10 Moses: Then the Eternal answered my prayer: “Cut out two stone tablets like the first ones, come back up the mountain to Me, and make a wooden chest. 2 I’ll write on those tablets the same words that were on the first ones, the ones you smashed into pieces, and you can put the new tablets in the chest you make.”
3 So I made a chest of acacia wood and cut out two stone tablets like the first ones, and I went back up the mountain carrying the two tablets. 4 The Eternal engraved on them what He had engraved on the first ones: the Ten Directives the Eternal gave you on the day you gathered at the mountain when He spoke to you from inside the fire. He gave the new tablets to me, 5 and I came back down the mountain and put them in the chest I’d made, as the Eternal had commanded me. And they’re still there today.
When they make and worship the young bull idol, the people are breaking the first covenant at Horeb, the one the Lord makes with them when He speaks to them from inside the fire and gives them the Ten Directives. Moses signifies that this first covenant is null and void when he smashes the two stone tablets that are the official copies of the covenant terms. That covenant has been conditional on the people maintaining an exclusive allegiance to the Lord, and they have violated this essential requirement. Now, however, through the intercession of Moses, the people are accepted into a second, new covenant on the basis of His forgiveness and mercy. Its continuation is also conditional on their obedience, but its deepest foundation is a grace anticipating the new covenant God ultimately makes with us through Jesus.
6 The children of Israel had been staying by the wells that belong to the descendants of Jaakan. They moved from there to Moserah. There, Aaron died and was buried. His son, Eleazar, succeeded him as high priest. 7 The people then moved to Gudgodah, and then to Jotbathah where the land is watered by streams. 8 There the Eternal set apart the tribe of Levi under Eleazar’s new leadership to carry the covenant chest of the Eternal One to serve Him in His presence and to bless the people in His name, as they still do today. 9 That’s why the tribe of Levi doesn’t have any familial hereditary territory alongside the other tribes: the Eternal Himself is Levi’s inheritance, just as the Eternal your God told Levi He would be.
Moses: 10 I stayed on the mountain just as long as I had before, for 40 days and nights. The Eternal listened to my prayers once again and agreed not to destroy you. 11 He told me, “Stand up again—I’ve granted your request. Now go and lead the people the rest of the way, so they can enter and take possession of the land I promised their ancestors I’d give them.”
12 And now, Israel, what is the Eternal your God asking of you? Only that you fear Him, live as He wants you to, and love Him; serve Him with every part of you, heart and soul; 13 and obey His commands and rules, which I’m giving you today for your good.
14 Think of it—everything already belongs to the Eternal your God: the sky and His own dwelling place beyond the sky, the earth and everything on it. 15 Nevertheless He devotedly loved your ancestors; and out of all the peoples He chose you, their descendants, to be His own, as you still are today. 16 Cut away that hard covering around your heart, and do not harden your neck against me, 17 because the Eternal your God is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great and mighty and amazing God! He doesn’t favor the powerful, and He can’t be bribed.
The imagery of cutting the foreskin of one’s heart and not hardening the neck are graphic depictions of how God desires internal devotion to reflect external obedience.
18 He enforces His justice for the powerless, such as orphans and widows, and He loves foreigners, making sure they have food and clothing. 19 You must love those foreigners living with you in the same way. Remember how you were foreigners in the land of Egypt! 20 So fear the Eternal your God; serve Him, and be devoted to Him. Show your loyalty by swearing oaths only in His name. 21 He’s the One you must praise—He’s your God who has done such great and amazing things for you, as you’ve seen with your own eyes. 22 When your ancestors went into Egypt, there were only 70 people in their whole clan.[a] But He kept increasing your numbers, and now there are as many of you as there are stars in the sky!