אֵלֶּה הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן בַּמִּדְבָּר בָּעֲרָבָה מֹול סוּף בֵּין־פָּארָן 1:1
וּבֵין־תֹּפֶל וְלָבָן וַחֲצֵרֹת וְדִי זָהָב
Deut. 1:1 These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel on the other side of the Jordan, in the wilderness, in the Arabah, opposite the Suph, between Paran and Tophel, and Laban and Hazeroth and Di-zahab,
The phrase “on the other side of the Jordan” informs us that the scribe is writing in the promised land. He is already on the western side of the Jordan. This assuredly demonstrates that the recording of these chapters was accomplished after Moses had died, and the people had already settled in the land of Canaan.
אַחַד עָשָׂר יֹום מֵחֹרֵב דֶּרֶךְ הַר־שֵׂעִיר עַד קָדֵשׁ בַּרְנֵעַ 1:2
Deut. 1:2 eleven days from Horeb by way of Mount Seir toward Kadesh-barnea.
Horeb, you may recall, is where Moses first encountered the flaming bush, where the people worshiped the golden calf, where Moses received his instructions from the Lord, and where the people (and Moses) complained bitterly. The people had wandered for forty years and now, near the end of their journey, they were only eleven days distant from the place of their beginning as a people.
וַיְהִי בְּאַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה בְּעַשְׁתֵּי־עָשָׂר חֹדֶשׁ בְּאֶחָד לַחֹדֶשׁ דִּבֶּר מֹשֶׁה אֶל־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר צִוָּה 1:3
יְהוָה אֹתֹו אֲלֵהֶם
Deut. 1:3 And it was in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the month’s first day, Moses spoke to the children of Israel about all that the Lord had commanded him for them,
The time is early spring, a month and a half before the forty-first Passover. Moses will die within that time, so he is close to the end of his life, and he knows it.
אַחֲרֵי הַכֹּתֹו אֵת סִיחֹן מֶלֶךְ הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר יֹושֵׁב בְּחֶשְׁבֹּון וְאֵת עֹוג מֶלֶךְ הַבָּשָׁן אֲשֶׁר־יֹושֵׁב בְּעַשְׁתָּרֹת 1:4
Deut. 1:4 after his smiting of Sihon, king of the Amorite, who dwelled in Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, who dwelled in Ashtaroth by Edrei,
בְּעֵבֶר הַיַּרְדֵּן בְּאֶרֶץ מֹואָב הֹואִיל מֹשֶׁה בֵּאֵר אֶת־הַתֹּורָה הַזֹּאת לֵאמֹר 1:5
Deut. 1:5 on the other side of the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to explain this Torah saying,
יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ דִּבֶּר אֵלֵינוּ בְּחֹרֵב לֵאמֹר רַב־לָכֶם שֶׁבֶת בָּהָר הַזֶּה 1:6
Deut. 1:6 “The Lord, our God, spoke to us in Horeb saying, ‘It is long enough for you to dwell on this mountain.’
פְּנוּ וּסְעוּ לָכֶם וּבֹאוּ הַר הָאֱמֹרִי וְאֶל־כָּל־שְׁכֵנָיו בָּעֲרָבָה בָהָר וּבַשְּׁפֵלָה וּבַנֶּגֶב וּבְחֹוף הַיָּם אֶרֶץ 1:7
הַכְּנַעֲנִי וְהַלְּבָנֹון עַד־הַנָּהָר הַגָּדֹל נְהַר־פְּרָת
Deut. 1:7 ‘Turn and remove yourselves and go into the hill country of the Amorite and all its neighbors, in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland, and in the south, and by the coast of the sea, the land of the Canaanite, and Lebanon as far as the great river, the River Euphrates.’”
רְאֵה נָתַתִּי לִפְנֵיכֶם אֶת־הָאָרֶץ בֹּאוּ וּרְשׁוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָה לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶם לְאַבְרָהָם לְיִצְחָק 1:8
וּלְיַעֲקֹב לָתֵת לָהֶם וּלְזַרְעָם אַחֲרֵיהֶם
Deut. 1:8 “See, I have set the land before you; go in and possess the land of which the Lord had sworn to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give to them and their seed after them,
וָאֹמַר אֲלֵכֶם בָּעֵת הַהִוא לֵאמֹר לֹא־אוּכַל לְבַדִּי שְׂאֵת אֶתְכֶם 1:9
Deut. 1:9 and I had to speak to you at that time saying, ‘I will not be able to bear you by myself.’
The first word in this verse, translated as and I had to speak, is composed of a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav prefix.
יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם הִרְבָּה אֶתְכֶם וְהִנְּכֶם הַיֹּום כְּכֹוכְבֵי הַשָּׁמַיִם לָרֹב 1:10
Deut. 1:10 ‘The Lord, your God, has nourished you and, behold, you are today like the stars in the heavens for multitude.’
יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹותֵכֶם יֹסֵף עֲלֵיכֶם כָּכֶם אֶלֶף פְּעָמִים וִיבָרֵךְ אֶתְכֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר לָכֶם 1:11
Deut. 1:11 ‘The Lord, God of your fathers, has increased you a thousand times more than you were and blessed you as He promised to you.’
אֵיכָה אֶשָּׂא לְבַדִּי טָרְחֲכֶם וּמַשַּׂאֲכֶם וְרִיבְכֶם 1:12
Deut. 1:12 ‘How can I bear your burden and your trouble and your strife by myself?’
הָבוּ לָכֶם אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וּנְבֹנִים וִידֻעִים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם וַאֲשִׂיםֵם בְּרָאשֵׁיכֶם 1:13
Deut. 1:13 ‘Bring men for yourselves, your tribes’ wise and understanding and learned, and I will make them into your chiefs.’”
Note that Moses gives no credit to Jethro for having suggested this idea to him (see Exod. 18:17f.). Incidentally, the next-to-last word in this verse, translated as and I will make them, is composed of a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav prefix.
וַתַּעֲנוּ אֹתִי וַתֹּאמְרוּ טֹוב־הַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר־דִּבַּרְתָּ לַעֲשֹׂות 1:14
Deut. 1:14 “And you answered me and said, ‘Good is the thing you have said to do.’”
וָאֶקַּח אֶת־רָאשֵׁי שִׁבְטֵיכֶם אֲנָשִׁים חֲכָמִים וִידֻעִים וָאֶתֵּן אֹתָם רָאשִׁים עֲלֵיכֶם שָׂרֵי אֲלָפִים וְשָׂרֵי 1:15
מֵאֹות וְשָׂרֵי חֲמִשִּׁים וְשָׂרֵי עֲשָׂרֹת וְשֹׁטְרִים לְשִׁבְטֵיכֶם
Deut. 1:15 “Then I could take the excellent of your tribes, men wise and learned, and appoint them heads over you, captains of thousands and captains of hundreds and captains of fifties and captains of tens, and overseers for your tribes.”
The first word in this verse, translated as Then I could take, is composed of a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav prefix. Also the eighth word, translated as and appoint.
וָאֲצַוֶּה אֶת־שֹׁפְטֵיכֶם בָּעֵת הַהִוא לֵאמֹר שָׁמֹעַ בֵּין־אֲחֵיכֶם וּשְׁפַטְתֶּם צֶדֶק בֵּין־אִישׁ וּבֵין־אָחִיו וּבֵין 1:16
Deut. 1:16 “And I could charge your judges at that time saying, ‘Listen among your brethren so you may judge righteously between a man and his brother or his sojourner.
The first word in this verse, translated as And I could charge, is composed of a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav prefix.’
לֹא־תַכִּירוּ פָנִים בַּמִּשְׁפָּט כַּקָּטֹן כַּגָּדֹל תִּשְׁמָעוּן לֹא תָגוּרוּ מִפְּנֵי־אִישׁ כִּי הַמִּשְׁפָּט לֵאלֹהִים הוּא 1:17
וְהַדָּבָר אֲשֶׁר יִקְשֶׁה םִכֶּם תַּקְרִבוּן אֵלַי וּשְׁמַעְתִּיו
Deut. 1:17 ‘You shall not respect persons in judgment; whether small or great, you shall listen; you shall not be afraid of the presence of any man, for the judgment, it is God’s. And the matter that is too hard shall be brought from you to me and I shall hear it.’” [Return to Mala. 2:9]
The last word in this verse, translated as and I shall hear it, is composed of a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav.
וָאֲצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם בָּעֵת הַהִוא אֵת כָּל־הַדְּבָרִים אֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשׂוּן 1:18
Deut. 1:18 “And at that time I had to command you all the things that you shall do.”
The first word in this verse, translated as And ... I had to command, is composed of a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav.
וַנִּסַּע מֵחֹרֵב וַנֵּלֶךְ אֵת כָּל־הַמִּדְבָּר הַגָּדֹול וְהַנֹּורָא הַהוּא אֲשֶׁר רְאִיתֶם דֶּרֶךְ הַר הָאֱמֹרִי כַּאֲשֶׁר צִוָּה 1:19
יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ אֹתָנוּ וַנָּבֹא עַד קָדֵשׁ בַּרְנֵעַ
Deut. 1:19 “And we had to journey out of Horeb and walk all that great and fearsome wilderness which you saw on the way to the hill country of the Amorite, as the Lord, our God, had commanded us, so we could come up to Kadesh-barnea.”
This verse contains three first-person imperfect verbs with non-inverting vav prefixes. They are found as the first word, translated as and we had to journey, the third word, translated as and walk, and the third word in the bottom line, translated as so we could come.
וָאֹמַר אֲלֵכֶם בָּאתֶם עַד־הַר הָאֱמֹרִי אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ נֹתֵן לָנוּ 1:20
Deut. 1:20 “And I could say to you, ‘You have come up to the hill country of the Amorite that the Lord, our God, has given to us.’
The first word, translated by me as And I could say, contains a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav prefix.
רְאֵה נָתַן יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְפָנֶיךָ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ עֲלֵה רֵשׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי אֲבֹתֶיךָ לָךְ אַל־תִּירָא 1:21
Deut. 1:21 ‘See, the Lord, your God, has set the land before you. Go up, take possession! As the Lord, God of your fathers, spoke to you, you need not fear or be dismayed.’
In the verses of this chapter in which there are second-person pronouns, the pronouns, with notable exceptions, are plural . Moses has been speaking and will continue to speak (the Lord will also be quoted) to the individuals of the children of Israel. In this verse and in v. 1:31, he reverts to using singular second-person pronouns. Here and there I believe he is addressing the children of Israel as an entity, as a people. In this verse he is saying to the people, “You need not be afraid. The Lord has promised the land to you. Believe Him!” I will mention my thoughts about v. 1:31 when we get there. Two other verses beside this one contain singular second-person pronouns, vss. 1:31 and 1:38.
וַתִּקְרְבוּן אֵלַי כֻּלְּכֶם וַתֹּאמְרוּ נִשְׁלְחָה אֲנָשִׁים לְפָנֵינוּ וְיַחְפְּרוּ־לָנוּ אֶת־הָאָרֶץ וְיָשִׁבוּ אֹתָנוּ דָּבָר אֶת־ 1:22
הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר נַעֲלֶה־בָּהּ וְאֵת הֶעָרִים אֲשֶׁר נָבֹא אֲלֵיהֶן
Deut. 1:22 “And all of you came near to me and said, ‘Let us send men before us so they explore the land for us and return to us to tell the way that we must go up into it and the cities to which we must come.’”
וַיִּיטַב בְּעֵינַי הַדָּבָר וָאֶקַּח םִכֶּם שְׁנֵים עָשָׂר אֲנָשִׁים אִישׁ אֶחָד לַשָּׁבֶט 1:23
Deut. 1:23 “And the advice was good in my eyes; so I could take twelve men from you, one man to a tribe,
וַיִּפְנוּ וַיַּעֲלוּ הָהָרָה וַיָּבֹאוּ עַד־נַחַל אֶשְׁכֹּל וַיְרַגְּלוּ אֹתָהּ 1:24
Deut. 1:24 and they turned aside and went up to the hill country and went as far as the valley of Eshcol and spied it out.”
וַיִּקְחוּ בְיָדָם מִפְּרִי הָאָרֶץ וַיֹּורִדוּ אֵלֵינוּ וַיָּשִׁבוּ אֹתָנוּ דָבָר וַיֹּאמְרוּ טֹובָה הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ 1:25
Deut. 1:25 And they took some of the fruit of the land in their hand and brought down to us, and brought us back a report, and said, ‘Good is the land that the Lord our God is giving to us.’”
וְלֹא אֲבִיתֶם לַעֲלֹת וַתַּמְרוּ אֶת־פִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 1:26
Deut. 1:26 “But you were not willing to go up; instead you disobeyed the commandment of the Lord, your God,
וַתֵּרָגְנוּ בְאָהֳלֵיכֶם וַתֹּאמְרוּ בְּשִׂנְאַת יְהוָה אֹתָנוּ הֹוצִיאָנוּ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרָיִם לָתֵת אֹתָנוּ בְּיַד הָאֱמֹרִי 1:27
Deut. 1:27 and you murmured in your tents and said, ‘Because the Lord hates us He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorite to destroy us.’
אָנָה אֲנַחְנוּ עֹלִים אַחֵינוּ הֵמַסּוּ אֶת־לְבָבֵנוּ לֵאמֹר עַם גָּדֹול וָרָם מִמֶּנּוּ עָרִים גְּדֹלֹת וּבְצוּרֹת בַּשָּׁמָיִם 1:28
וְגַם־בְּנֵי עֲנָקִים רָאִינוּ שָׁם
Deut. 1:28 ‘Where are we going up? Our brothers have made our hearts melt saying, ‘A people greater and taller than we, great cities and fortified to the heavens, and we also saw there the sons of Anakim.’”
וָאֹמַר אֲלֵכֶם לֹא־תַעַרְצוּן וְלֹא־תִירְאוּן מֵהֶם 1:29
Deut. 1:29 “So I had to say to you, ‘You need have no dread or fear from them.’
The first word, translated by me as So I had to say, contains a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav prefix.
יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם הַהֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיכֶם הוּא יִלָּחֵם לָכֶם כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה אִתְּכֶם בְּמִצְרַיִם לְעֵינֵיכֶם 1:30
Deut. 1:30 ‘The Lord, your God, will be going before you. He will fight for you like everything that He did with you in Egypt for your eyes,
וּבַמִּדְבָּר אֲשֶׁר רָאִיתָ אֲשֶׁר נְשָׂאֲךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר יִשָּׂא־אִישׁ אֶת־בְּנֹו בְּכָל־הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר 1:31
הֲלַכְתֶּם עַד־בֹּאֲכֶם עַד־הַמָּקֹום הַזֶּה
Deut. 1:31 and in the wilderness, where you saw that the Lord, your God, bore you as a man carries his son in all the way that you traveled until you came to this place.’”
In this verse, the first three second-person pronouns of five in total are singular and the last two are plural. With the first three, Moses is referring to the people’s having seen the Lord and the sense of its being lovingly borne by Him. With the last two, Moses is again addressing their travels and their arrival here individually.
וּבַדָּבָר הַזֶּה אֵינְכֶם מַאֲמִינִם בַּיהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 1:32
Deut. 1:32 “But in this matter you had no trust in the Lord, your God,
הַהֹלֵךְ לִפְנֵיכֶם בַּדֶּרֶךְ לָתוּר לָכֶם מָקֹום לַחֲנֹתְכֶם בָּאֵשׁ לַיְלָה לַרְאֹתְכֶם בַּדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר תֵּלְכוּ־בָהּ 1:33
Deut. 1:33 Who went before you on the way seeking for you a place for you to camp, providing you with a way by which you should go with fire at night, and with a cloud every day.”
וַיִּשְׁמַע יְהוָה אֶת־קֹול דִּבְרֵיכֶם וַיִּקְצֹף וַיִּשָּׁבַע לֵאמֹר 1:34
Deut. 1:34 “And the Lord heard the sound of your words and was ‘angry,’ and He swore saying,
אִם־יִרְאֶה אִישׁ בָּאֲנָשִׁים הָאֵלֶּה הַדֹּור הָרָע הַזֶּה אֵת הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּובָה אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לָתֵת לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶם 1:35
Deut. 1:35 ‘Surely none among these men of this evil generation shall see the good land that I had sworn to give to your fathers,
זוּלָתִי כָּלֵב בֶּן־יְפֻנֶּה הוּא יִרְאֶנָּה וְלֹו־אֶתֵּן אֶת־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר דָּרַךְ־בָּהּ וּלְבָנָיו יַעַן אֲשֶׁר מִלֵּא אַחֲרֵי 1:36
Deut. 1:36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land on which he has trodden, and to his children, because he was fully with the Lord.’”
גַּם־בִּי הִתְאַנַּף יְהוָה בִּגְלַלְכֶם לֵאמֹר גַּם־אַתָּה לֹא־תָבֹא שָׁם 1:37
Deut. 1:37 “Also the Lord was displeased with me because of you, saying, ‘You also shall not go there.’
Well! A gross displacement of responsibility! The Lord told Moses why he would not enter the Promised Land (see Numb. 20:12 and Numb. 27:13,14), and it was not because of the people.
[Return to Deut. 3:26] [Return to Deut. 4:21]
יְהֹושֻׁעַ בִּן־נוּן הָעֹמֵד לְפָנֶיךָ הוּא יָבֹא שָׁמָּה אֹתֹו חַזֵּק כִּי־הוּא יַנְחִלֶנָּה אֶת־יִשְׂרָאֵל 1:38
Deut. 1:38 ‘Joshua son of Nun who stands before you, he shall go there. Encourage him, for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.’
As I stated earlier (v. 1:21) all the second-person pronouns in this chapter, except for those in vss. 1:21, 1:31 and the one in this verse, are plural. As for this one, it being singular, indicates to me that Moses is referring here to Joshua standing before the one entire congregation.
וְטַפְּכֶם אֲשֶׁר אֲמַרְתֶּם לָבַז יִהְיֶה וּבְנֵיכֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדְעוּ הַיֹּום טֹוב וָרָע הֵמָּה יָבֹאוּ שָׁמָּה וְלָהֶם 1:39
אֶתְּנֶנָּה וְהֵם יִירָשׁוּהָ
Deut. 1:39 ‘And your children, who you said would be for a prey, and your sons who do not know good or evil today, they shall go there. And to them shall I give it and they shall possess it.’”
A truly fascinating revelation! The Lord appears to have said here, if we can trust Moses’ recap, that the children are as innocent as Adam before he ate the fruit of the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. Doesn’t this say something about the Christian belief that we are all born with the guilt of the original sin? I think it does. It indeed belies that belief. [Return to Isai. 48:8]
וְאַתֶּם פְּנוּ לָכֶם וּסְעוּ הַמִּדְבָּרָה דֶּרֶךְ יַם־סוּף 1:40
Deut. 1:40 “But you, turn yourselves away and journey into the wilderness by way of the Reed Sea.”
וַתַּעֲנוּ וַתֹּאמְרוּ אֵלַי חָטָאנוּ לַיהוָה אֲנַחְנוּ נַעֲלֶה וְנִלְחַמְנוּ כְּכֹל אֲשֶׁר־צִוָּנוּ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ וַתַּחְגְּרוּ 1:41
אִישׁ אֶת־כְּלֵי מִלְחַמְתֹּו וַתָּהִינוּ לַעֲלֹת הָהָרָה
Deut. 1:41 “Then you answered and said to me, ‘We have sinned toward the Lord. We will go up and fight, according to all that the Lord, our God, has commanded us,’ and you girded, each his weapons of war, and were ready to go up to the hill country.”
וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֵלַי אֱמֹר לָהֶם לֹא תַעֲלוּ וְלֹא־תִלָּחֲמוּ כִּי אֵינֶנִּי בְּקִרְבְּכֶם וְלֹא תִּנָּגְפוּ לִפְנֵי אֹיְבֵיכֶם 1:42
Deut. 1:42 “And the Lord said to me, ‘Say to them, ‘You must not go up and you must not fight, for I will not be in your midst that you would not be slain before your enemies.’”
וָאֲדַבֵּר אֲלֵיכֶם וְלֹא שְׁמַעְתֶּם וַתַּמְרוּ אֶת־פִּי יְהוָה וַתָּזִדוּ וַתַּעֲלוּ הָהָרָה 1:43
Deut. 1:43 “So I had to speak to you. But you did not listen and you disobeyed the command of the Lord and were presumptuous and went up to the hill country.”
The first word, translated by me as So I had to speak, contains a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav prefix.
וַיֵּצֵא הָאֱמֹרִי הַיֹּשֵׁב בָּהָר הַהוּא לִקְרַאתְכֶם וַיִּרְדְּפוּ אֶתְכֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר תַּעֲשֶׂינָה הַדְּבֹרִים וַיַּכְּתוּ אֶתְכֶם 1:44
Deut. 1:44 “Then the Amorite who dwelled in that hill country came out to meet you, and they chased you as bees would do, and crushed you in Seir as far as Hormah.”
וַתָּשֻׁבוּ וַתִּבְכּוּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה וְלֹא־שָׁמַע יְהוָה בְּקֹלְכֶם וְלֹא הֶאֱזִין אֲלֵיכֶם 1:45
Deut. 1:45 “Then you returned and wept before the Lord, but the Lord did not hearken to your voice and did not give ear to you.”
וַתֵּשְׁבוּ בְקָדֵשׁ יָמִים רַבִּים כַּיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר יְשַׁבְתֶּם 1:46
Deut. 1:46 “And you tarried in Kadesh many days, according to the days that you were made to abide.”
There’s an interesting and subtle message conveyed by my translation throughout this chapter. Because I translate all the vavs before the first-person imperfect verbs as non-inverting, It sounds to me like Moses is exhibiting some self-pity, and doing a good deal of whining and implied blaming of the people. Examine the seven verses, 1:9, 15, 16, 19, 20, 29, and 43 and see if you don’t come away with the same conclusion. In addition, in later chapters Moses also appears to be trying to impress the people with the Lord’s protection of them. Traditional translations do not convey these ideas.
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