Deuteronomy 5
Clarke's Commentary
God's covenant with the people in Horeb, Deuteronomy 5:1-4. Moses the mediator of it, Deuteronomy 5:5. A repetition of the ten commandments, vv. 6-21; which God wrote on two tables of stone, Deuteronomy 5:22. The people are filled with dread at the terrible majesty of God, Deuteronomy 5:23-26; and beseech Moses to be their mediator, Deuteronomy 5:27. The Lord admits of their request, Deuteronomy 5:28; and deplores their ungodliness, Deuteronomy 5:29. They are exhorted to obedience, that they may be preserved in the possession of the promised land, Deuteronomy 5:30-33.

And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.
And Moses called all Israel, and said - Hear, etc. -

1. God speaks to the people.

2. The people are called to hear what God speaks.

3. To learn what they heard, that they may be thoroughly instructed in the will of God.

4. To keep God's testimonies ever in mind, and to treasure them up in a believing and upright heart.

5. That they might do them - obey the whole will of God, taking his word for the invariable rule of their conduct. Should not all these points be kept in view by every Christian assembly?

The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb.
The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers (only) but with us (also).

The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,
(I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
I am the Lord thy God - See these commandments explained in the notes on Exodus 20 (note).

Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.
Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
And remember that thou wast a servant - In this and the latter clause of the preceding verse Moses adds another reason why one day in seven should be sanctified, viz., that the servants might rest, and this is urged upon them on the consideration of their having been servants in the land of Egypt. We see therefore that God had three grand ends in view by appointing a Sabbath.

1. To commemorate the creation.

2. To give a due proportion of rest to man and beast. When in Egypt they had no rest; their cruel task-masters caused them to labor without intermission; now God had given rest, and as he had showed them mercy, he teaches them to show mercy to their servants: Remember that thou wast a servant.

3. To afford peculiar spiritual advantages to the soul, that it might be kept in remembrance of the rest which remains at the right hand of God.

Therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day - Here is a variation in the manner of expression, Sabbath day for seventh, owing, it is supposed, to a change of the day at the exodus from Sunday to Saturday, effected upon the gathering of the manna, Exodus 16:23. The Sabbath now became a twofold memorial of the deliverance, as well as of the creation; and this accounts for the new reason assigned for its observance: "Therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath day." See Dr. A. Bayley's Hebr. and Eng. Bible, and see the note on Exodus 16:23.

Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
Neither shalt thou steal.
Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.
His field - This clause is not in the tenth commandment as it stands in Exodus 20:17.

These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice - See the notes on Exodus 20:18, etc.

And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.
Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.
For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.
And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
O that there were such a heart in them - Or rather, מי יתן והיה לבבם זה mi yitten vehayah lebabam zeh, Who will give such a heart to them, that they may fear, etc. They refuse to receive such a heart from me; who then can supply it? If they had not been such perfectly free agents as could either use or abuse their liberty, could God have made the complaint or expressed the earnest desire we find in this verse? He made the human will free; and in spite of all the influence of sin and Satan, he preserves its liberty. Had man no free will, he could neither be punished nor rewarded, because a mere machine, and consequently no more accountable for his actions than the fire for its consuming quality, or the stone for its gravity; the one having burned the house of the righteous, the other having crushed the innocent to death. See the note on Deuteronomy 29:4.

Go say to them, Get you into your tents again.
But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Ye shall observe to do - He who marks not the word of God is never likely to fulfill the will of God.

Ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left - The way of truth and righteousness is a right line; a man must walk straight forward who wishes to go to glory; no crooked or devious path ever led to God or happiness.

Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.
Ye shall walk in all the ways, etc. - God never gave a commandment to man which he did not design that he should obey. He who selects from the Divine testimonies such precepts as he feels but little inclination to transgress, and lives in the breach of others, sins against the grand legislative authority of God, and shall be treated as a rebel.

That ye may live - תחיון ticheyun, that ye may enjoy life, (for the paragogic nun, at the end of the word, deepens the sense), that it may be well with you ותוב לכם vetob lachem, and good shall be to you - God will prosper you in all things essential to the welfare of your bodies, and the salvation of your souls.

That ye may prolong your days in the land - That ye may arrive at a good old age, and grow more and more meet for the inheritance among the saints in light.

On this very important verse we may remark, a long life is a great blessing, if a man live to God, because it is in life, and in life alone, that a preparation for eternal glory may be acquired. Those who wish to die soon, have never yet learned to live, and know not the value of life or time. Many have a vain hope that they shall get either in death, or in the other world, a preparation for glory. This is a fatal error. Here, alone, we may acquaint ourselves with God, and receive that holiness without which none can see him. Reader, be thankful to him that thou art still in a state of probation; and pray that thou mayest live for eternity.

Commentary on the Bible, by Adam Clarke [1831].
Text Courtesy of Internet Sacred Texts Archive.

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