Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal

Both Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal are north of Jerusalem and situated near each other. Mount Gerizim was the Samaritan rival to Jerusalem. The burning question discussed between Jews and Samaritans was about the divinely appointed site for the central worship and sacrifice of the religion of Israel. The quarrel started with the building of a temple on Mount Gerizim as a rival to the temple at Jerusalem, but it had been destroyed by John Hyricanus in 128 BC. The Samaritan temple was at Mt. Gerizim and the Samaritans, ejected from the Temple by the Israelites, sought to outdo them in the same fashion.

The commandments of the Lord to the children of Israel included one that they should put the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. The Lord had just set before them a blessing and a cursing; a blessing, if the commandments are obeyed and a cursing if they are turned aside. Moses also commanded the people to write upon stones the commandments of the law and set them up on Mount Ebal and build an altar of stones there and make offerings. That day, they had become the people of God and were told to obey the commandments. "Moses charged the people the same day, saying: These shall stand upon Mount Gerizim to bless the people, when you are come over Jordan, Simeon and Levi and Judah and Issachar and Joseph and Benjamin. And these shall stand upon Mont Ebal to curse, Reuben, Gad and Asher and Zebuleun, Dan and Naphtali." What follows are a series of commandments and curses on those that could not obey them, even to "Cursed be he that confirms not ALL the words of this law to do them." Part of the Israelites were told to stand on one mountain to curse and on the other to bless.

The two mountains are well known to every Israelite and they know that it was between the two mountains of Ebal and Gerizim that Abraham first stopped when he entered Caanan. It was here at Shechem in the plain of Moreh that God first promised "unto your seed will I give this land."

When the children of Israel crossed over, Joshua had built an altar on Mount Ebal and placed a copy of the commandments of Moses there. Archaeologists have recently discovered it. He had Israel there with the half of them on one side over against Mount Gerizim and the other half against Mount Ebal and read the book of the law with the blessings and the cursings. It was Mount Ebal that had the law, the curse and the cursing and Gerizim who did not have the law but had the blessing. They were later gathered together at Shechem by Joshua to present themselves before God.

What a joy it is to not be under the curse of the law but under the grace and freedom of the Lord Jesus. We are under the new covenant now with the law upon our hearts. We need not stand between these two mountains today, Mount Ebal was replaced by Mount Calvary, where the blood of Jesus Christ was shed and Mount Gerizim is replaced by the hope given us in the blessing at the Mount of Olives, where Jesus will come back to claim his own.
[355, 383, Deuteronomy 11:26-29; 27, Genesis 12:6-7, Joshua 8, 24:1]

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