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Devarim (words/things)

Deuteronomy 1:1 to 3:22, Isaiah 1:1-27


Compare the qualifications of Israel's appointed judges. The ones appointed on the advice of Yitro were "valorous, God-fearing, truthful, incorruptible" (Exodus 18:21) and "wise and known" (Deut 1:15). But the subset of these men that God desired to recognize in Numbers 11:16-17 simply should be recognized as worthy by Moshe (Numbers 11:16).

Why does verse 1:27 mention "in your tents?"

Traditional Jewish Commentary

Verse 1:5 says "Moshe began to expound this Torah". He was teaching it to the new generation which had learned it from family but not before formally from Moshe.

Why was it required that the appointed judges be known? Traditional answers include being recognizable by those who needed them, and having a good reputation as a defense against slander or jealous talk.

Verse 1:17 literally says, "Do not recognise a face (favor) in judgement." Thus the Jewish tradition of judges not looking at the faces of those before them, that the judges might not be swayed by a person's appearance.

Verse 1:34 literally says, "And God heard the 'voice' of your words." More standard would simply be "And God heard your words." So God was angry not merely at what the people were saying, but how they were saying it.

Verse 1:37 is traditionally interpreted as saying that Moses's punishment for his sin was not specificed as his not being able to enter the land until that same punishment was later specified for the people. (Numbers 20:12 only says that Moshe will not lead the people into the land, not that he himself will not be allowed to enter.) Another interpretation is that biglalchem should be translated "on your behalf" instead of "because of you".

In verse 1:42 God says the is not with the people. This may not be a punishment: if their confession in the previous verse was merely outward, then God would still not be with them in their hearts and their minds, so in verse 1:42 God would simply be stating a fact.

Mt. Seir was given to Esav's descendents. Esav wore his best clothes when serving his father, and for honoring his parents was given an inheritance of land.

Israel was not allowed no attack Moav (2:9) but was allowed to threaten it. Moav (from May-Av, "from father") was the son of Lot's oldest daughter who thought the world needed rebuilding. Thus Moav is eventually allowed to enter the Messiah's lineage with Ruth. The nation of Amon (2:19) was from the younger sister's child (from Amon, "their (f.pl.) nation") and the nation of Amon was protected even from threats by Israel because its mother had more modestly not flaunted the sin of sleeping with a parent.

The Medrash Tanchuma says that Moav's safety was a reward for Lot's hospitality toward the angels.

In verse 1:31 n'so'acho (has carried you) can be read as n'so'ach'o (has forgiven you).

In verse 2:28 the words v'ochalti and v'shosisi can be translated "I have eaten" and "I have drunk". The interpretation is that even after eating mana and drinking water the Israelites would still perform the duties of travelers to purchase food and drink.

The words used to introduce Moses' final addresses to the Israelites is the almost unique bei-er et hatorah hazot (to explain this Torah). That word bei-er occurs in only one other place in the Torah, when the Israelites were commanded, on crossing the Jordan, to set words of the Torah in stone (Deut. 27:8). There are two traditional interpretations of why bei-er is used instead of the more common sa-per (to recount) or shaneh (to review). (a) Moses spoke in 70 languages, and the stones were inscribed in 70 langages, to be universally understood. (b) Moses was relating the Torah to the Israelites in a manner specific to their current time and need (about to enter the Promised Land), and the stones were similarly for supporting the faith of that particular generation.