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4:44-11:32 BASIC REQUIREMENTS OF THE COVENANT
In the address just concluded, Moses outlined God’s dealings with Israel in the past, and on the basis of this urged Israel to be obedient in the future. He now called a second meeting, this time to ‘renew’ the covenant, not in the ceremonial sense but in the practical sense. That is, he reawakened the people to their responsibilities under the covenant. He recalled the events when the covenant was made at Sinai (4:44-5:5), he repeated the basic covenant commandments, which were the principles by which the nation was to live (5:6-11:32), and he gave detailed applications of those principles as they affected the daily lives and religious exercises of the people (12:1-26:19).
According to ancient custom, when covenants were renewed, adjustments could be made to bring the laws up to date. On this occasion Moses made frequent adjustments and explanations in view of the new way of life that the Israelites were about to enter. They were no longer a vast crowd of travellers moving through the wilderness, but were about to become a nation of permanent settlers in an agriculturally prosperous country.
These amendments to Israel’s laws did not mean that the religion given to them at Sinai was in any way changed. The principles remained the same, but their application was adjusted to suit the different conditions of Canaan.
Ten commandments (4:44-5:33)
The renewal of the covenant began in the style of ancient covenant documents by naming the two parties to the covenant and outlining the relation between them. It also stated the location and time of Moses’ announcement. Many of the people gathered there were youths when the covenant was made at Sinai, and could recall the terrifying events of that time (4:44-5:5).
Moses then repeated the ten commandments that Israel had promised to keep as their part of the covenant. These commandments were the basis of all Israel’s subsequent laws (6-22; see notes on Exodus 20:1-17). Ten short commandments were enough to convince the people that they were sinners who could not remain in the presence of a holy God and live. They therefore asked Moses to receive God’s instructions on their behalf, and promised that they would do all that God said (23-33).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 5". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://studylight.org/
the Fifth Sunday after Epiphany