The Opportunity to Begin Again
1 At that same time the Lord said to me, “Carve out for yourself two stone tablets like the first ones and come up the mountain to me; also make for yourself a wooden ark.#tn Or “chest” (so NIV, CEV); NLT “sacred chest”; TEV “wooden box.” This chest was made of acacia wood; it is later known as the ark of the covenant. 2 I will write on the tablets the same words#sn The same words. The care with which the replacement copy must be made underscores the importance of verbal precision in relaying the Lord’s commandments. that were on the first tablets you broke, and you must put them into the ark.” 3 So I made an ark of acacia#sn Acacia wood (Heb “shittim wood”). This is wood from the acacia, the most common timber tree of the Sinai region. Most likely it is the species Acacia raddiana because this has the largest trunk. See F. N. Hepper, Illustrated Encyclopedia of Bible Plants, 63. wood and carved out two stone tablets just like the first ones. Then I went up the mountain with the two tablets in my hands. 4 The Lord#tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity. then wrote on the tablets the same words,#tn Heb “according to the former writing.” See note on the phrase “the same words” in v. 2. the ten commandments,#tn Heb “ten words.” The “Ten Commandments” are known in Hebrew as the “Ten Words,” which in Greek became the “Decalogue.” which he#tn Heb “the Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy. had spoken to you at the mountain from the middle of the fire at the time of that assembly, and he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” earlier in this verse. gave them to me. 5 Then I turned, went down the mountain, and placed the tablets into the ark I had made – they are still there, just as the Lord commanded me.
Conclusion of the Historical Resume
6 “During those days the Israelites traveled from Beeroth Bene-Yaaqan#sn Beeroth Bene-Yaaqan. This Hebrew name could be translated “the wells of Bene-Yaaqan” or “the wells of the sons of Yaaqan,” a site whose location cannot be determined (cf. Num 33:31-32; 1 Chr 1:42). to Moserah.#sn Moserah. Since Aaron in other texts (Num 20:28; 33:38) is said to have died on Mount Hor, this must be the Arabah region in which Hor was located. There Aaron died and was buried, and his son Eleazar became priest in his place. 7 From there they traveled to Gudgodah,#sn Gudgodah. This is probably the same as Haggidgad, which is also associated with Jotbathah (Num 33:33). and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah,#sn Jotbathah. This place, whose Hebrew name can be translated “place of wadis,” is possibly modern Ain Tabah, just north of Eilat, or Tabah, 6.5 mi (11 km) south of Eilat on the west shore of the Gulf of Aqaba. a place of flowing streams. 8 At that time the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi#sn The Lord set apart the tribe of Levi. This was not the initial commissioning of the tribe of Levi to this ministry (cf. Num 3:11-13; 8:12-26), but with Aaron’s death it seemed appropriate to Moses to reiterate Levi’s responsibilities. There is no reference in the Book of Numbers to this having been done, but the account of Eleazar’s succession to the priesthood there (Num 20:25-28) would provide a setting for this to have occurred. to carry the ark of the Lord’s covenant, to stand before the Lord to serve him, and to formulate blessings#sn To formulate blessings. The most famous example of this is the priestly “blessing formula” of Num 6:24-26. in his name, as they do to this very day. 9 Therefore Levi has no allotment or inheritance#sn Levi has no allotment or inheritance. As the priestly tribe, Levi would have no land allotment except for forty-eight towns set apart for their use (Num 35:1-8; Josh 21:1-42). But theirs was a far greater inheritance, for the Lord himself was their apportionment, that is, service to him would be their full-time and lifelong privilege (Num 18:20-24; Deut 18:2; Josh 13:33). among his brothers;#tn That is, among the other Israelite tribes. the Lord is his inheritance just as the Lord your God told him. 10 As for me, I stayed at the mountain as I did the first time, forty days and nights. The Lord listened to me that time as well and decided not to destroy you. 11 Then he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 10:4. said to me, “Get up, set out leading#tn Heb “before” (so KJV, ASV); NAB, NRSV “at the head of.” the people so they may go and possess#tn After the imperative these subordinated jussive forms (with prefixed vav) indicate purpose or result. the land I promised to give to their ancestors.”#tn Heb “fathers” (also in vv. 15, 22).
An Exhortation to Love Both God and People
12 Now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you except to revere him,#tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 10:4. to obey all his commandments,#tn Heb “to walk in all his ways” (so KJV, NIV, NRSV); NAB “follow his ways exactly”; NLT “to live according to his will.” to love him, to serve him#tn Heb “the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 10:4. with all your mind and being,#tn Heb “heart and soul” or “heart and being”; NCV “with your whole being.” See note on the word “being” in Deut 6:5. 13 and to keep the Lord’s commandments and statutes that I am giving#tn Heb “commanding” (so NASB, NRSV). For stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy, “giving” has been used in the translation. you today for your own good? 14 The heavens – indeed the highest heavens – belong to the Lord your God, as does the earth and everything in it. 15 However, only to your ancestors did he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 10:4. show his loving favor,#tn Heb “take delight to love.” Here again the verb אָהַב (’ahav, “love”), juxtaposed with בָחַר (bakhar, “choose”), is a term in covenant contexts that describes the Lord’s initiative in calling the patriarchal ancestors to be the founders of a people special to him (cf. the note on the word “loved” in Deut 4:37). and he chose you, their descendants,#tn The Hebrew text includes “after them,” but it is redundant in English style and has not been included in the translation. from all peoples – as is apparent today. 16 Therefore, cleanse#tn Heb “circumcise the foreskin of” (cf. KJV, ASV, NRSV). Reference to the Abrahamic covenant prompts Moses to recall the sign of that covenant, namely, physical circumcision (Gen 17:9-14). Just as that act signified total covenant obedience, so spiritual circumcision (cleansing of the heart) signifies more internally a commitment to be pliable and obedient to the will of God (cf. Deut 30:6; Jer 4:4; 9:26). your heart and stop being so stubborn!#tn Heb “your neck do not harden again.” See note on the word “stubborn” in Deut 9:6. 17 For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great, mighty, and awesome God who is unbiased and takes no bribe, 18 who justly treats#tn Or “who executes justice for” (so NAB, NRSV); NLT “gives justice to.” the orphan and widow, and who loves resident foreigners, giving them food and clothing. 19 So you must love the resident foreigner because you were foreigners in the land of Egypt. 20 Revere the Lord your God, serve him, be loyal to him and take oaths only in his name. 21 He is the one you should praise;#tn Heb “your praise.” The pronoun is subjective and the noun “praise” is used here metonymically for the object of their praise (the Lord). he is your God, the one who has done these great and awesome things for you that you have seen. 22 When your ancestors went down to Egypt, they numbered only seventy, but now the Lord your God has made you as numerous as the stars of the sky.#tn Or “heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven(s)” or “sky” depending on the context.