Keil and Delitzsch OT Commentary
A. The True Essence of the Law and Its Fulfilment
The exposition of the law commences with a repetition of the ten words of the covenant, which were spoken to all Israel directly by the Lord Himself.
And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.Deuteronomy 5:1-5 form the introduction, and point out the importance and great significance of the exposition which follows. Hence, instead of the simple sentence "And Moses said," we have the more formal statement "And Moses called all Israel, and said to them." The great significance of the laws and rights about to be set before them, consisted in the fact that they contained the covenant of Jehovah with Israel.
The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb."Jehovah our God made a covenant with us in Horeb; not with our fathers, but with ourselves, who are all of us here alive this day." The "fathers" are neither those who died in the wilderness, as Augustine supposed, nor the forefathers in Egypt, as Calvin imagined; but the patriarchs, as in Deuteronomy 4:37. Moses refers to the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, which was essentially distinct from the covenant at Sinai, which was essentially distinct from the covenant made with Abraham (Genesis 15:18), though the latter laid the foundation for the Sinaitic covenant. But Moses passed over this, as it was not his intention to trace the historical development of the covenant relation, but simply to impress upon the hearts of the existing generation the significance of its entrance into covenant with the Lord. The generation, it is true, with which God made the covenant at Horeb, had all died out by that time, with the exception of Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, and only lived in the children, who, though in part born in Egypt, were all under twenty years of age at the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, and therefore were not among the persons with whom the Lord concluded the covenant. But the covenant was made not with the particular individuals who were then alive, but rather with the nation as an organic whole. Hence Moses could with perfect justice identify those who constituted the nation at that time, with those who had entered into covenant with the Lord at Sinai. The separate pronoun (we) is added to the pronominal suffix for the sake of emphasis, just as in Genesis 4:26, etc.; and אלּה again is so connected with אנחנוּ, as to include the relative in itself.
The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.
The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,"Jehovah talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire," i.e., He came as near to you as one person to another. בּפנים פּנים is not perfectly synonymous with פּנים אל פּנים, which is used in Exodus 33:11 with reference to God's speaking to Moses (cf. Deuteronomy 34:10, and Genesis 32:31), and expresses the very confidential relation in which the Lord spoke to Moses as one friend to another; whereas the former simply denotes the directness with which Jehovah spoke to the people. - Before repeating the ten words which the Lord addressed directly to the people, Moses introduces the following remark in Deuteronomy 5:5 - "I stood between Jehovah and you at that time, to announce to you the word of Jehovah; because ye were afraid of the fire, and went not up into the mount" - for the purpose of showing the mediatorial position which he occupied between the Lord and the people, not so much at the proclamation of the ten words of the covenant, as in connection with the conclusion of the covenant generally, which alone in fact rendered the conclusion of the covenant possible at all, on account of the alarm of the people at the awful manifestation of the majesty of the Lord. The word of Jehovah, which Moses as mediator had to announce to the people, had reference not to the instructions which preceded the promulgation of the decalogue (Exodus 19:11.), but, as is evident from Deuteronomy 5:22-31, primarily to the further communications which the Lord was about to address to the nation in connection with the conclusion of the covenant, besides the ten words (viz., Exodus 20:18; Exodus 22:1-23:33), to which in fact the whole of the Sinaitic legislation really belongs, as being the further development of the covenant laws. The alarm of the people at the fire is more fully described in Deuteronomy 5:25. The word "saying" at the end of Deuteronomy 5:5 is dependent upon the word "talked" in Deuteronomy 5:4; Deuteronomy 5:5 simply containing a parenthetical remark.
(I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying,
I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.In vv. 6-21, the ten covenant words are repeated from Exodus 20, with only a few variations, which have already been discussed in connection with the exposition of the decalogue at Exodus 20:1-14. - In Deuteronomy 5:22-33, Moses expounds still further the short account in Exodus 20:18-21, viz., that after the people had heard the ten covenant words, in their alarm at the awful phenomena in which the Lord revealed His glory, they entreated him to stand between as mediator, that God Himself might not speak to them any further, and that they might not die, and then promised that they would hearken to all that the Lord should speak to him (Exodus 20:23 -31). His purpose in doing so was to link on the exhortation in vv. 32, 33, to keep all the commandments of the Lord and do them, which paves the way for passing to the exposition of the law which follows. "A great voice" (Exodus 20:22) is an adverbial accusative, signifying "with a great voice" (cf. Ges. 118, 3). "And He added no more:" as in Numbers 11:25. God spoken the ten words directly to the people, and then no more; i.e., everything further He addressed to Moses alone, and through his mediation to the people. As mediator He gave him the two tables of stone, upon which He had written the decalogue (cf. Exodus 31:18). This statement somewhat forestalls the historical course; and in Deuteronomy 9:10-11, it is repeated again in its proper historical connection.
Thou shalt have none other gods before me.
Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth:
Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,
And shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love me and keep my commandments.
Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain.
Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee.
Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work:
But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou.
And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and by a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
Thou shalt not kill.
Neither shalt thou commit adultery.
Neither shalt thou steal.
Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour.
Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour's house, his field, or his manservant, or his maidservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour's.
These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice: and he added no more. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.
And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders;
And ye said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us his glory and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth.Deuteronomy 5:24-27 contain a rhetorical, and at the same time really a more exact, account of the events described in Exodus 20:18-20 (15-17). ואתּ (Deuteronomy 5:24), a contraction of ואתּה, as in Numbers 11:15 (cf. Ewald, 184, a.). Jehovah's reply to the words of the people (Deuteronomy 5:28-31) is passed over in Exodus 20. God approved of what the people said, because it sprang from a consciousness of the unworthiness of any sinner to come into the presence of the holy God; and He added, "Would that there were always this heart in them to fear Me," i.e., would that they were always of the same mind to fear Me and keep all My commandments, that it might be well with them and their children for ever. He then directed the people to return to their tents, and appointed Moses as the mediator, to whom He would address all the law, that he might teach it to the people (cf. Deuteronomy 4:5). Having been thus entreated by the people to take the office of mediator, and appointed to that office by the Lord, Moses could very well bring his account of these events to a close (Deuteronomy 5:32, Deuteronomy 5:33), by exhorting them to observe carefully all the commandments of the Lord, and not to turn aside to the right hand or to the left, i.e., not to depart in any way from the mode of life pointed out in the commandments (cf. Deuteronomy 17:11, Deuteronomy 17:20; Deuteronomy 28:14; Joshua 1:7, etc.), that it might be well with them, etc. (cf. Deuteronomy 4:40). וטוב, perfect with ו rel. instead of the imperfect.
Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die.
For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived?
Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.
And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken.
O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever!
Go say to them, Get you into your tents again.
But as for thee, stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it.
Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left.
Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.