What Yahweh Does

What Yahweh Does September 12, 2014

Like most of the lists in Deuteronomy, the list describing Yahweh’s power in 11:2-7 is carefully patterned.

The direct description of Yahweh’s power is constructed by fives and sevens (vv. 2-3). There are five terms: greatness, mighty hand, outstretched are, signs, works. Five represents military power, and also human power (five fingers make the hand flexible enough to hold a weapon). But the fivefold description is also a seven, using seven words in Hebrew: greatness, mighty, hand, outstretched, arm, signs, works.

This is reinforced by a fivefold repetition of the verb ‘asah, “do, make,” which describes five great signs and works (a noun form of ‘asah, v. 3) that Yahweh did with His mighty hand and outstretched arm. Yahweh did:

1) Signs and wonders in the midst of Egypt, 11:3

2) Made the water of the sea engulf Egypt’s horses and chariots, 11:4

3) Things He did in the wilderness to bring Israel to the edge of the land, 11:5

4) Caused the earth to swallow Dathan and Abiram, 11:6

5) Great work that the Israelites themselves saw “with your own eyes,” 11:7

The God of fivefold power does five great wonders.

And all of this is retold to reinforce Israel’s duty to respond to Yahweh with loyal love, a loyal love that Moses describes with five terms: love, do guard duty, [keep] statutes, ordinances, commandments. Israel is to respond with all their fivefold power to the fivefold works of the fivefold God.


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