The Book of Ruth:

Ruth 1-4:

Naomi and Ruth come to Bethlehem:

The Book of Ruth is revered for its messianic typologies in both Judaism and Christianity.  The setting is in the city of Bethlehem, the future birthplace of both King David, the messianic precursor, and to the future messiah, Jesus.  Ruth and Naomi, “So the two of them went on until they came to Bethlehem.” (Ruth 1:19)  Ruth is a pagan Moabite woman but makes a dramatic confession of faith in the God of Israel: “But Ruth said, “Entreat me not to leave you or to return from following you; for where you go I will go, and where you lodge I will lodge; your people shall be my people, and your God my God.” (Ruth 1:16)  Ruth is much like Rahab, who abandoned her paganism and idolatry and sided with Israel and their God, Yahweh.  

The Courtship of Ruth and Boaz, and the Eucharist:

The pagan Moabite woman Ruth meets Boaz, a saintly man from Bethlehem, and then, begins their marital courtship.  This begins with eating bread and wine: “Come here, and eat some bread, and dip your morsel in the wine.” (Ruth 2:14)  Ruth ate of the grain and bread and the wine, “and she ate until she was satisfied, and she had some left over.” (Ruth 2:14)  This language is strikingly similar to Jesus’ miraculous feeding of five thousand with the multiplication of the loaves of bread, “And they all ate and were satisfied.  And they took up twelve baskets full of the broken pieces left over.” (Mt. 14:20)  Boaz is the potential bridegroom giving his potential bride bread and wine to eat to satisfy her.  Jesus is the divine Bridegroom who gives His bride the bread and wine of the Eucharist to feed His Church.  The love and courtship of Ruth and Boaz mirrors the love and courtship of Christ for His Church.  Ruth was a type of the Church, forsaking her pagan past of the Gentiles and embracing the true faith of God of Israel.  

Ruth and Boaz at the Threshing Floor, types for the Church and Jesus:

Naomi devises a plan for Ruth to go meet Boaz down on the threshing floor as he is wrapping up the day’s barley harvest.  She is seeking the marriage betrothal of Ruth and Boaz.  Naomi tells Ruth, “See, he is winnowing barley tonight at the threshing floor.  Wash therefore and anoint yourself, and put on your best clothes and go down to the threshing floor.” (Ruth 3:2-3)  The barley harvest was marked in Israel’s liturgical calendar with the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The Feast of Unleavened Bread was the liturgical feast that Jesus instituted the Eucharist in the Last Supper, and transformed the bread into His Body and the wine into His Blood.  The setting for the marriage betrothal courtship between Ruth and Boaz then was a foreshadowing to the Eucharist banquet, the future wedding supper of the Lamb. St. John used the same language in describing Jesus, comparable to Boaz: “His winnowing fork is in His hand, and He will clear His threshing floor and gather His wheat into the granary, but the chaff He will burn with unquenchable fire.” (Mt. 3:12)  John the Baptist describes Jesus as the harvester with a “winnowing fork” clearing the “threshing floor”gathering His wheat.   

Ruth’s Preparations and Baptism:

Naomi tells Ruth to prepare for the wedding betrothal as Boaz, the potential bridegroom, is winnowing barley at the threshing floor.  She tells Ruth to “wash”and “anoint herself,”and then, “put on your best clothes.”  Ruth, the potential bride, was to wash and anoint herself.  This was a foreshadowing to the Sacrament of Baptism, where one is washed in the holy waters of Christ’s sanctifying grace, and anointed with His holy oil.  The baptized are made new creations in the water and oil of the sacrament.  Their souls are washed clean, and have put on new pure white clothes for their souls.  These are the pure fine white linens of the saints in Heaven.  

Spread Your Wing, Marriage Betrothal, and Christ, our Kinsman Redeemer:

Ruth sneaks up to Boaz in the night and lies down next to him on the threshing floor as he slept. Boaz wakes up to discover a woman at his feet, but unaware of who it was at first.  Ruth replies to Boaz: “I am your servant Ruth.  Spread the wing of your cloak over your servant, for you are a redeemer.” (Ruth 3:9)  To “spread your wing” of your garment over someone was a betrothal ritual in ancient Israel, which had allusions to martial intimacy.  The prophet Ezekiel speaks of God betrothing Israel by spreading His cloak over her: “I passed by you again and saw that you were now old enough for love. So I spread the corner of my cloak over you to cover your nakedness; I swore an oath to you and entered into covenant with you—oracle of the Lord God—and you became mine.” (Ez. 16:8)  Ruth was asking Boaz to take her in marriage betrothal, with obvious erotic tension.  Many biblical translations, such as the RSV, obscure the truer meaning of the word “next kinsmen,” when its literal meaning is “redeemer.” The Hebrew word is “gaal”(גאל) meaning, “to redeem, buy back, act as closest kinsman.” The levirate marriage was when the next-in-line brother-in-law would “redeem” and marry the widow of his brother and raise the children.  Ruth was confessing the Boaz was her redeemer.  The next-in-line “kinsman-redeemer” literally purchased the life of the widow for health and safety.  This was a prefigurement to the Church confessing that Jesus would be her Redeemer.  Christ is our “kinsman-redeemer” who purchased for us the rewards of eternal life.  Jesus used the same phrase when He lamented that Jerusalem would not accept His marriage betrothal: “O Jerusalem, Jerusalem, killing the prophets and stoning those who are sent to you!  How often would I have gathered your children together as a hen gathers her brood under her wings, and you would not!” (Lk. 13:34)  

Boaz defers for the next closest Kinsman, and John the Baptist:

At this point, Boaz obviously was taken by Ruth and wanted to marry her, but he decides to adhere to proper Israel custom, saying: “Now, I am in fact a redeemer, but there is another redeemer closer than I.” (Ruth 3:12)  Boaz decides to give this next closest kinsman a chance to marry her first.  In this instance, the unnamed next closest relative prefigures St. John the Baptist, as the Jews were taken by him and asked if he was the Messiah.  John the Baptist was the “best man” and not the Bridegroom himself, so he too deferred to the Jews, saying a closer kinsman was yet to arise to marry them.  John the Baptist, much like the unnamed closest kinsman, confessed to the Jews that he would step aside for the true Bridegroom, the closest Kinsman-Redeemer: “He who has the bride is the bridegroom; the friend of the bridegroom, who stands and hears him, rejoices greatly at the bridegroom’s voice; therefore this joy of mine is now full.  He must increase, but I must decrease.” (Jn. 3:29-30)  John the Baptist defers the “marriage betrothal” to Israel in favor of the true Bridegroom, Christ, who would marry humanity.  

Thong of Whose Sandal and Marriage Betrothal:

St. Isidore of Seville made this connection: “Just as he [the unnamed relative who refused to marry Ruth] told her he was not her kinsman but then afterwards Ruth was united with Boaz, so Christ, who is the true bridegroom of the church, whom the sayings of all the prophets proclaim, was deemed worthy, from all Gentile nations, to claim the Church, to present to God the Father unnumbered people throughout the whole orb of the world, because his kinsman took off the sandal.” Removing the sandals of the bride was an ancient custom regarding the transferring of the bride.  St. John the Baptist makes this marital connection as he stated he was not worthy to remove the thong of the Messiah’s sandal: “even He who comes after me, the thong of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” (Jn. 1:27)  St. John the Baptist confesses, like the unnamed kinsman to Boaz, that he was not worthy to marry, i.e., transfer the sandal, the bride, the Church, or the prefigurement of Ruth.  In the marriage of Ruth and Boaz, he removes and transfers her sandal: “Now it used to be the custom in Israel that, to make binding a contract of redemption or exchange, one party would take off a sandal and give it to the other.  This was the form of attestation in Israel.  So the other redeemer, in saying to Boaz, “Acquire it for yourself,” drew off his sandal.” (Ruth 4:7-8)  

The Marriage of Ruth and Boaz, and their son Obed, and the Lineage of Jesus:

Boaz accepted Ruth as his wife in marriage saying, “I will act as redeemer.”(Ruth 4:4)  In the town of Bethlehem, Ruth and Boaz were married and came together as husband and wife. And, Ruth bore him a son in Bethlehem: “Blessed is the Lord who has not failed to provide you today with a redeemer.  May he become famous in Israel!” (Ruth 4:14)  The son born in Bethlehem was a prefigurement to the son, Jesus, who would later be born in Bethlehem and become the Redeemer of His people, Israel, and the whole world: “They named him Obed. He was the father of Jesse, the father of David.” (Ruth 4:17)  Obed would become the father of Jesse, and then, the grandfather of David.  David was the messianic prefigurement and lineage to Mary and the Messiah-Redeemer, Jesus.  Ruth, the pagan-Moabite woman, who converted to Judaism, became a mother in the Messianic lineage of Jesus Christ.  Her son Obed, born in Bethlehem, would herald the prophetic type of another son, Jesse, and then, the messianic type of King David, also born in Bethlehem.  Jesus, born in Bethlehem, became known under the messianic title “Son of David.”  

Bergsma and Pitre summarize the Book of Ruth as such: “in stark contrast to the book of Judges, demonstrating that during this anarchic period of Israel’s history, there was one place where true piety toward the Lord continued to be practiced: Bethlehem. Out of this idyllic community, from a noble Israelite (Boaz) and a virtuous Gentile (Ruth), will arise David, the good king so strongly desired at the end of the book of Judges.  A short romance of great charm and elegance, the book of Ruth’s spiritual sense speaks of the nuptial relationship of Christ with the Church and of the individual believer with Christ though the messianic wedding banquet of the Eucharist.”  (p.350)  

Judges 14-18:

Samson kills a lion and eats honey from its body:

Samson then comes into contact with a lion, which he was able to kill with just his bare hands, “and the Spirit of the Lord came mightily upon him, and he tore the lion asunder as one tears a kid; and he had nothing in his hand.” (Jdgs. 14:6)  After he had killed the lion, a swarm of bees were eating on the carcass, and leaving honey there.  Samson then commits his first infidelity to his Nazirite vow by eating food (i.e., honey) that was in contact with the dead corpse, “he had taken the honey from the carcass of the lion.” (Jdgs. 14:9) 

Samson then has to host a great feast for seven days.  This hints again at Samson breaking his Nazirite vow of no strong drink or wine. This would have been Samson’s second infidelity to his Nazirite vow.   

The Passion Prefigurement of Samson:

Some early commentators have identified Samson with a type of passion and suffering death of Christ, as was begun when the Philistines bound Samson: “So they bound him with two new ropes, and brought him up from the rock.” (Jdgs. 15:13)  Samson then broke the ropes and slew a thousand Philistines with the jawbone of an ass.  Afterwards, Samson was thirsty to death, and the Lord provided water miraculously from a split rock, hearkening Moses in the desert: “And God split open the hollow place that is at Lehi, and there came water from it; and when he drank, his spirit returned, and he revived.” (Jdgs. 15:19)  

Samson carries two wooden posts on his shoulders as he ascended a mountain.  This was a prefigurement to Christ carrying His Cross up the mountain to Calvary: “at midnight he arose and took hold of the doors of the gate of the city and the two posts, and pulled them up, bar and all, and put them on his shoulders and carried them to the top of the hill that is before Hebron.” (Jdgs. 16:3)  

Samson and the Philistine Delilah’s Betrayal:

Samson then met and slept with a Philistine woman, Delilah.  She pestered him relentlessly to find out the secret of his strength, until “his soul was vexed to death.”(Jdgs. 16:16)  Samson finally confessed to Delilah the source of his strength: “And he told her all his mind, and said to her, “A razor has never come upon my head; for I have been a Nazirite to God from my mother’s womb. If I be shaved, then my strength will leave me, and I shall become weak, and be like any other man.” (Jdgs. 16:17)  During the night the Philistines shaved seven locks of hair from his head, and “the Lord had left him.” (Jdgs. 16:20)  As Samson lost his strength, through this third betrayal of his lifelong Nazirite vows, the shaving of his head, he became a tormented prisoner of the Philistines: “And the Philistines seized him and gouged out his eyes, and brought him down to Gaza, and bound him with bronze fetters; and he ground at the mill in the prison.” (Jdgs. 16:21)  Yet, his hair began to grow back.  

The Passion and Death of Samson:

The Philistines sacrificed to their pagan god Dagon, and made a mockery and folly of Samson: “Now the lords of the Philistines gathered to offer a great sacrifice to Dagon their god, and to rejoice; for they said, “Our god has given Samson our enemy into our hand.”  And when the people saw him, they praised their god; for they said, “Our god has given our enemy into our hand, the ravager of our country, who has slain many of us.”  And when their hearts were merry, they said, “Call Samson, that he may make sport for us.” So they called Samson out of the prison, and he made sport before them. They made him stand between the pillars.” (Jdgs. 16:23-25)  Samson was bound and held in prison like Christ had been in His Passion.  He was mocked by the Roman soldiers and the Sanhedrin in His mock trial and at His Crucifixion.  Christ was whipped at a pillar.  

Then, Samson killed about 3,000 of the Philistines, including the Lords of Dagon: “And Samson grasped the two middle pillars upon which the house rested, and he leaned his weight upon them, his right hand on the one and his left hand on the other.  And Samson said, “Let me die with the Philistines.” Then he bowed with all his might; and the house fell upon the lords and upon all the people that were in it. So the dead whom he slew at his death were more than those whom he had slain during his life.” (Jdgs. 16:29-30)  Samson’s hands rested on two pillars as Christ’s hands rested upon the two wooden beams of the Cross.  Samson slew his enemies and died in the process, just as Christ slew death, evil, sin and the demons in His sacrificial death on the Cross.  

Caesarius, a fifth century biship of Arles (France) wrote of Samson’s prefigurement of Christ: “Notice here an image of the Cross.  Samson extends his hands spread out to the two columns as to the two beams of the Cross. Moreover, by his death he overcame his adversaries, because his suffering became the death of his persecutors. For this reason Scripture concludes as follows: ‘Those he killed at his death were more than those he killed during his lifetime.” (Jdgs. 16:31)  This mystery was clearly fulfilled in our Lord Jesus Christ, for at His death He completed our redemption which He had by no means published during His life.”  Samson’s sacrificial death prefigured the sacrificial death of Christ on the Cross. 

Judges 1-13:

Judges 1-13:

Israelites Fail to Drive Canaanites from the Land:

Some of the tribes of Israelites “dwelt among the Canaanites.” (Jdgs. 1:33)  In Israel’s disobedience, the Angel of the Lord spoke out against the Israelites:

“Now the angel of the Lord went up from Gilgal to Bochim. And he said, “I brought you up from Egypt, and brought you into the land which I swore to give to your fathers. I said, ‘I will never break my covenant with you, and you shall make no covenant with the inhabitants of this land; you shall break down their altars.’ But you have not obeyed my command. What is this you have done?  So now I say, I will not drive them out before you; but they shall become adversaries to you, and their gods shall be a snare to you.”  When the angel of the Lord spoke these words to all the people of Israel, the people lifted up their voices and wept.” (Jdgs. 2:1-4)

The angel of the Lord was still with the Israelites, but He delivers the bad news to the Israelites because of their disobedience and failure to drive the Canaanites from the land. 

The death of Joshua:

“And Joshua the son of Nun, the servant of the Lord, died at the age of one hundred and ten years.”(Jdgs. 2:8)  Joshua died“in the hill country of Ephraim, north of the mountain of Gaash,” which is located in the modern West Bank area, southwest of Nablus.  

Israelites worship false gods:

“And the people of Israel did what was evil in the sight of the Lord and served the Baals; and they forsook the Lord, the God of their fathers, who had brought them out of the land of Egypt; they went after other gods, from among the gods of the peoples who were round about them, and bowed down to them; and they provoked the Lord to anger.  They forsook the Lord, and served the Baals and the Ashtaroth.” (Jdgs. 2:11-13) The Israelites did what was evil in the sight of the Lord.  So, the Lord consequently abandons the Israelites to subjection of the Canaanites and their false pagan religions, particularly Baal and Ashtaroth.  

The Lord raised up Judges to help Israel:

 “Then the Lord raised up judges, who saved them out of the power of those who plundered them.  And yet they did not listen to their judges; for they played the harlot after other gods and bowed down to them; they soon turned aside from the way in which their fathers had walked, who had obeyed the commandments of the Lord, and they did not do so.  Whenever the Lord raised up judges for them, the Lord was with the judge, and he saved them from the hand of their enemies all the days of the judge; for the Lord was moved to pity by their groaning because of those who afflicted and oppressed them.  But whenever the judge died, they turned back and behaved worse than their fathers, going after other gods, serving them and bowing down to them; they did not drop any of their practices or their stubborn ways.”  (Jdgs. 2:16-19)  The Israelites dwelt amongst the Canaanites and intermarried, and worst of all, “they served their gods.” (Jdgs. 3:6)  

Jael, a type of Church, kills by the type of the Wood of the Cross:

“But Jael the wife of Heber took a tent peg, and took a hammer in her hand, and went softly to him and drove the peg into his temple, till it went down into the ground, as he was lying fast asleep from weariness. So he died.” (Jdgs. 4:21)  Origen deemed Jael a prefigurement to the Church, by which the devil is defeated by the wood of the Cross.  He stated: “The woman Jael, that foreigner about whom Deborah’s prophecy said that victory would be had ‘through the hand of a woman’ (Jdgs. 4:9), symbolizes the church, which was assembled from foreign nations  . . . She killed him with a stake, then, which is to say that she overthrew him by the power and cunning of the wood of the cross.” (Origen, Homilies on Judges)

The Flesh and Bread Offering of Gideon:

Gideon makes an offering to God of flesh (i.e., meat) and bread (i.e., unleavened cakes). This was a prefigurement to the Eucharist: “Then the angel of the Lord reached out the tip of the staff that was in his hand, and touched the meat and the unleavened cakes; and there sprang up fire from the rock and consumed the flesh and the unleavened cakes; and the angel of the Lord vanished from his sight.” (Jdgs. 6:21)  Gideon then pulled down and destroyed the pagan altars to Baal and Asherah.  

Israel’s Idolatry Continued:

“Yet you have forsaken me and served other gods; therefore I will deliver you no more.  Go and cry to the gods whom you have chosen; let them deliver you in the time of your distress.” (Jdgs. 10:13-14)

Samson and the Nazirite Vow:

The Angel of Lord prophesied the birth of Samson and his vows as a Nazirite.  These threefold Nazirite vows included: (1) No contact with dead bodies; (2) No strong wine or drink; (3) No razor upon his head, no shaving of his hair.  

“And the angel of the Lord appeared to the woman and said to her, “Behold, you are barren and have no children; but you shall conceive and bear a son.  Therefore beware, and drink no wine or strong drink, and eat nothing unclean, for lo, you shall conceive and bear a son. No razor shall come upon his head, for the boy shall be a Nazirite to God from birth; and he shall begin to deliver Israel from the hand of the Philistines.” (Jdgs. 13:3-5)

Some have hypothesized that John the Baptist, and even Jesus Himself had taken the Nazirite vows.  

The Angel of the Lord:

This is the oft repeated instances in the Old Testament of the Lord or the “Angel of the Lord” appearing in human form as a man.  These are the pre-incarnate appearances of Christ in the Old Testament, “and the angel of God came again to the woman as she sat in the field.” (Jdgs. 13:9)  The Angel of the Lord answers her husband that He is the one who appeared to her, “And he said, “I am.” (Jdgs. 13:11)  The Angel of the Lord uses the name of God for Himself, “I Am,” or the translation of the Tetragrammaton, YHWH.  This is the preincarnate Christ.  

Manoah and his wife then offered a “flesh and bread” sacrifice to God: “the kid with the cereal offering, and offered it upon the rock to the Lord.”(Jdgs. 13:19)  The Angel of the Lord then ascended to Heaven in the flame of the sacrifice upon the altar. Manoah and his wife fell on their faces recognizing that they had seen the Lord saying, “for we have seen God.” (Jdgs. 13:22)  They recognize that the Angel of the Lord was, in fact, God, and from a New Covenant perspective, He was the preincarnate Jesus. Interestingly, like the disciples on the Road to Emmaus, they recognized the Lord in the flesh and bread sacrifice, with its obvious Eucharistic connotations.  She then bore a son, Samson.

The Book of Judges

Judges Overview:

The Book of Judges recounts the transition from the Mosaic period to the settled period in Israel in anticipation to the time of the Davidic king.  Moses is mentioned nearly sixty times in Joshua, and only five times in the Book of Judges.  According to one source, “Israel’s past will remain firmly rooted in Moses, but its future hopes will lie entirely with David.” (The Deuteronimistic History) This is the transition in salvation history from the time of Moses to the promised time of David.  The central narrative of Judges consists of telling the story of thirteen separate judges and “anti-judges” over Israel (i.e., Othniel, Ehud, Shamgar, Deborah, Gideon, Abimelech, Tola, Jair, Jephthah, Ibzan, Elon, Hillel, and Samsom).  This period of Israel’s history repeats cycles of disobedience and sin, punishment and suffering, repentance, and restoration and redemption, and finally, setback and relapse.  Judges is largely a counterexample of how not to do things.  Hence, there were few sacramental typologies are found in the text by later Christian Tradition.  

This time of moral, social and liturgical dissolution without a king or central authority was encapsulated in the lamentation of “In those days there was no king in Israel; every man did what was right in his own eyes.” (Jdgs. 21:25)  Pitre and Bergsma call this time period of Judges “the ugly face of rampant relativism.” (Old Testament Introduction, p.328)  The Book of Judges does not show the Israelites in conflict with the native Canaanites, who God had commanded them to drive out of the land. Rather, the Book of Judges shows Israel living peaceably with the Canaanite populations, which Judges hints is precisely the problem.  There was synchronization with Canaanite paganism, just as God had warned about and prohibited.  Bergsma and Pitre conclude: “The book of Judges recounts one of the darkest periods – morally, spiritually, politically, socially – in Israel’s history. Abandonment of the worship of the Lord in favor of Canaanite paganism was rampant.” (p.337)  Judges shows the inadequacies of the Mosaic Covenant and anticipates a time of the new Covenant under the Davidic king, who will lead Israel to greater fidelity.   

Joshua 13-24:

Dividing up the Land:
For many years the Israelites had still not yet conquered all of the land that the Lord had promised them.  “When Joshua was old and advanced in years, the Lord said to him: “Though now you are old and advanced in years, a very large part of the land still remains to be conquered.”” (Josh. 13:1)  This unconquered land included lands of the Philistines in Gaza, Ashdod, Ashkelon, Gath, and Ekron.  As noted earlier, Gath is where David will later have to fight a remnant of the Amorites, the giant Goliath.  Caleb notes that even though he is now 85 years old, he is “still as strong today as I was the day Moses sent me forth..” (Josh.14:11)  Caleb vows even in his advanced years to drive out the Anakim from the territory promised to him.  Joshua gives Caleb “Kiriath-arba” or “Arba,” which is also known as Hebron.  From Hebron, “Caleb drove out from there the three Anakim, the descendants of Anak: Sheshai, Ahiman, and Talmai.” (Josh. 15:14)  Caleb is still driving out the giant Anakim from the land.  Joshua further designates all the different regions and lands for each tribe of Israel. They are to go forth and settle the land, and drive out the Canaanites from it, any that remain there.  “Jebus” the name used of Jerusalem at the time, is listed as still being occupied by the Canaanites.

Conquering the Land:
The ancient Near East writers often employed hyperbole to exaggerate their military victories and conquests.  Joshua seems to have done so here since all of the Canaanites were not totally driven out from the land.  But, any organized resistance to the Israelites presence is eventually eliminated.

Archeological Evidence, the Merneptah Stele, and Pig Bones:
There are generally two timeframes suggested for when Joshua and the Israelites conquered the land: (1) an early 15th century BC (1400’s BC); or (2) a late 13th century BC (1200’s BC) time of conquest.  Archeological evidence, including the “Merneptah Stele,” shows the presence of Israel in the land of Canaan by at least 1209 BC.  It shows a rapid growth of population and villages which could be explained by the Israelite migration there. [The Merneptah Stele is an Egyptian stele detailing their military conquests from the Egyptian King Merneptah from 1213 to 1203 BC, and it directly mentions the nation “Israel.”]  The archeological evidence of the towns from that time period significantly show little to no evidence of “pig bones,” which would be highly suggestive in distinguishing the Israelite settlements from the pagan Canaanite settlements.

Joshua Sets up the Meeting Tent in Shiloh:
“After they had subdued the land, the whole community of the Israelites assembled at Shiloh, where they set up the meeting tent.” (Josh. 18:1)  Shiloh becomes the new location for the Tabernacle and the Meeting Tent with the Lord.  Seven tribes of Israel had still not received their land heritage and settled the land, so Joshua instructed them to do so.  The Lord also instructs them to set up the “asylum cities” for those accused of unintentional homicide, so they can find refuge there.

The Promised Land Finally Settled:
“And so the Lord gave Israel all the land he had sworn to their fathers he would give them. Once they had conquered and occupied it, the Lord gave them peace on every side, just as he had promised their fathers.  Not one of their enemies could withstand them; the Lord brought all their enemies under their power.  Not a single promise that the Lord made to the house of Israel was broken; every one was fulfilled.” (Josh. 21:43-45)

Joshua’s Final Plea and Covenant Renewal:
“Many years later, after the Lord had given the Israelites rest from all their enemies round about them, and when Joshua was old and advanced in years, he summoned all Israel . .  said to them: “I am old and advanced in years. . .  Therefore strive hard to observe and carry out all that is written in the book of the law of Moses, not straying from it in any way, or mingling with these nations while they survive among you.  You must not invoke their gods, or swear by them, or serve them, or worship them, but you must remain loyal to the Lord, your God, as you have been to this day.” (Josh. 23:1-2, 6-8)

As for Me and My Household, We will Serve the Lord:
Joshua tells the Israelites they must choose who they serve. Do they want to serve “the gods your fathers served” or do they want to serve the Lord?  “Now therefore fear the Lord, and serve him in sincerity and in faithfulness; put away the gods which your fathers served beyond the River, and in Egypt, and serve the Lord. And if you be unwilling to serve the Lord, choose this day whom you will serve, whether the gods your fathers served in the region beyond the River, or the gods of the Amorites in whose land you dwell; but as for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.” (Josh. 24:14-15)  This is the famous final saying from Joshua often quoted by Christians “As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord.”

Covenant Renewal at Shechem:
Then, Joshua leads Israel in a Covenant renewal ceremony at Shechem.  “Then he took a large stone and set it up there under the oak that was in the sanctuary of the Lord.  And Joshua said to all the people, “This stone shall be our witness, for it has heard all the words which the Lord spoke to us.  It shall be a witness against you, should you wish to deny your God.” (Josh. 24:26-28)  The whole object of the Exodus was to occupy the Promised Land, and to use “the land” for the worship of the one true God, Yahweh. Now, that the land is settled, the Israelites can move on to the next stage of their Exodus, that is, to worship God. The purpose of the land is to worship God.  The land is to be a sanctuary of God, a theocracy, if you will.

The Death of Joshua:
Finally, at the age of 110 years old, Joshua died.  He was buried at “Timnath-serah in the mountain region of Ephraim, north of Mount Gaash.” (Josh. 24:30)  This is most probably the modern Palestinian village of “Kefr Haris” in the West Bank.  With that, the Book of Joshua, an epilogue to the Pentateuch (or, the five Books of Moses), comes to an end.

Joshua 7-12:

Israel under the Ban and Conquering Ai:
Israel is immediately placed under “the Ban” (or “herem”) for destruction because Achan from their camp had violated the Lord’s commands by taking goods from Jericho that were under the ban.  The Israelites are subsequently defeated by the Amorites at Ai.  Joshua then inquires who disobeyed the Lord’s commands and took goods under the ban from Jericho.  Achan confesses to having taken the goods in his greed.  Achan is then taken outside the camp and stoned to death, then “..the anger of the Lord relented.”  (Josh. 7:26)  Once Achan is removed then Israel is able to conquer Ai with the Lord’s blessing. “Stretch out the javelin in your hand toward Ai, for I will deliver it into your power.”  (Josh. 8:18)  Israel then ambushed Ai, captured it and burnt it to the ground, destroying the entire population of the city.

Renewal of the Covenant at Mount Gerezim and Mount Ebal:
Once Jericho and Ai are conquered, Joshua and the Israelites head north to Mt. Ebal and Mt. Gerezim, the locations where Moses had directed them to do the Covenant-Renewal ceremony once they were in the Promised Land (Deut. 27:1-26).  They are to erect twelve stones with a copy of the Law that Moses has given them.  Half shall stand on Mt. Gerezim to bless the people and the other half shall stand on Mt. Ebal for the curse.  There the Israelites “read aloud all the words of the Las, the blessings and the curses..” (Josh. 8:34)

The Gibeonites Spared:
A people called the Gibeonites, apparently part of the Hivites community, came to Joshua and offered to be their slaves if they would only not kill them, like they did Jericho and Ai.  Joshua and the Israelites’ fame had spread all across the land and the Canaanites were in fear of God and the Israelites’ attacking them.  Joshua decides to enter into an oath with them to spare them but they are made to be “hewers of wood and drawers of water” for the Israelites. (Josh. 9:27)  Just like Rahab, they are a pagan people who were shown mercy because they feared God and entered into covenant with his people.

Joshua’s Miraculous Victory over Gibeon:
From their base-camp at Gilgal, Joshua and the Israelites attacked the city of Gibeon, as five Amorite kings (of Jerusalem, Hebron, Jarmuth, Lachish, and Eglon) united against Israel.  Yet, the Lord delivered them into Israel’s hands, and inflicted “a great slaughter on them at Gibeon..”  (Josh. 10:10) As the Amorites fled, Joshua and his troops pursued them.  At this point a miraculous divine intervention of hailstones are rained down of the Amorites killing many of them.  “..the Lord hurled great stones from the sky above them all the way to Azekah, killing many.  More died from these hailstones than the Israelites slew with the sword.” (Josh. 10:11)  Joshua then prayed to God that the day last longer, the sun and moon would miraculously not move, so he could pursue his total victory.  “The sun halted in the middle of the sky; not for a whole day did it resume its swift course.” (Josh. 10:13) The miraculous halting of the sun in the sky let daylight persist indefinitely while the Israelites pursued and destroyed the Amorites and Gibeonites.  Joshua eventually finds in a cave, and kills the five Amorite kings as well.  Thus, the miraculous hailstorm and halting of the sun helped Joshua and the Israelites to victory.

Joshua Conquers the Entire Countryside:
“So Joshua defeated the whole land, the hill country and the Negeb and the lowland and the slopes, and all their kings; he left none remaining, but utterly destroyed all that breathed, as the Lord God of Israel commanded.” (Josh. 10:40)  From there, all the lands and kings of Canaan were captured by Joshua in a single campaign, as “the God of Israel, fought for Israel.” (Josh. 10:42)  The Israelites then return to Gilgal, which remains their basecamp of operations for all their military campaigns in the Promised Land.

Conquering the Northern Confederacy:
After hearing of the Israelites’ victories, the northern Canaanite peoples formed a confederacy and attempted to attack Joshua and the Israelites. “And they came out, with all their troops, a great host, in number like the sand that is upon the seashore, with very many horses and chariots. And all these kings joined their forces, and came and encamped together at the waters of Merom, to fight with Israel.” (Josh. 11:4-5)  Yet, in another surprise attack, Joshua and the Israelites “struck them all down, leaving no survivors.” (Josh. 11:8)

Ongoing Conquest of Canaan:
“So Joshua took all that land, the hill country and all the Negeb and all the land of Goshen and the lowland and the Arabah and the hill country of Israel and its lowland from Mount Halak, that rises toward Seir, as far as Baal-gad in the valley of Lebanon below Mount Hermon. And he took all their kings, and smote them, and put them to death. Joshua made war a long time with all those kings. There was not a city that made peace with the people of Israel, except the Hivites, the inhabitants of Gibeon; they took all in battle. For it was the Lord’s doing to harden their hearts that they should come against Israel in battle, in order that they should be utterly destroyed, and should receive no mercy but be exterminated, as the Lord commanded Moses.” (Josh. 11:16-20)  The Lord had placed all of the Canaanites under the ban (“herem”) for total destruction.  The reasons for this are multifaceted.  One of the reasons was that they were pagan idolaters who offered human and child sacrifice to demon-gods.

Destruction of the Anakim:
Another reason for the herem, total-destruction of the Canaanites was the presence of the giant Anakim and Rephaim, who were tall people opposed to the will of God.  Who they were is not exactly known, but may be by-products of the fallen angels (Gen. 6:1-4).  “And Joshua came at that time, and wiped out the Anakim from the hill country, from Hebron, from Debir, from Anab, and from all the hill country of Judah, and from all the hill country of Israel; Joshua utterly destroyed them with their cities. There was none of the Anakim left in the land of the people of Israel; only in Gaza, in Gath, and in Ashdod, did some remain.” (Josh. 11:21-22)  Joshua and the Israelites completely wiped-out the Anakim, as the Lord had commanded them.  Yet, only a few are left in Gaza, Gath and Ashdod.  Gath is where David in the future will end up fighting the giant Goliath (1 Sam. 17:4), perhaps one of these Anakim remnants that Joshua failed to kill.

Joshua Conquers All of Canaan, and there is Peace in the Land:
“So Joshua took the whole land, according to all that the Lord had spoken to Moses; and Joshua gave it for an inheritance to Israel according to their tribal allotments. And the land had rest from war.” (Josh. 11:23) When sin (allegorically symbolized by the Canaanites and Anakim) is conquered, then you will have peace.

Joshua 1-6:

Joshua leads the Israelites over the Jordan River:
If Deuteronomy was Moses’ summary of the Law, then Joshua is the epilogue to Moses’ Pentateuch (the five Books of Moses). Joshua takes over from Moses to lead the Israelites into the Promised Land.  Joshua is one of seven figures in the Bible who has their names changed to correspond with their specific role in salvation history.  (Others, for example, are Abraham, Sarah, and Peter). Joshua’s original name was “Hosea” (meaning “salvation”; see Num. 13:8) but Moses changed it to “Joshua” (meaning “the Lord saves.”)  Joshua is a type of Jesus.  Interestingly, Joshua and Jesus are the same names in Hebrew, ישוע (“Yeshua”).  Joshua bears the name of the Messiah, Yeshua, or in English, Jesus.  In effect, “Jesus” is leading the chosen people of God into the “Promised Land.”  In the New Testament, Jesus does, in fact, lead Christians into the promised land of Heaven.  As Joshua prepares Israel to cross over into the Promised Land, they first prepare their provisions “for three days.”

Joshua Sends Spies to Jericho, and They Meet Rahab:
Joshua’s first conquest in the Promised Land will be Jericho, so he sends two spies to the city to reconnaissance it.  They end up going “into the house of a harlot named Rahab, where they lodged.” (Josh. 2:1)  Rahab conveys to them that tales of the Israelites and the Red Sea drying up have reached them, and the city of Jericho is terrified to fight the Israelites. So, Rahab tries to help them, and save her family’s lives.  She says, “Now then, swear to me by the Lord that as I have dealt kindly with you, you also will deal kindly with my father’s house, and give me a sure sign, and save alive my father and mother, my brothers and sisters, and all who belong to them, and deliver our lives from death.” (Josh. 2:12-13) The two spies answer her, “Our life for yours! If you do not tell this business of ours, then we will deal kindly and faithfully with you when the Lord gives us the land.” (Josh. 2:13)  Rahab is a sinner (prostitute) and a Gentile (non-Jew).  Yet, the Israelites agree to save her if she helps them.  Rahab is saved by making a covenant with the people of God.  Rahab has been defined by the Church Fathers as a type for the Church and Christians. She is a sinner, a Gentile, non-Jew, yet she is saved.  Rahab also conspicuously shows up in the genealogy of Jesus (Mt. 1:5).  Jesus’ lineage is not just to save the Jews.  He has come with a universal mission to save all people.  Rahab reflects this part of his ancestry.  She is a symbol and a type of Church that will be saved by Jesus Christ. In this instance, she will be saved from the destruction wrought by Joshua on the city of Jericho.

Rahab’s Scarlet Cord:
Rahab then let the two Israelite spies down with a rope over the city wall.  She tells them to go up into the hill country and “hide there for three days, until they return.” (Josh. 2:16)  Again, as so many other times in the Old Testament, we see this motif of “three days.”  This has Christological significance as a foreshadowing of Jesus’ three days in the tomb and death, where He was hidden. The spies tell her to: “Behold, when we come into the land, you shall bind this scarlet cord in the window through which you let us down; and you shall gather into your house your father and mother, your brothers, and all your father’s household.” (Josh. 2:18) By the scarlet cord, the Israelites will know not to attack her house, so as to save Rahab and her whole family. Similarly, by the scarlet blood of Jesus are we (as spiritual descendants of Rahab) spared from death and destruction.  By the “scarlet cord” of Jesus’ blood, much like the blood of the Passover Lamb on the Israelites’ doors, are we saved.  The blood of the Passover lamb on the door equates to the scarlet cord on Rahab’s window equates to the blood of Christ on the Cross applied to our souls. Then, the spies departed into the hills where they stayed for “three days.”

Preparations to Cross the River Jordan:
Joshua moves the Israelites to Shittim before crossing over the Jordan River.  There they waited for “three days,” and Joshua tells them to: “Sanctify yourselves, for tomorrow the Lord will perform wonders among you.” (Josh. 3:5)

The Miraculous Crossing of the Jordan River:
Now, just as Moses had led the Israelites miraculously through the Red Sea as on dry land, so now too, Joshua, the new Moses, was going to lead the Israelites across the Jordan River as if on dry land. Just as the Israelites’ were “baptized” through the Red Sea, now too, they will pass-over the veil into the Promised Land.  The Baptism of water leads to the entering the Promised Land.  The priests bearing the Ark of the Covenant went into the Jordan River first and the waters miraculously dried up:

“priests bearing the ark of the covenant before the people, and when those who bore the ark had come to the Jordan, and the feet of the priests bearing the ark were dipped in the brink of the water (the Jordan overflows all its banks throughout the time of harvest), the waters coming down from above stood and rose up in a heap far off, at Adam, the city that is beside Zarethan, and those flowing down toward the sea of the Arabah, the Salt Sea, were wholly cut off; and the people passed over opposite Jericho. And while all Israel were passing over on dry ground, the priests who bore the ark of the covenant of the Lord stood on dry ground in the midst of the Jordan, until all the nation finished passing over the Jordan.” (Josh. 3:14-17)

The whole nation of Israel crossed over the Jordan River while the waters had stopped flowing while the priests holding the Ark of the Covenant stood in the midst of the riverbed.  Once they were all across, Joshua told them to set up twelve stones there as a “perpetual memorial to the Israelites.”  (Josh. 4:7)  This miraculous event exalted Joshua in the eyes of all the Israelites, to “know there is a living God in your midst.” (Josh. 3:10)  And, when the priests carrying the Ark left the riverbed, as “the soles of the priests’ feet were lifted up on dry ground, the waters of the Jordan returned to their place and overflowed all its banks, as before.” (Josh. 4:18)

The Hill of Foreskins:
At this point, we learn that the second wilderness generation under the leadership of Moses had never been circumcised.  So, the Lord tells Joshua: “Make flint knives and circumcise the people of Israel again the second time.” So Joshua made flint knives, and circumcised the people of Israel at Gibeath-haaraloth. (“Hill of Foreskins”)  And this is the reason why Joshua circumcised them: all the males of the people who came out of Egypt, all the men of war, had died on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt. Though all the people who came out had been circumcised, yet all the people that were born on the way in the wilderness after they had come out of Egypt had not been circumcised.” (Josh. 5:2-5) Moses had neglected his spiritual duty as part of the Covenant, perhaps this was another reason why God was angry with him and did not let him into the Promised Land.

They Celebrate the Passover:
Just as the crossing of the Red Sea is recapitulated by Joshua, so too now, they recapitulate the Passover celebration. The Passover is eaten before Israel embarks on their next miraculous stage, just as it was originally eaten on the night of Passover in Egypt, and again on Mt. Sinai after with the Covenant. The striking parallels continue between Joshua, the second wilderness generation, with Moses, and the first Exodus generation.  The Passover is the feast par excellence.  It is the ultimate Jewish feast that precedes the miraculous and the saving.  It is the Passover that foreshadowed Jesus’ death on the Cross.  This is what Passover predicted in word and action, and where it drew its ultimate symbology and power.  The Passover Lamb of Christ, through His sacrifice of Body and Blood, that we are miraculously saved.

The End of the Manna:
As soon as the Israelites passed over into the Promised Land the miraculous manna ceased.  The Israelites had lived off of and eaten the miraculous manna in the wilderness for forty years.  But now, as soon as they step into the Promised Land, the manna stops.  “And on the morrow after the passover, on that very day, they ate of the produce of the land, unleavened cakes and parched grain.  And the manna ceased on the morrow, when they ate of the produce of the land; and the people of Israel had manna no more, but ate of the fruit of the land of Canaan that year.” (Josh. 5:11-12)  The manna is our Holy Eucharist.  It is our food for the journey in this life.  As soon as we cross over into the Promised Land of Heaven, we no longer have or need the Eucharist to sustain us.  The Eucharist is the bread from Heaven that feeds us on our wilderness journey on the earth.  Now, the Israelites no longer need the manna, as they will live off the fruit of the land of Canaan.

Joshua’s Vision Before Jericho:
“When Joshua was by Jericho, he lifted up his eyes and looked, and behold, a man stood before him with his drawn sword in his hand; and Joshua went to him and said to him, “Are you for us, or for our adversaries?”  And he said, “No; but as commander of the army of the Lord I have now come.” And Joshua fell on his face to the earth, and worshiped, and said to him, “What does my lord bid his servant?” And the commander of the Lord’s army said to Joshua, “Put off your shoes from your feet; for the place where you stand is holy.” And Joshua did so.” (Josh. 5:13-15)  Here too, just like the Angel of Death before the Passover in Egypt, the Angel of the Lord’s army stands ready to slay the pagans at Jericho.  So often, it seems, we are predisposed to believe in Jesus and God as a milquetoast figure, but clearly the Lord in the Exodus years is a warrior God of fierce strength and justice.

The Conquest of Jericho:
The Lord tells Joshua that He has delivered Jericho into his hands.  He instructs them to encircle the city and walk six times around it, with the priests and the Ark of the Covenant and ram’s horns.  “On the seventh day march around the city seven times, and have the priests blow the horns.  When they give a long blast on the ram’s horns and you hear the signal, all the people shall shout aloud.  The wall of the city will collapse, and they will be able to make a frontal attack.” (Josh. 6:4-5)  Then, Joshua commanded the people to follow the Lord’s instructions.  Troops marched in front of the Ark.  Then, the seven Levite priests carried the Ark with the ram’s horns.  And behind the Ark marched picked troops.  “The blowing of horns was kept up continually as they marched.” (Josh. 6:9)  The people were to remain silent until Joshua gave the signal.  They did this for six days.

The Seven Day Siege of Jericho:
Seven is the sacred number of the Covenant, and it is the day of the Sabbath, when Israel shall rest. The whole Exodus is geared towards “rest” and worship of God in the Temple in the Promised Land. The whole Exodus from the beginning is oriented towards worship. (Ex. 4:23; 5:3) The siege of Jericho is presented as an offering dedicated to God as part of a liturgical ceremony. “On the seventh day they rose early at the dawn of day, and marched around the city in the same manner seven times: it was only on that day that they marched around the city seven times. And at the seventh time, when the priests had blown the trumpets, Joshua said to the people, “Shout; for the Lord has given you the city. And the city and all that is within it shall be devoted to the Lord for destruction; only Rahab the harlot and all who are with her in her house shall live, because she hid the messengers that we sent. . . . So the people shouted, and the trumpets were blown. As soon as the people heard the sound of the trumpet, the people raised a great shout, and the wall fell down flat, so that the people went up into the city, every man straight before him, and they took the city. Then they utterly destroyed all in the city, both men and women, young and old, oxen, sheep, and asses, with the edge of the sword.” (Josh. 6:15-21)  As they marched around the city 7 times on the 7th day, the priests blew their trumpets, and the people shouted.  When they had done all of that, the walls of the city collapsed, and the Israelites conquered Jericho.  Joshua was faithful to his promise though and commanded Rahab and her family to be saved.  It is through Rahab’s line that the Messiah would later come to be born.

The Liturgical Conquest of Jericho:
The conquest of Jericho is more liturgical in nature than strategic and military.  The Israelites are led by the Levite priests in processions around the city.  They do this procession each day for six days. Then, they do the liturgical procession seven times on the seventh day.  The priests are in the procession carrying the Ark of the Covenant, the holiest object in the Old Testament.  The priests are also carrying the ram’s horns, sacred objects, which herald the destruction of the pagan town of Jericho.  If the Israelites’ celebrated Passover before the siege of Jericho, then they seven days of circumambulation around the city of Jericho coincided with the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  The siege of Jericho began with the ritual Feast of the Passover, and continued with the seven days of the Feast of Unleavened Bread.  On the last day of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the walls of Jericho come collapsing down.  The Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread are prefigurements to Jesus’ death and Crucifixion, and to the Holy Mass and Eucharist respectively.  By way of typology then, by Jesus’ Body and Blood through His death, and the Holy Eucharist of the Mass, we will conquer sin and evil in the world.  The Israelites show us physically how we are to conquer spiritually through religious ritual and liturgical worship.

The Fall of Jericho, Trumpet Blasts, and the End of the World:
The fall of Jericho has long been understood by the Fathers of the Church as a prefigurement of the end of the world.  Just as the world will be full of evil-doers under the control of the Antichrist, so too, was Jericho under the control of pagan idolatry.  Only the harlot Rahab and her family renounced Jericho and pledged allegiance to the Israelites.  In the end of the world, only a remnant of the people, the Church, will renounce the Antichrist and pagan idolatry, and cling to the faith (ie, Christianity).  But, it is through their faith, and the blood of Christ (ie, the scarlet cord) that they will be saved.  Just as Rahab was saved from Jericho, so too, will the Christian remnant gain salvation from the Antichrist, the world, and death.  Salvation will come liturgically through the foreshadowed feasts of the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (ie, through Jesus’ Cross and holy sacrifice of the Mass in the Eucharist).  The Levite priests are blowing the trumpets throughout the procession. The trumpet (“shofar”) is associated with the Feast of Trumpets (or “Yom Teruah” the Feast of Blowing ‘Trumpets’).  This is to symbolize the end of the world.  The ram’s horn (the “shofar”) is a reminder of the ram that Abraham sacrificed in place of Isaac.  The ram was the substitute sacrifice for Isaac, just as Christ, the Lamb of God, was sacrificed in our place, as our substitute.  Trumpets signaled Yahweh’s descent upon Mt. Sinai to the camp of Israel, amidst fire and darkness, thunder and lightning, and trumpet blasts, a foreshadowing of God’s return at the Second Coming of Christ.  The Book of Revelation reveals the end of the world and Jesus’ Second Coming all amidst trumpet blasts.  At the final trumpet blast, the walls of the Antichrist will come crashing down, and the New Joshua, Jesus, will return to destroy the evildoers (Jericho), and save the Christian remnant (Rahab).

Deuteronomy 15-34:

Moses’ Deuteronomic Code / The “Second Law”:
This section of Deuteronomy (chapters 12-26) is part of what is called “The Deuteronomic Code.” This is part of what scholars call “The Second Law.”  It is an expansion and application of the original Law, the Ten Commandments. This expanded Decalogue of the Deuteronomic Code actually follows the layout of the Ten Commandments in order from chapters 12-26.  So, the Second Law is actually an expansion and application of the original Law of the Ten Commandments.  Deuteronomy 12-26 (Second Law) parallels Deuteronomy 5 (Original Law).  The Code is specifically concerned with the centralization and consolidation of worship.  Sacrifice and worship is to be centralized to one place, the Tabernacle with the Ark of the Covenant, regulated by the Law, and under the watchful eye of the Levitical priesthood.  As the Israelites are conquering and settling the land of Canaan, much of Deuteronomy is also concerned with conquest and settlement issues.  The Mosaic Second Law Covenant is fashioned after a typical Hittite covenant document from the late second millennium B.C. period in the Near East. 

This new king-vassal type of covenant is with Moses, and not directly to God Himself.  In Deuteronomy 29 we read, “These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the sons of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He had made with them at Horeb.” (Deut. 29:1) God commands Moses to make the Covenant with Israel.  Similarly, in Deuteronomy 4, Moses says these are the statutes and ordinances “which I teach you” and “which I command you.” (Deut. 4)  The Deuteronomic Code or Second Law is more a Mosaic Covenant with the Israelites, and not a direct Covenant with God now.  Moses is acting on behalf of God as His lawgiver, teacher, and commander.  Yet, certain Mosaic laws like the “herem” (total warfare on the Canaanites) did not represent the highest will of God for His people, but was an accommodation by Moses to account for the sinfulness of the Israelites. There is some distance between certain Mosaic Laws and the ideal divine will found elsewhere in Scripture.

Seven-Year Sabbath Laws and Social Justice for the Poor:
God declared that every seventh year is a Sabbath Year, meaning the Israelites were obligated to forgive debts and offer restitution of money and property.  They were also prohibited from usury and giving loans with interest.  This Jubilee forgiveness of debts every seven years is a foundational social teaching for Judaism and Christianity regarding social justice and love for the poor.  “At the end of every seven years you shall grant a release. And this is the manner of the release: every creditor shall release what he has lent to his neighbor; he shall not exact it of his neighbor, his brother, because the Lord’s release has been proclaimed. Of a foreigner you may exact it; but whatever of yours is with your brother your hand shall release.  But there will be no poor among you.” (Deut. 15:1-4)  God commands that Israel be charitable to the poor. In the New Dispensation of the Gospel this would be akin to corporeal works of mercy, or caring for the poor.  “For the poor will never cease out of the land; therefore I command you, You shall open wide your hand to your brother, to the needy and to the poor, in the land.” (Deut. 15:11)  Hebrew slaves will likewise be set free from bondage or indentured servitude on the seventh year.

A Review of the Feasts and Festivals – Passover and Unleavened Bread:
God instructs the Israelites that they must appear before God three times a year, first at the Tabernacle, but later, at the Temple, to offer sacrifice and worship Him.  “Three times a year all your males shall appear before the Lord your God at the place which he will choose: at the feast of unleavened bread, at the feast of weeks, and at the feast of booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed; every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the Lord your God which he has given you.” (Deut. 16:16-17)

God tells the Israelites to remember the Passover Feast and the Feast of Unleavened Bread. “And you shall offer the passover sacrifice to the Lord your God, from the flock or the herd, at the place which the Lord will choose, to make his name dwell there.  You shall eat no leavened bread with it; seven days you shall eat it with unleavened bread, the bread of affliction—for you came out of the land of Egypt in hurried flight..” (Deut. 16:2-3)

The Festival of Weeks:
“You shall count seven weeks; begin to count the seven weeks from the time you first put the sickle to the standing grain. Then you shall keep the feast of weeks to the Lord your God with the tribute of a freewill offering from your hand..” (Deut. 16:9-10)

 The Feast of Booths:
“You shall keep the feast of booths seven days, when you make your ingathering from your threshing floor and your wine press;  you shall rejoice in your feast..” (Deut. 16:13-14)

Forbidden Forms of Worship:
Any person who offers pagan worship or sacrifice is to be stoned by the community.  There shall not be any worship of false gods or idolatry, or the worship of the sun, moon or stars, as was common among the pagans.  Moses instructions are blunt and harsh to purge them from your midst: “If there is found among you, within any of your towns which the Lord your God gives you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing his covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, and it is told you and you hear of it; then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abominable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring forth to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones.” (Deut. 17:2-5)  One of Moses’ main concern here is to protect the fledgling nation in their worship of the one true God and to avoid them falling back into the pagan worship of demons.

No Occult or Pagan Practices:
“When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer.  For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord; and because of these abominable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you.” (Deut. 18:9-12)

Raise Up a Prophet Like Me / The Messiah will be the New Moses:
This is one of the great Messianic prophecies of Moses pointing towards Jesus, as the New Moses, who the Lord will raise up to Israel.  A Messiah will come who is the “New Moses.”  This new Moses, of course, is Jesus.  “The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren—him you shall heed— just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ And the Lord said to me, ‘They have rightly said all that they have spoken.  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him.  And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.” (Deut. 18:15-19)

Jesus as the New Moses:
Indeed, there are many striking parallels to Jesus and Moses, too many to list here. But, Jesus is the new Moses leading His people on a new Exodus to the Promised Land, with new manna from Heaven, and bringing them into a New Covenant, not written on stones but upon their hearts.  Jesus Himself alludes to this verse in a debate with the Jews: “Do not think that I shall accuse you to the Father; it is Moses who accuses you, on whom you set your hope. If you believed Moses, you would believe me, for he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words?” (John 5:45-47)  St. Peter also quotes these lines (Deut. 18:18) from Deuteronomy, saying: “Moses said, ‘The Lord God will raise up for you a prophet from your brethren as he raised me up. You shall listen to him in whatever he tells you. And it shall be that every soul that does not listen to that prophet shall be destroyed from the people.’” (Acts 19:22-23)

Seeing God “Face-to-Face:
One of the main requirements of the prophet like Moses, ie, the Messiah, is that he shall speak to God “face-to-face” just as Moses did. Jesus fulfills this perfectly as He alone speaks to the Father, as He retreats alone into deserted places to pray. No other prophet speaks to God “face-to-face” as Jesus did, exceeding Moses’ interaction, as he was not allowed to behold the face of God directly. “No one has ever seen God; the only Son, who is in the bosom of the Father, he has made him known.” (John 1:18) And, “Not that any one has seen the Father except him who is from God; he has seen the Father.” (John 6:46)

Three Cities of Refuge:
These are three cities Israel is to set aside as refuges for people who unintentionally kill someone else. These are cities they can flee to in order to avoid revenge from another person.  “You shall set apart three cities for you in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess. . This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If any one kills his neighbor unintentionally without having been at enmity with him in time past.” (Deut. 19:2, 4)  What is the purpose of this?  To prevent innocent blood from being shed on the land, and thus, polluting it: “lest innocent blood be shed in your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.” (Deut. 19:10)

Two or Three Witnesses Necessary:
For every accusation or court case, there must be at least two to three witnesses to convict someone. “A single witness shall not prevail against a man for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed; only on the evidence of two witnesses, or of three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained.” (Deut. 19:15)  And, if one is found guilty, then they are to act with pure justice with the person, meaning giving him exactly what he or she deserves: “then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. And the rest shall hear, and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.  Your eye shall not pity; it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.” (Deut. 19:19-21)

Herem: Utterly Destroy Paganism in Canaan:
“But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, as the Lord your God has commanded; that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices which they have done in the service of their gods, and so to sin against the Lord your God.” (Deut. 20:16-18)  The point here is Moses’ injunction of the “herem” (total warfare) command to utterly destroy the pagans of Canaan is to prevent them from influencing the Israelites with paganism and corrupt their monotheistic worship of Yahweh alone.  Earlier in Exodus and Numbers, God never says to totally wipeout the native Canaanites in the land.  It is only after the mass apostasy of the Israelites on the plains of Moab and the worship of Baal, that Moses calls for the “ban” or the herem (total warfare) against the indigenous populations.  This is to protect the Israelites from being tempted and slipping back into paganism and idolatry, as the Israelites have repeatedly done.  Yet, certain Mosaic laws like this do not represent the ideal of God’s highest will for His people.

Moses’ Laws for the Israelites:
Many of the laws that come out from Moses in Deuteronomy is exactly that, laws from Moses, that Moses permitted because the Israelites were “a stubborn people.”  In much of the Book of Deuteronomy God is not speaking in the first-person, in fact, for much of the book it is Moses speaking in the first-person to the Israelites.  God does not speak first-hand in Deuteronomy until near the end of the book (Deut. 31:16-23) Moses, in fact, took responsibility for promulgating these laws “which I command” and “I have taught you.” (Deut. 4)  And so, we find many instances where Moses permits the Israelites to do certain things and certain actions, which God Himself had not permitted them to do.  As Jesus’ answer to the Pharisees when they asked him if it is permissible for a husband to divorce his wife, Jesus responds “from the beginning it was not so.”  But rather, Moses permitted your ancestors to do it because of the hardness of their hearts.” “They said to him, “Why then did Moses command one to give a certificate of divorce, and to put her away?” He said to them, “For your hardness of heart Moses allowed you to divorce your wives, but from the beginning it was not so.” (Mt. 19:7-8) And so, Jesus is saying some of the things that Moses permitted was not the original intention of God.  Rather, it was a temporary “fix” allowed by Moses at a particular instance in time, to assuage the rebelliousness of the Israelites.  This must be taken in this context when considering some of the more morally questionable actions that Moses permitted the Israelites to do.  This is a hermeneutical key that Jesus gives for unlocking the mystery of Deuteronomy.  These are amendments Moses made for the Israelites at that moment in time.

Female Captives:
For example, Moses addresses the Israelites about when they win in battle and they take the women as spoils of victory.  If they find “a beautiful woman, and you have desire for her and would take her for yourself as wife,” then you must basically shave her clean and let her mourn her father and mother for thirty days.  At that point, “you may go in to her, and be her husband, and she shall be your wife.” (Deut. 21:13)  Many would find this morally objectionable, if not downright repugnant.  Or, like the next line: “If a man has two wives..”  Again, this is an area where the Israelites were still shaking off the pagan culture, in this case – polygamy – from where they grew out of, but have not yet fully accomplished it.  As Jesus said, Moses permitted divorce because of the hardness of their hearts, but “from the beginning it was not so.”  In short, the Israelites were a work-in-progress.  Moses made accommodations for the Israelites, but his accommodations, like this, often fell short of the more ideal, divine will of God.

Crucifixion, Hung on a Tree, and Jesus:
This is another line from Deuteronomy foreshadowing and prophesying about Jesus and His crucifixion on the Cross, or “a tree.”  It reads: “and you hang him on a tree, his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accursed by God; you shall not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance.” (Deut. 21:22-23)  In fact, Jesus was crucified on the “tree” of a cross, where He died and was buried that same day.  Even in death, Jesus fulfilled the Law.

No Cross-Dressing:
“A woman shall not wear anything that pertains to a man, nor shall a man put on a woman’s garment; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deut. 22:5)

Adulterers are to be Stoned:
“If a man is found lying with the wife of another man, both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; so you shall purge the evil from Israel.” (Deut. 22:22)

Rapist Punished with Death:
“But if in the open country a man meets a young woman who is betrothed, and the man seizes her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall die. But to the young woman you shall do nothing.” (Deut. 22:25-26)

No Incest:
“A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor shall he uncover her who is his father’s.” (Deut. 22:30)  This language of “uncovering his father’s nakedness” hearkens back to Ham uncovering the nakedness of his father, or in other words, he raped his mother. This is why the line of Ham was cursed, through the product of the incestuous union, who of course was Canaan.

Those Restricted from the Assembly of the Lord:
-“He whose testicles are crushed or whose male member is cut off shall not enter the assembly of the Lord.”
-“No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord.” (Deut. 23:1,3)
-“There shall be no cult prostitute of the daughters of Israel, neither shall there be a cult prostitute of the sons of Israel. You shall not bring the hire of a harlot, or the wages of a dog, into the house of the Lord your God in payment for any vow; for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.” (Deut. 23:17-18)

The Israelites about to Passover into the Promised Land:
“Now Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, “Keep all the commandment which I command you this day. And on the day you pass over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall set up large stones, and plaster them with plaster; and you shall write upon them all the words of this law, when you pass over to enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, has promised you.” (Deut. 27:1-3)  Moses is still exhorting the Israelites to obey all the Commandments that the Lord has given them.  And he commands the Israelites to build an altar to the Lord God when they cross over into the Promised Land.  “You shall build an altar to the Lord your God of unhewnstones; and you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the Lord your God; and you shall sacrifice peace offerings, and shall eat there; and you shall rejoice before the Lord your God. And you shall write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.” (Deut. 27:6-8)  The Israelites are to honor God for the great gift He has given them with the land flowing with milk and honey.  Moses then offers twelve curses for the anyone who breaks twelve different aspects of the Law.

The Blessings:
However, if the Israelites obey the Commandments of the Lord they will be exceedingly blessed among the nations. “And all these blessings shall come upon you and overtake you, if you obey the voice of the Lord your God.” (Deut. 28:2)

The Curses:
“But if you will not obey the voice of the Lord your God or be careful to do all his commandments and his statutes which I command you this day, then all these curses shall come upon you and overtake you.” (Deut. 28:15) And more curses: “A nation which you have not known shall eat up the fruit of your ground and of all your labors; and you shall be only oppressed and crushed continually; so that you shall be driven mad by the sight which your eyes shall see.” (Deut. 28:33-34)  “All these curses shall come upon you and pursue you and overtake you, till you are destroyed, because you did not obey the voice of the Lord your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which he commanded you. They shall be upon you as a sign and a wonder, and upon your descendants for ever.” (Deut. 28:45-46)  “And the Lord will scatter you among all peoples, from one end of the earth to the other; and there you shall serve other gods, of wood and stone, which neither you nor your fathers have known.” (Deut. 28:54)

A New Mosaic Covenant at Moab:
“These are the words of the covenant which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which he had made with them at Horeb.”  (Deut. 29:1)  This is a good reminder that this is a different Covenant at Moab, than the original Covenant at Mt. Sinai.  The Sinai Covenant was a familial one, but the Moab covenant was a vassal, suzerainty treaty.  God is binding them in a king-servant type of treaty to bind their rebelliousness.  It is almost as if God has stepped-aside and commanded Moses to make the Covenant with the Israelites.  God even says, “.. the Lord commanded Moses to make with the people Israel.”  God has essentially deputized Moses to stand in for Him and make the Covenant with the people.  Thus, many of the laws and statutes were promulgated by Moses, as God’s deputy, and not directly from God.

Future Restoration:
Now, even if Israel should falter and fail, and break the Covenant (which obviously we know they did repeatedly, and were conquered and dispersed by the Babylonians and the Persians, and the Romans), God will still remember His Covenant with Israel and gather them back together from the nations. “If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the Lord your God will gather you, and from there he will fetch you; and the Lord your God will bring you into the land which your fathers possessed, that you may possess it; and he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the Lord your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live.” (Deut. 30:4-6)  And, God promises His word is neither far away or difficult.  But rather, “But the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.”  (Deut. 30:14) “See, I have set before you this day life and good, death and evil.” (v.15)

Joshua Becomes Moses’ Successor:
“And he said to them, “I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ The Lord your God himself will go over before you; he will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them; and Joshua will go over at your head, as the Lord has spoken.” (Deut. 31:2-3)  “Then Moses summoned Joshua, and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall put them in possession of it.  It is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed.” (Deut. 31:7-8) “And the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die; call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.” (Deut. 31:14) “And the Lord commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and of good courage; for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to give them: I will be with you.” (Deut. 31:23)

Moses’ Book of the Law on “the Side” of the Ark:
“When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book, to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, “Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are; behold, while I am yet alive with you, today you have been rebellious against the Lord; how much more after my death!” (Deut. 31:24-27)  There is some symbolic significance here.  The Law written by Moses is not inside the Ark, but is only put “by the side of the ark of the covenant.”  That is, what is inside the Ark of the Covenant is written by God Himself (The Ten Commandments) and is holiest of the holies.  But, the Mosaic Law is written by Moses, and made to accommodate and try to restrict sinfulness.  It is not as holy, and so, it is only on the side of the Ark, but not in the Ark itself. St. Paul discusses this later in his Epistles, where he says the Law was written because of sinfulness: “Why then the law? It was added because of transgressions..” (Gal. 3:19)  But,it was surpassed and superseded by the grace of Jesus Christ and the Gospel.  Moses’ Law was not as it was intended “from the beginning.”  Jesus’ covenantal bond of friendship and adopted-sons and daughters brings us back to how it was meant to be in the beginning. The Deuteronomic Law seems to be disharmonious with the ideals expressed elsewhere in Scripture, but these are accommodations by Moses towards the sinfulness of Israel.

The Song of Moses:
Here are a few highlights from Moses’ Song:
-“The Rock, his work is perfect; for all his ways are justice.”
-“Is not he your father, who created you,who made you and established you?”
-“When the Most High gave to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of men, he fixed the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of God. For the Lord’s portion is his people, Jacob his allotted heritage.”
-“You were unmindful of the Rock that begotyou, and you forgot the God who gave you birth.”
-“Vengeance is mine, and recompense, for the time when their foot shall slip;
for the day of their calamity is at hand, and their doom comes swiftly.”
-“Where are their gods..”
-“Moses came and recited all the words of this song in the hearing of the people, he and Joshua the son of Nun.”

The Death of Moses Foretold:
“And the Lord said to Moses that very day,  “Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho; and view the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel for a possession; and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people; because you broke faith with me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meri-bath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you did not revere me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you; but you shall not go there, into the land which I give to the people of Israel.” (Deut. 32:48-52)

The Final Blessing of Moses Upon Israel:
Deuteronomy is Moses’ last will and testament to his people, Israel.  It has become a “constitution” of sorts for Israel, as a synopsis almost of the whole Old Testament.  It was to be read and represented to the whole nation of Israel every seven years, and as such, it serves as a liturgical document, calling Israel to ritually renew its covenant with God.  Yet, here before his death, Moses offers individual blessings for each of the tribes of Israel.  This is a parallel to Jacob’s deathbed blessings of his twelve sons and the twelve tribes of Israel (Gen. 49:1-27) Moses says, “Happy are you, O Israel! Who is like you, a people saved by the Lord, the shield of your help, and the sword of your triumph! Your enemies shall come fawning to you; and you shall tread upon their high places.” (Deut. 33:29)

Moses Ascends Mt. Nebo and Dies in Moab:
“And Moses went up from the plains of Moab to Mount Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, which is opposite Jericho. And the Lord showed him all the land, Gilead as far as Dan, all Naphtali, the land of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea, the Negeb, and the Plain, that is, the valley of Jericho the city of palm trees, as far as Zoar.  And the Lord said to him, “This is the land of which I swore to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, ‘I will give it to your descendants.’ I have let you see it with your eyes, but you shall not go over there.” So Moses the servant of the Lord died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the Lord, and he buried him in the valley in the land of Moab opposite Beth-peor; but no man knows the place of his burial to this day. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died; his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated. And the people of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days; then the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.”

“And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom, for Moses had laid his hands upon him; so the people of Israel obeyed him, and did as the Lord had commanded Moses.  And there has not arisen a prophet since in Israel like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face,  none like him for all the signs and the wonders which the Lord sent him to do in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land, and for all the mighty power and all the great and terrible deeds which Moses wrought in the sight of all Israel.”  (Deut. 34)

Deuteronomy ends on a somewhat melancholy note that Moses is dead and that a prophet “like Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face” has not yet arisen. Deuteronomy ends on a note of longing for the Messiah, Messianic expectation. The Messiah will be a prophet like Moses, who knows the Lord “face to face.” Moses and the Israelites are longing for the emergence of the Messiah. It is Jesus alone, who comes some 1,500 years later, who is the New Moses, a prophet like him, who knows the Lord, God the Father, face to face. It is because Jesus is the Son of God and knows the Father face-to-face, that He speaks with authority, for “No man ever spoke like this man!” (John 7:46)

Deuteronomy 12-14:

Destroying the Pagan gods:
Part of the Israelites’ mission in taking of the land of Canaan was to utterly destroy the pagan religion there, and the inhabitants worships of demonic entities.  God reiterates that the Israelites are to erase the Canaanites’ evil pagan cult from the land: “You shall surely destroy all the places where the nations whom you shall dispossess served their gods, upon the high mountains and upon the hills and under every green tree; you shall tear down their altars, and dash in pieces their pillars, and burn their Ashe′rim with fire; you shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy their name out of that place.” (Deut. 12:2-3)

Do Not Drink Blood:
God also warns the Israelites not to follow the practices of the Canaanites, in their rites and rituals, including drinking blood.  “Only you shall not eat the blood; you shall pour it out upon the earth like water.” (Deut. 12:16) And again: “Only be sure that you do not eat the blood; for the blood is the life, and you shall not eat the life with the flesh. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it out upon the earth like water.” (Deut. 12:23-24) This is a similar forbiddance as with Leviticus 7:26.  Unlike the Canaanites who drink blood in their pagan rituals, the Israelites are to pour it onto the earth.  Likewise, God warns the Israelites: “You shall not do so to the Lord your God; for every abominable thing which the Lord hates they have done for their gods; for they even burn their sons and their daughters in the fire to their gods.” (Deut. 12:31) Yahweh admonishes the Israelites to separate themselves from the pagan cultures around them. The Israelites are to be a distinct, set-apart, and holy nation, and not following the ways of the demonic pagan cults.

Worship in the Proper Place and Right Way:
“But the holy things which are due from you, and your votive offerings, you shall take, and you shall go to the place which the Lord will choose, and offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the Lord your God; the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out on the altar of the Lord your God, but the flesh you may eat.” (Deut. 12: 26-27)

Dreamer of Dreams Shall Be Put to Death:
“But that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death, because he has taught rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to make you leave the way in which the Lord your God commanded you to walk. So you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.” (Deut. 13:5)  The main goal of God at this point is to purge all evil and rebellion from the midst of the Israelites.  This is a simple people, living in simple times, the Bronze Age. They lived under idolatry in Egypt for 400 years as slaves.  They are prone to idol worship.  Yahweh is pruning idolatry from their midst.  This pruning includes removing false prophets from their midst who lead the people astray.  Similarly, “And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and never again do any such wickedness as this among you.” (Deut. 13:11)

Pagan Practices Forbidden:
Some of the pagan practices among the Canaanites were shaving, cutting and tattooing themselves. The Israelites were supposed to be different, set apart, holy.  “You are the sons of the Lord your God; you shall not cut yourselves or make any baldness on your foreheads for the dead.  For you are a people holy to the Lord your God, and the Lord has chosen you to be a people for his own possession, out of all the peoples that are on the face of the earth.” (Deut. 14:1-2)  Then, Moses reiterates the clean and unclean animals that the Israelites may eat and not eat, as told in Leviticus.

Deuteronomy 8-11:

God Humbles and Disciplines His Son:
God led the Israelites through the desert for forty years to humble them, test them, and discipline them. He was preparing them to keep His Commandments.  “Know then in your heart that, as a man disciplines his son, the Lord your God disciplines you. So you shall keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him.” (Deut. 8:5-6) God warns them that it is not because of their goodness that God is giving them the land but because of the Canaanites wickedness.  “Not because of your righteousness or the uprightness of your heart are you going in to possess their land; but because of the wickedness of these nations the Lord your God is driving them out from before you..” (Deut. 9:5)  The Israelites have been “a stubborn people.”

Moses’ Intercession for his People:
“So I lay prostrate before the Lord for these forty days and forty nights, because the Lord had said he would destroy you. And I prayed to the Lord, ‘O Lord God, destroy not thy people and thy heritage, whom thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, whom thou hast brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand.  Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; do not regard the stubbornness of this people, or their wickedness, or their sin, lest the land from which thou didst bring us say, “Because the Lord was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he has brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.” For they are thy people and thy heritage, whom thou didst bring out by thy great power and by thy outstretched arm.” (Deut. 9:25-29)  Because of Moses’ mediation, God relents of His punishment and destruction He wanted to inflict on the Israelites after they worshiped the golden calf.

The Ark of the Covenant and the Two New Tablets (10 Commandments):
“At that time the Lord said to me, ‘Hew two tables of stone like the first, and come up to me on the mountain, and make an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were on the first tables which you broke, and you shall put them in the ark.’ So I made an ark of acacia wood, and hewed two tables of stone like the first, and went up the mountain with the two tables in my hand. And he wrote on the tables, as at the first writing, the ten commandmentswhich the Lord had spoken to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire on the day of the assembly; and the Lord gave them to me. Then I turned and came down from the mountain, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they are, as the Lord commanded me.” (Deut. 10:1-5)

Circumcise Your Hearts:
“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God require of you, but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in all his ways, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul, and to keep the commandments and statutes of the Lord..” (Deut. 10:12-13)  This is basically a restating of the Shema, the Greatest Commandment.  Here Moses reveals to the Israelites the true meaning of the Law: “Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no longer stubborn.” (Deut. 10:16) The Law is not about mechanical and rote rituals, but about loving God from your heart.  St. Paul spoke of this in his epistle to the Romans: “He is a Jew who is one inwardly, and real circumcision is a matter of the heart, spiritual and not literal. His praise is not from men but from God.” (Rom. 2:29) Thus, Baptism and the spiritual “circumcision of the heart” replaces physical circumcision of the foreskin as the entrance-ritual to the New Covenant.

Outstretched Arms:
One of the consistent and persistent themes, or images, in the Exodus is God and Moses leading the Israelites out of danger with wonders, miracles and signs with “outstretched arm.”  This gives an allusion and foreshadowing to Jesus’ outstretched arms on the Cross. In Jesus’ Cross, His outstretched arms, we conquer sin and death.  “..His greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, his signs and his deeds which he did in Egypt to Pharaoh the king of Egypt and to all his land..” (Deut. 11:2)

A Blessing or a Curse:
This is the choice set before the Israelites and Israel throughout the Exodus and the Old Testament. It is their choice, the same as us, to choose the blessing or the curse.  ““Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse: the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God, which I command you this day, and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn aside from the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods which you have not known.” (Deut. 11:26-28)