Part I. chapters 1-30: Instructions for the People of Israel

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Instructions to the People of Israel

  • Devarim Chap 1: a concise recount of the post Egypt history of Israel

    46 verses. Moshe briefly, and concisely recount the history of the people. How God led them through the awful desert, how the people doubted God's plan, and how now the children will inherit the promised land, led by Yehoshua, not Moshe who also angered God. The recount emphasizes the gift of justice -- to be administered fairly between large and small, powerful and powerless, and via a hierarchy of judges culminating with Moshe himself.

  • Devarim Chap 2: continuation from chapter 1, wars for inheriting the promised land

    37 verses: a detailed account of the battles and the great Israeli triumphs.

  • Devarim Chap 3: More Conquests east of the Jordan, some settlement, and reaffirmation of Moses' punishment to see but not be in the promised land he led his people to.

    29 verses. Ogg the king of the Bashan is defeated, and territories east of the Jordan river taken. The Reuben, Gadi, and half of Menashe tribe have been given that land, but they committed to remain in the Israeli military force conquering the rest of the land -- and only then return home. Moshe begged for forgiveness and to be allowed to visit the land to which he led his people for 40 years -- but God denied this request, decreeing: you shall inspect the land from a mountain afar, not visit there.

  • Devarim Chap 4: a Concise Summary of the Story of the Jews

    39 verses. Moshe lays out what happened, and what is to be. God has selected this people among the people of the earth, and deliberately gave them His set of rules, and orders, procedures and instructions to be followed in exactness. They are divine perfection, not to be added on, and not to be detracted from. They were given in the most glorious occasion as you all crowded by the foot of the big mountain, and God spoke with voice, thunder, fog and darkness, but without a visual, no picture, no graphics, no shape. You were instructed to convey this dramatic deliverance of the divine code to your children, and grandchildren, and embrace this code as you mingle with the people around you. They will recognize your added wisdom. But beware of loosening up your grip on the divine code. You will be tempted to build yourself a more palatable "God" one you can see and touch, from the animal world you see, or one resembling the moon or the sun. I know, says Moshe, that you will be tempted, and pique the rage of God, vengeaful He is. Scatter will He among the nations. And after a long period of exile you will come around and recognize the wisdom and blessing of old, and ask God for a second chance. God will grant you your plea. I, says Moshe, will not join you in your crossing of the Jordan to the holy land, on account of sustaining a divine punishment. Also Moshe dictates the construction of three shelter cities where people who killed someone by mistake may escape to.

  • Devarim Chap 5: The Ten Commandments: The Divine Moral Code Book

    40 verses. Moshe recants the foundational Jewish experience: the awesome occasion of crowding around mount Sinai, experiencing the fire and storm at its top, God speaking with Moshe standing between God and the people of Israel. God doubts whether Israel will hold one to this code, which He warns them about it, as a strict code, no deviations allowed. Infractions will be costly through down coming generations! God is God of Vengeance! The commandments: 1. God is your God, the power that delivered you from slavery to freedom. That is the identification of God -- the power that bestows freedom. The divine code is the defense against slavery. Absence of which opens the spirit to ill winds and ill-scented life trajectories. A powerful clarity: anyone who enslaves you is NOT God -- God delivers from serfdom to freedom! Thou shall have no add-on God, no compared-to God, no Replacement-God and you shall not aspire to specify God in any way. Make no drawing, no depiction of Him. As hard as it is maintain God as the ultimately unspecified entity. The set of divine instructions are to be faithfully embraced as the anchor on which to pivot freedom. Absence of the divine code, exposes the soul to ill winds and satanic contamination. God is of vengeance generations through; and graceful to His many worshippers. 2. Invoke not God's name without earnestness -- a serious sin to invoke God's name in vanity. 3. Honor and recognize the Shabbat -- including all yours, however low (servants, slaves, even animals, and foreigners). This is a mark of distinction from the time you have been enslaved and your schedule imposed upon uou. 4. Honor your mother and father for your own sake. 5. Murder not, 6. Practice not unwholesome sex. 7. steal not 8. bear no false witness 9. covet not your friend's wife, 10. Don't fancy the possessions of others. Moshe reminds the people of the glorious occasion of being bestowed this divine code, and how Moshe stood between God and Israel. Reminding and warning: follow strictly and prosper!

  • Devarim Chap 6: The "Shma!" (שמע) acclaim; Divine demand for obedience to the power that redeemed Israel from slavery, leading them to inherit a country built by others.

    25 verses. Hear Israel:

  • God is our Lord, God is One.
  • And Thou Shall Love God Your Lord with all your Heart, with all your Soul, with all your Veryness

    And let the commands I lay on you today on your heart, repeat telling them to your sons, and discuss and speak them sitting at home, walking the road, when you lay, and when you rise. And you shall tie them as a mark on your hands, and between your eyes, and you shall write them on memory capsules ("mezuzot") affixed on your abode and gates. Stray not to God pretenders all around you. God, the Creator broke the chains of slavery off your knuckles, and led you to inherit a land, cities, and farms that were occupied, built, and farmed by others. You, Israel, have been given the opportunity to shine as a faithful obedient people of God, the underlying eternal truth. Explain to your children the big event of deliverance from slavery and bondage. God, truth, commitment to it, is the hallmark of freedom. There are chains everywhere, bondage comes in stealth, slavery happens unbeknownst, and because it is so easy to be trapped by slavery again, you, Israel, must focus on God's road-signs and follow them in your march to the promised land of underlying eternal truth. Without this focus and commitment, without this trust and faith in God's word, the lures and traps of slavery will grab you time and again. The long march from Egypt, 40 years, to the promised land, signifies the very long march from slavery of knowledge-inertia to the freedom of objective truth. And much as Israel inherits other people's country, so the truth marchers will see the assets and fruits of unknown others. All is encapsuled in the epic call: "Listen Israel, God is our Lord God is One!: שמע ישראל ה אלוהינו ה אחד

  • Devarim Chap 7: Clear and Unequivocal orders to destroy the people now living in the Promised Land, clear message of 'Israel Choseness' and promise of great bounty against diligent warship of God.

    26 verses. Naming the strong people now living in the land promised to Israel: Chitti, Girgashi, Emori, Kenani, Evi, Prizi, Yevusi. Prepping Israel spirit not to fear them, and once defeating them -- treat them mercilessly. 6: "Because you are a holy folk to your God. It was you whom God chose to be for Him a folk special over all the people on earth". "Obey Me!" says God, and I will take care of your welfare, and give you long life. But I am hard on my demands, and will destroy you, if your move away from obedience. "Try Me Not!" God warns. Wreck the alters of the people you inherit, follow them not with hoarding silver and gold -- it's God's distaste. Don't intermarry with your vanquished neighbors. Their defeat will be gradual, lest the area will be infested with wild life. Repeat reminding of the strong arm God used to free Israel from slavery in Egypt, and bidding again: Keep My commandments and live well!

  • Devarim Chap 8: The Deal Dealt by God to Israel: obey and thrive, ignore and be lost

    20 verses. God repeats the command to obey the Biblical orders, reminding his people how well they have been taken care of forty years in the desert, and how they are now being led to a land or affluence and prosperity where good life awaits them against obedience to their giver, God. Warning: you will be so well off that you become haughty and self hinged, dismissing the divine framework of your life. God will then punish you with oblivion.

  • Devarim Chap 9: recital of the strained relations between God and His people

    29 verses. Moses reminds the people of Israel how stubborn and ungrateful they were throughout the desert Journey, how they betrayed God when Moses was on the mountain, and barely survived the wrath of God. Let Israel not think that the promised land is God's rewards for their meritorious behavior. The occupants of Kenan are punished for their own sins.

  • Devarim Chap 10: Second Chance: Moses prepares replacement tablets

    Having pleaded for Israel for 40 tumultuous days Moses succeeded and secured a second chance for his people. God instructed him to fashion up two replacement tablets, and a cabin to rest them inside, and on them he chiseled the 10 commandments given before. Moses then entreats his people: (12-14) "And now, what does God ask of you, except to fear (be attentive) Him, to walk in all his prescribed ways, to love Him, and to worship Him with your total heart and soul; to adhere to God's laws and commandments issued for your benefit. After all, God owns the heavens and the earth and all there is". The people move on. Aron dies, is buried in the desert, and his son Elazar replaces him. The chapter closes with staggering claim of privilege: (15) " Only in your ancestors God had a special desire to love them, and in their descendants, you, God made his choice of privilege vis-a-vis all nations. (16) You should dispose off the wrinkled ugliness in your heart, and avoid a stiff neck!" . God continues to say: (17) I am your great, grand and hero God of yours, acting in justice, taking no bribes. I Give orphans and widows their place, and I love the foreigner, as you should too, remembering that outsiders you have been in Egypt. God you should fear, worship and adhere to, in his name you should swear. God is Your Glory! . You counted 70 when you moved to Egypt, and now you return counting like the stars in the heavens.

  • Devarim/ Deuteronomy Chap 11: the usual admonition to follow divine orders, and the command to put 'tefilin' on

    32 verses. The repeated mantra: love and obey God, and enjoy a good life, deviate and suffer. This chapter adds the specific command to put a sign on the arm and between the eyes, post the same on doorways and mind it while walking, and while laying down, while at home, and while on the road, teach this lesson to your children and enjoy the divine blessings.

  • Devarim / Deuteronomy Chap 12: Instructions to the settlers: dismiss the culture of the vanquished, adopt yours per God's instructions

    31 verses. A repeat warning to the settlers, coming to the promised land, ending up their 40 years journey: break to smithereens the altars of the people you vanquishes and strictly follow God's order. This will pay off with prosperity and tranquility.

  • Devarim / Deuteronomy Chap 13: harsh warning against sedition

    19 verses: warning to Israel to discard, and destroy anyone, including a brother and wife who suggests worshipping another God -- no compassion. If a city is taken up by a false worship, it should be destroyed, its inhabitants killed, and no pillage, and no reconstruction. If a family member suggests such side turn, then hit him, you first, and the community after. The writer of the Bible knew very well the power of freshness, newness, curiosity, daring, defiance..,

  • Devarim Chap 14: arbitrary sounding dietary restrictions

    29 verses. Repeat assertion of Israel as a special people, God's choice. And it comes with restrictions that appear arbitrary on which fowl, mammals, and fish to be edible by God's decree, and which are not. Also a cryptic instructions to come to the place God will choose for worship, and also to allocate 1/10 of harvest to the Levies among you who have no plots of land to grow there.

  • Devarim Chap 15: Strong Commandment to Support the Poor, Freeing Hebrew Slaves, Seven Years Debt Foregiveness

    23 verses. The blessed should willfully support the poor and the unfortunate. Hebrew slaves should be freed after six years of service. If they refuse freedom they become eternal slaves. Let go of debt every seven years. Strong social chapter. The care of the well to do over the lessers one is noteworthy for the time.

  • Devarim Chap 16: Instructions for Three Major Jewish Holidays: Pesach, Shavuot, Succot

    22 verses. The holidays are identified and the rituals are spelled out. On these three occasions, the Jewish male is expected to come to Jerusalem to celebrate. Warning against idolatry. A strong add on for justice: 20: "Justice, Justice Pursue!" 19: bribery blinds the wise, and distorts the words of the sages".

  • Devarim Chap 17: Remarkable instructions on loyalty, justice, and governance!

    20 verses. Verses 14-20: As humans you will desire a king to worship, admire, and follow. Ok -- but: (i) the king must of be one of you, not an outsider, (ii) he should not amass property and assets, (iii) he should not drag you back into your past, (iv) he should not live with too many women, (v) he should not be greedy, and (vi) he should focus on interpretation of the word of God and follow it scrupulously, (vii) he should not consider himself elevated, superior to his brothers -- so that he lasts! What a relevant recipe for a modern political leader. Other instructions: if a matter comes to you for decision, and it is too obscure -- turn to high priest for guidance. Defer to the higher up. And follow their instructions, given that they are consistent with the word of God. The one who disobeys the high priest should be punished by death because it is a high order to eliminate the bad from your midst.. Should you be given notice of some one who denounces God then you should secure two or three witnesses -- never decide based on one witness only -- and if the accusation appears true that the perpetrator should be stoned. The first to throw the stones are the witnesses, followed by the rest of the people. What a participation scheme, instilling fear in all the stone throwers afraid of becoming the future stoned one. The chapter begins with instructions to avoid sacrificing to God any animal with a flaw or handicap.

  • Devarim Chap 18: disposition of the Levis, the positions of prophets

    22 verses. The tribe of Levi will be dispsersed among the other tribes, owning no land of his own, but allotted the first harvest from the fields around. Israel will be guided by prophets in every generations, dispensing with God's instructions. They will be distinguished from the many false prophets by having their prophecy materialize.

  • Devarim Chap 19: Profound Instructions on Social Justice

    21 verses. Israel is instructed to set aside three safe cities in its promised territories. They will house accidental killers. People who killed someone but without malice and without intent. These cities will protect them from being killed by revenge seekers. If the territories expand, three more safe cities should be added. Alas, a hateful non accidental killer will not be able to obtain refuge in these safe cities. The elderly will pull him out of there to punish him with death -- no merci. Full accountability. The divine instructions are clear: tooth for a tooth, arm for an arm, leg for a leg! For the well being of Israel.

  • Devarim Chap 20: war strategy

    20 verses. Israel is counseled towards its period of wars and conquest in the promised land. The inhabitants of the territories Israel is destined to replace are to be killed to the last person, lest they will come back, thrive, and steer Israel away from God. Far away people will be given a choice: surrender, become subjugated to Israel and be levied an assessed tax; or choose war, be defeated, have all the men killed, leaving women and children to fend for themselves, since the assets of the defeated people will be fair game for Israel. The officers pep up the spirit of the soldiers: fear not the number and strength of your enemy because God will deliver a victory for you. Generously, men who built a house, but have not yet celebrated living in it, should go home, to prevent a situation of them being killed in the war, and another man taking hold of the house. Same for planting a vine, and for engaging a woman to marry -- go home, to avoid having what is yours taken by another. And perceptibly: the fearful, the cowards -- home you go, not to infect your fellow soldier. And so the freed slaves gathered to conquer the land where their ancestors called home four hundred years ago!

  • Devarim Chap 21: Items of the Code of Social Conduct

    23 verses. Item 1: on finding a dead person on the road, the elderly of the near by town (the town officials) will run a ceremony, declaring it is not their doing. Item 2: Upond spotting an attractive woman among a defeated population, you should have her wash, clean to qualify as your wife. If you later on have enough of her, dismiss her gently. Item 3: Honor your first born, even if he is the sone of the less loved wife. Item 4: a rebellion son who dishonors his parents, should be forwarded by them to the elderly of the village where the people will stone him to death to warn others. Item 4: a convicted felon sentenced to death should be hanged on a tree. But his corpse should be promptly removed, to avoid the wrath of God.

  • Devarim, Chap 22: Assorted moral behavior instructions with prescribed punishment to violators.

    29 verses. Brotherhood decency: don't ignore found livestock that belongs to your brother, protect and return it in good order. Same for anything your brother lost. A strange instruction about home construction, and same for about seeding pattern in the vine. Then instructions without moral clarity: don't plough with an ox and a ace in one pull, wear no clothing that mix wool, and cotton. Strange instructions about clothing. Next a moral instruction: should a man come to detest a woman he just married and accused her of not being a virgin, then her parents should pull out the bloddy linen as proof. The judge will then fine the false accuser and force him to stay married to her. However, if the judge finds the accuser truthful, then he must ordered the woman stoned to death. If a man sleeps with a married woman, then he and the woman are to be judged to death. If a man sexually overcomes an engaged woman in the city, then both are punished with death; the woman because she did not scream and fight the attacker off. But if it happens in the field then only the attacker is punished, since the woman was helpless. However, an attacker of an unengaged woman will be fined 50 shekels and be forced to marry the woman with no leave to divorce her. Such a clear reflection of the gender disparity in Biblical times.

  • Devarim Chap 23: Assorted instructions for moral behavior, in sexual and other matters.

    26 verses. Don't intimate your father's wife. Don't be exposed to your father's intimate parts. Men contaminated with spilled ejaculate will be barred from the community camp. Bastards will not be admitted even after 10 generations. (A strong incentive to raise children in a family). Amonites and Moavites not admitted to mix with Israel on account of their hostile actions when Israel came over from the desert and asked for help. Their welfare will not be Israel's interest. Adomites, by contrast, should be well admitted to mix with Israel, having being helpful when needed. A curious command not to go negative on Egyptians because they hosted Israel in their distress. (wonder if it applies to Israel in Europe and other diaspora places?). Third generations of such gentiles are to be accepted in Israel (shows that no blood purity is divinely meant). Overall purity and physical cleanliness is God's command to be thriving. The verse goes to particulars of defecation: carry a tool with you at all times, so you can dig a hole and cover feces. Avoid exposure of private parts. Don't return an escaping slave, host him yourself (curious, if slavery is legal why not return a slave to his rightful owner?). No prostitution men or women. You should not involve payment for sex in any Godly business. You should not charge a large interest your brother, but you can do so to a stranger. If you swear to God, adhere to your word. In general: keep your word! If you come to your friend's field you can consume fruit and harvest while there, but don't haul away stuff.

  • Devarim Chap 24: Divorce proceedings; Supporting the marginalized

    22 verses, two topics: an orderly way for a disatisfied husband to divorce his wife. A host of rules of behavior towards the poor, the debtors, the orphans, and widows: provide them with subsitence without humiliating them. Tacit recognition of wealth and good fortune gradient in society.

  • Devarim Chap 25: assorted moral behavioral instructions

    19 verses. Justice do -- punish the cruel, and favor the righteous. Administer proportion punishment, don't degrade! When a brother dies, his brother is morally instructed to marry his widow, and have their son carry the name of the diseased. But the brother is allowed to refuse to marry his sister in law, and in that case he should be publicly shamed. Two men fighting, the wife of the weaker may help by grabbing his opponent's balls. Behave justly, and remember Amalek who hit you when you were down -- don't fizzle the reprisal.

  • Devarim Chap 26: The Contract Choseness & Obedience

    19 verses. A beautiful concise summary of the 'deal' between God and Israel: it begins with condensed summary of the history of Israel which began with one lost Aramaic migrating to Egypt, oppressed there, rescued by God, and delivered to a land of milk and honey, making Israel to "Am Segula" (chosen, special). Israel, in return, should obey God, bring to the alter a basket full of the fruits of the earth, and by order feed the hungry until they are hungry no more. This is the road to glory and success!

  • Devarim Chap 27: Instructions for Becoming the Nation of God

    26 verses. on the verge of crossing the Jordan to settle in the promised land Moshe and the Elders instruct the people to build an altar of virgin rocks, and inscribe these instructions on these rocks. And then the big say: (9) "Focus and Listen, Israel, this very day you have transformed to become your God's nation. And you shall obey your God's orders, in full, as ordered today!". And then the people of Israel have been gathered around and heard the essence of the Torah: (i) Cursed is the one who constructs an artifact to be regarded as a 'god'. (ii) cursed is the one who dishonors his father and mother, (iii) cursed is the one who encroaches on his fellow man territory, (iv) cursed is the one who misleads the blind, (v) cursed is the one who ill-sentences a foregieer, an orphan or a widow, (vi) cursed is the one who sleeps with his father's wife, (vii) cursed is the one who engaged in a sexual act with a mammal, (viii) cursed is the one who sleeps with sister, or half sister, (ix) cursed is the one who sleeps with his mother in law, (x) cursed is the one who hits his fellow man in hiding, (xi) cursed is the one who take bribes, (xii) cursed is the one who does not fulfill the orders written in the book of the Torah! Each of these 12 recitements was met with the gathering people shouting a loud "Amen"!

  • Devarim Chap 28: Graphic Threats against Disobedience, Generous rewards for Divine Obedience

    69 verses. This extra long chapter delves into very graphic details of the calamity and misfortune that will be the lot of Israel if they decide to disobey God. 48: "Instead of worshipping God with joy, love and plenty, you will now fear and obey your nemesis, sent by God to defeat and enslave you, and he would put the iron on your neck!" . 65: "And with those folks you will not have calm, and lack a resting spot for your wandering feet, and you will be living with an angry heart, unfulfilled desire, and deep depression of mood. Your life will be a heavy fatigue across your psyche, scared you will be day and night. You will lose faith and trust in your own life. In the morning you will say, when will the evening arrive; in the evening you will wonder when will the morning come forth, so overtaken you will be by fear of your heart vision and your eyes view" . What a description of forlornness. The promise of plagues worse than anything mentioned in the Torah. One cannot think of the Holocaust: 50:" A nation of toughness and boldness that will not have mercy on the old, nor on the young" . This God sent enemy will make you so miserable that you will eat on your own children! And 62: "Only a few will remain of you that you were a bountiful because you disobeyed the word of God: .

  • Devarim Chap 29: The Central Contract between God and Israel, At Point of Divine Delivery

    28 verses: Moses gathered everyone -- children and women included, foreigners and slaves joining in. A contractual ceremony: Moses lists the divine giving -- the rescue from Egypt, the provisions all along the march to the promised land, the defeat of the locals, the inheritance of the east bank at that point. All this is divine delivery, and more of the same is promised against adherence to the divine principles, and rejection of idolatry. On the flip side God warns that turning back to idolatry will be responded to with vengeance and great punishment. This is the central Biblical mystery: the severity of Divine punishment over the sin of disobedience. . Points of note: the inclusion of gentiles, slaves, women and children -- all human beings are untie spell, under the contract! Verse 3:"God did not give you a heart to know, eyes to see, and ears to hear until this very day!" (???) 28: "the hidden is to God, our God, and the revealed is for us and for our children till eternity, to warship the bidding of this Torah!".

  • Devarim Chap 30: Israel will steer away, pray, be re-gathered, and helped into whole hearted faith.

    20 Verses. Moshe close to parting, to the people: you will enjoy blessing and suffer from the curse. You will steer away from God. God will punish you with uprooting you from the promised land, scattering you in far away land. Then you realize God, and pray for forgiveness. God will then gather you from the furthest place on earth. And re-introduce you to worshipping. God with circumsize your heart to be faithful. You will love God's labor of faith with your entire heart and veryness. God will reassure you: (11) the instruction I instruct you today is not magic, not far off. It is not in the sky, for you to despair -- how can we reach to the skies, pick it up, and obey? God's instructions are not placed across the ocean, for you to wonder who will reach that far, to fetch God's instructions to us. No -- God's word is close, you are saying with your own mouth, you are holding it in your very own heart! Just do it! The chapter ends with the call: it's up to you to adhere to God, or to steer away, the blessing and the curse. Stick with God and forever occupy the Promised Land, God prepared and allocated for you.