Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges
Hortatory Part of the First Discourse
The historical review closing with Deuteronomy 3:29, the rest of the discourse consists of exhortations to practise the Laws about to be announced and appeals to the nation’s experience. Four obvious divisions: (1) Deuteronomy 4:1-8, Commands to keep the Laws, with a reminder of Ba‘al-Pe‘or; (2) Deuteronomy 4:9-24, Against idolatry, with memories of Ḥoreb; (3) Deuteronomy 4:25-31, Predictions of the nation’s destruction by exile if they fall into idolatry and of God’s mercy if they then repent; (4) Deuteronomy 4:32-40, Appeals to their experience of the uniqueness of their God.—Though all four are concerned with the spiritual nature and uniqueness of Jehovah, their form and their contents both raise doubts of their unity, and of their connection with Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 3:29. There is no regular progress; repetitions of, and apparent discrepancies with, Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 3:29 occur; the passages on exile and repentance confined to Deuteronomy 4:25-31 are held to be exilic; though the language is mainly deuteronomic there are curious outcrops of terms either found only in D and P, or elsewhere confined to Deuteronomy 4:5-26. On all these see below. Opinion is, therefore, divided as to the unity of this section, its integrity with Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 3:29, and its date. Moore, Enc. Bibl., holds these further reasons for its exilic origin, that its monotheism is loftier than that of Deuteronomy 4:5-11, and that the greater part of it is but a homily on Deuteronomy 5:25 ff. The first of these reasons is questionable—cp. Deuteronomy 4:19—and even if true would be a precarious symptom of date: the second is also doubtful.
Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you.1. And now] Emphatic call to the practical purpose of the discourse; the same in Deuteronomy 10:12, the beginning of the last stage of the second introduction to the Code.
O Israel, hearken] Sg. imper. confirmed by Sam. and LXX in a context using the Pl. form of address; an instance of the natural transition by the same author from one to the other, cp. Deuteronomy 4:5 and Deuteronomy 1:8.
the statutes and … the judgements] Heb. ḥuḳḳîm and mishpaṭîm, a common title for the deuteronomic Laws, Deuteronomy 4:1; Deuteronomy 4:5; Deuteronomy 4:8; Deuteronomy 4:14, Deuteronomy 5:1, Deuteronomy 11:32, Deuteronomy 12:1, Deuteronomy 26:16; sometimes combined with or varied by miṣwah, commandment, and ‘edwôth, solemnly pronounced decrees (see on Deuteronomy 4:45). Ḥôḳ means engraven or instituted, a statute covering ‘positive institutions or enactments, moral, ceremonial, civil (e.g. Deuteronomy 7:1-3; Deuteronomy 7:12; Deuteronomy 7:14; Deuteronomy 7:16 f. etc.)’; mishpaṭ, lit. judgement, judicial decision, ‘the provisions of the civil and criminal law’ (Driver).
which I teach you] The participle, am about to teach you; cp. Deuteronomy 4:5. It is remarkable that in the Pent. D alone uses this verb—teach and learn—of religion and the Law, and this no fewer than 17 times. The idea is the same as that of the prophets, especially Hosea and Jeremiah, that true religion rests on the knowledge of God, the people sinning because not understanding with the heart (Heb. for the practical intellect) what God is and demands; and perishing for lack of knowledge.
that ye may live] as a nation! That the national existence depends on the keeping of the Law is a principle of the deuteronomic writers. Understood in a thoroughly spiritual temper it is uncontestable. Every nation lives by loyalty to law, and the people who were loyal to the spirit of this law would be strong and survive. As a matter of fact Israel preserved its identity among the nations and survived the influences which overwhelmed the religions of its neighbours by its obedience. The Law was a fence about the people. But their danger was to substitute the letter for the spirit, as according to both Jeremiah and Jesus they did. On live cp. Deuteronomy 30:6.
1–8. Enforcement of the Impending Legislation
The main purpose of the discourse, the enforcement of the Laws about to be given, for on the practice of these depends Israel’s survival in the Land (Deuteronomy 4:1 f.)—let them remember Ba‘al-Pe‘or! (Deuteronomy 4:3 f.)—as well as their wisdom and fame as a people (Deuteronomy 4:5 f.); what other has such a God or such laws? (Deuteronomy 4:7 f.). Deuteronomy 4:1 closely joins with the preceding Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 3:29, which indeed requires some such practical conclusion as is provided in Deuteronomy 4:1-4, and the unity of these vv. with Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 3:29 is generally recognised, but as we shall see there is no reason to doubt that Deuteronomy 4:5-8 also belong to that unity.
Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you.2. Ye shall not add unto the word … neither … diminish from it] So Deuteronomy 12:32 [Hebrews 13:1], cp. Jeremiah 26:2, Revelation 22:18 f. That the Law was tampered with in Josiah’s day is implied in Jeremiah 8:8, the false pen of the scribes has wrought falsehood. Our verse and Deuteronomy 12:32 have been interpreted as if the deuteronomic law gave itself forth as the full, final letter of the Divine Revelation. This is not so: cp. its promise of a new prophet like to Moses, Deuteronomy 18:15 ff.
which I command you] Again the participle, am about to command. Sam. and Luc. add this day.
Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you.3. Your eyes have seen] Cp. Deuteronomy 3:21.
because of Baal-peor] Heb. in Ba‘al-Pe‘or (= in Beth-Ba‘al-Pe‘or), a place-name as in Hosea 9:10; cp. Deuteronomy 3:29. The sin and its punishment are related by JE, Numbers 25:1-5; then follows, 6–16, a similar story about Israel and Midianite seductions, from P. Ba‘al of Pe‘or was a local deity, otherwise unknown to us. Driver (Deut. 63 f.) questions the usual opinion that he was a priapic deity, yet the close association of the charge of worshipping him with that of illicit intercourse with the daughters of Moab, combined with the notorious impurity of the Syrian religions, appears to confirm the opinion.
thy God … from the midst of thee] Note the change to the Sg. here from the Pl. in the beginning of the verse. Sam. and LXX, probably less originally, give Pl. throughout. For similar changes see Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 4:29; Deuteronomy 4:34; Deuteronomy 11:13-14.
But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.4. ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God] See on Deuteronomy 10:20.
Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.5. Behold, I have taught you] The perf. of the verb in contrast with the fut. in Deuteronomy 4:1 raises questions. Does Moses now refer to laws which he has already promulgated from Ḥoreb onward (so Driver)? Hardly, for the rest of the verse implies the same statutes and judgements as Deuteronomy 4:1. Or is this verse out of place here, and borrowed from an address by Moses after the promulgation of the deuteronomic laws (Dillm., Westphal, Steuern., etc.)? Or is it the mistake of a scribe (Kosters)? Bertholet seeks a solution in the fact that when the Heb. verb for behold (re’eh, sing. but Sam. and LXX plur.) is followed by a finite verb the perfect is used even where we should expect a future (e.g. Genesis 41:41, 1 Chronicles 21:23). Thus the action in view is represented as if it were already past (for a similar idiom cp. ‘the prophetic perfect’). There is, therefore, no reason to question that Deuteronomy 4:5 refers like Deuteronomy 4:1 to the legislation imminent in Israel; alternatively it may include the laws given on Ḥoreb, cp. Deuteronomy 4:14. In any case the chief objection to taking Deuteronomy 4:5-8 along with 1–4 is removed.
whither ye go in to possess it] The only Pl. passage which gives this phrase (though Deuteronomy 4:1 has a variant) so distinctive of the Sg. passages that in them it occurs 10 times. See on Deuteronomy 6:1.
Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.6. Keep therefore and do them] So eight times in D (as also eight in P); the similar keep (or observe) to do occurs some 20 times both with Sg. and Pl. This practical emphasis is characteristic of the Book. Men are often content to remember the commandments.
for this is your wisdom and your understanding] Not your mere possession of the law, but this your doing of it, shall be your intellectual strength. Cp. John 7:17.
in the sight of the peoples, which shall … say] So actually it came to pass. Loyalty to the Law ensured not only the national existence of Israel (see on Deuteronomy 4:1), but their fame among the Gentiles; who shall say, This great nation is a wise and understanding people. Most signally fulfilled by the fame of the Jews among illuminated Greeks after Alexander’s conquest of Asia. Hecataeus of Abdera, Clearchus, Theophrastus, Megasthenes, Hermippus all call the Jews the philosophers of the East (Jerusalem, ii. 401, etc.). The cause of such a fame was not of course the wise details of the Law, nor even that the nation possessed and lived by it, in a way unparalleled by any nation in W. Asia—the Greeks find the nearest parallel in India—but the religious spirit of the Law, its unique monotheism. And so the discourse now proceeds to speak of Israel’s God.
Surely] Heb. raḳ. See on Deuteronomy 10:15.
For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon him for?7. For what great nation … hath a god so nigh] Both noun, élohím, and adj., ḳerobim, are plural. Elohîm may signify a god, or gods, as Deuteronomy 6:14 and elsewhere; or the general idea of Deity, this chiefly but not always in the mouth of, or addressed to, the heathen, e.g. Deuteronomy 5:24, Genesis 20:13, Exodus 31:18; or may stand for the God of Israel (cp. the deuteronomic 2 Samuel 7:23). Here it is either of the first three—a god, gods or God (R.V. marg.). The rest of the verse explains what is meant by nigh: He hears prayer and answers it by actual deeds. The prophets’ contrast of Israel’s experience of God with that of other nations is constant and remarkable—a proof of the experimental, practical quality of their religion. Jeremiah insists that the gods of the heathen are vanities and do not profit them (Deuteronomy 2:8; Deuteronomy 2:11; Deuteronomy 2:13 : broken cisterns, 28, Deuteronomy 16:19 f. etc.); cp. the Prophet of the Exile (Isaiah 44:9 f., Isaiah 47:12, Isaiah 48:17) and his argument that Jehovah alone promises and fulfils (Isaiah 41:21 ff.). To all the prophets, but especially to Isaiah, God; is not only the infinitely sublime, but the infinitely near, hearing prayer, ready to help, interested, vigilant and active in all the details of their everyday life. Legal Judaism lost this sense of the constant nearness of God, and did not compensate for the loss by its apocalypses.
And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?8. And what great nation … hath statutes … so righteous] This challenge is as just as the preceding. Other great codes and systems of ethics there undoubtedly were in Israel’s world (e.g. the Code of Ḫammurabi and various systems in Egypt). But the deuteronomic Torah is rightly exalted above them—because of its pure religious fervency, its revelation of the Divine character, and its enforcement, in the details of human conduct, of the example of God Himself. Moreover, the Law of no other nation in Israel’s world has exerted so practical an influence on the ethics of mankind. How necessary it was to impress Israel, both immediately before and during the Exile, with the distinction which the Law gave them among the nations is seen from such passages as Ezekiel 20:32; Ezekiel 25:8. The heathen said Israel is like all the nations, and Israelites were tempted to fall back upon the easier ethics of their neighbours, we will be as the heathen. This is the temptation of all recipients of high ideals and duties; none are more exposed to it than Christians; they must remind themselves, as this discourse insists, of the privilege and responsibility of those who having known the better dare not be content with the easier. The substance of these verses then is, Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye have been called. The abuse of such a conscience is the self-righteousness born of a merely formal fulfilment of the Law (Luke 18:11). ‘Pharisaism and Deuteronomy came into the world the same day’ (A. B. Davidson, Hastings DB. ii. 577).
set before you] Not prescribe or enforce; but offer for your decision and acceptance. So Deuteronomy 11:26; Deuteronomy 11:32; Deuteronomy 30:1; Deuteronomy 30:15; Deuteronomy 30:19. The affirmation of the people’s responsibility is characteristic of D.
Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;9. Only] Not restriction to one point, but emphasis on the principle of the whole of the Law. For the use of this restrictive adverb so frequent in D see on Deuteronomy 10:15.
take heed to thyself] Found in JE, Genesis 31:24, etc., but frequent in D—9 times thus, and 5 more generally.
keep thy soul diligently] Rather, guard well thyself (cp. 23 Pl.) or thy life; cp. 1, that ye may live.
lest thou forget the things which thine eyes saw] The experience of the nation as a whole is meant, and not only that of the generation addressed. So the prophets frequently call on their contemporaries to remember what happened to the nation long ago. Hence the transition in this verse to the Sg. is natural and does not imply another author. Similarly throughout the following discourse 5–11. See on Deuteronomy 10:21.
thy heart] The seat not of the emotions but of the practical intellect, or, as here, of the memory. Cp. our ‘to get by heart,’ ‘lay to heart.’
make them known unto thy children] First instance of the frequent enforcement to hand on the religious tradition: 10, Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 6:20 f., Deuteronomy 11:19, Deuteronomy 31:13, Deuteronomy 32:46.
9–24. Against Idolatry
The truth that is beneath the whole Law: God is revealed not in images, but by words and deeds of redemption. Warned to lay their experience to heart (Deuteronomy 4:9), Israel are reminded of the revelation at Ḥoreb, solely by words and the covenant (Deuteronomy 4:10-14); let them recall they saw no form (Deuteronomy 4:15) lest they make any idol of any living thing in earth, air or sea (Deuteronomy 4:16-18) or worship the host of heaven, assigned by Jehovah to other peoples (Deuteronomy 4:19), but no gods for those whom He hath redeemed for Himself (Deuteronomy 4:20). For their sakes, Moses is not to cross Jordan (Deuteronomy 4:21 f.); so he enjoins them to take heed. Jehovah is a devouring fire (Deuteronomy 4:23 f.).
In substance the passage is a unity—except perhaps Deuteronomy 4:19. In form it is in the Pl. address with a few transitions to the Sg.; all, except Deuteronomy 4:10, confirmed by Sam. and LXX. These are typical of the various causes which may have led to frequent transitions. The Sg. is logically explicable in Deuteronomy 4:9, perhaps too in 10; coincides in 19 with the only change of subject, and so possibly marks a later addition; in 21 may be due to the later addition of a formula; while 24 is possibly a quotation and the preceding thee in 23 due to the attraction of its Sg. The language is in the main deuteronomic, but the section has been taken (along with 32–40) as from another hand than Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:8 (alternatively Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:4) on these grounds: that the same author would not have repeated in 21 f. what he has narrated in Deuteronomy 3:26; that 10 ff. imply that Moses is addressing the same generation as was alive at Ḥoreb and are therefore discrepant with Deuteronomy 1:35 ff. and Deuteronomy 2:16, while agreeing with the Second Discourse, cp. Deuteronomy 7:16; that of the phrases used some are found in D only in 5–26, 28 (lest thou forget, 9, 23, Deuteronomy 6:12, Deuteronomy 8:11; Deuteronomy 8:14; Deuteronomy 8:19, Deuteronomy 9:7, Deuteronomy 25:19; which thine eyes have seen, 9, Deuteronomy 7:19, Deuteronomy 10:21, cp. Deuteronomy 11:7; all the days of thy life, 9, Deuteronomy 6:2, Deuteronomy 16:3, Deuteronomy 17:19); others are found only in P (male and female, winged fowl, anything that creeps, 17 f.) or other late writers (figure, 16, iron furnace, 20). Note, too, people of inheritance, 20, for the usual peculiar people. The discrepancy (see below) is not conclusive; neither does the language necessarily imply an exilic date; even the phrases found elsewhere only in P are very general. The similarities to 5–26, 28 may imply a date subsequent to the latter; but are too few to render such an inference certain.
Specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.10. the day] Governed by lest thou forget in Deuteronomy 4:9; or an acc. of time.
thou stoodest before … thy God] So Sam., the nation being still regarded as an individual; LXX ye stood.
Assemble me the people] See below on Deuteronomy 4:22.
may learn to fear] The frequent commands to fear, or learn to fear, God, Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 6:24, Deuteronomy 8:6, Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 14:23, Deuteronomy 17:19, Deuteronomy 28:58, Deuteronomy 31:13, associate that temper with hearing, reading, or doing God’s law, or walking in His ways. It is thus no inarticulate, brutish awe before the unknown, which we call superstition, but the vigilant, scrupulous temper of a servant to whom his lord’s will has been fully declared—cp. Lat. ‘religio’ and our general use of ‘religious’ and ‘religiously’—an earnest, anxious obedience; never a mere feeling, but the intelligent and loyal practice of a trust. See also on Deuteronomy 14:23.
And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness.11. ye came near and stood under the mountain] E, Exodus 19:17, took station in the nether part of the mount.
burned with fire] J, Exodus 19:18, Mount Sinai was all on smoke … as the smoke of a furnace, and … quaked greatly, E, Exodus 20:18, thunder, lightning, and mount smoking.
unto the heart of heaven] A characteristic deuteronomic addition; cp. Deuteronomy 1:28.
with darkness, cloud, and thick darkness] The accumulation is characteristic; cp. E, Exodus 19:16, thick cloud; Exodus 20:21, thick darkness; P, Exodus 24:15 b, Exodus 24:18 a, cloud.
And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.12. the Lord spake … out of the midst of the fire] So Deuteronomy 4:15; Deuteronomy 4:33; Deuteronomy 4:36; Deuteronomy 5:4; Deuteronomy 5:22; Deuteronomy 5:24; Deuteronomy 9:10; Deuteronomy 10:4. J, Exodus 19:18, descended in fire; P, Exodus 24:17, the glory of Jehovah like devouring fire.
the voice of words … only … a voice] E, Exodus 19:19, God answered by a voice; P, Exodus 24:16, called out of the cloud; E, Exodus 19:16; Exodus 19:19; Exodus 20:18, reiterates the sound of a trumpet, exceeding loud. The omission of this by D is noteworthy.
ye saw no form] Heb. temûnah, form or shape; E, Exodus 20:4. This feeling, that seeing is more sensuous than hearing, was shared by the prophets, who forbad the presentation of God in any physical shape, yet did not hesitate to use words describing Him in the likeness of a man: father, husband, warrior, even as a travailing woman, Deuteronomy 32:18, Isaiah 42:13 f.
And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.13. his covenant, which he commanded you] Heb. berîth (prob. from a root = to bind) meant any compact, contract or bargain: between friends, 1 Samuel 18:3; man and wife, Proverbs 2:17; master and servant, Job 41:4; king and people, 2 Samuel 5:3; former foes, whether individuals, id. Deuteronomy 3:12 f., or peoples, J, Exodus 23:32; Deuteronomy 7:2 (the only instance in D of its non-religious use); conqueror and conquered, 1 Samuel 11:1. Berîth might apply either to the transaction or to the binding conditions on which it was based; the covenant or the terms of the covenant, i.e. ordinance or constitution. When the parties were of unequal power the terms were imposed by the stronger. So between God and Israel; His covenant which He commanded, here and Deuteronomy 29:1. Used first in a religious sense by JE, Genesis 15:18, etc. of God’s covenant with the patriarchs; Exodus 19:5; Exodus 24:7 ff. etc. with Israel at Ḥoreb; less used by the prophets, e.g. Hosea 6:7; Hosea 8:1; Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 31:32; but very frequent in Deuteronomy 4:31; Deuteronomy 7:12; Deuteronomy 8:18, etc., with patriarchs (cp. Deuteronomy 6:18, Deuteronomy 9:5, Deuteronomy 11:9, etc.); Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 4:23, Deuteronomy 5:2, Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 9:11; Deuteronomy 9:15, at Ḥoreb; Deuteronomy 17:2 (?), Deuteronomy 29:1; Deuteronomy 29:9; Deuteronomy 29:12; Deuteronomy 29:14; Deuteronomy 29:21; Deuteronomy 29:25 renewed in Mo‘ab. The terms commanded by God were the words of the covenant, J, Exodus 34:28, or the covenant alone as here, i.e. the Decalogue, but in Deuteronomy 29:1 the whole Deuteronomic Code; book of the covenant, E, Exodus 24:7, the Ḥoreb legislation, but in 2 Kings 23:2 f., 21, cp. Deuteronomy 29:21, the Deuteronomic Code. The tables of the Decalogue were the tables of the covenant, Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 9:11; Deuteronomy 9:15; hence D’s characteristic name for the Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, Deuteronomy 10:8, Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:25 and in Josh. A covenant was solemnised by a sacrificial feast, Genesis 21:28 ff; Genesis 31:46; Genesis 31:54. Hence probably the phrase to cut or strike a covenant (karath berîth), cp. ὅρκια τέμνειν. Beyond the frequent use of this phrase, e.g. Deuteronomy 4:23, D nowhere associates the covenant with sacrifice. God makes (karath) it and it is His; swears to it; forgets it not, keeps, fulfils and establishes it, Deuteronomy 4:31, Deuteronomy 7:12, Deuteronomy 8:18, etc.; keeping covenant and true love, Deuteronomy 7:9; Deuteronomy 7:12. Israel enters into it, Deuteronomy 29:12, and is bound to keep and to do it, passim.
the ten commandments] Words. So also Deuteronomy 10:4. E, Exodus 20:1, all these words. A gloss in Exodus 34:28 has the ten words. See Driver’s note on both passages; and below on Deuteronomy 5:5, ‘The Ten Words.’
he wrote them upon two tables of stone] See below on Deuteronomy 5:22. On the ‘covenants’ mentioned in the Pentateuch see Driver, Exod. p. 175.
And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.14. And the Lord commanded me at that time, etc.] Heb. emphasises me; these additional laws given through Moses appear, from the following phrase, to be the laws he is now about to publish, cp. Deuteronomy 4:5; yet the words at that time point to the inclusion with them of the laws at Ḥoreb, E, Exodus 20:22 to Exodus 23:33.
whither ye go over to possess it] A phrase peculiar to passages in the Pl. address. Contrast Deuteronomy 4:5. See on Deuteronomy 6:1.
Deuteronomy 4:13 f. form a slight digression from the main subject of 9–24, and are taken by some as a later intrusion. But this is to forget the general discursiveness of the author. See too next note.
Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:15. ye saw no manner of form] Resumes and repeats the reminder in Deuteronomy 4:12 in a way that would have been unnecessary but for the digression in 13 f.; and proves that the latter is original. Form, Heb. temûnah.
Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,16. lest ye corrupt yourselves] Acts perniciously.
a graven image] Heb. pesel: any idol carved in stone or wood.
figure] Heb. semel, only here; Ezekiel 8:3; Ezekiel 8:5; 2 Chronicles 33:7; 2 Chronicles 33:15, the Phoen. apparently for a statue, ἀνδριάς (CIS i. i. 41, line i.; 88, lines 2, 5; 91, 1). So here of the human figure as the following words show.
the likeness, etc.] Rather, the build or mould, Heb. tabnîth, of male or female.
The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,17. the likeness] Again tabnîth.
winged fowl] Heb. bird of wing: cp. P, Genesis 7:14; Genesis 1:21.
The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:18. the water under the earth] The Hebrews conceived the sea not only as lower than and round the earth, but as passing beneath it (the earth being established or fixed over it) and so forming the source of all fountains, many of which in Syria are salt, and of all streams. Cp. Psalm 24:2; Psalm 36:6, the great deep; Amos 7:4; Jonah 2:3-6, and see below on Deuteronomy 33:13.
And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.19. lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven] Change to Sg., confirmed by Sam. and LXX.
and when thou seest the sun, etc.] Deuteronomy 17:3 : sun, moon or any of the host of heaven. Unlike the warnings against idolatry this one is not found in JE or P. The host of heaven was the dominant influence in Babylonian religion, and though there are traces of astral worship from the earliest times in the neighbourhood of Jerusalem (cp. Bit-Ninib in the Tell-el-Amarna Letters, Beth-shemesh, etc.), it first became an active danger to Israel, when under Ahaz Assyrian example began to tempt the people of Jehovah, and in the last days of N. Israel, 2 Kings 17:16, and in Judah under Manasseh, 2 Kings 21:3; 2 Kings 21:5; 2 Kings 23:4-5; 2 Kings 23:11, Assyria imposed on her tributaries the forms of Babyl. culture. Cp. the pre-exilic prophets Zephaniah 1:5; Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 8:2; Jeremiah 19:13; Jeremiah 44:17; Ezekiel 8:16. These show that the worship was both national, in the temple, and domestic. On the temptations in Jerusalem to the worship of the heavenly host see Jerusalem, ii. 186 f. The natural seductiveness of the worship is well indicated by the successive verbs used here.
thou be drawn away] Rather reflexive, let thyself be drawn, Deuteronomy 30:4; Deuteronomy 30:17; cp. the active form, Deuteronomy 13:5; Deuteronomy 13:10; Deuteronomy 13:13 [Heb. 6, 11, 14].
worship them, and serve them,] Rather, bow down to them and worship them. Cp. Deuteronomy 5:9, Deuteronomy 8:19, Deuteronomy 11:16, Deuteronomy 17:3, Deuteronomy 29:26 (25), Deuteronomy 30:17, and the addition to E, Exodus 20:5.
which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all the peoples] Distributed, or allotted. An interesting attempt by the writer to reconcile his great truth that Jehovah is God alone with the fact that the other nations worship other gods (cp. Deuteronomy 29:26). This is part of His supreme Providence. Some find also in the words the feeling that such cults preserved the Gentiles from utter ignorance of God, and cite Clem. Alex. (Strom. vi. 14, 110 f.): the stars have been assigned to them, ἵνα μὴ τέλεον ἄθεοι γενόμενοι τελέως καὶ διαφάρωσιν, and as a guide to God Himself, ὁδὸς γὰρ αὕτη δοθεῖσα τοῖς ἔθνεσιν ἀνακῦψαι πρὸς θεόν.
The coincidence of the change of address to the Sg. with the change of subject leads some to take the verse as an intrusion by a later hand. But it may be a later addition by the author of the context himself on consideration of Deuteronomy 17:3, and as this is in the Sg. form it would account for his change to the Sg. here. But note the parallel under the whole heaven with Deuteronomy 2:25. In any case there is no need to take the passage as post-exilic; the danger it would avert was, as the passages cited show, especially strong before the exile.
But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.20. But, etc.] Heb. But you, emphatic, hath Jehovah taken. Israel, so taken and redeemed, must worship Him alone.
out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt] Cp. the deuteronomic 1 Kings 8:51 and Jeremiah 11:4. The increase of references to iron-smelting from the 8th cent, onwards is noteworthy; Jerusalem, i. 332.
a people of inheritance] cp. Deuteronomy 32:9; elsewhere in D a peculiar people, cp. Deuteronomy 7:6.
as at this day] See Deuteronomy 2:30.
Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance:21. Furthermore the Lord was angry with me for your sakes] See on Deuteronomy 1:37, Deuteronomy 3:26. The fact is again introduced here as a relevant motive to the following exhortation; this answers the proposal to treat it, on account of its repetition, as an intrusion.
that good land] Heb. the; see on Deuteronomy 1:35.
which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance] Heb. partic. is about to give thee, Deuteronomy 19:10, Deuteronomy 20:16, Deuteronomy 21:23, Deuteronomy 24:4, Deuteronomy 26:1; as an inheritance to possess it, Deuteronomy 15:4, Deuteronomy 25:19; cp. Deut 19:31; only in D, and almost always with the Sg. address, but cp. Deuteronomy 29:8, The transition to the Sg. is confirmed by Sam. and LXX.
But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land.
Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee.23. Take heed unto yourselves] See on Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 4:15; covenant, see on Deuteronomy 4:13; and for the rest Deuteronomy 4:16.
For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.24. a devouring fire] Cp. Deuteronomy 9:3; a frequent description of God in Isaiah: Isaiah 29:6; Isaiah 30:27; Isaiah 30:30.
a jealous God] Deuteronomy 5:9, Deuteronomy 6:15. J, Exodus 34:14, Jehovah whose name is Jealous is a jealous God. These two expressions always occur in Sg. passages; and the Sg. here may be explained as a quotation. On Jealous see Driver on Exodus 20:5.
When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke him to anger:25. When thou shalt beget … and ye shall have been] Read, ye shall beget. The sentence illustrates the difficulties raised by the variant forms of address. So quick a change from Sg. to Pl., confirmed by LXX (though Sam. has Pl. for both verbs), is logically possible (thou = the mother nation; ye = the nation and its children). Yet the Sg. is more probably due to the attraction of the previous Sg., a copyist naturally continuing the latter till the changed form arrested him. For thy God both Sam. and LXX read your God. Thus the Pl. is complete throughout 25–28. The word for beget only here, Deuteronomy 27:1 and in P.
ye shall have been long] Or grown old or stale, used of old corn, Leviticus 26:10, and inveterate leprosy, Deuteronomy 13:11, Here not merely living long in the land, but growing aged in spirit, losing spiritual freshness. Similarly the prophets judged the wilderness days to have been the ideal period of Israel’s history, the subsequent ages decadent.
corrupt yourselves] See on Deuteronomy 4:16; graven image, etc., ibid.
do evil in the eyes of the Lord] Deuteronomy 9:18, Deuteronomy 17:2, Deuteronomy 31:29, and P, Numbers 32:13; or good, Deuteronomy 6:18, Deuteronomy 12:28.
to provoke him] Deuteronomy 9:18, Deuteronomy 31:29, Deuteronomy 32:16; Deuteronomy 32:21, also in deuteronomic passages in Kings and in Jeremiah.
25–31. Threat of Exile with Promise of Grace on Repentance
If, with the slackness of increasing years, Israel give way to idolatry (Deuteronomy 4:25) Moses testifies that they shall perish from the land (Deuteronomy 4:26), and be scattered among the peoples (Deuteronomy 4:27) where indeed they must worship senseless idols (Deuteronomy 4:28). So far the Pl. address. But if—change to the Sg.—in these latter days of tribulation the nation seeks and returns to Jehovah it shall find Him (Deuteronomy 4:29 f.). He will not fail nor forget His covenant (Deuteronomy 4:31).—As we shall see from the notes the threat of exile is no sufficient ground for judging Deuteronomy 4:25-28 to be an exilic addition, but there are several phrases which only D and P have. Others are found only in xxviii. The exilic origin of 29–31 is more probable. Dillm. denies a connection between Deuteronomy 4:25 and the preceding; it seems to the present writer that Deuteronomy 4:25-28 is a natural continuation of Deuteronomy 4:23. This, however, by itself does not prove identity of authorship.
Further Note on 25–31. The two parts of this Deuteronomy 4:25-28 and Deuteronomy 4:29-31 are probably separate; note the change of address. Berth. says that the whole ‘bears clearly the stamp of exilic authorship.’ This is not true of Deuteronomy 4:25-28, the threat of exile. After the exile of N. Israel in 721 and the precedents in prophecy for a threat of exile (cp. Amos, Isaiah and Jeremiah), and the notorious policy of Assyria towards subject races, it would on the contrary have been strange not to have found in the pre-exilic deuteronomists, with their prophetic temper, some foreboding of exile. Dillm. rightly says, ‘the threat of exile has nothing surprising in it,’ if we compare ch. 28. But the case is different with the promise contingent on the conversion of the people in exile. In itself it is as conceivable in D as in the prophets (whom it is impossible to regard, as a powerful school of criticism does, as predicters only of judgement), but as Dillm. points out it lies here too far away from the purpose of the exhortation1. Add to this reasons of form, (1) that the for introducing Deuteronomy 4:32 ff. has no relevancy to Deuteronomy 4:29-31, but continues Deuteronomy 4:25-28 (see Driver), and (2) the change from the Pl. to the Sg. address—and there is a strong case for taking Deuteronomy 4:29-31 as a later exilic insertion like Deuteronomy 30:1-10. Berth.’s argument that Deuteronomy 4:32 naturally follows Deuteronomy 4:24 is met by the fact that it more naturally follows Deuteronomy 4:28, and we have already seen that Deuteronomy 4:25-28 are the natural continuation of Deuteronomy 4:23. We may, therefore, take Deuteronomy 4:25-28 as integral, and only Deuteronomy 4:29-31 as a later exilic intrusion.
 There is an analogy, however, in 29 f.
I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.26. I call heaven and earth to witness against you] So Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 31:28. Berth. points out that the older style is earth and heaven. In controversy between God and Israel nature is introduced as the executioner of His judgements, or as suffering these with man; or as illustrating the steady laws or principles on which God acts in the moral sphere; or as here (cp. Micah 6:1 ff.) as witnessing against man. Enduring, the heavens and earth, especially the mountains, have seen all the relations between God and man, and when His evils come will be able to testify that God had warned the people. But differently in Deuteronomy 32:1, q.v.
ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land] Perish that is as a nation, Deuteronomy 7:4, Deuteronomy 11:17, Deuteronomy 28:20 and the deuteronomic Joshua 23:16. Soon, Deuteronomy 7:4; Deuteronomy 7:22, Deuteronomy 9:3; Deuteronomy 9:12; Deuteronomy 9:16, Deuteronomy 28:20.
whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it] characteristic of the Pl. passages. See Introd. and on Deuteronomy 4:5; Deuteronomy 4:14 and Deuteronomy 6:1.
ye shall not prolong your days] Again, as a nation. In the Hex. only here and Deuteronomy 4:40, Deuteronomy 5:33, Deuteronomy 11:9, Deuteronomy 17:20, Deuteronomy 22:7, Deuteronomy 30:18, Deuteronomy 32:47; and passive, Deuteronomy 5:16, Deuteronomy 6:2, Deuteronomy 25:15. Cp. E, Joshua 24:31.
And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you.27. few in number] Heb. idiom men of a number, easily counted, instead of being innumerable, as the stars in heaven for multitude.
And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.28. ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, etc.] The acme of their punishment. They have chosen to serve idols; idols must they serve in a land where the worship of Jehovah is impossible. This scorn of senseless idols, also in Deuteronomy 27:15, Deuteronomy 28:36; Deuteronomy 28:64, Deuteronomy 29:17, Deuteronomy 31:29, is an essential temper of monotheism, appearing also in Hosea 8:6; Hosea 13:2; Isaiah 2:8; Isaiah 2:20, etc.; Jeremiah 2:8; Jeremiah 10:1-10, and most frequently in Isaiah 40:19 f., Isaiah 41:7, Isaiah 44:9-20, Isaiah 46:6 f.
But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.29. But if from thence ye shall seek … thou shalt find] The Pl. ye is due either to the attraction of the plurals of the previous verses or to a dittography. How easily the former worked is seen from the LXX which carries the Pl. as far as search after him. Read with Sam. thou shalt seek. Thus the Sg. stands throughout Deuteronomy 4:29-31. Omit him after find; cp. Jeremiah 29:13.
with all thy heart and with all thy soul] Heart the seal of the practical intellect (see on Deuteronomy 4:9); soul of the desires, the two thus covering the whole man. See Deuteronomy 6:5, Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 11:13, Deuteronomy 13:3, Deuteronomy 26:16, Deuteronomy 30:2; Deuteronomy 30:6; Deuteronomy 30:10 (Deuteronomy 6:5 adds with all thy force), and deuteronomic passages in Josh. and Kgs; once in Jeremiah 32:41 of God. This enforcement of spiritual thoroughness is characteristic of D.
When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;30. all these things] Implied in 26 f.
in the latter days] The end or issue of the days; frequently in the prophets of what is beyond the period with which they are engaged.
and hearken unto his voice] Found also in JE, this phrase much oftener occurs in D; no less than 17 times.
(For the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.31. a merciful God] Cp. JE, Exodus 34:6.
he will not fail thee] Rather, will not let thee drop (Driver); will hold thee fast. Cp. Deuteronomy 31:6; Deuteronomy 31:8; Joshua 1:5.
nor forget the covenant] See on Deuteronomy 4:13.
For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?32. For] The connection, as we have seen, is not with the immediately preceding Deuteronomy 4:29-31, but with either Deuteronomy 4:28 or Deuteronomy 4:24.
ask now, etc.] The challenge is bold and characteristic of D. From the first of time, from one end of heaven to the other, nothing has ever happened like that which Israel has experienced at Ḥoreb or in the deliverance from Egypt to which the next verses proceed.
the day that God created man] P, Genesis 1:27; Genesis 5:1, created, bara’, P’s characteristic expression for J’s made and formed.
whether there hath been] Heb. brought itself into being, happened.
32–40. The Uniqueness of the God of Israel
This further appeal to the sole deity of Israel’s God is founded upon the nation’s experience of the unparalleled revelations He has made to them, the unparalleled deeds which He has performed for their deliverance (Deuteronomy 4:32-39); and it closes on the note with which the ch. opened, the enforcement of the practice of His laws (Deuteronomy 4:40).—Throughout in the Sg. form of address; for apparent exceptions see on Deuteronomy 4:34. The section is joined by Berth. with Deuteronomy 4:9-24 as one separate discourse, but as we have seen Deuteronomy 4:32 connects even more naturally with Deuteronomy 4:28. Over against the change to the Sg. address we have to place the sympathy of the contents and the similarity of the style with those of Deuteronomy 4:1-8. Deuteronomy 4:32-39 best develop Deuteronomy 4:7, while Deuteronomy 4:40, which there is no reason for supposing with Steuern. to be a mere scribal addition of formulas, suitably rounds off the whole by a return to the keynote of Deuteronomy 4:1. If Deuteronomy 4:9-40 be a later addition to Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:8, it has been very skilfully and sympathetically added.
Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?33. voice of God] Rather, the voice of a god, and with Sam. and LXX add living. Cp. Deuteronomy 5:26.
and live] Deuteronomy 5:23 ff. The well-known belief of ancient man that it meant death to come into close converse with the Deity.
Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?34. Or hath God assayed] Rather, hath a god. The verb nissah is rendered in Deuteronomy 28:56 adventured. It is also used for the tempting or testing of Israel by God, Deuteronomy 8:2; Deuteronomy 8:16, Deuteronomy 13:3 (4) (also in E), or of God by Israel, Deuteronomy 6:16 (also in JE).
to go] Heb. to come, which is better, meaning to come upon earth.
by temptations, by signs, and by wonders] Deuteronomy 7:19, Deuteronomy 29:2 (partly Deuteronomy 6:22, Deuteronomy 11:3). Temptations, rather tests, provings or experiments, massôth (from the verb explained in previous note), such as those applied to Phara‘oh; not only to prove him, but to offer him proofs that God was with Israel—so in the account of the plagues in JE, especially Exodus 8:9 ff; Exodus 9:27. Signs or evidences, ’othôth, in the widest sense, any distinguishing mark (e.g. blood on the doorposts of the Israelites, Exodus 12:13; a family mark or ensign, Numbers 2:2); but usually of an action or event attached to an oracle, either to illustrate or enforce its meaning (Isaiah stripped and barefoot, Isaiah 20:3) or to prove its divinity (Isaiah 7:3, etc.). These last, though startling, were not necessarily miraculous; cp. 1 Samuel 2:34, the death of Eli’s sons, Isaiah 8:18, the prophet’s sons with the ominous names and as above, Isaiah 20:3; but as in the cases before us they might be so. Orientals make no distinction, except, of degree, between one kind and another. Wonders, môphethîm (usually with signs; in addition to deuteronomic passages quoted above, and Deuteronomy 13:1 (2), see Isaiah 8:18; Isaiah 20:3), rather portents, more closely attached to the idea of the extraordinary than sign is. Also with the particular sense of foreshadowing, prodigium; cp. Zechariah 3:8. See also Driver’s Exodus p. 59.
by war] To ask whether this implies a supernatural element, or simply the inspiration of Israel’s armies, is to ignore the fact that Israel themselves made no such distinction. Jehovah himself was their warlord. J, Exodus 14:14, Jehovah shall fight for you, ye shall hold your peace; E, id. Exodus 14:24 b, He discomfited the Egyptian host; J, id. Exodus 14:25, He took off their chariot-wheels … so that the Egyptians said, Jehovah fighteth for them. But in other cases Israel themselves also fought.
by a mighty hand] In D 10 times, both with Sg. and Pl.; Deuteronomy 3:24, thy mighty hand; followed by outstretched arm, as here, Deuteronomy 5:15, Deuteronomy 7:19, Deuteronomy 11:2, Deuteronomy 26:8; alone, Deuteronomy 6:21, Deuteronomy 7:8, Deuteronomy 9:26; followed by great terrors, Deuteronomy 34:12. In JE (?), Exodus 3:19; Exodus 6:1, alone; cp. Deuteronomy 13:14; Deuteronomy 13:16, strength of hand.
and by a stretched out arm] In D 6 times both with Sg. and Pl.; of which five times (as above) with a mighty hand, and once Deuteronomy 9:29 with great power. Elsewhere in the Hex. only in P, Exodus 6:6, which also uses the verb stretch forth in Exodus 7:5.
by great terrors] Heb. môra’îm, terrifying things. LXX ὀράματα, marĕ’îm, accepted by Geiger; but it is weaker than the other. Cp. Deuteronomy 10:21, great and terrible things.
for you] LXX omits and for your God gives our God. The only plurals in this section; probably editorial.
before your eyes] Heb. thine eyes; the your of both EVV shows how easy it is to change the original forms of address under the influence of attraction: there is a similar instance in A.V. Deuteronomy 4:3 you for thee.
Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.35. Unto thee it was shewed] Heb. Thou, thyself, wast made to see it. Again an emphasis on the experimental character of Israel’s religion. Jehovah does something! The formative effect of the tradition of the Exodus on that religion cannot be overestimated.
Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.36. See on Deuteronomy 4:15.
that he might instruct thee] discipline thee, ‘that the people might be brought to a temper of becoming reverence’ (Driver).
And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;37. And because he loved thy fathers] So Hosea 11:1 f. In Pent. only here and Deuteronomy 10:15; but cp. Deuteronomy 7:8; Deuteronomy 7:13, Deuteronomy 23:5. The free grace and election of God is to the prophets and D the original motive of the wonderful and unparalleled history.
and chose their seed after them] So Sam., LXX, Syr., Targ. and Vulg. Heb. has his seed after him which would mean Abraham. The change to the Sg. is interesting as showing how easily a writer passed from one number to the other. On chose see Deuteronomy 7:6.
To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.38. to drive out nations from before thee] Heb. to dispossess … from before thee; Deuteronomy 9:4-5, Deuteronomy 11:23, Deuteronomy 18:12 (and the probably editorial Exodus 34:24); cp. Deuteronomy 7:17, Deuteronomy 9:3; Deuteronomy 9:5. For another form of same vb also with obj. of person see on Deuteronomy 9:1. Both are characteristic of D and occur both with Sg. and Pl.
greater and mightier than thou] Deuteronomy 7:6. See Deuteronomy 9:1.
to give thee their land for an inheritance] See on Deuteronomy 1:38, Deuteronomy 5:31.
as at this day] ‘The reference may be either to the territory E. of Jordan, or (by an anachronism) to Palestine generally; the similar language of Deuteronomy 7:1 end, Deuteronomy 9:1, Deuteronomy 11:23 favours the latter interpretation’ (Driver).
Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.39. Know therefore] The apodosis in the long sentence Deuteronomy 4:37-39 begins here and not as the R.V. gives it with chose in Deuteronomy 4:37. See on Deuteronomy 7:9.
lay it to thine heart] Heb. bring back to thy heart, i.e. mind or memory. See on. Deuteronomy 4:29, and Deuteronomy 4:6.
Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.40. thou shalt keep his statutes and his commandments] Return to the keynote in Deuteronomy 4:1.
prolong thy days] See on Deuteronomy 4:26.
Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;41. Then Moses separated] Rather, set apart. In Deuteronomy 10:8 the verb is used of God’s solemn separation of Levi to bear the ark, etc., and in Deuteronomy 29:21 (20) of the idolater to evil. The form of the verb here has the force of began, or proceeded, to set apart.
three cities] On the number, and its contradiction of Deuteronomy 19:1 ff., see above, note introductory to this fragment.
beyond Jordan] As in Deuteronomy 1:1 the writer writes in W. Palestine. This is put past doubt by the additional clause, toward the sunrising, cf. Deuteronomy 4:47. P omits sun and writes towards the rising, Deuteronomy 4:49 and Numbers 32:19; Numbers 34:15.
41–43. Historical Note
Then, i.e. at the time of the preceding discourse in Moab, Moses set apart three cities E. of Jordan as asylums for men, who unwittingly and without previous hatred had slain their fellows: Beṣer, on the Plateau, Ramoth in Gilead, and Golan in Bashan.—The style of this fragment is deuteronomic (see notes below). But had it belonged to the previous historical discourse it would surely have appeared somewhere in Deuteronomy 3:18-29 (before the subsequent exhortations); and have been expressed in the 1st instead of the 3rd pers. sing. Nor is it alluded to, nor presupposed by, D’s law on the Cities of Refuge, Deuteronomy 19:1 ff.; indeed, it cannot have been known to the author of this law which directs Israel to set apart three cities in the midst of the land which God is going to give them, i.e. the whole land both E. and W. of Jordan1 (with the proviso that if God shall enlarge the land they may add three more). The fragment cannot have belonged, therefore, to the original D. P, in Numbers 35:9-34, records a law, as given to Moses in Moab, on the same subject; but states it (1) far mole elaborately, (2) in a different vocabulary, and (3) with some differences of substance (see for details, Intr. to Pent. 121 f.). The cities are to be six, three on either side Jordan, and to be appointed after the people have passed over Jordan. In another P passage, Joshua 20:1 f., this is said (again with some difference of terms) to have been done by Joshua; and the three E. cities named by him are the same as here. From all these data the most reasonable inference is that this fragment is the work of a deuteronomic editor either employing a tradition unknown to P; or (more probably) with P before him1 and making from it the natural inference that Moses had himself named the three cities E. of Jordan.—If this be correct the fragment is an interesting illustration of the tendency (in many nations) to develop historical narrative out of law. In the earlier legislation (E, Exodus 21:12-14; see Driver’s Ex. 215 f.) asylum is granted at every altar to him who has slain a man accidentally (but not to the wilful murderer). When all the altars were abolished by the deuteronomic legislation, except that of the Single Sanctuary, it became necessary to sanction asyla at a certain number of other places. This is done by D (Deuteronomy 19:1 ff.). The places were chosen partly (as is evident from the towns named W. of Jordan, Ḳedesh, Shechem, and Ḥebron) because they contained ancient sanctuaries and partly because of their convenience (evident equally from the towns chosen E. and W. of Jordan). From this arose the tradition2 that the selection had been made in the earliest times; but one form of the tradition assigns the naming of the three towns E. of Jordan to Moses; the other assigns the naming of all six to Joshua.—Why the deuteronomic editor should have put the former just here it is impossible to determine.
 This is the only fair interpretation; if the law Deuteronomy 19:1 ff. had meant three cities in W. Palestine in addition to the three already set apart by Moses on the E. of Jordan, it would surely have alluded to the latter. The law was obviously made in consequence of the institution of the single sanctuary and without regard to any historical tradition of what Moses or Joshua had done.
 The editor who compiled P with JED.
 The above data shew that the tradition (1) could not have been earlier than the deuteronomic legislation, for every altar before that provided an asylum; and (2) that it was later than the deuteronomic legislation.
That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:42. unawares, and hated him not in time past] The same terminology as in Deuteronomy 19:1 ff. For this E has lies not in wait but God delivers him into his hand (in contrast with wilfully), Exodus 21:12-14; but P gives another term, in error or inadvertence, Numbers 35:11; Numbers 35:15. Joshua 20 combines both phrases Deuteronomy 4:3; Deuteronomy 4:5; Deuteronomy 4:9.
Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.43. Bezer] Beṣer; described, as here, in Joshua 20:8; and in Joshua 21:36 along with Yahaṣ, Ḳedemoth, and Mepha‘ath. The name also occurs on the Moabite stone, line 27. No modern equivalent has been recovered. The meaning of the name is the general one of wall or fence.
Ramoth in Gilead] Joshua 20:8; Joshua 21:38 (with Maḥanaim), Ramoth of Gilead, 1 Kings 4:13, etc. It has been variously identified with Es-Salṭ (because of the military and administrative importance of this site, and the statement of Eusebius and Jerome that Ramoth Gilead lay 15 Roman miles W. of Philadelphia = Rabbath-‘Ammon), and with the ruins called el-Jal‘ûd, 6 miles N. of es-Salṭ. The Biblical data, however, imply a site N. of the Jabboḳ. Some have fixed on Jerash, but a site still further N. seems necessary. There Gadara (because it must always have been a fortress of importance, debateable between Israel and Aram, and because it is not otherwise mentioned in the O.T.) and Remtheh (both because of its position and its name) seem most suitable. Salḥad has been suggested, but it lies too far E., and its own name was too well known. See further HGHL 587 f., G. A. Cooke in Driver’s Deuteronomy (3rd ed.), Add. p. xx; Cheyne, E. B. 4014 ff.
Golan] Joshua 20:8; Joshua 21:27. The Γαυλάνη of Josephus (XIII. Ant. xv. 3; 1 B.J. iv. 4, 8) was in Eusebius’ time ‘a very large village in Batanea.’ To-day the name Jaulân corresponds to the Γαυλανῖτις of the Greek period, E. of the Lake of Galilee and between the Yarmûk and Ḥermon. Schumacher identifies the town with the modern Saḥem-el-Jaulan, 17 miles E. of the Lake. See HGHL 444 n. 2, 536, 553.
And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:44. And this is the law] So too Sam.; LXX, Vg. and Pesh. omit and. A slight symptom of the fact that this title once stood at the very beginning of an edition of D, the conjunction having been added when other matter was prefixed to it. On law, Tôrah, see Deuteronomy 1:5, Deuteronomy 31:1, etc.
set before] Heb. sam liphne instead of the synonymous nathan liphne usual in D.
children of Israel] Heb. bne Yisra’el. So E, Deuteronomy 10:6; JE (?), Deuteronomy 31:19; Deuteronomy 31:22 f.; P, Deuteronomy 1:3, Deuteronomy 32:51, Deuteronomy 34:8 f. and in titles here, Deuteronomy 4:45-46, Deuteronomy 29:1 (Deut 28:69). In D the usual term is all Israel. (Bne Yisra’el in Deuteronomy 3:18, Deuteronomy 23:18 is no exception, for there and probably also in Deuteronomy 24:7 it means only sons, i.e. males, of Israel.)
44–49. Introduction (or Introductions) to the following Discourses and Laws (5–26)
The appearance of a fresh heading at this point—between the two distinct sets of discourses Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:40 and Deuteronomy 5-11, which are further separated by the historical fragment, Deuteronomy 4:41-43—raises questions at the heart of the problem of the structure of the book of Deuteronomy. Does it signify that once the book began here and consisted only of the discourses 5–11 and the laws 12–26; Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:40 having been prefixed later? So Graf, Kue., Wellh., König, etc. Or is the appearance of the heading just here compatible with the theory that the whole of 1–26 is the work of one author? So Dillm. and Driver on the ground that a new title would not be unnatural where the actual exposition of the law at last begins (Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:40 having been mainly historical). Other alternatives arise from the structure of the heading. Like that in Deuteronomy 1:1-5 it is apparently composite. Deuteronomy 4:44-45 seem two independent titles; Deuteronomy 4:46-49 not only accumulate details after the manner of some other titles in the O.T. but contain a slight difference of style: in 47 D’s towards the sunrising, but in 49 P’s shorter form of the same (see on Deuteronomy 4:41 and the notes below). Other non-deuteronomic phrases are set before and children of Israel, thrice (see below on Deuteronomy 4:44); but both the contents, and with one exception the language, of 46–49 closely recall parts of chs. 2 and 3. Recently there has been a general disposition to break up the heading. Steuernagel supposes 44 and 45 to be respectively the titles of the two documents, in the Sg. and in the Pl. form of address, which he traces throughout chs. 5 ff.; Bertholet takes 44 as the transition from the first introductory address, 1–3, to the legislation proper, 12–26; and 45–49 as an introduction to ch. 5; Cullen takes 44 with 45c, 46a as the title to the original environment of the Law code or ‘Torah,’ but 45ab, 46bc as that of the first combined edition of the ‘Miṣwah’ and ‘Torah’ (see Introd. § 1). The variety of these hypotheses alone shows their precariousness; and there is this further objection to finding in the double title, 44 and 45, headings to the original documents of D, viz. that even in these verses non-deuteronomic phrases occur. The whole passage looks editorial: one piece (Dillmann) in the cumulative style beloved by later scribes rather than a growth from an original nucleus (Driver). Why then was it inserted just here? Dillm.’s and Driver’s answer, because at last with ch. 5 begins the actual exposition of the law, is hardly relevant; because in that case Deuteronomy 4:44 or Deuteronomy 4:45 would have contained some such verb as the expound which we find in the title Deuteronomy 1:5. Indeed, that title is more suitable here than where it stands, for it describes better the expository and hortatory character of 5 ff. than the prevailing historical style of Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:40.—On a review of the data and these arguments it seems to the present writer more possible, and even probable, that part of Deuteronomy 1:1-5 (and more particularly 5) originally formed the introduction to the combined discourses and laws, 5–26; that it was divorced from these by the prefixing to them of Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:40; and that when the whole book 1–26 was thus constituted, it was found convenient for its practical use to supply a new heading to chs. 5 ff. (Deuteronomy 5:1 being too slight for the purpose), which should at once indicate that a new set of discourses begins here, and at the same time furnish a summary of the historical situation in which the discourses and legislation were delivered as described in chs. 2, 3. Such a suggestion is at least suitable to the salient features of Deuteronomy 4:45-49 : that the language is partly post-deuteronomic and that part of the substance is based on chs. 2, 3.
These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt,45. the testimonies] An unsatisfactory translation of Heb. ‘çdoth. As the kindred verb signifies to solemnly affirm, attest, protest and warn, ‘edôth may mean either (1) decrees or edicts, or (2) solemn exhortations. Its association with statutes and judgements, here and again in Deuteronomy 6:20, and with commandments and statutes in Deuteronomy 6:17, where it stands not before but between these two legal terms, favours the former alternative. Similarly P uses the related form ‘edûth for the Decalogue. Steuernagel’s opinion that ‘edôth here covers the following hortatory discourses is therefore, while possible, less probable. Bertholet, limiting the reference of Deuteronomy 4:45-49 to ch. 5 (see introd. to this section), suggests that ‘edôth means the Decalogue in ch. 5.
statutes, and the judgements] See Deuteronomy 4:1.
children of Israel] See Deuteronomy 4:44.
when they came forth out of Egypt] An illustration of the writer’s late perspective. For thus to date legislation given in Moab forty years after the actual Exodus, was not possible for Moses himself or for a writer contemporary or nearly contemporary with him; but only for one viewing the whole progress of Israel from Egypt to the Promised Land from a very distant standpoint.
On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Bethpeor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt:46. beyond Jordan] See Deuteronomy 1:1.
the valley over against Beth-peor] Deuteronomy 3:29.
whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, etc.] This part of Deuteronomy 4:46 and Deuteronomy 4:47 are, of course, superfluous after chs. 2 and 3. But their superfluity does not necessarily prove that they were placed here before Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 3:29 was prefixed to chs. 5 ff. For Deuteronomy 4:48 f. are based on ch. 3.
And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;47. toward the sunrising] See Deuteronomy 4:41.
From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon,48. 49. from Aroer, etc.] These two vv. are a summary, with one addition, of what has been narrated in Deuteronomy 2:36, Deuteronomy 3:8; Deuteronomy 3:17, q.v.
mount Sion] Still another name for Ḥermon (see Deuteronomy 3:9), confirmed by LXX. The Pesh. Sirion is probably derived from Deuteronomy 3:9. The Heb. Si’ôn (not to be confounded with the Jerusalem Ṣiyyon, A.V. Zion) means elevation.
eastward] ad orientem, P’s equivalent for D’s towards the sunrising. See Deuteronomy 4:41.
And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.