Deuteronomy 29:12
That you should enter into covenant with the LORD your God, and into his oath, which the LORD your God makes with you this day:
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(12) Enter (literally “pass “) into covenant with the Lord.—Comp. Ezekiel 20:37 : “I will cause you to pass under the rod, and I will bring you into the bond of the covenant” Rashi illustrates by Jeremiah 34:18, the passing between the parts of the divided victim, in order to enter into the covenant. (Comp. Genesis 15:17-18.) But no such ceremony is mentioned here, and therefore we can only say that possibly the practice may have given occasion for this use of the word “pass.”

His oath.—A word here used for the first time in Deuteronomy. It is rendered “curse” in Deuteronomy 29:19-21. It seems to mean an imprecation in the name of God (comp. Leviticus 5:4; Genesis 24:41), which may bring a curse if the thing sworn to is not fulfilled.

Which the Lord thy God maketh with thee.—Maketh; literally, cutteth. The word refers to the “covenant.”

29:10-21 The national covenant made with Israel, not only typified the covenant of grace made with true believers, but also represented the outward dispensation of the gospel. Those who have been enabled to consent to the Lord's new covenant of mercy and grace in Jesus Christ, and to give up themselves to be his people, should embrace every opportunity of renewing their open profession of relation to him, and their obligation to him, as the God of salvation, walking according thereto. The sinner is described as one whose heart turns away from his God; there the mischief begins, in the evil heart of unbelief, which inclines men to depart from the living God to dead idols. Even to this sin men are now tempted, when drawn aside by their own lusts and fancies. Such men are roots that bear gall and wormwood. They are weeds which, if let alone, overspread the whole field. Satan may for a time disguise this bitter morsel, so that thou shalt not have the natural taste of it, but at the last day, if not before, the true taste shall be discerned. Notice the sinner's security in sin. Though he hears the words of the curse, yet even then he thinks himself safe from the wrath of God. There is scarcely a threatening in all the book of God more dreadful than this. Oh that presumptuous sinners would read it, and tremble! for it is a real declaration of the wrath of God, against ungodliness and unrighteousness of man.The covenant was national, and therefore embraced all the elements which make up the nation. The "little ones" would of course be represented by their parents or guardians; the absent Deuteronomy 29:15 by those present; nor were the servants and proselytes to be excluded (compare Acts 2:39). The text is fairly alleged in justification of the Church's practice of admitting little ones into covenant with God by Baptism, and accepting promises made on their behalf by sponsors. 10-29. Ye stand this day all of you before the Lord your God—The whole congregation of Israel, of all ages and conditions, all—young as well as old; menials as well as masters; native Israelites as well as naturalized strangers—all were assembled before the tabernacle to renew the Sinaitic covenant. None of them were allowed to consider themselves as exempt from the terms of that national compact, lest any lapsing into idolatry might prove a root of bitterness, spreading its noxious seed and corrupt influence all around (compare Heb 12:15). It was of the greatest consequence thus to reach the heart and conscience of everyone, for some might delude themselves with the vain idea that by taking the oath (De 29:12) by which they engaged themselves in covenant with God, they would surely secure its blessings. Then, even though they would not rigidly adhere to His worship and commands, but would follow the devices and inclinations of their own hearts, yet they would think that He would wink at such liberties and not punish them. It was of the greatest consequence to impress all with the strong and abiding conviction, that while the covenant of grace had special blessings belonging to it, it at the same time had curses in reserve for transgressors, the infliction of which would be as certain, as lasting and severe. This was the advantage contemplated in the law being rehearsed a second time. The picture of a once rich and flourishing region, blasted and doomed in consequence of the sins of its inhabitants, is very striking, and calculated to awaken awe in every reflecting mind. Such is, and long has been, the desolate state of Palestine; and, in looking at its ruined cities, its blasted coast, its naked mountains, its sterile and parched soil—all the sad and unmistakable evidences of a land lying under a curse—numbers of travellers from Europe, America, and the Indies ("strangers from a far country," De 29:22) in the present day see that the Lord has executed His threatening. Who can resist the conclusion that it has been inflicted "because the inhabitants had forsaken the covenant of the Lord God of their fathers. … and the anger of the Lord was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book"? Into covenant, and into his oath, i.e. into covenant or agreement, confirmed by a solemn oath. That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the Lord thy God,.... That is, they were all to appear and stand in this order before the Lord, that they might solemnly avouch him to be their God, and hear him declaring them to be his people, and the many promises and prophecies of good things he should deliver to them, as well as threatenings of wrath and vengeance in case of disobedience to him: or "that thou shouldest pass" (e): which some think is an allusion to the manner of making covenants, by slaying a creature, and cutting it in pieces, and passing between them, as in Jeremiah 34:18; so Jarchi and Aben Ezra:

and into his oath; annexed to his covenant and promise, to show the immutability and certain fulfilment of it on his part; and may signify not only the oath he swore that they should be his people, but the oath he gave them, and they took, that he should be their God:

which the Lord thy God maketh with thee this day; which refers both to the covenant and the oath, or the covenant confirmed by an oath, even the covenant now made in the plains of Moab, distinct from that at Horeb or Sinai.

(e) "ut transeas", V. L. Tigurine version, Munster, Vatablus, Pagniuns, Cocceius; "ad transeundum", Montanus.

That thou shouldest {g} enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day:

(g) Alluding to them, that when they made a sure covenant, divided a beast in two, and past between the parts divided, Ge 15:10.

12. enter into the covenant] Lit. pass over into only here. Cp. the passing over into a select and numbered body, Exodus 30:13 f. (P); also the prepositions in our terms ‘trans-act,’ ‘carry through.’ On covenant see Deuteronomy 4:13.

and into his oath] Cp. Nehemiah 10:29 : enter into an oath. God confirms His covenant by an oath, Deuteronomy 4:31, etc. The Heb. ’alah is used three times in this ch., 12, 14, 19 (q.v.), as = oath, and thrice Deuteronomy 29:20-21 and Deuteronomy 30:7 as imprecation, or curse; but nowhere else in Deut.With the appeal to the gracious guidance of Israel by God through the desert, the address of Moses passes imperceptibly into an address from the Lord, just as in Deuteronomy 11:14. (On Deuteronomy 29:5, Deuteronomy 29:6, vid., Deuteronomy 8:3-4; on Deuteronomy 29:7, vid., Deuteronomy 2:26., and Deuteronomy 3:1. and Deuteronomy 3:12.).
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