Moses Reminds Israel to Be Loyal to the Lord

Israel, listen to the laws and rules I am about to teach you. Obey them so that you will live and be able to enter and take possession of the land that the Lord God of your ancestors is giving you. Never add anything to what I command you, or take anything away from it. Then you will be able to obey the commands of the Lord your God that I give you.

With your own eyes you saw what the Lord did at Baal Peor. The Lord your God destroyed everyone among you who worshiped the god Baal while you were at Peor. But you were loyal to the Lord your God and are still alive today.

I have taught you laws and rules as the Lord my God commanded me. You must obey them when you’ve entered the land and taken possession of it. Faithfully obey these laws. This will show the people of the world your wisdom and insight. When they hear about all these laws, they will say, “What wise and insightful people there are in this great nation!”

What great nation ever had their gods as near to them as the Lord our God is near to us whenever we pray to him? Or what other great nation has such fair laws and rules as all these teachings I am giving you today?

However, be careful, and watch yourselves closely so that you don’t forget the things which you have seen with your own eyes. Don’t let them fade from your memory as long as you live. Teach them to your children and grandchildren. 10 Never forget the day you stood in front of the Lord your God at Mount Horeb. The Lord had said to me, “Assemble the people in front of me, and I will let them hear my words. Then they will learn to fear me as long as they live on earth, and they will teach their children the same thing.”

11 So you came and stood at the foot of the mountain, which was on fire with flames shooting into the sky. It was dark, cloudy, and gloomy. 12 The Lord spoke to you from the fire. You heard a voice speaking but saw no one. There was only a voice. 13 The Lord told you about the terms of his promise, the ten commandments, which he commanded you to do. Then he wrote them on two stone tablets. 14 The Lord also commanded me to teach you the laws and rules you must obey after you cross ⌞the Jordan River⌟ and take possession of the land.

15 You didn’t see the Lord the day he spoke to you from the fire at Mount Horeb. So be very careful 16 that you don’t become corrupt and make your own carved idols. Don’t make statues that represent men or women, 17 any animal on earth, any creature with wings that flies, 18 any creature that crawls on the ground, or any fish in the water. 19 Don’t let yourselves be tempted to worship and serve what you see in the sky—the sun, the moon, the stars, or anything else. The Lord your God has given them to all people everywhere. 20 But you are the people the Lord brought out of Egypt, the iron smelter, in order to make you his own people as you still are today.

21 The Lord was angry with me because of you. So the Lord your God took an oath that I wouldn’t cross the Jordan River and enter the good land he is giving you as your property. 22 I’m going to die in this land and not cross the Jordan River, but you’re going to go across and take possession of that good land. 23 Be careful that you don’t forget the promise [a] that the Lord your God made to you. Don’t make your own carved idols or statues that represent anything the Lord your God has forbidden. 24 The Lord your God is a raging fire, a God who does not tolerate rivals.

25 Even when you have children and grandchildren and have grown old in that land, don’t become corrupt and make carved idols or statues that represent anything. I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you today: [b] If you do this thing that the Lord your God considers evil, making him furious, 26 you will quickly disappear from the land you’re going to possess on the other side of the Jordan River. You won’t live very long there. You’ll be completely wiped out. 27 The Lord will scatter you among the people of the world, and only a few of you will be left among the nations where the Lord will force you to live. 28 There you will worship wooden and stone gods made by human hands. These gods can’t see, hear, eat, or smell.

29 But if you look for the Lord your God when you are among those nations, you will find him whenever you search for him with all your heart and with all your soul. 30 When you’re in distress and all these things happen to you, then you will finally come back to the Lord your God and obey him. 31 The Lord your God is a merciful God. He will not abandon you, destroy you, or forget the promise to your ancestors that he swore he would keep.

32 Search the distant past, long before your time. Start from the very day God created people on earth. Search from one end of heaven to the other. Has anything as great as this ever happened before, or has anything like it ever been heard of? 33 Have any ⌞other⌟ people ever heard God speak from a fire and lived? You did! 34 Or has any god ever tried to come and take one nation away from another for himself? The Lord your God used his mighty hand and powerful arm to do this for you in Egypt. He did this using plagues, miraculous signs, amazing things, and war. He did his great and awe-inspiring deeds in front of you.

35 You were shown these things so that you would know that the Lord is God. There is no other god. 36 He let you hear his voice from heaven so that he could instruct you. He showed you his great fire on earth, and you heard him speak from the column of fire. 37 Because he loved your ancestors and chose their descendants, he was with you as he brought you out of Egypt by his great power. 38 He forced nations greater and stronger than you out of your way to bring you into their land and give it to you. This land is your own possession today.

39 Remember today, and never forget that the Lord is God in heaven above and here on earth. There is no other god. 40 Obey his laws and commands which I’m giving you today. Then things will go well for you and your descendants. You will live for a long time in the land. The Lord your God is giving you the land for as long as you live.

Three Cities of Refuge East of the Jordan River

41 Then Moses set aside three cities on the east side of the Jordan River. 42 Those who unintentionally killed someone whom they had never hated could flee to one of these cities and save their lives. 43 The cities were Bezer on the desert plateau for the tribe of Reuben, Ramoth in Gilead for the tribe of Gad, and Golan in Bashan for the tribe of Manasseh.

Introduction to Moses’ Teachings

44 This is what Moses taught the people of Israel. 45 These are the commandments, laws, and rules Moses gave the Israelites after they had left Egypt. 46 He gave these to the people when they were east of the Jordan River in the valley near Beth Peor, in the land of King Sihon of the Amorites, who ruled in Heshbon. Moses and Israel defeated him after they left Egypt. 47 They took possession of his land and the land of King Og of Bashan, the two kings of the Amorites who were east of the Jordan River. 48 This land went from Aroer on the edge of the Arnon Valley to Mount Siyon (that is, Mount Hermon). 49 It included all the plains on the east side of the Jordan River as far as the Dead Sea at the foot of the slopes of Mount Pisgah.


  1. 4:23 Or “covenant.”
  2. 4:25 The first part of verse 26 (in Hebrew) has been placed in verse 25 to express the complex Hebrew sentence structure more clearly in English.