Deuteronomy 1:13
Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.
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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. Persons of knowledge, wisdom, and experience, men famous, and had in reputation, for ability and integrity; for to such they would more readily submit. Take ye wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes,.... Not only whose persons were well known, but their characters and qualifications, for their probity and integrity, for their wisdom and prudence in the management of affairs, for their skill and knowledge in things divine and human, civil and religious, and for their capacity in judging and determining matters in difference; see Exodus 18:21.

and I will make them rulers over you; the people were allowed to choose their own officers, whom they were to bring to Moses, and present before him, to be invested with their office. A like method was taken in the choice and constitution of deacons in the Christian church, when the secular affairs of it lay too heavy upon the apostles, Acts 6:3.

Take you wise men, and understanding, and {k} known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.

(k) Whose godliness and uprightness is known.

13. Take you] Heb. Give yourselves: Joshua 18:4. The people themselves are to elect as in Deuteronomy 16:18, consistently with the emphasis, so frequent in D, on the judicial responsibilities of the whole people. In E, Exodus 18:25 (cp. Numbers 11:16), Moses chooses.

wise men, and understanding, and known] With the LXX some take the last term as synonymous with the others; either reading as in the Heb. the pass. part. experienced, or the act. Part. knowing. The pass. part. is perhaps the better, but as meaning known: men reputed for their judicial gifts, as among the Arabs to-day. While here the emphasis is laid on intellectual gifts, which, however, in D always include the moral; E, Exodus 18:21, more definitely expresses the latter: men of power (Dri. capable, worthy), fearing God, men of troth, hating unjust gain.

according to your tribes] E, Exodus 18:21; Exodus 18:25 : out of, all the people, all Israel. E and D use shebet for tribe, but P’s usual term is maṭṭah.

make them heads over you] Rather, set them as your chiefs.Verse 13. - Take you; literally, give to you or for you, i.e. yourselves. The selection was to be made by the people themselves. Jethro, in giving Moses the advice on which he thus acted, described the men who were to be selected as "such as fear God, men of truth, hating covetousness" (Exodus 18:21). Moses here describes them rather by qualities, indicating ability and fitness for such a post as that to which they were to be called; they were to be wise (which, indeed, may be regarded as comprehending all good moral qualities); understanding men, men of discernment and sagacity, as well as intelligence; and known among their tribes, men of good repute in the community ("quorum conversatio sit probata," Vulgate; comp. Acts 6:3; 1 Timothy 3:7). And I will make them rulers over you; literally, will set them for your heads, i.e. will appoint them to act as superintendents, managers, and judges over you. "Go to the mount of the Amorites, and to all who dwell near." The mount of the Amorites is the mountainous country inhabited by this tribe, the leading feature in the land of Canaan, and is synonymous with the "land of the Canaanites" which follows; the Amorites being mentioned instar omnium as being the most powerful of all the tribes in Canaan, just as in Genesis 15:16 (see at Genesis 10:16). שׁכניו, "those who dwell by it," are the inhabitants of the whole of Canaan, as is shown by the enumeration of the different parts of the land, which follows immediately afterwards. Canaan was naturally divided, according to the character of the ground, into the Arabah, the modern Ghor (see at Deuteronomy 1:1); the mountain, the subsequent mountains of Judah and Ephraim (see at Numbers 13:17); the lowland (shephelah), i.e., the low flat country lying between the mountains of Judah and the Mediterranean Sea, and stretching from the promontory of Carmel down to Gaza, which is intersected by only small undulations and ranges of hills, and generally includes the hill country which formed the transition from the mountains to the plain, though the two are distinguished in Joshua 10:40 and Joshua 12:8 (see at Joshua 15:33.); the south land (negeb: see at Numbers 13:17); and the sea-shore, i.e., the generally narrow strip of coast running along by the Mediterranean Sea from Joppa to the Tyrian ladders, or Rs el Abiad, just below Tyre (vid., v. Raumer, Pal. p. 49). - The special mention of Lebanon in connection with the land of the Canaanites, and the enumeration of the separate parts of the land, as well as the extension of the eastern frontier as far as the Euphrates (see at Genesis 15:18), are to be attributed to the rhetorical fulness of the style. The reference, however, is not to Antilibanus, but to Lebanon proper, which was within the northern border of the land of Israel, as fixed in Numbers 34:7-9.
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