Commentary on Parashat Eikev, Deuteronomy 7:12 - 11:25
Moses continues with his speech to the Israelites, “It will come to pass as a result of your hearing these Ten Commandments and carrying them out with care, that God will keep with you this covenant. God will love you and bless you and multiply you. God will bless the fruit of your body, your soil, grain, wine, oil and animals. You will be blessed more than all the peoples.”
“But,” Moses warns, “you will have to annihilate many people; your eye shall not feel any mercy for them–so that you will not serve their gods–for this is a trap for you. Don’t fear them, for God, your God, is a great and awesome God. God will deliver them up before you and you shall destroy them. The images of their gods shall burn in fire. Do not lust after the silver and the gold that is upon them and take it for yourself, for it is an abomination to God.
“Remember the entire path along which God has led you these 40 years in the wilderness. God let you go hungry, then gave you manna in order to have you know that it is not by bread alone that man can make a life for himself, but that man can live by everything that comes from God. Therefore hold fast upon your heart the knowledge that as a man trains his son, so does God train you.”
Moses continues, “And keep the commandments to walk in God’s ways and to fear God. For your God is bringing you into a good land, a land in which you will lack for nothing. When you eat and are satisfied, then bless God for the good land that God has given you.
“Take heed not to forget God by not keeping God’s commandments, for when you may have all you need, your spirit may become haughty and you might forget God, Who brought you out from the land of Egypt, from the home of slaves. You might forget the way God gave you manna and water from a rock. You may be tempted to say in spirit, ‘It was my own power and the might of my own hand that has gotten me this wealth.’ Therefore, remember that it is God Who gives you the power to get wealth in order to uphold the covenant.”
“It will come to pass,” Moses continues, “that if you should nevertheless forget God and walk after other gods, and serve them and bow to them, then I bear witness to you today that you will certainly perish. Like the nations that God will cause to perish before you, so will you perish.
“In the promised land, there will be nations that are greater and mightier than you. Do not say in your heart, when your God thrusts them away from before you, ‘Because of my devotion to duty did God bring me to take possession of the land.’ No, it is because of the wickedness of these nations that God drives them away from before you. God drives them away to fulfill the word that God swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
“For you are a stiff-necked people. Remember how you provoked God and rebelled against God and God wanted to destroy you. Remember when God gave me the two stone tablets, the Tablets of the Covenant, only to find that you had built a golden calf to be your god. I broke those tablets and melted your god in such anger as to turn it into powder and threw it in the river.
“God had me return to the mountain and make new tablets with The Ten Commandments and place them into the ark, to be taken care of by the Levis. It was an ark that was made with great precision and we carried it from place to place throughout the wilderness.
“So now, what does God require of you? Only to fear God, to walk in all God’s ways and to love God and to serve God with all your heart and with all your soul. Keep these commandments for your own good. Behold! It is to your God, that the heavens and the earth belong.
“Therefore, do not stiffen your necks anymore. For your God, is God of gods and Lord of lords. God is the great, mighty and feared God Who does not consider personal standing and accepts no bribe, but upholds the rights of the orphan and widow and stranger. You, too, shall love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt.
“Therefore, love God, for you saw all that God did for you in the wilderness and before when bringing you out of slavery with miracles.
“So keep these commandments as you enter this promised land–a land that can flow with milk and honey. This is land for which God cares. The eyes of God are always upon it. If you will serve God with all your heart and with all your soul, then I will give rain and the plants will grow and be harvested and you shall eat and be satisfied.
“But do not turn aside and serve other gods and cast yourselves down before them. Then the anger of God will be kindled, and God will hold back rain, and the soil will not yield its produce, and you will quickly vanish from the good land that God is giving you.
“Even then, you must place these words upon your heart and upon your soul, and bind them as a sign upon your hand, and let them be for frontlets between your eyes, and teach them to your sons, and speak of them when you sit in your house, and when you walk upon the way, when you lie down and when you get up. Write them on the doorposts of your house and upon your gates, so that the days of your children may long endure in the promised land. If you keep these commandments, God will put fear of you into all the lands where you set foot.
Parashat Eikev Discussion Questions
1) What does it mean that “man can live by everything that comes from God?” Is that still true today? Why or why not?
2) God says that Jews must keep the Ten Commandments for their own good. In today’s world, is it still for our own good to keep the commandments? Why?
3) Do you feel that the Jews have been blessed by God more than other peoples? If so, how? If not, why?
Reprinted with permission from Jewish Family & Life!
Pronounced: ark, Origin: English, the place in the synagogue where the Torah scrolls are stored, also known as the aron kodesh, or holy cabinet.