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  Discovery Box

Deuteronomy 4:23-27

Context
4:23 Be on guard so that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he has made with you, and that you do not make an image of any kind, just as he 1  has forbidden 2  you. 4:24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire; he is a jealous God. 3 

Threat and Blessing following Covenant Disobedience

4:25 After you have produced children and grandchildren and have been in the land a long time, 4  if you become corrupt and make an image of any kind 5  and do other evil things before the Lord your God that enrage him, 6  4:26 I invoke heaven and earth as witnesses against you 7  today that you will surely and swiftly be removed 8  from the very land you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. You will not last long there because you will surely be 9  annihilated. 4:27 Then the Lord will scatter you among the peoples and there will be very few of you 10  among the nations where the Lord will drive you.

1 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 4:3.

2 tn Heb “commanded.”

3 tn The juxtaposition of the Hebrew terms אֵשׁ (’esh, “fire”) and קַנָּא (qanna’, “jealous”) is interesting in light of Deut 6:15 where the Lord is seen as a jealous God whose anger bursts into a destructive fire. For God to be “jealous” means that his holiness and uniqueness cannot tolerate pretended or imaginary rivals. It is not petty envy but response to an act of insubordination that must be severely judged (see H. Peels, NIDOTTE 3:937-40).

4 tn Heb “have grown old in the land,” i.e., been there for a long time.

5 tn Heb “a form of anything.” Cf. NAB, NASB, NRSV, TEV “an idol.”

6 tn The infinitive construct is understood here as indicating the result, not the intention, of their actions.

7 sn I invoke heaven and earth as witnesses against you. This stock formula introduces what is known form-critically as a רִיב (riv) or controversy pattern. It is commonly used in the ancient Near Eastern world in legal contexts and in the OT as a forensic or judicial device to draw attention to Israel’s violation of the Lord’s covenant with them (see Deut 30:19; Isa 1:2; 3:13; Jer 2:9). Since court proceedings required the testimony of witnesses, the Lord here summons heaven and earth (that is, all creation) to testify to his faithfulness, Israel’s disobedience, and the threat of judgment.

8 tn Or “be destroyed”; KJV “utterly perish”; NLT “will quickly disappear”; CEV “you won’t have long to live.”

9 tn Or “be completely” (so NCV, TEV). It is not certain here if the infinitive absolute indicates the certainty of the following action (cf. NIV) or its degree.

10 tn Heb “you will be left men (i.e., few) of number.”



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