James Gray - Concise Bible Commentary
These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.Deuteronomy 1:1-3:29
REVIEW OF ISRAEL’S HISTORY
A book written by Canon Bernard entitled The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament, shows not only that the contents of its books are inspired, but their arrangement and order as well.
The same might be said of the Old Testament, especially of the Pentateuch. To illustrate, the purpose of the Bible is to give the history of redemption through a special seed. In Genesis we have the election of that seed (Abraham), in Exodus their redemption, in Leviticus their worship, in Numbers their walk and warfare, and in Deuteronomy their final preparation for the experience towards which all has been directed.
THE BOOK OF REVIEW
A secondary name for Deuteronomy might be The Book of Review. The word comes from two Greek words, deuter, “second,” and nomos, “law,” the second law, or the repetition of the law. And yet when it comes to reviewing the law it adds certain things not mentioned previously (see 29:1).
The one great lesson it contains is that of obedience grounded on a known and recognized relationship to God through redemption.
THE DIVISIONS OF DEUTERONOMY
1. Review of the History, chaps. 1-3
2. Review of the Law, 4-11 3. Instructions and Warnings, 12-27
4. Prophecy of Israel’s Future, 28-30
5. Moses’ Final Counsels, 31 6. Moses’ Song and Blessing, 32-33
7. Moses’ Death, 34.
REVIEW OF THE HISTORY
“This side Jordan” (Deuteronomy 1:1) is in the Revised Version “beyond Jordan,” and means the east side, where Moses and the people now were. How long is the direct journey from Horeb (or Sinai) to Kadesh-barnea (Deuteronomy 1:2)? The allusion is doubtless to remind the people of their sin, which prolonged this journey from eleven days to forty years.
What is the first great fact of the review (Deuteronomy 1:5-8)? The second (Deuteronomy 1:11-18)? What do you recall about this second fact from our previous studies? What is the third fact (Deuteronomy 1:19-46)? What do you recall about this? What is the fourth (Deuteronomy 2:1-8)? The fifth (Deuteronomy 2:9-12)? Is there anything in Deuteronomy 2:10-12 to suggest an addition by a later hand than Moses’?
Note to the Student
It is hardly necessary to analyze the chapter further. Every student who has pursued the course thus far will be able to do it for himself, after receiving the suggestions above. If there are any beginning to study this commentary now for the first time, let them examine the marginal references in their Bible for the places where the facts are first mentioned in Numbers, and it will be easy to compare the instruction given upon it in the previous lessons.
This may be a good place to again state that the object of this Commentary is to assist the reader to study the Bible. It has little value for those who eat only predigested food. There are better helps of that kind at hand, and more are scarcely called for.
The author also has in mind leaders of adult Bible classes who are looking for suggestions more than anything else, and to whom it is hoped this commentary may be a blessing.
An Explanation or Two
While further questions on the text of this lesson are hardly necessary, there are some things calling for explanation.
For example, Deuteronomy 2:4 says, “The children of Esau shall be afraid of you,” which seems contradictory to Numbers 20:14. But the solution is that in the former instance the Israelites were on their western frontier where the Edomites were strong, while now they were on the eastern, where they were weak.
It may be asked why they should be necessitated to buy food of the Edomites, when the manna, still continued to be given them. The reply is, that there was no prohibition against eating other food, if they did not have an inordinate desire for it.
A reasonable explanation of other seeming contradictions may be found, but the student must be referred to larger commentaries, and a good many of them, if he wishes to learn everything that can be learned. Many things must be taken for granted in these lessons, but if we only get well acquainted with those that are explained we shall be in a fair way to master the rest.
Og and His Bedstead
But what about the giant Og and his bedstead? He was the only remnant in the transjordanic country (Joshua 15:14) of a gigantic race, supposed to be the most ancient inhabitants of Palestine.
Although beds in the east are with the common people a simple mattress, yet bedsteads were not unknown among the great. Taking a cubit at half a yard, the bedstead of Og would measure thirteen and one-half feet, and as beds are usually a little larger than the persons who occupy them, the stature of the Amorite king may be estimated at about eleven or twelve feet.
But how did the bedstead come to be “in Rabbath, of the children of Ammon”? Perhaps on the eve of the engagement they conveyed it to Rabbath for safety. This is so unlikely, however, that some take the Hebrew word bedstead to mean coffin, and think that the king having been wounded in battle, fled to Rabbath, where he died and was buried, and that here we have the size of his coffin.
1. How far may the inspiration of the Scriptures have extended, and how is it illustrated in the Pentateuch?
2. What is the meaning of the word Deuteronomy?
3. Name the seven divisions of the book.
4. On which side of the Jordan was this book written?
5. How would you explain the allusion to the bedstead of Og?