כָּל־הַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ הַיֹּום תִּשְׁמְרוּן לַעֲשֹׂות לְמַעַן תִּחְיוּן וּרְבִיתֶם וּבָאתֶם וִירִשְׁתֶּם אֶת־ 8:1
הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָה לַאֲבֹתֵיכֶם
Deut. 8:1 “You shall observe to do all the commandment that I am commanding you today in order that you will live and multiply and enter and possess the land that the Lord swore to your fathers.”
The second-person pronouns in this verse are all plural except for the one in the phrase that I am commanding you today. I believe Moses is saying this here to us today: We must observe the commandments that our people are receiving in that day so we may live and become greater and possess the land the Lord swore to our ancestors.
Another point that I find significant: The word “commandment” is in the singular, reinforcing my premise that Moses at times refers to the whole of the Torah as the (or this) commandment. The word also appears to encompass the words “statutes,” “ordinances,” and “testimonies.”
וְזָכַרְתָּ אֶת־כָּל־הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר הֹלִיךֲךָ יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ זֶה אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה בַּמִּדְבָּר לְמַעַן עַנֹּתְךָ לְנַסֹּתְךָ 8:2
לָדַעַת אֶת־אֲשֶׁר בִּלְבָבְךָ הֲתִשְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתֹו אִם־לֹא
Deut. 8:2 “And you must remember the entire journey that the Lord, your God, has led you this forty years in the wilderness in order to chasten you, to test you to know what is in your heart, if you would take heed of His commandment or not.”
All the second-person pronouns in this verse are singular. My interpretation: The people as a whole must preserve the memory of this forty-year experience and remember that it was a chastening and a test of our collective heart and mind.
And I must observe that the scribe refers to the people Moses was talking to as those who had wandered in the wilderness for all of the forty-year journey. Undoubtedly, many of them were less than forty years old, and couldn’t remember all the years of the Israelites’ wandering. Another oversight by this scribe, apparently similar to those in verses Deut. 5:5 and 11:19?
וַיְעַנְּךָ וַיַּרְעִבֶךָ וַיַּאֲכִלְךָ אֶת־הַמָּן אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדַעְתָּ וְלֹא יָדְעוּן אֲבֹתֶיךָ לְמַעַן הֹודִעֲךָ כִּי לֹא עַל־הַלֶּחֶם 8:3
לְבַדֹּו יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם כִּי עַל־כָּל־מֹוצָא פִי־יְהוָה יִחְיֶה הָאָדָם
Deut. 8:3 “And He afflicted you and made you hungry, and He fed you the manna that you did not understand and your fathers did not understand, in order to show you that humanity cannot live by bread alone, but humanity must live by all that which comes out of the ‘mouth’ of the Lord.”
Here we have the revelation of the additional miracle that the Lord had wrought in the wilderness (besides providing the manna and preserving garment and limb). See Exod. 16:3, Numb. 11:13, and Numb. 20:8. Although He allowed the people to partake of the sacrifices and of the paschal lamb at Passover, He had them eat the manna the rest of the time. And Moses now reveals the reason for the miracle and the unfathomable manna: For us to learn a lesson -- we can live only by following the word of the Lord. Yet even now, over three thousand years later, most of us haven’t yet learned that vital lesson. [Return to Deut. 29:3]
By the way, all the six second-person pronouns in this verse are singular.
שִׂמְלָתְךָ לֹא בָלְתָה מֵעָלֶיךָ וְרַגְלְךָ לֹא בָצֵקָה זֶה אַרְבָּעִים שָׁנָה 8:4
Deut. 8:4 “Your garment did not wear out from being on you, and your feet did not swell up this forty years.”
More of the miracle! And more singular second-person pronouns.
וְיָדַעְתָּ עִם־לְבָבֶךָ כִּי כַּאֲשֶׁר יְיַסֵּר אִישׁ אֶת־בְּנֹו יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מְיַסְּרֶךָּ 8:5
Deut. 8:5 “So you should know with your heart that as a man would chasten his son, the Lord, your God, was chastening you.”
The second-person pronouns, all singular, indicate that the people as a whole was being chastened, not necessarily each individual. See my remarks accompanying v. 8:20.
וְשָׁמַרְתָּ אֶת־מִצְוֹת יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לָלֶכֶת בִּדְרָכָיו וּלְיִרְאָה אֹתֹו 8:6
Deut. 8:6 “Then you might keep the commandments of the Lord, your God, walking in His ways and revering Him.”
כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ מְבִיאֲךָ אֶל־אֶרֶץ טֹובָה אֶרֶץ נַחֲלֵי מָיִם עֲיָנֹת וּתְהֹמֹת יֹצְאִים בַּבִּקְעָה וּבָהָר 8:7
Deut. 8:7 “For the Lord, your God, is bringing you in to a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and deep places, spreading out to valleys and to hills,
אֶרֶץ חִטָּה וּשְׂעֹרָה וְגֶפֶן וּתְאֵנָה וְרִמֹּון אֶרֶץ־זֵית שֶׁמֶן וּדְבָשׁ 8:8
Deut. 8:8 a land of wheat and barley, and vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey,
אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר לֹא בְמִסְכֵּנֻת תֹּאכַל־בָּהּ לֶחֶם לֹא־תֶחְסַר כֹּל בָּהּ אֶרֶץ אֲשֶׁר אֲבָנֶיהָ בַרְזֶל וּמֵהֲרָרֶיהָ 8:9
Deut. 8:9 a land that is without scarcity; you shall eat food in it -- you shall lack nothing in it -- a land whose stones are of iron and from whose hills you will mine copper.”
וְאָכַלְתָּ וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבֵרַכְתָּ אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ עַל־הָאָרֶץ הַטֹּבָה אֲשֶׁר נָתַן־לָךְ 8:10
Deut. 8:10 “And you shall eat and be satisfied and you shall bless the Lord, your God, on account of the good land that He has given you.”
This verse is the source of the Jewish tradition of reciting grace after meals. But I have a concern about the modern observance of this verse. The blessing is qualified: “... on account of the good land. . . “. As the land doesn’t belong to many Jews now except in Israel, most Jews in the diaspora may not be obligated by it. Yet that doesn’t mean we shouldn’t recite a blessing -- only that it may not be obligatory.
Now since the pertinent pronouns are all singular in the verses from 8:2 to this one, I believe that this verse, like the previous eight, applies to the whole people, not to individuals. In other words, the congregation shall bless the Lord for its good land and its well-being. However, I could be wrong and this verse may also mean that grace after meals requires a minyan of ten, or at least three. See my remarks accompanying v. 8:20 about second-person pronouns in this chapter.
הִשָּׁמֶר לְךָ פֶּן־תִּשְׁכַּח אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ לְבִלְתִּי שְׁמֹר מִצְוֹתָיו וּמִשְׁפָּטָיו וְחֻקֹּתָיו אֲשֶׁר אָנֹכִי מְצַוְּךָ 8:11
Deut. 8:11 “Take heed to yourself lest you would forget the Lord, your God, by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes of which I am commanding you today,
פֶּן־תֹּאכַל וְשָׂבָעְתָּ וּבָתִּים טֹובִים תִּבְנֶה וְיָשָׁבְתָּ 8:12
Deut. 8:12 lest you would eat and be satisfied and build and inhabit goodly houses,
וּבְקָרְךָ וְצֹאנְךָ יִרְבְּיֻן וְכֶסֶף וְזָהָב יִרְבֶּה־לָּךְ וְכֹל אֲשֶׁר־לְךָ יִרְבֶּה 8:13
Deut. 8:13 and your cattle and your sheep would be multiplied, and silver and gold would be plentiful for you, and all that is yours would be multiplied,
וְרָם לְבָבֶךָ וְשָׁכַחְתָּ אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ הַמֹּוצִיאֲךָ מֵאֶרֶץ מִצְרַיִם מִבֵּית עֲבָדִים 8:14
Deut. 8:14 and your heart would become arrogant, and you would forget the Lord, your God, Who brought you forth from the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage,
הַמֹּולִיךֲךָ בַּמִּדְבָּר הַגָּדֹל וְהַנֹּורָא נָחָשׁ שָׂרָף וְעַקְרָב וְצִמָּאֹון אֲשֶׁר אֵין־מָיִם הַמֹּוצִיא לְךָ מַיִם מִצּוּר 8:15
Deut. 8:15 Who led you throughout the great and dreadful wilderness of poisonous serpent and scorpion, and desert where there was no water, Who brought forth water for you from the flint rock,
הַמַּאֲכִלְךָ מָן בַּמִּדְבָּר אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדְעוּן אֲבֹתֶיךָ לְמַעַן עַנֹּתְךָ וּלְמַעַן נַסֹּתֶךָ לְהֵיטִבְךָ בְּאַחֲרִיתֶךָ 8:16
Deut. 8:16 Who fed you manna in the wilderness that your fathers did not understand, in order to chasten you and in order to test you, to do you good at your end time,
וְאָמַרְתָּ בִּלְבָבֶךָ כֹּחִי וְעֹצֶם יָדִי עָשָׂה לִי אֶת־הַחַיִל הַזֶּה 8:17
Deut. 8:17 and you would say in your heart, ‘My might with the strength of my hand made this wealth for me.’”
So we must continually remember that all that we have is by the grace and love of God. From the next verse, we can derive an enlargement to this idea. The Lord doesn’t just give us the wealth as He did in the wilderness; He gives us the ability to acquire the wealth. That is the blessing we receive for walking in His ways and joyfully loving Him with all the strength we can muster.
Besides this understanding, we may also derive something more. The preceding verse, v. 8:16, contains some interesting Hebrew. The translation of the final phrase is “... to do you good at your end time, ....” What can that possibly mean? Is the wilderness experience somehow tied to the end time? Is it a lesson that we must understand in order to gain some good ultimately? Think about it. I do.
וְזָכַרְתָּ אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ כִּי הוּא הַנֹּתֵן לְךָ כֹּחַ לַעֲשֹׂות חָיִל לְמַעַן הָקִים אֶת־בְּרִיתֹו אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּע 8:18
לַאֲבֹתֶיךָ כַּיֹּום הַזֶּה
Deut. 8:18 “So you must remember the Lord your God, for it is He Who gives the power to you to make wealth, in order to confirm His covenant that He swore to your fathers, as it is this day.”
וְהָיָה אִם־שָׁכֹחַ תִּשְׁכַּח אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ וְהָלַכְתָּ אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וַעֲבַדְתָּם וְהִשְׁתַּחֲוִיתָ לָהֶם 8:19
הַעִדֹתִי בָכֶם הַיֹּום כִּי אָבֹד תֹּאבֵדוּן
Deut. 8:19 “And it shall be, if you at all forget the Lord, your God, and go after other gods and serve them and bow down to them, I solemnly affirm to you today that you shall surely perish.”
כַּגֹּויִם אֲשֶׁר יְהוָה מַאֲבִיד מִפְּנֵיכֶם כֵּן תֹאבֵדוּן עֵקֶב לֹא תִשְׁמְעוּן בְּקֹול יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם 8:20
Deut. 8:20 “Like the nations that the Lord will be destroying from before you, so shall you be destroyed, because you will not have listened to the voice of the Lord, your God.”
This chapter has some intriguing treatment of second-person pronouns, and requires much contemplation. Verse 8:1 has one singular pronoun and then changes to plural for the other six pronouns in the verse. From v. 8:2 to v. 8:18 all the second-person pronouns, and there are 60 of them, are singular. Then in v. 8:19, the first five are singular and the remaining two are plural. In v. 8:20 there are four plural pronouns. So what does this tell us? Let me summarize my thoughts.
As I see it, In v. 8:1 Moses is telling the body of Israel that it should follow the commandments, and if it does, each member of the congregation will benefit.
In vss. 8:2 to 8:18 Moses is addressing the entire body of the children of Israel. According to my reading, v. 8:12 offers some indication that my interpretation of second-person pronouns is reasonable (and [you shall] inhabit goodly houses -- a plural noun). So the whole congregation must remember the entire journey, the Lord’s manna to teach and test it, the good that He will provide it in the promised land, that it should not forget the Lord and boast of its own power. In v. 8:19 Moses cautions that if the congregation forgets and goes after other gods, many members of the congregation will perish. Finally, in v. 8:20 Moses completes the thought from the previous verse, now addressing each member of the congregation.
From my understanding of this chapter, I believe that, as I have expressed before, the congregation is responsible for not forgetting the Exodus and the wilderness wandering, and what happened there. The benefits are for the congregation and the individual (which can carry over to the entire congregation, of course) as are the negative consequences of the failure of the congregation.
Torah Commandments in this Chapter
407. You shall eat and you shall bless the Lord, your God, for the good land. V. 8:10
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