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

This week- Section 6
Name- תּולדה Toldot (Generations)
Parashah/Parsha- B’resheet 25.19-28.9
Torah Portion: Genesis 25.19-28.9

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 11.29-30.

29When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you are about to invade and occupy, you shall pronounce the blessing at Mount Gerizim and the curse at Mount Ebal. -30Both are on the other side of the Jordan, beyond the west road which is in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah- near Gilgal, by the terebinths of Moreh.

– – – – –

In the previous Essay, I discussed that my current perspective is that the pronouncement of the blessing and curse is from Moses, which means I do not interpret this passage as a blessing and a curse from Jehovah. In my previous Essay, I gave some reasons as to why.

In this Essay, I will show that Deuteronomy 11.29-30 has Moses speaking from his own perspective.

Consider this phrase from Moses: “When the LORD your God brings you into the land”.

From the wording of that phrase, we can see that Moses is addressing Israel from Moses’ own personal person and perspective.

That is seen because Moses refers to “the LORD” in the third person, referring to God by name, which the English utilizes the words “the LORD” to represent the tetragrammaton – yud hey vav hey.

Additionally, it is seen that Moses speaks from his own person, because Moses refers to Israel in the second person, referring to Israel with the pronouns: your, you.

When we take into account that Deuteronomy 11.29-30 is in the immediate context of Deuteronomy 11.26-28, we can see clearly that Moses speaks from himself.

In Deuteronomy 11.26-28, Moses speaks from the first-person, his very own person:
– this day I set before you [this] blessing and curse;
– which I enjoin upon you this day (v27);
– which I enjoin upon you this day (v28).

Therefore, when Moses is speaking, Moses is speaking from himself.

Moses refers to himself with the pronoun “I”.

Moses refers to Jehovah by the third-person name “the LORD”.

Moses refers to Israel by the second-person pronouns “you” and “your”.

That is simply the literary nature of the passage, and has an impact upon how we read, study, and interpret this passage, and this part of Torah.

With that in mind then, it is Moses who instructs Israel about the blessing and curse, where Deuteronomy 11.29-30 declare that it is to be accomplished, and Deuteronomy 27-28 reveal specific details about the performance of the blessing and curse.

In the previous Essay, I described the placement of those two pieces of information about the blessing and the curse as functioning as a chiasmus.

The declaration of the blessing and curse (Deuteronomy 11.26-29) is the opening of the chiastic structure. The center is where we find the laws and rules that Moses delivered to Israel. The details of the blessing and curse (Deuteronomy 27-28) is the closing of the chiastic structure.

In doing that, the chiastic structure becomes a rhetorical device to paint a literary picture, making this literary part of Deuteronomy mimic the mountains and Israel.

Moses instructs Israel to use Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal. Moses says that Mount Gerizim is for the blessing. Between the mountains sets Israel and their choice. Moses says that Mount Ebal is for the curse.

Why those two mountains? I am not completely certain. But the meaning of the names seems to give some indication of why Moses specified those mounts.

Brown-Driver-Briggs states that the Hebrew word ebal (H5858) means “bare mountain”.

In that regard then, since the Hebrew word ebal means “bare mountain” placing the curse on that bare mountain conveys that if Israel chooses the curse, then Israel will not receive blessings from Jehovah, which means that Israel would have chosen not to have Jehovah’s covering, protection, and providence.

Brown-Driver-Briggs states that the Hebrew word gerizim (H1630) means “cuttings off”.

In that regard then, since the Hebrew word gerizim means “cuttings off” then when Israel makes the pronouncement of the blessing and the curse, then Israel is cutting off certain things.

I can see three immediate applications of “cuttings off”. One, Israel is cutting off themselves from themselves in order to be for Jehovah, meaning Israel is serving Jehovah’s desires not their own. Two, Israel is cutting off themselves from other gods in order to be for Jehovah and Jehovah alone. Three, Israel is cutting off themselves and cutting away themselves from the curse in order to receive all the blessings from Jehovah.

Considering those things, considering that Moses is making a final push for Israel to be faithful, I can see why Moses would want Israel to make such a drastic pronouncement. In many ways, it’s like a husband and wife making vows at their wedding ceremony. It becomes a symbol of their commitment, and this pronouncement symbolizes Israel’s commitment.

 
Before I close out this Essay, there is one other thing I want to address, which occurs in Deuteronomy 11.30.

In this verse, the JPS utilizes dash marks to bring emphasis to a specific section of words, making this part appear as:
“-Both are on the other side of the Jordan, beyond the west road which is in the land of the Canaanites who dwell in the Arabah-“.

In my studious conclusion, that information contained between the dashes is from the Deuteronomy Redactor.

Why?

The manner in which it is delivered, tonally, sounds different that the pronouncement given by Moses.

I have not ever stated that I was a scholar in the Hebrew, nope. I am simply looking at the English, and in the English the styling is distinct and unique from Moses.

The words of this phrase, a phrase which the JPS sections off by dashes, functions as a phrase of identification, providing additional information in order for the audience to have the ability to see the Mounts in relation to the land that Israel was given.

In the context of the original presentation, the information seems like it would not have been necessary for the original audience who heard Moses before his death, the very audience who heard Moses before they as Israel crossed over into the land.

With that in mind, accepting that the words between the dashes are from the Deuteronomy Redactor and not Moses, then it appears that Moses stated the following to Israel:
“When the LORD your God brings you into the land which you are about to invade and occupy, you shall pronounce the blessing at Mount Gerizim and the curse at Mount Ebal, by the terebinths of Moreh.”

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