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Deuteronomy Chapter 27
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The Written Stones
27:1 Moses and the elders of Israel gave the following instructions to the people:

Keep the entire mandate that I am prescribing to you today.

27:2 On the day that you cross the Jordan to the land that God your Lord is giving you, you must erect large stones and plaster them with lime.
27:3 When you then cross over, you shall write on them all the words of this Torah. In this manner you shall come to the land that God your Lord is giving you, the land flowing with milk and honey that God, Lord of your fathers, promised you.
27:4 When you cross the Jordan, you shall set up the stones that I am now describing to you on Mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with lime.
27:5 There you shall then build an altar to God your Lord. It shall be a stone altar, and you shall not lift up any iron to it.
27:6 The altar that you build shall thus be made of whole stones. It is on this [altar] that you shall sacrifice burnt offerings.
27:7 You shall also sacrifice peace offerings and eat there, rejoicing before God your Lord.
27:8 On the stones, you shall write all the words of this Torah in a clear script.

Becoming a Nation
27:9 Moses and the Levitical priests spoke to all Israel, saying:

Pay attention and listen, Israel. Today you have become a nation to God your Lord.

27:10 You must therefore obey God your Lord and keep His commandments and decrees, as I am prescribing them to you today.

Blessings and Curses
27:11 On that day, Moses gave the people the following instructions:
27:12 When you cross the Jordan, the ones who shall stand on Mount Gerizim for the people's blessing shall be Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin.
27:13 The ones who shall stand on Mount Ebal for the curse shall be Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali.
27:14 The Levites shall then speak up and say the following to every individual Israelite in a loud voice:

The First Curse
27:15 'Cursed is the person who makes a sculptured or cast idol, which is repulsive to God your Lord even if it is a piece of fine sculpture, and places it in a hidden place.'

All the people shall respond and say, 'Amen.'

The Second Curse
27:16 'Cursed is he who shows disrespect for his father and mother.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'

The Third Curse
27:17 'Cursed is he who moves his neighbor's boundary marker.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'

The Fourth Curse
27:18 'Cursed is he who misdirects the blind on the way.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'

The Fifth and Sixth Curses
27:19 'Cursed is he who perverts justice for the foreigner, orphan and widow.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'
27:20 'Cursed is he who lies with his father's wife, thus violating his father's privacy.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'

The Seventh Curse
27:21 'Cursed is he who lies with any animal.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'

The Eighth Curse
27:22 'Cursed is he who lies with his sister, whether she is the daughter of his father or of his mother.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'

The Ninth Curse
27:23 'Cursed is he who lies with his mother-in-law.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'

The Tenth Curse
27:24 'Cursed is he who strikes down his neighbor in secret.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'

The Eleventh Curse
27:25 'Cursed is he who takes a bribe to put an innocent man to death.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'

The Twelfth Curse
27:26 'Cursed is he who does not uphold and keep this entire Torah.'
All the people shall say, 'Amen.'


the elders...
  The 70 elders (Lekach Tov; see Exodus 24:1, Numbers 11:16).

On the day
  Some sources indicate that this was not done until after the blessings (Sotah 32a). Other sources indicate that it was before the blessings (cf. Lekach Tov). See Joshua 8:33.

large stones
  Twelve stones; Joshua 4:3. They were like the 12 pillars erected by Moses (Exodus 24:4), and served as a sort of mezuzah for the Holy Land (Abarbanel).

plaster them...
  To give them a surface for writing. However, in the Talmud there is an opinion that the lime was placed over the writing to preserve it (Sotah 35b). Others maintain that these stones were made into an altar, and the plaster was to hold them together (Chizzkuni). Others say that they were set in lime so as to keep them standing (Ibn Ezra).

  (Ramban). Some say that it was a synopsis, or parts of Deuteronomy (Abarbanel). Or, 'commandments' (Saadia; Ibn Ezra; cf. 4:13). See Joshua 8:32.

  (Septuagint). Or, 'near' (cf. Rashi).

Mount Ebal
  See Deuteronomy, 11:29. This was the mountain of the curse, and the stones were placed there as a consolation for the tribes associated with this mountain (Chizzkuni). They were also to indicate that the curse would come for violating the Torah (Abarbanel).

  Some say that they were plastered after having been written on (Sotah 35b; see Deuteronomy 27:2). Others maintain that they were re-plastered (Malbim).

you shall then
  Some say out of different stones (Malbim), while others maintain that the altar was made out of the stones with the writing (Lekach Tov; Ralbag; Bachya; Abarbanel). Both opinions are found in Talmudical sources (Tosefta, Sotah 8:5; Yerushalmi, Sotah 7:5; Tosafoth, Sotah 35b, s.v. Ketza). See Joshua 8:32.

not lift up any iron...
  See Exodus 20:22, Joshua 8:31.

clear script
  (Ibn Ezra; Septuagint); cf. Habakkuk 2:2. Ba'er Hetiv in Hebrew. Or, 'in clear language' (Targum; Radak, Sherashim; cf. 1:5), indicating that the Torah was written on the stones in 70 languages (Sotah 32b; Targum Yonathan; Rashi). Some say that the stones were plastered, inscribed, replastered and then inscribed again (Malbim).

Pay attention
  (Targum; Saadia; Radak, Sherashim; cf. Berakhoth 16a). Hasketh in Hebrew. Or, 'accept this' (Ibn Janach), 'be silent' (Septuagint; cf. Berakhoth 63b); 'form groups' or 'push yourselves to the limit' (Ibid).

you have become a nation
  With the giving of all the commandments (Ramban), and the sealing of the covenant (Deuteronomy, 29:11,12; Chizzkuni).

  (Sotah 32a; Rashi). Or, 'near' (Sotah 37a; Chizzkuni). The Hebrew word al has both connotations.

Mount Gerizim
  See Deuteronomy, 11:29.

for the people's blessing
  Or, 'when the blessing is given' (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). Some say that the blessings were the precise opposite of the curses given below (Sotah 37b). However, others indicate that the blessings might be 28:1-14 (Ibn Ezra). See Joshua 8:34.

  The younger ones, or those not fit for service (see Numbers 4:47; Sotah 37a). The other Levites pronounced the blessings (Deuteronomy 27:14).

shows disrespect...
  See Exodus 20:12, 21:17, Leviticus 19:3.

  Deuteronomy 19:14.

who misdirects...
  Leviticus 19:14.

perverts justice
  Exodus 22:21,22; Deuteronomy, 10:18, 24:17.

lies with his father's wife
  Leviticus 18:8, 20:11.

his father's privacy
  See Deuteronomy 23:1.

  Leviticus 18:23, 20:15.

with his sister
  Leviticus 18:9, 20:17.

  (Targum; Rashbam; Radak, Sherashim; Ibn Janach). Choteneth in Hebrew. See Leviticus 18:17, 20:14. Or, 'daughter-in-law' (Septuagint).

takes a bribe
  See Exodus 23:7,8, Deuteronomy, 10:17, 16:19. Some say that this is directed to the judges, while others say that it includes a witness (Ibn Ezra).

who does not uphold...
  This is an oath to keep the entire Torah (Rashi; Shevuoth 37a), and not to abandon any commandment (Ramban).

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