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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 11

Dr. Constable's Expository NotesConstable's Expository Notes

Verses 1-12

In these verses Moses developed the requirement of love for God more fully. God’s acts toward Israel had been discipline (Deuteronomy 11:2), not just punishment.

The force of the comparison of Egypt and Canaan in Deuteronomy 11:10-11 is that irrigation was necessary in Egypt. However in Canaan the people would not need it because God sent rain from heaven on Canaan. Most farmers would prefer the rich land of the Nile region to land that depended on rain that might or might not come. Perhaps Moses was ironically comparing Egypt to a small green garden irrigated by dirty water with the extensive farmlands of Canaan that God watered with clean rain. [Note: L. Eslinger, "Watering Egypt (Deuteronomy XI 10-11)," Vetus Testamentum 37:1 (January 1987):85-90.]

Verses 1-32

The consequences of obedience and disobedience ch. 11

The section of Deuteronomy dealing with general stipulations of the covenant ends as it began, with an exhortation to covenant loyalty (Deuteronomy 5:1-5; cf. Deuteronomy 4:32-40).

"This chapter is to be understood as a re-emphasis of these principles [that were to govern Israel’s life] before the detailed laws of the so-called Deuteronomic Code (Deuteronomy 12:1 to Deuteronomy 26:19) are presented." [Note: Thompson, p. 151.]

Verses 13-21

Moses held out the blessings for obeying God as an additional motivation. God would send rain on the land (Deuteronomy 11:14) that would result in productivity (Deuteronomy 11:15).

"The first priority is . . . given to Scripture as the means of teaching the greatness and grace of God [to the next generation, Deuteronomy 11:18-19]." [Note: Sailhamer, p. 445.]

Verses 22-32

God would drive out all the Canaanites (Deuteronomy 11:23) and give Israel all the land that He had promised Abraham (Deuteronomy 11:24; cf. Genesis 15:18). [Note: See Richard D. Patterson, "The Biblical Imagery of Feet as a Vehicle for Truth," Bibliotheca Sacra 163:649 (January-March 2006):35.] Deuteronomy 11:26-28 are a concluding summary. The decision Israel faced would result in either blessing or cursing.

"One of the most frequently used words in Deuteronomy is ’today.’ It occurs almost a hundred times, most frequently in the phrase ’the commandment that I am commanding you today.’ This usage is of great significance for the theological understanding of the book. Basically it is used to indicate the crucial nature of the moment at which the covenant at Horeb is established and the people are summoned to obedience." [Note: Whybray, p. 95. Cf. Isaiah 49:8; 2 Corinthians 6:2.]

God commanded that when the Israelites entered the land they should assemble beside the oaks of Moreh (Deuteronomy 11:30, near Shechem) where Abraham had received the promise of the land (Genesis 12:6-7). Gilgal may have been another name for Shechem or a town close to Shechem. This is probably not the same Gilgal that stood near Jericho. Shechem was near the geographic center of Canaan. There the people were to recite the blessings and curses from the two mountains on either side of the site (i.e., Mt. Gerizim and Mt. Ebal; cf. chs. 27-28; Joshua 8:33; Joshua 24:1-28). This ceremony would repeat and reinforce the instructions Moses gave here after Israel entered the land.

Peter Craigie pointed out the chiastic structure of the major blessing and curse references in Deuteronomy as follows.

A The blessing and curse in the present covenant renewal (Deuteronomy 11:26-28)

B The blessing and curse in the future covenant renewal (Deuteronomy 11:29-32)

C The specific legislation (Deuteronomy 12:1 to Deuteronomy 26:19)

B’ The blessing and curse in the future covenant renewal (Deuteronomy 27:1-26)

A’ The blessing and curse in the present covenant renewal (Deuteronomy 28:1 to Deuteronomy 29:1). [Note: Craigie, The Book . . ., p. 212.]

This arrangement stresses the consequences of obedience and disobedience in the present and the future.

This first part of Moses’ second address concludes with an exhortation to obey God’s covenant (Deuteronomy 11:32). In this part of his speech to the Israelites, Moses explained and emphasized the essence of the Law. His words expounded the meaning of the first three commandments in the Decalogue and urged Israel to be absolutely faithful to God. Because He had loved His people they should love Him.

"The basic stipulation of covenant, then, (1) lays a foundation for the specific stipulations, a foundation that consists of a recognition of Yahweh’s election of Israel by love and grace, (2) forms a recapitulation of and commentary on that fundamental principle of covenant as seen in the Ten Words and the Shema, the latter in turn being an adumbration of the former, and (3) urges (as seen in the historical review and hortatory sections) compliance with the covenant mandate of the Ten Words and with the specific stipulations that follow." [Note: Merrill, "A Theology . . .," p. 79.]

Bibliographical Information
Constable, Thomas. DD. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11". "Dr. Constable's Expository Notes". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcc/deuteronomy-11.html. 2012.
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