Deuteronomy - Lesson 18

Completing the Covenant Triangle Deut. 11.29-32 - 27.1-27

Moses has given a profound theology of land. He gives the people of Israel instructions for what God wants them to do when they enter the land to confirm their covenant with God. This included using uncut stones and plastering them and writing the Torah on them and then praising God. The land is an integral part of the covenant. The people shout blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal.

Daniel Block
Lesson 18
Watching Now
Completing the Covenant Triangle Deut. 11.29-32 - 27.1-27

Completing the Covenant Triangle (11:29-32; 27:1-27)

I. Riddle of Deuteronomy 11:29-32

II. The Solution to the Riddle in 27:1-27

A. Structure

B. Summary of the content

C. Israel's claim to the land

D. Nature and purpose of the ritual speech

  • Understand that Deuteronomy, viewed as the Gospel according to Moses, is a theological, instructional book emphasizing covenant relationship and grace, aligning with New Testament teachings and offering life-giving messages rather than strict legal mandates.
  • Learn about Deuteronomy as a covenant document, its historical context, covenant categories, and the significance of covenantal rituals, gaining insight into its structure and covenantal vocabulary.
  • Gain insight into the process of how Deuteronomy texts were preserved, recognized as canonical, and the role of Moses and the Levitical priests in maintaining and transmitting these sacred writings.
  • Moses begins by recalling events that happened during their wandering in the wilderness, then recent events as they have gotten closer to entering the promises land from the east. Moses is idealized in the Old and New Testaments and in the writings of historians. You get a different picture when you read his first address. It shows Moses as faithful but flawed.

  • The Law was given to the nation of Israel after they had been freed from Egypt as the way to respond to God’s grace. God gives them the boundaries for right and wrong and a process to restore relationship when it is broken.

  • With the privilege of salvation and covenant relationship comes the call for a righteous response, demonstrated in joyful obedience to the Savior and Lord. A covenant is a formally confirmed agreement between two or more parties that creates, formalizes, governs a relationship that does not exist naturally or a natural relationship that has disintegrated.

  • God’s people are a privileged people; they have been graciously redeemed, and set apart as his special treasure, his holy covenant people. God acts graciously to undeserving people and they respond joyfully with obedience. The is the end of the first speech of Moses, Deuteronomy 4:32-40.

  • The Decalogue is the bill of rights of the people of ancient Israel. It is the ten principles of covenant relationship. It creates a picture of covenant righteousness and provides a foundation for later revelation. The Decalogue contains the features of a typical covenant and conditional and unconditional laws. The addressee is the head of the household because they can be a threat to others.

  • When Moses recites the Decalogue in Deuteronomy 5, there are parts that are similar to the passage in Exodus, and there are some significant differences. He begins with getting the attention of the people of Israel and appealing for covenant fidelity, restates the Decalogue, then ends with a document clause, using covenant language.

  • The Shema is a call for whole-hearted, full-bodied commitment. This passage is a theological exposition and pastoral proclamation to impress on the minds of the people of Israel the special relationship they enjoyed with YHWH. The grace God showed them must be embraced with grateful and unreserved devotion to their redeemer and covenant Lord.

  • God chooses the covenant partner, sets the terms, declares the goal, identifies the sign and determines the consequences of disobedience of the covenant. After Moses explains the purpose of the Law, he explains to the children how the Law was given and that learning it and putting it into practice will bring them life.

  • Moses talks to the people of Israel as they are entering the land, about how they will respond to the external test of confronting and dispossessing the surrounding nations. He reminds them of their special status with God and the covenant that he offers them unconditionally. He challenges them with the theological, ethical and missional significance of the test.

  • How can you worship a God that asks the people of Israel to wipe out the Canaanites? The reason for Israel taking the land is so the people of Israel as a holy people will be preserved so the world will be preserved. God is fundamentally compassionate and gracious, he does what is right and God offers us grace and mercy.

  • When everything goes right, what do you do then? The message of this passage is, “don’t forget.” YHWH provided manna in the wilderness to feed the people of Israel. God was also teaching them in the wilderness that life comes from every word of the mouth of God, not just by eating physical food. Moses challenges the people to respond to prosperity by praising God, not by taking the credit themselves.

  • The enemies in the Promised Land are formidable. God promises to defeat them. Moses warns that people to acknowledge that God is responsible. Even though the Canaanites do not follow God, the reason God chose the people is not because they are morally superior to the Canaanites.

  • Israel’s covenant with YHWH is based entirely on his grace and they don’t deserve it. Moses interceded on behalf the of people of Israel to ask God to not judge them and God is described as, “changing his mind” and renewing his covenant with them.

  • “What does YHWH ask of you?” Moses answers this question, then gives a doxology to confirm it and an application to illustrate it. God wants you to have a soft heart toward him, to live in an attitude of trusting awe and to act in a way that honors the covenant that God has established with you.

  • Moses has given a profound theology of land. He gives the people of Israel instructions for what God wants them to do when they enter the land to confirm their covenant with God. This included using uncut stones and plastering them and writing the Torah on them and then praising God. The land is an integral part of the covenant. The people shout blessings on Mount Gerizim and curses on Mount Ebal.

  • As the people of Israel enter the land, God has instructions for them on how to live in relationship with him and worship him so that it may go well with them and their children. They are to reject the false worship practices of the surrounding nations and accept God’s invitation to come and worship him in the place and in the way he has designed for them.

  • The Levites represent a barometer on where the people of Israel are in their ethical religion. They are not given land as an inheritance so it is the responsibility of people in the other tribes to support them. Moses presents a theology of worship but doesn’t go into detail.

  • This is a warning to the people of Israel to not imitate the materialistic preoccupation and the brutal rituals associated with the worship practices of the surrounding nations when they worship YHWH. There are warnings against following false prophets, someone in your family or people in your community if they are promoting seditious religious practices. The apostle Paul uses similar language in the New Testament when warning people about following people who teach heresies.

  • In contrast to worship with the purpose of satisfying the gods, YHWH delights in fellowship with his people and for them to celebrate in his presence. YHWH encourages his people to eat in his presence and with other people. His guidelines about which foods are acceptable to eat set the people of Israel apart from other nations.

  • A main purpose of the national festivals was to keep alive the memory of God’s grace and maintain their faith in god and their covenant with him.

  • Moses describes the key offices and roles that keep the society going by providing political and spiritual structure. The primary concern is righteousness. The king is to be the embodiment of Torah righteousness. Moses outlines specific steps to achieve this and describes what it will look like.

  • Moses, in his role as prophet, is the commissioned envoy of righteousness to the people of Israel. Moses was a mediator between God and the people of Israel. He warned the people of Israel about false prophets and the danger of adopting the worship practices of the surrounding nations.

  • Moses provides a picture of covenant life and godliness in a way that you can apply it to every situation in life. It’s important to care for the poor and the resident alien and to show justice to them. The resident aliens were invited to participate in the feasts and covenant life.

  • The ideal for the people of Israel was a patricentric society but in often the reality was a patriarchal society. In a patricentric society, the male head of the clan will provide resources and security in a way that gives his family and the community opportunities to flourish. The vision for women in Deuteronomy is different than the world that is described in Israelite narratives.

  • Celebrating God’s goodness and grace in the Land. Bringing an offering from the firsfruits of the harvest is a time to remember how God has provided for the people of Israel in the past, both as individuals and as a community. There are lessons we can learn about worhship and living faithfully. This is the Deuteronomic creed.

  • Some people view the curses in Deuteronomy 28 as a stumbling block to accepting the Old Testament as Christian Scripture because they say it represents God as vengeful. However, this was a common way of writing covenants in the Ancient Near East, they follow a list of extraordinary blessings, they serve a pastoral function and there are similar curses articulated in the New Testament.

  • Deuteronomy 29 begins with Moses recounting how YHWH brought the people out of Egypt and gave them victory in the land east of the Jordan River. Then he describes the curses they will experience when they turn away from the Lord. Chapter 30 describes the eschatological restoration. Deuteronomy 29:29 refers to the mystery of divine grace. (The movie and book series that Dr. Block is referring to is Lord of the Rings by J.R.R Tolkien. The prequel to this series is The Hobbit.)

  • This is the final altar call of Moses to the people of Israel to appeal to them to choose life by living in covenant relationship with YHWH. The revelation of YHWH given through Moses is to be memorized, recited and used as a guide for conduct. It is understandable and doable.

  • The Torah that Moses has been preaching was written down. This is the introduction to the song of Moses and contains the commissioning of Joshua, who will take over after Moses dies. Part of the book of Deuteronomy is the death narrative of Moses.

  • This passage is a poetic witness to the people of Israel of the faithfulness of YHWH and the faithlessness of Israel. Moses was told to teach it to the people of Israel so they could pass it on to their descendants. People could sing it throughout the day and it could be presented as a musical drama at national celebrations.

  • At the end of the sermons of Moses, he pronounces a benediction by saying something specific for each tribe. Deuteronomy 33 and Genesis 49 have some similarities and differences in the way the sons of Jacob and their descendants are blessed. The exordium and the coda frame the blessings by describing YHWH’s care and provision for the people of Israel as their king.

  • This is the last narrative story about Moses in the Old Testament. God tells him to go up on Mt. Nebo where he is able to see the land. Joshua takes over as the leader of the people. There is a eulogy for Moses at the end.  

The Gospel according to Moses. This is a collection of sermons of Moses as the people of Israel are poised to enter the promised land after being in the wilderness for 40 years. Deuteronomy is a special book, calling God’s people to celebrate his grace and demonstrate covenant love for him with action that glorifies his name. Until we recognize the gospel in this book, we will not read this book. (Note: Mt. Sinai and Mt. Horeb are referring to the same mountain. They are used interchangeably)

Recommended Reading:

The Gospel According to Moses, by Dr. Daniel Block

The Triumph of Grace, by Daniel I. Block

How I Love Your Torah, O Lord!: Studies in the Book of Deuteronomy, by Daniel I. Block

Deuteronomy (NIV Application Commentary Series), by Daniel I. Block

Sepher Torath Mosheh: Studies in the Composition and Interpretation of Deuteronomy, by Daniel I. Block, Richard L. Schultz

Biblical Prose Prayer, by Moshe Greenberg

Recommended Books

The Gospel according to Moses

The Gospel according to Moses

To many people the law stands in opposition to the gospel. While it may be possible to read Paul's epistles this way, the book of Deuteronomy will not allow this reading. Like the book of Romans in the New Testament, Deuteronomy provides the most systemat
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The Triumph of Grace: Literary and Theological Studies in Deuteronomy and Deuteronomic Themes

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The Apostle Paul's negative statements about the law have deafened the ears of many to the grace that Moses proclaims in Deuteronomy. Most Christians have a dim view of...

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Deuteronomy (The NIV Application Commentary)

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Dr. Daniel Block



Completing the Covenant Triangle Deut. 11.29-32 - 27.1-27

Lesson Transcript


[00:00:00] In this session. I am moving right to the very end of the first address. We will begin with the last three or four verses of Chapter 11, and then we'll hop, skip and jump all the way through to 27, which offers us laser commentary on what is anticipated here. So in between 11, verse 2 to 11, verse 25, Moses has given us a profound theology of land. We touched on this already. When we look at the ode to the land, but there's far more here for the sake of time. We don't have time to cover every text. That's what's happened before hand. Then when we get to verse 26, you can tell in this sermon, now Moses has reached the altar call. See, I had him sitting before you today. A blessing and a curse. The blessing. If you listen to the commands of the Lord, your God and the curse. If you refuse, if you will not listen to the commands of the Lord. John, by turning aside, you turn to. Aside from the way that I am commanding you today, by following other gods which you haven't known. So choose which one you want. Choose you this day. Whom you will serve. This is 11 Chapter 26 to 28. This is obviously the conclusion to an address. We will have something similar coming in chapter 30 at the end of the last address. And that's really Schloss. But here is the ending to the first address. He send them home for a night and he's inviting his audience to reflect on what was said. Choose life. Joshua will later say, Choose you this day whom you will save or serve. As for me and my house, we will serve the Lord well. That's what we've got here.


[00:02:12] But then in versus 29 to 30. Whereas at the end of other addresses there, the narrator inserts a narrative that is not speech. Instead of that, what we have, Moses ends his second farewell on a curious note, alluding in vague terms to an anticipated event on the other the West side of the Jordan on Mount Gerizim and Eabl, and involving depositing the blessing on Mt. Gerizim and the curse on Mt. Evil. Whatever that means. Well, let's have a look at the map here. This is where we are. We are parked on this side. Moses is there. This is the the plains of Moab here. Moses will climb the mountain to to die up here. Mount Nebo. But they are here. And what he is saying, when you cross the Jordan, the first item on your agenda is go to Mount Zim and Ebel up here for a special ceremony. This is not what they did under Joshua. After Gerrit Cole, which is here after the defeat, or after the Lord knocked down the walls. Jericho was not part of the conquest. Jericho is the gate. This generation hadn't seen God park the waters of the Red Sea. So the Lord gives them a miniature experience of that big thing by crossing the Jordan. I mean, it's just a little river, actually. But. But he parts the waters of the Jordan. So this generation gets to experience in microcosm what what they saw there. But the other side of that one is in the battle against Jericho. Jericho is the equivalent of the Egyptians. God defeated the Egyptians. We mentioned this yesterday. God defeated the Egyptians without reference to Israelite involvement, except stand by and see the salvation of the Lord. And that's what happens with Jericho.


[00:04:45] And so now, after the gate has been opened, this is the gate into the promised land. Jericho is the gate. And so after the gate has been opened, they are to go up here and land up on Mt. Evil and garrisoned for a very special ceremony. But what does Joshua do? He takes them here. Ethel and I are here, and it's a disaster. You remember the story and I There they feed you really weeps before the Lord. What's going on? And that's when a can is exposed. It's very interesting. The author doesn't blame Joshua. The author blames. Aiken explicitly because of Aiken. There's there's evil in the camp. They messed up and that's why they were defeated. The author doesn't talk about Joshua. But the interesting thing is we have no record that Joshua checked in with the Lord. Where do we go now? He didn't need to check in. He knew what the instructions were, but off on his own. Instead of heading this way, they head here. It's a totally different route than Moses prescribes. And so I have a feeling that the real reason why they were defeated, I got to say. I mean, the conquest isn't supposed to start it. You're not supposed to engage the Canaanites. The first item on the agenda is that evil in Jerusalem, and you are taking things into your own hands. This is not. This is not what the Lord had in mind here. So let's let let's see how this works. The two routes are quite different. As you have it there. Again, why Jerusalem and evil? I suppose we should first have read the text when the Lord, your God brings you into the land you're entering to possessive. That you shall place the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount E Bole, whatever that means.


[00:06:59] Are they not across the Jordan? Yeah, they're across the Jordan, west of the way toward the sunset. Sunset Boulevard. In the land of the Canaanites, who live in the Arava. Now, the Arava is not. What it is not. It is. It is not. Is this hill country? The Arava is this valley. The Jordan River Valley runs all the way down here to the Red Sea. So we're talking about encountering Canaanites down here. So West cross the Jordan possess the canines who live in the river opposite Gil Gil beside the oaks of Mora. We'll come back to that one. But there's a reference to the Orcs of Mordor. Elsewhere, for you are about to cross the Jordan to go in and possess the land of the Lord. Your God is giving you and use your possesses and live in it. And you shall be careful to do all the statutes and judgments I'm setting before you today. Well, Moses has set the agenda and the itinerary. For the next stage in their life. Geographically? Well, let's talk about why Gerizim and Eabl, which are the two mountains right up here. The Oak of Moreh is actually right in the middle between them. Let's check them. Right in there. We'll talk about the significance of that in a moment. But these two mountains are dead center. If you involve the stereotypical dimensions of the land from then to Beersheba, New York to L.A., right in the dead center. And so you come here and that's where you land. So in terms of geography, it is central. Also in terms of geography, this is among the top. These are among the tallest mountains in the in the region. Gerizim is 28, 50 feet above sea level. Ebola is even higher, 30,000.


[00:09:14] From here, you can see Mount Hermon in the north and you can see the Judean Hills. You can't see all the way to Beersheba, though. The hills are in the road. But it gives you a good point of view in the very center of the line drawn from down to Beersheba. The traditional definition. But historically, I think it's even more significant. We would have thought that once they cross the Jordan River, that's headed straight for Zion, because the Lord knows Zion is the place he has chosen for his name to dwell. Let's go have a ceremony there. Start. Get it going right here. But he didn't do that. Instead, he takes us way up north. Why is this important? First, this was Abraham's first stopping place in the promised Land. When he came from Iran up north. And again, note the reference to the oak of Mora. But it's not only that this was Abraham's first stopping point where he arrives here and the gypsy says, You're there. This is the land. And from here, look. North, South. He's right. This is the land I'm giving you. And he offers a sacrifice to God. God has fulfilled his word. But this is also Jacob's first stopping place when he returned from Iran. Remember, he's running away from Israel. And he was gone for two decades. On his way back. Doesn't tell us why. He goes to check him. He crosses the Jordan just east there by river. He crosses over and he heads to this place where he builds an altar and he names it. Ll0 Hey, Yisrael. L the God of Israel. It's a significant moment. So why are the Israelites doing this? Why didn't God have the people coming in from the South end? You know, they're coming in from the east rather than Kadish Barnea in the south.


[00:11:21] Apparently, that wasn't the this event was not on the agenda. Or was it? We don't know. It's a totally different circumstance now. We've come all the way around here and we're about to cross from the west side. And the first place they're supposed to go is the same place that Abraham landed and the same place. Significance is obvious. God has kept his promise. We're there and we have to worship God at this place. When they when they first came in 40 years earlier with the two scouts. Where do they come in? They came from Carter's far near South, and they went up to Elrod and then to Hebron. They went as far as Hebron. And actually, they went as far as far north. And. They took the highway along the ridge, the mountain ridge. Whereas now they're coming not along the mountain ridge. That was a disaster last time. But that's also where some of the big cities are. They're going up the valley and up the the wadi to Garrison and Eagle. Well, now let's jump to chapter 27. A strange text of this text has been inserted here. Editorially, it's obviously out of place. If you read from Deuteronomy 26 verse 19, where it says he will set you high above all nations, which he has made for praise, fame and honor the evils you'll be a consecrated people for to Yahweh for your God. As He has spoken, then skip all the way to 28. It read smoothly. Now, if you diligently listen to the Lord your God and are careful to give His commands, you the Lord will set you high above the nations of the earth. It's exactly the same theme, and all these blessings will come to you and they will overtake you.


[00:13:30] That the third address carries over from chapter 26. It's from 12 1 to 2619, and then it leapfrogs over 27, which is totally different. It's a it's extraneous in geological terms. It's an erratic. And erratic is a rock, a boulder that a glacier picks up in one part of the continent. And as it moves down, it the pauses it in another place where it's not at home. There are some of these in Illinois, very fascinating rocks. They obviously don't belong here. They're not like anything else around. But that's what we got in chapter 27. It's an erratic For some reason, the editor of the book inserted that high point. The Lord has set you high above the nations. He separated from the chapter of the blessings and the curses. As if he wants us to catch our breath first before we get there. And then at the end of the cursus, that's the end of the third address. So that's what we're happening here. This chapter 27 divided into three parts 1 to 8 is a ceremony involving setting up of pillars, plural, inscribing on the pillars, all the words of this Torah. And then sacrifices. Then there's our short part nine versus nine and ten. The law that the first eight verses are about a future event. He she charts the Israelites saying keep the commands. So it'll be on the day when you cross the Jordan to the land the Lord is giving you. Then you shall set up for yourselves large stones and He prescribes the event. That's tomorrow in verses nine and ten. We're today. Today the silent always. Today you have become the people of the Lord, your God. You shall therefore obey the Lord your God. So now he's the preacher again.


[00:15:43] Today this is what's happened. Then in verses 11 to the end of the chapter, it's tomorrow. When you cross the Jordan, they shall stand on mount terrorism and bless the people in the name six tribes, and they shall stand on Mount Evil. And. And the curse shall stand and the liver shall answer no. You've got another verbal ritual. You've got two things happening here. But the meat in the sandwich is today. You have become the people of Yahweh. But what's the significance of those two other parts on each side of that little slice of meat? What is that? Well, the center fragment summarizes the significance of the rituals underlying the whole book of Deuteronomy. This is a covenant moment to day. You, this generation, have become the people of God. And we can depicted in color something like this. It's the future performative ritual versus one to age, a present challenge, and then up to future verbal ritual. And Moses must have been really, shall we say, in a somber mood when he says all this, because he says, tomorrow you're crossing over the Jordan, but I'm not going to be around tomorrow. This is the part of the ceremony that he can't participate in. One final act which will sign seal and deliver the land into their hands legally. That's what's about to happen. Well, versus 9 to 10 relate to the present covenant renewals. The outer two speeches call for a covenant or rituals to be performed beyond the Jordan Add terrorism and evil with check in between. Doesn't mention check them here, but we know of its significance. The first involves actions, the second involves speech, verbal actions. In any case, the voice. The first is a silent one. They go through the motions.


[00:17:51] In fact, when they build these all this altar there to make the altar of uncut stone so you don't hear the sound of a chisel. And when they write inscribed the text on the pillars that they raise up, you are too coated with lime and then writing it in ink or whatever on it that makes no noise. Rather than chiseling. It's a quiet moment. It's a sacred moment. But today you have become the people of yours. We listen to the voice of God and keep your ears open and your mouth shut that there will be a time for opening your mouth. Well, all three sections involve instructions by Moses and others. Moses is talking here, but the first part verses 1 to 8. Then Moses and the elders of Israel charge. The people say, Who's talking? Now, Moses is not an independent prophetic figure. He is working as chairman of the Board of Elders. And on behalf of them, they say, when you get to verse nine, Moses and Liberty, go pre spoke to all Israel. Be silent and listen. So Moses has is his assistance here. And then in verse 11, then it becomes Moses alone again. Moses charts the people on that day saying, So this is what's happening here. Let's go then to the first part of this verses 1 to 8. It has Moses and the Elders instructions. They appear as two panels. It's quite redundant. If my students were writing a term paper like this, I say you're being wordy. You're saying the same thing twice. Let's put it all into one. But for some reason or other, this is what we have. There are two panels. On the one hand, verses 2 to 3 and on the other hand verses 4 to 8.


[00:20:00] There, they're doing the same thing. When you cross over the Jordan River to the land that the Lord, your God is giving, You shall set up the large. You shall set up large stones, plural. We don't know how many use your plaster them with plaster you shall write on them all the words of this Torah. When you cross over to enter the land and the Lord, your God is giving you a land flowing with milk and honey, as you are with the God of your fathers, this promised you That's verses two and three verses 48. It shall be when you cross the Jordan River. It's a it's a battle. You shall set up these stones, all these stones concerning which I commend you today on Mount Evil, and you shall plaster them all. This ceremony is unable not charism evil interesting in the Samaritan Pentateuch. This summer. This this is on mom terrorism. Instead of evil the Samaritan tended to against terrorism. Hmm. Interesting. You shall plaster them with plaster, you shall build an altar of the Lord, your God and the altar of stones. You shall wield no iron tool on them. You shall build an altar to Yahweh, your God of uncut stones. You shall offer burnt offerings on it to you for your God. You shall sacrifice peace offering. You shall eat there and you shall rejoice. I just show the change that I hate the word rejoice. We never use that in everyday speech. Have you ever heard anybody say at graduation, we were so happy. We say we were so happy, we were so excited. We rejoiced. No, you didn't. They say, what planet are you from? I think it means we celebrated. And that's how I am translating it these days.


[00:21:41] You shall celebrate before Yahweh, your God, and right on those on the stones. All the words of this Torah very plainly. I obviously cut and pasted. Because that ain't what it says. Anyhow. What ritual actions have we got? We've got a series of things happening. We can collapses. Two instructions into one now. First. Erect large stones, pillars. I mean, they're tall stones. Ancient Near Easterners erected commemorative monuments for a variety of reasons as memorials to military conquests, political accomplishments. You make a treaty, you set up a pillar. Jacob and Laban built a mound of built a mound of stones to celebrate their treaty. Sometimes judicial achievements. Hammurabi's pillar in the love and or religious devotion. Here's a victory Stela of narrow sin from the third Millennium, B.C. It's one of the earliest we have like this. And notice how big he is in comparison to all the people. He is defeated. The artistic rendering of this object is not a photograph, but it's a impressionist art here. But he's the victor. Here's a steal of Hammurabi, which contains the famous law code. That's what they did. So the first thing here is set up pillars, plural. Why? Plural. We'll come back and talk about that second. Plaster. The stone with plaster. Well, I guess that's what you do with plaster. You plaster it. We overlay it with plaster or smear it with plaster. Hebrew loves to use verbs and nouns from the same root in English. That's bad style, but in Hebrew it's good. So plaster them. This was white alkaline compound consisting of water and calcium oxide. It's all over here, limestone here. Readily. You do it so that you have a smooth surface on the stone. You can write easily with ink and with a feather or a pen or whatever else.


[00:24:03] Then construct an altar of only hewn stones, natural stones not fixed by human hands. There are a couple of reasons for this. Let God be the one in charge of the stones that you use for this. The stones he made are good enough. But I think the bigger factor here is this is this is a solemn moment. We don't want you going and chiseling away at rocks, making all sorts of noise, building this altar. There will be a time for noise, but this ain't it. By the end of it, with a loud voice, you've got this antiphonal thing happening. You hear all the curses and the blessings with a loud voice. But the first eight verses, this is supposed to be a quiet moment. If you make a stone altar for me, you must not build it out of cut stones. If you use your chisel on it, you would defile it. Exodus 20, verse 25 after the Decalogue, where he's anticipating the covenant seal the ceremony, Unhuman Stones. So we've got the three parts, then celebrate with fellowship and peace, that is peace offerings on whole burned offerings, the peace offerings. This is the privilege of those who are in covenant relationship. Shalom. We're celebrating shalom and whole burnt offerings. These are the the peace offerings would have been eaten by the worshipers. Most sacrifices were actually eaten by the people. Burned dolphins were totally consumed. So God gets his fill of the whole burnt offerings and he, the people eat in his presence, offer whole burnt offerings to Yahweh. Your God, sacrifice, eat and celebrate in the presence of God. Then put in force the covenant by transcribing the Torah on plastered stones. Now I have fixed what you saw on that stream.


[00:26:19] Right on that very plainly. I think that's what any s has, but could also be. Uh, yeah. And he says very distinctly, could be NIB. And I vaguely I got that from, from Nova. Very, very plainly. It's as if it is an injunction to be careful how you write it. That has to do with the style of writing when I don't think it has to do with a style of writing. I think it has to do with the function of the writing. This is using Speech Act theory. Locution elocution per locution. The action is writing the thing on the plaster. But what's happening here is something beyond writing on the plaster. Something else is happening. It's the same verb we had at the beginning. Moses is. He began to declare, put into force this Torah by saying. Through the oral proclamation of the Torah, Israel has become the people of God. Through the writing of this text on the pillars, something covenantal happens. What is that? Put in force the covenant by transcribing. We talked about this before. Hebrew by error. Hey, Tev. Literally. Usually translated right? Very plainly. This verb by air I've mentioned before is used only three times in scripture here. One five and Habakkuk two two. It has to do with an an action whereby something a legal document is put into force related to an Akkadian word. Buru, a cousin language inscribing. This text on the pillars doesn't merely transform the tormo the Torah of Moses into a monument. It represents an important phase of the ritual started at the beginning of Deuteronomy. Where Moses declares the word that sets in motion a ritual whereby the covenant is signed, sealed and delivered. Now that ritual carries on in a different form, but it is completing the whole business.


[00:29:03] It represents an important phase of the ritual by which the covenant relationship, as presented in Moses speeches and involving Yahweh, the people and the land is made legally binding once the ceremonies envisioned in this chapter are over. The tripartite relationship is functioning. Remember our triangle, Yahweh, the land and the people? So far, I mean, in versus 9 to 10 today, you have become the people of your Hawaii. Well, that's bilateral. Something is missing. We've got to complete the triangle. So my interpretation is that the function of this ceremony is formally to put the land into the picture. Which is why the conquest doesn't start until Y after they've done this. This is claiming the title deed. This is the act whereby the land becomes part of the covenant. Picture the triangle is complete. They are claiming the land. And it's very interesting in the Book of Joshua, when they finally get to this place after the fiasco at I and Bethel, when they finally get there, what happens? Chapter eight At the end, Joshua built an altar of the Lord God of Israel and Mt. Evil, as Moses had commanded. Now they perform this ceremony. Then look at verse nine, when all the kings were beyond the Jordan in the hill country, and then the lowland on the great sea there when they heard. My translation. Heard of it? No. I think when they heard I mean, this mass of people have arrived in our land and they've had a noisy ceremony. Look at verse 1112. When you cross over the Jordan, you shall stand. Verse 14, the Levites shall be an answer and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice, cursed as everybody. And I think by now representatives of the King and I tribes have arrived and they're watching this and they're hearing this and they're wondering what in the world is going on.


[00:31:36] And they gather together with one accord to fight with Joshua and with Israel. And now the Congress can start. And the interesting thing is Joshua doesn't initiate the conflict. But Cain I start it, and it's an alliance of the Northern Canaanites. They come and they say, Whoa, what's going on here? And it's the noise of the place that is a. Well, it's probably the saw the size of who are these people that just moved in from the from the east that are taking over the land? Well, yeah, they're taking over the point of this text as we're taking over. We have the title deed to this place, and that becomes the signal in Joshua. Now the campaigns can start and after this, there are no defeats in Joshua. I is behind us. That was a that was a fiasco. That was a disaster. I think Joshua was out of step. He wasn't following the directions. Moses Moses would not have been pleased with what Joshua did. The significance of this ritual. In the present context, the pick of the people not only have the people become the people of God, but the land of the land is now part of the covenant. What problem does this ritual address? The fact that the earlier ratification ceremonies transpired away from the Promised Land. Remember at Sinai, God be God, married Israel on the plains of Moab. Why doesn't he wait until they've crossed the Jordan on the plains? Because Moses can go in. Moses is has the privilege of leading them through the first part of the final covenant rituals. But the land section of this, that's not yours that we do. We cross the Jordan as the people of Yahweh. But we're in alien territory now until we claim it formally and that Moses is not a part of.


[00:33:51] Well, by eating the covenant meal in the presence of Yahweh in the land he has given them, the Israelites celebrate the completion of the Triangle. Chapter 27, verse 27. Covenantal significance of this chapter, Let's just summarize. Oh, here it is. I thought I had the triangle here somewhere. The Israelite Covenant Triangle, Yahweh, Israel and the land of Kanan to this point. This is where we've been. Yahweh and Israel are in a covenant relationship, but the land is still in the shadows there. It's just a promise. What's happened here is that the land and now the covenant relationship becomes three D. Three dimensional. It is complete. And after this, the land acts. It's very interesting how Moses talks about the land as if it's a person of he often talks that way. It is doing its thing in this relationship. Of course, you know, that's all rhetoric. Well, the ritual involves to look at after verses nine and ten, we have a verbal ritual in two parts. You shall deposit the Blessing and Baraka on Mount Gerizim and the curses on Mount Evil. I don't know the significance of that. Now the blessings and the curses. These are the words that will be used in chapter 28 for the covenant blessings and curses. So we know that this is part of these two events are linked in that sense. These events happen after Chapter 28. So that's what happens. But here is a picture of how it might have looked. Mount terrorism is to the south and Shek, come in here. This is a modern photograph. Obviously, we don't see the oak of Mount Moriah here. Somewhere in here, though, if you go there, you can't actually go there. We've been here half dozen times with tour groups.


[00:36:02] We can't go to Jacob's. Well, it's for Bolton. That's in Palestinian West Bank. Unsafe territory. We can go to Mount Gerizim. We go there, we go there every time. And we have a wonderful conversation about this event and about Jesus conversation with the Samaritan woman at Jacob's. Well, but anyhow, on Mount Evil, the higher one they build the altar. And but now for this ceremony, half of the tribes are on this side of the mountain of the valley, and the other half are on this side. I doubt whether there's any significance in the fact that curses are on this side. That means this side is blessed and the blessings are on that side. I think it's just you got to do it some way. And this is Antiphonal service. But in any case, you've got the depositing of the blessings. In any case, the blessings, if, if you were here, blessing, you would be blessing your audience on this side. So it works both ways. They're shouting out the blessing to the tribes on the other side. So that's phase one of this. He doesn't say much about this other than when you cross the Jordan to blessed Caesar the way the tribes are divided, then the whole yea and the Levites shall answer and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice. And now a new phase in the in the ritual happens of. The new phase begins in verse 15. Cursed is the man who makes an all an idle or a molten image, the abomination to the Lord, the work of hands of the craftsman and says sets it up in secret. And all the people shall answer. Amen. It turns out now to be a Pentecostal service, the Levites will be shouting out 12 curses.


[00:38:02] Why 12? Presumably the number derives from the 12 tribes. One curse None. Don't link any tribe with any given curse, unlike the curses in 28. These are all individual. It's all cursed. Is the man the person? So that with this ceremony, individual Israelites are signing on to this covenant. It is the oath verbally declared cursed is one. And so the when the Levites shout out the curse, all the people say amen. And that's what will have reverberated through the valleys there. And the Canaanites will have got very confused. The interesting thing now, I'm sorry, could they match? Are those seeds close enough that they could actually hear? Oh, sure. Oh, sure. And there have been people before the cities were built in. There are people who have talked about the acoustics of the valley that before all the buildings to muffle everything. The acoustics are actually such that it could work, that when people on one side together shout out, the people on the other side would hear it. Oh, yeah. No, this is a very deliberate verbal. But notice the building of the altar and the pillars. That was quiet. It's not about the people there. Something else is happening. This one is the people. And here the land hears the people invoke the curse upon themselves so that should they break the covenant. The land is the witness. The land is a witness. You signed on here. All mountains. Give your own land. Earth and land are the same word. Well, for the first time, the deity, Yahweh, the People, Israel and the land Canaan are together. The first moment the promise to the ancestors had finally been fulfilled. Israel's long journey is over and Moses missed it. That had to hurt. But now, with the pillars in sight, the ritual prescribed in 11 to 13 functions as the verbal equivalent to the sprinkling of the blood on the people in Exodus 24 eight, remember where they are bound to the covenant.


[00:40:49] He sprinkles the altar that binds God. Then he sprinkles the people that binds Israel to its. May I give my life if I violate this and here it is. Cursed is the one who dishonors in these events. Evil and terrorism are symbols of the land as a whole. Witnesses to the blessings and the curses that the Israelites invoke on themselves. And they also become a repository of the Torah. The inscribed pillars. Uncut and uncut stones from the region. Now, let's go back to that inscription. What is written on that and on that text, on the pillars, you shall write on the stones, all the words of this Torah. Putting into force the covenant. Well, we don't know how many pillars could be one, two or three, but it is plural. I think it's 12. Why? 12 tribes. Why else? There's a there's a concrete reason. I should say, a rock solid reason and. Every tried to say what exodus what 24. Remember the the ceremony at Mt. Sinai Horeb where there's the altar and he erected 12 pillars. And it says one representing every one of the tribes. He doesn't say that here. He just says pillars, plural. And he leaves it to you. And my sense is this is added to all of that experience for this generation only. That was at the mountain, never to be repeated. This one is here. And this ceremony will never be repeated or Joshua will bring them back here for covenant renewal twice. He does it covenant renewal here after this, after the land has been taken. But this is a once in a history moment. You don't need to repeat this over and over again. But what happens is you write the texts on the on on plaster, exposed to the elements in ink.


[00:43:20] What happens? It doesn't take very long, but depends what kind of ink they're using. But it doesn't take very long, will you, where you'll lose the text? Well, what happens when the rain washes the text off and it drains into the ground? I mean, this is just my imagination now, because the ground absorbs the Torah. And it becomes an intricate the Torah is that which finds your way. Israel and the land together in a very concrete sort of way. Doesn't say this. But we got to make. We've got to wrestle with. What is the significance of what's happening here? This is such a physical experience compared to the book of Deuteronomy, Moses addresses. He's been talking the whole time. We've had some rituals, but we don't know much. But here's this curious, quiet ritual First, binding the land and after the land is part. Then you've got this loud oral by which the land hears the people say, We're we've signed on. And they invoked the curses on individuals who will break the covenant. It is an amazing moment in in my mind. And I read the commentaries and I'm probably wrong in my interpretation, but you don't find this anywhere else. What's wrong with me that I see this action here? The significance in these events mounts. Evil and terrorism are symbols of the land as a whole. They're witnesses to the blessings and the curses, and they hear the Israelites invoke upon themselves a curse. And they absorb the Torah. And long after the ink is gone, the pillars are still there. As memorials to the moment when this thing happened. Well, we've got an amazing an amazing story, I think. I mean, we we could talk more about this, but the mountain's role in this whole business, I think they are intentionally presented here as.


[00:45:52] Observers. With ears to hear what the Israelites are saying, because in the future prophets will appeal to texts like this give you ear or Heavens, listen or earth. The Lord has a case against his people. And guess what? They know that the land knows the Torah and. And the land presents the evidence of the Israelites in fidelity. Well, I think that it's about as much as we need to say. To me, this text is a riddle. I had a student to do his dissertation on this passage. Daniel Lentz. Brilliant student. One of the finest students I've had. He's in Pakistan now. He's teaching over there. Wonderful guy from Germany, but he did his dissertation. I challenged him to test my hypothesis and my interpretation. And it's it's a magnificent piece, not only because in the end it it reinforces what I have proposed, but because it makes the text come alive. The to the commentators is always a riddle. Why is this stuck in here? I always wondered, Rhonda, until I got this far in writing my commentary. I had no idea what was going on. And so you have to start thinking outside the box because the box doesn't solve doesn't answer the questions. And this is the conclusion to which I came. This is a brilliant monument to a great theological idea that began with Abraham. The Lord has been faithful. The promises are fulfilled. We are in the land. God has kept His promise. Of course, the end of the second address ends with just a shadow anticipation of this whole thing. But 27, in a sense, solves the riddle, even as it raises lots of other questions.