Print Friendly, PDF & Email

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

This week- Section 03
Name- לך לך Lech Lecha (Get Yourself Out) (Go Forth, Yourself!)
Parashah/Parsha- B’resheet 12.1-17.27
Torah Portion: Genesis 12.1-17.27

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 11.22a.

22If, then, you faithfully keep all this Instruction that I command you…

– – – – –

In Year 1 of my Deuteronomy Essays, I spent much time establishing that, literarily, Moses is the one doing the speaking.

How is that done?

The narrator of Deuteronomy, whom I call the Deuteronomy Redactor, compiled a presentation of Moses’ words that Moses presented to Israel (Deuteronomy 1.1-5). Stated another way, Moses’ words is the presentation or speech that Moses gave to Israel, before Israel crossed over the Jordan into the land that was promised and what was presented before Moses died.

Over the course of many essays, I have established why it is Moses who is giving the speech, and that Moses is not assuming Jehovah’s authority, which means Moses is not speaking for or on behalf of Jehovah.

Even though there are passages (e.g. Deuteronomy 11.14-15) that seem to have Moses assume authority from Jehovah, those passages have other variant readings in other documents (e.g. Samaritan Text; Septuagint).

Since many work from the presumption that the Masoretic Text is the authoritative text, Moses assuming the authority of Jehovah is found in certain English translations (e.g. Deuteronomy 11.14-15 KJV).

However, others work from a different presumption, and present the variant reading from the other texts (e.g. Samaritan Text; or Septuagint) in their English translations (e.g. Deuteronomy 11.14-15 NRSV).

The core issue is: Is Moses speaking from himself? or Is Moses speaking on behalf of Jehovah?

I have made the case that the literary nature of the work and the nature of textual criticism establish that Moses is speaking from himself, and in speaking from himself Moses will quote Jehovah (e.g. Deuteronomy 5.6-18; 10.11), and in places Moses will quote Israel (e.g. Deuteronomy 5.20-24).

Others will postulate differently, but I have established why I interpret Deuteronomy as I do.

So, when the student of arrives at Deuteronomy 11.22, who is the “I” of the “I command”?

How the student answers that question depends greatly upon how they interpret the text.

Throughout these Essays, I have established what I see when I study the text.

Therefore when, as as student, I arrive at Deuteronomy 11.22, I do not interpret “I command” as a statement from Jehovah.

At one time, I did interpret the “I command” as coming from Jehovah.

But as I have recently stated to someone: If all of the Bible is directly from God, then where is humanity and where is God?

For example, the Book of Proverbs. Another example, the Book of Solomon, being the Song of Solomon. Another example, the Book of Ecclesiastes.

Those books contain things that are not directly from Jehovah.

Yet, when I examine the literary nature and the textual critical nature of Deuteronomy, there are reasonable reasons to establish that parts of Deuteronomy are Moses and not Jehovah.

These things are things that many do not want to address, because the question causes controversy, causing people to then ask: well then what text is inspired?

That is why some settle on the assumption that the entire Bible is inspired by God. Because they want to settle the dispute and make the Bible have one author.

But that doesn’t hold very well, because then all one has to do is ask: which Bible did God write? The Hebrew Bible? The Catholic Bible? The Protestant Bible? and there are other Bibles, and there are lots of documents that are not in the Bible, but referenced by the Bible.

So what do we do?

First and foremost, learn the value of literary criticism, along with historic and social contexts, but then also learn the value of redaction and variant textual readings. These things don’t break faith.

Instead, they reinforce the concept of faith, and why we have faith in Jehovah in the first place.

So, who is the “I” of the “I command”?

Moses. Literarily. Textual critically. Moses.

This is why Moses said, “If, then, you…” by which Moses is addressing the Israelites who heard the speech that Moses himself gave, which later became narrated by the Deuteronomy Redactor, and partially redacted by the that same Redactor.

Therefore, Moses is addressing the second-person, the collective of Israel, but associatively the individual Israelite.

Therefore, when the student sees “I command” Moses is speaking from himself, from his own authority as elder statesman of Israel, even though as elder statesman he was appointed by God to lead Israel.

Consequently, just because God anointed and appointed Moses to lead Israel, does not mean that God does not permit Moses to speak from Moses’ own accord, whether rightly or wrongly; an example of that is found at the rock (Numbers 20.10).

Since God permitted Moses to speak from Moses’ own authority at the rock, and even though God punished Moses for that moment, what is established is that God *permits* even the prophets to speak from themselves, and Moses is a prophet, one who speaks for Jehovah, and also from himself.

Therefore what is learned is that when the prophet speaks from himself against Jehovah, the prophet is punished, but when the prophet speaks from himself encouraging the people to be faithful to Jehovah the words are still from the prophet and the prophet is speaking from himself, and the words are recorded, but the words are instructions from a particular point of view, that point of view being the prophet’s own personal perspective.

There is nothing unhealthy or wrong with that reality, but it does cause moments of discontent among the faithful and causes many to have to reexamine what is being presented, but that is also a healthy thing.