Deuteronomy 27

Stones of the Instruction

1 Then Moses and Israel's elders commanded the people: Keep all of the commandment that I am giving you right now.
2 The same day you cross the Jordan River to enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, set up large stones and cover them with plaster.
3 Once you have crossed over, write on the stones all the words of this Instruction because you will have entered the land the LORD your God is giving to you—a land full of milk and honey—exactly as the LORD, your ancestors' God, promised you.
4 Once you have crossed over the Jordan River, set up these stones that I'm telling you about right now on Mount Ebal. Cover them with plaster
5 and build an altar there for the LORD your God—an altar of stones that haven't been cut with iron tools.
6 (You must build the LORD your God's altar with uncut stones.) Then offer up on that altar entirely burned sacrifices to the LORD your God.
7 Offer up well-being sacrifices and eat them there, celebrating in the LORD your God's presence.
8 Make sure to write all the words of this Instruction on the stones plainly and clearly.
9 Then Moses and the levitical priests said to all Israel: Quiet down and listen, Israel! This very moment you have become the people of the LORD your God.
10 So obey the LORD your God's voice. Do his commandments and his regulations that I'm giving you right now.

Ceremony on Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal

11 That same day Moses commanded the people:
12 Once you have crossed over the Jordan River, the following tribes will stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin.
13 And these are the tribes that will stand on Mount Ebal for the cursing: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.
14 The Levites will address every individual Israelite with a loud voice:
15 "Cursed is anyone who makes an idol or an image—things detestable to the LORD, made by artisans—and sets it up secretly." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
16 "Cursed is anyone who belittles their father or mother." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
17 "Cursed is anyone who tampers with their neighbor's property lines." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
18 "Cursed is anyone who misleads a blind person on a road." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
19 "Cursed is anyone who obstructs the legal rights of immigrants, orphans, or widows." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
20 "Cursed is anyone who has sex with his father's wife, because that exposes his father's private matters." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
21 "Cursed is anyone who has sex with any kind of animal." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
22 "Cursed is anyone who has sex with his sister, whether his father's daughter or his mother's daughter." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
23 "Cursed is anyone who has sex with his mother-in-law." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
24 "Cursed is anyone who kills his neighbor in secret." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
25 "Cursed is anyone who accepts money to kill an innocent person." All the people will reply: "We agree!"
26 "Cursed is anyone who doesn't support the words of this Instruction by carrying them out." All the people will reply: "We agree!"

Deuteronomy 27 Commentary

Chapter 27

The law to be written on stones in the promised land. (1-10) The curses to be pronounced on mount Ebal. (11-26)

Verses 1-10 As soon as they were come into Canaan, they must set up a monument, on which they must write the words of this law. They must set up an altar. The word and prayer must go together. Though they might not, of their own heads, set up any altar besides that at the tabernacle; yet, by the appointment of God, they might, upon special occasion. This altar must be made of unhewn stones, such as they found upon the field. Christ, our Altar, is a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, refused by the builders, as having no form or comeliness, but accepted of God the Father, and made the Head of the corner. In the Old Testament the words of the law are written, with the curse annexed; which would overcome us with horror, if we had not, in the New Testament, an altar erected close by, which gives consolation. Blessed be God, the printed copies of the Scriptures among us, do away the necessity of such methods as were presented to Israel. The end of the gospel ministry is, and the end of preachers ought to be, to make the word of God as plain as possible. Yet, unless the Spirit of God prosper such labours with Divine power, we shall not, even by these means, be made wise unto salvation: for this blessing we should therefore daily and earnestly pray.

Verses 11-26 The six tribes appointed for blessing, were all children of the free women, for to such the promise belongs, ( Galatians 4:31 ) . Levi is here among the rest. Ministers should apply to themselves the blessing and curse they preach to others, and by faith set their own Amen to it. And they must not only allure people to their duty with the promises of a blessing, but awe them with the threatenings of a curse, by declaring that a curse would be upon those who do such things. To each of the curses the people were to say, Amen. It professed their faith, that these, and the like curses, were real declarations of the wrath of God against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, not one jot of which shall fall to the ground. It was acknowledging the equity of these curses. Those who do such things deserve to fall, and lie under the curse. Lest those who were guilty of other sins, not here mentioned, should think themselves safe from the curse, the last reaches all. Not only those who do the evil which the law forbids, but those also who omit the good which the law requires. Without the atoning blood of Christ, sinners can neither have communion with a holy God, nor do any thing acceptable to him; his righteous law condemns every one who, at any time, or in any thing, transgresses it. Under its awful curse we remain as transgressors, until the redemption of Christ is applied to our hearts. Wherever the grace of God brings salvation, it teaches the believer to deny ungodliness and wordly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, consenting to, and delighting in the words of God's law, after the inward man. In this holy walk, true peace and solid joy are to be found.

Footnotes 3

  • [a]. Or in order that you might enter; Heb uncertain
  • [b]. Heb Amen; also in the following verses
  • [c]. Or because that uncovers his father’s skirt

Chapter Summary


In this chapter the people of Israel are ordered to write the law on plastered stones, and set them on Mount Ebal, De 27:1-4; where they are bid to erect an altar, and offer sacrifices on it, De 27:5-8; and are charged by Moses and the priests to obey the Lord, and keep his commandments, De 27:9,10; and a direction is given to each tribes which should stand and bless, and which curse, and where, De 27:11-13; and the curses which the Levites should pronounce with a loud voice, and the people should say Amen to, are recited, De 27:14-25; and the whole is concluded with a curse on all who in general do not perform the whole law, De 27:26.

Deuteronomy 27 Commentaries

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