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Narrative Interlude

29 (28:69)[a] These are the words of the covenant that the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.[b]

The Exodus, Wandering, and Conquest Reviewed

Moses proclaimed to all Israel as follows: “You have seen all that the Lord did[c] in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, all his servants, and his land. Your eyes have seen the great judgments,[d] those signs and mighty wonders. But to this very day the Lord has not given you an understanding mind, perceptive eyes, or discerning ears![e] I have led you through the wilderness for forty years. Your clothing has not worn out[f] nor have your sandals[g] deteriorated. You have eaten no bread and drunk no wine or beer—all so that you might know that I[h] am the Lord your God! When you came to this place King Sihon of Heshbon and King Og of Bashan came out to make war and we defeated them. Then we took their land and gave it as an inheritance to Reuben, Gad, and half the tribe of Manasseh.

The Present Covenant Setting

“Therefore, keep the terms[i] of this covenant and obey them so that you may be successful in everything you do. 10 You are standing today, all of you, before the Lord your God—the heads of your tribes,[j] your elders, your officials, every Israelite man, 11 your infants, your wives, and the[k] resident foreigners[l] living in your encampment, those who chop wood and those who carry water— 12 so that you may enter by oath into the covenant the Lord your God is making with you today.[m] 13 Today he will affirm that you are his people and that he is your God,[n] just as he promised you and as he swore by oath to your ancestors[o] Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. 14 It is not with you alone that I am making this covenant by oath, 15 but with whoever stands with us here today before the Lord our God as well as those not with us here today.[p]

The Results of Disobedience

16 “(For you know how we lived in the land of Egypt and how we crossed through the nations as we traveled. 17 You have seen their detestable things[q] and idols of wood, stone, silver, and gold.)[r] 18 Beware that the heart of no man, woman, clan, or tribe among you turns away from the Lord our God today to pursue and serve the gods of those nations; beware that there is among you no root producing poisonous and bitter fruit.[s] 19 When such a person[t] hears the words of this oath he secretly[u] blesses himself[v] and says, ‘I will have peace though I continue to walk with a stubborn spirit.’[w] This will destroy[x] the watered ground with the parched.[y] 20 The Lord will be unwilling to forgive him, and his intense anger[z] will rage[aa] against that man; all the curses[ab] written in this scroll will fall upon him,[ac] and the Lord will obliterate his name from memory.[ad] 21 The Lord will single him out[ae] for judgment[af] from all the tribes of Israel according to all the curses of the covenant written in this scroll of the law. 22 The generation to come—your descendants who will rise up after you, as well as the foreigner who will come from distant places—will see[ag] the afflictions of that land and the illnesses that the Lord has brought on it. 23 The whole land will be covered with brimstone, salt, and burning debris; it will not be planted nor will it sprout or produce grass. It will resemble the destruction of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboyim, which the Lord destroyed in his intense anger.[ah] 24 Then all the nations will ask, ‘Why has the Lord done all this to this land? What is this fierce, heated display of anger[ai] all about?’ 25 Then people will say, ‘Because they abandoned the covenant of the Lord, the God of their ancestors, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt. 26 They went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods they did not know and that he did not permit them to worship.[aj] 27 That is why the Lord’s anger erupted against this land, bringing on it all the curses[ak] written in this scroll. 28 So the Lord has uprooted them from their land in anger, wrath, and great rage and has deported them to another land, as is clear today.’ 29 The secret things belong to the Lord our God, but those that are revealed belong to us and our descendants[al] forever, so that we might obey all the words of this law.


  1. Deuteronomy 29:1 sn Beginning with 29:1, the verse numbers through 29:29 in the English Bible differ from the verse numbers in the Hebrew text (BHS), with 29:1 ET = 28:69 HT, 29:2 ET = 29:1 HT, 29:3 ET = 29:2 HT, etc., through 29:29 ET = 29:28 HT. With 30:1 the verse numbers in the ET and HT are again the same.
  2. Deuteronomy 29:1 sn Horeb is another name for Mount Sinai (which some English versions substitute here for clarity, cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).
  3. Deuteronomy 29:2 tn The Hebrew text includes “to your eyes,” but this is redundant in English style (cf. the preceding “you have seen”) and is omitted in the translation.
  4. Deuteronomy 29:3 tn Heb “testings.” This is a reference to the plagues; see note at 4:34.
  5. Deuteronomy 29:4 tn Heb “a heart to know, eyes to see and ears to hear” (NASB similar); NAB, NRSV “a mind to understand, or eyes to see, or ears to hear.”
  6. Deuteronomy 29:5 tn The Hebrew text includes “on you.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  7. Deuteronomy 29:5 tn The Hebrew text includes “from on your feet.”
  8. Deuteronomy 29:6 tc The LXX reads “that he is the Lord your God.”
  9. Deuteronomy 29:9 tn Heb “words.”
  10. Deuteronomy 29:10 tc Heb “your heads, your tribes.” The Syriac presupposes either “heads of your tribes” or “your heads, your judges,” etc. (reading שֹׁפְטֵכֶם [shofetekhem] for שִׁבְטֵיכֶם [shivtekhem]). Its comparative difficulty favors the originality of the MT reading. Cf. KJV “your captains of your tribes”; NRSV “the leaders of your tribes”; NLT “your tribal leaders.”
  11. Deuteronomy 29:11 tn Heb “your.”
  12. Deuteronomy 29:11 sn The ger (גֵּר) “foreign resident” here enters into the covenant with the community if Israel. Elsewhere in Mosaic Law the ger make sacrifices to the Lord (Lev 17:8; 22:18; Num 15:14) and participate in Israel’s religious festivals: Passover Exod 12:48; Day of Atonement Lev 16:29; Feast of Weeks Deut 16:10-14; Feast of Tabernacles/Temporary Shelters Deut 31:12. Several passages emphasize equal standing under Mosaic Law (Exod 12:49; Lev 24:22; Num 9:14; 15:15, 16, 26, 29; 19:10; 35:15; Deut 1:16 or similar obligations Exod 20:10; 23:12; Lev 16:29; 17:10, 12, 13; 18:26; 24:16; Num 15:14. In many respects these ger (גֵּר) appear to be naturalized citizens who could not own land (land was allotted by tribe).
  13. Deuteronomy 29:12 tn Heb “for you to pass on into the covenant of the Lord your God and into his oath, which the Lord your God is cutting with you today.”
  14. Deuteronomy 29:13 tn Heb “in order to establish you today to him for a people and he will be to you for God.” Verses 10-13 are one long sentence in Hebrew. The translation divides this into two sentences for stylistic reasons.
  15. Deuteronomy 29:13 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 25).
  16. Deuteronomy 29:15 tn This is interpreted by some English versions as a reference to generations not yet born (cf. TEV, CEV, NLT).
  17. Deuteronomy 29:17 tn The Hebrew term שִׁקּוּץ (shiqquts) refers to anything out of keeping with the nature and character of Yahweh and therefore to be avoided by his people Israel. It is commonly used with or as a synonym for תּוֹעֵבָה (toʿevah, “detestable, abhorrent”; 2 Kgs 23:13; Jer 16:18; Ezek 5:11; 7:20; 11:18, 21; see note on the term “abhorrent” in Deut 7:25). See M. Grisanti, NIDOTTE 4:243-46.
  18. Deuteronomy 29:17 tn The Hebrew text includes “which were with them.” Verses 16-17 constitute a parenthetical comment.
  19. Deuteronomy 29:18 tn Heb “yielding fruit poisonous and wormwood.” The Hebrew noun לַעֲנָה (laʿanah) literally means “wormwood” (so KJV, ASV, NAB, NASB), but is used figuratively for anything extremely bitter, thus here “fruit poisonous and bitter.”
  20. Deuteronomy 29:19 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the subject of the warning in v. 18) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  21. Deuteronomy 29:19 tn Heb “in his heart.”
  22. Deuteronomy 29:19 tn Or “invokes a blessing on himself.” A formalized word of blessing is in view, the content of which appears later in the verse.
  23. Deuteronomy 29:19 tn Heb “heart.”
  24. Deuteronomy 29:19 tn Heb “thus destroying.” For stylistic reasons the translation begins a new sentence here.
  25. Deuteronomy 29:19 tn Heb “the watered with the parched.” The word “ground” is implied. The exact meaning of the phrase is uncertain although it appears to be figurative. This appears to be a proverbial observation employing a figure of speech (a merism) suggesting totality. That is, the Israelite who violates the letter and even spirit of the covenant will harm not only himself but everything he touches—“the watered and the parched.” Cf. CEV “you will cause the rest of Israel to be punished along with you.”
  26. Deuteronomy 29:20 tn Heb “the wrath of the Lord and his zeal.” The expression is a hendiadys, a figure in which the second noun becomes adjectival to the first.
  27. Deuteronomy 29:20 tn Heb “smoke,” or “smolder.”
  28. Deuteronomy 29:20 tn Heb “the entire oath.”
  29. Deuteronomy 29:20 tn Or “will lie in wait against him.”
  30. Deuteronomy 29:20 tn Heb “blot out his name from under the sky.”
  31. Deuteronomy 29:21 tn Heb “set him apart.”
  32. Deuteronomy 29:21 tn Heb “for evil”; NAB “for doom”; NASB “for adversity”; NIV “for disaster”; NRSV “for calamity.”
  33. Deuteronomy 29:22 tn Heb “will say and see.” One expects a quotation to appear, but it seems to be omitted. To avoid confusion in the translation, the verb “will say” is omitted.
  34. Deuteronomy 29:23 tn Heb “the anger and the wrath.” This construction is a hendiadys intended to intensify the emotion.
  35. Deuteronomy 29:24 tn Heb “this great burning of anger”; KJV “the heat of this great anger.”
  36. Deuteronomy 29:26 tn Heb “did not assign to them”; NASB, NRSV “had not allotted to them.”
  37. Deuteronomy 29:27 tn Heb “the entire curse.”
  38. Deuteronomy 29:29 tn Heb “sons” (so NASB); KJV, ASV, NIV, NRSV “children.”