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Deuteronomy 4:25-31

Context
Threat and Blessing following Covenant Disobedience

4:25 After you have produced children and grandchildren and have been in the land a long time, 1  if you become corrupt and make an image of any kind 2  and do other evil things before the Lord your God that enrage him, 3  4:26 I invoke heaven and earth as witnesses against you 4  today that you will surely and swiftly be removed 5  from the very land you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. You will not last long there because you will surely be 6  annihilated. 4:27 Then the Lord will scatter you among the peoples and there will be very few of you 7  among the nations where the Lord will drive you. 4:28 There you will worship gods made by human hands – wood and stone that can neither see, hear, eat, nor smell. 4:29 But if you seek the Lord your God from there, you will find him, if, indeed, you seek him with all your heart and soul. 8  4:30 In your distress when all these things happen to you in the latter days, 9  if you return to the Lord your God and obey him 10  4:31 (for he 11  is a merciful God), he will not let you down 12  or destroy you, for he cannot 13  forget the covenant with your ancestors that he confirmed by oath to them.

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

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

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

4 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.

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

6 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.

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

8 tn Or “mind and being.” See Deut 6:5.

9 sn The phrase is not used here in a technical sense for the eschaton, but rather refers to a future time when Israel will be punished for its sin and experience exile. See Deut 31:29.

10 tn Heb “hear his voice.” The expression is an idiom meaning “obey,” occurring in Deut 8:20; 9:23; 13:18; 21:18, 20; 26:14, 17; 27:10; 28:1-2, 15, 45, 62; 30:2, 8, 10, 20.

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

12 tn Heb “he will not drop you,” i.e., “will not abandon you” (cf. NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

13 tn Or “will not.” The translation understands the imperfect verbal form to have an added nuance of capability here.



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