Deuteronomy 5
Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures
And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them.


The text-the decalogue, the foundation of the covenant, the kernel of the whole law, and the fundamental condition of all salvation

DEUT 5:1–6:3

1AND Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in [before] your ears this day, that ye may learn 2[and learn] them, and keep,1 and do them. The Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. 3The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive [living] this day. 4The Lord talked with 5you face to face in the mount, out of the midst of the fire. (I stood [was standing] between the Lord and you at that time, to shew [announce to] you the word of the Lord: for ye were afraid by reason of [before]2 the fire, and went not up into the 6mount,) saying, I am the Lord thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of3 bondage. 7Thou shalt have none other gods before me. 8Thou shalt not make thee any graven [idol] image, or any likeness of anything that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: 9Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the Lord thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquities of the fathers upon the children unto [and upon] the third and [upon] fourth generation of them that hate me, 10And shewing mercy unto thousands [the thousandth] of them that love [loving] me, and keep [and keeping] my commandments. 11Thou shalt not take the name of the Lord thy God in vain4 [to a nonentity, falsehood]: for the Lord will not hold him guiltless that taketh his name in vain. 12Keep the Sabbath-day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee. 13Six days thou shalt labour, and do 14all thy work; But [and] the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou nor [and] thy son, nor [and] thy daughter, nor [and] thy man-servant, nor [and] thy maid-servant, nor [and] thine ox, nor [and] thine ass, nor [and] any of thy cattle, nor [and] thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as thou. 15And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and that [om. that] the Lord thy God brought thee out thence through [with] a mighty hand, and by a stretched-out arm: therefore the Lord thy God commanded thee to keep the Sabbath-day. 16Honour thy father and thy mother, as the Lord thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee, 17, 18in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Neither 19shalt thou commit adultery. 20Neither shalt thou steal. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour. 21Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or [and] his man-servant, or [and] his maid-servant, his ox, or [and] his ass, or [and] any thing that is thy neighbour’s. 22These words the Lord spake unto all your assembly in the mount, out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and of the thick darkness, with a great voice; and he added no more5 and he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me. 23And it came to pass, when [as] ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for [and] the mountain did burn [was burning] with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders; 24And ye said, Behold, the Lord our God hath shewed us his glory, and his greatness, and we have heard his voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. 25Now [And now] therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: 26if we6 hear the voice of the Lord our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? 27Go thou near, and hear all that the Lord our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the Lord our God shall speak unto thee;7 and we will hear it [thee], and do it. 28And the Lord heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the Lord said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. 29O that there were [who will give] such an heart in them, that they would fear me, and keep all my commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their [sons] children for ever! 30Go say to them, Get you into your tents again. 31But as for thee [and thou] stand thou here by me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it. 32Ye shall observe to do therefore as the Lord your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. 33Ye shall walk in all the ways which the Lord your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days [live a long time] in the land which ye shall possess.

DEUT 6:1Now these are the commandments, [And this is the commandment]8 the statutes, and the judgments which the Lord your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go [pass over] to possess it: 2That thou mightest fear the Lord thy God, to keep all his statutes and his commandments which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. 3Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it maybe well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the Lord God of thy fathers hath promised [spake to] thee, in [om. in] the [a] land that floweth with milk and honey.


1. Deut 5:1–5. In distinction from spake, 1:1, קרא here not to show the “public nature of his discourses” (SCHULTZ) for that was already sufficiently clear, through all Israel, but the loud voice, with which Moses sought to reach all as far as possible. Gen. 49:1; John 7:37. Comp. upon 4:1. There שׁמע אֶל, because as yet introductory, but here שׁמע אֶת where the substance of the law is to be repeated, and accordingly instead of מְלַמֵּד here דּבֵר, in both cases the participle indicating the condition: as ye see and hear. שמר, to keep, is necessary both for its own conduct, and for the office of Israel among the nations (4:2, 6). [BIB. COM. “The recapitulation of the law upon which Moses now enters was suggested by the fact that the generation to which it was originally given was now dead, by the change about to take place in the circumstances of Israel, through their actual settlement in the land of promise, and by the approaching decease of the great law-giver.”—A. G.]. Deut 5:2. The peculiar character of the covenant as of God with Israel, has appeared already in a similar connection, 4:1 (Doct. and Eth. 13). The law as an intermediate step in the development of the covenant, does not essentially modify the latter (Gal. 3:17) since the law is at the same time pedagogically a promise (Gal. 3:24 sq.). The time of the promise also is not without law, the Noachic and Abrahamic preformations of the law being simply overshadowed by the promise. Deut 5:3. That which is new and peculiar in this covenant, not with the fathers (i.e., the patriarchs) but with Israel, the characteristic of the historical development is merely the greater prominence of the law, and indeed as a national code, and as a preparatory step toward the salvation of all nations. Israel now has the same significance for the whole race which the fathers had for Israel (4:37). But although the negative statement throws light upon the character of the covenant, it contains much more, which the positive statement expresses, as to its direct relation to the present generation, who are thus distinguished from the fathers. There may be a reference also to the fathers in Egypt, (CALVIN) in so far as they represent the first step in the development of Israel to a nation, whose actual existence as a nation is here prominent. And since the present Israel has escaped the judgments which overwhelmed the former Israel in death, so we seem to see the forms of the fathers, whose bones lie bleaching in the wilderness. But Moses intends to say, not the fathers, whoever they may be, but we are the people, whom it concerns, whose faith and obedience come into view (4:4). [But with us.—The original is very emphatic: with us, even us, all of us living.—A. G.] This direct relation of the covenant unto them is further shown by the manner of its conclusion: face to face (כּ instead of אל). If it is not indicated in the words used, there is in fact a great difference between the manner in which the revelation spoken of here, and that made to Moses (34:10; Ex. 33:11) was effected, and Deut 5:5 states concisely the mediatory position which Moses in forming the covenant occupied (Ex. 19:19 sq.) on account of the fear of the people. [Moses was in the mount while the ten commandments were spoken. Although they were not addressed to him in distinction from the people, yet he even then occupied a mediatory position, which became more conspicuous after the terror and request of the people.—A. G.]—Upon the word of the Lord (not the ten commandments), comp. Deut 5:24 sq.; Ex. 19:21 sq.; 20:19 sq.—לאמר refers remotely to דִבֵּר, Deut 5:4, and more nearly to דְבַּר יהוה, Deut 5:5, which takes up again the thought of דבר.

2. Deut 5:6–21. After the parenthesis, Deut 5:5, follows the decalogue as the foundation of the covenant, Ex. 20. The law, the determination for man, can only come from Him who alone and over all is self-determined, i.e. from God, and from God as Jehovah, Deut 5:6 (“the entire moral code of the decalogue roots itself in the name of Jehovah.” BAUMGARTEN). The eternally unchangeable, because He demands the obedience of faith (not simply the moral imperative), must not merely reveal Himself, but in His revelation to Israel must show Himself as the true and faithful God.—Thy God.—With this initiatory statement, which concentrates within itself the life-thought of the Israelitish nation, is closely connected the historical statement of the redemptive work already accomplished: which brought thee out, sq.—All that follows naturally addresses itself to Israel. Deut 5:7. The form of a prohibition, because with the allusion to Egypt, the apostate heathen world comes into view over against Israel, and Israel must say in its heart, not, sq., to which my heart is all too much inclined. [As the law is not alone for Israel, but universal, the prohibitory form has a deeper ground than any enactments growing out of the relations of Israel to the heathen world—a ground in the perverse inclinations of the heart as fallen, to go wrong.—A. G.] Since יִהוָה denotes the only or self-existent being, and this being is the God of Israel, there cannot be (לֹא יִהְיֶה לךָ) for Israel any other God, either in His stead (substitution in the gross forms of idolatry), or even (על) in addition to, by the side of, or over and above Him (the co-ordination in the more refined systems of idolatry), Isa. 42:8; 1 Cor. 8:4, 5. HEIDEL. CATECHISM, Question 95. It is ever another than the only true God in His revelation (פני), Deut 5:4. אַחֵר denotes a second one, following, whence in the plural form, thus polytheistically (אֶלֹהִים אַחֵרִים), contradicts the unity and exclusiveness of Jehovah; but then also as implying a being other than the being, namely, a not-being, a nonentity. Heathenism is thus pointed out as an apostacy from the primitive monotheism, or as a sickly form of the God-consciousness, Rom. 1. Comp. J. GRIMM, German Myth. I.: “All mythologies show this relation.” Upon Deut 5:8 (εἵδωλον) comp. 4:16, 15, 12.—In the heavens (4:17), i.e. of birds, although also (4:19) of the stars. The way to idolatry is marked out and enclosed instructively in the ever-deepening shades of heathenism, i.e. of the human heart left to itself. First comes the falling away from the true God; then the falling into the service of false gods. If Jehovah in the first relation is the only living God, He is also in this second reference the one who is only and purely spirit. Idolatry in one aspect is an improper multiplication of, or addition to, the idea of God, and in another an equally improper division or subtraction from it. We pass in Deut 5:9 from the idol-makers to the idol-worshippers; προσκύνησις (the believing reverence and worship), λατρεία (the practical obedience of the cultus), 4:19, 28. The transition to Deut 5:11 is thus, as becomes the living Spirit or God, from the innermost spiritual life of men to its closest and most natural expṙession in words through language. And the reason also: For I the Lord, sq., is spiritual and moral in its nature. So likewise the introductory representation of Jehovah (comp. upon 4:24) which precludes all nature-necessity, fate, and the like. And so also, although the iniquity of the fathers is said to come upon the children of the third, and even the fourth generation, still physical relations are perhaps mainly thought of in the iniquity in which they became sharers through the personal sins, and the punishment cleaves to the iniquity. Comp. 24:16.—To visit upon is to punish. לְשׂנְאִי, “those hating me, by which this feeling is designated as the adhering quality, the enduring condition of those in question. The לְ resumes again certainly the genitive אָבות; but at the same time the repeated על binds the different generations with the fathers into one organic form in their hatred against Jehovah. Indeed the parallel, לאחבי (1 John 5:3), will not admit any other interpretation (comp. Lev. 26:39, 40). As this regard to the subjective character of men does not veil the righteousness, in the holy energy of God (Gen. 18:25), so Deut 5:10 unveils the abundant, overflowing richness of the love-energy of God (Ex. 34:6 sq.). Jeremiah and Ezekiel simply correct the heathenish interpretation of the truth. Jer. 32:18 sq.; Ezek. 18. The word of the mouth to which we now pass is the most spiritual expression of the man; and thus the name of the Lord, Deut 5:11, is moreover the true self-revelation of the divine life (John 20:31), as this is for man, and offered to him, the word of God with respect to Himself, by which He legitimates Himself (Ex. 3:13 sq.: Isa. 52:6), and through which He will be sought and found (Deut. 4:7; Joel 2:32). נָשָׂא, to take, to raise up, with אֶל or לְ, the direction whither, to lift up, to aim at, desire, used of the purpose of the soul, Ps. 24:4, here of the tendency of the tongue, thus to take upon the lips, to bear in the mouth, in order to utter the name to שָוְא, nothingness, vanity, thus useless, thoughtless, then morally evil, wickedness, and thus shamefully, falsely. If the acknowledgment of Jehovah is here indicated, the sanctification of the Sabbath is the actual acknowledgment. שמר, Deut 5:12 is not more specific than זכר, Ex. 20:8 (as SCHULTZ holds), but rather the reverse, since the latter points out specifically how the former may be secured. While in Deut 5:8, compared with Ex. 20:4, the וְ is wanting before כָּל, and is found in Deut 5:9 before עַל, though not occurring in Ex. 20:5, changes of little importance, the change here from זכור to שמור, bringing out the keeping in opposition to the profaning and secularizing of the name of Jehovah, corresponds significantly to the national character of Israel, and to the design of Deuteronomy. The sanctification of the Sabbath is indeed a national confession. Over against the several nonentities with which the name of Jehovah might be mingled, Israel was bound to the time (אֶת־יוֹם), which precisely points out this manifoldness as a nothingness, because temporary and fleeting. הַשַּׁבָּת, the one who rests, keeps festival. The day is what Israel should be at the day. Thus the day is sanctified, i.e. set apart, separated from the other days.—As the Lord thy God commanded thee refers to the institution, as it is recorded Ex. 20, for as to the rest Deut 5:13 sq. accords with Ex. 20:9 sq.: so that the farther carrying out of the command does not come into view here. But since Ex. 20:11 is here presupposed, Deut 5:15 still once more emphasizes has commanded thee. Deut 5:13. מְלָאכָה from לָאַךְ (Gen. 2:2), whatever one undertakes and completes. Deut 5:14. לַיהוָֹה, to whom it is separated and sanctified.—And thy son, sq.—The state grows out of the household, the people from the family, and thus the national confession of Israel is laid open at its very roots and sources.—Nor thy ox, sq.—Particularizing, and then at last, summing up that which is generally referred to in nor thy cattle, Ex. 20:10. For גֵר comp. 1:16 and Doct. and Eth. 3. As to the connection of master and man-servant and maid-servant under the idea of rest: that they may rest as well as thou, this similar position in reference to the enjoyment of the Sabbath already intimated, Ex. 23:11, is still more expressly stated in Deut 5:15, since the remember, Ex. 20:8 (which does not call for a recollection of the Sabbath-rest of God (Gen. 2), but an inward keeping of the Sabbath-day to the very end of its sanctification, so that it shall be sanctified as commanded whenever it returns), gives at the same time a coloring and completion to the thought. The redemption of Israel from Egypt is brought to consciousness again just as in Ex. 13:3; Deut. 4:34. This demand here does not entirely coincide with Ex. 20:11, for there the עַל־כֵּן declares why Jehovah blessed the Sabbath day, and hallowed it, because He rested on the seventh day, while here on the contrary it teaches why Israel, is commanded to keep the Sabbath day instituted by God upon this ground, and rest, the man and maid-servant with their master. To the reason for the institution on the part of God there is added now a special reason for its observance on the part of the people, who therein confess that they are redeemed, and thus distinguished above all nations (4:34, 37 sq., 20). A genuine deuteronomic application of the more objective command in Ex. 20.—[So far from there being any inconsistency in the sacred writer here, the variety in the statements, confirms the genuine Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy. No later writer, designing to palm off his work as that of Moses, would have ventured upon this freedom. The appropriateness of these references to the previous condition of Israel, as motives to the observance of the Sabbath, is obvious, since the exodus was really one entrance into rest.—A. G.]—If the acknowledgment to Jehovah in fact appears here to be limited to the solemnity of a single day, Deut 5:16 removes any such limitation, and makes the whole life of the Israelite from the first father and mother down to the last, an actual and real acknowledgment of Jehovah. If כָּבוֹד designates the brightness of the divine majesty (δόξα), כַּבֵּד (Piel) puts this glory upon parents, and this is to honor them, “and this with an express extension of the command to the ‘mother’ usually elsewhere included in the personal service of the house” (BECK). Parents stand nearest to us (without considering them here merely as men by our side, our neighbors, although in this sense they are truly nearest to us among men, and hence the transition from the first to the second table), and represent the glory of God the Creator, Preserver and Ruler, with which last idea all the remaining representations of the divine glory through men are connected, e.g.Ex. 22:27.—Hath commanded thee, as in Deut 5:12, and thus calls attention to its connection with the Sabbath commandment. They are two aspects of the actual sanctification, as Jehovah is holy, and thus a confession to Him in act or deed, Lev. 19:2, 3. That it may go well with thee.—An addition of Moses, who, since he has so repeatedly referred to the first lawgiving, here allows himself this freedom. Long life, without well-being, would be a long calamity, and hence this filling up of the word of promise. “אֲדָמָח is the earth as fruitful; (אֶרֶץ, the earth in distinction from water), perhaps in reference to the individual, as ארץ in reference to the people as a whole.” After the structure of human society is thus presented not only as “leaning” (BAUMGARTEN) upon the divine sanctuary, but through that is raised to the heights of honor, even to a Sabbath state, that Israel may lead a quiet life in all propriety and honesty, Deut 5:17, now turns “against those things which in worldly policy and irreligion have been partly and by degrees endured, and partly in a certain way held as privileged destroyers of the social life, murder, adultery, theft” (BAUMGARTEN). The thought “that the divine image in man introduces the transition” (KEIL), cannot be drawn from the text. It says simply: Thou shalt not, sq., with the energetic brevity and sharpness of the commanding law-giver, judge, and avenger of every assault upon the personal life, wedded life, and property. The first, roots or plants itself in the second, and has its individual well-being in the third, so that the common thought of these three prohibitions is the personal life, as is also the idea of deeds, from which we now pass to words. The וְ is rhetorical. Ex. 20:16; a false witness, through a deceitful testimony (עֵד, the testimony or the witness), here as Deut 5:11. Correspondence between the tongue commands in the two tables! רֵעַ, according to the primary sense of the word, is the “ally, associate,” “companion, friend.” “The command directs itself against the fretting poison of falsehood in report and witness-bearing, in public fame and courts of justice, so destructive of any quiet possession and enjoyment of those goods, (i.e., those of the foregoing commands); and not content with crossing the serpent path of falsehood, as it in the affairs of life worms itself even into the halls of justice, the divine law goes still further, enters the secret workshop of the heart, and aims its blows at that selfish enjoyment and greed of gain (πλεονεξία), which in it are ever weaving their plots against other persons and interests, in which indeed not only every outrage against our neighbor, but even the ungodliness and idolatry, standing at the beginning of the decalogue, have their ground and existence (Col. 3:5; Eph. 5:3).” (BAUMGARTEN). The twice-repeated חַמַד, Ex. 20:14, expresses the more comprehensive idea, in connection with the delight in the attractive features of the object, and hence Deut 5:18, used only in reference to the wife, rhetorically interchanged with אָיָה in hithpael: more subjective desire. The personal life of our neighbor is passed over, since it offers nothing to the sinful lust, but rather the contrary, while on the other hand the wife (Ex. 20:17) comes before house, as the prohibition of adultery follows that of murder. To the house, especially in its reference to Canaan, is added in a fitting way, the field, as a parenthesis. What follows is here, as in Ex. 20, the specifying of the household state. [The diversities in the form of this command here, from that in Ex. 20:17, are all due to the “peculiar character of this passage,” or to the special object in view in Deuteronomy, when Israel was about to enter upon its possession.—A. G.].

3. Deut 5:22–33. Deut 5:22 sq. as Ex. 20:19 sq. Comp. upon 4:11, 12. קוֹל גָּדוֹלּ “accusative of the instrument, or member through which the act in performed.” GESENIUS. Ezek. 11:13. וְלֹא יסָף (Num. 11:25) and he added no more, i.e., not to speak in this way, he did it this once and not again. The decalogue is spoken directly to Israel, all the rest through Moses.—[WORDSWORTH: “The perpetuity, universality, and supremacy of the law, were marked by the circumstances of the delivery of the decalogue.”—A. G.]. Comp. 4:13; Ex. 31:18

Deut 5:24: Comp. Ex. 20:19; Deut. 3:24; 4:33, 42. We have lived to see that which has never been heard of, but not again! Thus the “no more” on the part of Jehovah, Deut 5:22, receives its explanation, though the desire for a mediator on the part of the people. Deut 5:25, Ex. 20:19; Deut. 4:24, (Heb. 10:31). For if we hear [lit. add to hear] see upon Deut 5:22. אֲנַחְנוּ: The people, in distinction from Moses, set forth the necessity for a mediator. The עוֹד serves to strengthen the declaration that the one occurrence was enough. Deut 5:26: בָשָר designates man as on account of his sinful nature, weak and frail, all his lifetime subject to fear, ever apprehending the execution of the sentence of death. On the contrary, אֱלֹהִים חַיּים God as the eternal, and His everlasting life that of the righteous and holy. As Israel is conscious that He is flesh, so God comes before him in this aspect as the living God, and thus Israel knows himself in opposition to Him. In order to hold fast hereafter this once experienced, which they recognize, Deut 5:24, truly (“with gratitude” KNOBEL?) but with fear, with anxiety for the future, with wonder, and indeed that they remained alive, they needed a mediation of this uttered opposition between themselves and God, which they found in the person of Moses; one through whom the living God becomes to them the source of life, and is still hidden from their sight (Heb. 12:18 sq.). The love, mercy, and grace of God, is included for the time in Moses. Deut 5:27. They bind themselves to obedience to that mediated revelation of God, with even “greater zeal and devotion wrought by their fear” (SCHULTZ). Ex. 19:8; 24:3; 20:19. Since now, Deut 5:28, the desire of the people meets the divine approval, in which the utterance of the desire is made prominent (the voice of your words), which they at the very least had so uttered, Deuteronomy in which Moses so speaks the law of God to the people in his name, wins the special sanction of God. Moses had already, 1:18; 4:13, intimated the same, but now, as the mediator so solemnly demanded by the people, he first becomes truly and legally the speaker of the divine laws. All that follows, although not spoken as the decalogue directly by God to Israel, has still the same authority, as the people indeed expressly recognized the words of Moses as binding. To fix and settle this position beyond any doubt, is the special object and import of this paragraph. [BIB. COM.: “The reply of God to the request of the people, Deut 5:28–31, is omitted altogether in the historical summary of Exodus. Here it is important to the speaker’s purpose to call attention to the fact that it was on their own entreaty that he had taken on him to be the channel of communication between God and them. The terrors of Sinai had done their work. They had awakened the consciousness of sin.”—A. G.].—They have well said [lit. done good] all that, sq. For the fear of God is the beginning of wisdom, and Moses as mediator is the forerunner of the Messiah. In Heb. 12:21 the mediator himself shares in the fear of the people. Deut 5:29. Emphasizes the fear of God in the people, in connection with the promise of obedience. O that, who will give, sq., may your heart, (your innermost life) be such as your words, viz., that you will have, sq. Or as Jer. 17:9, they have it not, and no one but I the Lord can give it to them, Jer. 32:39. It belongs to uprightness that the words and heart should agree; they speak right who have also right hearts.—The voice of the words (4:12) is there a form also behind the words? i.e., a habitus, (SCHULTZ). Yes, but it does not first obtain a place in this connection. Comp. 4:10, 40 (Luke 1:75). Deut 5:30. How different from 1:40! Deut 5:31. Moses’ authorization as a mediator הַמִּצְוָה singular, all that is commanded. Comp. 4:1, 5. Deut 5:32 sq. Corresponding to the following transitional exhortation. The figure of a path or way lies at the basis (2:27). The law a way of life, 6:2.

4. Deut 6:1–3. Since now according to 5:31 Moses is to teach, he makes known at once (Deut 5:1) that he has in mind and will hold fast the whole, whatever he may dwell upon singly, and by itself hereafter. Thus the method of his exhortation connects itself with what precedes, and Deut 5:4 is without question the beginning of a new paragraph. Deut 5:1. Now these are the commandments, lit., and this is the commandment, just as the law, (4:44), and then also as 4:1. Deut 5:2. Comp. 5:29. The fear of the Lord is the higher inward life of Israel, and long life and prosperity follow faithfulness to the law, and thus the law is both as to heart and conduct the way of life, 5:32 sq. Deut 5:3 makes clear already the new section, through the Hear therefore O Israel, thou and thy son, and thy son’s sons. Deut 5:2 intimates the great increase of the people, just as all the days of thy life intimates the lengthening of their days, so that the grandfather is regarded not only as living in the grandchild, but at the same time as with him. Comp. 1:11. The land sq. Either in the land (KEIL) where they should multiply, or what is more probable, connected with—as He hath promised, i.e., as SCHULTZ holds as Jehovah hath promised thee, when He promised a land, or as we may say now simply, as Jehovah has promised thee a land sq., [so essentially the BIB. COM.,—A. G.], in which all shall come to pass, since it is fitted to secure such prosperity through its own happy condition. The proverbial description of Canaan (Ex. 3:8, 17) in its fruitfulness and beauty, rests upon its rich, broad pastures, and its blooming gardens for the bees, combining the utile with the dulce: Milk and honey (Song 4:11).


1. The distinction between the covenant of God with the fathers, and at Sinai with Israel, is evident even in the signs of the covenant; there circumcision, here the passover. As the revelation to the fathers, Ex. 6:3, is described as that of El-Shaddai, so circumcision has its fundamental genetic character. The sign touches the origin of natural life; and it is the Almighty Creator of heaven and earth, who has laid the elements, sources of Israel in the fathers. The legal character or element in circumcision is evident, Gen. 17, but not only is it closely connected with the promise, but the sign of the covenant itself is pre-eminently full of promise. On the other hand, the passover has the character of development, the historical character of Jehovah. As a meal, truly, it belongs to the continuance, the recruitings of life. The praises of the redeemer-God were therein celebrated out of the past, for every present time of Israel. There was, therefore, a continuous promise in the passover. But this element of promise recedes behind the preponderating element of the law, and the law in its practical result, working the knowledge of sin, comes out prominently both in the sacrificial transaction in the passover, and still more in the fact that the lintel and door-posts must be sprinkled with its blood. Sin is thus in various ways presented or set forth and at the same time Israel’s need of reconciliation in the judgment. Thus circumcision still holds its prevailing tone of promise in Christian baptism, Mark 16:16, while the predominant legal tone of the passover appears in the Lord’s Supper, since the law reaches its end, is fulfilled in His sacrifice, and we have to remember it in an uninterrupted appropriation. Luke 22:19; 1 Cor. 11:26.

2. For the division of the commandments in the decalogue, and the progress in the thought, see Ex. 20. Here we remark only, 1) that the symbolical form, and the words of our Lord, Matt. 22:27 sq., are both in favor of the arrangement of five commands in one table; 2) that the division of the reformed church has in its favor not only that it is the oldest (Josephus, Philo, the Greek Church) that it is the New Testament division (SCHULTZ, p. 252), but also that in it the history of Israel, and the spirit and letter of the text receive their rights (SCHULTZ, p. 273); 3) and this division is in accordance with the progress in the thought, both from within outward, and then from without inward, (comp. Exeget. and Crit.) by which the beginning and the end of the whole, and the central command also form an unquestionable parallelism. (HENGSTENBERG, Beit. III., 604). [Also FAIRBAIRN’S Typology, which has a full discussion of this question.—A. G.].

3. As to the deviations in the deuteronomic text of the decalogue, V. GERLACH says: “It is remarkable that in the repetition of the ten commandments, especially of the fourth and second, we find some alterations and additions, as a proof that as in similar repetitions of the words in the word of God itself, the Spirit of the Lord works with new creative energy.” BAUMGARTEN: “That Moses does not feel himself strictly hampered, in the setting of the decalogue, engraved upon stone by the finger of God, shows clearly the great freedom of his spirit, and puts shame upon all mere honoring of the sacred letter, which is still under the new covenant, burdened with somewhat of constraint.” RANKE: “The introductory words, Deut 5:1–5, show that the law is not first given in this passage, but that it is the repetition of an earlier given, to which however a very great importance is attributed. Was not the author of Deuteronomy, who, it is conceded, had the earlier books before him, in a condition to re-issue the ten commandments, which he places at the beginning of his lawgiving, correctly, or would he not take the pains to do so? We observe in the command in regard to the Sabbath, great freedom of treatment. But from this command the manner of the discourse changes, Jehovah no longer speaks, but Moses exhorts and refers to the commands of Jehovah.” (Ex. 20:7 sq. may have given encouragement to this mode of statement). Thus he turns himself to that aspect of the command which is directed to man, to the very least among the people. The Sabbath law includes in itself good for those serving (Ex. 23:12) and this is still further unfolded in the law for the Sabbatic and jubilee year, and this element Moses raises into prominence. As he thus demands rest for the very least, he secures this result, that the Sabbath solemnity should be a copy of the creative Sabbath. The recollection of the bondage in Egypt only serves to impress the foregoing statutes which demand rest for the servant, male and female. So also in the fifth command Moses is the speaker, and at the close the speaker makes prominent that which is the more important.

4. The pre-supposed monotheism of the first table points to “that glory of God which rests upon the cradle of humanity” (NAVILLE, the heavenly Father). Polytheism is not the point of departure of a continuous progressive culture, but an apostasy which makes a restoration necessary. But the Grecian philosophy, nobly as it has served humanity, has not restored in itself the idea of God. God remains to the masses, after all the toil of the philosophic spirit an unknown God; even the salvation of monotheism, the only light in the night-shadows of the old world, is of the Jews.

5. “The Sabbath solemnity (SCHULTZ) is peculiar among the nations of antiquity to the Hebrews, who are called precisely Sabbatarii (MARTIAL), which is all the more remarkable in the universality of the reckoning by weeks.” The monument of the completed creation becomes in Deuteronomy the monument of redemption begun, as further the Sabbath remains the sign (Ex. 31:13) of the eternal saving purpose of Jehovah with respect to His people (comp. upon 4:30 and 5:19 sq.), Heb. 4:9. By so much more is it fitted to be the confession of the people of God among the nations.


Deut 5:1–4. The covenant with the fathers, and that at Sinai (Deut 5:2. CALVIN: “He commends in these words the law of God to them, because it is the greatest benefit and the highest honor to be taken into covenant by God”).—What Moses demands for the law of the Lord: 1) a universal hearing (each one by all); 2) not barely hearing, but obedience, learn, keep and do (Deut 5:1).—The Covenant at Horeb: the persons (Deut 5:2, 3), the way in which it is closed (Deut 5:4), the Mediator of this covenant (Deut 5:5). Deut 5:4. CALVIN: “The certainty of the law, from its divine origin.” RICHTER: “Moses as a type and counterpart of Christ was a Mediator (Deut 5:5, 23 sq.), but a mediator of the law for a few (Gal. 3:19 sq), while Christ is the mediator of a better, more general and eternal Covenant of Grace, Heb. 8:6; 9:15; 12:24; 1 Tim. 2:5.”

Deut 5:6–21. The ten commands in their form and contents. Deut 5:6. SCHULTZ: “Faith, which is the basis of the life, cannot be required, but only awakened. Before God commands He gives; before He demands faith, He discloses or reveals Himself to it.” J. D’ESPAGNE: “The cornerstone of the law of God, the fundamental position upon which it is reared, the soul of the first command, without which it cannot be understood, is this: Thy Saviour, the gospel at the entrance of the law.” STARKE: “Is God thine? then also all, whatever He is and possesses, all His blessedness. Thus must thou also be for God, present to Him body, soul, and all that thou art and hast, for His service and possession.” Deut 5:12 sq. TUB. BIB: “Yes, every day, hour, minute and second thou shouldst with pure heart-devotion sacrifice to thy God, raise thy heart to Him without intermission, and especially guard thyself against every work of sin.”

Deut 5:22. WURTH BIB.: “The law is perfect, and embraces all that man should do and leave undone in the service of God and of his neighbor. James 1:25; 2 Tim. 3:17.” Deut 5:25. CRAMER: “Through the law comes the knowledge of sin, Rom. 3:20; it works wrath, 4:15; 7:11 sq., and has the office of the letter Which killeth, 2 Cor. 3:6.” Deut 5:27. OSIANDER: “When the heart of man is terrified by the wrath of God, he promises him much more than he can perform in his life-time.” STARKE: “See here the nature and effect of the law. It drives us from the face of God. We look around us for the true Mediator, and find refuge in Him, 18:15, 16.” CALVIN: “This history shows how well God has cared for His Church through the preaching of the word, that it might be divinely ruled by it. We also should hear Moses and the prophets, especially the only Son of God” (John 5:45, 46). Deut 5:28. BERL. BIB.: “It were better to do as had been said. The tongue promises largely; but the heart is reluctant to perform.” Deut 5:29. BERL. BIB.: “God looks upon the heart and all the depths of the soul. Hence we are never to satisfy ourselves with rendering to Him acts of devotion, prayers, songs or attendance at church.” Deut 5:32. CALVIN: “It is only half obedience to receive what God has commanded, unless we go further, and see that we add nothing. We shall not desire to be righteous, unless we are taught in the law.”

Deut 6:1. STARKE: “So is it with our sluggish nature; we need ever to be warned and urged. The motives which Moses used are more evangelical than legal.” Deut 5:2. BERL. BIB.: “God commands nothing more than what is useful to man, and tends to his blessedness.” Fear connecting itself so closely with danger pre-supposes the higher and more mighty, whom we have to fear; and thus the knowledge of God and our own weakness, the two factors in our spiritual life. Deut 5:3. BERL. BIB.: “Observe that thou do! Who wonders not that although this runs through the whole Scripture upon every page, there is still no truth more spoken against by all sects of Christians.” Moses grieves not to repeat the same command again and again. Comp. Phil. 3:1 (Acts 20:20, 31). BERL. BIB.: “In truth it is never well with any one who does not stand well with God.” [BIB. COM.: “Thus the glory of God and the welfare of men are seen to be the grand ends he has in view. They are the ends in the law and of all obedience to it.”—A. G.]


1[Deut 5:1. Mar. more lit., keep to do them.—A. G.].

2[Deut 5:5. Lit., from the face of.—A. G.].

3[Deut 5:6. Margin and lit., servants.—A. G.].

4[Deut 5:11. Thou shalt not lift up (take) the name of Jehovah thy God to a falsehood.—A. G.].

5[Deut 5:22. Lit., did not add.—A. G.].

6[Deut 5:15. Lit., margin, and so SCHROEDER, we are adding to hear—hear further.—A. G.].

7[Deut 5:27. Our version here observes carefully and properly the distinction between אמר and דבר.—A. G.].

8[Deut 6:1. המִּצְוָה is singular. The commandment is a whole and includes statutes and judgments.—A. G.].

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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