Theological Justification of the Conquest
1 Listen, Israel: Today you are about to cross the Jordan so you can dispossess the nations there, people greater and stronger than you who live in large cities with extremely high fortifications.#tn Heb “fortified to the heavens” (so NRSV); NLT “cities with walls that reach to the sky.” This is hyperbole. 2 They include the Anakites,#sn Anakites. See note on this term in Deut 1:28. a numerous#tn Heb “great and tall.” Many English versions understand this to refer to physical size or strength rather than numbers (cf. “strong,” NIV, NCV, NRSV, NLT). and tall people whom you know about and of whom it is said, “Who is able to resist the Anakites?” 3 Understand today that the Lord your God who goes before you is a devouring fire; he will defeat and subdue them before you. You will dispossess and destroy them quickly just as he#tn Heb “the Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation in keeping with contemporary English style to avoid redundancy. has told you. 4 Do not think to yourself after the Lord your God has driven them out before you, “Because of my own righteousness the Lord has brought me here to possess this land.” It is because of the wickedness of these nations that the Lord is driving them out ahead of you. 5 It is not because of your righteousness, or even your inner uprightness,#tn Heb “uprightness of your heart” (so NASB, NRSV). The Hebrew word צְדָקָה (tsÿdaqah, “righteousness”), though essentially synonymous here with יֹשֶׁר (yosher, “uprightness”), carries the idea of conformity to an objective standard. The term יֹשֶׁר has more to do with an inner, moral quality (cf. NAB, NIV “integrity”). Neither, however, was grounds for the Lord’s favor. As he states in both vv. 4-5, the main reason he allowed Israel to take this land was the sinfulness of the Canaanites who lived there (cf. Gen 15:16). that you have come here to possess their land. Instead, because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out ahead of you in order to confirm the promise he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 9:3. made on oath to your ancestors,#tn Heb “fathers.” to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 6 Understand, therefore, that it is not because of your righteousness that the Lord your God is about to give you this good land as a possession, for you are a stubborn#tn Heb “stiff-necked” (so KJV, NAB, NIV).sn The Hebrew word translated stubborn means “stiff-necked.” The image is that of a draft animal that is unsubmissive to the rein or yoke and refuses to bend its neck to draw the load. This is an apt description of OT Israel (Exod 32:9; 33:3, 5; 34:9; Deut 9:13). people!
The History of Israel’s Stubbornness
7 Remember – don’t ever forget#tn By juxtaposing the positive זְכֹר (zekhor, “remember”) with the negative אַל־תִּשְׁכַּח (’al-tishÿkakh, “do not forget”), Moses makes a most emphatic plea. – how you provoked the Lord your God in the desert; from the time you left the land of Egypt until you came to this place you were constantly rebelling against him.#tn Heb “the Lord” (likewise in the following verse with both “him” and “he”). See note on “he” in 9:3. 8 At Horeb you provoked him and he was angry enough with you to destroy you. 9 When I went up the mountain to receive the stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant that the Lord made with you, I remained there#tn Heb “in the mountain.” The demonstrative pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons. forty days and nights, eating and drinking nothing. 10 The Lord gave me the two stone tablets, written by the very finger#sn The very finger of God. This is a double figure of speech (1) in which God is ascribed human features (anthropomorphism) and (2) in which a part stands for the whole (synecdoche). That is, God, as Spirit, has no literal finger nor, if he had, would he write with his finger. Rather, the sense is that God himself – not Moses in any way – was responsible for the composition of the Ten Commandments (cf. Exod 31:18; 32:16; 34:1). of God, and on them was everything#tn Heb “according to all the words.” he#tn Heb “the Lord” (likewise at the beginning of vv. 12, 13). See note on “he” in 9:3. said to you at the mountain from the midst of the fire at the time of that assembly. 11 Now at the end of the forty days and nights the Lord presented me with the two stone tablets, the tablets of the covenant. 12 And he said to me, “Get up, go down at once from here because your people whom you brought out of Egypt have sinned! They have quickly turned from the way I commanded them and have made for themselves a cast metal image.”#tc Heb “a casting.” The MT reads מַסֵּכָה (massekhah, “a cast thing”) but some mss and Smr add עֵגֶל (’egel, “calf”), “a molten calf” or the like (Exod 32:8). Perhaps Moses here omits reference to the calf out of contempt for it. 13 Moreover, he said to me, “I have taken note of these people; they are a stubborn#tn Heb “stiff-necked.” See note on the word “stubborn” in 9:6. lot! 14 Stand aside#tn Heb “leave me alone.” and I will destroy them, obliterating their very name from memory,#tn Heb “from under heaven.” and I will make you into a stronger and more numerous nation than they are.”
15 So I turned and went down the mountain while it#tn Heb “the mountain.” The translation uses a pronoun for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy. was blazing with fire; the two tablets of the covenant were in my hands. 16 When I looked, you had indeed sinned against the Lord your God and had cast for yourselves a metal calf;#tn On the phrase “metal calf,” see note on the term “metal image” in v. 12. you had quickly turned aside from the way he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 9:3. had commanded you! 17 I grabbed the two tablets, threw them down,#tn The Hebrew text includes “from upon my two hands,” but as this seems somewhat obvious and redundant, it has been left untranslated for stylistic reasons. and shattered them before your very eyes. 18 Then I again fell down before the Lord for forty days and nights; I ate and drank nothing because of all the sin you had committed, doing such evil before the Lord as to enrage him. 19 For I was terrified at the Lord’s intense anger#tn Heb “the anger and the wrath.” Although many English versions translate as two terms, this construction is a hendiadys which serves to intensify the emotion (cf. NAB, TEV “fierce anger”). that threatened to destroy you. But he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 9:3. listened to me this time as well. 20 The Lord was also angry enough at Aaron to kill him, but at that time I prayed for him#tn Heb “Aaron.” The pronoun is used in the translation to avoid redundancy. too. 21 As for your sinful thing#tn Heb “your sin.” This is a metonymy in which the effect (sin) stands for the cause (the metal calf). that you had made, the calf, I took it, melted it down,#tn Heb “burned it with fire.” ground it up until it was as fine as dust, and tossed the dust into the stream that flows down the mountain. 22 Moreover, you continued to provoke the Lord at Taberah,#sn Taberah. By popular etymology this derives from the Hebrew verb בָעַר (ba’ar, “to burn”), thus, here, “burning.” The reference is to the Lord’s fiery wrath against Israel because of their constant complaints against him (Num 11:1-3). Massah,#sn Massah. See note on this term in Deut 6:16. and Kibroth-Hattaavah.#sn Kibroth-Hattaavah. This place name means in Hebrew “burial places of appetite,” that is, graves that resulted from overindulgence. The reference is to the Israelites stuffing themselves with the quail God had provided and doing so with thanklessness (Num 11:31-35). 23 And when he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 9:3. sent you from Kadesh-Barnea and told you, “Go up and possess the land I have given you,” you rebelled against the Lord your God#tn Heb “the mouth of the Lord your God,” that is, against the commandment that he had spoken. and would neither believe nor obey him. 24 You have been rebelling against him#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 9:3. from the very first day I knew you!
Moses’ Plea on Behalf of the Lord’s Reputation
25 I lay flat on the ground before the Lord for forty days and nights,#tn The Hebrew text includes “when I prostrated myself.” Since this is redundant, it has been left untranslated. for he#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 9:3. had said he would destroy you. 26 I prayed to him:#tn Heb “the Lord.” See note on “he” in 9:3. O, Lord God,#tn Heb “Lord Lord” (אֲדֹנָי יְהוִה, ’adonay yÿhvih). The phrase is customarily rendered by Jewish tradition as “Lord God” (אֲדֹנָי אֱלֹהִים, ’adonay ’elohim). See also the note on the phrase “Lord God” in Deut 3:24. do not destroy your people, your valued property#tn Heb “your inheritance”; NLT “your special (very own NRSV) possession.” Israel is compared to landed property that one would inherit from his ancestors and pass on to his descendants. that you have powerfully redeemed,#tn Heb “you have redeemed in your greatness.” whom you brought out of Egypt by your strength.#tn Heb “by your strong hand.” 27 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; ignore the stubbornness, wickedness, and sin of these people. 28 Otherwise the people of the land#tc The MT reads only “the land.” Smr supplies עַם (’am, “people”) and LXX and its dependents supply “the inhabitants of the land.” The truncated form found in the MT is adequate to communicate the intended meaning; the words “the people of” are supplied in the translation for clarity. from which you brought us will say, “The Lord was unable to bring them to the land he promised them, and because of his hatred for them he has brought them out to kill them in the desert.”#tn Or “wilderness” (so KJV, NASB, NRSV, NLT). 29 They are your people, your valued property,#tn Heb “your inheritance.” See note at v. 26. whom you brought out with great strength and power.#tn Heb “an outstretched arm.”