Monday, February 21, 2011

Deuteronomy 4-6

Deuteronomy 4-6

Deuteronomy 4-6 Skeptics Annotated Bible

I'm probably wrong but 4:36 says;
"Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire."
seems to be the first instance of God being in Heaven.  I'm sure someone can set me the straight on this.

This seems to be a rewriting of history.  5:5 says;
I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount
But weren't the Israelites warned that if they got near the mountain, they would be consumed in fire?

Lucky us!  We get another rewording of the ten commandments at 5:11

God endorses graffiti at 6:9;
And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.

We end with another command to OBEY and FEAR the LORD.  Why is fear still necessary?

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  1. @Bruce,

    "This seems to be a rewriting of history. 5:5 says;
    I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount"

    The mediator of the covenant: Moses stood between God and them, at the foot of the mount ( 5), and carried messages between them both for the settling of the preliminaries (Exodus 19) and for the changing of the ratifications, Exodus 24. Herein Moses was a type of Christ, who stands between God and man, to show us the word of the Lord, a blessed days-man, that has laid his hand upon us both, so that we may both hear from God and speak to him without trembling.

    "But weren't the Israelites warned that if they got near the mountain, they would be consumed in fire?"

    Yes they were, so they got a verbal warning from Moses, then a visual confirmation to head that warning from God. Kinda kicks the fear up a level. :-D

  2. "Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire."
    seems to be the first instance of God being in Heaven.

    This is poetic language. It can be both figurative and literal at the same time. Heaven can refer to the sky or space. People generally think of god as 'up there' in the sky, i.e. heaven. The fire was the fire on Mt. Sinai and God led them by a pillar of cloud in the day and a pillar of fire at night. A pillar usually has some height to it, reaching up into the sky, or heaven.

    "I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount
    But weren't the Israelites warned that if they got near the mountain, they would be consumed in fire?"

    Moses was the mediator of the covenant between God and the people, so he was 'between' God and them. The people begged Moses to get the word from God and tell it to them because they were afraid of the fire at Mt. Sinai. The Bible says even Moses was so afraid that he trembled. That passage back in Exodus is a little confusing. God sent Moses back down to tell them not to go up on the mountain, and Moses seems frustrated as he says in effect, they won't come up; they are scared and anyway you told them not to come up.

  3. 4:4 "The LORD your God destroyed everyone among you who worshiped the god Baal while you were at Peor."

    Well .... except for the virgins! *wink, wink, nudge, nudge*

  4. I've mentioned a few helpful books for my fellow readers during the course of our journey and another useful one is Edmund Clowney's The Unfolding Mystery: Discovering Christ in the Old Testament. In the foreword, Dr. J.I. Packer writes "The Bible is unity. That is, perhaps, the most amazing thing of all the amazing things that are true of it. It consists of sixty-six separate units, written over more than a thousand years against a wide variety of cultural backgrounds, by people who for the most part worked independently of each other and show no awareness that their books would become canonical Scripture. The books themselves are of all kinds: prose jostling poetry, hymns rubbing shoulders with history, sermons with statistics, letter with liturgies, lurid visions with a love song.

    Why do we bind up this collection between the same two covers, call it The Holy Bible, and treat it as one book? One justification for doing this -- one of many -- is that the collection as a whole, once we start to explore it, proves to have an organic coherence that is simply stunning. Books written centuries apart seems to have been designed for the express purpose of supplementing and illuminating each other. There is throughout one leading character (God the Creator), one historical perspective (work redemption), one focal figure (Jesus of Nazareth, who is both Son of God and Savior), and one solid body of harmonious teaching about God and holiness. Truly the inner unity of the Bible is miraculous: a sign and a wonder, challenging the unbelief of our skeptical age."

  5. @Bruce
    Why is fear still necessary?

    R.C. Sproul has this to say:

    Martin Luther made an important distinction concerning the fear of God. He distinguished between servile fear and filial fear. He described servile fear as that kind of fear a prisoner has for his torturer. Filial fear is the fear of a son who loves his father and does not want to offend him or let him down. It is a fear born of respect. When the Bible calls us to fear God, it is issuing a call to a fear born of reverence, awe, and adoration. It is a respect of the highest magnitude. As sinful people, we have every reason to fear God’s judgment; it is part of our motivation to be reconciled with God.

  6. @Edward,
    "Kinda kicks the fear up a level. :-D"
    Yes it does! But again, why????

    I would easily argue that the OT god is working off of servile fear. Considering the Israelites lived in near CONSTANT fear of being destroyed or abandoned by God, I can't imagine they were living in awe and adoration. It isn't until late in the game, when they start successfully invading other lands and reaping the spoils of war do they finally start following the LORD without question.

    The NT god seems to reverse that when Jesus shows up but that leads again to a deity with schizophrenia who is trying to make amends for being so abusive in the OT.

  7. Bruce,
    I have to disagree that the Israelites lived in near constant fear of being destroyed by God, else they would have been much more hesitant to abandon God and the covenant and go off into idolatry so readily as they did. And they continue to do so for the next 1000 years (and so do we).

  8. These chapters begin the section of law content that has a pretty much one-to-one correlation with the reforms of King Josiah in 2Kings. I think this relationship is pretty much key to understanding the motives behind Deuteronomy.

    Deuteronomy is essentially the introduction to the Deuteronomistic History (DTR) which is what Joshua, Judges, 1,2Samuel and 1,2Kings is referred to as. The DTR has a common authorship with Deuteronomy and is basically a history of Israel seen through the theological lens of Deuteronomy. I've heard one lecturer say it's like if someone wrote a history of the USA with the goal of showing that political liberals are always right, and wrote an introduction laying out and praising liberal ideology.

    An underlying theme of the DTR is that King Josiah is awesome and all the other kings of Israel suck and behaved wickedly. Scholars are pretty unanimous that it was written (at least in its earliest form) during the reign of Josiah (641-609 BCE).

    Basically, what happened was Israel was split into a Northern and Southern Kingdom, Israel and Judah. While the Northern Kingdom stuck to the conditional covenant view and always thought they were being punished for not being good enough to Yahweh, the Southern Kingdom adopted kingship and a royal grant model of their relationship with Yahweh (Yahweh gave us this land no strings attached). They got kind of lax about Yahweh worship.

    The North eventually fell to the Assyrians and many northerners moved south to Judah. The story in 2Kings has a priest of King Josiah finding a "book of the Law" (essentially Deuteronomy) in the temple. Scholars think this is a legendary representation of the growing influence of northern theology on the temple community, the beginning of the tradition that produced Deuteronomy and the DTR. Josiah was convinced by "the book of the Law" that they had been doing it wrong all along and instituted reforms accordingly. He outlawed worshiping any deities besides Yahweh, outlawed sacrifices anywhere other than the Jerusalem temple, got rid of the temple prostitutes, reinstated Passover (renewing of the conditional covenant), etc.

    Deuteronomy can be read as the Deuteronomist(s) injecting their ideas into the speeches of Moses as a historical justification for their reforms. Chapter 4 is basically saying "Wake up people! this covenant is conditional, you have to follow these commandments and statutes." Apparently, Israelites were worshiping all kinds of gods other than Yahweh at the time of Josiah (including those of the Assyrian pantheon, not surprisingly). That's why there's such a huge emphasis on only worshiping Yahweh in these chapters.

  9. Well, after dragging myself through Numbers (with the help of some nice bourbon) I'm actually appreciating the change in tone of Deuteronomy. It's interesting that it's written almost entirely (so far) in first person. And since the bourbon and I did our share of skimming in Numbers, it's so nice of the Deuteronomist to give us this little recap before we plunge into the history. :)

    I'm still unclear on what Moses did that was so bad he didn't get to see the promised land. I mean, after all the years and years of effort he gave to God, it seems a little bit of overkill to deny him the promised land for what? Not doing the water thing just exactly as God planned? I personally think that after everything he managed to achieve and everything he put up with Moses deserves a little more slack!

  10. The language seems a little different. I don't recall the term "similitude" before. That's nit-picky, but it's either the original author learned a new word, we've got multiple authors (the prevailing hypothesis), or the Blue Letter Bible's translation is hosed ... or all three!

    If I see the word "truthiness" in here, I'll know something's up!

  11. @Bruce,
    "Yes it does! But again, why????"

    In reference to "if they got near the mountain, they would be consumed in fire?". This is to restrict man in his hearts desire. Some fear would come because of what Moses said. Seeing the mighty works that was done while they were in Egypt and then on their journey from Egypt they might have feared Moses thinking that God was nothing more than something liken unto the gods of Egypt, therefore nothing real to be feared. So the fire,smoke, and voice would have the effect on them to establish that God is not liken to the gods of Egypt. It authenticates to them His existence and we are to have a respectful fear of Him.

    It's like me leading everyone in this project out to the desert in Nevada to have God speak to us. I think we might have our own Isaiah 6:5 experience. Granted i know many will deny it and look for some other explanation. ;-) It's happened before (John 12:28,29).

    I hope this helps explain myself.

    I have noticed allot more of my posts are not showing up again. I don't think blogspot likes me. :-D

  12. @Skepticali: You'll also notice the land referred to as "that good land" and Yahweh's law as "commandments, statutes, and judgments," new phrases in Deuteronomy. They continue throughout Joshua, Judges, etc., one of the indications of common authorship.

  13. @Helene,

    "I'm still unclear on what Moses did that was so bad he didn't get to see the promised land."

    Moses did not sanctify God in the eyes of the children of Israel. As i have went over this again i have noticed some more things.
    In Numbers 20:8 God tells Moses to "speak ye unto the rock before their eyes."
    Yet what does Moses do? 1. He says "must we fetch you water out of this rock?" I don't want to be nit-picky, however notice God never told Moses to speak to the people. And when Moses did speak he did not say must God, but must we. Like Moses had power to bring water from the rock. 2. Also notice in 20:11 that Moses did not speak to the rock, no he smote the rock twice. This would demonstrate to the people, if not addressed by God, that Moses has power and does not need God. If this sin was not addressed it would show a flaw in the character of God. See the 10 spies that came back and did not believe that they could conquer the promised land, forgetting that God had given his word that He was giving it to them, they never saw the promised land. Now had God allowed Moses to get away with not trusting Him and let him into the promised land, God then would be showing respect to Moses and not to the others (Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; I Peter 1:17). Moses must have brought this punishment up a few times (Deuteronomy 3:25-27). With that he got to see the Promised Land just not enter into it. I know that you mean go into the promised land.

    The punishment was consistent with how God was dealing with the Israelites.

  14. I'm trying hard to resist the urge to cross-reference Deut with Exodus-Numbers... it's a lot of work, and I'm already a day behind. I'll save that work for Better Than Esdras.

    The break into 3rd person at 4:44 is jarring. My annotated text suggests this last bit of ch. 4 was an original introduction- the preceding material was a later expansion. It does pointlessly re-recap material (vv. 46-49) we just recapped in much greater detail.

    So a basically new address begins at ch. 5.

    The 10 Commandments are taken from Ex. 20. The reason for observing the sabbath is different. The description of the event includes various JE details. (This is evidence that the ch. 20 decalogue was added to JE at some point before JE was combined with P.) As far as I can tell the dialogue in 5:24-27 is unique to this book.

    So far, nothing referencing Genesis. DIGRESSION TIME: The original ch. 20 decalogue referenced P's creation story in explaining the sabbath commandment, but that is probably a late addition. Here, the reason cited involves the exodus.

    Why would the Deuteronomist change the reason? IDLE SPECULATION but perhaps the original ch. 20 decalogue had the deuteronomist's reason, and it was changed by a later Torah editor. That's more likely than two traditions just happening to add explanations to the same commandment. But I don't really know WHY they would make the change.

  15. @Abbie,
    Wow 4:44 is sudden. Thanks for bringing it to our attention!

    As far as Genesis, were the Israelites familiar with the creation story?
    With so much repetition and poor editing, the OT is already getting fuzzy and confused for me. ;-)

  16. @Bruce,
    "The NT god seems to reverse that when Jesus shows up but that leads again to a deity"

    Jesus nice in the NT? He talks more about Hell than He does of Heaven. And also calls the generation vipers,hypocrites, and wicked. That is probably not all, just what i can remember right now. Makes a scourge of small cords and drove the changers from the temple. I think He did that twice. He told the scribes and Pharisees they were hypocrites and ye make him (proselyte) twofold more the child of hell than yourselves. Is that so nice and loving thing to say?

    Now Jesus was loving and compassionate to those that were seeking Him, and not prideful in their heart. However saying that He suffered from schizophrenia and trying to make amends is not accurate at all.

    I think most peoples problem is they want to create God in their image and hang on to the things of this world because their God sees no problem with it.
    James 4:4