Deuteronomy 7:12 – 11:25
Rewards for Obedience
If only you listen to these laws, safeguarding and keeping them, then HaShem your Lord will keep the covenant and love with which He made an oath to your fathers. He will love you, bless you and make you numerous. He will bless the fruit of your womb, the fruit of your land, your grain, your wine, your oil, the calves of your herds, and the lambs of your flocks, in the land that He promised your fathers that He would give to you.
You will be blessed above all nations. Among you and your livestock, there will not be any sterile or barren. HaShem will take all sickness from you. He will not allow any of the terrible Egyptian afflictions that you experienced to affect you; instead, He will direct them against all your enemies.
When you consume all the nations that HaShem your Lord is giving you, do not show them any pity. Do not worship their gods, since this will be a deadly trap for you.
You might say to yourself, “These nations are more numerous than we are. How will we be able to drive them out?” Do not be afraid of them. You must remember what HaShem did to Pharaoh and all the rest of Egypt. Remember the great miracles that you saw with your own eyes – the signs, the wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm with which HaShem your Lord brought you out of Egypt. HaShem will do the same to all the nations whom you fear. HaShem your Lord will also send deadly hornets to attack them, so that the survivors hiding from you will also be destroyed. Do not cringe before these nations. HaShem your Lord is with you – a great and awesome G-d.
HaShem will uproot these nations before you little by little. You will not be allowed to finish them off too quickly, so that the wild animals not overwhelm you. HaShem will place these nations in your power. He will throw them into utter panic until they are destroyed.
He will place their kings in your power, and you will obliterate their names from under the heavens. No man will stand up before you until you destroy them.You must burn their idolatrous statues in fire. Do not desire the gold and silver on these statues and take it for yourselves. Let it not bring you into a deadly trap, since it is something offensive to HaShem your Lord.
Do not bring any offensive idol into your house, since you may become just like it. Shun it totally and consider it absolutely offensive, since it is taboo.
Dangers of Overconfidence
You must safeguard and keep the entire mandate that I am prescribing to you today. You will then survive, flourish, and come to occupy the land that HaShem swore to your fathers. Remember the entire path along which HaShem your Lord led you these forty years in the desert. He sent hardships to test you, to determine what is in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. He made life difficult for you, letting you go hungry, and then He fed you the Manna, which neither you nor your ancestors had ever experienced. This was to teach you that it is not by bread alone that man lives, but by all that comes out of HaShem’s mouth.
The clothing you wore did not become tattered, and your feet did not become bruised these forty years. You must thus meditate on the fact that just as a man might chastise his child, so HaShem your Lord is chastising you. Safeguard the commandments of HaShem your Lord, so that you will walk in His ways and remain in awe of Him. HaShem your Lord is bringing you to a good land – a land with flowing streams, and underground springs gushing out in valley and mountain.
It is a land of wheat, barley, grapes, figs and pomegranates – a land of oil-olives and honey- dates. It is a land where you will not eat rationed bread, and you will not lack anything – a land whose stones are iron, and from whose mountains you will quarry copper. When you eat and are satisfied, you must therefore bless HaShem your Lord for the good land that He has given you. Be careful that you not forget HaShem your Lord, not keeping His commandments, decrees and laws, which I am prescribing to you today. You may then eat and be satisfied, building fine houses and living in them. Your herds and flocks may increase, and you may amass much silver and gold – everything you own may increase. But your heart may then grow haughty, and you may forget HaShem your Lord, the One who brought you out of the slave house that was Egypt.
It was He who led you through the great, terrifying desert, where there were snakes, vipers, scorpions and thirst. When there was no water, it was He who provided you water from a solid cliff. In the desert He fed you Manna, which was something that your ancestors never knew. He may have been sending hardships to test you, but it was so He would eventually do [all the more] good for you.
When you later have prosperity, be careful that you not say to yourself, ‘It was my own strength and personal power that brought me all this prosperity.’ You must remember that it is HaShem your Lord who gives you the power to become prosperous. He does this so as to keep the covenant that He made with an oath to your fathers, even as He is keeping it today.
Warnings Against Idolatry
If you ever forget HaShem your Lord, and follow other gods, worshiping them and bowing to them, I bear witness to you today that you will be totally annihilated. You will be destroyed just like the nations that HaShem is destroying before you – that will be the result if you do not obey HaShem your Lord.
Warnings Against Self-Righteousness
Listen, Israel, today you are preparing to cross the Jordan. When you arrive, you will drive out nations greater and more powerful than you, with great cities, fortified to the skies.They are a great nation, as tall as giants. You know that you have heard the expression, “Who can stand up before a giant?” But you must realize today that HaShem your Lord is the One who shall cross before you. He is like a consuming fire, and He will subjugate these nations before you, rapidly driving them out and annihilating them, as HaShem promised you. When HaShem repulses them before you, do not say to yourselves, ‘It was because of my virtue that HaShem brought me to occupy this land.’
It was because of the wickedness of these nations that HaShem is driving them out before you. It was not because of your virtue and basic integrity that you are coming to occupy their land, but because of the wickedness of these nations whom HaShem is driving out before you. It is also because HaShem is keeping the word that He swore to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Therefore, realize that it is not because of your virtue that HaShem your Lord is giving you this land to occupy, since you are a very stubborn nation. Remember and never forget how you provoked HaShem your Lord in the desert. From the day you left Egypt until you came here, you have been rebelling against HaShem.
Even at Horeb you provoked HaShem! And HaShem was ready to display anger and destroy you. I had climbed the mountain to get the stone tablets – tablets of the covenant that HaShem had made with you. I remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights without eating food or drinking water. HaShem gave me the two stone tablets written with HaShem’s finger. Upon them were written all the words that HaShem declared to you on the mountain out of the fire, on the Day of Assembly. At the end of the forty days and forty nights, HaShem gave me the two stone tablets as tablets of the covenant. But HaShem then said to me, “Get moving and hurry down from here! The nation that you brought out of Egypt has become corrupt. They have been quick to turn aside from the path that I prescribed for them, and they have made themselves a cast statue.”
HaShem then said to me, “I see that this is a very stubborn nation. Just leave Me alone, and I will destroy them, obliterating their name from under the heavens. I will then make you into a nation greater and more numerous than they.” I turned around and went down from the mountain. The mountain was still burning with fire, and the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands.
I immediately saw that you had sinned to HaShem your Lord, making a cast calf. You were so quick to turn from the path that HaShem your Lord had prescribed! I grasped the two tablets, and threw them down from my two hands, breaking them before your eyes.I then threw myself down before HaShem, and just as during the first forty days and forty nights, I did not eat any food or drink water. I dreaded the anger and rage that HaShem was directing at you, which had threatened to destroy you. But HaShem also listened to me this time.
HaShem also expressed great anger toward Aaron, threatening to destroy him, so, at that time, I also prayed for Aaron. I took the calf, the sinful thing that you had made, and I burned it in fire. I then pulverized it, grinding it well, until it was as fine as dust, and I threw the dust into the stream flowing down from the mountain.
At Tav’erah, Massah, and Graves-of-Craving, you also provoked HaShem. And at Kadesh Barnea, HaShem sent you forth and said, ‘Head north and occupy the land that I have given you,’ but you rebelled against the word of HaShem your Lord, and did not have faith in Him or obey Him. You have been rebelling against HaShem since the day I knew you! In any case, because HaShem said He would destroy you, I threw myself down before HaShem and lay prostrate for forty days and forty nights.
My prayer to HaShem was, “HaShem! Lord! Do not destroy Your nation and heritage, which You liberated with Your greatness, and which You brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Do not pay attention to the stubbornness of this nation, or to their wickedness and sin. ‘Do not let the land from which You took them say, ‘HaShem brought them out to kill them in the desert because He hated them and could not bring them to the land He promised them.’ After all, they are Your people and Your heritage. You brought them out with Your great power and with Your outstretched arm!”
The Second Set of Tablets
At that time, HaShem said to me, “Carve out two stone tablets like the first ones, and come up to Me on the mountain. Make yourself a wooden ark. I will write on the tablets the words which were on the first tablets that you broke, and you shall place them in the ark.” I made an ark out of acacia wood and carved out two tablets like the first. I then climbed the mountain with the two tablets in my hand.
HaShem wrote on the tablets the original script of the Ten Commandments which he declared to you from the mountain out of the fire on the Day of Assembly. HaShem gave them to me, and I turned around and went down from the mountain. I placed the tablets in the ark I made, and they remained there as HaShem had commanded.
Later, after the Israelites had left the wells of Beney Yaakan and Moserah, Aaron died and was buried there, so that Eleazar his son became priest in his stead. From those areas, they had traveled to GudHaShemah, and from GudHaShemah to Yatvath, an area of flowing brooks.After I came down from the mountain, HaShem designated the tribe of Levi to carry the ark of HaShem’s covenant, to stand before HaShem and serve Him, and to offer blessing in His name. It is for this reason that Levi was not given any portion or inheritance along with his brethren. HaShem is his heritage, as HaShem promised him.
I had thus remained on the mountain forty days and forty nights, just like the first time, and HaShem listened to me this time as well, agreeing not to destroy you. HaShem then said to me, “Get moving and resume the march at the head of the people. Let them come and occupy the land that I swore to their fathers that I would give to them.”
Following HaShem’s Way
And now, Israel, what does HaShem want of you? Only that you remain in awe of HaShem your Lord, so that you will follow all His paths and love Him, serving HaShem your Lord with all your heart and with all your soul.You must keep HaShem’s commandments and decrees that I am prescribing for you today, so that good will be yours.The heaven, the heaven of heaven, the earth and everything in it, all belong to HaShem!
Still, it was only with your ancestors that HaShem developed a closeness. He loved them and therefore chose you, their descendants, from among all nations, just as the situation is today. Remove the barriers from your heart and do not remain so stubborn any more!
HaShem your Lord is the ultimate Supreme Being and the highest possible Authority. He is the great, mighty and awesome HaShem, who does not give special consideration or take bribes. He brings justice to the orphan and widow, and loves the foreigner, granting him food and clothing. You must also show love toward the foreigner, since you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.Remain in awe of HaShem, serve Him, cling to Him, and swear by His name.
He is your praise and your HaShem, the One who did for you these great and awesome deeds that you saw with your very eyes. Your ancestors emigrated to Egypt with only seventy individuals, but now HaShem your Lord has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky. So love HaShem your Lord, and safeguard His trust, his decrees, laws and commandments, for all time. You must now realize that I am not speaking of your children, who did not know and did not see the lesson that HaShem your Lord [taught] through His greatness, His mighty hand and His outstretched arm.
There were the signs and deeds that He did in Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt and all his land. There was what He did in Egypt’s forces, to their horses and chariots, when He swamped them with the water of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you. HaShem destroyed them so that even now they have not recovered. There was what He did in the desert, until you came to this area.
There was what He did to Dathan and Aviram, the sons of Reuben’s son Eliav, when in the midst of all Israel the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, along with their houses, their tents, and all the living things that were with them. Thus, your own eyes have seen all the great deeds that HaShem has done.
Safeguard the entire mandate that I am prescribing to you today, so that you will be strong and come to occupy the land which you are crossing to occupy. You will then long endure on the land that HaShem swore to your fathers that He would give to them and their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey.
A Demanding Land
The land which you are about to occupy is not like Egypt, the place you left, where you could plant your seed and irrigate it by yourself, just like a vegetable garden. But the land which you are crossing to occupy is a land of mountains and valleys, which can be irrigated only by the rain. It is therefore a land constantly under HaShem your Lord’s scrutiny; the eyes of HaShem your Lord are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.
Yoke of the Commandments
If you are careful to pay heed to my commandments, which I am prescribing to you today, and if you love HaShem your Lord with all your heart and soul, then HaShem has made this promise: “I will grant the fall and spring rains in your land at their proper time, so that you will have an ample harvest of grain, oil and wine. I will grant forage in your fields for your animals, and you will eat and be satisfied.”
Be careful that your heart not be tempted to go astray and worship other gods, bowing down to them. HaShem’s anger will then be directed against you, and He will lock up the skies so that there will not be any rain. The land will not give forth its crops, and you will rapidly vanish from the good land that HaShem is giving you. Place these words of mine on your heart and soul. Bind them as a sign on your arm, and let them be an insignia in the center of your head. Teach your children to speak of them, when you are at home, when traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up. Also write them on parchments affixed to the doorposts of your houses and gates. If you do this, you and your children will long endure on the land that HaShem swore to your ancestors, promising that He would give it to them as long as the heavens are above the earth.
Promise of Victory
If you carefully safeguard and keep this entire Mandate that I prescribe to you today, and if you love HaShem, walk in all His ways, and cling to Him, then HaShem will drive out all these nations before you. You will expel nations that are greater and stronger than you are.
Every area upon which your feet tread shall belong to you. Your boundaries shall extend from the desert to the Lebanon, from a tributary of the Euphrates River as far as the Mediterranean Sea. No man will stand up before you. HaShem your Lord will place the fear and dread of you upon the entire area you tread, just as He promised you.
This is the second of seven “Prophecies of Comfort” that are read between the 9th of Av and Rosh Hashanah,
In the Haftara Isaiah says that HaShem will restore Israel’s ruins and make it like Eden.
- Forty-Sixth of 54 Sedras in the Torah
- Written on 232 lines in the Sefer Torah
- 111 P’sukim (verses)
- 1,747 words
- 6,865 letters
Next week’s Parashat: Re’eh