Foundations of the Faith
||Now, Israel, listen to the rules and laws that I am teaching you to do, so that you will remain alive and come to occupy the land that God, Lord of your fathers, is giving you.
||Do not add to the word that I am commanding you, and do not subtract from it. You must keep all the commandments of God your Lord, which I am instructing you.
||You have seen with your own eyes what God did at the Baal Peor episode. God your Lord annihilated every person among you who followed Baal Peor.
||Only you, the ones who remained attached to God your Lord, are all alive today.
||See ! I have taught you rules and laws as God my Lord has commanded me, so [that you] will be able to keep them in the land to which you are coming and which you will be occupying.
||Safeguard and keep [these rules], since this is your wisdom and understanding in the eyes of the nations. They will hear all these rules and say, 'This great nation is certainly a wise and understanding people.'
||What nation is so great that they have God close to it, as God our Lord is, whenever we call Him?
||What nation is so great that they have such righteous rules and laws, like this entire Torah that I am presenting before you today?
||Only take heed and watch yourself very carefully, so that you do not forget the things that your eyes saw. Do not let [this memory] leave your hearts, all the days of your lives. Teach your children and children's children about
||the day you stood before God your Lord at Horeb.
It was then that God said to me, 'Congregate the people for Me, and I will let them hear My words. This will teach them to be in awe of Me as long as they live on earth, and they will also teach their children.'
||You approached and stood at the foot of the mountain. The mountain was burning with a fire reaching the heart of heaven, with darkness, cloud and mist.
||Then God spoke to you out of the fire. You heard the sound of words, but saw no image; there was only a voice.
||He announced to you His covenant, instructing you to keep the Ten Commandments, and He wrote them on two stone tablets.
||At that time, God commanded me to teach you rules and laws, so that you will keep them in the land which you are crossing [the Jordan] to occupy.
||Watch yourselves very carefully, since you did not see any image on the day that God spoke to you out of the fire at Horeb.
||You shall therefore not become corrupt and make a statue depicting any symbol. [Do not make] any male or female image,
||or the image of any animal on earth, any winged creature that flies in the sky,
||any lower form of land animal, or any animal that lives in the water below the earth.
||When you raise your eyes to the sky, and see the sun, moon, stars and other heavenly bodies, do not bow down to them or worship them. It was to all the [other] nations under the heavens that God made them a portion.
||But you, God Himself took, and He brought you out of the iron crucible that was Egypt, so that you would be His heritage nation, as you are today.
||God displayed anger at me because of your words, and He swore that I would not cross the Jordan, and that I would not come to the good land that God your Lord is giving you as a heritage.
||I will die in this land and will not cross the Jordan, while you will be the ones to cross and occupy the good land.
||Be careful that you not forget the covenant that God your Lord made with you. [Do not] make for yourself any statue image that is forbidden by God.
||God your Lord is [like] a consuming fire, a God demanding exclusive allegiance.
Allegiance to God
||When you have children and grandchildren, and have been established in the land for a long time, you might become decadent and make a statue of some image, committing an evil act in the eyes of God your Lord and making Him angry.
||I call heaven and earth as witnesses for you today that you will then quickly perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to occupy. You will not remain there very long, since you will be utterly destroyed.
||God will then scatter you among the nations, and only a small number will remain among the nations to which God will lead you.
||There you will serve gods that men have made out of wood and stone, which cannot see, hear, eat or smell.
||Then you will begin to seek God your Lord, and if you pursue Him with all your heart and soul, you will eventually find Him.
||When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, you will finally return to God your Lord and obey Him.
||God your Lord is a merciful Power, and He will not abandon you or destroy you; He will not forget the oath He made upholding your fathers' covenant.
||You might inquire about times long past, going back to the time that God created man on earth, [exploring] one end of the heavens to the other. See if anything as great as this has ever happened, or if the like has ever been heard.
||Has any nation ever heard God speaking out of fire, as you have, and still survived?
||Has God ever done miracles bringing one nation out of another nation with such tremendous miracles, signs, wonders, war, a mighty hand and outstretched arm, and terrifying phenomena, as God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?
||You are the ones who have been shown, so that you will know that God is the Supreme Being, and there is none besides Him.
||From the heavens, He let you hear His voice admonishing you, and on earth He showed you His great fire, so that you heard His words from the fire.
||It was because He loved your fathers, and chose their children after them, that [God] Himself brought you out of Egypt with His great power.
||He will drive away before you nations that are greater and stronger than you, so as to bring you to their lands, and give them to you as a heritage, as [He is doing] today.
||Realize it today and ponder it in your heart: God is the Supreme Being in heaven above and on the earth beneath - there is no other.
||Keep His decrees and commandments that I am presenting to you today, so that He will be good to you and your children after you. Then you will endure for a long time in the land that God your Lord is giving you for all time.
||Moses then designated three cities on the east of the Jordan, toward the rising sun,
||where a murderer could escape. If a person killed his neighbor without intent and without prior enmity, he would be able to escape to one of these cities and live.
||[The cities were] Betzer in the desert flatlands for the Reubenites, Ramoth in the Gilead for the Gaddites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.
||This is the law that Moses presented before the Israelites.
||These are the rituals, rules and laws that Moses discussed with the Israelites when they left Egypt.
||[They were now] on the east bank of the Jordan, in the valley opposite Beth Peor in the land of Sichon, king of Cheshbon, whom Moses and the Israelites had defeated when they left Egypt.
||[The Israelites] occupied [Sichon's] land, as well as the land of Og, king of Bashan. [These were] the two Amorite kings to the east of the Jordan.
||[The land] extended from Aro'er on the edge of the of the Arnon Gorge, to Mount Siyon, also known as Hermon,
||as well as the entire flood plain on the east bank of the Jordan, as far as the Aravah Sea under the rapids flowing from the cliff.
This was said in the valley (Ibn Ezra). See Deuteronomy 4:41. This marks the beginning of the commandments (Ramban).
See Numbers 25:3 ff.
Arafel. See Exodus 20:18. Or, 'storm' (Septuagint).
Literally, 'Ten Words' or 'Ten Statements.'
See Exodus 31:18.
Semel in Hebrew; see Ezekiel 8:3, 2 Chronicles 33:7. Or, 'visible form' (Chothem Takhnith); 'imaginary form' (Hirsch), or, 'four-sided form' (Malbim).
(cf. Chullin 139b).
(Chizzkuni). Or, 'God's...[punishment] is a burning fire' (Saadia).
|demanding exclusive allegiance|
See Exodus 20:5.
Literally, 'in the end of days,' possibly a Messianic prophecy.
(Targum, Rashi; Septuagint). Raphah in Hebrew. Or, 'turn you away' (Saadia), or, 'weaken you' (Ibn Ezra).
(Targum; Rashi). Nissah in Hebrew. Or, 'lifted a banner' (Saadia), or 'attempted' (Septuagint).
See Exodus 6:6, 13:3.
Literally, 'The God.' Possibly denoting the sum total of everything ascribed to all deities. Ha-Elohim in Hebrew.
(Saadia). Literally, 'his.' Some say that this denotes Jacob in particular (Targum Yonathan; Rashi).
(Lekach Tov from 2 Samuel 17:11; Septuagint). Be-phanav in Hebrew, literally, 'with His presence,' 'with His 'face',' or 'before Him.' See Exodus 33:14. Or, 'face,' can denote desire (Saadia), anger (Ibn Ezra), or 'the angel of the face' (Isaiah 63:9; Tur). Or, 'before [Egypt]' (Chizzkuni).
(Ramban; cf. Ibn Ezra). Or, 'Then I designated' (Chizzkuni). Some say that Moses designated these cities after he had been told that he would not see the promised land (Devarim Rabbah 2:26; Malbim), or after he saw it from afar (Tzafenath Paaneach).
Literally, 'other side.'
|where a murderer...|
See Numbers 35:14.
See Joshua 20:8, 1 Chronicles 6:63. Although its exact location is unknown, the Talmud (Makkoth 9b) states that it was parallel to Hebron, and it was therefore probably near Divon (see Numbers 21:30). Some identify it with Bosor in 1 Maccabees 5:26,28. It is also identified with Kevathirim (Targum Yonathan), which is also unknown.
Usually identified with Ramoth Gilead; see Joshua 21:36, 1 Kings 22:3. This is the modern Tell Remith or es-Salt, 25 miles east of the Jordan, and 12 miles south of the Kinnereth. However, according to the Talmud, Ramoth parallels Shechem, while Tell Remith is considerably to its north.
See Joshua 20:8, 21:7, 1 Chronicles 6:56. It was later known as Gaulon (Eusebius, Omonastica Sacra 242), and Gaulanitis (Josephus, Antiquities 8:2:3, Wars 1:4:4, 3:3:1, 4:1:1, 4:1:5). This is the modern Jaulan or Sachem el Jolan, some 18 miles east of the Kinnereth. Other sources identify it with an unknown city, Dabra (Targum Yonathan). The Talmud states that it parallels Kadesh in Naphtali.
All the above (Lekach Tov; cf. Bachya). Or, the following (Rashi).
The following (Chizzkuni).
Edoth in Hebrew. Actually, 'commemorative rituals.'
|valley opposite Beth Peor|
See Deuteronomy 3:29.
|Aro'er on the edge...|
See Deuteronomy 2:36, 3:12.
See Deuteronomy 3:9. Cf. Psalms 133:3.
Aravah in Hebrew.
See Deuteronomy 3:17.