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

This week- Section 49

Title- כי־תצא (When You Go Out)
Parashah/Parsha- D’varim 21.10-25.19
Torah Portion- Deuteronomy 21.10-25.19

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 10.20-22.

20You must revere the LORD your God: only Him shall you worship, to Him shall you hold fast, and by His name shall you swear. 21He is your glory and He is your God, who wrought for you those marvelous, awesome deeds that you saw with your own eyes. 22Your ancestors went down to Egypt seventy persons in all; and now the LORD your God has made you as numerous as the stars of heaven.

– – – – –

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 10.20-22 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); and when Moses used the third-person pronouns (him, he) and the relative pronoun (who) to refer to Jehovah.

That is also seen when Moses utilizes the third-person nouns (ancestors, persons) to refer to those who were Israel’s progenitors, people whom the Israelites knew, which included Jacob (aka Israel), his twelve sons and his one daughter (Genesis 30.21), along with their offspring. Israel’s ancestors are enumerated in Genesis 46.8-27, then condensed in Exodus 1.1-5, and further condensed in Deuteronomy 10.22.

That is also seen when Moses utilizes the second-person pronouns (your, you) to refer to Israel.

Importantly, the elements of first-person, second-person, and third-person references 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 directly continues Essay 48, where I discussed Deuteronomy 10.19 JPS “You too must befriend the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.”

In that Essay, I discussed the contents of that verse.

Building upon the contents of that verse (10.19), Moses adds the contents of these verses (10.20-22), stating that all of these combined things reveal how Israel is to respond to Jehovah’s attributes (10.17-18), which demonstrates that Israel is actively cutting away the thickening about their hearts and not stiffening their necks toward Jehovah (10.16).

 
Moses told Israel “You must revere the LORD your God”.

Why, would Moses be so declarative?

Consider how Israel responded to Moses’ delay when he was on Mount Horeb (Sinai) receiving the commandments. Israel constructed the golden calf and worshipped it as if it had brought Israel out of Egypt.

Therefore, from the early journeys of Israel, Israel actively showed their reverence to things other than Jehovah.

Israel received not only a reprimand for that irreverence, but also corrective action. All in order for them to begin to perceive who it was that was providing not only for their liberation from Egypt, but also providing for their needs during their journey, and who it was that was going to provide the land for them to live in.

So for Israel to revere Jehovah, then Israel cannot have any other god – not a golden calf, not a god of any of the peoples within the land that Israel was going to inhabit, none. To revere Jehovah, then Israel must proclaim that Jehovah is the only god that they will serve.

That is the basis of Moses’ statements found in Deuteronomy 10.20-21 JPS “You must revere the LORD your God: only Him shall you worship, to Him shall you hold fast, and by His name shall you swear. 21He is your glory and He is your God, who wrought for you those marvelous, awesome deeds that you saw with your own eyes.”

Therefore, as I have written in previous Essays, Moses is not proclaiming monotheism, not in any way.

Instead, Moses is proclaiming that Israel is to be exclusive to one deity, the deity Jehovah, who is described as “God supreme and Lord supreme” or as “the God of gods and the Lord of lords” which means that Moses is proclaiming a type of deistic-supremacy, and that Israel needs to show that they are cutting away the thickening from their heart and removing the stiffness of their necks by serving that one deity that heard their collective cry for help and came to their aide.

In that sense, Israel is to have a “monogamous” relationship with Jehovah, being tied exclusively to Jehovah, and none other.

Therefore, in the theological sense, other deities have to exist and are required to exist, otherwise Israel could not and cannot demonstrate faithfulness and reverence to the deity that heard their cry for help, delivered them from bondage into the status of nationhood.

Therefore, Jehovah is Israel’s god (little ‘g’ for rhetoric effect).

Meanwhile other nations had their god, and/or their gods.

This convergence of national deities is important, because it represents who controls, shapes, influences, and determines the course of action of the nation.

This is why Moses declared “only [Jehovah] shall you worship, to [Jehovah] shall you hold fast, and by [Jehovah’s] name shall you swear. [Jehovah] is your glory and [Jehovah] is your God”.

Why?

Because for the contextual element, no other deity came to rescue Israel, none.

Therefore, Moses is not declaring a theological stance of monotheism.

Instead, Moses is declaring nationalistic devotion.

Out of hundreds/thousands of deities, Israel is to be devoted to the one deity who heard Israel’s cry for help, then rescued and delivered them, protecting and admonishing Israel, along with correcting them and liberating them into becoming the nation of Israel, to reflect their devotion to the God that provides everything for them.

This why Moses stated that Jehovah “your God, who wrought for you those marvelous, awesome deeds that you saw with your own eyes.”

Thus, Jehovah gave Israel evidence of Jehovah’s right of divine godhood, by doing “marvelous, awesome deeds” which is a poetic way of referring to the miracles of deliverance from Egypt but also the things they experienced and witnessed during their journeys.

Why?

Because they “saw [those things] with [their] own eyes” which means that those who were hearing Moses give his final admonishments and declarations to Israel here at this moment in Deuteronomy 10 had seen the events. This means that they were old enough to have experienced those events, remember their wilderness journey was 40 years, so these people were probably in their mid-to-late forties and could recall that which they had witnessed, not just during the exodus but also during the wilderness. These were the children of the parents who were condemned to die in the wilderness.

Except for Caleb and Joshua, their parents’ generation couldn’t cut away the thickening from their hearts or remove the stiffness from their necks toward Jehovah.

So, that younger generation of Israelites were to know whom it was that had given them not only deliverance from bondage but also who was delivering them into the land they were about to inhabit. And in knowing that, and knowing by whom it had been given, Israel was to become circumcised in their spiritual heart, welcoming Jehovah’s guidance.

Why?

Moses appealed to their heritage.

Israel went into Egypt with a total of 70 people. Throughout their time in Egypt, they found themselves oppressed. Yet, while oppressed, they also grew in number. All of which means that Jehovah had provided for their needs, even when they didn’t understand.

For Moses, how is Israel to respond to that reality?

That is the discussion of the next several Essays.

Part of which is that Israel is to take seriously the concept of loving Jehovah, keeping Jehovah’s charge, rules, and commandments, because Jehovah is sovereign over Israel and as sovereign has the sovereign right to tell Israel what to do.

Part of which is keeping and being faithful to the instructions that Moses had given to Israel.

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