Following God's Way
||So love God your Lord, and safeguard His trust, his decrees, laws and commandments, for all time.
||You must now realize that [I am not speaking] of your children, who did not know and did not see the lesson that God your Lord [taught] through His greatness, His mighty hand and His outstretched arm.
||[There were] the signs and deeds that He did in Egypt, to Pharaoh king of Egypt and all his land.
||There was what He did in Egypt's forces, to their horses and chariots, when He swamped them with the water of the Red Sea as they were pursuing you. God destroyed them so that even now [they have not recovered].
||There was what He did in the desert, until you came to this area.
||There was what He did to Dathan and Aviram, the sons of Reuben's son Eliav, when in the midst of all Israel the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them, along with their houses, their tents, and all the living things that were with them.
||Thus, your own eyes have seen all the great deeds that God has done.
||Safeguard the entire mandate that I am prescribing to you today, so that you will be strong and come to occupy the land which you are crossing to occupy.
||You will then long endure on the land that God swore to your fathers that He would give to them and their offspring, a land flowing with milk and honey.
A Demanding Land
||The land which you are about to occupy is not like Egypt, the place you left, where you could plant your seed and irrigate it by yourself, just like a vegetable garden.
||But the land which you are crossing to occupy is a land of mountains and valleys, which can be irrigated only by the rain.
||It is therefore a land constantly under God your Lord's scrutiny; the eyes of God your Lord are on it at all times, from the beginning of the year until the end of the year.
Yoke of the Commandments
||If you are careful to pay heed to my commandments, which I am prescribing to you today, and if you love God your Lord with all your heart and soul, [then God has made this promise]:
||'I will grant the fall and spring rains in your land at their proper time, so that you will have an ample harvest of grain, oil and wine.
||I will grant forage in your fields for your animals, and you will eat and be satisfied.'
||Be careful that your heart not be tempted to go astray and worship other gods, bowing down to them.
||God's anger will then be directed against you, and He will lock up the skies so that there will not be any rain. The land will not give forth its crops, and you will rapidly vanish from the good land that God is giving you.
||Place these words of mine on your heart and soul. Bind them as a sign on your arm, and let them be an insignia in the center of your head.
||Teach your children to speak of them, when you are at home, when traveling on the road, when you lie down and when you get up.
||[Also] write them on [parchments affixed to] the doorposts of your houses and gates.
||[If you do this,] you and your children will long endure on the land that God swore to your ancestors, [promising that] He would give it to them as long as the heavens are above the earth.
Promise of Victory
||If you carefully safeguard and keep this entire Mandate that I prescribe to you today, [and if you] love God, walk in all His ways, and cling to Him,
||then God will drive out all these nations before you. You will expel nations that are greater and stronger than you are.
||Every area upon which your feet tread shall belong to you. Your boundaries shall extend from the desert to the Lebanon, from a tributary of the Euphrates River as far as the Mediterranean Sea.
||No man will stand up before you. God your Lord will place the fear and dread of you upon the entire area you tread, just as He promised you.
The Choice Between Good and Evil
||You can therefore see that I am placing before you both a blessing and a curse.
||The blessing [will come] if you obey the commandments of God your Lord, which I am prescribing to you today.
||The curse [will come] if you do not obey the commandments of God your Lord, and you go astray from the path that I am prescribing for you today, following other gods to have a novel spiritual experience.
||When God your Lord brings you to the land which you are about to occupy, you must declare the blessing on Mount Gerizim, and the curse on Mount Ebal.
||They are across the Jordan, just beyond the Sunset Highway on the way to Gilgal, near the Plains of Moreh, in the territory of the Canaanites who live in the flood plain.
||[You must do this] because you are crossing the Jordan to come to the land which God your Lord is giving you and occupy it. When you have occupied it and you live there,
||you must carefully keep all the rules and laws that I am prescribing to you today.
|I am not speaking|
(Rashi; cf. Bachya). Or, 'It is not your children [who will be punished]' (Baaley Tosafoth), or, '[From now on it depends] on no one but your children' (Saadia).
|they have not recovered|
|Dathan and Aviram|
See Numbers 16:1.
|earth opened its mouth|
Numbers 16:32. Here it appears that only Dathan and Aviram were swallowed; see note ibid..
(Targum; Septuagint). Or, 'families' (households) (Targum Yonathan; Ibn Ezra; Chizzkuni).
(Radak, Sherashim). Yekum in Hebrew, cf. Genesis 7:23). Or, 'property' (Targum; Sanhedrin 110a; Rashi; Septuagint); 'that which exists' (Ibn Janach).
|that were with them|
(Targum; Saadia). Or, 'because of them' (Ibn Ezra). Literally, 'at their feet.'
(Targum Yonathan). Or, 'with your feet' (Rashi; Septuagint).
This is the second paragraph of the Sh'ma, see Deuteronomy 11:10. This is known as the 'Yoke of the Commandments' (Berakhoth 13a).
|then God has made this promise|
Since the person changes from Moses to God (cf. Midrash HaGadol). See Deuteronomy 29:4.
|fall and spring|
(cf. Targum Yonathan; Taanith 6a). In the Holy Land, the growing season is during the winter, which is the rainy season. Therefore, yoreh is the rain at the beginning of the planting season, and malkosh is at the end.
(Radak, Sherashim). Pathah in Hebrew. Or, 'err' (Targum), 'become foolish' (Chizzkuni), or, 'become puffed up' (Septuagint). See Genesis 9:27.
This section is also in the tefillin. See Exodus 13:9,16, Deuteronomy 6:8.
|when you lie down...|
Some say that there is also a Biblical commandment to read this section each day (Pri Chadash, Orach Chaim 67).
This section is the second writing in the mezuzah; see Deuteronomy 6:9.
To the south. See Numbers 34:3.
To the north.
Or, literally, 'the river, the Euphrates river.'
See Genesis 15:18.
(Saadia). Literally, 'final sea.'
(Ibn Ezra; cf. Rashi). Or, 'The blessing is obeying...' (Abarbanel).
|to have a novel spiritual experience|
Literally, 'which you have not known;' see Deuteronomy 13:3, 13:7, 13:14. To 'know' God is interpreted as knowing Him in a mystical sense, especially among the Kabbalists. See 1 Chronicles 28:9. (cf. HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).
|declare the blessing|
(Ibn Ezra; Ramban). Or, 'Place the blessers' (Targum; Rashi). See Deuteronomy 27:12, Joshua 8:33.
About one mile to the west of Shechem, currently known as Jebel et-Tor, 2849 feet high.
Or Eival. A mountain 3077 feet high (the highest point in Samaria), some two miles north-east of Mount Gerizim (cf. Ramban).
From context, this appears to be the ancient highway running from north to south through the mountains. This highway passed just to the east of Mount Gerizim and Mount Eival, they were 'beyond this mountain.' It may have been called 'Sunset Highway' (Derekh Mavo HaShemesh), because from where the Israelites were, the sun appeared to set on the mountain through which the road ran.
(cf. Sotah 33b). This is not Gilgal mentioned in Joshua 4:19, 5:9 (Ibn Ezra; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah), but a city some 20 miles west of Shechem, now known as Jiljulieah, possibly in Joshua 12:23 (cf. Septuagint ad loc.), and perhaps also in, 2 Kings 2:1, Nehemiah 12:29. In ancient times, a road led from Shechem to this Gilgal.
|Plains of Moreh|
Abraham's first stop in the Holy Land, near Shechem (Genesis 12:6).
Aravah in Hebrew. This would indicate that although the Canaanites' main base was in the Jordan flood plain, their territory extended some 20 miles east toward Shechem.