In this parashah, Moses again repeats the same warnings he has already given and will continue to repeat throughout this book.
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He confirms that so long as they obey God he will bless them mightily and go before them to conquer the peoples in the Land; but, if after conquering them, they adopt the worship and gods of the people they conquered, then God will come against them as he did with Dathan and Abiram.
Moses says that God will send the hornet before them to drive out the people, and reminds them of all the good God has done for them since leaving Egypt. He retells the mighty works God performed in Egypt and throughout their travels in the desert, and to have confidence that God will continue to do the same for them now, so not to fear the Canaanites or the Anakim living in Canaan.
Moses also tells them not to become proud and think their victory is from their own power, but to remember that it was God who did it for them. He tells them they should not continue to be rebellious, as they were at Horeb when they made the Golden Calf, relating how he had to plead with God to not destroy them and how God separated the Tribe of Levi to serve him.
Moses ends this parashah with the statement that so long as the people obey God, God will go before them and put the fear of them on all the nations they will face, and they will possess everywhere the soul of their foot touches.
It is a little challenging to find something new to discuss in Deuteronomy because, well, Moses says pretty much the same thing, over and over.
But today there are two things that struck me, and the first is when he tells the people that God will send the hornet ahead of them.
The hornets in Israel are pretty mean, and like to nest in caves, which is also where people under attack would hide. If there are aggressive hornets in a cave and you run in there to hide, you will be forced out back into the battle. But what is interesting, and noted in my Chumash, is that the hornet was the symbol of the Egyptian Pharaoh Thothmes III, who could have been the hornet God was referring to. If Pharaoh Thothmes III attacked and raided Canaan, as Pharaohs were wont to do, then that would weaken the armies of the Canaanites, helping Israel to more easily conquer them.
The second thing I found interesting, and when I read this passage I recognized it immediately, is Deuteronomy 10:12-13 (CJB), which says:
So now, Isra’el, all that ADONAI your God asks from you is to fear ADONAI your God, follow all his ways, love him and serve ADONAI your God with all your heart and all your being; to obey, for your own good, the mitzvot and regulations of ADONAI which I am giving you today.
He has shown you, O mortal, what is good. And what does the LORD require of you? To act justly and to love mercy and to walk humbly with your God.