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A Tale of Two Mountains


Geography of The Holy Land from The Internet Archive on Flickr--No Known Copyright Issues

Geography of The Holy Land from The Internet Archive on Flickr–No Known Copyright Issues
Click image to open a new tab/window to view the original image and to access the user’s full photo stream at Flickr.

You know the old idea of having a devil on one shoulder and an angel on the other, and then having to choose which one’s voice you will listen to? Well, I think it comes from two mountains in Israel. The two mountain, Gerizim and Ebal are twin mountains on the two sides of the Shechem Valley. Supposedly, they create a natural amphitheater, and you can hear what is said on one mountain from the other, and you can hear from both when you’re in the valley. The valley is located in what is present day Samaria.

In today’s reading from Deuteronomy 27:11 through Deuteronomy 28:6, we will read of the blessings and the curses shouted over Israel from these two mountain tops. The passage begins with Moses commissioning which six tribes will stand on Mount Gerizim and which six will stand on Mount Ebal. From there, the Levites will shout the curses and blessings of God over the people of Israel.

As the curses are shouted, each is to be followed by a loud Amen from all the people. The curses include…

  • Anyone who makes a carved or metal image, something God detests, and sets it up in secret. (People say, “Amen.”)
  • Anyone who dishonors his father or mother. (People say, “Amen.”)
  • Anyone who moves his neighbor’s boundary marker. (People say, “Amen.”)
  • Anyone who causes a blind person to lose his way on the road. (People say, “Amen.”)
  • Anyone who interferes with justice for the orphan, foreigner, or widow. (People say, “Amen.”)
  • Anyone who has sex with his father’s wife, his sister, his mother-in-law, or any kind of animal. (People say, “Amen.”)
  • Anyone who secretly attacks a fellow member of the community. (People say, “Amen.”)
  • Anyone who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person. (People say, “Amen.”) And,
  • Anyone who does not confirm the words of The Torah by putting them into practice. (People say, “Amen.”)

At the chapter change, Moses promises that if the people listen to what God says, observing and obeying all of God’s commands, will receive blessings that include God raising them up above all nations on earth. The following blessings will be given in abundance to whomever does what The Lord says…

  • A blessing in the city, and a blessing in the countryside.
  • A blessing on the fruit of the body, the land, livestock, and young of cattle and flocks.
  • A blessing on the grain basket and the kneading bowl. And,
  • A blessing on going out, and a blessing on coming in.

I find it interesting that God insists on a shout of “Amen” (so be it) on each of the curses but not on the blessings. I think it’s because He wants to freely bless His people, but He doesn’t want to issue curses, so He wants to be sure the people clearly understand what will bring curses upon them. The people themselves will dwell between the mountains of blessings and cursings, which is symbolic of being in the middle of good and evil and having to choose who and what we will serve.

As for me and my house, we will serve The Lord. What kind of choice will you make when you are between two mountains?

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September 3, 2014 - Posted by | Bible Study, Nonfiction, Torah Commentary | , , , , , , , , , , , ,

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