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‘not too hard…’ – or is it- ‘not hidden…’?
Deuteronomy 30:11, can be quite hard to understand when read in many English translations on this occaision.
The purpose of this explanation is to show that observing all commandments on this fallen earth, is actually very hard (Acts 15:10), especially without sinning; Thus any translation which states it is ‘…not too hard for you…’, might not be best communicating the meaning of the verse.
The Clearer Translation is that the Law of Moses ‘…is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.’ (Deuteronomy 30:11 KJV), this meaning that ‘the Law of Moses has now been revealed, and is not hidden from you, but is now near and has been made available in your hands’.
The Hard To Understand Translations
“For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.
Deuteronomy 30:11 ESV
‘…not too difficult for you…’
(Deuteronomy 30:11 NASB2020)
‘…not too difficult for you…’
(Deuteronomy 30:11 NIV)
Explanation On Why The Above English Translations Might Not Be Best In This Instance;
Without malice, if a translation says here that [all of] the law is ‘not too hard to do’, such goes against a key premise, which is expressed in the entire scope of Holy Scripture;
‘no person can observe all the law without failing in atleast one point of it – as all people born of fallen man’s seed, here, sadly sin (ref. Ecclesiastes 7:20 KJV).
Scriptures states that a person is to keep all commandments all the day;
‘…keep all my commands always…’
(Deuteronomy 5:29 NIV, also see 28:1; ‘…all…’)
Meaning, G-d seeks His people to do all commandments, always.
For whoever keeps the whole law but fails in one point has become guilty of all of it.
James 2:10 ESV
For by works of the law no human being will be justified in his sight, since through the law comes knowledge of sin.
Romans 3:20 ESV.
The disciples confirm that even their observant fathers could not do everything 100% correctly without fail, in this life here;
‘…a yoke that neither we nor our ancestors have been able to bear?’
(Acts 15:10 NIV).
The Law states that a person is to do ‘all’ the commandments ‘all the time’ (Deuteronomy 5:29 / 5:26 translation dependant).’, and this interpretation along with the supporting Holy Scriptures, inturn means that maintining the doing of all the commandments can be hard on this fallen earth (Acts 15:10). Kindly note that this is not a free licence to relax and stop observance (Matthew 5:19-20).
With this, G-d shows us that instead of His people bringing an animal sacrifice to the temple for their sins; that, He instead ultimately rathers that they do not sin at all, or continue in any lawless ways.
If sin ever become habitual in nature within a person and the in the culture of Israel (G-d forbid), then the incorrect mindset that such behaviour can continue, so long as an animal sacrifice is later brought to ‘make up for it’ might become a norm of sorts. Hoping all overcome such a bond (Genesis 4:7, Romans 8:13, Revelation 21:6-7).
This is what it means when it says,
For I desire steadfast love and not sacrifice, the knowledge of God rather than burnt offerings.
Hosea 6:6 ESV
This ‘knowledge…’ is a word used in both verses, which indicates a person knows the law of Moses and does it very well, even perfectly.
In Isaiah 53:11-12, it speaks of how by Messiah’s knowledge [of G-d and inturn His law] he would make many accounted righteous [he would be walking uprightly, and then afyer his death and resurrection, was declared the high priest in the order of Melchizadek (Psalm 110:4). Christ then goes on to make intercession (prayer), ‘bear[ing] their sins’ (ref. Isaiah 53:11) in this way – as the ‘mediator’ (1 Timothy 2:5) for the new covenant that he was given for (Isaiah 42:6, 49:8).
With these findings, it could be said that (without malice) the above translations of Deuteronomy 30:11 might not communicate the meaning of this verse clearly to some, in this particular instance (the genuine efforts of the translators are greatly appreciated here despite this).
The Clearer Translation Of Deuteronomy 30:11
The clearer English translation for Deuteronomy 30:11 in this instance can be found in the KJV;
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
Deuteronomy 30:11 KJV
Explanation: ‘The Law of Moses has now been revealed, and is not hidden from you, but is now near and has been made available in your hands’.
Such a translation and explanation, also tends to agree in this particular instance with the commentary from Rashi on Deuteronony 30:11.
The explanation also follows the writing style of the next verses of Deuteronomy – which go on to say;
It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’
Deuteronomy 30:12-13 ESV.
Verse 14, then goes on to say;
No, the word is very near you; it is in your mouth and in your heart so you may obey it.
Deuteronomy 30:14 NIV
Meaning, the commandments are now known, and one can also move forward by learning and doing them.
Support From The New Testament (Brit Chadasha);
Romans 10:6-8 mimicks the writing style used, when compared to the verse(s) from Deuteronomy.
But what does it say? “The word is near you, in your mouth and in your heart” —that is, the word of faith which we are preaching,
Romans 10:8 NASB2020
The verses in Romans 10 however speak on the statute that Isaiah had later prophesied/penned. The statute is about ‘righteousness and everlasting life about being made available to mankind by grace through faith’ (Isaiah 28:16-18);
‘…a precious cornerstone… ‘Whoever believes will not be in haste.’
Then your covenant with death will be annulled, and your agreement with Sheol will not stand…’
(Isaiah 28:16, 28:18, 28:22 ESV)
‘…Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone.’
(Ephesians 2:20 NIV)
This is a central statute expounded upon in the New Testament, which relates to the New Covenant (Jeremiah 31:31-34).
Romans 10:8, is speaking in the context of it [the statute found in Isaiah, which is by faith] being near, and no longer hidden or far away – and this is in a similar style of writing to the subject verse that this explanation is based around, Deuteronomy 30:11.
Hoping that the above is fruitful with you.
May the Holy G-d bless you beyond maximum, believing in His created, risen Son the Lord Jesus Christ (Adonai Yehoshua/Yeshua HaMoshiach). Amen.