Deuteronomy – Chapter 4

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 4


«Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees which I am teaching you to observe, that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.


In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God, which I enjoin upon you, you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.


You have seen with your own eyes what the LORD did at Baal-peor: the LORD, your God, destroyed from your midst everyone that followed the Baal of Peor;


but you, who clung to the LORD, your God, are all alive today.


Therefore, I teach you the statutes and decrees as the LORD, my God, has commanded me, that you may observe them in the land you are entering to occupy.


Observe them carefully, for thus will you give evidence of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations, who will hear of all these statutes and say, ‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’


For what great nation is there that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us whenever we call upon him?


Or what great nation has statutes and decrees that are as just as this whole law which I am setting before you today?


«However, take care and be earnestly on your guard not to forget the things which your own eyes have seen, nor let them slip from your memory as long as you live, but teach them to your children and to your children’s children.


1 There was the day on which you stood before the LORD, your God, at Horeb, and he said to me, ‘Assemble the people for me; I will have them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me as long as they live in the land and may so teach their children.’


You came near and stood at the foot of the mountain, which blazed to the very sky with fire and was enveloped in a dense black cloud.


Then the LORD spoke to you from the midst of the fire. You heard the sound of the words, but saw no form; there was only a voice.


He proclaimed to you his covenant, which he commanded you to keep: the ten commandments, which he wrote on two tablets of stone.


The LORD charged me at that time to teach you the statutes and decrees which you are to observe over in the land you will occupy.


«You saw no form at all on the day the LORD spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire. Be strictly on your guard, therefore,


not to degrade yourselves by fashioning an idol to represent any figure, whether it be the form of a man or a woman,


of any animal on the earth or of any bird that flies in the sky,


of anything that crawls on the ground or of any fish in the waters under the earth.


And when you look up to the heavens and behold the sun or the moon or any star among the heavenly hosts, do not be led astray into adoring them and serving them. These the LORD, your God, has let fall to the lot of all other nations under the heavens;


2 but you he has taken and led out of that iron foundry, Egypt, that you might be his very own people, as you are today.


Since the LORD was angered against me on your account and swore that I should not cross the Jordan nor enter the good land which he is giving you as a heritage,


I myself shall die in this country without crossing the Jordan; but you will cross over and take possession of that good land.


Take heed, therefore, lest, forgetting the covenant which the LORD, your God, has made with you, you fashion for yourselves against his command an idol in any form whatsoever.


For the LORD, your God, is a consuming fire, a jealous God.


3 «When you have children and grandchildren, and have grown old in the land, should you then degrade yourselves by fashioning an idol in any form and by this evil done in his sight provoke the LORD, your God,


I call heaven and earth this day to witness against you, that you shall all quickly perish from the land which you will occupy when you cross the Jordan. You shall not live in it for any length of time but shall be promptly wiped out.


The LORD will scatter you among the nations, and there shall remain but a handful of you among the nations to which the LORD will lead you.


There you shall serve gods fashioned by the hands of man out of wood and stone, gods which can neither see nor hear, neither eat nor smell.


Yet there too you shall seek the LORD, your God; and you shall indeed find him when you search after him with your whole heart and your whole soul.


In your distress, when all these things shall have come upon you, you shall finally return to the LORD, your God, and heed his voice.


Since the LORD, your God, is a merciful God, he will not abandon and destroy you, nor forget the covenant which under oath he made with your fathers.


«Ask now of the days of old, before your time, ever since God created man upon the earth; ask from one end of the sky to the other: Did anything so great ever happen before? Was it ever heard of?


Did a people ever hear the voice of God speaking from the midst of fire, as you did, and live?


4 Or did any god venture to go and take a nation for himself from the midst of another nation, by testings, by signs and wonders, by war, with his strong hand and outstretched arm, and by great terrors, all of which the LORD, your God, did for you in Egypt before your very eyes?


All this you were allowed to see that you might know the LORD is God and there is no other.


Out of the heavens he let you hear his voice to discipline you; on earth he let you see his great fire, and you heard him speaking out of the fire.


For love of your fathers he chose their descendants and personally led you out of Egypt by his great power,


driving out of your way nations greater and mightier than you, so as to bring you in and to make their land your heritage, as it is today.


This is why you must now know, and fix in your heart, that the LORD is God in the heavens above and on earth below, and that there is no other.


You must keep his statutes and commandments which I enjoin on you today, that you and your children after you may prosper, and that you may have long life on the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you forever.»


Then Moses set apart three cities in the region east of the Jordan,


that a homicide might take refuge there if he unwittingly killed his neighbor to whom he had previously borne no malice, and that he might save his life by fleeing to one of these cities:


Bezer in the desert, in the region of the plateau, for the Reubenites; Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan for the Manassehites.


This is the law which Moses set before the Israelites.


These are the ordinances, statutes and decrees which he proclaimed to them when they had come out of Egypt


and were beyond the Jordan in the ravine opposite Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon, king of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon and whom Moses and the Israelites defeated after coming out of Egypt.


They occupied his land and the land of Og, king of Bashan, as well – the land of these two kings of the Amorites in the region east of the Jordan:


5 from Aroer on the edge of the Wadi Arnon to Mount Sion (that is Hermon)


and all the Arabah east of the Jordan, as far as the Arabah Sea under the slopes of Pisgah.

1 [10] Beginning here and continuing on for several verses (at least to the end of v ⇒ Deut 4:14) is the «reminiscence,» the account of the things that the Israelites should recall and teach their children.
2 [20] Egypt is called an iron foundry, or furnace for smelting iron, because God allowed the Israelites to be afflicted there for the sake of their spiritual purification; the same expression for Egypt occurs also in ⇒ 1 Kings 8:51; ⇒ Jeremiah 11:4; compare the expression, «the furnace of affliction,» in ⇒ Isaiah 48:10.
3 [25] Grown old: Israel will lose the freshness of its youthful fervor.
4 [34] Testings: the demonstrations of God’s power as in the ten great plagues of Egypt; cf ⇒ Deut 7:19; ⇒ 29:2.
5 [48] Sion: another name for Mount Hermon, besides those mentioned in ⇒ 3:9.