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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 27

Garner-Howes Baptist CommentaryGarner-Howes

Verses 1-8


Verses 1-8:

Moses and the elders of Israel gave instructions for a means by which all the people could be familiar with the Law which God gave from Sinai. This was a means commonly practiced in ancient times.

They were to erect pillars made of "great stones," and cover these pillars with plaster, sid, made of lime or gypsum. This coating provided a smooth, white surface upon which the words of the Law could be written. Specimens of such writing are extant today, which are as distinct and legible as when first written, two thousand years ago (Thomson, `Land and the Book’).

These pillars were to be erected on Mount Ebal. Compare this text with Joshua 8:30-32.

In addition to the pillars, an altar was to be erected, made of whole or uncut stones, see Exodus 20:25. The altar was to be on Mount Ebal, likely in close proximity to the pillars.

Israel was to offer on this altar sacrifices of burnt offerings (Le ch. 1) and peace offerings (Le ch. 3), in the same manner as they had done following the giving of the Law on Mount Sinai, Exodus 24:3-5.

The entire Law was to be written upon the plastered pillars, "very plainly," so there could be no misunderstanding, and so that all would be without excuse to know what God required.

Compare this text with Romans 1:18-20; Romans 2:12-16.

Verses 9-10

Verse 9, 10:

This text is a solemn reminder that Israel was the people of Jehovah Elohim, and were under covenant to heed His commandments. Compare with Deuteronomy 26:16-19.

Verses 11-13

Verses 11-13:

Next in order after setting up the pillars and altar, Israel was to carry out the instructions given earlier, regarding the pronouncement of blessings and curses, see Deuteronomy 11:26-30.

Six of Israels’ tribes were to stand on Mount Gerizim and six on Mount Ebal. Those who stood on Mount Gerizim were all descended from Jacob’s two wives, Leah and Rachel. They were to "bless the people." Those who stood on Mount Ebal were descended from Zilpah and Bilhah, and two of Leah’s sons, Zebulun and Reuben.

Verses 14-26

Verses 14-26:

"The Levites" in this text refers to the priesthood who bore the Ark of God, not to the entire tribe of Levi. They likely occupied a position in the valley between the two mountains, see Joshua 8:33. They stood in such a location that they could be readily heard and understood by all assembled.

The curses and responses were not spoken by the voice of one man alone. They were chanted in unison by the chorus of voices of the priests.

The first eleven of the curses pronounced were directed to some specific commandment in the Law already given. The twelfth was a general curse, directed toward all who refused to adopt the whole Law as the rule of their life.

( 1) Verse 15, see Exodus 20:4; Leviticus 26:1.

(2) Verse 16, see Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:17.

(3) Verse 17, see Deuteronomy 19:14.

(4) Verse 18, see Leviticus 19:14.

(5) Verse 19, see Deuteronomy 24:17.

(6) Verse 20, see Deuteronomy 22:30; Leviticus 18:8.

(7) Verse 21, see Leviticus 18:23; Leviticus 20:15.

(8) Verse 22, see Leviticus 18:9.

(9) Verse 23, see Leviticus 18:9; Leviticus 18:17.

(10) Verse 24, see Exodus 20:13; Numbers 35:16-18.

(11) Verse 25, see Exodus 23:7-8.

(12) Verse 26, see Deuteronomy 28:15; Jeremiah 11:3-4; Galatians 3:10.

The people were to respond in unison to each of these curses by the affirmation, "Amen," which means, "so be it." This showed their agreement with the principle in each statement, and their acceptance of the terms.

Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 27". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/deuteronomy-27.html. 1985.
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