Therefore it shall be when you be gone over Jordan, that you shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and you shall plaster them with plaster.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
The erection of the altar, the offering thereon burnt-offerings and peace-offerings Deuteronomy 27:6-7, the publication of the Law in writing, form altogether a solemn renewal of the covenant on the entrance of the people into the promised land, and recall the ceremonies observed on the original grant of the covenant at Sinai (compare Exodus 24:5). And Ebal (the mount of "barrenness "),the mount of cursing, was the fitting spot on which to celebrate them. For the curses were the penalties under which the children of Israel bound themselves to keep the Law. Suitably also was the same place selected as that in which were to be set up both the monumental stones containing the Law, and the altar at which the covenant was to be renewed. We must note too the fact that Deuteronomy 27:15 ff set out verbatim the curses only, the blessings being omitted. The law because of man's sinfulness brings on him first and chiefly a curse: compare Deuteronomy 31:16-17; Galatians 3:10.Mount Ebal; the mount of cursing. Here the law is written, to signify that a curse was due to the violators of it, and that no man could expect justification or blessing from the works of the law, by the sentence whereof all men are justly accursed, as being all guilty of the transgression of it in one kind and deuce or other. Here the sacrifices are to be offered, to show that there is no way to be delivered from this curse but by the blood of Christ, which all these sacrifices did typify, and by Christ’s being made a curse for us, Galatians 3:13.
that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in Mount Ebal; a mountain near Shechem in Samaria, and was, as Benjamin of Tudela says (r), dry as stones and rocks itself, and perhaps had its name, as some think (s), from the root in the Arabic language which signifies to strip a tree of its leaves, and a derivative from it, white stones and a mountain in which such are found. Hither the stones commanded to be set up were to be brought, and fixed here; from whence it is not certain; it may be from some part of the mountain. Here the Samaritan version has Gerizim instead of Ebal, which is generally thought to be a wilful corruption of the Samaritans, in favour of their temple built at Gerizim:
and thou shall plaster them with plaster; as before directed, Deuteronomy 27:2.Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaster them with plaster.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)4. which I command you] LXX B, etc., thee; other codd. you.
in mount Ebal] See on Deuteronomy 11:29, and introd. note to this passage. Sam. Gerizîm, the sacred mountain of the Samaritans. How far this direction for the site of the erected stones is consistent with that in Deuteronomy 27:2, on the day on which ye shall pass over Jordan, may be seen from the following. Mt ‘Ebal is about 18 miles from the nearest of the Jordan fords, at the present Jisr ed-Damieh, the most natural place of passage from E. to W. Palestine. Even if the writer intended this as the place of Israel’s crossing of the Jordan the interval is considerable between it and their arrival at Shechem. And, of course, the interval between Israel’s crossing at Jericho and their attainment of Shechem, as recorded in the Book of Joshua, is very much greater.Verse 4. - The stones were to be set up on Mount Ebal (cf. Deuteronomy 11:29). The Samaritan Codex and Version have Gerizim here, in place of Ebal; but though some critics have accepted this, it is generally regarded as an arbitrary alteration introduced to favor Samaritan pretensions (see the exhaustive and conclusive Dissertation of Gesenius, 'De Pentat. Samarit'). All the ancient versions, as well as all the Hebrew manuscripts, support the received text.
On this day the Lord commanded Israel to keep these laws and rights with all the heart and all the soul (cf. Deuteronomy 6:5; Deuteronomy 10:12.). There are two important points contained in this (Deuteronomy 26:17.). The acceptance of the laws laid before them on the part of the Israelites involved a practical declaration that the nation would accept Jehovah as its God, and walk in His way (Deuteronomy 26:17); and the giving of the law on the part of the Lord was a practical confirmation of His promise that Israel should be His people of possession, which He would glorify above all nations (Deuteronomy 26:18, Deuteronomy 26:19). "Thou hast let the Lord say to-day to be thy God," i.e., hast given Him occasion to say to thee that He will be thy God, manifest Himself to thee as thy God. "And to walk in His ways, and to keep His laws," etc., for "and that thou wouldst walk in His ways, and keep His laws." The acceptance of Jehovah as its God involved eo ipso a willingness to walk in His ways.
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