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Deuteronomy 11

PARAGRAPH DIVISIONS OF MODERN TRANSLATIONS

NKJV NRSV TEV NJB
Love and Obedience Rewarded What the Lord Required (10:12-11:32) The Lord's Greatness Israel's Past Experiences
11:1-7 11:1-7 11:1-7 11:1-7
    The Blessings of the Promised land Promises and Warnings
11:8-12 11:8-12 11:8-12 11:8-9
      11:10-17
11:13-17 11:13-17 11:13-17 Conclusion
11:18-21 11:18-21 11:18-21 11:18-21
11:22-25 11:22-25 11:22-25 11:22-25
11:26-32 11:26-28 11:26-32 11:26-32
  11:29-30    
  11:31-32    

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)

FOLLOWING THE ORIGINAL AUTHOR'S INTENT AT PARAGRAPH LEVEL

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

 

WORD AND PHRASE STUDY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 11:1-7
  
1"You shall therefore love the Lord your God, and always keep His charge, His statutes, His ordinances, and His commandments. 2Know this day that I am not speaking with your sons who have not known and who have not seen the discipline of the Lord your God - His greatness, His mighty hand and His outstretched arm, 3and His signs and His works which He did in the midst of Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land; 4and what He did to Egypt's army, to its horses and its chariots, when He made the water of the Red Sea to engulf them while they were pursuing you, and the Lord completely destroyed them; 5and what He did to you in the wilderness until you came to this place; 6and what He did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben, when the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, their households, their tents, and every living thing that followed them, among all Israel - 7but your own eyes have seen all the great work of the Lord which He did."

11:1 Notice how the two verbs of this verse are related. They are theologically parallel. One should result in the other!

1. "love the Lord" - BDB 12, KB 17, Qal perfect, cf. vv. 13,22. See full note at 5:10.

2. "keep His charge" - BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal perfect

This is a repeat of 6:2,4-5; 10:12. Love is both an action (obedience) and a feeling ("with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your might," cf. 13:3)

▣ "His charge, His statutes, His ordinances and His commandments" See Special Topic at 4:1.

11:2 "And know this day that I am not speaking with your sons who have not known and who have not seen" Moses is appealing to those who were eye witnesses ( as Levites and children under the age of military service, below 20 years old, cf. 1:6,9,14; 5:2,5; 11:2,7) to the events of the Exodus and wilderness wanderings (cf. 4:34; 7:19).

"Know" See full note at 4:35.

▣ "the discipline of the Lord" God's discipline (BDB 416) is positive, v. 3; and negative, v. 6. Child training is a characteristic of our father God (cf. Heb. 12:5-13). This is another wisdom term used so often in Proverbs.

▣ "His greatness" See notes at 10:17 and 4:31.

▣ "His mighty hand, and His outstretched arm" This is an anthropomorphic phrase used for God's power (cf. 4:34; 5:15; 6:21; 9:29). See note at 4:34.

11:4 "Red Sea to engulf them" The Hebrew word here is "Reed Sea" (BDB 410 construct 693 I). See Special Topic at 1:40. Engulf is literally "flow over their faces" (BDB 847, KB 1012, Hiphil perfect, cf. Exod. 14:23-31), which is an idiom for drowning.

11:5 This is a reminder of God's supernatural provisions during the wilderness wanderings. See full note at 8:4.

11:6 "Dathan and Abiram" See Numbers 16:1-35; 26:9-10; Ps. 106:16-18.

▣ "among all Israel" See Special Topic at 1:1.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 11:8-12
  
8"You shall therefore keep every commandment which I am commanding you today, so that you may be strong and go in and possess the land into which you are about to cross to possess it; 9so that you may prolong your days on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them and to their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden. 11But the land into which you are about to cross to possess it, a land of hills and valleys, drinks water from the rain of heaven, 12a land for which the Lord your God cares; the eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning even to the end of the year."

11:8 "therefore" This refers to all preceding historical allusions of chapter 11 or possibly even farther back. Much of Deuteronomy, up to this point, has rehearsed again and again the same admonitions.

11:9 "so that you may prolong your days on the land" Compare v. 21 with Deut. 5:16. This is not an individual promise of longevity but a cultural promise of stability to a society which honors the Law of God (cf. 4:1; 8:1) and thereby honors the family (cf. 4:40; 5:16,33; 6:2). See full note at 4:40.

▣ "the Lord swore to your fathers to give to them" See SPECIAL TOPIC: COVENANT Promises to the Patriarchs at 9:5.

▣ "a land flowing with milk and honey" This is not only a physical description but a technical designation for the land of Palestine in Ugaritic and Egyptian documents. See note at 6:3.

11:10 "not like the land of Egypt" The cultivation of crops was quite different in Egypt than Palestine. Palestine had seasonal rain (cf. v.11), Egypt had to depend on irrigation from the Nile and its annual flood.

▣ "water it with your foot" This probably refers to (1) an irrigation system in which a field was flooded and then the foot was used to punch a hole in the dike to let water out or (2) a treadmill used to lift water for irrigation.

11:11 "the land. . .drinks water from the rain of heaven" For desert peoples there is no greater blessing than adequate, regular water (cf. 8:7-9). This good land is conditional on covenant obedience (cf. vv. 16-17; Lev. 26:14-20; Deut. 28:12,23-24; I Kgs. 8:35; 17:1; II Chr. 7:11-14; Isa. 5:6; Jer. 14; Amos 4:7-8).

11:12 "the eyes of the Lord" This is an anthropomorphic description of the Lord like v. 2. It expresses His special care and presence in the Promised Land. See Special Topic at 2:15.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 11:13-17
  
13"It shall come about, if you listen obediently to my commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God and to serve Him with all your heart and all your soul, 14that He will give the rain for your land in its season, the early and late rain, that you may gather in your grain and your new wine and your oil. 15He will give grass in your fields for your cattle, and you will eat and be satisfied. 16Beware that your hearts are not deceived, and that you do not turn away and serve other gods and worship them. 17Or the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you, and He will shut up the heavens so that there will be no rain and the ground will not yield its fruit; and you will perish quickly from the good land which the Lord is giving you."

11:13 Notice the conditional ("if" BDB 49, cf. v. 22; and "obey" BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal infinitive absolute and Qal imperfect from the same root, which shows emphasis and means "to hear so as to do!") nature of YHWH's blessing is:

1. "to love" - BDB 12, KB 17, Qal infinitive construct

2. "to serve" - BDB 712, KB 773, Qal infinitive construct. In Arabic this root means to worship and obey God, cf. Exod. 3:12; 4:3; 7:16; 8:1

3. "with all your heart and all your soul," cf. 4:29; 6:5; and especially 10:12.

Moses is repeating this exhortation again and again for emphasis.

▣ "heart" For the ancient Hebrew the "heart" stood for the mind and intent, the intellect and motive of an individual. See Special Topic at 2:30.

▣ "soul" This word means "the life force given by God" (BDB 659). It can refer to humans or animals in Genesis.

11:14 "He will give the rain" "He will give" (BDB 678, KB 733) describes YHWH's covenant blessings and cursings:

1. v. 9 - Qal infinitive construct (blessing)

2. v. 14 - Qal perfect (blessing)

3. v. 15 - Qal perfect (blessing)

4. v. 17 - Qal imperfect (curse)

5. v. 17 - Qal perfect (curse)

6. v. 21 - Qal infinitive construct (blessing)

7. v. 25 - Qal imperfect (blessing)

8. v. 26 - Qal participle (blessing/curse)

9. v. 29 - Qal  perfect (blessing/curse)

10. v. 31 - Qal participle (blessing)

11. v. 32 - Qal participle (blessing/curse)

YHWH wants to bless, but Israel's covenant obedience determines which response (blessing or cursing, cf. chapters 27-29) she receives.

God is separate from nature yet is in control of it. He uses it to reveal Himself to mankind (cf. Deut. 27-28; Ps. 19:1-6; Rom. 1:19-25; 2:14-15).

▣ "early" Palestine has two annual times of rainfall. The early rains (for planting) come in October - November (BDB 435, cf. Jer. 5:24; Hos. 6:2; Joel 2:23).

▣ "late rains" The late rains (for maturing crops) come in February - April (BDB 545, cf. Jer. 3:3; Joel 2:23). At other times heavy dew is the only source of moisture. Hosea 6:3 uses this as a metaphor of end-time spiritual renewal.

▣ "your grain and your new wine and your oil" These were staples of their diet (cf. 7:13).

11:15 "for your cattle" This term "cattle" (BDB 96) refers to:

1. all living creatures other than humans, Gen. 8:1; Exod. 9:9,10,22

 2. domestic animals, Gen. 47:17; Exod. 20:10; Lev. 19:19; 26:22; Num. 3:41,45; Deut. 2:35

 

▣ "you shall eat and be satisfied" This verb is a recurrent promise in Deuteronomy (cf. 6:11; 8:10; 11:15; 14:29). It is made up of two verbs:

1. "eat" - BDB 37, KB 46, Qal perfect

2. "be satisfied" - BDB 959, KB 1302, Qal perfect

 

11:16-17 These verses are a warning ("beware," BDB 1036, KB 1581, Niphal imperative, cf. 4:9,15,23; 6:12; 8:11; 11:16; 12:13,19,28,30; 15:9; 24:8, see note at 6:12) about idolatry and its consequences.

SPECIAL TOPIC: CONSEQUENCES OF IDOLATRY

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 11:18-25
  
18"You shall therefore impress these words of mine on your heart and on your soul; and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and they shall be as frontals on your forehead. 19You shall teach them to your sons, talking of them when you sit in your house and when you walk along the road and when you lie down and when you rise up. 20You shall write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21so that your days and the days of your sons may be multiplied on the land which the Lord swore to your fathers to give them, as long as the heavens remain above the earth. 22For if you are careful to keep all this commandment which I am commanding you to do, to love the Lord your God, to walk in all His ways and hold fast to Him, 23then the Lord will drive out all these nations from before you, and you will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you. 24Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours; your border will be from the wilderness to Lebanon, and from the river, the river Euphrates, as far as the western sea. 25No man will be able to stand before you; the Lord your God will lay the dread of you and the fear of you on all the land on which you set foot, as He has spoken to you."

11:18-20 These verses are a recapitulation of chapter 6:6-9. They are meant to impress on the faithful the need to live life in light of God's words!

▣ "You shall therefore impress these words" This is metaphorical, BDB 962, KB 1321, Qal perfect, cf. 32:46. This is what the metaphors of 6:8 and Exod. 13:9,16 mean. Always keep God's word in the forefront of your thoughts. Review every action in light of them!

11:19 "teach them to your sons" See note at 4:9.

11:20 "write" In the past some scholars have questioned the ability of Moses and the early Israelites to write. As the archaeological evidence has grown, no one today would deny this. See "The Question of Israelite Literary" in Approaches to the Bible, vol. 2, pp. 142-53 (from Biblical Archaeology Society, 1995).

11:21

NASB"as long as the heavens remain above the earth"
NKJV"like the days of the heavens are above the earth"
NRSV"as long as the heavens are above the earth"
TEV, NJB"as long as there is sky above the earth"

This is a parallel statement to "perpetual ordinance" (e.g., Exod. 12:14,17,24,25; 13:10). This is a metaphor of permanence.

11:22 The conditional nature of the covenant (cf. v. 13) and its requirements are recurrent:

1. the condition is similar to v. 13, but slightly different:

a. "for if" and, BDB 49

b. "to keep" BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal infinitive absolute and Qal imperfect verb (grammatical construction used to bring emphasis)

2. the requirements (series of Qal infinitive constructs, like v. 13):

a. "to do" - BDB 793, KB 889

b. "to love" - BDB 12, KB 17

c. "to walk" - BDB 229, KB 246, cf. 8:6

d. "to hold fast to" - BDB 179, KB 209, cf. 10:20; 13:4

 

11:23-25 These are the promised results (i.e., "as He has spoken to you," v. 25) of the conditional covenant:

1. "The Lord will drive out all the nations before you," v. 23, BDB 439, KB 441, Hiphil perfect, cf. Exod. 34:24; Num. 32:21; Deut. 4:37-38; 9:4-5; Josh. 23:5,13

2. "You will dispossess nations greater and mightier than you," v. 23, BDB 439, KB 441, Qal perfect, cf. 7:17; 9:3; Num. 33:52

3. "Every place on which the sole of your foot treads shall be yours," v. 24, BDB 201, KB 231, Qal imperfect, cf Josh. 1:3. Their borders are described in Gen. 15:18; Exod. 23:31; Deut. 1:7; 3:12-17; Josh. 1:1-4; 13:8-12

4. "No man will be able to stand before you," v. 25, BDB 426, KB 427, Hithpael imperfect, cf. 7:24; Josh. 1:5; 10:8; 23:9

5. "The Lord your God will lay," BDB 678, KB 733, Qal imperfect

a. "fear" - BDB 808, cf. 2:25

b. "dread" - BDB 432, cf. Gen. 9:2

This same truth, but in different terms is in Exod. 23:27 and Josh. 2:9.

11:24 For full notes on the boundaries of the Promised Land see 1:8.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 11:26-28
  
26"See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27the blessing, if you listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, which I am commanding you today; 28and the curse, if you do not listen to the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you have not known.

11:26-28 These verses continue the consequences of the conditional covenant between YHWH and His people. They are expanded in Deuteronomy 27-29. These verses explain much of the history of the Jews.

 This paragraph starts out with a common call for attention, "See" - BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative, cf. 1:8,21; 2:24; 4:5; 11:26; 30:15; 32:39. The term "today" (BDB 398) is a way of urging decisive, immediate action (cf. 4:39).

1. "blessing" - BDB 139

a. "if you listen" - BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperfect, "hear so as to do," cf. commanded in 4:1; 5:1; 6:3,4; 9:1; 20:3; 27:10; 33:7; conditioned in 7:12; 11:13(twice); 15:5(twice); 28:1(twice),13; 30:10,17

2. "curse" - BDB 887

a. "if you do not listen," same as above, Qal imperfect

b. "turn aside" - BDB 693, KB 747, Qal perfect

c. "following other gods" - BDB 229, KB 246, literally, "walking," cf. 6:14; 8:19; 11:28; 13:2; 28:14; Jdgs. 2:12; Jer. 7:6,9; 11:10; 13:10

This contrast of destinies is often called "the two ways" (cf. chapter 28 and 30:1,15-20; Ps. 1; Jer. 21:8; Matt. 7:13-14).

11:28 "following" This is literally "know." See full note at 4:35.

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: 11:29-32
  29
"It shall come about, when the Lord your God brings you into the land where you are entering to possess it, that you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30Are they not across the Jordan, west of the way toward the sunset, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh? 31For you are about to cross the Jordan to go in to possess the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you shall possess it and live in it, 32and you shall be careful to do all the statutes and the judgments which I am setting before you today."

11:29 "the blessing. . .the curse" This verse describes the covenant renewal ceremony conducted by Joshua at Shechem (cf. chapters 27-28 and Josh. 8:30-35). Apparently two groups of Levitical singers sang or chanted the blessing from Mt. Gerezim and the curses from Mr. Ebal. These two mountains flank Shechem (i.e., meaning shoulder blades, BDB 1014). Archaeology has found a large stone altar on Mt. Ebal which matches the description of this altar in the Talmud. See Introduction to the book VII.

This follows the Suzerain Hittite Treaties, which relate to the king and his subjects (cf. Deut. 27: Josh. 24 for the same pattern).

11:30 "Arabah" This is the Jordan Valley south of the Dead Sea. See note at 1:1.

▣ "Gilgal" This means a "circle of stones" (BDB 166 II), which was the name of the Israelites' first camp site in Canaan (cf. Josh. 4:19). However, this one may be farther north near Shechem (see The IVP Bible Background Commentary, OT, p. 181).

▣ "oaks of Moreh" This was a sacred tree or grove. We know this was a sacred site near Shechem because of Gen. 12:6 and 35:4. Moreh means "teacher" (BDB 435).

11:31-32 These are summary verses recounting what has been stated many times before.

DISCUSSION QUESTIONS

This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. Why does Deuteronomy repeat the same phrases and historical incidents so much?

2. How are the conditional or volitional elements of the Covenant emphasized?

3. How is the sovereignty of YHWH emphasized?

 

Related Topics: Bible Study Methods