Israel Must Obey God
Moses said:
1 Israel, listen to these laws and teachings! If you obey them, you will live, and you will go in and take the land that the Lord is giving you. He is the God your ancestors worshiped, 2 and now he is your God. I am telling you everything he has commanded, so don't add anything or take anything away.
3 You saw how he killed everyone who worshiped the god Baal Peor. 4 But all of you that were faithful to the Lord your God are still alive today.
5-8 No other nation has laws that are as fair as the ones the Lord my God told me to give you. If you faithfully obey them when you enter the land, you will show other nations how wise you are. In fact, everyone that hears about your laws will say, “That great nation certainly is wise!” And what makes us greater than other nations? We have a God who is close to us and answers our prayers.
9 You must be very careful not to forget the things you have seen God do for you. Keep reminding yourselves, and tell your children and grandchildren as well. 10 Do you remember the day you stood in the Lord's presence at Mount Sinai? The Lord said, “Moses, bring the people of Israel here. I want to speak to them so they will obey me as long as they live, and so they will teach their children to obey me too.”
11 Mount Sinai was surrounded by deep dark clouds, and fire went up to the sky. You came to the foot of the mountain, 12 and the Lord spoke to you from the fire. You could hear him and understand what he was saying, but you couldn't see him. 13 The Lord said he was making an agreement with you, and he told you that your part of the agreement is to obey the Ten Commandments. Then the Lord wrote these Commandments on two flat stones.
14 That's when the Lord commanded me to give you the laws and teachings you must obey in the land that you will conquer west of the Jordan River.
Don't Worship Idols
Moses said to Israel:
15 When God spoke to you from the fire, he was invisible. So be careful 16 not to commit the sin of worshiping idols. Don't make idols to be worshiped, whether they are shaped like men, women, 17 animals, birds, 18 reptiles, or fish. 19 And when you see the sun or moon or stars, don't be tempted to bow down and worship them. The Lord put them there for all the other nations to worship. 20 But you are the Lord's people, because he rescued you from Egypt, that fiery furnace.
21 The Lord was angry with me because of what you said, and he told me that he would not let me cross the Jordan River into the good land that he is giving you. 22 So I must stay here and die on this side of the Jordan, but you will cross the river and take the land.
23 Always remember the agreement that the Lord your God made with you, and don't make an idol in any shape or form. 24 The Lord will be angry if you worship other gods, and he can be like a fire destroying everything in its path.
25-26 Soon you will cross the Jordan River and settle down in the land. Then in the years to come, you will have children, and they will give you grandchildren. After many years, you might lose your sense of right and wrong and make idols, even though the Lord your God hates them. So I am giving you fair warning today, and I call the earth and the sky as witnesses. If you ever make idols, the Lord will be angry, and you won't have long to live, because the Lord will let you be wiped out. 27 Only a few of you will survive, and the Lord will force you to leave the land and will scatter you among the nations. 28 There you will have to worship gods made of wood and stone, and these are nothing but idols that can't see or hear or eat or smell.
29-30 In all of your troubles, you may finally decide that you want to worship only the Lord. And if you turn back to him and obey him completely, he will again be your God. 31 The Lord your God will have mercy—he won't destroy you or desert you. The Lord will remember his promise, and he will keep the agreement he made with your ancestors.
32-34 When the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt, you saw how he fought for you and showed his great power by performing terrifying miracles. You became his people, and at Mount Sinai you heard him talking to you out of fiery flames. And yet you are still alive! Has anything like this ever happened since the time God created humans? No matter where you go or who you ask, you will get the same answer. No one has ever heard of another god even trying to do such things as the Lord your God has done for you.
35-36 The Lord wants you to know he is the only true God, and he wants you to obey him. That's why he let you see his mighty miracles and his fierce fire on earth, and why you heard his voice from that fire and from the sky.
37 The Lord loved your ancestors and decided that you would be his people. So the Lord used his great power to bring you out of Egypt. 38 Now you face other nations more powerful than you are, but the Lord has already started forcing them out of their land and giving it to you.
39 So remember that the Lord is the only true God, whether in the sky above or on the earth below. 40 Today I am explaining his laws and teachings. And if you always obey them, you and your descendants will live long and be successful in the land the Lord is giving you.
Safe Towns
41-43 Moses said, “People of Israel, you must set aside the following three towns east of the Jordan River as Safe Towns: Bezer in the desert highlands belonging to the Reuben tribe; Ramoth in Gilead, belonging to the Gad tribe; and Golan in Bashan, belonging to the Manasseh tribe. If you kill a neighbor without meaning to, and if you had not been angry with that person, you can run to one of these towns and find safety.”
The Second Speech: Moses Tells What the Lord Demands
Israel at Beth-Peor
44-46 The Israelites had come from Egypt and were camped east of the Jordan River near Beth-Peor, when Moses gave these laws and teachings. The land around their camp had once belonged to King Sihon of Heshbon. But Moses and the Israelites defeated him 47 and King Og of Bashan, and took their lands. These two Amorite kings had ruled the territory east of the Jordan River 48 from the town of Aroer on the edge of the Arnon River gorge, north to Mount Hermon. 49 Their land included the eastern side of the Jordan River valley, as far south as the Dead Sea below the slopes of Mount Pisgah.