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A MEMORIAL ON MOUNT EBAL
With the directive again to keep all the commandments of the Lord, Moses gave Israel instructions, when they get into the land, to set up large stones coated with lime, on which the words of the law were to be inscribed (vs.1-3). This was to be done on Mount Ebal and also an altar of stones built there (vs.4-6), on which Israel was to offer peace offerings and rejoice before the Lord.
The significance of these things is very striking, for we are told in verses 12 and 13 that blessings for the people were to be proclaimed from Mount Gerazim and curses from Mount Ebal. Why was the altar not put on Mount Gerizim? Because God knew that Israel would not keep the law, and were thus left under a curse (Galatians 3:10). God would meet them in the place they were, not where they ought to be. The altar tells us that God is able to redeem those under the curse by means of the sacrifice of Christ. This is pure grace.
The words of the law were to be written very plainly, so that there would be no mistake and no excuse for breaking the law (v.8). Then Moses and the priests spoke again to all Israel, urging them to pay attention and listen. They had become the people of God, therefore it was God they were responsible to obey (v.10).
FROM MOUNT EBAL -- CURSES
Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal were close to each other and when Israel came into their land they were here instructed by Moses to have six tribes stand on Mount Ebal to pronounce the curses (vs.12-13). The blessings pronounced from Mount Gerizim were on condition of obedience, and the curses from Mount Ebal were against all disobedience.
The Levites with the company on Mount Ebal were then required to proclaim with a loud voice a number of curses (v.14). Though Mount Gerizim with its blessings were noted first, yet the curses from Mount Ebal are spoken first, for God knew they would incur these curses.
The first curse (v.15) is against anyone who makes a carved or molded image which the Lord abhors, and sets it up secretly. Of course if this was done publicly the curse was just as effective, but God sees what is in secret too, though people may feel they can get away with such hidden evil. When the curse was pronounced, all the people were required to say "Amen."
The second curse would fall on anyone who treated his father or mother with contempt (v.16). This is just the opposite of honoring father or mother, which is the positive command of the law. Again, the people were to fully concur as to such a curse.
A third curse is pronounced against one who moved his neighbor's landmark (v.17). This would likely be with the object of cheating a neighbor out of some of some of his property, an evil matter literally, and even worse spiritually, for there are many who falsify the Word of God in order to cheat others out of the spiritual property that God has provided for them. Again, the people were required to back this up by their "Amen."
The fourth curse is pronounced against one who makes the blind to wander off the road (v.18). Literally this kind of thing is contemptible cruelty, and so it is spiritually. By teaching false doctrine, evil teachers will drive unsuspecting people away from the truth of God. Again the people must express their agreement to such a curse.
A fifth curse is against one who perverts justice in regard to the stranger, fatherless and widow (v.19). Such victims have no means of protecting themselves, and to take advantage of them is again cold hearted cruelty which God will judge. Let all the people say "Amen."
One who has sexual intercourse with his father's wife is put under the sixth curse (v.20). This would of course be his step mother, as in the revolting case of the man in1 Corinthians 5:1; 1 Corinthians 5:1, who was put out from Christian fellowship for this evil.
The seventh, eighth and ninth curses are also all connected with sexual evil, and as to all of these the people were to fully concur that the curse was absolutely righteous.
The tenth curse is against one who attacks his neighbor secretly. One may cover up his bad actions toward another, but God discerns such underhand activity and puts the perpetrator under a curse.
The eleventh curse is against one who takes a bribe to kill an innocent person. We hear frequently of people being hired to kill someone, and when proven in court, both are held guilty of murder. The curse here is only spoken of as applying to the one who takes a bribe, but certainly both would be held guilty before God.
The twelfth (and last) curse is against one who does not confirm all this law. In other words, one who does not say "Amen" to all these curses is thereby cursed himself. Let everyone agree to this!
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Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Grant, L. M. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 27". Grant's Commentary on the Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Week of Proper 14 / Ordinary 19