Deuteronomy 30:11
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
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(11) For this commandment.—Heb., Mitzvah. This duty, this form of obedience to the law.

Is not hidden from theei.e., not too hard. Literally, too wonderful for thee. (Comp. Deuteronomy 17:8; Psalm 139:6.)

(12) It is not in heaven.—St. Paul cites the words thus: “The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above” (Romans 10:6-7).

(13) Neither is it beyond the sea.—St. Paul continues, “Or (say not), Who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead.” The alteration here is remarkable. The LXX. will not account for it. “Beyond the sea” generally suggests the idea of a land on the other side of the surface of the ocean. But a descent into the abyss,” which is what St. Paul indicates, means a passage through the sea to that which is beneath it, “beyond the sea “in a very different sense. No one but Jonah ever went beyond the sea in this way, as he says, “Out of the belly of hell cried I . . . Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the heart of the seas . . . I went down to the bottoms of the mountains . . . The deep (abyss) closed me about.” And this descent of Jonah is chosen as the “sign” of Christ’s descent into hell.

(14) But the word is very nigh unto thee.—Here the difference between the Jewish and the Christian commentator is very striking. “The Law is given you in Scripture and in tradition” (written and orally), says Rashi on this place. But St. Paul continues thus: “But what saith it (the righteousness of faith)? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart, that is, the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved.” It is worthy of notice that St. Paul in this place contrasts the righteousness of faith with the righteousness of the law, and describes both alike in the words of the Pentateuch. Concerning the righteousness of the law, he says, Moses describeth it, “The man which doeth those things shall live by them.” The citation is from Leviticus 18:5. And there is a similar passage in Deuteronomy 6:25. What could more clearly prove that the covenant of Deuteronomy 28, 29 was meant to present the way of salvation from a different point of view to the Sinaitic covenant, and was “beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.” Not that we are to suppose there was ever a different way of salvation. The Decalogue itself begins (like the new covenant) with “I am the Lord thy God.” But, unlike the new covenant, it makes no provision whereby Israel may keep the laws arising out of the relationship. The new covenant not only asserts the relationship, but provides the means whereby men may walk worthy of it. “I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their heart.” (See Note on Deuteronomy 29:13.)

It is only in the power of this principle that Moses, in the exhortation which he founds on this statement of the way of righteousness through faith, could say as he did in Deuteronomy 30:19, “therefore choose life.”



Deuteronomy 30:11 - Deuteronomy 30:20

This paragraph closes the legislation of this book, the succeeding chapters being in the nature of an epilogue or appendix. It sums up the whole law, makes plain its inmost essence and its tremendous alternatives. As in the closing strains of some great symphony, the themes which have run through the preceding movements are woven together in the final burst of music. Let us try to discover the component threads of the web.

The first point to note is the lofty conception of the true essence of the whole law, which is enshrined here. ‘This commandment which I command thee this day’ is twice defined in the section {vs. Deuteronomy 30:16, Deuteronomy 30:20}, and in both instances ‘to love Jehovah thy God’ is presented as the all-important precept. Love is recognised as the great commandment. Leviticus may deal with minute regulations for worship, but these are subordinate, and the sovereign commandment is love. Nor is the motive which should sway to love omitted; for what a tender drawing by the memories of what He had done for Israel is put forth in the name of ‘Jehovah, thy God!’ The Old Testament system is a spiritual system, and it too places the very heart of religion in love to God, drawn out by the contemplation of his self-revelation in his loving dealings with us. We have here clearly recognised that the obedience which pleases God is obedience born of love, and that the love which really sets towards God will, like a powerful stream, turn all the wheels of life in conformity to His will. When Paul proclaimed that ‘love is the fulfilling of the law,’ he was only repeating the teaching of this passage, when it puts ‘to walk in His ways,’ or ‘to obey His voice,’ after ‘to love Jehovah thy God.’ Obedience is the result and test of love; love is the only parent of real obedience.

The second point strongly insisted on here is the blessedness of possessing such a knowledge as the law gives. Deuteronomy 30:11 - Deuteronomy 30:14 present that thought in three ways. The revelation is not that of duties far beyond our capacity: ‘It is not too hard for thee.’ No doubt, complete conformity with it is beyond our powers, and entire, whole-hearted, and whole-souled love of God is not attained even by those who love Him most. Paul’s position that the law gives the knowledge of sin, just because it presents an impossible elevation in its ideal, is not opposed to the point of view of this context; for he is thinking of complete conformity as impossible, while it is thinking of real, though imperfect, obedience as within the reach of all men. No man can love as he ought; every man can love. It is blessed to have our obligations all gathered into such a commandment.

Again, the possession of the law is a blessing, because its authoritative voice ends the weary quest after some reliable guide to conduct, and we need neither try to climb to heaven, nor to traverse the wide world and cross the ocean, to find certitude and enlightenment enough for our need. They err who think of God’s commandments as grievous burdens; they are merciful guide-posts. They do not so much lay weights on our backs as give light to our eyes.

Still further, the law has its echo ‘in thy heart.’ It is ‘graven on the fleshly tables of the heart,’ and we all respond to it when it gathers up all duty into ‘Thou shalt love the Lord thy God,’ and our consciences say to it, ‘Thou speakest well.’ The worst man knows it better than the best man keeps it. Blurred and illegible often, like the half-defaced inscriptions disinterred from the rubbish mounds that once were Nineveh or Babylon, that law remains written on the hearts of all men.

A further point to be well laid to heart is the merciful plainness and emphasis with which the issues that are suspended on obedience or disobedience are declared. The solemn alternatives are before every man that hears. Life or death, blessing or cursing, are held out to him, and it is for him to elect which shall be realised in his case. Of course, it may be said that the words ‘life’ and ‘death’ are here used in their merely physical sense, and that the context shows {Deuteronomy 30:17 - Deuteronomy 30:18} that life here means only ‘length of days, that thou mayest dwell in the land.’ No doubt that is so, though we can scarcely refuse to see some glimmer of a deeper conception gleaming through the words, ‘He is thy life,’ though it is but a glimmer. We have no space here to enter upon the question of how far it is now true that obedience brings material blessings. It was true for Israel, as many a sad experience that it was a bitter as well as an evil thing to forsake Jehovah was to show in the future. But though the connection between well-doing and material gain is not so clear now, it is by no means abrogated, either for nations or for individuals. Moral and religious law has social and economic consequences, and though the perplexed distribution of earthly good and ill often bewilders faith and emboldens scepticism, there still is visible in human affairs a drift towards recompensing in the world the righteous and the wicked.

But to us, with our Christian consciousness, ‘life’ means more than living, and ‘He is our life’ in a deeper and more blessed sense than that our physical existence is sustained by His continual energy. The love of God and consequent union with Him give us the only true life. Jesus is ‘our life,’ and He enters the spirit which opens to Him by faith, and communicates to it a spark of His own immortal life. He that is joined to Jesus lives; he that is separated from Him ‘is dead while he liveth.’

The last point here is the solemn responsibility for choosing one’s part, which the revelation of the law brings with it. ‘I have set before thee life and death, the blessing and the curse, therefore choose life.’ We each determine for ourselves whether the knowledge of what we ought to be will lead to life or to death, and by choosing obedience we choose life. Every ray of light from God is capable of producing a double effect. It either gladdens or pains, it either gives vision or blindness. The gospel, which is the perfect revelation of God in Christ, brings every one of us face to face with the great alternative, and urgently demands from each his personal act of choice whether he will accept it or neglect or reject it. Not to choose to accept is to choose to reject. To do nothing is to choose death. The knowledge of the law was not enough, and neither is an intellectual reception of the gospel. The one bred Pharisees, who were ‘whited sepulchres’; the other breeds orthodox professors, who have ‘a name to live and are dead.’ The clearer our light, the heavier our responsibility. If we are to live, we have to ‘choose life’; and if we do not, by the vigorous exercise of our will, turn away from earth and self, and take Jesus for our Saviour and Lord, loving and obeying whom we love and obey God, we have effectually chosen a worse death than that of the body, and flung away a better life than that of earth.

Deuteronomy 30:11. This commandment — The great command of loving and obeying God, which is the sum of the law, of which yet he doth not here speak as it is in itself, but as it is mollified and accompanied with the grace of the gospel. The meaning is, that though the practice of God’s laws be now far from us, and above our strength, yet, considering the advantage of gospel grace, whereby God enables us to do our duty, it is near and easy to us, who believe. And so this well agrees with Romans 10:6, &c., where St. Paul applies this place to the righteousness of faith. Is not hidden — Hebrew, Is not too wonderful for thee; not too hard for thee to know and do. The will of God, which is but darkly manifested to other nations, (Acts 17:27,) is clearly and fully revealed unto thee: thou canst not pretend ignorance or invincible difficulty.

30:11-14 The law is not too high for thee. It is not only known afar off; it is not confined to men of learning. It is written in thy books, made plain, so that he who runs may read it. It is in thy mouth, in the tongue commonly used by thee, in which thou mayest hear it read, and talk of it among thy children. It is delivered so that it is level to the understanding of the meanest. This is especially true of the gospel of Christ, to which the apostle applies it. But the word is nigh us, and Christ in that word; so that if we believe with the heart, that the promises of the Messiah are fulfilled in our Lord Jesus, and confess them with our mouth, we then have Christ with us.Ignorance of the requirements of the law cannot be pleaded Deuteronomy 30:10-14; hence, Deuteronomy 30:15-20 life and death, good and evil, are solemnly set before the people for their own choice; and an earnest exhortation to choose the better part concludes the address.

Deuteronomy 30:11-14. "The righteousness which is of faith" is really and truly described in these words of the Law; and, under Paul's guidance (see marginal references) we affirm was intended so to be. For the simplicity and accessibility which Moses here attributes to the Law of God neither is nor can be experimentally found in it except through the medium of faith; even though outwardly and in the letter that Law be written out for us so "that he may run that readeth," and be set forth in its duties and its sanctions as plainly as it was before the Jews by Moses. The seeming ease of the commandment, and yet its real impossibility to the natural man, form part of the qualifications of the Law to be our schoolmaster to bring us unto Christ.

Deuteronomy 30:11

Not hidden from thee - Rather, not too hard for thee, as in Deuteronomy 17:8.

Neither is it far off - Compare Luke 17:21.

De 30:11-14. The Commandment Is Manifest.

11-14. For this commandment … is not hidden … neither is it far off—That law of loving and obeying God, which was the subject of Moses' discourse, was well known to the Israelites. They could not plead ignorance of its existence and requirements. It was not concealed as an impenetrable mystery in heaven, for it had been revealed; nor was it carefully withheld from the people as a dangerous discovery; for the youngest and humblest of them were instructed in those truths, which were subjects of earnest study and research among the wisest and greatest of other nations. They were not under a necessity of undertaking long journeys or distant voyages, as many ancient sages did in quest of knowledge. They enjoyed the peculiar privilege of a familiar acquaintance with it. It was with them a subject of common conversation, engraven on their memories, and frequently explained and inculcated on their hearts. The apostle Paul (Ro 10:6-8) has applied this passage to the Gospel, for the law of Christ is substantially the same as that of Moses, only exhibited more clearly in its spiritual nature and extensive application; and, accompanied with the advantages of Gospel grace, it is practicable and easy.

He seems to speak of the law, or of that great command of loving and obeying God, mentioned here Deu 30:2,6,10,16, which is the sum of the law, of which yet he doth not here speak simply, or as it is in itself, but as it is mollified and accompanied with the grace of the gospel, whereby God circumciseth men’s hearts to do this, as is expressed Deu 30:6. The meaning is, that although the practice of God’s law strictly and severely be now far from us, and above our strength, yet, considering the advantage of gospel grace, whereby God enables us in some measure to our duty, and accepts of our sincere endeavours instead of perfection, and imputes Christ’s perfect righteousness unto us that believe, now it is near and easy to us. And so this place well agrees with Romans 10:6, &c., where St. Paul expounds or applies this place to the righteousness of faith, by which alone the law is such as it is here described.

It is not hidden from thee, Heb. is not too wonderful for thee, as Deu 17:8 Proverbs 30:18 Jeremiah 32:17, i.e. not too hard for thee to know and do: the will of God, which is but darkly manifested to other nations, Acts 17:27, is clearly and fully revealed unto thee; thou canst not pretend ignorance or invincible difficulty.

Far off, i.e. out of thy reach.

For this commandment which I command thee this day,.... Which the Jews understand of the law, but the Apostle Paul has taught us to interpret it of the word of faith, the Gospel preached by him and other ministers, Romans 10:6; which better suits with the context, and the prophecies before delivered concerning the conversion of the Jews, their reception of the Messiah, and his Gospel:

it is not hidden from thee; being clearly revealed, plainly and fully preached: if hidden from any, it is from them that are lost; from the wise and prudent, while it is revealed to babes, and given to them to know the mysteries of it: or too "wonderful" (q); hard, difficult, and impossible; its doctrines, are not beyond the understanding of an enlightened person; they are all plain to them that understand and find the knowledge of them; and the ordinances of it are not too hard and difficult to be kept; the commandments of Christ are not grievous:

neither is it far off; for though it is good, news from a far country, from heaven, it is come down from thence; it is brought nigh in the ministry of the word to the ears and hearts of men.

(q) "mirabile", Montanus, Cocceius.

For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is {h} not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.

(h) The law is so evident that no one can pretend ignorance.

11. This commandment] Miṣwah, see on Deuteronomy 5:31, Deuteronomy 8:1. Here probably both the substance of the Law—the enforcement of a loyal, loving obedience to Jehovah—and its various statutes and judgements.

which I command thee this day] Deuteronomy 8:1, Deuteronomy 27:1, etc.

too hard] So in Deuteronomy 17:8; beyond one’s power to do, 2 Samuel 13:2, or to understand, Psalm 131:1 (2); more frequently used of wonderful things, or extraordinary; Psalm 119:129 : Thy testimonies are wonderful, therefore doth my soul keep them—an interesting contrast to this clause.

11–14. The Conscience of the Law

11–20. The Close of the Concluding Addresses

The commandment is not too hard nor distant, but near, articulate, intelligible and practicable (Deuteronomy 30:11-14). Sheer life and death, good and evil, is set before Israel. Obedience means blessing, apostasy destruction (Deuteronomy 30:15-19 a). Choose life that thou mayest dwell in the land, sworn to thy fathers (Deuteronomy 30:19 b Deuteronomy 30:20).—The discourse turns back to the present of the (assumed) speaker and closes the whole series of his addresses upon the keynotes which have rung through them. As Driver says, ‘it is next to impossible that Deuteronomy 30:11-20 can have been originally the sequel of Deuteronomy 30:1-10.’ Deuteronomy 30:11-14 may be a fragment from an unknown source, for their subject connects neither with Deuteronomy 30:10 (Berth. and Marti notwithstanding) nor with anything else in Deut. except Deuteronomy 29:29 (28), which however is in the Pl. address. Deuteronomy 30:15-20 supply the needed peroration to 28, which ends abruptly; but the changes of address in them point to their editorial origin.

It is the old question whether the same writer thus clenches his argument with the repetition of a number of his formulas or the hand of a later editor has collected these. The probability is with the latter. Cullen takes Deuteronomy 30:11-20 as part of his Book of the Miṣwah, in his scheme the original Deuteronomy. Berth. regards Deuteronomy 30:15-20 as immediately following 28, and as belonging, therefore, to D. Steuern. holds at least Deuteronomy 30:15 b, Deuteronomy 30:19 b, and part of 20 as D’s. The changes of the form of address are signs that the passage largely consists of quotations.

Verses 11-14. - The fulfillment of this condition was not impossible or even difficult; for God had done everything to render it easy for them. The commandment of God was not hidden from them; literally, was not wonderful to them; i.e. hard to be understood or to perform (see the use of the Hebrew word in Psalm 131:1; Proverbs 30:18); nor was it far off; it was not in heaven - i.e. though heavenly in its source, it had not remained there, but had been revealed - so that there was no need for any one to say, Who will ascend to heaven, and bring it down to us, that we may hear it, and do it? The idea is not, as Keil suggests, that of "an inaccessible height" which none could scale; nor is it, as suggested by Knobel, that of something "incomprehensible, impracticable, and superhuman;" it is simply a statement of fact that the Law had not been retained in heaven, but had been revealed to men. Nor was this revelation made in some far distant place across the sea, so that any need say, Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? On the contrary, it was very near to them, had been disclosed in words so that they could utter it with their own mouth, converse over it, and ponder it in their hearts (cf. Isaiah 45:19; Jeremiah 23:28; Romans 10:6). In the allusion to the sea, the representation is not that of depth (Targum Jon.), but that of distance. Deuteronomy 30:11The fulfilment of this condition is not impossible, nor really very difficult. This natural though leads to the motive, which Moses impresses upon the hearts of the people in Deuteronomy 30:11-14, viz., that He might turn the blessing to them. God had done everything to render the observance of His commandments possible to Israel. "This commandment" (used as in Deuteronomy 6:1 to denote the whole law) is "not too wonderful for thee," i.e., is not too hard to grasp, or unintelligible (vid., Deuteronomy 17:8), nor is it too far off: it is neither in heaven, i.e., at an inaccessible height; nor beyond the sea, i.e., at an unattainable distance, at the end of the world, so that any one could say, Who is able to fetch it thence? but it is very near thee, in thy mouth and in thy heart to do it. It not only lay before the people in writing, but it was also preached to them by word of mouth, and thus brought to their knowledge, so that it had become a subject of conversation as well as of reflection and careful examination. But however near the law had thus been brought to man, sin had so estranged the human heart from the word of God, that doing and keeping the law had become invariably difficult, and in fact impossible; so that the declaration, "the word is in thy heart," only attains its full realization through the preaching of the gospel of the grace of God, and the righteousness that is by faith; and to this the Apostle Paul applies the passage in Romans 10:8.
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