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Nguyen 1 Paul M.

Nguyen Intro to Sacred Scripture, Grover February 24, 2012 Exegesis: Deuteronomy 30:610 The book of Deuteronomy (the Greek meaning literally second law) was written, revised, and finally redacted into its present form. In this passage from Moses' third speech of Deuteronomy, the repeated theme of turning to God is the central and foundational imperative. As a passage that was inserted while in exile, 1 the attitude in which this was written was one an urgency of appeal to the people's desire for their former prosperity, and that through their response to this invitation to turn to the LORD, by seeking to love the LORD (v. 6), obey the LORD and [observe] his commandments (v. 8), they may live (v. 6) and experience that once again. Finally, the text conveys a characterization of God that is personal and accessible to human experience, and expresses His desire to draw close to His people.

Moreover, the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your

descendants, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, in order that you may live. 7 The LORD your God will put all these curses on your enemies and on the adversaries who took advantage of you. 8 Then you shall again obey the LORD, observing all his commandments that I am commanding you today, 9 and the LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all your undertakings, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, just as he delighted in prospering your ancestors, 10 when you obey the LORD your God by observing his commandments and decrees that are written in this book of the law, because you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

1 Michael W. Duggan, The Consuming Fire (Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2010), 199200; and Bruce Wells, "Deuteronomy 30:6-14," Interpretation 61, 198200. Old Testament Abstracts, EBSCOhost.

Nguyen 2 This is the rendering of the New Revised Standard Version (NRSV). The New American Bible, Revised Edition (NABRE) refers to your hearts and the hearts of your descendants, in the plural. Taken as a whole, in the public and even timeless context of the passage, both are understood to address the people of God, and everyone reading these words. The NABRE follows the Septuagint in translating from verse 10: because you will obey the voice of the LORD, your God ( ). This rendition preserves the Septuagint's more personal characterization of God, emphasizing obeying what we hear from His voice and not some other more distant communication. The image of circumcision is presented at the outset (v. 6). According to the tradition, circumcision was corporal evidence of one's dedication to the LORD, and of his membership in the people of God. The circumcision spoken of in this passage is of the heart, with a communal dimension: and the heart of your descendants. The circumcision of the heart calls to mind a higher setting-apart, a more complete turning to God 2 (cf. v. 10) and the product of the circumcision of the heart is that you will love the LORD your God completely (v. 6), that is, the corporal sign, previously meant to elevate a person, now takes on the analogous spiritual dimension, further elevating a person to communion with God in that total love. The product of that love, then is obedience of the commandments of the LORD (v. 8). The people of God, as those who have benefitted by another and give them their love in return, seek to achieve what He wants, when they are marked for Him and love Him completely. In this obedience, the Creator then prospers His people completely, in the fruit of your body, in the fruit of your livestock, and in the fruit of your soil (v. 9). And as an action born of love ought, the LORD will again take delight in prospering you as he did for their ancestors (v. 9).

2 Richard D. Nelson, Deuteronomy (Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002), 348.

Nguyen 3 And just as the LORD prospers His people, so will He curse those who did not obey Him or act in accordance with His command, with respect to His people; thus He will affect the condemnation found in verse 7.3 The final verse of this passage is a summary, 4 but a summary that offers a bit more perspective in its very restatement of the preceding material. This is where the conversion language becomes explicit. Following upon the promise of prosperity, the author reminds the people that this will be the case when you obey by observing this book of the law, because you turn to the LORD your God completely (v. 10). The Greek offers the clarification that the people will meet this prosperity when they listen intently () to the voice of the LORD their God ( ). This further characterizes and personifies the closeness that God desires to have to His people, 5 as He marks their hearts and those of successive generations so that they may love Him and follow His commandments. The central message is an exhortation to conversion. But it is not a historically-absent message, born in a time long past and looked back upon only in a disassociated appreciation; rather it is a message carefully crafted to be relevant to the people of God in exile in Babylon that they may remember that God chose them and set them apart to love him, and that in response to their faithfulness to this invitation of love, they are called today (v. 8) to obey this present command and renew their dedication to Him. Combining this temporally-bound textual evidence with the personal elements in the text, we see a very complete picture of a God who desires to be close to His chosen people, to love them and see them prosper, and to delight in this intimate relationship with them. And its timelessness carries forth even to the present day, in
3 Norman K. Gottwald, The Book of Deuteronomy, The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, ed. Charles M. Laymon (Nashville: Abingdon, 1971), 119. 4 Nelson, Deuteronomy, 348. 5 Edward P. Blair, The Book of Deuteronomy, The Layman's Bible Commentary, vol. 5 (Richmond: John Knox Press, 1964), 7274.

Nguyen 4 which, more than ever, modern society is in need of an acute awareness of the desire of God to be close to all people, to grace their lives, if only they will welcome Him in.

Nguyen 5 Bibliography Blair, Edward P. The Book of Deuteronomy. The Layman's Bible Commentary. Vol. 5. Richmond: John Knox Press, 1964. Duggan, Michael W. The Consuming Fire. Indiana: Our Sunday Visitor, 2010. Gottwald, Norman K. The Book of Deuteronomy. The Interpreter's One-Volume Commentary on the Bible, ed. Charles M. Laymon (Nashville: Abingdon, 1971), 119. Nelson, Richard D. Deuteronomy. Louisville: Westminster John Knox Press, 2002. Wells, Bruce. "Deuteronomy 30:6-14." Interpretation. Vol. 61 (2007).