Deuteronomy 5:4
The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the middle of the fire,
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(4) The Lord talked with you face to face.—Yet they saw no manner of similitude (Deuteronomy 4:12), i.e., no visible form: but the very words of God reached their ears. So in Exodus 20:22, “Ye have seen that I have talked with you from heaven.”

Deuteronomy 5:4. The Lord talked with you face to face — Personally and immediately, and not by the mouth or ministry of Moses; plainly and certainly, as when two men speak face to face; freely and familiarly, so as not to overwhelm and confound you. It may also signify that they beheld a conspicuous symbol of the divine presence, and heard a divine voice speaking from thence clearly and distinctly.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. 4. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount—not in a visible and corporeal form, of which there was no trace (De 4:12, 15), but freely, familiarly, and in such a manner that no doubt could be entertained of His presence. Not in a visible shape, which was utterly denied, Deu 4:12,15; but personally and immediately, not by the mouth or ministry of Moses; plainly and certainly, as when two men talk face to face; freely and familiarly, so as not to overwhelm and confound you. Compare Exodus 33:11 Numbers 12:8. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount,.... Meaning, not in that free, friendly, and familiar manner, in which he sometimes talked with Moses, of whom this phrase is used, Exodus 33:11, but publicly, audibly, clearly, and distinctly, or without the interposition of another; he did not speak to them by Moses, but to them themselves; he talked to them without a middle person between them, as Aben Ezra expresses it: without making use of one to relate to them what he said; but he talked to them directly, personally:

out of the midst of the fire; in which he descended, and with which the mountain was burning all the time he was speaking; which made it very awful and terrible, and pointed at the terrors of the legal dispensation.

The LORD talked with you {b} face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,

(b) So plainly that you do not need to doubt it.

4. face to face] i.e. person with person, without the intervention of another. The metaphor is hardly an instance of the tendency of D’s style to hyperbole2[120]. For although all that the people perceived was a voice, or sound, of words (Deuteronomy 4:12), this came at first directly to the whole people, and it was because they feared the effect of its directness that they begged Moses to mediate (Deuteronomy 5:22-27). But if not a hyperbole the phrase face to face needs qualification—it was only with Moses that God talked (morally speaking) face to face (Deuteronomy 34:10, Exodus 33:11); and so a qualification is given immediately in parenthesis in the next verse.

[120] It is, however, an interesting illustration of how an O.T. writer (like so many of the prophets), while forbidding strenuously the representation of the Deity in any material form, does not hesitate to use anthropomorphisms in describing His appearances to men. Ch. Deuteronomy 4:12; Deuteronomy 4:15 emphasise that Israel saw no manner of form in the Mount; while Deuteronomy 5:4 now asserts that God spake face to face with the people. What is denied in fact, so as to exclude every excuse for plastic representations of the Deity, is allowed in metaphor.

out of the midst of the fire] So in Deuteronomy 4:12 (but without the phrase preceding in the mount), 15, 33, 36; and Deuteronomy 5:22; Deuteronomy 5:24, Deuteronomy 9:10, Deuteronomy 10:4.Verses 4, 5. - The Lord talked with you face to face. God spoke to them immediately, in their presence and to their face, from the mount, as one person might to another. There is a slight difference in form between the phrase here and that in Exodus 33:11 and Deuteronomy 34:10, where it is used in reference to Moses, but it is so slight (בְּפָּנִים instead of אֶל־פָּנִים) that no difference of meaning can be elicited. God spake directly to the people, as he did to Moses, only Moses was admitted to closer communion with him than the people were. This difference is sufficiently indicated in ver. 5, where the mediatory function of Moses, in the promulgation of the Law and the making of the covenant, is described as necessitated by the fear of the people, and their not going up into the mount (cf. Exodus 19:19, etc.). This is referred to more fully afterwards (ver. 23, etc.). I stood between the Lord and you; i.e. acted as mediator; LXX., εἱστήκειν ἀνὰ μέσον (cf. Galatians 3:19). 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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