I just posted about what seems to me an ugly side of the history of Israel, the way they sometimes enforced religious sanctity. I think of it as something that was part of history. History has lots of stuff that history writers shouldn’t edit out and clean up. It happened. It is real. I understand that George Washington finally stopped the dwindling of his army at Valley Forge by having some deserters shot. If Moses took drastic measures, especially in the wilderness, that would have been the same kind of thing.
But I wouldn’t want to end this series on Deuteronomy on that note. The thing that strikes me most about Deuteronomy is the way the laws enjoin gratitude and rejoicing. It is a book of law, but it recognizes the grace that God gives the people by endowing them with land and crops. There follows rejoicing before God and generosity toward others.
“Now, behold, I have brought the first of the fruit of the ground, which you, YHWH, have given me. You shall set it down before YHWH your God, and worship before YHWH your God. You shall rejoice in all the good which YHWH your God has given to you, and to your house, you, and the Levite, and the foreigner who is in the midst of you. ” (Deuteronomy 26:10-11).