Monday, May 3, 2010


Chapter 29
Summary:These are the words that God commanded Moses to give to the people of Israel in the land of Moab, in addition to the covenant made in Horeb. Moses called upon all of Israel and said to them:
"You have seen all that the Lord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, unto the Pharaoh, his servants, and his land. The great temptations which your eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles; yet the Lord has not given you a heart to perceive, eyes to see, or the ears to hear until this day.

"I have led you forty years through the wilderness, yet your clothes have not worn out upon you, nor have your shoes worn out upon your feet. You have not eaten bread, nor drank wine or strong drink, that you might know that I am the Lord your God.

"When you came to this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us in battle, and we smote them. We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Rebuenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh. Therefore, keep the words of this covenant and obey them, so that you may prosper in all that you do.

"All of you shall stand before the Lord your God - including the captains of your tribes, your elders, your officers, all the men of Israel, your little ones, your wives, and the strangers living amongst you, from the one who chops your wood, to the one that draws your water - that you should enter into the covenant with the Lord your God, and into his oath, which the Lord your God will make with you this day. That he may establish you on this day as his people, and that he may be your god, as he has said to you, and sworn to your forefathers Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Not only with you do I make this covenant and this oath, but with him that stands here with us on this day before the Lord our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day.

"For you know how we had dwelt in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the nations we passed by. You have seen their abominations, and their idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold which were among them. Lest there be among you man or woman, family or tribe, whose heart turn away this day from the Lord your God, to go serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood; it shall come to pass when he hears the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, 'I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of my own heart,' to add drunkenness to thirst. The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger and jealousy of the Lord shall smoke against that man, and all of the curses written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven. The Lord shall separate him as evil out of the tribes of Israel, according to the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law; so that the generation to come of your children shall rise up after you, and the stranger that comes from far away lands shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sickness which the Lord has laid upon it. That the whole land thereof is brimstone, salt, and burning, that cannot bear crops or fruit trees, nor will the grass grow therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the Lord overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath. Other nations shall ask why the Lord has done this to the land, and what provoked his great anger? The men shall answer that it is because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt. For they went and served and worshiped other gods - gods whom they knew not, and whom were not given to them - and the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book; and the Lord rooted them out of their land in anger, in wrath, and in great indignation, casting them into another land, as it is this day.

"The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those things which are revealed belong to us and our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law."
Notes:1.) It is unclear whether this is an error of attributing to Moses what seems more likely to be a quote from God, or whether Moses is quoting God himself.

Thoughts:This chapter begins with Moses addressing the entire congregation of Israel (supposedly around two million people or more) and tells them that although they witnessed all the "miracles" and plagues that God unleashed upon the land of Egypt and the Pharaoh, that God has not given them the ability to understand its significance until this very day.

Aside from Moses, Aaron's sons, Joshua, and Caleb, few of the Israelites present during this chapter of the story would have been alive during the Exodus, as Moses states himself in Numbers: Chapter 26, that no one counted in the previous census conducted in Mount Sinai remained alive when he made a new census. This means that the few possible eyewitnesses would have been teenagers at the oldest during the events in Egypt, and it would be very likely that quite a few of them would be killed in the various ensuing plagues that God sent upon the Israelites, or possibly in battle, thereby thinning the pool even greater.

Moses claims that after the forty year excursion through the wilderness that neither the Israelites' clothes nor their shoes had worn out. I don't think I even need to bother commenting on how ridiculous that notion is.

He also states that the reason the Israelites haven't eaten bread, nor drank wine or hard liquor, is so that they would know that God was their god(?) What this is trying to imply is that by God giving the Israelites the bare minimal means for survival - manna and water - instead of luxury foods and wine, that this somehow proves that God is their god.

Like he's done throughout the book of Deuteronomy, Moses misrepresents the Israelite's slaughter of King Sihon and King Og, their kingdoms, as well as giving their land to the tribes of Reuben, Gad, and Manasseh. Whether this is done for brevity or to bolster the appearance of "righteousness" is unclear.

He next tells the Israelites that every single one of them - including wives, children, slaves, servants, and strangers in town - must stand before God and enter into a covenant with him. Doing so, Moses claims, will establish that they will be "God's people".

Quickly Moses changes his speech into yet another tirade against worshiping other gods. He states that the Israelites have seen the "abominations" of idols crafted from wood, stone, silver, and gold, and if anyone - man, woman, or child - "turn their heart way from" God by serving these other gods, that God will not spare such a person, but instead visit upon them all of the curses laid out in the previous chapter, and that their name will be "blotted out from under heaven". He continues stating that the offender's children and future descendants wil rise up against them, and that foreigners will marvel at the curses God deals out as a punishment against the land of the offender. He notes that the whole land will be covered in brimstone, salt, and "burning", and that neither grass nor crops will grow there - similar to the fates of the cities of Sodom and Gomorrah.

Somehow Moses reasons that other nations will realize and equate the destruction of the land to the Israelites forsaking their covenant with God, and that God retaliated against them due to his anger.

Moses ends the chapter by stating that "secret things" (meaning "prophecy") belong to God, but that those of which God reveals to the Israelites, belong to them so that they may obey God's laws. Basically what Moses is implying here is that God reveals prophecy as "evidence" for his existence and authority. Moses also implies that "prophecy" itself belongs only to God, which thereby justifies the condemning and subsequent killing of "fortune tellers", "diviners", and "mediums" - which laughably the criteria of determining whether a self-proclaimed prophet is speaking the word of God is whether the prophecy comes true or not.

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