Torah Portion Devarim Deu 1:1 – 3:22
This Torah portion begins the fifth and final book of the Torah – Deuteronomy. The Hebrew title is Devarim (“words”). The Greek name, Deuteronomy, means “second telling,” and is derived from the original Hebrew name of this book – Mishneh Torah (translation: the second telling of the Torah).
Summary: Moses begins his final discourses in the Plain (the Arabah) at the end of the 40th year of the journey from Egypt. Moses recounts the military victories against Sihon and Og and that YHVH told the people to take the Promised Land that had been sworn to the ancestors – Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He states that G-d’s promise to the ancestors has been fulfilled, the people are as numerous as the stars of heaven. Moses set wise men as leaders in a hierarchy (captains of thousands, hundreds, fifties, tens, and officers by tribe). Moses also says that he set judges to judge righteously. He recounts that the people journeyed from Horeb (Sinai) to Kadesh-Barnea, and that he sent scouts into the Promised Land at the request of the people. He blames the people for their 40-year wandering because they believed the 10 spies who talked about the giants in the land, rather than to trust in YHVH. He says that he is not permitted to go into the Promised Land and that Joshua will lead them there. He reminds them that they fought a battle with the Amorites even though YHVH said that He would not be with them – and they lost. As they finally continued on their journey, they were to come to the land of Esau’s descendants (the Edomites). YHVH warned them not to fight with them because He had given Edomites their land. Instead, they should buy food and water from the Edomites. Moses reminds the people that YHVH said not to battle with the Moabites or the Ammonites, because they are Lot’s descendants. Besides, there are giants in their land as well. Moses repeats the story of the military victories against Sihon and Og, the Amorite and Bashan kings, respectively. Moses says that he gave the kings’ lands to the tribes of Reuben, Gad and Machir (part of the tribe of Manasseh.) Moses assures Joshua that YHVH will continue to fight for him against the kingdoms in the Promised Land.