Deuteronomy: God’s Law of Love

Love and Obey the *LORD your God

An EasyEnglish Bible Version and Commentary (2800 word vocabulary) on the Book of Deuteronomy

www.easyenglish.info

Philip Smith

This commentary has been through Advanced Checking.

Words in boxes are from the Bible.

A word list at the end explains words with a *star by them.

 

The Author

There are three main opinions about who wrote the book of Deuteronomy.

1. Deuteronomy says that Moses wrote it. In Deuteronomy 1:5 it says, ‘Moses began to explain God’s law.’ In Deuteronomy 31:9 it says, ‘Moses wrote down this law.’ In Deuteronomy 31:24 it says, ‘Moses wrote in a book all the words of God’s laws.’ 2 Kings 14:6 refers to ‘the Book of the Law of Moses’. Then it refers to Deuteronomy 24:16. Jesus said that Moses wrote the book. (See Matthew 19:7-8 and John 5:46-47.) In Mark 12:19, the Sadducees said that Moses wrote the book. (The Sadducees were a group of people. They belonged to the religion of the *Jews when Jesus was alive. They read only the first five books of the Bible.) In Acts 3:22, Peter says that Moses wrote the book. Also, Paul says that in Romans 10:5, 19. The devil tempted Jesus when he was in the *desert. And Jesus used the book of Deuteronomy to answer the devil. The book describes what Moses taught the *Israelites just before his death. Probably scribes wrote what Moses said. (Scribes were people who wrote things for other people.) They added some explanations. They wrote also about Moses’ death. In the first few chapters of Deuteronomy, the author often refers to old names of people and places. An author who lived later would not have known those names.

2. Some people say that a *prophet wrote it about the year 630 *B.C. (*B.C. means before Christ. So, 630 *B.C. refers to an event that happened 630 years before Jesus’ birth.) They do not know the name of the *prophet. He wanted Jerusalem to be the very important place of *worship. He hid the book in the *temple. The chief priest, Hilkiah, found the book and he gave it to King Josiah. Then Josiah made the religion in *Israel better. The story of Josiah is in 2 Kings chapters 21 and 22. However, this theory (an idea that nobody has proved) seems doubtful.

3. Other people say that a priest wrote the book after that event. King Josiah’s changes did not last. There were priests when Nehemiah was alive. They described what they wanted the *Israelites to be like. The *Israelites had returned to their own country. People wanted the *Israelites to be free from foreigners after this. This idea seems doubtful also.

Date

If Moses was the author, the date of the book was probably about 1406 *B.C. We read this in 1 Kings 6:1. The 4th year of King Solomon’s rule was 480 years after the *Israelites escaped from Egypt. We know that Solomon began to rule in 970 *B.C. Therefore they escaped from Egypt in 1446 *B.C. The *Israelites went into the country called Canaan 40 years later. Moses wrote Deuteronomy just before then. So, the date is about 1406 *B.C.

Title

The word Deuteronomy means ‘the second law’. This translates the Greek title of the book. (Greek is the language in the country called Greece. People used to speak that language in the whole region near the Mediterranean Sea.) The title in the Hebrew language is ‘these are the words’. (Hebrew is the language that the *Israelites spoke.) The book does not just repeat earlier laws. It is a record of the *covenant relationship between God and the *Israelites. The book teaches people how to love God and their neighbours. There are 100 references from Deuteronomy in the *New Testament. Deuteronomy is still important for Christians today, although the culture is different. The book is sometimes called ‘The Book of *Covenant Life’.

What the book contains

Deuteronomy contains three speeches that Moses gave. He gave them just before the *Israelites entered Canaan. Canaan was the country that God had given to the *Israelites. God wanted the *Israelites to obey the law. Deuteronomy is about the relationship with God by means of the *covenant of the law. The law is not just a series of rules to obey. It explains how people should make this relationship work. Deuteronomy also shows us how to show our love for God and for people. Moses told the *Israelites to do things because God had given *grace and love to them. The Christian must do the same.

·  1:1-4 The beginning: When Moses wrote the book.

·  1:5 to 4:43 First Speech: Moses reminds the *Israelites about the things that God has done for them in the past.

·  4:44 to 28:68 Second Speech: Practical rules for how we should live.

·  29:1 to 30:20 Third Speech: Choose to live in the way that God wants you to live.

·  31:1 to 33:29 From Moses to Joshua.

·  34:1-12 Moses dies.

The book is like the agreements that some kings used to make at that time. That was in the nation called the Hittites. They made the agreement with the people whose country they *captured. The kings spoke to the people who made the agreement. A king would describe what he had done for his nation in the past. Then, he would tell the people what he expected them to do. Often these agreements warned about *curses if people did not obey the agreement. The three sections of Deuteronomy are very similar to this.

Moses told the *Israelites that God would send to them another *prophet like him (Deuteronomy 18:15-19). Jesus was that *prophet. (See John 1:45.) The *Israelites went through the *desert and Jesus was in the *desert too. Moses spoke about *blessings and *curses and Jesus spoke about *blessings and *curses. (See Luke 6:20-26.) Moses climbed a mountain and he told people to obey his commands. Jesus did that also. (See Matthew 28:16-20.)

Chapter 1

1:1-4 The beginning: When Moses wrote the book.

v1 These are the words that Moses spoke to all the people in *Israel. The *Israelites were in the *desert on the east side of the River Jordan. They were in the Jordan valley near Suph. They were between Paran and the towns called Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. v2 It takes 11 days to travel from *Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea by the *Mount Seir route.

v3 It was the first day of the 11th month of the 40th year. Moses told the *Israelites everything that the *LORD had ordered him to tell them. v4 That was after he had defeated Sihon, the king of the *Amorites. Sihon lived in the town called Heshbon. Moses had also defeated Og, the king of Bashan, who lived in Ashtaroth and Edrei.

The book tells us that Moses was the speaker. He spoke to the *Israelites. They were in Moab on the east of the Jordan valley. The *desert is a place where there is not much water. The bushes are small. It has poor soil and people cannot grow crops there. So, not many people live there. It was 40 years since they had left Egypt. Soon the *Israelites would enter the country that God had promised to them. Now they remembered what had happened at *Mount Sinai. (Sometimes this is called *Mount Horeb.) There God showed the *Israelites who he was. God had acted in powerful ways. He freed the *Israelites from Egypt. By Moses, God had given laws to them. God told them how to build the special tent. That was where God met with the *Israelites. And, God told them how they should bring *sacrifices. He also told them how to *celebrate *festivals.

A person can walk from *Mount Sinai to Kadesh Barnea in 11 days. But the *Israelites arrived at the edge of the country that God had promised to them after nearly a year. Then they became afraid of the people who were already in the country. So, God told the *Israelites to travel round the country where they were. Moses was speaking 38 years later. They had come again to the edge of the country that God had promised to them. You can read about this from verse 19. They defeated King Sihon and King Og. (See Numbers 22:21-35.) ‘These are the words’ is an important phrase. (See verse 1.) Kings used it at the beginning of an agreement between themselves and the people that they ruled over. Moses used it at the beginning of the *covenant that God made with the *Israelites.

First Speech: 1:5 to 4:43 – The things that God had done for the *Israelites in the past

v5 Moses began to explain God’s law. He did that while the *Israelites were in Moab, on the east side of the River Jordan.

v6 ‘The *LORD our God said this to us when we were at *Mount Sinai. “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. v7 Now leave. Go into the hills where the *Amorites live. Go to the people who live in the Jordan valley. They are in both the hills and the plains. Go to the people who are in the south country and along the coast. Go to the *Canaanites’ country and go to Lebanon. Go to the great River Euphrates. v8 God has given to you this country. Go and possess it.” The *LORD promised this to your *ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. He said that he would give the country to them and to their *descendants.’

Moses reminded the *Israelites about God’s promise to give the country to them. That was what God promised to Abraham and later to Isaac and to Jacob. The *Amorites lived in hills at the northern end of the country. Canaan and the Lebanon were in the north. The coast is the coast of the Mediterranean Sea. The River Euphrates is in the east. God’s promise to Abraham is in Genesis 15:18-21.

God encourages us to develop in our Christian lives. In Hebrews chapter 4 the writer warns his readers and he reminds them about this fact. Some of the *Israelites did not reach the country that God had promised to them. Hebrews 4:11 says this. ‘So we must do everything possible to receive that rest with God. Nobody should imitate the behaviour of those people who refused to obey God. Then none of us will fail.’

v9 ‘At that time, I told you this. “I cannot look after you by myself. You have become like a load that is too heavy for me to carry. v10 The *LORD your God has increased your numbers. Today there seem as many of you as there are stars in the sky. v11 I pray that the *LORD, the God of your *ancestors, will increase you a thousand times more. I pray that he will *bless you. He has promised to do that! v12 I cannot deal with your problems, your troubles and your quarrels by myself. They are like loads. They are too heavy for me to carry by myself. v13 Choose some wise men who understand. They must have experience. Choose them from each of your *tribes. I will make them the leaders of your *tribes.”

v14 You answered, “That is a good thing to do.”

v15 So I took the leaders of your *tribes who had wisdom and experience. I gave to them authority over you. They were leaders of groups of 1000, 100, 50 or 10 people. They were also officials over the *tribes. v16 I gave this order to your judges. “Listen to the arguments between your people. You must make fair *judgements between one *Israelite man and another man who is also an *Israelite. You must also make fair *judgements between *Israelites and foreigners. v17 Do not respect one person most when you make *judgements. Listen to important people. And listen to people who are not important. Do not be afraid of anyone because you are doing this job for God. If any argument is too difficult for you, I will listen to it.” v18 At the same time, I told you everything that you should do.’

Jethro (the father of Moses’ wife) suggested that Moses should have helpers. (See Exodus 18:17-27.) Here Moses describes the selection of these leaders. They should have experience and wisdom. They should make *judgements when the *Israelites had arguments. They should not prefer *Israelites to foreigners. They should not prefer rich people to poor people. If they could not settle an argument, then Moses had to deal with it. In Deuteronomy 16:18 Moses told the *Israelites to appoint these rulers when they went into the country.

v19 ‘We did what the *LORD our God ordered us to do. We left *Mount Sinai. Then we went through that vast *desert that frightened us. We went to the hills where the *Amorites live. So, we reached Kadesh-Barnea. v20 Then I spoke to you. “You have reached the hills where the *Amorites live. The *LORD our God is giving the hills to us. v21 Look, the *LORD your God has given the country to you. Go and possess it. The *LORD, the God of your *ancestors, has told you to do that. Do not be afraid and do not be anxious.”

v22 After that, you all came and you spoke to me. “Let us send men ahead of us. They can discover what kind of country it is. They can tell us the best route to take. And they can tell us what kind of towns there are.”

v23 I agreed with that plan. So I chose 12 men, one from each *tribe. v24 They went into the hills. And they explored the valley called Eshcol. v25 They brought back some fruit that they had picked there. They reported to us. “The country that the *LORD our God is giving to us is very good.” ’

Moses reminded the *Israelites about their first journey. They went from *Mount Sinai to the borders of the country called Canaan. Kadesh Barnea was the town on the border. Moses told them to ‘possess the country’. Those words appear over 50 times in the book. If the *Israelites gave proper honour to God, they would not need to be afraid of anyone. They sent 12 men out to discover more about the country. One man came from each *tribe. That story is in the Book of Numbers chapters 13 and 14. Eshcol is a valley to the north of the town called Hebron. Eshcol is famous because of the quality of its *grapes.

v26 ‘But you refused to obey what the *LORD your God ordered. You would not enter the country. v27 In your tents, you complained. You said, “The *LORD hates us. He brought us out of Egypt. Then he will give us to the *Amorites so that they can kill us. v28 We have no idea where we can go! The men whom we sent have made us afraid. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are. The cities are large. Their walls are so high that they seem to reach the sky. We even saw giant men there!’ ”

v29 Then I said, “Do not let those people frighten you. Do not be afraid of them. v30 The *LORD your God is going in front of you. He will fight for you. He will do that in the same way that you saw him act in Egypt v31 and in the *desert. You saw how the *LORD your God looked after you. He carried you exactly like a father carries his son. He did that all the way until you reached this place.”

v32 But although the *LORD did that, you did not trust the *LORD your God. v33 He went ahead of you. He was in a cloud of fire during the night. And he was in a white cloud during the day. He provided places for you to camp. And he showed you the way that you should go.’

The *Israelites doubted God’s promise. They refused to obey him because they did not trust him. They believed that God had brought them out from Egypt to kill them. They did not think that they could *capture the cities. They were afraid because the people in those cities were very tall and strong. Moses told the *Israelites that they need not be afraid. God would look after them in the same way that a father would look after them. A father carries his son if his son is too weak or tired. God had led the *Israelites through the *desert, but they would not trust him.

Christians believe that Jesus frees them from *sin. Therefore, they can trust him to help them with the difficulties in their lives. Hebrews 3:7-19 warns us against doubt. We must continue to the end and we must make every effort. God’s goodness in the past should give to us confidence to trust him in the future.

v34 ‘The *LORD heard what you said. He was very angry and he made a serious statement. v35 “None of you wicked people will see the good country that I promised to give to your *ancestors. v36 Only Caleb, the son of Jephunneh, will see it. He has remained loyal to me, the *LORD. I will give to him and to his family the land where he walked.”

v37 The *LORD became angry with me because of you. He said this. “You, Moses, will not enter the country either. v38 Your helper, Joshua, the son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him. He will lead the *Israelites as they possess the country. v39 Your little children, who still do not know right things from wrong things, will enter the country. You said that your enemies would seize those children. But I will give the country to them. They will possess it. v40 But you must now turn round. Go back into the *desert and follow the route to the Red Sea.” ’

These verses describe God’s anger. None of the *Israelites who left Egypt entered into the country. Only Joshua and Caleb went in, because they obeyed God completely. Even Moses did not get in because Moses did not obey God about another matter. Numbers 20:1-13 tells the story. God told Moses to speak to a rock and then the rock would provide water. Moses did not trust God enough just to speak to the rock. Moses was angry and he hit the rock. That was a serious error. Moses was the leader but he did not obey God. So God said that Moses was not suitable to lead the *Israelites into the country. This shows that God has very high standards for leaders.

Paul says this. ‘Do not try to work together with people who do not believe!’ (See 2 Corinthians 6:14.) Many people do not believe God. We might have to work and to live with those people. They may persuade us to doubt God. But do not follow their behaviour. Instead, always remain loyal to God.

v41 ‘You replied: “We have *sinned against the *LORD. But now we will go into the country. We will fight even as the *LORD our God ordered us to do.” Then each of you took your military arms in order to fight. You thought that it would be easy to go into the hills.

v42 But the *LORD said to me, “Tell them not to attack. I will not be with them. Their enemies will defeat them.”

v43 I told you what the *LORD had said. You did not listen. You did not obey what the *LORD ordered you to do. Because you were proud, you went up into the hills. v44 Then the *Amorites, who lived there, came out to fight you. They chased you like a large group of insects called bees. The *Amorites chased you from *Mount Seir to Hormah. There they defeated you. v45 So you returned and you cried to the *LORD. He would not listen or give any attention to you. v46 You stayed in Kadesh for a long time.’

Still, the *Israelites wanted to go into the country. God had told the *Israelites to turn round (verse 40). They had to go back. When the *Israelites heard that, they tried to attack their enemies. But the *Amorites defeated them. God did not help the *Israelites because they did not obey him. They tried to win the battle by themselves. But they could not do anything unless God was with them. They had to learn that fact.

1 Corinthians 3:10-15 says that God will examine people’s work. If the fire of God burns a person’s work, he will lose his reward. To go into the country would be a reward for Moses. But he lost that reward, although he did enter heaven.

The *Israelites tried to fight the *Amorites by themselves. The disciples (students) of Jesus made the same mistake as the *Israelites did. They could not send the wicked spirit out of a boy. (Spirits are alive but we cannot see them.) The disciples tried to do this by themselves. They had not prayed for God to help them. The power to send wicked spirits out of people came from Jesus only. (See Mark 9:14-29.)

Chapter 2

v1 ‘Then we turned back and we went towards the *desert. We travelled along the way to the Red Sea as the *LORD had told us to do. We travelled round the hills in Seir (Edom) for a long time.

v2 Then the *LORD said this to me. v3 “You have gone round this mountain for long enough. Now turn to the north. v4 Tell the *Israelites this. ‘You are ready now to go through the country that belongs to your relatives, the *descendants of Esau. They live in Seir. They will be afraid of you, but be careful. v5 Do not start a war against them because I will not give to you any of their country. I will not give to you enough land on which to put a foot. I have given to Esau’s family the hills in Seir. It is their possession. v6 You must pay them with money for your food and water.’ ”

v7 The *LORD your God has *blessed you in everything that you have done. He has taken care of you as you have travelled through this vast *desert. The *LORD your God has been with you for 40 years. You have had everything that you needed.’

God ordered the *Israelites to travel on. The people in Edom did not allow them to go through Seir. (See Numbers 20:14-21.) The people in Edom were afraid of the *Israelites. God told the *Israelites not to attack the people in Edom or to take their country. God had given that country to the family of Esau. Moses reminded the people that God had provided for them during their long journey. He had given to them everything that they needed in the *desert. They should not desire areas of country that they did not need.

In Philippians 4:19, Paul reminds Christians that God will supply all their needs. He will do that by means of the resources that Jesus provides.

v8 ‘So we went past the land that belonged to the family of Esau. They are our relatives, who live in Seir. We travelled along the route to the towns called Elath and Ezion-Geber. Then we turned and we travelled along the *desert route to Moab.

v9 Then the *LORD said to me, “Do not attack the *Moabites. Do not start a war against them. I will not give any of their land to you as your possession. I have given the city called Ar to the family of Lot. It is their possession.” v10 (A strong and large group of people called the ‘Emites’ used to live in Ar. They were as tall as the people called *Anakites. v11 Many people called the *Anakites ‘*Rephaites’. And they also called the people who lived in Ar ‘Rephaites’. But the *Moabites called them the ‘Emites’. v12 The people who were called Horites used to live in Seir. But the family of Esau *captured their land. The family of Esau killed them and Esau’s family lived there instead of the Horites. Also the *Israelites did a similar thing in the country that the *LORD gave to them for their possession.)

v13 Then the *LORD said, “Go across the Zered Valley.” So we did.

v14 We crossed the Zered Valley 38 years after we had left Kadesh Barnea. By then, all the men who were old enough to fight had died. The *LORD had declared that this would happen. v15 The *LORD continued to oppose them until they had all died. At last, none of them remained alive in the camp.

v16 After they had all died, v17 the *LORD spoke to me. v18 “Today you must go near to the region called Moab. It will be at the place called Ar. v19 When you approach the *Ammonites, do not attack them. Do not start a war against them. I will not give any of their land to you to possess. I have given it to the family of Lot. It is their possession.” ’

v20 (People call that place ‘the country of the *Rephaites’. The *Rephaite people used to live there. The *Ammonites called them the ‘Zamzummin’. v21 They were a strong and large group of people. And they were as tall as the *Anakites. The *LORD *destroyed the Zamzummin people. So, the *Ammonites *captured their country and they lived there. v22 The *LORD did a similar thing for the family of Esau, who lived in Seir. He *destroyed the people called the Horites. So, the people from the country called Edom *captured their country. And the people from Edom still live there today. v23 The people called Avvites, lived there. But the people from Crete *destroyed them. The people from Crete *captured the land right up to the city called Gaza.)

God told the *Israelites which territory they must not *capture. God had given that territory to the families of Esau and Lot. This statement taught them that there was only one God. He had given to each nation its own country. No false god had given it to them. The *Rephaites were a group of very tall people. They lived in Canaan before the *Israelites arrived. The name ‘Emite’ means ‘the terrible people’. The word ‘Zamzummin’ means ‘the wicked men’. *Israelite men were old enough to fight when they were 20 years old. (See Numbers 1:3.) Moses reminded the *Israelites that they had wandered for 38 years in the *desert. During that time, all the people who had left Egypt over 20 years old had died.

They could not enter the country that God had given to the *Israelites. The writer of the Book of Hebrews tells us the reason for that. ‘They were not able to enter because they did not trust God.’ (See Hebrews 3:19.) The writer encourages Christians to trust God. Then they will receive the good things that God promises.

v24 ‘ “Go across the River Arnon. I will hand over to you Sihon, who is the *Amorite king of Heshbon, and his territory. Begin to possess his territory and to attack him. v25 From today I will make people everywhere to be afraid of you. They will hear reports about you. They will tremble and they will be very afraid of you.”

v26 From the Kedemoth *desert, I sent people with a message that offered peace. They took this message to Sihon, king of Heshbon. v27 “Let us go through your country. We will stay on the main road and we will not leave it. v28 We will pay for our food and water. We just want to walk through your country. v29 We will do that until we go across the River Jordan. Then we will reach the country that the *LORD our God is giving to us. The family of Esau in Seir and the *Moabites in Ar allowed us to do that.” v30 But King Sihon of Heshbon would not let us go through his country. He refused and he would not change his decision. The *LORD your God made that happen. The *LORD did that because he wanted you to defeat him. Now it has happened.

v31 The *LORD said this to me. “Look, I have begun to give to you King Sihon and his country. Now start to *capture and to possess his territory.”

v32 Sihon came with all his army to fight us at the town called Jahaz. v33 The *LORD our God helped us to *capture him. We killed him and his sons and we killed all his army. v34 Also we *captured all his towns and we *destroyed them. We killed everyone. We killed the men, the women and the children. Nobody remained alive. v35 But we took the animals and we took the people’s possessions from the towns. v36 The *LORD our God gave to us all the towns from Aroer to Gilead. Aroer is on the edge of the valley called Arnon. We also *captured the town in the middle of the valley. No town was too strong for us to *capture. v37 You obeyed what the *LORD our God had ordered. You did not go near to the country of the *Ammonites. You did not go near to the land by the River Jabbok. And you did not go near to the towns in the hills.’

The *Israelites defeated two *Amorite kings and they took the territory of the *Amorites. The first king was Sihon, king of Heshbon. Moses offered to go through his territory in peace and to pay for food and drink. Sihon would not allow the *Israelites to do that. Because of that decision, God made Sihon refuse to change his mind. When a person refuses, it is very hard for that person ever to change. That happened to Pharaoh before the *Israelites left Egypt. (See Exodus 7:1-5.) God ordered the *Israelites to kill or to *destroy certain people or objects. Those people gave honour to false gods. The objects were things to which they gave honour. The *Israelites would imitate those people if they left them alive. (Read the notes on chapter 7 verses 1-5 for more explanation about that.)

Chapter 3

v1 ‘Next we turned and we went along the route towards Bashan. Og, king of Bashan, came out with his whole army to fight us. He wanted to fight us at the town called Edrei. v2 But the *LORD said to me, “Do not be afraid of him. I will give him, his whole army and his country to you. Fight against him in the same way as you fought against Sihon, king of the *Amorites. Sihon ruled in Heshbon.”

v3 So the *LORD our God handed over to us Og, king of Bashan, and all his army. We killed all of them. We left none of them alive. v4 At the same time, we *captured all his towns. We *captured all of his 60 towns. We took the whole region called Argob. It was Og’s *kingdom in Bashan. v5 All those towns had high walls with gates and bars to protect them. There were also many villages without walls. v6 We *destroyed them completely as we had done with Sihon, king of Heshbon. We *destroyed all the towns. We killed the men, the women and the children. v7 But we took for ourselves all the animals and the people’s possessions from the towns.

v8 So at that time, we *captured the territory on the east of the River Jordan. We took it from those two *Amorite kings. That territory was from the River Arnon to *Mount Hermon. v9 (The people from the country called Sidon called *Mount Hermon “Sirion”. The *Amorites call it “Senir”.) v10 We *captured all the towns on the plain. We *captured the regions called Gilead and Bashan up to Salecah and Edrei. Those were the towns in Og’s *kingdom in Bashan. v11 Og, king of Bashan, was the last of the *Rephaites. His bed was iron. It was more than 13 foot long and 6 foot wide (4 metres long and 2 metres wide.) It is still in Rabbah, the town where the *Ammonites live.’

Bashan was a region that grew good crops. It had good land for *cattle and it had large forests. It had high hills also. It was to the north and north east of the region called Galilee. There were more than 60 towns with high walls and gates to protect them. They called that region Argob. The *Israelites *destroyed the towns and all the people who lived in them. They did not kill the animals. They did not *destroy the things that they had taken from the towns. Some students think that the word for ‘bed’ (verse 11) means ‘the box for his dead body’. Because Og was a king, the bed or the box for his body was very large. People may have made a box from a rock that contained iron rather than all of iron.

God told the *Israelites to destroy some people and some things. Sometimes things can cause people to *sin. Jesus told people to free themselves from anything like that. (See Matthew 5:27-30.) He does not mean that people should damage their bodies. But they must do everything to avoid *sin.

v12 ‘I divided the country that we *captured at that time. I gave to the *tribes of Reuben and Gad the territory to the north of Aroer near the River Arnon. That included half of the hills in the region called Gilead together with its towns. v13 I gave the rest of Gilead and all of Bashan to half the *tribe of Manasseh. That was where Og ruled. (People used to call the whole region of Argob in Bashan “the land that belongs to the *Rephaites”. v14 Jair, a *descendant of Manasseh, took the whole region called Argob. That region went to the border of Geshur and Maacath. He named the region after himself. Today people still call Bashan “the villages that belong to Jair”.) v15 I gave Gilead to Machir. v16 I gave the territory from Gilead to the River Arnon to the *tribes of Reuben and Gad. Their boundary was the middle of the river. And their boundary was the River Jabbok. That was the boundary with the *Ammonites. v17 Their western border was the River Jordan in the Arabah valley. That was all the land from Galilee to the Dead Sea. It is below the slopes of *Mount Pisgah.’

Moses describes how he divided the land to the east of the River Jordan. He gave some land to the *tribes of Reuben and Gad. He gave the rest of the land to half the *tribe called Manasseh. Those *tribes had especially asked for that land. So Moses let them live there. They still had to help the rest of the *tribes to possess their parts of the land. They could not rest until they had done that.

v18 ‘I gave to you this command at that time. “The *LORD your God has given to you this country to possess it. But all your brave fighters with their military arms, must go ahead of the other *Israelites. They are your relatives. v19 However, your wives, your children and your animals can stay. I know that you have many animals. They can stay in the towns that I have given to you. v20 That will be until the *LORD allows your relatives, the other *Israelites, to live in peace like you. Then they too will possess the country that the *LORD your God is giving to them. Their country is across the River Jordan from your country. Then you can return to the country that I have given to you as your possession.”

v21 Then I gave this command to Joshua. “You have seen all that the *LORD your God did to those two kings. The *LORD will do the same to all the *kingdoms where you will go. v22 Do not be afraid of the people there. The *LORD your God will fight for you.” ’

The *Israelites who wanted to live on the east of the River Jordan still had to help the other *Israelites. The nation had to act as a group, with God as their leader. Their wives, their families and their *cattle would remain in their country. Perhaps the men who were too young or too old to fight would look after them. The men who crossed the River Jordan could return to their own country. However, they had to help the other *Israelites first. Moses ordered Joshua to lead the battle. Moses told him not to be afraid. Moses reminded Joshua about what God had done to the two kings, Sihon and Og. God would help Joshua to defeat other kings in the same way.

We should remember how God has helped us in the past. That will help us to trust him in the future.

v23 ‘Then I prayed to the *LORD very strongly. v24 “*LORD, our *Lord, I am your servant. You have begun to show me the great and powerful things that you can do. No false god in the sky or on the earth can do the great things that you do. v25 Let me cross over the River Jordan and see the good country. I want to see the pleasant hills and Lebanon.”

v26 But because of you, the *LORD was angry with me. He would not listen to me. Instead, he said, “That is enough! Do not speak to me about this again. v27 Go up to the top of *Mount Pisgah. Look to the north, south, east and west. You can look at the country, but you will not go across the River Jordan. v28 But appoint Joshua for his work. Encourage him and give him strength. He will lead the *Israelites across. And they will possess the country that you will see.” v29 So we remained in the valley near Beth Peor.’

Moses’ prayer shows that he knew God well. Moses believed that there was only one real God. He asked God very strongly to let him lead the *Israelites into the country. God did not allow him to do that. God punished Moses because the *Israelites’ action caused him to do wrong things. (Our notes about chapter 1 verses 34-39 also refer to this event.) In Numbers chapter 20, we read how Moses brought water out of the rock. He did not speak to the rock. He hit the rock. He did not obey God. God told Moses that he would be able to see the country. However, like Abraham, he had to trust that God would *keep his promises. Joshua would lead the *Israelites to *capture the country. God told Moses that he should encourage Joshua to do that.

God does not always say ‘yes’ to our prayers. In the garden of Gethsemane, Jesus asked God to take away his trouble. But he also prayed to do what God wanted. (See Mark 14:36.) We need to pray in the same way. God may not give to us what we desire. But he can make us content without it. So that gives a result that is as good or better.

Chapter 4

v1 ‘Therefore, everyone in *Israel, listen to the rules and the laws that I will teach to you. Obey them so that you can live. Then you will go into the country and you will possess it. The *LORD, the God of your *ancestors, is giving it to you. v2 Do not add anything to the *commandments that I am giving to you. Do not take anything away from them. *Keep the *commandments of the *LORD your God that I ordered you to *keep.

v3 You saw what the *LORD did at Baal Peor. The *LORD your God *destroyed everyone who gave honour to *Baal. v4 Those people who remained loyal to the *LORD are still alive today.

v5 I have taught to you all the rules and the laws that the *LORD my God ordered me. Now you should obey them in the country that you will enter to possess. v6 Obey them carefully. That will show the people in other nations how wise you are. When they hear about all these rules, they will say this. “This great nation has wisdom and knowledge.” v7 No other nation has a god who is so near to them. The *LORD our God is near to us whenever we pray to him. No other nation is that great. v8 No other nation has such fair rules and laws like the laws that I am teaching to you today. No other nation is so great.’

Moses has described all the good things that God has done for the *Israelites. Because of that, they should obey God. Paul says something similar in Romans 12:1, ‘God has shown his kindness to you. Therefore I am appealing to you. Offer your bodies…’

Moses told the people to obey God’s laws. The result would be that they would live for a long time. Also, they would enjoy the country that God was giving to them. They should not add or take away anything from God’s laws.

Jesus said that too. In Matthew 5:18, Jesus said, ‘Even the smallest detail will not disappear from God’s Law.’ The Book of Revelation warns people about this. They must not add or take away from ‘this book’. (See Revelation 22:18-19.)

The laws that Moses gave were God’s laws. The same basic rules remain, although different circumstances may require some changes. We read in Mark 7:19 that Jesus declared all foods ‘*clean’. It is a basic rule that we must have *clean minds. After Jesus came, his people did not need the laws about ceremonies. The ceremonies were ways to describe what would happen in the future. By his death, Jesus *kept those laws perfectly.

Some of the *Israelites *worshipped the false god called *Baal at Peor. Moses reminded them about that event. The story is in Numbers chapter 25. Some men went to *Moabite women and they did wrong acts of sex with those women. The men also *worshipped the women’s false god. As a result, many people died with a disease. And the priests killed other people. The people who did not *worship *Baal were still alive. The *Israelites had to obey the laws that were in God’s *covenant. Then they would remain alive in their new country. Those laws would prove to other nations that the *Israelites had a great God. Those fair laws would show that God’s laws were better than the laws of other nations.

v9 ‘Be careful and watch yourselves. Do not forget the things that you have seen. Remember them as long as you live. Teach them to your children and to your grandchildren. v10 Remember the day when you stood in front of the *LORD your God at *Mount Sinai. He said this to me. “Tell the people to come together in front of me. They must listen to what I will say. Then, they will learn to respect me as long as they live on the earth. Also they will teach their children.” v11 You came near and you stood at the edge of the mountain. It burned with flames that reached up to the sky. There were black clouds and great darkness. v12 Then the *LORD spoke to you from the fire. You heard him speak. But you saw no shape. You only heard a voice. v13 He told you about his *covenant, the Ten *Commandments. He wrote them on two blocks of stone and he told you to obey them. v14 Soon you will cross the River Jordan to possess the country. The *LORD told me to teach all the rules and laws to you. And you must obey them in the country.’

Moses reminded the *Israelites that God gave to them the Ten *Commandments at *Mount Sinai. God spoke to them but they did not see God. Therefore, they must not make an image of him. They must be careful not to forget God. They should tell their children and their grandchildren about him.

Christians must remember what God has done. They should tell their children about him.

The flames, clouds and darkness show that God is magnificent. Moses warned the people. They had to obey what God had told them to do.

In Hebrews 12:18-27, the writer tells his readers this. ‘You have not come to a mountain that burns with fire. … But you have come to … the city of God, who is alive. … You have come to Jesus, who made the new *covenant.’ But the writer warns them. ‘Make sure that you do not refuse to listen [to God].’ We must listen to God and we must obey him. We have less excuse than the *Israelites. We have a better *covenant because we come to God by means of Jesus. He died so that God can forgive us. And Jesus makes people free from wrong things. God will now forgive our *sins, so we need not continue to be afraid. Jeremiah 31:33-34 describes the promises of the new *covenant.

The *covenant was a relationship and a special promise between God and his people. Deuteronomy refers to the *covenant 26 times. The *Israelites could show that they were God’s people. They did that when they obeyed his *commandments.

Today we have to trust Jesus in order to be part of the new *covenant. To trust Jesus means that first we have to confess our *sins. Then God will forgive us.

God told the *Israelites to obey his laws. Christians must show their *faith by what they do. James 2:14-26 tells us about that. In Matthew 7:21, Jesus says this. ‘Not everyone who says to me “*Lord, *Lord,” will enter the heavenly *kingdom. My Father is in heaven. And only the people who obey him will enter there.’ The good deeds that we do will not give *salvation to us. But they are evidence that we are obeying God.

v15 ‘When the *LORD spoke to you at *Mount Sinai from the fire, you did not see any shape. Be very careful v16 that you do not act in a wicked manner. Do not make an *idol for yourself in any shape. Do not make an *idol like a man or a woman v17 or an animal or a bird. v18 Do not make an *idol in the shape of an animal that moves along the ground. Do not make an *idol in the shape of a fish in the water. v19 And be careful when you look up to the sky. Do not give honour to the sun, the moon, the stars or to anything that you see in the sky. Those are things that the *LORD your God has given to all nations to share. v20 But you are the people whom the *LORD rescued from Egypt. Egypt was like a very hot fire that melts metal. The *LORD rescued you in order to make you his own people. That is what you are today.

v21 The *LORD was angry with me because of you. He made a serious statement. He said that I would not go across the River Jordan. I would not enter the good country that the *LORD your God is giving to you as a possession. v22 I will die in this country. I will not go across the River Jordan. You will go across and you will possess that good country. v23 Make sure that you do not forget the *covenant. The *LORD your God made it with you. Do not make an *idol in the shape of anything that the *LORD your God has not allowed. v24 The *LORD your God is like a fire that burns everything. He is a jealous God.’

Moses reminded the people that they did not see any shape of God at *Mount Sinai. They must not make an image of God. Other nations made their false gods in many shapes. Moses made a list of the images that those nations used. Most of those images were in the religions of the *Canaanites, the *Egyptians and the nation called the Hittites. Moses told the *Israelites not to give honour to the sun, the moon or the stars. The *Israelites were different from other nations. God rescued them from the very difficult situation in Egypt. He made them his special people.

Peter tells Christians that they are special too. In 1 Peter 2:9 he says this. ‘You are … God’s own people. God wanted you to declare the wonderful things that he has done. He called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.’ He also warns Christians not to do wrong things.

Moses reminded the *Israelites that he would not go into the new country. That was because he had done the wrong thing. The *Israelites would go into the new country, but they must be careful. They must not make any *idol, because God is very *holy. If they did not continue to *worship God, he would be very angry. God did not want the people to *worship any false gods. The *Israelites should put God first. That is the only right way.

Christians must *worship God in a way that will please him. When they *worship him, they must respect him. ‘Our God is like a fire that *destroys.’ (See Hebrews 12:28-29.)

v25 ‘When you have lived in the country for a long time, you will have children and grandchildren. But do not behave in a wicked manner. Do not make an *idol in any shape. If you do such an evil thing, it will make God very angry. v26 Heaven and earth are my *witnesses against you today. You will soon disappear from the country that you will go across the River Jordan to possess. You will not live there for a long time. God will *destroy you. v27 The *LORD will scatter you among the other nations. Only a few of you will remain alive among the nations where the *LORD will send you. v28 There you will serve false gods that people have made from wood and stone. Those false gods cannot see or hear. They cannot eat or smell. v29 But even there, if you look for the *LORD your God, you will find him. That will happen if you really look for him with your entire mind and with your entire strength. v30 All those things will happen to you and you will have trouble. Then you will turn back to the *LORD your God and you will obey him. v31 God has *mercy. He will not neglect you or *destroy you. He will not forget the *covenant that he made with your *ancestors. That was the *LORD’s serious promise.’

There was a danger that the *Israelites would forget God’s *covenant. They might enjoy the good things in the country and then they might start to *worship *idols. (People believed that *idols were models of their false gods.) If they did that, God would be angry with them. Many *Israelites would die. Other *Israelites would leave their country. An enemy would force them to live in foreign countries. There they would *worship *idols that people had made. That happened after an enemy defeated Samaria. (See 2 Kings 17:6.) And it happened when an enemy defeated Jerusalem. (See 2 Kings 24:10-16.) Even then, if they returned to God, he would forgive them. He would remember his *covenant and he would show *mercy.

In 1 John 1:9, the writer says this to Christians. ‘If we confess our *sins to God, he will forgive us.’

v32 ‘Now ask about the past, from the day when God created people on the earth. Ask about the period before you were born. Look from one end of the sky to the other end. Nothing like this has ever happened before. Nobody has ever heard about anything as great as this. v33 No other nation has ever heard the voice of God speak out of fire. But you have, and you are still alive. v34 No false god has tried to take people from another nation and to make them his own special people. God did that for you in Egypt. You saw him use his great power and strength. He used tests, *signs, *wonders and war. He made terrible things happen.

v35 The *LORD has shown those things to you. He has proved that he is the only God. There is no other God. v36 He allowed you to hear his voice out of the place where he lives. In that way, he taught you. On earth, he let you see his great fire. You heard his words from out of the fire. v37 He brought you out of Egypt by his great power. He came with you himself. He did that because he loved your *ancestors. So he chose their *descendants. v38 He forced out nations who were greater and stronger than you. He brought you into their country and he gave it to you to possess. It belongs to you today.

v39 So realise this today and remember it. The *LORD is God in heaven above and He is God on the earth below. There is no other God. v40 So *keep his rules and his *commandments that I am telling you today. If you do that, good things will happen to you and to your *descendants. You will live in the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you for always.’

Moses ended his first speech and he told this to the *Israelites. No other nation had received direct knowledge from a false god in this way. God loved his people, the *Israelites. He rescued them from Egypt and he gave a country to them. He did that by his great power and by the use of events. God loved them and he chose them as his special people. God did great things for his people. That was proof that God existed. No other power could do that. The *Israelites should obey God’s laws. Then they and their *descendants would enjoy God’s *blessings for always.

Paul shows how this is the same for Christians in Romans 8:28. ‘In all things, God works to help those people who love him. They are the people whom God chose because of his plan.’

v41 Then Moses made three towns to the east of the River Jordan. v42 Suppose that a man had killed a person by accident. But he did not kill that person because he hated him. Then the man could run away. And he could go to one of those towns. Nobody would kill him there. v43 For the *tribe called Reuben, the town was Bezer. It was in the *desert. For the *tribe called Gad, the town was called Ramoth. It was in the region called Gilead. For the *tribe called Manasseh, the town was called Golan. It was in the region called Bashan.

These cities were in the south, in the centre and in the north of this area. In that society, if someone killed a person, the dead person’s closest relative could get *revenge. If a person had killed someone by accident, he could go to one of those cities. There he would be safe from *revenge. In chapter 19, you can read more about those cities and the laws about them.

Second speech: 4:44 to 28:68 – Practical rules for how we should live

v44 This is the law that Moses gave to the *Israelites. v45 He gave to the *Israelites these orders, rules and laws after they had come out from Egypt. v46 They were in the valley near Beth Peor. It was on the east of the River Jordan. They were in the territory that had belonged to Sihon, king of the *Amorites. Sihon had ruled in Heshbon, but Moses and the *Israelites defeated him. That was when they came out from Egypt. v47 They possessed the land that belonged to Sihon. Also they possessed the land that belonged to Og, king of Bashan. Those were the two *Amorite kings to the east of the River Jordan. v48 That land was the area from Aroer to *Mount Sirion (Hermon). Aroer was on the edge of the River Arnon. v49 It also included the entire valley to the east of the River Jordan. It was the area right up to the Dead Sea below the slopes of *Mount Pisgah.

Verse 44 starts a new section. It is Moses’ second speech. He reminds the *Israelites about all the *commandments. God had given those *commandments 40 years before. It tells us where and when Moses gave his speech. He gave his speech after they had *captured the country to the east of the River Jordan. In this speech, Moses repeated the *commandments of God. Moses also told the *Israelites how to behave in the new country.

Chapter 5

v1 Then Moses called together all the *Israelites and he spoke to them. ‘People in *Israel, hear the rules and the laws that I am telling to you today. Learn them and be sure to *keep them. v2 The *LORD our God made a *covenant with us at *Mount Sinai. v3 The *LORD did not make that *covenant with our fathers. He made it with all of us who are alive today. v4 The *LORD spoke to you directly from the fire on the mountain. v5 At that time I stood between you and the *LORD. I told you what he said. You were afraid because of the fire. So you did not go up on the mountain. This is what the *LORD said:

v6 “I am the *LORD your God who rescued you from Egypt. You were *slaves there.

v7 You must never give honour to any false gods. I am your only God.

v8 Do not make an *idol in the shape of anything that is in the sky or on the earth. Do not make it in the shape of anything that is in the water or under the earth. v9 Do not kneel down in front of any *idols, and do not give honour to them. I am the *LORD your God and I am a jealous God. I will punish the people who hate me. I will punish them and their *descendants down to the 3rd and 4th *generation. v10 But I show constant love to 1000s of *generations of the people who love me. And I show constant love to the people who obey me.

v11 Do not use the name of the *LORD your God for wrong purposes. The *LORD will not excuse anyone who does that.

v12 You must *celebrate the *Sabbath day and you must keep it *holy. The *LORD your God has ordered this. v13 You can do all your work for 6 days. v14 The 7th day is the *Sabbath day. During that day, you must do no work. Neither you nor your son or daughter, nor your male and female *slaves must work. Neither your *ox, your *donkey nor any of your *cattle must work. The foreigners who live in your country must not work. Your *slaves must rest as you do. v15 Remember that all of you were *slaves in Egypt. The *LORD your God brought you out of Egypt with great power. That is why the *LORD your God has ordered you to *celebrate the *Sabbath

v16 Give honour to your father and to your mother because the *LORD your God has ordered that. If you do, you will live for a long time. Everything will be good in the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you.

v17 You must not murder anyone.

v18 You must not have sex with someone else’s wife or husband.

v19 You must not steal.

v20 You must not tell lies about other people.

v21 You must not desire your neighbour’s wife. Do not desire his house, his land, his *slaves, his *ox or his *donkey. Do not desire anything else that he owns.” ’

Verses 1-5 Moses reminded the *Israelites about the *covenant that God had made with their fathers. God spoke to the people directly. But Moses had to tell them what God said. They were too afraid to go close to God. In the same way, Jesus stands between God and us. Jesus is the Word of God. (See John 1:1.) Exodus 24:4-8 describes the ceremony that established the *covenant. Moses took blood that came from the *sacrifices. He splashed it over the *altar and over the people. Hebrews 9:16-22 also describes this ceremony. It is the blood that makes things and people *clean. Jesus died as a *sacrifice and now his blood makes us *clean from *sin.

Verse 6-21 Moses repeated the Ten *Commandments. The *Israelites had been *slaves in Egypt. When they were slaves, they were not free. However, they had their own possessions and homes. The *Egyptians did not own the *Israelites. God had rescued them. Therefore, God had the authority to ask them to obey his *commandments. He told them not to give honour to any false god. He told them not to make an *idol to which they would give honour. It was right for God to be jealous. He did not want the people to *worship any false gods. The *Israelites should put God first. That is the only right way.

Jesus demanded the same thing from the people who followed him. Matthew 16:24: ‘If anyone wants to follow me, he must say “no” to himself. He must take his cross and he must carry it.’ God wants us to give honour to him only. When people do not obey God, the results can continue for 3 or 4 *generations. But when people obey him, the results can last for a long time.

The *Israelites must not use God’s name in a wrong way. Some people hope that they will obtain God’s power in that way. They must not do that in order to get their selfish desires.

Jesus taught his disciples (students) to pray, ‘We pray that your name will receive *holy honour.’

The *Israelites must *celebrate the 7th day in the week as a day when they rest. The *Sabbath reminded the *Israelites that God had freed them from their situation as *slaves. Exodus chapter 20 describes another reason for the *Sabbath. It reminded the people that God had created the world.

Christians *celebrate Sunday. It is a special day because Jesus became alive again on that day. He died and then he became alive again. Because of those events, God can forgive our *sins.

The *Israelites would live for a long time if they respected their parents. God promised that. It was the first *commandment where God promised something.

In Ephesians 6:1-2, Paul says that Christians should respect their parents also.

The *Israelites must not murder. They must not kill someone on purpose.

The *Israelites must not have sex with someone who was married to someone else.

The *Israelites must not steal property that belonged to someone else.

The *Israelites must not tell lies about other people.

Finally, the *Israelites must not even desire anything or anyone that belonged to someone else.

To do a wrong thing is not just an action. The thought or intention is also wrong. In Matthew 22:37-39, Jesus said that just two *commandments describe all the other *commandments. ‘Love God’ and ‘Love your neighbour’.

v22 ‘The *LORD spoke these *commandments on the mountain to all of you. He spoke them in a loud voice. He spoke them from out of the fire, the cloud and the great darkness. He did not add anything else to them. Then he wrote them on two blocks of stone and he gave them to me.

v23 You heard the voice that came out from the darkness. Then all the leaders of your *tribes and the older men came to me. The whole mountain was on fire. v24 You said, “Look. The *LORD our God has shown us that he is magnificent and great. We have heard his voice out of the fire. Today we have seen this. A person can live, even if God speaks to him. v25 But we do not want to die. The fire will burn us completely. We will die if we continue to hear the voice of the *LORD our God. v26 We have heard the voice of the God who is alive. It came from the fire. Nobody else has lived after he has heard God’s voice like that. v27 Go near. Listen to all that the *LORD our God says. Then tell us what the *LORD our God tells you. We will listen and we will obey.”

v28 The *LORD heard you when you spoke to me. The *LORD said this. “I have heard what the people said to you. Everything that they said was good. v29 I wish that they would always think like this. I wish that they would always give honour to me. I wish that they would *keep my *commandments. Then good things would happen to them and their children for always.

v30 Go and tell the *Israelites to return to their tents. v31 But you stay here with me. Then I can give to you all the *commandments, rules and laws that you must teach to them. They must obey them in the country that I am giving to them to possess.”

v32 You must be careful to do what the *LORD your God has ordered you to do. Do not refuse to *keep his *commandments. v33 Obey them all. Then you will live and good things will happen to you. You will live for a long time in the country that you will possess.’

Moses reminded the *Israelites about the time when God told them about his laws. The people were afraid of God because he was very *holy. Nobody had taught them that God would forgive them. They wanted somebody who would go between them and God. So the people asked Moses to act instead of them. God spoke his message and he wrote it down. The people promised to obey. God showed that he loved them. This is what He said. If they always obeyed him, their life would be good. Moses encouraged the people to obey God. If they did, then they would live for a long time in their country. When nations and people obey God’s *covenant, he blesses them.

Chapter 6

v1 ‘These are all the *commandments, rules and laws that the *LORD your God ordered me to teach to you. Obey them in the country that you will cross the River Jordan to possess. v2 Then you, your children and their children must *fear the *LORD your God for as long as you live. You must *keep all his rules and *commandments that I order you. Then, you will have long life. v3 *Israelites, listen and be careful to obey. Then your life will be good. And you will grow and you will become a nation with many people. You will live in a rich and *fertile country. The *LORD, the God of your *ancestors, has promised that to you.’

Moses taught the *Israelites all that God had ordered him to teach. Moses also emphasised that the *Israelites needed to obey God. The *Israelites would stay in the country if they were loyal to him.

Jesus told his followers to do this when they told the Good News to people. ‘Teach them to obey everything that I have ordered you to do.’ (See Matthew 28:20.)

v4 ‘*Israelites, listen to this. “The *LORD is our God. The *LORD is one God. v5 You must love the *LORD your God completely.” v6 You must remember the *commandments that I am giving to you today. v7 Carefully teach them to your children. Talk about the *commandments when you are at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Think about them when you lie down. Think about them when you rise up. v8 Tie them on your hands and wear them on the front of your heads. v9 Write them on the sides of your doors and on your gates.’

People call these words the Shema. Shema is a word in Hebrew, the language of the *Old Testament. The word ‘listen’ in verse 4 is the English translation of the word ‘Shema’. *Jews pray the words of verses 4-6 twice every day. The *LORD God is the only God. He is the ruler. There are no other gods. We should obey God’s laws because we love him. And we should love him with every part of our lives. In Jeremiah 31:33, God promised to give to people a love for his laws. Then they would choose to obey them.

This is what Jesus told his disciples (students). ‘If you love me, you will obey my *commandments.’ (See John 14:15.)

God told the *Jews to teach their families about his *commandments. God told them to tie the *commandments on their hands, heads, doors and gates. God may have meant that the *Jews should never forget the *commandments. They must affect every part of a *Jewish person’s life. However, some *Jews have done exactly what these verses said. They wrote the *commandments and then they tied them onto their hands and onto their heads. They fixed them onto their doors and gates also. They thought that they were *keeping God’s laws in that way. But that did not prove that they loved him. And they did not always behave in the right way.

Christians today can easily do the same thing. They may go to church. They may read the Bible and pray. But those things have no value unless Christians behave in the right way too. Then that will show that they love God.

v10 ‘The *LORD your God promised to give a country to your *ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. It will have large cities that you did not build. They will be rich and successful. v11 It will have houses. They will be full of good things that you did not put in them. There will be wells that you did not dig. There will be *grape plants and *olive trees that you did not plant. God will bring you into the country. Then you will have all that you want to eat. v12 So be careful that you do not forget the *LORD. He brought you out of Egypt; out of the country where you were *slaves.

v13 *Fear the *LORD your God and serve only him. Speak only his name when you make your promises. v14 The people, who are round you, *worship false gods. But you must not *worship those false gods. v15 The *LORD your God is present with you. He is a jealous God. If you *worship false gods, the *LORD your God will become very angry with you. He will remove you from the earth. v16 Do not try to prove that the *LORD your God can help you. You did that at Massah. v17 Be sure to *keep all the *commandments, orders and rules that the *LORD your God has ordered you. v18 Do what the *LORD says. Do right things and do good things. Then your life will be good. You will be able to go in and to possess the good country. The *LORD promised to give this country to your *ancestors. v19 You will also force out all your enemies as the *LORD promised to you.’

Moses warned the *Israelites. They must not forget what God had done for them. When they reached the country, everything would be ready for them. They would be so pleased with this that they might forget God. But God was jealous because he did not want the people to *worship any false gods. It was right for God to be jealous. It was because he did not want them to *worship any false god. The *Israelites should respect God and they should serve him only. That is the only right way. If they did not do that, God would be angry. He would ruin them completely. That happened later in *Israel’s history. In the time of Amos, people were very rich and they forgot the *Lord. They remembered his *festivals, but they did not obey his laws. Sometimes they gave honour to false gods. Those false gods did not demand the high standards that God wanted. Jesus said that the *Pharisees were wrong. See Matthew 23:23: ‘You give to God a 10th of your herbs, but you neglect *justice, *mercy and truth.’ (Herbs are plants that give flavour to food.)

Moses reminded the *Israelites about an event at Massah. (See Exodus 17:1-7.) The *Israelites were complaining because they did not have any water. Moses had brought them out of Egypt. But the people said that he had done the wrong thing. They did not believe that God could give them water at that place. If the *Israelites obeyed God now, they would be able to defeat their enemies. Then they could possess the country.

The *Pharisees wanted Jesus to prove that he was the Son of God. (See Matthew 16:1-4.) They asked him to perform a great act. He refused to do that. Jesus used Deuteronomy 6:16 when the devil tempted him to jump off the *temple. (See Matthew 4:7.) Then the devil tempted Jesus to serve him. Jesus referred to Deuteronomy 6:13. (See Matthew 4:10.)

v20 ‘In the future, your children will ask you this. “The *LORD our God ordered us to obey all these orders, rules and laws. What do they mean?” v21 Tell them, “We were *slaves of the king of Egypt. The *LORD brought us out of Egypt with his great power. v22 We ourselves saw the *LORD do great *signs and *wonders. He did terrible things to the *Egyptians, to their king called Pharaoh and to all his family. v23 But the *LORD brought us out from Egypt to bring us here. He gave to us this country that he had promised to our *ancestors. v24 The *LORD ordered us to obey all these rules and to *fear the *LORD our God. Then, we will do well and we will remain alive. v25 We must be careful to obey all the laws that the *LORD our God has ordered us to obey. When we do that, we become good people. And we shall please God.” ’

In the future, the children of the *Israelites would ask them about God’s laws. Moses told the *Israelites what to tell their children. They would tell the children how God brought the *Israelites out of Egypt with great power. *Israelites believed God because of what he had done for them. The law was a guide for how to behave in the right way. If they obeyed the law, good things would happen to them. They would enjoy their life.

Jesus taught the same idea in Matthew 5:1-12. We will enjoy God’s *blessings if we obey him.

Chapter 7

v1 ‘The *LORD your God will bring you into the country that you will possess. He will force out 7 nations that are larger and more powerful than you. Those nations are called the Hittites, the Girgashites, the *Amorites, the *Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. v2 The *LORD your God will hand over those nations to you. You will defeat them and you must *destroy them completely. Do not make an agreement with them. Do not show them any *mercy. v3 Do not marry them. Do not let your daughters marry their sons. Do not let your sons marry their daughters. v4 If you do, they will persuade your sons to leave the *LORD. Then your sons will serve false gods. The *LORD will be angry with you and he will quickly *destroy you. v5 This is what you must do. Ruin their *altars and break their *holy stones. Cut down the columns of their female false god called Asherah. Burn their *idols.’

Moses told the *Israelites what to do when they entered the country. The nations in the list did not obey God. They lived in the country that God was now giving to the *Israelites. They gave honour to false gods. Those nations were more powerful than the *Israelites, but they were not more powerful than God. God ordered the *Israelites to *destroy their enemies. Then their enemies could not tempt them to *worship *idols. This was a war that would bring punishment on the enemies of God. The *Israelites must not make agreements with those nations or marry them. When the *Israelites did not obey, they did not follow God. We can learn from the lives of Achan, (Joshua chapter 7) and Saul (1 Samuel chapter 15). We can see the results when the *Israelites did not *destroy their enemies. The Asherah was a female false god. Her husband was the false god called *Baal. People who joined this religion behaved very badly. This bad behaviour, especially in the ways that they had sex, had a physical effect on them. But the *Israelites were God’s special people. They had to be *holy because God was *holy.

Paul told Christians to avoid greed (strong desire for possessions or for too much food). He also told them to avoid lust (wrong desire for sex). They must not do wrong acts of sex. Paul also said that Christians must not have anger and bad language. They must not lie. (See Colossians 3:5-9.) They must not mix with people who do not believe God. (See 2 Corinthians 6:14.) God does not tell us to fight a war against people. But he tells us to fight against wrong things. That includes wrong things that are in our lives and in society.

v6 ‘You are *holy people who belong to the *LORD your God. The *LORD your God has chosen you from everyone on earth to be his special nation. v7 The *LORD loved you and chose you. He did not do that because you were bigger than other nations. In fact, you were the smallest nation on the earth. v8 But the *LORD loved you. He did what he had promised to your *ancestors. He brought you out from Egypt with his great power. He rescued you when you were *slaves of the king of Egypt. v9 Remember that the *LORD your God is the only God. He is the *faithful God. He will *keep his *covenant of constant love. He will *keep it with a 1000 *generations of people. Those people love and obey him. v10 But he will *destroy those people who hate him. He will not hesitate to punish the people who hate him. v11 Therefore *keep the *commandments, the rules and the laws that I have ordered you today.’

God does not give any reason why he chose the *Israelites as his special nation. They were not a large nation. God loved them just because he loved them! In Hosea 14:4, God says this. ‘I will love them freely.’ He rescued them from Pharaoh, the king of Egypt. And that showed that he loved them. So, the *Israelites should obey God’s *commandments. That would show that they were grateful to him.

God chose Christians also. That was because of his *grace. He did not choose people because they were great or important people. He did not choose them because they had done great deeds. God chose people because he wanted them to be *holy. He rescued them from *sin. (See Ephesians 1:4-8.)

v12 ‘Listen to these *commandments and *keep them carefully. Then the *LORD your God will *keep his *covenant with you. He will show his constant love to you. He promised that to your *ancestors. v13 He will love you and he will *bless you. He will increase your numbers so that you will have many children. He will *bless your fields so that you will have corn, wine and oil from *olives. You will have many *cattle and sheep. He promised to your *ancestors that he would give this country to you. v14 God will *bless you more than God will *bless any other nation. All of you will have children. All of your *cattle will have young animals. v15 The *LORD will protect you from all illness. He will not cause you to have any of the illnesses that you knew in Egypt. He will cause them to happen to all who hate you. v16 You must *destroy all the nations that the *LORD your God hands over to you. Do not show them any *mercy. Do not serve their false gods because that will cause you to *sin.’

If the *Israelites obeyed God, they would enjoy his *blessings on them and on their country. They must kill all the nations that were living in their country. Perhaps the *Israelites would not do that. Instead, perhaps they would serve the false gods in those nations. If they did that, then they would have problems.

God does not tell Christians to kill their enemies. But Christians must separate themselves from everything that makes their body or their *spirit not *clean. (See 2 Corinthians 6:14-7:2.) Christians must not imitate the standards of people who do not believe God. Christians must let God change their thoughts. (See Romans 12:1-2.) Christians must improve the culture of their nation. They must not let that culture make them worse.

v17 ‘You might say this. “These nations are stronger than we are. We cannot force them out.” v18 Do not be afraid of them. Remember what the *LORD your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt. v19 You yourselves saw the great tests, the *signs and the *wonders. You saw the power and strength that the *LORD your God freed you with. The *LORD your God will do the same to all the nations that you are afraid of now. v20 Also, the *LORD your God will send the insect called a hornet among those nations. The people will run away and they will try to hide. But God will even *destroy them. v21 Do not be afraid of those people. The *LORD your God is with you. He is a great God and people should *fear him. v22 The *LORD your God will force out those nations slowly as you advance. He will not allow you to *destroy them all at once. If you did, the wild animals would increase in the country round you. v23 But the *LORD your God will hand over your enemies to you. He will confuse them until you *destroy them all. v24 He will hand over their kings to you. You will kill them and people will forget them. Nobody will be able to stop you. You will *destroy them. v25 You must burn their *idols. Do not desire the silver or gold that is on the *idols. Do not take it to own it. If you do, it might cause you to *sin. The *LORD your God hates *idols. v26 Do not bring any of those *idols into your house. If you do, God will *destroy you. God has *cursed those *idols completely. So you must hate them. And you must think that they are terrible.’

There is a remedy for fear. You should remember what God did in the past. Again, Moses reminded the *Israelites how God brought them out from Egypt. Moses told them how God defeated the *Egyptians. God will do the same to their enemies now. We are not sure what the word ‘hornet’ means. A hornet is an insect with a powerful sting. It could mean this. Those insects will attack and sting the enemies of the *Israelites. But the word ‘hornet’ could be a way to describe an army from another nation. This army might attack the enemies of the *Israelites when the *Israelites enter the country. God will confuse their enemies. Those enemies might *destroy themselves. That happened when ice from the sky struck the *Amorite army. (See Joshua 10:11.) It also happened to Sisera’s army. They could not get out of the mud after it rained heavily. (See Judges chapter 4.) God forced out only a few of the *Israelites’ enemies at a time. So the number of the wild animals would not become too large. God was testing them. He would see whether the *Israelites would obey him. They must avoid everything that would persuade them to leave God. That included the kings and the *idols from the other nations. The *Israelites did not always do what God told them. The story of Achan in Joshua 7 shows what happened on that occasion.

God wants to have the important place in our life. Jesus said this in Matthew 6:24. ‘You cannot serve God and money.’ In 1 John 5:21 we read this. ‘Dear children, make sure that you avoid *idols.’ People may say that they love God. So they must hate what he hates.

Chapter 8

v1 ‘Be careful to *keep all the *commandments that I ordered you today. Then you will live and you will increase in numbers. You will be able to enter and to possess the country. The *LORD promised this country to your *ancestors. v2 Remember how the *LORD your God led you in the *desert for 40 years. He did that to take away your pride. And he wanted to examine you. Then he would discover what you intended to do. He would see whether you would *keep his *commandments. But maybe you would not *keep them. v3 He took away your pride. He allowed you to be hungry. Then he gave to you *manna to eat. You and your *ancestors had never known that food before. He did that to teach you that people do not live only on bread. They also need every word that the *LORD speaks. v4 During those 40 years, your clothes did not wear out. And your feet did not become unnaturally large because you had to walk too much. v5 Remember that the *LORD your God corrects you. And he punishes you. He does that in the same way that a father gives discipline to his children.

v6 So then, *keep the *commandments of the *LORD your God. Behave in the way that he has told you. And *fear him. v7 *Fear him because the *LORD your God will bring you into a good country. It has rivers, fountains and water that comes up from the ground. Water flows in the valleys and in the hills. v8 The land produces wheat and grain called barley. It produces *grapes and soft sweet fruits called figs. And it produces fruit called pomegranates and *olives and honey. v9 There will always be enough bread. You will not have a lack of anything. Its rocks have iron in them. And you can dig a red metal called copper out of the hills.

v10 You will eat and you will feel full. Then you must thank the *LORD your God because he has given to you such a good country.’

Moses reminded the *Israelites about what God had done in the past. Then he told them what God would do in the future. When they were in the *desert, God taught them to trust him. He wanted to take away their pride, so he allowed them to have difficulties. He wanted to see if they would really trust him. *Manna was the food that Numbers 11:8-9 mentions. God gave that food to them every day. Without it, they had nothing to eat. But God taught them that they needed more than food in order to live.

We all need God to speak to us and to feed our *spirits. The main way that God speaks is by means of the Bible. One day, the devil tempted Jesus. Then Jesus used this verse to answer the devil. Jesus was hungry. So the devil suggested that Jesus should change stones into bread. Jesus said that he needed God to speak to him. That was more important for him than food. (See Matthew 4:4.)

Moses reminded the *Israelites about other things. Their clothes did not wear out and their feet did not suffer. But God did allow them to suffer sometimes, just as a parent punishes his child. God did that so that they would learn lessons. The *Israelites should obey God and they should *fear him. God would bring them into a country with plenty of water. The land would produce many crops, and they would have enough to eat. There would be plenty of iron and red metal. They should thank God. And they should enjoy what he had given to them.

God tests our *faith by events that happen in our lives. He also gives to us everything to enjoy. (See 1 Timothy 6:17.)

v11 ‘Be careful not to forget the *LORD your God. Do not forget to obey his *commandments and his rules that I order you today. v12 You will have all that you want to eat. You will build good houses and you will live in them. v13 You will have a lot of *cattle and sheep, silver and gold and many possessions. v14 Make sure that you do not become proud. Do not forget the *LORD your God. He brought you out of the country called Egypt. And you had been *slaves there. v15 He led you through the large, terrible *desert where there were poisonous snakes. And there were small animals called scorpions. And they could sting you. There was no water in the *desert. But he made water to flow out of the rock for you. v16 In the *desert, he gave to you *manna to eat. That was something that your *ancestors had never seen. He did that to make you humble. He wanted to see what you would do. Then, in the end, good things would happen to you. v17 You must never think that your power and your strength made you rich. v18 You must always remember the *LORD your God. He gives to you the power to produce wealth. That is because he is still *faithful to his *covenant today. He promised that to your *ancestors.

v19 Never forget the *LORD your God. Do not follow false gods. Do not *worship them or serve them. I warn you about this. If you do forget the *LORD your God, he will *destroy you. v20 The *LORD is *destroying the nations round you. If you do not obey the *LORD your God, he will *destroy you too.’

Moses warns the *Israelites again. They must not forget what God had done for them. There was a danger that they might be proud. They might forget that God had given everything to them. They might say that they had achieved it all by themselves. God reminds them how he had brought them out from Egypt. He had taken them through the *desert. He had given food and water to them. *Manna was the food that God gave to them. The word means ‘What is it?’ Nobody had seen that food before. God had tested them. He wanted to see if they would trust him. He was *faithful and he would *keep his *covenant. But if the *Israelites would not obey God, he would punish them severely.

The Bible teaches that wealth is a gift from God. We depend on him for everything. We pray, ‘Give us today our bread for today.’ Paul reminds Christians that God is *faithful, in 2 Timothy 2:13. ‘If we do not believe, he will remain true. He cannot deny who he is.’ In Hebrews 3:12 to 4:13 the writer warns Christians not to be like certain people. They did not follow the God who is alive. The writer tells Christians to make every effort. If they obey God, then they will not fail.

Chapter 9

v1 ‘Listen to this, *Israelites. Now you will go across the River Jordan. You will go into the country and you will possess it. It belongs to nations that are greater and stronger than you. Their cities are large. They have walls round them that reach the sky. v2 The people are tall and strong. They are the *Anakites. They are giant people. People have said that nobody can fight against them. v3 But you can be sure that the *LORD your God will go ahead of you. He is like a fierce fire. He will *destroy the *Anakites as you advance. You will force them out and you will kill them quickly. The *LORD has promised that.

v4 After the *LORD your God has forced them out ahead of you, do not think this. “The *LORD has brought us here to possess this country. That is because we are so good.” No. The *LORD will force out those people because they are wicked. v5 The reason is not that you are so good. The reason is not that you behave in the right way. That is not why the *LORD your God is allowing you to take their country. He is forcing out these nations ahead of you because they are wicked. He wants to do what he promised to your *ancestors, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. v6 The *LORD your God is giving to you this good country to possess. But you can be sure about this. He is not giving it to you because you are good. Instead, you do not like to obey God.’

Moses told the *Israelites that their enemies would oppose them. However, God was stronger than their enemies. God would defeat those enemies as easily as a fire burns a piece of land. However, God did not do that because the *Israelites were good. God was forcing out the people in the country because they were wicked people. He was doing it too, because of his promise to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. God said that he would give the country to his people, the *Israelites. However, his people were not good. Often they did not obey God. They would not change the way that they behaved.

Paul says this in Romans 5:8. ‘God loves us. This is how he shows it. While we were still wicked people, Christ died instead of us.’ In Ephesians 2:8-9 he says, ‘God saves us by *faith by means of his *grace. And that is not the result of your own efforts, but it is God’s gift. Not one of us can say that he saved himself. The things that we do cannot save us. Only the gift of God can do that. So nobody can tell people how good he is!’

v7 ‘Remember this. Do not forget how you made the *LORD your God angry in the *desert. You refused to obey the *LORD from the day that you left Egypt. You did it until you arrived here. v8 Also, at *Mount Sinai, you made the *LORD so angry that he wanted to kill you all. v9 I went up the mountain to receive the blocks of stone. The *LORD had written on them the *covenant that he had made with you. I stayed on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights. I did not eat or drink anything. v10 Then the *LORD gave to me the two blocks of stone. God himself had written all the *LORD’s *commandments on them. He had announced them to you from the fire. That happened on the day when you gathered on the mountain.

v11 I was there for 40 days and 40 nights. After that the *LORD gave to me the two blocks of stone that he had written the *covenant on. v12 Then the *LORD said this to me. “Get up and go down the mountain at once. Your people whom you brought out from Egypt are ruining themselves. Already they have not obeyed what I ordered them to do. They have made an *idol out of metal for themselves.”

v13 Also the *LORD said this to me. “I know that these people do not like to obey me. v14 I will *destroy them so that nobody will remember them. Do not try to stop me. I will make you into a nation. It will be stronger and more powerful than the *Israelites.”

v15 So I turned and I went down the mountain. It was on fire. I carried the two stones of the *covenant in my hands. v16 I saw that you had *sinned against the *LORD your God. You had made an *idol out of metal in the shape of a young *bull. Almost immediately you did not obey the *commandments that the *LORD had ordered you to obey. v17 So I took the two stones and I threw them down. They broke into pieces in front of you.

v18 Then again I lay with my face on the ground. I lay in front of the *LORD for 40 days and 40 nights. I did not eat or drink anything. You had *sinned against the *LORD and so you had made him angry. That is why I did it. v19 I was afraid of the *LORD’s fierce anger. He was angry enough with you to *destroy you. But again, the *LORD listened to me. v20 He was so angry that he wanted to kill Aaron. But I prayed for Aaron too. v21 I took that *sinful thing, the young *bull that you had made from metal. I burned it in the fire. Then I broke it into pieces and I made it into dust. I threw that dust into the stream that flowed down the mountain.’

Moses reminded the *Israelites about the time when they had made a *bull from gold. Very often in those countries, people wrote agreements on stones. Moses went up a mountain to receive the *covenant on stones. But the *Israelites, with Aaron’s help, had made a metal *bull. In chapter 8 verse 19 God said this. He would *destroy them if they followed a false god. Now God said that he would do this. He would make another nation from the family of Moses. So, Moses went down the mountain. He saw the *bull that they had made out of metal. He threw down and broke the two blocks of stone. That showed the *Israelites that they had not obeyed God’s *commandments. Moses prayed for the people. His prayer is in verses 25-29, below. He also prayed for Aaron, who had made the model of the *bull. Then Moses broke the model of the *bull and he made it into dust. God was ready to *destroy the nation if Moses had not prayed for them. Moses had to pray even for Aaron, who was the chief priest. It was Aaron’s responsibility to speak God’s words to the *Israelites.

In Hebrews 4:14-16, the writer tells this to Christians. They have a chief priest (Jesus) who has not *sinned. He can sympathise with their weaknesses. Christians can approach God with confidence. They will receive *mercy and *grace when they need help. Jesus is a perfect chief priest. He is not like Aaron. Moses prayed for the *Israelites. Jesus prays for his people. He prays that God will forgive their *sin. He tells God that he has died instead of the people.

v22 ‘Also, you made the *LORD angry at Taberah, Massah, and at Kibroth Hattaavah.

v23 The *LORD said this when he sent you out from Kadesh Barnea. “Go out and possess the country. I have given it to you.” But, you did not obey what the *LORD your God ordered you to do. You did not trust him or obey him. v24 You have refused to obey the *LORD ever since I have known you.’

Moses reminds the *Israelites about other occasions when they did not obey God. They complained about the difficult things at Taberah. The name means ‘it burns’. God sent fire that burnt some *Israelites. (See Numbers 11:1-3.) At Massah, the *Israelites complained that they had no water. Moses hit a rock and water came out. (See Exodus 17:1-7.) At Kibroth Hattaavah, the *Israelites complained about *manna (the food that God gave to them in the *desert). They said that they wanted meat too. (See Numbers 11:31-34.) Finally at Kadesh Barnea they did not trust God. Moses sent 12 men to explore the country. Two men said that the *Israelites could possess the country. But the *Israelites did not believe those men. Instead, they wanted to kill those two men. (See Numbers chapter 14.)

In 1 Corinthians 10:1-12, Paul reminds us about these events. Paul warns his readers not to give honour to *idols. He also tells them not to complain. ‘These things happened in order to warn us. Someone might think that he is standing firmly. But he should be careful that he does not fall.’ God wants us to obey him.

v25 ‘I lay with my face on the ground. I lay front of the *LORD for 40 days and 40 nights. The *LORD had said that he would *destroy you. v26 And I prayed to the *LORD. “*LORD you are the king of the whole world. Do not *destroy your own people. They belong to you. You brought them out from Egypt by your great strength and power. v27 Remember your servants Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Do not look at the bad thoughts, the wicked acts and the *sin of these people. v28 If you *destroy them, the *Egyptians will say this. ‘The *LORD was unable to take them into the country that he had promised to them. He hated them, so he took them into the *desert to kill them.’ v29 But *LORD, they are your people. You chose them and they belong to you. You brought them out from Egypt by your great power and strength.” ’

This is Moses’ prayer. The *Israelites had done many wrong things. Moses asked God to forgive them. He reminded God that he had brought them out of Egypt. They were *descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, who had obeyed God. If God did not help the *Israelites, the *Egyptians would laugh. They would say that God was unable to *keep his promise.

James 5:16 tells us that ‘the prayer of a good man has a powerful effect.’ The Bible tells us that God will show *mercy. So when we pray, we can remind God about his promises.

Chapter 10

v1 ‘Then the *LORD spoke to me. “Cut two blocks from stone like the first ones. Also, make a wooden box. Then come up to me on the mountain. v2 I will write the same words on the new blocks as the words on the blocks that you broke. Then you must put the blocks in the box.”

v3 So I made a box from the wood of acacia trees. I cut two blocks from stone like the first ones and I took them up the mountain. v4 The *LORD wrote on the blocks the words that he had written before. He wrote those 10 *Commandments to you. He spoke them on the mountain. He spoke from the fire on the day when you gathered on the mountain. Then the *LORD gave the blocks to me. v5 Then I turned and I came back down the mountain. I put the blocks in the box that I had made. The *LORD had ordered that. The blocks are there now.’

God listened to Moses’ prayer and God wrote the *covenant again. The blocks of stone were like the first ones that Moses had broken. That meant that the *covenant was the same. The *covenant was this. ‘I will be your God and you will be my people.’

God says the same thing to Christians today. But we have a new *covenant. Jeremiah 31:33-34 describes the promises of the new *covenant. God will now forgive our *sins. Jesus died to free people from wrong things. To be part of the new *covenant today we have to trust Jesus. To trust Jesus means this. First, we have to confess our *sins. Then God will forgive us and we will have a relationship with him. We will belong to God and he will be our God.

Moses put the blocks in a box. Later they put this box in the place where they gave honour to God. When kings of other nations made agreements with people, they did something similar. However, they gave honour to false gods, they did not give honour to the *LORD God.

v6 (The *Israelites travelled from the wells of Jaakan’s relatives to Moserah. Aaron died there and they buried him. And Eleazar, his son, became the priest instead of him. v7 From that place they travelled to Gudgodah and on to Jotbathah. That was land with streams of water. v8 Then the *LORD appointed the *tribe of Levi to carry the box of the *covenant of the *LORD. The *tribe of Levi would serve the *LORD as priests. And they would declare *blessings as they spoke his name. They still do that today. v9 Because of that, the *tribe of Levi did not receive any land like the other *tribes did. Instead, they received the *LORD himself as their gift. That happened as the *LORD your God had told them.)

Somebody probably added this after the writer had finished Deuteronomy. Aaron’s son became a priest after Aaron had died. The *tribe of Levi carried the box of the *covenant. They served God. They *blessed the *Israelites and spoke the name of God. They had a lot to do and so they would not have had time to grow crops. Instead, they received money and food from the *offerings that the other *Israelites made to God.

Paul says this in 1 Corinthians 9:7-12. Christian teachers should receive payment for their work. ‘We have taught you. We have planted things in you that are about God. So we should harvest a crop. We should receive physical benefits from you.’

v10 ‘Now I had stayed on the mountain for 40 days and 40 nights, as I did the first time. The *LORD listened to me at that time also. He did not want to *destroy you. v11 “Go,” the *LORD said to me. “Lead the people on their way. Then they can enter and possess the country. I promised to give this country to their *ancestors.” ’

Because Moses had prayed, God forgave the *Israelites’ *sin. They could now enter the country that God had promised to them.

Christians do not deserve that God forgives their *sins. God forgives us because Jesus died in our place.

v12 ‘Now *Israelites, listen to what the *LORD your God wants you to do. He wants you to *fear the *LORD your God. Do what he has told you to do. Love him. He wants you to serve the *LORD your God. Do all this completely. v13 *Keep all the *commandments and the rules that the *LORD ordered you to do. I am giving them to you today for your benefit.

v14 The heavens and the highest heavens belong to the *LORD your God. The earth and everything on it belongs to him. v15 But the *LORD was very happy to choose your *ancestors and he loved them. He chose you, their *descendants, out of all other nations. He loves you still today. v16 Make your minds morally pure. Do not still refuse to obey him. v17 The *LORD your God is far greater than every false god. And he is the very powerful ruler over all rulers. He is the great God. He is powerful and you should *fear him. He does not have favourites. He will not do something because you give him money. v18 God defends widows and children who have no father. He loves the foreign people who live among us. He gives them food and clothes. v19 So love those foreigners. You used to be foreigners in Egypt. v20 *Fear the *LORD your God and serve him. Be loyal to him. When you make your promises, speak his name only. v21 Praise him. He is your God. You saw the great and wonderful things that he did for you. v22 When your *ancestors went to Egypt, there were only 70 of them. And now the *LORD your God has increased you. You have as many people as there are stars in the sky.’

Moses reminded the *Israelites about the things that God had done for them. Then he told them what God wanted them to do. He wanted them to respect him and to love him. He wanted them to obey completely. If the people loved God, then they would do all those things. They would obey him and they would serve him. God gave laws to them for their benefit. *Israelites must love God because he loved them first. God had everyone in the whole world to choose from, but he chose the *Israelites. He loved and chose their *ancestors. And he loved and chose the *Israelites too. God does not explain why he did that.

The Bible often describes how much God loves people. John 3:16 says, ‘God loved the world so much that he gave his one and only Son. So everyone who trusts him will never really die. Instead, they will have eternal life.’ (Eternal life means to be completely alive in our spirits. When we trust Jesus, we receive this life as a special gift. When we have this life, we can live to please God. It is the best way to live.) Ephesians chapter 1 tells us that God chose Christians. ‘Before he made the world, he chose us. He wants us to live *holy lives. He wants us to do nothing wrong, but only things that are good. He loved us. So he chose to make us his sons and daughters by Jesus Christ.’ (See Ephesians 1:4, 5.) So Christians are, with the *Israelites, the people who belong to God. Christians trust God to free them from *sin. Now, people from every nation can receive God’s promises. (See Matthew 28:19.) ‘There is neither *Jew nor non-*Jew. … You are all one group of people because you belong to Jesus Christ. And because you belong to Christ you are Abraham’s children.’ (See Galatians 3:28-29.)

Verse 17 describes how great God is. He makes proper *judgements about everybody. Nobody can make him change his mind. No gift will make God change his decision. The *Israelites must love other people in the same way that God loves them. The *Israelites must help the widows, the children without parents and the foreigners who live among them. The *Israelites knew what it was like to be in a foreign country. Therefore, they should help those people who were in a similar situation.

Romans 12:13 says this. Christians should let foreigners stay in their homes. James 1:27 says, ‘Look after children without parents and also look after widows.’

Moses reminded the *Israelites again, about what God had done for their nation. He had done great *signs and *wonders to rescue them from Egypt. There were only 70 of them when they went down into Egypt. Now they were a great nation, exactly as God had promised to Abraham. ‘Look at the sky and try to count the stars. You will have as many *descendants as that.’ (See Genesis 15:5.)

Revelation 7:9 describes the view in heaven. ‘I saw a great crowd of people that nobody can count. There were people who came from every nation, *tribe, group of people and language.’

Chapter 11

v1 ‘Therefore, love the *LORD your God. Always *keep his instructions, his rules and his *commandments. v2 Remember today the *LORD’s discipline. Your children did not see or have an experience of it. They did not see how great the *LORD is. They did not see his power v3 and his wonderful acts in Egypt. They did not see what he did to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and to his whole country. v4 They did not see how God completely defeated the *Egyptian army with its horses and its carts for war. They were chasing you. But the *LORD drowned them in the Red Sea. v5 Your children did not see what he did for you all the way through the *desert. v6 They did not see what he did to Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, from the *tribe of Reuben. The earth opened up and it swallowed them. It took their families, their tents and every living thing that belonged to them. All the *Israelites there saw it. v7 You saw all the great things that the *LORD has done.

v8 Therefore you must *keep all the *commandments that I order you today. Then you will be strong. You will go in and you will possess the country. You will go across the River Jordan in order to possess the country. v9 Then you will live there for a long time. The *LORD promised to your *ancestors that he would give it to them and to their *descendants. It would be a country with plenty to eat and drink.’

This chapter shows that *Israelites had a choice. Either they could obey God or they could refuse to obey him. Moses asked each *Israelite to obey God. God promised to the *Israelites a good country with plenty of crops. But they had to obey his *commandments.

This is what 1 John 5:3 says. ‘To love God means to obey his *commandments. His *commandments are not too difficult for us.’

Moses was talking to all the *Israelites. Many of them were less than 20 years old when they left Egypt. There were also the children who had been born in the *desert. Moses reminded them all how they had left Egypt. Often they had not obeyed God. So Moses reminded them what had happened as a result. Dathan, Abiram and Korah opposed Moses. Numbers chapter 16 describes what happened to those 3 men. When they refused God’s leader, they refused God himself.

People refuse God when they refuse Jesus. They might not realise that. Hebrews 12:25 says this. ‘Do not refuse the Person who speaks.’

v10 ‘The country that you will possess is not like Egypt. When you lived in Egypt, you sowed seeds in the fields. Then you had to dig channels to water them. v11 The country where you will go in order to possess it has mountains and valleys. It gets water from rain that comes from the sky. v12 The *LORD your God looks after it. The *LORD your God constantly watches it during the whole year.

v13 So obey the *commandments that I order you today. Love the *LORD your God. Serve him completely. v14 If you do, he will send rain on your land in the autumn and in the spring. So, you will have grain, wine and oil. v15 There will be grass in your fields for your *cattle. You will have enough to eat and you will be full.

v16 Do not let anything or anybody persuade you to leave the *LORD. You might serve and give honour to false gods. v17 Then, the *LORD will be angry. He will stop the rain and the crops will not grow. Then you will die very soon in the good country that the *LORD has given to you.’

Moses compared Egypt to the country that God had promised to the *Israelites. In Egypt, people had to get water from the river Nile to water their crops. They dug channels that took water from the river. These channels led water to their fields. They used their feet to send water to different fields. If people dug channels for water, they would get good crops. In their new country, the *Israelites had to depend on God for the rains. If they obeyed him, the rains would come. In autumn, it rained in October. And in spring, it rained in April. Then they would have good crops. The rain in October helped the farmers to plough the land. The rain in April helped the crops to grow. If it did not rain, the crops would not grow. Then there would be no food. The people did not follow God when Elijah was alive. As a result, there was very little food for three years.

God does not always *bless us when we obey him. Sometimes we have troubles because we trust Jesus. But we should thank God when he does *bless us. Jesus said this. ‘The *kingdom of God and his right ways must be the most important things to you. If you do that, he will provide you with all other things.’ (See Matthew 6:33.)

v18 ‘Always think about these words and remember them. Tie them on your arms. Wear them on the front of your heads to remind you. v19 Teach them to your children. Talk about them when you sit at home. Talk about them when you walk along the road. Talk about them when you lie down. And talk about them when you rise up. v20 Write them on the sides of the doors of your houses. Write them on your gates. v21 Then you and your children will live for a long time in the country. The *LORD promised to give the country to your *ancestors. You will live there as long as there is a sky above the earth.

v22 Carefully *keep all the *commandments that I have ordered you to *keep. Love the *LORD your God. Do what he asks you to do. Be loyal to him. v23 If you do those things, then the *LORD will force out all those nations ahead of you. You will force out nations that are greater and more powerful than you. v24 You will own all the ground on which you walk. Your territory will be from the *desert to the country called Lebanon. It will be from the River Euphrates to the western sea. v25 Nobody will be able to stop you. Wherever you go, the *LORD your God will make the people to be very afraid of you. He has promised that.’

Moses repeated what he had said in chapter 6:6-9. The *Israelites must remember to obey God’s words. If they were loyal to God’s *covenant, they would possess the country for always. God would force out all the other nations. The southern border of this country would be the *desert at Sinai. Its northern border would be the mountains in Lebanon. Its border on the east would be the River Euphrates. Its western border would be the Mediterranean Sea. The *Israelites possessed this area of land only when David was king. They did not do so before or after that time.

v26 ‘Today I am giving to you the choice between a *blessing and a *curse. v27 Obey the *commandments of the *LORD your God that I ordered you today. Then you will have a *blessing. v28 Perhaps you will not obey the *commandments of the *LORD your God. Perhaps you will *worship false gods whom you have not *worshipped before. If you do that, you will have a *curse. v29 The *LORD your God will bring you into the country that you will possess. When he does that, you must announce the *blessing from *Mount Gerizim. Then you will announce the *curse from *Mount Ebal. v30 Those mountains are across the River Jordan. They are on the west of the road near the great trees of Moreh. This is in the territory that belongs to the *Canaanites. They live in the Jordan valley near Gilgal. v31 You will soon go across the River Jordan. And you will enter and possess the country. The *LORD your God is giving it to you. You will *capture it and you will live there. v32 Make sure that you obey me. You must obey all the rules and the laws that I am giving to you today.’

The *Israelites had a choice. They could serve the *Lord. Or they could serve false gods that they had not known. The result of their choice would be either a *blessing or a *curse. *Mount Gerizim was on the south side and so it was the place of *blessing. The two hills were in the centre of the country.

Today people can choose. They can have the wonderful heavenly life that God gives. It starts now and it never stops. Christ gives it to them. But if they refuse Christ, God will be angry with them for always. John 3:18 says this. ‘God will not decide to punish anyone who believes the Son. But God has already decided that he must punish some people. Some people refuse to believe who his one and only Son is. God must punish anyone who refuses to believe that.’

Chapter 12

v1 ‘You must be careful to *keep these rules and laws for as long as you live in the country. The *LORD, the God of your *ancestors, has given this country to you to possess it. v2 You will take the country from the people who live there. Destroy completely all the places where the people served their false gods. Those places are on the high mountains, on the hills and under green trees. v3 Pull down their *altars and break their *holy stones. Burn in the fire the poles where they *worshipped Asherah, their female false god. Cut down their *idols so that people will not give honour to them again in those places.

v4 Do not give honour to the *LORD your God as these people give honour to their false gods. v5 But look for the place that the *LORD your God will choose. He will choose one place from the territory of all the *tribes. God will be there in a special way. You must go to that place. v6 There you must bring your *burnt offerings and your *sacrifices. Bring your *tithes and the special gifts that you have promised to give. Bring your *freewill offerings. Bring all your *cattle and sheep that are born first. v7 There, in front of the *LORD your God, you and your families shall eat. The *LORD your God has *blessed you. Therefore, you will enjoy everything for which you have worked.’

Chapters 12-26 tell us about laws. They would govern the life of the *Israelites in the country that God was giving to them. Some laws were the laws that they knew already. Other laws were laws for the new situation. The first part of these laws deals with how they should give honour to God. The *Israelites must destroy the *altars where the *Canaanites *worshipped their false gods. They must not imitate the way that the *Canaanites *worshipped their false gods. The *Israelites must give honour to God at the place that he would choose. During their early history, the *Israelites *worshipped God in different places. At first they *worshipped God at Shechem, then at Bethel, then at Shiloh. Jerusalem became the chief place of *worship when David was the king.

*Burnt offerings were *offerings of the best animals. The priests burnt the animals completely. Other kinds of *offerings were gifts to God in order to thank him. Or the *offerings were *sacrifices. And the people asked God to forgive their *sin. The people thanked God or they gave honour to God. Then, when they gave a *sacrifice, they burnt part of the animal. The priest and the person who gave the *offering shared the rest of the meat. The *tithes were a 10th part of a person’s animals, fruit and grain. They brought these *offerings to the place where they *worshipped God. The people, together with their families, went to eat and to be happy together in front of God.

v8 ‘In your new country, you must not do what we do today. Today, everyone does what he believes to be right. v9 You have not yet reached the country where you can live in peace. The *LORD your God is giving it to you. v10 But you will go across the River Jordan and you will live in the country. The *LORD your God is giving it to you as a possession. He will give you peace from all your enemies round you. And you will live in safety. v11 Then go to the place that the *LORD your God will choose. God will be there in a special way. You will give honour to him there. Also you must bring to that place everything that I have told you. You must bring your *burnt offerings and *sacrifices, your *tithes and *offerings. You must bring also the special gifts that you have promised to give to the *LORD. v12 There you and your families and your male and female *slaves will be happy. They will be happy in front of the *LORD your God. The *Levites from your towns, who do not possess any land, will be happy also. v13 Do not *sacrifice your *burnt offerings anywhere that seems right to you. v14 Give them only at the place that the *LORD will choose in one of your *tribes. There you must do everything that I have ordered you to do.

v15 But you can kill your animals for food in any of your towns. You can eat as much of the meat as you want. All of you, whether you are *clean or not *clean, can eat it. The *LORD your God gives it to you as a *blessing. You can eat it as if it were the *deer or the *antelope. v16 But you must not use the blood as food. You must pour out the blood on the ground like water. v17 You must not eat any of your *offerings in your own towns. You must not eat the *tithes of your corn, your wine or your oil there. In your towns, you must not eat the young animals that are born first to your sheep or to your *cattle. You must not eat what you have promised to give to the *LORD. Nor must you eat the *offerings that you choose to give. And you must not eat the special gifts in your towns. v18 Instead, you must eat them in front of the *LORD your God. That will be in the place that the *LORD your God will choose. You will eat there. Your sons and your daughters will eat there. Your male and your female *slaves and the *Levites from your towns will eat there also. You will be happy there in front of the *LORD your God because of everything that you have done. v19 Do not neglect the *Levites as long as you live in the country.’

Moses gave rules about *worship. The *Israelites did not start to *keep the rules while they travelled in the *desert. However, when they began to live in the country, they had peace. Then they had to take all their *sacrifices and their *offerings to the chief place that God had chosen. They should kill the meat for the *sacrifices only at that place. The *Israelites must not use the *altars that belonged to the *Canaanites. When the *Israelites ate, they should be happy. And they must not forget the *Levites, who did not own any land.

In the *desert, the *Israelites ate all their meat as a *sacrifice. In their new country, they would eat meat for their ordinary meals. They would kill animals for food in the towns where they lived. The people did not have to be *clean in order to eat the animals. However, people had to be *clean in order to eat the food for *sacrifices. They would eat the meat for *sacrifices only at the chief place for *worship. God told them that the blood caused the animal to live. They had to pour out the blood. They must never eat the blood in any meat. They had to give back the blood to God. (See Leviticus 17:10-14.)

The *Israelites gave some *sacrifices as a way to thank God. They brought other *sacrifices, often lambs (young sheep), as *sin *offerings. Those *sacrifices were to ask God to forgive them.

That pointed toward Jesus who is called the ‘Lamb of God’. (See John 1:29.) A ‘lamb’ usually means a young sheep. But here it describes Jesus as a *sacrifice. Jesus died to rescue us from *sin. ‘God did not make you free with silver or gold, but with the precious blood of Christ.’ (See 1 Peter 1:18-19.) So now we do not have to bring a *sacrifice of animals to God.

v20 ‘The *LORD your God will give to you more territory, as he promised to do. Then you might think, “I would like some meat.” You can eat as much as you want. v21 Perhaps the place that the *LORD your God has chosen is too far away from you. Then you can kill any of the *cattle or sheep that the *LORD has given to you. You can eat as many as you wish in your own towns. I have ordered you to do that. v22 Anyone, whether that person is *clean or not *clean, can eat the meat. They can eat it, as they would eat a *deer or an *antelope. v23 But be sure that you do not eat the blood. The blood causes the animal to live. You must not eat the blood with the meat. v24 Do not use the blood as your food. You must pour the blood out on the ground like water. v25 Do not eat it. Then good things will happen to you and to your *descendants. You will do what the *LORD considers to be right.

v26 But take the *holy things and the gifts that you have promised to the *LORD. Go to the place that the *LORD will choose. v27 Give the *burnt offerings, the blood and the meat, there on the *altar of the *LORD your God. Pour out the blood of your *sacrifices on the *altar. You can eat the meat. v28 Make sure that you obey all my commands. Then good things will happen to you and to your *descendants for always. You will do what the *LORD your God considers to be good and right.

v29 The *LORD your God will *destroy the nations as you go into their country. You will force them out and you will live in their country. v30 But do not ask how they serve their false gods. Do not try to serve those gods in the same way. If you do, then that will cause trouble for you. v31 Do not give honour to the *LORD your God in their way. When they give honour to their false gods, they do all kinds of terrible things. The *LORD hates those things. They even burn their sons and their daughters as *sacrifices to their false gods.

v32 Be careful to do everything that I have ordered you to do. Do not add anything to it and do not leave anything out.’

Moses told the *Israelites again about how to eat meat. God would choose a special place. So Moses told them what to do if they lived too far away from that place. Moses explains verse 15 more clearly. God did not allow them to eat blood. The blood caused the animal to live. Instead, they must pour the blood out on the ground. Then they would not pour it on an *altar that belonged to a false god. If they obeyed, they would receive God’s *blessing.

Christians do not *worship God in only one place. When Jesus died, that was a *sacrifice for *sin. So now we do not need to give any animals for *sacrifice. Hebrews chapter 10 teaches us that.

The *Israelites must not *worship false gods. The *Israelites must not kill their children and call it a *sacrifice to God.

Chapter 13

v1 ‘A *prophet or someone who explains the meaning of dreams might promise to you a *sign or a *wonder. v2 Then he might ask you to *worship false gods. And he might ask you to serve those false gods. You have not known these false gods before. Even if the *sign or *wonder happens, v3 do not listen to that person. The *LORD your God is testing you. The *LORD wants to discover whether you love him completely. v4 You must *worship the *LORD your God and you must *fear him. *Keep his *commandments and obey him. Serve him and be loyal to him. v5 You must kill that *prophet or that person who explains the meaning of dreams. That is because he told you to refuse to obey the *LORD your God. He has tried to persuade you away from what the *LORD your God has told you to do. The *LORD brought you out of Egypt. He rescued you when you were *slaves. That *prophet has tried to change your minds. You must stop that kind of wicked behaviour.’

Not all *prophets were true *prophets. A *prophet might try to persuade people not to give honour to God. But people should not listen to him. Even if his *prophecy came true, they must not listen. God would use this situation. God would see what the *Israelites would do. God would see whether they were loyal to God. The people must not refuse to obey God. Instead, they should obey the *Lord and *worship him loyally. They should kill the false *prophet who tried to persuade them away from God.

In 1 Corinthians chapter 5, Paul tells the Christians at Corinth to remove a wicked man from the church. But in 2 Corinthians chapter 2, Paul tells them to forgive the man. That was because the man was sorry about his *sins.

v6 ‘Other people might encourage you to give honour secretly to false gods. They are false gods to whom you and your *ancestors have never given honour before. Those people might include your brother or your son or your daughter. They might include the wife whom you love or your closest friend. v7 The people round you might give honour to those false gods. The people might live near you or they might live far away. v8 You must not do what those people say. Do not listen to them. Do not show *mercy to them. Do not protect them. v9 You must kill them. You must be the first person to throw stones at them. Then let everyone else throw stones at them too. v10 Throw stones at them until you have killed them. They tried to persuade you to leave the *LORD your God. The *LORD rescued you when you were *slaves in Egypt. v11 Then all the people in *Israel will hear about it. They will be afraid. Nobody will do such a wicked thing again.’

In those days, relationships in a family were very strong. But the *Israelites must kill even a member of their family if he or she encouraged people to *worship *idols. The other members of the family would throw the first stone. To kill a family member was a severe punishment. But God allowed it in order to keep the whole nation *holy. It showed how serious the wrong action was. That person did not deserve to live with God’s people,

When we follow Jesus, we must be loyal to our Christian family. They must be more important than our physical family. And God must be more important than a person’s own family. (See Matthew 12:48-50.)

v12 ‘The *LORD your God will give to you towns in which to live. But you might hear this about one of the towns. v13 “Wicked men from among you have persuaded the people in their town to do wrong things. They have told people to go and to give honour to false gods.” (You have never given honour to those gods before.) v14 You must discover whether that is true. You must ask and you must examine it carefully. If that terrible thing is true, v15 then kill all the people in the town. *Destroy the town and the animals too. v16 Bring together all the people’s possessions into the middle of the town. Then you must burn completely the town and everything in it. Burn it as a *burnt offering to the *LORD your God. You must ruin the town and you must never rebuild it. v17 Do not keep any of the things that God has *cursed. Then the *LORD will not continue to be angry. He will pity you. He will have *mercy on you. And he will increase your numbers. He promised that to your *ancestors. v18 Obey the *LORD your God. *Keep all his *commandments that I have given to you today. Do what he wants you to do.’

Sometimes, people who gave honour to *idols would affect whole towns. If a town allowed that to happen, the *Israelites must *destroy it. In those days, unity in a town or in a group of people was very strong. So they all were guilty. But the *Israelites had to be certain that the town was guilty.

God did not allow them to keep anything from the town for themselves. That meant that people would not *destroy a town for their own advantage. The *Israelites *destroyed towns like Jericho (Joshua 6:17-21) and Gibeah (Judges 20:42-48). If all the people involved themselves in that very wicked behaviour, they all suffered the punishment. If there were good people in the town, they should have left. They should not remain where people *worship false gods.

A man called Achan took goods from one of those towns. In Joshua 7, you can read what happened as a result of his act. (But note this. Joshua 6:23 says that Rahab escaped from Jericho because of her *faith.) The *Israelites should not live with people who did not believe God. If they did, the *Israelites would not continue their beliefs.

In Colossians 3:5, Paul tells Christians: ‘Destroy the power of all the evil desires in your life that belong to this world.’ For example, avoid wrong sex. Do not greatly desire possessions and too much food. Here ‘this world’ refers to the people who do not obey God.

Chapter 14

v1 ‘You are the children of the *LORD your God. When someone dies, do not cut yourselves. Do not shave the front of your head. v2 You belong to the *LORD your God. The *LORD has chosen you to be his special nation. He chose you out of all the nations that live on the earth.

v3 Do not eat anything that is not *clean. v4 You can eat *cattle, sheep, goats, v5 *deer, wild sheep, wild goats and *antelopes. v6 Some animals have the hard part of the foot in two parts. And they bring back food from their stomach to eat again. You can eat those animals. v7 You must not eat the camel, the rabbit or the type of rabbit called a coney. Those animals bring back their food but they do not have the hard part of the foot in two parts. For you, those animals are not *clean. v8 The pig is not *clean also. It has the hard part of its foot two parts, but it does not bring back its food. You must not eat any of those animals. You must not touch their dead bodies.

v9 Some fish have hard things on their body that help them to swim. And they have hard material that covers their skin. You can eat any kind of fish like that. v10 But other fish do not have hard things on their body that help them to swim. And they do not have hard material that covers their skin. You must not eat things like that that live in the water. They are not *clean.

v11 You can eat any *clean bird. v12 But you must not eat these birds: eagle, vulture, black vulture, v13 red kite, all types of kite or falcon. v14 And you must not eat any of these birds: any kind of raven, v15-16 horned owl, screech owl, gull or hawk. v16 You must not eat any of these birds: little owl, great owl or white owl. v17 And you must not eat any of these birds: desert owl, osprey, cormorant, v18 stork, heron, hoopoe, or bat.

v19 Some insects crawl and fly too. You cannot that kind of insect. v20 But you can eat any *clean insect.

v21 Do not eat anything that is already dead. The foreigners who live in your towns can eat it. You can sell it to foreigners. But you belong to the *LORD your God. You are his special nation.

Do not cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.’

The *Israelites were God’s special nation. Because of that, they should look after their bodies. They should not imitate what other nations did in their religion. God did not want the *Israelites to cut their bodies. God made people as the image of himself. People must not spoil that image.

In 1 Corinthians 6:9-20 Paul says this. The Christian’s body is the place where the Holy Spirit lives. ‘Therefore give honour to God with your body.’

God did not allow the *Israelites to eat certain animals. Those animals might be bad for their health. Pigs, shell-fish (fish that have a hard outer cover) and birds that eat dead bodies can all cause disease. Other nations gave honour to certain animals. So God told the *Israelites not eat those animals. People in Cyprus gave honour to the pig. People in Egypt gave honour to certain fish and snakes. God allowed the *Israelites to eat *clean insects. A locust is a *clean insect. John ate them. (See Matthew 3:4.) The *Israelites must not eat animals that had died in a natural way. That was partly because there might be poisons in the animal. Also, the blood was still in the animal’s body. That law did not apply to foreigners. God did not allow the *Israelites to cook a goat in its mother’s milk. That was a *Canaanite custom. They thought that it increased people’s desire for sex. The *Israelites must *keep God’s laws. Then their actions would show that they gave honour to God.

In Mark 7:15 Jesus said this. ‘Nothing that goes into a man from outside will make him not *clean. What comes out of a man makes him not *clean.’ And Mark adds in verse 19, ‘In this way, Jesus declared that all foods are *clean.’ Jesus was referring to the law about waste products from people’s bodies. He was using this law to refer to bad thoughts. Those bad thoughts lead to bad actions. (See Mark 7:20-23.) Non-*Jewish Christians did not have to obey the *Jewish laws about food. The stories in Acts chapters 10 and 15 show that.

v22 ‘Put aside a 10th of all that your fields produce each year. Make sure that you do that. v23 Go to the place that the *LORD your God has chosen. The *LORD will be there in a special way. There, in front of the *LORD, eat the 10th part of your corn, new wine, and oil. You can also eat the young animals that are born first to your sheep and to your *cattle. Do that so that you will learn to respect the *LORD your God always. v24 Perhaps the place is too far away. Perhaps you cannot carry to that place the *tithe with which the *LORD your God has *blessed you. (That will happen if the place is very far away. The *LORD your God has chosen the place himself. And the*LORD will be there in a special way.) v25 If so, sell that 10th part of your harvest. Take the money with you to the place that the *LORD your God has chosen. v26 Buy whatever you desire with the money. You can buy *cattle, sheep, or strong alcohol or whatever you desire. Then, in front of the *LORD your God, you and your family can eat. And you can be happy. v27 Do not neglect the *Levites who live in your towns. They do not own any land.

v28 At the end of every three years, bring all the *tithes of that year’s harvest. Store it in your towns. v29 This is for the *Levites. (They do not own any land.) It is also for the foreigners, the widows and the children without parents who live in your towns. They can eat. They can have all that they need. They can be full. Then the *LORD your God will *bless you in all the work that you do.’

Moses told the *Israelites to bring a 10th of the harvest from their land and to give it to God. That reminded them that everything came from God. They must go to the place that God chose. They must go to thank him. They ate their *tithe at the place that God had chosen. They did that so that they would not eat it at a place for foreign gods. Some people lived too far from the place to bring their *tithe. So they would sell it and they would bring the money. Then they would buy food to eat there. (Some bad people used that as a way to get money unfairly from other people. That led to the evil actions for which Jesus forced the traders from the *temple in John 2:13-17. People who bought animals had to pay more than the animals were worth.) The person and his family would be happy as they ate the meal. They also shared it with the *Levites who had nothing to give. Every three years, the people stored the *tithe in the local town. Then they gave it to the *Levites and to the poor people.

Jesus said that the *Pharisees were wrong. They gave a 10th of everything to God, but they forgot *justice, *mercy and *faith. (See Matthew 23:23.) Paul said this about the Christians in Macedonia. ‘They gave as much as they could give. In fact, they gave even more than they really could afford. But first they gave themselves to the *Lord.’ (See 2 Corinthians 8:3, 5.) ‘Each man should give what he has decided to give. God loves the person who gives gladly.’ (See 2 Corinthians 9:7.) The reason why we give is important. It is more important than the amount that we give.

Chapter 15

v1 ‘At the end of every 7 years, you must cancel debts. v2 This is what you must do. Everyone who has lent money to another *Israelite must cancel the debt. He must not ask for payment. The *LORD has declared that he must cancel the debt. v3 You can demand what a foreigner owes to you. But you must not demand what another *Israelite owes to you. v4 However, there should be no poor people among you because the *LORD your God will *bless you in the country. He is giving this country to you as your own possession. v5 But you must obey the *LORD your God. And you must be careful to obey everything that I have told you today. v6 The *LORD your God will *bless you as he has promised. You will lend money to many nations. But you will not need them to lend money to you. You will rule over many nations, but no nation will rule over you.

v7 Suppose that there is a poor *Israelite man. He is in one of the towns that the *LORD your God is giving to you. Do not be selfish. Do not refuse to help that poor man. v8 Instead, be generous. Lend him as much as he needs. v9 Do not have this wicked thought. “The 7th year, the year to cancel debts, is near.” So you refuse to lend him anything. He will then cry out to the *LORD against you. You will be guilty of a *sin. v10 Give to him freely and unselfishly. Then the *LORD your God will *bless you in everything that you do. v11 There will always be poor people in the country. Therefore, give in a generous way to other *Israelites. Be generous to everyone who is poor. Be generous to those who have needs.’

God gave these laws to *Israelites. They grew most of their own food. If they owed money, it was because of unusual circumstances. (Today many people have debts because they do not spend money in a responsible way.) God wanted the *Israelites to look after people who were poor. During one year in every 7 years, the people did not grow crops in their fields. Therefore, they could not pay their debts. In that year, the rich people had to cancel all debts. In that way, rich people showed that they loved the poor people. The *Israelite society was like a family who should look after the whole family. But there were different rules for foreigners. The *Israelites did not have to cancel the debts of foreigners. (R. K. Harrison says that usually foreigners asked other people to lend them money for business. Foreigners did not ask other people for a loan because they needed money.)

If the *Israelites obeyed God and his *commandments, he would *bless them. Then the *Israelites would never owe money to other nations. Other nations would never rule over the people in *Israel. Instead, *Israel would lend money to other nations. They would rule over the other nations. The *Israelites should be generous. They should lend money to people, even if people did not give back the money.

If we obey God, we will be generous to people. Jesus said to his followers, ‘Love your enemies. Do good things to them. Lend and do not expect anything back.’ (See Luke 6:35.) 1 John 3:17 tells us this. ‘Let us suppose that a rich person does not help his poor neighbour. We cannot say that the love of God is in the rich person.’ The writer of Deuteronomy knew that *Israelites would not obey God. Therefore, there would always be poor people (verse 11). However, there would also be opportunities to help them.

v12 ‘Suppose that another *Israelite, whether a man or a woman, sells himself to you as a *slave. After that person has served you for 6 years, you must free him. v13 When you free him, do not send him away without anything. v14 Be generous. Give to him from your sheep, your corn and your wine. The *LORD your God has been generous to you. So be as generous to your *slave. v15 Remember that you were *slaves in Egypt. Remember that the *LORD your God freed you. That is why I am giving this command to you today.

v16 But your *slave might not want to leave. He might love you and your family. He might want to stay with you. v17 Then take him to the door of your house. There push a sharp piece of metal through his ear into the door. He will become your *slave for as long as he lives. Do the same thing to your female *slave.

v18 It must not seem a hard thing to free your *slave. He has served you during these 6 years. That has been worth twice as much to you as a servant whom you hire. Do that and the *LORD your God will *bless you and all your work.’

This law is about *Israelites who were *slaves. To be a *slave was not a bad thing for the *Israelites. They had to look after their *slaves well. And the *Israelites had to respect their *slaves. *Slaves served other people in order to pay their debts. When their owners freed them, the owners gave them generous gifts. That would help them in their new lives. And it would remind their owners about what God had done. God had freed the *Israelites when they were *slaves in Egypt. Sometimes a *slave wanted to remain with his master. The master made a hole in the slave’s ear. To do that, he would push a piece of metal through the slave’s ear and into the door. That showed that the slave wanted to join the master’s home.

In Romans 12:1, Paul says that we should give ourselves to God as his servants. We should do that because of what Jesus has done for us. Paul explains this in 2 Corinthians 5:15 as well.

Notice that this law deals with men and women in the same way. The owner should not complain when he freed his *slave. It would cost the owner a lot to hire a servant. So his *slave’s service was very valuable. Even if the owner did not get back the money, he still gained God’s *blessing.

v19 ‘Keep all the males that are born first to your *cattle and to your sheep. They are for the *LORD your God. Do not use any of those *cattle for work. Do not cut off the wool from any of those sheep. v20 Each year, you and your family must eat them in front of the *LORD your God. Do that in the place that the *LORD chooses. v21 An animal may have weak legs or it may be blind. If it is not perfect, you must not *sacrifice it to the *LORD your God. v22 Instead, you should eat it in your own town. All of you can eat it in the same way that you eat *deer or *antelope. You can eat it whether you are *clean or not *clean. v23 But do not use the blood as your food. Pour out the blood on the ground like water.’

The *Israelites must give to God all their animals that are born first. They must not use them to work in the fields. They must not cut off their wool. The people should kill those animals at the place that God had chosen. And they should eat them there. That happened every year. The *Israelites must not *sacrifice animals that were not perfect. Instead, they could eat them at home. The animals did not have to be *clean for the people to do that. Moses repeats the instruction not to eat the blood of the animal. See chapter 12 verses 15-16.

This passage reminds us about Jesus. He gave himself as a *sacrifice on our behalf. He was perfect and he had no *sin. Otherwise, God would not have accepted his *sacrifice.

Chapter 16

v1 ‘You must *celebrate the *Passover to the *LORD your God in the month called Abib. On a night in that month, the *LORD your God brought you out of Egypt. v2 *Sacrifice an animal from your sheep or your *cattle. *Sacrifice to the *LORD your God as the *Passover. Do that at the place that the *LORD has chosen. The *LORD will be there in a special way. v3 With this meal, do not eat bread that you make with *yeast. For 7 days you must eat bread without *yeast. The name of this bread is the bread of troubles, because you had to leave Egypt in a hurry. So you will remember the time when you left Egypt. You will remember it for as long as you live. v4 For 7 days nobody in your country can have any *yeast in his house. Give the *sacrifice on the evening of the first day. Eat all the meat in the evening. None of the meat must remain until the morning.

v5-6 You must *sacrifice the *Passover only in the place that the *LORD your God has chosen. You must not *sacrifice it in any other town that the *LORD your God gives to you. You must *sacrifice the *Passover at sunset. That was the time at which you left Egypt. v7 Cook the meat. Eat it at the place that the *LORD your God has chosen. Then return to your tents in the morning. v8 You must eat bread without *yeast for 6 days. On the 7th day you must meet to give honour to the *LORD your God. Do not do any work on that day.’

Moses gave instructions about how to *celebrate the *Passover. Abib means ‘the month of the green ears’. (The ear is the part of a grain plant that contains seeds.) Abib was in the spring. The *Israelites were celebrating the time when God rescued them from Egypt. They had been slaves there. They used to *celebrate *Passover in their homes or tents. Here Moses told them to *celebrate in the place that God had chosen. Exodus 12:1-28 describes the original *Passover. The *sacrifice was a young sheep (or a young goat). In the *desert, the *Israelites *celebrated the *Passover together. When they entered the country, they would scatter to every part of the country. But Moses told them to gather together when they *celebrated the *Passover.

Immediately after the *Passover was the 7 day *Festival of bread without *yeast. It would remind the *Israelites that they left Egypt very quickly. They did not have time to add *yeast as they made their bread. They would also remember their years in the *desert. On the last day of the *festival, they would meet together to give honour to God. After the *Passover *festival in the *desert, they would return to their tents. Later, when they lived in the country, they returned to their homes. The very important word at this time was ‘remember’. Every *Passover *festival that *Jews *celebrate today ends with these words. ‘Next year it will be in Jerusalem.’ The *Jews expect that they will be able to go to Jerusalem. Then they will *celebrate in the way that they used to *celebrate.

Paul refers to the *Passover in 1 Corinthians 5:7-8. He says, ‘Let us *celebrate the *festival. We must not use the old *yeast, which means hate and wicked behaviour. Instead, we must use the bread without *yeast.’ Here *yeast represents wicked behaviour. And bread without *yeast represents true and sincere behaviour.

v9 ‘Count 7 weeks from the time that you begin to harvest the corn. v10 Then *celebrate the *Festival of Weeks to give honour to the *LORD your God. Bring to him an *offering that you choose to bring. It should be in proportion to the *blessings that the *LORD your God has given to you. v11 Be happy in front of the *LORD your God together with your children, and your male and female *slaves. Come together also with the *Levites, foreigners, children without parents and widows who live with you. Do this at the place that God will choose. He will be there in a special way. v12 Remember that you were *slaves in Egypt. *Keep these rules and obey them.’

This *festival happened 7 weeks after the beginning of the harvest. There were 7 weeks between the beginning of the grain harvest and the end of the wheat harvest. Therefore, people called it the *Festival of Weeks. Later, people called it the *Festival of Pentecost. ‘Pentecost’ means 50. The *Festival of Pentecost was 50 days after the *Sabbath at the start of the *Passover. The *Israelites had to give a gift to God. This gift was in proportion to how God had *blessed them. They shared a common meal with their families and with those who had no possessions.

It was on this day that God gave his Holy Spirit. (See Acts 2:14-21.) Then God began to bring a ‘harvest’ of people from all nations into the church.

v13 ‘*Celebrate the *Festival of Shelters for 7 days. Separate the grain from your corn and press your *grapes. Then *celebrate this *festival. v14 Be happy at your *festival together with your children and your male slaves and your female slaves. Include the *Levites, the foreigners, the children without parents and the widows who live in your towns. v15 For 7 days, *celebrate the *festival to the *LORD your God. *Celebrate at the place that the *LORD will choose. You will be completely happy. The *LORD your God will *bless your harvest and all your work.

v16 All your men must give honour to the *LORD your God 3 times a year. They must go to the place that he will choose. They must go to the *Festival of Bread without *yeast, the *Festival of Weeks and the *Festival of Shelters. No man must come in front of the *LORD without a gift. v17 Each person must bring a gift in proportion to how the *LORD your God has *blessed him.’

This was the final *festival that they *celebrated in the year. It happened after the grain and wine harvests. Every 7 years at this *festival, people read the law publicly. Then everyone would hear it. During this *festival, they lived in shelters. That reminded them about their journey through the *desert. During their journey, they had lived in tents. The *festival was a happy time, in which the *Israelites remembered God’s *blessings to them. They remembered how God had provided them with food and water. The last day of the *festival was the very important day.

It was on that day that Jesus said this. ‘Whoever needs to drink should come to me. And then they can drink.’ (See John 7:37.) But Jesus was not speaking about ordinary water. Jesus is the Person that this *festival is really about. He will supply not only the people’s need for food and water. He will supply the needs of their *spirits.

Three times a year, every man must go to the place to give honour to God. This is the place that Moses mentions in verses 6 and 11. This would remind each man that he depended on God for everything. At the *festivals, the *Israelites were happy. They thanked God and they shared their food with each other. Paul tells Christians: ‘Always be glad because you belong to the *Lord. Do not worry about anything. But ask God for what you need. And when you pray, be thankful. If you do that, God will make you calm and content. He will keep your thoughts and minds safe as you trust Christ Jesus.’ (See Philippians 4:4-7.)

The men who came to the *festival had to bring a gift. This gift was in proportion to how God had *blessed them.

In 1 Corinthians 16:2 Paul said this. ‘Each person in your church should put aside a sum of money in proportion to his income.’

v18 ‘Appoint judges and other officials in each of your *tribes. Do that in every town that the *LORD your God is giving to you. The judges must make fair decisions for the people. v19 The judges must be fair. They must not have favourites. They must not accept money to make wrong decisions. Such gifts cause wise men to seem blind. Also, gifts cause honest men to change the words of good people. v20 You must follow *justice and only *justice. Then you will possess the country that *LORD your God is giving to you. And you will continue to live in it.’

Originally, Moses, with some helpers, was judge in *Israel. Now the *Israelites appointed judges and other helpers in towns in every part of the country. These leaders must be fair. They must not accept gifts. They must deal with everyone alike. If they obey God’s laws, they will enjoy his *blessing.

v21 ‘Build the *altar to the *LORD your God. Do not put next to it a wooden pole to the female false god called Asherah. v22 Do not put up a stone to give honour to *idols. The *LORD your God hates those things.’

These verses warn the *Israelites not to give honour to *idols. The wooden pole was where people gave honour to a female false god. It was called Asherah. The stone was where people gave honour to another false god. It was called Baal. The people must give honour to God only.

Chapter 17

v1 ‘If any sheep or *cattle are not perfect, do not *sacrifice them to the *LORD your God. The *LORD your God hates such *sacrifices.

v2 Maybe you hear that a man or a woman has *sinned against the *LORD your God. This person lives in one of the towns that the *LORD your God is giving to you. He has not *kept the *covenant laws. v3 He has given honour to false gods or he has served them. Perhaps he has given honour to the sun or the moon or the stars. That is against God’s command. v4 If you hear such a report, then you must inquire into it carefully. It might be true that someone has done such an evil thing in *Israel. v5 If so, take the man or woman who has done this wicked act to your city gate. Then throw stones at that person until he dies. v6 You can do that only if two or three *witnesses speak against him. You cannot kill him if there was only one *witness. v7 The *witnesses must throw the first stones. Then the rest of the people must throw stones at that person. You must remove completely the wicked behaviour that is among you.’

Moses told the *Israelites again about *sacrifices. They must not give an animal as a *sacrifice if it was not perfect. (See Deuteronomy 15:21.) The *Israelites punished severely anyone who *worshipped false gods. The people would take the guilty person to the gate of the city. That was the place where judges had their court. Two or three *witnesses had to see that the person had given honour to false gods. The *witnesses would throw stones at the guilty person first. If the *witnesses had not told the truth, then other people would kill the *witnesses.

v8 ‘Sometimes the situation might be too difficult for a local judge to make a decision. It might involve a murder. Or it might be a situation when someone kills another person by accident. It might be an argument about the owner of property. It might be about injuries that somebody did on purpose. In those situations, go to the place that the *LORD your God will choose. v9 Go to the priests who are *Levites. Go to the person who is the judge at that time. Ask them. Let them decide. v10 They will give to you their decision at the place that the *LORD will choose. You must be careful to do whatever they tell you. v11 Obey the law that they teach to you. Follow the decisions that they give to you. Do everything that they tell you to do. v12 The judge or the priest on duty serves the *LORD your God there. So you must kill any proud person who refuses to obey them. In that way you will remove that evil thing from *Israel. v13 Everyone will hear and everyone will be afraid. They will not refuse to obey again.’

Some decisions were too difficult for local judges to make. There are three situations here. The first was about a person’s death. They had to decide whether it was by accident or by plan. The second was about which person had particular rights. The third was about a serious attack. The head of the court was probably the chief priest. The court made the final decision. The *Lord helped the judges to make the decision. Also, the judges had good experience. The people must act in agreement with the decisions of the judges. The people killed anyone who refused to obey the judge or the priest. That was because that person was acting against God.

v14 ‘You will enter the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you. You will live there and you will possess it. Then you will want to have a king as other nations have. v15 Be careful to appoint the king that the *LORD your God chooses. The king must be a man from your own nation. He must be an *Israelite. Do not make a foreigner your king. v16 The king must not own large numbers of horses. He must not send people to Egypt to buy horses. The *LORD has told you not to go back that way again. v17 The king must not have many wives, because that would make him not continue to follow the *LORD. He must not make himself rich with gold and silver.

v18 When he becomes king, he must write a copy of this law. He will copy it from the law that the priests have. The priests come from the family called Levi. v19 The king must keep this book near to him. He must read from it during all his life. Then he will learn how to respect the *LORD his God. And he will learn to *keep all the words of this law and these rules. v20 He will not think that he is better than the other *Israelites. Also, he will not refuse to obey the *commandments. As a result, he and his *descendants will rule over the *kingdom called *Israel for a long time.’

This section tells the *Israelites what to do if they wanted a king. God was their real king. Any human king must be a person whom God had chosen. He must not be a foreigner. Maybe that was because a foreigner might want to give honour to false gods. The king must not be like the kings of foreign countries. He must not have many horses. Therefore, he cannot have a large army. He must not have many wives. He must not become too rich. All those things would make him trust other things. Then he would not continue to trust the *Lord. Solomon started well, but then he did not obey all those rules. He obtained horses from Egypt. (See 1 Kings 10:28.) He had 700 main wives and 300 other wives as well. (See 1 Kings 11:3.) He had more riches than all the other kings of the earth. (See 1 Kings 10:23.) As a result, the *kingdom divided into two after his death. The king must have a copy of the law that he would study. If he obeyed this law, he and his family would rule over *Israel for a long time.

The command to read God’s law every day is good. Christians should read the Bible regularly. And then we will learn what God wants us to do. We will not think that we are better than other people. We will receive God’s *blessing. Joshua had to study and to obey the book of the law. God told him to do that. He said, ‘then you will do well and you will be successful.’ (See Joshua 1:8.)

Chapter 18

v1 ‘The priests are *Levites. They and all the *tribe called Levi, will not have any share of the land in *Israel. The people burn *offerings in order to give them to the *LORD. But part of those offerings (that they do not burn) will be food for the *Levites. That is their share. v2 The *Levites will not own any land in the country as the other *tribes do. The *LORD will supply everything that they need. He promised that to them.

v3 This is what the people must do. When the people *sacrifice a *bull or a sheep, they must give the shoulder to the priest. They must also give the lower part of the head and the stomach of the animal to the priest. v4 You must give to the priests the first share of the corn, wine, oil and the wool from your sheep. v5 The *LORD your God has chosen the *Levites and their *descendants out of all your *tribes. They must serve him as priests for always.

v6 Any *Levite can come from any town in *Israel. He can come to the place that the *LORD will choose. v7 He can serve the *LORD his God there. He will be like all the other *Levites. They serve there in front of the *LORD already. v8 He might have received money from his family. But all the *Levites will receive the same amount of food.’

*Israelites would look after the priests, because the priests did not own any land. The priests worked at the chief place of *worship. There they gave *sacrifices. The rest of the *tribe called Levi had other duties. They included their duty to teach the *Israelites about the law. The *Israelites gave *offerings that they burned with fire. They were the *burnt offering and the grain *offerings, the *peace offerings and the *guilt offerings. People burned the *burnt offering completely, but the priests could have a share of the other *offerings. God had chosen the *Levites to serve him and his people. Verses 6-8 refer to *Levites who were not priests. They could serve God at the chief place of *worship if they wanted to. They would receive their share of the food, even if they had money of their own.

In 1 Corinthians 9:7-14, Paul says this. ‘Those who announce the good news should live from the good news.’ That was their work so they should receive payment, food or goods as their wages.

v9 ‘You will enter the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you. Do not learn the terrible practices of the nations that are there. v10 Do not *sacrifice your children in the fire. Do not say what will happen in the future. Do not use words that have magic power. You must not use objects that have magic powers. Do not be a person who does acts of magic. v11 Do not use secret powers. Do not talk with evil *spirits. Do not try to contact the *spirits of dead people. v12 The *LORD hates people who do those terrible things. That is why the *LORD your God will force the nations out of the country in front of you. v13 Be completely loyal to the *LORD your God.

v14 You will possess the country of those nations. Some people there say what will happen in the future. And they listen to those people. They listen to people with magic powers. But the *LORD your God does not allow you to do that.’

Moses told the *Israelites what God did not want them to do. They must not *sacrifice their children. Other nations did that. They hoped that their false gods would forgive their *sins. Micah refers to this in Micah 6:7. Micah says that a man might try to offer his oldest son to God. But that gift would not be able to pay for the man’s *sin. Even the death of that son would not be sufficient.

God did not allow the *Israelites to contact dead people. They should not try to use words with magic powers or use magic in any other way. They should not study the stars to see if the stars direct events.

We need to warn people about this. Many people do those things today. Magic is wrong. Some people believe that they have special powers. But those special powers belong to God only. That is why magic is wrong.

v15 ‘The *LORD your God will send to you a *prophet who is like me. He will come from among your own nation. You must listen to him. v16 All this is a result of what you wanted from the *LORD your God at *Mount Sinai. When you gathered, you asked God this. “Do not let us hear the voice of the *LORD our God again. Do not let us see this great fire again. Otherwise we will die.”

v17 The *LORD said this to me. “What they say is good. v18 I will send to them a *prophet like you from among their own nation. I will tell him what to say. He will tell the people all that I order him. v19 This *prophet will speak a message from me. If someone does not listen to the *prophet, that person is responsible to me. v20 A *prophet might proudly pretend to speak a message from me that I have not given to him. Also a *prophet might speak and use the name of false gods. If that happens, you must kill the *prophet.”

v21 You might ask this. “How will we know that the *LORD has not given a particular message?” v22 The *prophet will say from the *LORD that certain things will happen. If those things do not happen, the *LORD did not give that message. That *prophet has spoken because he was proud. Do not be afraid of him.’

God promised that he would speak to the *Israelites by a *prophet. This *prophet would be an *Israelite, he would not be a foreigner. He would be like Moses. The people were too afraid to hear God directly, so God sent his messages by *prophets. The *Israelites must obey the *prophet. If they did not obey him, God would punish them. They must kill any *prophet who did not speak God’s messages. They would know if a *prophet was not a true *prophet by these tests. The first test was if his *prophecy did not happen. The second test was this. The *prophet used the name of false gods when he spoke his messages. The third test was if the *prophet said things just to please people.

There have been many *prophets since the time of Moses. God had spoken to his people by means of those *prophets. But the *New Testament says that Moses’ *prophecy came true in Jesus. (See Acts 3:20-22.)

Chapter 19

v1 ‘The *LORD your God will *destroy the nations whose country he is giving to you. You will force them out. You will live in their towns and houses. v2 Then choose three cities in the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you to possess. They must be easy to reach. v3 Build roads to them. Divide into three parts the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you to possess. Then anyone who kills a person can go to one of those cities.

v4 A man might kill by accident a person who is not his enemy. The man can go to any of those cities to save himself. v5 For example, a man might go into the forest with his neighbour to cut wood. As he is chopping down a tree, the top of his axe might come off. It might hit his neighbour and kill him. That man can go to one of the cities to save himself. v6 A relative of the dead man could get *revenge because of the man’s death. The relative might be very angry. He might run after the man and catch him. Then the relative would kill him. The city was too far for the man to reach. He did not intend to kill his neighbour. So the man did not deserve to die. His neighbour was not his enemy. v7 That is why I order you to choose three cities.’

God ordered the *Israelites to choose three cities on the west of the River Jordan. Those cities would be in addition to the three cities on the east of the River Jordan. They were cities for somebody who had killed another person by accident. The relatives of the dead person must not get *revenge. A judge must decide first whether the killer was guilty. The three cities had to be in places that people could reach easily. Moses gives an example of someone who kills another person by accident. The dead man’s relative must not get *revenge while he was still angry. See the notes on chapter 4:41-43.

v8 ‘The *LORD your God may increase the size of your territory. He told your *ancestors that he would do that. He may give to you all the country that he promised to your*ancestors. v9 He will do that if you obey all these *commandments. You must love the *LORD your God. And you must behave in the way that he has taught you. Then you must select three more cities. v10 Do that so that innocent people will not die in the country. This is the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you to possess. Then you will not be guilty of the death of innocent people.’

The *Israelites never added the extra three cities. God did not give all the country to them because they did not obey him.

v11 ‘Suppose that a man hates his neighbour. So the man hides and waits. Then he attacks his neighbour and hits him. The neighbour dies. Then the first man runs away to one of these cities. v12 The rulers of his town must send for the man. They must bring him back to his town. They must give him to the relative who can get *revenge because of the murder. Then the relative will kill the man. v13 Do not give him any *mercy. Make sure that nobody in *Israel is guilty of an innocent man’s death. Then your life will be good.’

You can read more about these cities in Numbers 35:6-34. Perhaps the man killed someone by accident or perhaps he murdered a person. The rulers of a city would look at the evidence. Then they would decide what to do. If a man murdered someone, the dead person’s relative could kill that man. But the relative could do that only if the man was guilty. However, a man might kill someone by accident. Then he had to stay in the city until the chief priest died. Notice that God wanted *justice. He did not want anybody to kill an innocent person. In the same way, he did not want a guilty person to be free.

v14 ‘Do not move the stone that marks your neighbour’s boundary. Your *ancestors put up those stones in the land long ago. The *LORD your God has given the land to you. It belongs to you.’

This was a serious crime. People needed their land so that they could produce crops. Their crops kept people alive. If people moved the position of the stone, they were stealing somebody’s land. Without their land, people had no method to remain alive.

v15 ‘One *witness is not enough to give evidence against a person about a crime or a *sin. Two or three *witnesses need to prove that a man is guilty.

v16 Suppose that a man wrongly accuses another man about a crime. v17 Both men must stand in front of the *LORD. They must stand in front of the priests and the judges who are serving at that time. v18 The judges will examine the matter carefully. They may find that the *witness has told a lie. He has falsely accused another *Israelite. v19 Then the *witness must receive the punishment that he had intended for the other person. You must remove this evil thing from among you. v20 The rest of the people will hear about this and they will be afraid. Nobody will ever do such a wicked thing again. v21 Do not show any *mercy. The punishment is to be this. Take a life in exchange for a life. Take an eye in exchange for an eye. Take a tooth in exchange for tooth. Take a hand in exchange for a hand. And take a foot in exchange for a foot.’

There were strict laws about evidence in court. There had to be two or three *witnesses to prove that someone was guilty. There were several witnesses when the *Jews were accusing Jesus. However, Mark 14:55-59 says that they did not agree with each other! A false witness received the same punishment as he had intended for his enemy. But this punishment had its limits. It should not be more severe than the crime. That was the principle of *justice that God decided.

In Matthew 5:38, Jesus spoke severely about the *Pharisees. They used this rule in people’s personal relationships. Jesus said that we should be more generous. We should not get *revenge. We should forgive other people.

Chapter 20

v1 ‘Do not be afraid when you go to fight against your enemies. You may see horses and carts that men use in war. You may see an army that is bigger than your army. The *LORD your God, who rescued you from Egypt, is with you. v2 Just before you go into battle, a priest will speak to the army. v3 He will say this. “*Israelite men, listen. Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not lose courage. Do not be afraid. Do not tremble. Do not feel terror because of your enemies. v4 The *LORD your God is going with you. He will fight for you against your enemies and you will win.”

v5 Then the officers will say this to the army. “Has anyone built a new house but he has not begun to live in it yet? If so, he can go home. Because, if he dies in battle, someone else will live in his house. v6 Has anyone just planted a field of *grapes but he has not begun to enjoy its fruit? Let him go home. He might die in the battle and someone else will enjoy its fruit. v7 Has someone just agreed to marry a woman but not yet married her? If so, he can go home. He might die in the battle and someone else will marry the woman.” v8 Then the officers will say this to the *Israelites. “Is anyone afraid? Has anyone lost courage? Let him go home. He might make the rest of the army lose courage also.” v9 When the officers have finished these orders to the army, they shall appoint officers to lead it.’

The *Israelites would be afraid of chariots (carts with two wheels that men use in war) and horses. They did not have any chariots until Solomon was king. The priest would speak to the army and he would encourage the men. The priest would remind the army that God was with them. They should not be afraid. The law in Deuteronomy was very kind to *Israelites. Men with a new house, a new field of *grapes or a new wife did not have to fight. When people agreed to marry, it was a serious promise for them. This decision was as definite as the actual marriage. Usually the man had paid the bride’s father some money before the wedding. Before people began to live in a new house, they would say a special prayer to God.

Men who were afraid might cause other men to be afraid. Men who were afraid might not think about things carefully. Instead, they might make bad decisions in the battle because of their fear. Those who were afraid did not have *faith. People who fight God’s wars must trust God’s power. Notice what Gideon did in Judges chapter 7. He sent home those men who were afraid. Timothy became afraid easily. So in 1 Timothy 6:12, Paul encouraged him to ‘fight the good fight of *faith’. In 1 Timothy 5:23, Paul gave this advice to Timothy. ‘Do not continue to drink only water, but drink a little wine. Do that to make your stomach well, because you are ill so often.’ Deuteronomy reminds us about the Christian’s responsibility toward other people. And we see that in the *New Testament too.

v10 ‘When you go to attack a city, offer peace to the people there. v11 They might give in and they might open the gates of their city. If so, they will become your slaves. You will force them to work for you. v12 Some people may refuse to give in. They may choose to fight. If they do, then surround the city with your army. v13 When the *LORD your God gives it to you, kill all the men with your swords. v14 Take for yourselves the women, the children, the *cattle and everything else that is in the city. You can use everything that the *LORD your God has given to you from your enemies. v15 You must do that with those cities that are far away from you. They do not belong to the nations that are near you.

v16 You will possess cities in the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you. Then you must kill everyone. v17 The *LORD your God has ordered you to *destroy completely all the people there. You must kill the people in the nations called the Hittites, the *Amorites, the *Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites. v18 That is because they will teach you to do terrible things. They do those things to give honour to their false gods. Then you will *sin against the *LORD your God.

v19 When you are trying to possess a city, do not cut down its trees. Do not do that, even if you have to surround the city for a long time. Eat the fruit, but do not cut down the trees. They are not your enemies. v20 However, you can cut down other trees that do not produce fruit. You can make things from them that help you to attack the city. You can do that until you possess the city.’

The *Israelites could offer an agreement for peace to people who lived in cities a long distance away. The people might agree to that. Then they would become slaves of the *Israelites. (That happened to the people from Gibeon. They pretended that they had come from a long distance away. See Joshua 9:1-27.) If the city refused this agreement for peace, the *Israelites killed all the men. The *Israelites could keep the women, the children and the animals for themselves. If the cities were near to their country, the *Israelites must *destroy everyone and everything. This seems severe to us. But the people who lived in Canaan were very evil. If the *Israelites had not attacked them, those enemies might have *destroyed the *Israelites. Also, the *Israelites might have *worshipped the false gods of their enemies. Their enemies *worshipped false gods. That involved many wicked practices that God hated. Therefore, the commands are not about a nation who must fight another nation. Rather, the commands are about God’s people. They must be against those nations that hate God. *Israelites accepted people from other nations who wanted to *worship *Israel’s God.

Jesus taught Christians to love their enemies. But Jesus taught that Christians should be against evil things. In Matthew 5:29-30, he says this. A person’s eye or hand might make him do something that is wrong. So the person should take out his eye or cut off his hand. Here, the eye refers to thoughts and the hand refers to actions. So a person should remove whatever makes him do wrong things. Paul explains to the Christians at Corinth what that means. (See 2 Corinthians 10:5.) ‘We control our thoughts like prisoners.’ Revelation 21:27 says this. ‘Anything that is not *clean will certainly never enter the city.’ (‘The city’ means the place where God is.)

Moses warns the *Israelites not to cut down fruit trees when they attack a city. If they did that, they would damage the soil and the supply of food. However, they could use other trees.

Chapter 21

v1 ‘Suppose that there has been a murder. Then someone finds the dead body in a field. It is in the country that the *LORD your God will give to you. You do not know who killed the person. v2 Your leaders and judges must go out. They must measure the distance from the body to each of the nearest towns. v3 Then the leaders in the town that is nearest to the body must choose a young cow. This cow has never worn a wooden bar that joins two animals together. And it has never worked. v4 They will take this cow to a valley where there is a stream. Nobody has ploughed the land or has planted anything there. There they must break the cow’s neck. v5 The priests who come from the family of Levi must go there. They must make decisions in circumstances of arguments or physical attack. The *LORD your God has chosen them to serve. And they give a *blessing from the *LORD. v6 Then the leaders of the town that is nearest the body will wash their hands over that cow. v7 They will say this. “We did not murder this man. We do not know who did it. v8 *LORD, forgive your people in *Israel, whom you rescued from Egypt. Do not consider us to be responsible for the murder of an innocent man.” Then they will not continue to be responsible for the man’s death. v9 In that way, you will remove the crime of the innocent man’s murder. You will have done what the *LORD wants you to do.’

When somebody carried out a murder, the whole society became not *clean. The leaders and judges had to act. The judges had to be certain that the measurement was correct. They killed a cow. God said that its blood covered the *sin. The stream would remove the blood of the cow. The priests would tell the leaders what to say. They said it over the body of the animal. They would ask God to forgive the sin. Then there would be no evil results from the murder. And the relatives of the dead man should not get *revenge on the city.

In those days, people believed that they shared responsibility. Today many societies do not believe that this is true. So a ceremony like this is not necessary now.

v10 ‘When the *LORD your God allows you to defeat your enemies in a battle, you can take people as prisoners. v11 You may see among them a beautiful woman that you desire. If so, you can take her as your wife. v12 Take her to your home. She will shave her head. Then she will cut the nails on her fingers. v13 And she will change her clothes. She must stay in your house. She will be sad about the loss of her parents for a month. After that, you can go to her and you can marry her. v14 If she does not please you, let her go free. You must not sell her or deal with her as a slave. That is because you have had sex with her.’

They allowed the woman a month to be sad for her parents. Perhaps her father had died in the battle. Her mother then would belong to another master. The woman had to shave her head and she had to change her clothes. That meant that her previous life had ended. At the end of the month, the man could marry her. If later the man did not like her, he could divorce her. He must not sell her as a slave, but she could go free. The *Israelites dealt with women better than any other country did. The *Israelites acted in a way that showed sympathy.

Some teachers said that a man could divorce his wife for any reason. Jesus said that it was wrong for a man to divorce his wife. But he could divorce her only if she had sex with another man. Both Moses and Jesus give freedom and honour to women.

v15 ‘Suppose that a man has two wives. He loves one wife but he does not love the other wife. Both of his wives give birth to sons. The son of the wife, whom he does not love, is born first. v16 Then the man decides to divide his property among his sons. But he must not give to the son of his favourite wife the share that belongs to the first son. v17 He must give the double share of what he has to his first son. He must do that even if the first son is not the son of his favourite wife. This son was the first son that he had. He must give to this son the share that he should have.’

The son born first should receive a double share in the property. The father must not give the double share to the son of his favourite wife. (Jacob did that with Joseph in Genesis 37:3-4. But when that happened, it was because of God’s gift. The son could not demand it. However, Jacob’s first son had lost his place. See Genesis 49:3-4.) God wanted a man to be fair to all his wives. A man could have a favourite wife, but he had to obey the law.

v18 ‘Perhaps a man has a son who will not obey his father or his mother. He will not obey any rules and he refuses to change. The son does not listen to his parents even if they punish him. v19 His father and his mother must take him to the leaders at the gate of the town. v20 The parents will say this to the leaders. “Our son will not change his mind and he opposes us. He will not do what we tell him. He wastes money and he is a drunk.” v21 Then all the men in the town will throw stones at him to kill him. So you will remove the evil person from among you. Everyone in *Israel will hear and they will be afraid.’

Here the law supported the authority of the parents. Clearly, the son was out of control. He refused to obey God’s *commandments and he would not change his mind. The *sins of which they accused the son were probably just examples. The parents had to agree that they should take their wicked son to the leaders. If a son’s behaviour was very bad, he had to die. This son opposed his parents and he refused to change his behaviour. Therefore, the son must not continue to live in that society. The parents did not kill their son. Instead, all the men in the town had to carry out the punishment that the leaders had ordered. There are no examples in the Bible when that actually happened. However, these verses show the responsibility of parents. But it showed also the importance of how people behave in their society. God wanted the *Israelites to *keep his commands and to be *holy.

In Mark 7:10-13, Jesus says that we should give honour to our parents. We should always help them and not refuse. We must not say this. ‘I cannot help my parents because I have given my money to God.’ In Ephesians 6:4, Paul tells parents not to make their children become angry. Sometimes children refuse to obey when parents do that.

v22 Suppose that the people kill a man. They do that because he is guilty of a crime. Then they hang his body on a tree. v23 You must not leave the body there during the night. Bury him the same day. If you hang a person on a tree he receives God’s *curse. You must not ruin the land. The *LORD your God has given the country to you. It belongs to you.

When people *sinned in certain ways the punishment was death. Then often they would hang the body on a pole. (This pole was a piece of wood that they cut from a tree.) They had to bury the body before sunset, or it would make the land not *clean.

Notice that Joseph of Arimathea buried the body of Jesus before sunset. (See John 19:31-38.) In Galatians 3:13, Paul refers to Jesus’ death. Jesus felt the experience of God’s *curse and God’s *judgement when he died. As Jesus did that, he freed us from God’s *curse.

Chapter 22

v1 ‘You may see that your neighbour’s *ox or sheep is loose. If you do, you must not avoid it. Take the animal back to your neighbour. v2 If its owner lives far away, take the animal to your home with you. Also, you must do that if you do not know the animal’s owner. When the owner comes to look for his animal, then give it to him. v3 Do the same if you find your neighbour’s *donkey or his coat or anything else. Do not avoid it.

v4 If your neighbour’s *donkey or *ox has fallen down on the road do not avoid it. Help your neighbour to get the animal up again.

v5 Women must not wear men’s clothes and men must not wear women’s clothes. The *LORD your God hates anyone who does that.

v6 You may find a bird’s nest along the road with young birds or eggs in it. It may be either in a tree or on the ground. If the mother is sitting on the eggs or on her young birds, do not take the mother. v7 You can take the young birds, but you must let the mother go. Then you will have a long life. And you will be rich and successful.

v8 When you build a new house, put a fence round the edge of the roof. Then you will not be responsible for the death of anyone who falls from the roof.

v9 Do not plant two kinds of seed in the place where you grow *grapes. If you do, you must not use the *grapes or the other crop.

v10 Do not plough with an *ox and a *donkey that you have put together with a wooden bar.

v11 Some people make things from two different materials, wool and a material called linen. But you must not wear clothes that someone made from those two materials together.

v12 Make long pieces of cotton and tie them on the 4 corners of your coat.’

People must help their neighbour when their neighbour’s animals were causing trouble. People from other countries and even the enemies of the *Israelites had to obey this law too. Jesus taught the same thing in the story of the Good Samaritan. (See Luke 10:30-37.) A Samaritan was a person from Samaria. He was not a *Jew. In fact, the two were enemies! But the Good Samaritan helped the *Jew who was in trouble. People wore clothes of the opposite sex when they *worshipped foreign gods. The sexes are equal, but they are different. People say that this law opposes transvestism. (Transvestism means to wear clothes that belong to someone of the opposite sex.) Both of those activities hide the difference between the sexes.

The *Israelites should care about animals and birds. The laws about birds and about how to plough with animals show how to use them properly. Luke 12:6 says, ‘People sell 5 birds for 2 small coins. But God does not forget one bird.’ People must not use animals or birds in an unfair and selfish way. It was wrong to use a wooden bar to make strong and weak animals work together. Also, the *ox was a *clean animal that *Israelites could give as a *sacrifice. The *donkey was not a *clean animal and *Israelites could not give it as a *sacrifice.

In *Israel, roofs were usually flat. People often ate and slept on them. The law to put a fence round the roof of a house shows care towards other people.

The *Israelites must not mix different crops in the same field. They must not wear clothes that people had made out of two different materials. We are not sure why they had those laws. Perhaps they showed that the *Israelites should *worship only one God. They should separate themselves from the false gods in other nations. The long pieces of cotton on the edge of their clothes reminded them to *keep God’s law.

v13 ‘A man may marry a girl and have sex with her. Then he decides that he does not like her. v14 He accuses her wrongly and he says this. “She was not a *virgin when I married her.” v15 Then the girl’s parents will prove to the town’s leaders that she was a *virgin. v16 The girl’s father will say this to the leaders. “I gave my daughter to this man to be his wife. But he does not like her. v17 Now he is accusing her falsely. He says this. She was not a *virgin when he married her. But here is the proof that she was.” Then he will show the leaders the evidence on the cloth. v18 The leaders of the town will take the husband and whip him. v19 They will make him pay 100 silver coins and they will give the money to the girl’s father. That is because he has brought shame on an *Israelite girl. She will continue to be his wife. He cannot divorce her as long as he lives.

v20 But the man may accuse the girl. And what the man says is true. There may be no proof that the girl was a *virgin. v21 They must take her to the entrance to her father’s house. There the men from the city must throw stones at her to kill her. She has done a terrible thing in *Israel. She had sex before she was married. She was still living in her father’s house. That is how you will remove the evil thing from among you.’

Women were usually rather young when they agreed to marry a man. But they stayed in their parent’s house until they actually married. In this example, the husband married the girl and he had sex with her. Then he said that she was not a *virgin. If he accused her falsely, the leaders whipped the man. Then he had to pay 100 silver coins as a punishment. That was twice the amount that people usually paid for a bride. He could never divorce his wife. If he were telling the truth, the men from the city would throw stones at the girl to kill her. Most societies today would not kill someone because of this *sin. But the law shows this: It is important to God that his people should not have sex in a wrong way. Strong families are important because they make a strong society. But the man who accused the girl had to produce evidence. If there were none, they would punish the man himself.

v22 ‘If a man has sex with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman shall die. You must remove the evil thing from *Israel.

v23 Suppose that a man in a town has sex with an unmarried girl. She has promised to marry someone else. v24 You will take both of them to the gate of the city. There, you will throw stones at them to kill them. The girl must die for this reason: She was in a town and she did not call for help. The man must die because he had sex with another man’s wife. You must remove the evil thing from among you.

v25 Suppose that a man meets an unmarried girl out in the country. She has promised to marry another man. If he forces her to have sex, only the man must die. v26 You must not do anything to the girl. She has not *sinned. She does not deserve to die. It is the same as when a man murders his neighbour. v27 The man found the unmarried girl in the country. Although she cried for help, there was nobody to help her.

v28 Suppose that a girl had not promised to marry a man. Then a man forces her to have sex with him. If people have caught him, v29 he must pay the girl’s father 50 silver coins. The man must marry the girl because he forced her to have sex with him. He can never divorce her as long as he lives.

v30 No man should have sex with his father’s wife. That would bring shame to his father.’

If a man has sex with another man’s wife, both of them must die. Suppose that a man has sex in a town with a girl. She has promised to marry someone else. In those times, the promise to marry was as important as the marriage. The leaders must throw stones at them to kill them both. The man will die because of his *sin. The girl will die because she did not call for help. If this happens in the country, the leaders will not throw stones at the girl. If she called for help, nobody would hear her there. If a girl had not promised to marry someone, the man had to pay the usual price for a bride. Then he had to marry the girl. The law did not allow him to divorce her. The law did not allow a man to marry a wife that belonged to his father. (Absalom did that when he turned against his father David. See 2 Samuel 16:21-22.)

A man should have sex only with his wife. And a wife should have sex only with her husband. Both the *Old Testament and the *New Testament teach that.

Chapter 23

v1 ‘A person may squeeze hard or cut off the sex parts of a man. The man with the physical damage cannot go to the *LORD’s house.

v2 A person cannot go to the *LORD’s house if his father and mother are not both *Israelites. Also, his *descendants can never go there, not even after 10 *generations.

v3 No *Ammonite or *Moabite or any of their children can go to the *LORD’s house, not even after 10 *generations. v4 They refused to give bread and water to you on your way out of Egypt. They hired Beor’s son, Balaam from Pethor in Aram Naharaim, to *curse you. v5 But the *LORD your God would not listen to Balaam. Instead, the *LORD your God turned the *curse into a *blessing for you. The *LORD your God did that because he loves you. v6 Do not ask for their peace or their friendship for as long as you live.

v7 Do not hate a person from the country called Edom. That is because he is your relative. Do not hate an *Egyptian, because you lived as strangers in his country. v8 The third *generation of their children can go to the *LORD’s house.’

These people could not belong to the *Lord’s people. They must not join in *worship. People that were not perfect in their bodies could not give *offerings to the *Lord. However, they could eat a share of the *offerings. Sometimes the *Canaanites cut off a man’s sex parts on purpose. Sometimes an *Israelite man or woman married someone with a different religion. Their children could not belong to the *Lord’s people. The *Israelites did not include *Ammonites and *Moabites as part of their nation. They did not help the *Israelites when they left Egypt. Balaam had tried to *curse the *Israelites. (See Numbers chapters 22-24.) But because God loved the *Israelites, the *curse became a *blessing. *Israelites should be friends with the people from Edom. They were the *descendants of Esau, Jacob’s brother. And the *Israelites were *descendants of Jacob. Also *Israelites should be friends with the *Egyptians, because the *Israelites had lived in Egypt in the past.

Later, things changed. They would accept into God’s family a person without sex parts. But that person had to *keep the *covenant. (See Isaiah 56:3.) Although Ruth was a *Moabite, she became part of God’s people. The people in Egypt will say, ‘There is no other God.’ (See Isaiah 45:14.) However, God did not accept the people from Edom. (See Obadiah 18.)

There are verses which show that many kinds of people can enter the *kingdom of God. They do not have to belong to a particular nation. Here are two of those verses: ‘I will mention Egypt and Babylonia among those who know me.’ (See Psalm 87:4.) ‘There is neither *Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female. You are all united when you belong to Jesus Christ.’ (See Galatians 3:28.) Paul uses the word ‘Greek’ to mean anyone who is not a *Jew.

v9 ‘When you are in a camp at the time of war, avoid every evil thing. v10 Someone may become not *clean. During the night, a man may produce liquid from his sex part. If so, he must go outside the camp and he must stay there. v11 When the evening comes, he can wash himself. When the sun goes down, he can return to the camp.

v12 Have a place outside the camp where you can go to the toilet. v13 Have a tool with which to dig. When you go to the toilet, use the tool to cover up the waste from your body. v14 The *LORD your God is with you in your camp. He will protect you. He will cause you to defeat your enemies. Therefore, you must keep your camp *holy. God may see something that is not clean. If he does, he may not continue to go with you.’

Laws about health were important. The principle in the law was this. Anything that comes from a person’s body is ‘unclean’. The *Israelites must have clean bodies and clean clothes. They must bury carefully the waste from their bodies. If camps were not clean, then disease would spread very quickly. God was present in the camp. If they did not keep the camp *holy and clean, God would not stay with them.

Jesus makes a connection between what makes a person unclean in the body and not *clean in the *spirit. (See Mark 7:20-23.) In Hebrews 10:22, the writer tells Christians to come near to God. The writer says that they must have a *clean conscience. They must wash their bodies with pure water. That does not refer to a physical wash. Instead, it means that people must live in a moral way.

v15 ‘A slave may escape from his master and he may come to you. Do not hand him over to his master. v16 The slave shall live wherever he likes among you. He can choose any town in which he wants to live. You must be kind to him.

v17 No *Israelite man or woman can sell his or her body for sex in a *temple. v18 Somebody might have money that they had earned in that way. They must not bring it into the house of the *LORD your God. You must not pay that kind of money because of a promise to God. The *LORD your God hates those acts.

v19 Do not charge extra money when you lend food, money or anything else to another *Israelite. v20 You can charge a foreigner extra money. But you must not charge another *Israelite extra money. Then the *LORD your God will *bless everything that you do. He will *bless you in the country that you will live in.

v21 If you promise something to the *LORD your God, do not be slow to *keep your promise. Otherwise the *LORD your God will demand that you *keep it. Then you will be guilty of *sin. v22 If you do not promise something, you will not be guilty. v23 You must do everything that you promise to do. You chose to promise it to the *LORD your God.

v24 You can go into your neighbour’s field of *grapes. You can eat all the *grapes that you want. But you must not put any *grapes in a basket. v25 You can go into your neighbour’s field of corn. You can pick with your hands the part of the corn that contains seeds. But you must not cut any corn with a tool.’

Sometimes, when a slave was in a foreign country, he ran away from his master. The law allowed him to live in safety wherever he wanted to live. The *Israelites must not make these people to be slaves again.

*Israelites must not sell their bodies for sex. They certainly must not do that in ceremonies of religion. The *Canaanites did that. They *worshipped the false female god called Astarte. If anybody earned money in that way, he or she must not give the money to God. God hated it when people used their bodies in that way.

*Israelites sometimes lent money to other *Israelites. But they must not charge people for money that they lent. Usually they lent money because people were poor. The *Israelites could charge money for what they lent to foreigners. That was because foreigners were usually merchants or traders. They were not poor. They used the money for their business. Jesus told his followers to lend and to expect nothing back. (See Luke 6:35.)

Anybody was free to promise something to God. But he was also free not to promise something. However, if he did promise something, he must *keep his promise. And he must not postpone the day when he did that.

The law allowed people to pick *grapes. And they could pick from the fields the part of corn that contained seeds. People could pick them when they were hungry. But they must not take more than they could eat. That would rob their neighbour. The *Pharisees spoke badly about Jesus’ followers. But Jesus said that they could eat the corn. (See Luke 6:1-5.) Those laws taught about how to look after other people.

Chapter 24

v1 ‘Suppose that a man marries a woman. Later, he decides that she does not please him. He finds something about her that he does not like. So, he writes out a note of divorce and he gives it to her. Then he sends her away. v2 After she has left his house, she marries another man. v3 Then her second husband decides that he does not want her. He writes out a note of divorce and he gives it to her. Then he sends her away from his home. Or perhaps he dies. v4 Her first husband, who divorced her, cannot marry her again. She is not morally *clean. The *LORD would hate that. The *LORD your God is giving the country to you to possess. You must not do such a terrible *sin in that country.’

Maybe a man divorces his wife. He must not marry her again if her second husband divorces her. He must not marry her even if her second husband dies. We do not know why the first man wanted to divorce his wife. He had to write down his reason. It was not because his wife had sex with someone else. Death was the punishment for that *sin. The first husband could not claim back his first wife again. So this law protected his second wife. And it increased the importance of women. Also, the law would help to prevent easy divorces. A public official had to prepare the note of divorce. Although Hosea’s wife had not been loyal to him, he refused to divorce her. So, when he found her, he could take her back home as his wife. Jeremiah refers to this law in Jeremiah chapter 3. The people in *Israel were not loyal to God, but God would not leave them.

Men and women are equal when they are married. Jesus taught that. (See Mark 10:1-12.) God allowed divorce only because people were *sinful. God said that a marriage should be between one man and one woman. (See Genesis 2:21-24.) God said that they should be loyal to each other during their entire lives.

v5 ‘If a man has just married, he must not go to war. He must not do any other public duty. He is free to stay at home for one year. Then he can be happy with his new wife.

v6 Do not take a pair of flat stones that people used to make corn into flour. Do not take even one of them as *security for a debt. That would take away a person’s way to remain alive.

v7 Perhaps you will see that a man is taking an *Israelite as a prisoner. Perhaps he wants to make him a slave. Perhaps he wants to sell him. You must kill the man who does that act. Then you will remove the evil from among you.

v8 Someone may suffer from a disease on their skin. The priests from the family of Levi will give instructions to you. You must do what they tell you to do. You must do what I ordered them to do. v9 Remember what the *LORD your God did to Miriam. He did it after you came out of Egypt.

v10 Suppose that you lend something to your neighbour. Do not enter his house to take something as *security. v11 Stay outside and let him bring it to you himself. v12 He may be a poor man. So do not sleep in the coat that he has given to you. v13 Give it back to him in the evening so that he can sleep in it. Then he will *bless you. And what you do will please the *LORD your God.’

A new bridegroom did not have to do any public duty for one year. That meant that he did not have to fight in the army. It was important that he should have a child first. The family is very important to God.

God did not allow people to take away a person’s flat stones. A person must not take them as *security for a debt. If a person could not break up his corn with his flat stones, he could not make his daily food.

The *Israelites must kill anyone who stole another person as a prisoner. That was God’s serious punishment for an evil act.

The *Israelites had to obey the laws about how to deal with diseases on their skin. Those laws are in Leviticus chapters 13 and 14. Even Moses’ sister had to obey the laws. (See Numbers chapter 12.) They had to separate the people with those diseases from the rest of the people. Then the disease would not spread.

The *Israelites could lend money to the poor people. But they must not make the poor people pay extra money for that. However, they could take some kind of *security. The *security was usually the coat in which a person slept. The person who lent the money must not enter the home of the man with the debt. The person who lent the money could not choose a *security. Instead, he must return the coat each night so that the poor man could be warm and comfortable. These laws show that God cares about people’s needs.

v14 ‘Do not cheat a poor servant that you hire. He may be an *Israelite. Or he may be a foreigner who lives in one of your towns. v15 Pay his wages to him each day before sunset. He is poor and he needs his wages. If you do not pay him, he will cry to the *LORD against you. Then you will be guilty of *sin.

v16 You must not kill parents because their children have *sinned. And you must not kill children because their parents have sinned. You can kill a person only because of the *sins that he has done.

v17 Do not take away *justice from foreigners or from children without parents. Do not take a widow’s coat as *security for a loan. v18 Remember that you were *slaves in Egypt. The *LORD your God freed you from there. That is why I am giving that command to you.

v19 When you harvest your crops, you may forget to bring in some corn. Do not go back to get it. Leave it for the foreigners, the widows and the children without parents. Then the *LORD your God will *bless you in everything that you do. v20 When you have picked the *olives once, do not go back to get more. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the widows and the children without parents. v21 When you have gathered your *grapes once, do not go back a second time. Leave what remains for the foreigner, the widows and the children without parents. v22 Remember that you were a *slave in Egypt. That is why I have given that command to you.’

God wanted people to receive their wages. Employers used to pay their workers every day. If they did not pay them, the workers would call to God. God would consider that the employer was guilty. Moses told them that that would happen.

James accuses rich Christians who are in a poor world. ‘You have not paid the wages of those who worked in your fields. The money that you kept from them calls to God against you. The *Lord of all power has heard the cries of the workers.’ (See James 5:4.)

Moses emphasised personal responsibility. When Jeremiah speaks about God’s new *covenant, he says this in Jeremiah 31:30. ‘Everyone will die because of the wrong things that he has done.’ The *Israelites must look after the poor people, especially foreigners, widows and children without parents. In Egypt, God had shown to the *Israelites that he loved them. Therefore, they must show other people that they love them. At harvest, they must leave part of the crops. That was for the poor people who had no land. We see that this happened in the story of Ruth. Boaz told his workers to drop some corn on purpose. Then Ruth picked it up. (See Ruth 2:16.) The gifts that they gave to the poor people were really *offerings to God. As a result, God would *bless the people who gave. Proverbs 19:17 says this. ‘He who is kind to the poor people is lending to the *Lord. The *Lord will repay him because of what he has done.’ And James 1:27 says this. ‘Religion that God our Father considers right and *clean is this: Look after widows and children without parents when they are suffering.’

Chapter 25

v1 ‘Perhaps two men have an argument and they go to court. The judges declare that one man is innocent. Then he declares that the other man is guilty. v2 If the guilty man deserves punishment, the judge will make him lie down. Then someone will whip him in front of the judge. The number of strokes will depend on the crime that he has done. v3 He must not receive more than 40 strokes. If he received more, that would cause him great shame.’

*Justice was very important. The judge declared that the person was guilty. After that, they could whip him. They must not whip that man before the judge made his decision. The judge had to say what punishment the man should receive. All punishment must happen in front of the judge. They must not punish anyone more severely than he deserved. They respected the criminal’s value as a person. The maximum was 40 strokes. But they whipped someone only 39 times. They wanted to make sure that they did not count wrongly! Paul suffered that punishment 5 times. (See 2 Corinthians 11:24.)

v4 ‘Do not cover the mouth of an *ox when it is walking on the corn.’

God had created everything. The *Israelites must show love and they must be kind to everything. They used an *ox to walk on their corn. That separated the grain from the stem. Sometimes the *ox would stop to eat some grain. They must allow the *ox to feed in that way. Paul uses that verse when he writes about Christian workers. They provide benefits for the Christians’ *spirits. So the workers should receive physical benefits for their work. (See 1 Corinthians 9:9.)

v5 ‘Suppose that two brothers live in the same property. Then one of them dies without a son. His widow must not marry someone who is outside the family. It is the duty of her husband’s brother to marry her. v6 The first son that she has will have the name of the dead brother. So the name of his family will continue in *Israel.

v7 If the man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she must go to the town’s leaders. She will say this to them. “My husband’s brother will not do his duty. He refuses to give to his brother a *descendant among the *Israelites.” v8 Then the town’s leaders will order him to talk to them. If he still refuses to marry her, v9 his brother’s widow will go up to him. In front of the leaders, she will take off one of his shoes. Then she will cough water into his face and she will say this. “This man refuses to build up his brother’s family. That is what happens to him.” v10 The *Israelites will give his family this name: “The family of the man whose shoe they pulled off.” ’

This custom made sure that a woman’s dead husband had a son. In that society, it was very important for a man to have a son. That son continued to use the name of the family. The reason why people married was to build up the family as a social unit. People believed that something of yourself went into your children. So your name continued to live even after you had died. If the brother refused to do his duty, he had to go to the town leaders. If he still refused, the widow took off one of his shoes. Then she coughed water in his face. They did that because most people could not read legal notes.

v11 ‘Suppose that two men are fighting. Then the wife of one man comes to rescue her husband from the other man. If she grasps the other man’s sex parts, v12 cut off her hand. Do not show *mercy.’

This is the only place in the *Old Testament that orders this kind of punishment. It follows the laws about family and *descendants. Nothing and nobody should damage a man so that he cannot have *descendants.

v13 ‘Do not have in your bag unfair objects with which you weigh things. Do not have one heavy object and one light object. v14 Do not have in your house unfair objects to measure things with. Do not have one large and one small object for measurements. v15 You must weigh and measure things honestly. Then you will live for a long time in the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you. v16 The *LORD your God hates anyone who cheats.’

Merchants usually used stones to weigh their goods. They often used heavy stones to weigh goods when they bought them. Then they would get them for a cheap price. But they used light stones to weigh goods when they sold them. Then they would get more money. The merchants used pots to measure liquids or goods like grain. But they often used pots of the wrong size. God wanted the *Israelites to be completely honest. They had to weigh and measure everything correctly. God would punish the people if they used pots and stones of different sizes. Amos says in chapter 8:5 that the people did not obey these laws.

v17 ‘Remember the time when you were coming out of Egypt. You met the people called the Amalekites. Remember what they did to you. v18 They did not *fear God. You were so tired that you could not do anything. Then they attacked you. They killed all those who were going slowly at the back of your people. v19 The *LORD your God will give the country to you to possess. He will give you a rest from all your enemies. When he has done that, kill all the Amalekite people. Then nobody will continue to remember them. Do not forget!’

The people called the Amalekites attacked the *Israelites at Rephidim. Exodus 17:8-16 describes the battle. God punished the Amalekites because they did not show *mercy to the weak people. In 1 Samuel 15:3, God gave the command to King Saul to *destroy the Amalekite people.

Chapter 26

v1 ‘The *LORD your God is giving this country to you to possess. You will own it and you will live there. v2 Then take some of the first part of each crop that you harvest from the land. That crop comes from the soil in the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you. Put the first part of the crop into a basket. Go to the place that the *LORD your God will choose. v3 Go to the priest who is serving at that time. Say this to him. “I declare today to the *LORD your God that I have come to this country. That is what the *LORD promised to our *ancestors. He promised that he would give this country to us.” v4 The priest will take the basket from you. He will place it in front of the *altar of the *LORD your God. v5 Then you will say this to the *LORD your God. “My father came from the country called Aram. And he wandered round the country. He went down into Egypt with a few people. He lived there and he became a large and powerful nation. v6 The *Egyptians were cruel to us. They made us suffer and they made us work very hard. v7 Then we cried to the *LORD who is the God of our *ancestors. The *LORD heard us. He saw that we were very sad. He saw our troubles and our difficulties. v8 So the *LORD used his great power and strength as he brought us out of Egypt. He did *signs and *wonders. He caused terrible things to happen. v9 He brought us to this place. Then he gave to us this rich and *fertile country. v10 Now I bring the first part of the harvest that you, *LORD, have given to me.” Place the basket in front of the *LORD your God. And *worship in front of the *LORD your God. v11 You and the *Levites and the foreigners who are among you will be happy. You will do that because of all the good things that the *LORD your God has given to you.’

The *Israelites must give to the *LORD a part of the crops that they had grown in the country. They took the crops to the priest at the place that God chose. The priest put the crops in front of the *altar. Then they thanked God for his kindness. Verses 5-10 are either a prayer, or a statement of what they believed. The person who came from Aram was Jacob. During his life, Jacob moved from Canaan to Haran in the country called Aram. He also married two women who came from Aram. At last, he and his family went down into Egypt. In the end, God rescued them from there, and God helped them to possess their new country. Now they gave the *offering. It came from the first crops in the country. In that way, the person thanked God for the gift. The *Lord promised this country to the person’s *ancestors. Perhaps everyone joined in a *holy meal. This ceremony might have been a part of the *Festival of Shelters. We should thank God especially for the special events in our lives. They are the times when we see God’s goodness to us.

v12 ‘Every third year, put aside a 10th of all your crops. This is the year of the *tithe. Give it to the *Levite, the foreigner, the children without parents and the widows. Then they will have all that they need to eat in your towns. v13 Then say this to the *LORD your God. “I have taken the *holy *tithe out of my house. I have given it to the *Levites, the foreigners, the children without parents and the widows. That is what you ordered me to do. I have not neglected or forgotten any of your *commandments. v14 I have not eaten any of the *tithes while I was sad. I have not taken any of it out of my house when I was not *clean. I have not given any of it to dead people. I have obeyed the *LORD my God. I have done everything that you ordered me to do. v15 Look down from your *holy place in heaven. *Bless your nation, *Israel. *Bless also the country that you have given to us. This is the country that you promised to our *ancestors. It is a country that is rich and *fertile.” ’

These verses repeat what is in chapter 14 verses 22-29. Every third year, they kept a 10th of their crops in the villages. That was to help the poor people. It would help the *Levites who did not own any land. The men in *Israel had to declare that they had obeyed God’s law about the *tithe. They had to take every part of it out of their house. They had to give it to the people who needed it. They would not use it as a part of an *offering to dead people. That was a custom of the people in Canaan. Each *Israelite man had to obey God. Then he could pray that God would *bless his nation and his country. He would declare that he depended on God for everything.

In Philippians 4:12-13, Paul said this. ‘I know how to live when I need things. And I know how to live when I have plenty. Everywhere and in all circumstances, I have learned the secret of how to be content. I have learned to be full and to be hungry. I have learned to have plenty and not to have enough. I am ready for anything because Christ gives me strength.’

v16 ‘Today, the *LORD your God commands you to *keep all his rules and his laws. Obey them completely. v17 Today you have declared these things. The *LORD is your God. You will do what he wants you to do. You will *keep all his rules, his *commandments and his laws. And you have declared that you will listen to him. v18 The *LORD has declared today that you are his special nation. He promised that you would be. You must *keep all his *commandments. v19 He will make you greater than any other nation that he has created. You will have more honour and fame. People will praise you more than any other nation. You will be a *holy nation for the *LORD your God, as he promised.’

Here, God promised that the *Israelites would be his special people. Also, the *Israelites declared that the *LORD was their God. But all the *Israelites needed to obey God’s laws in order to receive good things from him. Peter uses this idea to refer to Christians and the church in 1 Peter 2:9. ‘You are the people whom God chose. You are royal priests. You are a *holy nation. You belong to God. God has called you out of darkness into his wonderful light. He has done that for a reason. He wants you to tell everyone about the great things that he has done.’

Chapter 27

v1 Moses and the leaders of the *Israelites ordered the people. ‘*Keep all the *commandments that I order you today. v2 You must do the following things when you have gone across the River Jordan. There you will find the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you. Put up some large stones. And cover them with material that is like white paint. v3 Write on the stones all the words of this law. Do that when you have entered the country. The *LORD your God is giving to you a rich and *fertile country. The *LORD, the God of your *ancestors, promised to give this country to you. v4 When you have crossed the River Jordan, put up the stones on *Mount Ebal. Do what I order you today. Cover the stones with material that is like white paint. v5 Build an *altar of stone there to the *LORD your God. Do not use any metal tools on the stones. v6 Build the *altar to the *LORD your God with stones that you have not cut. Give *burnt offerings on the *altar to the *LORD your God. v7 *Sacrifice and eat your *fellowship offerings there. Be happy in front of the *LORD your God. v8 You shall write very clearly on the stones. Write all the words of this law.’

v9 Then Moses, together with the priests who were *Levites, spoke to all the *Israelites. ‘*Israelites, be quiet and listen. Today you have become the nation that belongs to the *LORD your God. v10 Obey the *LORD your God. *Keep all his *commandments and his rules that I order you today.’

Moses tells the people how they must remember God’s *covenant with them. They must put up some stones. They must write parts of the law on the stones so that everyone could read them. People who came in the future would be able to read them also. The *Israelites must put up an *altar at *Mount Ebal. They must make it of stones that they did not cut. Other nations made their *altars out of stones that they cut. *Israel must be different. They must read the *curses publicly from *Mount Ebal. (That is where Abraham built his first *altar.) They must read the *blessings from *Mount Gerizim. The *burnt offerings showed that the *Israelites were completely loyal to God. With the *fellowship offerings, they thanked for what God had done on their behalf. Verses 9-10 may be part of a speech that urged the people to obey the *covenant. God gave the *covenant to them first. It was his free gift. They did not have to do good works to obtain the *covenant. They obeyed God because they were grateful for his *blessings.

v11 That day, Moses gave this command to the people.

v12 ‘When you have gone across the River Jordan, these *tribes shall stand on *Mount Gerizim. They are Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin. There they will *bless the people. v13 These *tribes shall stand on *Mount Ebal to announce *curses. They are Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali.

v14 The *Levites will speak these words to the *Israelites in a loud voice:

v15 “God *curses anyone who makes an *idol out of stone, wood or metal. The *LORD hates the *idols that men make. And God *curses anyone who *worships them secretly.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v16 “God *curses anyone who brings shame on his father or on his mother.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v17 “God *curses anyone who moves the stone at his neighbour’s boundary.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v18 “God *curses anyone who leads a blind man in the wrong direction.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v19 “God *curses anyone who is not kind to foreigners, children without parents and widows.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v20 “God *curses anyone who has sex with his father’s wife. That brings shame on his father.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v21 “God *curses anyone who has sex with an animal.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v22 “God *curses anyone who has sex with his sister, his father’s daughter or his mother’s daughter.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v23 “God *curses anyone who has sex with his wife’s mother.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v24 “God *curses anyone who kills another person secretly.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v25 “God *curses anyone who accepts money as a payment to kill an innocent person.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.”

v26 “God *curses anyone who does not accept all of this law in order to obey it.” Then all the people shall say, “We agree.” ’

Moses divided the people into two groups when they declared publicly the *curses and *blessings. This passage gives only the *curses. The *blessings probably were the opposite of the *curses. Six of the *tribes stood on *Mount Gerizim, which was the southern hill. They were the *tribes who were *descendants of Rachel and Leah. The other 6 *tribes stood on *Mount Ebal, which was the northern hill. They were the *tribes who were the *descendants of the servants of Rachel and Leah. They also included the *tribe of Zebulun and the *tribe of Reuben. The *blessings and *curses were on behalf of all the *tribes. They were not just on behalf of the *tribes that repeated them. There were 12 *curses because there were 12 *tribes.

They must not make images. God created all things. However, nobody knew what God looked like. So nobody could make an image of God. Parents provide shelter, food and protection for their children. Therefore, people should love and show honour to their parents. People must not change the position of the stone at their neighbour’s boundary. Sometimes people moved the stone to steal extra property. They must not lead blind people in a wrong direction. They must love and look after the foreigners, the widows and the children without parents. They must not have sex with animals or with close family members. They must not kill another person secretly. They must not receive money because they killed someone.

God’s *curse came on all *sin. Moses named many *sins. People could hide most of those *sins from other people. But they could not hide their *sins from God.

Chapter 28

v1 ‘Listen carefully to the *LORD your God. *Keep and obey all his *commandments. I am ordering that to you today. If you do, the *LORD your God will make you greater than any other nation on earth. v2 If you obey the *LORD your God, you will have all these *blessings:

v3 God will *bless you in your towns and in the country.

v4 He will *bless your children. He will *bless your crops. He will *bless your young sheep and your young *cattle.

v5 He will *bless the grain that you harvest. You will always be able to make bread.

v6 God will *bless you when you come in. And he will *bless you when you go out.

v7 The *LORD will defeat your enemies whenever they attack you. They will attack you from one direction, but they will run away in seven directions.

v8 The *LORD will send a *blessing on your buildings where you store your crops. And he will send a *blessing on all the work that you do. The *LORD your God will *bless you in the country that he is giving to you.

v9 You must *keep the *commandments of the *LORD your God. And you must do what he wants you to do. Then the *LORD will make you his *holy nation as he has promised to you. v10 Then all the nations will see that the *LORD has chosen you as his own nation. They will be afraid of you. v11 The *LORD will give to you many possessions. He will give to you many children, many *cattle and good harvests in your country. This is the country that he promised to your *ancestors to give to you.

v12 The *LORD will open up his stores in heaven. He will send the rain from the sky at the proper time. He will *bless all that you do. You will lend to many nations. But you will not ask for anything from them. v13 The *LORD will make you the leader. He will not make you the follower. You must obey carefully all the *commandments of the *LORD your God that today I have ordered you to do. Then you will always be at the top and not at the bottom. v14 Do not leave these commands in any way. Do not *worship false gods or serve them.’

God promised all these *blessings to the *Israelites if they obeyed his commands. God did not give the *covenant to the *Israelites because they deserved it. (See Deuteronomy 7:6-7.) But they would receive the *blessings of the *covenant only if they obeyed it. The *blessings were for the nation, the family and each person. The *blessings involved their work in the city and in the fields. The *blessings affected the *Israelites’ children, their crops, their *cattle and their daily food. God would protect and provide for his people. He would make them the leaders of other nations. But to enjoy those *blessings they must continue to obey God.

v15 ‘I am giving to you these *commandments and rules today. Suppose that you do not obey the *LORD your God. Suppose that you do not continue to *keep his *commandments carefully. All these *curses will happen to you.

v16 God will *curse your towns and your fields.

v17 God will *curse your crops of grain and the food that you prepare.

v18 You will have only a few children, poor crops and a few *cattle and sheep.

v19 God will *curse you when you go in. And he will *curse you when you go out.

v20 The *LORD will send upon you *curses, *disaster and trouble in everything that you do. You have done evil acts and you have left him. Therefore, he will *destroy you and quickly ruin you. v21 The *LORD will send diseases to attack you. He will leave none of you in the country that you will soon enter to possess. v22 The *LORD will send these particular problems to attack you. He will cause your bodies to be sore and you will be hot because of the diseases. He will send very hot winds and a lack of water. Diseases called blight and mildew will attack your crops. Because of those *disasters you will die. v23 No rain will fall and the ground will be as hard as iron. v24 Instead of rain in your country, the *LORD will send dust and sand. He will do that until he has *destroyed you.’

There are more *curses than *blessings. Perhaps it is better to warn someone about punishment. It may have more effect than to promise a *blessing. The *curses are the opposite of the *blessings. God often defeated the *Israelites’ enemies. He caused the enemies to become afraid. But God warned the *Israelites too. And this would cause them to be afraid. They will have diseases that make them very ill. Bad weather and disease will cause their crops not to grow. Because of all those things, the *Israelites will die.

v25 ‘The *LORD will allow your enemies to defeat you. You will attack them from one direction but you will run away in seven directions. All the people in every country will see what happens to you. You will be an awful sight. v26 The birds in the air and the animals on the earth will eat your dead bodies. Nobody will frighten them away. v27 The *LORD will send painful spots under your skin as he did on the *Egyptians. You will have unpleasant things that grow in your body. And you will have diseases on your skin. Your skin will hurt you. Nobody will be able to cure you of those things. v28 You will go mad. The *LORD will make you blind and confused. v29 At midday you will have to feel round, like a blind man. You will not succeed in anything that you do. Day after day, people will be cruel to you and they will rob you. Nobody will come to help you.

v30 You will make plans to marry a woman, but someone else will have sex with her. You will build a house, but you will never live in it. You will plant a field of *grapes, but you will never eat its fruit. v31 You will see someone kill your *ox. But you will not eat it. Someone will take your *donkey from you cruelly and you will not get it back. Someone will give your sheep to your enemies. And nobody will rescue them. v32 You will see someone give your children as slaves to foreigners. Every day you will look for your children to return, but they will not return. v33 You will work hard to produce your crops but a foreign nation will take them all. You will receive nothing but terrible cruelty. v34 The things that you see will make you go mad. v35 The *LORD will cover your knees and your legs with painful spots under the skin. Nobody will be able to cure them. The painful spots will cover you from your head to your feet.

v36 The *LORD will force you and your king to go to another nation. Neither you nor your *ancestors will have known that nation. There, you will *worship false gods that they make out of wood and out of stone. v37 The *LORD will send you into other countries. The people there will look at you with disgust and shock. The people there will laugh at you.’

Moses knew that the *Israelites were not very *faithful. He warns them what would happen. If they are not *faithful, their enemies will defeat them. Nobody will bury the people who have died. Birds will eat their bodies. The *Israelites will have many diseases that nobody can cure. The *Israelites will not know what to do. They will be like blind people. Their enemies will take the *Israelites’ wives, their property and their children. They will not be able to stop their enemies. The worst thing will be that the enemies will take the *Israelites out of their country. They will make the *Israelites serve false gods. People make these false gods out of wood and stone. All that happened to *Israel in 721 *B.C. And it happened to Judah in 598 *B.C. Psalm 137:1-3 describes how their enemies laughed at them. ‘Our enemies demanded songs of joy. “Sing to us one of the songs from Zion (Jerusalem).” ’

v38 ‘You will sow plenty of seeds but you will have only a little harvest. Insects called locusts will eat your crops. v39 You will plant fields of *grapes and you will look after them. But you will not pick the *grapes or drink the wine. Tiny animals called worms will eat them. v40 *Olive trees will grow everywhere in your country. But you will not put the oil on your body because the *olives will drop off the trees. v41 You will have sons and daughters, but you will lose them. The enemy will take them away as prisoners. v42 Insects will eat all your trees and your crops.

v43 The foreigners who live in your country will continue to get more power. Slowly you will lose your power. v44 The foreigners will lend money to you, but you will have no money to lend to them. In the end, they will be the leaders and you will be the followers.

v45 All these *curses will come upon you. They will come after you and they will catch you. Then people will *destroy you. That is because you did not obey the *LORD your God. You did not *keep all his *commandments and his rules that he ordered you to do. v46 These *curses will be a *sign and a *wonder to you and to your *descendants for always.’

There are *blessings in the first part of the chapter. But these events in these verses are the opposite of those *blessings. There would be very big problems with the country’s trade and supply of money. Insects called locusts fly in huge groups. And they very quickly eat everything in a field that is full of crops. Worms would eat the plants that produce *grapes. (Worms are tiny animals without legs.) The *olives would fall off the trees before they were ripe. Enemies would take the children of the *Israelites. Those children would probably have to work very hard on farms in the enemy’s country. The ‘foreigner’ may refer to the *Canaanites. They used to live in the country that God gave to the *Israelites. Perhaps they could now enjoy the country again. God would take away his *blessings from *Israel because his people did not obey him.

v47 ‘The *LORD your God *blessed you. But you did not serve him in a joyful and happy way. v48 Because of that, you will serve the enemies that the *LORD will send against you. You will be hungry and you will not have enough to drink. You will be naked. You will need everything. The *LORD will deal with you severely until he has *destroyed you.

v49 The *LORD will bring against you a nation from far away. You will not understand their language. That nation will come upon you like a large bird called an eagle. v50 Its people will have very fierce faces. They will not respect old people and they will not pity young people. v51 They will eat your young *cattle and your crops. You will die because you are hungry. They will not leave any corn, wine, oil, young *cattle or young sheep. Then you will die. v52 They will attack all the cities that are in the country. The high, strong walls that you trusted will fall down. Your enemies will surround all the cities in the country that the *LORD your God is giving to you.

v53 They will cause you to suffer so much that you will even eat your children. You will eat the bodies of the sons and daughters that the *LORD your God has given to you. v54 Even the gentlest man will not pity his own brother. Nor will he pity the wife whom he loves. He will not pity the rest of his children. v55 He will not give to them any of the bodies of his own children that he is eating. He will have no other food, because the enemy will cause you to suffer so much in your towns. v56 The gentlest woman, who would not even walk anywhere, will do these things too. She will not give anything to the husband, whom she loves, or to her own children. v57 She will not give to them the material that comes out of her body after the birth of a baby. Nor will she give to them her baby who has just been born. She will eat both of them secretly. That is because of her great trouble when the enemy surrounds the city.’

God had given to the *Israelites so many good things. But they would forget to thank him. And they would forget to serve him. As a result, their enemies would attack them. Their enemies would come from a long distance away. Because the *Israelites would not praise God, another nation would attack them. The *Israelites would not understand those people’s languages. The enemies would be like a large bird that arrives suddenly. They would *destroy everything and everybody. There would be no food for the *Israelites, so that they would even have to eat their own children! That happened to the *Israelites several times. In 2 Kings 6:28-29, it tells us about two women in the town called Samaria. They made a plan to eat their children and they did eat one child. Jeremiah 19:9 says that the same thing would happen in Jerusalem too.

v58 ‘Suppose that you do not obey carefully all the law in this book. Suppose that you do not give honour to the wonderful and powerful name of the *LORD your God. v59 The *LORD will send to you and to your *descendants terrible diseases, awful *disasters and serious illnesses. v60 He will send to you again all the terrible diseases that you had in Egypt. You will never recover. v61 The *LORD will send to you every kind of illness and *disaster. This book of the law does not even record them. Then you will die. v62 Then you, who were as many as the stars in the sky, will become few in number. That will be because you did not obey the *LORD your God. v63 The *LORD was happy to give to you good things. And he was happy to make you increase in numbers. Now he will be happy to ruin and to *destroy you. God will take you out of the country that you had entered to possess.

v64 And the *LORD will scatter you among the nations. You will go from one end of the earth to the other end. There you will serve false gods that people make out of wood and stone. Neither you nor your *ancestors have known those false gods. v65 You will not find any peace among those nations. There will be nowhere where you can stay. The *LORD will give to you an anxious mind. Your sight will be weak. You will feel full of despair. v66 You will be in danger. During the day and the night, terror will fill you. You will be in constant fear of death. v67 In the morning, you will wish for the evening. In the evening, you will wish for the morning. That will be because of the fear that fills your minds. The things that you will see will also make you afraid. v68 The *LORD will send you back to Egypt in ships. I had said that you would never make that journey again. There you will try to sell yourselves as male and female slaves to your enemies. But nobody will buy you.’

In chapter 11 verses 10-16, God had promised physical *blessings. They would come if the whole *Israelite nation obeyed God. But the people might forget to serve and to obey God. Then they would suffer all the diseases that they had in Egypt. They would decrease in numbers. They would serve *idols, and they would not continue to serve the *Lord. They would leave their country and they would not feel safe. Finally, they would go back to where they began. They would try to be *slaves in Egypt, but nobody would want to buy them!

The third speech: 29:1 to 30:20 – Choose to Live in the way that God Wants You to Live

Chapter 29

v1 These are the words of the *covenant. The *LORD ordered Moses to make it with the *Israelites in the country called Moab. This was in addition to the *covenant that he had made with them at *Mount Sinai.

v2 Moses called all the *Israelites together and he spoke to them:

‘You saw all that the *LORD did in Egypt to the king, to all his officials and to all his country. v3 You saw the great troubles, the *signs and the great *wonders. v4 But the *LORD has not given to you yet a mind that understands. You do not understand what your eyes see. You do not understand what your ears hear. v5 “I led you for 40 years in the *desert. Your clothes and your shoes did not wear out. v6 You did not eat bread or drink wine or strong alcohol. I did those things so that you would know this: I am the *LORD your God.”

v7 You came to this place. Sihon, king of Heshbon, and Og, king of Bashan, fought against us. But we defeated them. v8 We took their country. We gave it to the *tribe of Reuben, the *tribe of Gad and half the *tribe of Manasseh. It belongs to them.

v9 Obey carefully all the words of this *covenant. Then you will succeed in all that you do.’

The ‘words of the *covenant’ (verse 1) may refer to chapters 1-28. But in chapters 29 and 30 Moses repeats the *covenant with a new *generation of *Israelites. He reminds them about their history. And he urges them to be *faithful to God. The *Israelites had all escaped from Egypt. And they had all had the experience of the journey through the *desert. However, the people that Moses spoke to in verse 1 had not had that experience themselves. But they were part of the nation called *Israel.

Then God tells them how he had provided for them (verses 5-6). God provided for them so that their clothes did not wear out. He had given to them food and water. He helped them to defeat the kings. God gave to them the country so that it belonged to them. They had done nothing to deserve it. But each *tribe received a share of the land as their possession. That was similar to a father who divided his land among his sons before his death. However, the *Israelites did not appreciate properly what God had done for them. They refused to trust him. As a result, God did not allow them to understand what he had done. For that reason, the *Israelites did not listen to the *prophets. And later, many did not listen to Jesus himself.

v10 ‘Today you are standing in front of the *LORD your God. The chiefs of your *tribes, your leaders, your officials, and all the men from *Israel, are here. v11 Your wives and your children are here. The foreigners are also here. They chop your wood and they collect your water. v12 You are here in order to enter into this *covenant with the *LORD your God. The *LORD is making this *covenant with you today with his promise. v13 Today he is establishing this. You are his people and he will be your God. This is what he told you. And this is what he promised to you and your *ancestors Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. v14 I am not making this *covenant and this promise just with you. v15 You stand here with us in front of the *LORD our God today. But I am also making this *covenant and this promise with those who are not here today.’

Moses reminds the *Israelites that they are in front of God. All the people were there. God was reminding them about the promises that he had already made in his *covenant. God had made his *covenant and his promises with Abraham. God also made his *covenant and his promises with the *Israelites who had left Egypt. But the *covenant was also for those who were not yet born. Each new *generation had to accept the *covenant for themselves.

(In John 17:20-21, Jesus prayed for his followers. But he included the future *generations in his prayer.)

v16 ‘You remember how we lived in Egypt. You know how we passed through the countries on the way here. v17 You saw the terrible *idols that they made out of wood, stone, silver and gold. v18 Make sure that no man or woman, no family or *tribe here today, leaves the *LORD our God. Make sure that they do not *worship the false gods of those nations. That would be like a root that grows into a poisonous plant.

v19 A person may hear this serious *covenant and then he may *bless himself. He says, “I shall be safe. So I shall continue to do what pleases me.” That would *destroy all of you, good people and evil people alike. v20 The *LORD will not forgive that person. Instead, the *LORD will be angry with the man. All the *curses that are in this book will come upon him. The *LORD will *destroy him and the *LORD will remove his name from the world. v21 The *LORD will separate him out from all the *tribes in *Israel and he will send *disaster to him. That man will suffer all the *curses of the *covenant that are in this book of the law.’

Moses reminds the people again about how God rescued them from Egypt. Moses reminds them about their journey. He warns them not to give honour to *idols. That would be like a poisonous plant. The plant may look good. But it produces poison that could kill a person. Suppose that someone decides not to listen to Moses. Suppose that other people start to *worship *idols. It would ruin the whole nation. People would not enjoy the benefits of the *covenant if they did not belong to it personally. God would not forgive a person if that person decided to *sin on purpose. Nobody would remember his name. The *Israelites thought that that was a terrible thing.

In Acts chapter 5, Ananias and Sapphira pretended to be better than they were. They did what pleased them. But both of them died very suddenly. Jesus told his followers that they should not be like that. They should not make people think that they were better than other people. (See Matthew 6:1-6.)

v22 ‘Then the next *generation of your children, and people from foreign countries, will see the *disasters that have happened. They will see how the *LORD has sent disease to this country. v23 The land will burn and it will have no use. Salt and a yellow chemical called sulphur will cover the soil. There will be no grass. Nothing will grow there. It will be like the cities called Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim. The *LORD *destroyed those cities because he was very angry. v24 All the nations will ask, “Why did the *LORD do this to the country? Why was he so angry?”

v25 The answer will be this. “It is because these people now do not obey the *covenant. That is the *covenant that they had with the *LORD, the God of their *ancestors. The *LORD made that *covenant with them when he brought them out of Egypt. v26 But they went away and they served false gods. They *worshipped false gods whom they had not known before. They were false gods whom the *LORD had not given to them. v27 Therefore the *LORD was very angry with the country. So, he brought upon the country all the *curses that are in this book. v28 The *LORD became very angry. Because he was so very angry, he made the people leave their country. He forced them into another country, where they are today.” ’

As the people stood on the plains of Moab, they could see the edges of the Dead Sea. The Dead Sea was 46 miles long. The land used to produce good crops. But God *destroyed it as a punishment. The people who lived there had done wrong things. The same thing could happen to the rest of the country if the people started to serve *idols.

In Romans chapters 9-11, Paul describes how many *Jews have refused to accept God. But Paul says that *Jewish people can still return to God. And he will show *mercy to them.

v29 ‘There are some things that the *LORD our God has kept as a secret. But the things that he has shown to us belong to us and to our children for always. So, we must obey his law.’

People do not know everything. Only God knows certain things. For example, only God knows what will happen in the future. There are many things that God has not told us yet. However, God has shown to us all that we need to know. God has taught us clearly what to do. We must learn what God desires us to do. As soon as we understand those things we must do them. We must do them because we love God. And also, we must do them in order to obey God.

Chapter 30

v1 ‘All these *blessings and *curses, that I have told you about, will happen to you. You will live among the nations to which the *LORD your God has scattered you. Then remember. v2 Suppose that you and your *descendants return to the *LORD your God. Then you obey completely all the commands that I am giving to you today. v3 Then the *LORD your God will have *mercy on you. You will not continue to be prisoners. He will bring you back from the nations where the *LORD your God has scattered you. v4 Maybe he scattered you to the most distant country in the world. Even then, the *LORD your God will gather you from there and he will bring you back. v5 He will bring you to the country that belonged to your *ancestors. Then you will possess it. The *LORD will make you richer and more successful. You will be more in number than your *ancestors were. v6 The *LORD your God will give to you and to your *descendants, a desire to obey him. So, you will love the *LORD your God completely and you will live. v7 The *LORD your God will put all these *curses on your enemies. They hate and they attack you. v8 You will obey the *LORD again. You will *keep all his *commandments that I order you today. v9 Then the *LORD your God will make you successful in all that you do. You will have many children and many *cattle. Your fields will produce many crops. The *LORD was glad to make your *ancestors successful. In the same way, he will be glad to make you successful. v10 You will have to obey the *LORD your God. You will have to *keep all his *commandments and his rules that are in this book of the law. You will have to return and *worship the *LORD your God completely.’

Moses ends his speech with a hopeful message. Also, he urges the people to obey God’s commands. God might have sent the *Israelites away from their country because they did not love God. And they had not obeyed him. But if they returned to God, then God would show *mercy to them. If the *Israelites returned to the *Lord, then he would *bless them again. They would own more than they had before. Then they would change the way that they were thinking. The Bible calls this ‘repentance’. They would want to love and to obey him. Jeremiah writes about this in Jeremiah 31:33-34. ‘I will write my laws on their minds. I will forgive their *sins. I will not continue to remember the wrong things that they have done.’ When a person obeys God, the result is *blessing. Jeremiah 32:41 says, ‘It will give me pleasure to do good things for them.’

Some people believe that the *Jewish nation will believe Jesus. Paul writes about this in Romans chapters 9-11. He says that the Gentiles will believe Jesus. (Gentiles are people who are not *Jews.) They will believe Jesus when most *Jews do not believe. But one day, *Jews will see the *blessings that the Gentiles have. As a result, the *Jews will trust Jesus and they will receive God’s *mercy. So, ‘all *Israel will receive *salvation’. (See Romans 11:26.) This may mean that the whole *Israelite nation will receive *salvation at that time. But some people do not agree with that. For those people, ‘all *Israel’ refers to all the non-*Jewish Christians plus all the *Jews who will trust Jesus.

v11 ‘The *commandment that I am giving to you today is not too difficult for you. It is not too hard for what you are able to do. v12 It is not in heaven. You do not have to ask this. “Who will go up to heaven and bring it down for us? Then we will hear it and we will do it.” v13 It is not on the other side of the sea, so that you have to ask this question. “Who will go across the sea to get it? Then they can bring it to us. And we can hear it and we can do it.” v14 No, the words are very near to you. They are in your minds and you can speak about them. So, you can obey them too.

v15 Today I am giving to you a choice. You can choose to live and then good things will happen to you. Or you can choose death and then very bad things will happen to you. v16 Today, I order you to love the *LORD your God. You must do what he says. And you must *keep his *commandments, rules and laws. Then you will live and you will increase in numbers. The *LORD your God will *bless you in the country that you will enter to possess.

v17 But maybe you will not obey and you will refuse to listen. People may persuade you to *worship and to serve false gods. v18 If so, I tell you that God will *destroy you. You will cross the River Jordan and you will enter the country to possess it. But you will not stay there for a long time.

v19 I ask heaven and earth to be a *witness against you today. I have given to you the choice. You can choose to live or to die. And you can choose between *blessings and *curses. Therefore, choose to live, so that you and your *descendants can live. v20 Love the *LORD your God. Obey what he says. Be *faithful to him. The *LORD makes you alive. He will let you live for many years in the country. He promised to give this country to your *ancestors, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.’

As Moses ends his speech he gives the people a choice. God’s commands were not difficult for the *Israelites to understand. They could discover them easily. God had spoken from the place where he lives. But the people could understand him easily. The commands did not come from a long distance away. God had not written them in a foreign language. People could repeat the *commandments and they could obey the *commandments. The basic command was that everyone should love God. If they loved God, then everything else would happen too. It was a choice to live or to die. It was a choice between good things and evil things. ‘To live’ and ‘to die’ do not refer to just physical things. God wants to give *blessings. ‘To live’ means that people enjoy his *blessings. ‘To die’ means that people suffer the *curses.

31:1 – 33:29 From Moses to Joshua

Chapter 31

v1 Then Moses continued to speak to all the *Israelites. v2 ‘I am now 120 years old. I cannot continue to lead you. The *LORD has said to me, “You shall not go across the River Jordan.” v3 The *LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will *destroy the nations that are in front of you. Then you will possess their country. Also, the *LORD has told you that Joshua will lead you across the river. v4 Sihon and Og were the kings of the *Amorites. The *LORD will do to those nations what he did to those kings and to their country. He destroyed them. v5 The *LORD will hand over those nations to you. You must do to them everything that I have ordered you to do. v6 Be strong. Have courage. You must not be afraid of those nations. The *LORD your God goes with you. He will always help you and he will not leave you.’

v7 Then Moses called Joshua. And Moses spoke to Joshua in front of all the *Israelites. ‘Be strong. Have courage. You will go with these people into the country. The *LORD has promised it to their *ancestors. And you must cause them to possess it. They will continue to possess it in the future. v8 The *LORD himself will lead you and he will be with you. He will not leave you and he will always help you. Do not be afraid. Do not lose courage.’

Moses had finished his work. He was now 120 years old and he could not continue to lead them. Moses appointed Joshua as the new leader, although God was their actual leader. God had caused them to defeat Sihon and Og. In the future, he would cause them to defeat other nations. God had helped them to *destroy nations when Moses led them. In the future, God would help them to *destroy nations under the leadership of Joshua. Both Joshua and the people should be strong and have courage. God would be with them. They need not be afraid.

Paul talks about the Christian’s war against evil things in Ephesians 6:10-18. He encourages Christians. He says to them, ‘Be strong in the *Lord and be strong in his great power.’

v9 So Moses wrote down this law. He gave it to the priests, who were the sons of Levi. They carried the box of the *covenant of the *LORD. He also gave the law to the leaders of *Israel. v10-11 Moses gave this command to them. ‘At the end of every 7 years, in the year when you cancel debts, read these laws. Do it at the *Festival of Shelters when all *Israelites come to give honour to the *LORD your God. They must come to the place that he will choose. Then read this law aloud to them, so that they will hear it. v12 Call all the people. Call the men, women, children and foreigners who are living in your towns. Then they will listen, and they will learn to *fear the *LORD your God. They will learn to obey all this law carefully. v13 So their children, who do not know the law, will hear it. And the children will learn to *fear the *LORD your God for as long as you live in the country. You will go across the River Jordan in order to possess this country.’

‘Moses wrote down this law.’ But Moses probably had people to help him. The priests kept the laws safely. Every 7 years, during the *Festival of Shelters, they would read the laws aloud. Everyone, even the children, would hear the laws. As a result, they would respect and obey God.

v14 The *LORD said to Moses, ‘You will die soon. Call Joshua. Go with him to the tent where you meet. Then I will give to him his instructions.’ Moses and Joshua went to the tent.

v15 The *LORD appeared to them there in the shape of a cloud. The cloud was at the entrance to the tent. v16 The *LORD said to Moses, ‘You will die soon. Then the people will serve the foreign false gods in the country that they had entered. The people will not be loyal me. They will not *keep the *covenant that I made with them. v17 Then I will be angry with them. I will leave them and I will not help them. I will *destroy them. Many *disasters and troubles will happen to them. When those things happen, they will say this. “These *disasters have happened to us because our God is not with us.” v18 I will not help them because they have done evil things. They have served false gods.

v19 Now write down this song. Teach it to the *Israelites and make them sing it. It will be a *witness for me against the *Israelites. v20 I will take them into a country that has plenty of good things. I promised that to their *ancestors. They will have plenty to eat. They will fill themselves and they will become fat. Then they will start to follow false gods. And they will serve those gods. They will leave me. They will refuse to obey my *covenant. v21 Many *disasters and difficulties will happen to them. This song will remind them about what I said to them. Their *descendants will not forget it. I promised to give the country to them. But I know what they intend to do. They are thinking it, even before I take them into the country.’ v22 Then Moses wrote down the song that day and he taught it to the *Israelites.

v23 Then the *LORD gave this command to Joshua the son of Nun. ‘Be strong. Take courage. You will bring the *Israelites into the country that I promised to give to them. I will be with you.’

God made Joshua the next leader of the people. God wanted Joshua to be certain about it. The cloud had guided them through their journey. Now the cloud was at the entrance to the tent. That showed that God was there. God told Joshua to be strong and to have courage. God promised Joshua that he, Joshua, would lead the people into the country. God also said that he would be with Joshua. God warned Moses that the people would not continue to follow God. He told Moses to write a song. People remember the words of a song more easily than ordinary speech. Then people would know why God would not help them. The song would remind them about all that God had done for them. The song would warn them not to leave God. If they refused to obey the *covenant, then the *curses of the *covenant would happen.

v24 Moses wrote in a book all the words of God’s laws. v25 Then he gave a command to the *Levites. They carried the box of the *covenant of the *LORD. Moses said, v26 ‘Take this book of the law. Place it next to the box of the *covenant of the *LORD your God. It will remain there as a *witness against you. v27 I know this. You refuse to obey and you will not change your behaviour. You have refused to obey the *LORD while I am still alive. You will refuse even more after I die! v28 Gather all the leaders of the *tribes and your officials and come together in front of me. Then I can say these things to them. I will call heaven and earth as my *witness against them. v29 I know that after my death you will become completely wicked. You will not continue to do the things that I have ordered you to do. The *LORD will see the evil things that you will do in the future. So you will suffer *disaster. The *idols that you will make will cause the *LORD to be angry.’

The priests had to look after the book of God’s law. They had to put the law next to the box of the *covenant. Then the *Israelites would know when they had done wrong things.

v30 While all the *Israelites listened, Moses spoke the words of this song from the beginning to the end:

Chapter 32

v1 ‘Listen, heavens, and I will speak.

  Oh earth, hear the words that I say.

v2 My lessons will come down like the rain.

  My words will form on the earth like the mist in the morning.

  They will be like showers of rain on new grass,

  They will be like much rain on young plants.

v3 I will call aloud the name of the *LORD.

  Oh, tell people that our God is very great!

v4 He is the rock that is strong. What he does is perfect.

  He is a *faithful God. He does not do anything that is wrong.

  He does what is right and fair.

v5 The people have not been *faithful to him.

  They are not his children. They are *sinful and foolish.

v6 You should not deal with the *LORD in that way.

  You are foolish and stupid people.

  The *LORD is your father. He created you.

  He made you into a nation and he made you firm.’

The song describes a *trial in a court. The place where God lives and the earth are like *witnesses in this *trial. Moses praises God. God is great and he is perfect. God made his people and he protects them too. God’s lessons are like the rain. The rain helps young plants to grow. In a similar way, God’s lessons should have a good effect on his people. God looks after his people. But the people have been foolish. They have not been *faithful or grateful.

v7 ‘Remember a long time ago. Think about the *generations in the past.

  Ask your father. He will tell you what happened.

Ask your leaders to tell you the story.

v8 God, who is the great God, divided the land between the different nations.

  He decided where the boundaries should be.

He made the boundaries of the *tribes of the *Israelites that depended on their size.

v9 The *LORD’s share was his people.

  He chose Jacob’s *descendants as his special people.

v10 The *LORD found the *Israelites in a *desert.

  It was empty and strong winds blew across it.

  He guarded and looked after the *Israelites.

  He protected them as he would protect his own eyes.

v11 He was like an eagle that teaches its young birds to fly.

  The large bird called the eagle spreads its wings to catch its young birds.

  And it carries them on its strong feathers.

v12 The *LORD alone led his people.

  No false god helped them.

v13 God let them rule the mountains.

  He fed them with the harvest that came from the fields.

  He satisfied them with honey that came from the rocks.

  He gave them oil from the hard rock.

v14 The cows and the goats in *Israel gave plenty of milk.

  *Israel had fat sheep and male sheep from the region called Bashan.

  And *Israel had goats and the finest wheat.

  *Israelites drank wine from the juice of the *grape.’

This section shows what God had done for his people. God chose the nation called *Israel from among the nations. He prepared a special country for them. He brought them through the *desert. He looked after them like an eagle looks after its young birds. (An eagle is a very large bird.) He provided all that they would need in the country. There were no false gods to lead the *Israelites away from the right actions.

v15 ‘The *LORD’s people became rich and they refused to obey him.

  They ate and they became fat.

  They left the God who had made them.

  God had protected them; God had saved them.

  But they did not honour him.

v16 They made God jealous because they served false gods.

  They made him angry because they *worshipped terrible *idols.

v17 They *sacrificed to devils and they did not *sacrifice to God.

  The *Israelites had not known those false gods in the past.

  Those false gods were new to them.

  The *Israelite *ancestors did not *worship them.

v18 You did not follow the God who protected you.

  He made you. You forgot the God who made you live.’

In this section, Moses accuses the *Israelites. They were like fat animals that would not follow their owner. *Israelites served false gods and they did not continue to trust God. Some false gods were the new ones that they had met in their new country. They had forgotten the God who had created them. Moses had seen that kind of thing happen before this. Remember the story about the young cow that Aaron had made out of gold. (See Exodus 32.) Moses knew what would happen in the future.

v19 ‘The *LORD saw it with disgust.

  His sons and his daughters made him angry.

v20 “I will not continue to be with them,” he said.

  “I will see what happens to them.

  They refuse to obey me and I cannot trust them.

v21 They made me jealous with their false gods that have no value.

  Their *idols have no value, and those *idols made me angry.

  I will cause a nation that has no value to make *Israel jealous.

  I will use a foolish nation to make *Israel angry.

v22 My anger will be like a fire.

  It will burn down to hell.

  My anger will *destroy the earth and its harvests.

  It will make the base of the mountains burn with fire.

v23 I will send many *disasters upon *Israel.

  I will use up all my arrows against them.

v24 The *Israelites will become weak because of hunger.

  They will be very hot in their bodies and they will have terrible diseases.

  I will send wild animals to attack them.

  I will send poisonous snakes to bite them.

v25 There will be war in their streets and there will be terror in their homes.

  Young men and young women will die. Babies and old men will all die.

v26 I said that I would scatter the *Israelites.

  Nobody will remember them.

v27 But I was afraid that their enemies would be proud.

  They would not understand.

  Their enemies would say, ‘We have defeated them.

  The *LORD has not done it.’ ”

v28 People in *Israel do not listen to advice.

  They do not have any wisdom.

v29 If they were wise they would understand this.

  Then they would know what would happen to them finally.

v30 One man could not possibly chase 1000 men.

  Two men could not cause 10 000 men to run away.

  That could happen only if God, their strong Rock, would not help them.

  It could happen only if the *LORD had left them.

v31 The false gods of our enemies are not like our God, the strong rock.

  Our enemies know that this is true.

v32 Their enemies are as bad as the people from Sodom and Gomorrah.

  Their enemies are like plants that produce poisonous and bitter *grapes.

v33 Their wine is like the poison of snakes.

v34 “I will remember this.

  I will store it in a safe place.

v35 I will get *revenge. I will punish those people who do wrong things.

  The time will come when they will suffer defeat.

  Their day of *disaster is near.

  Their punishment will happen quickly.”

v36 The *LORD will make a judgement on his people.

  He will have *mercy on his servants.

  He will see that they have lost their strength.

  Nobody remains, slave or free.

v37 Then he will say, “Their gods have not been able to do anything.

  They were sure that their false gods would protect them.

v38 They fed those false gods with their *sacrifices.

  They gave them wine from their *drink offerings.

  Let those false gods come. And let them help you!

  Let them protect you!

v39 I am the only God.

  There is no real god apart from me.

  I kill and I make alive.

  I cause injuries and I will cure.

  Nobody can rescue anyone from my hand.

v40 I am the God who lives for always. I raise my hand towards heaven.

  I promise this to you.

v41 I will make my sharp sword to shine.

  I will hold it in my hand to bring *judgement.

  I will get *revenge on my enemies.

  I will punish those who hate me.

v42 The blood of my enemies will cover my arrows.

  My sword will kill those who oppose me.

  Blood will flow from those who die and from the prisoners.

  My sword will cut off the heads of the leaders of the enemy.”

v43 Oh nations, be happy with God’s people.

  God will punish those who kill his people.

  God will get *revenge on his enemies.

  God will remove the *sins of his country and of his people.’

Verses 19-25 are the judgement of the judge at the end of the *trial. God is the judge and he decides how to punish *Israel. He will leave them. He will not help them. They will not be able to get away from his anger. They *worshipped false gods that had no value. So, nations that do not *worship God will attack *Israel. There will be hunger and disease. Wild animals, war and death will attack them.

(Romans 1:18-32 announces similar punishments for people who refuse to accept God’s truth today. Paul says that God allowed them to carry out their *sinful desires. Then they received in themselves the result of the wrong things that they did.)

But God will not ruin his people completely. God ought to send the *Israelites away so that people would forget them. That is what they deserved. God will not do that because his enemies might become proud. God allowed the enemies to be successful for only one reason. God used his enemies to punish his people, the *Israelites. God punished his people in a very hard way. But the punishment for God’s enemies would be greater. The enemy is as wicked as Sodom and Gomorrah. (God *destroyed those two towns in the time of Abraham and Lot. See Genesis 19:24.) God will remember their wicked actions. Then he will punish the *Israelites’ enemies. God will show his people that they were foolish to trust false gods. God promises to show *mercy on his people and to punish their enemies. People from all nations will join to give honour to God. He will take away the *sin of his people and he will cover it.

In Romans 15:10, Paul uses the first part of Deuteronomy 32:43. He describes how the Gentiles will trust God. (Gentiles are people who are not *Jews.)

v44 Moses and Joshua, son of Nun, spoke the words of this song so that the *Israelites could hear it. v45 Moses finished his speech to all the *Israelites. v46 Then he said this to them. ‘Remember every word that I have said to you today. Order your children to obey carefully all the words that have taught to you. v47 These commands are important words. They cause you to live. You will cross the River Jordan to possess the country. Obey what I have taught to you. Then you will live for a long time in that country.’

v48 The same day, the *LORD said this to Moses. v49 ‘Go up to *Mount Nebo in the Abarim mountains. It is in Moab, opposite Jericho. Look at the country called Canaan, which I am giving to the *Israelites for their possession. v50 You will die on the mountain that you climb. There you will join your *ancestors. In the same way, your brother, Aaron, died on *Mount Hor and he joined his *ancestors. v51 Neither of you were *faithful to me at the waters of Meribah Kadesh. That was in the *desert of Zin. There, you did not give honour to me in front of the people. v52 So you will see the country from a distance. But you will not enter the country that I am giving to the *Israelites.’

Moses ordered the *Israelites to remember the song and the law. If they obeyed the laws, they would choose to live. God told Moses to climb *Mount Nebo, where he would die. His brother had died on the top of a mountain too. God did not allow Moses to enter the country that he had promised to the *Israelites. That was because of what happened at Meribah. (See Numbers 20:10-13.) You can read more about this in the explanation on chapter 3 verses 23-29.

Chapter 33

v1 This is the *blessing that Moses, God’s *prophet, gave to the *Israelites. Moses did this before he died.

v2 ‘The *LORD came from *Mount Sinai.

  He rose like the sun over Seir. He shone from *Mount Paran.

  He came with 1000s of *holy *angels.

  There was fire at his right side.

v3 Certainly you love the people. You look after the *holy people.

  They all bend down at your feet. You give instructions to them.

v4 Moses gave to us the law that belongs to the people from Jacob.

v5 The *LORD was king over his people *Israel.

  He was king when the leader and *tribes of the *Israelites gathered together.’

These are Moses’ last words to the people before he died. People considered that the last words of a father were an official statement of his desires. Genesis 27:27-29 contains Isaac’s last words to Jacob. (Isaac believed that Jacob was Esau.) Here Moses *blesses the *tribes. He was like a father who was blessing his children. Moses was saying what would happen to them in the future. Moses describes God as a king who comes with his angels. Angels are God’s army of servants from heaven. God wanted the *Israelites to know what he wanted them to do. God did that as he gave his laws to them.

v6 ‘Let Reuben live and do not let him die.

  Do not allow Reuben’s *tribe to become few in number.’

Although Reuben was the first of Jacob’s sons, he did not receive the benefits of the oldest son. (See Genesis 39:3-4.) Instead, those benefits went to Joseph (Genesis 49:26). Reuben allowed Joseph to become a slave. Many people in the *tribe of Reuben died because Korah went against Moses. (See Numbers 16:1-30.) Moses prays that the *tribe will not become smaller.

v7 Moses said this about Judah.

  ‘Oh *LORD, hear the cry of Judah. Unite Judah with the other *tribes.

  Help him against his enemies as he fights to defend himself.’

This is a prayer for help for Judah when that *tribe would need that help. The Philistines (people from Philistia) attacked Judah later.

Moses does not mention Simeon in this *blessing. Perhaps Moses includes the *tribe of Simeon in the *blessing of Judah.

v8 Moses said this about Levi.

  ‘Your *Urim and Thummin, *LORD, are for the man whom you chose.

  You tested him at Massah. You quarrelled with him at the waters of Meribah.

v9 Levi was more loyal to you than to his parents, to his brothers or to his children.

  He obeyed your words and he *kept your *covenant.

v10 They will teach your laws to Jacob and your instructions to *Israel.

  They will put a substance with a sweet smell in front of you.

  They will give whole *burnt offerings on your *altar.

v11 Oh *LORD, make them strong.

  I pray that his work will please you.

  *Destroy his enemies, so that they will not attack again.’

This was the *blessing on Moses’ own *tribe. The words Urim and Thummin mean ‘perfect lights’. They were probably precious stones. The chief priest carried them. Somehow, God used them to tell his decisions to the chief priest. ‘The man whom you chose’ probably means the chief priest. The events at Massah and Meribah are in Exodus 17:1-7. It seems that the *tribe of Levi was *faithful to God on those occasions.

They had a duty to serve God. That was more important than their duty to their families. This *blessing refers to the story of the young cow that Aaron made out of gold. (See Exodus 32:25-29.) The *Levites had killed even members of their own family who were not *faithful. The *Levites had two tasks. They guarded God’s law and they taught it to the people. Some *Levites were priests and they gave *sacrifices. Moses prays that God will *destroy Levi’s enemies. Perhaps he is referring to the story of Korah in Numbers 16:1-11.

v12 Moses said this about Benjamin.

‘The *LORD loves this *tribe. I pray that Benjamin will live safely with God.

  God always looks after Benjamin.

Benjamin lives under the protection of the *LORD.

  The *LORD carries Benjamin, his little son whom he loves, on his shoulders.’

The *tribe of Benjamin will have a safe place in which to live. Benjamin had land to the north-west of Judah, near Jerusalem. The place on which the *Israelites built the *temple was in Benjamin’s land.

v13 Moses said this about Joseph.

  ‘I ask the *LORD to *bless Joseph’s land.

  I ask God to send mist from the sky above and to send up water from below.

v14 Joseph will have the best fruit that the sun has made ripe.

  He will have the best fruit in each month during the year.

v15 Let there be the richest things from the old mountains.

  Let there be the best fruits from the ancient hills.

v16 I ask God to fill his land with the best gifts of the earth.

  God was in the bush that was burning. I ask him to *bless Joseph.

  I ask that the *tribe of Joseph will receive all these *blessings.

  He was the leader of his brothers.

v17 Joseph is as strong as a *bull.

  He has *horns like a wild *ox.

  He will use them to push away nations to the ends of the earth.

  His horns are the 10 000s of Ephraim and the 1000s of Manasseh.’

Joseph has the longest *blessing. He has the double *blessing that a father usually gave to the oldest son. Both Joseph’s sons led *tribes. Ephraim became the very important *tribe. God *blesses Joseph with *fertile land and good crops. There is a reference in verse 16 to the story about the bush that was burning. (See Exodus 3:2.) An *ox is a powerful animal. Joseph has power too. *Horns are often a way to refer to power. The *tribes of his two sons are like the *horns on the *ox. That means that they will have military power.

v18 This is what Moses said about Zebulun and Issachar.

  ‘Oh Zebulun, be happy when you go out.

  Oh Issachar, be happy in your tents.

v19 They will call people to come to their mountain.

  There they will give right *sacrifices.

  They will get their wealth from the sea.

  They will get secret valuable things from the sand.’

Zebulun will have success in trade. And they will succeed when they catch fish. Issachar will succeed in agriculture. Moses says that they will give the right *sacrifices to God. They will give the *sacrifices when they have success.

v20 This is what Moses said about Gad.

  ‘Give honour to God! He makes Gad’s territory to be large.

  Gad lives there like a lion that tears at an arm or a head.

v21 Gad chose the best land for himself.

  He got the leader’s part. The leaders of the people gathered.

  Gad did what the *LORD declared to be right.

  They made the right *judgements for *Israel.’

Gad had the area east of the River Jordan. He chose the best part. But he obeyed God. He helped the rest of the *Israelites to *capture their own land.

v22 This is what Moses said about Dan.

  ‘Dan is a young lion. He jumps out of Bashan.’

Dan has the energy of a young lion. Later, the *tribe moved to the north near Bashan. Perhaps Moses speaks a *prophecy about that event here.

v23 Moses said this about Naphtali.

  ‘The *LORD is very pleased with Naphtali.

  They are full of the *LORD’s *blessings.

  Naphtali’s land reaches to the sea in the south.’

Naphtali will have the beautiful and *fertile land by the Sea of Galilee. The *tribe will receive God’s *blessing.

v24 This is what Moses said about Asher.

  ‘Asher shall have the *blessing of sons.

  Let Asher’s brothers give honour to him.

  Let him wash his feet in oil from *olives.

v25 Asher’s gates will be strong, with bars of iron and of *bronze.

  His strength will last for as long as he lives.’

Asher will have a *fertile territory. Moses prays that Asher’s brothers will give honour to him. His land was famous because of its *olive trees. People came into the*Israelites’ country to attack it. And they had to come along the road through Asher’s land. But Moses says that its towns will have strong defences.

The final promise is like Matthew 28:20. ‘I will always be with you until the end of this age.’

v26 ‘There is nobody who is like the God of Jeshurun (*Israel).

  God rides on the heavens as he comes to help you.

  He is magnificent as he rides on the clouds.

v27 The God, who lives for always, is your place of safety.

  His arms that last for always will support you.

  He will force out your enemy in front of you.

  He tells you to *destroy your enemy.

v28 The people in *Israel will live in safety.

  Jacob’s supply of water is certain.

  They will have a land that is full of corn and new wine.

  Mist drops down from the sky.

v29 Oh *Israel, you are happy. There is nobody who is like you.

  The *LORD has saved your nation.

  The *LORD will protect you and help you. You will use his sword to overcome.

  Your enemies will be afraid of you.

  You will walk all over their *holy places.’

Moses praises God again at the end of the poem. God comes to help his people. He will support them. He will force out their enemies. As a result, they will live safely in their country. They will have water, grain, wine and the mist that comes on cool nights. God has saved *Israel. Their enemies will be afraid of them.

34:1-12 Moses Dies

Chapter 34

v1 Then Moses climbed from the plains of Moab to *Mount Nebo. He went to the top of *Mount Pisgah, which is east of Jericho. There, the *LORD showed to him the whole country. Moses saw Gilead’s land as far north as Dan. v2 He saw also all of Naphtali’s land, Ephraim’s land and Manasseh’s land. He saw Judah’s land across to the Mediterranean Sea. v3 He saw the southern area. And he saw the whole area from the valley of Jericho to Zoar. Jericho was the city with trees called palm trees. v4 Then the *LORD said this to Moses. ‘This is the country that I promised to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob. I said that I would give it to their *descendants. I have let you see it. But you will not go there.’

v5 Then Moses, the *LORD’s servant, died there in the country called Moab. That happened as the *LORD had said. v6 The *LORD buried Moses in a valley in Moab. That was opposite Beth-peor. Still today, nobody knows where Moses’ grave is. v7 Moses was 120 years old when he died. His sight was still good and he was still strong. v8 The *Israelites wept for 30 days in the plains of Moab, because Moses had died. Then the time ended when they were weeping because of Moses.

v9 Now God made Joshua, the son of Nun, wise. That was because Moses had put his hands on Joshua. So the *Israelites listened to what Joshua said. They did what the *LORD had ordered Moses to do.

v10 Since that time, there has never been a *prophet like Moses in *Israel. The *LORD knew him ‘face to face’. v11 Moses did all those *signs and *wonders. The *LORD sent him to do them in Egypt. Moses did them against Pharaoh the king, his officials and his whole country. v12 Nobody has ever had such great power as Moses had. Nobody has ever done such great or terrible acts as Moses did. All the *Israelites saw them.

This gives the story of Moses’ death. He climbed the mountain range of Nebo to the top of *Mount Pisgah. It was 2740 feet high. From that mountain, Moses saw the Jordan valley up to *Mount Hermon. That was 120 miles to the north. He saw all the country to the west, towards the Mediterranean Sea. He saw also the rich plain of Jericho. There were many trees called palm trees there. Palm trees do not have branches but they have large leaves at their top. Then Moses died there.

Nobody marked Moses’ grave with a stone. The reason for that was probably so that nobody would *worship his dead body. He did not die because he was old. His eye-sight and strength were still good. However, he had finished his work. The people wept for 30 days because Moses had died. John describes the death of Jesus in his book. (See John 19:30.) ‘Jesus said, “I have finished (my work).” When Jesus said that, he let his *spirit go.’

Moses had put his hands on Joshua. That was the way that Moses appointed Joshua as the next leader. Joshua received the gift of wisdom. Moses was the greatest of all the *prophets in *Israel. God told more to him than to anyone else. The *LORD knew Moses ‘face to face’. That means that he spoke with Moses in a personal way. The great *sign and the very wonderful act in the *Old Testament was when God rescued the *Israelites from Egypt. Moses did not bring the people into the country that God had promised to them. All the *prophets reminded the people that God had spoken by Moses. Moses formed the nation of the *Jews. When Moses died, God himself buried Moses in Moab. Moses’ period of government had ended. Later, Moses appeared with Elijah on the mountain with Jesus. (See Matthew 17:3.) The story of Jesus ends with him in the place of honour at God’s side. (See Luke 24:51.) There will be no end to Jesus’ government. (See Isaiah 9:7.)

Word List

altar ~ a table on which people give gifts or *sacrifices to God or to a false god.

Ammonite ~ someone from the nation called Ammon; anything with a relationship to Ammon. The Ammonites were relatives of the *Israelites.

Amorite ~ a nation of people who were among the original inhabitants in the country called Canaan; anything that has a relationship with that nation. There may have been more than one nation that had that name. The *Israelites had to travel through Amorite country as they went to Canaan.

Anakites ~ an ancient nation that was famous for its very tall people.

ancestors ~ people in your family who lived before you.

angel ~ a servant of God that sometimes brings messages from him.

antelope ~ an animal like a *deer that can run very fast.

Baal ~ the name of a false god of the *Canaanites.

B.C. ~ years before Christ came to the earth.

bless ~ to say or to do something good to a person; to ask God to be good to someone.

blessing ~ a good thing that God does for us; when someone asks God to do good things for a person or for people; when a person speaks good words about someone.

bronze ~ a metal that people make out of copper and tin.

bull ~ male farm animal; (the female is called a cow). The *Israelites made a metal image of a bull, which they *worshipped as an *idol.

burnt offering ~ a priest burned the whole animal on the *altar.

Canaanites ~ the people who originally lived in the country called Canaan.

capture ~ to take something and to keep it; to take people and to make them prisoners.

cattle ~ cows and *bulls.

celebrate ~ to praise an event or a person with honour and with happiness.

clean ~ good in thought and in action. But, in the *Old Testament, many things could make a person not clean towards God. For example, if they touched a dead body, that would make them not clean. And the *Israelites must not eat animals that God called not clean.

commandment ~ a rule or a command that God gave to the *Jews; the 10 rules that God gave to Moses. That was on the mountain called *Mount Sinai (or Horeb); a command from someone who has authority.

covenant ~ the special promise that God made to his people. God’s *covenant with the *Israelites established a relationship between him and them. But they must obey him.

curse ~ the opposite of a *blessing; bad things that God will do to people because they have been wicked; to say that God will curse someone.

deer ~ an animal. It has long legs and it runs quickly. It eats grass and leaves.

descendant ~ a person in your family who will live after you.

desert ~ a wild place where there are small bushes and not much water. It has poor soil and people cannot grow crops there. So, not many people live there.

destroy ~ to damage something so that it does not continue to exist; to kill people or animals.

disaster ~ an event that makes people suffer and causes great damage and perhaps, death.

donkey ~ an animal like a small horse with short legs and long ears.

drink offering ~ people poured out wine as if they were giving it to God or to a false god.

Egyptian ~ someone from the country called Egypt; anything with a relationship with Egypt. The *Israelites were *slaves in Egypt before God freed them.

faith ~ strong belief and trust.

faithful ~ when someone always does what they have promised to do; when someone is loyal at all times.

fear ~ to be afraid; to respect someone who is very great.

fellowship offering ~ an *offering that people shared and ate together.

fertile ~ land that can produce many crops.

festival ~ a happy time when people meet together to remember a person or a special event.

Festival of shelters ~ the *Israelites built shelters to live in for a week. That reminded them about their *ancestors’ journey through the *desert.

Festival of Weeks ~ a time when people were happy about the wheat harvest; it happened 7 weeks after the *Passover.

freewill offering ~ an *offering that a person chose to make.

generation ~ a period of about 20 to 30 years. During that time, children grow up and they have their own children.

grace ~ God’s *mercy and kindness, which are free gifts to us.

grape ~ small green or purple soft fruit that people can use to make wine.

guilt offering ~ an *offering that a person made because he or she had *sinned.

holy ~ morally good; something completely good and perfect; something that people consider to be very important in their religion.

Holy Spirit ~ the Holy Spirit is God, even as Jesus and the Father are God. But there are not three Gods. The Bible teaches that there is only one God.

horn ~ hard hollow bones that grow on the heads of *cattle or other animals.

idol ~ an image of a false god that people give honour to; an object of wood, stone or metal that people *worship.

Israel ~ the nation of people from the family of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob; the name of the country that God gave to that nation.

Israelite ~ a person from the nation called *Israel; Israelites is another name for the *Jews.

Jew ~ a person who belongs to the family of the *Israelites. Jews are *descendants of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Jewish ~ a word that describes a *Jew or anything that belongs to the *Jews.

judgement ~ when God or a judge says what is right or wrong.

justice ~ when things are completely fair.

keep ~ to do whatever you should do because of a promise or a law; to respect and to give honour to the law.

kingdom ~ a country or a nation that a king or a queen rules; the kingdom of God (or heaven) means the people whom God rules.

Levite ~ an *Israelite who belonged to the *tribe of Levi. Levi was a son of Jacob. Levites had special duties connected to *worship. All *Israelite priests were Levites.

Lord ~ a name for God. It translates the word ‘Adonai’ in the Hebrew language, which means ‘my ruler’. The word ‘lord’ (without a capital letter) means an ordinary ruler.

LORD ~ God gave this special name to himself. It translates the word ‘Yahweh’ in the Hebrew language. It is the *Covenant name for God. It links to the words ‘I am’; it means that God has always been here.

manna ~ a food like bread. God provided this food in a special way for the *Israelites to eat in the *desert.

mercy ~ kindness instead of punishment.

Moabite ~ someone from the nation called Moab; anything with a relationship to Moab. The Moabites were relatives of the *Israelites.

Mount ~ mountain. For example, ‘Mount Sinai’ means the mountain called Sinai.

New Testament ~ the second part of the Bible. It tells about Jesus Christ and his followers.

offerings ~ gifts (also called *sacrifices) that a person gives to God, or to a false god.

Old Testament ~ the first part of the Bible, it tells about the history and the beliefs of the *Israelites.

olive ~ small green or black fruit that comes from a tree. Oil comes from this fruit.

ox ~ a strong farm animal like a *bull that can pull the plough.

Passover ~ a *festival to *celebrate when God freed the *Israelites from Egypt.

peace offering ~ an *offering to give thanks. People shared it and they ate it as a meal.

Pharisees ~ a group of *Jews who thought that they obeyed all the laws of their religion. Those laws were all the *commandments that God gave to Moses plus extra laws.

prophecy ~ messages that God gave to a person, often about future events. But sometimes false *prophets pretended to have messages from God.

prophet ~ a person who hears God’s words and tells them to other people. But there were sometimes false prophets.

Rephaites ~ an ancient nation. It did not still exist when Moses was alive.

revenge ~ to get revenge means to return an injury that someone has done to you. God’s revenge is his desire to give the punishment that a person deserves.

Sabbath ~ Saturday, the 7th day of the week, when *Israelites did not work. There were also special Sabbaths that were not always on a Saturday.

sacrifice ~ something valuable that people give to God, or to a false god; or, to make such a gift.

salvation ~ when God saves people from the results of *sin and from punishment for *sin.

security ~ something of value that a person takes to make sure that someone will pay back money.

sign ~ an unusual event that God uses to teach people something. But sometimes false prophets promised signs.

sin ~ when people do something wrong against God or against other people; or, not to obey God.

sinful ~ refers to an action or to a desire that is against God’s law; a wrong or wicked action; a person who does those things is sinful.

slaves ~ people who are not free; they have to work for their master. When the *Israelites were slaves in Egypt they were not free. However, they had their own home and possessions. The *Egyptians did not own the *Israelites.

spirit ~ spirits are alive, but we cannot see them. There are good spirits that are usually called angels. Bad spirits are also called evil spirits, or demons. Their leader is called Satan. A person also has a spirit. Our spirit can speak to God and God can speak to our spirit.

temple ~ the chief place of *worship for the *Jews. King Solomon built the first temple for God in Jerusalem. But the word can refer to a similar building for a false god.

tithe ~ a tenth of something. To tithe means that people give a tenth of their money or of their possessions.

trial ~ an examination in a court to see if someone is guilty of a crime.

tribe ~ a group of people from the same race, who all came from one person. The tribes of *Israel were the 12 large families of Jacob’s sons.

Urim and Thummin ~ Urim and Thummim were valuable stones. The main priest kept them in the pocket of the ephod. The priest used those objects to discover God’s decision about a situation. We do not know how God did that. The ephod was a special kind of short coat that the main priest wore over his other clothes.

virgin ~ someone who has not had sex.

witness ~ someone who sees an event and tells about it. To witness is to tell what you have seen.

wonder ~ an event that astonishes people and it shows God’s power. But other people who did not love God sometimes did them too.

worship ~ when people show honour to God, or to a false god. People may sing or pray. Or they may kneel down or give a *sacrifice.

yeast ~ a substance that makes bread rise.

Book List

Matthew Henry ~ Joshua ~ Marshall Pickering, London

Samuel Schulz ~ Deuteronomy: The Gospel of Love ~ Moody Publishers, 1971

J. A. Thompson ~ Deuteronomy ~ Tyndale Old Testament Commentaries ~ Inter-Varsity Press

R. K. Harrison ~ Deuteronomy ~ New Bible Commentary (revised) ~ Inter-Varsity Press

Bible versions:

New International Bible

Good News Bible

Revised Standard Version of the Bible

New English Bible