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GORDON-CONWELL THEOLOGICAL SEMINARY

Exegesis of Deuteronomy 28:9-12


INTERPRETING THE OLD TESTAMENT OT511
Dr. Carol M. Kaminski

Karina Loayza Silva


BOX 323-B
April 24, 2016

TEXT AND TRANSLATION


Deuteronomy 28:9-12


1

( 9)
) 10(

3
2
(11)
4( 12)


Personal Translation
(9)

YAHWEH will establish you as a holy people to himself as he swore to you. If you will keep
the commandments of YAHWEH your GOD and walk in his ways5, (10) then all the people of the
earth will see that the name of YAHWEH is called upon you and they will be afraid of you. (11)
YAHWEH will grant you abundance of welfare to share6, in the fruit of your womb and in the
fruit of your cattle, and in the fruit of your ground on the land that YAHWEH swore to your
ancestors to give to you.
(12)
YAHWEH will open for you his good treasure, the heavens to give rain in its season to your
land and to bless all the work of your hand and you will lend to many nations but you shall not
borrow.
The LXX reads your fathers ( ) and the Targum (Jonathans) also renders the word as plural,
to your fathers ( ) as it is presented in v.11. The variants seems likely to be intentional scribal change since
the formulae as he swore to your fathers is found in several passages in Deuteronomy. However, since the renewal
of the covenant is made with a different generation it seems more appropriate to include in the text a direct address
to this newer audience.
2
The variant of the text includes an accent that either causes the lengthening of the Qamets or marks the primary
stress on the word (Khan, Geoffrey, and Joseph Ben Noah. The Early Karaite Tradition of Hebrew Grammatical
Thought: Including a Critical Edition, Translation and Analysis of the Diqduq of Abu Yaqub Yusuf Ibn Nuh on the
Hagiographa. Leiden: Brill, 2000.)
3
The Samaritan Pentateuch omit the feminine singular ending and renders the word as tb meaning good things,
goodness. This meaning has a more concrete or material aspect for the type of blessing that the Lord will grant his
people while tb (welfare, good) has the nuance of a more subjective idea which encompasses a wider meaning
beyond the physical aspect. The BHS text is preferred because it brings a richer nuance for the type of blessing the
LORD will bring upon Israel. (Brown, Francis, S. R. Driver, Charles A. Briggs, G. R. Driver, Wilhelm Gesenius,
Wilhelm Gesenius, Emil Roediger, and Edward Robinson. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament:
With an Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952.
4
The Samaritan Pentateuch puts before the accusative particle before your land. Its use is normal in prose, and
in this case precedes an accusative of specification (your land) so this addition in the variant may represent the
intention of be more specific by saying: to give rain in your land. This addition, according to Waltke B, is
consistent with the character of the Samaritan text which includes the addition of words to clarify the meaning of the
text. In this the shorter reading of the Masoretic text is preferred.
5
The NLT decisively translates this verse as a conditional consequently the certainty of YAHWEHs blessing is
dependent of Israels obedience and not in His oath, while the NIV, NASB and ESV preserve the conditional clause
connecting the idea of the blessing with the witnessing of Israel. The ESV translates the as a conjunction.
1

Any of the English translations considered (NLT, NASB, ESV, NIV) preserve in their translation of
nuance of an abundant communal prosperity that will allow the sharing of it.


a
2

LITERARY CONTEXT
An initial discussion about the character and purpose of Deuteronomy as a whole will serve us to
describe the particular role that Deut. 28:9-12 plays in the literary composition of the book.
In older scholarship the essence of the book of Deuteronomy was understood as a repetition of
Exodus guided by an interpretation of Deut. 17:18 (

7) which rendered the
book as a second law8. This understanding gave the books title in the Septuagint and since
then it has being carried over to our modern translations9. However, the book is more than
merely a repetition of the instructions given to that first rebellious generation of Israelites forty
years earlier10 because it contains a detailed and amplified version more appropriate for the new
generation about to enter and conquest the land promised in the covenant at Sinai11. By following
then the old approach for the literary style of Deuteronomy, the book is viewed as a collection of
speeches delivered by Moses in which, according to S.R. Driver in 1902, the content of Deut. 28
corresponds to a second discourse in which the exposition of the law is made along with the
preceding section (5:1-26:19; 27), the following section serves as a supplement (29:1-30:20), and
the remainder of the book is a miscellanea of other matters as introductions (1:1-5; 4:44-49),
conclusions (31:1-8; 32:48-34:12), and other matters that, taking this view, seem not to be
essential to the nature of the book12.
The discussed literary approach has been enriched by the archeological finds, in 1905 and 1906,
of some cuneiform tablets in Bogazkoy, a small Turkish village east of the middle course of the
Halys river in Northern Cappadocia which once was the settlement of the capital of the Hittite
empire Hattusha13. The comparative studies of the cache of tablets have brought light to the
understanding of the structure of the book, and it is being particularly helpful to discern an
organized pattern of the laws that previously seemed random and without a clear interaction with
the rest of the book14. In this regard, K.A. Kitchen presents an outline history of treaty, law and
covenant through six chronological phases15 (from ca. 2500 to 650 B.C) using between 80 and
90 documents in order to establish a very accurate and unambiguous framework against which,
for the purpose of this paper, we can set the content of the book of Deuteronomy. The factual
evidence of 31 Hittite treaties shows us that there is an undisputable correspondence between the
renewal of the covenant in Deuteronomy and the Hittite treaties classified as phase V (1400-1200
B.C.). Therefore, thanks to this archaeological insight, we can understand better the literary style
of Deuteronomy as a work patterned after late Hittite treaties but noting at the same time that its
content is more exhaustive, varied in genre and style, than other Ancient Near Eastern texts
related to the Sinaitic covenant and its renewal in the book of Deuteronomy. Finally, by
examining the book from this perspective, the passage of Deut. 28:9-12 corresponds to the
7




Merril, Eugene H. The New American Commentary, Vol. 4. Deuteronomy. Broadman & Holman Publishers, 1994,
21.
9
This is different for the Hebrew canon which derives its title from the first words of the book,
10
We have the initial sections and basic stipulations of the Sinai Covenant in the book of Exodus 20:1-17. In
addition, the book of Leviticus continues the instruction with the cult associated to the tabernacle (ch.1-10)
Kitchen, K.A. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Gran Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003, 242-243.
11
Exodus 23:23, 31; 33:1-3; 34:24; Lev. 14:34; 20:24; 23:10; 25:2, 38; 26:42.
12
Merril, The New American Commentary, 28
13
Bittel, Kurt. Hattusha, the capital of the Hittites. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970, 9.
14
Merril, The New American Commentary, 31.
15
Kitchen, On the Reliability of the Old Testament, 285.
8

Blessing and Curses section, after the specific stipulations (12:1-26:15) that consists in the
application to every aspect of life of the general principles of relationship and behavior presented
in 5:1-11:32. The recognition of the covenant form of the book helps us to understand the
blessings and curses section as a standard expression of expectation derived from the
covenantal relationship that YAHWEH establishes with the Israelites16.
VERSE-BY-VERSE GRAMMATICAL ANALYSIS
v.9 begins with a normal word order of a verbal sentence however the use of a Hiphil verb
(
) brings out a nuance that clearly identifies YAHWEH as the active agent in this first
verbal clause17 it is his willingly action that causes Israel to be established as His holy people. In
addition to this, the reflexive use of the l with a pronominal suffix18 as the object of the
preposition remarks the idea of YAHWEH as the only subject of the verbal clause19.
The use of the particle introduces a conditional sentence. The real condition or protasis- is
presented in v.9 and the time of the condition is in the future which is indicated by the imperfect
aspect of the main verb20 ( ) . The apodosis of the conditional clause is presented at the
beginning of v.10 by translating the conjunction as a vav of linkage which is resuming a train of
thought that started in v.9 with the protasis of the conditional clause21. The apodosis is presented
as two complementary ideas joined by a coordinative vav (). Finally, we note that v9. and v.10
form a complete unit of thought that is introduced by a causative Hiphil verb (
) .
In a similar way, the second unit of our passage is introduced in v.11 with a verb in the Hiphil
stem ( ) emphasizing again the unique intervention of YAHWEH in granting the abundance
of welfare in Israel. The focus of the author goes back again to YAHWEH with the relative
particle ( ) because it is introducing the fact that this divine oath was already made to former
generations and this is a renewal of it.
Finally v.12 follows the idea introduced already in v.11 which describes the blessings given to
Israel. It is interesting to note that they are all rooted in an idea of community: the rain is given to
the land and it rains for everyone, the work of the land brings benefits not only for the laborers
themselves or the owner but also for the widows, orphans and the foreigners who take the
leftovers of the harvest season. When considering v.11 and v.12 as a unit we note that the pivotal
clause is that which remarks the idea of the renewal of the covenant.

16

Merril, The New American Commentary, 32.


YAHWEH will establish you as his holy people
18
Brown, Francis, S. R. Driver, Charles A. Briggs, G. R. Driver, Wilhelm Gesenius, Wilhelm Gesenius, Emil
Roediger, and Edward Robinson. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament: With an Appendix
Containing the Biblical Aramaic. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952, 452.
19
Ronald J. Williams and John C. Beckman. Williams' Hebrew Syntax. Toronto Buffalo London: University of
Toronto Press, 2007, 107.
20
Ibid, 182.
21
Ibid, 155.
17

WORD STUDIES [1.5 PAGES, 1SPACE, FOOTNOTES]


a) Range of meaning for
Qal Stem
To raise up, stand (Gen 4:8, Ex 1:8, Lev 19:32, Num 16:25, Deu 2:13)
To arise in respect to someone (Gen 19:1, 31:35, Lev 19:32)
To stand into a position of success (Ex 33:8)
To arise to listen to Gods word or to praise Him (Num 23:18, 2 Ch 20:19, Ne 9:4)
Hiphil Stem
To setting up a memorial or a place for worship (Jos 4:9, Ex 26:30, Dt 27:2)
To establish a sign of covenant (Gen 6:18, 9:17, Ex 6:4, Ez 16:62)
The LORD is raising up a leader (Dt 18:15, Jud 2:16)
To arise someone from a position or humiliation (2S 12:17, Dt 22:4, Psalm 41:10, Am 5:2)
The verb appears 628 times in the Old Testament. Its major use is in the Qal Stem (460x)22 while
in the Hiphil we find several occurrences of its usage of the verb in covenant-making dialogues
between God and Noah, Abraham and Israel. In contrast, the verb is used in instances with Israel
as the subject in which the people set up idols for themselves and in other passages is used to
describe the Levites setting up of the Tabernacle. In many uses the verb is used to describe a
simple action but also it is used figuratively to express a new person or situation- raising up (cf.
Ex 1:8). The concepts carries the idea of a perceived change whether in a physical, spiritual or
social status and by having YAHWEH as the one who cause the change this is a radical change
in the status of Israel among the nations.
b)
the name of the LORD is called upon you
The concept that carries this expression is one of ownership, Israel belongs to YAHWEH. For
instance, in Je 15:16 a similar expression is used by Jeremiah to denote his intimate relationship
with the LORD for which he was suffering the reproach of his people. In other instance, the
prophet appeals to Israels status as Gods people to cry out for help in 14:9. In Isaiah 63:19 a
similar concept is found when he says in 63:19 that Israel has become as those who were not
called by the LORDs name, in other words, as those who are not Gods chosen people. Finally,
this nuance of ownership is very clear in 2 Ch. 7:14 in the use of a first person pronominal suffix.
c) The range of meaning of
The verb appears in the Old Testament in the Qal, Niphal, and Hiphil Stems. In the Qal appears in
participle form in 1 S 15:1523 (the remainder).

Niphal Stem
22

(Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, Charles A. Briggs, G.R. Driver, Wilhelm Gesenius, Emil Roediger, and Edward
Robinson 1952)
23
Ibid, 4285.

The remain of something or what is left over (Gen 30:36, Ex 10:15, 12:10, Lev 2:3, Jdg. 8:10)
Be left alone or be the only one (Gen 32:24, 44:20, Num 26:55, Jos 11:22)
To indicate total extermination, no one left (Jos 11:11, 1 Sa 25:34)

Hiphil Stem
Regarding a command for not keeping any leftovers (Ex 16:19)
To have more than enough (Ex 36:7)
To indicate that you will cause to remain something or someone (Num 33:55)
To indicate that you have left overs (Rut 2:14, 18)
The range of meaning give us the concept that the LORD is going to cause Israel to have leftovers, in
contrast with the idea render by the English translations of abundant personal prosperity. The passage in
Ruth is a fine application of this concept, the LORD has blessed Boaz causing him to have abundant
leftovers to share with the poor not only locals but also foreigners as Ruth was.

d) The range of meaning of 24


Qal Stem
To borrow money in order to pay taxes (Neh 5:4)
The borrower becomes a slave of the lender (Pr 22:7)
Describes the borrower as a wicked man in contrast with the righteous who is gracious and gives (Ps
37:21)

Hiphil Stem
The lending of money among the Israelites was meant to be without interest, it is not to enrich the lender
(Ex 22:24)
The righteous is describe as someone who lends (Psalm 37:26, 112:5, Prov 19:17)
The act of lending has a bad connotation when it comes from a greedy heart, when the poor are oppressed
by the lender. But a righteous man lends graciously because he knows the Lord will repay him. On the
one hand, if Israel is a lender for other nations, or among each other, they are call to do so in order to
represent the righteous man described in Psalms. On the other hand, if Israel borrows from other nations
they would become the slaves of the lenders since those nations dont act upon Gods law. In this way,
Israel would be a slave of others and consequently the special relationship with YAHWEH is diminished
and damaged.

e) The range of meaning of 25


Feminine noun.
Prosperity, welfare (Psalm 106:5, Dt 23:7, Je 33:9, Ezr 9:12, Gen 50:20)
Something that one could call a good thing (Psalm 16:2, Ecl. 6:3)
Good words or compliments (Je 12:6, 2 K 25:28)
Good deeds (Neh 6:19)

24

(Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, Charles A. Briggs, G.R. Driver, Wilhelm Gesenius, Emil Roediger, and Edward
Robinson 1952)
25
Ibid, 3644.

The concept that carries this word goes beyond material blessings, after all people could be rich however
they feel miserable. The concept of abundance of good things is meant not only to make Israel richer than
other nations but also to fill it with a sense of contentment.

AUTHORSHIP
The Mosaic authorship of the book of Deuteronomy, along to the whole Pentateuch, was traditionally
held by Jewish as well as Christian scholars prior to the Enlightenment in the eighteen century. However,
the new spirit of scholars of distrusting traditional authorities and submit them to the scrutiny of reason
led future generations to reject the long-standing tradition of Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch. It is
then that a new theory for the dating of the Pentateuch was held that places the writing during the
religious reforms of King Josiah ca. 621 B.C. The composition was not only very far from the Mosaic
period but also was a merge of at least four different sources26. This Documentary Hypothesis is going to
serve us to pave the way back to the Mosaic Authorship of the Pentateuch while we set a solid body of
evidence in favor of our position.
First, regarding the early date of composition during the reign of Josiah we find valuable evidence against
this position in the mentioned archeological finds in Bogazkoy. The mass of archival evidence have made
possible to establish an unambiguous chronological sequence for the dating of documents. Consequently,
it is safe to accept that the Pentateuch belongs to the period between 1400-1200 B.C. The later treaties
have not consistent parallels, for instance they have different orders of format and some sections do not
appear (historical prologue, blessings, the depositing of the text and the reading out of the covenant)27.
Therefore, if we follow the evidence of the mentioned facts then we would need to ask how a group of
people such as slave Hebrews could come up with the redaction of a treaty-type document whose concept
was completely unfamiliar -or unknown- because its practice is reserved to high-level diplomatic spheres
and royal courts, unless they had had a leader well trained in such affairs28. The biblical account about the
upbringing29 of Moses fits perfectly such description.
Finally but not less important, we have the internal evidence in the Pentateuch itself crediting Moses with
having written specific accounts30, and in the New Testament accounting for, first, the factual existence of
Moses not a Jewish legend- as the great leader of the exodus, and second, his primary role as the
divinely appointed mediator in the giving of the law31. We find Jesus supporting Moses as the author of
the Pentateuch, the Book of the Law, before the Pharisees in many instances. They were not corrected for
attributing Moses as the author but they were mistaken about the interpretation of the law. In addition, we
also find the apostles unanimously accepting the Mosaic authorship in Acts 3:33 and Rom. 10:5.
We cannot denied the fact that there is internal evidence of scribal revision in many passages32 since
Moses is written about in the third person, however, there is no need to assume that these are substantive
editions, or that the text itself was not written during Moses lifetime with a later modernization of the
Hebrew during the monarchy. Such a practice of copying literature was practiced throughout the ancient
Near East for three thousand years.33.

26

Editors: T. Desmond Alexander and David Baker. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch. Illinois:
InterVarsity Press, 2003, 61-62.
27
(Kitchen, 284,290)
28
Ibid, 297-298.
29
Exodus 2:10 tells us that Moses was adopted by an Egyptian princess so it is reasonable to assume he would
become part of the ruling group, fluent in Egyptian (but also Semitic language through his Hebrew mother). Acts
7:22 also attests to Moses particular training in all the learning of the Egyptians.
30
Exod.17:14; 24:4; 34:27-28, Num. 17:2-3; 33:2, Deut.31:9, 31:22, Josh.8:32, 24:26.
31
Cf. John 5:46, 7:19, Matt.19:8, Luke 24:44, Mark 12:26 for the New Testament, and Joshua 1:8, 2 Chron. 34:14.
32
Deut. 1:1-5, 2:10-12, 20-23, 3:9,11,13-14;4:41-5:1; 10:6-9, 27:1, 9a,11; 29:1-2a; 31:1,7a, 9-10a,14a,14c-16a, 2223a,24-25, 30; 32:44-45, 48;33:1; 34:1-4a; 5-12)
33
(Kitchen, 306)

In conclusion, there is a solid biblical and non-biblical evidence for holding Moses as the primary and
central author of the Pentateuch and that the scribal editions are not substantive or enough to discredit
Mosaic Authorship completely.

Bibliography
Bittel, Kurt. Hattusha, the capital of the Hittites. New York: Oxford University Press, 1970.
Brotzman, Ellis R. Old Testament - Textual Criticism . Grand Rapids: Baker Academic , 1994.
David W. Baker, Dale A. Brueggemann, Eugene H. Merril. Cornerstone - Biblical Commentary:
Leviticus, Numbers and Deuteronomy. . Illinois: Tyndale House Publishers , 2007.
Editors: T. Desmond Alexander and David Baker. Dictionary of the Old Testament: Pentateuch.
Illinois: InterVarsity Press, 2003.
Editors: T. Desmond Alexander, Brian S. Rosner, D.A. Carson, Graeme Goldsworthy. New
Dictionary of Biblical Theology. Illinois: INTER-VARSITY PRESS, 2000.
Francis Brown, S.R. Driver, Charles A. Briggs, G.R. Driver, Wilhelm Gesenius, Emil Roediger,
and Edward Robinson. A Hebrew and English Lexicon of the Old Testament: With an
Appendix Containing the Biblical Aramaic. Oxford: Clarendon Press, 1952.
Geoffrey Khan and Joseph Ben Noah. The Early Karaite Tradition of Hebrew Grammatical
Thought: Including a Critical Edition, Translation and Analysis of the Diqduq of Abu
Yaqub Yusuf Ibn Nuh on the Hagiographa. Leiden: Brill, 2000.
Kitchen, K.A. Ancient Orient and Old Testament. Illinois: Intervarsity Press, 1973.
. On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Gran Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2003.
Merril, Eugene H. Kingdom of Priests. Baker Book House Company, 1987.
. The New American Commentary, Vol. 4. Deuteronomy. Broadman & Holman Publishers,
1994.
Ronald J. Williams and John C. Beckman. Williams' Hebrew Syntax. Toronto Buffalo London:
University of Toronto Press, 2007.
Tremper Longman III, Raymond B. Dillard. Introduction to the Old Testament. Grand Rapids:
Zondervan, 2006.

HISTORICAL CONTEXT [DRAFT]


The historical background for the book of Deuteronomy is dependent upon the date for the exodus that
one follows. The argument in favor of an early date (ca. 1400 BC) comes from the Masoretic tradition
dates the establishment of the temple in the fourth year of Solomons reign (1 Kgs.6:1). The accepted
chronological reconstruction of the divided monarchy sets this date in 966 B.C34. The biblical text asserts
that 480 years has passed from the exodus to that day, therefore the date of this event can be calculated.
On this matter, there are two main positions about how to interpret the 480 years of the biblical account.
First, the 480 years are seen as an Ancient Orient scribal practice of representing 12 generations and
establishing 25 years as the lapse for one generation. This calculation gives us 300 years between the
initial work of the temple and the exodus which is fixed then in ca. 1266 BC. It is worth noting that there
is no actual evidence for such a practice in any ancient Near Eastern civilization. The second view takes
the 480 years at face value and sets the exodus in 1446 B.C. This date has the biblical witness of the book
of Judges in 11:26 in which a message from Jephthah to the king of the Ammonites clearly states that the
Israelites have been occupying the land across the Jordan for 300 years, undoubtedly, in reference to the
period prior to the conquest. Now, given that the rule of Jephthah has been determined in the last decade
of the 12th century (ca.1106-1100), resulting the date for the exodus around 1400 B.C.35
A last important piece of evidence from comparative studies in archeology would help to clarify the
chronological issue. According to K.A. Kitchen, the formulation of the Hittite treaties is unique to the
period between 1400-1200 B.C.36 He came to this conclusion by finding a basic correspondence between
Sinai and the Hittite corpus corresponding to an extensive evidence of thirty documents from 1400-1200
B.C.37 This conclusion lead us to pay attention to the Late Bronze Age Eastern Mediterranean world
which provides the historical background for the book (ca. 1550-1200 BC).

34

Merril, E. H. (1987). Kingdom of Priests. Baker Book House Company. p.67


Ibid.p.68
36 Kitchen, K. (2003). On the Reliability of the Old Testament. Gran Rapids: Eerdmans Publishing Co. p. 283-290.
37 Ibid, p.288.
35