Parashat Nitzavim (Deuteronomy 29:10-30:20)
29:10 Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel,
Comment: “all of you” are here, standing before the LRD, …
29:11 Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water:
Comment: … no one stayed behind in the camp, not even the women or the children, in order to …
29:12 That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day:
Comment: … “enter into covenant” with the LRD …
29:13 That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.
Comment: … that “he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God … ”.
29:14 Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath;
Comment: “Neither with you only”: then with whom else also (is “this covenant” made with Gd)? …
29:15 But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:
Comment: “also with him that is not here with us this day”: But are there people who stayed behind in the camp and didn’t come to attend today’s gathering? This would contradict v.10 that “all of you” are here! According to Rashi’ commentary, “him that is not here” refers to the future generations. Therefore, future generations of Jews cannot complain that “I was not present at Mount Sinai, I never accepted the Ten Commandments , why shouldn’t I work on sabbath? Why shouldn’t I be an atheist? Just because I was born into this family?” The answer is: They have already been entered into a covenant by Moses, together with their ancestors (and also with their future descendants), in this current Bible verse. See https://www.sefaria.org/Rashi_on_Deuteronomy.29.14?lang=bi
, Pentateuch with Rashi’s commentary by M. Rosenbaum and A.M. Silbermann, 1929-1934 (English).
In light of the New Testament, we have an additional interpretation:
v.14-15 “Neither with you only …. But … also with him that is not here with us this day”: This may allude to any Christian from any country, who, someday in the future, will also “enter into covenant with the LORD thy God” (v.12), that Gd “may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God” (v.13).
See Romans 9:24-25: “… he hath called, not of the Jews only, but also of the Gentiles? As he saith also in Osee, I will call them my people, which were not my people; and her beloved, which was not beloved.”
For some reason, the current verse Deuteronomy 29:15 is listed as Deuteronomy 29:14 in Hebrew Bible https://www.sefaria.org/Deuteronomy.29.14?lang=bi&aliyot=0 .
There might be a textual code hidden in the first four Hebrew words of this verse: כי את אשר ישנו (But with him that…) Ki et Asher yeshno, the 4 final letters form יתרו itro, or Jethro, one of the several names of Moses’ father-in-law (Exodus 18:5). I learned this from a Jewish source but I don’t remember exactly from where. I don’t remember the interpretation either, regarding why Jethro’s name is hidden here. Is it implying a positive answer to the riddle left from Numbers 10:31 (that Jethro agreed to stay with the Israelites and is now standing here together with them)? There (in Numbers 10:31), about 40 years ago, Moses asked his father-in-law to stay with the Israelites, but whether his father-in-law agreed or not, is not described.
30:14 But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
Comment: In the New Testament Paul cited this Old Testament verse in Romans 10:8-9 “But what saith it? The word is nigh thee, even in thy mouth, and in thy heart: that is, the word of faith, which we preach; That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” By comparing the current verse Deuteronomy 30:14 with Roman 10:8-9, We can see that “the word” (Hadavar הדבר) in the Old Testament corresponds to “the Lord Jesus” in the New Testament. John 1 teaches more explicitly that Jesus is the incarnation of Gd’s Word: (John1:14) “And the Word was made flesh, and dwelt among us, (and we beheld his glory, the glory as of the only begotten of the Father,) full of grace and truth.”
30:15 See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
Comment: How to choose life? …
30:16 In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
Comment: … by keeping Gd’s commandments …
But this seems to be different from the New Testament teaching (Romans 10:9)
“That if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.”?
Rabbi Ishmael mentions a traditional way of resolving apparent contradictions between Bible verses: two verses that contradict each other until a third verse comes and resolves the contradiction. https://www.sefaria.org/Sifra%2C_Braita_d’Rabbi_Yishmael.3?lang=bi
Here, to resolve the apparent contradiction between Deuteronomy 30:16 and Romans 10:9, we apply the following third verse from Jesus teaching in Matthew 7:21: “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.”
So someone confessing “Jesus is Lord” only by mouth is in fact questionable regarding whether he really obeys Jesus as obeying his Lord or master. He should be willing to follow his Lord in action, even to the point of willing to sacrifice his life for the will of Gd, as Jesus did. But who is willing to obey at the cost of his life? Only those who believe in heart that Gd resurrected Jesus from death, can really be willing, since he knows that his death will really be a sleep, he will be resurrected as Jesus was (1st Corinthians 15:20). As Jesus said:
(Mat 16:25) “For whosoever will save his life shall lose it: and whosoever will lose his life for my sake shall find it.”
30:20 That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.
Comment: Two keywords in this verse are “obey” and “life”. In this verse, Moses establishes a fundamental equation of faith: True life = Obeying Gd. This current verse Deuteronomy 30:20 is totally consistent with Jesus’ teaching (Matthew 7:21) “Not every one that saith unto me, Lord, Lord, shall enter into the kingdom of heaven; but he that doeth the will of my Father which is in heaven.” It is also totally logical: To be allowed to live in the Kingdom of Gd, one has to obey Gd the King.