Monday, January 11, 2010


Chapter 14
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"You all are the blessed children of the Lord your God and therefore you shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes, for the dead - for you are a holy people to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you all to be a peculiar people to himself, above all nations that are upon the earth.

"You shall not eat any abominable thing. These are the animals which you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, the hart, the roebuck, the fallow deer, the wild goat, the pygarg, the wild ox, and the chamois - and any animal with parted hooves, clefted pairs of claws, or that chews the cud. However, you are not to eat animal that either chews the cud or has divided hooves - such as the camel, the hare*, and the coney, for they chew the cud, but do not have cloven hooves; therefore they are unclean to you. The swine, because of its cloven hoof, despite that it doesn't chew the cud, is unclean to you - you shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcass.

"Of the animals that live in the waters you may eat all that have fins and scales; whatsoever has no fins or scales, you may not eat, for they are unclean to you.

"Öf all clean birds you may eat, but these are the birds you may not: the eagle, the ossifrage, the osprey, the glede, the kite, the vulture and its kind, the raven and its kind, the owl, the night hawk, the cuckow, the hawk and its kind, the 'little owl', the 'great owl', the swan, the pelican, the grier eagle, the cormorant, the stork, the heron and its kind, the lapwing, the bat*, and every creeping thing that flies is unclean to you; they shall not be eaten. But of all clean fowl, you may eat.

"You shall not eat any animal that dies on its own - although you may give it to the stranger in town to eat, or you may sell it to a foreigner - for you are a holy people to the Lord your God. You shall not boil a baby goat in his mother's milk.

"You shall tithe all of your crops that your field brings forth each year. You shall eat before the Lord your God - in the sanctuary that he will pick out in the land - the tithes of your crops, wine, olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks; that you may learn the fear the Lord your God always.

"If the sanctuary is too far away from where you live, that you are unable to carry your tithes there, then you may sell them for money and purchase whatever your souls lusts after - oxen, sheep, wine, strong drink, or whatever your soul desires - that you may bring and eat before the Lord your God, to rejoice amongst you and your household.

"You are not to forsake the Levite within your community, for he has no crops, property, or inheritance as you have. At the end of three years, you shall bring forth all of the the tithes for that year and are to divide the tithes amongst the Levites, the strangers, the orphaned, and the widows within your community - who shall eat and be satisfied, that the Lord your God may bless you in all that you do."
Notes:1.) The hare does not chew its cud.
2.) The bat obviously is not a bird, but rather a flying mammal.
Thoughts:Moses begins this chapter echoing a commandment that he first made in Leviticus: Chapter 19 - forbidding the cutting of the skin in regards to funeral customs, adding in that shaving your eyebrows ("mak[ing] any baldness between your eyes") is also a no-no as a funeral custom. Moses explains that because God considers the Israelites are a "holy people" and are better than all the other nations upon the earth that (perhaps) follow these sorts of customs.

Simply put, this is a law simply because "inferior" people have these customs, and nothing more(!) To see how arrogant, ridiculous, and nonsensical this "commandment" is, imagine a modern law that bans the wearing of feathers because the Native American wear them, and they're not "God's people" like Americans with European ancestry are, and therefore we have to strive to not be like those "heathens" - Or perhaps laws banning the wearing of wooden shoes because the Dutch do; the eating of rice because the Chinese do; the eating of pasta because the Italians do. It isn't difficult in this context to see how ridiculous, arrogant, and bigoted these types of laws are - the "you're not allowed to do this solely because this other group of people do it" laws, and only serves to reinforce stereotypes and superiority complexes.

Next Moses recaps the laws from Leviticus: Chapter 11 concerning which types of animals are considered "clean" enough to eat, and which are "unclean" and may not be eaten. While the argument can be made that there are all sorts of inaccuracies about Moses' classifications of animals (rabbits are not ruminants, bats are mammals not birds, etc.) it may be partially a limitation of the Hebrew language as well as a lack of biological knowledge. However, unlike Leviticus: Chapter 11, Moses does not make an exception for jumping four legged insects being permissible to eat.

Moses does add though, that although the Israelites may not eat any animal that has died on its own of natural causes, they may sell it to a foreigner or give it to a stranger in town. Moses also repeats a rather "charming" law from Exodus: Chapter 23 - don't boil a baby goat in its mother's milk.

Moses explains to the Israelites that when God picks out his "sanctuary", they will have to bring the tithes from their crops, wine, and the firstborn animals from their flocks and herds to the "sanctuary" and have to feast there "before God". However, Moses allots that if the sanctuary is too far away from where they live, or they are unable to carry the full amount of their tithes, then they may be allowed to sell their tithes and use the money to buy crops, wine, or livestock when they arrive at the sanctuary.

Moses reminds them that they'll have to invite the Levites in their communities to come tag along for the feast when they pay their tithes, due to their lack of property ownership and lack of their own crops.

Finishing out the chapter on a rare pleasant note (not unlike the tone found in Leviticus: Chapter 19) Moses tells the Israelites that every third year they will have to divide up that years tithes to give to the poor, the orphans, the widowed, and the strangers in town.

Friday, January 8, 2010


Chapter 13
Summary:Moses continues his speech:
"If there amongst you emerges a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams*, that gives you a sign or a wonder which becomes true, and subsequently suggests to serve other gods, you shall not follow the words of that prophet or dreamer of dreams, for the the Lord your God is testing you, to know whether you love the Lord your God with all of your heart and soul. You follow the Lord your God, fear him, obey his commandments, hear his words, and serve him. That prophet, or dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death; for he has spoken to turn you away from the Lord your God - the one who brought you out of the land of Egypt, redeemed you out of your slavery - to thrust you out of the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk in. So shall you extinguish this evil amongst you.

"If your brother - the son of your mother - or your son, daughter, wife, or a close friend whispers to you, trying to entice you to serve other gods - namely the gods of the heathens around you, near or far to from you, from one end of the earth to the other - you shall not consent to that person, nor listen to them, nor shall you show them any pity or mercy, nor shall you protect them; but you shall surely kill them, with your hand being the first upon them, and afterward the hands of all the people of Israel. You shall stone them with stones until they die, because they had sought to thrust you away from the Lord your God, which brought you out of your Egyptian slavery. All of Israel shall hear, fear, and shall do no more such wickedness as this is amongst you.

"If you hear it said in any one of your cities which the Lord you God has given you to dwell in, that certain men - the children of Belial* - have gone out from among you, and have suggested to the inhabitants of the city to worship other gods, then you shall inquire, and diligently determine if this is true. If behold, it is the truth that such an abomination has been wrought among you, you shall surely smite the residents of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and everything contained within it, including the cattle, with the edge of the sword. You shall then gather the spoils of the city into the middle of the street, and burn it along with the city to the ground as a burnt offering to the Lord your God. The city shall remain a lifeless heap forever, and shall never be rebuilt again. You are not to take any of the spoils from the city for they are cursed.

"The Lord will turn from his fierce anger and then show mercy and compassion to you, allowing you to multiply as he had promised your forefathers, when you hear the voice of the Lord your God, keep all of his commandments which I command you on this day, and do what is right in the eyes of the Lord your God."
Notes:1.) A person who claims to fortell the future via their dreams, like Jacob's/Israel's son Joseph.
2.) "Belial" roughly translates as "waste" in Hebrew, meaning that the "children of Belial" are the "children of waste".
Thoughts:In yet another brief but violent chapter, Moses warns the Israelites about "prophets" or "dreamers of dreams" who might see their prophecy or prediction come true, tempting the Israelites to pursue serving and worshiping other gods. Moses claims that this would actually be God "testing you" (probably to account for why a "false prophet" or a "dreamer of dreams" could accurately predict the future).

I have serious ethical problems with these kinds of "tests" as found in the bible - such as the story of God "testing" Abraham's faith by commanding him to sacrifice his son Isaac only to stop Abraham at the very last minute before he plunges a knife into the boy. As I mentioned in my thoughts about the previous chapter, it would certainly appear that the Israelites seem to be pretty easily manipulated and coerced into worshiping other gods as we've seen in Exodus: Chapter 32 - with it's story of the Israelites worshiping Aaron's golden calf, and in Numbers: Chapter 25 - in which the Israelites "commit whoredom with the daughters of Moab" (or is the Midianites?).

With this in mind, it seems that God's behavior falls a bit too close to that of entrapment. An ethical person wouldn't take an alcoholic to a bar just to "test" him, nor could a police officer sit on a street corner offering drugs or sexual services to anyone and everyone passing by and legally make an arrest. The reason being is that we as human beings have lapses in judgment and most of us under some enticing circumstance or another may do something unethical, unlawful, or simply something we might not normally do if not presented with certain conditions. While both of the following situations may be wrong, still there is a difference between a person who pulls a prank on someone after being offered $20, versus a person who pulls a prank on someone else deliberately on their on volition.

Whether God is either causing someone's prophecy to become true, or is allowing a prophet to foresee an event, in order to give them credibility so that they may deceive others into committing a "sin", neither can be considered ethical or just. This is only made worse when Moses tells us what the predictable punishment is for the prophet or the "dreamer of dreams" who tries to lead people into worshiping other gods - they are to be put to death.

Not stopping there, Moses tells us that just about anybody - your brother (specifying your mother's son), your son or daughter, or even a good close friend - who tries to entice you to worship other gods, especially the gods of the "heathens" that used to live in the land, and those that surround the "promised land", is to be put to death by stoning. You also are not to allow your family member or close friend any pity or mercy while you are mandated to strike the first blow upon them. Moses then justifies this with the ridiculously flawed logic that this capital punishment will somehow prevent others from committing the same "wickedness"(?) While this argument is still used today to justify capital punishment, it is even more laughable here in the bible. We've already seen that the massive plagues and gutting thousands of people with swords when they worshiped other gods hasn't stopped people from committing the same "wickedness" already.

Moses saves the most brutal law for last, in which hes states that if it is heard that "the children of Belial" (meaning "the children of waste") have coaxed the inhabitants of a city into worshiping other gods, and upon verifying such as story as true - which as we've seen at several points throughout the Old Testament the standards of evidence are extremely lax - then Moses states that the residents of the entire city, and everything it contains including their cattle, are to be killed by the sword, and then the entire city is to be burned to the ground and the smoldering mound that used to be a city is never again to be rebuilt again. Much like the story of the destruction of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah, once again we need to adhere to strict absolutes in where 100% of the population has committed a "sin" to deserve such a sever punishment where an entire city is leveled. However, we realize that in the real world there are never 100% absolutes, and therefore responding with sentencing an entire town to death, there will yet be innocent lives at stake - whether they be people who didn't worship other gods, or infants and children unable to even grasp the concept of theism to begin with.

Moses continues stating that once you've leveled an offending city, God will then be "merciful" and "compassionate" enough not to turn his anger upon you, and will fulfill his promise of allowing you to grow into a might nation - if you obey and do exactly as he says.


Chapter 12
Summary:Moses now explains to the Israelites the statutes and judgments that they are to observe in the "promised land" for "all the days that [they] live upon the earth".
  • The Israelites are to destroy all the places that the "heathen nations" previously inhabiting the land had worshiped their gods - whether from high upon the mountains, upon the hills, and under every green tree.
  • All of the "heathen nations'" altars are to be overthrown, their pillars are to be broken, and their groves are to be burned with fire. The graven images of their gods are to be destroyed, along with the eradication of even their names from out of the places.
  • The Israelites are not to offer animal sacrifices anywhere they choose like the "heathen nations", but instead they are only to sacrifice in places where God himself has chosen to "put his name" (making the people build a "sanctuary" in God's name).
It is at this chosen place where the Israelites are to bring their "burnt offerings", other sacrifices, tithes, "heave offerings", "freewill offerings", and the firstborn of their herds and flocks.

Moses continues his speech, adding:
"And there you shall eat before the Lord your God, and you shall rejoice in all that you have put your hand into, and your households, wherein the Lord your God has blessed you.

"You will no longer live your lives your own way, as you do now, when you enter the land of your inheritance, which the Lord your God has given you. When you cross the Jordan River and enter the land which the Lord your God has given you to inherit, and when he gives you rest and safety from your enemies, then there which God will choose a location for you to build him a sanctuary, and there you shall bring him burnt offerings, sacrifices, tithes, heave offerings, and all of your voluntary vows to the Lord. There you shall rejoice before the Lord your God, along with your sons, daughters, and slaves; also you are to invite the Levites to feast with you, for as they have no land of their own.

"Take heed not to sacrifice animals by fire in just any place that you see fit, but only in the sanctuary that the Lord shall choose amongst the territories of one of your tribes. Only there shall you offer burnt offerings, and there that you should do all that I command you. However, you may kill and eat the flesh of animals anywhere within the land according to the blessing of the Lord, regardless of whether you are clean or unclean - as you do now with the roebuck and the hart. However, you may not to consume the animal's blood and must pour it upon the earth as you would water.

"None of your offerings are to be eaten at home - not the tithe of your crops, wine, or oil; the firstborn of your herds and flocks; nor any vows, freewill, or heave offerings which you have vowed to give to the Lord your God. You must eat them before him in the sanctuary he has chosen, along with your children, slaves, and the Levites, and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God in all that you do. Remember not to forsake the Levites from these feasts as long as you live upon the earth.

"When the Lord your God enlarges your borders, as he has promised, you may eat whatever animal meat you desire. If the sanctuary that God has chosen becomes too far away, then your flock may be butchered on your own land, just as you do now with the roebuck and the hart, and the clean as well as the unclean may eat of the flesh alike. You are to be certain however to never consume the blood; for the blood is the life, and you may not eat the life within the flesh. You are not to consume it, but are to pour it upon the earth like water. You are not to consume it, so that you and your children may be right in the sight of the Lord.

"Only the holy things which you give, your vows you shall take, and your burnt offerings need to be taken to the sanctuary which the Lord will choose. You shall offer your burnt offerings - both flesh and blood - upon the altar of the Lord your God. The blood of your animal sacrifices shall be poured upon the altar of the Lord your God, and you shall eat the flesh.

"Observe and obey these words which I command you, that you and your children may live well forever when you do what is good and right the eyes of the Lord your God.

"When the Lord your God casts out the heathen nations before you, and you go in to succeed them and possess their land, take heed not to be tricked into following after them, after they have been destroyed before you, and that you are not to inquire after their gods. Do not question how those nations served their gods and attempt to do likewise. You are not to do unto the Lord your God those abominations that he hates, that they have done for their gods - for they have even sacrificed their children by fire to their gods. The things that I command you, you are to observe and obey. You are not to add nor subtract from these commandments."
Notes:1.) A more modern translation of "the roebuck and the hart" would be "the deer and the gazelle".
Thoughts:Moses begins this chapter by enforcing how strictly the Israelites must be intolerant towards the religions of the heathen nations they are about to invade. He tells them that they are to destroy every last altar that they have built - no matter how remote or out of the way it might be located; they are to break the pillars of these altars; burn down their groves; smash their religious images; and eradicate the names of these gods from out of the land.

With the amount of repetition this particular law is given throughout the Old Testament, it makes one question to how easily people - especially the Israelites - were able to be persuaded into abandoning their religions for someone else's despite having witnessed so many purported "miracles". As we've read previously, we did have both that golden calf incident as well as the Moabite/Midianite incident at Mount Peor, but were the Israelites really all that stupid and gullible to fall for any random cult leader strolling by? Even in my brief early childhood years as an indoctrinated Catholic, I never recall having ever had the idea to become Protestant or Jewish like many of my friends at school - even after occasionally accompanying them to their church or temple services. However it must have been some sort of major temptation for the ancient Israelites despite apparently witnessing all these breath taking "miracles" and deadly plagues wiping out vast numbers of them every time they violate God's laws, as evidenced by the vast repetition of warnings to stay away from the gods of other religions.

Moses segues into his next topic of conversation by stating that the Israelites are not to just perform animal sacrifices wherever they please like he presumes the "heathen nations" do, but are instead to only sacrifice animals at a sanctuary, which God himself will pick out once they reach the "promised land". However, it would seem that if these "heathens" took the time to construct all of these altars and pillars that the Israelites were told to destroy, they probably weren't just sacrificing animals "just anywhere", and most likely had specific areas and sanctuaries mandated by their religion just like the Israelites.

He tells the Israelites that once they arrive in the "promised land" that God will pick out a location for them to build him a "sanctuary", and it is there that they are to perform their animal sacrifices and give their tithes. He adds that when they do so, that they are to eat their spoils there, alongside their children and their slaves, and in addition, they have to invite the Levites to dinner as well, for they aren't allowed to own their own land and therefore can't enjoy the spoils of animal sacrifice themselves.

Moses adds that whenever God enlarges their borders and the Israelites find themselves now located too far away from the "sanctuary", that they may be allowed slaughter their flock on their own farms, and the meat may be eaten by both the "clean" and the "unclean" alike - but that they are under no circumstances to ever consume the animals blood. Instead, the blood is to be poured on the ground - likening this to how one would water their crops. Moses reasons that the blood is the "life" of an animal, and that the people are not to consume the "life" within the flesh of an animal. Today, we know that blood is not in any practical sense the "life" of a being anymore than a vital organ may be, and that this was just a common superstition derived from a lack of biological knowledge and understanding.

Moses notes that none of the Israelites "offerings" to God (such as the mandatory animal sacrifices of firstborn animals, tithes from the first crops, or any freewill offerings) can be offered at home, but are only to be offered at the location of God's chosen "sanctuary", eaten alongside of their children, slaves, and the Levites.

Moses stresses again, that the blood of animals eaten at home is to be poured onto the ground and not consumed, and that when offering "burnt offerings" to God, that the blood is to be poured upon the altar in the sanctuary.

If the Israelites can obey these laws, Moses says that they will live well forever in God's eyes. He then warns them yet again not to be tricked into worshiping the gods of the "heathen nations" they're about to invade, nor are they to even question or inquire about these gods. He continues to tell them that they are not to follow these "abominable" customs that God hates, implying that these "heathens" sacrifice their children by fire.

Moses ends the chapter by reiterating that these commandments are not to be amended or revised in any way.

Tuesday, January 5, 2010


Chapter 11
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"You shall love the Lord your God, obey him and his statutes, judgments, and commandments - always. You are aware that I'm not speaking now to your children, of whom haven't known or seen the chastisement of the Lord your God - his greatness, his mighty hand, and his out stretched arm; his miracles and his acts that he performed in the midst of Egypt unto the Pharaoh, the king of Egypt and all his land; what he had done to the Egyptian army, to their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red Sea overflow and drown them as they pursued after you - and how the Lord has destroyed them - rendering them powerless against you - to this day; what he had done to you in the wilderness until you arrived at this very place; and what he had done to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, in turn the son of Reuben, and how the earth swallowed them up, along with their households, tents, and all their possessions, in plain view of all of the people of Israel.

"But you have seen all the great acts that the Lord did, and therefore you shall keep all of the commandments that I command to you this day, so that you may have be strong and possess the land you are about to enter; that you may prolong your days in the land which the Lord swore unto your forefathers - a land that flows with milk and honey. The land you are about to possess is not like the land of Egypt from where you came from - where you needed to irrigate your crops - as the promised land is a land of hills and valleys, with drinkable water raining from the heaven. It is a land which the Lord your God cares for and watches over year round.

"It shall come to pass, if you diligently heed the commandments which I command to you today, to love the Lord your God, and to serve him with all your heart and soul, that I shall give you the rain of your land in its due season; the first rain and the latter rain, that you might harvest your grain, grapes for your wine, and olive oil. I will also flourish your field with grass, so that your cattle may eat until they are full.

"Take heed that your heart not be deceived, and you turn aside and serve and worship other gods. For the Lord's wrath will be kindled against you, and he will shut up the heavens so that there shall be no rain, and the land will not yield her crops, and lest you perish quickly from the good land which the Lord has given you. Therefore you shall keep these commandments in your heart and in your soul, and write them upon a sign and tie them to your hand, that you may remember them. You shall teach them to your children, speaking of them when you are sitting at home, when you are out walking, when you are lying down to sleep, and when you rise in the morning. Write them upon the door posts of your house and upon your gates, so that your days may be multiplied, as will the days of your children, in the land which the Lord swore unto your forefathers, as the days of heaven upon the earth.

"If you diligently obey all of these commandments, to love the Lord your God, to walk in in his ways, and to cling to him, then the Lord will drive out all of the nations before you, and you shall possess nations greater and mightier than yourselves. Every place where the soles of your feet tread shall be yours - from the wilderness and Lebanon, to the Euphrates River, and even unto the Mediterranean Sea. No one will be able to stand before you - for the Lord your God shall lay the fear and dread of you upon all the land that you shall tread upon, as he has promised.

"Behold, I set before you on this day a blessing and a curse. A blessing if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day; a curse if you will not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but instead turn aside away from what I command you today, to go after other gods, which you have not known.

"It shall come to pass when the Lord your God has brought you into the land that you are to possess, that you shall put the blessing upon Mount Gerizim, and the curse upon Mount Ebal - they are on the other side of the Jordan River to the west, in the land of the Canaanites, whom live in the wasteland near Gilgal, next to the plains of Moreh. You shall pass over the Jordan River and possess the land which the Lord your God has given you, and you shall live therein and observe and obey all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today."
Thoughts:Moses' speech continues with him imploring the Israelites to obey all of God's laws and commandments - always.

Next it becomes difficult to discern exactly who Moses begins to address, as he states:
11:2 "And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm..."
following that up with:
11:7 "But your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which he did."
Moses begins by acknowledging that the "children" obviously wouldn't be old enough to recall all of the events of the Exodus - specifically, the plagues against Egypt, the parting of the Red Sea (however he also claims that they also wouldn't recall the plagues in the wilderness and Korah's rebellion, which both occur later on in the 40 year journey through the desert.) In Numbers: Chapter 14, God decrees that no-one over the age of 19 except for Caleb and Joshua would be allowed to enter the promised land. Then Moses specifically states in Numbers: Chapter 26 that Caleb and Joshua were the only two men alive from the counted in the previous census that were counted again in the census taken in Numbers: Chapter 26. Chronologically, this would make those young and spry 19 year olds that were exempt from God's punishment in Numbers: 14 now aged to 59. Obviously, this would only leave a small subset possibly aged as young as 8, but no older than 19 at the time of God's curse - now being aged 48 to 59 - that would be the only people reasonably able to recall these events in detail.

In any event, Moses insists to the Israelites he's addressing, that because they've witnessed all the "great acts" that God did, that they're obliged to follow all of God's laws that Moses has given them.

He tells the people that the "promised land" is unlike Egypt in the regards that the land doesn't have to be irrigated to grow crops, as it is rich with drinkable rain water. He also adds that God personally cares for and looks after the land year round. Moses then follows this up by either attempting to blackmail or bribe the Israelites into obeying God's commandments - basically, if the Israelites behave themselves, obey God, and show him love, then God will give plenty of rain for the Israelites crops to flourish; but if they don't step in line, and apparently especially if they begin worshiping other gods, then God will halt the rain and let everyone starve to death.

Whether Moses (and by proxy, God) is attempting to blackmail or bribe the Israelites is dependent on the natural state of the land. Either:
  • The land is naturally too dry for farming crops: Would seem most likely, considering that Moses states that God looks over the land personally and ensures that it gets enough rain. In this case, it would seem that God would be bribing the Israelites into obeying, by doing a service (by watering their crops with rain) in return for obedience. Without God's part of the bargain, the land would revert back to its natural state, and to which God would do nothing to prevent this leaving the Israelites with the choice to either step back in line or all die off.

    This would also have to mean that if God wasn't purposely preventing it from raining as a punishment, then God is either still carefully maintaining the rain in the land to this day, or that he dropped off maintaining it gradually, otherwise there would be some obvious geological evidence to support a drastic shift in climate - to which there is none to my knowledge.
  • The land is naturally well suited for farming crops:This would have to imply that God is blackmailing the Israelites into obedience by threatening to tamper with the weather and withhold the rain needed for their crops if they apparently start worshiping other gods. This certainly has darker implications, but would explain as to why the land remains fertile regardless of who inhabits it - thereby negating having to provide evidence for a supernatural explanation regarding the climate of the region.
  • The answer lies somewhere in between: The problem with this angle is that we have both of the ethical problems of God - as he would have to be both bribing (enticing the Israelites into obedience by providing plenty of rain) and by blackmailing (threatening not to simply stop aiding the weather, but actively preventing it from yielding crops) - as well as the problems with evidence that plague both scenarios.

    While it's possible for the apologist to skirt around the lack of evidence, the ethical dilemmas are only magnified in this scenario.
Moses then goes on to further stress the importance of remembering God's commandments, repeating almost verbatim what he had said in Deuteronomy: Chapter 6 about tying a card containing the commandments to your hands. While Orthodox Jews have tended to observe this in a literal sense, I tend to believe that Moses was simply stressing how important it is to remember these laws in a metaphorical sense.

Moses tells the Israelites that if they obey God's commandments, love him, and "walk in his ways", then God will drive out all of the heathen nations before them - regardless of whether they're greater in number, might, or strength than the Israelites. He tells them that everywhere they set foot - from Lebanon, to the Euphrates River, to the Mediterranean Sea will become their possession. God will make the inhabitants of these lands fear and dread the Israelites.

Moses now tells the Israelites that this day he sets before them both a blessing and a curse - a blessing if they obey God's commandments, and a curse if they turn away from God and begin worshiping other gods. He further tells them that they are to put a blessing upon Mount Gerizim and a curse upon Mount Ebal - both mountains located on the west side of the Jordan River. While this seems rather confusing as to what this is supposed to mean, we'll find out later on in Deuteronomy: Chapter 27 that Moses is commanding that the Israelites give blessings and curses upon altars built upon the respective mountains.

Moses ends the chapter with yet another reminder that the Israelites are to pass over the Jordan River into the "promised land" and are to observe and obey all of God's statutes and judgments that Moses is giving them on this day.