Deuteronomy 1:12
How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(12) Your cumbrance.—The original word is found only here and in Isaiah 1:14 : “They are a trouble unto me, I am weary to bear them.”

Deuteronomy 1:13-15 recall very exactly what is said in Exodus 18

Deuteronomy 1:12-13. How can I alone bear your burden? — The trouble of ruling and managing so perverse a people. Your strife — Your contentions among yourselves, for the determination whereof the elders were appointed. Take ye wise men and understanding — Persons of knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Known among your tribes — Hebrew, to your tribes; men had in reputation for ability and integrity; for to such they would more readily submit.1:9-18 Moses reminds the people of the happy constitution of their government, which might make them all safe and easy, if it was not their own fault. He owns the fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham, and prays for the further accomplishment of it. We are not straitened in the power and goodness of God; why should we be straitened in our own faith and hope? Good laws were given to the Israelites, and good men were to see to the execution of them, which showed God's goodness to them, and the care of Moses.This appointment of the "captains" (compare Exodus 18:21 ff) must not be confounded with that of the elders in Numbers 11:16 ff. The former would number 78,600; the latter were 70 only.

A comparison between this passage and that in Exodus makes it obvious that Moses is only touching on certain parts of the whole history, without regard to order of time, but with a special purpose. This important arrangement for the good government of the people took place before they left Horeb to march direct to the promised land. This fact sets more clearly before us the perverseness and ingratitude of the people, to which the orator next passes; and shows, what he was anxious to impress, that the fault of the 40 years' delay rested only with themselves!

10. ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude—This was neither an Oriental hyperbole nor a mere empty boast. Abraham was told (Ge 15:5, 6) to look to the stars, and though they "appear" innumerable, yet those seen by the naked eye amount, in reality, to no more than three thousand ten in both hemispheres. The Israelites already far exceeded that number, being at the last census above six hundred thousand [Nu 26:51]. It was a seasonable memento, calculated to animate their faith in the accomplishment of other parts of the divine promise. Your burden; the trouble of ruling and managing so perverse a people.

Your strife; either your quarrellings with God; or rather your contentions among yourselves, for the determination whereof the elders were appointed. How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? His meaning is, that he could not hear and try all their causes, and determine all their law suits, and decide the strifes and controversies which arose between them; it was too heavy for him, and brought too much trouble and incumbrance upon him. How can I myself alone {i} bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?

(i) Signifying how great a burden it is, to govern the people.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. How] This emphatic Heb. form is found in the Pent. only here, Deuteronomy 7:17, Deuteronomy 12:30, Deuteronomy 18:21, (Deuteronomy 32:30).

can I myself alone bear] See on Deuteronomy 1:9.

your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife] Better the weight, the burden, and the strife of you. Weight cp. Isaiah 1:14, they are a weight upon me, I am weary of bearing. Is the use of the word here an echo of Isaiah? The Heb. ṭoraḥ is not found elsewhere in the O. T. Burden or carriage, cp. J, Numbers 11:11, the burden of all this people upon me, and 17. Strife; the Heb. rîb is used in JE of quarrels about wells and other physical struggles; but also of law-disputes, and of Israel’s contentiousness with Moses and God (E, Exodus 17:2; Exodus 17:7; J, Numbers 20:3; P, Numbers 20:13; and in the Song, Deuteronomy 33:8). In D four times for law-pleas. Here it is either the people’s litigiousness among themselves or their frequent contentions with Moses and God.Verse 12. - Moses appeals to the good sense of the people themselves: How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Cumbrance: this is a just rendering of the Hebrew word מֹרֲח, from טָרַח, which, though it occurs only in the Hiphil in Hebrew, in the sense of to cast down (Job 17:11), probably was in use also in the Kal, in the sense of to lay upon, to encumber, which is the meaning of the cognate Arabic followed by . Burden (שָּׁא, from נָשָׂא, to lift up, to carry, to bear), something lifted up and carried, a load or burden. Strife: (רִיב) here, not mere contention, but litigation, suit-at-law. Some understand all these three, of troubles and burdens laid upon Moses, by his being called upon to compose differences, and adjust competing claims among the people. But other burdens besides these came upon him as the leader of the nation; and it seems best, therefore, to understand the first two of troubles and burdens generally. Moses commenced with the summons issued by the Lord to Israel at Horeb, to rise and go to Canaan.

Deuteronomy 1:6

As the epithet applied to God, "Jehovah our God," presupposes the reception of Israel into covenant with Jehovah, which took place at Sinai, so the words, "ye have dwelt long enough at this mountain," imply that the purpose for which Israel was taken to Horeb had been answered, i.e., that they had been furnished with the laws and ordinances requisite for the fulfilment of the covenant, and could now remove to Canaan to take possession of the promised land. The word of Jehovah mentioned here is not found in this form in the previous history; but as a matter of fact it is contained in the divine instructions that were preparatory to their removal (Numbers 1-4 and Numbers 9:15-10:10), and the rising of the cloud from the tabernacle, which followed immediately afterwards (Numbers 10:11). The fixed use of the name Horeb to designate the mountain group in general, instead of the special name Sinai, which is given to the particular mountain upon which the law was given, is in keeping with the rhetorical style of the book.

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