christine's bible study

The grass withers, the flower fades, but the word of our God stands forever. Isa 40:8

deuteronomy 1:1-3:22, devarim “words” chiastic structure

"See, I have given the land before you; come and possess the land that God swore to your forefathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them and their children after them."

Deuteronomy 1:8

Read Deuteronomy 1:1-3:22 at Bible Gateway.

Previous studies:
2012 jul 28, deu 1:1-3:22, paragraph divisions, historical background
2011 mar 19, deu 1-2, introduction to deuteronomy

As I have progressed through Torah for several years now, I have come to the belief that every Torah portion, both from the annual and the triennial cycles, with few exceptions, form their own chiastic structures. I believe this because I keep finding amazing perfect and elegant structures, proclaiming the Messiah and the gospel of grace, within the bounds of the weekly torah portions.

With this week’s torah portion, however, several years of searching have previously failed to uncover it. While I found the chiastic structures for the triennial cycle divisions, the best I have been able to find is the strong paragraph chiastic structure from Deu 1:1-3:29. But this year I was thrilled to uncover the single elegant chiastic structure for devarim!

Deu 1:1-3:22
1a) Deu 1:1-2:1, Go in and possess the Land:
– 1a.1) Deu 1:1-4, These are the words of Moses;
– 1a.2) Deu 1:5-2:1, I have set the Land before you to possess it + do not fear + refusal + encourage Joshua;
1b) Deu 2:2-23, The Lord God delivered the former giants into the hands of Esau + Moab + Lot so that they defeated them;
1c) Deu 2:24, I have given Sihon king of Heshbon and his land into your hand + begin to possess it + engage him in battle;
1d) Deu 2:25, The Lord will cause the nations to be in dread, fear, tremble and be in anguish because of you;
central axis) Deu 2:26-30a, Israel’s offer of peace and her enemy’s rejection;
2d) Deu 2:30b, The Lord hardened his spirit and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into your hand;
2c) Deu 2:31-32, I have begun to give Sihon and his land over to you + begin to possess it + Sihon came out to battle;
2b) Deu 2:33-3:17, The Lord God delivered Sihon + Og over to us; so we defeated him, his sons, and all his people;
2a) Deu 3:18-22, Go in and possess the Land:
– 2a.1) Deu 3:18a, Moses commanded them at that time;
– 2a.2) Deu 3:18b-22, The Lord God has given you this land to possess + men of valor + cooperation + encouragement for Joshua.

I was struck by the prophetic nature of the central axis. God has a goal, for Israel to possess the Land. But Israel has enemies in the way, whom the Lord wishes to displace.

In the D pair surrounding the central axis, the Lord influences hearts in two ways: first, of the nations with whom Israel has to do, so that they are in dread of Israel, so that they are in anguish because of them. This is history that prophecies (see the teaching tools of scripture) for the nations of the world today are likewise in anguish because of Israel. There are many problems facing the United Nations today, but you wouldn’t know it, because the only problem you ever hear about is the problem of Israel in the Middle East. This is incredible, because Israel is a beacon of democracy and civilization in a sea of repression. Israel likewise does not start hostilities but only defends itself from the hostilities of others. It is always holding out the olive branch.

Second, the Lord influences the heart of Sihon so that his spirit was hardened and his heart was made obstinate. Because of Sihon’s stubbornness, he refused Israel’s offer of peace and prepared himself instead for battle. The Torah seems to indicate that the reason for this hardening and obstinacy, was so that he would be delivered into Israel’s hand, so that Israel could possess her land which had been set aside for her by the Lord from the first call of Abraham!

Might not this prophesy of current events? Israel, do not waver when your enemies rebuff your offers of peace and prepare themselves for battle instead. The Lord is preparing you to possess your Land.

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