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Deuteronomy 11:26-32

Context
Anticipation of a Blessing and Cursing Ceremony

11:26 Take note – I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 1  11:27 the blessing if you take to heart 2  the commandments of the Lord your God that I am giving you today, 11:28 and the curse if you pay no attention 3  to his 4  commandments and turn from the way I am setting before 5  you today to pursue 6  other gods you have not known. 11:29 When the Lord your God brings you into the land you are to possess, you must pronounce the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 7  11:30 Are they not across the Jordan River, 8  toward the west, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah opposite Gilgal 9  near the oak 10  of Moreh? 11:31 For you are about to cross the Jordan to possess the land the Lord your God is giving you, and you will possess and inhabit it. 11:32 Be certain to keep all the statutes and ordinances that I am presenting to you today.

1 sn A blessing and a curse. Every extant treaty text of the late Bronze Age attests to a section known as the “blessings and curses,” the former for covenant loyalty and the latter for covenant breach. Blessings were promised rewards for obedience; curses were threatened judgments for disobedience. In the Book of Deuteronomy these are fully developed in 27:128:68. Here Moses adumbrates the whole by way of anticipation.

2 tn Heb “listen to,” that is, obey.

3 tn Heb “do not listen to,” that is, do not obey.

4 tn Heb “the commandments of the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

5 tn Heb “am commanding” (so NASB, NRSV).

6 tn Heb “walk after”; NIV “by following”; NLT “by worshiping.” This is a violation of the first commandment, the most serious of the covenant violations (Deut 5:6-7).

7 sn Mount Gerizim…Mount Ebal. These two mountains are near the ancient site of Shechem and the modern city of Nablus. The valley between them is like a great amphitheater with the mountain slopes as seating sections. The place was sacred because it was there that Abraham pitched his camp and built his first altar after coming to Canaan (Gen 12:6). Jacob also settled at Shechem for a time and dug a well from which Jesus once requested a drink of water (Gen 33:18-20; John 4:5-7). When Joshua and the Israelites finally brought Canaan under control they assembled at Shechem as Moses commanded and undertook a ritual of covenant reaffirmation (Josh 8:30-35; 24:1, 25). Half the tribes stood on Mt. Gerizim and half on Mt. Ebal and in antiphonal chorus pledged their loyalty to the Lord before Joshua and the Levites who stood in the valley below (Josh 8:33; cf. Deut 27:11-13).

8 tn The word “River” is not in the Hebrew text, but has been supplied in the translation for clarity.

9 sn Gilgal. From a Hebrew verb root גָלַל (galal, “to roll”) this place name means “circle” or “rolling,” a name given because God had “rolled away the reproach of Egypt from you” (Josh 5:9). It is perhaps to be identified with Khirbet el-Metjir, 1.2 mi (2 km) northeast of OT Jericho.

10 tc The MT plural “oaks” (אֵלוֹנֵי, ’eloney) should probably be altered (with many Greek texts) to the singular “oak” (אֵלוֹן, ’elon; cf. NRSV) in line with the only other occurrence of the phrase (Gen 12:6). The Syriac, Tg. Ps.-J. read mmrá, confusing this place with the “oaks of Mamre” near Hebron (Gen 13:18). Smr also appears to confuse “Moreh” with “Mamre” (reading mwr’, a combined form), adding the clarification mwl shkm (“near Shechem”) apparently to distinguish it from Mamre near Hebron.



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