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Deuteronomy 30


The Blessing of Returning to God Moses' Third Address (29:1-30:20) Conditions for Restoration and Blessing Return From Exile and Conversion
30:1-10 30:1-5 30:1-10 30:1-5
The Choice of Life and Death 30:6-10   30:6-10
30:11-14 30:11-14 30:11-14 30:11-14
      The Two Ways
30:15-20 30:15-20 30:15-20 30:15-20

READING CYCLE THREE (see introductory section)


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.



1"So it shall be when all of these things have come upon you, the blessing and the curse which I have set before you, and you call them to mind in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you, 2and you return to the Lord your God and obey Him with all your heart and soul according to all that I command you today, you and your sons, 3then the Lord your God will restore you from captivity, and have compassion on you, and will gather you again from all the peoples where the Lordyour God has scattered you. 4If your outcasts are at the ends of the earth, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there He will bring you back. 5The Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, and you shall possess it; and He will prosper you and multiply you more than your fathers."

30:1 "when all of these things have come upon you" Israel's future will be one of two realities based on their covenant obedience. YHWH desires "blessings," but their choices will determine which of the realities (i.e., blessings or cursings) comes into being. There are no other choices!

▣ "the blessing and the curse" This is known in wisdom literature as "the two ways." They are described in chapters 27 and 28.

▣ "I have set before you" This verb (BDB 678, KB 723, Qal perfect, cf. vv. 15,19 and note 11:26) is a metaphor for Israel's need to choose one of the two divine consequences related to His covenant.

▣ "and you call them to mind" This is an idiom "cause to return to your heart" (BDB 996, KB 1427, Hiphil perfect, cf. 4:39; I Kgs. 8:47; Isa. 44:19; 46:8).

▣ "in all nations where the Lord your God has banished you" This is predictive prophecy of the choices Israel would make which would result in exile. Notice YHWH did this because of Israel's continual covenant violations and imitations of the Canaanite practices.

30:2 "return" This same verb (BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal perfect) was used in v. 1 (Hiphil perfect) in reference to Israel recalling YHWH's covenant. Here it is used in the sense of repentance.

SPECIAL TOPIC: Repentance in the Old Testament

30:2-3 This context brings a needed theological balance to the stark judgment of 29:19. The problem is not rebellion, but sustained, continual rebellion. Repentance is always possible from God's side, but humans harden their own hearts with willful rebellion and disobedience!

▣ "Lord" YHWH is the covenant name of God that the rabbis say reflects His mercy (cf. Exod. 3:13-14). See SPECIAL TOPIC: NAMES FOR DEITY at 1:3.

▣ "God" Elohim is the general name for God which conveys power, might and strength. The rabbis say it is used of God's justice and righteousness. This distinction between these two names can be seen in Psalm 103, YHWH, and Psalm 104, Elohim. See Special Topic at 1:3.

▣ "obey" Notice that "returns to the Lord" is parallel to "obey Him" (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal perfect). Obedience is described in personal terms:

1. obey his voice - BDB 876

2. with all your heart - BDB 523

3. with all your soul - BDB 659

This is parallel to 4:29-30; 6:5; 10:12

Notice the number of times and the different senses of the term shub (BDB 996, KB 1427):

1. "call them to mind" is literally "cause them to return to your heart, v. 1

2. "you return to the Lord," v. 2

3. "God will restore you from captivity," v. 3

4. "again," vv. 3,8,9

5. "if you turn to the Lord," v.10


▣ "with all your heart and soul" This is an idiom of one's whole being (cf. vv. 2,6,10; 4:29; 6:5; 10:12; 11:13; 13:3; 26:16).

▣ "you and your sons" The ancient covenant is being renewed to the current generation (cf. 29:1). Israel was to educate the children as to the historical bases of their faith (cf. 4:9,10; 6:7,20-25; 11:19; 32:46).

30:3-4 "God will restore. . .God has scattered" Notice God is in control of history. He uses nations and individuals but He is sovereign (cf. Isa. 10:5; 44:28-45:1).

30:3-9 Notice what YHWH promised to do for Israel (if they obey, vv. 8,10):

1. He will restore (v. 3, BDB 996, KB 1427, Qal perfect)

2. He will have compassion (v. 3, BDB 933, KB 1216, Piel perfect)

3. He will gather you (BDB 867, KB 1062, Piel perfect, twice, vv. 3 and 4)

4. He will bring you back (v. 4, BDB 542, KB 534, Qal imperfect)

5. He will bring you into the land (v. 5, BDB 97, KB 112, Hiphil perfect)

6. He will prosper you (v. 5, BDB 405, KB 408, Hiphil perfect)

7. He will multiply you (v. 5, BDB 915 I, KB 1176, Hiphil perfect)

8. He will circumcise your heart (v. 6, BDB 557 II, KB 555, Qal perfect)

9. He will inflict all the curses on your enemies (v. 7, BDB 678, KB 733, Qal perfect)

10. He will prosper you abundantly (v. 9, BDB 451, KB 451, Hiphil perfect)

a. the work of your hand

b. the offspring of your body

c. the offspring of your cattle

d. the produce of your land (the opposite is in 28:38-42)

 11. He will again rejoice over you for good (v. 9, BDB 965, KB 1314 [twice], Qal infinitive construct and Qal perfect)



NASB"at the ends of the earth"
NKJV"to the farthest parts under heaven"
NKJV"to the ends of the world"
TEV"to the farthest corners of the earth"
NJB"to the very sky's end"

This is literally "to the end of the heavens," which is a hyperbole (cf. 4:32; 28:64; Jer. 31:8). It refers to the farthest civilizations they knew (i.e., the ancient Near East and Mediterranean cultures).

30:5 "which your fathers possessed" This could refer to:

1. the Patriarchs (Moses' day)

2. the return from the exile (post-exilic editor)

From my study #1 seems best. Verse 9 speaks of the same group.

▣ "He will prosper you and multiply you" This is part of God's promise to Abraham (cf. Gen. 12, 15, 17, etc).

6"Moreover the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your descendants, to love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, so that you may live. 7The Lord your God will inflict all these curses on your enemies and on those who hate you, who persecuted you. 8And you shall again obey the Lord, and observe all His commandments which I command you today. 9Then the Lord your God will prosper you abundantly in all the work of your hand, in the offspring of your body and in the offspring of your cattle and in the produce of your ground, for the Lord will again rejoice over you for good, just as He rejoiced over your fathers; 10if you obey the Lord your God to keep His commandments and His statutes which are written in this book of the law, if you turn to the Lord your God with all your heart and soul."

30:6 "God will circumcise your heart" This is a metaphor for an open and accessible hearing of God's word. The opposite is stated in v. 17. In 10:16 and Jer. 4:4; 9:25-26, the Israelite is called upon to perform this spiritual act (cf. Rom. 2:28-29), yet here God must do it. This same tension between God's sovereignty and human action is seen in Ezek. 18:31 vs. 36:26. Here circumcision is a metaphor for a proper spiritual attitude. See full note at 10:16.

▣ "heart" For the Hebrews this was the center of intellectual activity. See Special Topic at 2:30.

▣ "descendants" This is literally "seed" (BDB 282). This term is used in this metaphorical sense several times in Deuteronomy (cf. 1:8; 4:37; 10:15; 11:9; 28:46,59; 30:6,19; 31:21; 34:4).

▣ "soul" This is the Hebrew word nephesh (BDB659). See note at 11:13.

30:8-9 This reflects what God wanted to do for Israel and for the whole world! See Special Topic: Bob's Evangelical Biases at 4:6.

30:10 "if. . .if" This shows the conditional nature of the covenant. Notice that obedience (listen and keep) are paralleled with sincere and total commitment (with all your heart and soul).

11"For this commandment which I command you today is not too difficult for you, nor is it out of reach. 12It is not in heaven, that you should say, 'Who will go up to heaven for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' 13Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, 'Who will cross the sea for us to get it for us and make us hear it, that we may observe it?' 14But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart, that you may observe it."

30:11-14 YHWH's will for Israel was not impossible (cf. 28:29). This verse seems to depreciate the reformers doctrine of "total depravity." There are several places in the OT where human resistence to sin is possible (e.g., Gen. 4:7).

The church picks up on Genesis 3 as the origin of sin in mankind, while many rabbis pick up on Genesis 6 as the source of the conflict. As Christianity asserts the fallenness of all creation, including humanity, Judaism asserts the basic goodness of humanity. For them the evil is in the choice, not the basic nature.

However, it seems to me that moral accountability is based on the real possibility of comprehending God's will and the ability to act on it. Without the possibility of appropriate action, divine accountability is inappropriate! Can I be held responsible for that which I cannot do?

30:12 "'Who will go up to heaven'" Paul uses this in Rom. 10:6-9. It possibly reflects the Sumerian legend of Etana, but probably relates to the Hebrew view of God's sovereignty.

There are several verbs used in an imperatival sense in this verse (according to OT Parsing Guide):

1. "to get it" - BDB 542, KB 534, Qal imperfect, but jussive in meaning

2. "make us hear" - BDB 1033, KB 1570, Hiphil imperfect, but jussive in meaning

3. "we may observe it" - BDB 793, KB 889, Qal imperfect, but cohortative in meaning


30:13 "beyond the sea" Some see this as related to the Babylonian flood account called the Gilgamesh Epic, but it probably relates to the Jewish fears of sailing or a metaphor of the ends of the earth.

30:14 "But the word is very near you, in your mouth and in your heart" This refers to YHWH's revealed covenant. The ancients read Scripture aloud! They had to appropriately respond inwardly to what they had heard (i.e., read themselves or read aloud).

▣ "that you may observe it" Man must make the decision. It is in his ability to do so. God initiates but mankind must respond and continue to respond in repentance, faith, and obedience!

15"See, I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity; 16in that I command you today to love the Lord your God, to walk in His ways and to keep His commandments and His statutes and His judgments, that you may live and multiply, and that the Lord your God may bless you in the land where you are entering to possess it. 17But if your heart turns away and you will not obey, but are drawn away and worship other gods and serve them, 18I declare to you today that you shall surely perish. You will not prolong your days in the land where you are crossing the Jordan to enter and possess it. 19I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, the blessing and the curse. So choose life in order that you may live, you and your descendants, 20by loving the Lord your God, by obeying His voice, and by holding fast to Him; for this is your life and the length of your days, that you may live in the land which the Lord swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give them."

30:15 "See" This (BDB 906, KB 1157, Qal imperative) verb is used as an idiom for "pay close attention to" (cf. Gen. 27:27; 31:50). It is used several times in Deuteronomy (cf. 1:8,21,35; 2:24,31; 4:5; 11:26; 30:15; 32:39.

▣ "I have set before you today life and prosperity, and death and adversity" Even covenant Israel had to choose! This is referring to the blessing and cursing (cf. Lev. 26 and Deut. 27-28). Remember the choice is set in a covenant of grace. This is very similar to Wisdom Literature's idiom of the "two ways" (cf. Pro. 4:10-19; Jer. 21:8; Matt. 7:13-14). Our choices show who we are! How we respond to life's inexplicable "in and outs" reveals our spiritual orientation!

30:16-18 These verses are a summary of covenant conditions and consequences:

1. the responsibility (cf. 8:6; 19:9; 26:17; 28:9)

a. "to love the Lord," v. 16 (BDB 12, KB 17, Qal infinitive construct)

b. "walk in His ways," v. 16 (BDB 229, KB 246, Qal infinitive construct)

c. "keep His commandments," v. 16 (BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal infinitive)

2. the consequences of obedience

a. "you may live," v. 16 (BDB 310, KB 309, Qal perfect)

b. "you may multiply," v. 16 (BDB 915, KB 1156, Qal perfect)

c. "your God may bless you," v. 16 (BDB 138, KB 159, Piel perfect)

3. the conditions and consequences of disobedience

a. if your heart turns away," v. 17 (BDB 815, KB 937, Qal imperfect)

b. "if you will not obey," v. 17; (BDB 1033, KB 1570, Qal imperfect)

c. idolatry

(1) drawn away (BDB 623, KB 673, Niphil perfect)

(2) worship (BDB 1005, KB 295, Hishtaphel perfect)

(3) serve (BDB 712, KB 773, Qal perfect)

d. "you shall surely perish," v. 18 (BDB 1, KB 2, Qal infinitive absolute and Qal imperfect, which expresses intensity)

e. "you shall not prolong your days," v. 18 (BDB 73, KB 88, Hiphil imperfect)

Notice how v. 20 reinforces these covenant responsibilities so that the Patriarchal blessing can be fulfilled! This terminology is characteristic of Deuteronomy.

30:19 "I call heaven and earth to witness" These witnesses were not unique to Israel's covenant, but are found in several ancient Near Eastern texts. These two permanent aspects of God's creation (cf. Gen. 1:1) function as God's two required witnesses (cf. 17:6; 19:15; Num. 35:30). This legal emphasis occurs several times in Deuteronomy (cf. 4:26; 30:19; 31:28; 32:1). For "Earth" see Special Topic at 5:8.

▣ "So choose life in order that you may live" God has given humans the right and responsibility to make moral choices. It is part of His image and likeness in mankind! The Hebrew verb, "to choose" or "to elect," is used 70% of the time for mankind's choice (cf. NIDOTTE, vol. 1, p. 639). We must choose (cf. Ezek. 18:30-32).

▣ "you and your descendants" Deuteronomy characteristically emphasizes the need to pass on the covenant history and responsibilities to the succeeding generations (cf. 4:9,10; 6:7,20-25; 11:19; 32:46).

Our children are affected by our lifestyle choices and instruction (cf. Exod. 20:5-6; Deut. 5:9-10; 7:9).

30:20 There is a series of Qal infinitive constructs which summarize the covenant:

1. responsibilities

a. loving

b. obeying

c. holding fast

2. consequences

a. that you may dwell in the land

See note at 30:16-18. YHWH's covenant demanded an initial and a continual faith, love, obedience, and perseverance.

YHWH promised the land to Israel's patriarchs (cf. Gen. 12:7; 13:14-17; Deut. 9:4-6), but Israel must obey His covenant requirements or the land would be forfeited (cf. 11:31-32; 28:36,63-68; 30:19-20). The free gift must be responded to and maintained!



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. What is the central truth of this chapter?

2. Is this chapter speaking about someone becoming a believer or believers being faithful?

3. Does this chapter contradict Paul's theology about mankind's inability to keep the law (i.e., Galatians 3; Romans 3)?


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