And it shall be, when the LORD your God shall have brought you into the land which he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give you great and goodly cities, which you built not,
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 32:15 : “Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked . . . then he forsook God.” “In all time of our wealth, good Lord, deliver us.”
(1) a God-forgetting worldliness, and
(2) a false tolerance of the idolatries practiced by those about to become their neighbors.
The former error Moses strives to guard against in the verses before us; the latter in Deuteronomy 7:1-11.
De 6:1-25. Moses Exhorts Israel to Hear God and to Keep His Commandments.
1-9. Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them … whither ye go to possess it—The grand design of all the institutions prescribed to Israel was to form a religious people, whose national character should be distinguished by that fear of the Lord their God which would ensure their divine observance of His worship and their steadfast obedience to His will. The basis of their religion was an acknowledgment of the unity of God with the understanding and the love of God in the heart (De 6:4, 5). Compared with the religious creed of all their contemporaries, how sound in principle, how elevated in character, how unlimited in the extent of its moral influence on the heart and habits of the people! Indeed, it is precisely the same basis on which rests the purer and more spiritual form of it which Christianity exhibits (Mt 22:37; Mr 12:30; Lu 10:27). Moreover, to help in keeping a sense of religion in their minds, it was commanded that its great principles should be carried about with them wherever they went, as well as meet their eyes every time they entered their homes. A further provision was made for the earnest inculcation of them on the minds of the young by a system of parental training, which was designed to associate religion with all the most familiar and oft-recurring scenes of domestic life. It is probable that Moses used the phraseology in De 6:7 merely in a figurative way, to signify assiduous, earnest, and frequent instruction; and perhaps he meant the metaphorical language in De 6:8 to be taken in the same sense also. But as the Israelites interpreted it literally, many writers suppose that a reference was made to a superstitious custom borrowed from the Egyptians, who wore jewels and ornamental trinkets on the forehead and arm, inscribed with certain words and sentences, as amulets to protect them from danger. These, it has been conjectured, Moses intended to supersede by substituting sentences of the law; and so the Hebrews understood him, for they have always considered the wearing of the Tephilim, or frontlets, a permanent obligation. The form was as follows: Four pieces of parchment, inscribed, the first with Ex 13:2-10; the second with Ex 13:11-16; the third with De 6:1-8; and the fourth with De 11:18-21, were enclosed in a square case or box of tough skin, on the side of which was placed the Hebrew letter (shin), and bound round the forehead with a thong or ribbon. When designed for the arms, those four texts were written on one slip of parchment, which, as well as the ink, was carefully prepared for the purpose. With regard to the other usage supposed to be alluded to, the ancient Egyptians had the lintels and imposts of their doors and gates inscribed with sentences indicative of a favorable omen [Wilkinson]; and this is still the case, for in Egypt and other Mohammedan countries, the front doors of houses (in Cairo, for instance) are painted red, white, and green, bearing conspicuously inscribed upon them such sentences from the Koran, as "God is the Creator," "God is one, and Mohammed is his prophet." Moses designed to turn this ancient and favorite custom to a better account and ordered that, instead of the former superstitious inscriptions, there should be written the words of God, persuading and enjoining the people to hold the laws in perpetual remembrance.
which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee; of his own free favour and good will, without any merit and desert of theirs, and in which would be found
great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not; large and capacious, delightfully situated, well built, and strongly fortified, without any pains or expense of theirs; all ready for them to take possession of, and dwell in; and so should no longer reside in tents or booths, as they had for forty years past, but in spacious and noble cities.And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which he sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildedst not,
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)10. And it shall be, when Jehovah thy God shall bring thee into, etc.] A formula partly derived from J (Exodus 13:5; Exodus 13:11, the land of the Canaanite), but varied by D, which adds thy God and otherwise characteristically expands it. Similarly Deuteronomy 7:1, Deuteronomy 11:29. See also Deuteronomy 4:38; Deuteronomy 6:23; Deuteronomy 8:7; Deuteronomy 9:4; Deuteronomy 9:28; Deuteronomy 31:20-21.
which he sware] Deuteronomy 1:8. Thus in the forefront of the warning not to yield to the worship of the gods of their new land the fact is emphasised in solemn phrases that it is Jehovah who brings them into it.
10–15. The chief temptations to forget the duties just enforced will meet Israel when they enter upon the enjoyment of the civilisation of the land they are about to reach: a civilisation to which they have not contributed, and which they may be moved to impute to other gods than their own who is bringing them to it. The relevancy of this section to the preceding, and their close connection, are clear.Verses 10-12. - As the Israelites were about to enter upon the possession of a rich and fertile land, where everything for their accommodation and comfort was already provided for them, there was a danger of their being so engrossed with their new possessions as to forget the Lord and his gracious dealings with them. They are, therefore, here warned against the danger to which they would be thus exposed. House of bondage (Exodus 13:3). Deuteronomy 6:4 the burden of the law commences, which is not a new law added to the ten commandments, but simply the development and unfolding of the covenant laws and rights enclosed as a germ in the decalogue, simply an exposition of the law, as had already been announced in Deuteronomy 1:5. The exposition commences with an explanation and enforcing of the first commandment. There are two things contained in it: (1) that Jehovah is the one absolute God; (2) that He requires love with all the heart, all the soul, and all the strength. "Jehovah our God is one Jehovah."
(Note: On the majuscula ע and ד in שׁמע and אחד, R. Bochin has this remark: "It is possible to confess one God with the mouth, although the heart is far from Him. For this reason ע and ד are majuscula, from which the tsere subscribed the word עד, 'a witness,' is formed, that every one may know, when he professes the unity of God, that his heart ought to be engaged, and free from every other thought, because God is a witness and knows all things" (J. H. Mich. Bibl. Hebr.).)
This does not mean Jehovah is one God, Jehovah alone (Abenezra), for in that case לבדּו יהוה would be used instead of אחד יהוה; still less Jehovah our God, namely, Jehovah is one (J. H. Michaelis). אחד יהוה together form the predicate of the sentence. The idea is not, Jehovah our God is one (the only) God, but "one (or the only) Jehovah:" not in this sense, however, that "He has not adopted one mode of revelation or appearance here and another there, but one mode only, viz., the revelation which Israel had received" (Schultz); for Jehovah never denotes merely a mode in which the true God is revealed or appears, but God as the absolute, unconditioned, or God according to the absolute independence and constancy of His actions. Hence what is predicated here of Jehovah (Jehovah one) does not relate to the unity of God, but simply states that it is to Him alone that the name Jehovah rightfully belongs, that He is the one absolute God, to whom no other Elohim can be compared. This is also the meaning of the same expression in Zechariah 14:9, where the words added, "and His name one," can only signify that in the future Jehovah would be acknowledged as the one absolute God, as King over all the earth. This clause not merely precludes polytheism, but also syncretism, which reduces the one absolute God to a national deity, a Baal (Hosea 2:18), and in fact every form of theism and deism, which creates for itself a supreme God according to philosophical abstractions and ideas. For Jehovah, although the absolute One, is not an abstract notion like "absolute being" or "the absolute idea," but the absolutely living God, as He made Himself known in His deeds in Israel for the salvation of the whole world.
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