Deuteronomy 27-30 – The Oath and Covenant given to Israel (a few initial thoughts and questions)

I am fascinated! Deuteronomy 27-30 appear to be a basis for a lot of the talk of covenant with God in D&C and in the Book of Mormon.

Here, the people enter into a covenant that God will be their God, and that they won’t turn away (to worship other Gods).

If they do this, they receive a list of specific blessings, ways in which they are prospered.

If they don’t do this, they receive a list of cursings.

If I understand right, this list of blessings or cursings is the “oath” part. The covenant is to cleave to God, to be His people and He is their God.

The language of Nephi/Lehi’s covenant to “prosper in the land” is like a shortened form of these few chapters. And it has both a blessing and a cursing.

Here is the summary statement from the end of Deuteronomy 30:

15 ¶See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;

16 In that I command thee this day to love the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and theLord thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

17 But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;

18 I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.

19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:

20 That thou mayest love the Lord thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the Lord sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.

The Nephites, of course, have a new land they are being led to. Which may actually explain why land is part of the wording of their promise: God is reassuring them that they will have a land too, just as Moses promised Israel:

 Inasmuch as ye shall keep my commandments ye shall prosper in the land; but inasmuch as ye will not keep my commandments ye shall be cut off from my presence.

Some of the language of Deut 27-30 reminds me of D&C 84, too.

Deut 28:29: And thou shalt grope at noonday, as the blind gropeth in darkness, and thou shalt not prosper in thy ways: and thou shalt be only oppressed and spoiled evermore, and no man shall save thee.

D&C 84:49-50: And the whole world lieth in sin, and groaneth under darknessand under the bondage of sin. And by this you may know they are under the bondage of sin, because they come not unto me.

The general feel of D&C 84 is about how to help a group of people come back to having God be their God. The message is directed at those receiving the priesthood, whose job it will be to bring back people to this covenant with God? And how is this covenant related to the Abrahamic Covenant exactly? Is this the Oath and Covenant of the priesthood? Deut is aimed at the congregation…

But there is so much discussion of Moses and Aaron before the mention of Oath and Covenant in D&C 84 that I have to wonder if we are meant to think of Deut 27-30…

But then again, this isn’t to the priesthood but to the whole people…

So how does this help us to understand D&C 84?

Also, right in Deut 27-30 there is the prediction that Israel will fail but that God will work to recover them. The whole restoration is also according to this Oath and Covenant?



2 responses to “Deuteronomy 27-30 – The Oath and Covenant given to Israel (a few initial thoughts and questions)

  • Karen

    This part sounds like D&C 84 though: 20 The Lord will not spare him, but then the anger of the Lord and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the Lord shall blot out his name from under heaven.

    So maybe at least the idea that God makes a covenant to have a peculiar people – and if they keep the commandments they are indeed his people and are blessed, but if they don’t, and they remember the blessings/cursings, and do it again, they are blotted out – that does sound enough like D&C 84 that we could play around with this being the allusion. This is according to the oath and covenant – this is along with, in accordance with, but not equal to?

  • Karen

    um, why does D&C 84:29 say that the office of a bishop is a necessary appendage to the high priesthood, when elsewhere we read that a literal descendant of Aaron has a right to the office of Bishop, and a melchizedek priesthood holder can only officiate in that office if there’s not a direct descendant to that that office? Why have I never noticed that one before?

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