Deuteronomy 9:18
And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
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(18) And I fell down before the Lord, as at the first, forty days and forty nights.—Moses had already interceded for them in Sinai before he came down on the fortieth day (Exodus 32:11-14). He now spent forty days and nights in the work of intercession. We are not to understand that the first forty were so spent. At that time he received the pattern of the tabernacle and the directions for the priesthood, which he did not deliver to Israel until after he descended from Sinai the second time. (See Exodus 24:18-18, and Exodus 35:1. &c.) During the first forty days, Joshua was with Moses in the mount (probably to help in taking the pattern for the tabernacle); during the second forty Moses was alone.

9:7-29 That the Israelites might have no pretence to think that God brought them to Canaan for their righteousness, Moses shows what a miracle of mercy it was, that they had not been destroyed in the wilderness. It is good for us often to remember against ourselves, with sorrow and shame, our former sins; that we may see how much we are indebted to free grace, and may humbly own that we never merited any thing but wrath and the curse at God's hand. For so strong is our propensity to pride, that it will creep in under one pretence or another. We are ready to fancy that our righteousness has got for us the special favour of the Lord, though in reality our wickedness is more plain than our weakness. But when the secret history of every man's life shall be brought forth at the day of judgment, all the world will be proved guilty before God. At present, One pleads for us before the mercy-seat, who not only fasted, but died upon the cross for our sins; through whom we may approach, though self-condemned sinners, and beseech for undeserved mercy and for eternal life, as the gift of God in Him. Let us refer all the victory, all the glory, and all the praise, to Him who alone bringeth salvation.I fell down before the Lord, as at the first - Moses interceded for the people before he came down from the mountain the first time Exodus 32:11-13. This intercession is only briefly alluded to in this verse. Afterward he spent another 40 days on the mountain in fasting and prayer to obtain a complete restitution of the covenant Exodus 34:28. It is this second forty days, and the intercession of Moses made therein (compare Exodus 34:9), that is more particularly brought forward here and in Deuteronomy 9:25-29. 18. I fell down before the Lord—The sudden and painful reaction which this scene of pagan revelry produced on the mind of the pious and patriotic leader can be more easily imagined than described. Great and public sins call for seasons of extraordinary humiliation, and in his deep affliction for the awful apostasy, he seems to have held a miraculous fast as long as before. I fell down, in way of humiliation and supplication, on your behalf.

And I fell down before the Lord,.... In prayer for Israel who had sinned; but this he did not immediately after he had broken the tables, but when he had first ground the calf to powder, strewed it on the water, and made the children of Israel drink it; and when he had chided Aaron, and ordered the sons of Levi to slay every man his brother:

as at the first forty days and forty mights; which is to be connected, I think, not with what goes before; for we read not that he fell down before the Lord, at the first time he was with him so long in the mount; but with what follows: "I did neither eat bread nor drink water"; as he neither ate nor drank the first forty days, so neither did he these second forty; see Deuteronomy 9:9.

because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the Lord, to provoke him to anger; for they were guilty of more sins than one; besides idolatry, they were guilty of unbelief, ingratitude, &c. which were notorious and flagrant, were done openly and publicly, in sight of his glory and majesty on the mount; all which must be very provoking to him, and on account of these Moses prayed and fasted.

And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
18. as at the first] Refers to what follows it—the length of time and the fasting—not to what precedes—the falling down before God. This intercession seems to be the same as that described in Deuteronomy 10:10 and ‘anticipated here on account of its importance in the argument’ (Driver). Cp. Exodus 32:30 which says that on the morrow of his meeting with the people Moses returned to the Mount to intercede for them with God; and Exodus 34:9 which says that he again interceded in the second forty days which he spent on the Mount. Which of these is intended here?

all your sin] Sam., LXX: sins.

in doing that which was evil, etc.] Deuteronomy 4:25.

to provoke him] A different verb from that in Deuteronomy 9:7-8, and the same as in Deuteronomy 4:25 (q.v.), Deuteronomy 31:29; and not so characteristic of D as the other.

Verses 18-20. - Moses interceded with God for the people before he came down from the mount (Exodus 22:11, etc.); but this he passes over here, merely referring to it in the words, "as at the first," and makes special mention only of a subsequent intercession, that mentioned in Exodus 34:28. In the account in Exodus nothing is said of Moses interceding for Aaron specially, as well as for the people generally; but prominence is given to this here, "not only that he might make the people thoroughly aware that at that time Israel could not boast even of the righteousness of its eminent men (cf. Isaiah 43:27), but also to bring out the fact, which is described still more fully in Deuteronomy 10:6, sqq., that Aaron's investiture with the priesthood and the maintenance of this institution was purely a work of Divine grace" (Keil). That Aaron, however, was regarded as especially to be blamed in this matter is clearly intimated in Exodus 32:21, 22. Deuteronomy 9:18When Moses went up the mountain, and stayed there forty days, entirely occupied with the holiest things, so that he neither ate nor drank, having gone up to receive the tables of the law, upon which the words were written with the finger of God, just as the Lord had spoken them directly to the people out of the midst of the fire, - at a time, therefore, when the Israelites should also have been meditating deeply upon the words of the Lord which they had but just heard, - they acted so corruptly, as to depart at once from the way that had been pointed out, and make themselves a molten image (comp. Exodus 31:18-32:6, with chs. Deuteronomy 24:12-31:17). "The day of the assembly," i.e., the day on which Moses gathered the people together before God (Deuteronomy 4:10), calling them out of the camp, and bringing them to the Lord to the foot of Sinai (Exodus 19:17). The construction of the sentence is this: the apodosis to "when I was gone up" commences with "the Lord delivered unto me," in Deuteronomy 9:10; and the clause, "then I abode," etc., in Deuteronomy 9:9, is a parenthesis. - The words of God in Deuteronomy 9:12-14 are taken almost word for word from Exodus 32:7-10. הרף (Deuteronomy 9:14), the imperative Hiphil of רפה, desist from me, that I may destroy them, for לּי הנּיחה, in Exodus 32:10. But notwithstanding the apostasy of the people, the Lord gave Moses the tables of the covenant, not only that they might be a testimony of His holiness before the faithless nation, but still more as a testimony that, in spite of His resolution to destroy the rebellious nation, without leaving a trace behind, He would still uphold His covenant, and make of Moses a greater people. There is nothing at all to favour the opinion, that handing over the tables (Deuteronomy 9:11) was the first beginning of the manifestations of divine wrath (Schultz); and this is also at variance with the preterite, נתן, in Deuteronomy 9:11, from which it is very evident that the Lord had already given the tables to Moses, when He commanded him to go down quickly, not only to declare to the people the holiness of God, but to stop the apostasy, and by his mediatorial intervention to avert from the people the execution of the divine purpose. It is true, that when Moses came down and saw the idolatrous conduct of the people, he threw the two tables from his hands, and broke them in pieces before the eyes of the people (Deuteronomy 9:15-17; comp. with Exodus 32:15-19), as a practical declaration that the covenant of the Lord was broken by their apostasy. But this act of Moses furnishes no proof that the Lord had given him the tables to declare His holy wrath in the sight of the people. And even if the tables of the covenant were "in a certain sense the indictments in Moses' hands, accusing them of a capital crime" (Schultz), this was not the purpose for which God had given them to him. For if it had been, Moses would not have broken them in pieces, destroying, as it were, the indictments themselves, before the people had been tried. Moses passed over the fact, that even before coming down from the mountain he endeavoured to mitigate the wrath of the Lord by his intercession (Exodus 32:11-14), and simply mentioned (in Deuteronomy 9:15-17) how, as soon as he came down, he charged the people with their great sin; and then, in Deuteronomy 9:18, Deuteronomy 9:19, how he spent another forty days upon the mountain fasting before God, on account of this sin, until he had averted the destructive wrath of the Lord from Israel, through his earnest intercession. The forty days that Moses spent upon the mountain, "as at the first," in prayer before the Lord, are the days mentioned in Exodus 34:28 as having been passed upon Sinai for the perfect restoration of the covenant, and for the purpose of procuring the second tables (cf. Deuteronomy 10:1.).
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