Deuteronomy 27:1
And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day.
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(1) Moses with the elders.—Here joined in exhortation for the first time in this book.

Keep.—Literally, to keep. Possibly we are intended to connect the two verses. In order to keep them, ye shall write them.

Deuteronomy 27:2-4

(2) Set . . . up great stones, and plaister them with plaister.—The idea is to make a smooth surface, on which the Law could be inscribed. “Plaister” only here and in Isaiah 33:12; Amos 2:2. In both those places it is rendered “lime.”

(3) Thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in.—Again it is evident that the “going in” to the land and the “passing over” Jordan are not identical. The “Law of God” was to be set up in the heart of the country, as soon as Israel had entered it, in order that they might complete the conquest of it. It is abundantly clear that Israel’s title to Canaan was dependent upon their maintaining the Law of Jehovah as the law of the land.

For the fulfilment of this precept, see Joshua 8:32-35. The words of this verse are an additional reason for the view taken in the Note on that passage, that the Law was set up on Ebal immediately after the capture of Ai, without waiting for the completion of the conquest (as some suppose).

Deuteronomy 27:1. Moses with the elders — Having in discourses at several times repeated the principal parts of the laws, and made several necessary additions to them, Moses called the council together, and summoned the body of the people to attend them at the tabernacle; where, after an earnest exhortation to observe what he had already said, and was now about to prescribe to them, he directs them, the first opportunity they had after their arrival in the land of promise, to renew their covenant with God in a solemn manner. In order to this they were to write or engrave the chief heads of their law, especially of the moral law, upon large square stones, smoothly plastered over for that purpose, to be audibly read to the whole assembly with the circumstances hereafter appointed. This day — This expression signifies not the space of one day, but refers to the whole time of their abode in the plains of Moab.27:1-10 As soon as they were come into Canaan, they must set up a monument, on which they must write the words of this law. They must set up an altar. The word and prayer must go together. Though they might not, of their own heads, set up any altar besides that at the tabernacle; yet, by the appointment of God, they might, upon special occasion. This altar must be made of unhewn stones, such as they found upon the field. Christ, our Altar, is a stone cut out of the mountain without hands, refused by the builders, as having no form or comeliness, but accepted of God the Father, and made the Head of the corner. In the Old Testament the words of the law are written, with the curse annexed; which would overcome us with horror, if we had not, in the New Testament, an altar erected close by, which gives consolation. Blessed be God, the printed copies of the Scriptures among us, do away the necessity of such methods as were presented to Israel. The end of the gospel ministry is, and the end of preachers ought to be, to make the word of God as plain as possible. Yet, unless the Spirit of God prosper such labours with Divine power, we shall not, even by these means, be made wise unto salvation: for this blessing we should therefore daily and earnestly pray.Moses in a third discourse Deuteronomy 27-30, proceeds more specifically to dwell upon the sanctions of the Law. In these chapters he sets before Israel in striking and elaborate detail the blessings which would ensue upon faithfulness to the covenant, and the curses which disobedience would involve. Deuteronomy 27 introduces this portion of the book by enjoining the erection of a stone monument on which the Law should be inscribed as soon as the people took possession of the promised inheritance Deuteronomy 27:1-10; and by next prescribing the liturgical form after which the blessings and cursings should be pronounced Deuteronomy 27:11-26. CHAPTER 27

De 27:1-10. The People Are to Write the Law upon Stones.A command to set up stones for a remembrance, and to write the law upon them: they must build the altar of the Lord with whole stones, Deu 26:1-8. To pronounce the blessing on Gerizim, and the curse on Ebal, Deu 27:9-26.

No text from Poole on this verse.

And Moses, with the elders of Israel, commanded the people,

saying,.... The seventy elders, at the head of whom was Moses, which made the great sanhedrim, or council of the nation; Moses having recited all the laws of God to the people, these joined with him in an exhortation to them to observe and obey them:

keep all the commandments which I command you this day; not in his own name, as being the supreme legislator, but in the name of the Lord, whom they had avouched to be their God and King, from whom he had received them.

And Moses with the elders of Israel {a} commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day.

(a) As God's minister and charged with the same.

1. Note the re-appearance of the narrative form.

And Moses and the elders … commanded the people] The association of the elders with Moses in giving this charge is singular, especially in view of the following, ‘which I command you.’ The LXX (except in a few cursive MSS) omits the people. Therefore some read, And Moses commanded the elders. More probably we have here the fusion of the introductions to the two different forms of the law, Moses commanded the elders and Moses commanded the people (so also Marti; cp. Berth.).

Keep all the commandment, etc.] Heb. Miṣwah viii. 1; cp. Deuteronomy 5:12 (observe), 31, Deuteronomy 6:1. In Sam., LXX keep is PL.

1–8. Erection of Stones for the Inscription of the Law, and of an Altar

Moses and the elders charged the people to keep the commandment (1); when they cross Jordan they shall set up stones and, whitening them, shall thereon write the Law (Torah) (2 f.); they shall do this on Mt ‘Ebal (4), and build an altar (of the form enjoined in E, Exodus 20:24 f.) for burnt and peace offerings, eating and rejoicing before God (5–7), and writing on the stones very plainly (8).—The passage is a compilation from different sources.

First, in Deuteronomy 27:2-4; Deuteronomy 27:8, Deuteronomy 27:2 f. and Deuteronomy 27:4; Deuteronomy 27:8 are doublets (cp. Dillm., Westphal, Berth., Marti). With deuteron. phrases both command the same thing, the erection of stones to bear on a white surface an inscription of the Law; but the former prescribes this to be done immediately (Deuteronomy 27:3) on the crossing of the Jordan, the latter on Mt ‘Ebal. Here, then, is another indication of more than one edition of the Code with different supplements. Deuteronomy 27:1 fuses the introductions to these two supplements: Moses charged the elders, and Moses charged the people (see below). Second, in Deuteronomy 27:5-7 the command to build an altar on ‘Ebal seems inconsistent with D’s law of the One Altar, and therefore it is usually taken as the revision by a deuteronomic editor (note the phrases in 7 b) of a command in E (see the small print above on chs. 27–30). This only mitigates the difficulty, if Deuteronomy 27:5-7 be really inconsistent with ch. 12. Yet, whoever placed 5–7 here, must have felt no inconsistency; probably because he argued that at the time fixed for the erection of an altar on ‘Ebal Israel would not have gotten that rest from all their enemies round about, which D fixes as the date after which the law of the One Altar was to come into operation (Deuteronomy 12:10). Because the text is uncertain and the passage has been touched by more editors than one, we can infer nothing from the changes between the Sg. and Pl. forms of address in this passage.

Steuern. offers with reserve the following analysis. ‘The Editor appears first to have expanded Deuteronomy 27:5-7 [a fragment older than D] with 2 b, 3 a and thereby identified the altar-stones with the stones on which the law was written, as in Joshua 8:30 ff.; hence he also repeated 3 a in Deuteronomy 27:8. Another has further identified these stones with those Deuteronomy 27:2 a α and so added besides Deuteronomy 27:1-2 a α, 4 a.’Verse 1. - All the commandments, etc.; all that up to this time I have enjoined upon you. The reference is to the entire Law as given by Moses. "I have not eaten thereof in my sorrow." אני, from און, tribulation, distress, signifies here in all probability mourning, and judging from what follows, mourning for the dead, equivalent to "in a mourning condition," i.e., in a state of legal (Levitical) uncleanness; so that בּאני really corresponded to the בּטמא which follows, except that טמא includes every kind of legal uncleanness. "I have removed nothing thereof as unclean," i.e., while in the state of an unclean person. Not only not eaten of any, but not removed any of it from the house, carried it away in an unclean state, in which they were forbidden to touch the holy gifts (Leviticus 22:3). "And not given (any) of it on account of the dead." This most probably refers to the custom of sending provisions into a house of mourning, to prepare meals for the mourners (2 Samuel 3:25; Jeremiah 16:7; Hosea 9:4; Tobit 4:17). A house of mourning, with its inhabitants, was regarded as unclean; consequently nothing could be carried into it of that which was sanctified. There is no good ground for thinking of idolatrous customs, or of any special superstition attached to the bread of mourning; nor is there any ground for understanding the words as referring to the later Jewish custom of putting provisions into the grave along with the corpse, to which the Septuagint rendering, οὐκ ἔδωκα ἀπ αὐτῶν τῷ τεθνηκότι, points. (On Deuteronomy 26:15, see Isaiah 63:15.)
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