Saturday, March 14, 2015

Deuteronomy: Chapter 13

Without and within 
the intimate, the exotic 
the known and unknown 
a fire between

[For full chapter, click here
Having established that relationship is based on specificity and loyalty, this chapter turns to the possible threats to loyalty: the possible seductions away from God. The Chosen Land is a land on edge, and the relationship to God also remains on edge, full of tensions, tests, and uncertainty. 
The chapter is built of three parallels sections,each presenting a different possible seduction away from God, moving from the most intimate outward. The first danger is a false prophet or visionary who "dreams a dream"; the second is the seductions of close family "your brother, your son, your daughter, the wife of your bosom";  the final is peer pressure, as a whole city is "drawn away... to serve other gods." The sections are united by refrains, one highlighting closeness, the other distance: "go after other gods, which you have not known" vs. "burn out the evil from your midst (k'r'v, the root for closeness)."
The temptation away from God comes from within, from your brother, from your family, from your mind. Yet the desire is for distance, for what is far, exotic, a dream.
God is the God of the familiar, the "God of your fathers," who has proved Himself in "rescuing you from Egypt and redeeming you from the house of slavery." What He demands is the deepest intimacy, a ruthless loyalty that trumps all other connections: 
"After God your Lord you shall walk,  and Him shall ye fear, and His commandments shall you keep, and unto His voice shall you hearken, and Him shall you serve, and unto Him shall you cleave [d'v'k--the verb that usually refers to marriage "udavak be-ishto"--and he shall cleave to his wife".

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