Bible: What Does Deuteronomy 9-11 Teach Us About Israel's History of Rebellion?
The Ten Commandments
Moses Breaks the Tablets
God Will Be With You
Israel has reached a momentous day in their short history; they are about to enter the Land and dispossess giants dwelling in fortresses (vv. 1-2).
Moses urges them to understand that they are not alone in these battles, but that the LORD proceeds before them and will enable them to destroy these nations (v. 3).
Correcting a prevalent misconception, the prophet instructs Israel that God is not giving them the Land because they are righteous. On the contrary! They are a stubborn people.
In order to fulfill His promise to the patriarchs, God is driving out nations whose wickedness He must punish (vv. 4-6).
Now Moses rehearses with Israel their fathers’ rebelliousness (v. 7), highlighting the Horeb incident when he spent forty days and forty nights without ordinary physical sustenance.
At the end of that fast, he received from Yahweh the "Ten Words" written on the two stone tablets; the LORD then told him to descend from the mountain and set right the mess by destroying the idolatrous calf Israel had made and begun worshiping (vv. 8-12).
The prophet even mentions the LORD’s desire to destroy this “stiff-necked” people and start over with another nation (vv. 13-14).
[Interestingly, Moses omits here that he interceded for Israel at that time (cf. Ex. 32:11 ff), though he does mention that he prayed later (v. 18)].
He descended from Horeb and discovered conditions exactly as the LORD had said (vv. 15-16).
After breaking the two tablets (signifying a covenant breach) [v. 17], Moses spent another forty-day, forty-night fast, interceding for his people (vv. 18-19a), and God spared Israel and weak-willed Aaron (v. 19b-20).
[This two and one-half month fast apparently did not affect Moses’ body].
Seeing Israel’s sin, the calf, Moses atomized it and threw its remains into water (v. 21).
The speaker mentions three other instances of rebellion (v. 22), and then focuses on the sin of unbelief at Kadesh Barnea (vv. 23-24).
Moses records another forty-day, forty-night marathon of intercession, detailing his words of persuasion before the LORD (vv. 25-29; cf. Num. 14:13-16).
[What makes this approach legitimate and effective? Surely the opinions of the nations do not affect the LORD’s self-concept].
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Resuming his account about the two stone tablets (see 9:21), Moses reiterates the LORD’s instructions:
(1) Carve out a second pair,
(2) Make a wooden ark, and
(3) Visit Him again on Horeb (v. 1).
There He would write the Words again, and Moses would place the new tablets in the ark (v. 2).
The man of God obeyed, and Yahweh rewrote the commandments He had spoken to Israel earlier (vv. 3-4).
[Note the specificity of the location of the first encounter: “in the mountain from the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly . . . .”]
After spending another forty days and forty nights with God, Moses returned with good news for Israel and instructions for them to journey to Canaan (vv. 10-11).
He notes that the tablets remain where he put them on that day (v. 5).
Parenthetical statements appear, recounting a segment of Israel’s journey through the wilderness, but especially highlighting the site of Aaron’s death in Moserah and Eleazar’s assumption of his father’s role (vv. 6-7).
They continue along that thought line, stating Levi’s three-fold responsibility:
(1) bear the ark;
(2) stand before the LORD as His ministers; and
(3) bless in His name (v. 8).
Because he has this lofty duty as the LORD’s servant, Levi has no other inheritance (v. 9).
Now Moses states succinctly the essence of Israel’s responsibility to God and His torah:
(1) fear Him;
(2) walk (conduct themselves) in obedience to His ways;
(3) love Him;
(4) wholeheartedly serve Him; and
(5) keep His commandments (vv. 12-13).
Israel should live this way because the LORD owns everything (v. 14); He loves them and chose them “above all peoples” (v. 15).
Since Yahweh is the omnipotent God of justice and love, Israel must therefore stop its rebellious, hardhearted attitude, and instead manifest godly character toward the unfortunate (vv. 16-19).
They should exemplify godly fear, diligent service, loyalty, and worship because God has multiplied them greatly (vv. 20-22).
In light of this abundant blessing (cf. 10:22), Israel should return love and obedience to the LORD (v. 1).
[Readers must note, for the record, the continual repetition of God’s call to obedience].
God wants the current leadership in Israel to know that this charge applies not to their children (v. 2a), but especially to them (v. 7).
They have experienced His chastening (v. 2b), seen His miracles in Egypt (v. 3) and at the Red Sea (v. 4), and witnessed His goodness (v. 5) and severity (v. 6) in the wilderness.
Again, Moses repeats Israel’s need to keep the commandments in order to (1) be strong, (2) possess the Land, and (3) live long there (vv. 8-9).
He then contrasts Canaan with Egypt: the latter Israel sowed and watered by foot (v. 10), but the former God cares for, waters, and lovingly watches (vv. 11-12).
God will reward Israel’s loving obedience and wholehearted service with seasonal rains; consequently, grains, grapes, and olives will flourish, and abundant grass will grow to feed their cattle (vv. 13-15).
Allowing themselves to be deceived into idolatry, on the other hand, will elicit Yahweh’s anger (expressed in drought, famine, and death) [vv. 16-17].
Moses reiterates earlier instructions about making God’s words visible everywhere possible and teaching them to children upon every opportunity (vv. 18-21; cf. 6:6-9).
If Israel meets these conditions—faithful obedience and love for Yahweh—then He will drive out and dispossess from the Land nations greater than they (vv. 22-23).
Verses 24-25 delineate the potential territory God’s people will inherit, because the LORD will put fear of them upon these nations, and Israel will dispossess the latter.
The people have a choice: obey God’s commands and receive His blessings, or disobey them and experience His cursings (vv. 26-28).
When Yahweh brings them into Canaan, Israel must symbolically put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal (v. 29; see Josh. 8:33).
As though Israel asked for proof of the existence of these two places, Moses provides their exact locations (v. 30).
He assures the people of the conquest of Canaan, and encourages their obedience to his words (vv. 31-32).
© 2013 glynch1