The final book of the Torah contains three Exhortations by Moses, the Final Acts of Moses, and the Death of Moses; plus a book of sacred laws. Exhortation could mean sermon, harangue, pep talk, admonition, rant, or any other speech to induce the Israelites to attempt something which they are reluctant to try. The invasion across the Jordan River, to conquer the land that would become Israel, is the express purpose but the return from Babylon is more probable. The recurring theme in the exhortations is the destruction—with the horrors of the invasion, including cannibalization—of Israel with the expectation that a remnant would repent and eventual return to Israel. This is practically a schema of the Babylonian exile.
Although the Torah did not take its final form until after the return from Babylon, most of the content existed from earlier times—possibly some from before the formation of the kingdom. Deuteronomy copies a significant part of its content from the other books of the Torah. This seems to indicate that it was written after the other books, however the laws in Deuteronomy appear to come from an earlier time. As an example, the rest of the Torah prohibits eating unclean food under any conditions but Deuteronomy permits eating unclean food in one's home.
First Exhortation of Moses
These are the words which Moses said to the Israelites beyond Jordan in the desert north of the Dead sea, between Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab. (By the way of Mount Seir it takes eleven days to reach Kadesh-barnea from Horeb.)
In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses presented the commands that Yahva had given for them. Having slain Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and Edrei, in the land of Moab, east of Jordan; Moses decided to clarify this law, which Yahva revealed in Horeb; “You have dwelt too long on this mountain. Leave here, go to the land of the Amorites, and the surrounding land; to the plain, hills, vales, southern desert, and seacoast in the land of the Canaanites; to Lebanon, even as far as the great river. I have given this land to you: Go now; occupy that which I promised to your ancestors; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob and to their descendants.”
There I told you; “Alone, I am not able to take care of you. Yahva has multiplied you and now you are as numerous as the stars in the sky. Yahva, the God of your ancestors, would increase you a thousand times more than you are. He blesses you as he promised. How can I alone bear the crushing burden of you and your strife? Choose wise, intelligent, and respected men from each tribe, and I will appoint them your leaders.” You answered me; “Your proposal is agreeable to us.” So I took the outstanding men of your tribes, intelligent and respected, and made them your leaders; officials over thousands, over hundreds, over fifties, and over tens and other tribal officers. I charged your judges at that time; “Listen to the complaints among your kinsmen and apply true justice among all people even if one is a despised foreigner. Consider all people equally in rendering judgment; the poor as the rich, fearing none, for judgment is Yahva's. If any case is too hard for you, refer it to me, and I will hear it.” At that time, I gave you all the commands you were to execute.
Then, obeying Yahva, we left Horeb and journeyed through that great and terrible desert toward the land of the Amorites. When we came to Kadesh-barnea, I told you; “We have come to the land which Yahva is giving to us. Yahva has destined this land for you: Go occupy it as the God of your ancestors has commanded. Do not fear or be discouraged.” Then you came to me and said; “We will send men ahead to scout the land, report the way we must go, and the cities we must conquer.” Agreeing I chose twelve men, one from each tribe. They went into the hill country and came to the valley of Eshcol, and explored it. Then they brought fruit of the land to us and reported; “The land which Yahva gives us is good.”
But you would not go! While defying the command of Yahva, you murmured secretly; “Hating us, Yahva has brought us from Egypt to deliver us to destruction by the Amorites. What will we encounter there? Our scouts have discouraged us by reporting that the people are stronger and taller than we, and that their cities are large and strongly fortified. Also they saw the giant Anakims there.”
Then I said to you; “Have no dread or fear of them. Yahva, who goes before you, will fight for you just as he did in Egypt as well as in the desert. There you saw how Yahva supported you, as a man carries his child, all along the journey until you arrived here.” Despite this you would not trust Yahva who went before you to find you a resting place; by day as a cloud and by night as fire to show you the way to go. When Yahva heard your words, he was angry; “None of these men of this evil generation shall see that good land which I promised to your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it. I give him the land that he scouted because he has followed me without reservation.”
Yahva was angry with me because of you; “Not even you will enter there. Your aide Joshua, son of Nun, may enter. Encourage him for he will give Israel its heritage. Your poor, whom you said would become slaves, and your children, who do not yet know good from bad, may enter. I give it to them and they will occupy it. But for you, turn around, and take your journey into the desert on the road to the Red sea.
You replied to me; “We have sinned against Yahva, we will go and fight just as he commanded.” Then each of you girded on his weapons of war. Without regard for the heavy burden of the weapons, you felt at ease to attack the hill country. But Yahva said to me; “Warn them, Do not attack! For I am not with you and you will be destroyed by your enemies.” Thus, I warned you. You would not listen, but defied the commands of Yahva, and arrogantly invaded the hill country. The Amorites, who dwelt there, assaulted you and, like bees, chased and slaughtered you in Seir as far as Hormah. At your returned you wept before Yahva but he would not listen to you nor give aid. For this reason you had to stay in Kadesh as long as you did.
Then we turned and journeyed into the wilderness by the Red sea road, as Yahva said. We wandered among the hills of Seir a long time. Then Yahva said to me; “You have wandered these mountains long enough. Turn northward and organize the people for combat. You will pass along the land of your relatives, the descendants of Esau who dwell in Seir. They will fear you so behave kindly toward them. Avoid conflict with them for I will not give their land to you; not even the width of a foot because I have given the land to Esau. With silver you will buy food and water that you need from them.” Yahva has blessed you in all your deeds. He knows of your wandering through this great wilderness. For these forty years Yahva has cared for you, and you have never been in need.
Then we left the lands of Elath and Ezion-gaber along the desert road and passed the territory of our relatives, the descendants of Esau who dwelt in Seir. We then went through the wilderness of Moab. Yahva said; “Do not annoy the Moabites nor fight with them for I will not give their land to you. I have given Ar to the descendants of Lot.” The Emim—a large and numerous people, as tall as the Anakim—had formerly inhabited it. Like the Anakim, they are usually reckoned as Rephaim, though the Moabites call them Emim. Moreover, the Horim had formerly inhabited Seir, but the descendants of Esau dispossessed them and settled in their place, as Israel has done in the land Yahva gave them as a possession.)
Yahva told me; “Get ready and cross Zered creek,” so we crossed it. Thirty eight years had elapsed since we left Kadesh-barnea until that crossing. The generation of warriors had perished as Yahva had ordained. Yahva opposed and destroyed them until they were wiped out. When all these warriors were dead Yahva said to me, “Today you will pass through Ar, the border of Moab. When you travel near the Ammonites, do not trouble them. I will not give their land to you because I have given it to the descendants of Lot. Prepare for combat, and cross the river Arnon. Today I will deliver Sihon, the Amorite king of Heshbon, to you. Attack him and occupy his land. From this day all the nations will dread and fear you. When they hear reports of you, they will tremble and quake.”
I sent messengers from the desert of Kedemoth to Sihon king of Heshbon offering peace. “Let me pass through your land by the highway. I will march along it without turning to either side. I will pay in silver for the food and water that you provide. Only let me march through as the Moabites and the descendants of Esau have done until I have crossed the Jordan River to the land Yahva promised to us.” But Sihon king of Heshbon refused us passage; Yahva made him obstinate so that he might deliver him to you, as he has now done.
Then Yahva said to me; “I am giving Sihon and his land to you. Start occupying it so your descendants may inherit this land.” Sihon and all his warriors engaged in battle at Jahaz. Yahva delivered him to us and we slaughtered him, his sons, and all his soldiers. We took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, women, and children in every city, not permitting any person to escape. We took only the livestock and spoil of the cities as loot.
From Aroer near the river Arnon, and from the city that is beside the river; even to Gilead, no fortified city could resist us, as Yahva had promised us. As Yahva ordered, we did not occupy any land of the Ammonites, the region bordering the river Jabbok, nor the cities in the hills, nor any highlands. Then we proceeded toward Bashan but Og king of Bashan, opposed us with all his warriors at Edrei. Yahva said; “Do not fear him for I will deliver him to you with all his people and land. You will do to him as you did to Sihon king of the Amorites.” Yahva delivered Og into our hands and we slaughtered them; not one escaped. We captured all his cities at that time: not one of the sixty cities and the region of Argob escaped. All these cities were fortified with high walls, gates, and bars; in addition there were numerous unfortified villages. As we had done to Sihon king of Heshbon, we destroyed the men, women, and children of every city and village; but we took all the livestock and wealth of the cities as loot for ourselves. At that time, we took from the two Amorites kings all the territory east of Jordan, from the river of Arnon to Mount Hermon, including all the cities of the plateau, Gilead, Bashan, and the kingdom of Og in Bashan including Salchah and Edrei.
When we occupied this land at that time, I gave Reuben and Gad the territory from Aroer on the river Arnon, and half the highlands of Gilead and the cities therein. The rest of Gilead and all of Bashan, I gave to the half tribe of Manasseh. Jair, of the Manassehite clan, took all the region of Argob to the borders of the Geshuri and Maachathi. He named it after himself: Bashan-havothjair, by which it is known to this day. To Machir, I gave Gilead and to Reuben and Gad, Gilead to the river Arnon and its valley, to the river Jabbok which is the border of the Ammonites, also the region and Jordan river with its eastern banks from Chinnereth to the salt sea of the Arabah below the slopes Pisgah.
I commanded you at that time; “Yahva has given you this land to occupy, but all your troops, fully armed for battle, will cross in the vanguard of your Israelite kin. Your wives, children, and livestock—I know you have numerous livestock—will remain in the cities which I have given you until Yahva has settled your kin, as well as to yourselves, and until they occupy the land beyond Jordan which Yahva has promised them. Then you may return and every man will occupy the land I have given to you.”
Then I ordered Joshua; “You have seen all that Yahva has done to these two kings. He will do the same to all the kingdoms which you encounter beyond Jordan. Do not be afraid of them for Yahva will fight alongside you.”
At that time I pleaded to Yahva; “O God! You have shown your servant your greatness and strength. Is there a god in heaven or on earth, who performs your mighty deeds? I pray to you; let me cross and see the good land beyond Jordan—that fine hill country—and Lebanon.” But Yahva was angry with me because of you and would not hear me. “Enough,” he said; “speak no more of this matter. Go up to the top of Pisgah and look in every direction. Observe carefully for you shall not cross Jordan. Commission Joshua, encourage and strengthen him for he will lead the people across Jordan and give them possession of the land which you are to see.” This was while we abode in the valley opposite Beth-peor.
Israel! Now hear the statutes and the decrees which I teach you. Obey them so that you may live and possess the land which Yahva promised you. In observing the laws which I give to you, do not add nor subtract from the commandments of Yahva.
You have seen what Yahva did with all the men who followed Baal-peor; he destroyed them from among you, but you who adhered to Yahva are all alive today. Therefore I teach you laws and decrees, as Yahva commanded me, so that you may observe them in that land promised to you. Observe them carefully for this will demonstrate your wisdom and intelligence to all nations which will hear these laws and say; “This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.” For what nation is so great to have gods with them, as Yahva is with us when we call on him? What nation has laws that are so just as the totality of this law which I give you this day?
Be careful and earnestly on guard. Do not forget the things which you have seen nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live. Teach them to your descendants. Remember especially the day that you stood before Yahva at Horeb when he said; “Assemble the people. I will teach them my laws so that they learn to fear me as long as they live and that they may teach their descendants.” You came near and stood at the foot the mountain which blazed with fire to the sky and was enveloped in dense dark clouds. Then Yahva spoke from the fire. You heard the voice, but saw no form as he declared his covenant to you which he ordered you to keep; including the commandments that he wrote on two stone tablets. Yahva charged me to teach you the laws so that you observe them in the land that you will occupy.
You saw no form of Yahva on the day that he spoke from the fire in Horeb. Be diligent not to degrade yourselves by making an idol representing any figure, whether it be the form of a person, an animal, a bird, anything that creeps on the ground, or a fish. When you lift your eyes and see the sun, moon, or stars, even the multitude of objects in the sky; do not err in adoring them or serving them. Yahva has not arranged the destiny to all nations except you whom he has brought out of the iron furnace of Egypt, so that you might be his own people of inheritance as you are today. Yahva was angry with me for your deeds and decreed that I should not cross Jordan to that good land, which Yahva promised for you to settle. I must die in this land while you cross and occupy that good land.
Be careful! Do not forget the covenant which Yahva made with you and do not make an idol in any form, as he has forbidden. For Yahva is a jealous God with a consuming fire. When you have children and grandchildren, and you have grown old in that land, if you should degrade yourselves by fashioning an idol in any form and by this evil you anger Yahva—This day I call heaven and earth to witness—that you will soon truly perish from the land across Jordan which you will occupy. You will not live in it for long, but will be completely destroyed. Yahva will disperse you among the nations, but only a few of you will survive exile among the foreign nations. There you will serve wood and stone gods fashioned by men who can neither see nor hear, neither eat nor smell.
Yet there also, if you seek Yahva with all your being and essence, you will find him. In distress when all these things are happened, you will return to Yahva and obey his commands. Since Yahva is a merciful God, he will not forsake you, destroy you, nor forget the covenant which he swore to your ancestors. Ask now of the days that are past, which preceded you, since the day that Yahva created man upon the earth, and ask the entire earth, whether there has been any such thing as this great deed, or any has been heard like it? Did ever people hear a voice like Yahva speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you have heard, and live? Has any god assayed to take to him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, omens, wonders, and by war; with a mighty hand and encompassing arms, as Yahva did for you in Egypt? To you it was shown that you might know that Yahva is God, that there is no other equal to him. Out of heaven he made you to hear his voice that he might instruct you, and on earth he showed you his great fire and you heard his words out of the fire.
Because he loved your ancestors, he chose their descendants and brought you out of Egypt with his mighty power, to conquer nations greater and more powerful than yourselves and to give you their land as your heritage, as it is today. Remember this day and consider carefully that Yahva is God in heaven and on the earth: There is no other. You will keep his laws and commands, as I order you today, thus you and your descendants may prosper, and you may enjoy a long life in this land which Yahva gives to you for eternity. Then Moses chose three cities east of Jordan to which a killer might find refuge if he should kill his neighbor accidentally, without animosity. The cities are Bezer in the desert lowlands of the Reubenites, Ramoth in Gilead of the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan of the Manassites.
Second Exhortation of Moses
Moses and the Israelites conquered and occupied the lands of Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon and Bashan east of Jordan. This land stretched from Aroer on the bank of Arnon, to mount Sion in Hermon, including all the lowlands east of Jordan even the oases of the desert below the springs of Pisgah.
Moses called all Israel and said to them: Hear, O Israel, the laws and judgments which I tell you today, that you may learn and obey them. Yahva made a covenant with us in Horeb. He made this covenant not with our ancestors, but with us who are alive today. Yahva talked with you face to face in the mountain from the fire. Since you trembled before the fire and would not climb the mountain, I stood between Yahva and you at that time, to relate his words to you; “I am God, which brought you from bondage out of Egypt. Have no other gods except me. Do not make any carved figure or any idol in the likeness of anything that is in the sky, on earth, or in the waters. Do not honor or serve them for I am a jealous God visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children to the third and fourth generation of those who hate me, but showing mercy to the thousands that love me and keep my laws.” Do not take the name of God in vain for he will not pardon you. Keep the Sabbath day to sanctify it as Yahva has ordered you. Labor for six days and complete your work. The seventh day is the sabbath. Do not work; neither you, your children, your servants, your ox, your donkey, all your livestock, nor the stranger within your cities. They may rest as well as you. Remember that you were a servant in Egypt before Yahva rescued you through his might. Yahva ordered you to keep the sabbath. Honor your parents as Yahva commanded so that your days may be prolonged and you may prosper in the land he promises to you. Do not kill, commit adultery nor steal. Do not give false testimony against your neighbor. Do not desire your neighbor's wife npr envy his house, field, servants, ox, donkey, nor any property of your neighbor. Yahva said these words to you with a great voice from the fire and the dense cloud in the mountain. He added no more but wrote these laws on two stone tablets and gave them to me.
When you heard the voice from the darkness, all your elders and the heads of your tribes came to me and said; “Listen! Yahva has showed us his glory and greatness. We have heard his voice from the fire and today we have seen Yahva talk to a person who remains alive. If we hear the voice of Yahva any more we will die for this great fire will consume us. Who has heard the voice of Yahva speaking from the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Why should we die now? This great fire will consume us if we hear the voice of Yahva any longer and we will die. What mortal has heard, as we have, the voice of a true God speaking from a blazing fire, and survived?
Go near to him and hear all that Yahva says. Then you can tell us and we will hear it from you, and obey his laws.” Yahva heard the words you said to me and said; “I have heard the words which they have spoken and their words are acceptable. If only their spirits were like this, they would tremble before me to keep all my laws forever so that they and their children would prosper. Tell them, 'Go into your tents again.' But you will stand here by me while I will teach you all the commandments, laws, and judgments which you will teach to them so that they may obey them in the land which I gave them as an inheritance.” Observe the laws as Yahva has ordained and not deviate from any law. Behave as Yahva has ordered you so that you may live well for your entire life in the promised land.
These are the commandments, laws, and judgments which Yahva ordered me to teach you so that you might obey them in the land you will possess. Fear Yahva and obey all his laws as I command you and your descendants so that you may enjoy a long life. O Israel! Observe the laws so that you may prosper and become a mighty nation in that fertile and prosperous land7 that the God of your ancestors has promised. Israel! Yahva is the only God: Love him with all your being and strength. These words which I give you today should always be in your mind. Teach them diligently to your children and talk of them when you are in your house, when you travel, when you lie down, and when you arise. Wear them for a sign on your hand and as ornaments on your forehead. Write them on the entrance of your house and city gates.
When Yahva brings you into the land which he promised to your ancestors; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; with great cities which you did not build, houses full of good things which you did not fill, wells which you did not dig, and vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant, and have eaten fully; then beware less you forget Yahva who rescued you from bondage in Egypt. Fear Yahva, serve him, and swear by his name. Do not seek other gods, especially the gods of the surrounding people, less the anger of Yahva be ignited and destroy you. Do not tempt Yahva as you tempted him in Massah.
Diligently keep the laws of Yahva as he has commanded you. Obey all the commands of Yahva so that you may succeed and occupy the land he promised to your ancestors. Destroy or exile all your enemies as he ordered. In the future when your descendant asks; “What is the purpose of the testimonies, laws, and judgments, which Yahva gave you?” You will say; “We were Pharaoh's servants in Egypt and Yahva rescued with his might. We saw Yahva fashion signs and wonders, great and terrible to Egypt, Pharaoh, and all his household. He rescued us, so that he might bring us here and give us the land he promised to our ancestors. Yahva ordered us to obey all these laws, to fear him always for our benefit, that he might sustain us, as it is today. This will be our justification to keep the covenant as Yahva has commanded us.”
When Yahva leads you into the promised land, he will cause many nations to oppose you; the Hittites, Girgashites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites; seven nations each larger and stronger than you. Yahva will deliver them. Attack and utterly destroy them. Make no treaty with them nor show any mercy. Do not enter marriages with them. Your children must not marry their children. The spouses would seduce your children to serve other gods which will anger Yahva so that he would destroy you suddenly. In dealing with them, dismantle their altars, break their monuments, cut down their groves, and burn their carved images.
You are a people holy to Yahva; he has chosen you, among all other people on earth, to be consecrated to himself. Yahva loved you and choose you not because you were more numerous than another nation—you were the smallest of all nations. For Yahva's love for you and for the covenant he had made with your ancestors, he led you out of Egypt by his power. He redeemed you from bondage to Pharaoh, king of Egypt. Understand that Yahva is the faithful, true God who keeps the covenant. His mercy for those who love him and obey his laws will endure for a thousand cycles, but returns destruction to those who hate him. He will not abate the punishment for those who hate him but will destroy them totally. Keep the commandments, the laws, and judgments which I give you today.
After you have heard these judgments, keep and obey them. Yahva will keep the covenant he made with your ancestors and treat you with mercy. He will love, bless, and multiply you, he will also bless your descendants, and the harvest of your land—grain, wine, and oil. He will increase your livestock, in the land he promised to give you. You will be blessed above all people; none your people or animals will be barren. Yahva will heal you from all sickness, including the evil diseases of Egypt, which you have known, but will inflict them on the people who hate you. Destroy all the people as Yahva orders you; have no pity on them nor worship their gods, else you will be snared.
If you think in fear; “These nations are more powerful than I; how can I dispossess them?” Do not be afraid but remember well what Yahva did to Pharaoh and Egypt. You saw the great trials, omens, and wonders, and the mighty strength by which Yahva rescued you. Yahva will do the same to all the people that you fear. Yahva will send you as hornets among them until they leave and hide from you less they be destroyed. Do not be frightened by them for Yahva is among you, a mighty and terrible God.
Yahva will provoke those nations one at a time. You cannot conquer them all at once, for they would combine their forces against you. But Yahva will deliver them to you in a manner that you can conquer and completely destroy all these nations. He will deliver their kings into your hand, and you will erase their name from under the sky. No person will be able to withstand you until you have destroyed all of them. Burn the idols of their gods and do not be tempted by the silver or gold on them. Do not take it, it is a snare. They are abominations to Yahva. Do not bring anything detestable into your house less you become cursed like it: Detest and abhor it utterly for it is a cursed thing.
Obey all the laws which I give you today. By obeying them you may live, become numerous, and occupy the land as Yahva promised your ancestors. Remember the way which Yahva led you these forty years in the wilderness; to humble, test you, and understand if you will be faithful, whether you would keep his commandments or not. He humbled and starved you, then fed you with manna, which neither you, nor ancestors knew. Thus, he taught you that man does not live by bread alone but by every word that Yahva speaks. For these forty years, your clothing did not become worn nor did your feet swell. Remember in your innermost being that Yahva punishes you in the manner a man punishes his son. Obey the commandments of Yahva and follow his laws with fear of him. Yahva leads you to a good land, a land of brooks, fountains and lakes that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, barley, vines, fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of olives and honey; a land where you can eat bread without any fear of scarcity; a land whose stones contain iron and whose hills contain brass. You will not lack anything in that land. When you have eaten to fullness, bless Yahva for the good land which he has given you.
Beware! Do not forget Yahva nor disobey his commandments, judgments, and laws, which I declared to you today, less when you have eaten and are full, and have built good dwellings, and when your livestock, your silver and gold, and all that you possess increase: then your spirit is sated and you forget Yahva who rescued you from bondage in Egypt; who led you through that great and terrible desert where there were poisonous serpents, scorpions, and drought; where there was no water; who brought water out of the flint rock for you; who fed you in the wilderness with manna which your ancestors did not know so that he might humble and test you, eventually for your benefit. But you say to yourself; “My power and strength has earned this wealth.” Remember Yahva, for he gave you the power to become wealthy so that he may seal the covenant which he promised to your ancestors. If you forget Yahva, and follow other gods, serve, and worship them, then—as I tell you today—you will utterly perish. As the nations which Yahva destroyed so you will perish because you would not obey Yahva.
Israelites! Today you cross Jordan to supersede larger and stronger nations than yourself which have great walled cities; nations populated with descendants of the Anakims who are taller and stronger than you—as is well known. Who will lead you against them? Know that Yahva leads you as a consuming fire, he will devastate them and bring them before you. Capture their land and destroy them quickly, as Yahva has told you. After Yahva has destroyed them, do not delude yourself to say: “Thanks to my observance of the covenant Yahva has given me this land.” It is for the wickedness of these nations that Yahva destroys and disinherits them. It is not because of your adherence to covenant or your faithfulness that you will possess their land but because of their wickedness, Yahva drives them out to fulfill his promise to your ancestors—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand well that Yahva gives this good land to you not because of your faithfulness; for you are a stubborn people. Remember! Never forget how you provoked Yahva to anger in the wilderness from the day you departed Egypt until you came here. You have rebelled against Yahva. In Horeb you provoked Yahva to such anger that he would have destroyed you.
When I went up the mountain to receive the stone tablets of the covenant which Yahva made with you, I stayed on the mountain forty days and nights. I did eat food or drink water. Yahva gave me two stone tablets, written by him, which contained the commandments of the covenant that Yahva spoke to you from the fiery mountain on the day we assembled there. At the end of forty days and nights Yahva gave me the stone tablets of the covenant. Yahva said to me; “Arise and descend quickly for the people you led out of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have quickly departed from the way I commanded and have made them a metal idol.” Yahva said further to me; “I have watched these people, and they are stubborn. With your agreement, I will destroy them, and blot their name from eternity and then I will find a greater and stronger nation for you.” I descended the fiery mountain with the tablets of the covenant. I observed that you had offended Yahva by making an idol in the form of a metal calf. You had quickly deviated from the way which Yahva had commanded you. Then I threw down the tablets of the covenant and broke them as you saw. I prostrated myself and prayed to Yahva for forty days and nights as before. I did not eat nor drink. Because of your wicked sins angered him, Yahva would have destroyed you. I protested against the fierce anger that Yahva raged against you. Yahva listened to me again. Yahva would have destroyed Aaron in anger but I also prayed for Aaron. I took the offensive calf which you had made as an idol. I burnt it, crushed it, and ground it until it was as fine as dust: then I cast the dust into the brook that flowed from the mountain. At Taberah, Massah and Kibrothhatt-avah, you provoked anger in Yahva. When Yahva sent you to Kadesh-barnea, saying, “Go into the hill country and occupy the land which I have given you,” you rebelled against the commandments, and did not believe him nor heed his voice. You have been rebellious against Yahva from the first day that I knew you.
I prostrated myself to Yahva forty days and nights because Yahva had said he would destroy you. I prayed to Yahva; “O God, do not destroy your people who you redeemed through your greatness and which you rescued from Egypt. Remember your worshipers—Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Accept their stubbornness, even their wickedness and offense; else the people of Egypt will say; 'Because Yahva was unable to lead them to the land he promised and because he hated them, he has brought them to the wilderness to slay them.' Still they are your people and your inheritance which you rescued by your power and strength.” Then Yahva said to me; “Carve two stone tablets like the first, make a wooden ark, and come into the mountain. I will write the words that were on the first tablets, which you broke, on these tablets. Put them in the ark.” I made an ark of acacia wood, carved two stone tablets like the first, and went up the mountain with the tablets in my hand. Yahva wrote on the tablets the words of the ten commandments; the same commandments that Yahva spoke in the fiery mountain at the assembly. Yahva gave them to me. I came down from the mountain and put the tablets in the ark, which I had made as Yahva ordered. There they remain.”
(The Israelites journeyed from wells of Bene Jaakan to Mosera. There Aaron died and was buried and Eleazar his son succeeded him as high priest. From there they journeyed to Gudgodah, then to Jotbath, a well-watered land of rivers. At that time Yahva designated the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant, to minister to Yahva and to bless in his name, as they continue to do to this day. Therefore, the tribe of Levi has no land nor inheritance as his kin was given. Yahva is their inheritance as promised.)
“I remained in the mountain, as I did the first time, for forty days and nights. Yahva accepted my pleas and did not destroy you. Yahva said to me, “Arise! Lead the people so that they may enter and occupy the land which I promised to their ancestors.”
And now, Israelites! What does Yahva require of you? Only to fear Yahva, to keep his covenant, to love him, and to serve him with all your being, to keep the commandments and his laws as I command you today for your benefit. The sky and all the universe belongs to Yahva, as well as the earth and all in it. Yahva delighted in your ancestors and chose their descendants to be above all people, as it remains to this day. Eliminate the pride of your spirit and no longer be so stubborn.
Yahva is the supreme God; great, mighty, and terrible, who does not consider the status of persons nor take bribes. He judges each person equally. He respects the stranger and gives him food, clothing, and shelter. Respect strangers, for you were strangers in Egypt. Fear Yahva, serve him, follow the covenant, and swear by his name. He is your God; praise him, for you have witnessed his great and awe inspiring deeds. Seventy of your ancestors went to Egypt and Yahva increased your population to the number of stars in the sky.
Love Yahva. Keep his covenant, laws, judgments, and commandments forever. Today perceive the mystery of Yahva! You, not your children, have experienced Yahva. They do not understand the chastisement of Yahva, nor his greatness and mighty strength, nor the miracles and acts which he did in Pharaoh's Egypt and to all his land, nor the destruction of the Egyptian army with all their horses and chariots when the sea of reeds engulfed them as they chased you, nor what he did to you in the wilderness before you came here, nor what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab, of the tribe of Reuben when the earth opened and swallowed them, their kin, and all their possessions. But you have seen these great acts of Yahva. Keep all the laws as I command today so that you may be strong.
Go! Occupy the land before you that Yahva promised to give to your ancestors and their descendants, a rich and fertile land, so that you may have a long life. Truly the land which you will occupy is not like the land of Egypt which you left. There you sowed your seed and carried water to it, as to a vegetable garden. You will occupy a land of hills and valleys, well-watered by rain; a land which Yahva loves. Yahva watches over it all the days of the year. If you obey diligently the commandments which I give you today and faithfully serve Yahva with love, then you will have rain in its appropriate season so that you may abundantly reap your grain, wine, and oil. Your livestock will graze in grassy pastures so that you may have plentiful food.
Be heedful that you are not deceived to serve and worship other gods for then Yahva's wrath would be kindled against you. He will disrupt the sky so that there is no rain and the land does not yield harvest. You may quickly perish from this good land which Yahva gave you. Place these words in your mind, your innermost being, and bind them as signs on your hands, and as ornaments on your forehead. Teach them to your children; talking with them in your house and when you journey; when you lie down to sleep, and when you arise. Write them on your door posts and your gates so that as long as sky is above the earth, you and your descendants may endure and grow in that land promised to you.
If you diligently obey all these commandments which I give you today, perform them with love for Yahva, keep the covenant, and adhere to his teachings, then Yahva will destroy all opposing nations, and you will occupy the lands of nations richer and stronger than yourselves. Every place where you walk will be yours; from the desert and Lebanon, from the Euphrates River, even to the great sea coast will be yours. No people will be able to withstand you for Yahva will cause them to fear and dread you in all the land that you attack, as he has told you.
Listen! I present to you today a blessing and a curse. A blessing if you obey the commandments of Yahva. A curse if you ignore the covenant to worship other gods.
When Yahva has brought you to the land that you are to occupy, put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. Are they not on the west side of Jordan in the land of the Canaanites, who dwell in the open country close to Gilgal near the woods of Moreh? Cross Jordan to occupy the land Yahva gave you and dwell in it. Obey all the statutes and judgments which I set before you today.
Today Yahva commands you to obey these laws and judgments. Obey them with all your inner essence. By his declaration, Yahva is your God: Follow his ways; keep his laws, commandments, and judgments; and heed his word. Today Yahva has accepted you to be his special people as he promised and, provided you keep his commandments, he will raise you above all nations in praise, renown, and honor so that you may be a people sacred to Yahva.
Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people; “Keep all the commandments that I give you today. This is the day you cross Jordan to the land promised to you. Erect large stones covered with plaster and write the words of the law on them. When you have crossed to enter the land promised to you, a fertile and prosperous land as Yahva promised your ancestors, set up these stones as I command you today on Mount Ebal and cover them with plaster. There, build an altar to Yahva entirely of stones without using any iron tool. Build the altar of whole stones and sacrifice burnt offerings to Yahva. Sacrifice peace offerings, eat there, and rejoice before Yahva. Write the words of this law very clearly on the stones.”
Moses and the Levites priests said to all Israel; “Be silent and listen, O Israel, this day you become the people of Yahva. Heed his words. Keep his commandments and statutes, as I order you today.” Moses charged the people the same day. When the people cross Jordan, the tribal leaders of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin shall stand on mount Gerizim to pronounce blessings. Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali shall stand on mount Ebal to pronounce curses. The Levite priests shall declare to all the people of Israel with a loud voice:
Cursed be the one who makes any carved or molten idol, the product of craftsman's hands, and sets it up secretly. It is an abomination to Yahva, All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who dishonors by his parents. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who moves his neighbor's boundary markers. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who misleads the blind on his way. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who perverts the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who has sex with his father's wife because he dishonors his father. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who sexual contact with any manner of beast. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who seduces his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who has sex with his mother-in-law. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who attacks his neighbor secretly. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who take reward to kill an innocent person. All the people shall say: Amen.
Cursed be the one who does not obey all the words of this law. All the people shall say: Amen.
If you listen diligently to Yahva and perform all his commandments, he will raise you above all nations. All these blessings will come to you if you heed the voice of Yahva.
Blessed shall you be in the city and blessed shall you be in the field.
Blessed shall you be the fruit of your body, your fields, and your livestock, and the increase of your livestock and the flocks of your sheep.
Blessed shall you be your harvest and your storehouse.
Blessed shall you be when you enter.
Blessed shall you be when you leave.
Yahva will cause your enemies to be destroyed when they oppose you. They attack you as one body and flee from you in all directions.
Yahva will bless you in your storehouses, land, and in all that you attempt. As he promised, Yahva will elevate you as people holy to himself, if you obey the commandments and keep the covenant.
All people of the earth will see that you are consecrated to Yahva and fear you. In the land which Yahva promised to your ancestors, he will make you rich in goods, in descendants, in the produce of your herds, and in the harvest of your fields.
Yahva will open the sky to give rain in its proper season and bless all your labor. You will lend to many nations but not borrow. Yahva will make you the leader, not the follower. Command and not be commanded. Yahva will bless you if you heed his commandments which I give you today, keep the covenant and you not stray from his words to worship other gods.
If you will not heed the words of Yahva and observe all his commandments and laws that I gave you, these curses will fall on you:
Cursed shall you be in the city and in the field.
Cursed shall be your harvest and your storehouse.
Cursed shall be your descendants, growth of your crops, and the birth of your livestock.
Cursed shall you be when you enter and when you leave.
Yahva will send upon you loathing, vexation, and rebuke in all your labor until you are destroyed. You will perish quickly because of the wickedness of your actions in forsaking me. Yahva will inflict you with pestilence until you are consumed in the promised land. Yahva will inflict you with anemia, fever, inflammation, ulcerated skin, drought, anthrax, and grain rust. These afflictions shall pursue you until you perish. The sky above you will be as brass and the earth will be as iron. Instead of rain, Yahva will give you ashes and dust until you are destroyed.
Yahva will give you to your enemies to be destroyed. You will attack as one body and flee in every direction until you are scattered among all the nations. Your corpse will be meat for fowls and beasts with no person to scare them away. Yahva will inflict you with Egyptian boils, tumors, scabies, and pustules which cannot be healed. Yahva will inflict you with madness, blindness, and panic so that you grope at noon as in the darkness. You will not prosper in your labors. You will be oppressed and ruined forever with none to save you.
You will betroth a wife but another man will lie with her. You will build a house but not live in it. You will not harvest from your vineyard. Your ox will be killed before your eyes but you will not eat from it. Your donkey will be stolen as you watch but not returned. Your sheep will be given to your enemies with no one to restore them. Your children will be given to other people, while you watch. Without any strength, you look to them every day in grief.
A foreign nation eats the harvest of your land and benefit from your labors. You are oppressed and always crushed so that you are insane from the sights that you see. Yahva inflicts you in the knees and legs with sore boils that cannot be healed, but also from the sole of your foot to the top of your head.
Yahva will bring you and your king to a nation which you and your ancestors have never known. You will serve strange gods made of wood and stone. You will become a perplexity, an example, and a standing joke among the nations where you wander.
You sow much seed but reap little for the locusts consume it. You plant vineyards and tend them but do not produce wine or gather the grapes for the worms eat them. You have olive trees throughout land but cannot anoint yourself with oil; the olive fruit will fall before ripening. You may have children but not enjoy them for they will go into captivity. Locusts consume all your trees and fruit of your land. The crickets inherit the fruit of all your trees. The foreigner living in your land will be raised high and you will fall very low. He lends to you but you cannot lend to him. He will lead and you follow.
All these curses shall afflict you, pursue you, and overcome you until you are destroyed because you did not heed the voice of Yahva and keep his commandments and laws as he ordered. The afflictions will be a sign and a wonder for you and your descendants forever. Because you did not serve Yahva with joyfulness and gladness of spirit in the abundance of all things, you will serve your enemies whom Yahva sends against you; in hunger, thirst, nakedness, and need of all things; He will put a heavy burden on you until he has destroyed you.
Yahva will cause a distant nation to conquer you, coming from the end of the earth as swift as the eagle flies. You will not understand their language. They are a nation of fierce countenance who do not respect the old or the young. They will consume the produce of your herds and your harvest until you are destroyed. They will not leave you any grain, wine, oil, or livestock. They will besiege you in all your cities until your trusted high fenced walls fall everywhere in the land Yahva gave you. You will eat human flesh, even the flesh of your children, during the siege and starvation with which your enemies distress you. A tenderhearted and gentle man will behave evilly toward his brother, his beloved wife, and the remnant of his children. He will not give any of them the flesh of his children which he eats because he has nothing left in the siege and starvation with which your enemies distress your cities. The tender and delicate woman among you, who would not venture to set her foot on the ground, will behave evilly toward her husband, her children, and the infant which comes from her womb. She will eat them secretly for lack of all food in the siege with which your enemy distresses you.
If you will not obey all the words of the law written here, and you do not fear the glory of Yahva, he will inflict you and your descendants with horrible enduring scourges and tormenting sicknesses. He will turn against you all the miseries of Egypt which you greatly feared. They will cling to you as will every sickness and plague not written in the book of the law. Yahva inflicts them on you until you are destroyed.
You will be left with few people although your people were previously uncountable, because you would not obey the laws of Yahva. Just as Yahva once delighted in seeing you grow and prosper so Yahva will delight in destroying and ruining you. You will be plucked out of your land scattered from the one end of the earth to the other where you will serve strange wood and stone gods which you and your ancestors never knew. Among these nations you will find no ease or rest but Yahva will give you a trembling heart, wasted eyes, and sorrowful mind. You will have a doubtful existence dreading day and night, and never sure of survival. In the morning you will say; “If only it were evening” and in the evening you will say; “If only it were morning” for the dread your spirit will feel and the sight your eyes must see. Yahva will return you to Egypt as galley slaves although I told you that you would never see that land again. You will be sold by your enemies as slaves but no one will buy you.
Third Exhortation of Moses
These are the words of the covenant, which Yahva commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, in addition to the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.
Moses called all Israel and said to them: You have seen all that Yahva did in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, all his servants, and his land; also the great torments, omens, and miracles. Yet Yahva has not given you intelligence to perceive, eyes to see, and ears to hear, even to this day. I have led you for forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not worn out and your shoes have not failed. You have not eaten bread, nor drunk wine nor strong drink so that you might know that I speak as Yahva. When you came to this place, Sihon king of Heshbon and Og king of Bashan attacked us but we slaughtered them, took their land and gave it to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh.
Keep the words of this covenant and obey them so that you may prosper in all your labors. Today all of you stand before Yahva; your tribal leaders, your elders, your officers, the men of Israel, your children, your wives, and the strangers in your camp; even the laborers. Today you enter into a covenant with Yahva, and under threat of his curse, so that he may establish you as his people and be your God as he promised to your ancestors; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
I make this covenant and this curse not only with you who stand with us before Yahva today, but also the people of Israel who are not with us today.
You know how we dwelt in Egypt; and how we traversed the nations which you passed. You have seen their abominations, and their idols; wood, stone, silver and gold, which were among them. May there be among you no person, clan or tribe whose spirit turns away from Yahva today to serve foreign gods. May there be among you no person of hate and bitterness who, when he hears this curse, blesses himself in his mind, saying; “I shall have peace although I heed only the imagination of my mind and sate my thirst with drunkenness.” Yahva will not spare him but, with anger and jealousy, Yahva will inflict that person with all the curses written in this book. Yahva will erase his name from under the skies and expel him as evil from all the tribes of Israel in accordance with the curses of the covenant.
In future generation your children who arise after you and the foreigner from a far land will say, when they see the plagues of that land and the sicknesses that the Yahva has inflicted on it; “The land is like the destruction of Sodom, Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim which Yahva destroyed in his anger and wrath, where the entire land is brimstone, salt and burning. It is neither sown nor harvested and not even grass grows there. The land is full of plagues and sicknesses.” All nations will ask; “Why has Yahva destroyed this land and what causes his great anger?” Then men will say; “Because they have forsaken the covenant with Yahva, the God of their ancestors, made when he rescued them from Egypt. They served and worshiped other gods unknown to Israel. The anger of Yahva was kindled against this land to inflict all the curses in this book. Yahva rooted them out of their land in anger, wrath, and great indignation, and drove them to another land where they are today.”
The secrets belong to Yahva but revelations belong to us and our children forever so that we may obey the law.
When all these things have happened to you, the blessing and curses, which I gave directly to you, may you remember them in your inner being, there among the nations to which Yahva has banished you. If you and your descendants return to Yahva with the essence of all your being, and obey his words as I command you today, then Yahva will release you from captivity, rebuild your nation, return and regroup your tribes from the lands where Yahva scattered you. Even if anyone has been driven to the end of the earth, Yahva will take them from there and return them to their tribes. Yahva will return you to the land he gave to your ancestors and you will occupy it. He will benefit you and increase your people beyond the numbers of your ancestors. So that you may live, Yahva will humble your pride and that of your descendants to love Yahva with all your being and with all your essence.
Yahva will inflict these curses on your enemies, who hated and persecuted you. When you return, if you obey the word of Yahva and do all his commandments which I give you today, Yahva will give you an overabundance in your labors, in children, in the produce of your livestock, and in your harvest. Yahva will again rejoice over you as he rejoiced over your ancestors. May you heed the word of Yahva, keep his commandments and laws which are written in this book. May you return to Yahva with all your being and essence.
This commandment which I give you today is not astonishing to you nor is it beyond your ability. It is not in the skies so that one could say; “Who will go to climb there for us and bring it to us so that we may hear it and obey?” Neither is it beyond the sea so that one could say; “Who will cross the sea for us and bring it to us so that we may hear it and obey?” The word is very near you, in your mouth and spirit so that you may obey. I have set before you today life and good, and death and evil. I command you today to love Yahva, follow his ways, and keep his commandments, laws, and judgments. Live, multiply: Yahva blesses you in the land which you will occupy.
But if you turn away and will not heed, if you are banished, if you worship other gods and serve them—I warn you today!—that you will surely perish and that you will not prolong your days in the land which you cross Jordan to occupy. I call heaven and earth to record today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing, choose life so that you and your descendants may live. May you love Yahva, obey his words, and cling to him, for he is your life and your existence so that you may dwell in the land which Yahva promised your ancestors; Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
The Deuteronomic Code
These are the statutes and judgments which you shall observe in the land, which Yahva gave to your ancestors for you to occupy during your lifetime. These laws Moses declared to the children of Israel; the testimonies, statutes, and judgments that Moses gave to the Israelites, after they departed Egypt, east of Jordan in the valley near Beth-peor.
Destroy utterly all the places where other people, whom you will conquer, served their gods; on the high mountains, on the hills, and under green trees. Dismantle their altars, break their pillars, burn their totem poles, grind to powder their idols, and erase the names of the gods from that place.
Do not serve Yahva in this manner. In the only place which Yahva will choose, within the land of all the tribes, for his holy place: Go there to consult his presence. To that place: Bring your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your handmade offerings, your pledge payments, your freewill offerings, and the first born of your herds and of your flocks. Eat there in the presence Yahva and rejoice in all your work that, you and your household, is blessed by Yahva.
Do not behave as we do here today—every man doing as appears right in his own eyes. You are not yet at peace or in possession of the inheritance which Yahva gave you. Cross Jordan and occupy the land which Yahva gave you. He will give you shelter from your surrounding enemies so that you dwell in safety. This is the place Yahva will choose to bear his name. There, bring all that I command; your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, your handmade offerings, and all the pledges you have made to Yahva. Rejoice before the altar of Yahva with your children, your servants, and the Levite within your cities for he has no share of the land or inheritance.
Be wary that you do not bring your offerings to any other place. Only to the chosen place of Yahva, in one of your tribes, shall you bring your offerings and there do all that I command. Notwithstanding, you may kill and eat meat within your home, with the blessing of Yahva, whatever your body desires. You may eat the unclean and the clean such as the gazelle and the hart. Only do not eat the blood; pour it upon the earth as a libation. Do not eat in your home the tithe of your grain, your wine, your oil, the first born of your herds, your flock, any of your pledges, your freewill offerings, or handmade offerings. You must eat them before the altar of Yahva; you, your children, your servants, and the Levite within your cities shall rejoice before Yahva in all that you attempt. Do not forsake the Levite as long as you live on the earth.
When Yahva expands your land, as he promised, and you may say; “I will eat meat,” when you desire meat, you may eat the meat that you desire. If the place which Yahva has chosen to bear his name is distant, you may sacrifice from your herd and flock the appropriate offerings which Yahva has given you. You may eat in your home whatever you desire. But when the roebuck and hart is eaten, you may eat the unclean and the clean together. Only be sure that you do not eat the blood for blood is the essence of life. You must not eat the blood with the meat. Do not eat it but pour it on the earth. You and your descendants will benefit by not eating it. In this manner, you keep the covenant with Yahva.
Take only the holy things which you possess and your pledges to the altar of Yahva. Place your offerings of meat and blood on the altar of Yahva. Pour the blood of your sacrifices on the altar and eat the meat. Remember and heed all these words that I instruct you for the eternal benefit of you and your descendants. Listen! You must always do that which Yahva sees as good and proper.
When Yahva destroys the opposing nations, where you are going, to give their land to you; take it from them and dwell in their land. Be heedful that you are not snared into imitating their ways. Do not study their gods, saying; “How did these nations serve their gods? I will do likewise.” Do not worship Yahva as they worshiped their gods. They have done every abomination hated by Yahva, even burning their children as sacrifices to their gods. Whatever I command: Do without changing it in any detail. When a prophet or a dreamer appears among you and gives a prophecy of events, and those events occurs, and he says, “Let us follow foreign gods and serve them,” Do not listen to that prophet: Yahva tests you to know whether you love him with all your being. Follow Yahva, fear him, keep his commandments, heed his words, serve him, and adhere to him. Executed this prophet because he has tried to seduce you from the covenant of Yahva who rescued you from Egyptian bondage. Thus you expel evil from your community.
If your brother, son, daughter, beloved wife, or best friend entice you secretly by saying; “Let us serve other gods,” gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, meaning gods of the people who are around you, near or distant to the end of the earth; do not heed, pity, spare nor conceal him. Kill him! Cast the first stone and all the people shall follow you. Execute him by stoning him until he is dead. He has attempted to separate you from Yahva who rescued you from Egypt. All Israel shall hear, fear, and avoid wickedness such as this.
When you learn that in one of your cities, which Yahva gave for you to occupy, that some of your people—the children of Belial—have abandoned the covenant; that they have led astray and corrupted the inhabitants of their city, by saying, ”Let us serve foreign gods that you have not known.” Search, interrogate and question diligently. If it is true that such abominations are practiced, execute all the inhabitants of that city and destroy everything in it. Do not omit anything, gather the wealth into the street and burn the city with all its wealth. A ruin forever, it must never be rebuilt. Take nothing from this prohibited wealth so that Yahva may abate his fierce anger. If you obey Yahva and keep the covenant, he will show mercy compassion and increase your population as he promised to your ancestors. You are the children of Yahva. Do not mutilate yourselves nor shave between the eyes for the dead. For you are a holy people to Yahva; he has chosen you to be a special people to himself above all the nations on earth. Do not eat any abominable thing. Here are the animals that you may eat: cattle, sheep, goat, hart, roebuck, fallow deer, wild goat, antelope, wild cattle, and chamois. You may eat any beast with a hoof divided in half and chews the cud. Do not eat any beast that chews the cud but does not have a divided hoof; such as the camel, hare, and coney, or those that have a divided hoof but do not chew the cud such as the swine: These are unclean for you. Do not eat their meat nor touch the carcass of any unclean animal. You may eat any fish that have both fins and scales; but not any that only have fins or scales. These are unclean. You may eat any clean bird but you shall not eat unclean bird like these; the eagle, osprey, kite, all type of vultures, all kind of ravens, owl, night hawk, cuckoo, all type of hawks, little owl, great owl, swan, pelican, cormorant, stork, all type of herons, lapwing, and bat. All flying insects are unclean: do not eat them. Do not eat anything that dies naturally: you may give it to a stranger among you, or sell it to a foreigner.
Do not cook a kid in its mother's milk.
Tithe fully the harvest of your crops that is reaped each year. Eat the tithe of your grain, your wine, your oil, and the first born of your herds and flocks in the sacred place of Yahva. When the distance to his holy place is too great for you to carry the tithe to the chosen place and Yahva has blessed you with money, take the money to his holy place and purchase sufficient goods to tithe according to your status. Eat there before his altar, and rejoice with your household. Do not forsake the Levite in your city for he has no share of your inheritance.
At the end of three years, separate all the tithe of your harvest for that year and store it in your cities. The Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow in your city may eat from it so that Yahva may bless you in all the work your do.
At the end of every seven years, cancel debts. Do not attempt collection of the debts owed you by your neighbor or your kin when they cry out; “Remission by Yahva.” You may collect the debt of a foreigner. May there be no poor among you for Yahva blesses you in the land which he gave for your inheritance, Heed only the words of Yahva to keep the covenant and obey all these commandments which I give you today. Yahva blesses you as he promised. Lend to many nations but borrow from none. Reign over many nations but do not be ruled by them.
If there is a poor kinsman among the habitations in the land Yahva gave you, do not turn him away nor refuse him. Welcome him and lend him sufficient for his needs. Do not harbor these evil words: “The seventh year approaches—the year debt release” while casting an avaricious glance at your needy relative and refusing to lend him anything. He will protest against you to Yahva for this sin you commit. Lend to him without resenting that which you give. For this Yahva will bless you in all your labors and deeds. The poor will never disappear from the earth. I command you to welcome your brother, the exhausted, and the poor in your land.
If your kin, a Hebrew, is sold to you and serves six years, in the seventh year free him from servitude. When he leaves, do not send him away empty. Furnish him liberally from your flock, harvest, and wine press. From all that which Yahva has blessed you, give liberally. Remember! You were in bondage in Egypt and Yahva rescued you; I give you this command today. If he says; “I will not leave you,” because he loves you and your family, take an awl and thrust it through his ear into the door. He will be your servant forever. Do likewise to your maidservant. When you free him, do not consider it a hardship, for he has been worth two hired servants for six years. Yahva will bless you in everything.
Consecrate all the first born males of your herd and flock to Yahva. Do not work the first born bull, nor shear the first born sheep. In the holy place of Yahva, you and your family shall eat them each year. If there is any blemish, or if it is lame or blind, do not sacrifice it to Yahva. In your homes you may eat the unclean and the clean alike such as the roebuck, and hart. Only do not eat the blood: Pour it on the ground.
Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover for in that month Yahva rescued you from Egypt by night. Sacrifice for the Passover from the flock and the herd in the holy place of Yahva. Do not eat leavened bread with the sacrifice. For seven days you shall eat only unleavened bread—the bread of humiliation. Truly you left Egypt in haste, remember that day for your entire life. Let no leaven be found in your house for seven days nor may any meat which you sacrificed at sunset the first day remain until morning. You must not sacrifice the Passover within your homes but only in Yahva's holy place. Only there, at sunset in the season that you left Egypt, sacrifice Passover. Roast and eat it in his holy place and, at dawn, return to your tents. For six days, eat unleavened bread and on the seventh day there shall be an assembly to Yahva. The seventh day is a holiday for Yahva: Do no work.
Count seven weeks from the start of the grain harvest, then, observe the feast of weeks with a generous offering to Yahva, according to how you have been blessed. Rejoice before the altar of Yahva with your children, your servants, the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; all those that are among you. Remember that you were in bondage in Egypt and obey these laws. Observe the feast of the huts seven days after you have harvested your grain and wine. Rejoice before the altar of Yahva with your children, your servants, the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow; all those that are among you. For seven days you may partake a feast in Yahva's holy place. May Yahva bless you in all your harvest and all your work. For this you shall truly rejoice. Three times each year all your males shall appear at the place which bears the name of Yahva: the feast of unleavened bread, the feast of weeks, and the feast of huts. Do not come before Yahva with empty hands: Every man shall give from his goods, according to the blessing which Yahva has given him.
Select judges and officers in all your cities that Yahva gave you for all your tribes. They shall judge the people justly. Do not influence judgment; nor consider the rank of persons, nor take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and pervert the words of the righteous. Seek strict justice so that you may live and continue to possess the land Yahva gave you.
Do not erect any sacred totem poles nor plant any trees near the altar of Yahva which you revere for yourself. Do not erect any image graven in stone, for Yahva hates them. Do not sacrifice to Yahva any bull or sheep with any blemish or evil appearance. That is an abomination to Yahva. When a person, an Israelite in one of the cities Yahva gave you, commits evil against Yahva by transgressing the covenant and serving or worshiping other gods, the sun, moon, or any object in the sky; this is what I order you to do: When this is reported to you, if after listening to the charges and inquiring diligently, it is proved that such abomination was done, then bring the person who committed that wickedness to your city gates and stone them until they die. The testimony of two or three witnesses shall be sufficient for that person to be killed but one witness is not sufficient. The witnesses shall be the first to stone him then all the people join. Thus, you remove such evil from your midst.
If there is a case too hard for you to decide—bloodshed, injury from assault, or civil litigation—in your city, then take it to the Levite priests at Yahva's holy place. Consult them, they will pronounce the judgment. Act according to the words of the judgment which they give before Yahva and behave according to the laws they have taught you. Do not deviate in any way from the judgment they give. The man who acts falsely and will not obey the priest who is serving Yahva or the judge, that man shall die. Thus, you banish the evil from Israel. All the people shall hear, fear, and not act falsely.
When you come to the land Yahva gave you, take it as your heritage, and occupy it; then if you say. “I will place a king over me as other nations around me.” Select the king which Yahva chooses from among your kinsmen. Do not select a foreigner as king for he is not your kin. The king shall not accumulate horses nor sell people to Egypt to get horses, for Yahva has said to you; “You will not return again.” He shall not take multiple wives for himself so that his devotion is not distracted; nor amass excessive quantities of silver and gold.
When he sits on the throne of his kingdom he shall write a copy of this law in presence of the Levite priests. He shall read it daily so that he may learn to fear Yahva, to know the words of the law, and to obey them; so that he does not exalt himself above his kin and that he does not set aside the law. Thus he may prolong the duration of his reign and that of his children in Israel.
The Levite priests and all the tribe of Levi have no share in the inheritance of Israel. They may eat from the burnt offerings to Yahva and his possessions. Yahva is their inheritance as he promised. This will be the priest's share from the people who offer a sacrifice, whether it is be beef or sheep, they shall give the priest the shoulder, the two jowls, and the belly. Give him also the first harvest of your grain, wine, oil, and the first fleece of your sheep. For Yahva has chosen him and his descendants to care for the holy place and perform the rituals. When a Levite comes from any city in Israel with the desire to participate in the rituals of Yahva, he may participate as may any of his tribe who attend at the holy place of Yahva. They shall have equal portions to eat in addition to the sale of his property.
When you occupy the land that Yahva promised, do not imitate the abominations of those nations. Let no one among you immolate a child by fire, practice divination, observe omens, or consult evil spirits; be an enchanter, a witch, a charmer, a wizard, or a necromancer. Truly, all those who do such are abominations. Because of these abominations, Yahva expelled the people before you.
Be without stain toward Yahva. The nations you dispossess have observed omens and diviners. Yahva does not permit you to do these things. Yahva will create a Prophet like me from your kin. Listen to him, for this is as you requested at the assembly in Horeb, saying; “Do not make me hear the voice of Yahva again, nor make me see this great fire any longer, for I may die from that.” Yahva said to me; “They have spoken well. I will create a Prophet similar to you. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak all that I order. Whoever will not heed my words which he speaks in my name, I will myself call him to account. If a false prophet who I have not commanded presumes to speak in my name, or in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die. If you wonder; “How can we know if what he says is the true word of Yahva?” When a prophet predicts something in the name of Yahva and it does not occur, it is not the word of Yahva but the prophet has spoken presumptuously. Do not fear or heed him.”
When Yahva has destroyed the nations and gives you their land, then you will succeed them, dwell in their cities, and their houses. Then designate three sanctuary cities in the land and distribute the cities to minimize the distance that a killer must travel to find sanctuary. This is an example of a man who kills his neighbor by accident and finds sanctuary. He kills his neighbor unintentionally without prior anger, such as when a man goes with his neighbor to cut wood and, while cutting down a tree, the ax head slips off the handle and kills his neighbor. Then he immediately flees to one of these cities, he will be safe from an avenger who pursues him in the heat of the moment to overtake and kill him. The avenger could succeed if the city is far away. But he does not deserve death since he killed his neighbor accidentally.
I command you to establish three sanctuary cities. When Yahva expands your borders, as he promised your ancestors and gives you all the land promised to you, then add three more cities in addition to the first three. If you keep all the commandments which I give you today, love Yahva, and keep his covenant, then you will do this. Innocent blood should not be shed in the promised land for that blood is a stain on you. But if a man hates his neighbor, ambushes him, attacks him, and kills him; if he flees into one of these cities then the elders of the city shall deliver him to the avenger to be killed. Do not pity him but expiate the guilt of innocent blood from Israel so that you may prosper. Do not move your neighbor's boundary marker which your ancestors set in your inheritance in the land promised to you.
The testimony of one witness against a man is not sufficient to convict for any error or offense, whatever the offender or the offense. The testimony of two or three witnesses will be sufficient. If a witness gives possibly false testimony against any man, both men in the controversy shall be brought before the priests and judges of Yahva such as exist in those days. The judges shall make diligent investigation and, if the witness testified falsely against his kin, they shall punish him as the other man would have been punished. Thus abolish evil from among you. Those who remain shall hear and fear, and no longer commit such evil among you. Do not pity; life is punishment for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
When you engage in battle against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and a larger army than yours, do not be afraid for Yahva is with you. He rescued you from Egypt. When you approach the battle, the priests shall speak to the people; “Hear, O Israel; you approach today to battle against your enemies. Do not be afraid, faint, tremble, or be terrified of them for Yahva goes with you to fight with you against your enemies and save you.”
The officers shall tell the people; “If any man has built a new house and not dedicated it; let him return home because if he dies in battle another man could take it. If any man has planted a vineyard and has not yet harvested it; let him return home because if he dies in battle another man could harvest it. If man has recently married and has not yet consummated it; let him return home because if he dies in the battle another man could take his wife. The officers shall speak further; “Is there any man that is fearful and fainthearted, let him return home so that he will not make his kin fainthearted.” When the officers have finished speaking, they shall designate captains to lead the armies the people.
When you approach a city to conquer it, ask; “Peace.” If it answers; “Peace” and opens their gates for you, then all the people in it shall become laborers and serve you. If it will not accept peace, but oppose you, then besiege it. When Yahva has delivered it, kill every adult male in it. But the women, children, livestock, and all goods in the city you shall take and appropriate the wealth of your enemies. But in the cities which Yahva gives you as inheritance, kill everything that breathes. Completely destroy the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, as Yahva has commanded so that they cannot tempt you to perform the abominations which they do for their gods, for that would be sin against Yahva.
When you besiege a city a long time, do not destroy fruit trees for you may eat their fruit, nor cut them to use them as siege weapons. You may cut only the trees which bear no fruit to build bulwarks against the city until it is subdued.
In the promised land, if one is found slain in an open area and the killer is unknown, the elders and judges shall determine the nearest city. The elders of that city shall select a pure heifer and take it to an uncultivated valley and sacrifice it. The Levite priests shall approach and bless it in the name of Yahva. By their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried. All the elders of the closest city shall wash their hands over the heifer saying; “We have not shed this blood nor have we seen it. Be merciful, O God, to your people of Israel, whom you have redeemed. Do not burden your innocent people with this crime.” The crime will be forgiven. Thus, you remove the guilt from yourselves when you follow the laws of Yahva.
When you war against your enemies and Yahva has delivered them captive to you, if there is a beautiful woman among them that you desire to be your wife, bring her to your house. She may shave her head, pare her nails, and mourn her parents a full month. Then she will remove the clothing indicating captivity and remain in your house. After that you may marry her. If you do not then love her, free her to go where she likes. Do not sell, trade or give her to anyone because you have raped her.
If a man has two wives, one loved and the other disliked, and both bore him sons, and the firstborn son is by the disliked wife: When he divides his inheritance, he may not treat the son of the loved as the firstborn because the son of the disliked is properly the firstborn. He shall acknowledge the son of the disliked as his firstborn giving him a double portion of the inheritance, for the right of the firstborn is his.
If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his parents even when they have punished him, his parents shall bring him to the elders of his city. They shall say; “Our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey, he is a glutton, and a drunkard.” All the men of his city shall stone him to death. Thus, you expel evil from among you. All Israel shall hear and fear.
If a man has committed a crime punishable by death and has been condemned, he shall be executed. Hang him on a tree. His body shall not remain on the tree all night. Bury him that day; so that your land, which Yahva gave you, is not defiled.
If you see your kin's livestock, do not hide them: Always return them to him. If your kin lives far from you or if you do not know the owner, then bring it to your own house and keep it until your kin seeks it. Restore it to him. Do the same with his donkey, his clothing, and any lost property of your kin that you have found.
A woman shall not pretend to be a man, nor a man pretend to be a woman, for that is an abomination to Yahva. Make fringes upon the four quarters of your clothing.
If you see a bird's nest in a tree or on the ground with the mother sitting on the young or eggs, do not capture the mother with the young. Let the mother go and take the young. Thus, you may have a long and prosperous life.
When you build a new house, make a railing around the roof so that a person may not die by falling. This could bring blood guilt to your family.
Do not sow your vineyard with a variety of seeds for fear that the fruit of your vineyard will not be consecrated. Do not plow with an ox and a donkey together. Do not wear a garment composed of different materials such as woolen and linen together.
If any man consummates his marriage and does not like his wife, and claims that she was not a virgin: then the parents of the girl shall bring proof of her virginity to the elders of the city. The girl's father shall tell the elders; “I gave my daughter to marry this man, and he has publicly claimed that she is not a virgin, but here is proof of my daughter's virginity.” They shall spread the cloth before the elders. Then the elders shall punish him and fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the girl's father because he defamed a virgin of Israel. She shall be his wife and he may not ever divorce her. But if there is no proof of virginity, they shall bring the girl to the front of her father's house and the men shall stone her to death because she was a whore in her father's house. Thus you expel evil from among you.
If a man is found lying with a married woman, both of them shall die. Thus, you expel evil from Israel. If a virgin is betrothed and another man rapes her, you shall stone them to death; the girl, because she did not cry, being in the city; and the man because he defiled his neighbor's wife. Thus you expel evil from Israel. But if a man finds a betrothed girl in the field and rapes her, then only the man shall die. You shall do nothing to the girl for she did nothing worth death. He found her in the field and she cried but there was no one to save her. If a man finds a girl that is a virgin but not betrothed and rapes her, the man shall give the girl's father fifty shekels of silver and she shall be his wife. He may not ever divorce her.
A man shall not take his father's wife, nor uncover his father's genitals.
Anyone wounded in the testicles or has his penis cut off may not join the congregation of Yahva. A bastard may not join even in the tenth generation. An Ammonite or Moabite may not join the congregation of Yahva even in the tenth generation because they did not welcome you when you came from Egypt and because they hired Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia to curse you. Yahva would not listen to Balaam but turned the curse into a blessing because he loved you. Do not ever seek their peace or their prosperity. Do not hate an Edomite for he is your kin. Do not hate an Egyptian because you were a stranger in his land. The children born of them may join the congregation of Yahva in the third generation.
When the army goes forth against your enemies, avoid every evil thing. If there is a man among you who is not pure because of nocturnal emissions, he shall leave the camp and not return that day. When evening comes he shall wash himself and return after sunset. When the army travels, there shall be a place outside the camp for the soldiers to relieve themselves. Have a spade upon your spear. When you relieve yourself, dig a hole and cover the body waste, for Yahva walks in your camp to aid you and destroy your enemies. Your camp is holy and he must not see anything unclean and reject you.
Do not return the escaped servant to his master. He may dwell among you in a place which he chooses in one of your cities as he prefers. Do not oppress him.
May there be no prostitute among the daughters of Israel or any sodomite among the sons. Do not bring the price of a prostitute or a sodomite into the house of Yahva for any pledge. Both are abominations to Yahva.
Do not lend on usury of any kind to your kin; money, food, or any other thing. You may lend on usury to a stranger, but not to your kin so that Yahva may bless you in all you attempt in the land promised to you.
When you pledge to Yahva, do not delay paying it for Yahva will surely require it and it would be sin. If you do not pledge, it is not a sin. Keep your promises and perform the pledge, even a freewill-offering, which you have pledged to Yahva.
When you come to your neighbor's vineyard, you may eat grapes to satisfy your hunger but do not carry any away. When you come to the standing grain of your neighbor, you may pluck the ears with your hand but do not use a sickle to cut your neighbor's standing grain.
When a man has married and his wife does not please him because of some impurity in her, he can write a bill of divorcement, give it to her, and send her out of his house. When she has departed, she may become another man's wife. If the latter husband dislikes her, give her a bill of divorcement, and sends her out of his house; or if the latter husband dies, her former husband may not marry her again for she is defiled. That is an abomination to Yahva and do not sin in the land promised to you. When a man has newly married, he shall not go to war nor be required to perform any function. He is permitted to stay home for one year to please his wife. No man may take a millstone as a pledge for he would be taking a man's life as a pledge.
If a man captures any of his Israelite kin and enslaves or sells him, then that thief shall die. Thus, you expel evil from among you.
Avoid the plague of leprosy diligently and do all that the Levite priests teach you about it. Do as I commanded them. Remember what Yahva did to Miriam on the way as you departed Egypt.
When you lend your kin anything, do not enter his house to fetch his pledge. Wait outside and he will bring the pledge to you. If the man be poor, do not keep his pledge over the night but return the pledge at sunset so that he may sleep in his own clothing and bless you. This is keeping the covenant of Yahva.Do not oppress a hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he is your kin or a stranger living in your land. Each day, give him his wages before sunset. He is poor and needs it otherwise he may cry against you to Yahva. That is a sin to you.
No person shall be executed for the actions of another but every person shall be judged for his own actions. Do not pervert the judgment of the stranger or the orphan, nor take a widow's clothing as a pledge. Remember that you were in bondage in Egypt and Yahva redeemed you, thus I command you to do this. When you harvest your field and overlook a sheaf, do not return to fetch it. When you beat your olive tree, do not go over the boughs again. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, do not glean it afterward. These leavings are for the stranger, the orphan, and the widow so that Yahva may bless your work. Remember that you were in bondage in Egypt. I command you to do this.
If there is a controversy between men which comes to judgment, the judges will examine them, justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. If the wicked man deserves to be whipped, the judge will make him lie down and be punished with the number of lashes appropriate for his action. He may be given up to forty lashes. If he is beaten more than this, your kin would seem evil to you.
Do not muzzle the ox when it treads out the grain.
If brothers dwell together and one of them dies without having a child, the wife of the dead shall not marry a stranger. Her husband's brother shall marry her and impregnate her. The first born child that she bears shall succeed to the rights of the dead brother so that his name is not lost to Israel. If the man is unwilling to take his brother's wife, she shall go to the elders and say; “My husband's brother refuses to provide his brother an heir according to his duty to his dead brother. The elders of his city shall remind him of his duty. If he refuses to take her, his brother's wife shall, in the presence of the elders, remove his shoe and spit in his face. This shall be done to any man who will not provide his brother with an heir. His name in Israel will be, “the one who had his shoe removed.”
When men fight each other and the wife of one approaches to save her husband from his opponent and grasps him by the genitals, then cut off her hand. Do not pity her.
Do not have false weights in your bag or false measurement rods in your house. Keep perfect and just weights and measures. By this your days may be lengthened in the land promised to you. All those who use false weights and measures are abominations to Yahva.
Remember what Amalek did to you on the road from Egypt. How he met you and attacked the rearmost of you who were feeble, when you were faint and weary for he did not fear Yahva. When Yahva has given you peace from all your enemies in the land which Yahva gave, do not forget Amalek.
When you possess the promised land and dwell in it, select from the first harvest of your land and take it to the holy place of Yahva. Go to the priest and say to him; “I profess today that I dwell in the country which Yahva promised to our ancestors.” The priest shall take the basket and set it before the altar of Yahva. You shall say; “My ancestor was an Aramean nomad who went to Egypt as a small tribe and became a nation; great, mighty, and populous. The Egyptians treated us evilly, afflicted us, and enslaved us. When we prayed to Yahva, God of our ancestors, he heeded us and saw our affliction, labor, and oppression. Yahva rescued us from Egypt with his mighty strength and with great terribleness, and with signs and wonders. He brought us to this place and gave us this fertile and prosperous land. I have brought the first fruits of the land which you have given me.” Set it before Yahva and worship him. Rejoice for the good thing which Yahva has given to you, your family, the Levite, and the stranger among you.
When you have finished tithing all the tithes of your harvest in the third year, which is the year of tithing, and have given it to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow, so that they may eat and be satisfied, then declare before Yahva, “I have brought the holy things from my house and given them to the Levite, the stranger, the orphan, and the widow according to your commandments. I have not transgressed your commandments nor forgotten them. I have not eaten from them in my mourning, neither have I taken anything impure, nor given anything for the dead. I have heeded to the word of Yahva and have done all that you have commanded. Look down from your holy habitation in heaven and bless your people and land of Israel which you have given us as promised to our ancestors, a fertile and prosperous land.”
Final Acts and Death of Moses
Moses said to all Israel; “I am 120 years old today. I can no longer travel.” Yahva has said to me; “You shall not cross Jordan.” Yahva will precede you and destroy the opposing nations and you will occupy them. Joshua will lead you as Yahva has said. Yahva will treat them as he did Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed, and their land. Yahva will deliver them to you so that you may do to them according to the commands which I gave you. Be strong and of good courage! Do not fear or tremble before them for Yahva goes with you. He will not fail or forsake you.
Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of the Israelites; “Be strong and of good courage! When you go with the people to the land which Yahva promised their ancestors, cause them to inherit it. Yahva precedes you and will be with you. He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.” Moses wrote this law and delivered it to the Levite priests who bore the ark of the covenant, and to all the elders of Israel. Moses commanded them; “At the end of every seven years, in the year of release, in the feast of huts, when all Israel appears before Yahva's holy place, you shall read this law so all Israel shall hear. Gather the people together men, women, children, and foreigners in your cities so that they may hear and learn. They should fear Yahva. They should keep and obey the words of this law. Their children, who have not known the law, may hear and learn to fear Yahva as long as they live in the promised land when you across Jordan.”
Yahva said to Moses, “The time approaches when you must die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the meeting tent so that I may give him the orders.” Moses and Joshua presented themselves in the meeting tent. Yahva appeared at the tent within a column of a cloud which stood over the door. Yahva said to Moses; “Sleep with your ancestors. The people will rebel and go whoring after gods of strangers who live among them. They will forsake me and break the covenant. My anger will be kindled against them. I will ignore them and hide my face from them. They will be devoured by the many evils and troubles will afflict them. They will say; 'Do these evils afflict us because our God does not support us?' I will ignore them because they have done evil by turning to worship other gods.
Write this poem and teach it the Israelites. Have them sing it so that it may always be a testimony of me to them. When I have brought them into promised the land, that prosperous fertile land, and when they have sated themselves and become fat; they will not hesitate to prostitute themselves to foreign gods which will provoke me and break my covenant. When many evils and troubles have befallen them, this poem will testify against them, for it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know their instinct which they harbor now, even before I have brought them to the land which I promised.” Moses wrote this poem that day and taught it the Israelites.
He gave the leadership to Joshua the son of Nun, saying; “Be strong and of good courage for you will lead the Israelites into the promised land. May my memory be with you.”
When Moses finished writing the law in a book he instructed the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant; “Take this book of the law, and put it in the ark of the covenant so that it may be a guide for you. For I know you are rebellious and arrogant while I am still alive today. How much more after my death? Gather all the elders of your tribes and your officers so that I may speak to them. Call heaven and earth to record against them! For I know that after my death you will utterly corrupt yourselves and turn aside from the way which I have taught you. Evil will befall you in the latter days because you will anger Yahva through your deeds.”
Then Moses recited this poem to all the congregation of Israel.
Listen, O you heavens and I will speak; Heed, O earth, my words.
My doctrine falls as the rain and, my speech permeates as the dew,
As gentle rain on tender shoots, as a sudden shower upon the grass,
I sing of the renowned Yahva. Proclaim the greatness to our God.
He is the Rock of faultless deeds and true judgment:
A faithful God without fault, he is justice and rectitude.
They corrupt themselves, those who he conceived without stain.
They are a perverse and crooked generation.
Do you manifest your relationship to Yahva?
Are you a weak and ignorant people?
Is he not your father who created you and established a firm base for you?
Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations:
Ask your father, he will teach you; your elders, they will tell you.
When the Most High assigned an inheritance to the nations,
And separated on the planet the regions of the children of Adam,
He traced the boundaries of his people by the number of Israelites.
Yahva's portion is his people and Jacob has his inheritance.
He found him in a desert, a wasteland of howling wilderness;
He protected and cared for him, guarding him as a child in his care;
As an eagle alerts her nest, by flying circles above her young,
Spreads abroad her wings and supports them on her feathers:
So Yahva alone did lead him with no other god.
He bore him to the heights of earth, to eat the harvest of the fields;
He fed him honey from the rock and oil from the flinty stone;
With butter from cattle and milk from sheep with fat Bashan rams;
Goats fattened on grain; and fermented nectar of the grape.
But Jeshurun grew fat and balked, as you become swollen with thick fat;
He abandoned Yahva who made him and debased the rock of his salvation.
They provoked him to jealous anger with abominations to strange gods.
They sacrificed to demons and not to Yahva,
But to new gods your ancestors did not fear.
Ungrateful to the rock that conceived you;
You have forgotten the God who formed you.
Yahva saw and rebuked you, in anger against his children.
He said, “I will conceal my grace from them and watch their end,
A cycle of reversals is for them; children lacking faith.
They have made me jealous with a 'nothing-god.'
And they have angered me with their 'sacrifices.'
I will make them 'jealous' as a 'nothing-people;'
I will provoke them to anger as a spineless nation.
For a fire is kindled in my anger that will burn to the lowest abyss,
Consume the earth with its harvest, and burn the mountains.
I will rain tragedies on them; I will finish them with my arrows.
They will be consumed by hunger; ravaged by plague and destruction:
I will send beasts to feed on them and poisonous serpents of the desert.
The sword without, and the terror within will destroy everyone;
The young man and the virgin, the nursing infant and the aged man.
I would destroy them. I would erase the memory of them from among men!
But I have no doubt that in prideful anger foreign oppressors would say;
“It is our mighty hand, not worthless Yahva, who has done this.”
O they are a nation void of counsel, nor have they any understanding.
If only they were wise and could understand this?
Then they would consider their final destination.
How could one chase a thousand and two put ten thousands to flight,
If not because their rock had sold them and Yahva abandoned them?
For our rock is not as their rock, even our enemies accept that.
For their vine is from Sodom; from the plantations of Gomorrah:
Their grapes are like the fruit of hemlock; their clusters are bitter:
Their wine is horrible like the breath of dragons and venom of asps.
Has not this been amassed by me, and sealed in my treasury?
Against the time of vengeance and recompense; for their foot shall slip:
Their calamity is at hand; their future races toward them.
For Yahva shall judge his people, and take pity on his servants,
When he sees that their power is exhausted,
With none concealed, remaining or abandoned.
He will say; “Where are their gods, their rock which sheltered them,
Who ate their rich sacrifices, and drank the wine of their offering?
Let them raise themselves up. Let them aid you and be a shield for you.”
See now that I, even I, am the one, without other gods with me:
Yes, I bring death and life; I inflict wounds and heal them:
Against me there is no shelter.
For I lift up my hand to heaven, saying; “As I live forever.
So, I sharpen my glittering sword, and my hand takes judgment;
I return vengeance against my enemies and repay all those who hate me.
I make my arrows drunk with blood and my sword will devour flesh
And blood of the slain and captives, but first the leaders of the enemy.”
Rejoice! You nations of his people: He will avenge the blood of his servants
And return vengeance to his adversaries,
He will purify his land, and people.
Moses, with Joshua son of Nun, recited this song to the people of Israel. When they finished the recital, Moses said to them; “Remember and heed the warnings which I give you today, for you must impress on your children to fully observe every word of the law. For it is no trivial warning that I give to you; it is your life. Through these words, you extend your life in the land that you cross Jordan to occupy.” Yahva said to Moses that day, “Ascend Mount Nebo, which is in the Abarim Mountains of Moab facing Jericho, and view the land of Canaan which I am giving to the Israelites. You will die here and be joined to your ancestors, as your brother Aaron died on mount Hor and was joined to his ancestors, because you both lost faith in me at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh in the wilderness of Zin and because you failed testify to my sanctity among the Israelites. You shall indeed see the land promised to them but you will not enter the land I give to the Israelites.”
This is the blessing which Moses the prophet of God pronounced to the children of Israel before his death.
Yahva came from Sinai, and appeared to them on the horizon of Seir. He shone like a thousand fires from Mount Paran and advanced from the south slopes Meribah-Kadesh, With a myriad of blessed ones and a devastating fire on his right.
He loved the people with his holy ones in his hand or around his feet so everyone could hear his words. Moses ordained a law to us as an inheritance from Jacob.
When the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel gather together, there will be a king in Jeshurun.
May Reuben live and not die out but let his population be few.
This is for Judah: Hear! O Yahva, the cry of Judah. Guide him to his people. His strength struggles for his causes. Come to him as an aid against his enemies.
For Levi: Let your Thummim and Urim belong to the faithful tribe which you tested at Massah, and with whom you contested at the waters of Meribah; they who did not acknowledge father, mother, and kin, not even their own children. Thus they guard Yahva's laws and uphold the covenant. They teach your judgments to Jacob and your laws to Israel. They bring incense to your nostrils and burnt offerings upon your altar. Bless his substance and accept his labors. Destroy his adversaries and enemies that hate him so that they cannot rise again.
For Benjamin: The beloved of Yahva, Benjamin dwells in security with him, who protects him every day and gives his strength for shelter.
Of Joseph: His land is blessed by Yahva with the goodness of the sky, the dew, and the deep streams; and with the precious fruits ripened by the sun and the bountiful harvest in its seasons; and with the best gifts of the ageless mountains and goods of the lasting hills; and for the best things of the earth in its fullness, and for the favor of he who dwells in the bush. Let the blessing anoint the head of Joseph who was separated from his kin. His glory is like a majestic bull and his spears are like the horns of wild ox with which to gore his enemies even to the ends of the earth. His people are the myriads of Ephraim, and the thousands of Manasseh.
Of Zebulun: Rejoice, Zebulun, in your pursuits and Issachar, in your habitations. They will invite the tribes to the sacrificial feasts on the mountain. They will draw abundance from the seas and concealed treasures from the sand.
Of Gad: Blessed be he who makes Gad so vast. He reclines like a lion that has torn off the arm and crushed the head of his prey. He has the best part given to him; the portion reserved for a master, He gathered the tribal heads and applied the justice of Yahva and his decrees concerning Israel.
Of Dan: Dan is like a lion's cub that springs forth from Bashan.
Of Naphtali: Oh Naphtali is enriched with the favors and filled with the blessings of Yahva. He will possess the west and the south.
Of Asher: May Asher be blessed with descendants, let him be the favorite among his kin. May his foot be covered with oil and his shoes be of iron and brass. His strength shall endure throughout his life.
There is no one like the God of Jeshurun who courses through skies to your aid with the majesty of heaven. Yahva is your refuge with support by the eternal arms. He will thrust the enemy before you, saying; “Destroy them.”
Israel alone shall dwell in safety. The spring of Jacob flows freely to a land of grain and wine while the skies drip with dew.
Happy are you, O Israel. What people are like to you? A people saved by Yahva, protected by his shield and his triumphant sword. Your enemies are forced to betray themselves and you wipe your feet on their backs.
Moses ascended from the plains of Moab to the mountains of Nebo, to the top of Mount Pisgah, facing Jericho. Yahva showed him all the land. Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the southern desert, and the plains around Jericho, the city of palm trees, and as far as Zoar. Then Yahva said to him; “This is the land which I promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; that I would give to their descendants. I have let you see it, but you shall not go there.” So Moses, the servant of Yahva, died there in the land of Moab, as Yahva had said he must. He was buried him in a ravine opposite Beth-peor in the land of Moab but no one knows the place of his grave to this day.
Moses was 120 years old when he died. His eyes were undimmed while his strength and health were unabated. The Israelites wept for Moses in the plains of Moab for thirty days until the period of weeping and mourning was ended.
Joshua the son of Nun possessed wisdom since Moses bestowed it on him. The Israelites obeyed to him thus following Yahva's command to Moses.
No prophet like Moses, who Yahva knew intimately, has since risen in Israel. He has not been equaled in the omens and wonders that Yahva sent him to perform in Egypt for Pharaoh, his servants, and his land, and in that mighty strength and the great terror which Moses showed to Pharaoh in the sight of all Israel.
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