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The New Oxford Annotated Bible New Revised Standard Study Bible that provides essential scholarship and guidance for Bible readers.

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Commentary on Leviticus

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26.1–46 : Blessings and curses.

This is the conclusion to chs 17–25 .

1–2 :

These verses are thematically independent of the economic laws before and the blessing and punishments that follow. Nonetheless the command to observe the sabbaths has resonances with the sabbatical year law in 25.2–7 (and see 26.43), and the command to avoid idols, with the destruction of illicit worship in 26.30 .

3–46 :

Deuteronomy also contains blessings and curses near its conclusion (Deut 28 ). The general format and tenor of the blessings and curses is similar to what is found in Near Eastern treaties. Treaties in the human political world were a model for describing the treaty or covenant relationship between God and his people (cf. Lev 25.25n. ). The same Heb word, “berit,” encompasses both secular political treaties, and covenants, which are understood as theologized political treaties.

3–13 :

The focus of the blessings is the land, its people, its security, and its fertility.

11–12 :

The ultimate reward for observance is the divine presence in Israel. Cf. Ex 6.7; Jer 7.23; 30.22 .

14–46 :

The punishments deal with the reverse of the topics mentioned in the blessings. The punishments are enumerated in cyclic fashion and in greater detail than the blessings in order to paint a picture of the people's incorrigibility. In contrast to Deut 28 , these verses, which are characterized by the phrase “continue hostile to me,” depict Israel's ever worsening behavior, despite divine punishment.

30 :

High places, local shrines, often for the worship of other gods (see 1 Kings 11.7; Ps 78.58; Jer 32.35 ).

33–45 :

These verses, almost half of those devoted to punishments, deal with exile. This may indicate that the chapter was written or redacted after Babylonian conquest of Judah in 586 BCE.

34 :

See 2 Chr 36.20 , for exile offering the land an opportunity to enjoy its sabbath.

41 :

Uncircumcised heart, a heart that is sealed or unresponsive to divine commands; cf. Deut 10.16; 30.6; Jer 4.4 .

42,44–45 :

Unlike secular treaties, God's treaty with Israel may not be abrogated by God.

45 :

This leaves the people in exile, which may point to composition before 538 BCE, when the return to Judah began.

46 :

This appears to apply only to chs 17–26 ; the legislation at the beginning of the book was given “from the tent of meeting” ( 1.1 ).

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