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Deuteronomy 9:1-6

Context
Theological Justification of the Conquest

9:1 Listen, Israel: Today you are about to cross the Jordan so you can dispossess the nations there, people greater and stronger than you who live in large cities with extremely high fortifications. 1  9:2 They include the Anakites, 2  a numerous 3  and tall people whom you know about and of whom it is said, “Who is able to resist the Anakites?” 9:3 Understand today that the Lord your God who goes before you is a devouring fire; he will defeat and subdue them before you. You will dispossess and destroy them quickly just as he 4  has told you. 9:4 Do not think to yourself after the Lord your God has driven them out before you, “Because of my own righteousness the Lord has brought me here to possess this land.” It is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out ahead of you. 9:5 It is not because of your righteousness, or even your inner uprightness, 5  that you have come here to possess their land. Instead, because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out ahead of you in order to confirm the promise he 6  made on oath to your ancestors, 7  to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 9:6 Understand, therefore, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is about to give you this good land as a possession, for you are a stubborn 8  people!

1 tn Heb “fortified to the heavens” (so NRSV); NLT “cities with walls that reach to the sky.” This is hyperbole.

2 sn Anakites. See note on this term in Deut 1:28.

3 tn Heb “great and tall.” Many English versions understand this to refer to physical size or strength rather than numbers (cf. “strong,” NIV, NCV, NRSV, NLT).

4 tn Heb “the Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation in keeping with contemporary English style to avoid redundancy.

5 tn Heb “uprightness of your heart” (so NASB, NRSV). The Hebrew word צְדָקָה (tsÿdaqah, “righteousness”), though essentially synonymous here with יֹשֶׁר (yosher, “uprightness”), carries the idea of conformity to an objective standard. The term יֹשֶׁר has more to do with an inner, moral quality (cf. NAB, NIV “integrity”). Neither, however, was grounds for the Lord’s favor. As he states in both vv. 4-5, the main reason he allowed Israel to take this land was the sinfulness of the Canaanites who lived there (cf. Gen 15:16).

6 tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 9:3.

7 tn Heb “fathers.”

8 tn Heb “stiff-necked” (so KJV, NAB, NIV).

sn The Hebrew word translated stubborn means “stiff-necked.” The image is that of a draft animal that is unsubmissive to the rein or yoke and refuses to bend its neck to draw the load. This is an apt description of OT Israel (Exod 32:9; 33:3, 5; 34:9; Deut 9:13).



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