Deuteronomy 27


וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה וְזִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־הָעָם לֵאמֹר שָׁמֹר אֶת־כָּל־הַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיֹּום   27:1

Deut. 27:1  And Moses, with the elders of Israel, commanded the people saying, “Keep the whole commandment that I am commanding you today.”                                      [Return to Deut. 27 notes]

וְהָיָה בַּיֹּום אֲשֶׁר תַּעַבְרוּ אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּן אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לָךְ וַהֲקֵמֹתָ לְךָ אֲבָנִים    27:2

גְּדֹלֹות וְשַׂדְתָּ אֹתָם בַּשִּׂיד

Deut. 27:2  “And it shall be, on the day that you will cross over the Jordan to the land that the Lord, your God, will be giving you, that you shall raise up for yourself great stones and plaster them with plaster.”                                                                                                 [Return to Deut. 27 notes]

וְכָתַבְתָּ עֲלֵיהֶן אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵי הַתֹּורָה הַזֹּאת בְּעָבְרֶךָ לְמַעַן אֲשֶׁר תָּבֹא אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־יְהוָה   27:3

אֱלֹהֶיךָ נֹתֵן לְךָ אֶרֶץ זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵי־אֲבֹתֶיךָ לָךְ

Deut. 27:3  “Then you shall write on them all the words of this Torah upon your crossing over, in order that you may go in to the land which the Lord, your God, will be giving you, a land gushing milk and honey, as the Lord, God of your fathers, has promised to you.”   [Return to Deut. 27 notes]

וְהָיָה בְּעָבְרְכֶם אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּן תָּקִימוּ אֶת־הָאֲבָנִים הָאֵלֶּה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוֶּה אֶתְכֶם הַיֹּום בְּהַר עֵיבָל   27:4

וְשַׂדְתָּ אֹותָם בַּשִּׂיד

Deut. 27:4  “So it shall be upon your crossing over the Jordan you shall raise up these stones that I am commanding you today on Mount Ebal and you shall plaster them with plaster.”

The use of second-person pronouns in these first four verses of this chapter seems strangely haunting.    More >>

וּבָנִיתָ שָּׁם מִזְבֵּחַ לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מִזְבַּח אֲבָנִים לֹא־תָנִיף עֲלֵיהֶם בַּרְזֶל   27:5

Deut. 27:5  “And you shall build there an altar to the Lord, your God, an altar of stones; you shall not wield iron against them.”

אֲבָנִים שְׁלֵמֹות תִּבְנֶה אֶת־מִזְבַּח יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהַעֲלִיתָ עָלָיו עֹולֹת לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ   27:6

Deut. 27:6  “Of whole stones you shall build the altar of the Lord, your God; and on it you shall offer burnt offerings to the Lord, your God.”

וְזָבַחְתָּ שְׁלָמִים וְאָכַלְתָּ שָּׁם וְשָׂמַחְתָּ לִפְנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ   27:7

Deut. 27:7  “And you shall sacrifice peace offerings and eat there, and you shall rejoice before the Lord, your God.”

Verses 27:6 and 27:7 (and other earlier verses in Genesis) could serve as the justification for the setting up of altars all over Israel that occurred later.  However, in this case, the Tabernacle was in their midst.  Yet, if so, why another altar?  Why not the altar of the Tabernacle?  It may be that these sacrifices would serve to sanctify the stones so the Torah could be written on them.  See the next verse.

וְכָתַבְתָּ עַל־הָאֲבָנִים אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵי הַתֹּורָה הַזֹּאת בַּאֵר הֵיטֵב   27:8

Deut. 27:8  “And you shall write on the stones all the words of this Torah, diligently distinct.”

וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה וְהַכֹּהֲנִים הַלְוִיִּם אֶל כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵאמֹר הַסְכֵּת וּשְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל הַיֹּום הַזֶּה נִהְיֵיתָ לְעָם   27:9

לַיהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ

Deut. 27:9  And Moses, with the priests of the Levites, spoke to all Israel saying, “Be silent and listen, O Israel!  This day you become a people for the Lord, your God.”

וְשָׁמַעְתָּ בְּקֹול יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְעָשִׂיתָ אֶת־מִצְוֹתָוq וְאֶת־חֻקָּיו אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיֹּום   27:10

Deut. 27:10   “So you must listen to the voice of the Lord, your God, and do His commandments and His statutes that I am commanding you today.”

וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הָעָם בַּיֹּום הַהוּא לֵאמֹר   27:11

Deut. 27:11   And Moses commanded the people on that day saying,

אֵלֶּה יַעַמְדוּ לְבָרֵךְ אֶת־הָעָם עַל־הַר גְּרִזִים בְּעָבְרְכֶם אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּן שִׁמְעֹון וְלֵוִי וִיהוּדָה וְיִשָּׂשכָר   27:12

וְיֹוסֵף וּבִנְיָמִן

Deut. 27:12   “These shall stand to bless the people upon Mount Gerizim on your crossing the Jordan:  Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Joseph and Benjamin.”

וְאֵלֶּה יַעַמְדוּ עַל־הַקְּלָלָה בְּהַר עֵיבָל רְאוּבֵן גָּד וְאָשֵׁר וּזְבוּלֻן דָּן וְנַפְתָּלִי   27:13

Deut. 27:13   “And these shall stand against the curse on Mount Ebal:  Reuben, Gad and Asher and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.”

Obviously, the tribes named in this verse and the previous one must refer only to representatives of them, not the entire tribes.

וְעָנוּ הַלְוִיִּם וְאָמְרוּ אֶל־כָּל־אִישׁ יִשְׂרָאֵל קֹול רָם   27:14

Deut. 27:14   “And the Levites, voice upraised, shall testify and say to every man of Israel,

אָרוּר הָאִישׁ אֲשֶׁר יַעֲשֶׂה פֶסֶל וּמַסֵּכָה תֹּועֲבַת יְהוָה מַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵי חָרָשׁ וְשָׂם בַּסָּתֶר וְעָנוּ כָל־הָעָם    27:15

וְאָמְרוּ אָמֵן

Deut. 27:15   ‘Cursed is the man who would fashion an image, graven or molten, an abomination of the Lord, a product of the hands of a craftsman, and set up in a secret place.’”  “And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’”

With the Levites standing on Mount Gerizim, the mountain of blessings, why should their messages, here and below, mention only curses?  Strange, indeed!  Possibly, these messages in a positive form would not ring true.  For example, in this verse, if it were altered to say “Blessed is the man who would not fashion an image, ...,”  it would likely not be true.  One need not be blessed simply because he observes just one commandment.

אָרוּר מַקְלֶה אָבִיו וְאִמֹּו וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:16

Deut. 27:16   “‘Cursed is one dishonoring his father or his mother.’”  “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר מַסִּיג גְּבוּל רֵעֵהוּ וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:17

Deut. 27:17   “‘Cursed is one removing the landmark of his neighbor.’”  “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר מַשְׁגֶּה עִוֵּר בַּדָּרֶךְ וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:18

Deut. 27:18   “‘Cursed is one leading the blind astray on the way.’”  “And the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר מַטֶּה מִשְׁפַּט גֵּר־יָתֹום וְאַלְמָנָה וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:19

Deut. 27:19   “‘Cursed is one perverting judgment of the stranger, the orphan, or the widow.’”  “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר שֹׁכֵב עִם־אֵשֶׁת אָבִיו כִּי גִלָּה כְּנַף אָבִיו וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:20

Deut. 27:20   “‘Cursed is one lying with the wife of his father, for he has uncovered the skirt of his father.’”  “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר שֹׁכֵב עִם־כָּל־בְּהֵמָה וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:21

Deut. 27:21   “‘Cursed is one lying with any beast.’”  “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר שֹׁכֵב עִם־אֲחֹתֹו בַּת־אָבִיו אֹו בַת־אִמֹּו וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:22

Deut. 27:22   “‘Cursed is one lying with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.’”   “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר שֹׁכֵב עִם־חֹתַנְתֹּו וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:23

Deut. 27:23   “‘Cursed is one lying with his mother-in-law.’”  “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר מַכֵּה רֵעֵהוּ בַּסָּתֶר וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:24

Deut. 27:24   “‘Cursed is one smiting his neighbor in secret.’”  “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר לֹקֵחַ שֹׁחַד לְהַכֹּות נֶפֶשׁ דָּם נָקִי וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:25

Deut. 27:25   “‘Cursed is one taking a bribe to slay a person of innocent blood.’”  “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”

אָרוּר אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָקִים אֶת־דִּבְרֵי הַתֹּורָה־הַזֹּאת לַעֲשֹׂות אֹותָם וְאָמַר כָּל־הָעָם אָמֵן   27:26

Deut. 27:26   “‘Cursed is one not upholding the words of this Torah to do them.’”  “And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’”


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