Deuteronomy 29:23
And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor bears, nor any grass grows therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:
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(23) And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein.—Can this be a description of the same country of which it was written in Deuteronomy 8:7-9, “A good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness;” and (Deuteronomy 11:12) “a land which the Lord thy God careth for”? Yet every one knows which of these two descriptions has been nearer to the actual fact for many centuries.

29:22-28 Idolatry would be the ruin of their nation. It is no new thing for God to bring desolating judgments on a people near to him in profession. He never does this without good reason. It concerns us to seek for the reason, that we may give glory to God, and take warning to ourselves. Thus the law of Moses leaves sinners under the curse, and rooted out of the Lord's land; but the grace of Christ toward penitent, believing sinners, plants them again in their land; and they shall no more be pulled up, being kept by the power of God.The description is borrowed from the local features of the Dead Sea and its vicinity. The towns of the vale of Siddim were fertile and well watered (compare Genesis 13:10) until devastated by the wrath of God Genesis 19:24-25. The ruin of Israel and its land should be of the like sort (compare Leviticus 26:31-32; Psalm 107:34; Zephaniah 2:9). The desolate state of Palestine at present, and the traces of former fertility and prosperity, are attested by every traveler. 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"? Is brimstone, and salt, and burning, i.e. is burnt up and made barren, as with brimstone and salt. See Judges 9:45 Psalm 107:34 Jeremiah 17:6 Ezekiel 47:11. And that the whole land thereof is brimstone and salt,

and burning,.... That is, is become exceeding barren, as all such land is where there are sulphureous mines, or salt pits, or burning mountains; not that this would be, or has been the case of the land of Judea in a strict literal sense; only these are expressions made use of to show the barrenness of it, which is its case at this day, not through the nature of its soil being changed, but through the slothfulness of the inhabitants of it; to which time it better agrees than to the time of its falling into the hands of the Chaldeans, who left men in it for husbandmen and vinedressers. Aben Ezra understands this as a prayer to God, that the land might be burnt up; that is, for the sins of the people:

that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein; not being sown, it would bear and produce no corn for men; and not being manured, no grass would spring up for the cattle: and so would be

like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, of Admah and Zeboim; which indeed are, strictly speaking, become a sulphurous and bituminous lake, called the salt sea, and the lake Asphaltites, and where no green grass or corn, or any kind of fruit grow: which the Lord overthrew in his anger and in his wrath the Targum of Jonathan is,"which the Word of the Lord overthrew;''and it was Jehovah, the Word, or Son of God, who rained, from Jehovah the Father, out of heaven, fire and brimstone on Sodom and Gomorrah, and the rest of the cities; See Gill on Genesis 19:24, in which chapter is the history of this fatal overthrow.

And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:
23. brimstone, etc.] The prediction is in terms of the surroundings of the Dead Sea. Beareth, lit. causeth to sprout; grass better herbage.

Sodom … Zeboiim] Amos 4:11, Hosea 11:8; Genesis 14:2; Genesis 19:24 f.Verse 23. - And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, etc.; rather, sulfur and salt, a burning the whole land thereof, it shall not be sown, etc. The words "sulfur," etc., are in apposition to the "plagues and sicknesses" of ver. 22, and thus so far depend on the "see." The description here is taken from the country around the Dead Sea, to which there is an express allusion in the close of the verse (cf. Genesis 19:23, etc.). As this country, which before had been as the garden of the Lord, became, when the wrath of God was poured upon it, utterly desolate and waste; so should it be with the land of Israel when the plagues and sicknesses threatened were laid on it by the Lord. The summons to enter into the covenant of the Lord is explained by Moses first of all by an exposition of the evil results which would follow from apostasy from the Lord, or the breach of His covenant. This exposition he introduces with an allusion to the experience of the people with reference to the worthlessness of idols, both in Egypt itself, and upon their march through the nations, whose territory they passed through (Deuteronomy 29:16, Deuteronomy 29:17). The words, "for ye have learned how we dwelt in Egypt, and passed through the nations...and have seen their abominations and their idols" (gillulim: lit., clods, see Leviticus 26:30), have this signification: In our abode in Egypt, and upon our march through different lands, ye have become acquainted with the idols of these nations, that they are not gods, but only wood and stone (see at Deuteronomy 4:28), silver and gold. את־אשׁר, as in Deuteronomy 9:7, literally "ye know that which we dwelt,' i.e., know what our dwelling there showed, what experience we gained there of the nature of heathen idols.
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