And it shall come to pass, when all these things are come upon thee, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before thee, and thou shalt call them to mind among all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath driven thee,
Verses 1-10. - Though rejected and exiled because of rebellion and apostasy, Israel should not be absolutely or forever cast off. When dispersed among the nations, if the people should return to Jehovah their God, he would again receive them into favor and gather them from their dispersion (cf. Deuteronomy 4:29, etc.; Leviticus 26:40, etc.). Moses, looking into the future, anticipates that both the blessing and the curse would come upon the people according as they were faithful to their covenant engagement and obedient to God's Law, or were disobedient and unfaithful. But even when the curse came upon them to the full, this would not amount to final rejection; but God would, by the discipline of suffering, lead them to repentance, and then he would again bestow the blessing (cf. Nehemiah 1:9). Verse 1. - Thou shalt call them to mind (cf. 1 Kings 8:47, where the same expression is rendered by "bethink themselves"). This is the meaning here also; it is not the mere recollection of the curse and the blessing that is referred to, but a general consideration of their own condition and conduct.
And shalt return unto the LORD thy God, and shalt obey his voice according to all that I command thee this day, thou and thy children, with all thine heart, and with all thy soul;
Verse 2. - And shalt return unto the Lord thy God; retrain from the worship of false gods to worship and serve Jehovah the one true God, the God of their fathers, and the God whom as a nation they had before wet-shipped (cf. Nehemiah 1:8, 9).
That then the LORD thy God will turn thy captivity, and have compassion upon thee, and will return and gather thee from all the nations, whither the LORD thy God hath scattered thee.
Verse 3. - The Lord thy God will turn thy captivity. This does not mean will cause thy captives to return, for
(1) the verb in Kal (as it is here, שָׁב) never has the force of the Hiph.; and
(2) the returning of the dispersed is afterwards referred to as consequent on the turning of the captivity. The plural is used here as elsewhere to indicate the cessation of affliction or suffering (cf. Job 41:10; Psalm 14:7; Psalm 85:2; Psalm 126:1, 4; Jeremiah 30:18; Ezekiel 16:53). The rendering of the LXX. here is noticeable, καὶ ἰάσεται Κύριος τὰς ἁμαρτίας: "and the Lord will heal thy sins," i.e. will remit thy guilt and will deliver thee from the pernicious and destructive power of sin (cf. Psalm 41:4; Jeremiah 3:22; Jeremiah 17:14; Hosea 14:4; Matthew 13:15, etc.).
If any of thine be driven out unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the LORD thy God gather thee, and from thence will he fetch thee:
Verses 4, 5. - Consequent on this deliverance would be the gathering of Israel from all the places of the dispersion and their return to possess the land which their fathers possessed, in greater numbers than their fathers were. This last statement suggests doubt as to the literal interpretation of this prediction, for, as Keil remarks, "If there is to be an increase in the num-bet of the Jews when gathered out of their dispersion into all the world, above the number of their fathers, and therefore above the number of the Israelites in the time of Solomon and the first monarchs of the two kingdoms, Palestine will never furnish room enough for a nation multiplied like this." The reference in the following verse to a spiritual renewal suggests the inquiry whether the reference here is not to such a gathering and restoration of Israel as that which St. Paul describes in Romans 11, when the branches that had been broken from the olive tree shall be again grafted into it, and all Israel shall be saved after the fullness of the Gentiles shall be, brought in. To Moses, and indeed to all the Old Testament prophets and saints, the Israel of God presented itself as a nation dwelling in a land given to it by God; but as the national Israel was the type of the spiritual Israel, and as Canaan was the type of the spiritual kingdom of God, the full import of what is said concerning the former is only to be perceived when it is viewed as realized in the latter. Certain it is that it was on this principle that the apostles interpreted the fulfillment of the Old Testament declarations concerning Israel, of which the explanation given by St. James of Amos 9:11, 12 may be noted as an instructive example (Acts 15:15-17). If the rebuilding of the ruined tabernacle of David is to be effected by "the residue of men" being brought to "seek after the Lord, and all the Gentiles upon whom his Name is called," we need not shrink from interpreting this prophecy of Moses as referring to the restoration of Israel by the bringing in of Jew and Gentile into the one fold under the one Shepherd, the Shepherd of Israel (John 9:16).
And the LORD thy God will bring thee into the land which thy fathers possessed, and thou shalt possess it; and he will do thee good, and multiply thee above thy fathers.
And the LORD thy God will circumcise thine heart, and the heart of thy seed, to love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, that thou mayest live.
Verse 6. - The Lord will circumcise thine heart; "when thou wilt become better, God will help thereto (cf. Deuteronomy 10:16)" (Herxheimer). When Israel should return to the Lord, he would take away from them the evil heart of unbelief, and give them the new heart and the right spirit. "Qui pravis affectibus renunciat is circumcisus corde dicitur" (Rosenmüller. Cf. Jeremiah 31:33; Jeremiah 32:39; Ezekiel 11:19, etc.; Ezekiel 36:26; Romans 2:29; Colossians 2:11).
And the LORD thy God will put all these curses upon thine enemies, and on them that hate thee, which persecuted thee.
And thou shalt return and obey the voice of the LORD, and do all his commandments which I command thee this day.
Verses 8, 9. - Thou shalt return and obey; i.e. thou shalt again hearken (see ver. 9, where the same expression is thus rendered). These two verses are closely connected, the former expressing the condition on which the aspect expressed in the latter depends. They should be rendered accordingly, If thou shalt return... then the Lord thy God, etc. (comp. Genesis 42:38; Exodus 4:23, where a similar construction occurs).
And the LORD thy God will make thee plenteous in every work of thine hand, in the fruit of thy body, and in the fruit of thy cattle, and in the fruit of thy land, for good: for the LORD will again rejoice over thee for good, as he rejoiced over thy fathers:
If thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep his commandments and his statutes which are written in this book of the law, and if thou turn unto the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul.
Verse 10. - Israel would then be restored to the full enjoyment of privilege, would again enter into covenant union with the Almighty, and would be enriched with all the blessings of his favor (cf. Deuteronomy 28:11, 63); only, however, on the indispensable condition of their hearkening to the voice of God and being obedient to his Law.
For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden from thee, neither is it far off.
Verses 11-14. - The fulfillment of this condition was not impossible or even difficult; for God had done everything to render it easy for them. The commandment of God was not hidden from them; literally, was not wonderful to them; i.e. hard to be understood or to perform (see the use of the Hebrew word in Psalm 131:1; Proverbs 30:18); nor was it far off; it was not in heaven - i.e. though heavenly in its source, it had not remained there, but had been revealed - so that there was no need for any one to say, Who will ascend to heaven, and bring it down to us, that we may hear it, and do it? The idea is not, as Keil suggests, that of "an inaccessible height" which none could scale; nor is it, as suggested by Knobel, that of something "incomprehensible, impracticable, and superhuman;" it is simply a statement of fact that the Law had not been retained in heaven, but had been revealed to men. Nor was this revelation made in some far distant place across the sea, so that any need say, Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? On the contrary, it was very near to them, had been disclosed in words so that they could utter it with their own mouth, converse over it, and ponder it in their hearts (cf. Isaiah 45:19; Jeremiah 23:28; Romans 10:6). In the allusion to the sea, the representation is not that of depth (Targum Jon.), but that of distance.
It is not in heaven, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go up for us to heaven, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
Neither is it beyond the sea, that thou shouldest say, Who shall go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it?
But the word is very nigh unto thee, in thy mouth, and in thy heart, that thou mayest do it.
See, I have set before thee this day life and good, and death and evil;
Verses 15-20. - Moses concludes by solemnly adjuring the people, as he had set before them, in his proclamation of the Law and in his preaching, good and evil, life and death, to choose the former and eschew the latter, to love and serve the Lord which is life, and to shun apostasy and disobedience which are death (cf. Deuteronomy 11:26, 27). Ver. 17. - (Cf. Deuteronomy 4:19.) Ver. 19. - (Cf. Deuteronomy 4:26.)
In that I command thee this day to love the LORD thy God, to walk in his ways, and to keep his commandments and his statutes and his judgments, that thou mayest live and multiply: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
But if thine heart turn away, so that thou wilt not hear, but shalt be drawn away, and worship other gods, and serve them;
I denounce unto you this day, that ye shall surely perish, and that ye shall not prolong your days upon the land, whither thou passest over Jordan to go to possess it.
I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
That thou mayest love the LORD thy God, and that thou mayest obey his voice, and that thou mayest cleave unto him: for he is thy life, and the length of thy days: that thou mayest dwell in the land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.