Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
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.THE TITLE FOR THE ENTIRE WORK AND INTRODUCTION TO THE FIRST DISCOURSE
1THESE be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side [on that side] Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea [suph], between Paran, 2and [between] Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab. (There are eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea.) 3And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the Lord had given him in commandment unto them; 4After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei: 5On this side [on that side] Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare1 this law, saying:
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Deut 1:1. Although אֵלֶה by itself might refer to the foregoing books, still the words, Deut 1:1, to which attention is called, are those which follow Deut 1:3–5. The subscription to the book of Num. 36:13 does not indeed exclude discourses upon the law, but it forms so far a conclusion to what precedes, as that contains, not the words of Moses to the people, but the word of God to Moses (§ 1). In any case, the foregoing books cannot be characterized—and the inscriptions or subscriptions refer only to what is characteristic—by “the words which Moses spake,” etc., which is an expression peculiar to Deuteronomy. The connection with the foregoing books is therefore by way of distinction or contrast, but scarcely, however, as in the passage cited by KEIL. Gen. 2:4; rather as 6:9. The distinguishing feature is made the more prominent, since the locality in both cases was the same plain of Moab. The connection which KNOBEL, HERXH., JOHLS., favor, is incorrect. Deut 1:1–5 are a title to Deuteronomy, a condensed statement of the contents, author, audience, place, and time of the whole book, and at the same time a significant introduction to the first discourse.
2. Deut 1:1. The hearers: All Israel.—The people as such. Significant for the selection, arrangement, presentation, and aim of the subject matter—the popular character of Deuteronomy. Jewish interpreters think that the elders of the people as the nearest circle of hearers are meant—but why reject those who would be witnesses and could have heard? HESS: “the congregation of the people, or some important and representative part of it, heads of families, judges,” etc.JAHN (Introd.) says correctly—“there is perhaps no other book in whose publication so wide a publicity was observed.” [“All Israel,” all the congregation, are phrases used frequently in the Bible to describe any national gathering. See 1 Sam. 7:3; 12:1, 19; 1 Kings 8:2; 14:22, 55, 62,” etc.WORDSWORTH.—A. G.]
“The local determinations are also very significant” (SCHULTZ), and indeed the more so from the very massing of local names, with which KNOBEL knows not what to do, but which even ONKELOS and the Jewish tradition, although with a too limited understanding, refer to the “transgressions” of the people [and hence the book is called the book of reproofs—A. G.]. On this side Jordan.—SCHROEDER renders: the other side, Deut 1:1 and 5; comp. Introd. § 4, I.12. [The phrase indicates nothing as to the position of the writer—whether he dwelt on the one side of Jordan or the other. Although a standing designation of the district east of the Jordan, it is used also with reference to the western district. Comp. Gen. 1:10, 11; Josh. 9:1; Num. 22:1; 32:32; Deut. 3:8, 20, 25. The context usually makes the sense of the phrase clear. See Bib. Comm., p. 801.—A. G.] The place was one for recollections, and therefore for warnings. SCHULTZ says justly “the true sense is not already on the other side of Jordan, but still there.” So also, still “in the wilderness,” 4:46; “in the valley over against Beth-peor” (3:29); here, Deut 1:5: “in the land of Moab;” Num. 36:13: “in the plains of Moab.” The comparison of these precise statements shows certainly that the local idea rules Deut 1:1; that at the beginning of Deuteronomy the locality treated rather as a situation, becomes rhetorically introductory to the succeeding discourses. Thus the wilderness, in its moral and historical import with Egypt, on the one hand, and Canaan, on the other. The plain (arabah), which is geographically the whole valley of the Jordan from its sources to the Dead Sea, which indeed originally made no break in the valley, this extremely hot desert tract on both sides of the Jordan, stretching down to the Ailanitic gulf, naturally embraces also the plains of Moab. Comp. Deut. 3:17; 4:49; 11:30; Josh. 12:1. But in a special sense this plain begins at the southerly end of the Dead Sea, “a long, sandy plain” (LABORDE), stretching from thence to the Red Sea; and it can only be used in Deut 1:1 in this narrower sense, since the description, in the plain, following the more general term, “in the wilderness,” is certainly a limiting and more closely descriptive term. While this description of the peculiar plain or wilderness well serves to recall to mind the catastrophe which doomed Israel to the “way of the wilderness” (Deut. 2:8); presents vividly the locality which was pre-ëminently the cradle of the new, as it was the grave of the old generation; connects the present where (in Moab) with the immediately preceding how; its main reference is still, according to the contents and method of Deuteronomy, the retrospect to the first giving of the law. As the localizing of the present position was possible through the broader meaning of the term “Arabah”—here בָּעֲרָכָת; Num. 36:13, בְּעַרְבֹת—so its narrower sense gives the needed point of union with the wider past. It is in entire accordance with this view, if the Arabah reaches to Ailah, that the next still closer description, over against Suph, follows. Over against Suph [A. V.: over against the Red Sea].—KNOBEL thinks that the pass es sufah, or some place in its neighborhood, is meant,—not, however, Zephath, Judg. 1:17; Num. 14:45; 21:3, which RITTER connects with this pass. But then so purely a geographical and generally obscure a statement is scarcely in harmony with the specific sense of the whole description. It is much better to regard סוּף as an abbreviation of ימ־סוּף. Germ.: Schilf—Schilfmeer sedgesea, Deut. 1:40; 2:1. LXX: πλησίον τῆς ἐρυθρᾶς θαλάσσης. Vulg.: in solitudine campestri contra mare rubrum. Either because the Red Sea is so called from the great quantity of sea-weed (KEIL, GESEN.), which SCHULTZ claims only for its northern portion; or perhaps the whole sea takes its name from some important place of this same name, as KNOBEL conjectures, and in this way explains the absence of the article in ימַ־סוּף. In any case, we are not to refer it specially with HENGSTENBERG to the Ailanitic portion, the gulf of Akabah, since the Arabah is viewed much more as over against the gulf of Suez (if not the Red Sea generally). The short, abbreviated Suph, Deut 1:1, harmonizes with the concise, pregnant style in the titles. According to KEIL, not “a closer designation of the Arabah” (HENGSTENBERG), but a more definite characterizing of the wilderness generally, as Israel “still found itself over against the Red Sea, after passing which it entered the wilderness,” Ex. 15:22. It characterizes the situation generally as over against Egypt; the exodus from it, but specially “the northern part of the western fork of the Red Sea, in view of the place where the redemption from Egypt was completed” (SCHULTZ). Between Paran, Deut 1:1.—As before the short form “Suph,” so now also the simple “Paran,” instead of the usual “wilderness of Paran.” In Num. 10:12, this place is mentioned as the first station after the breaking up from Sinai; and since it was a station so well known, and occupied so long a time, since Kadesh lay in it, Num. 12:16; Deut. 1:46, the abbreviated form “Paran” is all-sufficient. The Arabic name—“Et Tih,” i. e., the wandering, as the Bedouins call it—explains satisfactorily the mention here of this more precise designation of the rejection of the first (Num. 13), and the new arrangement with the second generation (Num. 20). To this latter reference follows naturally: and Tophel.—Germ.: “and between Tophel,” the present “Tufail” or “El Tofila,” “Tafyleh,” situated at the Edomitic mountains, where a hundred fountains, pomegranate and olive trees, figs, apples, apricots, oranges and nectarines of a large kind, are found; and the inhabitants supply the Syrian caravans with the necessaries of life. Comp. Deut. 2:28, 29. Thus a place of refreshment (SCHULTZ), in distinction both from the desert eastward, and Paran under the same broad parallel westward. Laban, Hazeroth, Dizahab.—These places, of which little is known, are here connected together, as the better known Hazeroth intimates, and the immediately following remark in Deut 1:2 clearly teaches, from the chief reference, to which the description is ever striving, the back reference to the first law-giving at Horeb. Whether “Laban” (Sept.: Λοβόν) is the same as Libnah, Num. 33:20, and Dizahab (Sept.: Καταχρύσεα), the gold mines upon the Ailanitic gulf, “Minah el Dsahab,” Mersa Dahab, “Dsahab,” parallel to Sinai, may be questionable; but the more indefinite name, Hazeroth [enclosures], which lay in the way from Sinai, Num. 33:17, 18, points us to the region about the mountains of Sinai as their location. Thus Moses spake to all Israel—this is the origin of Deuteronomy—while the Jordan and Canaan still lay before the people (so much, surely, the specified localities assert), and the impression of the wilderness was still prevailing. The Arabah—of which the plains of Moab, the present residence of Israel, reminded them—brings up afresh the most remote recollections,—of Suph, where the Egyptians were drowned (Ex. 15:4), while Moses, the leader of Israel, had been once rescued from the Red Sea (Ex. 2:3 sq.)—and, with the Exodus from Egypt, connects the whole long wandering, between Paran, where the wanderings began, but at the same time also the new order which led them at its close into the inhabited land (Tophel); and of Sinai, where the law was given, and from whence, had they been obedient, the direct course had led them quickly to Canaan.
3. Deut 1:2. In this latter sense we are to take the statement of Deut 1:2 as to the way and time which leads on to the others in Deut 1:3. It is either historical, that Israel actually spent so long a time, or simply a note, that no longer time is necessary to reach the southern limits of the promised land. The way of mount Seir (Seghir) is still the way to Mount Seir; although it only follows the general direction of this mountain, it thus runs along it, and leads to it. The special goal is Kadesh-barnea, Num. 32:8; Deut. 1:19; probably the “Kudes” (Ain Kades) discovered by ROWLAND in 1842. Comp. WINER, Real. “Horeb” stands here, as throughout Deuteronomy, for Sinai, the general name for the particular, Deut. 33:2. Comp. Hengstenb. Auth. II., p. 397 sq.
4. Deut 1:3. With Horeb the back-reference reaches the first law-giving (comp. 28:69), and the local determinations of Deuteronomy now, therefore, receive their completion through the pregnant and precise time statements in Deut 1:3. Eleven days were sufficient, or might have been sufficient, and they were now in the 40th year since the exodus. At the first of the month—thus the day of the new moon. USHER reckons it a Sabbath day, the 20th of February, 1451 B. C. According to JOSEPHUS, Moses died at the last new moon of this year. But the reference to the “last moments” of Moses (SCHULTZ) does not come into view here. On the contrary, indeed, since he speaks “from his own subjective views and impulses” (BAUMGARTEN), it is stated with the utmost emphasis that all is spoken according to the commandment of Jehovah for the people. The active moving personality makes the limits of the commands a law to itself, so that in general only repetitions and expositions find place in the discourses, and even the enlargements, the continuations, the repetitions, are put in new peculiar settings on the ground of a divine command.
5. Deut 1:4. Deuteronomy is no mere “book of reproofs” (§ 1). Although the time and places, as they have been previously given, must remind the people of their sin, yet the truth as well as the holiness of God shines clearly therein, and the title and introduction can only reach its end when the two victories, Deut 1:4, have been first recorded and praised, “the pledge and earnest of future victories” (BAUMGARTEN). Comp. with “Sihon,” Num. 21:24, and with “Og,” Num. 21:33 sq. After he had slain.—Moses in the name of Jehovah. Amorites.—A gentile noun from Emor (Amor), Gen. 10:16; 14:7,—important here, because all the Canaanites bear this name, Gen. 15:16; Deut. 1:20, 21. Heshbon.—The capital city, of which IRBY and MANGELS (1818) found there still significant ruins, in two cisterns or pits, with human skulls and bones (Gen. 37:20). Roman coins of Heshbon under Caracalla show a temple of Astarte or a Deus Lunus, with a Phrygian cap, the right foot resting upon a rock, the right hand holding a pine cone, and the left a spear, wreathed about with a serpent. See RITTER’SGeog.Bashan (Batanäa, El Botthin).—Also upon the eastern side of the Jordan, but further north, Deut. 3. Ashtaroth and Edrei, the two residences of Og, Josh. 12:4; 13:12, 31. KEIL explains the absence of the “and” which is found elsewhere from the “oratorical character” of the discourse here. Sept. and Vulg. insert it. Since the overthrow of these kings is the characteristic thing here, and Edrei is the place at which it occurred, Deut. 3:1; Num. 21:33, the connection may well be “After he had slain—in Edrei.” [So also Bib. Comm.—A. G.] Ashtaroth.—“A region of flocks” (Deut. 7:13; 28:4), but at the same time closely resembling the name of the well-known goddess Astarte (Ashtoreth),—at the foot of the present Tell Ashtereh, in which there is excellent pasturage, and many goats and camels are found. Whether the same with Ashteroth Karnaim, Gen. 14:5, is questionable. “Edrei,” the present “Dera,” “Draa,” a few wretched basalt huts upon a hill; or, perhaps, the other “Edhra,” Deut. 3:10.
6. Deut 1:5. The foregoing introductory retrospect began with on that side Jordan, and now Deut 1:5 goes back again to the same point; but at the same time, since it is now directly introductory to the following discourse, he adds the present scene, over against the land of Canaan, the Holy Land, in the land of Moab, used here, KEIL says, “rhetorically for the usual phrase, in the plains of Moab.” If every beginning is difficult, the “undertaking” of Moses, to speak on his own part after God had spoken, involves more than a mere beginning. But this primary signification of the word appears still, Josh. 18:12; Judg. 1:27, 35, and also in Gen. 18:27. The connection gives the more distinctive shade of meaning. In this connection there is so little of mere chance, or of his own pleasure, that SCHULTZ and KEIL point even to “an inward divine pressure.” If it does not intimate the humility of Moses, or point out how he still once more, before the entrance of Israel into Canaan, strove to bring the law before the minds of the people, the idea may be this: he began, although his goal stood near at hand. It was ever a new valedictory discourse, down to the song and the blessing, according to the method of Deuteronomy. It was an undertaking, less on account of the work imposed upon him, for which he was fitted if any one, than because he could only begin, but knew not whether he could finish, 31:1 sq., 24 sq. It was thus a venture with reference to the hindrance through the approaching end of life—בֵּאֵר, Piel, to explain, Sept. διασαφῆσαι, Vulg. explanare. Thus to make clear, to expound,—this law, to wit, the well-known law in the following method. [Beer: the word implies the pre-existence of the matter on which the process is employed, and thus the substantial identity of the Deuteronomic legislation with that of the previous books.—Bib. Comm.—A. G.]
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. “From Num. 20 comp. with Num. 33:38, 39, the death of Aaron occurred within the last eight months of the 40th year. It is therefore in close connection with the preceding books that the beginning of Deut. places us in the eleventh month of the same year. We see that in the last part of Num. every thing refers to the approaching entrance into the promised land. Joshua is already appointed the leader, in the place of Moses. The men are named who should complete the division of the land. It is clear that it is a point of time of extraordinary import, since the people of Jehovah, after long chastisement, stand now a second time upon the borders of its land, while the divinely chosen law-giver and regent prepares for his near departure; and we can scarcely wonder that this decisive point of time should be marked by the earnest, warning words of Moses, by the second law-giving, and the renewal of the covenant of Sinai.” RANKE.—“To the respect in which he was held, from the mighty deeds which God had wrought through him in Egypt and in the desert is now added the reverence of great age. An old man of 120 years, who has now outlived nearly the whole nation, he enters the congregation.” HESS.—“Moses has finished his life-work, and the hour when he must be gathered to the fathers of his people is near at hand. As he is permitted from the top of Mount Abarim to view with his bodily eye the land into which his people were soon to enter, so also in prophetic illumination, with the eye of the Spirit, he sees the future of his people in that land, the temptations, the dangers, and the errors to which they would be exposed. He knew that the safety and prosperity of Israel depended alone upon its faithfully and unchangeably cleaving to the law of God, of which he had been the mediator and revealer, and that there was still in it, in its yet unbroken or partially broken native dispositions, a strong disinclination to the law, and a stronger drawing to the heathenism from which it had been torn away by its gracious calling. This saddened him, and impelled him to bring before the new generation once more the gracious dealings of God with their fathers, the fruits of which they were about to inherit, and to impress and enforce the law upon their minds once more. With the feelings with which a dying father gathers around him his sons for the last paternal warnings and exhortations, Moses, in the foresight of his end near at hand, gathers around him his people, whom he had hitherto with a father’s faithfulness led and instructed, whom he had fostered and cherished with a mother’s tenderness, and who, from now on, without him, without his constant, faithful leading and discipline, were to enter upon a great, rich, but also most dangerous future.” KURTZ.
2. The emphasis which in every way is given to the wilderness calls our attention to its theological significance. It is perhaps true, as BAUMGARTEN suggests, that “the desolate plain in which Israel had spent so much time,” in distinction from the “starting point, the mount of Horeb,” and the “goal, the highlands of Canaan,” represents “the whole last past, including the present, as a state of imperfection and preparation.” But on the one hand, it is not the “last past, including even the present,” but rather the whole past from Egypt, all of which bears the character of “the wilderness,” which is spoken of here, and, on the other hand, this “residence in the valley” symbolizes the object, the purpose of God in this providence (humiliation), as objectively the trial and subjectively the knowledge, which were also designed and held in view by God. Deut. 8:2. The theological significance of the wilderness is generally and specially pedagogical. After the oppositions, world and redemption, bondage in Egypt, and freedom, the residence there, and the exodus thence until the Red Sea was passed, the reconciliation of these oppositions, i. e., the instruction and training of the people of God in faith, was necessary. As thus instructed only was Israel fitted for its judicial work upon the people of Canaan, and for the possession of the promised land. The wilderness, which was peculiarly fitted for this end, as far as locality and means of training were concerned, was the divine national school of Israel. Only in this significance is it perfectly clear that the temptation which results in knowledge and confirmation, and thus is to be regarded as a proving or testing, Deut. 8; while in other cases it is presented as a punishment, Num. 14:33.
3. This school character of the wilderness—not a school for “turning nomads into agriculturists,” but with which the “production of a new generation” goes hand in hand—is in some measure stereotyped for the kingdom of God by the frequently returning 40 days. Moses was 40 days and nights in Horeb, Ex. 24:18; 34:28; Deut. 9:9, 18; 10:10. Elijah was 40 days and nights in the wilderness on the way to Horeb, 1 Kings 19:8. It was a school-time for the prophets, as the appearance of John the Baptist in the wilderness was generally preparatory for Israel, and the 40 days and nights, Matt. 4:2, show us the Son of God, after His completed home-life (Luke 2:51, 52), in the school for His official life.
4. As the second tables of the law which Moses hewed, Ex. 34, so his second abode on Horeb foreshadowed the Deuteronomic law-giving. As if Moses, with whom God had spoken on Sinai, as with no other, was to the second generation what Jehovah was to the first. LUTHER: “It was named, the other law, not because different from that which was given upon Mount Sinai, but because it was repeated through Moses a second time, with a new covenant, and renewed before those who had not heard it as first given. For those who had heard it from the Lord Himself had perished in the wilderness.”
5. If repetition is mater studiorum, recollection as it animates the title to Deuteronomy, the introduction to the following discourses, is the practical means, the more plastic the more practical, first to excite gratitude to God here, but secondly, also, to self-knowledge, without descending into which abyss there is no ascent to the true knowledge of God. The consciousness of guilt generally grows stronger and more personal with the obligation to thankfulness, especially for those who in the existing love to God recognize the first love as one predominantly of feeling and fancy (Ex. 15), to whom in direct connection with the praises, the innermost nature of man, his self-deception and hypocrisy, discloses itself more and more, and who learn to perceive that the consciousness of redemption once experienced must prove, and confirm itself also, in the consciousness of the daily providence of God. (From Egypt and the daily bread for the day).
6. The norm of the Mosaic discourses, the commandments of God, shows the word of God in the narrower, but therefore for us also in the wider sense, both as immediate and mediate, to be the rule of doctrine and life. “He gives therewith the true way of prophecy, and indeed of every reformation.” SCHULTZ. We have here also the critical principle of the historical reformation of the 16th century. The Lutheran and Reformed Churches are historical denominations, but reformation is the constant duty of the Church, and reformation is different from mere restoration.
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Deut 1:1–5. The past of a people: 1. a glass of its present; 2. as instructive for its future. The past dealings of God with a people should—1. excite it to gratitude; 2. humble it; 3. encourage it to confidence. The forgetfulness of a nation in reference to its past is—1. a religious, 2. moral, 3. a political fault. The retrospect of a past life a teacher—1. of our sins, 2. but also of the faithfulness of God. In the review of a portion of time closed up—e.g., the old or past year—we learn, 1. the goodness of God which we should praise, 2. our own guilt which we should confess, 3. the patience of God which should lead to conversion. With the look backwards, comes the look within and around, and then also the look outwards and upwards. Recollection! consideration! praise! Knowest thou not that the goodness of God leadeth thee to repentance? The significant turning points in human life. The seriousness, painfulness, and blessedness of recollection.
Deut 1:1. All for the people, hence also for the whole people. As the reference to Canaan is the decisive one for Moses, so the look to heaven (“the other side of Jordan”) should be to us. The journey through the wilderness—the school-time for the inward man.
Deut 1:2. Our hindrances in the inward and outward life come from disobedience to God. Disobedience hastens quickly, but obedience comes sooner to the goal. From Horeb to Kadesh-Barnea, through the law comes the knowledge of sin, and the sentence of death.
Deut 1:3. In the love of God we do not leave school-life before the proper time. According to the commandment of God, should be the rule of our words as of our acts and lives. All according to the divine word! Faithfulness to the word: holding fast to the end, ever finding a word suited to those trusted in our care, in every word, judging ourselves by the word of God. Homiletics, what it should be.
Deut 1:5. How the children of God begin right with respect to their end.—The Phœnix out of the ashes.—The faithful holds on preaching, testifying, teaching, and never wearies.—The glorious question of CALVIN in his last days: “Do you wish that the Lord, when He comes, should find me idle?” (comp. the preface to the last revision of the Institutes, 1559), in which he speaks of himself “as one near to death:” “but the more oppressed with sickness, the less will I spare myself, that I may bring the work to its conclusion.” Thus he speaks of his writings, that God had granted him grace “earnestly and conscientiously to go to his work, so that he had not in one single instance knowingly distorted or incorrectly explained a passage of Scripture.”—The work of the true preacher is still to-day the exposition of the law of God; he is therein literally ever a beginner. As it is a work of humility, so also of courage.—The trumpet should give no uncertain sound, 1 Cor. 14:8, 9.—Moses has sought to put the law in the hearts of the anointed people, and expounded it for them. The exposition and practical carrying out of the commandments of God is a constant effort of the Church necessary to its own health and safety.
R. GELL: “In these words we have the title, ground and contents of this fifth book of Moses.”
CALVIN: “God does not, as earthly kings are wont to do, enrich His law with new commands, as taught by experience, but will help the slow and crude sense of His people.”
LUTHER (Deut 1:3): “He repeats here, so that one should preach nothing among the people of God which he is not certain is in the word of God. It is necessary indeed that every one should be constrained to announce or declare the word of God. He does not say what was suggested to him, but what the Lord commanded him.”
G. D. KRUMMACHER: “God says by the prophet Hosea: I will lead them in the wilderness, and says this not as a threatening, but as a fatherly discipline, and adds therefore: and will speak friendly unto them. Thus it is in a spiritual wilderness. It consists in removing all supports on which man might place his confidence other than God, and thus shutting him up to rest his hope alone upon the living God. He will never do this so long as he has around him or with him that which draws him into idolatry, and hence it must be taken from him. This removal of all creature supports is partly outward and partly inward, and at times both outward and inward. Thus with David when he fled from Absalom, 2 Sam. 15. The latter as with Abraham, King Jehoshaphat; Paul in Asia, 2 Cor. 1; Peter upon the sea. With Job both occur. The disciples felt it when they saw Jesus dead, even upon the cross. Sometimes it occurs at once, and then ceases; but more frequently it comes by degrees and proceeds to a greater and greater extent. This removal has distinguishable degrees. In one case, a promise or a recollection of some past experience, or the like, is left; in another, all is taken, Ps. 88. Thus the Lord leads us, but only to empty us of all self-confidence and win us to a naked confidence in Him, 2 Cor. 1:9. An urgent demand for humility and watchfulness against any self-exaltation, Prov. 18:12. But also a word of sweet consolation: God can lift thee up again.” “The Church is in the wilderness, where on every side errors gain the upper hand, and the pure word seldom; where temptations to frivolity and worldly thoughts increase; where heavy persecutions and defections occur; where the wise virgins sleep with the foolish, and serious earnestness in the service of God, threatens to become extinct; and thus our time may be regarded as one peculiarly fruitless, with all our bustle and noise over our mission and Bible unions.” “Moreover, it seems to me remarkable that wilderness, in Hebrew, comes from a word which means both to speak and to lead, so that to be in the wilderness and under leading, in Hebrew, amounts nearly to one and the same thing.”
BERL. BIB.: “Obedience is the principal thing in every household of God. This Moses demanded in the law, to this Christ urges in the gospel, and to this end the Holy Spirit writes a new law in the heart, which is even typified in this book.”
Deut 1:2. Mark the incalculable injury of unbelief.—WURTB. BIB.: “A Christian teacher should neglect no time or occasion to teach the word of God, but should use special diligence, that he may instruct youth thoroughly in the knowledge of God, 2 Tim. 3:14; 4:2. A teacher also should not grieve to repeat often, for such repetition makes the hearer more certain, Phil. 3:1; 2 Pet. 1:12. Whoever speaks in the Church ought not to speak his own wisdom, or the speculations of reason, or the comments of men, but the oracles of God.” CHYTRAEUS.
SCHULTZ: “He will say: This I have done for thee; what wilt thou do for me? Comp. last words of Jacob, Gen. 49; of Joshua (Josh. 23:24); of David, 2 Sam. 23. The older interpreters have already drawn the parallel between Deuteronomy and the farewell words of Christ.” Even GEDDES remarks: “The whole discourse is one of the most beautiful which ever fell from human lips. Wisdom, appropriateness, overwhelming eloquence, and the paternal solicitude of the lawgiver, are apparent throughout the whole.”
The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:I. THE FIRST DISCOURSE
1. The command of God for the breaking up from Horeb—and the promise. (Deut 1:6–8).
6The Lord our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: 7Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all [his neighbors—see marg.] the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea-side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates. 8Behold, I have [given] set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
2. The corresponding precautions which Moses took. (Deut 1:9–18.)
9And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: 10The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. 11(The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!) 12How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? 13Take2 you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. 14And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. 15So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made [gave] them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. 16And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. 17Ye shall not respect persons [regard faces] in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. 18And I commanded you at that time all the things [words] which ye should do.
3. The actual breaking up from Horeb, and arrival in Kadesh-barnea; the encouragement to the promise. (Deut 1:19–21.)
19And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the Lord our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea. 20And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountains of the Amorites, which the Lord our God doth give unto us. 21Behold, the Lord thy God hath set [given] the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
4. The Spies. (Deut 1:22–25.)
22And ye came near unto me every one of you [all ye], and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come. 23And the saying pleased me well:3 and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe: 24And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out. 25And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the Lord our God doth give us.
5. The unbelief notwithstanding all assurances and experiences. (Deut 1:26–33.)
26Notwithstanding, ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God: 27And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, he has brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver [give] us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. 28Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged [melted] our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover, we have seen the sons of the Anakims [sons of the giants] there. 29Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. 30The Lord your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for [with] you in Egypt before your eyes; 31And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way [the whole way] that ye went, until ye came into this place. 32Yet in this thing [word] ye did not believe the Lord your God, 33Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
6. The judgment of God. (Deut 1:34–40.)
34And the Lord heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, 35Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, 36Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath4 wholly followed the Lord. 37Also the Lord was angry 38with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither. But [om. But] Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither. Encourage 39him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. Moreover, your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, 40and they shall possess it. But [And] as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
7. Fruitless attempts. (Deut 1:41–46.)
41Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the Lord, we will go up and fight, according to all that the Lord our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready [made light]5 to go up into the hill. 42And the Lord said unto me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither 43fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies. So [And] I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment [mouth] of the Lord, and went presumptuously [were presumptuous and went] up into the hill. 44And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah. 45And ye returned and wept before the Lord; but the Lord would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you. 46So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there.
8. The new beginning. (DEUT 2:1–3.)
1THEN we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea, as the Lord spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days. 2And the Lord spake unto me, saying, 3Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward.
9. The exceptions (Deut 2:4–23): Edom (Deut 2:4–8): Moab (Deut 2:9–15): Amnion (Deut 2:16–23)
4And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: 5Meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot-breadth [the treading of the sole of the foot]; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession. 6Ye shall buy meat [food] of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water6 of them for money, that ye may drink. 7For the Lord thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: he knoweth [careth for] thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the Lord thy God hath been with thee: thou hast lacked nothing. 8And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Eziongaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab. 9And the Lord said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle:7 for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession. (10The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall as the Anakims;—11Which also were 12accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims. The Ho-rims also dwelt in Seir before-time, but the children of Esau succeeded them [dislodged and], when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the Lord gave unto them.) 13Now rise up, said I,8 and get you over the brook Zered: and we went over the brook Zered. 14And the space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the Lord sware 15unto them. For [And] indeed the hand of the Lord was against them, to destroy 16them from among the host, until they were consumed. So [And] it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people, 17That the Lord spake unto me, saying, 18Thou art to pass over through Ar, the coast of 19Moab, this day: And when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them; for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession. 20(That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time: and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; 21A people great, and many, and tall as the Anakims; but the Lord destroyed them before them; and they succeeded [dislodged] them, and dwelt in their stead: 22As he did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when he destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded [dislodged] them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day: 23And the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim [villages] even unto Azzah [Gaza], the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)
10. The first victory and possession. (Deut 3:24—Deut 3:22.)
a. The promise of victory (Deut 3:24, 25)
24Rise ye up, take your journey, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thy hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to 25[om. to] possess it, and contend with him in battle. This day will I begin to put [give] the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.
b. The victory over King Sihon. (Deut 3:26–37.)
26And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of 27Heshbon with words of peace, saying, Let me [I will] pass through thy land: I will go along by the highway, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left. 28Thou shalt sell me meat [food] for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet; 29(As the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I shall pass over Jordan into the land which the Lord our God giveth us. 30But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the Lord thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate [firm], that he might deliver [give] him into thy hand, as appeareth this day. 31And the Lord said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to 32[om. to] possess, that thou mayest inherit his land. Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. 33And the Lord our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. 34And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed [banned]9 the men, and the women, and the little ones of every city; we left none to remain: 35Only the cattle we took for a 36prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took. From Aroer which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the Lord our God delivered 37[gave up] all unto us: Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, nor unto any place [the whole side] of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the Lord our God forbade us.
c. The victory over King Og. (DEUT 3:1–11.)
1THEN [And] we turned, and went up the way to Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. 2And the Lord said unto me, Fear him not; for I will deliver [I have given] him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand; and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt at Heshbon. 3So the Lord our God delivered into our hands Og also the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left to him remaining. 4And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 5All these cities were fenced [fortified] with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many. 6And we utterly destroyed [laid them under ban] them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men,10 women, and children of every city. 7But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities, we took for a prey to ourselves. 8And we took at that [this] time out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorites the land that was on this [that] side Jordan, from the river of Arnon unto Mount Hermon;9(Which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion; and the Amorites call it Shenir;) 10All the cities of the plain, and all Gilead, and all Bashan, unto Salchah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. 11For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? nine-cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.
d. The first possession. (Deut 3:12–22.)
12And this land, which we possessed at that [this] time, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I unto the Reubenites and to the Gadites. 13And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half-tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob [with respect to the whole Bashan], with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants. 14Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob, unto the coasts of Geshuri, and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashan-havoth-jair, unto this day. 15And I gave Gilead unto Machir. And unto the Reubenites 16and unto the Gadites I gave from Gilead even [both] unto the river Arnon, half the valley, and the border, even [and] unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon: 17The plain also, and Jordan, and the coast thereof, from Chinnereth even unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, under Ashdoth-pisgah [cliffs of Pisgah] eastward. 18And I commanded you at that [in this] time, saying, The Lord your God hath given you this land to possess it; ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all that are meet 19for the war [the strong ones].11 But [only] your wives, and your little ones, and four cattle, (for I know that ye have much cattle,) shall abide in your cities which I have given you; 20Until the Lord have given rest unto your brethren, as well as unto you, and until [thus] they also possess the land which the Lord your God hath given them beyond Jordan: and then shall ye return every man unto his possession which I have given you. 21And I commanded Joshua at that [this] time, saying, Thine eyes have seen all that the Lord your God hath done unto these two kings: so shall the Lord do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest. 22Ye shall not fear them: for the Lord your God he shall fight for you.
11. Moses’ prayer not heard. (Deut 3:23–29.)
23And I besought the Lord at that [in this] time, saying, 24O Lord God, thou hast begun to shew thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for [om. for] what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to thy works, and according to thy might? 25I pray thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon. 26But the Lord was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the Lord said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto me of this matter. 27Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. 28But charge Joshua, and encourage him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see. 29So we abode in the valley over against Beth-peor.
12. Moses’ exhortations. (DEUT 4:1–40.)
a. To the consideration of the law generally. (Deut 4:1–8.)
1NOW therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach [am teaching] you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the Lord God of your fathers giveth you. 2Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the Lord your God which I command you. 3Your eyes have seen [see still] what the Lord did because of Baal-peor: for all the men [every man] that followed Baal-peor, the Lord thy God hath destroyed them from among you. 4But ye that did cleave unto the Lord your God, are alive every one of you this day. 5Behold, I have taught you statutes, and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. 6Keep therefore and do them: for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely [only] this great nation is a wise and understanding people. 7For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh unto them as the Lord our God is in all things that we call upon him for? 8And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day.
b. To a remembrance of the law-giving at Horeb. (Deut 4:9–14.)
9Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy 10life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons: Specially [om. Specially] the day that thou stoodest before the Lord thy God in Horeb, when the Lord said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and 11that they may teach their children. And [Then] ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst [the heart] of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. 12And the Lord spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice [a form ye saw not beside the voice]. 13And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone. 14And the Lord commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.
c. That they should lay to heart the nature and method of the law-giver. (Deut 4:15–31.)
15Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves [for the sake of your souls]; (for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the Lord spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire;) 16Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image 17[idol image], the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air [heaven], 18The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: 19And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to [shouldest become alienated, and] worship them, and serve them, which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations 20under the whole heaven. But [And] the Lord hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance 21[for a possession], as ye are this day. Furthermore, the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance: 22But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over and possess that good land. 23Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the Lord your God, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing which the Lord thy God hath forbidden thee. 24For the Lord thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God. 25When thou shalt beget children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image [idol image], or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the Lord thy God, to provoke him to anger; 26I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it: ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly [certainly] be destroyed. 27And the Lord shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the Lord shall lead [drive] you. 28And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither 29see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But [And] if from thence thou shalt seek the Lord thy God, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart [thy whole heart], and with all thy soul. 30When thou art in tribulation, and all these things [words are found] are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the Lord thy God, and shalt be obedient [hearken] unto his voice; 31(For the Lord thy God is a merciful God;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers, which he sware unto them.
d. The consideration of the superiority of Israel through its law. (Deut 4:32–40.)
32For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been 33heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live? 34Or hath God assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes? 35Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the Lord he is God: there is none else beside him. 36Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire. 37And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their [his] seed after them [him], and brought thee out in his sight [with his face] with his mighty power out of Egypt; 38To drive out nations from before thee, greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day. 39Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the Lord he is God in heaven above, and upon the 40earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt [And] keep therefore his statutes and his commandments which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, for ever.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Deut 1:6–8. As Moses spake “according to all that the Lord commanded him” (Deut 1:3), so here we have at the very first the word and command of the Lord, Deut 1:6 sq.—The standpoint at Horeb, is the most fitting for Deuteronomy in its popular reference, since Israel itself received its national form as a people through the Sinaitic law-giving. Jehovah our God, in the mouth of Moses, who stands in connection with both generations of Israel, expresses with respect to God what the words: spake unto us express with respect to Israel. Comp. 5:2 sq. Israel is one whole, the old with the new, but so also Jehovah is the one and the same covenant God. The succeeding words of the Lord complete the narrative, Num. 1:1 sq.; 10:11 sq.—Enough.—Nearly a year was long enough for the legal preparation of Israel. The abode at Horeb is emphasized as long (רב) rather, because that which was necessary for Israel could not be secured in any briefer time.
Deut 1:7. Turn you (1:40; 2:3, with לָכֶם), the direction of the face; take your journey, the breaking up and departure; and go, the arriving at the goal. The three imperatives are used to impress the strong desire of the Lord to give Canaan to the people.—As the land of the Canaanites shows, these condensed descriptive terms serve to give the peculiar features, and indeed a very complete and attractive picture of the promised land, as the goal of the journey. The mount of the Amorites, afterwards the mountains of Judah and Ephraim, is the first feature of Canaan which greets the eye of one coming from the south, and is indeed as a highland (comp. Doct. and Ethical, § 2, Deut 1:1–5), with the addition: all its neighbors, the “backbone” (KEIL) of the whole land. For the Amorites, comp. Deut 1:1–4. For the plain, Deut 1:1. If the Arabah following the eye includes the valley of the “Dead Sea and the Jordan” (SCHULTZ) throughout, we can scarcely take the hills as the Mount: of the Amorites, but rather as the remaining mountains, especially as the hill region of Galilee, the second member of the mountain system of Palestine, to which follows appropriately in order the vale (Schephelah) from Carmel down to Gaza, and the south (the Negeb) the district stretching from the wilderness to the cultivated and fertile land, from the south end of the Dead Sea over to the region below Gaza; so that and by the sea side (Gen. 49:13; Luke 6:17) must include the entire Mediterranean Coast up to Tyre, and at the same time, after the now following comprehensive description as the land of the Canaanites, Lebanon (white mountain from the snow), the last member of the mountain system of Palestine, gives the characteristic finish to the description. The special mention of Lebanon and the extension of the eastern limit to the Euphrates are not to be taken “as an oratorical fulness of expression” (KEIL), but as the gleaming out of the divine promise. Gen. 15:18; Ex. 23:31; Deut. 11:24. Unto the great river, the river Euphrates (from the sweet water, or the rapid flow). But “the people were led captive to the very land to which as free and rightful possessors they should have gradually advanced” (SCHULTZ). Comp. Deut. 12:20 and also 2 Sam. 8:3, 6; 1 Kings 5:1, 4. To such a wide outlook, Deut 1:7, corresponds the lo or behold of Deut 1:8.—They have only to possess the land already given by God (נָתַתִּי, perf.).—I have set the land before you.—“The possession of it should therefore be both certain and easy” (HERXHEIMER). Jehovah is the God of Israel not first since Horeb (Deut 1:6), but already through the patriarchs. References Gen. 12:7; 13:16; 15:18; 17:8; 24:7; 26:3, 4; 28:13; 48:4. A sacred objectivity appears here, where God speaks of Himself in the third person. So also Moses speaks of himself in the Pentateuch.—Since the giving is one already completed by God, so it makes no essential distinction between unto them and their seed after them.—The distinction is only one of time; to them, in the promise, hence sworn, to their seed in the actual gift. The legal title of the successors to Canaan, depended upon the patriarchs. It was legally, validly given to them, their seed inherited it from them.
2. Deut 1:9–18. It belongs to God to go before; the part of Moses now follows. This is an order of arrangement, not a chronological order. At that time, Deut 1:9, is the same as at Horeb, Deut 1:6 (comp. Deut 1:18 with Ex. 18:5; 17:6). And I spake in no way excludes the counsel of Jethro (Ex. 18:17 sq.), but rather pre-supposes his very words (§ 4, 1:9).—[It is probable that Moses received Jethro’s suggestion, took it to God, received the divine approval, and then proposed it to the people, which was specially suited to his purpose in this address. At that time, in Moses’ view, includes the year’s residence at Horeb. And hence there is no inconsistency between the narrative in Exodus and the statement here. The transaction may have been commenced before the law was given, and concluded afterwards.—A. G.]—Compare the לא־אוּכַל לְבַדִּי with לֹא־תוּכַל־לְבַדֶּךָEx. 18:18; Deut 1:12; אֶשָּׂא with וְנָשְׂאוּ, Ex. 18:22.—As Deut 1:6to us, so here: to you.—In Gen. 12the promise of the land was closely connected with and dependent upon the promise of a great people. Moses here makes prominent the fulfilment of this promise, and that the promise of the land had thus received a visible pledge, Deut 1:10 sq. Hence the literal reference in Deut 1:10 to Gen. 22:17; 26:4; 15:5; 17:2. Hence also in Deut 1:11 the wish for a thousand-fold increase, with which was connected the wish for a blessing according to Gen. 12:2. With this agrees the God of your fathers. This fulfilment obviously renders some arrangement necessary, through which the physical enlargement may become moral also, may be formed into a legal organism, so that as in connection with the divine law-giving, so also in and through this human arrangement or institution, all that which is needful for Israel’s journey to Canaan, especially for its possession of the same, and as a consequence its settlement therein may be provided. Deut 1:12. A resumption of Deut 1:9. For bear, comp. Heb. 1:3. The fact that מַשָּׂא occurs also in Num. 11:17 does not justify the inference, that the appointment of the Judges here must be connected with the appointment of the Seventy elders there.—[The time and place are both different, and although there is a resemblance in the expressions which Moses uses, it is entirely natural that he should use them on both occasions. We are constantly doing the same with all the variety and flexibility of modern languages. It would be strange indeed if they should not occur in the narratives of entirely different events.—A. G.]—(V. GERLACH), your cumbrance is the people itself; burden, their concerns which they laid upon Moses; your strifes, וְרּיבְכֶם, with a vivid recollection of Ex. 18:13 sq., the litigated questions and interests.
Deut 1:13. Take (give) for you men.—Those who should in this trust act for their good must proceed from themselves. Or they should themselves give what they need (Judg. 1:15). The fuller description of these men corresponds to Ex. 18:21 sq. While Jethro dwells more upon the moral qualities, Moses brings out into prominence the technical qualifications for the office. Wise, in reference to the fear of God; understanding for the definite peculiar cases; known, with respect to the whole people; their good report among them. (VULG.: quorum conversatio sit probata. Comp. Acts 6:3; 1 Tim. 3:7.) Among your tribes belongs to the whole clause, the entire demand.—Rulers, comp. Deut 1:15; Ex. 18:25. [Shebet, the word used in Deuteronomy for tribe, designates the tribe as a political corporation; Matteh, which occurs frequently in the other parts of the Pentateuch, but never in Deuteronomy, is used in reference to its genealogical stems and branches. WORDSWORTH.—A. G.]
Deut 1:14. A recognition of the proposal of Moses on the part of the people, and Deut 1:15 a recognition of the natural relations of the people on the part of Moses. The chief of your tribes, i. e. those who were found at the heads of the several tribes. Since the tribal institution thus lay at the foundation, the arrangement into 1,000, 100, 50, 10, aids only in cases where unusual numbers are concerned. Because there will be insight or understanding wherever there is true wisdom, the second requisite is here omitted in the enumeration.—Judges, from שָׁטַר, connected with שָׁזַר to press together, with =שָׁדַר סָדַרto rank, to dispose in order, so that “shoter” signifies one who sets in order, and connected with this, a writer, as SCHNELL says: “one who is to keep the tribe register, and who appears in everything where reading and writing give occasion, and especially in all financial transactions.” It belongs to those entrusted with the office of Judges, that they should order all for the legal transactions, should see that the judgment in each case is recorded, and should provide for its execution; a scripture guide in every position high or low. Sept. Ex. 5:15, 19. γραμματεῖς, here γραμματοεισαγωγεῖς. It belongs to the judicial function, Deut 1:16, especially first to hear, then to judge. For the first he should act and move as between his brethren. For the last he has to execute righteousness (16:18; John 7:24). The brotherly open ear must be associated with the incorruptibly closed hand, and indeed before him each one is and remains only “a man,” whether he deals with “his brother” or with a “stranger.” גֵּר includes settlement, residence in itself, whether temporary or permanent, as e. g., the one who works for wages. As in this relation justice allows no distinction, so neither between the small and the great, i. e., poor and rich, the lowly and the exalted. No face, no person is to be regarded in judgment; נָכַר in Hiph. looked upon with partiality, neither in the hearing nor the judging; and thus especially fear, the most spiritual and yet the most natural and human form of corruption is repudiated. The completion to Ex. 18:21. (Self-seeking to the thirst for gain). All human reverence and respect disappears when the judgment is set forth with such emphasis as of God (Rom. 2:11), when the Judge acts for him and is responsible to him (2 Chr. 19:6). Hence Ex. 18:15, 19, inquire of God, and bring before God. The judicial summons of the Arabs to-day is, “thou art cited before the judgment of God;” so also in the KORAN. The cause that is too hard looks back to Ex. 18:26. A hint of the “chief judicial authority” (SCHULTZ), as for the present of Moses, so perhaps in a general way already an intimation of the kingdom, chap. 17. The hardness or difficulty depends upon the nature of the cause; the solution should be given to the judges (for you) and could also be made known to the parties in the case appealed. (It is interesting to notice here the fifty-eight times occurring termination וּן in Deuteteronomy used only in the older books). Deut 1:18. The transition from right-speaking in judgment to right-doing in life, from the judges to the people (“you”). Either because Moses points to Ex. 21 sq., or else gives here a summary conclusion to the passage from Deut 1:9 sq. The Divine law-giving, the decalogue, is not mentioned in the whole paragraph. But comp. upon 4:13.
3. Deut 1:19–21. And we departed, Deut 1:19. Thus, so far as God and Moses were concerned, everything was ready for the journey to Canaan, but alas! it was not so on the part of the people. Comp. Num. 11:12. All that wilderness here embraces the whole desert generally considered as lying over against Canaan. “The demonstrative הַהוּא and the addition which ye saw rest upon the same vivid representation, which lies at the foundation of the peculiar local determinations in Deut 1:1, 2.” (SCHULTZ). Because all therefore also great and terrible, comp. 8:15; 32:10. Stretching from Cairo to the Euphrates, and divided into eastern and western by the Mountains of Edom, it is the western part, the Arabia petræa which is here spoken of. From Horeb northwards, especially in the desert Et-Tih, the region is characterized by fruitlessness, scarcity of water, black chalk hills, boundless plains of blinding white sand, the sport of suffocating west winds, and lying under the heavens glowing as metal. The journey from Horeb to Kadesh, which in Deut 1:2 is described as the way of Mount Seir, is here laid down as the way of the mountain of the Amorites. The former is characteristic in the East, the latter in the North, and is moreover expressly pointed out in Deut 1:7, as the divinely announced goal. As the Lord our God commanded us. Moses, Deut 1:20, refers to this goal, Deut 1:7, as now attained, and repeats, Deut 1:21, the promise (Deut 1:8). Go up, possess—“asyndeton emphaticum. Comp. 2:24, 31.”—J. H. MICH.
4. Deut 1:22–25. As these words of Moses complete the narrative, Num. 13:50, what follows down to Deut 1:46 appears as the completion made by an eye-witness like Moses; so pervading, and at the same time so undesigned and natural is the reference to Num. 13, 14 (§ 4, 1. 10). While Moses passes over the preceding events recorded, Num. 11:12, he dwells expressly upon that which introduced the catastrophe. וְיָתֻרוּ in Num. 13:21 differs from וְיַחְפְּרוּ־לָנוּ here as a mere passing through, differs from the most careful and thorough exploration. Jehovah speaks for the believer, the people speak from a weak or small faith. And bring us word (answer) again, (Deut 1:25) as a parenthesis, so that וְאֵת–אֶת־ specializes the object nempe viam, or de via. What way to take, and what fortified places to possess. Deut 1:23. Moses approves the desire of the people because it was not unreasonable, and “because the divine help never dispenses with the wise, careful, and zealous use of all human means and strength, but rather demands it.” (KURTZ). In Num. it is represented as a command of God, and the more so because God wills that the deep purposes of the heart “should come into the light, and be overcome or controlled.” (KURTZ). Canaan was to be conquered and possessed by faith, otherwise the reproach of failure would rest upon Jehovah and His covenant with Israel. Twelve men, according to Num. 13; none for Levi, but two for Joseph, one each for Ephraim and Manasseh. Deut 1:24, comp. Num. 13:23 sq. The valley of Eshcol (from שׁךְ ,שָׁכֹל dense, interwoven), grape clusters, grapes from near Hebron, whose clusters are said sometimes to weigh from eight to twelve pounds. וַיְרַגְּלוּ Piel; to discover, because going often here and there, thus corresponding to וְיָתֻרוּ in Num. 13:21. The feminine אֹתָהּ refers to the land (Deut 1:26 or Deut 1:22) as the suffix Deut 1:38. Deut 1:25, literally, as Num. 13:20. And brought, sq. between two, bearing the cluster upon a pole, in order to carry it without injury, Num. 13:23. What they brought vouches for their report as to the goodness of the land. Deut 1:28 brings out the rest of the report. [It shows upon what slight grounds objections are raised, that the narratives in regard to the spies, which are plainly subsidiary, should be urged as instances of discrepancy. The obvious order here is: the plan originated with the people, was approved by Moses, was submitted to God, and carried out under His express sanction. WORDSWORTH well remarks, “A forger who personates Moses, would have taken good care that his own statements should be seen to be in perfect harmony with the records of Moses himself. The semblances of discrepancies are not marks of spuriousness, but rather of genuineness.”—A. G.].
5. Deut 1:26–33. This subsequent report corresponds throughout with the narrative in Num. 13:27, 28 sq. Ye would not, precisely as Matt. 23:37! The inward negative of men to the goodness of God, which then came to a decision in outward act, becomes in experience a rejection by God. Our paragraph relates the decision in act, that in experience, the rejection on the part of God is related in Deut 1:34 sq. “Moses dwells long at Kadesh, because the prolonging of that preparatory condition in which Israel was still, arose here. The natural corruption even of the chosen people is here shown, and proved a fact of importance for the whole future, since Israel even in the fields of Moab was not yet redeemed therefrom. Thus Moses addresses the Israelites around him, as if they were the authors of the apostacy at Kadesh and the rejected race, while in fact they were the new generation who were preserved in contrast to those rejected (Deut 1:35–39). BAUMGARTEN. Deut 1:27: murmuring, to wit, against the command and promise of the Lord, Deut 1:7. Comp. with Deut 1:21. רָגַן to chide, mock, Niphal to be peevish, morose. In your tents points back to the night, Num. 14:1. Because the Lord hated us, they said, and think of the leading out from Egypt, as Num. 14:2, and look upon the Canaanites also, as Num. 14:3. In regard to the first, directly contrary to Ex. 20:2, but comp. Deut. 9:28. With this reviling of the very fundamental act of benevolence, this generation yielded up its own existence. Whither, sq., to what region of the well-occupied and fortified land shall we turn? Our brethren, viz., the spies, who give us brotherly counsel while Jehovah hates us, Num. 13:31 sq. Discouraged, melted. Greater in number, and taller in size, and thus stronger. Great cities in extent, and walled up to heaven. High walls and towers, and mountain fastnesses. Comp. 9:1, where Moses ironically appropriates the exaggerated utterances of their cowardice. Cowardice and pride go together (Gen. 11:4), but never faith, to which God in heaven is all (Ps. 73:25), and nothing on earth reaches to heaven. The living vivid representation, moreover, vouches for its originality. Sons of the Anakim, are the descendants of a peculiarly tall, giant-like race. Thus the statement concerning the three sons of Anak, Num. 13:22, 23, is completed. Comp. Deut. 2:10. The encouragement and assurance of Moses, Deut 1:29 completes the narrative, Num. 13:30; 14:6 sq., and after Deut 1:5 was to have been expected. There the narrative treats of Caleb and Joshua, the exceptions among the people, here it treats of Moses in his relation to the people. Comp. 7:21; 1:21. With Deut 1:30 comp. Deut 1:33. A verbal reference to Ex. 14:14, 25 for an introduction to what follows. Your own past experience should be that which is most assuring, is Moses’ encouragement. Deut 1:31 comp. with Deut 1:19. As a man doth bear (is wont to bear and will ever bear). The points of comparison are: the mercy which takes up the faint and perishing; the care which bears them upon the arm, and goes with them through every danger; the wisdom and power which bring them home. Comp. Ex. 19:4; Isa. 46:3, 4; Acts 13:18; Num. 11:12. Deut 1:32: וּבַרָּבָר הַוֶּהAnd with (in) this word. The peculiar position of the pause accent intimates so much as this, surely: in spite of, notwithstanding this assurance, or directly, is it credible! Not believing in Jehovah. The participle represents the faithless conduct of the people as an enduring, permanent condition; as Jehovah Deut 1:33 (Deut 1:30) is represented as going before them. Comp. Ex. 13:21 sq., לָתוּר. Comp. Num. 10:33.
6. Deut 1:34–40. The long break in the narrative intimated here Deut 1:34, by the words And Jehovah heard, sq., as in Deut 1:32, by the pause accent, serves to set the disposition of Israel at its full measure and value, and at the same time shows how slow to wrath God was (Gen. 6:11, 5; James 1:19). The oath in the rejection (Ps. 95:11; Heb. 3:18; 4:3) as in the promise (Deut 1:8, 35). Deut 1:35. אִם “if”—because in the formula of the oath the second clause is generally wanting, it being clear of itself—here stands for: surely not; No one, because the whole body (the generation) is evil, in opposition to the good land. Comp. Num. 14:23, 28. Deut 1:36. Caleb is named first (Deut 1:38) as also in Num. 13:30. Upon which he hath trodden. Comp. Josh. 14:9: Because he hath wholly followed the Lord—[lit., fulfilled to go after, E. V. Marg.]. The perfect following is that which holds on when the other falls away. Deut 1:37. Also against me. Moses certainly distinguishes between the wrath breaking out upon Israel (Deut 1:34קצף) and the displeasure, the growing anger of Jehovah (hithpael from אנף), letting loose upon him also the excluding judgment as it concerned the people. But that he excepts himself from the exception of Caleb, and feels himself to be included under the wrath of Jehovah in a general sense; this genuine Mosaic classing of himself with the people still beloved by him, although in the rejection, can only be intimated. The incident alluded to, Num. 20:12, falls historically during the second coming of Israel to the borders of the promised land, and with the new generation. In his love for the people, and in the result, Moses connects it with the great catastrophe, Num. 14. This connection moreover was even then referred to, if not designed, since Moses’ name was not mentioned, Num. 14:24, 30, 38. The offer of a new people, sprung from himself, was indeed made to him, Num. 14:12, but by so much the more was it obligatory upon him, that in his own person, included in the punishment with Israel, as in the grace of Jehovah it was illustrious for all Israel, he should sanctify the Lord in the eyes of the new generation. Comp. § 1. Where the rock was, 1 Cor. 10:4, there was the anointed.—For your sakes, בִּגְלַלְכֶּם, from גלל, to separate, to disjoin; hence a movement like the rolling, breaking waves of the sea, and so here signifies your rebellion, falling away, uproar, and thus expresses the occasion, the cause of Moses’ offence, entirely in accordance with Num. 20:2 sq. Comp. Deut. 3:26; 4:21 (§ 4, 1:11); Ps. 106:32, 33. It is, however, clear from this how correctly the new generation in the discourses of Moses hitherto has been embraced with the old. The present rejection of the leader, Moses, forms the only difference here between the generations. With Caleb (Deut 1:36) Joshua also belongs among the exceptions—but his name occurs here (Deut 1:38) first in this connection, because he at the same time fills the place of Moses.—Which standeth before thee.—[A phrase which, as the BIB. COM. says, as it alludes to a leader of the people in the place of Moses, shows how naturally Moses came to speak of his own rejection and its cause here, although it actually occurred long years after, and in connection with another sin of the people.—A. G.]—For the daily humiliation of Moses, but still also in his loving care for Israel, for his daily consolation. But comp. Num. 11:28; Ex. 24:13; 33:11; Deut. 10:8; 18:7.—Encourage him.—Comp. 3:21, 22. If in יָרַשׁ (Deut 1:8, 21) the signification, to take possession by conquest, is the prominent thought, so in נָחַל the possession by inheritance. Joshua the executor of the inheritance. Deut 1:39. Moreover, your little ones.—Comp. Num. 14:3, 31.—וְטַפְּכֶם from טפף, not to trip, to take short, quick steps, but as in Isa. 3:16, to turn back or around here and there, a harsh depreciating expression, to which agrees well the which in that day had no knowledge.—While ye know so well what is good, and what is evil for yourselves, let alone for them. Ironically. The way of the Red Sea, Deut 1:40; comp. 2:1; Num. 14:25. Contrast to Deut 1:7, by the sea-side.
7. Deut 1:41–46. For Deut 1:41 comp. Num. 14:40. It was merely saying, for ye act after as before, directly against Jehovah’s command. They saw the loss, from which they would now relieve themselves.—That we will go up and fight, etc., borders closely upon the ye would not go up, Deut 1:26. What is said is done as quickly as possible. Each one girds upon himself his weapons of war—those which he was wont to wear in battle, especially his sword upon the left thigh (1 Sam. 25:13). So lightly did they regard what had occurred. (The Rabbins connect תָּהִיִנוּ with the הִנֶּנּוּ of the people, Num. 14:40.)—[See Textual Note.—A. G.]—The Lord had only to keep pace therewith (comp. Num. 14:44). Jehovah warned them to no purpose, Deut 1:42. Comp. Num. 14:42; Deut. 7:21; 31:17 (Ex. 13:15). His declared will meets the same perverse treatment as in Deut 1:26. There they refused to go up and murmured; here they will not hear, and presumptuously (Ex. 21:14) ascend into the hill. Deut 1:44. The Amorites are taken for the Canaanites as a whole, but specially for those who inhabited the southern mountain slope, Deut 1:19 sq.—And chased you.—The Amalekites as the first enemy of Israel formerly conquered (Gen. 14:7; Ex. 17:8 sq.) from revenge, and from their vicinity had joined the Amorites. They are not expressly named here, but are characteristically pointed out, in that violence of their excited revengeful feelings illustrated by the comparison of the “bees” (Ps. 118:12; Isa. 7:18). With the violence of their defence and pursuit corresponds the destructive character of the result.—In Seir unto Hormah, thus to the Edomitic region (1 Chron. 5:42, 43), as the Amalekites were then of Edomitic descent (Gen. 36:12, 16; 1 Chron. 1:36). A predatory, roving tribe of Bedouins, having their residence between the Egyptians, Philistines, Amorites, Edomites and Midianites. The “Ban-place” (Hormah) used here as also (Num. 14:45) by anticipation, according to Num. 21:1 sq., caused by the conduct of Amalek there recorded, intimates the thought that as those formerly overcome were now victors over Israel, so the later Ban-place for the Canaanites was first a Ban-place for Israel. Hormah, originally Zephath, Judg. 1:17, ROWLAND identifies with Sebata, while ROBINSON locates it at the pass Es Safah. They thus returned, Deut 1:45, to the place where the ark had remained, and there wept before Jehovah. Comp. Prov. 1:24 sq.—After this occurs the nearly thirty-eight years of the divine penal period, for which the double expression: The Lord would not hearken—nor give ear, are moreover expressive, portraying all the eventually fruitless attempts and the still enduring, protracted period. A part of the people as FRIES (Stud. und Krit., 1854, I.), KURTZ (II., p. 402 sq.) and SCHULTZ think, may have remained in and around Kadesh, and many may have died there, and indeed in order to the re-assembling of Israel, there may have occurred after the lapse of the period fixed by the Lord a second march to Kadesh, where moreover all the paths of the desert meet. But this is not the abode intended in Deut 1:46; but just as in the narrative of Moses, Num. 14:45, the thread is dropped, and first resumed again in chap. 20; so in the discourse of Moses here we have to regard רַתֵּשְׁבוּ בְקָדֵשׁ as equal to וַיֵּשֶׁב חָעָם בְּקָדֵשׁ, as of a residence of the second generation in Kadesh. Comp. Num. 20:16; Judg. 11:17. Kadesh forms a concluding point, which is at the same time a point of union and a beginning point, to which belongs also the verification of the name (the self-sanctification of Jehovah in the judgment), through all which there occurred. Hence the time announcement: many days—according unto the days which, designedly commits any more precise determination of the remembrance to the conscience of those addressed.
8. Deut 2:1–3. If Moses then, (1:26 sq.) immediately after his encouragement to the people to hold fast the promise of God (Deut 2:20, 21) against all fear and terror, distinguishes between himself and the people (comp. Num. 14:44), he now (chap. 2, Deut 2:1) again includes himself with them as in 1:6–19. The departure is that of the new Israel from Kadesh, after the fruitless message to Edom (Num. 20:14 sq.). Although this departure is not defined in Num. 20:22, as it is here, as by the way of the Red Sea, because there Hor is regarded as the termination, it is so defined in Num. 21:4, and since the journey of Israel to Canaan is ever a journey through the wilderness (comp. 1:1), even for the second generation, so in the literal resumption of the command, 1:40, the death sentence upon the old, is significantly here seen again at the beginning of the new generation, but with the wilderness also, the Red Sea, the redemptive passage through it.—As Jehovah spake unto me, while the command 1:40 is still addressed to the people, this direction in connection with Num. 14, 25, 11, teaches that even now they still went under that judgment, because Israel would not go according to the promise 1:7 sq. The direction to Canaan even now was into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea. This thorough deuteronomic conception (Deut 1:1 sq.) alone suits the immediate addition as to the compassing of the Edomite mountains; which compassing, according to Deut 2:2, 3 (comp. Deut 2:8), can only be regarded as at last the march once more through the Arabah to the Ailanitic gulf, upon the western side of the mountains.—The many days (5:1) prepare for the utterance and direction, Deut 2:3; introduce it, and give the motives to it. Comp. Num. 21:4. Deut 2:3. A literal reference to 1:6. It is again a beginning, a new beginning; even at a mountain, but much nearer to Canaan, and hence this is not described again (Deut 2:7); but the simple direction to it is given.—Turn you northward, i. e. around the southern limits of Seir, to the eastern side of the mountain northwards (3:27).—[“The people were at Kadesh in the second year of the Exodus, and now again at the close of the thirty-eight years’ wandering. The command of Deut 2:2, 3 relates to their journey from Kadesh to Mount Hor, and so around the south extremity of Mount Seir, and then northwards towards the Arnon.” BIB. COM. The refusal of Edom to grant them a direct passage—a passage which they were unable to force, Num. 20:14–21—compelled them to take this circuitous route.—A. G.]
9. Deut 2:4–23. They shall be afraid of you.
Deut 2:4. The Edomites are the same as Num. 20:18 sq. (Judg. 11:17); but their attitude is entirely different. In the refusal of a passage to Israel a half year before, it relied upon the westerly, lofty, precipitous mountains, 3,000 feet high; but now when Israel came upon the other less precipitous side, rather marching around them, or at least only crossing the even now, very indefinite southerly and easterly limits of their land, prudence counsels a different mien—to turn even an evil chance to their own advantage, just as in our own time the mountain dwellers along the caravan route make their gains in supplying the caravans from Mecca with the means of life (Deut 2:6, 29). Still while the narrative, Num. 20, brings out clearly the want of regard and consideration on the part of Edom, the discourse here brings into view especially the thoughtfulness of Israel, and thus the two accounts complete each other. The considerate course Israel was enjoined to observe towards “his brother” pre-supposes throughout his brother’s regardlessness of all such ties.—Ye are to pass (participle) through the Coasts, without their permission (Num. 20:21). Therefore take good heed, etc. The disregard of the tie of blood by the Edomites, and indeed the recollection of the Edomitic Amalekites might stir up the Israelites to hostility. Deut 2:5. With them, fear with an evil conscience, and here anger with justice, was a spark which might easily be blown into a flame. But Israel takes nothing at the hands of men; it receives all from the Lord. What it takes from them is first given to it by Him (1:8, 21). The occupation of Canaan is a rule for all time; but even the possessions of other nations (comp. Deut 2:9, 19) become a pledge to Israel of its own possessions. The two-fold reason: for—because; although it stands fast for the present, is still truly merely provisional or temporary (Num. 24:18; 1 Sam. 14:47). Edom appears in the prophets as the hereditary enemy of Israel, e. g., Amos 1:11, 12; Isa. 63. There is thus an entire historical development between the Pentateuch and the prophets in reference to Edom.—Not so much as a foot-breadth. Comp. Ps. 60:9; 108:10 (Acts 7:5). Deut 2:6. Here the regardlessness of the Edomites appears in another light. They not only refused a passage, but when they were constrained to allow it, they did not hospitably offer food and drink to their brethren, but the Israelites were instructed rather to buy from them. שֵׁבֶר, “corn,” as that which was gathered from the field, so here, to buy food, bread; or שָׁבַר, “to make fast,”, points to the fixed price, which was determined so that the purchaser has simply to take it at the fixed price—an admirable arrangement here to prevent any strife in the transaction (Num. 20:19), כָּרָה, literally “to dig,” i. e. purchase permission to dig for water. The reason, Deut 2:7, is parallel to the two-fold reason in Deut 2:5. There it is to give; here, to bless. It corresponds to this higher inward idea, that Israel (Deut 2:6) should not bargain [or higgle], but pay; it must show itself to Edom as the blessed of the Lord (Gen. 27:27 sq.; 28:3), and needs not therefore to take anything by violence.—In all the works of thy hand, i. e. “in the grazing which they had carried on in the desert (Ex. 19:13; 34:3; Num. 20:19; 32:1 sq), and when they had sown and reaped during the longer residences at different stations or traded the products of their skins and arts with the Arabs of the desert” (KEIL). לֶכְתְּךָ יָדַע—not merely he knew thy going, etc. The special knowledge of God is not a mere vapid theory, nor simply the interest of the momentary perception, but involves care and protection, Ps. 1:6; comp. Deut. 1:31, 19; 8:4 sq.—These forty years, as Num. 14:33; comp. Ps. 23:1 sq. Deut 2:8 (comp. Deut 2:4): מֵאֵת from their dwelling-places, the chief region; while in Num. 20:21 we have מֶעָלָיו, “away from him,” his ascents.—Elath (Ailah Häle), a port on the northern extremity of the gulf, at present the castle Akaba, taking its name from the palm groves in the neighborhood.—Ezion-Gaber, also a port at the northern end of the gulf, once great and beautiful, but now lost beyond any trace. Since in their march avoiding Edom, they kept away from the cities just named, they passed, turning from the path through the Arabah, through the wady Getum, and along the path which, turning northwards, defines the wilderness of Moab, so that they probably followed the usual caravan route to Damascus, between the eastern bounds of the cultivated region and the western limits of Arabia deserta. With the more distantly related Moabites also (children of Lot) they were to avoid any oppression or contention in battle; Ar (archaic form for עיר city) lying on the limits and standing for the land, not the chief city (Deut 2:18) (Num. 21:15, 28). “Should they not take Ar, then much less the cities lying farther inward” (SCHULTZ). Deut 2:10–12 is a Mosaic parenthesis, and does not belong to the words of Jehovah, as the closing sentence, Deut 2:12, compared with 3:20, 21, shows. Moses, indeed, states here historically and more fully the נָתַתִּי of God; but as he mentions the former inhabitants of the land of Moab, and of Seir, the recollection serves the important purpose of encouraging Israel, and so much the more as the possession of Moab and Seir was denied them. The Emims, i. e., terrible, fearful. The description a people, sq., as well as the comparison as the, sq., agrees with the explanation of the name. For the Anakim comp. 1:28. This comparison with a people well known presupposes other contemporaries than, e. g., those under Josiah or Hezekiah. There is no necessity for supposing a gloss, in antiquarian interests, since all agrees so well with the object and method of Moses’ discourse, to whom also we should ascribe rather than to any other so accurate an acquaintance with the most ancient history Rephaim [accounted giants—E. V.] i. e., tall, giants, Deut 2:11, the common name for this giant race, of Hamitic or Semitic descent, and who were regarded as the original inhabitants of the land. The Horims, Deut 2:12, are the cave-dwellers of the habitable grottoes of the Edomitic mountains, and of the rock city Petra. [The Bib. Com. holds that Deut 2:10–12, 20–23, and Deut 2:34, are additions by a later hand, at first standing as foot-notes, and then adopted into the text by some reviser, perhaps Ezra. It urges in favor of this supposition that the removal of these verses does not interrupt or impair the narrative and the clause as Israel did unto the land of his possession. The latter, however, is the only argument of any weight, since the mere fact that they may be left out of the narrative without injury to it, in no way proves that they do not belong to it. They are obviously parenthetical, but arise naturally out of the statements of the discourse, and are very pertinent to the author’s purpose, which was both to humble and to encourage Israel. The fact that God gave these places to the children of Lot, suggested to Moses the important fact that these children of Lot had dispossessed the race of giants, whose existence in Canaan had filled the minds of the unbelieving Israelites with fears, and in regard to whom the present generation of Israel needed encouragement. But if the children of Lot had been successful, how much more the children of Israel? These are not antiquarian details, but historical facts, having the most important moral bearing. The clause, As Israel did, sq., may be explained as prophetical, or as referring simply to the East Jordan possessions. In favor of the prophetic preterite (GREEN’SGram., § 263, 5 a), may be urged, 1) that the construction is certainly admissible; 2) the general prophetic attitude of Moses in these discourses; 3) and chiefly that it well accords with the purpose of this discourse. Moses sees the land as already in the possession of the children of Israel, their strongest enemies dispossessed, and so describes it. To his faith it was as if already done, and his faith would serve to animate and encourage the children of Israel.—A. G.]. As Israel, sq., comp. § 4, I., 13. The reference throughout to the land east of the Jordan lies near at hand; 1:4; 2:24 sq. (SCHULTZ says, “as he has done or will have done, when he has come into the land of his possession”). The perfect as the fut. exactum. (HENGSTENBERG: “The preterite is only in part prophetic. It could not stand unless the transjordanic lands were already taken”), comp. Deut 2:22. Since the words of God do not end with Deut 2:9 (as Deut 2:4 and 5 with Deut 2:6 and 7) the command to rise up and depart, which marks clearly the Mosaic interpolation, forms the conclusion. The host encamped on the east of Moab now cross the brook Zered by the wady El Ahsy, or the wady Kerek, Num. 21:11, 12. From the heights on the other side of the valley Kerek there is a lovely view stretching to the Dead Sea, and even to Jerusalem. Hence the statements Deut 2:14, 15 completing those in Deut 2:7 are here added. The oath of the Lord, Num. 14:23, 29, is literally fulfilled. Comp. 1:34 sq. The divine sentence of death, however, was not fulfilled, surely, in the ordinary method, but also by the extraordinary judgments sent upon them, Num. 16:31 sq.; 17:12–14; 21:6; 25:9.
Deut 2:16. A once more repeated closing with the old Israel. The men of war are those who at that time were twenty years old and upward (Num. 14:29) the mustered hosts; (Num. 1:3), as the responsible sinners.” KNOBEL. It is mentioned here still, not so much in relation to the past to show that the punishment had been executed, as to show that it was completed and ended, and thus with reference to the first victory and possession now about to follow. Ammon must first be excepted, and hence Ar, limits of Moab, appears again, called also, Ar of Moab (Areopolis) which lay upon the northeastern boundary, formed by the Arnon (Num. 22:36; 21:14) and was the point of departure for the conquering Israel. Deut 2:19. Over against, because Israel would thus have before itself the Ammonites dwelling in the wilderness on the farther side of the Arnon, and eastwards from Moab. Distress them not, as in Deut 2:9, and although the clause “in battle” is there made prominent, its absence here does not place Ammon precisely like Edom. Deut 2:20–23 similar to Deut 2:10–12. Zamzummims (the evil thinking, or the humming, noisy people) perhaps the same as the Zusim, a kindred to them, Gen. 14:5. Deut 2:21. And the Lord destroyed, an explanation at the same time of Deut 2:12. The כַּאֶשֶׁר עָשָׂה here throws light upon the statement there. And the Avim.—This race described further, after the kind and extent of their dwellings (villages), is scarcely to be regarded, as KEIL remarks, as “one noticed here only on account of a substantial analogy, but is added by Moses with reference to the Caphtorim (Gen. 16:14) who are expressly said to have been emigrants or foreigners, and thus stood in similar relations with those Israel now held. This seems to be all the more the ground of this allusion, since it is not here, as commonly elsewhere (Jer. 47:4; Amos 9:7), the Philistines; and since also Out of Caphtor (Crete, or the Nile delta, or the Pontian Cappadocia) designates the place of the exodus, and with it marks this idea, as the explanation of the name of the people. That these villagers dwelling south from Gaza were eventually in the same position with the tribes related to Israel, the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites, and were therefore to be spared as they were, does not lie in the text as SCHULTZ supposes. Comp. Josh. 13.
10. Deut 2:24—Deut 3:22. The Arnon, now the wady Môdjeb, forming the boundary between the Moabites and the Amorites, is the Rubicon for Israel, Num. 21:13. But the command to depart expands into a promise reaching far beyond the Amorites. First of all comes the recollection of the former command as spoken in 1:7 sq., 20 sq. Comp. also 1:4. But the beginning of Israel has as its escort the certain and all-assuring beginning of Jehovah, Deut 2:25. Comp. Phil. 1:6. The tone and style of the discourse is inspiriting, so that we think, Num. 21:14 sq., of an original poetic elevation. Comp. 11:25, and Gen. 9:2, where there is also a new beginning. Comp. Ex. 15:14 sq.; 23:27. The trembling and woe of the people even when the mere report only of Israel came, answers as the echo to the dread and fear which were connected with Israel. In other passages, e. g., Gen. 49:10; Isa. 2:2; comp. Deut. 4:6, the resistless march and gathering of the people to Israel is announced. Both open the way for the prophetic fulfilling of the blessing of Abraham, Gen. 12:2, 3, and because a blessing, so although it must be prepared in the flesh, yet fulfilled in the spirit, and indeed in the Messiah, who is the Lord of the spirit, i. e., in Christ. Under the whole heaven is not therefore an “hyperbole” (KEIL), but used in accordance with the eternal idea of the people and kingdom of God, and so here in this ideal and Christological sense.—From the historical presentation of the kingdom of God in the flesh, and indeed in the Israel of the law, the idea wears necessarily a corporeal form, as in Deut 2:25, which must correspond to the carnal powers of the world, here of Canaan, Deut 2:10, 20, where indeed these are mentioned as parallel to the giant races of the earlier time. Although the end of the way of God is spirit, (not corporeal or carnal, which is rather its beginning, as we see in the creation of the world, and also of Israel) yet the spirit of the end breaks through at the very beginning, and the message of Moses, Deut 2:26, is with words of peace (comp. 20:10) Luke 10:5. The wilderness of Kedemoth is that lying easterly from the region of the Amorites defined by this Amorite city (Num. 21:13, 23) where there was also a passage over the Arnon which avoided all the dangers of the deep valley. Moses knew well (Deut 2:24) that God had given Sihon into the hand of Israel, indeed that Sihon had armed himself for the war, but in this divine arrangement, which is at the same time the closing act of the guilt of the Amorites, Israel has only to carry out the judicial sentence of God upon it. Sihon on his own part must enter with entire freedom (Deut 2:30) which was still his own, in his offence against God. Since the firmest conviction of the self-chosen destruction of a man, need not prevent us from offering peace to him here, much less is Moses to be blamed here, where it is merely the dominion of Sihon which is at stake, and not the soul. I will go along. With respect to its end, which was Canaan, (Deut 2:19), Israel could say this with truth, and it is part of such a passage that they should keep themselves ever upon the way, i. e., upon the public highways. Num. 20:19, 17; 21:22. Comp. Deut 2:28 with Deut 2:6. On my feet, i. e., without any delay. Did unto me, Deut 2:29, refers not to the will, but to the acts of Moab and Edom, who could not prevent the passage of Israel. Comp. Deut 2:12 (23:3). [All that is said here is that the Edomites and Moabites sold them bread and water. There is no denial, express or implied, of their hostility to Israel, and their desire for his destruction. The passage is in entire harmony with Num. 20:17, 21, and Deut. 23:3, 4.—A. G.].—The perfect freedom of Sihon in his offence against God, appears from the would not, Deut 2:30. בּוֹ here as in Num. 20:18. There was an inward judgment going before the outward execution of the penalty, for the Lord thy God hardened, etc., in order that He might deliver. The historical event or destiny develops itself out of the moral. (Pharaoh, Ex. 4:21; 7:3). Comp. 15:7; 2 Chron. 36:13. As it is this day, as it actually appears at the present moment. The event already foretold, as it was determined in the Divine will (Deut 2:24), is still once more brought out (Deut 2:31) in its divine causality, and directly with respect to Sihon, in order to take away every ground of glory. The divine purpose begins to complete itself in his unwillingness. In Deut 2:24 it is begin to possess, I will begin to put the dread, etc., but now it is I have begun to give. The possession, indeed, is so certain, so determined, that instead of the usually simple possess, Deut 2:24, we have now (Deut 2:31) in addition לָרֶשֶת and without the possession by battle. That which comes distinctly into view, Deut 2:24, now falls into the background. Deut 2:32. Comp. Num. 21:23. Deut 2:33. Comp. Num. 21:24; Amos 2:9. His sons. A completion of the narrative, since they are not mentioned in Numbers. Deut 2:34. Comp. Num. 21:24, 25.—And utterly destroyed, (חָרַםin Hiph. separate, set apart from any further use, hence to devote to God, and indeed through destruction). The whole population was put to death. Comp. 7:2 sq. Deut 2:36. From Aroer, the point of departure and the most southern point. This as well as the description by the brink of the river Arnon, i. e., upon the edge of the northern precipice of the valley in question, agrees well with the present ruins, Araayr. For a fuller description of the borders formed by the Arnon, the city (comp. Deut 2:9) which is by the river (בָּנַּחַל in the valley, in the Arnon gorge), thus situated as Ar, is here referred to. Ruins are still found upon a hill in a beautiful meadow-ground in the valley, near the junction of the Ledschum, coming down from the north-east, with the Arnon. Ar, as the boundary, is already sufficiently known from Deut 2:18, and as to its name (‘the city’ simply) nothing further could be added here to define it. This easterly excluding limit of departure answers well, too, as a transition to the Ammonites lying eastward, also to be excluded or excepted (Deut 2:37). Unto Gilead, here used in the narrowest and original sense, (Gen. 31:33) for the mountain on the north side of the Jabbok (the present Zerka). Deut 2:37. Comp. Deut 2:19.
Deut 3:1. Comp. 1:4. The Amorites, to revenge perhaps the slaughter of their kindred giant race by Moab and Amnion, had driven the latter back easterly from the upper Jabbok (Judg. 11:12; Josh. 13:25) and Moab southerly behind the Arnon (Num. 21:26). The two Amorite kingdoms which the Jabbok divided, were of Sihon on the South, and of Og on the North, Num. 21:33. Comp. Deut 3:2, with Num. 21:34, and 2:24. The fearful appearance of the king, as well as his fearless awaiting Israel, not far from his strong cities, might cause them to fear. Deut 3:3. Comp. with 2:34; Num. 21:35. As the sons are mentioned there, they are omitted here. Deut 3:4 celebrates the greatness of the victory. Hence All his cities expressed first positively and then negatively. Then follows, thus anticipating Deut 3:14, the given number (sixty cities) and a fuller description of the district in question. חֶבֶל band, rope, cord; not here what is measured with a measuring line, but what is bound together, forms a whole. אַרְגֹּב so called probably from the nature of the district (רֶגֶב earth-heaps, רְגֹּב stone-heaps). Comp. Arkub. ‛Ραγαβὰ, Rägib (RITTER, XV. 2, p. 1041 sq.). The kingdom of Og in Bashan, is not his whole kingdom, but only so far as Bashan comes into view. But since Bashan, Deut 3:14, and indeed all Bashan, Deut 3:13, appears to be identical with the whole region of Argob, so “in Bashan” here must be taken for the sixty cities which represent, if they do not constitute the whole region of Argob (1 Kings 4:13). Those cities are to be viewed therefore as the original, or essential, peculiar heart of all Bashan, of which Og is said to be king (Deut 3:1, 3). But since the kingdom of Og, Deut 3:13, is not all included within these bounds, in Bashan is added here that the wider portions of that kingdom may not be excluded. It corresponds to this established relation of Argob to Bashan, that as in Argob there is a reference to the rough, stony stretch of land in בָּשַׁן (from the black basaltic rock), so also the still existing numerous ruins of cities are another characteristic feature. (Comp. RITTER XV. 2, p. 796). In Deut 3:5 these Argob cities are described as by an eye-witness. Recent travellers speak of the dark color of the building materials standing in contrast with the heavens, and the green of the surrounding region, of the high walls, and of the strong overtopping towers, etc., etc. [The Argob is described by PORTER, Travels, pp. 241, 242, “As presenting the most singular phenomena I have ever witnessed. Wholly composed of black basaltic rock, which appears to have issued from innumerable pores in the earth, in a liquid state, and to have flowed out on every side until the plain was almost covered. This forbidding region is thickly studded with deserted cities and villages.” C. G. GRAHAM, Cambridge Essays, 1858, describes these cities. “The streets are perfect, the walls perfect, and what seems most astonishing the stone doors are still hanging on their hinges.” The doors and cities are such that travellers are “forced to the conclusion that the people who constructed and inhabited these cities were not only a powerful nation, but individuals of greater strength than ourselves.” “This marvellous barrier, rising abruptly from the plain to the height of from twenty to thirty feet, and measuring sixty miles by twenty, amidst which Edrei and the others of the sixty cities were perched,” opposed the progress of the Israelites. The victory over a power so apparently impregnably entrenched was signal and impressive.—A. G.]. The doors, in part double doors, of stone slabs, are set by means of sockets deep in the lintel and threshold. The unfortified open cities, without walls, of which a great number are still found, are in Deut 3:5 cities of כְּרִָזי (from פָּרַז to break through, to spread out), i. e., of the level or flat land. Deut 3:6, comp. with 2:34. Deut 3:7, comp. 2:35. Deut 3:8, as 2:36, a survey of the victory. בְּעֵבֶר הַּיַּרֶדֵּן is used here where Moses is still speaking, as in 1:1, 5, of the East Jordan lands, and is not the mere art of an assumed narrator. From the river of Arnon unto Mount Hermon. Moses thus includes the whole trans-jordanic country, and to put it beyond all doubt, signalizes the southern point of Anti-Lebanon, the northern limit of Canaan, which with its lofty snow-covered summit is seen from afar, by all the names that it wears, well known names indeed which must at that time have come to the ears of Israel. In Hermon the reference to “Bann” (חרם) is so clear, so characteristic, and agrees so well with the connection, that we cannot accept the Arabic derivation (lofty peak or ridge). The name Sion (high, upraised, 4:48), formed from the appearance of the mountain, is descriptive of its lofty height. Between Hermon and Hormah (comp. upon 1:44), the beginning and the ending of the promised land, there is an impressive parallelism. Sirion (Sir’jon)=breast-plate, both from the resemblance in form and from the gleam of the ice. Shenir—of like significance. [“Hermon is both physically and politically a grand central point in the geography of Syria and Palestine. From it are derived all the most noted rivers—the Jordan, Abana, and Pharpar, the Orontes and the Leontes. All the great ancient kingdoms converged at Hermon—Bashan, Damascus, Syria, Israel. It was also the religious centre of primæval Syria.” PORTER. “Hence the careful specification of the names by which the mountain was known, all of which are descriptive.” Bib. Com.: STANLEY, Syria and Palestine.—A.G.] Deut 3:10 presents in their order the individual parts of this remarkable region. The מִישוֹר (from ישׁר) is the elevated plain (Sept.: Μισώρ) from Mount Gilead southerly to the Arnon. All Gilead is the region between the north and south plain, extending southerly (to Heshbon, belonging to Sihon), and northerly from the Jabbok (to Bashan, belonging to Og). All Bashan is defined as reaching to Salchah, located upon the eastern border, with a strong castle placed upon a basaltic hill (Josh. 12:6), and north-westwards unto Edrei (comp. 1:4), not the modern “Dera,” but “Edrah,” or “Zorah.” These cities (as in Deut 3:4) belonged to the kingdom of Og in Bashan. The design and tendency of the previous mention of the Rephaim (comp. 2:10, 20 sq.) was to encourage the new Israel with reference to the old (1:27), and thus now the fitting remark that with Og all is over with the Rephaim generally, wins its true vividness through the genuine Mosaic allusion—behold his bedstead, etc. Comp. § 4, I. 14. HENGSTENBERG: “Og is to some extent a symbolical figure, in whom we have presented to us the Amorite, who is the representative of the entire Canaanitish race, upon whose neck Israel, by the grace of God, should put its feet.” If the previous encouragement “not to fear” was essentially to guard against the unbelief or feeble faith of the first Israel, now that the victory is completed, the exhortation rises to exultant thanks. Behold is here so much the more in place with reference to the bedstead, since Og himself had been seen only by a few. The reference is simply for the contemporaries of Moses, and not in any antiquarian interest. RITTER: “The bedstead is unquestionably his bier, the stately vault of his catacomb, with the more exact statement of the niche for the body of the Rephaite, or of his basalt sarcophagus. It is only one of the numerous sarcophagi in this land of Bashan, in which there remain more monuments of the dead than recollections of the living.” But עֶרֶשׂ, literally curving, is a bed upon which one reclines for rest, Amos 3:12; 6:4; Ps. 6:6. Rabbath, afterwards Philadelphia, now ruins, was the chief city of the Ammonites. It might have remained there, either as a trophy on the part of the Ammonites of some unsuccessful inroad of Og against them (2:21), or which he had left behind him as a humiliating reminder of a successful assault. In either case, occurring long enough before, that it might be well known to Moses. [The Bib. Com. supposes that after the defeat and death of Og at Edrei, the remnant of his army fled into the territory of the friendly Ammonites, and took with them the corpse of the giant king.—A. G.] The bed, which was, moreover, designedly made larger than Og, that it might make the impression that he was larger than he really was, was thirteen and a half feet long and six feet broad, if not smaller, since it is the common Hebrew cubit from the elbow downwards which is here meant. It is an interesting fact that Alexander the Great, in his march to India, arranged his camp grounds and cavalry cribs in double number and of unusual size, that he might produce in the inhabitants of the land strange ideas of the size of his army. Iron beds (corresponding to the whole statement here) were no less frequent among the ancients than giant families and individual giants among some of the savage tribes to-day (Australia). (The Rabbins see in the bed of Og his cradle rather than his coffin.) Since the discourse now turns from the double victory, over Sihon and Og, to the first occupation of Israel, the conquered land is now (Deut 3:12) described, for the purpose of the division, for the first time, as a possession. (ירשׁ no more לכד, as in Deut 3:4, or לקח, as in Deut 3:8.) Comp. 2:36. Half of Mount Gilead (comp. Deut 3:10) is, according to Deut 3:16 and Deut 3:13, the southern half, which the tribes of Reuben and Gad bad asked (Num. 32). The rest of Gilead is the other northern part, the hilly region. All Bashan (Hauran and Dschaulan) is included with the rest of Gilead, as together forming the kingdom of Og (comp. Deut 3:4). The fine contrast between the repeated כָּל and חֲצִי introduces the still more significant (Deut 3:14 sq.), since the half tribe of Manasseh had distinguished itself in a marked way in the conquest. Argob. Comp. with Deut 3:4. לְכָל־הַבָּשָׁן הַהוּא belongs to what follows. KNOBEL. With all Bashan.—[Schroeder renders as to.—A. G.] It includes designedly once more the whole land of Argob under this name. The emphatic addition which was called the land of giants permits, if it does not suggest, the idea that the remaining Rephaite Og, as king of Bashan, still actually possessed upon the one Amoritic throne the old supremacy of the Rephaim. Jair—he whom God enlightens—is marked as the one who obtained all Argob, Deut 3:14. The son—i. e., descendant. Machir, the son of Manasseh, had a daughter, whose bastard son by Segub, a descendant of Judah, was the father of Jair (1 Chron. 2:21 sq.). The descent from Judah is thus clear, but here the descent on the mother’s side from Manasseh alone comes into view, since the discourse treats of this tribe here. The limits, Unto the coasts of the Geshurites and Maachathites—the inhabitants of two small kingdoms, still independent at the time of David (2 Sam. 3:3; 10:6), and both lying on the skirts of Mount Hermon. Geshur (bridge), perhaps upon the upper Jordan, at a bridge, or passage, or ford (KEIL); or upon the easterly plain (Djedur), as KNOBEL thinks. It escaped the con. quest. Comp. Josh. 13:13. Indeed the Geshurites with the Syrians (1 Chron. 2:23), later in the history (“in the disorders of the period of the Judges”—KEIL), took the successors of Havoth Jair, and besides Kenath, the entire sixty cities. [The Geshurites and Maachathites probably occupied some part of the impregnable district of Argob, and were not expelled by the Israelites, but dwelt among them. They may have risen up and taken a part or the whole of these cities during the period of the judges, although 1 Chron. 2:23 does not necessarily bear any such interpretation.—A. G.] The second Jair, a grandson (Judg. 10:3), in whom the courage of faith and victory lived again, was only able to regain the one half (30) for the family. While in Num. 32:42 Nobah appears by the side of Jair, as taking Kenath and its daughters (cities) and naming them after himself, Nobah; here Jair alone is spoken of, because the whole land of Argob, in whose conquest Nobah truly played a second part, fell to his lot. Havoth Jair, i. e., Jair’s life, Jair’s home (from הַוָּה, the antique or Aramaic form for הַיָּה, life). Nobah continued only in the one city Kenath, and even this name appears in Judges 10:1 to have been forgotten already (1 Kings 4:13; Josh. 13:30). For the same reason it is a matter of no importance that the number of the cities of Jair “in the land of Gilead” (in later usage including Bashan also), is given 1 Chron. 2:22, as 23, since Kenath with its dependencies, with its connected cities (37), completes the larger number. It is the name for the whole which is here in view; hence also and called them (אֹתָם, Num. 32:41; אֶתְהֶן), viz., not this or that place, but—את־הבָּשָׁן after his own name. Unto this day. (Comp. § 4, I. 15.) The expression simply says, until now. “It cannot be maintained that this mode of expression is out of place, when only a brief period of time is spoken of. We say of a friend who has lately arrived, and whose departure is possible, he is here until this day.” SCHULTZ. It is generally and in its nature a relative expression, with reference to a longer or shorter period (Josh. 22:3; 23:9), according to the subject in regard to which it is used. In Genesis it embraces centuries. In Deut. 11:4 it may be rendered as equivalent with all time. The conquest of Jair, with which the name-giving in question is connected, is unquestionably historically cotemporaneous with the conquest of the kingdom of Og. Deuteronomy does not complete or explain the Book of Numbers, but as Num. 32:39 sq. connects the particularizing of the general (Num. 21:35) with the division of the conquered land, so precisely here in Deuteronomy (Deut 3:12 sq.), and also in the prominence of the conquest on the part of Jair (Deut 3:14), as Num. 32:39 on the part of Machir; which was necessary if the division to these persons should not want a historical right or basis. Just as in Num. 32:41–42, so also here in Deuteronomy it is only the name-giving by Jair of the place conquered by him which comes into view. HENGSTENBERG therefore says very finely that this addition, “until this day,” which is wanting in Num. 32, is illuminated by the נָתַתִּי, of Deut 3:15. It is certainly in the mouth of Moses no mere time limitation, but intimates that amidst the fleeting and transitory things of men, as in this particular case, even with the names effaced, the name-giving by Jair, and with it the actual fact, continued even to the present hour, and Jair held his ground; but this fact mast not be denied its weighty sanction. While Deut 3:15 expressly says, I gave unto Machir, it comes to Jair more by the way, as it were, more in the assent to the name, and the possession in question. It sounds a little too strong, perhaps, when HENGSTENBERG says, “Every grant of a possession proceeds from Moses, with the full authorization of the supreme liege Lord. Through His until this day He utters His fiat, and imparts to the acts originally completed by Jair the authentic approbation.” Until this day finally belongs to those numerous בָּעֵת הַהִיא which meet us in Deuteronomy. See 1:9, 16, 18; 3:4, 8, 12, 18. The time is made prominent—the old and the new time. Moses, too, would mark the status quo in a testamentary way at the time while he was still there. [HENGSTENBERG, in his admirable discussion of this phrase, calls attention to the fact that a considerable time had elapsed between the conquest and the utterance of this discourse by Moses,—from Num. 21, to the eleventh month of the 40th year; that the phrase is used with reference to a shorter or longer period, according to circumstances, both in profane writers and in the Scriptures; that the objectively brief period here is a very important and critical period; and to the fact that Deuteronomy generally places a wide distinction between itself and the earlier books. It begins a new section, to which all that precedes is past. “At this time” occurs repeatedly, without regard to whether it was months, years, or even decades. And so until this day. The phrase is not a gloss of a later writer, but a genuine Mosaic phrase, falling in with the whole position of things, and with the spirit of the book.—A. G.] Machir (Deut 3:15) stands naturally for his family, as in Num. 32:40 it is the children of Machir. See Num. 26:29. For Gilead comp. Deut 3:13. Moses passes from this individualizing of the half tribe of Manasseh to the particular description of the common possession of Reuben and Gad. Deut 3:16–17. The description of the land proceeds from Gilead (as 2:36) as the highest part of this region. The Arnon limits are defined more exactly by half the valley and the border. SCHROEDER: the middle of the river and the border—i. e., either reaching to the middle of the river and including half the water, a very important possession for the herdsman, the border being the adjacent region of the valley, the pasture ground in the valley, and not merely the brink of the valley, as in 2:36; or to the middle of the valley which the river Arnon forms, and at the same time is the boundary. The immediately following border of the children of Ammon is in favor of the latter view, although both interpretations are essentially alike. This was the southern limit. The river Jabbok, i. e., Wady Zerka, a narrow, deep gorge, through which this foaming stream chafes its way to the Jordan, forms the north-eastern boundary, separating these tribes from the Ammonites, as the Ar does from the Moabites. Deut 3:17. The plain also [SCHROEDER: the Arabah] gave I to these shepherd tribes, i. e., the Ghor, the upper part of the present Wady El Arabah (comp. 1:1), as is evident from the succeeding and Jordan and the coast thereof—either Jordan with its easterly margin or valley setting, or, what is decidedly preferable, the Jordan as the boundary. Thus the Jordan depression or valley from Chinnereth onwards—the city (Josh. 19:35) from which the Sea of Gennessaret takes its name. Num. 34:11יָס־כִּנֶּרֶת. The derivation from Chinnor, or the harp, the ten-stringed Greek κινύρα (originating in Asia and spread by the Phœnicians), as that by KURTZ from the rushing water-falls, must be abandoned, since כָּנַר from the root כן (genu, knee), to bend, curve, agrees well both with the arched or oval stringed instrument, and, alluding to the depression, with the most probable position of the city Chinnereth. KNOBEL says: “A beautiful and fruitful depressed plain about an hour long and twenty minutes broad, called according to Josephus γεννησάρ, gave its name to the sea. The name cleaves to this depression, and especially to its chief town, which appears to have been situated at the place. Khan. Minyeh.” Gennessaret is certainly formed from Chinnereth, and not derived, as KURTZ thinks probable, from גַּנָּה a garden. Since Chinnereth here corresponds to the Salt Sea, it must be taken for the sea with its surroundings (as the sea of the Arabah designates the Dead Sea), as it lies enclosed northerly and southerly by the Arabah, or as it closes it (the Ghor) on the north. The further definition: under Ashdoth Pisgah eastwards, agrees well with this view, since we are thereby directed north-eastwards above and away from the Salt Sea. Ashdoth, under the slopes (אֶשֶׁר, literally, closing together), hence the place where the torrents meet, their confluence (Num. 21:15; אֲשֵׁדָח, plural אְַשֵׁדוֹת) at the foot of the mountain. Pisgah, from פָּסג, to separate, the mountain range east of the Dead Sea, perhaps to the Wady Hesban, but especially the northern part.—To this first occupation follows now, Deut 3:18, the obligation of the two and a half tribes who inherit it, who are here addressed with the others: you, just as the present generation is always taken together with the first. Moreover, all Israel is the possessor of the East Jordan land, 2:12. בְּנֵי־חָיִל are the people which the strong have conceived and born, the sons of strength; thus not all fitted for war (not כָּל־אַנְשֵׁי הַמִּלְחָמָה, as in 2:14, 16), but from these the specially brave, a selection armed before the Lord, Num. 32:20 sq. In Josh. 4:12, 13 they are 40,000 men, and thus 60,000 were left for the protection of their herds and the women and children, Comp. Deut 3:19 with Num. 32:1. The connection of the words: as you, so (ו) also they, makes it clear that the possession beyond Jordan is for both parts of the people. Since בעבר is always on that side, never this side, the case stands alike both for the two and a half tribes and for the others. Moses appears to intimate that those shall in no respect have the preference over these. Even in this point there is one Israel. If the two tribes and a half have objectively their possession on that side of Jordan, so also the other tribes not less, to wit, from the standpoint of the two tribes and a half, for they also are on that side of Jordan. This subjective stand-point determines the use of this designation in the case before us. As the two and a half tribes were addressed, Deut 3:18, with reference to all Israel, so this same reference appears in the address to Joshua, Deut 3:21, who then comes into prominence, and is indeed emphatically named. Comp. Num. 27:18 sq.—And I commanded.—Here as there both appointments are for the time after his death.—Thine eyes have seen, are seeing. I need only refer thee to thyself, and what is still before thine eyes (4:3; 11:7). Since the conquered lands of the two kings were still lying before the sight, the discourse passes from the kings to the kingdoms. Comp. Deut 3:22 with 1:29, 30.
11. Deut 3:23–29. As the command, the prediction, the encouragement to Joshua, Deut 3:21, are no mere repetition of 1:38, but rather its execution, so neither is Deut 3:23 a mere repetition of 1:37. The very brief allusion there is now completed in the most express and hearty way, and this fuller statement connects itself here with the previous mention of Joshua, as inversely the introduction of Joshua there connects itself with the divine judgment upon Moses. But the prayer of Moses pre-supposes the judgment of God. The following verses even have a wider theme than 1:37. The divine judgment was for Moses the thorn in the flesh (2 Cor. 12). The prayer of Moses belongs to Deuteronomy first according to its subjective character, and then from its importance for the new generation, and the impression it makes upon them (comp. Ex. 32; Num. 16; 27:15 sq.). With Deut 3:24, comp. 2:25, 31. He holds before Him the beginning, since he longs to see the completion. Thy greatness and mighty hand; so also thy works and thy might.
Deut 3:25. The goodness of the land, הַטּוֹבָה, as the mountainous district of Canaan rises into vision, passes over into the idea of the beautiful. The style reveals the genuine Mosaic directness of perception. We would have brought the terms together, and said: the glorious land, this glorious mountain!—Beyond, on that side of Jordan; used here as in Deut 3:20, from the subjective stand-point, and in full accordance with the subjective character of this whole paragraph.—And Lebanon, of which the Arabic poets say: Winter sits upon its head; spring plays around its shoulders; and summer sleeps at its feet. Comp. upon 1:7 (11:11)
Deut 3:26. The וַיִּתְעַבֵּר in connection with אֶעְבְּרָה־נָּא and בְּעֵבֶר in Deut 3:25, seems like a play upon words. (Let me go over, over the Jordan, I prayed to Him, but He came over me.) The hithpael denotes the ebullition, and thus does not, any more than אנף, 1:37, set forth the aspect of feeling. While the energy of the will lies in the אנף, it comes out here first in the would not hear me. Indeed this latter is the peculiar and main thing here, behind which, as merely explanatory, the anger is kept back. Hence also it is not so full and expressive as 1:37, but is simply for your sakes. He does not hearken to me, and I must hearken to him. רַב־לָךְ (Gen. 45:28; Num. 16:3; Deut. 1:6; 2:3) in the sense of 2 Cor. 12:9. Let what I have said to thee be sufficient for thee. בדבר הזה, in this uttered, and therefore settled matter. The command, Deut 3:27, reminds us typically of the ecstasy of Paul into Paradise, 2 Cor. 12:4. Comp. also 4:21. The top of Pisgah, according to 34:1, is Nebo. יָמָּה, seawards, because the Mediterranean was westwards. עָפוֹן, where the night gathers and darkens, with ־ָה paragogic northward. תֵּימָן, just as יָמִין (from ימם=ימן, to shine), the day (יוֹם), the light side of the day, southwards. מֵזְרָח with ־ָה, paragogic, from זרח, to break forth, the breaking forth of the light, eastwards. For the rest, comp. Num. 27:12 sq. Comp. Deut 3:28 with 1:38; 3:21; 31:7. In Deut 3:29, which closes the foregoing historical introduction, and forms the transition to what follows, we hare a more precise observation of the locality of Deuteronomy. In the valley over against Beth-Peor, i. e. in the plains of Moab (4:46; 34:6). The φογώρ of the Sept. is a mountain (4:3) nearly northward along the Abarim heights. The city in question was located on this mountain, perhaps about six miles easterly from Libias over against Jericho. Comp. 1:5.
12. 4:1–40. The general introduction, 1:1–5, was followed by the historically introductory portion. That which now follows shares in this introductory character, but has a prevailing dogmatic nature. Chap. 4, Deut 4:1. The law generally according to its contents, חֹק, the firmly fixed, designates the statutes, the definition of the law in all its aspects, as moral, ecclesiastical and civil; מִשְׁפָּט designates what according to these statutes in all relations is right; thus that by the judge directed and pronounced right. These two general designations in their conjunction here, as they are joined in Lev. 19:87, include the whole law.—To do them, that, etc.—The object of the law, and hence of instruction in the statutes and judgments, is practice, the yielding of fruit unto life.—Live.—This is the practical goal, viewed in reference to Canaan, and then to the fathers, who failed to inherit it through their disobedience, although it was promised to the patriarchs. [“This general entreaty is pointed by special mention and enforcement of the fundamental principles of the whole covenant (Deut 4:9–40), the spiritual nature of the Deity, His exclusive right to their allegiance, His abhorrence of idolatry in every form, His choice of them for His elect people. For a fuller elaboration of these topics, see chaps. 27–30. They follow, however, so naturally in the history just narrated, that the Orator could not, so to say, pass from it, even for a time, without pausing to urge them briefly here.” BIB. COM. The discourses are closely connected, of one spirit, and from the same author.—A. G.] (2:14 sq.; comp. 4:38 sq.) Deut 4:2. The dignity and honor of the law (the word which I command you.—because Moses spake unto the children of Israel according to all, etc.; 1:3; 4:5) forbid, first of all, any addition, as a false orthodoxy usually precedes Rationalism and Nihilism, and a false pietism, unbelief. HERXHEIMER: “The later allowed enlargements or diminution of the law, however, happened according to the traditional exposition, for the preservation of the Mosaic law, through enclosing and precautionary statutes, or at times necessary abrogations, for the purpose of saving them in their true or higher sense. Other traditional expounders refer the prohibited enlargement or diminution here merely to the number and form of the commands by Moses, as they were put into practice, e. g. they should not divide the priestly blessing into four utterances.” Comp. 12:32 (13:1).—That ye may keep; parallel with the “to do them,” Deut 4:1, but not the same. Keep, since “what I command you” are the commandments of Jehovah. It is not merely the keeping, preserving them which is spoken of (33:9), SCHULTZ, but the keeping of them in their integrity and completeness.
Deut 4:3. Demonstratio ad oculos, with respect to what was said, especially as to the life-giving fruits of obedience to God. Deut 4:1. Your eyes have seen [lit. seeing]. Comp. 3:21. The participle retains its present signification, since the breach in Israel, made by the divine destruction, still continued, and the seeing are those standing the test. Deut 4:4. At Baal-peor.—What Jehovah did there is sufficiently explained through the following: for all the men, etc.—Comp. Num. 25.–Baal.—The Phœnician male divinity (the sun in its fructifying power). The surname Peor, at which this Moabitic idolatrous service was observed (derived according to the Rabbins from an allusion to the licentious rites connected with this service, or from the wide, open, lustful mouth which the image of this divinity wore), is in this case the explanation of the name of the mountain and city at which this cultus was established (3:29), or the mountain, as is frequently the case, has given its name to the city and the idolatrous cultus.—הלךְ אחרי (Ex. 23:2; Gen. 24:5, 8) marks in a striking way the fact that the Israelites going out from their own camp were deserters. (A general biblical expression of the religious service as following; the profession of idolatrous service as a turning away from the ark of Jehovah. God the teacher, man the disciple. The walk, the religious profession.)—מקרבך, as in 2:14, 15.
Deut 4:4. Ye that did cleave.—דָּבַק בְּ, to fasten, cleave to; used of the closest, most intimate communion (Gen. 2:24): here in distinction from those who went after Baal, Deut 4:3 (even the fathers, perhaps the mothers, whom they left, and joined themselves to Jehovah), but in a significant distinction from Num. 25:3. Jehovah, etc., points to the kernel of all fulfilling of the law, as a living union (10:20) with the Lawgiver Himself, from which springs, as here, its fruit, life, Deut 4:1, and life enduring (הַיּים). Comp. 5:3
Deut 4:5. A new beginning, with behold, because it points to the experience of Deut 4:1. But I have, etc., points at the same time to the earlier law-giving (Lev. 19:37), which indeed is only clearly explained in Deuteronomy (1:5).—Commanded me, etc., 1:3. The לעשות takes up again the point presented in Deut 4:1, but mainly for the sake of the connection, and hence without the mention of life, but simply the possession of Canaan as the goal, for God has another end in view in the law, which appears in Deut 4:6. (הארץ בקרב, Deut 4:5, points back to מקרבך in Deut 4:3.) The prominent thought, hence שמר stands before עשה, leads us back to Deut 4:2, to that ye may keep, sq. Israel, when through the possession of Canaan it should have localized itself in the midst of the land, must hold fast the law in its integrity, and therewith its own dignity, in its practice truly, but especially over against other nations with their human laws. Since this practical keeping is the thing of chief importance here, this is the purport of the reason for this, sq. For themselves life, for others the impression of wisdom and understanding. This is the second goal or end of the law. Wisdom and understanding, or insight for the higher and lower life, as in 1:13. In the sight of. SCHROEDER, for the eyes of the nations. A demonstratio ad oculos, as in Deut 4:3. A complete parallelism. Comp. 2:25. The transition from עָם to גּוֹי, like that from λαός to ἔθνος, is worthy of notice. Through the terms people and nation, the heathen declare that Israel as a people is of like birth and privileges with themselves. And in this comparison from the heathen side the form is used in Deut 4:7, who hath God. SCHROEDER: gods, so nigh, sq. The plural, pointing to the polytheism of heathenism, and really comprising all that is named God in the Elohim of Israel, who is Jehovah his God. The origin of the law, the law-giving, to which we pass in Deut 4:9 sq., presupposes such a nearness of God to Israel, i. e., such a relation of revelation. This relation is a covenant relation, and hence the illustrative clause, which embraces not only the peculiar exigencies, but the general position of Israel to God, sounds like the N. T. Abba cry in Rom. 8. The parallel clause, Deut 4:9, closes what is said concerning the law in general, (righteous as all this law, sq.); for a great people, even in an external sense, should it remain (and the fundamental meaning of צדק is to be firm) requires the rule of righteousness. Israel’s greatness is now essentially the spiritual, that of the divine covenant in the law. The transition to the law-giving at Horeb is effected by the finally commanded keeping of the law, in this case a self-keeping in a doubled form or expression. As in Deut 4:1, so here, it is the life, (נפש the breathing) which is concerned. What was seen at Horeb was essentially words (את־הדברים) Deut 4:10, 12, 13. All that was visible at Horeb served to make it unquestionable that these were spoken by God. Thus the “seeing” these words is the vivid conviction that the law-giving truly proceeded from God Himself; and this conviction thou must hold fast, (lest thou forget) and indeed cherish with love (lest they depart from thy heart) and so transmit it to their descendants (teach them thy sons) 6:7; 11:19. It is not the nature and state of the heavenly Law-giver which is here spoken of, as SCHULTZ supposes, but after the previous description of the law in general, he now emphasizes the experienced divine origin of the law, and with it the origin and ground of Israel as a people. Deut 4:10. As the Redeemer came in the fulness of the time, so the day for the law-giving at Horeb deserves notice. When the Lord said, sq. They stand there by virtue of a divine call. Comp., moreover, Ex. 19. The particular individual mountain, Deut 4:11, probably Jebel Musa (KURTZ II., p. 256) is distinguished from Horeb, the range as a whole. [The particular mountain is now thought to be Ras. Sufsafeh. The recent surveys of the peninsular all tend to identify this peak as that from which the law was given. For the arguments see STANLEY, Sinai and Palestine. SMITH’SDict. Art. Sinai.—A. G.]. Deut 4:11. Ex. 19:17. A continuing (partic.) fire symbolizes the act. To the midst (heart) of heaven, the heavenly (Ex. 20:19), the sublimity, with respect to those standing under the mountain, and upon the earth Deut 4:10. The fire lifting itself from the black ground of the dark clouds, (Ex. 19:18) is the expression of revelation, of a knowledge (a light) in the darkness of this fallen world, which knowledge embraces in itself at the same time the consuming (fire) judgment of the self-condemnation unto the salvation, and of the condemnation by God to the destruction, of the sinner. The great energy of this law-giving in its two-sided results. The darkness was there, but Jehovah spake only out of the midst of the fire, Deut 4:12 (Deut 4:15; 5:22). The additional remark Ye heard the voice, sq., prepares the way for the following paragraph. How fitly also the words remain as the expression of the Spirit. Comp. on the other hand with regard to Moses himself, Num. 12:8. It is not a general revelation of God, but that revelation of God made to Israel, and indeed to the whole people, which is here spoken of. This fact renders it clear that there is no theory of revelation given here. Deut 4:13. The covenant is designated as his, and as such every idea of reciprocity is removed. In ברית (from ברת to divide, to separate (to choose, ברז to decide, ברא to create, to fix, appoint) we have the pure act of the will of God. Hence the explanation through the Ten, (Commandments) words, Ex. 34:28, in which also we have the more exact definition of the words, Deut 4:12. Such an announcement includes, naturally, the commands on the part of God, and must have, on the other side, the doing of the people as its result. This is the purpose of God, and hence the written, fixed form, on two tables of stone: Deut 10:5, 19; Ex. 34. Israel does not contract with Jehovah, but it is the will of God, in this way to provide for his coming into communion with Himself. Deut 4:14 throws light upon 1:18, since the decalogue law-giving was even there presupposed, although there truly, as here, it is the mediation of Moses in the inculcating and expounding of particular statutes and judgments, which comes into view (Ex. 21 sq.). Even there, but especially here, the deuteronomic procedure of Moses is intimated as one at that time already prepared. At that (in this) time, the same as in 1:18. That ye might do them in the land, sq., confirms the translation of 1:18, which ye shall do (SCHROEDER), not should [as in A. V.].
Deut 4:15. Comp. Deut 4:9. לנפשתיכם for your good, etc. That which follows now as to the nature of the Most High Law-giver, and the mode of His worship, is simply a Mosaic deduction from what has gone before, through which Israel is made certain beyond any doubt of the divine origin of the law. Comp. Deut 4:12; Ex. 20:4. Deut 4:16. תַּשְׁחִתּוּן from שׁחת in Piel, and of like signification with the here (Deut 4:25, 31) used Hiphil (as is often the case, e. g., אבדperiit Piel, and Hiphil perdidit) to slay, destroy, corrupt (Ex. 32:7; Deut. 9:12) to be supplemented here not by walk, conduct, but by yourselves. Ye should not corrupt, destroy your life (Deut 4:1)—פֶּסֶל from פָּסַל (פצל), to hew, especially the idol-image, because the heathen carved them in wood, stone, and the like. (SHARPE calls the art of the sculptor “the true pillar of religion among the Egyptians”). The multiplying of similar expressions in the following particulars is to prevent any uncertainty, to cut off any possible exception. תְּמוּנָח from מון, מין signifies that which distinguishes, form, shape, appearance. Deut 4:12, 15. סֶמֶל like פֶּסֶל is perhaps an overlaid gilded image. Any figure, sq., figures, namely, of any kind which represent the carving of idols, whether a likeness of man or of beast, in order to represent the appearance of God. תַּבְנִית from תָּבַן to bend together, model, pattern, image. It is the image worship which is spoken of. The specification, Deut 4:16–19, passes from Egypt (animal worship) to Canaan (star worship), in an entirely historical way, but without even hinting at a history of idolatry. Heathenism comes into view, not as to its gods, the objects of worship, but after the form of its cultus, which was an image service, and to which Israel could not conform itself with respect to Jehovah. Thus the sun, moon, and stars, Deut 4:19, appear not as divinities, but because, as they unfold upon the deep blue heaven all the charm of their lights, beside the representation through men first mentioned, they seem themselves peculiarly enticing, as if an image cultus, established by God Himself. וְנִדַּחְתָּ from נדח (נדד) to separate signifies to remove, to turn away. The ceremonial homage, farther, the entire service, rendered to the stars as the representations of Jehovah, was thus an apostacy from Jehovah (who had given the stars that they should serve men, not that men should serve them, 18:14), and would also conform Israel to all the nations (heathen) under the whole heaven, while through its very leading out of Egypt (Deut 4:20) it occupied a peculiar position with respect to Jehovah. (The Egyptians worshipped the stars as sense images of the gods, the sun as Ra, the moon as Joh. or Isis. SHARPE). The meaning of the clause, which the Lord thy God hath divided, sq., cannot be as SCHULTZ and KEIL hold, “for veneration, i. e., to permit that they should choose the same for their objects of worship;” for 1) the question is not here of strange gods, as 29:25; 2) if this was the question, still it would not be always true that the sun, moon, and stars, were given to all nations under the whole heaven for their veneration; 3) it is not said in 29:25, nor in Rom. 1:21 sq., that God has arranged and distributed the idolatrous heathen service, but in the first only that Israel should not go after strange gods, because Jehovah was their portion, and in the last, that the moral corruption of the heathen is the Divine judgment upon their religious errors and wanderings. The designedly chosen expression חָלַק brings out into a suggestive contrast the Lord of heaven, which was divided unto all the nations, with the Lord of hosts which was the portion of Israel (Jehovah thy God). Comp. Ps. 16:4–6. [“The great Legislator may be regarded as taking, in the passage before us, a complete and comprehensive survey of the various forms of idolatrous and corrupt worship practiced by the surrounding Oriental nations, and as particularly and successively forbidding them every one. The chosen people of God are not to regard with superstitious reverence one of their own race, male or female; nor to fall into the low nature worship of which they had seen so much in Egypt, and to which they had once since, in the sin of the Golden Calf, shown a bias; nor yet to be beguiled by the more subtle cosmic religionism of some of the Syrian tribes.” BIB. COM.—A. G.]. Deut 4:20. The opposition between Israel and the other nations is here made apparent still more by what Jehovah had done, and His purpose in doing it, in delivering Israel out of Egypt as an iron furnace, i. e., a furnace for the smelting of iron, a striking image of the hardship suffered there, and of its moral import, (Isa. 48:10). For a people of inheritance. As Jehovah was the inheritance of Israel from the fathers, so Israel of Jehovah, Ex. 19:5. The possession of Canaan as an inheritance forms the third period. As ye are [SCHROEDER, as it is] this day (comp. 2:30) refers to what Jehovah had done in the purpose designated, according to which the passage into Canaan was viewed as already accomplished. Deut 4:21. The grief of Moses appears again on this occasion, and for the third time. Comp. 1:37; 3:26 (and 2 Cor. 12:8). Here as in the first passage we have הִתְאַנַּק־בִּי and the same definiteness, namely, here עַל־דִּבְרֵיכֶם, while there, for your tumult and rebellion. The oath is added here after the analogy of 1:34, almost indeed as if Moses would include himself entirely in the divine judgment there uttered. Comp. upon 1:37. (HERXHEIMER: “I must warn you against idolatrous service in Canaan, all the more since I cannot enter there.” ABARB.: “As he was disciplined, so much more must they be.” The conclusion of Deut 4:21, on the other hand, comprises or sums up the method both of 1:37 and 3:25 sq. Comp. Deut 4:22 with Gen. 48:21; 1:24. Comp. Deut 4:23 with Deut 4:9, 13, 16 (2:37). Comp. Deut 4:24 with Deut 4:11, and Ex. 24:17; Deut. 9:3 (Heb. 12:29). קַנָּא (5:9; 6:15) gives the ethical explanation of the previous figure (Ex. 20:5). The farther exhibition of this way and nature of the Most High Law-giver, appears in two aspects, in Deut 4:25–28, and Deut 4:29–31. Deut 4:25: Here as elsewhere in Deuteronomy, the eye of Moses, undimmed by age, is clearly seen. Israel on the contrary, when it grows old, will also become cold to the zealous love of Jehovah, and so provoke His equally zealous anger. The address changes from thou to ye; regards Israel as this people of Jehovah (Deut 4:20) to whom He is his God (Deut 4:24), or directs itself to particular individuals among the people, the men concerned here, fathers and children, and grandchildren. In the land which ye shall then possess, and as to which ye shall forget how ye came to possess it. Comp. upon Deut 4:16 (23). Deut 4:26. Begins the conclusion. Comp. 8:19; 30:19; 32:1. Heaven and Earth. Not with reference to Lev. 26:19, for it is not an avenger, but witnesses, which are here in question; not to angels and men, since the latter especially could scarcely come into view as witnesses, but because the heavens and earth had alike heard the discourse of Moses and were everywhere, and thus were witnesses continually at hand. KNOBEL: “He speaks in the name of the Lord of the world.” For the rest comp. 5:1, 9, 15; 7:4; The certainty and the suddenness of the destruction are made prominent. Comp. Deut 4:40; 30:18; Ex. 20:12. Deut 4:27. It is only as near Jehovah, and as this definitely gathered people, that Israel can remain in the land. With its forsaking of its God, is involved the loss of the promised land, and its dispersion among the nations, and since such dispersion is the dissolution of its distinct nationality, so it explains the extermination and destruction denounced in Deut 4:26. The discourse speaks of people and nations, as Assyrians and Chaldeans, but not of any particular dispersion. And ye shall be left few in number. (Gen. 34:30). Not “that they should so far perish through want and suffering,” KEIL, but in their dispersion reckoned as few over against the numbers of the heathen. (Comp. upon Deut 4:7, 8), 28:64; Jer. 42:2. The threatening here is different from that in Lev. 26. יְנַהֵג Piel, indicates both from the significance of the word, and from the connection, not a gentle leading, but a driving and urgent pressure (Ex. 14:25) 28:36; Gen. 31:26. Deut 4:28. Their sin their punishment. The punishment with respect to Jehovah, whom they have forsaken, is that they shall serve gods who, because after the work of men’s hands (Ps. 115:4);—for God Himself is formless, and has given His word, but no image of Himself—can neither exercise the sacred attributes of Jehovah (neither see nor hear) nor the common functions of poor man (nor eat, nor smell, with an allusion to the food and incense worship of the heathen) Ps. 135. Deut 4:29. If Deut 4:25–28 declare the method of Jehovah as the jealous God with respect to His anger, the energy of His holiness, so now we have the other side, the energy of His love which does not forsake Israel. The seeking does not intimate any “abject begging,” SCHULTZ, but rather the working of grace, which cannot leave itself without a witness, and utters its testimony through this necessity of the heart. He who permits himself to be found also works efficiently that they shall seek Him. The seeking is the promise of the finding. Not in vain does Moses intimate to Israel that Jehovah remains thy God. משם, Deut 4:29, and שם Deut 4:28, correspond the one with the other. Thy, namely the God of Israel, so that the people attain again a self-consciousness as a people, and as the people of Jehovah, and can be addressed as thou, sq. Thou shalt find, according to the connection, Jehovah, but placed here designedly, without an object, since Deut 4:31 declares what they shall find in Jehovah. Necessity teaches the remnant, the holy seed (Isa. 6:13) the prayer, for the necessity, external and internal sorrow, will come upon him (לְךָ). As וּמְצָאוּךָ explains the preceding בַּצַּר, so with the כֹּל we come to the latter days [SCHROEDER, the end of days]. בְּ here corresponds to the בְּ in the beginning. 31:29. In the kingdom of God last times are ever times of need. (See Matt. 24; Luke 21; 2 Tim. 3:1). The אחרית is the counterpart to the ראשית (11:12). As now in the beginning of days the Sabbath was the end (Gen. 2:1–3) so here also by the end of days is meant the Sabbath solemnity, Heb. 4:9, the “Messianic time of completion,” KEIL. Comp. Hos. 3:5; Isa. 2:2; Acts 2:17; Heb. 1:1, 2; 1 John 2:18. The expression (Num. 24:14; Gen. 49) has indeed according to the prophetic time-period of the speaker, a more or less Messianic form. The entire fitness of the words to the connection, to the time relations following, without any intimation of the idea of the Messiah or of His kingdom, is characteristically Mosaic. It would not have been so fitting at the time of the prophets. It utters only the idea of Israel. And as the idolatrous service merely was included in Deut 4:28, so in Deut 4:30 simply the returning to Jehovah, and the hearkening to His voice (Deut 4:12). Come upon thee, find thee, looking back to the thou findest (Deut 4:29); thou the help, the need, the tribulation, thee. The condition and the time for the return of Israel are arranged in parallel clauses, (Deut 4:30), i. e., when the distress, the curse of the law, is completed, then also will the time of Israel be completed, then will be the end of days, and as the threatening will be fulfilled, so also the promise, the return to the Lord. Thus there is revealed a future of Israel, when through its returning obedience to the law, (and hearkening to his voice, Deut 4:30, Matt. 5:17; 7:24 sq.) it makes effective in humanity, the peculiar idea of its nationality, see Deut 4:6 sq. (comp. upon 2:25). Since salvation comes from the Jews, (John 4:22), the national Israel may be considered a spiritual, which in that respect is the completion of Israel, when through the ingrafted fulness of the Gentiles in the place of the hardened portion, which takes place more and more, “all Israel shall so (in this way) be saved,” Rom. 11:26. (Moreover as Deut 4:28 is fulfilled according to Jer. 44, so also Deut 4:29 indeed, according to Jer. 24, in the better part, the selection, of Israel in the exile. The latter gave the key to the exile, so that under the Maccabean princes, the heathen spirit was generally rejected by the people as anti-national). The foundation for such a future is given in Deut 4:31, with a reference to Ex. 34:6, where an analogous apostacy of Israel had previously occurred. אֵל רַחוּם to be tender, graciously inclined, parallel to אֵל קַנָּא, Deut 4:24, according to the other side, of his being, of the jealousy as love. יַרְפְּךָ permit to sink or fall, 31:6, יַשְחִיתֶךָ Comp. on Deut 4:16. He will not, as thou wouldest thyself, (Hos. 11:8, 9). Comp. Deut 4:23. The covenant of Jehovah there spoken of is here the covenant with the fathers, as the explanation which he, sq., shows. Lev. 26:42, 45; Gen. 17, and 26:3, 4. As the eye has been turned by Deut 4:6 to the other nations, so should (Deut 4:32), the time since their creation, and the space in which their history moves, be inquired of with respect to Israel. Comp. 32:7. Deut 4:33 relates especially to the revelation of God at Horeb. Elohim is not here any more than in Deut 4:32, any particular deity, but God in the general, (Deut 4:12). It is not the superiority of God over the gods which is spoken of, but of Israel in the wide humanity under the whole heaven. The hearing was already something perhaps unheard of, now also the living after the hearing. Deut 4:34. Or hath God assayed, sq., only made the attempt (SCHULTZ, KEIL) now even to do with temptations what God did to Pharaoh in order to lead out Israel, 7:18, 19; 29:1, 2; 6:22. [The temptations are obviously the plagues miraculously sent upon the Egyptians as the following clause shows.—A. G.]. To go and take him, sq., the most personal forth-stepping and in-bringing. Nation from the midst of nation. As Deut 4:32 goes back to the universal humanity, so here the conformity of Israel to the generality of nations. Egypt is intended. By signs and wonders (HAEVERNICK on Ezekiel, p. 160 sq.). Comp. Ex. 7:3; by war, Ex. 14:14; 15:3; by a mighty hand, and stretched-out arms (5:15), Ex. 6:6 (14:8); by great terrors, Ex. 11:6; 12:30 sq.; 14:20, 24 sq. The redemption from Egypt even to its completion in the march through the Red Sea is thus specifically described. Comp. 1:30. In all this which Jehovah had done for Israel, before their eyes, so that they have seen it, the people have the advantage of an experience (Deut 4:35) upon which even an advanced knowledge rests as upon its foundation, that his God, ha-Elohim, i. e., God simply, not merely the highest, but the one exclusive God, is the only one, there is none beside Him. (The fundamental truth of Genesis meets us again in Deuteronomy). But as was said above, Moses does not here prove this position, as over against the idols, but proves the glory of Israel above other nations and men, which it possesses through such a knowledge of revelation, especially through the law-giving at Horeb, to which all that happened in and upon Egypt, was merely of secondary moment; and thus even again, as from the beginning of this first discourse, 1:6 sq., so now here at its very close, Deut 4:36, the revelation at Horeb stands out prominent. הָרְאֵתָ (made to see), comp. upon Deut 4:9. The revelation of Jehovah to Israel in order to make more apparent the superiority of the people, is here characterized (Deut 4:36) by its super-earthly exaltation (out of heaven), with which the rendering of לְיַסְּרֶךָ to discipline, i. e., to take under sacred training, by KEIL and KNOBEL [also SEPT., LUTHER,—A. G.] will not agree, as indeed it does not with Deut 4:35. This idea does not lie in the connection here (comp. 8:5). The usual and practical meaning of the word also is to teach, to instruct, figuratively applied (Isa. 28:26), to the preparation of the field, but absolutely never signifies to admonish, set right, as in Isa. 8:11, when used with מִן. Comp. on Deut 4:11, 12. The symbol of the fire so emphasized, also according to the prominent aspect of that love energy of God in the rescuing of the sinner, presented in the foregoing section, leads to Deut 4:37, where the love however is portrayed as the electing faithfulness or truth. Thy fathers here as in Deut 4:31. The covenant with them has here its root in God. However humbling this may be for Israel, it is necessary here, where such a superiority of Israel upon the earth is made conspicuous. As Israel should not represent God, nor make an image of Him, so it has nothing in itself over which to cherish conceited imaginations (9:4, 5). Indeed even the fathers has God simply loved. The choice is rooted thus in the love of God. The (אהב) essentially to desire, wish, becomes a choice, so considered with reference to its object. The humiliation encloses in itself the highest encouragement, the greatest blessedness for Israel. What is more blessed than to know that one is the object of the love of God from childhood, and what more encouraging than such love, which is such faithfulness. This faithfulness of the divine love, has its very noticeable characteristic in the singular suffix: his [not their, A. V.] seed after him, which as it discovers a living and thorough acquaintance on the part of the speaker with Genesis, pre-supposes also a familiarity on the part of the hearers with the beginning of Israel’s history. For only in this faithfulness can Abraham, who is the person referred to, be the “friend of God” (Gen. 18:17 sq.; James 2:33). At the same time this marks the true personal nature of the divine love. Abraham is the father of all believers (Rom. 4:11) throughout the Scripture, and hence the father, κατ’ ἐξοχήν, of Israel. Isa. 51:2; Gen. 17:4, 5; Matt. 3:9. For his seed comp. further Gen. 21:12; Rom. 9:7; Ps. 105:6, and Deut 4:20.—In his sight [SCHROEDER: by his face, presence.—A. G.], i. e. in His own person, in His self-revelation (Ex. 13:21; 14:19, 24; 33:14, 15; Isa. 63:9). Deut 4:37 stands related to Deut 4:36, as Deut 4:34 to Deut 4:33. The וְ is the simple conjunction; but תחת כי, as רק, 10:15, has the whole emphasis of the connected new motives. The expulsion of the nations, as of the people of Sihon and Og was a pledge to Israel that even wider room would be made for him. Comp. 1:28; 2:30; 4:20. An exhortation or inference parallel to Deut 4:35 follows now in Deut 4:39. The כַיּוֹם חַזֶּה, Deut 4:38, stands instead of אַתָּה הַרְאֵתָ of Deut 4:35, and so וְיָדַעְתָ here resumes the לָדַעַת of that verse. It is not however bare knowledge, but a matter of the heart (worth taking to heart). Comp. upon Deut 4:35. In connection with this, Deut 4:40 returns to Deut 4:1 sq. Instead of משפט, we have here מִצְוָה, because the reference is altogether to God. Comp. besides upon Deut 4:26.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. Chap., Deut 1:6–8. The departure from Horeb for the realization of the promise of Jehovah is the world-historical advance of Israel. A step at the same time for humanity, for the anointed in Spirit, is the τέλος of the conscience, as of the law (Rom. 10:4). As this universal human truth has its solemn festive expression in the Sabbath of Israel (quia feeisti nos ad te et inquietum est cor nostrum, donec requiescat in te.—AUGUSTINE), so it finds its historical expression in the possession of the promised land (Heb. 3:7–4:10). Advancing therein, as equally in the case of their ancestor (Gen. 12), the elect people appears as humanity in its God-placed desires, as Moses himself the head of this people is a man of desire (Ex. 33:18, 13; Deut. 3:25). Canaan is the localized promise of God, the pledge that the whole earth shall be full of His glory (Num. 14:21). In this land, assured to the fathers by an oath (Deut. 1:8), Israel realizes for the time the grace and truth (John 1:17), which indeed were not given by Moses, for the law was given through Moses, but which should historically come into existence (become) in the people of this land, and thus they become a blessing for all people. While Hellas seeks the true and the beautiful, and Rome law and dominion, Israel’s desire reaches after the reality of God and Jerusalem (Ps. 42:2–4; 137:5).
2. Deut 1:9–18. “The natural jurisdiction, as it existed in the patriarchal institution, had already fallen into decay in Egypt. It was the policy of the oppressor to destroy the internal organization (Ex. 2:11 sq.). With the exodus, the stream had returned to its old channel. But religious zeal concentrates the entire judicial authority in Moses. Aid must soon be thought of. The arrangement is proposed by the people in order that it may strike its roots among them more easily. The people choose, probably with reference to the advice of Moses, judges, according to the gradation of tribes and families great and small. There was a natural subordination among these judges. The heads of the tribes were the presidents, the heads of the larger or smaller families the co-assessors, with a more or less weighty voice in the decision. Those who were chosen were then confirmed by Moses. We are not to think of a crude decimal division. The arrangement was precisely destined for the residence in Canaan.” HENGSTENBERG. “The law of Jehovah is the rule of life for Israel. The princes and judges are called to introduce and put in practice this life-regulation as national. The general instruction which Moses gave to the officers of the community was thus, through the law of Jehovah, intended for the individual, and thus that whole organization of the people began at the advice of Jethro,was established.” BAUMGARTEN. Jethro’s counsel (Ex. 18) and the act of Moses, as he here speaks of it, unite to form a beautiful picture of the judge, what he should be, and how he should act. שפט signifies to make ready, to finish; and thus the judge is one who is to deal with strifes, and remove them out of the world. Thus the oath makes an end of all strife (Heb. 6:16). On the other hand this is the charge and burden (Deut 1:12) of the judicial office. The will against the will of man, only the will of God can give a decisive settlement. The first judicial qualification therefore is the fear of God (Luke 18:2) which is the beginning of wisdom (Prov. 1:7; 3:7; 9:10; Ps. 111:10). Where there is this internal support there is also fidelity and faith (confidence), and hence the second more outward qualification, men of truth, with which the judge has to do, and at the same time “understanding,” insight into even the most intricate cases. Lastly, as the most exterior qualification, with the good report among the people, is connected the “hating covetousness,” unselfishness which recommends itself to every man as an attribute of the judge. With the divine character of the court agrees the position of the judge with respect to his duties between the parties; and thus impartiality, and since they are all brethren before God, a brotherly disposition is requisite. Reconciliation therefore of those whom the strife had separated, was the act which corresponded most nearly to the idea of the “Shophet,” a judge. But when this could not be secured, then “righteousness” should determine the judicial act; i.e. צֶדֶק as the fixed, the right (δίκη) of God, his law should decide the case. As Israel is before God a nation of “brethren,” so the Israelite in himself before God, and over against the stranger, is still only a man. (אִישׁ, abbreviated form of אֱנוֹש ,אנשׁ, an adherent, associate, man as a social being, living in communities.) With the brotherliness connects itself the universal humanity (2 Pet. 1:7). See the following thoughts. When God only is adhered to, and one is established in His law, there the רָאָה (as נָכַר, to hold fast with the eye) coincides with יָרִא, to fear, namely, God, “through which the man does not become timid, servile, cowardly, but feels himself lifted up with infinite power, since he knows the divine strength and freedom, as his own. The fear of God has this significance from the Old Testament stand-point in opposition to all nature-religion” (MEIER).—[We have too here all the elements of a true popular government. The authority comes from God; but the people select their rulers freely from among themselves. Once clothed with their office, the rulers become so far the representatives of God, are so to be regarded by the people, and are held responsible by Him for the discharge of their trusts.—A. G.]
3. The humanity of the Mosaic law appears with respect to the stranger. He comes into view, assembling himself with Israel, in his own right, not however as one roving around, but as גּוּר intimates, as one who sojourns for a shorter or longer time. As such has equal part with the Israelite in the Courts (judge, justice, duty, punishment), Lev. 24:22. How thoroughly in this law the religious point of view determines and bounds the moral. Not merely because Israel also had been a stranger (Ex. 22:21), but this other motive, because Canaan belonged to Jehovah, and thus the native dweller is only a guest (Lev. 25:23), co-operates to the same end. Any exclusiveness towards the stranger enters only when the religious and moral relations out of which such humanity flows would be endangered (Ex. 23:32, 33). How entirely different stands the people of justice, the people of Rome, in this regard! In the twelve tables (hostis) “enemy” is synonymous with “stranger,” which Cicero calls (de off. I. 12) a milder expression. Comp. on the contrary, e.g., Lev. 19:34.
4. The movement at Kadesh running through the whole history of the people of God, as GOETHE (Works VI., p. 159) expresses it: “The peculiar and the profoundest theme of the world and human history, to which all others are subordinate, is the conflict of faith and unbelief. All the epochs in which faith rules, under whatever form, are glorious, heart-stirring and fruitful for the present and the future. On the other hand all epochs in which unbelief in any form claims a sorrowful victory, and although it may shine in apparent splendor for a time, vanishes before the after ages, because no one will harass himself with the knowledge of the unfruitful. While the first book of Moses records the triumph of faith, the last four have for their theme the unbelief which does not in a bold way attack and contend with faith, but which also does not show itself in its whole fulness, however, crowds forth from step to step in the way, and often through kindness, but more often still through severe punishments, is never healed, never destroyed, but only silenced for the moment; and hence so continues its subtle course that it threatens to wreck at the beginning a great and noble purpose undertaken upon the most glorious promises of a credible national God, and prevents its ever being completed in its whole fulness.”
5. “That the period of the thirty-seven years curse, which lies between Kadesh and Kadesh, is not brought within the compass of the narrative,” is not due only “to the express theocratic historic style,” as KURTZ asserts, but meets us also in the rhetorical recollections in Deuteronomy, and this silence, as over the grave or the dead, is an intentional death-silence. It is altogether proper. One should be silent, at best, over those under the judgment of rejection. There is a moral consideration, as also a liturgical act of the historical writer and speaker. KURTZ rejects the supposed reason: “that, in a general way, nothing remarkable occurred during this period,” as if this was the rejection of the only reason for that silence. But that which is communicated of law and history, Num. 15 sq., does not concern the rejected Israel, but the Israel of the future (e. g. 15:2, 13, 18). In reference to this, there was nothing further memorable to communicate until Num. 20, as in reference to that the long silence prevails. The reticence of Moses over the coffins and sepulchres of Israel, is similar to that in regard to the four hundred years in Egypt, the cradle of the people. What KURTZ says of the thirty-seven years as “years of dispersion,” and “that only the whole Israel, the organic completion of all the essential parts of the people, etc., is the subject of the recorded history,” rests upon a still questionable view of the real relations and condition of Israel at this time. On the contrary his fine remark: “the advance only, not the standing still, or the retrograde steps into the wilderness, is the subject of the recorded history,” hits the case perfectly. “The way from Sinai to Kadesh was a progress; only one step further and then—But during the thirty-seven years the history of Israel did not come even one step nearer its goal. It remained as it was. It is different in the fortieth year with the journeyings from Kadesh to the plains of Moab. Under the unfavorable relations of this time, the nearest way from Kadesh to Canaan was by Mount Seir, around through the plains of Moab, and across the Jordan. Even the geographical return from Kadesh to the Red Sea is an historical progress.
6. Among the three exceptions which Israel must respect, Edom holds the first place. It has it in consequence of the prominent part which Amalek, the branch people of Edom, had already taken, Num. 24:20. It shares with them also the hostility with which Amalek was the first people who maliciously fell upon the rear of the wearied Israelites (Deut. 25:18), and vindictively went to the front before the Canaanites, Num. 14:45. Israel had avoided the armed hostility with which Edom met him, Num. 20:18–21. The conflict between Edom and Israel exists historically, as it had displayed itself before in their mutual ancestors, Esau and Jacob. But with this distinction, that now the fear is on the side of Esau (comp. Deut. 2:4 with Gen. 32:8). This fear introduces at the same time with the command here, the promise, Num. 24:18. Edom, although the first-born, is an apostacy from the chosen seed, a degeneration to heathenism. Just because it is so closely related to Israel, it removes to the widest distance from the people of God (Matt. 10:36). His fear of the Divine, in Israel, throws light upon the hatred and character of Edom, usually fearless, and much more feared, by Israel when punished by his God. Thus it gains those stereotype features which it bears in the prophets. Comp. e. g., Ezek. 35:15; 36:6. Obadiah 10 sq. It must be conceded that the relations which Israel sustains to Edom, according to Deuteronomy, in no way correspond to the days of the prophets, but only to the time of Moses. [We can scarcely conceive of a later Jew giving the directions which Moses here gives. They are opposed in their whole spirit to the feeling which filled the minds of the Jewish people, and find expression in the prophets. And the feeling which ultimately gained such strength grew up in the relations and intercourse of these nations, so that there is no period which so well accords with these directions as that of Moses. They would not have been so appropriate to the time of Samuel even.—A. G.]. For Moab and Amnion comp. upon 23:4, 5, and the Doctrinal and Ethical remarks.
7. Although it is not expressly said that Moab drove out the Emim, which would have agreed well with the description, so that SCHULTZ conjectures they were not a bold people, and that we must think of a gradual extinction by death, still it may be inferred from what is said in regard to Edom. In any case, even without a warlike expulsion of the earlier inhabitants, the possession, as in the case of Edom and Ammon, so also by Moab, appears as the providence and ordering of God. He raises up and removes kings, Dan. 2:21, and defines their times and the bounds of the people (Acts 17:26) upon the earth. This was an appropriate instruction for Israel when, by localizing itself in Canaan, it was about to take its place among the nations and lands. It follows from this, that although the removal of a neighbor’s landmark is a crime (Deut. 19:14; 27:17) so it is not only true that kingdoms and lands are entailed, but also that both inward distractions and external conquests may be the ways of God. The character of the instruments he uses to collect the debt which is due, remains a question of secondary moment. This exalted view of the history of nations should not be denied, even in respect to Italy, especially by believers. [But this view of the hand of God in ordering the limits and condition of nations, does not interfere of course with any efforts on the part of the people to change their condition, provided there is a reasonable ground for them. Such attempts, immediately successful or otherwise, may be among the instruments which God uses.—A. G.].
8. That Moses speaks of Israel according to its idea (2:25; 4:6 sq., 30) corresponds to his prophetic character and stand-point, belongs to that preparation and introduction to the full prophetic order which was to be effected by him, and preserves, at the same time, the point of union for the New Testament fulfilling of this idea in the kingdom of God. The exclusiveness of Israel is for its universal ends.
9. The investiture of Israel with Canaan is to be viewed with respect to the chosen people as a gracious gift of God to the fathers, and with respect to the Canaanites as a divine righteous judgment, as HENGSTENBERG (Beit. III., § 471 sq.) has shown in opposition to other interpretations. But since now Seir, as well as the land of Moab and Ammon, are held before Israel as expressly given to their present occupants by Jehovah (2:5, 9, 19), the destruction of their earlier occupants appears, in part at least, as the act of Jehovah, and hence also as a judgment of God (2:21, 22). “The region therefore upon which Israel should dwell, not merely as to Sodom and Gomorrah, but throughout, and even in its surroundings is an extended scene of divine judgments and destruction, which must involuntarily warn, most impressively, its occupants as to the deep seriousness of their life. The cheering enjoyment of the mercy and truth of God is not without a recollection of the solemn background of His holiness.” SCHULTZ. The successors of Abraham are the executors of the divine sentence of death upon the many-tribed nation. Hence the “bann,” as in reference to Sihon and Og, the “constrained consecration of those to God who stubbornly refused freely to consecrate themselves to Him, in general directed only against persons; but now in order to show that Israel does not enjoy its land and its possession as a mere conquest, reaches in the first conquered city Jericho, to all its possessions.” HENGSTENBERG. As the Israelites were first qualified for such a “banning,” who themselves had grown up a new generation under the “bann,” so also the iniquity of the Canaanites was full (Gen. 15:16). “There was open to them the alternative of flight from the land, or of conversion to the faith of Israel.” LANGE. But that this latter case occurs only with Rahab, shows the complete dehumanizing of the dwellers in Canaan, (Deut. 9:4, 5) as they sanction and observe only its bestial cultus, especially the Moloch worship (Cæterum censeo, Carthaginem esse delendam).
10. When SCHULTZ, in distinction from KEIL, who refers to 1 Kings 10:4 sq. and the therein ever significant type of proselytism in the self-dissolution of heathen religions, remarks upon the recognition of the Old Testament revelation on the part of the heathen, “that the actual facts have been almost an irony,” he says nothing more than that Israel has in its actual history, very poorly answered to its idea, according to which Moses speaks of it. It is only when Israel’s light shines before men, and they see its good works, that men can praise it. (Matt. 5). But it is true, further, that the idea of Israel finds its fulfilment only in Christ and Christianity; the subjection of the nations to it, and still more their transition into it, is the realizing of what was said regarding Israel according to its idea, (4:6 sq.).
11. While the spiritual (super-sensible) nature if God in the law-giving is elsewhere described by the statement, the law was spoken by angels, (Heb. 2:2; Acts 7:38, 53; Gal. 3:19), referring back to Deut. 33:2 (Ps. 68:17; 104:4); here however this mediation of the spiritual and super-creaturely divine nature, is not mentioned, but only the word, that spoken, and indeed in opposition to any form whatever. Since he fire on the mountain was clearly alluded to (4:11) so is it, in opposition to KNOBEL, precisely with respect to the people, as Ex. 24:17. It is different with the selection Ex. 24:11, for they saw (ראה Deut 1:10, חזה Deut 1:11, although this seeing was an intuitive seeing, beholding, vision) the God of Israel, and this seeing must have distinguished itself “from what all the people saw continually” by something else than this, “that in their eyes the fire token was separate from the cloud,” (HOFMANN, Schriftbew. I.). What is further said, Deut 1:10, that “there was under his feet,” and that the elders of Israel suffered no harm, presupposes an attested revelation of God beyond or above that to the whole people. We must think certainly upon the very same human form which Isa. 6 imagines upon the throne, and of which Ezek. 1:7, 9, 13, expressly speaks. (Dan. 7:9, 13). On the other hand it cannot be said, with V. GERLACH, that Deut. 4:12 “must be applicable also to the elders,” at least not for their own case, for the revelation to them is different from that to the whole people, as again the revelation of God to Moses is different from that to the elders. Ex. 33.; Num. 12:8; Deut. 34:10. But Ex. 33:11 points also to the manifest human form, and this form must have been the “similitude,” “form of Jehovah” (Num. 12:8) in which God throughout held intercourse with Moses. The distinction will thus be as to the one experience of the elders, and that the revelation of God to them was as from a distance, “not face to face,” not “from mouth to mouth.” The people saw the glory of God through the medium of the fire (comp. Ex. 16:7, 10); a nearer approach was not permitted, Ex. 19:21; 24:2. Even the elders must keep at a distance, Ex. 24:2. Moses remains alone in the presence of God. What Moses therefore, Ex. 33:18, desires in reference to the divine glory, the whole fulness of His being in the more fitting revelation, must reach beyond that which he had already enjoyed. With reference to this we are to understand Ex. 33:20, as on the other hand Ex. 24:11 is spoken in reference to the people who were warned away with the penalty of destruction. What would have brought ruin upon the people did not harm the elders, but no mortal may “see the face” of His glory. Thus “the face” is in general the person, but with reference to the “glory,” the exact expression of the whole Divine being revealed absolutely and without any limitation, while “the back,” Ex. 33:23, is only the after splendor of that which has passed by (Deut 1:22). The human appearing form in these revelations of God to the favored individuals, already to the patriarchs, was the preparatory symbolism to the “brightness of the glory and the express image of his person” in the incarnation of the Son. (Heb. 1:3; John 1:14). With this the Psalmist comforts himself, Ps. 17:15, and we learn, that even until Christ, the spirituality of the divine being does not in itself exclude relative forms, when He would reveal Himself to man. But this relative form is not commonly for Israel the human form, although it has place in a human way through the Word. The fire and the cloud-darkness were truly conspicuous, but no “form” as little as the “voice,” (the sound) of the words which the people perceived. “It is not given us of God to know intuitively His being in itself (BECK, Christ Lerhw. I., p. 41 sq.) but only in some form or representation, made visible and become inward to us. In His own essential majesty invisible to man (John 1:18; 1 John 4:12) and as such dwelling in light inaccessible (1 Tim. 6:16) He remains for our conception and expression transcendent and unsearchable, even in His revelation also (Rom. 11:33 sq.; Eph. 3:8; Is. 40:28; Ps. 145:3; 147:5; Job. 11:7–9), and we know Him in His nature, therefore, only as coming forth from His inaccessible light, He descends to earthly representations, but not in His own μορφὴ θεοῦ, Phil. 2:6. Hence there comes to us, through the Son, the only one initiated into these profoundest intuitions of the Divine nature, by virtue of His most intimate communion with the Father, only such knowledge of the divine nature or essence as He unfolds to us through words and works. John 6:46; 1:18; Matt. 11:27.”
12. At this point, as in Ex. 24:10 sq., nothing is said as to the form of God (even Isa. 6. is silent upon this topic) but in reference to the fundamental revelation in the giving of the law, it is emphatically repeated to the people, that it was entirely by the word. The word truly in itself, as the fittest spiritual expression of the Spirit (John 1:1), opposes every image of Jehovah which Israel might make. But now the people have heard the ten commands, and see them remaining upon the two tables; the revelation by God (according to the significance of the number ten) is fixed for Israel as perfect. Thus there is nothing which can go beyond the word heard by the people and seen by them. Israel stands upon the summit, and should be conscious that it is so placed, so that every image which it might form of God appears as a descent to heathenism, as idolatry. Heathenism sprang out of the apostacy from the primitive religion, and through the “corruption, and especially the secularization of the consciousness of God.” The divine numen did not as in Israel become nomen, which presupposes γνώμη knowledge, thus revelation, but that which is and should remain spirit, became nature. Pantheism is unknown at the beginning, but known as the end of the heathen way. In its progress pantheism realizes itself in polytheism, i. e., this or that, many and various representations of the Deity, according to the land, time, history, civilization, explained by the words of priests (mythology) because there was no clear word of God. Thus the images, although at first sense images of the Deity, become at last gods, idols of the heathen way, upon which Israel must not tread, since idolatry was rather its enemy and punishment, (4:28). The stand-point of Deuteronomy is purely principial, which is altogether unfavorable to the later time of the historical criticism.
13. The covenant of God is no social contract between equals, so that the human factor could annul or abrogate the other, the divine (Rom. 3:3; Gal. 3:17; 2 Tim. 2:13). Although there should be no religiousness, religion would still exist. God has revealed Himself, and this sun shines even upon the blind. The covenant of God is the formulating of His revelation in promise and command, so that the demand rests upon the promise, and both rest upon what God has already done. In this way of salvation, which is indeed for humanity, man neither helps nor acts. The covenant is sure and finished as of God, and so also the signs and seals of the covenant require not the help of men. God is one, Gal. 3:20. The Mediator of the covenant only has to do with men; for since the covenant of God is the way of salvation, it is so for humanity, and it can only be so for mankind, when man gives the promising and commanding God, faith and obedience. But this condition of the realization of the covenant for mankind need not be conceived of as a condition of the realization of the covenant itself.
14. Since God has concluded a covenant with men (4:23), has thus revealed in the promise and command His essential strength of will in the world, it does not touch in the least His transcendency, disturbs not the “inward rest and blessedness of God,” when He is said to be angry. Nor is this a mere anthropomorphism, for what appears with respect to anger, after the flesh among men, does not belong to it after the spirit, is not that which is essential and necessary, as human nature, in its primitive divine resemblance, presents it (Mark 3:5; Eph. 4:26). קָנָא designates the immanent energy of the divine life [love?] in the world. The Hebrew expression, according to its radical elements, refers to division, signifies fundamentally a dissension, since jealousy only corresponds to love, when it is real or true. “God, in His efficient strength (BECK, p. 162), out of His own holy will, even in love as a holy one, i. e., as one in the complacent communication of good, preserving the same, and indeed fitting it for a perfect life, determines to work, then holds Himself not only free from the authorship and nurture of all evil, but opposes it rather as a godless nature with the innermost energy of His consuming anger; but, on the other hand, over all and everywhere originates, cherishes and strengthens the good, and that with a faithfulness and truth which no unbelief or falsehood can destroy, agreeably to which His wise and holy determination, together with word and work, through all the developments of time, in a living unity, asserts itself as the most constant life-regulation of love.”
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
1:6–8. Everything has its time with God: 1) delay and 2) departure. “Long enough” the watchword 1) of holy wisdom, 2) of a gracious leading; 3) of a defensive keeping (comp. Luke 22:38).—The turning points in life: 1) how they should become blessings to us (and the command and promise of God, Deut 1:7); 2) why on the other hand, they turn to a curse for us. Because in unbelief and disobedience (ver 8) we fail to improve them.—The promise of God opens the widest prospects: 1) the directory in Deut 1:7; 2) the use of it (1 Tim. 4:8).—The hand of God makes an open land, as 1) in the old, so 2) in the new covenant (Matt. 25:34).—The blessing of the fathers builds the home of the children, if the children do not prevent the blessing of the fathers, Deut 1:8.
1:9–18. Moses and Christ as to their power to bear: 1) While Moses alone is unable to bear, Christ bears all things (Heb. 1:3). 2) Christ has borne what Moses was not able to bear, even our sicknesses (Isa. 53:4).—The indispensable qualities in a judge: 1) wisdom (the fear of God); 2) prudence (by the side of truth, faithfulness); 3) good report.—The judgment is of God: 1) a consolation to the righteous judge; 2) a terror to all the unrighteous.—The judicial model in Deut 1:16, 17:1) the open ear; 2) the impartial mind; 3) justice for every one; 4) fear of no one.
1:19–21. The way of the children of God still from mountain to mountain: 1) from Sinai to Golgotha; 2) from Golgotha to the Jerusalem above (Matt. 5:14; Rev. 21:10).—The bride of the Song comes up out of the wilderness: 1) the war-times of the Church (Song 3:6 sq.); 2) but also its times of peace and victory, Song 8:5—How should we look back upon the wilderness: 1) as upon a school-time which has been entirely finished; 2) as upon many and serious occasions for gratitude to God. We must not fear: 1) the high prerogative, 2) nor the sacred duty of the Church.
1:22–25. The Spies: 1) in their two-fold relation to the wish of the people and to the purpose of God; 2) in their two-fold result: that Canaan is a good land, but Israel a wicked people.—God’s promises stand the test, 1) but faith must investigate, and 2) doubt not sit in judgment.—Even for the heavenly Canaan the fruits of the Spirit (Gal. 5:22; Eph. 5:9) prove the goodness of the land.
1:26–33. Unbelief 1) in its grounds, a would not; 2) in its nature, no going up; 3) in its utterances, rebellion, disobedience to the command and promise of God, murmurs by themselves, and outspoken ingratitude (Deut 1:26, 27).—The exaggerations of perverse and craven hearts, of an excited and depressed, a haughty and faint-hearted spirit (Deut 1:28).—Means against fear and terror: 1) the Lord is our leader: 2) the Lord fights for us (Deut 1:29, 30).—How God bears His people: 1) He raises them from the dust; 2) He holds them in His arms; 3) He brings them to His home (Deut 1:31).—The care of God over His own at evening, during the night, and the day (Deut 1:33).
1:34–40. The wrath of God is 1) certain, 2) just, 3) consuming (Heb. 10:27).—The blessed exceptions in the judgments represented in Caleb and Joshua.—The steadfast faith as of Caleb: 1) in the apostacy, 2) to the end. Again 1) as to its reward; 2) as to its work.—What is the perfect following of the Lord? When one follows Him in every condition and at all times.—A mediator is not a mediator only as Moses proves: 1) in his love which identifies him with the people; 2) in the judgment of God upon him which excludes him from the promised land.—Even thou! how solemn it sounds, 1) for the unbelievers (Luke 23:31); 2) even for believers (Job 4:18)!—Like the lightning, the judgments of God, 1) strike the heights, 2) that those in the low-grounds should fear. The nearer to the Lord, the nearer to His judgment—a truth for us even, and for others.—It is not Moses, but Joshua, who should introduce Israel into the inheritance of Canaan: 1) observe His name (Jesus); 2) mark His preparation, as a servant, disciple of Moses (Ex. 17:9 sq.; 24:13 sq.); 3) consider his qualification for the work, “strengthen Him,” and 4) the promise of God concerning Him. The importance of Joshua 1) with Moses, 2) beyond Moses.—God’s thoughts are not our thoughts, both in wrath and in love. How the wisdom of the flesh is foolishness with God, 1) in its anxious care; 2) in its final issue.
1:41–46. The sorrow of the world (2 Cor. 7:10) 1) repents indeed, but how? 2) acts indeed, but against what? 3) works death at the end. Three-fold repentance of Cain (Gen. 4:13), of Israel, of Judas (Matt. 27:4 sq.)—The Lord is ever more thoughtful for us than we for others, indeed than for ourselves even.—If God is not with us, there is 1) no victory with us; 2) the contest is in vain (Ps. 127:1 sq.); 3) even our own strength is against us (Deut 1:43).—By “the bees” we are not to understand their own strength (Deut 1:44), not even as armed (Deut 1:41), but rather their weakness against the strength of God (Ps. 118:12).—Hormah, the “bann place” for the first, through the second Israel. There is a return, and even a weeping, before the Lord, to which He grants nothing, to wit, 1) the return from vain attempts in our own strength; 2) our tears from obstinacy and despair.
2:1–3 Kadesh an ending which is at the same time a beginning.—The past and present departures in their similarity and in their differences.—The way of Israel: 1) no retreat, although back to the Red Sea; 2) no residence, although many days at the mountain (Doct. and Ethical, 5).
2:4–23. The passage of Israel along the borders of Edom, to these for terror (Deut 2:4), to those in love (Deut 2:5, 6).—We should not overcome evil with evil, but with good (Rom. 12:17, 21:1 Pet. 3:9).—The blessings of God in the march through the wilderness: in the work of the hand, in the way of the feet, in the necessities of life. To the divine blessing (Prov. 10:22) there is 1) nothing too much, 2) nothing too difficult, 3) nothing too long, 4) nothing too great. (Indeed, the greater the need, so much the quicker the aid.)—God is a ruler over the people and all kingdoms (2 Chron. 20:6). The hoariest antiquity shows this; history is ever showing it; in the kingdom of God at last all people and kingdoms will show it. The times as well as the bounds of the people are of the Lord (Doct. 7). What God gives, He only can take away, but often through human agency (Dan. 4:24; 2:21). God preserves His word in judgments as well as promises: the old Israel a glass for the one case, and the new for the other (1 Cor. 10:6; Rom. 15:4). Who is great? God only, and He only confirms it in His doings (Ps. 77:14; Jer. 10:6).
2:24–3:22. Israel against Sihon, a type of the Church Militant. It is given to it to conquer; it is told to fight. The gates of hell shall not prevail against the Church of God; in the great day of the Lord there is terror before it under the whole heaven (Rev.).—A true Church in certain circles is ever an object of fear.—In the hardened heart much good precedes the inward judgment, and its outward execution; the greeting of peace goes before the rejection (Luke 10:6, 7).—If God is for us (Deut 2:31), who can resist us (Deut 2:32)? We shall conquer widely (Deut 2:33), and the sight shall correspond to the faith (Deut 2:34 sq).—Upon what does the inheritance depend? upon courage, the people, the flesh? (Ps. 20:7).—When ought we to fear? When even the whole world is for us, but not the Lord.—As God gave Og and Sihon unto the armed power of Israel, so now He gives his and our enemies into the power of our prayers.—(For the celebration of victory.) Victory is of the Lord, but so also the contest (2 Sam. 22:35).—A man can himself do nothing, except it is given him from heaven (John 3:27).—The best watcher of a city (Ps. 127:1), and even the true keeper (Prov. 14:26) is the Lord.—We also have fortifications to destroy, but with the weapons of God, scarcely with any others (2 Cor. 10:4 sq.).—Tyrants, conquerors, the natural man, the world: in their might (Og was the only one remaining), in their glory. (Behold his bed!) Jer. 9:22 sq. The last bed is ever the grave, and it cannot be said of any one, as of the risen one, Mark 16:6.—The strong fall to the Lord for a spoil, Deut 2:12, 13, in the members, and still differently in the head, Isa. 53:12.—The heroes of eternity (as Jair): their contests and victories in faith, their testimony of faith (and called them, sq.)—Be one; common the victory, common the battle.—Brotherly love: in its divine ground (God has given you), in its cheerful march, in its equipments and strength.—Let us not forsake our assembling! Heb. 10:25.—Separation leads, 1) to a corrupt enjoyment of the gifts of God; 2) to a carnal self-exaltation (rejoicing in the armament, in the very nails); 3) to an unlovely forsaking and censorious inspection (judging, not going before) our brother; 4) to a self-consuming of strength, to a peculiar exhaustion.—God knows well how to guard these left behind, to lead the pilgrim to rest, to bring the exiles home. Faith also has eyes, and indeed looks backwards, forwards, upwards: to the wonderful works, the promises, of God, to God Himself, who takes away all fear, who constantly fights for us.
3:23–29. Moses, a servant of God, and indeed one approved or faithful, but only at the beginning (Heb. 3:5; John 15:15; 1 John 3:2).—The desire of Moses compared with that of Paul, 2 Cor. 12; Phil. 1:23.—There are fruitless prayers even in the kingdom of God, and precisely in cases like those of Moses and Paul, when we do not ask according to the counsel and will of God (Matt. 26:39). [But are such prayers fruitless? They are in truth fruitful, never vain. See the results with Moses, Paul, and especially our Saviour.—A. G.]. With this also we must take into view the regard to the kingdom of God and the world. What possible falls we might be kept from were it not for others.—Still God does not deny His own, without also granting their request. (“If He cannot make me happy in the way which I desire, He will still press upon my heart loving consolation in prayer”).—Humbled (Deut 3:26) we may go up (Deut 3:27): “I know whom Thou wilt gloriously adorn, those whom Thou hast first brought low.”—I have seen, O Lord, Thy throne from afar, sq.—The humble may be exalted, the weak may be strong in the strength of God. (2 Cor. 12:9; Phil. 4:13).
4:1–40. To the law and the testimony! To do and be true is the duty, life, and glory of the people of God.—But be doers of the word, and not hearers only (James 1:22). The doing justifies (does it) (Rom. 2:13) but neither doing with respect to it, nor flowing from it.—The true orthodoxy is this: the righteous, not the followers of Baal, believe, and faith proves itself right, through word and walk. The right service of God is the following Him and communion with Him, the open confession and the hidden converse.—The glory of the people of God: 1) Outwardly to appear as the keepers of the treasure of God, and therefore to be highly prized; 2) inwardly the gracious and powerful nearness of God, the joyful access in prayer of individual members to God, and the certain knowledge of the divine will.—They are true parents who are not forgetful hearers themselves, and who know how to make intelligent hearers of their children (Deut 4:9, 10).—The day at Horeb, in its threefold import: 1) as the day of the people (Deut 4:10): 2) as the day of God in His majesty and exaltation (Deut 4:11, 12); 3) as the day of the covenant of God, and of the law for the people (Deut 4:13).—Corruption in religion, 1) has its beginning in this, that God (His being and will) has been changed into nature, the Creator into the creature (Rom. 1:18 sq.); but 2) it passes over, not barely into gross heathenism, but first and directly into the less gross, in which God (counsel and work) is confounded with reason, the redeemer with self-righteousness and self-redemption.—Redemption is the choice and leading of the child of God as in the case of Israel (Deut 4:20; Isa. 43:1 sq.).—The grief of Moses: His thorn in the flesh, a sign for Israel.—Self-preservation is secured, 1) through a recollection of the covenant grace of God; 2) in obedience to the word of God. His commands.—The Lord is a consuming fire; thus, His nature being love, which works with consuming energy.—Holiness the attribute of that nature, is a fire (consuming not merely the dross from His own, but the perverse also. The wrath expressing itself in chastisement, and in punishment).—Not only Israel, but the sinner generally, has the witness in the heaven above, and in the earth at his feet, as in Sinai, and much more in Golgotha.—Sin is a corruption of the people, and an injury to the land, and sins are punished through sins.—The true seeking has the sure promise of finding, and is a concern of the whole man.—Times of need are times of blessing, for temptation teaches us to mark the word (Isa. 28:19), and trial leads to prayer (Isa. 26:16). The true seeking is the godly sorrow (2 Cor. 7:10) promised by God, wrought by God, and leads to God.—The promise of the conversion of Israel begins in the exile, fulfilled in Christ, still remains open. (For missions to the Jews.) This is the mercy of God, that He preserves, saves us, and preserves the word.—Inquiry into the uses of the world-history: 1) Leads to God as the origin of all; 2) teaches us to recognize the greatness of His thoughts towards men; 3) shows the sacredness and intimacy of His revelation to His people; 4) declares the wonders of His way; 5) is, in fine, a theodicee.—The national greatness of Israel, 1) measured by that which is humanly and earthly great; 2) confirmed by the grand revelation of God at Horeb, and through the grand redemption from Egypt.—The seeing-eye, to what it extends: It gives the sight, but not the insight (Isa. 6:9 sq.) hence open thou mine eyes, that I, sq., Ps. 119:18.—The living God distinguishes Himself from idols generally, by His wonderful works, but specially by the law and redemption. The most wonderful thing is His being, because God is love, which transcends all nature and all reason (Eph. 3:19). The fathers were flesh and blood, and what is Abraham’s seed, in the light of reason, and in comparison with the other nations? (Deut 4:38). The thankful knowledge of the Lord is a concern of the heart, and that only, and is eternal life.
Chap. 1. Deut 1:6, 7. CALVIN: “Lest the people should delay who were already far too slow, he adds in the facility stated, a stimulus, saying that they had barely to move the feet to enjoy the promised rest.” (So Jesus had even greater haste than Judas himself, John 13:27). SCHULTZ: “With the readiness of the Lord to fulfil His covenant promises. He joins closely His holiness, which shows itself only upon the occasion of sins, but as punishing unreservedly, comes into so much clearer light. A beautiful title, with which he opens his discourse: the Lord our God. The Lord does not intend, indeed, any immediate transition from bondage to dominion, but an unimpeded advance to the goal. In following Him he gives no special residence.” RICHTER: “The Amorites were especially named to intimate that their iniquity was full (Gen. 15:16) and the time for the occupation (of Canaan) had come.” BERL. B.: “The law cannot make perfect. But we must not stand still. The true light beckons us onward.” ZINZENDORF: “The possessing of the land at our day is nothing but a bringing of the kingdom of God in this or that region.”
Deut 1:9. STARKE: “No Christian should assume a heavier burden than he is able to bear.” Deut 1:11. SCHULTZ: “Moses is so much more impelled to his wish, as it touches the life of a nation, called to be the bearer of the honor of the Lord.” Spake for promise (Num. 10:29); “Israel throughout relegated to the word of God, had no special word for promise; what God spake He began to do in that He spake it.” To the believer all that God has spoken is assured. Deut 1:13. CALVIN: “This liberty [election by the people—A. G.] is very desirable, so that we should not be compelled to obey any one, whoever may be placed over us, but that the choice should be given so that no one should rule us who may not have been approved. The highest integrity and diligence are not enough for the ruler, if skill and sagacity are wanting.” LUTHER: “It is dangerous and shameful that one should force himself into power, against the will of the people. Many artifices mislead the wise, if they are not prudent, and will deceive them if they are not experienced and skillful. If a prince cannot have both, it is better that he should be a man of great foresight and wanting in piety, than pious and imprudent.” STARKE: “In the appointment of officers the choice should not proceed upon favor, but upon experience and the fear of God,” Acts 2:23 sq.; 6:1 sq.; 2 Chron. 19:5 sq. Deut 1:14. OSIANDER: “Subjects should not reject the useful plans of their rulers, nor resist the same in any arbitrary manner, Rom. 13:1; Titus 3:1.” Deut 1:16. The word of one party is not enough, they should have both. Deut 1:17. LUTHER: “This is the highest and most difficult virtue in a prince. To judge the poor and unknown is easy, but to condemn the powerful, the rich, and friends, without regard to blood, honor, fear or favor, according to the clear view of the case, that is a divine virtue. No prince does this, unless made strong and courageous by the Holy Spirit.” CALVIN: “They should not fear any mortal, because the judgment is of God, by which He not only reminds them of the account to be rendered to God, but shows how absurd it is to prostitute the majesty of God in that manner, since they, standing rather in His place, should look as from above upon all men. Were this deeply impressed upon magistrates and pastors, they would not. vacillate, but stand firm against all terrors” [“Moses, 1) appointed men of good character; 2) gave them a good charge: to be diligent and patient, just and impartial, resolute and courageous; 3) a good reason to enforce the charge, for the judgment is God’s.” MATT. HENRY.—A. G.]. Deut 1:19. SCHULTZ: “The greater and more fearful the wilderness through which they went, led and borne by the Lord, the more blameable is their unbelief which was active even then.” PISCATOR: “The Church of God is a stranger in this world, walks continually in a wilderness in which it meets rough ways, storms and faithless nomads, but in all has one true support and protector.” [“So the way to the heavenly Canaan is beset with difficulties and dangers, Acts 14:23.” WORDSWORTH.—A. G.]. Deut 1:20. SCHULTZ: “The high grounds of Canaan correspond to the most high God, who would have His dwelling therein.” Deut 1:21. SCHULTZ: “The demand fear not, sq., our Lord gives in the N. T. to His disciples, John 14:27.”
Deut 1:23. CALVIN: “If they had all been taken from one tribe their faithfulness might have been suspected; but if each possessed its own witness, all jealousy and suspicion would be removed. Then, too, God chose men of renown, whose testimony would command respect. But there is nothing which the wickedness of men cannot pervert.” Deut 1:26. LUTHER: “Thus those whom God has trusted in great things are faithless to Him in small things; for thou knowest that faith is not a work of the free will, but only of the grace of God.” SCHULTZ: “There are, in the history of the kingdom of God, deciding points, when even wickedness rises to its highest distinction, for the perfecting of grace. Israel, similar to the pilgrim in his holiest moments.” Deut 1:27. SCHULTZ: “All the prophets point to this redemptive work. Some refuse the gifts of the Son in the N. T., and become like the old Israel.” Deut 1:27, 28. LUTHER: “Unbelief raves because the word of God is lost. That is the fruit of human prudence in divine things. Unbelief makes the dangers more and greater than they are, but faith counts all for nothing, and the word as the strength of God, Deut 1:29 sq.” [All our disobedience and failures flow from a want of faith in the word of God. Unbelief is disobedience, and the spring from which it issues.—A. G.]. J. GERHARD: “If we turn our eyes from the promise of the gospel, Satan tries to persuade us that we are unable to stand against such mighty foes.” KRUMMACHER: “Is it not thus with many in Christendom? No, we can never do that. Glad to have it off their hands, they will not make the least attempt nor even give to the Lord one good word for it, because He might strengthen them, and they will not come to Him.”—STARKE: Our brethren. “Through this the spies become partakers in the sins of many.” Deut 1:29. CRAMER: “Those who are strong in faith should comfort and help the weak, Gal. 6:1.” SCHULTZ: “It is precisely with this demand as with that to Ahaz, Isa. 7:10 sq. The last attempt. It must at all events appear, what was desired.” Deut 1:30. SCHULTZ: Jehovah your God.—“Can it be that His relation to them is still not destroyed, even if it were as Gen. 6:6. Moses can point for the answer to a present experience, Deut 1:33.” Deut 1:31. SCHULTZ: “Incomprehensible condescension of God, and still more incomprehensible exaltation of the Church. The true Shepherd.” Deut 1:32. LUTHER: “Thus they put no faith in Moses, who was prepared with so many words, and so many miraculous signs. But why should we wonder when to-day there is so little faith, and the whole world raves in unbelief? If only two men from the great mass cleave to Moses, he will not intermit his office-work with respect to the word, and preaches in vain to the unbelievers.” Deut 1:33. SCHULTZ: “The divine activity in its energy cannot be represented in any more fitting way than in light and fire, with which the smoke cloud itself appears, Isaiah 4:5. The living energy of men comes appropriately and early to light in the smoking breath. The animating and consuming, the refreshing and wearying potencies in their unity. The caravans in the wilderness raise an artificial smoke-cloud to go before them. Since the Lord sought out the camping places, the inconsistency is the more remarkable, in that they have hitherto trusted to Him for rest, followed Him through the darkest paths; but now when so near the peculiar resting-place they despair.”
Deut 1:34 sq. SCHULTZ: “The judgment upon the old Israel, a prediction of that upon the new, when it should become an old. It tended to check the external, false particularism.”—LUTHER: “The Jewish people fails when it was upon the very neck of the Amorites. Thus the forbearance of God gives space for repentance to the heathen before they should be destroyed. Rom. 3:29. Their blindness is their snare, sq.” Deut 1:36. So also Noah in his evil generation, Gen. 6:7. SCHULTZ: “The old Israel, to a certain extent, entered Canaan with Caleb and Joshua. Caleb not only saw the land, but possessed it. He asked for Hebron (Josh. 14), because in his old age he had still living faith in the face of the sons of Anak, who had plunged the others, for the most part, into fear. His more glorious reward. The statement why he was spared removes every suspicion of partiality on the part of God. The problem of humanity, especially of Israel, is to be faithful unto death and in death; solved only in the true Caleb.” Deut 1:37. STARKE “Moses confessed his own sin, but, also that it was not intentional with him.” LUTHER: “For our instruction and comfort, lest we should despair in our sins, for in this temptation not only many of the people, but even men of excellence, even the greatest prince Moses, with his holy brother Aaron, fell. We should fear the Lord, and despair in ourselves, since we are what we are only by His grace and power.” Deut 1:38. In the kingdom of God it is first true, le roi ne meurt pas. STARKE: “Joshua here typifies a higher one than Moses”—[MATT. HENRY: Mercy is mixed with wrath, 1) though Moses might not bring them into Canaan, Joshua should; 2) though this generation should not enter, the next should.—A. G.]
Deut 1:39. WURT. BIB.: “Although we do not believe God, He remains true and faithful to His promises.” SCHULTZ: “What you will not believe, that I will bring to pass, that I may make known my strength in the weak, and better aid your helpless ones than yourselves. Through the whole history of His kingdom, He knows how to find himself in the form of a servant,” Deut 1:40. SCHULTZ: “But it is different with you older than with the younger; you to punishment and death, they to preservation and strength.” If Israel has not Canaan, then the desert. Either heaven or hell, no intermediate place.
Deut 1:41. STARKE: “Our nature is so depraved, that it knows no restraints. What God forbids, we do; what He commands, we neglect.”—KRUMMACHER: “They add: as the Lord commanded us. But indeed had He said: The Lord will fight for you. Your plan was partly too late, partly not properly arranged. Ps. 44:5; 33:16 sq. Your obedience must now consist in this, that you lay aside your own will.” STARKE: “Plans undertaken against God and His word come to a bad end.” [HENRY: “Thus when the door is shut and the day of grace is over, there will be found those that stand without and knock.” Cowardice and presumption are not far apart.—A. G.] LUTHER: “The unsearchable judgments of God! His people who presume upon their own strength, He permits to be overcome, as if He were not their God. But the enemy, who rely upon their own strength, He allows to conquer. Know that as there is that which is more to be feared than the manifest signs of the anger of God, so the unbeliever is sometimes successful in his way,” Deut 1:45. It happens to Israel as to Esau, Heb. 12:17.
Chap. 2, Deut 2:3. SCHULTZ: “The Lord waits again only to a certain extent to call out His it is enough, and to lead the desert-wanderers into Canaan.” Deut 2:4 sq. LUTHER: “In the history of the heathen we see the greatness or smallness of works; but in the history of the Jews it is only the word of God, through whose leading and will all things come to pass.” RICHTER: “Before God brought the Israelites to punish His enemies in Canaan, He taught them to forgive their enemies in Edom.” Deut 2:7. In all the providence of God with respect to other people, and in all his consideration of them, Israel still appears as the one especially blessed, as bodily so spiritually. Ps. 147:20. As (1:31) all false steps, falls and contingencies are taken up in the divine bearing, so all wants in the divine providence which always helps him (Luke 22:35). “They end in love and blessing,” if they are from the ways of God. Deut 2:15. The hand of God finds His enemies. He rules in the midst of His enemies. Deut 2:23. RICHTER: “How impressively the true history of the world teaches the righteousness of the Judge of the world.” Deut 2:24. KRUMMACHER: “What may we not do if we believe, and how should not all things be possible to those whom Christ makes strong? The true beginning to take possession is made in the blessed dying hour. The full possession follows at doomsday.” [HENRY: “Observe in the commission given to Israel, 1) though God assured them the land should be their own, yet they must bestir themselves, and contend with Sihon in battle; 2) when they fight, God will fight for them.”—A. G.] Deut 2:25. SCHULTZ: “Israel enters into the same relation to the heathen as man generally to the rest of creation, as the representative of communion with God, of the higher life of the Spirit.” Deut 2:31. RICHTER: “Thus oftentimes gifts come to the children of God beyond their expectation.” SCHULTZ: “To the divine beginning in love, the beginning on the part of His people in zeal and confidence must correspond (Isa. 40:31), and thus always when the call is given by God, there must be a cheerful response. His saints are also His mighty jubilant ones, Isa. 13:3.”
Chap. 3, Deut 3:1. LUTHER: “Og must have been a bold king to contend with Israel alone, and not have come to the help of Sihon. At the time of Saul all Israel fled before a single giant; it would have been so here if the faith of the people and the truth of the promise of God had not wrought wonders.” Deut 3:2. SCHULTZ: “If the demands upon Israel’s faith, made stronger by the first victory, were greater, so the Lord comes to their aid with cheering and impressive encouragement, 1:29.” Deut 3:14. RICHTER: “Moses, surprised, says of Jair, stretching widely to the north, he maintained his name. Thus what would be an obstacle to unbelief or weak faith becomes a source of strength to the believer.” Deut 3:18. SCHULTZ: “Moses laboring against any isolation of the East Jordanic tribes not only in the present war, but for the long future, ventures to hope that the special exertions for their brethren could easily strengthen the community of feeling, and make it permanent. In case of isolation the East Jordan tribes would suffer the most.” TUB. BIB.: “We should interest ourselves in the brethren in faith, Rom. 12:14; Gen. 14:13 sq.” CRAMER: If we have planted our feet firmly in spiritual things, we should help the weak and unconverted. Gal. 6:1; Phil. 2:12. LUTHER: “They enter the work of God with their strength, but do not presume upon their strength. Blessed are they who thus serve God with their weapons and members.” Deut 3:21. SCHULTZ: The contest in the service of God may for the first be the more severe, the longer it lasts; but out of the localities in which we have fought for and with God, there rise up loud-speaking witnesses to kindle anew our courage and faith.” Deut 3:23 sq. RICHTER: “Through this open confession of his heart’s desire he in part wakens or strengthens a similar desire in Israel, and in part in opposition to Num. 20:12 sanctifies again the name of God.” SCHULTZ: “Moses truly in the first word betrays his thoughts of his own guilt. Above all he makes the impression that the law introduced by him had reached in his case its most peculiar object, the knowledge of sin.” Deut 3:24. J. GERHARDT: “When one asks a favor from an avaricious person, he is wont to present before him the kindness he would have performed; but when from a generous person, the kindness he has already received.” Deut 3:25. SCHULTZ: “Canaan presents itself to him as a highland by the side of Horeb, where he lived the best days of his life, and in contrast to the desert.” Deut 3:26. TUB. BIB.: “If this is done in the green tree, what shall be done in the dry (1 Pet. 4:18).” WURTH. B: If we sin with the godless, we must suffer punishment with them.” Deut 3:27. SCHULTZ: “Viewing Canaan from Pisgah, a true representative of the Old Covenant. Though he must content himself with the distant view, his life has not been an aimless one. However much or little of perfection may pass before the eye of the individual, if it concerns a work of God, there is a progress and completion indeed endless, in which at last the individual shall be included in the finished work of God.” [WORDSWORTH: The law had a far-off vision of the gospel and its heavenly revelations, and yearned for it and them, but could not go in and possess them; but Moses after his death was brought into Canaan to see the glory of Christ (Matt. 17:3). Not Moses, but Jesus, brings us to our Canaan.”—A. G.]
Chap. 4, Deut 4:1. SCHULTZ: “And now, i.e. since He has first loved us, He permits us again to love Him. As Rom. 10:17, ἀκοή first,” etc. STARKE: “Beside the hearing, the reading, the devout contemplation, the careful preservation, the actual fulfilling.” [From God’s doing to ours. We should use God’s providences to quicken us in duty.—A. G.] RICHTER: Deut 4:2 places the limits to men, not to the Spirit of God. STARKE: “Thus the sacred Scriptures contain perfectly all that is necessary to salvation.” Deut 4:6. SCHULTZ: “There lies throughout at the foundation the truth, that man by himself is deficient in wisdom.” Deut 4:7. MICHAELIS: “God shows Himself the lawgiver and judge of His people, as He answers their law-questions.” Deut 4:8. SCHULTZ: “No heathen nation was able to establish justly the rights of men between each other, however great it might be. All justice has at last its roots in God.” RICHTER: “Paulalso, Rom. 3 and 9, celebrates the advantage of Israel (Deut 4:6–9).” ZIEGL: “What are all the political systems of MACHIAVELLI, HELVETIUS, HALLER, etc., against the Republic of PLATO, which every one who in this day will be a politician admires above all? And still this last, in comparison with the Israelitish constitutional law, is nothing more than an abstraction in a mythological dream.” Deut 4:9. CALVIN: “Thus the tardiness of our flesh must be aroused, and at the same time its weakness fortified, its inconstancy prevented, since nothing is more easy than that the whole zeal should collapse in a sudden forgetfulness, or grow languid by degrees.” Deut 4:11. SCHULTZ: “The appearance upon Sinai, and the sacred night. Both foundations of a covenant of God—but how different!” Deut 4:29. “The sinner never binds himself to seek God, unless when he conceives Him to be placable. Sincere conversion is that of the whole heart, and the opposite to that which is feigned or hypocritical.” Deut 4:30. CALVIN: “Sorrow in its uses and fruits, Heb. 12:11. We should not be exasperated by the rod of God.” [Deut 4:31. WORDSWORTH: He will not forsake thee. There is mercy then in store for the Jews.—A. G.] Deut 4:34. ZIEGL: “In fact (beyond Christ, where the miracle appears as nature) there is no other point in history, about which such a fulness of miracles are massed, as the exodus of Israel, in what precedes and follows it. Indeed the supernatural in nature, which is a proof of the constant latent existence of a higher order of things, is only introduced through the divine freedom, but on the other hand is closely connected as a sign with the following revelation.” Deut 4:37. SCHULTZ: “True faith must grow, and be one with the feeling of unworthiness; will it be strong, it must have some other ground for the divine love than itself; a fundamental truth which touches the central point of Christendom.”—[For further homiletical hints see the admirable and practical summing up of this chapter in HENRY.—A. G.].
11 Deut 1:5. [בֵּאֵר, to dig, to inscribe upon stone, as Deut. 27:8. Hence HAEVERNICK and WORDSWORTH understand here, to write down. But as the idea is, to bring to light, to make clear, our word, “explain,” seems to meet all the necessities of the case.—A. G.]
2[Deut 1:13. הָנוּ, give, place, set.—A. G.]
3[Deut 1:23. It, the word, was good in mine eyes.—A. G.]
4[Deut 1:36. Margin: lit. fulfilled, to go after Jehovah.—A. G.]
5[Deut 1:41. וַתָּהִינוּ. Most modern commentators adopt the rendering of Schröder, connecting it with the Arabic word of the same sense. It is merely a conjecture, however, and the context would seem to favor the rendering in our version.—A. G.]
6[Deut 2:6. Lit. dig water, buy permission to dig water. BIB. COMM.—A. G.]
7 Deut 2:9. [Margin: use not hostility against them; but the text is better here.—A. G.]
8[Deut 2:13. Omit said I. The words are still the words of God to Moses, and connect it with Deut 2:9.—A. G.]
9[Deut 3:34. מתם. The meaning and construction of this word are doubtful; but the weight of authority and the absence of the article are both in favor of connecting it with מוּת, and of rendering mortals, men generally. “We took all his cities, and laid under ban every city of mortals.” What was laid under ban was of course destroyed.—A. G.]
10[Deut 4:6. See Deut 2:36.—A. G.]
11[Deut 4:18. Sons of strength.—A. G.]