Friday, May 7, 2010


Chapter 30
Summary:Moses' speech continues:
"It shall come to pass, when these things have come upon you - the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you - which you shall remember as you live amongst the nations where the Lord your God has driven you. Should you return to the Lord your God, and you and your children obey his words according to all that I command you on this day, with all your heart and all your soul; then the Lord your God will release you from your captivity, have compassion upon you, and will gather and return you from all of the nations where he has scattered you. The Lord will gather and fetch you even if you have been driven out to the outmost parts of the world, and he will return you to the land which he promised to your forefathers, and you shall possess it. He will do good and multiply you more than your ancestors, and he shall circumcise your heart, and the hearts of your children, to love the Lord your God with all of your heart and soul, that you may live.

"The Lord will then put all of these curses upon your enemies, and upon those that hate you and have persecuted you, and you shall return and obey the word of the Lord, and follow his commandments which I give to you on this day. The Lord will make you plentiful in every work that you do, making fertile you, your livestock, and your crops; for the Lord will again rejoice over you, as he rejoiced over your fathers if you hearken to the voice of the Lord your God, keep his commandments and statutes which are written in this book of law, and if you turn unto the Lord your God with all of your heart and soul.

"The commandment which I command to you this day is not hidden from you, nor is it beyond your reach - it is not in the heaven nor beyond the sea, that you should need to ask for it to be brought to you - but it is close to you, in your mouth and in your heart, so that you may obey it.

"I have set before you on this day life and goodness, and death and evil, depending on whether you love the Lord your God, walk in his ways, and keep his commandments, statutes, and judgments, so that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God shall bless you in the land which you will go to possess. But if you turn your heart away, and will not listen, and allow yourself to be drawn away to worship other gods and serve them; I denounce to you on this day that you will surely perish, and that you will not live long in the land over the Jordan River that you are going to possess.

"I call heaven and earth to witness against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing - therefore choose life, so that both you and your offspring shall live. You should love the Lord your God, and should obey his voice, that you should cling to him - for he is your life, and prolongs the length of your days that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore unto your forefathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob."
Thoughts:Moses begins this short chapter by stating that should God curse the Israelites according to the curses he laid out in Deuteronomy: Chapter 28, that should they "return to God" and obey him, then God will show compassion for them again and gather the Israelites back into the "promised land", and will bless them with fertility. In addition, God will also turn the curses around onto the enemies of Israel and will rejoice over the people of Israel.

Basically this is nothing more than threats and coercion to ensure compliance. God threatens the Israelites with all of these nasty things if they don't play by his rules, and will simultaneously reward their enemies; but if they decide once again to obey, then God offers to do all of these wonderful things, such as blessing them with fertility, and will instead inflict the nasty punishments that they received upon their enemies. A modern analogy would be a leader such as the President extorting obedience by giving citizens free food in return for compliance; but when met with disobedience, not only will he give the food to enemy nations, he'll also send the army in to ransack your gardens and your kitchens to prevent you from growing and storing your own food.

Moses then further complicates the issue by stating that God is giving the Israelites a "choice": either obey and live, or disobey and die - therefore, the Israelites should "choose" to obey God to avoid suffering death (and the curses laid out in.Deuteronomy: Chapter 28).

The problem here is that you can't truly consider lethal threats a "choice" by any means. If one were to place a gun to another person's head and tell that person that if they choose "A" instead of "B" that they will be shot dead, this would not be a true "choice" on the part of the victim, it would be coerced compliance for self preservation. Much like a mugging victim doesn't truly "choose" to fork over their cash to a mugger.

Of note, Moses puts emphasis on the Israelites who disobey God implying that they will be "drawn away" to worship other Gods. Again, this is appears to be God's biggest concern above all else - the worship of other gods.

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