Deuteronomy 11:29
And it shall come to pass, when the LORD your God has brought you in to the land where you go to possess it, that you shall put the blessing on mount Gerizim, and the curse on mount Ebal.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(29) The blessing . . . and the curse . . .—The Targum of Onkelos says, “Those that bless,” and “those that curse.” (See Deuteronomy 27:12-13, and Note.[1])

[1] The other Targums say, “When they bless they shall turn their faces towards Mount Gerizim; and when they curse they shall turn their faces towards Mount Ebal.” This confirms the antiquity of the view taken in the Talmud.

Deuteronomy 11:29-30. Put — Hebrew, Thou shalt give; that is, speak, or pronounce, or cause to be pronounced. This is more particularly expressed Deuteronomy 27:12-13. Over against — Looking toward Gilgal, though at some considerable distance from it. Beside the plains of Moreh — This was one of the first places that Abraham came to in Canaan. So that in sending them thither to hear the blessing and the curse, they were reminded of the promise made to Abram in that very place, Genesis 12:6-7.11:26-32 Moses sums up all the arguments for obedience in two words, the blessing and the curse. He charged the people to choose which they would have. Moses then appointed a public and solemn proclamation of the blessing and curse, to be made upon the two mountains of Gerizim and Ebal. We have broken the law, and are under its curse, without remedy from ourselves. In mercy, the gospel again sets before us a blessing and a curse. A blessing, if we obey the call to repentance, to faith in Christ, and newness of heart and life through him; an awful curse, if we neglect so great salvation. Let us thankfully welcome these glad tidings of great joy; and let us not harden our hearts, but hear this voice of God while it is called to-day, and while he invites us to come to him upon a mercy-seat. Let us be diligent to make our calling and election sure.Thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim - literally, thou shalt give, i. e., "give" utterance to it. On the ceremony see Deuteronomy 27:14 ff.

Mount Gerizim, barren like Ebal, was probably selected as the hill of benediction because it was the southernmost of the two, the south being the region, according to Hebrew ideas, of light, and so of life and blessing. The situation of the mountains is described more accurately in Deuteronomy 11:30. The words "by the way where the sun goeth down," should run, beyond the road of the west; i. e., on the further side of the main track which ran from Syria and Damascus to Jerusalem and Egypt through the center of Palestine. This is called "the way of the west" in contrast to the ether main route from Damascus to the south which passed through the district east of Jordan. The further specifications "Gilgal" and "the plains (rather, the oaks, compare Genesis 12:6 note) of Moreh," are added to define more particularly the section of Canaanites intended.

This Gilgal is perhaps to be found in Jiljilia, a large village about twelve miles south of Gerizim.

26-32. Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse—(See on [125]De 27:11). Thou shalt put the blessing, Heb. thou shalt give, i.e. speak or pronounce, or cause to be pronounced. So the word to give is used, Deu 13:1,2 Job 36:3 Proverbs 9:9. This is more particularly expressed Deu 27:12,13 Jos 8:33, whither I refer the reader. And it shall come to pass, when the Lord thy God hath bought thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it,.... Which is often observed, as being near at hand; and when and where many things were to be done, which could not be done in the place and circumstances they now were, particularly what follows:

that thou shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim, and the curse upon Mount Ebal; that is, pronounce the one on one mountain, and the other on the other mountain, or at least towards them, or over against them. The Targum of Jonathan is"ye shall set six tribes on Mount Gerizim, and six tribes on Mount Ebal; (#De 27:12,13) blessing they shall turn their faces against Mount Gerizim, and cursing they shall turn their faces against Mount Ebal;''with which agrees the account given in the Misnah;"six tribes went to the top of Mount Gerizim, and six to the top of Mount Ebal; and the priests and the Levites, and the ark, stood below in the middle; the priests surrounded the ark, and the Levites the priests, and all Israel were on this and on that side of the ark, as in Joshua 8:33 then they turned their faces against Gerizim, they opened with the blessing, blessed is he that maketh not any graven or molten image, and both answered "Amen"; then they turned their faces against Mount Ebal, and opened with the curse, Deuteronomy 27:15 and both answered Amen (s);''see the performance of this command in Joshua 8:33.

(s) Sotah, c. 7. sect. 5.

And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
29–30. A return to the Sg. form of address, with phrases peculiar to that form (see Deuteronomy 6:10, Deuteronomy 7:1). Whether it is original here, or dependent on Deuteronomy 27:12 f. (cp. Joshua 8:33 f.), is doubtful.

29. shall bring thee unto the land, etc.] Song of Solomon 7:1, q.v.

the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal
] The two most prominent hills on the Western Range, whether seen from the Mediterranean or from the E. of Jordan, on either side of what is not only the natural centre of Western Palestine, but the part most open to approach from E. Palestine. See the present writer’s HGHL, ch. vi., and pp. 335 ff. Gerizim lies to the S., or, according to Semitic orientation, the right hand and lucky quarter of the heavens; ‘Ebal on the N., the left or sinister quarter. But the visitor to the locality will also be struck by the sympathy between our verse and the contrasted aspects of the two hills as they face each other: the N. face of Gerizim, the mount of blessing, is the more fertile; the opposite face of ‘Ebal, the mount of curse, much the more bare.

30. A geographical gloss similar to those in Deuteronomy 1:2, and in chs. 2, 3, and introduced by are they not, as Deuteronomy 3:11.

beyond Jordan] True to the speaker’s position on the E. of Jordan, so Deuteronomy 3:20; Deuteronomy 3:25. Contrast, as untrue to the speaker’s position, Deuteronomy 3:8 (part of Moses’speech), Deuteronomy 1:1; Deuteronomy 1:5, Deuteronomy 4:46-47; Deuteronomy 4:49 (all titles), and Deuteronomy 4:41 (a historical fragment).

behind the way of the going down of the sun] Of doubtful meaning. Behind is, of course, west of (according to the orientation alluded to above). But what is the way? It has been understood by most as the great road traversing Western Palestine from N. to S., to the immediate west of which the two mountains lie (Dillm., who quotes Ritter, Erdkunde von Asien, xvi. 658 f. = Geog. of Pal. iv. 293 ff., Driver, Marti). Steuern. proposes, by the addition of one letter, to read west of it, i.e. the Jordan, and to translate the rest in the direction of the sunsetting; cp. the LXX ὀπίσω ὁδὸν (not ὁδοῦ) δυσμῶν ἡλίου ‘behind (it) towards the sunset.’ Such redundance is not uncharacteristic of the deuteronomic editors.

in the land of the Canaanites] Not D’s usual name for the inhabitants of the land; see on Deuteronomy 1:7.

which dwell in the Arabah] See on Deuteronomy 1:1 : the Jordan valley, not relevant to the position of ‘Ebal and Gerizim. The whole clause is very probably a still later addition, especially as the following clause connects naturally with that position. So, too, the Massoretic punctuation of the text implies.

over against Gilgal, beside the oaks of Moreh] The Gilgal, i.e. stone-circle. There were several places of this name W. of Jordan and still marked by Arabic forms of it (see ‘Gilgal’ in E. B. by the present writer): (1) One was the Gilgal near Jericho, and with this certain Rabbis, followed by Eusebius, Jerome, and a constant Christian tradition, have identified the Gilgal of our text. So, too, a number of modern commentators. Others, changing the punctuation, refer the words over against the Gilgal to the Canaanites which dwell in the ‘Arabah. (2) A second Gilgal lay on the Western Range above Bethel (2 Kings 2:1-8) and has been identified with the present Jiljilyeh seven miles N. of Bethel, which, though actually lower than Bethel, stands on a hill so bold and isolated that the phrase to go down thence to Bethel would not be inappropriate. This also has been identified with the Gilgal of our text, yet it is at a good distance from Gerizim and ‘Ebal, and stands in no definite relation to them. (3) Dillmann supposed some Gilgal near Shechem, and his hypothesis has been justified by the discovery of the name Juleijil (Ar. dimin. of Gilgal) on the plain one mile E. of the foot of Gerizim and 2½ miles SE. of Shechem. This suits the data of our passage (including the following oaks or terebinths of Moreh), and its claims have been defended in detail by Schlatter (Zur Topogr. u. Gesch. Palästinas, 246 ff.) and accepted by Buhl (Pal. 202 ff.); cp. the present writer in Critical Review, Oct. 1895, 346 ff., and art. ‘Gilgal’ in E.B.; and Driver, Deuteronomy 3 rd ed. (1901), p. xxi. In 1901 the present writer visited Juleijil, and a thorough examination of the site convinced him that it is the Gilgal of our text. A hill, some two hundred feet high, rises from the Makhneh plain just opposite the valley between Gerizim and ‘Ebal. The trace of a broad winding road leads to the summit, which is covered with ancient remains, including those of a large stone-circle composed of huge blocks. There is no more suitable site for a sanctuary in all W. Palestine. Cp. G. Hölscher, ZDPV, xxxiii. 102 f.

beside the oaks of Moreh] Read, with Sam. and LXX, the oak. The oak or terebinth of Moreh, ‘the Revealer,’ takes us back to Abraham, who found it here by Shechem and built an altar, Genesis 12:6 (J), from which the above mention of the Canaanites (it is J’s word for the inhabitants of the land) may have been derived by the annotating editor. On trees, as impressing especially the nomads of the treeless desert with their speaking and oracular powers, see on Deuteronomy 12:2 and the present writer’s Early Poetry of Israel, 32 f.Verses 29, 30. - (Cf. Deuteronomy 27:11.) Thou shalt put the blessing; thou shalt give (נָתַתָּה), i.e. give forth, utter, announce, proclaim (cf. Genesis 49:21; Job 1:22 [gave, i.e. uttered impiety to God]; Psalm 50:20, gavest, didst utter, slandered. The two mountains named stand opposite to each other, with a valley between, about two hundred yards broad at the widest part, in which stood the town of Shechem, now Nablus. They were selected for the purpose mentioned, doubtless, because of their relative position, and probably also because they stand in the center of the land both from north to south, and from east to west. It has been suggested that Ebal was appointed for the uttering of the curse, and Gerizim for the uttering of the blessing, because the former was barren and rugged, the latter fertile and smooth; but this is not borne out by the actual appearance of the two bills, both being equally barren-looking, though neither is wholly destitute of culture and vegetation. That Gerizim was selected for the blessing because of its position on the south side of the valley "towards the region of light," while Ebal was appointed for the curse because it was on the north side, can be regarded only as an ingenious fancy. In ver. 30, the position of the two mountains is defined as on the other side of Jordan, i.e. on the side opposite to where the Israelites then were, the western side; and as by the way - rather, behind the way - where the sun goeth down; i.e. the road of the west, the great road which passed through the west-Jordan country, and which is still the main route from south to north in Palestine (Ritter, 4:293, etc.; Robinson, 3:127), passing Nablus and the two menu-rains on the east, so that they are behind it. Which dwell in the Champaign; in the 'Arabah (see Deuteronomy 1:1), "mentioned here as that portion of the land on the west of the Jordan which lay stretched out before the eyes of the Israelites, who were encamped in the steppes of Moab" (Keil). Over against Gilgal; i.e. not the Gilgal mentioned in Joshua 4:19, which was east of Jericho (hod. Jiljulia), nor the Gilgal of Joshua 12:23 (probably the modern Jiljulieh, in the plain of Sharon), but the Gilgal of Joshua 9:6; Joshua 10:6; and 2 Kings 2:1 (hod. Jiljilia), to the north of Bethel, from which there is "a very extensive prospect over the great lower plain, and also over the sea" (Robinson, 'Bib. Res,' 3:138); so that the mountains by Nablus may be very well described as "over against it." Beside the plains of Moreh; for "plains" read oaks (cf. Genesis 12:6; Genesis 35:4). But if, on the other hand, their heart was foolish to turn away from the Lord and serve other gods, the wrath of the Lord would burn against them, and God would shut up the heaven, that no rain should fall and the earth should yield no produce, and they would speedily perish (cf. Leviticus 26:19-20, and Deuteronomy 28:23-24). Let them therefore impress the words now set before them very deeply upon themselves and their children (Deuteronomy 11:18-21, in which there is in part a verbal repetition of Deuteronomy 6:6-9). The words, "as the days of the heaven above the earth," i.e., as long as the heaven continues above the earth, - in other words, to all eternity (cf. Psalm 89:30; Job. Deu 14:12), - belong to the main sentence, "that your days may be multiplied," etc. (Deuteronomy 11:21). "The promise to give the land to Israel for ever was not made unconditionally; an unconditional promise is precluded by the words, 'that your days may be multiplied'" (Schultz). (For further remarks, see at Deuteronomy 30:3-5.) For (Deuteronomy 11:22-25) if they adhered faithfully to the Lord, He would drive out before them all the nations that dwelt in the land, and would give them the land upon which they trod in all its length and breadth, and so fill the Canaanites with fear and terror before them, that no one should be able to stand against them. (On Deuteronomy 11:23, cf. Deuteronomy 7:1-2; Deuteronomy 9:1, and Deuteronomy 1:28.) The words, "every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours," are defined more precisely, and restricted to the land of Canaan on both sides of the Jordan by the boundaries which follow: "from the desert (of Arabia on the south), and Lebanon (on the north), and from the river Euphrates (on the east) to the hinder sea" (the Mediterranean on the west; see Numbers 34:6). The Euphrates is given as the eastern boundary, as in Deuteronomy 1:7, according to the promise in Genesis 15:18. (On Deuteronomy 11:25, cf. Deuteronomy 7:24; Deuteronomy 2:25, and Exodus 23:27.)
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