Deuteronomy 4:20
But the LORD has taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be to him a people of inheritance, as you are this day.
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Deuteronomy 4:20. The Lord hath taken you — Of his own free mercy, unmerited by you; and brought you forth out of the iron furnace — The furnace wherein iron and other metals are melted, to which Egypt is compared, from the torment and misery which the Israelites there endured. To be unto him a people of inheritance — His peculiar possession from generation to generation; and therefore for you to forsake God, and worship idols, would be wickedness and ingratitude to the highest degree.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.Divided - i. e., "whose light God has distributed to the nations for their use and benefit, and which therefore being creatures ministering to man's convenience must not be worshipped as man's lords." 20. But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace—that is, furnace for smelting iron. A furnace of this kind is round, sometimes thirty feet deep, and requiring the highest intensity of heat. Such is the tremendous image chosen to represent the bondage and affliction of the Israelites [Rosenmuller].

to be unto him a people of inheritance—His peculiar possession from age to age; and therefore for you to abandon His worship for that of idols, especially the gross and debasing system of idolatry that prevails among the Egyptians, would be the greatest folly—the blackest ingratitude.

i.e. The furnace wherein iron and other metals are melted, to which Egypt is fitly compared, not only for the torment and misery which they there endured, but also because they were thoroughly tried and purged thereby, as metals are by the fire.

A people of inheritance; his peculiar possession from generation to generation. See Exodus 19:5 Deu 7:6 Titus 2:14. And therefore for you to forsake God, and worship idols, will be not only wickedness and madness, but most abominable ingratitude. But the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace,.... The allusion is to the trying and melting of metals, and fleeing them from dross, by putting them into furnaces strongly heated, some of which are of earth, others of iron; the word, as the Jewish writers (g) observe, signifies such an one in which gold and silver and other things are melted; see Psalm 12:6 even "out of Egypt"; which is here compared to an iron furnace, because of the cruelty with which the Israelites were used in it, the hardships they were put under, and the misery and bondage they were kept in; but out of all the Lord brought them, as he does all his people sooner or later out of their afflictions, sometimes called the furnace of affliction, Isaiah 48:10 where their graces are tried, and they are purged, purified, and refined from their dross and tin. This the Lord did to Israel, he brought them out of their distressed state and condition:

to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day: to be the Lord's inheritance, as they now were, Deuteronomy 32:9 as well as they were quickly to inherit the land of Canaan, for which they were brought out of the land of Egypt; and indeed they were already, even that day, entered on their inheritance, the kingdom of the Amorites being delivered into their hands.

(g) Maimon. & Bartenora in Misn. Celim. c. 8. sect. 9. & Jarchi in loc.

But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the {n} iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.

(n) He has delivered you out of most miserable slavery and freely chosen you for his.

20. But, etc.] Heb. But you, emphatic, hath Jehovah taken. Israel, so taken and redeemed, must worship Him alone.

out of the iron furnace, out of Egypt] Cp. the deuteronomic 1 Kings 8:51 and Jeremiah 11:4. The increase of references to iron-smelting from the 8th cent, onwards is noteworthy; Jerusalem, i. 332.

a people of inheritance] cp. Deuteronomy 32:9; elsewhere in D a peculiar people, cp. Deuteronomy 7:6.

as at this day] See Deuteronomy 2:30.Verse 20. - Iron furnace - furnace for smelting iron: "figure of burning torment in Egypt" (Herxheimer). This reference to the smelting of iron shows that, though the implements of the ancient Egyptians were mostly of copper, iron must also have been in extensive use among them. Other references to the use of iron are to be found in the Pentateuch; see Genesis 4:22; Leviticus 26:19; Numbers 35:16; Deuteronomy 3:11; Deuteronomy 8:9; Deuteronomy 19:5; Deuteronomy 27:5 (Goguet, 'Origine des Lois,' 1:172; Wilkinson, 'Ancient Egypt,' 1:169; 2:155). To be unto him a people, etc. (cf. Exodus 19:4-6; Deuteronomy 7:6). When the Lord Himself had made known to the people in the ten words the covenant which He commanded them to do, He directed Moses to teach them laws and rights which they were to observe in Canaan, viz., the rights and statutes of the Sinaitic legislation, from Exodus 21 onwards.
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