Israel Urged to Obey God’s Law
4 “Now, O Israel, listen and pay attention to the statutes and the judgments (God’s legal decisions) which I am teaching you to do, so that you may live and go in and take possession of the land which the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2 You shall not add to the word which I am commanding you, nor take away from it, so that you may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I am commanding you. 3 Your eyes have seen what the Lord did at Baal-peor; for all the men who followed [and participated in the worship of] Baal of Peor, the Lord your God destroyed them from among you,(A) 4 but you who held tightly to the Lord your God are alive today, every one of you.
5 “Look, I have taught you statutes and judgments just as the Lord my God has commanded me, so that you may do them in the land which you are entering to possess. 6 So keep and do them, for that is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the peoples who will hear all these statutes and say, ‘Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.’ 7 For what great nation is there that has a god so near to it as the Lord our God [is to us] whenever we call on Him? 8 Or what great nation has statutes and judgments so righteous (upright, just) as this whole law which I am [a]placing before you today?
9 “Only pay attention and watch yourselves closely so that you do not forget the things which your eyes have seen and they do not depart from your heart all the days of your life. Make them known to your children and your grandchildren [impressing these things on their mind and penetrating their heart with these truths]— 10 especially the day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb (Mount Sinai), when the Lord said to me, ‘Assemble the people to Me and I will let them hear My words, so that they may learn to fear Me [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect] all the days they live on the land, and so that they may teach their children.’ 11 You approached and stood at the foot of the mountain, and the mountain burned with fire to the [very] heart of the heavens: darkness, cloud and thick gloom. 12 Then the Lord spoke to you from the midst of the fire; you heard the sound of the words, but you saw no form—there was only a voice. 13 So He declared to you His covenant which He commanded you to follow, [b]the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. 14 The Lord commanded me at that time to teach you the statutes and judgments, so that you might do them in the land which you are going over to possess.
15 “So pay attention and watch [c]yourselves carefully—for you did not see any form [of God] on the day the Lord spoke to you at Horeb from the midst of the fire— 16 so that you do not act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved or sculpted image [to worship] in the form of any figure, the likeness of male or female, 17 the likeness of any animal that is on the earth, or of any winged bird that flies in the [d]sky, 18 the likeness of anything that crawls on the ground, or of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth. 19 And beware that you do not raise your eyes toward heaven and see the sun and the moon and the stars, all the host of heaven, and let yourselves be led astray and worship them and serve them, [mere created bodies] which the Lord your God has allotted to [serve and benefit] all the peoples under the whole heaven. 20 But the Lord has taken you and brought you out of the iron [smelting] furnace, out of Egypt, to be a people for His own possession, as [you are] this day.
21 “Now the Lord was angry with me [at the waters of Meribah] because of you, and He swore [an oath] that I would not cross the Jordan, and that I would not enter the good land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance. 22 For I am going to die in this land, I am not going to cross the Jordan, but you shall cross over and take possession of this good land. 23 So be on your guard and watch yourselves, so that you do not forget the covenant of the Lord your God which He has made with you, and make for yourselves a carved or sculpted image in the form of anything which the Lord your God has forbidden you. 24 For the Lord your God is a consuming fire; He is a [e]jealous (impassioned) God [demanding what is rightfully and uniquely His].
25 “When you become the father of children and grandchildren and have grown old in the land, then if you corrupt yourselves by making a carved or sculpted image in the form of anything [for the purpose of worship], and do evil [things] in the sight of the Lord your God, provoking Him to anger, 26 I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today, that you will soon utterly perish from the land which you are crossing the Jordan to possess. You shall not live long on it, but will be utterly destroyed. 27 The Lord will scatter and disperse you among the peoples (pagan nations), and you will be left few in number among the nations where the Lord drives you. 28 And there you will serve [false and foreign] gods, the work of human hands, [lifeless images of] wood and stone, which neither see nor hear nor eat nor smell [the offerings of food given to them]. 29 But from there you will seek the Lord your God, and you will find Him if you search for Him with all your heart and all your soul. 30 When you are in distress and tribulation and all these things come on you, in the latter days you will return to the Lord your God and listen to His voice. 31 For the Lord your God is a merciful and compassionate God; He will not fail you, nor destroy you, nor forget the covenant with your fathers which He swore to them.
32 “Indeed, ask now about the days that are past, [those days] which were before you, since the day that God created man on the earth, and ask from one end of the heavens to the other. Has anything been done like this great thing, or has anything been heard like it? 33 Did [any] people ever hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as you heard, and [still] live? 34 Or has any [man-made] god ever tried to go and take for himself a nation from within another nation by trials, by signs and wonders and by war and by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm and by great terrors, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your [very] eyes? 35 It was shown to you so that you might have [personal] knowledge and comprehend that the Lord is God; there is no other besides Him. 36 Out of the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline and admonish you; and on earth He let you see His great fire, and you heard His words from the midst of the fire. 37 And because He loved your fathers, He chose their descendants who followed them, and brought you from Egypt with His Presence, with His great and awesome power, 38 dispossessing and driving out from before you nations, [nations that were] greater and mightier than you, to bring you in, to give you their land as an inheritance, as it is this day. 39 Therefore know and understand today, and take it to your heart, that the Lord is God in the heavens above and on the earth below; there is no other. 40 So you shall keep His statutes and His commandments which I am commanding you today, so that it may go well with you and with your children after you, and so that you may live long on the land which the Lord your God is giving you for all time.”
41 Then Moses set apart three cities [of refuge] beyond the Jordan toward the rising of the sun (eastward), 42 so that someone who committed manslaughter could flee there, [that is, a person] who killed his neighbor unintentionally and without previously having hostility toward him, and that by escaping to one of these cities he might [claim the right of asylum and] save his life: 43 Bezer in the wilderness on the plateau for the Reubenites, and Ramoth in Gilead for the Gadites, and Golan in Bashan for the Manassites.
44 This is the law which Moses placed before the sons of Israel; 45 these are the testimonies (legal provisions) and the statutes and the judgments which Moses spoke to the sons of Israel when they came out of Egypt, 46 beyond the Jordan in the Valley opposite Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites who lived at Heshbon, whom Moses and the sons of Israel defeated when they came out from Egypt. 47 They took possession of his land and the land of Og king of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites, who reigned across the Jordan to the east, 48 from Aroer, which is on the edge of the valley of the [river] Arnon, as far as Mount Sion (that is, Hermon), 49 with all the Arabah (desert lowlands) across the Jordan to the east, even as far as the sea of the Arabah (the Dead Sea), at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah.
- Deuteronomy 4:8 Lit giving.
- Deuteronomy 4:13 Lit the ten words.
- Deuteronomy 4:15 Lit your souls.
- Deuteronomy 4:17 Lit heavens, the reference here is to the first heaven, the “heaven of the clouds.”
- Deuteronomy 4:24 I.e. intolerant of unfaithfulness.