Monday, November 16, 2009


Chapter 1
Summary:These are the words that Moses spoke to the people of Israel, east of the Jordan River, in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red Sea - between Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. (It was an eleven day journey from Horeb, by the way of Mount Seir, to Kadeshbarnea.)

Moses spoke to the people of Israel on the first day of the eleventh month* (since leaving Egypt) concerning everything that God had commanded since King Sihon (king of the Amorites, of whom dwelt in Heshbon) and King Og (king of Bashan, which resided in Astaroth in Edrei) had been defeated.
"The Lord our God spoke to us in [Mount] Horeb, saying: 'Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount. Turn around and journey towards the mount of the Amorites; to the plains, the hills, and the valley to the south; by the sea side to Canaan; and on to Lebanon - unto the great Euphrates River. Behold the land I have set before you, and go possess this land that the Lord had sworn unto your forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give to them and all their descendants.'

"And I spoke to you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear [this burden] myself alone. The Lord your God has multiplied you, and behold, today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky - may the lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times more as you are, and bless you as he has promised! However, how could myself alone bear your problems, burden, and strife? Take your men that are wise, understanding, and experienced among your tribes and I shall make them rulers over you.

"And you answered me and said, 'The thing which you have spoken is a good thing for us to do.' So I took the chiefs of your tribes - the wisemen and the experienced - and made them leaders over you. [They became] captains over thousands, captains over hundreds, captains over fifties, captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. I appointed and instructed your judges at the time, saying, 'Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. You shall not respect persons in judgment - you shall judge the poor the same as the rich; you shall not fear the reactions to your verdicts as the judgment is God's; and if a case is too difficult for you, bring it to me, and I will hear it.' And I commanded you at that time all the things which you should do.

"When we departed from [Mount] Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which you saw among the mountains of the Amorites, as God had commanded us, and we arrived in Kadeshbarnea. I said to you there, 'You have arrived unto the mountains of the Amorites, which the Lord our God has given to us. Behold, the Lord has set the land before us - go forth and possess this land, as the Lord has commanded. Don't be afraid or discouraged.'

"And you came to me, every one of you, and said, 'We will send some men before us, and they shall scout out the land, and bring us back word by what way we should approach, and which cities should we invade.'

"This idea pleased me, and I selected twelve men from each tribe to scout the land. They ascended the mountain, arrived at the valley of Eschol, and searched it out. They brought back a sample of the fruit of the land and said, 'It is a good land which God has given us.'

"Notwithstanding, you all refused to go up the mountain, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord - your God. You murmured and complained in your tents and said, 'Because God hates us, he has brought us out of Egypt to deliver us to the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Why should we go?'

"Your brethren, the spies, had discouraged your heart saying, 'The people in the land are greater and taller than we, their cities are great and walled up to the heavens, and moreover, we have seen giants - the sons of the Anakim - there.'

"I then said to you, 'Fear not, nor be afraid of them. The Lord your God who goes before you, will fight for you, just as he had done for you in Egypt before your eyes. In the wilderness, where you have seen how the Lord thy God has protected you - as a father protects his child - in every place you have went, up until you came into this land.'

"Yet in this matter, you did not believe the Lord your God, who had traveled before you, searched out places for you to pitch your tents in, guiding you by [a pillar of] fire by night and a cloud by day, to show you which direction to travel.

"The Lord heard your voices and was wroth, and swore, saying, 'Surely there shall not be a single man of this evil generation to live to see this good land, which I had sworn unto their forefathers.' Except for Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, who because he had wholly followed the Lord, shall be given as an inheritance, the land that he had trodden upon.

"The Lord was also angry with me due to your sakes, saying, 'You also shall not enter [the "promised land"]. But Joshua, the son of Nun, shall stand before you and lead the people in to the land. Encourage him, for he shall cause [the people of] Israel to inherit it. Moreover, the little ones whom the people said would die in the wilderness, and the children who had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall be allowed to inherit the land - and unto them I will give it, and they shall possess it. But as for the rest of you, turn and take your journey back into the wilderness toward the Red Sea.'

"Then you all answered and said unto me, 'We have sinned against the Lord. We will go up and fight, according to all that the Lord our God has commanded us.' When you had armed every man with weapons, you were ready to go up into the mountains.

"And the Lord said to me, 'Say unto them, "Don't go up there, and don't fight, for I will not be amongst you", for they will be struck down before their enemies.'

"So I spoke to all of you, yet you would not listen, but instead rebelled against the commandment of the Lord, going presumptuously up the mountains. The Amorites who lived in the mountains came out against you and chased you - as bees do - and destroyed you in Seir, all the way to Hormah.

"You returned and wept before the the Lord, but he would not harken to your voice, or listen to your words. So you abode in Kadesh for many days, according unto the days that you abode there."
Notes:1.) Approximately February 15th by our modern calendar.
Thoughts:This opening chapter of Deuteronomy sees Moses addressing the people of Israel as they were camped in the wilderness east of the Jordan River. His speech takes place on the 15th of February, forty years after the exodus, and primarily encompasses the events from Numbers: Chapter 13 and Numbers: Chapter 14, but begins with the events of Exodus: Chapter 17 - despite that this chapter claims Moses' speech concerns the events that took place after King Sihon and King Og were defeated, which doesn't take place until Numbers: Chapter 21.

Although one would expect some slight differences in Moses' speech versus the events as they appeared in the book of Numbers, there are some jarring discrepancies within the two stories, which is further compounded by the claim that the Torah (the Pentateuch) - the first five books of the bible were written by Moses.

The following discrepancies are found within Moses speech:
Moses' Speech:Biblical Story:
Dt. 1:9 "And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you [the people of Israel] myself alone:"
Dt. 1:12 "How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?"
Ex. 18:17 "And Moses' father in law said unto him, The thing that thou doest is not good.
18:18 Thou wilt surely wear away, both thou, and this people that is with thee: for this thing is too heavy for thee; thou art not able to perform it thyself alone."
Discrepancy: Mild
Moses makes the claim that he told the people of Israel that he couldn't handle their burden alone, yet this closely mirrors the conversation he had with his father-in-law Jethro, who actually told Moses this same thing.

While it might be possible that Moses simply repeated these complaints to the Israelites after his chat with Jethro, it also seems to appear that Moses might be taking credit for Jethro's wisdom.
Moses' Speech:Biblical Story:
Dt. 1:15 "So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes."
Dt. 1:16 "And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him."
Ex. 18:21 "Moreover thou shalt provide out of all the people able men, such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness; and place such over them, to be rulers of thousands, and rulers of hundreds, rulers of fifties, and rulers of tens:
Ex. 18:24 So Moses hearkened to the voice of his father in law, and did all that he had said."
Discrepancy: Mild
Much like the previous discrepancy, verses 15 and 16 appear as though Moses is taking full credit for his father-in-law's advice - Moses' wording is almost identical to Jethro's wording in Exodus 18:21.

Another possibility for Jethro's absence from Moses' speech might be due to the fact that Jethro is a Midianite - and may have been amongst those slain in Numbers: Chapter 31.
Moses' Speech:Biblical Story:
Dt. 1:22 "And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come."
Dt. 1:23 "And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:"
Num. 13:1 "And the LORD spake unto Moses, saying,"
13:2 "Send thou men, that they may search the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel: of every tribe of their fathers shall ye send a man, every one a ruler among them."
13:3 "And Moses by the commandment of the LORD sent them from the wilderness of Paran: all those men were heads of the children of Israel."
Discrepancy: Strong
A major discrepancy is found in Moses' speech when Moses accredits the idea of sending spies into Canaan to the people of Israel, and not God, who had commanded this in Numbers: Chapter 13.

The reason that this is such a strong contradiction is that by changing the origin of who ordered the idea, it shifts the blame placed upon the spies later on (for having discouraged the Israelites to invade Canaan) away from God - who originally ordered the spies - and upon the Israelites themselves.

Had the Israelites come up with this plan to send the spies themselves, this bit of information certainly would be highly relevant and would warrant mention in Numbers 13 - leaving this bit of information out, and attributing the decision to God would change the context of the story completely.

While the apologist standpoint probably would be to somehow rationalize that somehow both the versions of events in Numbers 13 and Deuteronomy somehow coincide - presumably that the Israelites came up with the idea, and after God approved the idea himself, he commanded it - it still doesn't answer the question of the effect of the dramatic shift in context.
Moses' Speech:Biblical Story:
Dt. 1:29 "Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them."
Dt. 1:30 "The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;"
Num. 14:6 "And Joshua the son of Nun, and Caleb the son of Jephunneh, which were of them that searched the land, rent their clothes:"
Num. 14:7 "And they spake unto all the company of the children of Israel, saying, The land, which we passed through to search it, is an exceeding good land."
Num. 14:9 "Only rebel not ye against the LORD, neither fear ye the people of the land; for they are bread for us: their defence is departed from them, and the LORD is with us: fear them not."
Discrepancy: Mild
Like the earlier discrepancies, verse 29 sees Moses again seemingly taking credit for something someone else had said.

In this case, it was Joshua and Caleb who in Numbers 14 confronted the Israelites and told them not to be afraid after they had reservations about invading Canaan due to reports of "giants". In verse 29, Moses takes credit for this and claims that it was he who confronted the people and told them not to be afraid.
Moses' Speech:Biblical Story:
Dt. 1:34 "And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,"
Dt. 1:35 "Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers."
Num. 14:11 "And the LORD said unto Moses, How long will this people provoke me? and how long will it be ere they believe me, for all the signs which I have shewed among them?"
Num. 14:12 "I will smite them with the pestilence, and disinherit them, and will make of thee a greater nation and mightier than they."
Discrepancy: Mild
This discrepancy is merely a case of oversimplification. Upon hearing the Israelites complaining, God initially decides to kill them all and instead have Moses' lineage become the new chosen people. Moses manages to talk God out of the mass killings, to which he instead decides to simply let this current generation of Israelites wander around in the desert for forty years until they all die off.
Moses' Speech:Biblical Story:
Dt. 1:37 "Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither."Num. 20:12 "And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them."
Discrepancy: Strong
While this discrepancy might upon first glance simply seem like an oversimplification and is merely skipping ahead in the story, it's actually more problematic when we examine it closer.

Moses states that God even got angry with him - which is correct - and has refused to allow him to bring the Israelites into the "promised land" - which is also correct. These events occur later in our story in Numbers: Chapter 20, instead of where Moses' speech seems to be implying - Numbers 14, however, that really isn't the problem.

The problem is that in his speech, Moses blames God's anger with him on the behavior of the Israelites, which is completely false. The reason Moses isn't allowed to enter Canaan is because he didn't follow God's instructions correctly about how to get water out of a rock (God said to talk to the rock, but Moses struck the rock with his rod) - the Israelites had no fault with Moses' inability to follow God's directions.
Moses' Speech:Biblical Story:
Dt. 1:44 "And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah."Num. 14:45 "Then the Amalekites came down, and the Canaanites which dwelt in that hill, and smote them, and discomfited them, even unto Hormah."
Discrepancy: Mild
This small discrepancy is simply a formality. The Amorites are in fact a particular race of Canaanites, but it appears to change the context slightly.

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