Deuteronomy 27:8

8 And 1you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly."

Deuteronomy 27:8 Meaning and Commentary

Deuteronomy 27:8

And thou shall write upon the stones all the words of this
Not upon the stones of the altar, but upon the first stones brought to Mount Ebal, and set up there before, and on which the words were inscribed before the altar was erected; though according to the Misnah F21 the altar was built of these stones, and on that the law written; for it is said,

``they shall bring the stones (( Deuteronomy 27:2 Deuteronomy 27:4 ) ) and build the altar, and plaster it with plaster, and write upon it all the words of the law:''

with which Josephus agrees, who says F23,

``that when Moses was about to die, he ordered the blessings and the curses to be written on the altar, on both sides of it:''

could this be made clearly to appear, it would be easy to observe the accomplishment of it in Christ, who was made under the law, became subject to it, had it written on his heart, obeyed the precepts and bore the penalty of it, and had all the curses of it laid on him, and thereby redeemed his people from them. However, be it on which it may that the words of the law were written, they were written

very plainly;
so that they might be easily read; in seventy languages, according to the Jewish writers; which they say was done, that whoever would learn the law might learn it, and so the Gentiles had no excuse {x}; for it is a prevailing notion with them, that there were so many nations and languages. The law being written on stones denotes the duration of it, which continued not only during the times of the Old Testament dispensation, and to the times of John, and had its fulfilment in Christ, but still continues; for though Christ has redeemed his people from the curse and condemnation of it, yet it is in his hands as a rule of direction to them as to their walk and conversation: nor is it made void by any doctrine of the Gospel, and nothing more strongly enforces obedience to it than the Gospel. The moral law is immutable, invariable, and eternal in its nature, and in the matter of it. This may also point at the hardness of men's hearts, their non-subjection to the law, and disobedience of it; and these stones being covered with plaster may be an emblem of formalists and hypocrites, who are like whited walls and sepulchres, ( Matthew 23:27 ) , have a form of the law in their heads, but not in their hearts; are Jews outwardly, but not inwardly, ( Romans 2:28 ) ; externally righteous before men, as if they were strict observers of the law, but internally very wicked; and have hard, blind, and impenitent hearts, under the cover of the law, and a profession of strict regard to it; and this being done on the same mount where the curses were pronounced, shows that they were on account of the breach of this law.


F21 Sotah, c. 7. sect. 5.
F23 Ut supra. (Antiqu. l. 4. c. 8. sect. 44.)
F24 Sotah, ib. & Bartenora in ib. Targum Jon. & Jerus. & Jarchi in loc.

Deuteronomy 27:8 In-Context

6 you shall build an altar to the LORD your God of uncut stones. And you shall offer burnt offerings on it to the LORD your God,
7 and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and shall eat there, and you shall rejoice before the LORD your God.
8 And you shall write on the stones all the words of this law very plainly."
9 Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, "Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the LORD your God.
10 You shall therefore obey the voice of the LORD your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you today."

Cross References 1

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.