A Warning

Deuteronomy 29:9-28

This week’s portion continues with the theme of renewing the covenant between the Children of Israel and God. Moses addresses the entire nation directly, delineating the specific groups — man, woman, child; elder, convert, servant — who are present, telling them both they and those not present today are entering into a permanent covenant with God. According to this covenant, they are all responsible for serving God. Should anyone think they can continue to do as they please and worship the various gods of the foreign nations without harm, they are mistaken. All the evil listed in last week’s portion will befall them, to the point where others seeing the desolation will realize they are being punished for abandoning God and kindling His wrath. Moses tells the people they are all responsible for one another, and while secrets belong to God alone, public transgressions are the domain of the entire nation to correct.


The Israel Bible notes that this covenantal renewal takes place of the plains of Moab, or Arvot Moav in Hebrew. The word Arvot is reminiscent of the Hebrew word arvut, or mutual responsibility. According to Rabbi Riskin of Efrat, “I would submit that this covenant is that of mutuality, inter-dependent co-signership, but not necessarily between Jew and Jew – that was already incorporated into the previous covenants – but rather between Israel and the other nations of the world. After all, when Abraham was originally elected, G-d commanded that ‘through you all the families of the world will be blessed’ – through the message of Ethical Monotheism, the vision of a G-d who demands justice, compassion and peace, which Abraham’s descendants must convey to the world. This is the true mission of Israel… This third covenant is the covenant of Israel’s responsibility to the world!”


Virtual Classroom Discussion

Why do you think Moses specifies the different groups of people standing before him? Why do you think he singles out the “hewer of thy wood [and] the drawer of thy water” (29:10)?

Comments ( 16 )

The comments below do not necessarily reflect the beliefs and opinions of The Israel Bible™.

Post a Reply

Comments must adhere to our guidelines or they may be removed.

  • Linda Lee

    Because they were the Gibeonites that Joshua would later make a covenant of protection with. They would perpetually be the hewers of wood and drawers of water to Israel in return for covenant protection against their enemies. Joshua 9 and 10. Moshe saw this before it even happened. The Gibeonites became a part of Israel through this suzerain covenant.

  • Damian Sco

    There are 7 covenants in the Bible. This one is given to the seed of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob specifically and those who join them and as Ruth, maakes God, their God!

  • Damian Sco

    "the resident foreigners in your camps who fetch your firewood and water—" This would be from the least of them (with whom he starts)…Just as Yeshua 's task was to be a servant who washed the feet of His Disciples, it was a prologue to the Coming of the Messiah.

  • Herman Arentsen

    This part of the parasha is about the mutual responsibility. The care we have towards each other. In the digfferent groups is is easier to convey because you use the same "language"., moreover you can easier give an example by deeds. It is the plee of Moshe for the people to follow the commandments of G-d. The woodcutters and waterdrawers were excluded because they thank their daily existence to the service of G-d. They are the ones that care for the wood and water used in Beit haMikdash. They were often far from the camp in order to collect wood and water and sometimes lone rangers. So each one and all kinds of groups are represented. Everyone had to hear. "Shema Jisraeel….."

  • Brenda Brooks

    If you believe that JESUS is the Messiah then you would also know that JESUS did not come to abolish the laws, but to fulfill prophesy as was fortold way before he was ever born.
    So that the old covenant is still here, and a new covenant is here as well, and that's to LOVE GOD with every fiber that makes us who we are, and to love our neighbors as we love ourselves, to treat them how we want to be treated.
    So Moses was talking to everyone there. For there was servants and who were not Jews in their camps.

    • Herman Arentsen

      Dear Brenda,
      I don't fully agree with you. In Tora there's the G-d of love we worship. To love your neighbour as yourself is a mitswot we are ordered to do in the Book of the Tora. in this parasha it goes about Nitsavim which means standing. Yes all we are standing for the choice to follow the presciptions of HaShem which He gave at Mnt Sinai. To give life and deeds to the words that are given to everyone of us.

  • Brenda Brooks

    Moses was talking to everyone. The Torah is meant for everyone not just the Jewish people. We are all responsible for the Covenant!
    Far too many people want to think that the Torah was just for the Jews, but then that would mean that the non Jews would not be held resposible for disregarding the Torah.
    Yet Moses was talking to everyone, not just his own people.

    • Herman Arentsen

      You are right that the Tora is meant for all peoples but first of all it was given to the Jews. And Moshe is speaking here to the Israelites. Those who came to believe klater on are the proselites and if sincere welcome to join !

      • rslininger

        No it was given to a mixed multitude who all said "We do, we will".

    • rslininger

      There is no reason to believe that the sons and daughters of the twelve tribes didn’t intermarry with the Egyptians as well. Joseph had two sons not Jewish and they were given a portion of the inheritance. After living in Mitzarim for 300 plus years I am sure they were a mixed multitude. That is in part why we can say that Torah was given to all. Plus the fact YHWH said that “there is to be one Torah for the soujourner and the foreigner among you”.

  • Doreen Poole

    Isreal has a responsibility to the world, to teach justice, compassion, peace. The servant, the convert are equally important and responsible for the keeping the Covenant and living it. It doesn't matter if you are a King or a servant, no other gods are to be worshipped in Isreal. How can you keep a covenant if you don't include all of the nation.

    • Angela B

      I agree with you Doreen. Possibly the hewer of wood and drawer of water were the least of servants and hence were not regarded to have much attachment to Yisraeli families. Moshe is telling Yisrael that even the least attached servants are to obey the Torah.

    • rslininger

      Doreen, we are Israel. So we all need to be able to teach. We are all the covenant nation. 🙏

      • Damian Sco

        WHich "ALL" are you referring to rslininger If you come through the seed that Moses is referring to namely the offspring of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, then yes THES ALL are under the covenant. If you are using a UNIVRSAL "ALL" then no, not now. That waits for another covenant, the Jeremiah covenant. There are 7 covenants in the Bible. This ine is unique to Issrael and those who join with Israel through the seed previously entioned.

  • Jesse

    It’s to let us know that no matter where we come from, whatever our profession, ethnicity, or gender, we are called to be responsible to the covenant

  • Jayne

    Perhaps they are two ends of a spectrum implying that it refers to everyone.

Skip to toolbar