Deuteronomy 5:3
The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
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(3) Not . . . with our fathers, but with us.—That is, according to the usage of the Hebrew language in drawing contrasts, not only with our fathers (who actually heard it), but with us also, who were in the loins of our fathers, and for whom the covenant was intended no less than for them; and, in fact, every man who was above forty-two at the time of this discourse might actually remember the day at Sinai.

Deuteronomy 5:3. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers — That is, with our remote progenitors, with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, but with us, their descendants: or if it be understood as spoken of their immediate parents, it means, according to the Hebrew idiom, Not with our fathers only, but with us also, as Genesis 32:28, Thy name shall be called no more Jacob, but Israel; that is, not only Jacob, but Israel, or Israel preferably to Jacob. Moses might truly say, God made this covenant with them then present before him; for a great part of them, even all who were under twenty years of age, when God gave the law on mount Sinai, were at Horeb; and, as God foreknew that their parents would die in the wilderness for their unbelief and murmuring, and would have comparatively little profit from that covenant, he especially intended it for those who should enter Canaan, and who, with their posterity, should be governed and benefited by it from generation to generation.5:1-5 Moses demands attention. When we hear the word of God we must learn it; and what we have learned we must put in practice, for that is the end of hearing and learning; not to fill our heads with notions, or our mouths with talk, but to direct our affections and conduct.The "fathers" are, as in Deuteronomy 4:37, the patriarchs, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. With them God did indeed make a covenant, but not the particular covenant now in question. The responsibilites of this later covenant, made at Sinai by the nation as a nation, attached in their day and generation to those whom Moses was addressing. 3. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us—The meaning is, "not with our fathers" only, "but with us" also, assuming it to be "a covenant" of grace. It may mean "not with our fathers" at all, if the reference is to the peculiar establishment of the covenant of Sinai; a law was not given to them as to us, nor was the covenant ratified in the same public manner and by the same solemn sanctions. Or, finally, the meaning may be "not with our fathers" who died in the wilderness, in consequence of their rebellion, and to whom God did not give the rewards promised only to the faithful; but "with us," who alone, strictly speaking, shall enjoy the benefits of this covenant by entering on the possession of the promised land. With our fathers; either,

1. Not only with them, the word only being here understood, as it is Genesis 32:28 35:10 1 Samuel 8:7 Jeremiah 7:19 31:34 Matthew 9:13. Or,

2. Not at all with them. But then the word covenant is not here to be taken for the covenant of grace in general, for so it was made with their fathers, Exodus 2:24, but for this particular and mixed dispensation of the covenant at Sinai, as appears both by the foregoing and following words.

All of us here alive this day: he saith not, that all who made that covenant at Sinai are now alive, for many of them were dead, but that this covenant was made with all that are now alive, which is most true, for it was made with the elder sort of them in their own persons, and with the rest in their parents, who did covenant for them; for this phrase,

with us, is put exclusively as to their fathers, but not as to their posterity, as is evident from the nature of the covenant, Acts 2:39, and course of the story. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers,.... That is, not with them only, as Jarchi, Aben Ezra, and Abendana remark; for certain it is that this covenant was made, or law was given, to the immediate fathers of this present generation of Israelites, whose carcasses had fallen in the wilderness; unless this is to be understood of their more remote ancestors, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, with whom the covenant of grace was made, or afresh made manifest, especially with the former; when the law, the covenant here spoken of, was not delivered until four hundred and thirty years after, Galatians 3:16,

but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day; many of them were then present at the giving of the law, and though under twenty years of age, could remember it, and the circumstances of it; and besides, they were the same people to whom it was given, though not consisting wholly of the same individuals.

The LORD {a} made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.

(a) Some read, God made not this covenant, that is, in such ample forth and with such signs and wonders.

3. not … with our fathers] Rather, forefathers, i.e. the Patriarchs—‘those great Grandfathers of thy Church1[119]—with whom, however, D recognises a previous covenant, Deuteronomy 4:31, Deuteronomy 7:12, Deuteronomy 8:18. The immediate fathers of the generation had all passed away before the entry into Moab, according to Deuteronomy 2:14 f. Here it is said emphatically that those with whom the covenant at Ḥoreb had been made were still allus, all of usalive here this day. Dillmann meets the contradiction by taking Deuteronomy 2:14 f. as a later gloss. Others find in it a proof of the difference of authorship between the first discourses Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:49 and the present series; but this still leaves unsolved the difference within the former between Deuteronomy 1:30 and Deuteronomy 2:14 f. A more probable explanation is that the speaker is made to ignore the tradition of the death of those who had been adults at Ḥoreb (of which the author cannot well have been ignorant) for rhetorical purposes: (1) to emphasise the contrast between the Patriarchs and Israel after the Exodus; and (2) to emphasise the new responsibility which the Ḥoreb covenant had laid on the latter, in all its successive generations. What Dillmann on Deuteronomy 1:30 says of the previous discourse is true of this one (cp. Deuteronomy 11:2-7): ‘In the whole discourse Moses conceives the present generation as identical with the previous one.’

[119] Donne, The Litanie, vii.Announcement of the Discourse upon the Law. - First of all, in Deuteronomy 4:44, we have the general notice in the form of a heading: "This is the Thorah which Moses set before the children of Israel;" and then, in Deuteronomy 4:45, Deuteronomy 4:46, a fuller description of the Thorah according to its leading features, "testimonies, statutes, and rights" (see at Deuteronomy 4:1), together with a notice of the place and time at which Moses delivered this address. "On their coming out of Egypt," i.e., not "after they had come out," but during the march, before they had reached the goal of their journeyings, viz., (Deuteronomy 4:46) when they were still on the other side of the Jordan. "In the valley," as in Deuteronomy 3:29. "In the land of Sihon," and therefore already upon ground which the Lord had given them for a possession. The importance of this possession as the first-fruit and pledge of the fulfilment of the further promises of God, led Moses to mention again, though briefly, the defeat of the two kings of the Amorites, together with the conquest of their land, just as he had done before in Deuteronomy 2:32-36 and Deuteronomy 3:1-17. On Deuteronomy 4:48, cf. Deuteronomy 3:9, Deuteronomy 3:12-17. Sion, for Hermon (see at Deuteronomy 3:9).
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