4:26 I invoke heaven and earth as witnesses against you 1 today that you will surely and swiftly be removed 2 from the very land you are about to cross the Jordan to possess. You will not last long there because you will surely be 3 annihilated.
4:27 Then the Lord will scatter you among the peoples and there will be very few of you 4 among the nations where the Lord will drive you.
1 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.
2 tn Or “be destroyed”; KJV “utterly perish”; NLT “will quickly disappear”; CEV “you won’t have long to live.”
3 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.
4 tn Heb “you will be left men (i.e., few) of number.”