Deut. 11:11-17 if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments… I will give you the rain of your land in his due season
“One of the characters in Leon Uris’s novel Exodus quips that Moses should have walked the tribes of Israel for another forty years and found a decent place. With equal anecdotal relish, present-day leaders of the state of Israel delight in relating with a twinkle of the eye that they have only one thing against Moses: if he had only led the Israelites south or east of the promised land, they would have had oil instead of milk and honey.
“Despite these and other witty sleights, we should remember that the land of Canaan (Palestine, Israel) is a land specially prepared by God for his ancient, covenant people. A relatively small land (one-third the size of the state of Utah), its position as a land bridge between three continents gives it the title ‘crossroads of the East.’
“…Israel’s climate also plays a key role in God’s testing of his people. Israel sits at the southern edge of the European storm belt systems, which means that in some years parts of the land may be untouched by rain. Notice in the following description of the promised land given by the Lord how trust in God and obedience to him is serious business for anyone living in his testing ground: (quotes Deut. 11:11–14).
“Then God warns his people not to turn aside to serve false gods, lest they suffer his consequent indignation and punishment.
“’And then the Lord’s wrath be kindled against you, and he shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the Lord giveth you’ (Deut. 11:17; italics added).
“According to the Lord’s own explanation, if his counsel is not heeded and him only worshiped, he will shut up the heavens and not send the rains upon an otherwise quite productive land. An account in the Bible of a famine in Canaan (such as those that forced Abraham into Egypt; Jacob’s family into Egypt; Elimelech, Naomi, and sons into Moab; and that resulted from Elijah’s curse on Israel), simply means it didn’t rain that year. Famine generally meant no rain. Thus God proved his people even through climate and rainfall.” (D. Kelly Ogden, “The Testing Ground for the Covenant People,” Ensign, Sept. 1980, 55-57)
Deut. 11:19 Ye shall teach them your children… when thou sittest in thine house
Eran A. Call
We have been taught by ancient and modern prophets that “the establishment of a home is not only a privilege, but marriage and proper training of children is a duty of the highest order.”
The prophets of Israel taught, “Ye shall teach your children [the commandments] when thou sittest in thine house.”
Isaiah taught, “All thy children shall be taught of the Lord, and great shall be the peace of thy children.” (Isa. 54:13)
“I give unto you a commandment, to teach your children.” (Moses 6:58)
Lehi did exhort his family with all the love of a tender parent. (1 Ne. 8:37)
President Harold B. Lee said, “The greatest of the Lord’s work you brethren will ever do as fathers will be within the walls of your own home.”
We should always remember President David O. McKay’s warning from this pulpit 33 years ago: “No other success can compensate for failure in the home. The poorest shack in which love prevails over a united family is of greater value to God and future humanity than any other riches. In such a home God can work miracles and will work miracles.”
The First Presidency and Quorum of the Twelve Apostles, whom we sustain as prophets, seers, and revelators, two years ago solemnly proclaimed to the world our beliefs concerning marriage, parents, and the family. I challenge each of you to read, study, and live by this inspired proclamation. May it become the guideline and standard by which we live in our homes and raise our children.
Our homes can be, and should be, a refuge and a sanctuary from the troubled world we live in; may they become such by striving daily to keep sacred the holy covenants we have made.
May we join with John of old who said, “I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth,” (3 Jn. 1:4) (“The Home: A Refuge and Sanctuary,” Ensign, Nov. 1997, 29)
Deut 11:26-29 I set before you this day a blessing and a curse… put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal
The Israelites needed constant reminders of the Law of Moses. They were to write the Ten Commandments on a scroll and strap the scroll to their arm or forehead (see Bible Dictionary for “Phylacteries”). You would think it would be hard to forget the Ten Commandments if they were strapped to your head!
Along these same lines, the Lord is going to use two mountains to be a constant reminder of the consequences of the Law. Whenever they saw the landscape of Gerizim and Ebal, they must have thought of the blessing and cursing they represented. Tradition states that, at least in ancient times, the blessed mountain, Gerizim, had beautiful green foliage, while the cursed mountain, Ebal, was barren and dry.
“Mount Gerizim subsequently became the holy mountain for the northern tribes and was still revered as such by the Samaritans at the time Jesus visited there. The modern Samaritans still celebrate the Passover on top of Mount Gerizim.” (Daniel H. Ludlow, A Companion to Your Study of the Old Testament [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1981], 204)
Neal A. Maxwell
It is very significant to read of the great pains to which the prophet Joshua went at Shechem, the most ancient of the sacred towns of Palestine, in a great teaching episode there…
We read in this episode (Deut. 11:29; 27:11-26; 28:1-68; Josh. 8:33-35; 24:1-33) how Joshua, precisely as earlier instructed by Moses, placed some Israelites on one hill, Gerizim, facing Shechem, and some on another hill, Ebal. Those on Ebal were to give voice to and represent the penalties if the children of Israel were disobedient. Those on Gerizim were to give voice to and represent the blessings that would come if the commandments of God were kept. The people were even to covenant by saying "Amen."
It was in the context of this great visual and choral panoply of teaching that Joshua urged that which he is best remembered for having said: "Choose you this day whom ye will serve." (Joshua 24:15.) But the alternatives were made audiovisually very clear; a portrayal was so graphic that it was, no doubt, long remembered by those who were at Shechem on that occasion. (All These Things Shall Give Thee Experience [Salt Lake City: Deseret Book Co., 1979], 118)
The present town of Nablus is located in the small valley between towering Ebal (the mount of cursing) and Gerizim (the mount of blessing).