Internet Verse Search Commentaries Word Analysis ITL - draft

Deuteronomy 12:32


(13:1) 1  You 2  must be careful to do everything I am commanding you. Do not add to it or subtract from it! 3 


De 4:2; De 13:18; Jos 1:7; Pr 30:6; Mt 28:20; Re 22:18,19

NET © Notes

sn Beginning with 12:32, the verse numbers through 13:18 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 12:32 ET = 13:1 HT, 13:1 ET = 13:2 HT, 13:2 ET = 13:3 HT, etc., through 13:18 ET = 13:19 HT. With 14:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.

tn This verse highlights a phenomenon found throughout Deuteronomy, but most especially in chap. 12, namely, the alternation of grammatical singular and plural forms of the pronoun (known as Numeruswechsel in German scholarship). Critical scholarship in general resolves the “problem” by suggesting varying literary traditions – one favorable to the singular pronoun and the other to the plural – which appear in the (obviously rough) redacted text at hand. Even the ancient versions were troubled by the lack of harmony of grammatical number and in this verse, for example, offered a number of alternate readings. The MT reads “Everything I am commanding you (plural) you (plural) must be careful to do; you (singular) must not add to it nor should you (singular) subtract form it.” Smr, LXX, Syriac, and Vulgate suggest singular for the first two pronouns but a few Smr mss propose plural for the last two. What both ancient and modern scholars tend to overlook, however, is the covenantal theological tone of the Book of Deuteronomy, one that views Israel as a collective body (singular) made up of many individuals (plural). See M. Weinfeld, Deuteronomy 1–11 (AB), 15-16; J. A. Thompson, Deuteronomy (TOTC), 21-23.

sn Do not add to it or subtract from it. This prohibition makes at least two profound theological points: (1) This work by Moses is of divine origination (i.e., it is inspired) and therefore can tolerate no human alteration; and (2) the work is complete as it stands (i.e., it is canonical).

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