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These are the words of the covenant that the L ord commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in the land of Moab, in addition to the covenant that he had made with them at Horeb.

The Covenant Renewed in Moab

2 Moses summoned all Israel and said to them: You have seen all that the L ord did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, 3the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs, and those great wonders. 4But to this day the L ord has not given you a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear. 5I have led you forty years in the wilderness. The clothes on your back have not worn out, and the sandals on your feet have not worn out; 6you have not eaten bread, and you have not drunk wine or strong drink—so that you may know that I am the L ord your God. 7When you came to this place, King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan came out against us for battle, but we defeated them. 8We took their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites, and the half-tribe of Manasseh. 9Therefore diligently observe the words of this covenant, in order that you may succeed in everything that you do.

10 You stand assembled today, all of you, before the L ord your God—the leaders of your tribes, your elders, and your officials, all the men of Israel, 11your children, your women, and the aliens who are in your camp, both those who cut your wood and those who draw your water— 12to enter into the covenant of the L ord your God, sworn by an oath, which the L ord your God is making with you today; 13in order that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you and as he swore to your ancestors, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 14I am making this covenant, sworn by an oath, not only with you who stand here with us today before the L ord our God, 15but also with those who are not here with us today. 16You know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. 17You have seen their detestable things, the filthy idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, that were among them. 18It may be that there is among you a man or woman, or a family or tribe, whose heart is already turning away from the L ord our God to serve the gods of those nations. It may be that there is among you a root sprouting poisonous and bitter growth. 19All who hear the words of this oath and bless themselves, thinking in their hearts, “We are safe even though we go our own stubborn ways” (thus bringing disaster on moist and dry alike)— 20the L ord will be unwilling to pardon them, for the L ord’s anger and passion will smoke against them. All the curses written in this book will descend on them, and the L ord will blot out their names from under heaven. 21The L ord will single them out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this book of the law. 22The next generation, your children who rise up after you, as well as the foreigner who comes from a distant country, will see the devastation of that land and the afflictions with which the L ord has afflicted it— 23all its soil burned out by sulfur and salt, nothing planted, nothing sprouting, unable to support any vegetation, like the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the L ord destroyed in his fierce anger— 24they and indeed all the nations will wonder, “Why has the L ord done thus to this land? What caused this great display of anger?” 25They will conclude, “It is because they abandoned the covenant of the L ord, the God of their ancestors, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt. 26They turned and served other gods, worshiping them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them; 27so the anger of the L ord was kindled against that land, bringing on it every curse written in this book. 28The L ord uprooted them from their land in anger, fury, and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as is now the case.” 29The secret things belong to the L ord our God, but the revealed things belong to us and to our children forever, to observe all the words of this law.

22. So that the generation to come of your children. God enforces what we have already seen, that the punishments which He would inflict would be no ordinary ones, or such as should fall into contempt from their common use; but like portents, which should awaken astonishment among their posterity. For the question which is here put is such as refers to something extraordinary, and what is not easily comprehended. It is not, however, confined to the preceding clause, but refers to the whole list of curses; not as if each of them by itself had awakened such horror, but because, when heaped one upon another, they compelled all men to wonder, both on account of their number and their severity and duration, and thus were for a sign and a prodigy. For it everywhere occurs that men are afflicted with diseases, and barrenness for a single season is a common evil; but that sicknesses should cleave as it were to the marrow of a whole people, and that the earth should be dried up as if it were burnt with sulphur, this is an awful spectacle, in which God’s vengeance, which else would be incredible, manifestly appears; and therefore the cases of Sodom and Gomorrah are adduced, in whose destruction it might be seen what end awaits all the reprobate. 275275     Addition in Fr., “Comme Sainct Jude aussi declare, que la foudre dont elles ont este abysmees, est figure du feu eternal;” as St. Jude also declares, that the thunderbolt whereby they were destroyed, is a type of the eternal fire. (Jude 7.) Now the Israelites always had their desolation before their eyes, from the time that they entered the land, in order that they might be warned by so terrible a judgment, and might tremble at it. It is also worthy of notice, that strangers are introduced making inquiry; in which words Moses signifies that this vengeance would be terrible even to heathen nations; and with this corresponds what we read in Jeremiah; “many nations shall pass by this city, and they shall say every man to his neighbor, Wherefore hath the Lord done thus unto this great city? Then they shall answer, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the Lord their God, and worshipped other gods, and served them.” (Jeremiah 22:8, 9.) A similar divine menace is recorded in 1 Kings 9:8, 9; “And at this house,” referring to the Temple brought to desolation, “every one that passeth by it shall be astonished and shall hiss; and they shall say, Why hath the Lord done thus to this house? And they shall answer, Because they forsook the Lord their God, and have taken hold upon other gods,” etc. What we find further on is still more fearful; “Behold, I am bringing such evil upon Jerusalem and Judah, that whosoever heareth of it, both his ears shall tingle.” (2 Kings 21:12.)

Moses amplifies the crime of their rebellion, when he says, that forsaking the God of their fathers, God their deliverer, God who had made a covenant with them, they had gone and served strange and unknown gods, from 276276     See margin, A.V. — “Who had not given to them any portion,” v, 26. whom they had received no benefits to induce them. For God had bound them to Himself for ever, both by His instruction 277277     “Sa parole;” His word. — Fr. and the incomparable manifestation of His power; there could therefore be no pretense of ignorance, or mistake to excuse their defection from Him, and their prostitution of themselves to unknown idols.

In the meantime, let us learn from this passage anxiously to inquire who is the true God, and what is His will; because there is no true religion without knowledge; and again, if He convicted His ancient people of wicked ingratitude on account of their deliverance, that we also are now much more inexcusable, unless we constantly abide in the faith of our eternal Redeemer.

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