Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
1AT that time the Lord said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. 2And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. 3And I made an ark of shittim [acacia] wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having [and] the two tables in mine hand. 4And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments [words] which the Lord spake unto you in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, in [at] the day of the assembly: and the Lord gave them unto me. 5And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the Lord commanded me. 6And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth [the wells] of the children of Jaakan to Mosera: there Aaron died, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered in the priest’s office [became priest] in his stead. 7From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbath, a land of rivers of waters. 8At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before [the face of] the Lord to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day. 9Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord [he] is his inheritance, according as the Lord thy God promised him. 10And I stayed [stood] in the mount, according to the first time [as the first days] forty days and forty nights; and the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also, and [omit and] the Lord would not destroy thee. 11And the Lord said unto me, Arise, take thy journey [go to depart] before the people, that they may go in and possess the land which I sware unto their fathers to give unto them. 12And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee but [than only] to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart [with thy whole heart], and with all thy soul. 13To keep the commandments [commandment] of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for 14thy good? Behold,1 the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also [omit also], with all that therein is. [Still] 15Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he [omit he] chose their seed after them, 16even you above [out of] all people, as it is this day. Circumcise therefore [And so circumcise] the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked. 17For the Lord your God is God of gods [he is the God of gods] and [the] Lord of lords, a great God [the God, the great] a [the] mighty, and a [the] terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: 18He doth execute the judgment2 of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving [to give] him food and raiment. 19Love ye therefore [And so love ye] the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him 21shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things [deeds] which thine eyes have seen. 22Thy fathers went down into Egypt with three-score and ten persons [with seventy souls]; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.
EXEGETICAL AND CRITICAL
1. Deut 10:1–5. At that time (Deut 10:1) is generally to be understood of the time at Horeb, which is the fundamental reference in this section (9:8). This more general interpretation corresponds to the whole method of the discourse, which is not chronological, but rhetorical, and pre-supposes with respect to the more exact chronological sequences the narrative in Exodus. According to this, the time fixed falls before the beginning of the forty days and nights (Ex. 34:1) thus before 9:25, 18. All that lies between, was briefly hinted in 9:19, since all there depends upon the close of the intercession of Moses, the renewing of the covenant, the new tables of the law, and indeed as the result of the Mosaic intercession. (That with the forty days the time, first below in the camp, at last above on the mount, is intended (KNOBEL); as a round number (SCHULTZ), is as unnecessary as it is to explain in that time by the intercessory prayer. KEIL). The mention of the ark, whose preparation had been commanded, Ex. 25:10, indeed before the first tables, declares already according to the actual connection here, the grace to Israel in reference to the erection of the sanctuary, as one enduring and realizing itself in the dwelling of Jehovah with Israel. Thus also in Deut 10:2, with which comp. Ex. 34:1. The carrying out of that which was commanded, Ex. 25, and here merely renewed with respect to the ark, Deut 10:3, involves no difficulty, for Ex. 37:1 does not exclude the idea that Bezaleel applied himself to the complicated work immediately upon the declaration of Moses. [And if this were not so, the apparent diversities between the account in Exodus and the statement here are all easily and naturally explained upon the supposition that Moses groups events here with reference to the impression he wished to make, and without reference to the order of time in which they occurred. These very differences may be fairly urged as proofs of the Mosaic authorship.—A. G.] Deut 10:4. Comp. 9:10. Deut 10:5 as 9:15. And put, sq. (Ex. 40:20), parallel to the solemn utterance
Deut 10:3—In my two handsבְּיָדִי).
2. Deut 10:6–11. The notices contained in Deut 10:6 sq. follow here not without design on the part of Moses (comp. Deut 10:9, thy God)—the children of Israel in the third person, and while apparently disconnected, are in fact individually and as a whole, especially through the ruling idea, inwoven closely in the connection of this section. The conclusion with the ark (Deut 10:5) leads to the bearers of the ark (Deut 10:8). The purpose, to close with the residence at Horeb introduces the remark as to the removing of the children of Israel (Deut 10:6, 7). The result of the intercession of Moses for Aaron, so expressly mentioned in 9:20, could not remain without notice when the renewal of the covenant with the people in consequence of that Mosaic intercession was mentioned. But it is still more significant for the connection, since even Moses did not reach Canaan, when still in the critical moment at Horeb his intercession is such, that it alone appeared for all, for the people and Aaron, that Moses should be able to point to this, that his intercession and mediation at that time maintained an official determining character for the time when he could no more appear for Israel. This is truly deuteronomic. We have seen already in the introduction that Deuteronomy provides for the time when Moses should no longer be with Israel, in that it emphasizes those official activities which are crowded into the one peculiar personality of Moses. If therefore Moses’ prayer for Aaron had personally this result, that he should not die until the fortieth year of the wandering, at Mosera, so it had officially provided for the enduring high-priesthood, mediating with God for Israel, since at the death of Aaron Eleazar became priest in his stead. The ruling idea in this whole section is the intercession of Moses heard and answered, and indeed in its deeper connection with the second command, which is positively explained for us. If the second command in distinction from the first, relates to the true honoring of Jehovah, the true worship of God, so it is essentially conditioned, indeed given, through the Aaronic priesthood. The symbolical cultus connected with it, is the right way, the calf-worship the apostacy to heathenism. What is not found in the latter is symbolized and really exists in the former; holiness and love, righteousness and the grace of God. It is therefore correct (as already CLERICUS) when HENGSTENBERG says: “Moses reminds the people that the Lord had remained the same in His grace notwithstanding all their sins. He gave to them the ark of the covenant with the new tables of the law, Deut 10:1–5. In the continuance of His grace He institutes the high-priesthood,” etc. The given nexus between this institution and the intercession of Moses, according to which he, speaking as a dying man, indeed as if already dead, to Israel, has only in view the matter about which it treats, the mediation of the people with God after his death, produces this perceptible objective character of the discourse, altogether fitting here, and should not permit any thought of an interpolated gloss by a later hand. [The division of the chapters here is unfortunate. Deut 10:1–11 is closely connected with the 9th chapter. Moses is there guarding the people against self-righteous tendencies. Their blessedness is not due to them. On the contrary, they were characteristically a rebellious people. The favors conferred upon them originally by the grace and sovereign choice of God were forfeited by their sin at Horeb. It was only at Moses’ intercession, and in the great mercy of God, which endured even when they had been disobedient, that they were now reinstated in these privileges. Then the tables were renewed, the ark of the covenant was provided, and the tables placed in it, the priesthood of Aaron was continued in Eleazar, the Levites were set apart to minister in the tabernacle (an appointment which could scarcely have been passed over here when the transactions at Horeb were dwelt upon), and they were permitted to march onward. So complete was the reconciliation between God and His people, through the intercession of Moses; every allusion is in place, if we regard the speaker’s purpose. Even the geographical statements and the setting apart of Levi show that there is no gloss.—A. G]—Beeroth, sq., wells=Bene Jaakan, Num. 33:31. A camping-place of one of the Horite tribes mentioned in Gen. 36:24, where the wells occur. Mosera, the same as Moseroth, only that is the plural. Since Aaron (32:50) died upon Mount Hor, Mosera must have been at its foot. Comp. Num. 20:22 sq.; 33:37, 38. Deut 10:7. Gudgodah, the same as Hor Hagidgad, Num. 33:32, where are the caves or a narrow pass. Jotbath as in Num. 33:33, only that the place, not now geographically known, was there referred to in the second, here in the fortieth year (HENGSTENBERG, Auth. II., p. 431 sq.). The symbolical character of the whole quotation excludes any possibility of a contradiction to the record in Num. The mention of the rivers of waters seems to designate even the external blessings accompanying the renewed covenant relation. These little traits of a direct local knowledge, and an actual experience in the journeyings, would be without any significance in a mere later gloss. Deut 10:8. At that time, parallel with Deut 10:1, and connecting with Deut 10:5, as the discourse there is of the bearers of the ark. The time the same with Deut 10:1, and it is defined also in Deut 10:10. Thus in no way after Aaron’s death. As in Deut 10:6 the high-priesthood is expressly brought into prominence, in connection with Aaron and Eleazar, and particularly in this, that it passed from Aaron to his sons, and the family of Aaron is pointed out as the specifically priestly family, so there comes out here unmistakably the one peculiar deuteronomic feature, which permits the one family of the tribe to retire behind the tribe as such (comp. Introd. § 4, I. 22). Although Moses has not repeated in 9:17 or 9:21 the narrative in Ex. 32:26 sq., still the here-mentioned separation of the tribe of Levi (Num. 1:49 sq. (3:4); 8:6 sq.) pre-supposes it, and at the same time finds its ground in his concise style here. Besides the intercession of Moses, that of the Levites also has preserved Aaron alive. Thus the levitical function of bearing the ark may be regarded as a priestly function, as it actually happened on solemn occasions; and thus also the standing before the Lord can be said of the whole tribe, although it was literally peculiar to the priests (21:5; Num. 6:23 sq). That the distinction between the priests and Levites is not thus destroyed is evident from Deut 10:9, quoted from Num. 18:20, 24, in which chapter the distinction in question is expressly treated. In connection with this character of Levi, important for all Israel (Introd. § 4, I. 22), the transition from this tribe to the people as a whole, Deut 10:10, is in the highest degree fitting. Resuming the thought of 9:18; 19, 25. So truly is the intercession and its answer the soul of this section. With the renewing of the covenant connects itself anew the reference to the covenant-land (SCHULTZ). Hence the command to Moses, Deut 10:11. Arise up, see 9:12. לְמַסַּע (Num. 10:2). Moses should go before the people upon the further journeyings, as their leader, secure their removal, and guide them in the way.
3. Deut 10:12–22. In a similar apostrophe to that in 6:36:4; 9:1, after such an apostacy and upon the basis of such a forgiveness, follow now, Deut 10:12, the earnest exhortations. The interrogative form is more pathetic than if it was a simple requisition. God demands only that which Israel must freely of itself concede. Comp. 5:26; 6:2: 13, 24. Fear the beginning, to walk, sq., this is the progress, and love (6:5) as it reveals itself in the most inward and the most entire service of God (6:13) is the completion. Connected with fear and love through the וְ the service of God with all the heart and with all the soul, is added as is entirely fitting to the second command. As the walk is subordinated to the fear, so the keeping the commandments, Deut 10:13, appears to be subordinated to the serving of God. (Comp. upon 4:2; 6:24.) As Deut 10:12 appeals to the self-consideration, so Deut 10:14 to the direct immediate beholding. Behold, the heaven of heavens, rhetorical, to the highest heaven of all, what may be called heaven. (1 Kings 8:27; Ps. 148:4; 68:33). This high and lofty one, who needs nothing, since all belongs to Him, to whom all therefore, even according to such mere general relations are under obligation, has still, Deut 10:15, entered into special relations with the patriarchs, and with them only, 7:7, 6. Inclination, love, choice, the three stages from the innermost impulse, to the historic act, 8:18. Hence the claim upon Israel, Deut 10:16, especially of a priestly consecration to Jehovah (7:6) for a distinction from all nations. In any case circumcision has this distinguishing character (comp. LANGE, Genesis, p. 424 sq). Then, too, it is involved in the act in question, and the time appointed for it; that the sanctification represented through it, concerns the human nature in its source and origin, thereupon from childhood, and hence the genuine deuteronomic extension and application of the symbol to the heart claimed as the seat and source of the natural life; and thereupon he passes to Israel the peculiarly stiff-necked, (9:6, 13, 27), Lev. 26:41. That which is here a demand, elsewhere appears intelligibly as a gift of God, a grace, 30:6. A similar relation to that between conversion and the new-birth. No more, viz., and especially as at Horeb. Therefore in assigning the reasons (Deut 10:17) he lays hold at first upon this. God of gods, Ex. 32:1, 4, 23; i.e., not merely the highest God, and Lord over them all, who should be so named and honored, but he who with them can alone be intended, of whom they are at best particular representations, symbols, images, (Ex. 20:4) who himself is their complex and total idea. A fitting explanation of the name Elohim. Then further, as a general foundation on which the required change of nature on the part of Israel rests, he holds up before Israel the exalted nature of Jehovah raised above all heathen religions; a great God, sq. It corresponds with this, that His choice of Israel indicates no partiality אשׂר לא־ישׂא פניםwhich regardeth not persons, Lev. 19:15; Gen. 32:20; 19:21 (Deuter. 1:17). His predilection for them is not the particularism of a national God, made by men. As Israel cannot withstand his fearful almighty power and greatness, so neither can he take any false refuge in His love, which as especially manifest to him, will at the same time reveal itself to be holy and righteous (Gen. 18:25). Impartial, He is also incorruptible. Reward, perhaps, with a retrospect to Ex. 32:2, 3, 24. Comp. Micah 3:11. Deut 10:18 carries out this judicial majesty of Jehovah still more definitely, preparatory to Deut 10:19. Fatherless and Widow, not barely as for the most part overlooked by human unrighteousness, or indeed downtrodden, but because without help among men, and assigned to God, they appear as the objects of His compassionate love, which therefore was immediately and expressly said also with regard to the stranger. (Comp. 1:16). The warning, Deut 10:19, to love the stranger, is drawn as a direct result from the foregoing. Ye cannot indeed do otherwise if ye are circumcised in heart, etc. (according to Deut 10:16), for consecrated as priests to Jehovah, ye must imitate Him, especially as ye know from your own bitter experience the lot of strangers. (Ex. 22:21 sq.). A wonderful passage in this connection. Although power over all is first asserted of God (Deut 10:14, 17) and His love beyond Israel manifested only in the gifts of “food and raiment,” while for Israel it is revealed in an altogether peculiar way, (Deut 10:14), still Israel has already the problem, as much as is in its power, ethically to introduce that doctrine, “God has so loved the world.” The warning is neither formally nor essentially “an offshoot from the course of thought,” KNOBEL, but rather a nearly New Testament (1 John 3:10, 17) foresight into the divine nature, which was now again summed up as Jehovah thy God, for the worship as it lies in the second command. Fear before, the beginning (Deut 10:12) which includes all, as 4:10. Then the service. Comp. upon Deut 10:12. Then to this the true cleaving (upon 4:4) instead of love. Lastly the confession of the mouth (comp. upon 6:13) and indeed Deut 10:21 without כִּי, in a method which, as if uttering the contents of the name Jehovah, rises solemnly above the common day of the ordinary life with its to swear, up to the throne of Jehovah, Ps. 22:3. Thy praise explained through, that hath done for [lit. with] thee, sq. Ex. 15:2 sq.; Ps. 106. Thy God illustrates Deut 10:22. Comp. Gen. 46:26, 27; Ex. 1:5; Deut. 1:10, and upon 7:7.
DOCTRINAL AND ETHICAL
1. That the two tables of the law were twice written, and that in Deuteronomy the second writing finds such an emphatic mention, may truly be symbolical for the repetition which the earlier law-giving has received in this book, (Intro., § 1). The distinction between the second and the first tables here treated of, is that while the latter, with the entire law given at Sinai, is both as to its contents and form, the work of God, the deuteronomic law-giving, as the second tables of the covenant, bears designedly the form of Moses. This time the tables are his work, are hewn by him, although the contents of Deuteronomy are according to all that the Lord commanded, e.g., 1:3 sq. SCHULTZ rightly reminds us “that the mediatorial activity of Moses was necessary for the people, but is acknowledged by the Lord;” the Mosaic hewing of the tables holds inwardly the same character as his intercession. We may say that as the mediatorial activity of Christ is one priestly and royal, so that of Moses is a prophetico-priestly.
2. The mediating office and work of Moses appears already with the earlier law-giving. (Introduction, § 1). it is בְּיַד־משֶׁה, Ex. 32:15, בְּיָדוֹ with reference to the first tables. But it is not without significance that Moses says, in this chap., Deut 10:3, of the second tables, בְּיָדִי, after he had said, 9:15, of the first, עַל שְׁתֵּי יָדָי. If in the first law-giving the mediating activity of Moses appears more prominently with reference to God, God has so ordained, so now its aspect with reference to the people is made availing, that Israel, humanity, needs a mediation before God. This necessity was therefore also expressed through the priesthood. Comp. Exegetical explanations. Correspondingly, the first and second forty days and nights upon the mount.
3. One may ask whether this agency of Moses in the second tables, and the deuteronomic law-giving with them, designates a lower or a higher stage of the covenant? Should we look upon the human corruption which made the second tables necessary; or should we regard this, that at least this was the law in the hearts of men, that the human heart became its table, it would appear, in the first case, a lower stage, but in the last a higher, and one full of promise. But in any case it will be better to say, that deuteronomy, as the second tables, is an advance, truly, in the way in which God, through His condescension, makes us great. Ps. 18:35. (“Ubicunque enim majestatem Dei, ibi et humilitatem ejus descriptam videbis, Isa. 57:15,” BECHAI).
4. It is a fine remark of SCHULTZ, that “the miracle of the second tables is as certainly greater than that of the first, as that the divine entering into human activity is always more wonderful, although not easily made apparent, than the purely creative work.” We thereby gain an apologetic rule or measure for the outwardly unmiraculous, but inwardly more richly miraculous time of the present economy of the Holy Spirit. The miracle of redemption greater than that of the creation, and that of sanctification greater still (John 14:12). The more human the love of God, the more wonderful is it, even than His omnipotence. From the “wells” (Deut 10:6) to the “streams of water” (Deut 10:7).
5. This description of Jehovah, Deut 10:14, 17—as truly the name “Elohim”—lets the universalism shine through the background, in which the motives for obedience are set, which the particularism in the choice and leading of Israel from Genesis on, does not deny. Comp. Exeget. and Doct. upon 1:6–4:40, 4:8.
6. [BIB. COM.: “Circumcision was designed to set forth the truth which lies at the very basis of revealed religion, that man is by nature very far gone from original righteousness, and in a state of enmity to God. The peremptory requirement of circumcision as the sacrament of admission to the privileges of the chosen people, denoted that this opposition must be taken away ere man could enter into covenant with God. The peculiar nature of the rite confirms this view of its meaning. Now Moses fitly follows this command with circumcise your heart, i.e., take away, lay aside that obduracy and perverseness towards God, which is essential to your covenant, standing and privileges, 30:10; Lev. 26:41; Jer. 4:4; Ezek. 44:9; Acts 7:51.—A. G.].
HOMILETICAL AND PRACTICAL
Deut 10:1, 2. The historical and typical in the second tables of the covenant, in their distinction from the first, in their similarity, and their occasion and cause (Deut 10:2). WURT. BIB. “See here the type of our lost or broken strength, and of its renewing and completion through the Holy Spirit, who writes the ten commandments upon our hearts with His own finger, that we may war against lust, and regulate our lives in obedience to them. Jer. 31:33.” Deut 10:3, 5. The importance of the ark for these tables of the law. With the renewed covenant, as it is now continually renewed upon the intercession and out of the mercy of God, especially in Christ, it can never be true, as it was with the first covenant, that the cover of the ark should conceal the tables. Deut 10:6, 7. They go from strength to strength, every one appeareth before God in Zion, Ps. 84:7. Aaron is dead and buried, but Eleazar, i.e., God helps; is priest in His room. Yes, how gloriously God helps the meek, Ps. 149:4, since Christ also was dead, but is risen, and sits at the right hand of God, and intercedes for His people (Rom. 8:34).—RICHTER: “Aaron died many years after that sin, in a different place, from other causes, and in local and temporal circumstances full of honor. God moreover leads His people by steps from the wells to the waters.” “The geographical notices are thus gracious proofs, as on the contrary in 9:22, witnesses of sins and anger.”—CRAMER: “The word of God remains forever, and must be preached and preserved through men. Isa. 40:8; Matt. 28:19. Deut 10:8. The priestly tribe of Levi, a type for all Israel, indeed for the whole world: 1) the great problem to bear henceforth the name of the Lord; 2) the solemn duty of service before His face; 3) the blessed fruits, to be a blessing to all the world. Deut 10:9. The joyful world and self-denial of a priestly man, joyful because the Lord is his inheritance.” TUB. BIB.: “God is the believer’s portion, Ps. 73:26; Rom. 8:17. Who will compute His glory and riches? A great consolation for the pious and true preacher, Matt. 19:29.” Deut 10:11. RICHTER: “If Moses goes again before Israel to the land of promise, He gives the flock their shepherd.” BAUMGARTEN: “With this he puts his seal upon all.”
Deut 10:12. CRAMER: “The law commands nothing which nature does not require, and which all experience does not prove to be most useful and desirable.” BERL. BIB.: “Reverential fear belongs to His supreme authority and highest majesty, Mal. 1:6. It is as the door into the palace of the great king.” J. GERHARD: “Fear with love; love without fear grows slack, fear without love makes slaves, and fills with distrust.” BERL. BIB.: “In all his ways; chiefly three, of His commandments, Ps. 119:1; of faith in Christ, John 14:6, and of love, 1 Cor. 12:31; 13:1.
Deut 10:13. BERL. BIB.: “For thy good, not that the Lord has need of thee or of thine. This obedience to the commands of God in true love, embraces ourselves also, and what can truly be easier than love thyself even.” Deut 10:14, 15. The God of Israel, the Lord of heaven and earth, a lover of Israel. How heaven and earth meet in God: in love. Deut 10:16. The circumcision of the heart not first a New Testament demand, (Rom. 2:29; Col. 2:11), as stiff-neckedness is not merely an Old Testament sin. Deut 10:17, 18. What makes God the proper Judge of the world? His majesty, His righteousness, His mercy. TUB. BIB.: “Even in the Old Testament the way to God was open to those not Israelites.” LUTHER: “Thus the Lord loves the stranger. Who will now rely upon his home or paternal inheritance, although it is not to be despised! But if one must wander in exile and in foreign lands, let him not doubt, or be less trustful than if he were at home and in his father’s house.” Deut 10:19. BAUMGARTEN: “Jehovah has proved to Israel, that He has no respect to any mere external distinction and glory, since He Himself has mercy upon the forsaken stranger in Egypt, and upon the sinner in the wilderness.” Deut 10:22. The great with the small, the many out of the few, that is the way of God.
1[Deut 10:14. Lo, to Jehovah thy God, the heavens, etc.—A. G.]
2[Deut 10:18. Doing judgment, and loving, the participle in both cases.—A. G.]
At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood.