israel's history (vv. 2–9
) precedes an imprecation to ensure loyal adherence to the covenant (vv. 10–29
The laws, hitherto plural (“statutes and ordinances,”
5.1; 12.1; cf. 4.45
), are now a coherent, single tradition: the covenant.
In addition to, presentation of the laws as a supplement to the Decalogue, in contrast to
, which mention neither the Decalogue nor the laws’ supplementary status. This may be an effort to explain addition of the
Decalogue to an earlier form of Deuteronomy.
You have seen, as at
, the present generation is in reality one generation removed from the miraculous events.
Signs … wonders, see 28.46n.
But to this day, more accurately: “The LORD has not given you … until today.” The admonition creates a tension with the preceding two verses: The addressees who “have
seen” the miraculous events (v. 2
), which their own “eyes saw” (v. 3
), are accused of having lacked eyes to see. The castigation reflects the episodes of rebellion (
The Mosaic homily reinterprets the wilderness wandering, originally intended as divine punishment of Israel (Num 14.13–35
), and presents it positively, in didactic terms.
I, see 7.4; 17.3; 28.20
,68. Clothes … feet, see 8.4
You have not eaten
bread … not drunk wine, the sense is, “It was not bread that you ate … nor wine that you drank.” The manna, quails, and water that Israel consumed
were supplied by divine providence (
8.2–5; Ex 16; Num 11.4–9,31–33
). Know, not abstract speculation but the recognition of God's historical actions on behalf of the nation. I am the Lord your God, better, “I, Yahweh, am your God” (
6.4; Ex 20.2
See 1.4; 2.26–3.22; Num 21.21–35
Stand assembled in formal array for a public legal ceremony (cf. Ps 82.1
). Today, transition from historical review (vv. 1–8
) to present adjuration (similarly, VTE § 33).
Covenant … sworn by an oath, the formula recurs at v. 14
, thus framing the central idea, the binding relationship between God and Israel. Oath, more accurately, “its imprecation” or “its curse.” Neo‐Assyrian treaties were validated by means of a concluding imprecation
(VTE § § 37–56,58–106). The partner accepts the consequences of noncompliance. The laws of chs 12–26
represent the stipulations; ch 28
, the sanctions; and ch 29
, the imprecation.
The covenant binds even future generations (as in VTE § § 25,33,34,57); consequently, punishment for infraction extends to the third and fourth generation (
5.9; Ex 20.5; 34.7
A stark, two‐part warning, showing how the attempt of even a single individual secretly to withdraw from the covenant (vv. 17–19
) jeopardizes the entire nation (vv. 20–28
Turning away, transferring loyalty to other gods (
). Poisonous and bitter growth, Hos 10.4; Am 5.7; 6.12
Bless themselves, rather than proclaim the imprecation, hoping to escape the sanctions of the covenant. Moist and dry, probably paired antonyms designating totality (see 28.3–6n.
Passion, God's zeal to defend the mutual exclusivity of the covenant relation (
5.9; Ex 34.14
). Descend on them, more literally, “crouch down upon them” (cf. Gen 4.7
), an animate image. Blot out, the erasure of a tablet or scroll (Num 5.23
), given a theological cast: Following Mesopotamian models, the divine decree of human fate is recorded in a heavenly book,
with erasure symbolizing punishment (
9.14; Gen 6.7; Ex 17.14; 32.32; 2 Kings 14.27; Ps 9.6
The negative instruction. As the wilderness wandering provided an instructional lesson for the nation (vv. 5–6
), so will Israel, transformed into a devastation, provide an object lesson. Vv. 24–28
provide a reversal of the Israelite child's inquiry about God's redemptive acts (
4.32–38; Ex 12.25–27; 13.8–10
Sulfur and salt were used in antiquity as chemical defoliants by invading armies. Sodom … Zeboiim, proverbial wicked cities in the arid area around the Dead Sea (cf. Gen 19.24–25; Isa 1.9–10
The covenant, conflating the covenants of Horeb and Moab (
Gods … not allotted to them, as at
, each nation is allocated its own god, and the LORD is the God of Israel. As at
, the existence of other deities is here conceded. Contrast
, where it is rather only inanimate “stars … that God has allotted,” which reinterprets the polytheistic image from the later
perspective of monotheism.
As is now the case, reference to the present implies that the chapter was composed subsequent to the Babylonian exile of 586 BCE.
Secret, concealed acts that God will punish (vv. 18–19
), or future events. More likely, the antithesis with revealed rejects religions of esoteric speculation that restrict access to truth to a learned few. Torah, based upon a public revelation
) and Mosaic instruction (chs 12–26
), is accessible to all.
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