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.
Verse 1. - At that time. When Moses thus interceded, God commanded him to prepare two new tables of stone, and to construct an ark in which to keep them (cf. Exodus 34:1, etc.). Directions had been given for the construction of the ark before the apostasy of the people, and it was not made till after the tabernacle had been erected, nor were the tables placed in it till the tabernacle had been consecrated (cf. Exodus 25:10, etc.; Exodus 40:20). But as the things themselves were closely connected, Moses mentions them here together, without regard to chronological order.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
Verses 6, 7. - Not only did God, of his grace and in response to the intercession of Moses, give to the people, notwithstanding their apostasy, the ark of the covenant with the new tables of the Law, but he followed this up by instituting the high priesthood; and, when Aaron died, caused it to be continued to his son Eleazar. This Moses reminds the people of by referring to a fact in their past history, viz. their arrival at Mosera, where Aaron died, and Eleazar succeeded him in his office. Beeroth of the children of Jaakan (wells of the sons of Jaakan); the same place as Bene-jaakan (Numbers 33:31), probably the Horite tribe, called 'Akan (Genesis 36:27), for which, apparently, should be read Jakan, as in 1 Chronicles 1:42. Mosera; Moseroth, plu. of Mosera (Numbers 33:30). As Aaron died there, Mosera must have been in the vicinity of Mount Her. Gudgodah, Hor-hagidgad (Numbers 33:32); cave of Gidgad, a place of caves. Jotbath, Jotbathah (Numbers 33:33), a district abounding in streams, whence probably its name, Jot-bathah, pleasantness, from יָטַב, to be good, to please. None of these places have been identified. Robinson mentions a Wady cf. Ghadaghidh, a broad sandy valley diverging from the Wady es Jerafeh, in the desert of Et-Tih, and this has been supposed to indicate the site of Gudgodah; but the difference of the consonants in the two words is such as to render this identification more than doubtful. In the Arabic of the London Polyglott, גדגדה is represented by (Judjuda), which is totally different from Ghadaghidh. All the places, however, must have been in the 'Arabah, and in the region of Mount Her, or not far distant. That the places mentioned here are the same as those in Numbers cannot be doubted. The two passages, however, relate to different journeys; that in Numbers to the journeying of the Israelites from the wilderness of Sinai to Kadesh, that in Deuteronomy to the march in the fortieth year, when they went from Kadesh to Mount Her.
From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbath, a land of rivers of waters.
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.
Verses 8, 9. - Moses, here resuming the form of address, refers to the separation of the tribe of Levi to the holy service. Verse 8. - At that time; the time when the covenant was restored at Sinai, not the time when Aaron died. The appointment of the tribe of Levi for service took place in connection with that of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood (Numbers 3:4). The service to which the tribe of Levi was chosen appertained to the tribe as such, including the priests as well as the non-priestly Levites, though parts of it specially belonged to the one class rather than the other. Thus the bearing of the ark was the special duty of non-priestly Levites, the Kohathites (Numbers 4:4, etc.; 1 Chronicles 15:15); but was also, on peculiarly solemn occasions, discharged by the priests (Joshua 3:6, etc.; Joshua 6:6; 8:33; 1 Kings 8:3, 6, etc.). To stand before the Lord to minister unto him was the special function of the priests (Deuteronomy 17:12; Deuteronomy 21:5; Ezekiel 40:46; Ezekiel 44:15, 16); but as the service of the Levites was also a sacred service, they too are said to stand to minister before the Lord (Deuteronomy 18:7; 1 Chronicles 15:2; 2 Chronicles 23:6; 2 Chronicles 29:4, 5, 11, 12). To bless in his name does not mean, as some propose, to invoke the Name of God, or to praise his Name, but to pronounce a benediction or invoke a blessing on the people in his Name (cf. 2 Samuel 6:18; 1 Chronicles 16:2). This was the special duty of the priests (cf. Numbers 6:22-27; Deuteronomy 21:5; 1 Chronicles 23:13), but might also be done by others (as by David), and in this benediction the Levites might join (2 Chronicles 25:27).
Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him.
Verse 9. - (Cf. Numbers 18:20-24.)
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.
Verses 10, 11. - Moses here sums up the general result of his intercession. As at the first, he was on the mount the second time forty days and forty nights; and in response to his pleading, the Lord willed not to destroy Israel, and commanded him to resume his place as leader of the people, and conduct them to the Promised Land "This commandment and promise was a testimony that God now was reconciled unto them by the intercession of Moses" (Ainsworth).
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.
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,
Verses 12, 13. - God had showed great favor to Israel; what return did he require? Only what, without any prescription, they were bound to render - fear, love, and obedience (comp. Micah 6:8). To fear the Lord thy God (cf. Deuteronomy 6:2, 13). To walk in all his ways; to receive his truth, accept his law, and follow the course of conduct which he prescribes (cf. Genesis 18:19; Psalm 25:4, 5; Psalm 67:2; Acts 18:25, 26). To love him (cf. Exodus 20:6). "Fear with love! Love without fear relaxes; fear without love enslaves, and leads to despair" (J. Gerhard). There is a fear with which love cannot coexist - a fear which hath torment, and which love casts out as its antagonist (1 John 4:18); but the fear of God which he requires is that pious reverence which not only can coexist with love to him, but is not where love is not. And to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul. Love prompts to service. Wherever love fills the heart, it seeks expression in acts of service to its object; and where no such expression comes forth, the evidence is wanting of the existence of the emotion in the bosom (cf. John 14:15, 23; Galatians 5:13; 1 John 3:18). For thy good (cf. Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 6:24). "In serving the Lord the glory redoundeth unto him, the benefit to ourselves; for them that honor him he will honor (1 Samuel 2:30), and 'godliness hath the promise of the life that now is, and of that which is to come' (1 Timothy 4:8)" (Ainsworth).
To keep the commandments of the LORD, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good?
Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD'S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
Verses 14, 15. - To love and serve the Lord, Israel was specially bound, because of God's love to them and choice of them to be his people. He, the Lord and Proprietor of the universe, was free to choose any of the nations he pleased, and needed not the service of any, but of his free grace he chose Israel, in whose fathers he had delight, to love them (cf. Exodus 19:5). The heaven and the heaven of heavens; the highest heavens, all that may be called heaven, with all that it contains. Delight ("set his eve upon," Deuteronomy 7:7); literally, cleaved to, was attached to. "Affection, love, choice, the three moments prompting from the innermost impulses to the historical act" (Lange).
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.
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.
Verse 16. - They were, therefore, to lay aside all insensibility of heart and all obduracy, to acknowledge God's supremacy, to imitate his beneficence, and to fear and worship him. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart. As circumcision was the symbol of purification and sign of consecration to God, so the Israelites are enjoined to realize in fact what that rite symbolized, viz. purity of heart and receptivity for the things of God. This is enforced by the consideration that Jehovah the alone God, the Almighty, is mighty and terrible without respect to persons, and at the same time is a righteous Judge, and the Protector of the helpless and destitute.
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:
Verse 17. - God of gods (Psalm 136:2). Not only supreme over all that are called god, but the complex and sum of all that is Divine; the Great Reality, of which the "gods many" of the nations were at the best but the symbols of particular attributes or qualities. Which regardeth not persons; is not partial, as a judge who has respect to the condition and circumstances of parties rather than to the merits of the case (cf. Leviticus 19:15; Acts 10:34; Ephesians 6:9; Jude 1:16). Nor taketh reward; cloth not accept presents as bribes (cf. Deuteronomy 16:19; 2 Chronicles 19:7; Job 34:19; Micah 3:11).
He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment.
Verses 18, 19. - As the impartial and incorruptible Judge, God executes the judgment of the fatherless and widow, vindicates the right of the defenseless (Psalm 68:6; Psalm 146:9); and as the God of the whole earth, he loveth the stranger, helpless, and it may be oppressed, and giveth him food and raiment. Following him, Israel, as his people, were to be benevolent to the stranger, inasmuch as they themselves had been strangers in Egypt, and knew by experience what it was to be a stranger (cf. Exodus 22:20; Leviticus 19:33, 34). They were to love the stranger as God loves him, by relieving his necessities (cf. James 2:15, 16).
Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt.
Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name.
Verse 20. - Reverting to his main theme, Moses anew exhorts Israel to fear Jehovah their God, and to show true reverence to him by serving him, by cleaving to him, and by swearing in his Name (cf. Deuteronomy 4:4; Deuteronomy 6:13; Acts 11:23). Such reverence was due from Israel to God, because of the great things he had done for them, and those terrible acts by which his mighty power had been displayed on their behalf.
He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen.
Verse 21. - He is thy praise, i.e. the Object of thy praise; the Being who had given them abundant cause to praise him, and whom they were bound continually to praise (cf. Psalm 22:3; Psalm 109:1; Jeremiah 17:14). Terrible things; acts which by their greatness and awful effects inspired fear and dread into those by whom they were witnessed. For thee; literally, with thee, i.e. either in thy view or towards thee, for thy behoof (comp. Deuteronomy 1:30; 1 Samuel 12:7; Zechariah 7:9; and such an expression as "deal kindly [literally, do Madness] with," Genesis 24:49, etc.).
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.
Verse 22. - Among other marvelous acts toward Israel, was one done in Israel itself; they, whoso fathers went down to Egypt only seventy in number (Genesis 46:26, 27), had, notwithstanding the cruel oppression to which they were subjected there, grown to a nation numberless as the stars (cf. Genesis 22:17; Deuteronomy 1:10; Nehemiah 9:23).