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And it shall be, on the day when you cross over the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God is giving you, that you shall set up for yourselves large stones, and whitewash them with lime. You shall write on them all the words of this law. (Deuteronomy 27:2-3)

From the beginning of their presence in the land of Canaan, Israel was to affirm that (to use an American maxim) “there was a new sheriff in town.” No longer would the ways and perverted customs of the Canaanites be acceptable — the law of the God of Israel was to be the law of the land. Consequently, when Israel crossed the Jordan River, they were to conduct a ceremony in which the nation would affirm the covenant with God and its terms by writing the entire law on twelve large stones.

Along with an altar, this monument of stones was set up on Mount Ebal upon which were written, very plainly, “all the words of the Torah.” If the stones were to be “whitewashed” with lime, one might imagine that the words were written in such a way as to stand out so that anyone and everyone could see — and understand — the words of God. By the way, the book of Joshua records that this indeed was carried out almost as soon as the people had crossed the river. In fact, some believe the stones that Joshua had collected from the Jordan may be the stones that the Law of God was written upon.

Whatever the origin of these stones the point is this: God wanted to reaffirm that His people were a set apart people and that His Words were to guide their life and that of their descendants. It seems to me that the Torah written upon these large stones served as a reflection of the words that were written by the fiery finger of God on the two stone tablets at Mount Sinai. In other words, even those not present at Sinai would be connected to those significant events through the words that were written on these stones.

Continuing in that line of thought, those same words are meant to resonate in our hearts today. If we are His people, His words are not limited to what was written on stone but He has now inscribed them upon our hearts. As it is written: I will put My law in their minds, and write it on their hearts; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people” (Jeremiah 31:33).   

Blessings and Shalom,  




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