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Deuteronomy Chapter 4 | Parsha: Va-'ethannan

1And now, O Israel, give heed to the laws and rules that I am instructing you to observe, so that you may live to enter and occupy the land that the Lord, the God of your fathers, is giving you. 2You shall not add anything to what I command you or take anything away from it, but keep the commandments of the Lord your God that I enjoin upon you. 3You saw with your own eyes what the Lord did in the matter of Baal-peor, that the Lord your God wiped out from among you every person who followed Baal-peor; 4while you, who held fast to the Lord your God, are all alive today.

5See, I have imparted to you laws and rules, as the Lord my God has commanded me, for you to abide by in the land that you are about to enter and occupy. 6Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people.” 7For what great nation is there that has a god so close at hand as is the Lord our God whenever we call upon Him? 8Or what great nation has laws and rules as perfect as all this Teaching that I set before you this day?

9But take utmost care and watch yourselves scrupulously, so that you do not forget the things that you saw with your own eyes and so that they do not fade from your mind as long as you live. And make them known to your children and to your children’s children: 10The day you stood before the Lord your God at Horeb, when the Lord said to Me, “Gather the people to Me that I may let them hear My words, in order that they may learn to revere Me as long as they live on earth, and may so teach their children.” 11You came forward and stood at the foot of the mountain. The mountain was ablaze with flames to the very skies, dark with densest clouds. 12The Lord spoke to you out of the fire; you heard the sound of words but perceived no shape—nothing but a voice. 13He declared to you the covenant that He commanded you to observe, the Ten Commandments; and He inscribed them on two tablets of stone. 14At the same time the Lord commanded me to impart to you laws and rules for you to observe in the land that you are about to cross into and occupy.

15For your own sake, therefore, be most careful—since you saw no shape when the Lord your God spoke to you at Horeb out of the fire— 16not to act wickedly and make for yourselves a sculptured image in any likeness whatever: the form of a man or a woman, 17the form of any beast on earth, the form of any winged bird that flies in the sky, 18the form of anything that creeps on the ground, the form of any fish that is in the waters below the earth. 19And when you look up to the sky and behold the sun and the moon and the stars, the whole heavenly host, you must not be lured into bowing down to them or serving them. These the Lord your God allotted to other peoples everywhere under heaven; 20but you the Lord took and brought out of Egypt, that iron blast furnace, to be His very own people, as is now the case.

21Now the Lord was angry with me on your account and swore that I should not cross the Jordan and enter the good land that the Lord your God is assigning you as a heritage. 22For I must die in this land; I shall not cross the Jordan. But you will cross and take possession of that good land. 23Take care, then, not to forget the covenant that the Lord your God concluded with you, and not to make for yourselves a sculptured image in any likeness, against which the Lord your God has enjoined you. 24For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, an impassioned God.

25When you have begotten children and children’s children and are long established in the land, should you act wickedly and make for yourselves a sculptured image in any likeness, causing the Lord your God displeasure and vexation, 26I call heaven and earth this day to witness against you that you shall soon perish from the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess; you shall not long endure in it, but shall be utterly wiped out. 27The Lord will scatter you among the peoples, and only a scant few of you shall be left among the nations to which the Lord will drive you. 28There you will serve man-made gods of wood and stone, that cannot see or hear or eat or smell.

29But if you search there for the Lord your God, you will find Him, if only you seek Him with all your heart and soul— 30when you are in distress because all these things have befallen you and, in the end, return to the Lord your God and obey Him. 31For the Lord your God is a compassionate God: He will not fail you nor will He let you perish; He will not forget the covenant which He made on oath with your fathers.

32You have but to inquire about bygone ages that came before you, ever since God created man on earth, from one end of heaven to the other: has anything as grand as this ever happened, or has its like ever been known? 33Has any people heard the voice of a god speaking out of a fire, as you have, and survived? 34Or has any god ventured to go and take for himself one nation from the midst of another by prodigious acts, by signs and portents, by war, by a mighty and an outstretched arm and awesome power, as the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? 35 It has been clearly demonstrated to you that the Lord alone is God; there is none beside Him. 36From the heavens He let you hear His voice to discipline you; on earth He let you see His great fire; and from amidst that fire you heard His words. 37And because He loved your fathers, He chose their heirs after them; He Himself, in His great might, led you out of Egypt, 38to drive from your path nations greater and more populous than you, to take you into their land and assign it to you as a heritage, as is still the case. 39Know therefore this day and keep in mind that the Lord alone is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other. 40Observe His laws and commandments, which I enjoin upon you this day, that it may go well with you and your children after you, and that you may long remain in the land that the Lord your God is assigning to you for all time.

41Then Moses set aside three cities on the east side of the Jordan 42to which a manslayer could escape, one who unwittingly slew a fellow man without having been hostile to him in the past; he could flee to one of these cities and live: 43Bezer, in the wilderness in the Tableland, belonging to the Reubenites; Ramoth, in Gilead, belonging to the Gadites; and Golan, in Bashan, belonging to the Manassites.

44This is the Teaching that Moses set before the Israelites: 45these are the decrees, laws, and rules that Moses addressed to the people of Israel, after they had left Egypt, 46beyond the Jordan, in the valley at Beth-peor, in the land of King Sihon of the Amorites, who dwelt in Heshbon, whom Moses and the Israelites defeated after they had left Egypt. 47They had taken possession of his country and that of King Og of Bashan—the two kings of the Amorites—which were on the east side of the Jordan 48from Aroer on the banks of the wadi Arnon, as far as Mount Sion, that is, Hermon; 49also the whole Arabah on the east side of the Jordan, as far as the Sea of the Arabah, at the foot of the slopes of Pisgah.

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