Deuteronomy 4:13
And he declared to you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them on two tables of stone.
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(13) His covenant . . . ten commandments.—See on Deuteronomy 5.

He wrote them.—See on Deuteronomy 10:2.

4:1-23 The power and love of God to Israel are here made the ground and reason of a number of cautions and serious warnings; and although there is much reference to their national covenant, yet all may be applied to those who live under the gospel. What are laws made for but to be observed and obeyed? Our obedience as individuals cannot merit salvation; but it is the only evidence that we are partakers of the gift of God, which is eternal life through Jesus Christ, Considering how many temptations we are compassed with, and what corrupt desires we have in our bosoms, we have great need to keep our hearts with all diligence. Those cannot walk aright, who walk carelessly. Moses charges particularly to take heed of the sin of idolatry. He shows how weak the temptation would be to those who thought aright; for these pretended gods, the sun, moon, and stars, were only blessings which the Lord their God had imparted to all nations. It is absurd to worship them; shall we serve those that were made to serve us? Take heed lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God. We must take heed lest at any time we forget our religion. Care, caution, and watchfulness, are helps against a bad memory.Hero worship exhibited itself in the practice of setting up images of human form as household gods (Penates, compare Genesis 31:19; Genesis 35:2), or as local and civic divinities: a practice forbidden by Deuteronomy 4:16. Nature worship in its baser shapes is seen in the Egyptian idolatry of animals and animal figures, and is condemned in Deuteronomy 4:17-18 : while its less ignoble flight, the worship of the sun, moon, and stars, is forbidden in Deuteronomy 4:19. The great legislator may be regarded as taking in the passage before us a complete and comprehensive survey of the various forms of idolatrous and corrupt worship practiced by the surrounding Oriental nations, and as particularly and successively forbidding them every one. 12. ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude—Although articulate sounds were heard emanating from the mount, no form or representation of the Divine Being who spoke was seen to indicate His nature or properties according to the notions of the heathen. No text from Poole on this verse. And he declared unto you his covenant,.... So the law was called, because it contained, on the part of God, things which he would have done or avoided, to which were annexed promises of long life and happiness in the land he gave them; and they, on their part, agreed to hearken to it, and obey it, Exodus 24:3,

which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; which see at large in Exodus 20:1, and in this book afterwards repeated, Deuteronomy 5:6,

and he wrote them upon two tables of stone; to denote the durableness of them; the Targum of Jonathan says on tables of sapphire; but it is most likely that they were written on tables of marble, since there were great quantities of it in Mount Sinai; See Gill on Exodus 31:18.

And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to {k} perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.

(k) God joins this condition to his covenant.

13. his covenant, which he commanded you] Heb. berîth (prob. from a root = to bind) meant any compact, contract or bargain: between friends, 1 Samuel 18:3; man and wife, Proverbs 2:17; master and servant, Job 41:4; king and people, 2 Samuel 5:3; former foes, whether individuals, id. Deuteronomy 3:12 f., or peoples, J, Exodus 23:32; Deuteronomy 7:2 (the only instance in D of its non-religious use); conqueror and conquered, 1 Samuel 11:1. Berîth might apply either to the transaction or to the binding conditions on which it was based; the covenant or the terms of the covenant, i.e. ordinance or constitution. When the parties were of unequal power the terms were imposed by the stronger. So between God and Israel; His covenant which He commanded, here and Deuteronomy 29:1. Used first in a religious sense by JE, Genesis 15:18, etc. of God’s covenant with the patriarchs; Exodus 19:5; Exodus 24:7 ff. etc. with Israel at Ḥoreb; less used by the prophets, e.g. Hosea 6:7; Hosea 8:1; Jeremiah 11:10; Jeremiah 31:32; but very frequent in Deuteronomy 4:31; Deuteronomy 7:12; Deuteronomy 8:18, etc., with patriarchs (cp. Deuteronomy 6:18, Deuteronomy 9:5, Deuteronomy 11:9, etc.); Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 4:23, Deuteronomy 5:2, Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 9:11; Deuteronomy 9:15, at Ḥoreb; Deuteronomy 17:2 (?), Deuteronomy 29:1; Deuteronomy 29:9; Deuteronomy 29:12; Deuteronomy 29:14; Deuteronomy 29:21; Deuteronomy 29:25 renewed in Mo‘ab. The terms commanded by God were the words of the covenant, J, Exodus 34:28, or the covenant alone as here, i.e. the Decalogue, but in Deuteronomy 29:1 the whole Deuteronomic Code; book of the covenant, E, Exodus 24:7, the Ḥoreb legislation, but in 2 Kings 23:2 f., 21, cp. Deuteronomy 29:21, the Deuteronomic Code. The tables of the Decalogue were the tables of the covenant, Deuteronomy 9:9; Deuteronomy 9:11; Deuteronomy 9:15; hence D’s characteristic name for the Ark, the Ark of the Covenant, Deuteronomy 10:8, Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:25 and in Josh. A covenant was solemnised by a sacrificial feast, Genesis 21:28 ff; Genesis 31:46; Genesis 31:54. Hence probably the phrase to cut or strike a covenant (karath berîth), cp. ὅρκια τέμνειν. Beyond the frequent use of this phrase, e.g. Deuteronomy 4:23, D nowhere associates the covenant with sacrifice. God makes (karath) it and it is His; swears to it; forgets it not, keeps, fulfils and establishes it, Deuteronomy 4:31, Deuteronomy 7:12, Deuteronomy 8:18, etc.; keeping covenant and true love, Deuteronomy 7:9; Deuteronomy 7:12. Israel enters into it, Deuteronomy 29:12, and is bound to keep and to do it, passim.

the ten commandments] Words. So also Deuteronomy 10:4. E, Exodus 20:1, all these words. A gloss in Exodus 34:28 has the ten words. See Driver’s note on both passages; and below on Deuteronomy 5:5, ‘The Ten Words.’

he wrote them upon two tables of stone] See below on Deuteronomy 5:22. On the ‘covenants’ mentioned in the Pentateuch see Driver, Exod. p. 175.Verse 13. - His covenant; God's gracious engagement with Israel for their good, and by which they were bound to observe all his commandments. God declared this at Sinai when he uttered the ten commandments (words, דְבָרִים), "the words of the covenant, the ten words" (Exodus 34:28), which he afterwards gave to Moses on two tables of stone, written with the finger of God (Exodus 24:12; Exodus 31:18). Besides these, there were other statutes and ordinances which Moses was commanded to teach the people, and which, with them, comprised the Law given at Sinai (see Exodus 21. and following chapters). This mighty and attractive force of the wisdom of Israel consisted in the fact, that in Jehovah they possessed a God who was at hand with His help when they called upon Him (cf. Deuteronomy 33:29; Psalm 34:19; Psalm 145:18; 1 Kings 2:7), as none of the gods of the other nations had ever been; and that in the law of God they possessed such statutes and rights as the heathen never had. True right has its roots in God; and with the obscuration of the knowledge of God, law and right, with their divinely established foundations, are also shaken and obscured (cf. Romans 1:26-32).
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