Wednesday, January 28, 2015

Deuteronomy: Chapter 7

Dedication and devastation
Devouring desire

[For full chapter, click here
The past chapters have revolved around the recreation of the covenant at Sinai, building towards a relationship in which "you shall love God your Lord with all your heart, with all your soul, with all your might." Now we move to how this covenant will play out "when God brings you to the Land to which you will come to inherit." There is a tautology in this definition: God brings you to a land defined by the fact that you come there.
This tautology is thematic to the chapter. Love is defined by the fact that one was chosen; one was chosen because of love. Relationships are not defined not by objective parameters--"God did not choose you because you were numerous, for you are the smallest of all people" Rather, they are created by choice and commitment: "but because God loved you, and because He kept to the oath that he swore to your fathers..." This commitment must be absolute and  reciprocal: "God your a faithful God, who keeps the covenant...with those that love him and keep his commandments." The key words of the chapter highlight this: "keep" (sh'm'r); "covenant" (brit); "face" (p'n'm); love (a'h'v).
Here, the implications of a "jealous God" become apparent: The relationship must be all consuming. There can be no competition. All other gods of the land must be utterly destroyed: "smash their altars, break their high-stones, uproot their Asheras, and burn with fire their statues". "You shall make no covenant with them"--the only covenant is with God, and any unfaithfulness will lead to utter devastation. The implicit metaphor is of a jealous marriage. There can be no bigamy: "you shall not marry them... for they will remove your son from following Me, and they will serve other gods. Then God's anger will flame out against you, and will quickly destroy you."
Being "holy" is being dedicated, set aside. Any adulteration will not be tolerated. Destroy, or be destroyed: "the graven images of their gods you will burn with fire. You shall not covet the silver or gold that is in them...they are an abomination to God, your Lord... you shall utterly detest it. you shall utterly abhor it."]

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