Deuteronomy 4:18
The likeness of any thing that creeps on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
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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. 16-19. Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image—The things are here specified of which God prohibited any image or representation to be made for the purposes of worship; and, from the variety of details entered into, an idea may be formed of the extensive prevalence of idolatry in that age. In whatever way idolatry originated, whether from an intention to worship the true God through those things which seemed to afford the strongest evidences of His power, or whether a divine principle was supposed to reside in the things themselves, there was scarcely an element or object of nature but was deified. This was particularly the case with the Canaanites and Egyptians, against whose superstitious practices the caution, no doubt, was chiefly directed. The former worshipped Baal and Astarte, the latter Osiris and Isis, under the figure of a male and a female. It was in Egypt that animal-worship most prevailed, for the natives of that country deified among beasts the ox, the heifer, the sheep, and the goat, the dog, the cat, and the ape; among birds, the ibis, the hawk, and the crane; among reptiles, the crocodile, the frog, and the beetle; among fishes, all the fish of the Nile; some of these, as Osiris and Isis, were worshipped over all Egypt, the others only in particular provinces. In addition they embraced the Zabian superstition, the adoration of the Egyptians, in common with that of many other people, extending to the whole starry host. The very circumstantial details here given of the Canaanitish and Egyptian idolatry were owing to the past and prospective familiarity of the Israelites with it in all these forms. No text from Poole on this verse. The likeness of anything that creepeth on the ground,.... As serpents by many; and indeed that creature is introduced into almost all the idolatries of the Heathens, which seems to take its rise from the serpent Satan made use of to deceive our first parents:

the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth; as the crocodile and hippopotamus, or river horse, by the Egyptians; and Dagon and Derceto, supposed to be figures in the form of a fish, among the Phoenicians.

The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
18. the water under the earth] The Hebrews conceived the sea not only as lower than and round the earth, but as passing beneath it (the earth being established or fixed over it) and so forming the source of all fountains, many of which in Syria are salt, and of all streams. Cp. Psalm 24:2; Psalm 36:6, the great deep; Amos 7:4; Jonah 2:3-6, and see below on Deuteronomy 33:13.In the words, "The day (היּום, adverbial accusative) "that thou stoodest before Jehovah thy God at Horeb," etc., Moses reminds the people of the leading features of those grand events: first of all of the fact that God directed him to gather the people together, that He might make known His words to them (Exodus 19:9.), that they were to learn to fear Him all their life long, and to teach their children also (יראה, inf., like שׂנאה, Deuteronomy 1:27); and secondly (Deuteronomy 4:11), that they came near to the mountain which burned in fire (cf. Exodus 19:17.). The expression, burning in fire "even to the heart of heaven," i.e., quite into the sky, is a rhetorical description of the awful majesty of the pillar of fire, in which the glory of the Lord appeared upon Sinai, intended to impress deeply upon the minds of the people the remembrance of this manifestation of God. And the expression, "darkness, clouds, and thick darkness," which is equivalent to the smoking of the great mountain (Exodus 19:18), is employed with the same object. And lastly (Deuteronomy 4:12, Deuteronomy 4:13), he reminds them that the Lord spoke out of the midst of the fire, and adds this important remark, to prepare the way for what is to follow, "Ye heard the sound of the words, but ye did not see a shape," which not only agrees most fully with Exodus 24, where it is stated that the sight of the glory of Jehovah upon the mountain appeared to the people as they stood at the foot of the mountain "like devouring fire" (Deuteronomy 4:17), and that even the elders who "saw God" upon the mountain at the conclusion of the covenant saw no form of God (Deuteronomy 4:11), but also with Exodus 33:20, Exodus 33:23, according to which no man can see the face (פּנים) of God. Even the similitude (Temunah) of Jehovah, which Moses saw when the Lord spoke to him mouth to mouth (Numbers 12:8), was not the form of the essential being of God which was visible to his bodily eyes, but simply a manifestation of the glory of God answering to his own intuition and perceptive faculty, which is not to be regarded as a form of God which was an adequate representation of the divine nature. The true God has no such form which is visible to the human eye.

Deuteronomy 4:10"He found him in the land of the desert, and in the wilderness, the howling of the steppe; He surrounded him, took care of him, protected him as the apple of His eye." These words do not "relate more especially to the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai" (Luther), nor merely to all the proofs of the paternal care with which God visited His people in the desert, to lead them to Sinai, there to adopt them as His covenant nation, and then to guide them to Canaan, to the exclusion of their deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. The reason why Moses does not mention this fact, or the passage through the Red Sea, is not to be sought for, either solely or even in part, in the fact that "the song does not rest upon the stand-point of the Mosaic times;" for we may see clearly that distance of time would furnish no adequate ground for "singling out and elaborating certain points only from the renowned stories of old," say from the 105th Psalm, which no one would think of pronouncing an earlier production than this song. Nor is it because the gracious help of God, which the people experienced up to the time of the exodus from Egypt, was inferior in importance to the divine care exercised over it during the march through the desert (a fact which would need to be proved), or because the solemn conclusion of the covenant, whereby Israel first because the people of God, took place during the sojourn at Sinai, that Moses speaks of God as finding the people in the desert and adopting them there; but simply because it was not his intention to give a historical account of the acts performed by God upon and towards Israel, but to describe how Israel was in the most helpless condition when the Lord had compassion upon it, to take it out of that most miserable state in which it must have perished, and bring it into the possession of the richly-blessed land of Canaan. The whole description of what the Lord did for Israel (Deuteronomy 32:10-14) is figurative; Israel is represented as a man in the horrible desert, and in danger of perishing in the desolate waste, where not only bread and water had failed, but where ravenous beasts lay howling in wait for human life, when the Lord took him up and delivered him out of all distress. The expression "found him" is also to be explained from this figure. Finding presupposes seeking, and in the seeking the love which goes in search of the loved on is manifested. Also the expression "land of the desert" - a land which is a desert, without the article defining the desert more precisely - shows that the reference is not to the finding of Israel in the desert of Arabia, and that these words are not to be understood as relating to the fact, that when His people entered the desert the Lord appeared to them in the pillar of cloud and fire (Exodus 13:20, Schultz). For although the figure of the desert is chosen, because in reality the Lord had led Israel through the Arabian desert to Canaan, we must not so overlook the figurative character of the whole description as to refer the expression "in a desert land" directly and exclusively to the desert of Arabia. The measures adopted by the Pharaohs, the object of which was the extermination or complete suppression of Israel, made even Egypt a land of desert to the Israelites, where they would inevitably have perished if the Lord had not sought, found, and surrounded them there. To depict still further the helpless and irremediable situation of Israel, the idea of the desert is heightened still further by the addition of וגו וּבתהוּ, "and in fact (ו is explanatory) in a waste," or wilderness (tohu recalls Genesis 1:2). "Howling of the desert" is in apposition to tohu (waste), and not a genitive dependent upon it, viz., "waste of the howling of the desert, or of the desert in which wild beasts howl" (Ewald), as if ילל stood after ישׁימן. "Howling of the desert" does not mean the desert in which wild beasts howl, but the howling which is heard in the desert of wild beasts. The meaning of the passage, therefore, is "in the midst of the howling of the wild beasts of the desert." This clause serves to strengthen the idea of tohu (waste), and describes the waste as a place of the most horrible howling of wild beasts. It was in this situation that the Lord surrounded His people. סובב, to surround with love and care, not merely to protect (vid., Psalm 26:6; Jeremiah 31:22). בּונן, from בּין or הבין, to pay attention, in the sense of "not to lose sight of them." "To keep as the apple of the eye" is a figurative description of the tenderest care. The apple of the eye is most carefully preserved (vid., Psalm 17:8; Proverbs 7:2).

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