Moshe recalled that after defeating Sichon and Og in battle (see Devarim 2:31- 3:11), he prayed to be allowed to enter the Land of Cana’an. God refused Moshe’s request, allowing him only to see the Land from afar. Moshe told the people to observe the mitzvot, which will allow them to inherit the Land and he reminded them of the punishments they witnessed when the nation strayed after the idol of Pe’or (see Bemidbar 25:3).
Moshe told the people that studying Torah and keeping the mitzvot will raise their stature in the eyes of the other nations. He warned them not to forget the historic revelation at Mount Sinai, in which God Himself spoke the Ten Commandments from the midst of the fire. Moshe added that they must not make any idols, and warned them against worshipping the sun, the moon or the stars.
He warned them that failure to heed this will result in exile from the Land. However, God will never abandon His nation; they will always be able to return to Him.
Moshe set aside three cities to the east of the Jordan River. These cities are to provide refuge for a person who killed someone accidentally and is fleeing from the relatives of the deceased.
Moshe again stressed that the people stood “face to face” with God at the time of the giving of the Torah at Mount Sinai. Moshe recalled the Ten Commandments: 1. Faith in God’s existence 2. Prohibition of idol worship 3. Prohibition of taking God’s Name in vain 4. Remembering Shabbat to keep it holy and refraining from ‘melacha’ (creative labours) 5. Honouring one’s parents 6. You shall not murder 7. You shall not commit adultery 8. You shall not steal 9. You shall not bear false testimony 10. You shall not covet what others have.
Moshe recalled that the heads of the tribes and the elders asked him to relay God’s commandments to them; they feared they would die if they continued to hear the commandments directly from God. God agreed to their request.
The paragraph of Shema Yisrael is stated, in which the Jewish people are commanded to believe in the Oneness of God, to love Him, to teach Torah, to wear tefilin and to affix mezuzot to their doorposts. Moshe warned the people not to allow the material attractions of the Land to cause them to neglect their service of God, nor to test Him like they did in the desert.
Moshe warns that when the Israelites come into the Land of Cana’an, they will successfully overcome seven great and mighty nations, and not to enter into a covenant with these nations, nor intermarry with them. Israel is God’s chosen nation, whom He lovingly brought out of Egypt.