Showing posts with label Deuteronomy. Show all posts
Showing posts with label Deuteronomy. Show all posts

Saturday, August 17, 2013

Looking back

The Horn of Moses
Moses is sometimes shown in pictures and statues, with "horns" coming out of his head. "Horn" appears to be an alternate Hebrew translation for the "shiny" appearance Moses exhibited, following his one-on-one conversation with LORD, at Mount Sinai in Exodus 34.

Smarthistory by Khan Academy, put out a 4 minute video about the Michelangelo's statue of Moses, located at San Pietro in Vincoli in Rome, Italy (see above).

Moses Excels All Pious Men - by Lous Ginzberg, New York, March 2, 1911.
The degree of Moses' superiority over the other pious men can be seen by following:
  • Adam died because he has been seduced by the serpent, whereas Moses fashioned a serpent out of brass at sight of which everyone that had been bitten by a snake recovered. 
  • Noah offered a sacrifice to God that was accepted, but he himself was not admitted to God's presence. When Moses, on the other hand, offered a sacrifice in Israel's name, God said to him, "Know that twice daily I shall dwell with ye." 
  • Abraham had been the cause for Israel's bondage in Egypt, for that was the punishment for his words, "'Whereby shall I know that I shall inherit 'the land?" Moses, on the other hand, it was that delivered Israel out of Egyptian bondage. 
  • Jacob indeed conquered in his struggle with the angel, but the blow that the angel dealt him put Jacob's thigh out of joint forever, whereas Moses inspired the angels with such fear that as soon as they beheld him in heaven, they fled.
But Moses not only surpassed all other human beings, he surpassed also the entire creation that God had brought forth in six days.
  • On the first day God created light, but Moses mounted into heaven and seized the spiritual light, the Torah. 
  • On the second day God created the firmament, whereby He decreed that the earth was not to enter the realm of the firmament, nor the firmament the realm of the earth, but Moses scaled the firmament even though he belonged to earth. 
  • On the third day God created the sea, but as soon as the sea caught sight of Moses, it retreated before him, frightened. 
  • On the fourth day God created the sun and the moon to illuminate the earth, but Moses said to God: "I do not wish sun and moon to give light to Israel, Thou Thyself shalt do so," and God granted his prayer. 
  • On the fifth day God created the animals, but Moses slaughtered whatever animals he wanted for Israel's needs. When, therefore, God laid all the objects of creation on one side of the scales, and Moses upon the other, Moses outweighed them. 
Moses was justly called, "the man of God," for he was half man and half God.

But not in this world alone was Moses the great leader and teacher of his people, he shall be the same in the future world, in accordance with the promise God made him shortly before his death. God said: "Thou that didst lead My children in this world, shalt also lead them in the future world.

The Celebracy of Moses
While reviewing the life of Moses, there is one enigmatic moment where Miriam, talks about Moses' wife and as a result, her hands become infected by leprosy. This incident was in Numbers 12, and here an account I came across by cross referencing other material.

If you recall, this incident took place right after the 70 elders were selected to go on top of Mount Sinai. Upon hearing this, Moses' wife said, "Woe to their wives, who will have to be separated from their husbands now." Moses has been staying away from his wife and that's why her father dropped her off along with the children at the base of Mount Sinai.

When Miriam heard this for the first time, she felt angry and annoyed. She wanted to help Moses visualize that he should not be neglecting his family in order to do his job as leader and prophet. She therefore went to Aaron, her brother and reported about what she just heard. She asked Aaron, "We are prophets and we have not neglected our spouses, why should Moses?"

Miriam had a point that the Torah is adamant about a man’s obligation to a woman’s conjugal needs for intimacy. Judaism does not regard celibacy as an ideal. Aaron agreed with Miriam and teamed up in questioning Moses.

LORD'S response (in Numbers 12) was that:
“When there is a prophet among you,
    I, the Lord, reveal myself to them in visions,
    I speak to them in dreams.
7 But this is not true of my servant Moses;
    he is faithful in all my house.
8 With him I speak face to face,
    clearly and not in riddles;
    he sees the form of the Lord.
Why then were you not afraid
    to speak against my servant Moses?”
(a) Moses, in fact, was the most humble person on the face of the earth.

(b) Other prophets received their prophecies at designated times - in their dreams. They could "have time" for both their spouses as well as for LORD. Moses had to be "on call" with LORD twenty-four hours a day.

(c) Miriam should not have questioned the righteousness of Moses.

Hence Miriam was punished with leprosy for seven days.

Psalms by Moses
Many believe that Moses wrote two Psalms - Psalms 90 and 91. Out of these, Psalms 91 is used quite widely. Many expressions and idioms used in Psalms 91 are similar to the ones used by Moses in Deuteronomy, and point towards him as the composer.

Psalms 91
1 Whoever dwells in the shelter of the Most High
    will rest in the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the Lord, “He is my refuge and my fortress,
    my God, in whom I trust.”
3 Surely he will save you
    from the fowler’s snare
    and from the deadly pestilence.
4 He will cover you with his feathers,
    and under his wings you will find refuge;
    his faithfulness will be your shield and rampart.
5 You will not fear the terror of night,
    nor the arrow that flies by day,
6 nor the pestilence that stalks in the darkness,
    nor the plague that destroys at midday.
7 A thousand may fall at your side,
    ten thousand at your right hand,
    but it will not come near you.
8 You will only observe with your eyes
    and see the punishment of the wicked.
9 If you say, “The Lord is my refuge,”
    and you make the Most High your dwelling,
10 no harm will overtake you,
    no disaster will come near your tent.
11 For he will command his angels concerning you
    to guard you in all your ways;
12 they will lift you up in their hands,
    so that you will not strike your foot against a stone.
13 You will tread on the lion and the cobra;
    you will trample the great lion and the serpent.
14 “Because he loves me,” says the Lord, “I will rescue him;
    I will protect him, for he acknowledges my name.
15 He will call on me, and I will answer him;
    I will be with him in trouble,
    I will deliver him and honor him.
16 With long life I will satisfy him
    and show him my salvation.”
“Shelter of the Most High = The Holy of Holies

“Under the shadow of the Almighty” = Huge cloud of LORD

US Law and Ten Commandments
US government is prohibited from promoting a specific religious belief. Furthermore, the government cannot compel a citizen to enter a house of worship or profess a particular religious view. It protects the constitutional principle of the separation of state and church. 

The main entrance to the United States Supreme Court has no reference to religion or the Ten Commandments.

The frieze on the wall above where the Supreme Court judges sit, depicting a seated figure beside a tablet with the Roman numerals I-X, does not represent Moses or the Ten Commandments. Those Roman numerals I-X stand for the ten amendments of the Bill of Rights

Moses is depicted inside the Supreme Court (fourth from left on the south frieze), he is one of many “great lawgivers of history” on the South and North walls.

The lettering on the tablet shown with Moses represents fragments of Hebrew words from only the last five Commandments.

Moses is indeed depicted twice at the Supreme Court (outside and inside), along with Confucius and Solon. Moses is the central figure on the eastern pediment.

'Eastern Pediment' of the Supreme Court Building suggests the treatment of such fundamental laws and precepts as derived from the East. They acknowledge the unsurprising fact that American civilization, like all cultures, had many historical antecedents, having been settled by people from all over the world.

The first four Commandments have nothing to do with law or ethics. They are religious edicts.

First Commandment violates US Constitution. The United States Government cannot tell citizens what god to worship, how many gods to worship, or that we should worship any god(s) at all. The phrase “Thou shalt have no other gods before me” contradicts the Bill of Rights. Breaking the first Commandment is not illegal under American law. 

Making graven images is not illegal under American law. The second commandment violates the First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech.

Taking the “LORD'S name” in vain is not illegal under American law. This commandment also violates the freedom of speech. 

Failing to worship on the Sabbath is not illegal under American law. The Bill of Rights guarantees freedom of religion.

It is not illegal to dishonor parents under American law. Although respect and honor are good ideas, especially within a family, there is no American law that requires it.

Adultery is not illegal under federal law. Although adultery is a serious matter with social and moral consequences, it is not a federal crime in the United States.

It is not illegal to "covet" your neighbor’s property under American law. 

Only three of the Ten Commandments have relevance to modern American law.

Supreme Court, following the Constitution, has declared that the Ten Commandments are “undeniably a sacred text”

----------Humor Section----------------
Google Exodus - credits
Ever wondered, how would the Exodus be, if all of the leading characters in Exodus had access to the communication tools that we had today?

Imagine God, Moses, and Pharaoh had the internet, Google, Skype, YouTube, email, Twitter, Amazon, Craigslist, and cell phones available to them. How different would it have been?

Among the lightning-fast visuals (don't blink or you'll miss many of them) are:

- Moses logging on to his Windows account with his password (BasketBaby - both 'B's uppercase!).
- CNN flashing Breaking News: Pharaoh Enslaves Jews; World Leaders Condemn Israel.
- Moses surfing online and searching Yahoo Answers - "Why the bush is burning but not being consumed?"
- While he's online, Moses gets a Skype message from God (It's me, God! Go down, Moses. Way down to Egypt's land.)
- Moses replies that he's on it, and does an immediate Google search for Pharaoh's Palace (not Pharaoh's Pizza Palace or Pharaoh's Palace Bar & Grill).
- Moses updating his facebook status, about his rod changing into a snake.
- And many more....

... in this 2+ minute video.

I thought it was creatively done, and you may need to watch it multiple times to capture all those humor in it.

Video Credits:

Jews do not Camp anymore!
The Children of Israel
At the Thomas Church Sunday school, Mr. Goldblatt  the new teacher, finished the day's lesson. It was now time for the usual question period.

"Mr. Goldblatt," announced little Joey, "there's somethin' I can't figger out."

"What's that Joey?" asked Goldblatt.

"Well accordin' to the Bible, the Children of Israel crossed the Red Sea, right?"


"An' the Children of Israel beat up the Philistines, right?"


"An' the Children of Israel built the Temple, right?"

"Again you're right."

"An' the Children of Israel fought the 'gyptians, an' the Children of Israel fought the Romans, an' the Children of Israel wuz always doin' somethin' important, right?"

"All that is right, too," agreed Goldblatt, "So, what's your question?"

"What I wanna know is this," demanded Joey. "What were all the grown-ups doin'?"

Moses the Samurai
There once was a powerful emperor who needed a new chief Samurai. So he put up posters throughout the land saying he was searching for a new chief Samurai. But after 2 months, only 3 Samurai applied for the job: a Japanese, a Chinese, and Moses. So he interviewed all three.

The emperor first asked the Japanese to demonstrate why he should be his chief Samurai. The Japanese opened a little silver box and out flew a little fly. Whoosh went his sword and the fly dropped dead in two pieces. The emperor was impressed.

The emperor then asked the Chinese to demonstrate why he should be his chief Samurai. The Chinese opened a small pearl box and out flew a smaller fly. Whoosh, whoosh went his sword and the fly dropped dead in four pieces. The emperor was very impressed.

Then the emperor asked Moses to demonstrate why he should be his chief Samurai. Moses opened a small gold box and out flew a wasp. Whoooooossshhh, whoooooossshhh, whooooooossshhh, whoooooossshhh, whoooooossshhh went Moses' sword, but the wasp was still alive and buzzing around the emperor.

The emperor was very disappointed and asked Moses, "After all your sword play, why is the wasp not dead?"

Moses replied, "A circumcision is not intended to kill."

The Ten Commandments
Here is why God gave the Jews the Ten Commandments:

God first went to the Canaanites and asked if they would like just one commandment from the Torah.

"What commandment?" they asked.

"Thou shalt not kill," replied God.

The Canaanites thought it over and said, "No thanks, we'll pass."

God then went to the Ishmaelites and asked if they would like just one commandment from the Torah.

"What commandment?" they asked.

"Thou shalt not steal!" thundered God.

"Are you crazy?" they replied. "No thanks."

So God finally went to the Jews and asked if they wanted one commandment.

"How much?" they asked.

"Uh…well, they're free," God replied.

"OK, we'll take Ten!"

Joshua on Monday!

Friday, August 16, 2013

Deuteronomy 31 - 34

Moses shown the promised land - Benjamin West 1738-1820

Milestone Reached
We just reached a milestone in our 'guided tour' by completing the first five books - Pentateuch. In terms of page count of Old Testament (per my NIV Bible), we are at 19.65%. We covered 187 chapters or 5,852 verses, which puts us at 20.13% chapters and 25.28% verses - all based on OT calculations. It took us 33 days to get here.

Next we are going to read some story - not just some; lots and lots of story (no more laws). Let's say, 'Hi' to the story: Hi-story. These 'History Books' are interesting. According to our current forecast, we should be arriving at our next milestone on Tuesday, October 8th. This leg of our journey will be a long stretch, and it's crucial we (no, I) stay on track to complete this section by October 8th!

From there on, we move to 'Wisdom Books'. The plan is to complete Wisdom literature by Tuesday, November 12th. If we all decide to work effectively, then there is a good chance of us reaching the November 12th timeline a bit early.

Next we take on those five Major Prophets. The target date to complete these books is currently set for Saturday, December 14th.

By then, we would be in our final stretch of Old Testament tour, and those Minor Prophets should lead us towards our goal of December 23rd. The last day of conclusion, on December 24th is just a formality.

When we started out almost a month ago, I was told this was a massive undertaking - Bible is no ordinary book, which could be read cover to cover; I'm keeping that in mind. Somewhere within the pages of the Bible are those words from LORD, that will help us understand Him, ourselves, and everything else around us. Finding those right words, at a time when we need them, can be a daunting task. I sincerely wish and hope you find those 'pearls' during this journey.

The Weekly Outlook - Aug 11, 2013
12-Aug Mon - Deuteronomy 7 - 11
13-Aug Tue - Deuteronomy 12 - 18
14-Aug Wed - Deuteronomy 19 - 25
15-Aug Thu - Deuteronomy 26 - 30
16-Aug Fri  - Deuteronomy 31 - 34
17-Aug Sat - Floating Day*
*Floating Day = May or may not have tour.

We are nearing the climax of this book. As Moses is almost done with his long speeches, people are in two minds. On one side, they are excited to get into the Promised Land and get their inheritance. On the other side, they are in a way, saying goodbye to Moses, their prophet. Leadership is shifting into the hands of Joshua. 

Joshua to Succeed Moses
Moses is now formally handing over the mantle to Joshua. At the age of 120 years, Moses is reminding the Israelites that he will no longer be leading them. He also shares the disappointing news that he won't be crossing the Jordan with them, into the Promised Land. The good news is, LORD Himself will be leading them as per His promise, destroying those nations before them. Joshua will lead them. He tells them not to be afraid or terrified of those enemies there, as LORD their GOD is going with them and He will never leave them or forsake them.

Moses blessing Joshua

Next, Moses summoned Joshua and told him to be courageous, lead the Israelites into the Promised Land and divide their land as their inheritance. Again to Joshua he said that LORD Himself is going before him and with him; LORD will never leave him or forsake him. Hence, Joshua should neither be afraid nor discouraged.

Public Reading of the Law
Moses wrote down the law LORD gave, and handed it over to the Levitical priests. The law was put inside the Ark of the Covenant, which was carried by the Levites.

Moses now instructed the Levites and all the elders about this law. It was to read the law aloud once every seven years during the year of cancellation of debts. Next, Moses makes an important point to teach the next generation about the laws, so that they can follow them. Here is what Moses said,
“At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles,
11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing.
12 Assemble the people - men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns - so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.
13 Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
LORD probably saw this coming - Israelites failing to teach their children about the LORD and His laws. Once they entered into the Promised Land, the subsequent generations had other pleasures to worry about; LORD'S law was the lowest item on their priority list.

Israel’s Rebellion Predicted
The passage we are currently in, has a prophecy. In few earlier passages, LORD has been either hinting or openly saying that the people will abandon Him and go in search of other gods. LORD asked Moses to summon Joshua at the Tent of Meeting.

Moses and Joshua at the Tent of Meeting

The LORD appeared in a pillar of cloud and told Moses three things, followed by an assignment. The three things He told Moses were:

1. Moses was going to be "resting with his ancestors" soon.
2. The Israelites will soon abandon LORD and "prostitute" themselves to other gods.
3. When this happens, LORD was going to become angry and hide His Face from them.

Then LORD asked Moses to write down a song, teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that they won't forget about all these things. Once LORD had brought them into the Promised Land - a land flowing with milk and honey, and they've begun to thrive, they will abandon Him, and start worshiping other gods. This song will be a remembrance to their descendants, so when LORD is punishing them for their disobedience, it will “testify against them.” Therefore, Moses wrote down the song and taught it to the Israelites. We will see the song in the next section.

While Joshua is listening to all these, LORD comforted him, saying,
“23 Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”
Once Moses finished writing the entire words of law in a book, it is handed over to the Levites, for safekeeping inside the Ark of the Covenant. He was furious to hear this bad news from the LORD. He wants the Levites to be witness to it, because, he knows his own people:
27 For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the Lord while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die! 
All elders and leaders are assembled so that Moses can have "a word" with them. By now, he is quite positive about the disaster that is about to fall upon this crowd - who are excited about their journey into the Promised Land.

This passage is one which will make the reader bit uneasy. There is a strong prophecy, concerning future generation, which is about to come true. Who, in the world would like to see their future generation go astray?

Idol worship is the most serious evil in the eyes of LORD and the next generation is going to fall prey to it. What we saw and read earlier about idol worship was just a teeny-tiny description. Earlier Jewish and Far Eastern texts speak volumes about it.

For now, let's just say that idols get rooted in a mans heart, thereby taking over a man's heart and his devotion. They become major stumbling blocks when it comes to a relationship with LORD. Our LORD demands full attention and commitment from His people.

The Song of Moses
In the midst of all those elders and leaders, Moses gives his third speech in the form of a poetry. I should recite it just the way it is, else it will lose the flavor. So here it is,

1 Listen, you heavens, and I will speak;
    hear, you earth, the words of my mouth.
2 Let my teaching fall like rain
    and my words descend like dew,
like showers on new grass,
    like abundant rain on tender plants.
3 I will proclaim the name of the Lord.
    Oh, praise the greatness of our God!
4 He is the Rock, his works are perfect,
    and all his ways are just.
A faithful God who does no wrong,
    upright and just is he.
5 They are corrupt and not his children;
    to their shame they are a warped and crooked generation.
6 Is this the way you repay the Lord,
    you foolish and unwise people?
Is he not your Father, your Creator,
    who made you and formed you?
7 Remember the days of old;
    consider the generations long past.
Ask your father and he will tell you,
    your elders, and they will explain to you.
8 When the Most High gave the nations their inheritance,
    when he divided all mankind,
he set up boundaries for the peoples
    according to the number of the sons of Israel.
9 For the Lord’s portion is his people,
    Jacob his allotted inheritance.
10 In a desert land he found him,
    in a barren and howling waste.
He shielded him and cared for him;
    he guarded him as the apple of his eye,
11 like an eagle that stirs up its nest
    and hovers over its young,
that spreads its wings to catch them
    and carries them aloft.
12 The Lord alone led him;
    no foreign god was with him.
13 He made him ride on the heights of the land
    and fed him with the fruit of the fields.
He nourished him with honey from the rock,
    and with oil from the flinty crag,
14 with curds and milk from herd and flock
    and with fattened lambs and goats,
with choice rams of Bashan
    and the finest kernels of wheat.
You drank the foaming blood of the grape.
15 Jeshurun grew fat and kicked;
    filled with food, they became heavy and sleek.
They abandoned the God who made them
    and rejected the Rock their Savior.
16 They made him jealous with their foreign gods
    and angered him with their detestable idols.
17 They sacrificed to false gods, which are not God—
    gods they had not known,
    gods that recently appeared,
    gods your ancestors did not fear.
18 You deserted the Rock, who fathered you;
    you forgot the God who gave you birth.
19 The Lord saw this and rejected them
    because he was angered by his sons and daughters.
20 “I will hide my face from them,” he said,
    “and see what their end will be;
for they are a perverse generation,
    children who are unfaithful.
21 They made me jealous by what is no god
    and angered me with their worthless idols.
I will make them envious by those who are not a people;
    I will make them angry by a nation that has no understanding.
22 For a fire will be kindled by my wrath,
    one that burns down to the realm of the dead below.
It will devour the earth and its harvests
    and set afire the foundations of the mountains.
23 “I will heap calamities on them
    and spend my arrows against them.
24 I will send wasting famine against them,
    consuming pestilence and deadly plague;
I will send against them the fangs of wild beasts,
    the venom of vipers that glide in the dust.
25 In the street the sword will make them childless;
    in their homes terror will reign.
The young men and young women will perish,
    the infants and those with gray hair.
26 I said I would scatter them
    and erase their name from human memory,
27 but I dreaded the taunt of the enemy,
    lest the adversary misunderstand
and say, ‘Our hand has triumphed;
    the Lord has not done all this.’”
28 They are a nation without sense,
    there is no discernment in them.
29 If only they were wise and would understand this
    and discern what their end will be!
30 How could one man chase a thousand,
    or two put ten thousand to flight,
unless their Rock had sold them,
    unless the Lord had given them up?
31 For their rock is not like our Rock,
    as even our enemies concede.
32 Their vine comes from the vine of Sodom
    and from the fields of Gomorrah.
Their grapes are filled with poison,
    and their clusters with bitterness.
33 Their wine is the venom of serpents,
    the deadly poison of cobras.
34 “Have I not kept this in reserve
    and sealed it in my vaults?
35 It is mine to avenge; I will repay.
    In due time their foot will slip;
their day of disaster is near
    and their doom rushes upon them.”
36 The Lord will vindicate his people
    and relent concerning his servants
when he sees their strength is gone
    and no one is left, slave or free.
37 He will say: “Now where are their gods,
    the rock they took refuge in,
38 the gods who ate the fat of their sacrifices
    and drank the wine of their drink offerings?
Let them rise up to help you!
    Let them give you shelter!
39 “See now that I myself am he!
    There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
    I have wounded and I will heal,
    and no one can deliver out of my hand.
40 I lift my hand to heaven and solemnly swear:
    As surely as I live forever,
41 when I sharpen my flashing sword
    and my hand grasps it in judgment,
I will take vengeance on my adversaries
    and repay those who hate me.
42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
    while my sword devours flesh:
the blood of the slain and the captives,
    the heads of the enemy leaders.”
43 Rejoice, you nations, with his people,
    for he will avenge the blood of his servants;
he will take vengeance on his enemies
    and make atonement for his land and people.

For anyone who does not like poetry, I will attempt to summarize the poem in prose.

Verses 1 - 2
The first part is a prologue, rather prosopopoeia - opening up in a grand and pompous manner, calling upon the attention of heaven and earth, seeking everyone's attention while few things of great importance are being said, which are also durable and lasting.

Verses 3 - 4
The LORD's name is being proclaimed, whose work is perfect; which itself is an attribute, who offers grace and salvation. The first words of the song are emphatic to denote the greatness of this 'Rock' of being faithful, perfect and just. The unbelieving Jew would stumble upon this 'Rock' and will be a shelter of safety for those who believe. The law, justice and righteousness is perfected in the most honorable manner.

Verses 5 - 6
The actions of Lord's children are unbelievable to Him, as they bring shame, and the generation seems to be crooked, foolish and unwise. They have stained and polluted themselves with dirt, and lost their gracious and divine nature. They have walked contrary to the will of God, following corrupt practices and are corrupting others as well. Moses addresses them fools and unwise as if they are ignorant about the scriptures and prophecies, ignorant of it's meaning, and ignorant about the righteousness of LORD. Moses asks them whether they are forgetting that LORD is their Father, who redeemed them from the Egyptian bondage, formed them into a nation, and is currently leading them into the Promised Land.

Verses 7 - 14
It was never like this in those olden days, as the LORD considered Israel His people. The deeds and favors done on behalf of Israel are recounted here - which are several.

Verses 15 - 18
Once fully fed and energetic, Israel abandoned LORD, rejected Him, and went chasing other gods - which are not even gods. This made LORD jealous and angered him with their detestable idols. They deserted and forgot the LORD who even gave birth to them.

Verses 19 - 25
LORD'S response under such situations, when He is angered by His children. He wil hide His face, and appear not to be around. LORD is going to make their life miserable, by heaping calamities, famine, plague, wild beast and snakes upon them.

Verses 26 - 27
They will not be totally destroyed, and LORD will show some pity upon His people. He will not let those surrounding countries take credit for the destruction of Israel.

Verses 28 - 33
Israel is a nation with no sense, and if they were wise, they would know about their future. They are unable to see their LORD, who is their strength, who is so superior to other gods. Their practices resemble that of Sodom's abominable practices. Their fruits appear to be attractive from outside, but turns one into ashes when consumed - like those of Gomorrah. Just like grapes, large number of people are clustered together who make a fair show in the flesh but in reality are a gall of bitterness. The poison of these people resemble a dragon being intoxicated with corrupt doctrines, leading them to an idolatry and superstitious lifestyle filled with loathsome soul, bringing swift destruction. No cure or remedy is possible for such revengeful serpents.

Verses 34 - 42
The punishment for these evil deeds will follow. It is within the authority of LORD to execute, as vengeance belongs to LORD. When their foot begin to slip, they are almost ready for the fall, which is almost near. While destruction is all around, the LORD will ask about those false gods in whom they put their trust in, and to whom they made sacrifices. Those gods will be unable to shelter them and provide any asylum. It is the same LORD who gives life and takes life - none can escape that. LORD swears, He lives for ever, confirming the faith of those who believe in Him, and threatening those with a wicked heart. He pulls out His sword of Justice and pronounces execution of His enemies. Various judgement will be brought upon them, which like arrows will come suddenly, flying swiftly, piercing deeply, covering it with blood. Multitudes of men will be killed; even captives and leaders, who are usually spared.

Verse 43
Rejoice, all those who belong to the LORD, as He is going to bring punishment and render vengeance to His adversaries. He will restore fertility and fruitfulness to the land, offer full pardon and forgiveness to those sins of His people. 

Moses was with Joshua when this song was sung to the entire Israelite crowd. In that final address to the entire Israelite nation, his closing statements were: 
46 “Take to heart all the words I have solemnly declared to you this day, so that you may command your children to obey carefully all the words of this law.
47 They are not just idle words for you - they are your life. By them you will live long in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
This concluded the third and final speech Moses gave to the Israelites. He would not be addressing the entire crowd as a whole anymore. Joshua, who was standing next to him was observing and learning from his teacher. He well knew that he was the one to address this crowd from here on. 

As far as the generation who sung the song, it was a prophecy. Later generations when they sing this song would know it was history - which came true. 

Moses to Die on Mount Nebo
Later in that day, LORD told Moses to go to Mount Nebo and view the Promised Land. Then on the mountain, He would die and be taken to his people, just like how Aaron was taken away at Mount Hor.

Moses Views The Promised Land - Carolsfeld.

LORD reminds Moses this is because both Aaron and Moses did not uphold the Holiness of LORD in front of the Israelite people. As a punishment, Moses will see the land only from a distance, and will not be allowed to enter. The Israeli people, under the leadership of Joshua will have the privilege of entering the Promised Land.

Moses Blesses the Tribes
Moses, with the heart of a shepherd is looking at the entire Israelites. He is about to bestow a final blessing upon the tribes of Israel. A similar blessing was given by Jacob upon the twelve tribes just prior to his death.

Hurry up - let's stay closer and gather within an earshot, so that his blessing is audible and clear.

The great prophet, now has a wonderful prologue after spending forty years with this crowd. No prose will be able to beautify it.
“The Lord came from Sinai
    and dawned over them from Seir;
    he shone forth from Mount Paran.
He came with myriads of holy ones
    from the south, from his mountain slopes.
3 Surely it is you who love the people;
    all the holy ones are in your hand.
At your feet they all bow down,
    and from you receive instruction,
4 the law that Moses gave us,
    the possession of the assembly of Jacob.
5 He was king over Jeshurun
    when the leaders of the people assembled,
    along with the tribes of Israel."
  • Ruben: LORD, bless the tribe with growth. As far as history goes, Ruben's tribe 'lived and did not die'; it did not excel' not a single king/prophet/judge came from this tribe. 
  • Judah: LORD, hear his cry, as Judah means praise, and bring him to his people. May his hands be sufficient to bring the Messiah from his tribe.
  • Levi: Let the LORD'S decisions be heard to the Levites, through their Thummin and Urim; While they are teaching LORD'S words, may their enemies be defeated. 
  • Benjamin: A sweet blessing for safety as they were bit aggressive. 
  • Joseph: Out of him came out the tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh. Jacob had blessed the younger Ephraim to be more successful than Manasseh. 
  • Zubulun: Blessed with the abundance of seas - they settled near the sea of Galilee.
  • Issachar: Same blessing of the abundance of sea. 
  • Gad: He dwells like a lion - many troops were produced by this tribe. 
  • Dan: Shall leap from Bashan - Dan's tribe caused lots of headache. Dan's tribe introduced idol worship into Israel and thus became the central point of 'entertainment'. They later migrated to Bashan. 
  • Naphtali: Full of blessings from LORD - as Jesus was ministering in those regions. 
  • Asher: Most blessed - they had abundance of children, bread, and royal dainties. Their daughters were very beautiful. 
And for the people of Israel,
26 “There is no one like the God of Jeshurun,
    who rides across the heavens to help you
    and on the clouds in his majesty.
27 The eternal God is your refuge,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.
He will drive out your enemies before you,
    saying, ‘Destroy them!’
28 So Israel will live in safety;
    Jacob will dwell secure
in a land of grain and new wine,
    where the heavens drop dew.
29 Blessed are you, Israel!
    Who is like you,
    a people saved by the Lord?
He is your shield and helper
    and your glorious sword.
Your enemies will cower before you,
    and you will tread on their heights.”
Moses is saying to the people of Israel that God is their refuge, and there is no other God like the LORD of Israel (Jeshurun). Finally, Moses adds that God is for us, and Heaven is on our side.

The Death of Moses
I am going to post two accounts of Moses' death. One is a short and sweet version, as depicted in the Bible. The other is what I learned while referencing some Jewish text. In either case, this chapter could not have been written by Moses under any circumstances. Joshua, most probably completed it on behalf of Moses.

The short version
As instructed, Moses went up to Mount Nebo, and the LORD gave him a tour of the Promised Land. At the age of 120 years, Moses is still energetic - his eyes are shiny and he has the vigor to climb the mountain. Next, Moses laid his hands upon Joshua, and he now has “the spirit of wisdom” so that the Israelites can take him as their new leader. After Moses died, LORD buried him in a secret grave. The Israelites observe thirty days of weeping and mourning, to commemorate the loss of their prophet and leader.

The detailed version
God told Moses several times that it was time for him to die:

Numbers 27:12
Then the Lord said to Moses, “Go up this mountain in the Abarim Range and see the land I have given the Israelites.

Deuteronomy 31:14
The Lord said to Moses, “Now the day of your death is near. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, where I will commission him.” So Moses and Joshua came and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.

Deuteronomy 31:16
And the Lord said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.

Deuteronomy 32:49-50
“Go up into the Abarim Range to Mount Nebo in Moab, across from Jericho, and view Canaan, the land I am giving the Israelites as their own possession. There on the mountain that you have climbed you will die and be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his people.

Moses, on at least one occasion, appears to have protested God's decree that he should die before entering the Promised Land. Moses reflects how he had beseeched God to let him see the "fine hill country and Lebanon" but the Lord had been angry and refused this plea.
23 At that time I pleaded with the Lord: 24 “Sovereign Lord, you have begun to show to your servant your greatness and your strong hand. For what god is there in heaven or on earth who can do the deeds and mighty works you do? 25 Let me go over and see the good land beyond the Jordan—that fine hill country and Lebanon.”
26 But because of you the Lord was angry with me and would not listen to me. “That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter. 27 Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east. Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan.
When the people and their leaders heard these words of Moses, they broke out into mournful weeping, and in the Tabernacle with bitter tears they entreated God to answer Moses' prayer, so that their cries rose even to the Throne of Glory. But then one hundred and eighty four myriads of angels under the leadership of the great angels Zakun and Lahash descended and snatched away the words of the suppliants, that they might not reach God. The angel Lahash indeed tried to restore to their place the words which the other angels had snatched away, so that they might reach God, but when Samael learned of this, he fettered Lahash with chains of fire and brought him before God, where he received sixty blows of fire and was expelled from the inner chamber of God because, contrary to God's wish, he had attempted to aid Moses in the fulfillment of his desire. When Israel now saw how the angels dealt with their prayers, they went to Moses and said, "The angels will not let us pray for you."

When Moses saw that neither the world nor mankind could aid him, he betook himself to the Angel of the Face, to whom he said, "Pray for me, that God may take pity upon me, and that I may not die."

But the angel replied: "Why, Moses, why do you exert yourself in vain? Standing behind the curtain that is drawn before the Lord, I heard that your prayer in this instance is not to be answered."

Moses now laid his hand upon his head and wept bitterly, saying, "To whom shall I now go, that he might implore God's mercy for me?"

God was now very angry with Moses because he would not resign himself to the doom that had been sealed, but His wrath vanished as soon as Moses spoke the words: "The Lord, the Lord, a God full of compassion and gracious, slow to anger, and plenteous in mercy and truth; keeping mercy for thousands, forgiving iniquity and transgression and sin."

"I want to know," God asked him, "why you are so much aggrieved at your impending death."

Moses replied: "I am afraid of the sword of the Angel of Death."

God: "If this is the reason then speak no more in this matter, for I will not deliver you into his hand."

Moses, however, would not yield, but furthermore said, "Shall my mother Jochebed, to whom my life brought so much grief, suffer sorrow after my death also?"

God: "So was it in My mind even before I created the world, and so is the course of the world; every generation has its learned men, every generation has its leaders, every generation has its guides. Up to now it was your duty to guide the people, but now the time is ripe for your disciple Joshua to relieve you of the office destined for him."

Death of Moses - Alexandre Cabanel

Along with God, three angels descended from heaven - Michael, Gabriel, and Zagzagel. Gabriel arranged Moses' couch. Michael spread upon it a purple garment, and Zagzagel laid down a woolen pillow.

God stationed Himself over Moses' head, Michael to his right, Gabriel to his left, and Zagzagel at his feet, whereupon God addressed Moses: "Cross your feet," and Moses did so.

He then said, "Fold your hands and lay them upon your breast," and Moses did so.

Then God said, "Close thine eyes," and Moses did so.

Then God spoke to Moses' soul: "My daughter, one hundred and twenty years had I decreed that you should dwell in this righteous man's body, but hesitate not now to leave it, for your time is run."

But the soul of Moses replied: "Lord of the world! I desire to remain with this righteous man; for whereas the two angels Azza and Azazel when they descended from heaven to earth, corrupted their way of life and loved the daughters of the earth, so that in punishment You suspended them between heaven and earth, the son of Amram, a creature of flesh and blood, from the day upon which You revealed Yourself from the bush of thorns, has lived apart from his wife. Let me therefore remain where I am."

When Moses saw that his soul refused to leave him, he said to her: "Is this because the Angel of Death wishes to show his power over you?"

The soul of Moses replied: "Nay, God does not wish to deliver me into the hands of death."

Moses: "Will you, perchance, weep when the others will weep at my departure?"

The soul of Moses: "The Lord has delivered mine eyes from tears."'

Moses: " Will you, perchance, go into Hell when I am dead?"

The soul of Moses: " I will walk before the Lord in the land of the living."

When Moses heard these words, he permitted his soul to leave him, saying to her: "Return unto your rest, O my soul; for the Lord hath dealt bountifully with thee."

God thereupon took Moses' soul by kissing him upon the mouth.

Moses' activity did not, however, cease with his death, for in heaven he is one of the servants of the Lord. God buried Moses' body in a spot that remained unknown even to Moses himself. Only this is known concerning it, that a subterranean passage connects it with the graves of the Patriarchs. Although Moses' body lies dead in its grave, it is still as fresh as when he was alive.

Death of Moses - Carolsfeld.

May the soul of this great prophet rest in peace!

----------------------------Bible Reading-------------------------------------------------

---------------------------Additional Info 1
Song of Moses
The significance of "the Song of Moses" may be found in 'The Book of Revelation' of Jesus Christ to John, chapter 15: "Preparation for the seven vials".

The leading theme and framework of the entire song, which aroused the wrath of LORD, can be summarized in a single word: Apostasy*

*Apostasy =  The abandonment or renunciation of a religious belief.

------------------------Additional Info 2
7 and Song of Moses
The number 7 is considered as a number of fullness.

- The Song of Moses is divided into 7 cantos arranged in a Menorah pattern.
- The Song of Moses is made up of 70 (10 x 7) verse-lines.
- The Song of Moses contains 462 (66 x 7) words.
- 70 (10 x 7) represents the number of those ‘sons of Israel’ in Gen. 46:26-27 and Exod. 1:1-5.
- There are two series of 7 items in the song, as mentioned below:
- 7 characteristics of LORD can be seen in verse 4, with His faithfulness at the center.
- 7 disasters are mentioned in verses 23-24, with the ravaging plague at the center.
- The word ‘Rock’ occurs altogether 7 times, so designed to express LORD as a Rock of fullness and reliability.

------------------------------Additional Info 3
Today's pattern
Another silly observation of mine is that, today's readings fall into a Menorah pattern with the Song of Moses in the center. This has no significance at all.

Joshua to Succeed Moses

  Public Reading of the Law

    Israel’s Rebellion Predicted

      The Song of Moses

    Moses to Die on Mount Nebo

  Moses Blesses the Tribes

The Death of Moses

-----------------------------Additional Info 4
This section contains more about those angels mentioned in 'The Death of Moses'. This is only meant to be a reference point for those interested in reading about angels. You do not have to read it unless required. Click here to take you to the angels directory, for those wanting more.

An apparently misguided angel who, with a fellow angel, Zakum, made the unfortunate decision to intercept a prayer concerning death offered by Moses to God. Lahash and Zakum were assisted in this difficult task by "184 myriad spirits"-a term often used to denote a great force, perhaps equaling over a million, which gives some impression as to the power of the Lawgiver's prayers. Not surprisingly, their efforts went for naught, and the two angels were brought before the Lord to receive punishment for their presumption and improper behavior. In one legend Lahash and Zakum were punished with sixty blows of a fiery lash, another version has Lahash whipped seventy times by the angel Samael and ousted from heaven.

An angel who, as reported in Jewish legend, conspired with the angel Lahash to prevent an important prayer of Moses from reaching the ears of the Lord. This crome was so terrible that Lahash repented and was subsequently punished rather severely; Zakum however, did not apparently have a guilty conscience, but his fate remains unknown. It is possible that he was destroyed, like Af and several other angels in lore who committed the transgression of getting in the way of the Lord and the mighty Lawgiver.

Also called Sammael, Samil, and even Satan, an angel whose name has been interpreted as meaning "angel" (el) of "poison" (sam); he is considered in legend both a member of the heavenly host (with often grim and destructive duties) and a fallen angel, equatable with Satan and the chief of the evil spirits. One of Samael's greatest roles in Jewish lore is that of the angel of death. In this capacity he is a fell angel but nevertheless remains one of the Lord's servants. (See also Death, Angel of.) As a good angel, Samael supposedly resides in the seventh heaven, although he is declared to be the chief angel of the fifth heaven.

Angel of DEATH,
One of the universally feared angels, known and dreaded in every major religion of the world; the angel of death is found all over the earth, throughout all of history, existing as the spiritual embodiment of the great mystery of passing into the next world. Interestingly, most of the religions tend to agree (with some discrepancies and contradictions) that the angel of death is not by inclination one of the fallen angels. Rather, he is the appointed servant of God, with the task of bringing an end-at the appointed time-to the lives of humans. In the Jewish tradition, the angel of death appears under a number of incarnations and names. Among the well-known candidates for this arduous task are Bebriel, Metatron, Samael, Adriel, Azrael, and Hemah. The Hebrew Bible does not mention the angel of death by name, nor does it even make obvious that there is such a being, relying instead upon a kind of personification. It was later Jewish literature that Death assumed a clearer description. He is said to appear as a bird with twelve wings or as an angel of light, manifesting himself before the terror stricken eyes of his next client. Perhaps the most vivid of his incarnations was as a horror-inducing angel of fell visage who stands at the head of a dying person with his sword drawn, its tip over the mouth of the poor soul struggling to cling to life. A drop of poison falls from the tip into the mouth of the gasping human, whose struggle in this world is then at an end. Sammael (or Samael) is often listed as the angel of death, and some scholars suggest that his name may be derived from the Hebrew word sam ("poison"), a reference to the poisonous liquid on the tip of his sword, for which there is no antidote. St Michael is frequently named as the angel responsible for carrying to heaven the souls of the dearly departed. Islamic lore, meanwhile, presents the most well-known angel of death. Although not specifically named in the Qur'an, the bringer of death is Azrael.

Also St. Michael the Archangel

The Archangel Gabriel

An angel associated with the many legends surrounding the Lawgiver, Moses. He is revered as the so-called Angel of the Burning Bush and supposedly taught Moses the profound knowledge of the ineffable names of God. Zagzagel also is said to have joined the Lord, Michael, and Gabriel to the earth to fetch the soul of Moses after his death and its announcement by the angel Semmael. With Gabriel and Michael, Zagzagel supposedly prepared the grave of Moses and lovingly placed his body into the earth. By custop he resides in the seventh heaven with the Lord, even though one of his areas of concern is safeguarding the fourth heaven. He also speaks seventy languages and is a renowned tutor, lecturing even to his fellow angels.

Angel AZZA
A fallen angel who is condemned to suffer a unique punishment for his sins. According to Jewish lore, Azza was bitterly opposed to God's plan to reward the patriarch Enoch with elevation to angelic status. (Enoch was transformed into the angel prince Metatron). Expelled from heaven, Azza was hung upside down between earth and paradise. Ever plunging but never actually crashing, he is forced uncontrollably to open one eye so that the full horror of his predicament is driven home. Prior to his fall, Azza was listed as a ministering angel (in the third book of Enoch) and is said to have been responsible for teaching the famed King Solomon many secrets of heaven.

One of the fallen angels, also known as Iblis (standard-bearer of hell).

----------------------------Additional Paintings

 An Angel Showing Moses the Promised Land

The Life of Moses

Credits (Death of Moses):
James L. Kugel, The Bible as It Was (Cambridge, MA: Harvard University Press, 1997) 
Louis Ginzberg, Legends of the Bible (Philadelphia: Jewish Publication Society, 1956), pp. 485-502

Thursday, August 15, 2013

Deuteronomy 26 - 30

Yesterday was one of those days where I ran into numerous phrases, customs or let me call 'grey areas' which I myself was unclear. A good example was 'muzzling the ox'. To be a good tour guide, I have to explain them well, and not just skim over such phrases; else it will leave a bad taste in the reader's mouth. Hence, I had to stop, look it up at multiple sources, confirm my understanding was accurate and then write. All these, while I am racing against time. At 6:00 AM, I was almost temped to post the blog as it is, and then come back and fill in those blanks. None of you readers complained about me being late - Thank you.

The Weekly Outlook - Aug 11, 2013
12-Aug Mon - Deuteronomy 7 - 11
13-Aug Tue - Deuteronomy 12 - 18
14-Aug Wed - Deuteronomy 19 - 25
15-Aug Thu - Deuteronomy 26 - 30
16-Aug Fri  - Deuteronomy 31 - 34
17-Aug Sat - Floating Day*
*Floating Day = May or may not have tour.

Firstfruits and Tithes
Couple of ceremonies coming up in this section. The firstfruits mentioned here, are those first of the harvest they obtain in the Promised Land. We know about the Tithes - 1/10th. It was to remind the Israelites that LORD was the one who provided them the land and food. They would take some of it in a basked to the priest and announce:
“I declare today to the LORD your God that I have come to the land the LORD swore to our ancestors to give us.” 
Offering of first fruits (Bible illustration card 1896 and 1913 by the Providence Lithograph Company)
The priest would next take it to the altar and they were to declare before the LORD,
“My father was a wandering Aramean, and he went down into Egypt with a few people and lived there and became a great nation, powerful and numerous.
6 But the Egyptians mistreated us and made us suffer, subjecting us to harsh labor.
7 Then we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our misery, toil and oppression.
8 So the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with great terror and with signs and wonders.
9 He brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey;
10 and now I bring the firstfruits of the soil that you, Lord, have given me.” 
Next they bow down in front of the LORD and then go rejoice.

The third year was the 'Year of the Tithe.' Hence the Israelites were to set aside a tenth of all of their produce, towards the Levites, foreigners, fatherless, and widows - for them to be satisfied in the land. Similar procedure follows, while carrying the offerings,
13 Then say to the Lord your God: “I have removed from my house the sacred portion and have given it to the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, according to all you commanded. I have not turned aside from your commands nor have I forgotten any of them.
14 I have not eaten any of the sacred portion while I was in mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor have I offered any of it to the dead. I have obeyed the Lord my God; I have done everything you commanded me.
15 Look down from heaven, your holy dwelling place, and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us as you promised on oath to our ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.”

Follow the LORD'S Commands
In this section, Moses is saying, LORD, their God, is reminding the Israelites to obey His commandments. He's not just giving them the laws, but constantly reminding them to follow them. If you pay attention, you'll notice, there is a genuine warmth that LORD displays between Him and His people. He says, they are 'His treasured possession' and He was going to set them in 'praise, fame and honor' above all nations. Finally, they would be holy to Him.

By the tone of Moses' speech, it sounds like he is winding up. Usually it is towards the conclusion when the speaker is motivating the audience, reemphasizing the main idea in a memorable way, and leaving a lasting impression.

The Altar on Mount Ebal
Moses is now talking about future plans - what's next.

Moses and the elders commanded the people to obey all of the commands that were given to them. Once they arrived into the Promised Land, they were to get some large stones, cover them in plaster, and write all of the words of the law on them, on top of Mount Ebal (see below).

Next, they were to set up an altar on Mount Ebal, made of 'fieldstones' - whole stones, not broken or hewed, straight out of quarry, on which iron tools were not used. Upon this altar, a fellowship offering was made and rejoiced in the presence of LORD.

By now, the crowd is relieved of the speech and they are bit relaxed. Just as with any lengthy speech, people have been waiting quietly and impatiently, without uttering a word. Now is their chance to start sharing and commenting on those 'interesting parts' with their friends in the crowd.

Curses From Mount Ebal
Moses can hear those comments and opinions, which has now turned into a sea of noise. He says,
“Be silent, Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the Lord your God. 10 Obey the Lord your God and follow his commands and decrees that I give you today.”
They then take a break. Later in the day, there is more coming from Moses. He divided the twelve tribes into two groups - one to stand over Mount Gerizim to bless the people; the other group to stand on top of Mount Ebal and pronounce curses.

Mount Gerizim (left) and Mount Ebal (right)                

An important aspect about this valley is it's acoustics. The valley is laid out in such a way that speakers near the altar are audible from everywhere in the valley. 

Once they cross over to the Promised Land, the Levites shall recite curses in a loud voice. Again, the acoustics of this place is such that everyone standing in the valley can hear those speaking from mountain top. This has been tested out several times.

The curses are all structured like this, "Cursed is the man who does so and so and so.”

After which all the people would say, "Amen" (see below).

The following people are pronounced cursed:
  • Those who create an idol,
  • Those who dishonor their father or mother,
  • Those who move their neighbors boundary stone by enlarging territory illegally,
  • Those who “leads the blind astray on the road,” 
  • Those who withhold justice from the foreigner, the fatherless, or the widow,
  • Any man who sleeps with his father’s wife, hence he 'dishonors his father’s bed,'
  • Anyone who has sex with an animal,
  • Any man who sleeps with his sister; either a full sister or a half sister,
  • Any man who sleeps with his mother-in-law,
  • Those who secretly commit murder,
  • Those who accept a bribe to kill an innocent person,
  • Anyone who does not uphold the words of the law by carrying them out.
The LORD has given them the laws; and the instructions are simple - if you follow them, you will be blessed; else you'll be cursed.

Blessings for Obedience
In olden days, when treaties were made between two counties or when legal agreements were made between the King and his subjects, the last two sections in the agreement were 'blessings' upon those who observed the legislation, and 'curses' over those who did not. Here, it is between the LORD and His people.

Moses is trying to echo those blessings
1 If you fully obey the LORD your God and carefully follow all his commands I give you today, the LORD your God will set you high above all the nations on earth.
2 All these blessings will come on you and accompany you if you obey the LORD your God:
Notice, the word that looms large is the first word - IF. Lord promises to bless the following:
  • God will bless all of the Israel,
  • He will bless their children, crops, and livestock,
  • Their harvest and fields will be blessed,
  • “You will be blessed when you come in and blessed when you go out,”
  • The enemies of Israel will be defeated - “They will come at you from one direction but flee from you in seven,”
  • Everything the Israelites will put their hands to, will be blessed,
  • The Lord would establish Israel as His holy people,
  • The Lord will grant abundant prosperity - children, livestock and crops,
  • The Lord will open the heavens, the storehouse of his bounty, to send rain on the land in season and to bless all the work of their hands,
  • Israel would lend to many nations, but shall borrow from none,
  • The Lord will make them leaders, and not followers,
  • Israel will always be at the top, never at the bottom,
  • No idol worship - he annexed. 
My readers - these blessings were real and LORD, the GOD stood by His promise. Soon we will see other nations baffled at the prosperity of Israel. One good example is the visit of Queen of Sheba, when she came to visit King Solomon.

Curses for Disobedience
Moses goes directly into the curses for those who do not follow LORD's commands. It runs about 5 times that of the blessings.

- All of Israel will be cursed,
- Their harvest and fields will be cursed,
- The crops, livestock, children,
- Curse will be upon them when they “come in” and when they “go out,”
- confusion and rebuke will prevail in everything they put their hand to,
- diseases will plague them,
- the heat will be severe,
- no rain will be in the land,
- enemies will defeat them,
- predators and wild animals will feast over them,
- boils, tumors, festering sores and itch will be afflicted,
- madness, blindness and confusion of mind will prevail,
- will be unsuccessful in everything they do,
- nobody will rescue them,
- the woman they are supposed to be married will be raped,
- will not marry the right woman,
- your house will not provide you shelter,
- the vineyard won't produce fruits,
- their ox, sheep and donkey will encounter miserable fate,
- the children will be given to other nations,
- everyone will be driven out of the country,
- they will worship idols,
- harvest will be poor,
- children will be taken captive,
- the foreigners will rule over them,
- the curses will serve as a sign to them,
- Another nation will take over Israel,
- the suffering will turn you into cannibalism,
- fathers will eat but not share the flesh of their children,
- mothers will eat the afterbirth of their womb in secret,
- fearful plagues, harsh and prolonged disasters, and severe and lingering illnesses will be sent,
- new diseases and sickness will be common,
- the Israelites will be uprooted from the land,
- people will be scattered all over the world,
- idol worship will be common,
- no comfort will be provided while at other nations,
- they will live in constant suspense,
- they will go back to Egypt and offer themselves as slaves, but nobody will buy them.

I strongly urge you to read the actual passage in the Bible - that is the real scripture, which will give you an understanding about the harshness of LORD'S language and depth of His anger.

All these curses will eventually come true - which we will soon witness.

Renewal of the Covenant
In this section, Moses is reminding the Israelites, yet again, that he will be soon gone and they need to follow the LORD, in his absence.

Here, he is being more direct and recalls all those prior incidents once again - despite all of which, the Israelites have not yet been granted wisdom to understand all of those events.

Emphasis is placed on following the covenant.A warning is sounded about being LORD'S people and the protection that comes along with it, which won't be tolerated:
19 When such a person hears the words of this oath and they invoke a blessing on themselves, thinking, “I will be safe, even though I persist in going my own way,” they will bring disaster on the watered land as well as the dry.
20 The LORD will never be willing to forgive them; his wrath and zeal will burn against them. All the curses written in this book will fall on them, and the LORD will blot out their names from under heaven.
21 The LORD will single them out from all the tribes of Israel for disaster, according to all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law.
When such things happen, everyone will wonder why the LORD afflicted His nation; why people have such diseases, and why the whole land is desolated, barren and wasteland just like Sodom and Gomorrah. Why did LORD do this to this land, and what was the reason of this fierce anger?

Then the answer, everyone is seeking:
25 And the answer will be: “It is because this people abandoned the covenant of the LORD  the God of their ancestors, the covenant he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt.
26 They went off and worshiped other gods and bowed down to them, gods they did not know, gods he had not given them.
27 Therefore the LORD'S anger burned against this land, so that he brought on it all the curses written in this book.
28 In furious anger and in great wrath the LORD uprooted them from their land and thrust them into another land, as it is now.”
Finally, the revelation of the secret - an enigmatic and powerful verse:

29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may follow all the words of this law.

Prosperity After Turning to the LORD
This passage is more about forgiveness. It has a promise, also a prophecy. When the Israelites disobey the LORD, He will scatter them all over the nations. Once they repent their sins, LORD will welcome them back and bless them again. The condition is IF they adhere to the words of Moses.

The beauty of Old Testament is that we will see the depth of LORD's Love for His people. Despite all these disobedience, He still loves His people. Even while He has abandoned them, He really has not abandoned them.

The Offer of Life or Death
So far, we saw LORD giving the Israelites promises of blessings if they follow Him, and curses if they don’t. He then renewed the covenant with them and let them know that He knows their nature - they won't follow him always the way they are supposed to. He then gives them the choice: Follow Him, or not.

He says, the answer is within their own hearts. Let's look at the way the LORD puts it across:
11 Now what I am commanding you today is not too difficult for you or beyond your reach.
12 It is not up in heaven, so that you have to ask, “Who will ascend into heaven to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”
13 Nor is it beyond the sea, so that you have to ask, “Who will cross the sea to get it and proclaim it to us so we may obey it?”
14 No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
Two options are laid in front of them:

Option A: Life and Prosperity,

Option B: Death and Destruction

Now, along comes a recommendation:
19 This day I call the heavens and the earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live
20 and that you may love the LORD your God, listen to his voice, and hold fast to him. For the LORD is your life, and he will give you many years in the land he swore to give to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Let's call it a day!
Have a good one.
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-----------------------------Additional Info 1
Altar on Mount Ebal

The altar which was used by Joshua. 

 The altar at Mount Ebal

Ariel view of the altar at Mount Ebal

------------------------------------Additional Info 2
A word which came from Hebrew -----> Aramanic ---> Greek -----> Latin ------> English. The root of Amen in Hebrew means: 
- to be firm, 
- confirmed, 
- reliable, 
- faithful, 
- have faith, 
- believe.

It has been generally adopted in Christian worship during concluding prayers and hymns, which means: 
- so be it,
- truly,
- verily. 

This practice of using 'amen' in closing prayers originated with the Lord's Prayer in Matthew 6:13. 
In colloquial language, amen means strong agreement. We are so used to hearing or saying Amen at the end of a prayer to represent our affirmation of agreement. 

Amen is not usually used in the beginning of a sentence and has no parallel in Jewish literature. However, when Amen is used at the beginning of a sentence, such as how Jesus did, it is used to affirm His own utterance. 

Amen is pronounced in several ways: Ah-men, Ah-meen, Ay-men. Stress is usually placed upon the second syllable. 

Psalms 41 and 89 ends with double Amen - 'Amen and Amen' which denotes the strength of the same. Also, Psalms 41 and 89 ends the first and third sections of the book of Psalms.  

Paul's general epistles end with Amen. 

Jesus Christ is referred as 'Amen' in Revelations 3:14. "These are the words of the Amen [Jesus Christ], the faithful and true witness, the ruler of God’s creation."

Finally, the New Testament concludes with the word 'Amen.' 

--------------------------------------Additional Info 3
A blessing is a statement of goodwill and happiness that is said about another, as well as the condition that fulfills those good words. It is an infusion of something with one's hope, approval, holiness, spiritual redemption, or divine will. According to Abrahamic religions, Jewish, Islam and Christian, "To be blessed" means 'to be favored by God'.

Within Christian circles, formal blessings of the church are performed by the bishops, priests and sometimes deacons. They invoke the divine favor of God to grant some spiritual or temporal good upon people or objects such as blessing a child, blessing a house, etc. 

Ordinary people can bless each other as well. The blessing of one upon another, such as a parent blessing a child, a friend wishing 'good luck,' etc., is an act of goodwill wherein the person implores God's aid for the person; the value of such blessing in the eyes of God depends upon the person's individual sincerity and sanctity.

Further, we can also bless God by praising Him, thanking Him for all of His benefits and offering to Him our service, adoration and worship. To many, this maybe hard to comprehend - how can we sinners bestow blessings upon Almighty God - the Supreme Superior? 

Two things happen when we bless the Lord. 
1. The first is synonymous with giving thanks and praise. Some translations actually say, “Give thanks to the Lord,” where others say, “Bless the Lord.” So, blessing the Lord is praising Him and giving thanks to Him—for blessing us! 
2. The second thing is when we proclaim Him blessed, we are saying He is Holy. Two instances of which we use in our worship 
(a) Blessed is He, who has come, and is to come, in the name of the Lord God: Glory be to Him in the Highest. 
(b) Hail Mary, full of grace, our LORD is with thee; blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, our Lord Jesus Christ. Here, we are acknowledging the Holiness. 

Recall others saying, "Bless you" when you sneezed the last time? There are three legends: 

Legend # 1: Gregory I was the Pope during AD 590, when an outbreak of bubonic plague was reaching Rome. In hopes of fighting off the disease, he ordered unending prayer and parades of chanters through the streets. At the time, sneezing was thought to be an early symptom of the plague. The blessing ("God bless you!") became a common effort to halt the disease.

Legend # 2: People used to believe that a person's soul could be thrown from their body when they sneezed, that sneezing otherwise opened the body to invasion by the Devil or evil spirits, or that sneezing was the body's effort to force out an invading evil presence. In these cases, "bless you" or "God bless you" is used as a sort of shield against evil. 

Legend # 3: The heart stops beating during a sneeze, and that the phrase "bless you" encourages the heart to continue beating. 

Regardless of which legend you choose to believe, "God Bless You!"