Deuteronomy 7: Chiasm

Have you ever heard of a Chiasm?

It is a writing technique used in the ancient world, similar to a three-point essay today. Readers would have known how to spot them and what to do with them just like we know what to do with a thesis statement.

Here is the basic format of a chiasm. Think of it like an X moving down towards the center and then back out.

A
B
C
D
D1
C1
B1
A1

The outside points (A & A1) work inward until the middle (D & D1) and are connected. The middle point is the main thing the author is trying to get at. There is also a relationship between each set. For example, B and B1 are connected.

The Bible is full of chiasms.

And I think I found one. It starts in Deuteronomy 6:15 and ends in 7:21.

A: the LORD your God, who is present with you, is a jealous God. (6:15)
B: Tell the story of how God brought you out of Egypt to your children (6:20-25)
C: The seven nations you are to drive out are mightier and more numerous than you. (7:1)
D: Destroy their placed of worship. Don’t worship their gods. (7:5)
E: The LORD loved you and swore a covenant oath to your ancestors (7:8)
F: Observe diligently the statues and ordinances. (7:11)
F1: Observe diligently the statues and ordinances (7:12)
E1: God will maintain covenant loyalty he swore to your ancestors and he will love you (7:11-12)
D1: Destroy the people and their places of worship. Don’t worship their gods. (7:16)
C1: You will say that the nations are more numerous than you. (7:17)
B1: Remember what God did for you in Egypt. (7:18-19)
A1: The LORD your God, who is present with you, is a great and awesome God (7:21)

Now, I might have missed something in there. I’ll leave that up to you to find.

But that’s pretty cool right? So what does it mean?

Well, it doesn’t seem like there is anything that comes out of the blue here. This is pretty in line with what we’ve seen in Deuteronomy so far. God is with the people, he loves them and has done great things for them in the past and wishes to continue to do so in the future. He just wants his people to worship him and obey his commands.

And this is the drum that has been beating for seven chapters. There is a reason this is getting repeated so many times.

I wonder what that reason is . . .

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7 responses

  1. Good work on the chiastic structure! Looks solid to me! It seems like almost every passage that I recently exegeted (there were 7, from all over the Bible) has a chiasm. Thankfully, our library is stocked with books that show us stuff like that. However, when I move on from college, this is something I’ll always be aware of as I read!

  2. What I see with Israel, and by product with us, is that God doesn’t give us anything really complicated. He just lays it out there and basically wants us to repeat it and repeat it until we’ve got it. Which is a lifetime.

  3. I think I may have found a Chiasm in my most recent edition of the X-Men… but I could be wrong. Seriously, that was very cool. I’d never heard of that writing structure before. Thanks for the education bro1

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