18 When the people saw the thunder and lightning and heard the trumpet and saw the mountain in smoke, they trembled with fear. They stayed at a distance 19 and said to Moses, “Speak to us yourself and we will listen. But do not have God speak to us or we will die.”
20 Moses said to the people, “Do not be afraid. God has come to test you, so that the fear of God will be with you to keep you from sinning.”
21 The people remained at a distance, while Moses approached the thick darkness where God was.
Last week in Parasha Eikev, Moses promised the Israelites that if they were obedient to the commands of the Torah, they would prosper in the Promised Land.
This week, as the children of Israel stand poised to cross over into the Jordan, God sets before the people two separate and distinct directions: a way of blessing if they choose to obey God’s commandments and a way of cursing if they choose to walk in disobedience to those laws.
These two directions, the blessing and the curse, are to be proclaimed on two mountaintops in the Land: Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.
“Now it shall be, when the LORD your God has brought you into the land which you go to possess, that you shall put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal.” (Deuteronomy 11:29)
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