Haydock Catholic Bible Commentary
Know, &c. Reflect on the wonders of God, which you must explain to your children, who were not born, or able to discern them, when they were effected at the Red Sea, and in the punishment of the seditious, ver. 7. Hebrew, "know ye this day, for I do not address myself to your children, who know not, (or have not understanding,) and saw not," &c. (Calmet)
Day. So that none of the Egyptians have since been able to molest you.
That. Fear might stimulate them to observe God's command, lest they should be overtaken by a similar chastisement. (Haydock)
Gardens. Hebrew, "where thou didst sow the seed, and water it with the foot, as a garden," by means of various machines or wheels, which were turned by the feet. (Philo) --- Solinus (ii. 22, 36,) takes notice of this inconvenience in Egypt. The country is watered only by the Nile, which overflows for six weeks, about the beginning of June. Various canals or reservoirs are formed to preserve a sufficient supply of water during the remainder of the year. Pliny ([Natural History?] xviii.) observes, that "if the Nile rise less than 12, or more than 16 cubits high, famine is inevitable." (Calmet) See Genesis xlii. 3. --- Prince Radzivil saw the canals of Egypt, which the people said had been dug by the Hebrews. Augustus ordered his soldiers to clean them out. (Suetonius, c. 18.) --- After the seed was committed to the earth, it was necessary to water it frequently, as the sun would harden the soil too much. No rain falls in that part of Egypt where the Hebrews had dwelt, according to many respectable authors; (Tirinus) or at least what little may fall is not sufficient to keep the earth moist. Proclus allows that some showers are felt in Lower Egypt, which lies nearest to the Mediterranean Sea; and travellers often take notice of them, in their journeys from Alexandria to Memphis. Yet the country in general is destitute of this advantage, Zacharias xiv. 18. (Lloyd) (Haydock)
Rain, which falls in Judea, chiefly about the vernal and the autumnal equinoxes, in March and October. --- The latter rain (Hebrew malkosh,) is that which falls when the seed is just sown, though the Rabbins pretend that yore has this signification, in opposition to the Septuagint. It fell at the beginning of the Jewish year, which commenced in September, Joel ii. 23., and Zacharias x. 1. (Calmet) --- Rain contributed to make the seeds take root, and to bring the fruit to maturity, and God promises to give what may be requisite, provided his people serve him with fidelity. (Haydock) --- His grace helps us to begin and to perfect every good work. (Worthington)
Hay. Seed-grass was sown, like corn, in Palestine, as it is still in the Levant, where meadows are unknown. The hay consisted chiefly of trefoil, and was carried on beasts in long journeys, Genesis xliii. 27., and Judges xix. 19. Cattle fed commonly on straw and barley. The hay grass which grew on mountains was of a different sort, and used for pasturage, (Job xl. 15,) though it might also be cut, Proverbs xxvii. 25. (Calmet)
You. In all this discourse, Moses attributes the fertility of the promised land to the blessing of God, and indeed it seems to be naturally far from being so luxuriant as to be able to feed so many inhabitants. Travellers inform us, that a great part is incapable of cultivation. But it is no longer the object of God's complacency, ver. 12. It is under the curse, chap. xxviii. 23. (Calmet)
Place. Hebrew, "that they may be as frontlets between your eyes," chap. vi. 9., and Exodus xiii. 9. (Haydock)
Posts. Upon one post the Jews hang boards, enclosing a piece of parchment, with the 13th to the 21st verse of this chapter; and from ver. 4. to the 9th of the 6th chapter, they hang with great solemnity upon the other post.
Earth, as long as the world shall endure. The psalmist (Psalm lxxxviii. 30,) expresses the duration of the reign of the Messias nearly in the same terms. See Baruch i. 2. (Calmet) --- If the Jews had continued faithful to God, and had submitted to the Messias, they might never have been banished from their country. (Haydock)
Yours. The nations of Chanaan, how strong soever, should fall, and their country be lawfully possessed by the Hebrews. --- Western sea. Hebrew, "the sea of the back." The Jews speak of the different parts of the world, with respect to a man who has his face turned towards the east, Genesis xiii. 9. The countries, from the desert of Zin to the Euphrates, were never entirely occupied by the Israelites, except under the reigns of David and Solomon. (Calmet) --- God never intended to subject the whole world to their dominion, as the Rabbins would hence infer. (Menochius)
Curse. Their respective effects you shall experience, according to your behaviour. (Calmet) --- God helps our free will to do good. (St. Augustine, q. 15.) (Worthington)
Put the blessing, &c. See Deuteronomy xxvii. 12, &c., and Josue viii. 33, &c. (Challoner) --- Six tribes were to be stationed on each of these mountains, chap. xxviii. --- Garizim. Eusebius says that the Samaritans are grossly deceived, in placing this mountain in the vicinity of Sichem, instead of Jericho. But this is a mistake; for Jotham addressed the inhabitants of Sichem from that mountain, Judges ix. 7. Morizon informs us that it is of the same shape as Hebal, and separated from it only by a valley of about 200 paces, in which the town of Sichem stands. Hebal is a barren rock, while Garizim is very fertile, (Ludolf.) though an ancient poet makes both equally covered with verdure. (Ap. Eusebius, præp. ix. 22.) (Calmet)
Far. Hebrew, "over against Galgal, beside the plains of More, or Aluni More." Samaritan reads, "the plain of More, near Sichem," as Exodus xx. 17. (Haydock) --- This is styled the noble vale, Genesis xii. 6. (Calmet) --- The road from Jericho to the Mediterranean Sea, left these mountains on the north. The Chanaanite inhabited all that region, from Galgal to Sichem. How far these places were distant from each other, is not here specified; though Eusebius seems to have inferred from this text, that Garizim was near Jericho. But the plain might be very extensive or noble, and reach from Sichem as far as Galgala.
Fulfil. How inconsistent must such exhortations be, if, as Protestants assert, the commandments be impossible, and "the law exacteth impossible things." (Luther in Gal. iii.) (Haydock)