Nitzavim: Language and Translation

For this commandment that I command you today — it is not hidden [lo-niphleiot] from you and it is not distant. (Stone)

Surely, this Instruction which I enjoin upon you this day is not too baffling [lo-niphleiot] for you, nor is it beyond reach. (JPS, Plaut/Stein)

For this command which I charge you today is not too wondrous [lo-niphleiot] for you nor is it distant. (Alter)
Devarim/Deuteronomy 30:11

Alter adds this note about the phrase lo-niphleiot:

The force of the Hebrew root p-l-‘ is something hidden (as Abraham Ibn Ezra says) or beyond human ken. The crucial theological point is that divine wisdom is in no way esoteric — it has been clearly set out in “this book of teaching” and is accessible to every man and woman in Israel.

The Torah: A Women’s Commentary (Plaut/Stein) adds:

This passage emphasizes that God’s teaching (“the Instruction”) is not unintelligible, but is within the realm of human comprehension. This is a polemic against the notion of wisdom as “hidden from the eyes of all living” (Job 28:21 also 42:2-3) or “elusive and deep” (Ecclesiates 7:24; see also Proverbs 30:2-4, 18-20)

Only Proverbs 18-20, of those verses mentioned employs the same root, however: “Three things are beyond [niphlu] me; four I cannot fathom…”

Published by


Virginia hosts "Conversations Toward Repair" on We Act Radio, manages, blogs on general stuff a and more Jewish topics at and

One thought on “Nitzavim: Language and Translation”

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s