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Deuteronomy Chapter 29
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Moses' Final Discourse
29:1 Moses summoned all Israel, and said to them:

You have seen all that God did in Egypt before your very eyes, to Pharaoh, to all his servants, and to all his land.

29:2 Your own eyes saw the great miracles, signs and wonders.
29:3 But until this day, God did not give you a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear.
29:4 [God is now declaring to you,] 'I brought you through the desert for forty years, during which your clothes did not wear out on you, and the shoes on your feet did not become tattered.
29:5 You neither ate bread nor drank wine, so that you would know that I am God your Lord.'
29:6 When you came to this area, Sichon king of Cheshbon and Og king of the Bashan came out to fight us, but we defeated them.
29:7 We took their land, and gave it as a heritage to the Reubenites, the Gaddites and half the tribe of the Manassites.
29:8 If you safeguard the words of this covenant and keep them, you will be successful in all you do.

The Covenant Renewed
29:9 Today you are all standing before God your Lord - your leaders, your tribal chiefs, your elders, your law enforcers, every Israelite man,
29:10 your children, your women, and the proselytes in your camp - even your woodcutters and water drawers.
29:11 You are thus being brought into the covenant of God your Lord, and [accepting] the dread oath that He is making with you today.
29:12 He is establishing you as His nation, so that He will be a God to you, just as He promised you, and as He swore to your ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
29:13 But it is not with you alone that I am making this covenant and this dread oath.
29:14 I am making it both with those who are standing here with us today before God our Lord, and with those who are not [yet] here with us today.
29:15 You know full well that we lived in Egypt, and that we also passed through [the territories of] the nations you encountered.
29:16 You saw the disgusting, putrid idols that they have, made of wood and stone, gold and silver.
29:17 Today, there must not be among you any man, woman, family or tribe, whose heart strays from God, and who goes and worships the gods of those nations. There must not be among you a root whose fruit is gall and wormwood.
29:18 When [such a person] hears the words of this dread curse, he may rationalize and say, 'I will have peace, even if I do as I see fit. Let me add some moisture to this dry [practice]!'
29:19 God will not agree to forgive such a person. God's anger and demand for exclusive worship will be directed like smoke against that person and the entire dread curse written in this book will lie [at his door], so that God will blot out his name from under the heavens.
29:20 God will separate him so that he will have more evil than any of the Israelite tribes, and he will be subject to all the dread curses of the covenant, which are written in this Torah scroll.
29:21 A future generation, consisting of your descendants, who rise up after you, along with the foreigner from a distant land, shall see the punishment directed against that land, and the plague with which God has struck it, and they will say,
29:22 'Sulphur and salt has burned all its soil. Nothing can be planted and nothing can grow - not even grass can grow on it. It is like the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Adma and Tzevoyim, [the cities] that God overturned in His anger and rage.'
29:23 All the nations will ask, 'Why did god do this to the land? What was the reason for this great display of anger?'
29:24 They shall answer, 'It is because they abandoned the covenant that God, Lord of their fathers, made with them when He brought them out of Egypt.
29:25 They went and served foreign gods, bowing down to them. These were gods alien to them, something that was not their portion.
29:26 God displayed anger against this nation, bringing upon it the entire curse written in this book.
29:27 God drove them from their land with anger, rage and great fury, and He exiled them to another land, where they remain even today.'
29:28 Hidden things may pertain to God our Lord, but that which has been revealed applies to us and our children forever. [We must therefore] keep all the words of this Torah.



Commentary:

Moses summoned
  To make the covenant (Ibn Ezra). Or, after the covenant (Ramban).

miracles
  (Targum). Massoth in Hebrew. Or, 'tests' (Malbim; Septuagint).

God is now declaring ...
  From context in verse 5 (Chizzkuni; Abarbanel; Malbim). See Deuteronomy, 11:13. Others, however, see this as Moses' statement; see note on Deuteronomy 29:5.

that I am God your Lord
  Assuming that these are God's words, as in previous notes. Or, '[and God said that this would be] so that you would know that I am God your Lord' (Saadia). Or, 'so that you would know that 'I am God' is your Lord' (Hirsch; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah; cf. Sukkah 45a).

Sichon...
  Numbers 21:21-24.

Og...
  Numbers 21:33-35.

covenant
  Deuteronomy, 28:69 or 29:11.

successful
  (Targum; Avodah Zarah 19b; Saadia; Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach). Haskel in Hebrew. Or, 'act intelligently' (Radak, Sherashim; Paaneach Razah; Hirsch).

Today
  But in the future, you will be scattered throughout the Promised Land (Baaley Tosafoth on Deuteronomy 29:11; Abarbanel). See Deuteronomy 29:1 (Rashbam).

before God...
  Some say that this denotes the area around the Ark (Ibn Ezra).

your leaders, your tribal chiefs
  (Targum Yonathan; Lekach Tov; cf. Ibn Ezra). Some say that the tribal chiefs are the ones who were to supervise the division of the land (Numbers 34:18-28; Lekach Tov). Or, 'the leaders of your tribes' (Rashi; Septuagint). Or, 'Your leaders, your tribes -' (Ramban).

even your woodcutters...
  Some say that these were Canaanites who came to embrace Judaism, just as in the time of Joshua (Tanchuma 2; Rashi); cf. Joshua 9:21-27. Others say that they were the mixed multitude (Exodus 12:38; Ramban), or the Israelites' slaves (Baaley Tosafoth; Chizzkuni).

covenant
  In addition to the covenant at Sinai. Some say that a new covenant was needed because the original one was violated with the Golden Calf (Tanchuma 3; Bachya). Others say that this covenant was to make the Israelites into a nation (Ralbag; Sforno; see Deuteronomy 27:9). Others say that it was a covenant with regard to the Promised Land (Abarbanel). According to another opinion, it was to prevent the Israelites from assimilating the idolatrous practices of the Canaanites (Rashi, Ramban on Deuteronomy 29:17). Some say that this covenant involved the same elements as that in Exodus 24:4-8 (Ramban).

dread oath
  (Yerushalmi, Sotah 2:5; Lekach Tov). Alah in Hebrew. Or, 'curse' indicating the curse at Sinai (cf. Leviticus 26:18; Midrash HaGadol) or that on Mount Ebal (Chizzkuni).

yet
  That is, to future generations (Rashi).

gall
  (Septuagint; xole in Greek). Rosh in Hebrew; see Deuteronomy, 32:32, Jeremiah 9:14, Hosea 10:4, Psalms 69:22, Lamentations 3:19. Or, 'poison,' or 'venom' (Saadia; Radak, Sherashim; Bachya); cf. Deuteronomy, 32:33, Amos 6:12. Some sources identify rosh with hemlock (Conium maculatum), a dark poisonous plant. Others identify it with gall poppy (Papaver somniferum), a species of opium poppy that grows in the Holy Land. The person described can bring about the same mental confusion as opium.

wormwood
  Laanah in Hebrew; aklam in Arabic (Saadia; Ibn Janach), exenjos in Old Spanish (Radak, Sherashim). Wormwood (Artemisia absinthium) is an herb yielding a bitter, dark green oil. A paradigm of bitterness, and hence translated merely as 'bitterness' (pikra) by the Septuagint.

rationalize
  (Saadia). Hith-barekh in Hebrew. Literally, 'bless himself' (Lekach Tov; Yehudah HaLevi in Ibn Ezra; Chizzkuni; Sforno). Or, 'conclude' (Targum; Ibn Janach); 'give up hope' (Targum Yonathan); 'think that he will have blessing' (Rashi); or, 'flatter himself' (Septuagint).

as I see fit
  Literally, 'in the vision of my heart' (Rashi; Radak; Sherashim). Sheriruth in Hebrew, see Jeremiah 3:17, Psalms 81:13. Or, 'follow my own ideas' (Targum; Ibn Janach); 'follow my heart's desires' (Targum Yonathan; Saadia); 'remain free in my heart' (Lekach Tov); 'maintain my strong position' (Lekach Tov; Radak, Sherashim); 'follow my stubborn desires' (Ramban); 'annul it in my heart' (Sforno); or, 'follow my own error' (Septuagint).

add
  (Targum; Rashi; Radak, Sherashim; Ramban). Sefoth in Hebrew; see Isaiah 30:1, Psalms 4:15. Or, 'destroy' (Yehuda HaLevi in Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach; Chizzkuni; Septuagint); 'annul' (Ibn Ezra), 'water' (Abarbanel), or, 'join' (Rashi, Sanhedrin 76b).

moisture
  Ravah in Hebrew, denoting the moist, well watered, or unthirsty. Some say that this is an allegory for the righteous (Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim), or one who has no desires (Ramban), while others say that it denotes the wicked (Septuagint), who have slaked their thirst by following their desires (Ramban; Ralbag; Radak, Sherashim; Sforno). Others say that it denotes the accidental sinner, who acts like a drunkard (Rashi; cf. Targum), while some say that it denotes the spiteful sinner, who sins even though he has no real desire (Rashbam).

dry
  Or, 'thirsty,' the opposite of ravah. Here again, some say that this denotes the 'dry' wicked person (Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach; Radak, Sherashim), while others say that it denotes the person who 'thirsts' because he controls his desires (Radak, Sherashim; Septuagint). Others say that the 'thirsty' denotes those who have desires (Ralbag), or the desire itself (Chizzkuni; Bachya). Some would translate 'thirsty' as 'sober,' indicating one who sins with full knowledge (Rashi; cf. Targum), while others say that it indicates the one who sins because of his 'thirst' and desire (Rashbam).

This verse can then be translated, 'to rid thirst with wetness' (Saadia); 'to join the thirsty to the unthirsty' (Rashi, Sanhedrin 76b); 'to liken the thirsty to the unthirsty' (Ibid.); 'Let the righteous be included with the wicked [and save them]' (Radak, Sherashim); 'to destroy the righteous with the wicked' (Ibn Ezra; Ibn Janach); 'to join the righteous with the wicked' (Chizzkuni); 'shall the righteous then be destroyed with the wicked?' (Bachya); '[in any case,] the moist are watered with the dry' (Abarbanel); 'Lest the sinner destroy the guiltless [with him]' (Septuagint); 'to annul the words of the righteous with the wicked' (Yehudah HaLevi in Ibn Ezra); 'so that accidental sins be added to purposeful ones' (Targum; Rashi; Lekach Tov); 'so that spiteful sins be added to those of desire' (Rashbam); 'to add undesired sins to sins of lust' (Baaley Tosafoth); 'to fulfill the desires of my freethinking' (Ralbag); 'to add desire even when he is satisfied' (Rambam; Chizzkuni); 'to let his desires satisfy his craving' (Sforno); 'to let his desires be added to his intellect' (Radak, Sherashim); 'to graft my well watered [root] to the dry one' (Ramban); or, 'to graft my well watered [wormwood] to the unwatered one' (Ibid.).

demand for exclusive worship
  See Exodus 20:5.

at his door
  See Genesis 4:7. Or, 'rest upon him' (Hirsch), or, 'attach itself to him' (Targum; Saadia; Septuagint).

foreigner
  Or, 'proselyte' (Lekach Tov).

will say
  Or, 'will speak of it' (Abarbanel). Others say that 'will say' is attached to and repeated in Deuteronomy 29:23 (Ralbag).

Sodom, Gemorrah...
  See Genesis 19:24.

They
  The descendants; or, the nations.





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