Matthew Poole's Commentary
Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,Israel’s march over Jordan to possess Canaan, Deu 9:1-3. But must not ascribe it to their own righteousness, Deu 9:4-6. A rehearsal of their manifold provocations at Horeb, Deu 9:8, at Taberah, Deu 9:22, and at Kadesh-barnea, Deu 9:23.
This day, i.e. shortly, within a little time, the word day being oft put for time, as John 8:56 1 Corinthians 4:5 Revelation 16:14, within two months; for Moses spake this on the first day of the eleventh month, Deu 1:3, and they passed over Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, Joshua 4:19. Nations, i.e. the land of those nations; for that only they were to possess, but as for the nations or people they were not to possess, but to destroy them. Thus they are said to inherit Gad, Jeremiah 49:1, i.e. the country and cities of Gad, as it is there explained.
Greater and mightier than thyself: this he adds, partly that they might not be surprised when they find them to be such; partly that they might not trust to their own strength, but wholly rely upon God’s help, for the destroying of them, and, after the work was done, might ascribe the praise and glory of it to God alone, and not to themselves.
Fenced up to heaven, as the spies reported, Deu 1:28. See on Genesis 11:4.
A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!Either from the spies, or rather from common fame, for this seems to be a proverb used. in those times.
Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.Quickly; without great difficulty or long wars.
Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.Neither for thy upright heart, nor holy life, which are the two things which God above all things regards, 1 Chronicles 29:17 Psalm 15:1,2; and consequently he excludes all merit. And surely they who did not deserve this earthly Canaan, could not merit the kingdom of glory. That he may perform the word which he sware; to show my faithfulness in accomplishing that promise which I graciously made and confirmed with my oath. By which words it is implied, that this land was not given to them for the righteousness of their fathers, though they were righteous and holy persons, and much less for their own righteousness, which they had not, as it follows.
Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.Rebellious and perverse, and so destitute of all pretence of righteousness; such were the people, but there were divers particular persons amongst them truly righteous and holy, and yet even their righteousness is denied to be the procuring cause of this land.
Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD.No text from Poole on this verse.
Also in Horeb ye provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry with you to have destroyed you.When your miraculous deliverance out of Egypt was fresh in memory; when God had but newly manifested himself to you in so stupendous and dreadful a manner, and had taken you into covenant with himself; when God was actually conferring further mercies upon you.
When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:i.e. I wholly abstained from all meat and drink. Compare 1 Kings 13:8,9,17 2 Kings 6:22.
And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.Immediately and miraculously, which was done not only to procure the greater reverence to the law, but also to signify that it was the work of God alone to write this law upon the tables of men’s hearts. See Jeremiah 31:33 2 Corinthians 3:3,7.
In the day of the assembly, i.e. when the people were gathered by God’s command to the bottom of Mount Sinai, to hear and receive God’s ten commandments from his own mouth.
And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.No text from Poole on this verse.
Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:No text from Poole on this verse.
Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.Let me alone; stop not the course of my fury by thy intercession.
So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.No text from Poole on this verse.
And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you.No text from Poole on this verse.
And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes.Not by an unbridled passion, but in zeal for God’s honour, and by the direction of God’s Spirit, to signify to the people, that the covenant between God and them contained in those tables was broken and made void, and they were now quite cast out of God’s favour, and could expect nothing from him but fiery indignation and severe justice. See Poole "Exodus 32:19".
And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.I fell down, in way of humiliation and supplication, on your behalf.
For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.The Lord was very angry with Aaron, though he was only accessory, as being persuaded, and in a manner compelled, to comply with your desire.
And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.Your sin, i.e. the object and matter of your sin, as sin is taken Isaiah 31:7.
I cast the dust thereof into the brook, that there might be no monument or remembrance of it left.
And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath.No text from Poole on this verse.
Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadeshbarnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice.No text from Poole on this verse.
Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.No text from Poole on this verse.
Thus I fell down before the LORD forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the LORD had said he would destroy you.Forty days and forty nights; the same mentioned before, Deu 9:18, as appears,
1. By comparing this with Exodus, where this history is more fully related, and where this is said to be done twice only.
2. By the occasion and matter of Moses’s prayer here following, which is the same with the former.
3. By the words here following,
as I fell down at first, which show that this was the second time of his so doing.
I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.Through thy greatness, i.e. through the greatness of thy power, which appeared most eminently in that work, as is noted, Deu 9:29.
Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin:Thy servants, i.e. the promise made and sworn to thy servants, which was mentioned above, Deu 9:5.
Lest the land whence thou broughtest us out say, Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land which he promised them, and because he hated them, he hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness.No text from Poole on this verse.
Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.Thy people, whom thou hast chosen to thyself out of all mankind, and publicly owned them for thine, and hast purchased and redeemed them from the Egyptians.