Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.Moses repeats God’s mercies in restoring the two tables, Deu 10:1-5. Aaron’s death. Eleazar his son officiates in his stead, Deu 10:6. The tribe of Levi is separated for the priesthood, Deu 10:8,9. God hearkening to Moses not to destroy them, Deu 10:10; he is commanded to lead them towards Canaan, Deu 10:11. God requires their obedience, Deu 10:12-15. To circumcise their hearts, Deu 10:16,17. To help the fatherless and widow, Deu 10:18. To love strangers, Deu 10:19. To fear and serve the Lord for his mercies towards them, Deu 10:20-22.
At that time, When God was newly appeased by my intercession. An ark of wood; either a temporary ark for this use, till the other was finished; or the famous ark, as may seem by comparing this with Deu 10:5. It is not evident in what order these things were done, nor is it strange if Moses in this short and general relation neglect the order of time, as being nothing to his present purpose.
And 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me.No text from Poole on this verse.
And 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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth 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 in his stead.This following history comes in manifestly by way of parenthesis, as may appear from Deu 10:10, where he returns to his former discourse; and it seems to be here inserted, either,
1. Because the priests and Levites here mentioned were the guardians and keepers of the ark and tables here mentioned. Or rather,
2. As an evidence of God’s gracious answer to Moses’s prayers, and of his reconciliation to the people, notwithstanding their late and great provocation. For, saith he, after this they proceeded by God’s guidance in their journeys, some eminent stages whereof he names for all; and though Aaron died in one of them, yet God made up that breach, and Eleazar came in his place, and ministered as priest, one branch of which office was to intercede for the people. Then, saith he, God brought them from the barren parts of the wilderness to
a land of rivers of waters, Deu 10:7, a pleasant and fruitful soil. Then he adds, God separated the Levites, &c., Deu 10:8.
Object. This place seems directly contrary to that, Numbers 33:31, where their journey is quite contrary to this, even
from Moseroth to Bene-jaakan. This indeed is a great difficulty, and profane wits take occasion to cavil. And if a satisfactory answer be not yet given to it by interpreters, it ought not therefore to be concluded unanswerable, because many things formerly thought unanswerable have been since fully cleared, and therefore the like may be presumed concerning other doubts yet remaining. And it were much more reasonable to acknowledge here a transposition of the words through the scribe’s mistake, than upon such a pretence to reject the Divine authority of those sacred books, which hath been confirmed by such irresistible arguments. But there is no need of these general pleas, seeing particular answers are and may be given to this difficulty sufficient to satisfy modest and impartial inquirers.
1. The places here mentioned are differing from those, Num 33, it being very frequent in Scripture for diverse persons and places to be called by the same names, and yet the names are not wholly the same; for there it is
Bene-jaakan, and here Beeroth bene-jaakan, or
Beeroth of the children of Jaakan; there Moseroth, here Mosera; there Horhagidgad, here Gudgodah; there Jotbathah, here Jotbath. If the places were the same, it may justly seem strange why Moses should so industriously make a change in every one of the names. And therefore these may be other stations, which being omitted in Num 33, are supplied here, it being usual in sacred Scripture to supply the defects of one place out of another.
Answ. 2. Admitting these two places to be the same with those Numbers 33:31, yet the journeys are diverse. They went from
Beeroth of the children of Jaakan to Mosera, which is omitted in Numbers, and therefore here supplied; and then back again from Mosera or Moseroth to Bene-jaakan, as is there said; for which return there might then be some sufficient reason, though now unknown to us, as the reasons of many such like things are: or God might order it so for his own pleasure, and it is not impossible he might do it for this reason, that by this seeming contradiction, as well as some others, he might in just judgment do what he threatened to the Jews, Jeremiah 6:21, even lay stumbling-blocks before profane and proud wits, and give them that occasion of deceiving and ruining themselves, which they so greedily seek and gladly embrace; which is the reason given by some of the ancients why God hath left so many difficulties in Scripture.
Answ. 3. The words may be otherwise rendered,
from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan, and from Mosera; where the order of the places is not observed, as was noted before of the order of time, Deu 10:1, because it was nothing to the purpose here, and because that might be easily fetched from Num 33, where those journeys are more particularly and exactly described. For the conjunction and, that may be here wanting, and to be supplied, as it is Exodus 6:23 1 Samuel 4:7 Psalm 133:3 Isaiah 63:11 Habakkuk 3:11. And the preposition from is easily supplied from the foregoing words, as is most usual. Nor seems there to be any more reason to render it to Mosera, than from Mosera, seeing the Hebrew letter he in the end is made a part of the proper name, and therefore is not local. There Aaron died. Quest. How is this true? when Aaron died not in Mosera, but in Mount Hor, Numbers 33:38.
Answ. 1. Mosera may be a different place from Moseroth, and that may be the name of a town or region in which Mount Hor was, or to which it belonged. Or, the same mountain, in respect of diverse parts and opposite sides of it, might be called by diverse names, here Mosera, and there Hor. And it is possible they might go several journeys, and pass to divers stations, and by fetching a compass (which they oft did in their wilderness travels) come to the other side of the same mountain.
Answ. 2. The Hebrew particle scham may here note the time, and not the place of Aaron’s death, and may be rendered then, as it is taken, Genesis 49:24 Psalm 14:5 Ecclesiastes 3:17 Zephaniah 1:14. And then is not to be taken precisely, but with some latitude, as it is oft used in Scripture; that is, about that time, after a few removes more; as the words, at that time, Deu 10:8, must necessarily be understood.
From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbath, a land of rivers of waters.Either,
1. From that place, and that either from Mosera, last mentioned, or from Bene-jaakan; for relatives many times in Scripture belong to the remoter antecedent. Or,
2. From that time; for this particle sometimes notes not place, but time, as 2 Kings 2:21 Isaiah 65:20. So the meaning is, at, or about that time, as it is Deu 10:8, which being considered, may serve to clear the great difficulty discoursed upon the last verse concerning the seeming contradiction of this place and Numbers 33:1,32.
At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, to stand before the LORD to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day.At that time, about that time, i.e. when I was come down from the mount, as was said Deu 10:5; for these words manifestly look to that verse, the sixth and seventh verses being put in by way of parenthesis, as was said before. Or, if it relate to the words immediately foregoing, this may be meant of a second separation of them upon Aaron’s death; and having mentioned the separation of Eleazar to the office of the high priest in his father’s stead, Deu 10:6, he now repeats it, that the Levites who were his, as they had been his father’s servants, were separated as before, or were confirmed in their office.
To stand before the Lord; a phrase used concerning the prophets, 1 Kings 17:1 18:15, this being the posture of ministers. Hence the angels are said to stand, 2 Chronicles 18:18 Luke 1:19.
To bless in his name; either,
1. Particularly, to pronounce the solemn blessing of God upon the congregation, which was done in God’s name, of which see Leviticus 9:23 Numbers 6:23, &c. But that work was peculiar to the priests, not common to all the Levites. Or, more generally, to bless, either,
1. God, i.e. to praise him, which being a considerable part of the Levites’ work, 1Ch 16, it is not probable it would be omitted here, where their office is so particularly described. Or,
2. The people, whom they did bless by performance of those holy ministrations for the people, and giving those instructions to them, to which God’s blessing was promised and usually given; and this they did in God’s name, i.e. by command and commission from him.
Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.The Lord is his inheritance, i.e. the Lord’s portion, to wit, tithes and offerings, which belong to God, are given by him to the Levites for their subsistence from generation to generation, as inheritances run.
And I stayed in the mount, according to the first time, forty days and forty nights; and the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also, and the LORD would not destroy thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give unto them.That they may go in: this shows that God was appeased and reconciled to the people, whom therefore he led forwards towards Canaan.
And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but 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 and with all thy soul,What doth the Lord thy God require, by way of duty and gratitude to God for such amazing mercies?
To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?No text from Poole on this verse.
Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.The heaven; the airy and starry heaven.
The heaven of heavens; the highest or third heaven, 1 Kings 8:27 2 Corinthians 12:2, called the heaven of heavens for its eminency, as the song of songs, king of kings, holy of holies, &c.
The earth also, with all creatures and all men, which being all his, he might have chosen what nation he pleased to be his people.
Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.He shows that God had no particular reason nor obligation to their fathers any more than to other persons or people, all being equally his creatures, and that his choice of them out of and above all others proceeded only from God’s good pleasure and free love.
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.Rest not in your bodily circumcision, but seriously set upon that substantial work which is signified and designed thereby: cleanse your hearts from all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, which is fitly compared to the foreskin, which if not cut off, made persons profane, unclean, and odious in the sight of God. Compare Deu 30:6 Jeremiah 4:4 9:25 Romans 2:28,29 Col 2:11.
For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward:Regardeth not persons, whether Jews or Gentiles, but deals justly and equally with all sorts of men; and as whosoever fears and obeys him shall be accepted of him, so all incorrigible transgressors shall be severely punished, and you no less than other people; therefore do not flatter yourselves as if God would bear with your sins because of his particular kindness to you or to your fathers.
He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.Execute the judgment, i.e. plead their cause, and give them right against their more potent adversaries, and therefore he expects you should do so too.
Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.No text from Poole on this verse.
Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.To him shalt thou cleave, with firm confidence, true affection, and constant attendance and obedience.
He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.Thy praise; either,
1. The object and matter of thy praise, as Exodus 15:2, whom thou shouldst ever praise. Or rather,
2. The ground of thy praise, i.e. of thy praise-worthiness; he who makes thee honourable and glorious above those people whose God he is not.
Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.No text from Poole on this verse.