Study Guide

Book of Deuteronomy Memory and the Past

Memory and the Past

"Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and the Lord your God brought you out from there with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm; therefore the Lord your God commanded you to keep the sabbath day." (NRSV 5:15)

And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day. (KJV 5:15)

Translation: I scratched your back, now you scratch mine. A lot of the covenant language in the Bible resembles language of the Suzerain-Vassal treaties of the time period. These were agreements with more powerful states for protection and money in return for servitude and loyalty. Sounds familiar, right?

[D]o not be afraid of them. Just remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. (NRSV 7:18-19)

Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt; The great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the Lord thy God brought thee out: so shall the Lord thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid. (KJV 7:18-19)

Reputation really packs a punch here. God is out to prove himself, and he's doing it by getting the Israelites, his people, what they want and need. That's something you never forget.

[D]o not be afraid of them. Just remember what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and to all Egypt, the great trials that your eyes saw, the signs and wonders, the mighty hand and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God brought you out. The Lord your God will do the same to all the peoples of whom you are afraid. (NRSV 7:18-19)

Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the Lord thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt; The great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the Lord thy God brought thee out: so shall the Lord thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid. (KJV 7:18-19)

Reputation really packs a punch here. God is out to prove himself, and he's doing it by getting the Israelites, his people, what they want and need. That's something you never forget.

"Remember the long way that the Lord your God has led you these forty years in the wilderness, in order to humble you, testing you to know what was in your heart, whether or not you would keep his commandments. He humbled you by letting you hunger, then by feeding you with manna, with which neither you nor your ancestors were acquainted, in order to make you understand that one does not live by bread alone, but by every word that comes from the mouth of the Lord. The clothes on your back did not wear out and your feet did not swell these forty years. Know then in your heart that as a parent disciplines a child so the Lord your God disciplines you. Therefore keep the commandments of the Lord your God, by walking in his ways and by fearing him." (NRSV 8:2-6)

And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments, or no. And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the Lord doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that, as a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. (KJV 8:2-6)

This is only a test. Please stand by for forty years. Yozwa. Forty years in the wilderness isn't something you strive for. Moses is reminding his people so they don't make the same mistakes their ancestors did.

"Remember and do not forget how you provoked the Lord your God to wrath in the wilderness; you have been rebellious against the Lord from the day you came out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place. Even at Horeb you provoked the Lord to wrath, and the Lord was so angry with you that he was ready to destroy you." (NRSV 9:7-8)

Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the Lord. Also in Horeb ye provoked the Lord to wrath, so that the Lord was angry with you to have destroyed you. (KJV 9:7-8)

Moses really likes to remind the Israelites of their faults. Even when it was their ancestors screwing up, it's up to the current generation to learn from their mistakes. In fact, those words "remember and do not forget" seem to be saying "learn and do not forget."

"I prayed to the Lord and said, 'Lord God, do not destroy the people who are your very own possession, whom you redeemed in your greatness, whom you brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember your servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; pay no attention to the stubbornness of this people, their wickedness and their sin'" (NRSV 9:26-27)

I prayed therefore unto the Lord, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin (KJV 9:26-27)

Moses is always telling the Israelites to remember. But now he tries the same strategy with God. And guess what? It works. God decides not to annihilate the Israelites.

Remember today that it was not your children (who have not known or seen the discipline of the Lord your God), but it is you who must acknowledge his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, his signs and his deeds that he did in Egypt to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and to all his land; what he did to the Egyptian army, to their horses and chariots, how he made the water of the Red Sea flow over them as they pursued you, so that the Lord has destroyed them to this day; what he did to you in the wilderness, until you came to this place (NRSV 11:2-5)

And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the Lord your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm, And his miracles, and his acts, which he did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land; And what he did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and to their chariots; how he made the water of the Red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the Lord hath destroyed them unto this day; And what he did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place (KJV 11:2-5)

This generation of Israelites is in a unique position because they have the benefit of hindsight and foresight. They have seen God's deliverance and wrath, and they will see the fulfillment of God's promises in the Promised Land.

You must not eat with it anything leavened. For seven days you shall eat unleavened bread with it—the bread of affliction—because you came out of the land of Egypt in great haste, so that all the days of your life you may remember the day of your departure from the land of Egypt. (NRSV16:3)

Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; for thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. (KJV 16:3)

Even some Jewish rituals, like eating matzah, are meant to help people remember. Because the Israelites were in a hurry to leave Egypt, they didn't have time to add yeast to their bread and wait for it to rise. Moses wants his people to remember? Well, it looks like he succeeded—because Jewish people are doing it even to this day.

Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on your journey out of Egypt. (NRSV 24:9)

Remember what the Lord thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt. (KJV 24:9)

And… more remembering. This time, it's not so pretty. Because Miriam badmouthed her brother Moses, God gave her leprosy (Numbers 12:1-10), which separated her from the rest of the Israelites. Lesson? Be careful how you talk about your siblings. But really, Moses is using the "don't let this happen to you" strategy once again.

"[Y]ou shall make this response before the Lord your God: 'A wandering Aramean was my ancestor; he went down into Egypt and lived there as an alien, few in number, and there he became a great nation, mighty and populous. When the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, by imposing hard labor on us, we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors; the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction, our toil, and our oppression. The Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm, with a terrifying display of power, and with signs and wonders; and he brought us into this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.'" (NRSV 26:5-9)

And thou shalt speak and say before the Lord thy God, A Syrian ready to perish was my father, and he went down into Egypt, and sojourned there with a few, and became there a nation, great, mighty, and populous: And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid upon us hard bondage: And when we cried unto the Lord God of our fathers, the Lord heard our voice, and looked on our affliction, and our labour, and our oppression: And the Lord brought us forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand, and with an outstretched arm, and with great terribleness, and with signs, and with wonders: And he hath brought us into this place, and hath given us this land, evena land that floweth with milk and honey. (KJV 26:5-9)

Biblical scholars refer to this saying as "The Little Credo," and many a Sunday School teacher will have you memorize it. It pretty much sums up all of Israelite history up to this point in Deuteronomy.

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