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Deuteronomy 8:7-10 meaning

Moses urges Israel to bless and thank God when they live a life of material abundance in the Promised Land. He exhorts them to choose an attitude of gratitude.

After reflecting on the hardships the Israelites experienced and the lessons they were taught during their wilderness wandering (vv. 1-6), Moses commanded the people to remember to praise God when they live a prosperous life in the land of Canaan, because God was about to give them a good land. Their preparation would lead to material prosperity. But that will bring a new trial, the trial of prosperity.

Moses told the people of God that the land of Canaan is good because it is a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills. In the wilderness, Israel lacked natural access to drinking water (Exodus 17). However, the land of Canaan has fountains and springs of water. In addition to fountains and springs of water, the land of Canaan is also characterized by good farming. It is a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey.

Wheat and barley were the principal grains of Canaan. Vines were the source of grapes and of wine. Figs were a fruit that could be eaten either fresh or dried. Some even baked them into cakes. Pomegranates were another fruit that could be eaten fresh or dried. Olive oil, a necessity in hot and dry climates, was often used in cooking, eating, and healing as well as fuel for lamps. Honey was used as a sweetener. All these products were going to be readily available to Israel in the Promised Land.

Canaan is a land where they will eat food without scarcity, in which they will lack nothing. Rather than end each day with zero food, and have to rise each morning to receive a new, daily portion of manna, Israel would now eat food without scarcity. In addition to food, they would have ample material with which to build and to manufacture. Canaan is a land whose stones are iron. The rocks in the Promised Land are not chalky, but hard, and excellent as building material. The hills of Canaan are a source of mines, where Israel can dig copper. They can use copper to make bronze swords, tools or jewelry.

The Promised Land was rich in food, water, and mineral. The Israelites would no longer lack natural resources. This good land is in sharp contrast with the wilderness, which was a "wretched place," without "grain or figs or vines or pomegranates, and water to drink" (Numbers 20:5).

The Suzerain (Ruler) God, who redeemed His vassals (Israel) out of slavery in Egypt, promised to bless them beyond measure in the land of Canaan. Nevertheless, the vassals (Israel) were told to bless the LORD to express their gratitude. As Moses said, When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you. Israel was to avoid materialism, the perpetually unhappy state of seeking "more" in order to gain happiness. They were to take care to be grateful. To count their blessings, which modern research has shown is the true key to happiness.

The verb "to bless" [barak, in Hebrew] often appears in contexts where God blesses His children (Genesis 12:2, Genesis 25, Genesis 35, 2 Samuel 7 etc.). Thus, someone blessed by God is empowered with divine favor for a specific purpose. That favor usually refers to earthly blessings (physical health, finances, land etc.).

The term "to bless" also appears frequently in contexts where humans bless God (Genesis 9:26, 14:20, Exodus 18:10, Psalm 103:1). In such cases, it is synonymous to the word "praise." Humans bless God by expressing thanksgiving and gratitude toward Him. This is the meaning intended by Moses here in Deuteronomy 8. The Israelites were to praise God for the good land which He has given them. God's gifts and provisions should not be taken for granted. He gives His children what they need. By recognizing God's provision, Israel can continue to strive, while maintaining contentment.


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