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This Study Series is being released according to the Torah Reading Schedule.

This week- Section 46
Title- עקב (Because)
Parashah/Parsha- D’varim 7.12-11.25
Torah Portion- Deuteronomy 7.12-11.25

Unless otherwise specified, all quotes are from the JPS edition of The Torah, The Five Books of Moses, A New Translation of The Holy Scriptures, according to the Masoretic Text, First Section. Copyright 1967 by the Jewish Publication Society of America, Second Edition.

This week I want to discuss Deuteronomy 10.17.

17For the LORD your God is God supreme and Lord supreme, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who shows no favor and takes no bribe,

– – – – –

In the previous Essays, I established that Moses is presenting things from his position as elder statesman. That means that since he is in that position, he speaks from himself, personally, utilizing first-person, second-person, and third-person references, which can only be done when Moses is speaking from himself.

That is seen in Deuteronomy 10.17 when Moses utilizes the third-person to speak of God by name, the LORD (as mentioned previously “the LORD” is a substitute for the Tetragrammaton).

Additionally, that is seen when Moses utilizes the second-person pronouns (your) to refer to Israel.

Those types of elements continue to exist within this section (9.1 – 11.25), and cannot be dismissed when studying this presentation by Moses. These types of language markers reveal that Moses is speaking from his own person, speaking personally, addressing the nation of Israel.

 
In Essay 42, I began looking at the answer Moses gave to the question he asked Israel, which is discussed in Essay 41.

This Essay continues Moses’ answer to Israel.

Moses’ statement “Cut away, therefore, the thickening about your hearts and stiffen your necks no more.” (Deuteronomy 10.16) was Moses’ conclusion as to what Israel’s only proper response to Jehovah was to the conditions found in 10.15.

From 10.16 it can be known that Moses expected Israel to respond positively to what he (Moses) was telling them, because Moses truly wanted Israel to altar her approach to Jehovah.

With 10.17 Moses sets his premise for why Israel needs to change their heart and change their resistance to Jehovah.

That verse is directly connected to 10.18 which provides a contrast to 10.17.

But for this Essay I am going to discuss Deuteronomy 10.17 JPS where Moses says “For the LORD your God is God supreme and Lord supreme, the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who shows no favor and takes no bribe”.

First, I want to address that the JPS uses the phrase “God supreme and Lord supreme” where others use the phrase “the God of gods and the Lord of lords”.

Importantly, the JPS is making a functional translation of the phrase “the God of gods and the Lord of Lords”, because how the JPS translated that phrase is what that phrase is conveying.

However, what is important is that the functional translation loses contextual material. The phrase “the God of gods and the Lord of lords” conveys that there are other gods and other lords.

That means that Moses is not conveying monotheism.

Instead Moses is conveying that of all the gods and all the lords, Jehovah is, for Israel, “God supreme and Lord supreme”.

I have addressed this concept previously, but I will reiterate.

Contextually, Moses is not establishing monotheism.

Instead, Moses is establishing national devotion to one particular and specific deity.

Why?

I also addressed this concept previously, but I will reiterate.

Contextually, Moses is saying that of all the gods and of all the lords that surround Israel, of all the gods and of all the lords, there was only one particular deity who responded to Israel’s cry for help when they were burdened and oppressed in Egypt.

The deity that responded to Israel’s cry for help?

The deity that Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob referred to as El Shaddai (God Almighty, cf. Exodus 6.3), which is the same deity that revealed the name Jehovah to Moses (Exodus 6.2).

Contextually, there were many deities available for Israel, but only one deity answered their cry for help.

Contextually, of all the deities available to Israel, only one deity presented the capability of delivering them, and a desire to contract with them as a people, something that was unheard of with other deities.

Therefore Moses is not establishing or promoting monotheism, but deistic supremacy.

In other words, out of the many gods and lords that are available, one stands out and above the others.

 
As for the remainder of the verse “For the LORD your God is… the great, the mighty, and the awesome God, who shows no favor and takes no bribe”.

Did Jehovah demonstrate great, mighty, and awesome things in order to deliver Israel from Egypt? Yes.

Were those things in the manner in which Israel expected? No, that is why Israel complained when Moses arrived back in Egypt; it’s why Israel murmured and complained while in the wilderness; it’s why Israel had a thickening about their hearts and a stiffneck toward Jehovah.

Was Israel able to bribe Jehovah? No, that is especially seen when Israel tried to gain favor with Jehovah by attempting to enter into the land (Numbers 14.39-45).

Does Jehovah show favor? From Moses’ point-of-view, no.

But whether or not Jehovah shows favor, that seems debatable.

Why?

Perception about Jehovah’s favor seems to be the very thing that caused Miriam and Aaron to become frustrated with Jehovah choosing Moses, because Jehovah retained favor with Moses even though Moses associated with a Cushite (Ethiopian) woman (Numbers 12.1-2).

Perception about Jehovah’s favor also seems to be the very thing that caused Korah and several hundred to rise up against Moses (Numbers 16.1-3).

Yet, it would be centuries later that the Prophets clearly established that Jehovah loved Jacob but hated Esau (Malachi 1.3), which itself shows the Jehovah can show favor.

Back in Essay 44, I gave some discussion about Jehovah and favor.

As for the context of Deuteronomy 10, Moses clearly established that Jehovah was drawn in by love for Abraham, and Jehovah chose (favored) Israel over all the other nations.

So Moses must then be conveying that within the system that Jehovah had established with Israel, Jehovah does not show favor to anyone in particular, which Moses will give his explanation for in 10.18-19, which I will discuss in the next Essay.

For this Essay though, it needs to be acknowledge that Jehovah seems to show, what we would refer to as, favor.

Why?

Because the Prophets testify to such (cf. Malachi 1.3).

Therefore, Moses’s statement is true within a certain context, which I will discuss in the next Essay.

But the reality is as I discussed in Essay 44, Jehovah does make choices, choosing one person over another: choosing Abram over Nahor; choosing Isaac over his brothers; choosing Jacob over Esau; choosing the Levites over the other tribes.

It is difficult to reconcile that Jehovah makes those choices when Moses states that Jehovah shows no favor, yet the Torah clearly shows that Jehovah makes certain choices that choose one person or group of people over another.

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