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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 27

Smith's Bible CommentarySmith's Commentary

Verses 1-26

Chapter 27

In chapter twenty-seven, when you come into the land you are to take these stones and you are to build a tower and you are to plaster it. And then you are to write on the plaster of the tower the words of the law when you pass over into the land that God has given to you.

Therefore it shall be when you have gone over Jordan, [verse four] that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster. And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them. Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God: And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God. And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly ( Deuteronomy 27:4-8 ).

And so they were to build this altar, but they were not to carve the stones. They were not to cut the stones. They were to use just whole stones. No tool was to come upon them.

Now when God first commanded the building of altars they were to be built just out of earth. It was interesting that when they made a place of worship for God, God's desire that the place that they make for the worship of God be simple and natural. God did not want them building ornate places of worship. Why? Because when you come into an ornate place of worship your mind is drawn to the ornateness of the place. And you begin to glory in its architecture or in the fine carvings or in the beauty of the place itself. But God wants you when you come to worship Him not to be distracted. To stand in awe of gorgeous architecture or whatever but that your place of worship be just a simple place, that does not attract attention to itself but allows you to give your full attention unto the Lord to worship Him.

And those stones, don't carve them, don't cut them out, just smooth them out, just whole stones to make the altar. Then on Mount Ebal to place these stones in a pile, to plaster the pile and to write upon the plaster the law of God, there on Mount Ebal, then to bring burnt offerings and peace offerings.

Now you remember your lessons out of Leviticus. You will remember that the burnt offerings were the offerings of consecration. It is the symbolizing of the consecrating of my life to God. The peace offerings were the offerings of communion, my desire to fellowship with God and to commune with God. And so the two offerings, the burnt offering, that is the consecration and communion with God.

Now up on top of Mount Gerizim certain of the tribes were to stand and to pronounce the blessings upon the people. And on Mount Ebal other tribes were to stand and pronounce the curses.

Now on Mount Gerizim, verse twelve,

to bless the people, the tribe of Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin: On mount Ebal to curse the people; Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice ( Deuteronomy 27:12-13 ).

Now here is the picture: when you are in the valley, when you are in the valley of Shechem. You have on your left-hand side Mount Gerizim. It raises, probably two thousand feet above the valley, and on the right hand side you have Mount Ebal, raising about two thousand feet above the valley. So here you have the valley of the area of Shechem with these two mountains on either side, so the vast multitude of Israel standing in this valley. And up on the top of Mount Gerizim these men from these tribes that we read off are calling out the blessings of God that shall come upon you for obedience. On the other Mount Ebal, if you are in the valley you are hearing these guys crying the curses for those that disobey the laws of God. And so it must have been a very awesome kind of an experience. One that would really implant itself quite deeply in your mind as you realized the blessings and the cursings, as God said, "I have set before you today a blessing and a curse". A blessing if you obey, a curse if you disobey.

So these are the curses that were then pronounced,

Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and puts it in a secret place. And all the congregation shall answer and say, Amen ( Deuteronomy 27:15 ).

So after each one of these curses they would have to cry out, "so be it". You know just sorta accepting, you know, all right, judgment, "so be it". And so the various curses that were cried out from this area and the people acknowledging the righteousness of the curses as you go through the remainder of chapter twenty-seven.


Bibliographical Information
Smith, Charles Ward. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 27". "Smith's Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/csc/deuteronomy-27.html. 2014.
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