Wednesday, December 2, 2015

Deuteronomy: Chapter 27

Trace the line
in earth, in stone

the chasm between

be silent, listen
declare and answer: 
We affirm

[For full chapter, click here
This chapter continues the focus on narrative and articulation. If the previous chapter emphasized the need to testify, we now move from the oral to the written. Upon crossing the Jordan, the children of Israel must erect standing stones, engraved with "all the words of this law, very clearly."

Again and again, the word "crossing" (a'v'r, also "past") is emphasized. Crossing the Jordan is not just a change in physical space--it is a change in existential space. The very physicality of the Land becomes a player in the relationship between God and Israel. The stones become new Tablets of Law, and then the basis of a new altar. The two mountains become physical manifestations of the split between "blessing" and "curse."

The embodying of the relationship between  the human and divine in the earth gives the human a more active voice. The new Tablets will be written by human hands: "you shall write upon the stones" (27: 8). Now, Israel does not only need to speak to a witness (as they did in the previous chapter), but to activly affirm the price of covenant, answering each curse with an affirmative "Amen."]

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