Deuteronomy: Chapter 10
The book of Deuteronomy is the second reading of the law. It is located in the Old Testament and is the last book of Pentateuch. Deuteronomistic theories of interpretation are utilized as a means to better comprehend the relationship between God and the people of Israel and their implications at the time of publication. Deuteronomistic history is composed of many works, contributed by various individuals. The earliest writings were dated as early as 609 BC and the final edition was completed during the post exhilic period. (1) The adoption of both the earlier and the later versions greatly contributes to the difficulty surrounding the ideal meaning and its interpretation. Chapter ten of the book of Deuteronomy mainly concentrates on God’s mercy to Israel after the rebellion and the exhortation to obedience.
God’s reconciliation with the people of Israel is the underlying essence of Chapter ten. It attempts to depict and explain the omniscient components of God and his mercy. Moses is set forth in order to retrieve and renew the tablets of the covenant. Moses was told, “…cut two tablets of stone like the former; then come up to the mountain with me.” He carved two tablets and brought them before the Lord. The manual labor involved can represent how man created the basis for the law of man; each of us answering to a higher power, “come up the mountain to me.” When God inscribes the commandments on the tablets in verse two, it is evident that God possesses humanistic qualities such as forgiveness; he forgives the people for breaking the laws of the first two tablets. When the new, clean tablets were carried up the mountain to the Lord, the ways in which the people of Israel hold the Lord and his word scared were exemplified. When God descended from the mountain, his humanistic qualities flourished. He placed the new tablets in the ark, within the midst of the people of Israel. This allowed them to witness, together with the Lord, the law for all eternity.
“At the time, the Lord set apart the tribe of Levi to carry the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord.” The appointment of the Levi may represent the priests, who devote their lives, by virtue of their own will, to the Lord and his word. “And give blessings in his name as they have done to this day.” Priests are permitted to listen through God’s ears, act with his powerful hand and love and bless with his forgiving heart. (2) “Go now and set out at the head of your people, that they may enter in and occupy the land which I swore to their fathers that I would give to them.” The end of this passage ties all of the actions together to form the severity of the mercy of God and his unique ability to forgive and allowance to repent. The Lord is trustworthy and loyal to his word, anthropocentric in its origin.
The second stanza of chapter ten is an exhortation to obedience. It begins with the words, “And now..” introducing moral requirements for the people of Israel. These requirements represent the Lord’s standards and whether or not His people choose to fulfill their role in life, morally and spiritually. The people of Israel are directed in their duty to God, to us and to others. The Lord asks His people, “ to fear the Lord your God and to follow His ways exactly, to love and serve the Lord your God with all your heart and all your soul”. (3) The Lord asks us to fear him; not a disdainful fear, but a fear of reverence in which we see him in all his “majesty”, in awe and with the utmost respect. “Circumcise your heart” is used as a metaphor for conversion in lines sixteen. However, it can best be used to describe the parallels between circumcision and cleanliness. A circumcised heart would allow you to be rid of all corrupt inclinations about loving and fearing God. God asks us to, “befriend the alien for you were once aliens yourselves”. In line nineteen, he reveals his standards for our responsibility to our neighbors. God uses his language to convey how we are all made from the same blood; he is the creator of equality, “he has no favorites, accepts no bribes”. This could also explain how the Israelites found mercy with God in their time of distress, he “befriends the alien”. “He is your glory, he, your God who has done for you theses great and terrible things which your own eyes have seen”. The power of the glory of God is so great that it can never be surpassed; he rules over all that is seen and unseen. His powerful reign is insurmountable and threatening enough to scare his people into a false sense of fear. Those who obey and serve him truly love and respect God for his goodness and his greatness.
The analysis of chapter ten was difficult in its context, but simple in its meaning. The foundations for the renewing of the covenant and for the Lord’s laws are critiqued based on the standard of today’s society as well as appoint of reference from long ago. (4) Although time has passed and exceptions to the laws have been adopted, there still exist similarities between their origin and purpose. Chapter ten is indicative of the relationship between God and Israel. It represents the hardships and struggles in life and the process of healing through reconciliation. Today, reconciliation is still used as a method of atonement. God is forgiving and loving and at the same time he is superior. We look up to him on the cross just as the Israelites looked up to him on the mountain. The Lord’s were more respected and obeyed at their time of creation as opposed to today. They were held more sacred then, perhaps because people conformed to their standards of society. Today, conformity is opposed and frowned upon; everybody wants to be an individual and live by his or her own standards.
Every interpretation of the Bible and its passages are different. Some passages criticize intended wrong moral behavior while others condone it. However, it is important to interpret what you read from an objective point of view. “Circumcise your hearts..” The meaning of the Law of God, from a literary standpoint is inconsistent. The interpretation is only as genuine as the morals and beliefs of the person who reads it.