Deuteronomy 27

The Altar on Mount Ebal

1 Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people: “Keep all these commands that I give you today.
2 When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the LORD your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster.
3 Write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the LORD your God is giving you, a land flowing with milk and honey, just as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, promised you.
4 And when you have crossed the Jordan, set up these stones on Mount Ebal, as I command you today, and coat them with plaster.
5 Build there an altar to the LORD your God, an altar of stones. Do not use any iron tool on them.
6 Build the altar of the LORD your God with fieldstones and offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God.
7 Sacrifice fellowship offerings there, eating them and rejoicing in the presence of the LORD your God.
8 And you shall write very clearly all the words of this law on these stones you have set up.”

Curses From Mount Ebal

9 Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, “Be silent, Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the LORD your God.
10 Obey the LORD your God and follow his commands and decrees that I give you today.”
11 On the same day Moses commanded the people:
12 When you have crossed the Jordan, these tribes shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin.
13 And these tribes shall stand on Mount Ebal to pronounce curses: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali.
14 The Levites shall recite to all the people of Israel in a loud voice:
15 “Cursed is anyone who makes an idol—a thing detestable to the LORD, the work of skilled hands—and sets it up in secret.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
16 “Cursed is anyone who dishonors their father or mother.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
17 “Cursed is anyone who moves their neighbor’s boundary stone.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
18 “Cursed is anyone who leads the blind astray on the road.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
19 “Cursed is anyone who withholds justice from the foreigner, the fatherless or the widow.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
20 “Cursed is anyone who sleeps with his father’s wife, for he dishonors his father’s bed.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
21 “Cursed is anyone who has sexual relations with any animal.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
22 “Cursed is anyone who sleeps with his sister, the daughter of his father or the daughter of his mother.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
23 “Cursed is anyone who sleeps with his mother-in-law.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
24 “Cursed is anyone who kills their neighbor secretly.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
25 “Cursed is anyone who accepts a bribe to kill an innocent person.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”
26 “Cursed is anyone who does not uphold the words of this law by carrying them out.” Then all the people shall say, “Amen!”

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.

Cross References 36

  • 1. Psalms 78:7
  • 2. Joshua 4:1
  • 3. Exodus 24:4; Joshua 24:26; 1 Samuel 7:12
  • 4. Joshua 8:31
  • 5. S Exodus 3:8; Deuteronomy 26:9
  • 6. S Deuteronomy 11:29
  • 7. S Exodus 20:24; Joshua 8:31
  • 8. Exodus 20:25
  • 9. S Exodus 32:6
  • 10. S Deuteronomy 16:11
  • 11. Joshua 8:31
  • 12. Isaiah 8:1; Isaiah 30:8; Habakkuk 2:2
  • 13. Joshua 8:32
  • 14. S Deuteronomy 17:9
  • 15. Deuteronomy 26:18
  • 16. S Deuteronomy 11:29
  • 17. S Genesis 30:18
  • 18. Joshua 8:35
  • 19. S Deuteronomy 11:29
  • 20. S Exodus 20:4; Exodus 34:17; Leviticus 19:4; Leviticus 26:1; Deuteronomy 4:16,23; Deuteronomy 5:8; Isaiah 44:9
  • 21. 1 Kings 11:5,7; 2 Kings 23:13; Isaiah 44:19; Isaiah 66:3
  • 22. Numbers 5:22; S 1 Corinthians 14:16
  • 23. S Genesis 31:35; S Exodus 21:12; S Deuteronomy 5:16; Exodus 20:12; Exodus 21:17; Leviticus 19:3; Leviticus 20:9
  • 24. S Deuteronomy 19:14; Proverbs 22:28
  • 25. S Leviticus 19:14
  • 26. S Exodus 22:21; S Deuteronomy 24:19
  • 27. S Exodus 23:2; S Deuteronomy 10:18
  • 28. S Genesis 34:5; S Leviticus 18:7; Deuteronomy 22:30
  • 29. S Exodus 22:19; Leviticus 18:23
  • 30. S Leviticus 18:9; Leviticus 20:17
  • 31. S Leviticus 20:14
  • 32. S Genesis 4:23; Leviticus 24:17; Numbers 35:31
  • 33. Exodus 21:12
  • 34. Exodus 23:7-8; S Leviticus 19:16; Deuteronomy 10:17; Ezekiel 22:12
  • 35. S Leviticus 26:14; Deuteronomy 28:15; Psalms 119:21; Jeremiah 11:3; Galatians 3:10*
  • 36. Jeremiah 11:5

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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