Chapter Twenty One
Chapter Twenty Two
Chapter Twenty Three
Chapter Twenty Four
Chapter Twenty Five
Chapter Twenty Six
Chapter Twenty Seven
Chapter Twenty Eight
Chapter Twenty Nine
Chapter Thirty One
Chapter Thirty Two
Chapter Thirty Three
Chapter Thirty Four
THE FIFTH BOOK OF MOSES,
Moses, in the two last months of his life, rehearseth what God had done for them, and their frequent murmurings, rebellions, and constant ingratitude. He begs to enter into the land, but is permitted only to see it. He forbiddeth any communion with the nations for several reasons, Deut 8. He gives a short repetition of those sundry laws, moral, ceremonial, judicial, and military, which he had given them, from whence this book is called Deuteronomy. Then, after many exhortations, he prophesieth of Christ; afterwards he shows how matters of war are to be managed, and, giving many other particular directions with reference to duties, conditions, and persons of both sexes, he pronounceth blessings on the obedient, and curses on the disobedient: he then gives a charge for laying up and reading of the law at certain times, and every seven years to be solemnly read before all the people; he composeth a song for common use, comprising the wonderful things here mentioned: he prophesieth of Christ’s coming, and the calling of the Gentiles, seeth the land, and dieth, leaving Joshua, after he had consecrated him, to succeed.
Deut 1:1. These are the laws, counsels, and admonitions delivered by Moses from God to Israel, which are here repeated for the instruction and obligation of those who by reason of their tender years were uncapable either of understanding them, or of entering into covenant with God. Unto all Israel, to wit, by the heads or elders of the several tribes, or others, who were to communicate these discourses to all the people in several assemblies. In the plain; either. 1. In the vast desert of Arabia. But that is no where called a plain. Or rather, 2. In the plain of Moab, as may appear by comparing this with Deut 1:5; Num 22:1; Deut 34:8. Objection. That was far from the Red Sea here mentioned. Answer. The word suph here used doth not signify the Red Sea, which is commonly called jam suph, and which was at too great a distance; but some other place now unknown to us, (as also most of the following places are,) so called from the reeds, or flags, or rushes (which that word signifies) that grew in or near it; which reason of the name being common to other places with the Red Sea, it is not strange if they got the same name. Compare Num 21:14. Paran; not that Num 10:12, which there and elsewhere is called the wilderness of Paran, and which was too remote; but some other place called by the same name, than which nothing more usual. Tophel and Laban; places not mentioned elsewhere. Hazeroth; of which see Num 11:35; Num 33:17-18. And these places seem to be the several bounds and limits not of the whole country of Moab, but of the plain of Moab, where Moses now was, and spoke these words.
Deut 1:2. This is added to show that the reason why the Israelites in so many years were advanced no further from Horeb than to these plains, was not the great distance of the places or length of the way, which was but a journey of eleven days at most, but because of their rebellions, as is mentioned before and repeated in this book. Horeb, or Sinai, the place where the law was given, which is promiscuously called by both those names. Mount Seir, or Mount Edom, i.e. the mountainous country of Seir, which was first possessed by the Horims, and afterwards by the Edomites, Deut 2:12. Kadeshbarnea was not far from the borders of Canaan. See Gen 16:14; Num 13:26.
Deut 1:3. This was but a little before his death.
Deut 1:4. His palace or mansion-house was at Astaroth, and he was slain at Edrei, Num 21:33; of both these places, see Gen 14:5; Josh 13:31.
Deut 1:5-6. Of Horeb, where they continued about a year’s space, Exod 19:1; Num 10:11-12.
Deut 1:7. To the mount of the Amorite, i.e. to the mountainous country where the Amorites dwelt, which is opposed to the plain here following, where others of them dwelt. And this is the first mentioned, because it was in the borders of the land: see below, Deut 1:19-20. The divers parts or bounds of the land are here mentioned.
Deut 1:8. Before you, Heb. before your faces; it is open to your view, and to your possession; there is no impediment in the way. See of this phrase Gen 13:9; Gen 34:10.
Deut 1:9. At that time, i.e. about that time, to wit, a little before their coming to Horeb, Exod 18:18.
Deut 1:10-12. Your burden; the trouble of ruling and managing so perverse a people. Your strife; either your quarrellings with God; or rather your contentions among yourselves, for the determination whereof the elders were appointed.
Deut 1:13. Persons of knowledge, wisdom, and experience, men famous, and had in reputation, for ability and integrity; for to such they would more readily submit.
Deut 1:14-15. The chief, not in authority, which yet they had not, but in endowments for good government. And officers; inferior officers, that were to attend upon the superior magistrates, and to execute their decrees.
Deut 1:16. That converseth or dealeth with him. To such God would have justice equally administered as to his own people, partly for the honour of religion, and partly for the interest which every man hath in matters of common right.
Deut 1:17. Not respect persons, Heb. not know or acknowledge faces, i.e. not give sentence according to the outward qualities of the person as he is poor or rich, your friend or enemy, but purely according to the merits of the cause. For which reason some of the Grecian lawgivers ordered that the judges should give sentence in the dark, where they could not see men’s faces. See the same or the like phrase Deut 10:17; 2 Chron 19:6-7; Job 13:8; James 2:1,9. The small; persons of the meanest rank. The judgment is God’s, i.e. it is passed in the name of God, and by commission from him, by you as representing his person, and doing his work, who therefore will own and defend you therein against all your enemies, and to whom you must give an exact account.
Deut 1:18. I delivered unto you, and especially unto your judges, all the laws, statues, and judgments revealed unto me by the Lord in Horeb.
Deut 1:19-23. The saying pleased me well; for there seemed to be some prudence and good policy in it: but Moses could not see into their hearts, nor from what root this desire grew; but God saw it, and therefore in just judgment complied with their desire, and permitted them to do so for their trial and exercise, Num 13:1-3.
Deut 1:24. The valley, or, the brook: the word signifies both, for brooks commonly run in valleys. Of Eshcol, i.e. of grapes, so called from the goodly cluster of grapes which they brought from thence, Num 13:23.
Deut 1:25. The fruit; grapes, pomegranates, and figs, Num 13:23. It is a good land; which acknowledgment, coming from its enemies, should have prevailed with you to go in, more than their discouraging words should have beat you off, because the Lord who had given you this land, was unquestionably able to settle you in it in spite of all opposition.
Deut 1:26-27. Because the Lord hated us, and therefore designed to destroy us.
Deut 1:28. The people is greater, in number and strength and valour.
Up to heaven, i.e. to a great height. A common hyperbole, as Gen 11:4; Ps 107:26. The Anakims; the children of Anak or Enak. See Judg 1:10,20.
Deut 1:29-30. Where you were weak, dispirited, divided, raw, and unexperienced, and in a great measure unarmed, and able to do nothing against your numerous, potent, united enemies, but to stand still and see the salvation of God. And therefore now your distrust is highly unreasonable, when you have been hardened and fitted for military service by your travels, disciplined and experienced in some degree as to martial affairs, encouraged by frequent and glorious miracles for forty years together, and you are going into a country divided into several nations and kingdoms.
Deut 1:31. God bare thee, or, carried thee, as a father carries his weak and tender child in his arms, as Isa 49:22; or as upon eagles’ wings, as it is Exod 19:4, through difficulties and dangers, gently leading you according as you were able to go, and sustaining you by his power and goodness. See of this or the like phrase Num 11:12; Deut 32:10-11; Ps 91:12; Isa 46:3-4.
Deut 1:32. In this matter which God commanded and encouraged you to do, to wit, in going in confidently to possess the land. Or, in this word, whereby God promised to fight for you, and assured you of good success.
Deut 1:33-34. The voice of your words, to wit, your murmurings, your unthankful, impatient, distrustful, and rebellious speeches and carriages.
Deut 1:35-36. Caleb, under whom Joshua is comprehended, as is manifest from Deut 1:38; Num 14:30, though not here expressed, because he was not now to be one of the people, but to be set over them as chief governor. The land; that particular part of the land: compare Josh 14:9.
Deut 1:37. For your sakes; upon occasion of your wickedness and perverseness, by which you provoked me to speak unadvisedly, Ps 106:32-33.
Deut 1:38. Which standeth before thee, i.e. who is now thy minister and servant, for such are oft described by this phrase, as 1 Kings 1:2; Dan 1:5,19.
Deut 1:39. Had no knowledge between good and evil; a common description of the state of childhood, as Jon 4:11.
Deut 1:40-41. Or, ye offered yourselves, or you began, or you earnestly resolved and attempted.
Deut 1:42. I am not among you, with my powerful presence and assistance.
Deut 1:43-44. As bees do; as bees which being provoked come out of their hives in great numbers, and with great fury pursue and sting their adversary and disturber, Ps 118:12.
Deut 1:45-46. i.e. As you abode in Kadesh many, even forty days, until the spies which you sent returned to give you an account; so you also abode there many days, or a long time after, and were not now permitted to make any further progress towards Canaan.
Deut 2:1-3: Their march from Kadeshbarnea.
Deut 2:4-5: A charge that they trouble not the Edomites;
Deut 2:9: nor the Moabites;
Deut 2:19: nor the Ammonites.
Deut 2:24-37: But are encouraged to fight the Amorites: they put them to flight, and take possession of their lands.
Deut 2:1. The mountainous country of Seir or Edom. Many days, or, many years, even for thirty-eight years.
Deut 2:2-3. Towards the land of the Amorites and Canaanites.
Deut 2:4. Through the coast, or, by or near the coast or border; for they did not pass through their borders, as it is said, Num 20:21. And the particle beth doth oft signify by or near, as Gen 37:13; Josh 5:13; Judg 8:5; Jer 32:7. Thus that difference may be reconciled, which others reconcile thus, that they at first denied it, but afterwards granted it. Which dwell in Seir: these words restrain the prohibition to these particular children of Esau, for there were another sort or branch of Esau’s children, which were to be meddled with and destroyed, even the Amalekites, Exod 17:14; Deut 25:17, who were Esau’s posterity, Gen 36:12. They shall be afraid of you; but I charge you take no advantage of their fears, which you will be very apt to do.
Deut 2:5. Meddle not with them, to wit, in battle at this time.
Deut 2:6. Buy meat of them; for though the manna did yet rain upon them, they were not forbidden to buy other meats when they had opportunity, but only were forbidden greedily to hunger after them when they could not obtain them. Buy water of them; for water in those parts was scarce, and therefore private persons did severally dig pits for their particular use. See Gen 26:18; Num 21:18.
Deut 2:7. By God’s blessing thou art able to buy thy conveniences, and therefore thy theft and rapine will be inexcusable, because without any pretence of necessity. He knoweth, Heb. he hath known, i.e. observed, or regarded with care and kindness, which that word oft notes, as Ps 1:6; Ps 31:7; which experience of God’s singular goodness to thee, should make thee trust him still, and not use any indirect and unjust practices to procure what thou wantest or desirest.
Deut 2:8. Eziongaber; of which see Num 33:35, which may be either that place upon the Red Sea, 1 Kings 9:26, or another of the same name. We turned, to wit, from our direct road which lay through Edom’s land.
Deut 2:9. Ar, the chief city of the Moabites, Num 21:15,28, here put for the whole country, which depended upon it. The children of Lot; so called to signify that this preservation was not for their sakes, for they were a wicked people; but for Lot’s sake, whose memory God yet honours.
Deut 2:10. Emims; men terrible for stature and strength, as their very name imports; see Gen 14:5; whose expulsion by the Moabites is here noted as a great encouragement to the Israelites, for whose sake he would much more drive out the wicked and accursed Canaanites.
Deut 2:11-12. Objection. God had not yet given it unto them. Answer 1. The past tense is here put for the future, will give, after the manner of the prophets. 2. Things are oft said to be done when they are only resolved, or decreed, or attempted to be done, in which sense Reuben is said to deliver Joseph, Gen 37:21; Balak to fight against Israel, Josh 24:9; Abraham to have offered his son, Heb 11:17. 3. God may well be said to have given it, not only because he had purposed and promised to give it, but also because he was now about to give it, and had already given them some part of it, and that as an earnest of the whole. 4. This may be particularly understood of that part of Israel’s possession which was beyond Jordan, which God had actually given to them, that is, to some of them, for even the land of Canaan on this side Jordan was not given to all of them, but only to some of the tribes. Of the Horims, see Gen 14:6; Gen 36:20.
Deut 2:13-18. Or, to pass by the border of Moab, by Ar.
Deut 2:19-20. Which signifies men most wicked and abominable, or most presumptuous, or most crafty.
Deut 2:21. The Lord therefore will certainly do as much for his own people.
Deut 2:22-23. Caphtorims, a people akin to the Philistines, Gen 10:14, and confederate with them in this enterprise, and so dwelling together, and by degrees were probably united together by marriages or other ways, and became one people, the Caphtorims being at last swallowed up in the Philistines. See Jer 47:4; Amos 9:7. Caphtor is by the learned thought to be Cappadocia; whither these people might make an expedition out of Egypt, either because of the report of the great riches of part of that country, which drew others thither from places equally remote, or after the manner of those ancient times, or for some other reason now unknown.
Deut 2:24-25. Under the whole heaven; which is a synecdoche and an hyperbole, but is explained by the following words, which restrain the sentence to those nations that heard of them.
Deut 2:26. Kedemoth; so called from a city of that name, Josh 13:18; and called Jeshimon, Num 21:20. With words of peace; with offers of peace, which they refusing, their destruction was highly just and reasonable.
Deut 2:27. In my direct road to Canaan, from which I will not turn aside into thy fields, or vineyards, or houses;
Deut 2:28. Or, with my footmen, or with my company which are on foot; which is added significantly, because if their army had consisted as much of horsemen as many other armies did, their passage through his land might have been more mischievous and dangerous; but they were generally on foot.
Deut 2:29. Objection. The king of Edom, i.e. of the children of Esau, did not grant them passage, Num 20. Answer. They did permit them to pass quietly by the borders, though not through the heart of their land; and in their passage the people sold them meat and drink, being, it seems, more kind to them than their king would have had them; and therefore they here ascribe this favour not to the king, though they are now treating with a king, but to the people, the children of Esau.
Deut 2:30. By him, i.e. by his borders. Obstinate; unmovable and inexorable to our desires.
Deut 2:31-34. By God’s command, these being a part of those people who were devoted by the Lord of life and death to utter destruction for their abominable wickedness. See Deut 7:2; Deut 20:16.
Deut 2:35-36. Aroer was in the border of Moab, but now in the hands of the Amorites. By the river, Heb. in the river, wherewith it was encompassed, Num 21:15,28; Josh 12:2; Josh 13:9. He speaks exclusively, for this was Ar, which now was in the Moabites’ jurisdiction, above, Deut 2:9.
Deut 2:37. Of the river Jabbok, i.e. beyond Jabbok; for that was the border of the Ammonites, Josh 12:2. Objection. Half the land of the Ammonites is said to be given to the tribe of Gad, Josh 13:25. Answer. This is true of that half of it which the Amorites had taken from them, but not of the other half, which yet was in the possession of the Ammonites. In the mountains; the mountainous country of the Ammonites. Forbad us, Heb. commanded us: commanding is put for forbidding here, as Gen 2:16; Gen 3:11; Lev 4:2; Deut 4:23. The words may be thus rendered, concerning which the Lord gave us command or charge, to wit, that we should not meddle with them, as was said before. So it is only an ellipsis of the preposition, which is very frequent.
Deut 3:1: Their march to Bashan.
Deut 3:2-11: Og its king is put to flight; they possess his land;
Deut 3:12-17: which is distributed to two tribes and half;
Deut 3:18-20: who are commanded to assist their brethren to possess the land beyond Jordan.
Deut 3:21-22: Moses encourages Joshua.
Deut 3:23-25: His prayer to go into the promised land.
Deut 3:26: God grants not his request.
Deut 3:27: He gives him a prospect of it;
Deut 3:28: and bids him encourage Joshua.
Deut 3:2. Fear him not, though he be of so frightful a look and stature, Deut 3:11.
Deut 3:3-4. Argob; a province within Bashan, or at least subject and belonging to Bashan, as appears from Deut 3:13; 1 Kings 4:13; called Argob possibly from the name of a man, its former lord and owner.
Deut 3:5. High walls, gates, and bars; which may encourage you in your attempt upon Canaan, notwithstanding the fenced cities which the spies told you of, and you must expect to find.
Deut 3:6-8. On this side Jordan; so it was when Moses wrote this book, but afterward, when Israel passed over Jordan, it was called the land beyond Jordan.
Deut 3:9. Elsewhere called Mount Gilead, and Libanus or Lebanon, and here Shenir, and Sirion, and, by abbreviation, Sion, Deut 4:48; which several names are given to this one mountain, partly by several people, and partly in regard of several tops and parts of it, whence Shenir and Hermon are mentioned as distinct places, Song 4:8.
Deut 3:10. Gilead is sometimes taken largely for all the Israelites’ possessions beyond Jordan, and so it comprehends Bashan, but here more strictly for that part of it which lies in and near Mount Gilead, and so it is distinguished from Bashan and Argob.
Deut 3:11. The other giants of Bashan were destroyed before; and therefore when Og was killed, the Israelites’ work was done. In Rabbath of the children of Ammon; where it might now be, either because the Ammonites in some former battle with Og had taken it as a spoil; or because after Og’s death the Ammonites desired to have this monument of his greatness, and the Israelites permitted them to carry it away to their chief city. After the cubit of a man, to wit, of ordinary stature. So his bed was four yards and a half long, and two yards broad.
Deut 3:12-14. Geshuri, or Geshurites, a people towards the north of Canaan, 2 Sam 3:3; 2 Sam 15:8. See also Josh 13:13. Maachathi; of whom see 2 Sam 3:3; 2 Sam 10:6. Unto this day: this must be put among those other passages which were not written by Moses, but added by those holy men who digested the books of Moses into this order, and inserted some very few passages to accommodate things to their own time and people.
Deut 3:15. i.e. The half part of Gilead, as appears from Deut 3:12-13. See on Num 32:40. Unto Machir, i.e. unto the children of Machir son of Manasseh, for Machir was now dead.
Deut 3:16. Half the valley, or rather to the middle of the river; for the word rendered half signifies commonly middle; and the same Hebrew word signifying both a valley and a brook or river, it seems more reasonable to understand it of a river, as the same word is here rendered in the next foregoing clause of this verse, than of a valley, which was not mentioned before, especially seeing there is here an article added which seems to be emphatical, and to note that river, to wit, now mentioned. Add to this, that there was no such valley, much less any half valley, belonging both unto the Reubenites and Gadites. But according to the other translation the sense is plain and agreeable to the truth, that their land extended from Gilead unto Aroer, and, to speak exactly, to the middle of that river; for as that river was the border between them and others, so one half of it belonged to them, as the other half did to others. And that this is no subtle device, as some may think it, but the truth of the thing, and the real meaning of the place, will appear by comparing this place with two others: 1. With Josh 12:2, where the same thing is expressed in the same words in the Hebrew which are here, though our translators render the selfsame words there from the middle of the river, which here they render half of the valley; and where the bounds of Sihon’s kingdom, which was the same portion there mentioned as given to Reuben and Gad, are thus described, from Aroer, which is upon the bank of the river of Arnon, and from the middle of the river, and from half Gilead, even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon. 2. With Deut 2:36, From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from the city that is by the river, or rather, as the Hebrew hath it, in the river, i.e. from Ar, which was the chief city of the Moabites, and therefore denied to the Israelites, as is here implied, and more fitly expressed, Deut 2:9, which city was seated in an island in the middle of the river. So that here we have a just and full reason why the border of this land given to Reuben and Gad is so nicely and critically described there, even to the middle of a river, which although in truth and strictness it be the bound of those lands which are divided by a river, yet is not usually expressed in the description of borders, either in Scripture or other authors, because here was an eminent city of the Moabites in the middle of this river, which by this curious and exact description is excepted from their possession, as God would have it to be. And the border even unto the river Jabbok: the meaning seems to be this, and the border, to wit, of their land, was, which verb substantive is commonly understood, or went forth, (as the phrase is, Josh 15:6-7, etc.,) from thence, to wit, from the river Arnon, even unto the river Jabbok, for so indeed their border did proceed. Which is the border of the children of Ammon. Objection. This was the border between them and the Manassites, as is evident, and therefore not the border of the Ammonites. Answer. It bordered upon the Manassites in one part, and upon the Ammonites in another part, to wit, in that part which is remoter from Jordan, and so both are true.
Deut 3:17. The plain; the low country towards Jordan. Chinnereth; of which see on Num 34:11; Josh 12:3. The sea of the plain, i.e. that salt sea, as it here follows, which before that dreadful conflagration was a goodly plain, called the plain of Jordan, Gen 13:10. Ashdothpisgah; the proper name of a city, of which Josh 13:20.
Deut 3:18. I commanded you, to wit, the Reubenites and Gadites, mentioned Deut 3:16, to whom he now turns his speech by an apostrophe. Meet for the war; in such number as your brethren shall judge necessary. See Josh 1:14; Josh 4:13.
Deut 3:19-20. Rest; a peaceable and fixed possession.
Deut 3:21-25. For he supposed God’s threatening might be conditional and reversible, as many others were. That goodly mountain, or, that blessed mountain, which the Jews not improbably understand of that mountain on which the temple was to be built. For as Moses desired and determined to prepare an habitation for God, Exod 15:2, and knew very well that God would choose a certain place for his habitation, and to put his name there, Deut 12:5; so he also knew that it was the manner both of the true worshippers of God and of idolaters to worship their God in high places, and particularly that Abraham did worship God in the mount of Moriah, Gen 22:2, and therefore did either reasonably conjecture that God would choose some certain mountain for the place of his habitation, or possibly understood by revelation that in that very mount of Moriah, where Abraham performed that eminent and glorious act of worship, there also the children of Abraham should have their place of constant and settled worship. This he seems to call that mountain, emphatically and eminently, that which was much in Moses’s thoughts, though not in his eye, and the blessed (as the Hebrew tob oft signifies) or the goodly mountain. Or, the mountain may be here put for the mountainous countries, as that word is oft used, as Gen 36:9; Num 13:29; Num 23:7; Deut 1:7; Josh 10:6; Josh 11:16,21, etc. And it is known that a great part of the glory and beauty and profit of this country lay in its hills or mountains. See Deut 11:11; Deut 33:15. And that goodly mountain may by an enallage of the number be put for those goodly mountains in Canaan, which were many. Thus also he proceeds gradually in this desire and description, and prays that he may see in general the good land that is beyond Jordan, and then particularly the goodly mountains of it, and especially that famous mount of Lebanon, which was so celebrated for its tall and large cedars, and other trees and excellent plants. See Ps 29:5; Ps 104:16; Isa 2:13; Isa 14:8.
Deut 3:26. For your sakes; by occasion of your sins, which provoked me to unadvised words and carriages, Ps 106:32-33. See Num 20:12; Deut 31:2; Deut 34:4. Let it suffice thee that this is my pleasure and unalterable resolution. Compare 2 Cor 12:8-9.
Deut 3:27. Pisgah; of which see on Num 27:12. Lift up thine eyes towards the land of Canaan and its several quarters.
Deut 3:28. Charge Joshua; give him commission and authority, and a command to execute his trust, and conduct the people. Strengthen him with exhortations and promises, and assurances of my presence and help, and of good success. He shall go over: it was not Moses, but Joshua or Jesus, that was to give the people rest, Heb 4:8.
Deut 3:29. The house or temple of Peor, or of Baalpeor, of which see Num 25:3, whence this place or city had its name.
Deut 4:1-13: An exhortation to obey the law;
Deut 4:14-24: and warning against idolatry;
Deut 4:25-28: from the mischief of it upon themselves and children;
Deut 4:29-31: God’s promise upon their repentance;
Deut 4:32-40: and from God’s wonders towards them.
Deut 4:41-43: Cities of refuge are appointed.
Deut 4:1. The statutes; the laws which concern the worship and service of God. The judgments; the laws concerning your duties to men. So these two comprehend both tables, and the whole law of God.
Deut 4:2. Ye shall not add, by devising other doctrines or ways of worship than what I have taught or prescribed; see Num 15:39-40; Deut 12:8,32; 1 Kings 12:33; Prov 30:6; Matt 15:9; for this were to accuse me of want of wisdom or care or faithfulness in not giving you sufficient instructions for my own service. Neither shall ye diminish, by rejecting or neglecting any thing which I have commanded, though it seem never so small.
Deut 4:3-6. For though the generality of heathen people in the latter and degenerate ages of the world, did, through inveterate prejudices, and for their own lusts and interest, condemn the laws of the Hebrews as foolish and absurd, yet it is most certain that divers of the wisest heathens did highly approve of them, so far that they made use of divers of them, and translated them into their own laws and constitutions; and Moses, the giver of these laws, hath been mentioned with great honour for his wisdom and learning by many of them. And particularly the old heathen oracle expressly said, that the Chaldeans or Hebrews, who worshipped the uncreated God, were the only wise men.
Deut 4:7. God nigh unto them, by glorious miracles, by the pledges of his special presence, by the operations of his grace, and particularly, as it here follows, by his readiness to hear our prayers, and to give us those succours which we call upon him for.
Deut 4:8. Whereby he implies that the true greatness of a nation doth not consist in pomp or power, or largeness of empire, as commonly men think, but in the righteousness of its laws.
Deut 4:10. Some of them stood in Horeb in their own persons, though then they were but young; the rest stood then in the loins of their parents, in whom they may well be said to stand there, because they are said to have entered into covenant with God, because their parents did so in their name and for their use.
Deut 4:11. Flaming up into the air, which is oft called heaven; and the midst or the heart of it is not only that which is strictly and properly the middle part, but that which is within it, though but a little way, in which sense places or persons or things are said to be in the heart of the sea, Exod 15:8; Prov 23:34; Ezek 28:2; and Christ in the heart of the earth, Matt 12:40.
Deut 4:12. i.e. No resemblance or representation of God, whereby either his essence or properties or actions were represented, such as were usual among the heathens.
Deut 4:13-14. Statutes and judgments, i.e. the ceremonial and judicial laws, which are here distinguished from the moral, or the ten commandments, Deut 4:13.
Deut 4:15. By which caution he insinuates man’s great proneness to the worship of images.
God, who in other places and times did appear in a similitude, in the fashion of a man, now in this most solemn appearance, when he comes to give eternal laws for the regulation and direction of the Israelites in the worship of God, and in their duty to men, he purposely avoids all such representations, to show that he abhors all worship of images, or of himself by images of what kind soever, as it here follows, Deut 4:16-19, because he is the invisible God, and cannot be represented by any visible image. See Isa 40:18; Acts 17:29.
Deut 4:16. i.e. Lest ye corrupt your minds with mean and carnal thoughts of God. Or, corrupt your ways or courses, by worshipping God in a corrupt manner, or by falling into idolatry. A graven image, to wit, for worship, or for the representation of God, as it is explained Deut 4:19, for otherwise it was not simply unlawful to draw the picture or make a figure of a man or a beast.
Deut 4:17. Whereby the heathen nations did represent and worship God, some by an ox, some by a goat, or a hen, or a serpent, or a fish, etc.
Deut 4:18-19. Driven to worship them, i.e. strongly inclined, and in a manner constrained, partly by the glory of these heavenly bodies, which may seem to be made for higher purposes than to enlighten this lump of earth; partly from that natural propension which is in men to idolatry. Or, shouldest be driven or thrust, to wit, out of the way of the Lord, (as it is more fully expressed, Deut 13:5) or be seduced, or led aside, as silly sheep easily are, and worship them. Or, shouldest be cast down, or throw down thyself and worship them, i.e. worship them by falling down before them. Unto all nations, which are not gods, but creatures, made not for the worship, but for the use of men, yea, of the meanest and most barbarous people under heaven, and therefore cannot without great absurdity be worshipped, especially by you who are so much advanced above other nations in wisdom and knowledge, and in this, that you are my peculiar people.
Deut 4:20. i.e. The furnace wherein iron and other metals are melted, to which Egypt is fitly compared, not only for the torment and misery which they there endured, but also because they were thoroughly tried and purged thereby, as metals are by the fire. A people of inheritance; his peculiar possession from generation to generation. See Exod 19:5; Deut 7:6; Titus 2:14. And therefore for you to forsake God, and worship idols, will be not only wickedness and madness, but most abominable ingratitude.
Deut 4:21. God hath granted you the favour which he denied to me, which greatly increaseth your obligation to God.
Deut 4:22-23. Or, commanded thee, to wit, not to do, which is easily understood by comparing this place with Exod 20:4-5, and with Gen 3:11, where this phrase is fully expressed. See more on Lev 4:2; Deut 2:37.
Deut 4:24. A consuming fire; a just and terrible God, who, notwithstanding his special relation to thee, will severely punish and destroy thee if thou provokest him by idolatry, or other ways. A jealous God, who being espoused to thee, will be highly incensed against thee, (if thou followest after other lovers, or committest whoredom with idols,) and will bear no rival or partner.
Deut 4:25. In the sight of the Lord: these words are here added, either, 1. As a caution. Your idolatry, though possibly secretly and cunningly managed, will not be hid from him; he sees it, and he will punish it. Or, 2. To aggravate their spiritual whoredom, as being committed in the sight and presence of their Lord and Husband, whose eye is alone peculiarly upon them in all their ways, than it is upon other people. Or, 3. By way of opposition unto men’s judgment. Idolatry ofttimes seems good, and reasonable, and religious in the eyes of men, but, saith he, it is evil in the eyes of the Lord, whose judgment is most considerable.
Deut 4:26. Heaven and earth; either, 1. Figuratively, i.e. God, and angels, and men. Or rather, 2. Properly; it being usual in Scripture to call in the senseless creatures as witnesses in such cases, as Deut 32:1; Isa 1:2; Jer 2:12.
Deut 4:27-28. i.e. Idols. You shall be compelled by men, and given up by me to idolatry. So that very thing which was your choice shall be your punishment; it being just and usual for God to punish one sin by giving them up to another, as is manifest from Rom 1:24-25.
Deut 4:29. If thou seek him; if thou desirest his help and favour. See Deut 30:2; Isa 45:6. With all thy heart, i.e. sincerely and fervently.
Deut 4:30. In the latter days; either in general, in succeeding ages and generations; or particularly, in the days of the Messias, which are commonly called in Scripture the latter, or last days, as Isa 2:2; Hos 3:5; Mic 4:1; Dan 2:44; Heb 1:2; Heb 9:26. And so this may respect the conversion and redemption of the Jewish nation even in those times when their case seems most desperate, when they have forsaken their God and rejected their Messias for many ages, to wit, towards the end of the world.
Deut 4:31. i.e. Made with thy fathers, including their posterity, as Gen 17:7.
Deut 4:32. From the one side of heaven, i.e. of the earth under heaven. Ask all the inhabitants of the world. Compare Matt 24:31, with Mark 13:27.
Deut 4:33. i.e. And was not overwhelmed and consumed by such a glorious appearance. See Exod 24:11; Exod 33:20
Deut 4:34. By temptations; by tribulations and persecutions, which are commonly called temptations, which are here fitly mentioned as one great occasion first of their cries unto God, and then of God’s coming for their rescue. Or, temptations is the general title, which is explained by the following particulars, signs and wonders, etc., which are called temptations, because they were trials both to the Egyptians and Israelites, whether thereby they would be induced to believe and obey God or no. Great terrors, raised in the minds of the Egyptians, as the history showeth; compare Deut 2:25; Deut 34:12; or by terrible things done among them.
Deut 4:35-36. Out of heaven, i.e. out of the air, above Mount Sinai. See Exod 19:9; Exod 20:18,22. Upon earth; at the top of Mount Sinai.
Deut 4:37. In his sight; keeping his eye fixed upon him, as the father doth on his beloved child. Or, with his presence, i.e. he did not send them forth by Moses, but he himself was present with them, and as it were marched along with them, in the pillar of cloud and fire.
Deut 4:38-41. As God had commanded him, Num 35:6,14
Deut 4:42-44. Which hath been generally intimated already, but is more particularly and punctually expressed in the following chapter, to which these words are a preface.
Deut 5:1-5: God, upon Mount Horeb, makes a covenant with Israel.
Deut 5:6-22: The covenant or ten commandments is delivered to Moses in two tables.
Deut 5:23-27: The Israelites desire that not God, but Moses, may speak to them;
Deut 5:28-31: which God approves of.
Deut 5:32-33: Moses exhorts them to obedience, with a promise of life.
Deut 5:1. Moses called all Israel, to wit, by their elders, who were to impart it to the rest.
Deut 5:2-3. With our fathers; either, 1. Not only with them, the word only being here understood, as it is Gen 32:28; Gen 35:10; 1 Sam 8:7; Jer 7:19; Jer 31:34; Matt 9:13. Or, 2. Not at all with them. But then the word covenant is not here to be taken for the covenant of grace in general, for so it was made with their fathers, Exod 2:24, but for this particular and mixed dispensation of the covenant at Sinai, as appears both by the foregoing and following words. All of us here alive this day: he saith not, that all who made that covenant at Sinai are now alive, for many of them were dead, but that this covenant was made with all that are now alive, which is most true, for it was made with the elder sort of them in their own persons, and with the rest in their parents, who did covenant for them; for this phrase, with us, is put exclusively as to their fathers, but not as to their posterity, as is evident from the nature of the covenant, Acts 2:39, and course of the story.
Deut 5:4. Not in a visible shape, which was utterly denied, Deut 4:12,15; but personally and immediately, not by the mouth or ministry of Moses; plainly and certainly, as when two men talk face to face; freely and familiarly, so as not to overwhelm and confound you. Compare Exod 33:11; Num 12:8.
Deut 5:5. As a mediator or messenger between you, according to your desire, below, Deut 5:27. Compare Exod 19:16, etc.; Exod 20:19; Gal 3:19. The word of the Lord; not the ten commandments, which God himself uttered, but the following statutes and judgments.
Deut 5:6. The ten commandments, delivered Exod 20, are here repeated with some small difference of words, but the sense is perfectly the same, and therefore the explication of them must be fetched thence.
Deut 5:7-12. Keep the sabbath day, to wit, in mind and memory, as it is Exod 20:8. As God hath commanded thee, to wit, in Exod 20, whither he directs them, and therefore he here omits the argument of the creation, which is urged there.
Deut 5:13-15. Remember that thou wast a servant, and therefore art highly obliged both to serve that God who redeemed thee, especially upon his own day, and not to grudge thy servants their rest upon that day.
Deut 5:16-21. In Exod 20, the order is contrary, and thy neighbour’s house is put before his wife, whereby it is evident that Moses intended this but for one commandment, wherein the order of the words was an inconsiderable circumstance; for if this were two commandments, as some would have it, it would be altogether uncertain which is the ninth, and which the tenth commandment, seeing the one is first, Exod 20, and the other here.
Deut 5:22. He added no more; he ceased for that time to speak immediately, and with that loud voice unto the people, for the rest were delivered to Moses, and by him communicated to the people. This he did to show the preeminence of that law above the rest, and its everlasting obligation.
Deut 5:23-25. Why should we die? for though God hath for this season kept us alive to our admiration, yet we shall never be able to endure any further discourse from him in such a terrible manner, but shall certainly sink under the burden of it. Compare Gen 16:13; Judg 6:22.
Deut 5:26. Flesh is here put for man in his frail, corruptible, and mortal state, as Matt 16:17; 1 Cor 15:50; Eph 6:12; Heb 2:14.
Deut 5:27-29. Heb. Who will give them such an heart? This is spoken of God after the manner of men, to show that such a heart is desirable to him, and required by him; otherwise it is certain that God can give such a heart, and hath promised to give it, Jer 32:40; Ezek 36:27. And if God will work, who can hinder him? Job 11:10.
Deut 5:30-32. Neither by superstitious additions to God’s commands, nor by a bold or profane rejection or contempt of any one of them.
Deut 6:1-2: The end of the commandment, obedience.
Deut 6:3: He exhorts them thereto.
Deut 6:4: The unity of the Divine essence asserted.
Deut 6:5: The duty required of the Israelites;
Deut 6:5-6: to love God;
Deut 6:7: and teach their children;
Deut 6:8-9: to use signs, as memorials of it.
Deut 6:10-12: Not to forget God in prosperity.
Deut 6:13-15: Not to worship other gods.
Deut 6:16: Not to tempt God;
Deut 6:17: but keep his commandments;
Deut 6:20-25: and to transmit the knowledge of God’s works to their posterity.
Deut 6:1-2. That thou mightest fear the Lord, which he hereby implies to be the first principle of true obedience.
Deut 6:3-4. One in essence, and the only object of our worship.
Deut 6:5. Now he shows another spring or principle of sincere obedience to God, even hearty love to God, which will make his work and service easy; and that the fear he mentioned before, Deut 6:2, was such as would consist with love to God, and not that slavish fear and honour which produceth hatred.
Deut 6:6. i.e. In thy mind to remember them, and meditate upon them, and in thy affection to love and pursue them.
Deut 6:7. Teach them diligently, Heb. whet, or sharpen them, so as they may pierce deep into their hearts. This metaphor signifies the manner of instructing them, that it is to be done diligently, earnestly, frequently, discreetly, and dexterously.
Deut 6:8. Thou shalt give all diligence, and use all means, to keep them in thy remembrance, as men ofttimes bind something upon their hands, or put it before their eyes, to prevent forgetfulness of a thing which they much desire to remember: compare Prov 3:3; Prov 6:21; Prov 7:3. See the notes on Exod 13:16.
Deut 6:9-13. When thou hast a call and just cause to swear. By his name, understand only, as Deut 5:2, not by idols, or any creatures.
Deut 6:14-15. Among you, Heb. in the midst of you, to see and observe all your ways and your turnings aside to other gods.
Deut 6:16. i.e. Not provoke him, as the following instance explains. Sinners, especially presumptuous sinners, are oft said to tempt God, i.e. to make a trial of God, whether he be what he pretends to be, so wise as to see their sins, so just and true and powerful as to take vengeance on them for their sins, concerning which they are very apt to doubt because of the present impunity and prosperity of many such persons. See Num 14:22; Ps 78:18; Matt 4:7; Acts 5:9.
Deut 6:17-18. Not that which is right in thine own eyes, as many superstitious and sinful practices seem right and good to evil-minded men. Let God’s will and word, and not thine own fancy or invention, be thy rule in God’s service. Good actions are oft said to be right in God’s sight, as Jer 34:15; Acts 4:19; and evil actions are oft said to be right in our own eyes, as Deut 12:8; Judg 17:6.
Deut 6:19-24. The benefit of obedience is ours, not God’s Job 35:7 and therefore our obedience is highly reasonable, and absolutely necessary.
Deut 6:25. Heb. righteousness shall be to us. We shall be owned and pronounced by God to be truly righteous and holy persons, if we sincerely obey him, otherwise we shall be declared to be unrighteous and ungodly persons, and all our profession of religion will appear to be in hypocrisy. Or, mercy shall be to us, or with us. For as the Hebrew word rendered righteousness is very oft put for mercy, as Ps 24:5; Ps 36:10; Ps 51:14; Prov 10:2; Prov 11:4; Dan 9:16, etc.; so this sense seems best to agree both with the Scripture use of this phrase, in which righteousness, seldom or never, to my remembrance, but grace or mercy frequently, is said to be to us or with us, as 2 Sam 15:20; Ps 89:24; Prov 14:22; Gal 6:16; 2 John 3; and with the foregoing verse and argument, God, saith he, Deut 6:24, commanded these things for our good, that he might preserve us alive, as it is this day. And, saith he in this verse, this is not all; for as he hath done us good, so he will go on to do us more and more good, and God’s mercy shall be to us, or with us, in the remainder of our lives, and for ever, if we observe, etc.
Deut 7:1: Israel is commanded to cast out the Hittites, the Perizzites, etc.
Deut 7:2-3: All communion with them forbidden,
Deut 7:4: for fear of idolatry.
Deut 7:5: They must ruin the places of idolatry.
Deut 7:6: The Israelites’ holiness and relation to God.
Deut 7:9: His faithfulness to the obedient;
Deut 7:10: and vengeance on them that hate him.
Deut 7:12-16: The advantages of obedience.
Deut 7:17-24: God encourages them, and promises to drive out the nations before there.
Deut 7:25: They are commanded to destroy their images;
Deut 7:26: and keep themselves clean from their cursed things.
Deut 7:1. There were ten in Gen 15:19-21; but this being some hundreds of years after that, it is not strange if three of them were either destroyed by foreign or domestic wars, or by cohabitation and marriage united with and swallowed up in some of the rest.
Deut 7:2. No covenant with them, to spare them, or permit them to dwell with thee in the land. Other nations had more favour, but these were for their great wickedness, and for the good of Israel, devoted to utter destruction.
Deut 7:3-4. i.e. There is manifest danger of apostacy and idolatry from such matches; which reason doth both limit the law to such of these as were unconverted, otherwise Salmon married Rahab, Matt 1:5, and enlarge it to other idolatrous nations, as appears from 1 Kings 11:2; Ezra 9:2; Neh 13:23.
Deut 7:5. Idolaters planted groves about the temples and altars of their gods. Hereby God designed to take away whatsoever might bring their idolatry to remembrance, or occasion the reviving of it.
Deut 7:6-7. To wit, at that time when God first declared his love to you, and choice of you for his peculiar people, which was done to Abraham. For Abraham had but one son concerned in this choice and covenant, to wit, Isaac, and that was in his hundredth year; and Isaac was sixty years old ere he had a child, and then they had only two children; and though Jacob had twelve sons, yet it was a long time ere they made any considerable increase. Nor do we read of any great multiplication of them till after Joseph’s death, Exod 1:6-7.
Deut 7:8. Because the Lord loved you, i.e. because it pleased him to love you; it was his free choice, without any cause or motive on your part. Compare Deut 10:15; 1 Sam 12:22; Ps 44:3.
Deut 7:9. The faithful God; true to his word, and constant in performing all his promises.
Deut 7:10. Them that hate him; not only those who hate him directly and properly, (for so did few or none of the Israelites, to whom he here speaks,) but those who hate him by construction and consequence; those who hate and oppose his people, and word, and image, those who presumptuously and wilfully persist in the breach of God’s commandments, as appears from Deut 7:9, where the love of God, to which this hatred is opposite, is described and expressed by the keeping of his commandments. To their face, i.e. openly, and so as they shall see it, and not be able to avoid it. He will not be slack, to wit, so as some men count slackness, 2 Pet 3:9, so as to delay it beyond the fit time or season for vengeance; yet withal he is longsuffering, and slow to anger, as that and other places inform us.
Deut 7:11-12. i.e. The covenant of mercy or grace, which he out of his own mere grace made with them. A figure called hendiaduo.
Deut 7:13. He will love thee; he will continue to love thee, and to manifest his love to thee, he will not repent of his love to thee.
Deut 7:14-15. The evil diseases of Egypt; such as the Egyptians were infested with, either commonly, as that botch, Deut 28:27; or miraculously and extraordinarily, from the hand of the Lord, as Exod 9:10,15. Compare Exod 23:25; Ps 105:37.
Deut 7:16. An occasion of sin and utter destruction. See Exod 23:33; Exod 34:12; Judg 2:3.
Deut 7:17-18. Well remember, Heb. remembering remember, i.e. remember it frequently, considerately, practically, and for thy encouragement; for men are said to forget those things which they do not remember to good purpose.
Deut 7:19. The great temptations; the trials and exercises of thy faith and obedience to my call and commands. So shall the Lord do; so as he did to Pharaoh and his people, mentioned Deut 7:18.
Deut 7:20. The hornet; of which see on Exod 23:28.
Deut 7:21-22. Or, thou shalt not be able to consume them at once, i.e. in an instant. I will not assist thee with my omnipotency, to crush them in a moment, but will bless thee in the use of ordinary means, and destroy them successively by several battles.
Deut 7:23-24. This promise is made upon condition of their performance of their duty, which they neglecting, they justly lose the benefit of it, as we see, Judg 2:1-3.
Deut 7:25. That is on them, wherewith the idols are covered or adorned, nor consequently any other of their ornaments. This he commands to show his utter detestation of idolatry, and to cut off all occasions of it.
Deut 7:26. A cursed thing, i.e. devoted to utter destruction, as that was. See Josh 7:11,21,24, etc.
Deut 8:1: Israel is exhorted to obedience,
Deut 8:2-6: and to remember God’s judgments and mercies.
Deut 8:7-9: The excellency of the land they were going into.
Deut 8:10-16: Not to forget the Lord in their fulness and prosperity;
Deut 8:17: nor ascribe their wealth to their own power,
Deut 8:18: but to God.
Deut 8:19-20: God threatens to destroy idolaters.
Deut 8:1. That ye may live, i.e. live comfortably and happily, as life is oft taken, as Gen 17:18; Prov 3:2; as, on the contrary, troubles or afflictions are called death, Exod 10:17; 2 Cor 11:23.
Deut 8:2. All the way, i.e. all the events which befell thee in the way, the miraculous protections, deliverances, provisions, instructions which God gave thee; and withal the frequent and severe punishments of thy disobedience. To know what was in thine heart, i.e. that thou mightest discover to thyself and others that infidelity, inconstancy, hypocrisy, apostacy, rebellion, and perverseness, which lay hid in thy heart; the discovery whereof was of singular use, both to them and to the church of God, in all succeeding ages.
Deut 8:3. i.e. By every or any thing which God appoints for this end, how unlikely soever it may seem to be for nourishment, as appears in the manna; seeing it is not the creature, but only God’s command and blessing upon it, that makes it sufficient for the support of life.
Deut 8:4. Thy raiment did not wear away through age, which they must needs have done without a miracle; neither did thy foot swell, notwithstanding thy long and hard travels, which also was miraculous.
Deut 8:5. i.e. Unwillingly, being constrained by thy necessity; moderately, in judgment remembering mercy; and for thy reformation, not for thy destruction. Compare Prov 3:11-12; Heb 12:5, etc.
Deut 8:6-7. Depths, i.e. deep wells, or springs, or lakes, which were divers and large.
Deut 8:8. Of olive oil, Heb. of the olive tree of oil, i.e. not of wild and barren, but of fruitful olive trees, which yield plenty of oil.
Deut 8:9. Where are mines of iron in a manner as plentiful as stones, and upon which travellers must tread, as in other parts they do upon stones; and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass, to wit, in great plenty. These are mentioned, because they had none such in Egypt whence they came.
Deut 8:10. i.e. Solemnly praise him for thy food; which is a debt both of gratitude and justice, because it is from his providence and favour that thou receivest both thy food and refreshment and strength by it. The more unworthy and absurd is that too common profaneness of them, who, professing to believe a God and his providence, from whom all their comforts come, grudge to own him at their meals, either by desiring his blessing before them, or by offering due praise to God after them.
Deut 8:11-14. Thine heart be lifted up; as if thou didst receive and enjoy these things either by thy own wisdom, and valour, and industry, Deut 8:17, or for thy own merit, Deut 9:4. See Hos 13:6; 1 Cor 4:7.
Deut 8:15-16. That he night humble thee, by keeping thee in a constant dependence upon him for every day’s food, and convincing thee what an impotent, helpless, and beggarly creature thou art in thyself, having nothing whereon to subsist, but from hand to mouth, and being supported wholly by the alms of Divine goodness given to thee from day to day. The mercies of God, if duly considered, are as powerful an argument or mean to humble us as the greatest afflictions, because they increase our debts to God, and manifest our dependence upon him, and insufficiency without him; and by making God great, they make us little in our own eyes; though this clause, as well as that which follows, may have respect to their afflictions, mentioned Deut 8:15. At thy latter end, i.e. that after he hath purged and prepared thee by afflictions, he may give thee, and thou mayst receive and enjoy, his blessings with less disadvantage, whilst by the remembrance of former afflictions thou art made thankful for them, and more cautious not to abuse and forfeit them again.
Deut 8:17-18. To get wealth; so this word is used, Num 24:18; Job 20:18; Prov 31:29.
Deut 9:1-3: Israel’s march over Jordan to possess Canaan.
Deut 9:4-6: But must not ascribe it to their own righteousness.
Deut 9:8: A rehearsal of their manifold provocations at Horeb,
Deut 9:22: at Taberah,
Deut 9:23: and at Kadeshbarnea.
Deut 9:1. This day, i.e. shortly, within a little time, the word day being oft put for time, as John 8:56; 1 Cor 4:5; Rev 16:14, within two months; for Moses spake this on the first day of the eleventh month, Deut 1:3, and they passed over Jordan on the tenth day of the first month, Josh 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, Jer 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, Deut 1:28. See on Gen 11:4.
Deut 9:2. Either from the spies, or rather from common fame, for this seems to be a proverb used in those times.
Deut 9:3. Quickly; without great difficulty or long wars.
Deut 9:4-5. Neither for thy upright heart, nor holy life, which are the two things which God above all things regards, 1 Chron 29:17; Ps 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.
Deut 9:6. 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.
Deut 9:7-8. 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.
Deut 9:9. i.e. I wholly abstained from all meat and drink. Compare 1 Kings 13:8-9,17; 2 Kings 6:22.
Deut 9:10. 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 Jer 31:33; 2 Cor 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.
Deut 9:11-14. Let me alone; stop not the course of my fury by thy intercession.
Deut 9:15-17. 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 on Exod 32:19.
Deut 9:18. I fell down, in way of humiliation and supplication, on your behalf.
Deut 9:19-20. 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.
Deut 9:21. Your sin, i.e. the object and matter of your sin, as sin is taken Isa 31:7. I cast the dust thereof into the brook, that there might be no monument or remembrance of it left.
Deut 9:22-25. Forty days and forty nights; the same mentioned before, Deut 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.
Deut 9:26. Through thy greatness, i.e. through the greatness of thy power, which appeared most eminently in that work, as is noted, Deut 9:29.
Deut 9:27. Thy servants, i.e. the promise made and sworn to thy servants, which was mentioned above, Deut 9:5.
Deut 9:28-29. 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.
Deut 10:1-5: Moses repeats God’s mercies in restoring the two tables.
Deut 10:6: Aaron’s death. Eleazar his son officiates in his stead.
Deut 10:8-9: The tribe of Levi is separated for the priesthood.
Deut 10:10: God hearkening to Moses not to destroy them;
Deut 10:11: he is commanded to lead them towards Canaan.
Deut 10:12-15: God requires their obedience.
Deut 10:16-17: To circumcise their hearts.
Deut 10:18: To help the fatherless and widow.
Deut 10:19: To love strangers.
Deut 10:20-22: To fear and serve the Lord for his mercies towards them.
Deut 10:1. 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 Deut 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.
Deut 10:2-6. This following history comes in manifestly by way of parenthesis, as may appear from Deut 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, Deut 10:7, a pleasant and fruitful soil. Then he adds, God separated the Levites, etc., Deut 10:8. Mosera. Objection. This place seems directly contrary to that, Num 33:31, where their journey is quite contrary to this, even from Moseroth to Benejaakan. 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. Answer 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 Benejaakan, and here Beeroth Benejaakan, 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. Answer 2. Admitting these two places to be the same with those Num 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 Benejaakan, 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, Jer 6:21, even lay stumblingblocks 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. Answer 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, Deut 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 Exod 6:23; 1 Sam 4:7; Ps 133:3; Isa 63:11; Hab 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, Num 33:38. Answer 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. Answer 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, Gen 49:24; Ps 14:5; Eccles 3:17; Zeph 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, Deut 10:8, must necessarily be understood.
Deut 10:7. Either, 1. From that place, and that either from Mosera, last mentioned, or from Benejaakan; 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; Isa 65:20. So the meaning is, at, or about that time, as it is Deut 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 Num 33:31-32.
Deut 10:8. At that time, about that time, i.e. when I was come down from the mount, as was said Deut 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, Deut 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; 1 Kings 18:15, this being the posture of ministers. Hence the angels are said to stand, 2 Chron 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 Lev 9:23; Num 6:23, etc. 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, 1 Chron 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.
Deut 10:9. 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.
Deut 10:10-11. That they may go in: this shows that God was appeased and reconciled to the people, whom therefore he led forwards towards Canaan.
Deut 10:12. What doth the Lord thy God require, by way of duty and gratitude to God for such amazing mercies?
Deut 10:13-14. The heaven; the airy and starry heaven. The heaven of heavens; the highest or third heaven, 1 Kings 8:27; 2 Cor 12:2, called the heaven of heavens for its eminency, as the song of songs, king of kings, holy of holies, etc. 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.
Deut 10:15. 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.
Deut 10:16. 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 Deut 30:6; Jer 4:4; Jer 9:25; Rom 2:28-29; Col 2:11.
Deut 10:17. 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.
Deut 10:18. 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.
Deut 10:19-20. To him shalt thou cleave, with firm confidence, true affection, and constant attendance and obedience.
Deut 10:21. Thy praise; either, 1. The object and matter of thy praise, as Exod 15:2, whom thou shouldst ever praise. Or rather, 2. The ground of thy praise, i.e. of thy praiseworthiness; he who makes thee honourable and glorious above those people whose God he is not.
Deut 11:1-9: Moses exhorts them to obedience by rehearsing God’s works,
Deut 11:10-12: and by the excellency of the land they were to possess.
Deut 11:13-15: A promise of blessings to their obedience.
Deut 11:16-17: They are warned against idolatry.
Deut 11:19: To teach it their children;
Deut 11:20: and keep memorials of it,
Deut 11:21: for their own benefit.
Deut 11:22-25: God promises again, upon their obedience, to drive out the nations.
Deut 11:26-28: A blessing and a curse is set before them.
Deut 11:29: They are bid to bless on Mount Gerizim, but curse on Mount Ebal.
Deut 11:1-2. Know ye, i.e. acknowledge and consider it with diligence and thankfulness.
Deut 11:3-4. The effect of which destruction continueth to this day, in their weakness and fear, and our safety from all their further attempts against us.
Deut 11:5-6. In their possession, Heb. at their feet, i.e. under their power, Ps 8:6, which followed them, or belonged to them.
Deut 11:7. All of them had seen some, and some of them had seen all the great things done in Egypt, and at the Red Sea, and in the wilderness.
Deut 11:8-10. i.e. With great pains and labour of thy feet, partly by going up and down to fetch water and disperse it, and partly by digging furrows with thy foot, and using engines for distributing the water, which engines they thrust with their feet. For though the river Nilus did once in a year overflow the grounds, and made them fruitful, yet ofttimes it failed or scanted them, and then they were put to great pains about their ground; and when it did overflow sufficiently, and left its mud upon the earth, yet that mud was in a little time hardened, and needed another watering and much digging and labour both of the hands and feet, especially in places something higher or more remote from that river; which inconvenience Canaan was free from.
Deut 11:11. A land of hills and valleys; and therefore much more healthful than Egypt was, which as it was enriched, so it was annoyed with Nilus, which overflowed the land in summer time, and thereby made the country both unpleasant and, which is much worse, unhealthful. And health being the greatest of all outward blessings, Canaan must therefore needs be a more desirable habitation than Egypt, which is the thing here implied. Drinketh water of the rain of heaven which is more honourable, because this comes not from man’s art or industry, but immediately from God’s power and goodness; more easy, being given thee without thy charge or pains; more sweet and pleasant, not hindering thy going abroad upon thy occasions, as the overflow of Nilus did, whereby the Egyptians were confined in a great measure to their several houses; more safe and healthful, being free from that mud which attends upon the waters of Nilus; and more certain too, the former and the latter rain being promised to be given to them in their several seasons, upon condition of their obedience, which condition, though it may seem a clog and inconvenience, yet indeed was a great benefit, that by their own necessities and worldly interest they should be obliged to that obedience, upon which their happiness depended both for this life and for the next.
Deut 11:12. Land which the Lord careth for, to wit, in a special manner, watering it immediately as it were by his own hand, without man’s help, and giving peculiar blessings to it, which Egypt enjoys not. The eyes of the Lord are always upon us, to give it the rain and other blessings proper to the several seasons. But all these mercies, and the fruitfulness of the land consequent; upon them, were suspended upon their disobedience, as it here follows. And therefore it is not at all strange that some later writers decry the land of Canaan as in great part a barren soil, which is so far from affording any ground to question the Divine authority of the Holy Scriptures, in which its fruitfulness is declared, that it doth much more confirm it, this being but an effect of that threatening that God would turn a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of those that dwell in it, Ps 107:34, and elsewhere; and the wickedness of the Israelites in succeeding ages being notorious, it is but just and fit that the barrenness of their land should be as evident and infamous.
Deut 11:13-14. The rain of your land, i.e. which is needful and sufficient for your land; or which is proper to your land, not common to Egypt, where, as all authors agree, there is little or no rain. The first rain and the latter rain; the first fell in seed time, to make the corn spring, the other a little before harvest, to ripen it. See Jer 5:24; Joel 2:23; Amos 4:7; James 5:7.
Deut 11:15-16. That your heart be not deceived by the specious pretenses of idolaters, who will plead the general consent of all nations, except yours, in the worship of creatures, and that they worship the creatures only for God’s sake, and as they are glorious works of God, whom they worship in and by them; which, and the like arguments, being commonly alleged by heathens for their idolatries, as their own writers declare, might possibly seduce an unwary Israelite; and therefore they are here cautioned against such deceit, and withal it is implied, that if a man’s mind be corrupted and deceived, so as he believes idolatry to be lawful, this will not excuse him in the sight of God.
Deut 11:17. Heaven is compared sometimes to a bottle, Job 38:37, which may be either stopped or opened; sometimes to a great storehouse, wherein God lays up his treasures of rain, Job 38:22; Ps 33:7, the doors whereof God is said to open when he gives rain, and to shut when he withholds it. See 1 Kings 8:35; 2 Chron 6:26; 2 Chron 7:13.
Deut 11:18-21. i.e. As long as this visible world lasts, whilst the heaven keeps its place and continues its influences upon earth, until all these things be dissolved. Compare Ps 72:5; Ps 81:15; Ps 89:29; Jer 33:25.
Deut 11:22-24. Every place; not absolutely, as if the Jews should be lords of all the world, as the rabbins fondly conceit; but in the Promised Land, as it is restrained in the following words. Shall be yours, either by possession, or by dominion, to wit, upon condition of your obedience. From the wilderness, to wit, of Sin, on the south side. And Lebanon; and from Lebanon; or, and to Lebanon, which was the northern border. The river Euphrates on the east. So far their right of dominion extended, but that their sins cut them short; and so far Solomon extended his dominion. Unto the uttermost sea; the western or midland sea; Heb. the hindermost sea; for the eastern part of the world being generally esteemed the foremost, and the southern on the right hand, Ps 89:12, and consequently the northern on the left hand, the western part must needs be behind. Of these bounds of the land see Gen 10:19; Gen 15:18; Exod 23:31; Josh 1:3-4.
Deut 11:25-26. I propose them to your minds and to your choice.
Deut 11:27-28. Which you have no acquaintance with, nor experience of their power or wisdom or goodness, as you have had of mine.
Deut 11:29. Thou shalt put the blessing, Heb. thou shalt give, i.e. speak or pronounce, or cause to be pronounced. So the word to give is used, Deut 13:1-2; Job 36:3; Prov 9:9. This is more particularly expressed Deut 27:12-13; Josh 8:33, whither I refer the reader.
Deut 11:30. Over against Gilgal; looking towards Gilgal, though at some considerable distance from it, as this particle is sometimes used.
Deut 12:1-3: They are commanded to destroy all the places of idolatry;
Deut 12:4-15: and must worship God in his own place, and after his will.
Deut 12:16: The eating of blood prohibited.
Deut 12:17-18: Where and how they should eat the tithe.
Deut 12:19: The Levite not to be forsaken.
Deut 12:20-22: They may eat flesh clean or unclean any where;
Deut 12:23-25: but not the blood.
Deut 12:26-28: Holy things to be eaten at the altar of the Lord.
Deut 12:29-30: They are forbidden to inquire after the heathen worship;
Deut 12:31: or to worship the true God as they;
Deut 12:32: but to keep to the law in their worship.
Deut 12:1-2. All the places; temples, chapels, altars, groves, as appears from other scriptures. The Gentiles used to employ the high mountains for their idolatry; (see Isa 57:5,7; Ezek 6:13; Hos 4:13;) and as they consecrated divers trees to their false gods, so they worshipped these under them:
Deut 12:3. Their pillars, upon which their images were set. The names of them, i.e. all the memorials of them, and the very names given to the places from the idols.
Deut 12:4. i.e. Not worship him in several places, mountains, groves, etc., which sense is evident from the following opposition.
Deut 12:5. To put his name there, i.e. to set up his worship there, or which he shall call by his name, as his house, or dwellingplace, etc., to wit, where the ark should be, the tabernacle, or temple; which was first Shiloh, Josh 18:1, next and especially Jerusalem.
Deut 12:6. The sacrifices were wisely appropriated to that one and public place, partly for the security of the true religion, and for the prevention of idolatry and superstition, which otherwise might more easily have crept in; and partly to signify that their sacrifices were not accepted for their own worth, but by God’s gracious appointment, and for the sake of God’s altar, by which they were sanctified, and for the sake of Christ, whom the altar did manifestly represent. Of tithes, see below on Deut 12:17. Heave-offerings, i.e. your firstfruits, to wit, of the earth, as of corn and wine and oil and other fruits, as plainly appears by comparing this place with Deut 18:4; Deut 26:2, where these are commanded to be brought thither; and seeing here is an exact and particular enumeration of all such things, and these cannot be put under any of the other branches, these must needs be intended here, the rather because the other kind of firstfruits, to wit, of the herds and flocks, are here expressly mentioned. And these are called here the heave-offerings of their hand, because the offerer was first to take these into his hands, and to heave them before the Lord, (as other places tell us,) and then to give them to the priest, as appears from Deut 18:3-4; Deut 26:4. Your freewill offerings; even for your voluntary oblations, which were not due by my prescription, but only by your own choice and voluntary engagement: you may choose what kind of offering you please to vow and offer, but not the place where you shall offer them. The firstlings of your herds and of your flocks; either, 1. The holy firstlings or firstborn, as appears by Num 18, where they are commanded to be brought to this one place here designed, and to be offered upon God’s altar, Deut 12:17. It is objected by some, that those were given to the priests, Num 18:18, but these were to be eaten by the people here, Deut 12:7. But that the next verse doth not say, but only in general, there shall ye eat, to wit, such of the offerings mentioned Deut 12:6 as they were allowed to eat, but not such as were the priest’s peculiar, for these they might not eat, nor all there expressed; for it is evident they might not eat any of the burnt-offerings, nor some parts of the other sacrifices, which are here mentioned. Or, 2. The second births, which were the people’s firstborn, or the first which they could eat of, which they were to eat before the Lord by way of acknowledgment of his favour in giving them to them and all their succeeding births. See more on Deut 12:17.
Deut 12:7. There; not in the most holy place, wherein only the priests might eat, Num 18:10, but more generally in places allowed to the people for this end in the holy city. Ye shall eat, to wit, your part of the things mentioned Deut 12:6. Before the Lord, i.e. in the place of God’s presence, where God’s sanctuary shall be. All that ye put your hand unto; either to bestow your pains and labour upon it; or, to take and use or enjoy it. The sense is, You thus doing shall be blessed and enabled to rejoice, or to take comfort in all your labours and enjoyments, which otherwise would be accursed to you. We have the same phrase below, Deut 12:18; Deut 15:10.
Deut 12:8. Here; where the inconveniency of the place, and the uncertainty of our abode in and removal from several places, would not permit exact order in sacrifices, and feasts, and ceremonies, which therefore God was pleased then to dispense with; but, saith he, he will not do so there. Every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes; not that universal liberty was given to all persons to worship whom and how they listed, but that in many things their unsettled condition gave every one opportunity to do so if he thought good.
Deut 12:9-11. His name, i.e. his majesty and glory, his worship and service, his special and gracious presence, and the tokens of it. All your choice vows, Heb. the choice of your vows. i.e. your select or chosen vows were to be perfect, whereas superfluous or deflective creatures were accepted in freewill offerings, as appears from Lev 22:21-23.
Deut 12:12. Hence it appears, that though the males only were obliged to appear before God in their solemn feasts, Exod 23:17, yet the women also were permitted to come, as they did. See Judg 21:19,21; 1 Sam 1:3,7,21-23.
Deut 12:13. Nor the other things mentioned above, this one and most eminent kind being put for all the rest, as is usual; for being all expressed before, it was needless to repeat them again. In every place that thou seest, to wit, with complacency and approbation, which thou thinkest very fit and proper for such a work, as one might possibly judge of some high places, or groves, or gardens.
Deut 12:14-15. Thou mayest kill and eat flesh, to wit, for thy common use and food. In all thy gates, i.e. thy cities or dwellings. Whatsoever thy soul lusteth after; what you shall desire either for quantity or quality, provided always you observe the laws given you elsewhere about avoiding excess and uncleanness in the things you eat. Which he hath given thee, according to thy quality and estate; whereby he manifestly condemns those who profusely and riotously spend other men’s money, and live at a rate which their consciences know to be much above their ability; which certainly is an ungodly and unrighteous, though too common, practice. The unclean, who is forbidden to eat of holy meats, Lev 7:20. May eat thereof, to wit, of any sort of creatures, even of those sorts which are offered to God in sacrifices, which are as free to your use as the roebuck and the hart, which were not accepted in sacrifice, Lev 22:19; yet were clean beasts, Deut 14:5; and therefore here is a tacit exception of unclean beasts.
Deut 12:16-17. Thou; either, 1. Thou, O Levite; or rather, 2. Thou, O Israelite, whom he distinguisheth from the Levite, Deut 12:18, accordingly as the following particulars agree to the one or to the other of you. Within thy gates, i.e. in your private habitations, here opposed to the place of God’s worship, Deut 12:18. The tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil. Here seems to be a great difficulty, not yet sufficiently observed nor cleared by interpreters. There were divers kinds of tithes: 1. The tithes given to the Levites out of all, of which Num 18:21,24; Deut 14:22; Neh 10:31. 2. The tithe of those tithes, which were to be given by the Levites to the priests, of which Num 18:21,24; Deut 14:29; Neh 10:37. 3. The third year’s tithe, of which Deut 14:28. To which some add another tithe, which they call the second tithe, which they say was taken after the Levites’ tithe was laid by. Now each of these hath its difficulty. It seems this place cannot be understood, 1. Of the Levites’ tithe; partly, because it might seem a great and wholly superfluous trouble to carry all their tithes up to Jerusalem, and to carry them back to their several habitations for their use; partly, because those were holy to the Lord, Lev 27:30, and not to be eaten by the people, Lev 27:31; whereas these belonged principally to the people, the Levites being only taken in as accessories to eat with them, as it is here, Deut 12:18; and partly, because those might be eaten in every place, as it is expressly affirmed, Num 18:31 Nor, 2. Of the tithe of the tithe, which was the priest’s; and neither Levites nor others might eat of it, except they were of or in the priest’s household. Nor, 3. Of the third year’s tithe, because that was to be eaten within their gates, Deut 14:28-29, as this was not. I do therefore humbly conceive that this is meant of the second tithe, spoken of Deut 14:22; and that this was the very same tithe with that third year’s tithe, with this only difference, that in the third year they were to eat them together with the Levites within their gates, Deut 14:28-29, but in the two first years they were to eat them, together with the Levites also, in the place of God’s worship, as it is prescribed here and Deut 14:23. And that it is one land the same tithe which is spoken of Deut 14:22, and Deut 12:28, seems more than probable, both because they are called by the same name, all the tithe of their increase, and because that Deut 12:28 manifestly looks back to that Deut 12:22, and because otherwise every third year the Israelites were to pay three several tithes one after another, which Scripture no where affirms, and it seems to make the people’s burdens and the Levites’ provisions too great. For the objection taken from Deut 26:12-13, it shall be considered in its place. And the reason of that difference of place, and why the same tithes were eaten for two years together in Jerusalem, and the third in their own gates, seems to be this, that in the two first years there was a more special regard had to the Levites, who were very much conversant in Jerusalem, where those tithes were then eaten, and in the third year there is a respect had to the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, who are mentioned as joint sharers with the Levites in this third year’s tithe, whose occasions and obligations of coming to Jerusalem were not so many nor strong as those of the Levites, and therefore they were to be found generally within their gates, where these were to be eaten. And whereas the objection made before against the chargeable and useless carrying of the first tithes to Jerusalem might be applied here, it is answered there, and it is provided, that when they lived at a great distance from Jerusalem they might turn it into money and bestow it there, Deut 14-26, which both confirms the objection as to the first tithe, for which no such provision was made, and answers it as to this, where such a remedy is expressed. And whereas it may be pleaded on the behalf of the first, or the Levitical tithe, that those tithes were brought to Jerusalem, and that there were storehouses or chambers in the temple appointed for the receiving of the tithes, 2 Chron 31:5-6,11-12; Neh 10:37-38; Neh 12:44, it may be answered, that those chambers, being only thirty-eight in number, and each of them, except two, but six cubits broad and twelve cubits long, were altogether incapable of all those tithes, and seem principally, if not solely, appointed for the priests’ tithes, and not for all them neither, but only for so much of them as would serve for the use and necessity of those priests and Levites too that were in the actual ministration. The firstlings of thy herds, or of thy flock. As the tithes now mentioned were not the Levitical, but second tithes, as hath been discoursed; so these firstlings do not seem to be the first firstlings, which being appropriated to the Levites were not to be eaten by any of the people, except those of or in the Levites’ families, but the second firstlings, which were the first which the owner could dispose of, and which, in conformity to the second tithes, he is required to set apart for this use.
Deut 12:18-19. Take heed lest a worldly mind and self-love make thee rob the Levites of their dues, as afterwards the ungodly Jews did. See Mal 3:8.
Deut 12:20. When the Lord shall enlarge thy border, which will make it inconvenient and impossible to do what now thou dost, and because of the narrow bounds of thy camp canst conveniently do, to wit, to bring all the cattle thou usest to the tabernacle, which it seems probable they did, to prevent their eating of blood. Compare Lev 17:3; 1 Sam 14:34.
Deut 12:21. Be too far from thee; in which case, being obliged to carry their sacrifice to the place of worship, that the blood might be there poured forth, etc., they might think themselves obliged, for the same reason, to carry their other cattle thither to be killed. They are therefore released from all such obligations, and left at liberty to kill them at home, whether they lived nearer to that place, or further from it; only the latter is here mentioned, as being the matter of the scruple, and as containing the former in it. As I have commanded thee; in such manner as the blood may be poured forth, as above, Deut 12:16, and below, Deut 12:24.
Deut 12:22. As the roebuck and the hart; as common or unhallowed food, though they be of the same kind with the sacrifices which are offered to God. The unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike, because there was no holiness in such meat for which the unclean might be excluded from it.
Deut 12:23. The blood is the life; of which see on Gen 9:4; Lev 17:11. The animal life depends upon the blood.
Deut 12:24-26. The holy things, mentioned before, Deut 12:6,11,17, which thou hast consecrated to God.
Deut 12:27. Excepting what shall be burned to God’s honour, and given to the priest according to his appointment.
Deut 12:29. Whither thou goest to possess them; of which phrase see Deut 9:1; Deut 11:23
Deut 12:30. Snared; drawn into their sin and ruin. After that they be destroyed; i.e. by following the example they left, when their persons are destroyed. That thou inquire not after their gods, through curiosity to know their gods, and the manner of the worship, lest thy vain and foolish mind be seduced by its speciousness or newness.
Deut 12:31. Shalt not do so unto the Lord; either, 1. Not offer him that indignity and injury to worship other gods together with him. Or rather, 2. Not worship him in such manner as they worshipped their gods, to wit, by offering thy children to him, as they did to their gods, as it here follows, or by their own devices or superstitions, as is implied, Deut 12:32.
Deut 13:1-5: Enticers to idolatry, being permitted by God to try Israel, were to be stoned to death,
Deut 13:6-11: though near of kin.
Deut 13:12-16: A city found guilty of idolatry to be burnt and utterly destroyed.
Deut 13:17-18: They were not to take any of its cursed things, but to obey God’s command, that his mercy might be upon them.
Deut 13:1. Among you, i.e. one of your nation, for such might be both seduced and afterwards seducers. A dreamer of dreams; one that pretends himself to be one to whom God hath revealed himself, either by visions or dreams. See Num 12:6. Giveth thee a sign or a wonder, i.e. shall foretell some strange and wonderful thing to come, as appears from Deut 13:2, as the true prophets used to do, as 1 Sam 10.
Deut 13:2. And the sign or the wonder come to pass; which God may suffer for the reason after mentioned. Saying: this word is to be joined with the beginning of Deut 13:1, If there arise among you a prophet, or dreamer of dreams, saying, what there follows, and giveth thee a sign, etc., to confirm his doctrine; such transpositions are frequent.
Deut 13:3. Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet; not receive his doctrine, though the sign come to pass. For although when such a sign or wonder foretold did not follow or come to pass, it was a sign of a false prophet, as is said, Deut 18:22, yet when it did come to pass, it was no sufficient or infallible sign of a true one, especially in such a case when he brings in new gods. The reason of the difference is, because many causes must concur to make a thing good and true, but any one failure is sufficient to make a thing bad or false. And particularly there are many signs, yea, such as men may think to be wonders, which may be wrought by evil spirits, God so permitting it for divers wise and just reasons, not only for the trial of the good, as it here follows, but also for the punishment of ungodly men, who would not receive Divine truths, though attested by many evident and unquestionable miracles, and therefore are most justly exposed to these temptations to believe lies. Proveth you, i.e. trieth your faith, and love, and obedience, examineth your sincerity by your constancy. See Matt 24:24; 2 Thess 2:11; Rev 13:14. See on Gen 21:1; Deut 8:2,7. To know; that he may know it, to wit, judicially, or in a public manner, so as both you and others may know and see it, that so the justice of his judgments upon you may be more evident and glorious.
Deut 13:4. Ye shall serve him, to wit, only, as appears from the opposition. Compare Deut 6:13, with Matt 4:10.
Deut 13:5. He hath spoken, i.e. taught or persuaded you. To turn you away from the Lord; to forsake God and his worship. He shows that the chiefest and most certain character of a true prophet, is to be taken from his doctrine rather than from his miracles. To thrust thee out of the way: this phrase denotes the great force and power of seducers to corrupt men’s minds. Compare Deut 4:19; 2 Kings 17:21; Matt 24:2,14. The evil; either 1. That evil thing, that wicked doctrine and practice. Or, 2. That wicked and scandalous man, that idolater and seducer.
Deut 13:6. The son of thy mother: this is added to restrain the signification of the word brother, which is oft used generally for one near akin, and to express the nearness of the relation, the mother’s side being the surest, and usually the ground of the truest and most fervent affection. See Gen 20:12. Or thy daughter; thy piety must overcome both thy affection to thy nearest relation, and thy compassion to the weaker sex. The wife of thy bosom; either, 1. That is near to thy heart, that hath thy dearest love. Or rather, 2. That lieth in thy bosom, as it is expressed, Mic 7:5. Compare Gen 16:5; Prov 5:20; Deut 28:54. So we read of the husband of her bosom, Deut 28:56. As thine own soul; as dear to thee as thyself. The father and mother are here omitted, not, as some fancy, because children might not in this nor in any case accuse their parents, for certainly they owe more reverence and duty to God, who is injured in this case, than to their parents, and Levi is commended for neglecting his father and mother in this case; but because they are sufficiently contained in the former examples; for since men’s love doth usually descend more strongly than it ascends, and thee relation of a with is and ought to be nearer and dearer than of a parent, that favour which is denied to wives and children cannot be thought fit to be allowed to parents. Entice thee, though it be without success, because the very attempt of such all abominable crime deserved death, as it is judged in case of treason. Other gods; unknown and obscure and new gods; which greatly aggravates the crime, to forsake a God whom thou and thy fathers have long known, and had great and good experience of, for such upstarts.
Deut 13:7. He arms against the preference of the universality of this idol worship, wherewith they were like to be oft assaulted.
Deut 13:8. i.e. Smother his fault, hide or protect his person, but shalt accuse him to the magistrate, and demand justice upon him, which was not to be done in most other criminal causes; and no wonder, this crime being of a far higher nature than others.
Deut 13:9. Thou shalt surely kill him; not privately, which pretence would have opened the door to innumerable murders, but by procuring his death by the sentence of the magistrate; and thou shalt cast the first stone at him, as the witness was to do. See Deut 17:7; Acts 7:58.
Deut 13:10-13. The children of Belial; a title oft used in Scripture, as Judg 19:22; 1 Sam 1:16; 1 Sam 25:25; 2 Sam 16:7. It signifies properly persons without yoke, vile and wretched miscreants, lawless and rebellious, that will suffer no restraint, that neither fear God nor reverence man. From among you, i.e. from your church and religion. It notes a separation or departure from them, not in place, (as appears by their partnership with their fellow citizens both in the sin and punishment, as it here follows,) but in heart, doctrine, and worship, as the same phrase is used, 1 John 2:19.
Deut 13:14. Then shalt thou inquire: this is meant of the magistrate, to whose office this properly belongs, and of whom he continues to speak in the same manner, thou, Deut 13:15-16.
Deut 13:15. The inhabitants of that city, to wit, all that are guilty, not the innocent part, such as disowned this apostacy, who doubtless by choice and interest, at least upon warning, would come out of so wicked and cursed a place. Destroying it utterly; the very same punishment which was inflicted upon the cities of the cursed Canaanites, to whom having made themselves equal in sin, it is but fit and just that God should equal them in punishment.
Deut 13:16. For the Lord thy God, i.e. for the satisfaction of God’s justice, the maintenance of his honour and authority and laws, and the pacification of his offended majesty. It shall be an heap for ever; it shall be an eternal monument of God’s justice, and terror to after-ages, who may be tempted to like practices.
Deut 13:17. Of the cursed thing, i.e. of the goods of that accursed city. And multiply thee; so thou shalt have no loss of thy numbers by cutting off so many people.
Deut 14:1-2: Heathenish rites of mourning prohibited;
Deut 14:3: and the eating of any abominable thing.
Deut 14:4-8: All unclean beasts,
Deut 14:9-10: fish,
Deut 14:11-20: and birds, prohibited.
Deut 14:22: True tithing commanded;
Deut 14:23-27: and where it was to be eaten.
Deut 14:28: A command about the third year’s tithing;
Deut 14:29: and who should eat it.
Deut 14:1. Of the Lord your God; whom therefore you must not disparage by unworthy or unbecoming practices, such as here follow, and whom you must not disobey. Ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes, which were the practices of idolaters, both in the worship of their idols, as 1 Kings 18:28; or in their funerals, as here, and Jer 16:6; or upon occasion of public calamities, as Jer 41:5; Jer 47:5. See more on Lev 19:27-28; Lev 21:5. For the dead; through excessive sorrow for your dead friends, as if you had no hope of their happiness after death, 1 Thess 4:13.
Deut 14:2-3. i.e. Unclean and forbidden by me, which therefore should be abominable to you.
Deut 14:4. Of which see on Lev 11. The small differences between some of their names here and there are not proper for this work. The learned reader may find them cleared in my
Latin Synopsis. For others, they may well enough want the knowledge of them, both because these are the smaller matters of the law, and because this distinction of clean and unclean beasts is now out of date.
Deut 14:5-21. Unto the stranger; not to the proselyte, for such were obliged by this law, Lev 17:15, but to such as were strangers in religion as well as in nation.
Deut 14:22. This is to be understood of the second tithes, which seem to be the same with the tithes of the third year, mentioned here below, Deut 14:28; Deut 26:12, on which see above, on Deut 12:17. And to confirm this opinion, (though I would not lay too great a stress upon criticisms,) yet I cannot but observe that this tithing is spoken of only as the people’s act here, and Deut 26:12, and the Levites are not at all mentioned in either place as receivers or takers of them, but only as partakers of them together with the owners, and therefore they are so severely charged here upon their consciences, thou shalt truly tithe all thine increase, because the execution of this was left wholly to themselves, whereas the first tithes were received by the Levites, who therefore are said to take or receive those tithes, Num 18:26; Neh 10:38; Heb 7:5.
Deut 14:23. See on Deut 12:6,17.
Deut 14:24-25. Bind up the money in thine hand, i.e. in a bag to be taken into thy hand and carried with thee.
Deut 14:26-27. Thou shalt not forsake him; thou shalt give him a share in such tithes, or in the product of them.
Deut 14:28. At the end of three years, i.e. in the third year, as it is expressed, Deut 26:12. So, in the end of three years, or of seven years, is the same with in the third or seventh year, as appears by comparing Deut 31:10; Josh 9:16-17; 2 Kings 18:9-10; 2 Kings 17:6. All the tithe of thine increase. I join with those expositors who make this the same tithe with the former, Deut 14:22, as being called by the same title without any distinction between them, save only as to the place of eating them. See above on Deut 14:22, and Deut 12:17. The same year: this is added to show that he speaks of the third year, and not of the fourth year, as some might conjecture from the phrase, at the end of three years.
Deut 15:1: The seventh year a year of release,
Deut 15:2-3: to their brethren only.
Deut 15:4-6: God promiseth to bless them in the land of Canaan;
Deut 15:7-18: and commandeth them to lend freely to the poor.
Deut 15:19-23: The firstlings to be sanctified and eaten before the Lord.
Deut 15:1. i.e. In the last year of the seven, as is most evident from Deut 15:9; Exod 21:2; Jer 34:14. So the like phrase is oft used, as Deut 14:28; Josh 3:2; Jer 25:12; Luke 2:21; Acts 2:1. And this year of release, as it is called below, Deut 15:9, is the same with the sabbatical year, Exod 23:11; Lev 25:4.
Deut 15:2. Shall release it; not absolutely and finally forgive it, but forbear it for that year, as may appear, 1. Because the word doth not signify a total dismission or acquitting, but an intermission for a time, as Exod 23:11. He shall not exact it, as it here follows, i.e. force it from him by course of law or otherwise, to wit, that year, which is easily understood out of the whole context. 2. Because the person releasing is called a creditor, and his communicating to him what he desires and needs is called lending here and Deut 15:8; whereas it were giving, and the person giving it were no creditor, but a donor, if it were to be wholly forgiven to him. 3. Because the reason of this law is temporary and peculiar to that year, wherein there being no sowing nor reaping, they were not in a capacity to pay their debts. 4. Because it seems unjust and unreasonable, and contrary to other scriptures, which require men to pay what they borrow, as Ps 37:21. Yet I deny not that in case of poverty the debt was to be forgiven; but that was not by virtue of this law, but of other commands of God. Or of his brother: this is added to explain and limit the word neighbour, which is more general, unto a brother, to wit, in nation and religion; to an Israelite, who is opposed to a foreigner, Deut 15:3, Heb. and a brother, for that is a brother, the particle and being oft so used, as Gen 13:15, etc. The Lord’s release; or, a release to or for the Lord, in obedience to his command, for his honour, and as an acknowledgment of his right in your estates, and of his kindness in giving and continuing them to you. If you are unwilling to release this for your brother’s sake, yet do it for God’s sake, your Lord and the chief Creditor.
Deut 15:3. A foreigner, or stranger, yea, though a proselyte. For, 1. They are oft called by this name, as Gen 17:12; Ruth 2:10. 2. Though proselytes were admitted to the church privileges of the Israelites, yet they were not admitted to all their civil immunities or privileges. See 1 Chron 22:2; 2 Chron 2:17. 3. Such were not then freed from their personal debt, to wit, of their service, Lev 25:44; Deut 15:12; Jer 34:14, therefore not from their real debt. That which is thine, to wit, by right, though lent to him.
Deut 15:4. When there shall be no poor: so the words are an exception to the foregoing clause, which they restrain to the poor, and imply that if his brother was rich, he might exact his debt of him in that year. And indeed this law seems to be chiefly, if not wholly, designed and given in favour to the poor and to the borrower, as is manifest from Deut 15:6-11. But the words are and may be rendered thus, as in the margin of our Bibles, To the end that there be no poor among you. And so they contain a reason of this law, to wit, that none be impoverished and ruined by a rigid and unseasonable exaction of debts. They may also be translated thus, Nevertheless of a truth, or assuredly, (as the particle chi is oft used,) there shall be no poor along you; and the sense may be this, Though I impose this law upon you, which may seem hard and grievous, yet the truth is, supposing your performance of the conditions of God’s covenant, you shall not have any great occasion to exercise your charity and kindness in this matter, for God will greatly bless you, etc., so as you shall be in a capacity of lending, and few or none of you will have need to borrow, and thereby to expose his brethren to the inconvenience and burden of this law. Thus the connexion is plain and easy, both with the foregoing and following words. Objection. It is said, the poor should never cease, Deut 15:11. Answer. That also is true, and affirmed by God, because he foresaw they would not perform their duty, and therefore would bereave themselves of the promised blessing. The Lord shall greatly bless thee; and therefore this will be no great inconvenience nor burden to thee.
Deut 15:5-6. Thou shalt lend unto many; thou shalt be rich and able to lend not only to thy poor brother, but even to strangers of other nations, yea, to many of them.
Deut 15:7-8. Open thine hand wide unto him, i.e. deal bountifully and liberally with him, giving him as it were by handfuls.
Deut 15:9. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart; suppress the first risings and inward motions of such uncharitableness. Thine eye be evil, i.e. envious, unmerciful, unkind, as this phrase is used, Prov 23:6; Matt 20:15; as a good eye notes the contrary disposition, Prov 22:9. It be sin, i.e. it be charged upon thee as a sin, and as a great sin, as the word sin sometimes signifies, as Prov 24:9; John 15:24; James 4:17.
Deut 15:10. Thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him, i.e. thou shalt give not only with an open hand, but with a willing and cheerful mind and heart, Rom 12:8; 2 Cor 9:9, without which thy very charity is uncharitable, and not accepted by God, who requires the heart in all his services. In all that thou puttest thine hand unto, i.e. in all thy works, as before, for the hand is the great instrument of action.
Deut 15:11. The poor shall never cease out of the land; God by his providence will so order it, partly for the punishment of your disobedience, and partly for the trial and exercise of your obedience to me, and charity to your brother, both which are best discovered by your performance of costly duties.
Deut 15:12. If thy brother be sold unto thee. See on Exod 22:3. Six years; to be computed, either, 1. From the year of release; as they gather from hence that personal and real debts were both released together. But that seems to be supposed rather than proved; nay, there is a manifest difference between them, for the release of real debts is expressly mentioned and required in the year of release, but so is not the release of the personal debt of servitude, either here or elsewhere. Or rather, 2. From the beginning of this servitude, which is every where limited unto the space of six years, as here and below, Deut 15:18; Exod 21:2; Jer 34:14. And it seems a strange and forced exposition, to take these six years for so much of the six years as remains until the year of release, which possibly might not be one quarter of a year, whereas a hired servant serves for a far longer time, and this is said to be worth a double-hired servant, in regard of the longer time of his service, Deut 15:18. Add to this, that it is mentioned as the peculiar privilege of the year of jubilee, that such servants were then freed, though their six years of service were not expired.
Deut 15:15. And the Lord thy God redeemed thee, and brought thee out with triumph and with riches, which because they would not, God did, give to thee as a just recompence for thy service, and therefore thou shalt follow his example, and send out thy servant furnished with all convenient provisions.
Deut 15:16. Because he is sensible that he fares well with thee. Or, because it is good, i.e. acceptable in his eyes, or pleasing to him, to be with thee.
Deut 15:17. For ever, i.e. all the time of his life, or, at least, till the year of jubilee. See on Exod 21:6. Unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise, i.e. either dismiss her honourably, and with plenty of provisions; or engage her to perpetual servitude in the same manner, and by the same rites; whence it appears that this case differs from that Exod 21:7, and that the maidservant there was taken in upon other and better terms than this here.
Deut 15:18. He hath been worth a double-hired servant to thee; or, he deserves double wages to an hired servant, because he served thee upon better terms, both without wages, which hired servants require, and for a longer time, even for six years, as it here follows, whereas servants were ordinarily hired but from year to year, Lev 25:53, or at most but for three years, as they gather from this place and Isa 16:14.
Deut 15:19. With the firstling of thy bullock: this is meant, either, 1. Of the male firstlings; which, they say, is forbidden here, because some did plough with the firstlings of their oxen, and shear the firstlings of their sheep, before they were offered. But this seems absurd and incredible, because they were to be offered on the eighth day, Exod 22:30, when they were very unfit for such uses. Or rather, 2. The second firstlings, of which see on Deut 12:17.
Deut 15:20. Thou shalt eat; either, 1. Thou, O priest. Or rather, 2. Thou, O Israelite. For it is evident that the same person who was forbidden to work with these, Deut 15:19, is here commanded to eat them, etc. Thou shalt eat it, together with the Levites, as it is to be understood from Deut 12:18; Deut 14:27,29, where that is expressed in like cases. Year by year, to wit, in the solemn feasts which returned upon them every year. See Deut 16:11,14.
Deut 16:1-7: Their feast of the passover to be kept,
Deut 16:8: and to eat unleavened bread.
Deut 16:9-12: The seven weeks and their feasts.
Deut 16:13-15: The feast of tabernacles to be observed by them, and their family, seven days.
Deut 16:16-17: All the males to appear before the Lord three times a year, and at these three feasts.
Deut 16:18-20: Judges and officers are appointed,
Deut 16:21-22: and are prohibited to set up idolatry.
Deut 16:1. Objection. They came out of Egypt by day, and in the morning, as appears from Exod 12:22; Exod 13:3; Num 33:3. Answer. They are said to be brought out by night, because in the night Pharaoh was forced to give them leave to depart, and accordingly they made preparation for their departure, and in the morning they perfected the work.
Deut 16:2. The passover, i.e. either, 1. Properly and strictly so called, which was the paschal lamb, and so the sheep and oxen, which here follow, are mentioned only as additional sacrifices, which were to be offered in the seven days of the paschal solemnity, Num 28:18-19, etc. Or, 2. Largely, to wit, for the passover-offerings, to wit, which were offered after the lamb in the seven days, and so this very word is used 2 Chron 35:8-9. And this signification seems necessary here, partly because it is here said to consist of the flock and of the herd, or of sheep and oxen, and partly because it follows, Deut 16:3, Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it, seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, i.e. with the passover, which could not be done with the passover strictly so called, which was to be wholly spent in one day. Or, 3. The feast of the passover, and so the place may be rendered, Thou shalt therefore observe or keep the feast of the passover (as those same Hebrew words are taken, Num 9:5; Josh 5:10; 2 Chron 35:1,17-19) unto the Lord thy God, with sheep and with oxen, as is prescribed, Num 28:18, etc.
Deut 16:3. With it, to wit, with the passover, in the sense delivered; or, in it, i.e. during the time of the feast of the passover. The bread of affliction, i.e. bread which is not usual nor pleasant, but unsavoury and unwholesome, to put thee in mind both of thy miseries endured in Egypt, and of thy hasty coming out of it, which allowed thee no time to leaven or to prepare thy bread.
Deut 16:4. At even, i.e. of the passover properly so called, and by these words plainly described; which circumlocution may seem to insinuate that the word passover, Deut 16:1, was improperly used, and therefore he chose rather to describe it than to name it, lest the ambiguity of the word should occasion some mistake.
Deut 16:5. Within any of thy gates, i.e. of thy cities, as that word is oft used, as Gen 22:17; Gen 24:60; Deut 17:2; Ruth 4:10.
Deut 16:6. There thou shalt sacrifice the passover, to wit, in the court of the tabernacle or temple. This he prescribed, partly, that this great work might be done with more solemnity and care, in such manner as God required; partly, because it was not only a sacrament, but also a sacrifice, as appears because it is so called, Exod 12:27; Exod 23:18; Exod 34:25; Num 9:7, and because here was the sprinkling of blood, which is the essential part and character of a sacrifice; and partly, to design the place where Christ, the true Passover or Lamb of God, was to be slain. At the season; understand this with some latitude, as such phrases are commonly taken, about that season, when you had received command from me to go out of Egypt, and were preparing yourselves for the journey.
Deut 16:7. Thou shalt roast; so that word is used also 2 Chron 35:13. In the morning; either, 1. The morning after the seventh day, as appears, partly, by the following verse, which is added to explain and limit this ambiguous word; partly, by the express command of God that the people should come to Jerusalem to keep this feast, which by God’s appointment lasted for seven days; partly, from the examples of the people staying there the whole time of the feast, 2 Chron 30:21; 2 Chron 35:17; and partly, from the nature and business of this feast, wherein there being so many extraordinary sacrifices to be offered, and feasts made by the people upon the sacrifices, and two days of solemn assemblies, it is not probable that they would absent themselves from these solemn services, for the performance whereof they came purposely to Jerusalem. Or, 2. The morning after the first day, and so they were permitted to go then, and possibly some that lived near Jerusalem might go and return again to the last day of the solemn assembly. But the former seems more probable. Thy tents, i.e. thy dwellings, which he calls tents, as respecting their present state, and withal to put them in mind afterwards when they were settled in better habitations, that there was a time when they dwelt in tents.
Deut 16:8. Six days, to wit, besides the first day, on which the passover was killed; or rather besides the seventh and the last day, which is here mentioned apart, not as if leavened bread might be eaten then, for the contrary was evident from many places, but because there was something more to be done, to wit, a solemn assembly to be kept. So in all there were seven days, as it is said, Exod 12:15; Lev 23:6; Num 28:17.
Deut 16:9. Seven weeks; of which see on Exod 34:22; Lev 23:10,15. To put the sickle to the corn, i.e. to reap thy corn, thy barley, when the firstfruits were offered, Lev 23:10-11.
Deut 16:10. The feast of weeks, i.e. of Pentecost, Acts 2:1. Which thou shalt give, over and besides what was appointed, Lev 23:17-20; Num 28:27-31.
Deut 16:11-13. Of the feast of tabernacles, see on Exod 23:16; Lev 23:34; Num 29:12.
Deut 16:14-15. To wit, in God and the effects of his favour, praising him with glad heart.
Deut 16:16. All thy males; not the women, partly, because of their infirmity and unfitness for many journeys; partly, because the care of their children and families lay upon them; and partly, because they were sufficiently represented in the men.
Deut 16:17-18. Judges; chief magistrates to examine and determine causes and differences. Officers, who were inferior and subordinate to the other, to bring causes and persons before them, to acquaint people with the mind and sentence of the judges, and to execute their sentence, Deut 20:5,9; Josh 1:10-11; Josh 3:2-3. In all thy gates, i.e. thy cities, which he here calls gates, because there were seats of judgment set. Compare 1 Chron 23:4.
Deut 16:19. Not wrest judgment, i.e. not give a perverse, forced, and unjust sentence. See on Exod 23:8. Not respect persons, i.e. not give sentence according to the quality of the person, his riches or poverty, friendship or enmity, but according to the justice of the cause. A gift doth blind the eyes of the wise; corrupts and biasseth his mind, that as he will not, so ofttimes he cannot, discern between right and wrong. The words of the righteous; either, 1. The words, i.e. the sentence, of those judges who are inclined and used to do righteous things, and have the repute of righteous men, it makes them give wrong judgment. Or, 2. The words, i.e. the matters, or causes, (as word oft signifies,) of righteous persons, or of them whose cause is just.
Deut 16:20. That which is altogether just, Heb. righteousness, righteousness, i.e. nothing but righteousness in all causes and times, and to all persons equally. Compare Isa 26:7.
Deut 16:21. Because this was the practice of idolaters, 1 Kings 15:13, and might be an occasion of reviving idolatry. See Judg 3:7; 1 Kings 14:23; 1 Kings 16:33; 1 Kings 18:19.
Deut 16:22. Heb. statue, whether with a picture or representation, or without it, as the idolaters used to worship smoothed and polished stones or pillars without any image upon them.
Deut 17:1: They are not to offer blemished sacrifices.
Deut 17:2-7: Idolaters are to be put to death.
Deut 17:8-13: Doubts in difficult matters to be resolved by priests and judges.
Deut 17:14-15: To choose a king of their own brethren, and not a stranger.
Deut 17:16-20: The duty of their king.
Deut 17:1. Any bullock or sheep, i.e. either greater or smaller sacrifices, all being comprehended under the two most eminent kinds. See Lev 22:20-21. An abomination, i.e. abominable, as Deut 18:12.
Deut 17:2. Man or woman; the weakness and tenderness of that sex shall not excuse her sin, nor prevent her punishment. In transgressing his covenant, i.e. in idolatry, as it is explained Deut 17:3, which is called a transgression of God’s covenant made with Israel, partly because it is a breach of their faith given to God, and of that law which they covenanted to keep; and principally because it is a dissolution of their matrimonial covenant with God, a renouncing of God and his worship and service, and a choosing other gods.
Deut 17:3. Those glorious creatures, which are to be admired as the wonderful works of God, but not to be set up in God’s stead, nor worshipped as gods: see Job 31:26. By condemning the most specious and reasonable of all idolaters, he intimates how absurd a thing it is to worship stocks and stones, the works of men’s hands. Which I have not commanded, i.e. I have forbidden, to wit, Exod 20. Such negative expressions are oft emphatical, and imply the contrary, as Prov 10:2; Prov 17:21; Prov 24:23.
Deut 17:4. Told thee by any person, thou shalt not slight so much as a rumour or flying report of so gross a crime. Inquired diligently, by sending messengers, examining witnesses, etc.
Deut 17:5-6. At the mouth, i.e. upon the testimony delivered upon oath before the magistrates. Three witnesses, to wit, credible and competent witnesses. The Jews rejected the testimonies of madmen, children, women, servants, familiar friends, or enemies, persons of dissolute lives and evil fame.
Deut 17:7. Shall be first upon him; either laid upon his head to design the person, or stretched out to throw the first stone at him. God thus ordered it, partly for the caution of witnesses, that if they had through malice or wrath accused him falsely, they might now be afraid to imbrue their hands in innocent blood; partly for the security and satisfaction of the people in the execution of this punishment. The hand of all the people, who, being all highly and particularly obliged to God, are bound to express their zeal for his honour and service, and their detestation of all persons and things so highly dishonourable and abominable to him.
Deut 17:8. Too hard for thee; he speaks to the inferior magistrates, who were erected in several cities, as appears by the opposition of these to them at Jerusalem. If, saith he, thou hast not skill or confidence to determine so weighty and difficult a cause. Between blood and blood, i.e. in capital causes in matter of bloodshed, whether it be wilful or casual murder, whether punishable or pardonable by those laws, Exod 21:13,20,22,28; Exod 22:2; Num 35:11,16,19; Deut 19:4,10. Between plea and plea; in civil causes or suits between plaintiffs and defendants about words or estates. Between stroke and stroke, i.e. either first in ceremonial causes, between plague and plague, between the true leprosy, which is ofttimes called the plague, and the seeming and counterfeit leprosy, which was ofttimes hard to determine. And under this, as the most eminent of the kind, may seem to be contained all ceremonial uncleannesses. But this seems not probable, 1. Because the final determination of the matter of leprosy is manifestly left to any particular priest, Lev 13-14. 2. Because the person suspected of leprosy was not to be brought to Jerusalem, to be tried there, but was to be shut up in his own city and house, Lev 13:4-5; and the judges at Jerusalem neither could nor would determine his case without once seeing the person. 3. Because the case of leprosy was not hard or difficult, as those causes are said to be, but plain and evident, and so particularly and punctually described, that the priest needed only eyes to decide it. Or rather, 2. In criminal causes, concerning blows or wounds inflicted by one man upon another, and to be requited to him by the sentence of the magistrate according to that law, Exod 21:23-25, wherein there might be many cases of great difficulty and doubt, about which see the annotations there. Matters of controversy, i.e. such things or matters of blood and pleas and strokes being doubtful, and the magistrates divided in their opinions about it; for if it was a clear case, this was not to be done. Some make this an additional clause to comprehend these and all other things, thus as if he had said, and in general, any words or matters of strifes or contentions. 1. Which the Lord shall choose, to wit, to set up his worship and tabernacle or temple there; because there was the abode, both of their sanhedrim, or chief council, which was constituted of priests and civil magistrates, who were most able to determine all controversies, and of the high priests, who were to consult God by Urim, Num 27:21, in great matters, which could not be decided otherwise.
Deut 17:9. Unto the priests the Levites, i.e. unto the great council, which it is here denominated from, because it consisted chiefly of the priests and Levites, as being the best expositors of the laws of God, by which all those controversies mentioned Deut 17:8 were to be decided. And the high priest was commonly one of that number, and may seem to be understood here under the priests, whereof he was the chief. Unto the judge: this judge here is either, 1. The supreme civil magistrate, who was made by God the keeper of both tables, and was by his office to take care of the right administration both of justice and of religion, who was to determine causes and suits by his own skill and authority in civil matters, and by the priests’ direction in spiritual or sacred causes. But this seems obnoxious to some difficulties, because, 1. This judge was obliged to dwell in the place of God’s worship, which the civil magistrate was not, and ofttimes did not. 2. This judge was one whose office it was to expound and teach others the law of God, as it here follows, Deut 17:11, therefore not the civil magistrate. Or, 2. The high priest, who was obliged to live in this place, to whom it belonged to determine some at least of those controversies mentioned Deut 17:8, and to teach and expound the law of God. And he may be distinctly named, though he be one of the priests, partly because of his eminency and superiority over the rest of them, as after all David’s enemies Saul is particularly mentioned, Ps 18:1; and partly to show that amongst the priests he especially was to be consulted in such cases. But this also seems liable to objections. 1. That he seems to be included under that general expression of the priests and Levites. 2. That the high priest is never in all the Scripture called simply the judge, but generally called the priest, or the high priest, or chief priest, or the like; and it is most probable if Moses had meant him here, he would have expressed him by some of his usual names and titles, and not by a strange title which was not likely to be understood. 3. That divers controversies between blood and blood, plea and plea, stroke and stroke, were not to be determined by the high priest, but by other persons, as appears by Exod 18:22; Deut 1:16-17. Or, 3. The sanhedrim or supreme council, which, as was said before, consisted partly of priests, and partly of wise and learned persons of other tribes, as is confessed by all the Jewish and most other writers. And so this is added by way of explication, partly to show that the priests and Levites here mentioned, as the persons to whom all hard controversies are to be referred, are not all the priests and Levites which should reside in Jerusalem, but only such of them as were or should be members of that great council by whom, together with their fellow-members of other tribes, these causes were to be decided; partly to intimate that that great council, which had the chief and final determination of all the above-said controversies, was a mixed assembly, consisting of wise and good men, some ecclesiastical, and some secular; as it was most meet it should be, because many of the causes which were brought unto them were mixed causes. As for the conjunctive particle and, that may be taken either disjunctively for or, as it is Exod 21:15,17, compared with Matt 15:4; and Num 35:5-6, compared with Matt 12:37; Lev 6:3,5; 2 Sam 2:19,21; or exegetically, for that is, or to wit, as Judg 7:24; 1 Sam 17:40; 1 Sam 28:3; 2 Chron 35:14; and so the sense may be, the priests, the Levites, or the judge, as it is Deut 17:12; or, the priests, the Levites, that is, the judge, or the judges appointed for this work. And though the word judge be in the singular number, and may seem to denote one person, yet it is only an enallage, or change of the number, the singular for the plural, judges, which is most frequent, as Gen 3:2,7; Gen 49:6; 1 Sam 31:1; 1 Kings 10:22; 2 Kings 11:10, compared with 2 Chron 9:21; 2 Chron 23:9 and in the Hebrew, 1 Chron 4:42, where divers officers are called one head. And so it is most probably here, 1. Because the following words Which belong to this run altogether in the plural number, they, they, they, etc., here and Deut 17:10-11. 2. Because here is the same enallage in the other branch, the same person or persons being called the priests here, and the priest de 17:12. 3. Because for the judge here is put the judges, Deut 19:17, where we have the same phrase used upon the same or a like occasion, the men between whom the controversy is shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days. Nor is it strange, but very fit and reasonable, that so many persons being all united in one body, and to give judgment or sentence by the consent of all, or the greatest part, should be here called by the name of one judge, as indeed they were; and for that reason the priests are spoken of in the plural number, because they were many, as also the other members of that assembly were, and the judge in the singular number, because they all constituted but one judge. The sentence of judgment, Heb. the word or matter of judgment, i.e. the true state and right of the cause, and what judgment or sentence ought to be given in it.
Deut 17:10. Thou shalt, i.e. thou shalt pass sentence; for he speaks to the inferior magistrates, as was before noted, who were to give sentence, and came hither to be advised about it. Thou shalt observe to do. It is very observable that this place doth not speak of all controversies of faith, as if they were to believe every thing which they should teach; but only of some particular matters of practice and strife between man and man, to which it is plainly limited, Deut 17:8. And they are not here commanded to believe, but only to do, which is thrice repeated.
Deut 17:11. According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee: these words are a manifest limitation of the foregoing assertion, that they were to do according to all that the judge or judges informed him. And they seem to limit and regulate, 1. The judges in their sentence, that they shall not, upon pretence of this supreme authority put into their hands, presume to teach or direct otherwise than the law prescribes. 2. The people in their obedience; first they shall not simply obey them in all things, but so far forth as their sentence is according to the law and word of God, but not when their commands are evidently contrary to God’s laws, for then, say even popish commentators on this place, they must obey God rather than man. And this cannot be denied by any man of sense, upon supposition that this place speaks of, and this power given to the priest or judge reacheth to, all controversies or questions of faith and manners, as the papists would extend it: for put case these priests or judges should give a sentence directly contrary to the express words of God’s law, Thou shalt worship a graven image, as Aaron did in the case of the calf, thou shalt profane the sabbath, thou shalt dishonour thy father and mother, thou shalt murder, steal, commit adultery, etc., I ask, were the people in this case bound to do as the judge determined, or not? If any say they were, such a bold and wicked assertion must need strike all sober Christians with horror; and if they say they were not, then this must needs be taken for a limitation. But this place speaks only of particular suits between man and man, as is apparent from the notes on Deut 17:8. And in all such cases, although the judge be hereby confined and tied to his rule in giving the sentence, yet it seems but fit and reasonable that people should be bound simply to acquiesce in the sentence of their last and highest judge, or else there would have been no end of strife.
Deut 17:12. That will do presumptuously, i.e. that will proudly and obstinately oppose the sentence given against him. This is opposite to ignorance and error, Exod 21:13-14. The evil; either, 1. The evil thing, that scandal, that pernicious example. Or, 2. That evil, refractory, pernicious person, whose practice herein tends to the dissolution of all government, and the ruin of the commonwealth of Israel.
Deut 17:13-14. He only foresees and foretells what they would do, but doth not seem to approve of it, because when they did this thing for this very reason here alleged, he declares his utter dislike of it, 1 Sam 8:7.
Deut 17:15. Thou shalt set him, i.e. appoint, or install. If you will choose a king, which I shall suffer you to do, I command you to mind this in your choice. Whom the Lord shall choose, approve of, or appoint. So it was in Saul, and in David. God reserved to himself the nomination both of the family and of the person. See 1 Sam 9:15; 1 Sam 10:24; 1 Sam 16:12; 1 Chron 28:4-5. From among thy brethren; of the same nation and religion; partly because such a person was most likely to maintain true religion, and to rule with righteousness, gentleness, and kindness to his subjects; and partly that he might be a fit type of Christ, their supreme King, who was to be one of their brethren. Mayest not set a stranger over thee, to wit, by thy own choice and consent; but if God by his providence and for their sins should set a stranger over them, they might submit to him, as appears from Jer 38:17; Ezek 17:12; Matt 22:17.
Deut 17:16. He shall not multiply horses to himself, to wit, excessively, beyond what the state and majesty of his place required. Hereby God would prevent many sins and mischiefs, as, 1. Pride of heart, and contempt of his people. 2. Oppression and tyranny, and the imposition of unnecessary burdens upon his people. 3. Carnal confidence, which by this means would be promoted. See Ps 33:17; Prov 21:31. 4. Much commerce with Egypt, as it here follows, which was famous for horses, as appears from Exod 14:23; 1 Kings 10:26,28; 2 Chron 1:16; 2 Chron 9:28; Isa 31:1,3; Ezek 17:15. Nor cause the people to return to Egypt; either for habitation, or for trade. This God forbade to prevent, 1. Their unthankfulness for their deliverance out of Egypt. 2. Their confederacies with the Egyptians, their trusting to them for aid, which they were very prone to, and their infection by the idolatry and other manifold wickednesses for which Egypt was infamous. 3. Their multiplication of horses, as it here follows. The Lord hath said: when or where? Answer. Either implicitly, when he showed his dislike of their return to Egypt, as Exod 13:17; Num 14:3-4; or expressly at this time, The Lord hath now said it to me, and I in his name, and by his command, declare it to you. That way; in the way that leads to that place.
Deut 17:17. Neither shall he multiply wives, as the manner of other kings was. That his heart turn not away, to wit, from God and his law; either, 1. To idolatry and superstition, to which women are ofttimes prone, and especially such women as he was likely to choose, even the daughters of neighbouring and idolatrous kings and princes, as Solomon did; or, 2. To other manifold sins and violations of his duty to his people, either by neglect and contempt of his business, through effeminacy and sloth, or by oppressing his people, and perverting justice, to comply with the vast and exorbitant desires of his wives. Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold, lest this should lift up his heart in confidence and pride, which God abhors, and beget in him a contempt of his people; and lest it should incline, or engage, or enable him to burden his people with immoderate exactions. They are not simply forbidden to be rich, if God made them so either by the voluntary gifts of their subjects, or by the spoils of their enemies, which was the case of David, and Solomon, and Jehoshaphat, etc.; but they are forbidden either inordinately to desire, or irregularly to procure, great riches by grinding the faces of their poor people, or by other wicked arts and courses, as the manner of their neighbouring kings was.
Deut 17:18. He shall write; either with his own hand, as the Jews say; or, at least, by his command and procurement. Out of that which is before the priests the Levites, i.e. out of the original, which was carefully kept by the priests in the sanctuary, Deut 31:26; 2 Kings 22:8, partly that it might be a true and perfect copy, and partly that it might have the greater authority and influence upon him, coming to him as from the hand and presence of God.
Deut 17:19. All the days of his life, i.e. diligently and constantly; neither the greatness of his place, nor the weight and multitude, of his business, shall excuse or hinder him.
Deut 17:20. That his heart be not lifted up; he intimates, that the Scriptures, diligently read and studied, are a powerful and probable means to keep him humble, because they show him that, though a king, he is subject to a higher Monarch, to whom he must give an account of all his administrations and actions, and receive from him his sentence and doom agreeable to their quality, which is sufficient to abate the pride of the haughtiest person in the world, if he duly consider it.
Deut 18:1-2: The Lord is the priests’ and Levites’ inheritance.
Deut 18:3-5: Their due from the people.
Deut 18:6-8: A Levite’s portion that came to serve voluntarily.
Deut 18:9-14: All unlawful arts prohibited.
Deut 18:15-19: Christ is promised, whom they must hearken to.
Deut 18:20: False prophets threatened.
Deut 18:21-22: The mark of a false prophet.
Deut 18:1. The offerings of the Lord made by fire; by which phrase we here manifestly see that he means not burnt-offerings, which were wholly consumed by fire, and no part of them eaten by the priests; but other sacrifices, whereof part was offered to the Lord by fire, and part was allotted to the priests for their food. His inheritance, i.e. the Lord’s portion or inheritance, which God had reserved to himself, as tithes and firstfruits, and other oblations distinct from those which were made by fire; and so these two branches make up the whole of that which belonged to God, and was by him given to the Levites.
Deut 18:2. i.e. The Lord’s part and right, as was now said.
Deut 18:3. A sacrifice, to wit, a sacrifice of thanksgiving, or a peace-offering, as appears from Lev 7:31,33, which is ofttimes called simply a sacrifice, as Exod 18:12; Lev 17:5,8; Num 15:3; Deut 12:27. The shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw. Question. How doth this agree with other texts, in which the shoulder and the breast, and those parts only, are the priest’s due, not the cheeks and maw? Answer 1. Who shall tie God’s hands? what if he now makes an addition, and enlargeth the priest’s commons? Nothing more usual than for one scripture to supply what is lacking in another, and for a latter law of God to add to a former. 2. The breast may be here omitted, because it is comprehended under the shoulder, to which it is commonly joined, and with which it was waved before the Lord. 3. The Hebrew word here rendered maw or stomach, which was reckoned among dainties by the ancients, is not to my remembrance used elsewhere, and therefore it may have another signification, and some render it the breast, others take it for the uppermost part of the stomach, which lies under the breast.
Deut 18:4-5. To minister in the name of the Lord, i.e. either by authority and commission from him, or for his honour, worship, or service.
Deut 18:6. Either for any private occasions, or to sojourn there for a season, or rather with full purpose to fix his abode, and to spend his whole time and strength in the service of God, as appears by the sale of his patrimony, mentioned Deut 18:8. It seems probable that the several priests were to come from their cities to the temple by turns before David’s time, and it is certain they did so after it. But if any of them were not contented with this seldom attendance upon God in his tabernacle or temple, and desired more entirely and constantly to devote himself to God’s service there, he was permitted so to do, because this was an eminent act of piety joined with self-denial to part with those great conveniencies which he could and did enjoy in the city of his possession, and to oblige himself to more constant and laborious work about the sacrifices, etc.
Deut 18:8. Like portions, to wit, with their brethren who were in actual ministration; as they share with them in the work, so shall they also in the encouragements. Beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony; though he have an estate whereby he may subsist raised by the sale of his house in his city, and his cattle, and other movables, yet you shall not upon this ground either deny or diminish their part of your maintenance. The reason of this law was, partly because he that waited on the altar ought to live by the altar; and partly because it was fit he should keep his money, wherewith he might redeem what he sold, if afterwards he saw occasion for it. Heb. besides his sales by the fathers, i.e. of that which came to him by his fathers, or, according to his fathers, or, his father’s house; and these words may be joined not with the word immediately foregoing, but with the former part of the verse, the next word coming in by a kind of parenthesis, in this manner and order, Besides that which cometh by the sale of their goods, they shall have like portions to eat to what their brethren have, each of them eating according to his father’s house, i.e. a Gershonite shall eat with his brethren the Gershonites who are then ministering, and a Merarite with the Merarites, etc., and so there shall be no disturbance nor change in the appointed courses by their accession to the number.
Deut 18:9-10. To pass through the fire; either by a superstitious lustration or purgation, or by a cruel sacrificing of them. See Lev 18:21; 2 Kings 17:31; 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chron 28:3; Ps 106:37; Jer 7:31; Jer 19:5; Ezek 16:20-21; Ezek 23:37-39. That useth divination, i.e. foretelleth things secret or to come, Mic 3:11, by unlawful arts and practices. An observer of times; superstitiously pronouncing some days good and lucky, and others unlucky, for such or such actions. Or, an observer of the clouds or heavens, i.e. one that divineth by the motions of the clouds, by the stars, or by the flying or chattering of birds, all which heathens used to observe. An enchanter, or, a conjecturer, that discovers hidden things by a superstitious use of words or ceremonies, by observation of water or smoke, or any contingencies, as the meeting of a hare, etc. See on Lev 19:26. A witch; one that is in covenant with the devil, and by his help deludes their senses, or hurts their persons. See Exod 7:11; Exod 22:18.
Deut 18:11. A charmer; one that charmeth serpents or other cattle, Ps 58:5; or, a fortuneteller, that foretelleth the events of men’s lives by the conjunctions of the stars, etc. See more on Lev 19:31; Lev 20:6. A consulter with familiar spirits, whom they call upon by certain words or rites to engage them in evil designs. A wizard, Heb. a knowing or cunning man, who by any superstitious or forbidden ways undertakes the revelation of secret things: A necromancer; one that calleth up and inquireth of the dead, 1 Sam 28:8; Isa 8:19.
Deut 18:12. The people of the land which thou art going to possess, mentioned above, Deut 18:9.
Deut 18:13. Sincerely and wholly his, seeking him and cleaving to him and to his word alone, and therefore abhorring all commerce and conversations with devils or their agents, such as were now mentioned.
Deut 18:14. Hath not suffered thee to follow thy own vain mind, and these superstitions and diabolical practices, as he hath suffered other nations to do, Acts 14:16, but hath instructed thee better by his word and Spirit, and thereby kept thee from such courses, and will more fully instruct thee by a great Prophet, etc. Or, hath not given to thee, to wit, such persons to consult with, but hath given thee prophets to instruct thee, and will in due time give thee an eminent Prophet, as it here follows.
Deut 18:15. Will raise up, i.e. will produce and send into the world in due time. A Prophet: those words may be understood secondarily concerning the succession of prophets which God would raise for the instruction of his church, both because this is alleged as an argument why they need not consult with diviners, etc., because they should have prophets at hand whensoever it was needful to advise them, and because this Prophet is opposed to the false prophet; and a general rule is hereupon given for the discovery of all succeeding prophets, whether they be true or false, Deut 18:20-22; but they are chiefly to be understood of Christ, as the following words show, which do not truly and fully agree to any other; particularly where he is said to be like unto Moses, which is simply denied concerning all other prophets, Deut 34:10, and therefore it is not probable that it should be simply affirmed concerning all true prophets succeeding him. But Christ was truly, and in all commendable parts, like him, in being both a Prophet and a King, and a Priest and Mediator, as Moses was, in the excellency of his ministry and work, in the glory of his miracles, in his familiar and intimate converse with God, etc. And this place is expounded of Christ alone by God himself in the New Testament, Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37. See also John 1:45; John 6:14.
Deut 18:16. In the day of the assembly, to wit, of that great and general congregation of all the people together.
Deut 18:17-18. Will put my words in his mouth; will instruct him what to say, reveal myself and my will to him. He shall speak unto them all that I shall command him; he will faithfully execute the office and trust I commit him.
Deut 18:19. i.e. I will punish him severely for it, as this phrase is taken, Gen 9:5; Gen 42:22. The sad effect of this threatening the Jews have felt for above sixteen hundred years together.
Deut 18:20-22. If the thing follow not; which he gives as a sign of the truth of his prophecy. He means the prediction of some strange and wonderful event, as appears by comparing this with Deut 13:1-2. The Lord hath not spoken: the falsehood of his prediction shows him to be a false prophet, though the truth and accomplishment of his prediction had not proved him to be a true prophet, as is evident from Deut 13:2-3. Presumptuously; impudently ascribing his own vain and lying fancies to the God of truth. Thou shalt not be afraid of him, i.e. of his predictions or threatenings, so as to be scared from doing thy duty in bringing him to deserved punishment.
Deut 19:1-10: The rehearsal of the cities of refuge for him that killeth his neighbour ignorantly;
Deut 19:11-13: but he that hateth and killeth his neighbour, though fled into one of these cities, must die.
Deut 19:14: No removing of old landmarks.
Deut 19:15: The number of witnesses.
Deut 19:16-21: The punishment of false witnesses.
Deut 19:1-2. In the midst of thy land, to wit, beyond Jordan, as there were three already appointed on this side Jordan, Num 35:14. He saith, in the midst of the land, either for in the land, as in the midst of the city, Jer 52:25, is the same with that in the city, 2 Kings 25:19, or to design the places, that they should be situated in the midst of the several parts of their land, to which they might conveniently and speedily flee from all the parts of the land.
Deut 19:3. Thou shalt prepare thee a way; distinguish it by evident marks, and make it plain and convenient, to prevent mistakes and delays. Into three parts; not into more, because it was fit that these places should, as far as it was possible, be at some considerable distance from the friends of the slain person, lest the sight of the manslayer might have provoked their passion, and occasioned his ruin.
Deut 19:4-6. This verse is to be joined with Deut 19:3, as is evident, the 4th and 5th verses coming in as a parenthesis, which is usual in Scripture and other authors. And slay him; which is supposed, but not allowed, as appears from the following words. But the avenger of blood is not to be punished with death for killing the manslayer, in case he found him without the borders of the city of refuge after he had been received there, Num 35:26-27, because then he was guilty of a new crime, to wit, a contempt of God’s ordinance, and a gross neglect of the duty of self-preservation, and therefore deserved death from God, who might permit it to be inflicted by the avenger of blood.
Deut 19:7-8. Enlarge thy coast, as far as Euphrates. See Gen 15:18; Exod 23:31; Deut 1:7.
Deut 19:9-12. The elders of his city; either of the slain person, who were most likely to prosecute the murderer; or of the murderer, because God would oblige even his own fellow citizens to prosecute him to death, that it might appear how hateful murder and the murderer is to God, and ought to be to all men. Fetch him thence; demand him of the elders of the city of refuge, who upon the hearing of the cause and the evidence of the murder were obliged to deliver the offender to justice.
Deut 19:13-14. Thy neighbour’s landmark; by which the several portions of land distributed to several families were distinguished one from another. See Job 24:2; Prov 22:28; Hos 5:10.
Deut 19:15. Shall not rise up, or, not stand, or, not be established, accepted, owned as sufficient: it is the same word which in the end of the verse is rendered be established.
Deut 19:16. A single witness, though he speak truth, is not to be accepted for the condemnation of another man; but if he be convicted of false witness, this is sufficient for his own condemnation.
Deut 19:17. See on Deut 17:9,12, and observe that the controversies both here and there referred to, and to be determined by the priests and judges, are only between man and man, and not doctrines of faith and manners, as the papists for their own advantage pretend.
Deut 19:18-20. Those which remain, i.e. the rest of the people. See Deut 13:11; Deut 17:13.
Deut 19:21. What punishment he intended or the law allotted to the accused, if he had been convicted, the same shall the false accuser bear. Of this law see on Exod 21:23; Lev 24:20
Deut 20:1-4: The priest’s exhortation to encourage the people to fight their enemies.
Deut 20:5-9: The officers’ proclamation who are to be dismissed from the war.
Deut 20:10: A proclamation of peace to be made to besieged cities,
Deut 20:11-18: and to deal with them as they accept or refuse it.
Deut 20:19-20: What trees were to be cut down for the siege, and what not.
Deut 20:1. When thou goest out to battle, upon a just and necessary cause, as upon great provocation, or for thy own defence.
Deut 20:2. The priest; an eminent priest appointed for this work, and to blow with the holy trumpets, Num 10:9; Num 31:6. Speak unto the people; either successively to one regiment of the army after another, or to some by himself, to others by his brethren or deputies, which accompanied him for that end.
Deut 20:3. Faint, Heb. be soft or tender. Softness or tenderness of heart towards God is commended, 2 Kings 22:19, but towards enemies it is condemned, here and Deut 20:8; Lev 26:36; 2 Chron 13:7; Isa 7:4.
Deut 20:4-5. Houses were dedicated by feasting and thanksgiving to God. See Ps 30:1; Neh 12:27. Heb. hath initiated it, i.e. entered upon it, taken possession of it, dwelt in it. Let him return to his house, lest his heart be set upon it, and thereby he be negligent or timorous in the battle, to the scandal and prejudice of others. Another man dedicate it; and so he should lose and another get the fruit of his labours, which might seem unjust or hard. And God provides even for men’s infirmities. But this and the following exceptions are to be understood only of a war allowed by God, not in a war commanded by God, not in the approaching war with the Canaanites, from which even the bridegroom was not exempted, as the Jewish writers note.
Deut 20:6. This and the former dispensation were generally convenient, but more necessary in the beginning of their settlement in Canaan, for the encouragement of those who should build houses or plant vineyards, which was chargeable to them, and beneficial to the commonwealth. Eaten of it, Heb. made it common, to wit, for the use of himself and family and friends, which it was not till the fifth year, Lev 19:23; Jer 31:5.
Deut 20:7. Betrothing was done by a solemn and mutual promise, but not by an actual contract. See Gen 19:14; Deut 22:23.
Deut 20:8-9. Or rather, as the Hebrew hath it, they shall set or place the captains of the armies in the head or front of the people under their charge, that they may conduct and manage them, and by their example encourage their soldiers. But it is not likely they had their captains to make or choose when they were just going to battle.
Deut 20:10. This seems to be understood not of the cities of the Canaanites, as is manifest from Deut 20:16-18, who were under an absolute sentence of utter destruction, Exod 23:32-33; Deut 7:1-2; whence they are blamed that made any league or peace with them, Judg 2:2; but of the cities either of other nations who injured or disturbed them, or commenced war against them, or aided their enemies, or oppressed their friends and allies; or of the Hebrews themselves, if they were guilty or abettors of idolatry or apostacy from God, or of sedition or rebellion against authority, or of giving protection and defence to capital offenders. See Gen 15; Judg 20; 2 Sam 20; etc.
Deut 20:11. By their purses, and by their labours too, as appears from 1 Kings 9:15; 2 Chron 8:7-8.
Deut 20:12-13. A just punishment of their obstinate refusal of peace offered.
Deut 20:14. The little ones, excused by their sex or age, as not involved in the guilt, nor being likely to revenge their quarrel.
Deut 20:15-16. Heb. no soul, i.e. no man, as that word is oft used. Compare Josh 10:40, with Deut 11:14. For the beasts, some few excepted as being under a special curse, were given them for a prey.
Deut 20:17-19. The trees thereof, to wit, the fruit trees, as appears from the following words; which is to be understood of a general destruction of them, not of the cutting down of some few of them, as the conveniency of the siege might require. Man’s life, i.e. the sustenance or support of his life, as life is taken Deut 24:6. But this place may be otherwise translated, as it is in the margin of our English Bibles: For, O man, (the Hebrew letter he being here the note of a vocative case, as it is Ps 9:7) the tree (or trees, the singular number for the plural, as is common) of the field is (or ought, as the Hebrew lamed is used Esther 9:1; Ps 62:10) to be employed in the siege; or, as it is in the Hebrew, to go before thy face, i.e. to make fences for thy security, in the siege. The trees of the field: I here understand not its general signification of all trees, including fruit-bearing trees, as that phrase is commonly used, but in its more special and distinct signification, for unfruitful trees, as it is taken Isa 55:12; or such as grow only in open fields, such as are elsewhere called the trees of the wood, 1 Chron 16:33; Isa 7:2, or the trees of the forest, Song 2:3; Isa 10:19, which are opposed to the trees of the gardens, Gen 3:2,8; Eccles 2:5; Ezek 31:9; as the flower of the field, Ps 103:15; Isa 40:6, and the lilies of the field, Matt 6:28, are opposed to those that grow in gardens, and are preserved and cultivated by the gardener’s art and care. And so it is a very proper argument to dissuade from the destroying of fruit trees, because the wild and unfruitful trees were sufficient for the use of the siege. And this sense fitly agrees with the following words, where the concession or grant, which here is delivered in more ambiguous terms, of the tree of the field, is repeated and explained concerning the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat.
Deut 21:1-19: How to expiate an uncertain murder.
Deut 21:10-14: The usage of a captive taken to wife.
Deut 21:15-17: The first born, though the son of the hated, is not to be disinherited.
Deut 21:18-21: The punishment of a stubborn son, viz. death.
Deut 21:22-23: The cursed death of them that are hanged.
Deut 21:1. In the field, or, in the city, or any place, only the field is named, as the place where such murders are most commonly committed, and most easily concealed.
Deut 21:2. Thy elders and thy judges; those of thy elders who are judges; for the latter word explains and restrains the former, the judges or rulers of all the neighbouring cities, who were all concerned in this inquiry. They shall measure, unless it be evident and confessed which city is nearest, for then measuring was superfluous.
Deut 21:3. A fit vicegerent and representative of the murderer, in whose stead it was killed, who by this act hath shown himself to be a son of Belial, who would not bear the yoke of God’s law. A type also of Christ, who was obliged to no work, and under no yoke, but what he had voluntarily taken upon himself.
Deut 21:4. Neither eared nor sown; partly to represent the hard and unprofitable and untutored heart of the murderer; and partly that such a desert and horrid place might beget a horror of murder and of the murderer. Strike off the heifer’s neck, to show what they would and should have done to the murderer if they had found him.
Deut 21:5. The priests shall come near, both to direct them in all the circumstances of action and to see that the law was observed, and to bless them in God’s name, by praying for them, and absolving or pronouncing them guiltless in this matter. Every controversy; not absolutely all manner of controversies that could possibly arise, as if their word were to determine whether there were a God or providence or no, whether God should be worshipped, and his commands observed, or no, whether Moses was a true prophet or an impostor, whether apostate and idolatrous Israelites should be punished or no, which is apparently absurd and ridiculous; but every such controversy as might arise about the matter here spoken of; nothing being more usual than to understand universal expressions in a limited sense; and indeed this is limited and explained by the following words, and every stroke, the particle and being put expositively, of which instances have been formerly given, i.e. every controversy which shall arise about any stroke, whether such a mortal stroke as is here spoken of, a murder, which may well be called a stroke, as to smite is oft used for to kill, as Gen 4:15; Lev 24:17, etc., or any other stroke or wound given by one man to another.
Deut 21:6. In testimony of their innocency. See on Matt 27:24.
Deut 21:7. They shall answer, to wit, to the priests who shall examine them and determine this controversy. This blood; this about which the present inquiry is made; or this which is here present; for it is thought the corpse of the slain man was brought into the same place where the heifer was slain. Neither have our eyes seen it; nor have we seen or understood how or by whom this was done.
Deut 21:8. i.e. Not imputed to them, nor punished in them; for God is sometimes said to forgive when he doth not punish, as Ps 78:38. Besides, though there was no mortal guilt in this people, yet there was a ceremonial uncleanness in the land, which was to be expiated and forgiven.
Deut 21:9-10. Thine enemies, of other nations, but not of the Canaanites, for they might not spare their women, and much less marry them, Exod 34:16; Deut 7:3.
Deut 21:11. Hast a desire unto her; or, hast cleaved to her, to wit, in love; or, hast taken delight in her; which may be a modest expression for lying with her, and seems probable, because it is said, Deut 21:14, that he had humbled her, to wit, by military insolence, when he took her captive, not after he had married her, for then he would have expressed it thus, because thou hast married her, which had been more emphatical than to say, because thou hast humbled her. And here seem to be two cases supposed, and direction given what to do in both of them: 1. That he did desire to marry her, of which he speaks Deut 21:11-13. 2. That he did not desire this, or not delight in her, of which he speaks Deut 21:14.
Deut 21:12. Either, 1. To take off his affections from her by rendering her uncomely and deformed; but then the last words must not be rendered shall pare her nails, but shall nourish them, or suffer them to grow, as the Chaldee, Arabic, and divers of the learned Jews and other interpreters render it. Or, 2. To express her sorrow for the loss of her father and mother, as it follows, Deut 21:13, it being the ancient custom of mourners in most nations to shave themselves, and in some to pare their nails, in others to suffer them to grow. Or rather, 3. In token of her renouncing her heathenish idolatry and superstition, and of her becoming a new woman, and embracing the true religion; which her captive condition and subjection to his will would make her inclinable to do in profession.
Deut 21:13. The raiment of her captivity, i.e. either, 1. Those goodly raiments in which she was when she was taken captive, instead of which she now must put on a servile habit, as this is generally understood; or rather, 2. Those servile and sordid raiments which were put upon her when she was taken captive, as the manner was to do with captives, as the phrase itself seems to intimate; as prison garments (Jer 52:33) are such garments as prisoners use to wear; and garments of praise are praiseworthy or glorious garments; and it seems harsh to call those garments of captivity, which are made for and generally worn by free persons only, and which are usually taken away from persons when they come into captivity. Add, that this doth not seem to be any part or token of her sorrow, but rather a mending of her condition, and exchanging her servile habit for a better and more decent one, which might be, though this were a mourning habit. Her father and mother; either their death, or, which was in effect the same, her final separation from them. Withal this signified her alienation from them or from their superstitious and idolatrous courses, and her translation of her love from all other persons to her husband and to the true religion. Compare Ps 45:11. She shall be thy wife; supposing what might very rationally be supposed of one in her circumstances, and what she signified by the foregoing rites, that she should submit to her husband’s religion, in which case the marriage might be tolerable. Or this was a permission and indulgence given to them for the hardness of their hearts, as in the case of divorce, Deut 24:1; Matt 19:8.
Deut 21:14. If thou have no delight in her; either, 1. After thou hast married her; and so this is a permission of a divorce, which being indulged towards an Israelitish woman, was not likely to be denied towards a stranger. Or rather, 2. Before thy marriage; for it is not probable, that God having given him competent time for the trial of his affections to her before he was permitted to marry her, would suffer him upon so slight an occasion, within a day or two after so solemn a contract, to send her away; nor is there a word spoken here of any divorce. Thou shalt not make merchandise of her, i.e. make gain of her, either by using her to thy own servile works, or by prostituting her to the lusts or to the service of others. Humbled her, i.e. lain with her, as this phrase is oft used, as Gen 34:2; Deut 22:24,29; Judg 19:24; Ezek 23:10-11.
Deut 21:15. Two wives; either, 1. Both together; which practice, though tolerated, is not hereby made lawful, but only provision is made for the children in that case. Or, 2. One after another. Hated, comparatively, i.e. less loved, as Gen 29:31; Matt 6:24; Luke 14:26.
Deut 21:16. He may not; it is not lawful, because contrary to the rights and law of nature. Before the son, or, before the face of the son, i.e. in his lifetime, as this phrase is understood, Gen 11:28; Gen 16:12; Gen 25:18. And when this phrase is rendered before another, it signifies only in the presence of another, but never notes the preference of one person to another, which the Hebrews express in another manner. And this may be added to intimate, that if the eldest son were dead, and had left a child, the father was free to give the right of his firstborn unto his second son, rather than to the child of the eldest. Or this phrase may be an aggravation of the fact, whereby his father did in a manner spit in his face, and fasten a reproach upon him in his very sight and presence.
Deut 21:17. Acknowledge, i.e. make it appear that he owns him. Double portion; for the phrase, see 2 Kings 2:9; Zech 13:8; and for the thing, see Gen 25:31; 1 Chron 5:1. The beginning of his strength, i.e. the first evidence of his manly strength and ability for procreation.
Deut 21:18-19. The consent of both father and mother is required to prevent the abuse of this law to cruelty. And it cannot reasonably be supposed that both would agree without manifest necessity, and the son’s abominable and incorrigible wickedness, in which case it seems a fit and righteous law, because the crime of rebellion against his own parents was so high in itself, and did so fully signify what a pernicious member and son of Belial he would be in the commonwealth of Israel, who had dissolved all his natural obligations. Yet the Jews say this law was never put in practice, and therefore it might be made for terror and prevention, and to render the authority of parents more sacred and powerful. Bring him out unto the elders of his city; which was a sufficient caution to preserve children from the malice of any hardhearted parents, because these elders were first to examine the cause with all exactness, and then to pronounce the sentence.
Deut 21:20. Stubborn and rebellious, adds incorrigibleness to all his wickedness. A glutton and a drunkard; under which two offences others of a like or worse nature are comprehended by a synecdoche.
Deut 21:21. Stoning was the punishment appointed for blasphemers and idolaters; which if it seem severe, it is to be considered that parents are in God’s stead, and intrusted in good measure with his authority over their children; and that families are the matter and foundation of the church and commonwealth, and they who are naughty members and rebellious children in them, do commonly prove the bane and plague of these; and therefore no wonder if they are nipped in the bud.
Deut 21:22. Which was done after the malefactor was put to death some other way, this public shame being added to his former punishment. See Josh 7:25; Josh 8:29; Josh 10:26; 2 Sam 4:12.
Deut 21:23. Is accursed of God, i.e. he is in a singular manner cursed and punished by God’s appointment with a most shameful kind of punishment, as this was held among the Jews and all nations; and therefore this punishment may suffice for him, and there shall not be added to it that of lying unburied, which was another great calamity, Jer 16:4. And this curse is here appropriated to those that are hanged, partly because this punishment was inflicted only upon the most notorious and public offenders, and such as brought the curse of God upon the community, as Num 25:4; 2 Sam 21:6; and principally to fore-signify that Christ should undergo this execrable punishment, and be made a curse for us, Gal 3:13, which though it was yet to come in respect to men, yet was present unto God, and in his eye at this time. And so this is delivered with respect unto Christ, as many other passages of Scripture manifestly are. Be not defiled, to wit, morally; either by inhumanity towards the dead; or rather by suffering the monument or memorial of the man’s great wickedness, and of God’s curse, to remain public and visible a longer time than God would have it, whereas it should be put out of sight, and buried in oblivion.
Deut 22:1-3: Laws about stray cattle.
Deut 22:4: About thy neighbor’s ox fallen in the way.
Deut 22:5: Woman’s wearing of apparel distinct from man’s.
Deut 22:6-7: Of birds caught.
Deut 22:8: Of battlements for houses.
Deut 22:9: Of divers seeds sown.
Deut 22:10: Of ploughing with an ox and ass.
Deut 22:11: Of garments of divers colours.
Deut 22:12: Of fringes upon the four quarters of a garment.
Deut 22:13-19: The punishment of him that slandereth his wife.
Deut 22:20-21: Her punishment if the scandal be true.
Deut 22:22-24: The punishment of adultery;
Deut 22:25-27: of rape;
Deut 22:28-29: of fornication.
Deut 22:30: Against incest.
Deut 22:1. Thy brother; so called by communion not of religion, but of nature, as having one Father, even God, Mal 2:10; as appears, 1. Because the same law is given about their enemy’s ox, etc., Exod 23:4. 2. Because else the obligation of this law had been uncertain, seeing men could not ordinarily tell whether the straying ox or sheep belonged to a Jew or to a stranger. 3. Because this was a duty of common justice and charity, which the law of nature taught even heathens, and it is absurd to think that the law of God delivered to the Jews should have less charity in it than the law of nature given to the Gentiles. Hide thyself from them, i.e. dissemble or pretend that thou dost not seen them; or neglect or pass them by as if thou hadst not seen them.
Deut 22:2. If thy brother be not nigh unto thee, which may make the duty more troublesome or chargeable. If thou know him not; which implies, that if they did know the owner, they should restore it to him. Thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, to be used like thine own cattle. Thou shalt restore it to him again, the owner, as it may be presumed, paying the charges.
Deut 22:3. i.e. Dissemble that thou hast found it. Or, hide it, i.e. conceal the thing lost.
Deut 22:4. Help him, i.e. thy brother, the owner. Compare Exod 13:5.
Deut 22:5. This shall not be done ordinarily or unnecessarily, for in some cases it may be lawful, as to make an escape for one’s life. Now this is forbidden, partly for decency sake, that men might not confound, nor seem to confound, those sexes which God hath distinguished, that all appearance of evil might be avoided, such change of garments carrying a manifest umbrage or sign of softness and effeminacy in the man, of arrogance and impudency in the woman, of lightness and petulancy in both; and partly to cut off all suspicions and occasions of evil, which this practice opens a wide door unto.
Deut 22:6-7. Let the dam go; partly for the bird’s sake, which suffered enough by the loss of its young; for God would not have cruelty exercised towards the brute creatures; and partly for men’s sake, to restrain their greediness and covetousness, that they should not monopolize all to themselves, but might leave the hopes of a future seed for others.
Deut 22:8. A battlement, i.e. a fence or breastwork, because the roofs of their houses were made flat or plain, that men might walk on them. See Judg 16:27; 1 Sam 9:25; 2 Sam 11:2; Neh 8:16; Matt 10:27. Blood, i.e. the guilt of blood, by a man’s fall from the top of thy house, through thy neglect of this necessary provision.
Deut 22:9. With divers seeds; either, 1. With divers kinds of seed mixed and sowed together between the rows of vines in thy vineyard; which was forbidden to be done in the field, Lev 19:19, and here in the vineyard. Or, 2. With any kind of seed differing from that of the vine, which would produce either herbs, or corn, or fruit-bearing trees, whose fruit might be mingled with the fruit of the vines. Now this and the two following precepts, though in themselves small and trivial, are given, according to that time and state of the church, for documents or instructions in greater matters, and particularly to commend to them simplicity and sincerity in all their carriages towards God and men, and to forbid all mixture of their inventions with God’s institutions, in doctrine or worship. The fruit of thy seed, Heb. the fulness of thy seed, i.e. that seed when it is ripe and full. See Exod 22:29; Num 18:27. Defiled; either, 1. Naturally corrupted or marred, whilst one seed draws away the fat and nourishment of the earth from the other, and so both are starved and spoiled. Or rather, 2. Legally and morally, as being prohibited by God’s law, and thereby made unclean; as, on the contrary, things are sanctified by God’s word allowing and approving them, 1 Tim 4:5. Heb. be sanctified, or, be as a sanctified thing, by an ellipsis of the particle as, i.e. unlawful for the owner’s use, as things sanctified were. Or, sanctifying is put for polluting, by a figure called euphemismus, which is frequent in Scripture, as when blessing is put for cursing, as Job 2:9, and in other authors, as when they use sacred for execrable.
Deut 22:10. Either, 1. Because the one was a clean beast, the other unclean; whereby God would teach men to avoid polluting themselves by the touch of unclean persons or things, 2 Cor 6:14. Or, 2. Because of their unequal strength, whereby the weaker, the ass, would be oppressed and overwrought. Or, 3. For mystical reasons, of which see on Deut 22:9; Lev 19:19.
Deut 22:11-12. Fringes, or laces, or strings; partly to bring the commands of God to their remembrance, as it is expressed, Num 15:38; and partly as a public profession of their nation and religion, whereby they might be discerned and distinguished from strangers, that so they might be more circumspect to behave themselves as became the people of God, and that they should not be ashamed to own their God and religion before all the world. Wherewith thou coverest thyself: these words are either restrictive to the upper garment, wherewith the rest were covered; or argumentative, why they should use these things, because herewith they might possibly fasten their garments, and prevent the uncovering themselves, as might easily happen, when they wore no breeches, but only loose garments.
Deut 22:13. Go in unto her, i.e. hath had carnal knowledge of her.
Deut 22:14. Of speech, Heb. of words, i.e. of discourses or defamations.
Deut 22:15. i.e. The linen cloth or sheet, as is expressed, Deut 22:17, which in the first congress was infected with blood, as is natural and usual. But because this is not now constant, the enemies of Scripture take occasion to quarrel with this law, as unreasonable and unjust, and such as might oppress the innocent, and hence take occasion to reject the Holy Scriptures. It were much more reasonable for these men either to expound this place metaphorically, of producing those proofs and testimonies of her virginity which should be as satisfactory as if that cloth were produced, as some of the Jews understand it; or modestly to acknowledge their own ignorance in this, as they are forced to do in many other things, and not impudently to conclude it is insoluble, because they cannot resolve it. But there is no need of such general answers, many things may be particularly said for the vindication of this law. 1. That it was necessary for that people, because of their hardheartedness towards their wives, and their levity and desire of change of wives. 2. That either this trial, or at least the proof of her virginity, was to be taken presently after the day of marriage, and that proof was to be admitted afterwards upon occasion. 3. That this law was seldom or never put in execution, as the Jews note, and seems to be made for terror and caution to husbands and wives, as really other laws have been in like cases. 4. That that God who gave this law did by his providence govern all affairs, and rule the tongues and hearts of men, and therefore would doubtless take care so to order matters that the innocent should not suffer by this means, which he could prevent many ways. 5. That there is a great difference in times and climates. Who knows not that there are many things now by our moderns thought uncertain or false, by which by the ancient physicians were thought and affirmed to be true, and certain in their times and countries, and that many signs of diseases and other things do generally hold true in those more southerly and warmer parts of the world, which are many times deceitful in our northern and colder climates? 6. That this very way of trial of virginity hath been used not only by the Jews, but also by the Arabians and Egyptians, as is affirmed by divers learned writers, among whom yet it was more doubtful and hazardous than among the Jews, who might promise to themselves that God would guide the execution of his own law to a just and good issue. 7. That this sign, if it were uncertain in persons of riper years, yet it may be reasonably thought certain and constant in virgins of young and tender age, and that the Jews did ordinarily marry their daughters when they were about twelve or thirteen years old, as is confessed; as making haste to roll away that reproach which they thought to be in an unmarried state.
Deut 22:16-18. Either, 1. By the following mulct. Or, 2. By severe reproofs, which that word oft signifies. Or, 3. By stripes, as is expressed, Deut 25:2-3. Which is not strange, considering how precious a thing one’s good name is, of which he endeavoured to deprive his wife.
Deut 22:19. Unto the father of the damsel; because this was a reproach to his family, and to himself, because such a miscarriage of his daughter would have been ascribed to his evil education. He may not put her away all his days; which seems to have been his design in this false accusation, and therefore that liberty of a divorce which is permitted to others, Deut 24:1, shall be denied to him.
Deut 22:20-21. Question. Why should she die when her crime was only fornication, which was not punished in a woman with death, Exod 22:16,17? Answer. Because there was not only fornication in this case, as Exod 22, but this was accompanied with deep dissimulation and injury to her husband in the false profession of virginity, and it might be presumed that she committed this folly after she was betrothed to him, and therefore so obstinately denied it, as knowing the danger of it in that case; or God ordered it thus for the honour and custody of the matrimonial bed from all defilement, that she, who being defiled before she was married or betrothed, and therefore not punishable by death, yet if she should presume to carry her defilement into the married estate with a pretence of virginity, she should then be put to death.
Deut 22:22. If a man be found; if he be convicted of this fault, though not taken in the very act.
Deut 22:23. By this betrothing she had actually engaged herself to another man, and was in some sort his with, and therefore is sometimes so called, as Gen 29:21; Matt 1:20.
Deut 22:24. Because she cried not; and therefore is justly presumed to have consented to it.
Deut 22:25. The man force her; which was to be examined and determined by the consideration of all the circumstances.
Deut 22:26. Not an act of choice, but of force and constraint.
Deut 22:27. The damsel cried; which is in that case to be presumed; charity obliging us to believe the best till the contrary be manifest.
Deut 22:28. i.e. An unmarried man, as appears, 1. From his obligation to marry the person he abused, which it is not probable would have been imposed upon him, had he been married. 2. Because if the man had been married, this had been adultery, and so had been punished with death. Lay hold on her; which notes some kind of force or artifice, whereby she was overpowered; whereas Exod 22:16, she was enticed, which implies consent, and therefore the man doth here receive a greater punishment, because he used hostile violence towards her, which was the greater sin.
Deut 22:29. Fifty shekels of silver, besides the dowry, as Philo the learned Jew notes, which is here omitted, because that was common and customary, and because it might easily be gathered out of Exod 22:16, it being sufficient here to mention what was peculiar to this case. She shall be his wife, to wit, if her father consent to it, which is to be supposed out of Exod 22:16, it being not likely that the father should lose his paternal right of disposing his child when she was in some sort forced, rather than when she was enticed. He may not put her away all his days, which others were suffered to do, Deut 24:1, and he who enticed the maid (Exod 22:16) was not prohibited to do.
Deut 22:30. Shall not take to wife. So this respects the state, and the next branch speaks of the act only. His father’s wife; his mother-in-law. See Lev 18:8; Lev 20:11; 1 Cor 5:1. His father’s skirt, i.e. the skirt of the mother’s garment, i.e. the nakedness, which is here called his father’s skirt, because his father and mother were one flesh, or because his father alone had the right to uncover it. The phrase is taken from the ancient custom or ceremony of the bridegroom’s spreading the skirt of his garment over the bride, to signify his right to her, and authority over her, and his obligation to the marriage duty. See Ruth 3:9; Ezek 16:8.
Deut 23:1-6: Who are to be excluded from the congregation.
Deut 23:7-8: An Edomite and Egyptian not to be abhorred, and why.
Deut 23:9-14: No uncleanness to be in the camp.
Deut 23:17: No filthiness.
Deut 23:18: No abominable sacrifice must be.
Deut 23:19-20: No usury, but to strangers.
Deut 23:21-23: Vows must be kept.
Deut 23:24-25: The liberty that was lawful in their neighbour’s field or vineyard.
Deut 23:1. Heb. wounded by compression, or attrition, or contusion, to wit, of the stones, which was the course the Gentiles took with infants to make them eunuchs. And these eunuchs and bastards, Deut 23:2, seem to be not only those of other nations, as some understand it, without any foundation for such restriction, but also of the Israelites; the reason of this law being the same in all, to wit, that God would bring into disgrace those heathenish practices of making eunuchs, and getting bastards, which doubtless he would especially do among his own people. Shall not enter into the congregation of the Lord; which phrase cannot be understood so that they might not come into the church, or holy assemblies, to worship God, to pray, or hear, etc., because proselytes of any nation, being admitted to common church privileges, no less than the Jews, (as is evident from Exod 12:48; Lev 22:18; Num 9:14; Num 15:15) it were absurd to think that any of the Israelites, for such a natural or involuntary defect, should be shut out from all God’s ordinances; nor so that they were to be put out of the muster-roll of God’s people, or to lose the privileges common to all Israelites, to wit, the benefit of the year of release or jubilee, which it is not probable the Israelites were to forfeit merely for this unculpable imperfection; but either, 1. That they should not be incorporated into the body of Israel by marriage; for so this phrase may seem to have been understood by the whole congregation of Israel, Neh 13:1-3,23-25; although at that time the government was in part in the hands of such persons as are here mentioned, Deut 23:3, or of their children, seeing it is apparent from Ezra 10 that many priests and Levites and other officers and rulers of Israel were married to strange women, whose issue are by this law excluded from all share in the government, and for that, among other reasons, Nehemiah separated them from Israel by virtue of the law here following. Or, 2. That they should not be admitted to honours and offices either in the church or commonwealth of Israel; and so the congregation of the Lord doth not here signify, as commonly it doth, the body of the people, but the society of the elders or rulers of the people, who, as they represent the whole congregation, and act in their name, and for their service and good, so they are sometimes called by the name of the congregation, as Num 35:12,24-25; Josh 20:6,9; 1 Kings 8:5, compared with Deut 23:1-3; and 1 Chron 13:1-2,4; 1 Chron 29:1,10,20, compared with 1 Chron 28:1; 1 Chron 29:6; and of the congregation of God, as it is in the Hebrew of Ps 82:1. Howsoever, seeing they are oft called the congregation, they may very well be called in a special manner the congregation of the Lord, because they were appointed by God, and act in his name and stead, and for his work and service, and did also oft assemble near the tabernacle, where God was eminently present. Add to this, that the Hebrew word kahal generally signifies a congregation or company of men met together; and therefore this cannot so conveniently be meant of all the body of the people, which could never meet in one place, but of the chief rulers, which frequently did so. Nor is it strange that eunuchs are excluded from government, partly because such persons are commonly observed to want that courage which is necessary for a governor, Exod 18:21; and partly because as such persons ordinarily were despicable, so the office and authority in their hands was likely to be exposed to the same contempt.
Deut 23:2. A bastard; so the word is commonly rendered, and so it notes a person baseborn, or born in fornication or adultery, or by incestuous or any prohibited mixtures of man and woman. Objection 1. This law seems harsh, and too severe for the innocent bastard. Answer 1. It was only an exclusion from government, which was a tolerable burden. 2. It was a necessary caution to prevent and brand the sin of uncleanness, to which the Jews were more than ordinarily prone. Objection 2. Pharez and Jephthah were both bastards, yet advanced to great honour and authority. Answer. God gives laws to us, and not to himself; and, therefore he might, when he saw fit, confer what favour or power he pleased upon any such person, as he did to these. But some add, that the Hebrew word mamzer signifies not every bastard, but a bastard born of any strange woman, as the word may seem to intimate, and as such persons generally seem to have been, because of that special provision, that there should be no whore of the daughters of Israel, as it is here below, Deut 23:17. To his tenth generation; or, his tenth generation, as it is in the Hebrew, and so in the following verses.
Deut 23:3. This may be understood either, 1. Of the males only, or the children of such fathers, as interpreters commonly take it. Or rather, 2. Of females also, or of all that were born either of such fathers or mothers, as may be gathered from Ezra 10; Neh 13, where the children of strange wives were separated from Israel no less than the children of strange fathers. And it is an allowed maxim, that the birth follows the belly. And whereas the children of Rahab and Ruth are produced to the contrary, it may be said as it was before, that these were extraordinary instances, and that God when he pleased might exempt any particular person of them from this curse, though the Israelites might not do so. For ever; so it seems to note the immutability and perpetuity of this law, that it should be inviolably observed in all succeeding ages, and not dispensed with for any merit in the persons, or any pretence whatsoever. But why then should this clause be added only here, seeing the foregoing laws are as inviolable as this? It seems therefore to extend the duration of this exclusion of them from the congregation of the Lord beyond what was said at first, and to be added by way of aggravation, even to their tenth generation shall they not enter遥ea, even for ever, i.e. they shall never enter, as it is expressed, without any mention of the tenth generation, Neh 13:1, that they shall not come into the congregation of God for ever.
Deut 23:4. They met you not, as the manner of those times was to wait and provide for strangers and travellers; see Gen 14:17; Gen 18:2-3; Gen 19:1-2; Judg 19:17-21; which was the more necessary, because in those times and countries there were no such public houses of entertainment, as now there are among us. Their fault then was unmercifulness to strangers and pilgrims, and afflicted persons, which was aggravated both by their relation to the Israelites, as being the children of Lot, and by the special kindness of God and of the Israelites to them, in not fighting against them, as they had just occasion to do, and as they did by others, Deut 2. Objection. Question. How doth this agree with Deut 2:28-29, where the Moabites which dwell in Ar are said to have sold them meat and drink? Answer 1. It is one thing voluntarily to meet them, and kindly to relieve them with bread and water, which they are here denied to have done, and a quite differing thing to sell them bread and water when they are upon their very borders, and their own interest forced them to do so. 2. It may seem that it was only those Moabites that dwelt in Ar did so, as is said Deut 2:29, and that all the rest of the people neglected or refused to do it; and therefore the sin being so general and national, no wonder if the punishment be so too. 3. These and the following words, both here and Neh 13:1, are to be taken distributively; and this first member of the verse belongs to the Ammonites, who did not meet them with bread, etc., and the latter part to the Moabites, who, together with the Midianites, but not with the Ammonites, hired Balaam, etc.
Deut 23:5. i.e. Forced Balaam to bless thee, who was hired and inclined to curse thee, if possibly he could.
Deut 23:6. i.e. Make no contracts, either by marriages, or leagues, or commerce with them, but rather shalt constantly keep a jealous eye over them, as enemies who will watch every opportunity to insnare or disturb thee. This counsel was now the more necessary, because a great part of the Israelites lived beyond Jordan in the borders of those people, and therefore God sets up this wall of partition betwixt them, as well knowing the mischief of bad neighbours, and Israel’s proneness to receive infection from them. Each particular Israelite is not hereby forbidden to perform any office of humanity to them, but the body of the nation are forbidden all friendly and familiar conversation with them.
Deut 23:7. An Edomite; the children of Edom; only the Amalekites are excepted by God’s particular order, and upon special reason, Deut 25:17-19. Thy brother, by Esau, Jacob’s brother. Thou wast a stranger in his land, and didst receive habitation, protection, and provision from them a long time, which kindness thou must not forget for their following persecution. It is ordinary with great men and others, that one injury or offence blots out the remembrance of twenty courtesies; but God doth not deal so with us, nor will he have us to deal so with others, but commands us to overlook and forget injuries, and to remember kindnesses.
Deut 23:8. Supposing their grandfather or great grandfather turned proselyte, and the children continue in that faith received by such ancestors.
Deut 23:9. Then especially take heed, because that is a time and state of confusion and licentiousness, when, as one said, the laws of God and man cannot be heard for the noise of arms; and because the success of thy arms and enterprises depends upon God’s blessing, which wicked men have no reason to expect; and because thou dost then carry thy life in thy hand, and therefore hast need to be well prepared for death and judgment.
Deut 23:10. Of which uncleanness see Lev 15:4,16-17; or by uncleanness of any like kind; one kind being here, as oft, put for all. He shall go out of the camp. Quest. Why doth this uncleanness oblige a man to go out of the camp, when it did not oblige him to such a removal, Lev 15? Answer 1. It is not unreasonable if they were obliged to greater strictness and purity when they were undertaking so difficult and dangerous a work. 2. There is a manifest reason of the difference, because in their houses they had private chambers, where they could in such cases keep themselves from converse with others; whereas in the camp their conveniencies were so small, and their occasions of action so many, that it was very hard for his fellow soldiers that continued with him in the same tent, or part of the camp, to avoid the touching of him, which yet was infectious, Lev 15:7,22.
Deut 23:11-12. To wit, to ease thyself, as it follows, Deut 23:13.
Deut 23:13. A paddle; the nature of which may be known from the use, which here follows. Cover that which cometh from thee; partly, to prevent the annoyance of ourselves or others; partly, to preserve and exercise modesty and natural honesty; and principally, that by such outward rites they might be inured to the greater reverence of the Divine Majesty, and the greater caution to avoid all real and moral uncleanness, especially now when it was most necessary so to do.
Deut 23:14. In the midst of thy camp; either because the ark was commonly present with them, or at least some of the holy instruments, which were pledges of God’s presence; or because God had promised to go forth with them when they engaged in a just and necessary war.
Deut 23:15. This is not to be understood universally, as if all servants that flee from their masters, though without any sufficient cause or colour of justice, might be detained from them by any person to whom they fled for refuge, for this is apparently contrary to all the laws of religion, and justice, and charity, and would open a door to infinite disorders and mischiefs; but it is to be understood, 1. Of the servants of strangers, because it follows, Deut 23:16, he shall dwell with thee, even among you, which shows that he had dwelt with and belonged to another people. 2. Of such as belonged to the Canaanites, or other neighbouring nations, because if he had lived in remote countries, it is not probable that he would flee so far to avoid his master, or that his master would follow him so far to recover him. And for the Canaanites this sentence was most just, because both they and theirs were all forfeited to God and to Israel, and whatsoever they enjoyed was by special indulgence. And for the other neighbours it may seem just also, partly, because some of them were within the larger limits of the land belonging to Israel by God’s grant or deed of gift, Gen 15:18; Josh 1:4; partly, because by their hostile carriages they had given Israel a right to much more of theirs than a few servants that might possibly run away from their masters; and especially, because both masters and servants of these and other nations are unquestionably at the dispose of the Lord their Maker and sovereign Ruler. 3. Of such as upon inquiry appear to have been unjustly oppressed by their masters, as is implied by that phrase of his, making an escape, which supposeth a deliverance from danger or vexation. Now it is not strange nor unjust, if the great God, who hates all tyranny, and styles himself the refuge of the oppressed, doth interpose his authority, and help to rescue such persons from their cruel masters, who otherwise would be too strong for them. 4. Of such as came to them out of a desire to embrace the true religion, which possibly his master perceiving endeavoured by force to restrain him from, as it may be probably thought from his choosing and liking to live among the Israelites, expressed Deut 23:16. Now if this great and supreme Master, to whom all other masters are but servants, and they and theirs are absolutely in his power, shall receive and protect one that gives up himself to his service against the will of the under-master, who in this case rebels against his sovereign Lord, what shadow is there of injustice in the case?
Deut 23:16. Taking advantage from his low and afflicted condition to be unreasonable or injurious to him.
Deut 23:17. No common prostitute, such, as were tolerated and encouraged by the Gentiles, and used even in their religious worship. Of the daughters of Israel; not that such practices were allowed to the strangers among them, as is evident from many scriptures and reasons, but that it was in a peculiar manner, and upon special reasons, forbidden to them, as being much more odious in them than in strangers; though the words may be rendered among the daughters, and so in the following clause, among the sons, for the Hebrew mem is sometimes used in that sense, as Num 22:22; Ps 31:12, and so it notes that none of that sort should be permitted among them, whether Jews or strangers. A sodomite; who defileth or suffereth himself to be defiled with mankind. See Gen 19:5; Lev 18:12; 1 Kings 14:24; 1 Kings 22:46; Rom 1:27.
Deut 23:18. This is opposed to the practice of the Gentiles, who allowed both such persons and their oblations they made out of their wicked and infamous gains; and some of them kept lewd women, who prostituted themselves in the temples, and to the honour of their false gods, and offered part of their profit to them. See Mic 1:7; Baruch 6:43; Herodotus in the end of his first book, and Strabo in his eighth book. The price of a dog; either, 1. Properly; the dog being a vile and contemptible creature in those eastern parts, 1 Sam 17:43; 1 Sam 24:14; 2 Sam 3:8; Eccles 9:4, and unclean by God’s designation, which yet should have been redeemed by virtue of that law. Num 18:15, had it not been for this prohibition. And this may be here prohibited, either, 1. That by this one instance, put for all others of the like kind, they might be taught not to offer to God what cost them nothing, or was worth nothing. Or, 2. To bring contempt upon the creature, which divers of the Gentiles offered up to their gods, and the Egyptians worshipped as gods. Or, 3. That by comparing whores and dogs together, and equalling the prices of them, he might expose whores to the highest disgrace and infamy. Or, II. Metaphorically, as that word is oft used in Scripture, as 1 Sam 24:14; Ps 22:16,20; Isa 56:10-11; Matt 7:6; Phil 3:2; and particularly it is used for unclean or filthy persons, 2 Pet 2:22; Rev 22:15; as Horace also calls whores bitches; which name doth most properly agree to them in respect of that impudence, and filthiness, and insatiableness, for which both of them are branded. And this sense may seem most proper in this place, because it agrees with all the other expressions; and as the hire of a whore answers to the whore, Deut 23:17, so the price of a dog may seem to answer to the sodomite, Deut 23:17, and so all concerned the same thing, whereas the price of a dog, properly so called, may seem to be quite incongruous, and foreign to the place. It is true which is objected, that lawgivers use to deliver their laws in proper, and not in metaphorical terms, to prevent mistake and ambiguity; but there seems to be no great danger of mistake here, where the metaphor is so clearly explained and determined by so many words joined with it. For any vow; and much less in other sacrifices, which being of a higher nature, and prescribed by God, must needs require more exactness than those which depended much upon a man’s will and choice, as vows and freewill offerings did. Both these, i.e. the whore and the dog, and therefore the price of either of them cannot be acceptable. And this may seem to favour the latter opinion, that the dog is here taken metaphorically rather than properly, because there is no mention in the law (save in this place which is in question) of any abominableness of a dog unto God, more than of an ass, or any other unclean creature; but how abominable sodomites are to God is sufficiently evident from other scriptures, and from undeniable reasons.
Deut 23:19. i.e. So as to receive thy principal money or thing left with such increase or improvement of it, as was usual and allowed among the Gentiles. But whether all usury be unlawful to Christians is too great a question to be determined in a work of this nature. See Exod 22:25; Deut 15:3; Ps 15:5; Neh 5:2; Luke 6:34.
Deut 23:20. Unto a stranger, i.e. to a person of any other nation, for so that word is generally used, and therefore they who restrain it to the cursed Canaanitish nations seem to do so without any solid or sufficient grounds. And though the word brother is ofttimes used in a general sense for every man, yet I think I may affirm that wheresoever the words brother and stranger are opposed in the Jewish law, the brother signifies the Israelite only, and the stranger signifies any person of what nation or religion soever, whether proselyted to the Jewish religion or not, and so it seems to be meant here. And the reason why usury is permitted to a stranger, not to an Israelite, may seem to be this, because the Israelites generally employed themselves in the management of land and cattle, and therefore could not make any advantage of borrowed money to balance the use they should pay for it; and consequently it may be presumed that they would not borrow money upon use, but for want and poverty, and in that case, and principally for that reason, usury seems to be forbidden to them, as may be thought from Lev 25:35-36. But the strangers made use of their money in way of trade and traffic with the Israelites, which was more gainful, and could much better bear the burden of usury, and reap advantage from money so borrowed; and these strangers here spoken of are supposed to be competently rich, and not poor, as may plainly appear by comparing this place with Lev 25:35-36, where they are no less forbidden to take usury of a stranger than of a brother, in case of poverty.
Deut 23:21. Thou shalt not slack to pay it, to wit, if the matter of it be lawful, and in thy own power. See Num 30:2. Not slack or delay, because delays may make thee both unable to pay it, and unwilling too, the sense of one’s obligation growing every day weaker than other, etc. It would be sin in thee, i.e. it would be laid to thy charge as a sin, and bring judgment upon thee.
Deut 23:22-23. A freewill offering; which though thou didst freely make, yet being made, thou art no longer free, but obliged to perform it.
Deut 23:24. Thou mayest eat grapes thy fill; which was allowed in those parts, because of the great plenty and fruitfulness of vines there.
Deut 24:1-4: Of the woman that was dismissed by her husband with a bill of divorcement.
Deut 24:5: The liberty of the new-married man.
Deut 24:6: Pawns and pledges.
Deut 24:7: Man-stealers.
Deut 24:8: Leprosy.
Deut 24:10-13: And again of pawns or pledges.
Deut 24:14-15: Of day wages.
Deut 24:16: Prone to be punished for another’s offence.
Deut 24:17-22: Of justice and love towards widows, fatherless, and strangers.
Deut 24:1. That she find no favour in his eyes, i.e. he dislike and loathe her. It is a figure called meiosis, whereby more is understood than is expressed, as Prov 10:2; Prov 17:21; Prov 24:23. Uncleanness; Heb. nakedness, or shamefulness, or filthiness of a thing, i.e. some filthy or hateful thing, some loathsome distemper of body or quality of mind, not observed before marriage; or some light and unchaste carriage, as this or the like phrase commonly signifies, but not amounting to adultery, which was not punished with divorce, but with death. Send her out of his house; which is not a command to divorce them, as some of the Jews understood it, nor an allowance and approbation, as plainly appears, not only from the New Testament, Matt 5:31-32; Matt 19:8-9, but also from the Old Testament, Gen 2:24; Mal 2:16; but merely a permission or toleration of that practice for prevention of greater mischiefs and cruelties of that hardhearted people towards their wives, and this only for a season, even until the time of reformation, as it is called Heb 9:10, i.e. till the coming of the Messias, when things were to return to their first institution and purest condition. The husband is not here commanded to put her away, but if he do put her away, he is commanded to write and give her a bill of divorcement, before he send her out of his house. And though it be true, as our Saviour observes, that Moses did suffer these divorces, to wit, without punishing them, which also is here implied, yet it must be acknowledged, that if we consult the Hebrew words, those three first verses may seem to be only a supposition, and the words rendered, then let him write her, in the Hebrew run thus, and hath written her, and so it follows, Deut 24:2. And she be departed out of his house, and be gone and become another man’s wife; then follows Deut 24:3, which even according to our translation carries on the supposition, And if the latter husband hate her, etc. Then follows the position or prohibition, Deut 24:4.
Deut 24:2. For although he could not causelessly put her away without sin, yet she being put away, and forsaken by her husband, might marry another without sin, as is determined in the same or a like case, 1 Cor 7:15.
Deut 24:3-4. This is the punishment of his levity and injustice in putting her away without sufficient cause, which by this offer he now acknowledgeth. After that she is defiled; not simply and absolutely, as if her second marriage were a sin, but respectively, or as to her first husband, to whom she is as a defiled or unclean woman, that is, forbidden; for things forbidden are accounted and called unclean, Judg 13:7, because they may no more be touched or used than an unclean thing. Thou shalt not cause the land to sin, i.e. thou shalt not suffer such abominable lightness and lewdness to be practised, lest the people be polluted, and the land defiled and accursed by that means.
Deut 24:5. Any business, i.e. any public office or employment, which may cause an absence from or neglect of his wife. He shall be free at home one year, that their affections newly engaged may be firmly settled, so as there may be no occasions for the divorces last mentioned.
Deut 24:6. The nether or the upper millstone, used in their hand mills; of which see Exod 11:5; Num 11:8; Jer 25:10. Under this one kind he understands all other things necessary to get a livelihood, the taking away whereof is against the laws both of charity and prudence, seeing by those things alone he can be enabled both to subsist and to pay his debts. A man’s life, i.e. his livelihood, or the necessary supports of his life.
Deut 24:7. See on Exod 21:16.
Deut 24:8. By which words he plainly intimates, that they were not only to have an eye to the Levites’ instructions, but also and especially unto the word and command of God, and that if the Levites’ sentence were manifestly contrary to the command of God, it were not to be obeyed. As now if a Levite or priest should, for fear, or favour, or gain, pronounce a person to be clean, who were really and manifestly unclean, and had the unquestionable marks of leprosy upon him, I suppose no man in his wits will question but every man that saw and knew this were bound to avoid the touching of him, and that if he did touch him he should be defiled by it.
Deut 24:9. God smote Miriam with leprosy for her contempt of Moses, and therefore thou mayst expect the same or like punishment, if thou dost despise the counsel and direction of the Levites, which I have set over thee, and commanded thee to observe in this and the like matters.
Deut 24:10. To prevent both the poor man’s reproach, by having his wants exposed to view, and the creditor’s insolence and greediness, which might be occasioned by the sight of something which he desired, and the debtor could not spare.
Deut 24:11. He shall choose what pledge he please, provided only it be sufficient for the purpose.
Deut 24:12. But restore it before night, which intimates that he should take no such thing for pledge, without which a man cannot sleep, since it were an idle thing to fetch it and carry it every day. See on Exod 22:26-27.
Deut 24:13. Bless thee, instrumentally, as ministers are said to convert and save sinners, to wit, bring down the blessing of God upon thee by his prayers; for though his prayers, if he be not a good man, shall not avail for his own behalf, yet they shall avail for thy benefit. Righteousness unto thee before the Lord, i.e. esteemed and accepted by God as a work of righteousness, or holiness, or goodness and mercy, which oft is called righteousness, as Ps 107:9; Prov 10:2; Dan 4:27.
Deut 24:14. Either by laying too grievous burdens of work upon him, or by withholding his wages from him, as it follows.
Deut 24:15. At his day; at the time appointed, weekly or daily. Neither shall the sun go down upon it, to wit, after the day upon which it is due, and desired or demanded by him; for justice must not be denied or delayed. Setteth his heart upon it, Heb. lifteth up his soul to it, which notes his great desire and hope of it, and his dependence upon it: see Ps 24:4; Jer 22:27.
Deut 24:16. Understand it thus, if the one be free from the guilt of the other’s sin, and except in those cases where the sovereign Lord of life and death, before whom none is innocent, hath commanded it, as Deut 13; Josh 7:24. For this law is given to men, not to God; and though God do visit the father’s sins upon the children, Exod 20, yet he will not suffer men to do so. For his own sin, understand only, and not for any other man’s sin.
Deut 24:17. Nor of the fatherless; nor of the widow, which is to be supplied out of the last member; nor indeed of any other person; but he particularly mentions these, partly because men are most apt to wrong such helpless persons, and partly because God is pleased especially to charge himself, and so to charge others, with the care of those who have no other refuge. See Isa 1:23; Jer 5:28. A widow’s raiment, to wit, such a one as she hath daily and necessary use of, as being poor, as may appear by comparing this with Deut 24:12-13, and with other places. But this concerns not rich persons, nor superfluous raiment.
Deut 24:18. Thou shalt remember, to wit, affectionately and practically; and by the compassionate sense of others’ miseries, thou shalt make it evident that thou hast not forgotten thy own distresses and deliverances. I command thee to do this thing; I having thereby authority to command thee, and thou having obligations on that account, both to obey me, and to pity others in the same calamities which thou hast felt.
Deut 24:19-20. When thou beatest thine olive tree with staves, as they used to do to fetch down the olives.
Deut 25:1-2: Judges must do justly.
Deut 25:3: Stripes not to exceed forty.
Deut 25:4: The threshing ox not to be muzzled.
Deut 25:5-10: The duty of raising seed unto a brother.
Deut 25:11-12: The punishment of an immodest woman.
Deut 25:13-16: A just weight and measure.
Deut 25:17-19: The memory of Amalek is to be blotted out.
Deut 25:1. A controversy about criminal matters, as it follows. They shall justify, i.e. acquit him from guilt and false accusations, and free him from punishment. Condemn the wicked; declare him guilty, and pass sentence of condemnation to suitable punishments upon him.
Deut 25:2. Worthy to be beaten; which the Jews say was the case of all those crimes which the law commands to be punished, without expressing the kind or degree of the punishment. Before his face; that the punishment may be duly inflicted, without excess or defect, which otherwise might easily happen through the executioner’s passion or partiality.
Deut 25:3. Not exceed: it seems not superstition, but prudent caution, when the Jews would not exceed thirty-nine stripes, 2 Cor 11:24, lest through mistake or forgetfulness or eagerness they should go beyond their bounds, which they were commanded to keep, but they were not obliged to go to the utmost extent of them. Thy brother, who, though faulty and chastised, yet still is thy brother by nation, and probably by religion too. Should seem vile unto thee, i.e. should be made contemptible to his brethren, either by this cruel usage of him, as if he were a slave or brute beast; or by the deformity or infirmity of body which excessive beating might produce.
Deut 25:4. As the Gentiles used to do, having divers devices to keep them from eating when they trod out the corn, which they did in those parts and times by oxen, Hos 10:11, either immediately by their hoofs, Isa 28:28; Mic 4:13, or by drawing carts or other instruments over the corn, Isa 25:10; Isa 28:27; Isa 41:15; Amos 1:3. Hereby God taught them humanity and kindness, even to their beasts that served them, Prov 12:10, and much more to their servants or other men who laboured for them, and especially to their ministers, 1 Cor 9:9.
Deut 25:5. Brethren; strictly so called, as is evident from Deut 25:7; Gen 38:8; Ruth 1:13; Matt 22:24-25. Dwell together; either, 1. Strictly, in the same house or family; which is not probable, because the married brother may be presumed to have left his father’s house, and set up a family of his own. Or, 2. More largely, in the same town or city, or, at least, country. This is added for a relief of their consciences, that if the next brother had removed his habitation into remote parts, or were carried thither into captivity, which God foresaw would be their case, then the wife of the dead had her liberty to marry to the next kinsman that lived in the same place with her. One of them; either, 1. The first and eldest of them, as it was practised, Gen 38:6, etc., and expounded, Matt 22:25; one being oft put for the first, as Gen 1:5; Gen 2:11; Hag 1:1; Mark 16:2. And the chief care was about the firstborn, who were invested with singular privileges, and were types of Christ. Or, 2. Any of them, for the words are general, and so the practice may seem to have been, Ruth 3; and the reason of the law may seem to be in a great measure the same, which was to keep up the distinction, as of tribes and families, that so the Messias might be discovered by the family from which he was appointed to proceed, so also of inheritances, which were divided among all the brethren, the firstborn having only a double portion. Have no child, Heb. no son. But son is oft put for any child, male or female, both in Scripture and other authors; and therefore the Hebrew no son is rendered no child here, as it is in effect, Matt 22:24; Mark 12:19; Luke 20:28. And indeed this caution was not necessary when there was a daughter, whose child might be adopted into the name and family of its grandfather. Unto a stranger, i.e. to one of another family, as that word is oft used. Her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, except he was married himself, as may appear by other scriptures, and by the reason of the thing, and, as some add, from the phrase of dwelling together, to wit, in their father’s family.
Deut 25:6. In the name of his brother; shall be called and reputed his son. See Ruth 4:17. That his name be not put out of Israel; that a family be not lost. So this was a provision that the number of their families might not be diminished.
Deut 25:7. To raise up unto his brother a name; to revive his brother’s name and memory.
Deut 25:8. Speak unto him, to convince him of the duty, and persuade him to it. If he stand to it; if he obstinately refuse it.
Deut 25:9. Loose his shoe; partly as a sign of his resignation of all his right to the woman, and to her husband’s inheritance; for as the shoe was a sign of one’s power and right, Ps 60:8; Ps 108:9; so the parting with the shoe was a token of the alienation of such right, and that he would not, and henceforth might not, enter upon his brother’s land; and partly as a note of infamy, to signify that by this unnatural and disingenuous action he was unworthy to be amongst freemen, and fit to be reduced to the condition of the meanest servants or captives, who used to go barefoot, Isa 20:2,4. Spit in his face, as a return of his contempt upon himself. See Num 12:14; Isa 1:6; Matt 26:67; Matt 27:30. This was not done, Ruth 4, either because he was not a brother, but a remoter kinsman, and so deserved less shame; or because Ruth did not prosecute him to the utmost, but freely consented to this exchange. Build up; a phrase oft used for the procreation of children, and the increase of a family. See Gen 16:2; Exod 1:21; 1 Kings 11:38; 1 Chron 17:25.
Deut 25:10. i.e. His person, names being oft put for persons, and his posterity also. So it was a lasting blot.
Deut 25:11-12. Partly because of the great mischief she did to him, both to his person and posterity, and partly to deter all women from all immodest and impudent carriages, and to secure that modesty which is indeed the guardian of all the virtues, as immodesty is an inlet to all vices, as the sad experience of this degenerate age shows; and therefore it is not strange that it is so severely restrained and punished. Thine eye shall not pity her, which thou wilt be very apt to do, because of the infirmity of her sex, and the urgency of the occasion, this being done for the necessary preservation of her husband.
Deut 25:13. The great, either to buy with, or openly to make show of; the small, for their private use in selling.
Deut 25:14-17. Which circumstance greatly aggravates their sin, that they should do thus to a people, who had been long exercised with sore afflictions, to whom pity and help was due by the laws of nature and humanity, and for whose rescue God had in so glorious a manner appeared, which they could not be ignorant of. So this was barbarousness to Israel, and setting the great Jehovah at defiance.
Deut 25:18. Smote the hindmost of thee; which God permitted, both for the punishment of Israel’s sins, and to harden and prepare them for the difficulties of their expedition.
Deut 25:19. Blot out the remembrance of Amalek; which was in great measure done afterward. See 1 Sam 15; 1 Sam 27:8; 1 Sam 30:1,17; 1 Chron 4:43; Esther 9:12-13.
Deut 26:1-11: The compression, thanksgiving, and rejoicing before the Lord of him who offereth firstfruits;
Deut 26:12-15: as also of the three years’ tithes.
Deut 26:16-19: The covenant between God and his people ratified.
Deut 26:1-2. This seems to be required of each particular master of a family, either upon his first settlement, or once every year at one of their three feasts, when they were obliged to go up to Jerusalem, as here they are. Of all the fruit of the earth; either of their corn, or of the fruit of trees.
Deut 26:3. Unto the priest, i.e. to any of the priests, who shall be appointed in God’s stead to receive these oblations and acknowledgements.
Deut 26:4-5. Jacob was a Syrian, partly, by his original, as being born of Syrian parents, as were Abraham and Rebekah, both of Chaldea or Mesopotamia, which was a part of Syria largely so called, as is confessed by Strabo, b. 16, and by Pliny, b. 5, c. 12; partly, by his education and conversation, for which reason Christ is called a Nazarene, and a Capernaite; and partly, by his relations, his wives being such, and his children too by their mothers. Ready to perish; either through want and poverty; see Gen 28:11,20; Gen 32:10; or through the rage of his brother Esau, and the treachery and cruelty of his father-in-law Laban.
Deut 26:6-10. Thou shalt set, to wit, mediately, by the priest, who was to set it there, Deut 26:4. Set it, i.e. the basket of firstfruits, Deut 26:2.
Deut 26:11. Thou shalt rejoice; i.e. either, 1. Thou shalt hereby be enabled to rejoice and take comfort in all thy enjoyments, when thou hast sanctified them by giving God his portion. Or, 2. Thou shalt feast (which is oft expressed by rejoicing) with the Levites and strangers upon the oblations which at these solemn times were offered; which exposition is confirmed by comparing Deut 16:10-11,14-15.
Deut 26:12. Of the tithes, see on Deut 14:28. The year of tithing, Heb. the year of that tithe; so called, either, 1. Because these tithes were gathered only in that year. Or rather, 2. Because then only they were so bestowed or used; and whereas these second tithes for two years together were eaten only by the owners and Levites, and that in Jerusalem, in the third year they were eaten also by the strangers, fatherless, and widows, and that in their own dwellings. The LXX. join these words with the following, and for shenath, the year, read shenith, the second, and take vau for redundant, as sometimes it is, and read the place thus, The second tithe thou shalt give to the Levite, etc.
Deut 26:13. Before the Lord, i.e. either before the tabernacle or temple; or rather, in thy private and domestic addresses to God; for this is to be said presently upon the distribution of these tithes, which was not done at Jerusalem, but in their own private gates or dwellings; except we will suppose that after he had given away these tithes at home he should go up to Jerusalem merely to make this acknowledgment, which seems improbable. And this is to be spoken before the Lord, i.e. solemnly, seriously, and in a religious manner, with due respect to God’s presence and will and glory, which is a sufficient ground for that phrase. I have brought away, or, separated, or, removed, to wit, from my own proper and private fruits. The hallowed things, i.e. the tithes which have been sanctified and set apart for these uses.
Deut 26:14. In my mourning, i.e. either, 1. In my funeral solemnities for the dead. But this falls in with the last branch. Or, 2. In my distress or poverty, or upon pretence of my own want, in which case men are tempted and inclined to fall upon sacred or forbidden things. Or, 3. In sorrow, or grieving that I was to give away so much of my profits to the poor, but I have cheerfully eaten and feasted with them, as I was obliged to do. For though it be taken for granted by some learned expositors, from Deut 14:28-29, that the owner was not to eat any part of the third year’s tithe, but to give it all away to the stranger and fatherless, etc., the contrary seems to me more probable from that very place, where it is said, thou shalt lay it up within thy gates, and then it follows, that the Levite, stranger, etc. shall come, to wit, to thy gates, and shall eat, to wit, there, as is expressed Deut 26:12, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled; which implies that these tithes, or some part of them, were eaten in the owner’s gates or dwelling, with holy rejoicing and feasting, wherein it is most probable the owner had his share, though it be not there expressed, because it was evident in itself from the foregoing passage, Deut 14:23, etc., where the owner is allowed and commanded to eat those tithes together with the Levites. And howsoever some think the third year’s tithes, Deut 14:28, were not the same with those Deut 14:23, yet it cannot with any colour of reason be thought that those tithes which were to be eaten, not only by the Levites, but also by the strangers, Deut 14:29, were more sacred than those that were to be eaten by none but the Levites and the owners, Deut 14:23,27, or that the owner might eat of the one, and not of the other. For any unclean use, i.e. for any common use; the words common and unclean being oft indifferently used one for the other, or for any other use than that which thou hast appointed, which would have been a pollution of them. For the dead, i.e. for any funeral pomp, or service, or feast; for the Jews used to send in provisions to feast with the nearest relations of the party deceased, of which see Jer 16:7; Ezek 24:17; Hos 9:4; and in that case both the guests and food were legally polluted, Num 19:11,14, and therefore the use of these tithes in such cases had been a double fault, both the defiling of sacred food, and the employing of those provisions upon sorrowful occasions, which by God’s express command were to be eaten with rejoicing, Deut 14:26; Deut 26:11.
Deut 26:15. After that solemn profession of their obedience to God’s commands, they are taught to pray for God’s blessing upon their land, whereby they are instructed how vain and ineffectual the prayers of unrighteous or disobedient persons are.
Deut 26:16-17. Avouched, or declared, or professed, or owned. This day, i.e. at this time, in this wilderness, where thou hast accepted and ratified God’s covenant.
Deut 26:18. Hath owned thee for such before all the world by eminent and glorious communications and manifestations of his power and grace and favour in time and for thee, by a solemn entering into covenant with thee, and giving peculiar laws, promises, and privileges to thee above all mankind. That thou shouldest keep all his commandments; which is here mentioned as an act of God’s, because though this be man’s duty, yet it is the work of God’s grace, that he will vouchsafe to give us such commands, that he doth require and will accept of our obedience to them, and that we have any power or will to obey them, Ezek 36:26-27.
Deut 26:1-8: A command to set up stones for a remembrance, and to write the law upon them: they must build the altar of the Lord with whole stones.
Deut 27:9-26: To pronounce the blessing on Gerizim, and the curse on Ebal.
Deut 27:1-2. On that day, i.e. about that time, for it was not done till some days after their passing over. Day is oft put for time, as hath been noted before. Plaister them with plaister, for conveniency of writing upon them.
Deut 27:3. All the words of this law; either, 1. All the words of this Book of Deuteronomy. But that seems too large for this place. Or, 2. The blessings and curses here following. But they are mentioned as a different thing. Or, 3. The law properly so called, i.e. the sum and substance of the precepts or laws of Moses, especially such as were moral and general, as may be guessed from the following part of the chapter, where the curses pronounced against all that confirm not all the words of this law to do them are particularly applied unto the transgressors of moral laws only, Deut 27:15-16, etc. And especially the decalogue, which oft goes under that name. Compare Josh 8:32, etc.
Deut 27:4. Mount Ebal; the mount of cursing. Here the law is written, to signify that a curse was due to the violators of it, and that no man could expect justification or blessing from the works of the law, by the sentence whereof all men are justly accursed, as being all guilty of the transgression of it in one kind and deuce or other. Here the sacrifices are to be offered, to show that there is no way to be delivered from this curse but by the blood of Christ, which all these sacrifices did typify, and by Christ’s being made a curse for us, Gal 3:13.
Deut 27:5-6. Whole stones; i.e. rough, not hewed or polished.
Deut 27:7-8. So as to be easily read by all.
Deut 27:9. By thy solemn renewing of thy covenant with him.
Deut 27:10-12. Objection. In Josh 8:33, they stood over against Mount Gerizim. Answer 1. Both are true; they who stood upon the one mount, stood over against the other. 2. These words may be rendered beside or near to (as the Hebrew al oft signifies) Mount Gerizim, which might be over against it. To bless the people; whence it appears that the blessings also were pronounced as well as the curses, though they be not here mentioned. See Josh 8:33. Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin were the children of the freewomen, Leah and Rachel, to show both the dignity of the blessings above the curses, and that the blessings belong only to those as are evangelically such, as this is expounded and applied, Gal 4:22, etc., even to those that receive the Spirit of adoption and liberty. Joseph is here put for both his sons and tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, which are here reckoned as one tribe, because Levi is here numbered; but when Levi is omitted, as it is where the division of the land is made, there Manasseh and Ephraim pass for two tribes.
Deut 27:13. To curse; he saith to bless the people, Deut 27:12, but here only to curse, not expressing whom, either because he was loth to mention the people as objects of the curse; or because he presumed and hoped that though some particular persons might deserve the curse, yet the generality of the people would keep out of the reach of it; or to intimate, that though the blessing was peculiar to the people of Israel, yet the curse was indefinite and common to all nations, as may appear from the particular sins here numbered, which are such as made the Gentiles guilty and abominable to God, as is elsewhere affirmed. See Lev 18:28. Gad and Asher, Dan and Naphtali, are the children of the bondwomen, to show that the curse belongs to those of servile and disingenuous spirits and carriages to God. With these are joined Reuben, who by his shameful sin fell from his dignity, Gen 49:4, and Zebulun, as the youngest of Leah’s children, who was necessary to be joined with those, that the numbers might be equal.
Deut 27:14. The Levites, i.e. some of the Levites, to wit, the priests, which bare the ark, as it is expressed, Josh 8:33, for the body of the Levites stood upon Mount Gerizim, Deut 27:12; but these stood in the valley between Gerizim and Ebal, looking towards the one or the other mountain as they pronounced either the blessings or the curses, as may be gathered from Josh 8:33. With a loud voice; so as they might be heard by a great number of the people, by whom the rest were informed and directed by some signal when they should answer.
Deut 27:15. Under this particular he understands all the gross violations of the first table, as under the following branches he comprehends all other sins against the second table, as is manifest from hence, that there are other sins, not here mentioned, which are as sinful as these, and will as certainly expose a man to the curse as any of the rest. And putteth it, or although, as that particle sometimes signifies, In a secret place; he takes special notice of such partly to show the folly of those men who think to hide their sins by this means; and partly to deter men from such practices, which men could not see nor punish, by making them their own condemners and executioners. Amen, i.e. So let it be: I wish this curse may befall me, if I be guilty of this crime See Num 5:22; Jer 11:5.
Deut 27:16. Setteth light; or, despiseth in his heart; or reproacheth or curseth, to wit, secretly, as before; for if the fact was notorious, it was punished with death, Lev 20:9.
Deut 27:17. To wit, designedly, to defraud his neighbour, or enlarge his own portion.
Deut 27:18. That misleadeth simple souls, giving them pernicious counsel, either for this life or for the next.
Deut 27:19-20. See Deut 22:30.
Deut 27:21-24. Smiteth, i.e. killeth, as that word is oft used.
Deut 27:25-26. Confirmeth not, i.e. performeth not; for he that transgresseth doth in some sort destroy and make void the law of God, as to the main end for which it was given, even to the regulation of his life and actions, and as far as lies in him disannuls the authority and force of God’s law.
Deut 28:1-14: The blessings of obedience.
Deut 28:15-68: Curses for disobedience.
Deut 28:1. i.e. Advance and honour thee with divers privileges and blessings, as it here follows.
Deut 28:2. Those blessings which others greedily follow after, and ofttimes never overtake, they shall follow after thee, and shall be thrown into thy lap by my special kindness.
Deut 28:3-5. i.e. It shall always be well replenished, and the provision thou hast there shall be preserved for, and in due time brought forth to, thy use and service. See Deut 26:2,10.
Deut 28:6. i.e. In all thy affairs and administrations, which are oft expressed by this phrase, as Num 27:17; Deut 31:2; 2 Sam 3:25; 2 Chron 1:10; Acts 1:21; Acts 9:28.
Deut 28:7. i.e. Many ways, as is usual when an army is totally overthrown and dissipated.
Deut 28:8. Shall command, i.e. shall by his sovereign and powerful providence give it, even when it seems furthest from thee, and not likely to come to time without a word of command from God himself.
Deut 28:9. Shall establish thee an holy people unto himself, i.e. shall confirm and establish his covenant with thee, by which he separated thee to himself as a holy and peculiar people, and shall publicly own thee for such, as it follows, Deut 28:10.
Deut 28:10. i.e. That you are in deed and truth his people and children: see Deut 14:1; Deut 26:18. For to be called ofttimes signifies to be, as Isa 47:1,5; Isa 56:7; Matt 5:9,19; Matt 21:13.
Deut 28:11. The same things which were said before are repeated, to show that God would repeat and multiply his blessings upon them.
Deut 28:12. His good treasure, to wit, the heaven or the air, as it here follows, which is God’s storehouse, where he treasures up rain or wind or other things for man’s use. See Job 38:22; Ps 33:7.
Deut 28:13. The head; the chief of all people in power, or at least in dignity and privileges; so that even they that are not under thine authority shall reverence thy greatness and excellency. So it was in David’s and Solomon’s time, and so it should have been much oftener and much more, if they had performed the conditions here required. For the phrase, see Isa 9:14-15; Isa 19:15.
Deut 28:14-15. So as thou shalt not be able to escape them, as thou shalt vainly hope and endeavour to do.
Deut 28:16-20. Vexation, or, disturbance. This seems chiefly to concern the mind, and its torment arising from the disappointment of hopes, the presages of its approaching miseries. Rebuke, to wit, from God, not so much in words as by his actions, by cross providences, by sharp and sore afflictions, which are oft called rebukes, as 2 Kings 19:3; Ps 18:15; Ps 39:11; Ps 80:16; Isa 51:20; Isa 66:15; Ezek 5:15; Ezek 25:17.
Deut 28:21-22. With blasting, and with mildew; two plagues or evil affections of corn. See 1 Kings 8:37; 2 Chron 6:28; Amos 4:9; Hag 2:17.
Deut 28:23. Be brass, i.e. like brass, hard and dry, and shut up from giving rain. See Lev 26:19. Be iron, hard, and chapt, and barren.
Deut 28:24. Either, 1. Thy rain shall be as unprofitable to thy ground and seed as if it were only so much dust. Or, 2. Instead of rain shall come nothing but dust from heaven, which being raised and carried up by the wind in great abundance, doth return and fall upon the earth as it were in clouds or showers. Until thou be destroyed, to wit, by famine, following these great droughts.
Deut 28:25. Removed. Heb. for a removing; to be tossed like a football from place to place, and from people to people.
Deut 28:26-28. Blindness, to wit, of mind, so that they shall not know what to do; see Job 5:13-14; so as they shall commonly choose and follow the worst counsels and courses, to their own ruin. Astonishment of heart; they shall be filled with wonder and horror, because of the strangeness and soreness of their calamities.
Deut 28:29. At noonday, i.e. in the most clear and evident matters thou shalt grossly mistake and miss thy way. Thou shalt not prosper in thy ways; thy counsels and enterprises shall be frustrated, and turn to thy destruction.
Deut 28:30. Another man shall lie with her before thou canst consummate thy marriage, and enjoy her as thy wife. And so in the following branches.
Deut 28:31-32. Shall be given unto another people, by those who have conquered them, and taken them captives, who shall give or sell them to other persons, as the manner was. Fail, or, be consumed, partly with grief and plentiful tears shed for them; and partly with earnest desire, and vain and long expectation of their return. See Ps 119:82. No might, i.e. no power to rescue them, nor money to ransom them.
Deut 28:33. Which thou knowest not; which shall come from a far country, which thou didst not at all expect or fear and therefore will be the more dreadful when they come; a nation whose language thou understandest not, and therefore canst not plead with them for mercy, nor expect any favour from them. Oppressed and crushed alway; not sometimes conquered, and sometimes conquering, as the course of war commonly is, but in all times, and in all thy actions and attempts, foiled and worsted.
Deut 28:34-36. Thee and thy king: the calamity shall be both universal, which even thy king shall not be able to avoid, much less the subjects, who have far less advantage and opportunity for escape; and irrecoverable, because he who should protect or rescue them is lost with them. See Lam 4:20. There shalt thou serve other gods; either being corrupted by their examples and counsels, or compelled to it by their tyranny. So what formerly was their choice and delight now becomes their plague and misery. And this doubtless was the condition of many Israelites under the Assyrian and Babylonish captivities, as we may gather from Jer 44:17-19, and other places, though many of them kept themselves free from that infection.
Deut 28:37. All other nations shall wonder to see such calamities befall such a people; and when they would express any dreadful affliction in a proverbial way, they shall make use of thy example: they shall also sport themselves in thy miseries, and say, These are the people of the Lord, the only saints upon earth, etc.
Deut 28:38-43. Within thee, i.e. within thy gates; who formerly honoured and served thee, and were some of them glad of the crumbs which fell from thy table.
Deut 28:44-46. They shall be, i.e. these curses now mentioned. For a wonder, i.e. signal and wonderful to all that hear of them.
Deut 28:47. Or, in the abundance of all things; for this is opposed to in hunger, in thirst, etc., Deut 28:48. And the Hebrew men oft signifies in, as Exod 25:18; Job 19:26; Ps 72:16.
Deut 28:48. A yoke of iron, which thou canst neither well bear, nor break. See Jer 28:13-14.
Deut 28:49. As the eagle flieth, Heb. as the eagle flies, i.e. not only swiftly, as is expressed in our translation, for which the Babylonian is noted and compared to an eagle, Jer 4:13; Ezek 17:3; Dan 7:4; but also fiercely and greedily, as the eagle to its prey; also strongly and irresistibly. Possibly this may be understood of the Romans, who did come from far, from the end of the earth, more truly and literally than the Chaldeans, whose country was not far from Judea, and this may allude to the eagle, which was in their ensigns.
Deut 28:50. Of fierce countenance, Heb. strong of face or countenance, i.e. bold and impudent, hardy and undaunted, cruel and uncompassionate and inflexible, sparing no age nor sex, etc.
Deut 28:51-54. Evil, i.e. unkind, envious, covetous, to monopolize these dainty bits to themselves, and grudging that their dearest relations should have any part of them.
Deut 28:55-56. Evil, i.e. unmerciful: she will desire or design their destruction for her food.
Deut 28:57. Her young one, Heb. afterbirth; that which was loathsome to behold, will now be pleasant to eat; and together with it she shall eat the child which was wrapt up in it, and may be included in this expression. Which she shall bear, or, which she shall have born, i.e. her more grown children.
Deut 28:58. Name, i.e. thing or person, to wit, this glorious God. Names are oft put for things, as 1 Kings 5:3; Ps 20:1; Ps 95:1; Acts 4:12; Eph 1:21; and for persons, as Acts 1:15; Rev 3:4.
Deut 28:59-63. Rejoice over you to destroy you; his just indignation against you will be so great, that it will be a pleasure to him to take vengeance on you. For though he doth not delight in the death of a sinner in itself, yet he doth doubtless delight in the glorifying of his justice upon incorrigible sinners, seeing the exercise of all his attributes must needs please him, else he were not perfectly happy. The land whither thou goest to possess it; which was no ordinary land, but a most pleasant land, a land of promise, a token of God’s favour, and a pledge of their eternal inheritance, which was a great aggravation of their loss of it.
Deut 28:64-65. Neither shall the sole of thy foot have rest; ye shall have no settlement in the land whither you are banished, but there you shall be tossed about from place to place, and sold from person to person, or, Cain-like, wander about like a vagabond.
Deut 28:66. Either because thou art in the hands of thy enemies, that have power, and want not will, to destroy thee; or because of the terrors of thy own mind, and the guilt of thy conscience, making thee to fear, even where no great cause to fear is.
Deut 28:67-68. Into Egypt again, whence he hath now so gloriously delivered thee, as repenting of all his kindness to thee, and resolved to undo what he hath done for thee. And the remembrance of what they endured in Egypt could not but make the thoughts of returning thither again very terrible to them. With ships; which was literally fulfilled under Titus, when multitudes of them were carried thither in ships, and sold there for slaves, as Josephus relates. And this expression seems to mind them of that time when they went over the sea without ships, God miraculously drying up the sea before them, etc., which now they would have occasion sadly to remember. By the way, or, to the way; the Hebrew beth here signifying to, as it doth Gen 11:4; Lev 16:22; Ps 19:5; Ps 91:12; Isa 9:8. And the way seems not to be meant here of the usual roadway from Canaan to Egypt, which was wholly by land, but to be put for the end of the way or journey, even the land of Egypt; for to this, and not to the roadway between Canaan and Egypt, agree the words here following, whereof I spake unto thee, Thou shalt see it (i.e. Egypt) no more again. And so that way is put for to that land in a place parallel to this, where the very same words are used, Deut 17:16, to which this place palpably alludes. No man shall buy you; either because the number of you captives shall be so great, that the market shall be glutted with you; or because you shall be so loathsome and contemptible that men shall not be willing to have you for slaves. And this was the condition of the Jews after the destruction of Jerusalem, as Josephus the Jew hath left upon record.
Deut 29:1-9: The manifold works and mercies of God a motive to obedience.
Deut 29:10-17: Moses solemnly engageth them to keep covenant with God.
Deut 29:18-28: Unbelief, careless contempt, and breach of covenant shall be severely punished.
Deut 29:29: The end and use of the revealed will of God.
Deut 29:1. These are the words of the covenant; these are the term, or conditions upon which God hath made, i.e. renewed covenant with you. Beside the covenant, i.e. that entering into or striking of covenant. The covenant was but one in substance, but various in the time and manner of its dispensation.
Deut 29:2-4. This verse comes in by way of correction or exception to the foregoing clause in this manner, I said indeed, Ye have seen, etc., Deut 29:2, and thine eyes have seen, etc., but I must recall my words, for in truth you have not seen them; in seeing you have not seen, and perceiving you have not perceived them: you have perceived and seen them with the eyes of your body, but not with your minds and hearts; you have not seen them to any purpose; you have not yet learned rightly to understand the word and works of God, so as to know them for your good, and to make a right use of them, and to comply with them; which he expresseth thus, the Lord hath not given you, etc., not to excuse their wickedness, but partly to direct them what course to take, and to whom they must have recourse for the amending of their former errors, and for a good understanding and improvement of God’s works; and partly to aggravate their sin, and to intimate that although the hearing ear, and the seeing eye, and the understanding heart, be the workmanship of God, Prov 20:12, and the effects of his special grace, Deut 30:6; Jer 31:33; Jer 32:39, etc., yet their want of this grace was their own fault, and the just punishment of their former sins; their present case being like theirs in Isaiah’s time, who first shut their eyes and ears that they might not see and hear, and would not understand, and then by the tremendous, but righteous judgment of God, had their hearts made fat, and their eyes and ears closed, that they should not be able to see, and hear, and understand, as is manifest from the history of their carriage in the wilderness.
Deut 29:5. So far that it was necessary for you to throw them away, and to get new ones. See on Deut 8:4.
Deut 29:6. Not eaten bread, i.e. common bread purchased by your own money, or made by your own hands, but heavenly and angelical bread, Deut 8:3; Ps 78:24-25. You have subsisted without bread, the staff of life. Neither wine or strong drink, but only water out of the rock. The Lord your God; the Lord omnipotent and all-sufficient for your provision, without the help of any creatures, and your God in covenant with you, who hath a true affection to you, and fatherly care of you, even when ordinary means fail.
Deut 29:7-10. Before the Lord your God; in his presence, who sees your hearts and carriages; and before his tabernacle, where it is probable they were now called together, and assembled for this work. See Deut 29:2.
Deut 29:11. Thy stranger; such strangers as had embraced their religion. From the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water; all sorts of persons, yea, even the meanest of them, such as these were, Josh 9:27, all sorts and ranks of servants.
Deut 29:12. Into covenant, and into his oath, i.e. into covenant or agreement, confirmed by a solemn oath.
Deut 29:13-15. i.e. With your posterity; for so the covenant was made at first with Abraham and his seed, by which, as God engaged himself to continue the blessing of Abraham upon his posterity, so he also engaged them to the same duties and conditions which were required of Abraham. So it is even among men, where a king confers an estate upon a subject and his heirs for ever, upon some certain conditions, all his heirs who enjoy that benefit are obliged to the same conditions. But whatsoever becomes of man’s right, God the Creator and sovereign Lord of all men and things hath an unquestionable right and power to oblige all persons that are or shall be to such conditions as he pleaseth, and especially to such conditions as are for their own benefit, which is the present case.
Deut 29:16. In the land of Egypt, where you have seen their idolatries, and learned too much of them, as the golden calf showed, and therefore need to renew your covenant with God; where also we were in dreadful bondage, whence God alone hath delivered us, to whom therefore we are deeply obliged, and have all reason to renew our covenant with him. How we came through the nations, i.e. with what hazards, if God had not appeared for us.
Deut 29:17. What sorry tools they are, what senseless and ridiculous deities; so that you have great reason to value your God, and to cleave to him in covenant, and to take heed of such abominable idolatries.
Deut 29:18. Lest there should be; or take heed or beware lest there be; for it seems to be an ellipsis, or defect of a verb, which is usual in Scripture, and which we have in a case parallel to this. Gen 3:22. And now we must take care lest he put forth, etc. Or this particle lest may be joined with Deut 29:14-15, to this purpose, I now renew the covenant with you, and with your posterity, lest any of you or yours should be tempted to depart from God, etc. Whose heart turneth away, i.e. who turneth away from God to idols, not by constraint, but by choice, and the inclination of his own heart. By this phrase he leads them to the spring of their sin and ruin, even their own hearts, which he admonisheth them hereby to look to above all things. A root; either, 1. An evil heart inclining you to such cursed idolatry, and bringing forth bitter fruits. Or rather, 2. Some secret and subtle apostate, who lurks and works like a root under ground, and slyly conveys his poison to the infection of others; for both the foregoing and following words speak of some particular person. Gall and wormwood, i.e. which though for the present it may please your fancy, yet in the end, assure yourselves, will produce bitter fruits, not only distasteful to God, but also poisonful and destructive to yourselves.
Deut 29:19. When he, i.e. that root or that man mentioned Deut 29:18. Of this curse, i.e. of that oath mentioned Deut 29:12, wherein he swore that he would keep covenant with God, and that with a curse pronounced against himself if he did not perform it. Now if when he reads this again, or hears of it from others. Bless himself in his heart, i.e. flatter himself in his own eyes, as Ps 36:2, with vain conceits and hopes, as if God did not mind such things, and either could not or would not punish them. Compare Ps 49:18; Jer 2:20; Zech 11:5. Peace, i.e. safety and prosperity. Though I walk in the imagination of mine heart; though in my practices and worship I do not follow God’s command, but my own devices, and whatsoever my fancy best liketh, minding nothing but the gratifying of mine own fancy and humour. To add drunkenness to thirst; i.e. not only to satisfy his thirst, i.e. his concupiscence and inclination to wickedness, but even to exceed it, as drunkards take ofttimes more than their appetite desires, and drink out of mere wantonness, or from a desire to be drunk; and as filthy persons commit lewdness with others more than their natural inclinations desire, or their strength can well bear, merely from a wicked mind, and from contempt of God, and because they will do so. The words may be rendered, to add thirst to drunkenness, the particle eth, which is a note of the accusative case, being joined with thirst, and not with drunkenness; and so the sense may be this, that when he hath multiplied his sins, and made himself as it were drunk with them, yet he is not satisfied therewith, but still whets his appetite, and provokes his thirst after more, as drunkards commonly will use means and temptations to make themselves thirst after more drink, that they may drink more abundantly. Or thus, to add the moist or moistening to the thirsty, i.e. instead of restraining and mortifying, as he ought to do, fully and greedily to satisfy his idolatrous or wicked inclinations, and resolved to give up himself to all the desires of his own heart. Compare Job 34:7; Prov 23:35; Isa 30:1; Isa 56:12; Eph 4:19.
Deut 29:20. Shall smoke, i.e. shall burn and break forth with flame and smoke as it were from a furnace. Compare Ps 18:8. Blot out his name from under heaven, i.e. destroy his person and memory from amongst men.
Deut 29:21. Unto evil, i.e. unto some peculiar and exemplary plague; he will make him a monument of his displeasure to the whole land. According to all the curses of the covenant; he intimates that the covenant of grace, which God made with them, hath not only blessings belonging to it, as this foolish person imagined, but curses also to the transgressors of it.
Deut 29:22. The words following, Deut 29:24-25, etc.
Deut 29:23. Is brimstone, and salt, and burning, i.e. is burnt up and made barren, as with brimstone and salt. See Judg 9:45; Ps 107:34; Jer 17:6; Ezek 47:11.
Deut 29:24-26. i.e. Whom God had not given or divided to them, as their portion, or for their worship, but hath divided them unto all nations, as it is said, Deut 4:19, not for their worship, but for their use and service. So he speaks here of the sun and moon and stars, which were the principal gods worshipped by the neighbouring nations. Or, to whom none hath given this, i.e. that they should be worshipped, or, to whom no worship belongs. So this is an argument against idolatry. Or, who had not given unto them, to wit, any thing: it is an ellipsis of the accusative, which is very frequent: gods known to them by no benefits received from them, as they had from their God, whom therefore it was the greater folly and ingratitude to forsake.
Deut 29:27-29. Having now mentioned the dreadful and amazing judgments of God upon the whole land and people of Israel, and foreseeing by the Spirit of prophecy the utter extirpation and destruction which would come upon them for their wickedness, he breaks out into this pathetical exclamation, either to bridle their curiosity, who hearing this, would be apt to inquire into the time and manner of so great an event; or to quiet his own mind, and satisfy the scruples of others, who perceiving God to deal so severely with his own people, when in the mean time he suffered those nations which were guilty of grosser atheism, and idolatry, and impiety than the generality of the Jewish people were, to live and prosper in the world, might thence take occasion to deny or reproach his providence, or question the equity of his proceedings. To this he answers, that the ways and judgments of God, though never unjust, are ofttimes secret and hidden from us, and unsearchable by our shallow capacities, and are matter for our admiration, not for our inquiry. Unto us and to our children: but the things which are revealed by God and his word, these are the proper object of our inquiries and studies, that thereby we may come to the knowledge of our duty, by the practice whereof we may be kept from such terrible punishments and calamities as these now mentioned.
Deut 30:1-10: A promise of gracious deliverance to the Jews upon their repentance, in future times.
Deut 30:11-14: The law of God manifest and just.
Deut 30:15-20: Life and death set before them.
Deut 30:1. The blessing when thou art obedient, and the curse when thou becomest rebellious and apostatical. Set before thee, Heb. placed before thy face, i.e. propounded to thy consideration and choice. Call them to mind, or, bring them back to thy heart, i.e. deeply affect thy heart with the sense of these things, to wit, of the blessings offered and given to them by God’s mercy, and the curses brought upon themselves by their sins.
Deut 30:2-3. Turn thy captivity, i.e. bring back thy captives, as captivity is taken, Ps 14:7; Eph 4:8. Gather thee, i.e. thy children; either spiritually such, as it is explained John 11:51-52; or literally such, as it is promised Rom 11.
Deut 30:4-6. The Lord will circumcise thine heart, or, for the Lord will circumcise thine heart, i.e. will by his word and Spirit change and purge thy heart from all thine idolatry, and superstition, and wickedness, and incline thy heart to love him, as it here follows. See Deut 10:16. And so this is produced to show why and how those great things should be accomplished; God would first convert and sanctify them, the fruit whereof should be this, that they should return and obey God’s commandments, Deut 30:8, and they should pros per in all things, Deut 30:9. The Hebrew vau is oft rendered for, and notes the reason of a thing, as 1 Kings 1:21; 1 Kings 18:3-4; Ps 1:3; Ps 5:12; Isa 16:2; Isa 64:5. And this promise principally respects the times of the gospel, and the grace which was to be then imparted to all God’s Israel by Christ, by whom alone this circumcision is obtained, Col 2:11. And so having fully described to them the law of God, the rule of their obedience, here and in foregoing chapters, and considering their great instability in the performance of their obedience to it, he now seasonably adds a glorious gospel promise, and directs their faith to the Messias by whom alone they could expect or receive the establishment of their hearts in the ways of God against apostacy.
Deut 30:7-9. Whereas thou didst formerly receive and enjoy these mercies for thy hurt, through thy own wicked and foolish heart, when thou wast full and fat, forgetting God, and kicking against him, Deut 31:20; Deut 32:15, now thou shalt have them for thy good; thy heart shall be so changed by the grace of the gospel that thou shalt not now abuse them, but employ them to the more cheerful and faithful service of God, the giver of them. Rejoice over thee for good, i.e. to do thee good; as he did rejoice to destroy thee, Deut 28:63.
Deut 30:10. This caution and condition is added to warn them that they should not receive the grace of God in vain, and to teach them that the grace of God doth not discharge man’s obligation to his duty, nor excuse him for the neglect of it, and that conversion and sanctification, though it be God’s work, yet it is man’s duty.
Deut 30:11. He seems to speak of the law, or of that great command of loving and obeying God, mentioned here Deut 30:2,6,10,16, which is the sum of the law, of which yet he doth not here speak simply, or as it is in itself, but as it is mollified and accompanied with the grace of the gospel, whereby God circumciseth men’s hearts to do this, as is expressed Deut 30:6. The meaning is, that although the practice of God’s law strictly and severely be now far from us, and above our strength, yet, considering the advantage of gospel grace, whereby God enables us in some measure to our duty, and accepts of our sincere endeavours instead of perfection, and imputes Christ’s perfect righteousness unto us that believe, now it is near and easy to us. And so this place well agrees with Rom 10:6, etc., where St. Paul expounds or applies this place to the righteousness of faith, by which alone the law is such as it is here described. It is not hidden from thee, Heb. is not too wonderful for thee, as Deut 17:8; Prov 30:18; Jer 32:17, i.e. not too hard for thee to know and do: the will of God, which is but darkly manifested to other nations, Acts 17:27, is clearly and fully revealed unto thee; thou canst not pretend ignorance or invincible difficulty. Far off, i.e. out of thy reach.
Deut 30:12. In heaven, i.e. shut up there; but it hath been thence delivered and published in thy hearing.
Deut 30:13. Neither is it beyond the sea: the knowledge of this commandment is not to be fetched from far distant places, to which divers of the wise heathens travelled for their wisdom, but it was brought to thy very doors and ears, and declared to thee in this wilderness.
Deut 30:14. In thy mouth; thou knowest it so well, that it is the matter of thy common discourse; thou professest thy knowledge and belief of it: or, in the months of thy priests and Levites, who are daily preaching of it, and instructing thee in it. In thy heart, i.e. in thy mind, (as the heart is very commonly taken,) to understand and believe it.
Deut 30:15. Life and good, i.e. a good or a happy life; a figure called hendiaduo: or, life, and all the blessings of life, as good is oft used, as Job 7:7; Ps 4:6; Ps 128:5; Eccles 2:24; Eccles 4:8; Eccles 6:3.
Deut 30:16-17. Drawn away, either by thy own evil mind, or by the examples or persuasions of others.
Deut 30:18-19. Compare Deut 4:26; Josh 24:27; Ps 1:4; Isa 1:2.
Deut 30:20. He is thy life, i.e. the cause or author of thy life, as life is used John 14:6; John 17:3.
Deut 31:1-8: Moses declares to the people his approaching death, and encourageth them, and Joshua.
Deut 31:9-13: He delivereth the law unto the priests to read it every seventh year to the people.
Deut 31:14-23: God putteth Joshua into his office; foretelleth to Moses and him the future disobedience and misery of the people; enjoineth Moses a song to testify against the people.
Deut 31:24-27: Moses chargeth the Levites to lay up the book of the law beside the ark of the covenant;
Deut 31:28-30: assembleth all the people to hear his song.
Deut 31:1. Went and spake, i.e. proceeded or continued to speak, a usual Hebrew phrase. Or, went to the place where he had assembled the people, that he might speak to them.
Deut 31:2. Go out and come in, i.e. perform the office of a leader or governor, either because I now find a decay of my mind and body, which seems not well to agree with Deut 34:7, or because I foresee the time of my death approaches.
Deut 31:3-4. Which he gave to you to possess.
Deut 31:5. Before your face, i.e. into your power. See on Deut 1:8.
Deut 31:6-9. This law, largely so called, the whole law or doctrine delivered unto Moses contained in these five books. Delivered it unto the priests, that they might keep it carefully and religiously, and bring it forth upon occasion, and read it, and instruct the people out of it. Which bare the ark, to wit, sometimes in great solemnities, as Josh 3:13,17; Josh 6:12; 1 Kings 8:3; though the Levites also might bear it, as appears from Num 3-4; Num 10; 1 Chron 15:2. The elders of Israel were assistants to the priests, and overseers to take care that the law should be kept, and read, and observed.
Deut 31:10. The year of release; when they were freed from debts and troubles, and cares of worldly matters, and thereby fitter to attend upon God and his service.
Deut 31:11. Thyself in part, for the Jews tell us that the king was in person to read some part of it; or, at least, thou shalt cause it to be read by the priests or Levites, for he could not read it himself in the hearing of all Israel, but this was to be done by several persons, and to the people met in several congregations. See Neh 8:1, etc.
Deut 31:12. Gather the people together; not into one place, where all could not hear, but into divers assemblies or synagogues. Women hereby are required to go to Jerusalem at this solemnity, as they were permitted to do in other solemnities, when the males only were enjoined to go, Exod 23:17. Children, to wit, such of them as could understand, as appears from Neh 8:2-3. Thy stranger, i.e. the proselytes, though others also were admitted. That they may learn; that they may then certainly and constantly do so, though they had also other opportunities to do so, as upon the sabbath days, Acts 15:21, and other solemn feasts, yea, even in their private houses.
Deut 31:13-14. In the tabernacle; either properly so called, for though the priests only might ordinarily enter there, yet others might go in upon a call and command from God, which here they had; or in the court of the tabernacle, at the door of which God stood in the cloudy pillar, Deut 31:15, the court coming here under the name of the tabernacle, as elsewhere it comes under the name of the temple. That I may give him a charge, immediately from myself, for his greater encouragement, and to gain him more authority with the people.
Deut 31:15-16. The death of men, both good and bad, is oft called a sleep, because they shall certainly awake out of it by resurrection. See Ps 76:5; Dan 12:2; 1 Thess 4:13, etc.; 2 Pet 3:4. This people will go a whoring: God certainly foresees all things to come, yea, even those which depend upon the wills of men, or contingencies of the things, as this unquestionably did. Of the strangers of the land, i.e. of the Canaanites, who now are possessors, but shortly will be turned out of their possessions, and become as strangers in their own land. This aggravates their folly, to worship such gods as could neither preserve their friends, nor annoy their enemies.
Deut 31:17. Hide my face, i.e. withdraw my favour and help.
Deut 31:18-19. This song, which is contained Deut 32, and is put into a song that it may be better learned, and more fixed in their minds and memories. Put it in their mouths; cause them to learn it, and sing it one to another, to oblige them to more circumspection and watchfulness. A witness for me; of my kindness in giving them so many blessings, of my patience in bearing so long with them, of my clemency in giving them such fair and plain warnings, and my justice in punishing such an unthankful, perverse, and incorrigible people.
Deut 31:20-21. It shall not be forgotten: this seems not to be a precept that they should remember it, but a prediction, that God would give them sad occasion to remember it, by bringing upon them the dreadful calamities mentioned in it. Their imagination which they go about, even now; either their inward inclinations to idolatry, which they do not check, as they ought, but rather entertain with delight; and some of them do not only cherish it in their hearts, but as far as they can and dare secretly practise it, as may be gathered from Amos 5:26; Acts 7:43; or their secret purposes to allow themselves therein, when they are settled in their land, which were clearly known to God, though it may be not fully evident to themselves.
Deut 31:22-23. This wickedness of theirs which I now foresee and foretell shall not hinder me from bringing them into Canaan.
Deut 31:24-25. The Levites, i.e. the priests, Deut 31:9 who also were Levites.
Deut 31:26. In the side, i.e. in the outside, in a little chest fixed to it, for nothing but the tables of stone were contained in the ark, 1 Kings 8:9. Here it was kept for greater security and reverence. A witness against thee, i.e. against thy people, to whom he turns his speech, that they might be more affected with it.
Deut 32:1-18: The Divine song, in which God’s power, mercy to his people, and vengeance on his enemies exalted, their ingratitude is rebuked.
Deut 32:19-26: God’s wrath and future judgments.
Deut 32:27-43: Yet the idolatrous nations to be destroyed, and they at last to be enlarged.
Deut 32:41-47: He exhorts them to set their hearts on these words for their good.
Deut 32:48-52: God sendeth him up to Mount Nebo, there to see the promised land and die.
Deut 32:1. O ye heavens, and, O earth: either, 1. Angels and men; or, 2. You lifeless and senseless creatures, heaven and earth, which he calls upon partly to accuse the stupidity of Israel, that were more dull of hearing than these; and partly as witnesses of the truth of his sayings, and the justice of God’s proceedings against them.
Deut 32:2. Look what effect rain and dew have upon herbs and grass, which they make fresh and fragrant and growing, the same effect I may justly expect and hope that my discourse will have upon your hearts, i.e. to make them soft and pliable and fruitful. Or this may be a prayer, Let my doctrine drop, etc. Oh that it might do so, that my discourse might not be lost upon you, but be profitable to you! the future tense of the indicative mood being put for the imperative mood, as is usual.
Deut 32:3. The name of the Lord, i.e. his glorious excellencies and righteous and worthy actions, by which he hath made himself known, as a man is known by his name, and by which it will appear both that there is no blame to be laid upon him, whatsoever befalls you, and that it is gross madness to forsake such a God for dumb idols and mere vanities.
As I am about to publish the great power and majesty and glory of God, so do you also own and acknowledge it, as you have reason to do; or, do you attend to the words which God hath commanded me to speak to you in his name with that diligence, reverence, and godly fear which the presence of so great and glorious a Majesty calls for.
Deut 32:4. The rock, or, a rock, as for the stability and everlastingness of his nature, and invincibleness of his power, so also for his fixedness and immutability in his counsels and promises and ways; so that if there shall be a sad change in your affairs from a high and prosperous to a calamitous and deplorable condition, as there will be, remember that this proceeds from yourselves, and from the change of your ways and carriages towards God, and not from God, in whom there is no variableness nor shadow of change, James 1:17. His work is perfect; all his works and actions are unblamable, as being perfect, wise, and righteous, as it follows. All his ways are judgment; all his administrations in the world, and particularly all his dealings with you, are managed with judgment and justice. A God of truth, constant to his promises: you cannot accuse him of any levity or unfaithfulness towards you to this day.
Deut 32:5. They, i.e. the Israelites, as the following words manifest. Corrupted themselves: this phrase sometimes in Scripture notes sin, and sometimes destruction. And so the sense may be either, 1. Their wickedness is not from God, but from themselves, and their own choice; they have wilfully and industriously depraved themselves, and sold themselves to sin. Or rather, 2. Their destruction is not from God, who is just and true, etc., as was now said, but wholly and solely from themselves, and from their own wickedness, as it here follows. Their spot is not the spot of his children, i.e. their blemishes or sins are not committed through ignorance, or frailty, or surprisal, as good men sometimes sin, but they proceed from design and deliberation, are accompanied with malice, and wilfulness, and contempt, and followed with obstinacy, impenitency, and incorrigibleness. So that they carry themselves not like my children and people, as they seem to be and profess to be, but like mine enemies. They are a perverse and crooked generation; not only some few of them, but the whole body or generation of them, are perverse, i.e. froward and untractable, and crooked, i.e. irregular and disorderly, not agreeing with the straight and righteous nature of God and of his law. Compare Isa 42:16.
Deut 32:6. Hath bought thee; that hath redeemed and rescued thee from Egyptian bondage. Made thee, i.e. advanced thee, as that word is used, 1 Sam 12:6; Esther 6:6; Ps 95:6; Ps 149:2; Isa 43:7. Made thee, not only in a general and common way, by creation or production; but in a peculiar manner, by adoption, or making thee his peculiar people and children. Established thee, i.e. renewed and confirmed his grace and favour to thee, and not taken it away from thee, which thou hast oft provoked him to do.
Deut 32:7. The days of old, i.e. the history and events of ancient days or former ages, and thou wilt find that I had a respect unto thee, not only in Abraham’s time, but long before it. Compare Jer 2:20.
Deut 32:8. When God by his providence did allot the several parts of the world to several people, which was done Gen 10; Gen 11. See Deut 2:5,9; Amos 9:7; Acts 17:26-27. Separated the sons of Adam, i.e. divided them in their languages and habitations according to their families. He set the bounds of the people, i.e. he disposed of the several lands and limits of the people, so as he did reserve a convenient and sufficient place for the great numbers of the people of Israel, whom he designed to make as numerous as the stars of heaven. And therefore he so guided the hearts of several people, that the posterity of Canaan, which was accursed of God, Gen 9:25-27, and devoted to ruin, should be seated in that country which God intended for the children of Israel, that so when their iniquities were ripe, and God’s time came, they might be rooted out, and the Israelites might come in their stead.
Deut 32:9. It is no wonder God had so great a regard to this people, for he chose them out of all mankind to be his peculiar portion and treasure.
Deut 32:10. He found him, not by chance but as it were looking out and seeking for him, He met with him there. He did indeed manifest himself to him in Egypt, but it was in the wilderness at Sinai; where he found God, and God found him in an eminent manner, and revealed his mind and will to him, and entered into covenant with him, and imparted himself and his grace and blessing to him, that being the place appointed in Egypt for God and Israel to meet together, Exod 3:12. By this word he also signifies both their lost condition in themselves, and that their recovery was not from themselves, but only from God, who sought and found them out by his grace. In a desert land; in a place destitute of all the necessaries and comforts of life, which also was a type of that desolate and comfortless condition in which all men are before the grace of God finds them out. See Song 3:6; Song 8:5; Ezek 16:1; Hos 9:10; Hos 13:9. In the waste howling wilderness, where instead of the voices of men, is nothing heard but the howlings, and yellings, and screeches of ravenous birds and beasts. See Isa 43:20; Mic 1:8. He led him about; he conducted them from place to place by his cloudy pillar and providence. See Exod 13:18, etc. Or, he compassed him about, by his provident care over him, watching over him and preserving him on every side. Compare Ps 32:7. As the apple of his eye; as men use to keep the apple of their eye, i.e. with singular care and diligence, this being, as a most tender, so a most useful part. Compare Ps 17:8; Prov 7:2; Zech 2:8.
Deut 32:11. Her nest, i.e. her young ones in the nest, by a common metonymy; which she by her cry and motion provoketh to fly by her example. Spreadeth abroad her wings, as preparing herself to fly. On her wings, or, as on her wings, i.e. gently, and tenderly, and safely too, as if she carried them not in her claws for fear of hurting them, but upon her wings. So it is only an ellipsis of the particle as, which is frequent, as hath been showed. Though some say the eagle doth usually carry her young ones upon her wings.
Deut 32:12. i.e. When they were shut up in Egypt, as in their nest, whence they durst not venture to fly nor stir, he taught, and encouraged, and enabled them to fly out and flee themselves from that bondage, and brought them into a state of liberty and safety; he dealt tenderly with them, bearing with their infirmities, keeping them from all harms. No strange god with him, to wit, to assist him at that work, or to deliver them. The more unworthy they in giving to idols a share in that worship and service which they owe to God only.
Deut 32:13. On the high places of the earth, i.e. to conquer their strongest holds, which ofttimes are in the mountains, and their cities fenced with walls of greatest height and strength, Deut 1:28; Deut 2:36; Deut 33:29; Isa 58:14. To ride upon in Scripture phrase is to subdue or conquer, as Ps 45:4; Ps 66:12; Rev 6:2; Rev 19:11,14. To suck honey out of the rock; this being a land flowing with honey, Exod 3:8,17, where the bees made honey even in woods, as 1 Sam 14, or in the holes of rocks, or in the trees that grew upon or among rocks. Oil out of the flinty rock: the olive trees grow and fructify most in rocky or hilly places.
Deut 32:14. With fat of lambs; for though the fat wherewith the inward parts were covered was not to be eaten by them, but offered to God, Lev 3:9-10, yet that fat which was fast joined to and mixed with the flesh they might eat, as the Jewish doctors note. Bashan; a place famous for excellent cattle, Num 32:4,33. With the fat of kidneys of wheat, i.e. with the finest of the grains or kernels of wheat, compared to kidneys for their shape, and plumpness, and largeness. Compare Ps 81:16; Ps 147:14. The pure blood of the grape; wine not mixed with water, but pure as it comes from the grape, which was of a red or bloody colour. See Ps 75:8; Isa 27:2.
Deut 32:15. Jeshurun, i.e. Israel, as is agreed by Christian and Jewish interpreters, whom he calls right, or upright, or righteous, (as the word signifies,) not that they were so indeed, but partly by way of instruction, to mind them what they professed, and promised, and ought to be; and partly by way of exprobration, to show them how unlike they were to the people of God, which they pretended to be, and what a shame it was to them to degenerate so much from their name and profession. Waxed fat, and kicked, as well-fed and wanton cattle used to do; he grew insolent and rebellious against God, and against his word and Spirit. Thou art covered with fatness; which is here rightly understood and supplied, by comparing this place with Job 15:27; Ps 17:10.
Deut 32:16. To jealousy, i.e. to anger and fury, for jealousy is the rage of a man, Prov 6:31. And withal it implies the ground of his anger, to wit, their falseness to God, whom they had owned and accepted as their Husband, and their spiritual whoredom with other gods.
Deut 32:17. Unto devils, i.e. unto idols, which the devils brought into the world in opposition to God, in and by which the devils ofttimes manifested themselves unto men, and gave them answers, and received their worship. Compare 1 Cor 10:20. The Gentiles pretended to worship God in those idols, and the devils which inspired them deluded the nations with false pretences that they were a sort of lower gods. Moses therefore takes off this mask, and shows the Israelites that these pretended gods were really devils, those great enemies of mankind, and therefore that it was the height of madness to honour or worship them. Not to God: this he saith, either because though at first they joined God and idols together in worship, yet at last they quite forsook God, and adhered to idols only; or because God utterly rejected those sacrifices which they offered to him together with idols, and took them for no sacrifices. See 1 Cor 10:21. Whom they knew not, or, who never knew them, i.e. never showed any kindness to them, or did them any good; for so words of knowledge are oft used, as Ps 1:6; Hos 13:5. That came newly up; not simply or absolutely, for some of these gods had been worshipped for many generations, and had a fair pretence of long antiquity, but comparatively to the true God, who is the Ancient of days, Dan 7:9, and who was worshipped from the beginning of the world. To this original and first antiquity Moses recalls them; as also our Saviour doth recall the Jews to the first institution, Matt 19:8. And therefore we may safely follow both their patterns in despising all pretences of antiquity, which are contrary to God’s first institutions contained (as all confess) in the Holy Scriptures. Whom your fathers feared not, i.e. served not, worshipped not, but justly despised and abhorred them.
Deut 32:18. Of the Rock, i.e. of God, one of whose titles this is, above, Deut 32:4; Isa 44:8; or of Christ, who is called the Rock, 1 Cor 10:4, whom the Israelites are said to have tempted, there, Deut 32:9. That begat thee, i.e. who hath adopted you to be his people, and hath showed as much care and kindness to you as if he had begotten you.
Deut 32:19. Because of their sins, whereby they provoked him to anger. Or, by reason of his great and just anger against them he abhorred, or reprobated, or cast off his sons and his daughters, for such they were by calling and profession, but not in truth and reality, Deut 32:5.
Deut 32:20. I will see what their end shall be; I will see and observe what will be the issue of all this, what will become of them at last; but this God doth not see only by way of speculation, but practically, i.e. considers with himself what he shall do with them, and how he shall punish them, and sees what he wills or purposes to do. A speech after the manner of men. Or I will see is put for I will make them and others to see, what the fruit of such actions shall be. Hebrew verbs in cal do ofttimes take the signification of hiphil. In whom there is no faith; perfidious, that have broken their covenant so solemnly made with me.
Deut 32:21. With those which are not a people, i.e. with the Gentile or heathenish nations, who are none of my people, who scarce deserve the name of a people, as being without yoke, without the knowledge and fear of God, which is the foundation of all true policy and government, and without righteous and necessary laws; and many of them are destitute of all government, and laws, and order, barbarous and rude, and savage, and brutish in their manners. And yet these people I will prefer before you, and take in your stead; receive them, and reject you; which, when it came to pass, how desperately it provoked the Jews to jealousy, may be gathered from Matt 21:43; Acts 11:2-3; Acts 22:21-23; 1 Thess 2:15-16. A foolish nation; so the Gentiles were both in the opinion of the Jews, and in truth and reality, notwithstanding all their pretences to wisdom, Rom 1:22, there being nothing more foolish or brutish than the worship of idols. See Jer 10:8; 1 Cor 12:2.
Deut 32:22. A fire is kindled, i.e. great and grievous judgments shall be inflicted, which oft come under the name of fire, etc. See Deut 4:24; Ezek 30:8; Amos 2:2,5. Unto the lowest hell, or, unto hell, or the graves beneath. The sense is, it shall not only burn up all the corn and fruits and buildings which appear above ground, but it shall reach to the inwards and depths of the earth, and burn up the very roots and hopes of future increase.
Deut 32:23. i.e. Even empty my quiver, and send upon them all my plagues, which, like arrows shot by a skilful and strong hand, shall speedily reach, and certainly hit, and mortally wound them. Compare Zech 9:14.
Deut 32:24. With hunger; with famine, which burneth and parcheth the inward parts, and makes the face black as a coal, Lam 4:8. With burning heat; from fevers or carbuncles or other inflaming distempers. Serpents of the dust, who feed upon the dust, Gen 3:14, and lurk in it, that they may surprise unwary passengers, Gen 49:17.
Deut 32:25-27. The wrath of the enemy, i.e. their rage against me, as it is expressed Isa 37:28-29; their insolent and furious reproaches against my name, as if I were unnatural and cruel to my people, or unable to deliver them. Compare Exod 32:12; Num 14:13; Deut 9:28; Josh 7:9. The fear hereof is ascribed to God after the manner of men. Strangely, i.e. insolently and arrogantly, above what they used to do. Or, make themselves strangers, i.e. either really not acknowledge, or pretend they did not know, that which I had publicly declared, and they either did or easily might have known, to wit, that this judgment was inflicted upon them by my hand for their sins.
Deut 32:28. They; either, 1. The enemies last mentioned, who are foolish people, and therefore make so false and foolish a judgment upon things. Or rather, 2. The Israelites themselves, of whom he speaks both in the foregoing Deut 32:26, and in the whole foregoing chapter, and in the next verse Deut 32:29, and afterwards. Void of counsel; that have not wisdom to direct themselves, nor discretion to desire and receive counsel from others, but rashly and madly go on in those courses which will certainly ruin them.
Deut 32:29. What their end will be; and that although God spare them long, yet at last judgment will certainly overtake them.
Deut 32:30. How should one chase a thousand? whence should this miraculous change come, that whereas God had promised that five Israelites should chase an hundred of their enemies, etc., Deut 26:8, now, on the contrary, one enemy should chase a thousand Israelites? Their Rock, i.e. their God, as before, Deut 32:4,18, who was their only refuge and defence; had sold them, to wit, for bondslaves, had quitted his right and relation to them, and given them up into their enemies’ hands. Shut them up, as it were, in the net which their enemies had laid for them.
Deut 32:31. Who by their dear-bought experience have been forced to acknowledge that our God was far stronger than they and their false gods together. See Exod 14:25; Num 23; 1 Sam 4:8; Jer 40:3.
Deut 32:32. For, or but; for these words seem to contain an answer to that question, Deut 32:30, How should, etc. To this he answers, 1. Negatively; It was not from impotency in God, for if he had not forsaken and delivered them up, they could not have been so easily chased. 2. Positively; But, saith he, the true reason was this, their vine, etc. Of the vine of Sodom: The people of Israel, which I planted and brought up as a choice vine, are now degenerated and become like the vine of Sodom; their principles and practices are all corrupt and abominable. Compare Isa 1:10. Their clusters are bitter; their fruits or actions are most loathsome to me, malicious and mischievous to others, and at last will be pernicious to themselves.
Deut 32:33. The poison of dragons; for although some write that the dragons of Greece have no poison in them, yet that the African and Arabian dragons, of which Moses here writes, have poison in them, is confessed by ancient heathen authors. The cruel venom of asps; whose poison kills certainly and speedily, as Aristotle and others write.
Deut 32:34. i.e. All their wickedness mentioned before. My longsuffering towards them may make them and others think that I have forgotten their sins, but I remember them punctually, they are sealed up as in a bag, Job 14:17, and as men seal up their treasures that nothing be lost; and I shall bring them to their remembrance also.
Deut 32:35. It is my office to punish sin, and therefore as I know their sins, so I will assuredly punish them. Their feet shall slide; they who now think they stand fast and unmovable, they shall fall into utter destruction. In due time; though not so soon as some may expect it, yet in that time when it shall be most proper and seasonable, when they have filled up the measure of their sins. This due time may be the same with that fulness of time, Gal 4:4, when Christ came into the world, whom this people by wicked hands crucified and slew, Acts 2:23, for which wrath came upon them to the uttermost, 1 Thess 2:15-16. Is at hand, Heb. is near. So the Scripture oft speaks of those things which are at many hundred years’ distance, to meet with objections arising in men’s minds from the delays of them, and to signify, that though they may be afar off as to our measures of time and expectation of the things, yet in God’s account they are near, they are as near as may be; as soon as ever the fit and the full time is come, they come instantly, they are nearer than sinners would have them; when the measure of their sins is once full, the judgment shall not be deferred.
Deut 32:36. For, or, nevertheless, or, but yet, as the particle chi is sometimes used, as Job 5:7; Isa 9:1; Isa 49:25. Having spoken of the dreadful calamity which would come upon his people, he now turns his discourse into a more comfortable strain, according to the usual method of the prophets, and here begins to show that after God had humbled and sorely chastised his people, yet at last he would have mercy upon them, and turn their captivity, as it here follows. Shall judge his people, i.e. shall plead their cause, shall protect and deliver them, as that phrase is oft used. See Ps 7:8; Ps 10:18; Isa 1:17; Isa 11:4; Jer 5:28; Jer 22:16. Repent himself for his servants, i.e. repent of the evils he hath brought upon them, will change his course and carriage towards them. None shut up, or left: none shut up, either in their strong cities or castles, or other hiding-places, or in the enemy’s hands or prisons, whence there might be some hope or possibility of redemption; and none left, as the poor and contemptible people are neglected and usually left by the conquerors in the conquered land, as 2 Kings 25:12, but all seem to be cut off; and the people quite destroyed. So this phrase is used 1 Kings 14:10; 1 Kings 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8; 2 Kings 14:26.
Deut 32:37. He shall say: the Lord, before he deliver his people, will first convince them of their former folly in forsaking him and following idols; he will find an occasion from that miserable and hopeless condition into which their idols have brought them, to upbraid them with it.
Deut 32:38. i.e. To whom you offered sacrifices and oblations after the manner of the Gentiles. See Exod 34:13; Ps 106:28; 1 Cor 10:20. Let them help you, if they can do it. Compare Judg 10:14; Jer 2:28.
Deut 32:39. See now; learn now by your own sad experience what vain and impotent things idols are, and what a silly thing it was in you to put your trust in them, as they did Deut 32:37. I am he, i.e. the only true, and omnipotent, and irresistible God, as it here follows.
Deut 32:40. I lift up my hand to heaven, i.e. I solemnly swear that I will do what here follows, that as I will deliver my people, so I will fully avenge myself upon all mine enemies, whom I have used as rods to scourge my people. I live for ever, i.e. As sure as I live. Compare Jer 4:2; Heb 6:13; Rev 10:5-6.
Deut 32:41. If once I begin to prepare for war, and for the execution of my sentence. Take hold on judgment, i.e. of the instruments of judgment, of the weapons of war. A metaphor from warriors that take their weapons into their hand when they intend to fight.
Deut 32:42. Of the captives; whom my sword hath sorely wounded, though not utterly killed. From the beginning of revenges upon the enemy, i.e. when once I begin to revenge myself and my people upon mine and their enemies, I will go on and make a full end. Or, with the head, or with the blood of the head, i.e. of the chief or chiefs, of the revenges of the enemy, i.e. of the revengeful or malicious enemy of God and of his people. The noun substantive is oft put for the adjective; as Gen 17:5, a multitude of nations is put for many nations, Rom 4:17; Gen 45:22, changes of raiment, i.e. changeable raiment; and Ps 99:4, the king’s strength, i.e. the strong and mighty king; and so here, the revenges of the enemy, i.e. the revengeful enemy. And by the head may be here understood either the devil, or the beads and rulers of those empires which were enemies to God’s people. Or, of the head shall be the revenges upon the enemies, i.e. I will take vengeance upon all mine enemies, yea, upon the head or heads of them.
Deut 32:43. With his people. This translation is justified by St. Paul, Rom 15:10, the particle with being oft understood, as Lev 26:42. He calls upon the nations to rejoice and bless God for his favours, and especially for the last wonderful deliverance which shall be given to the Jews when they shall be converted unto the gospel in the last days, which they have all reason to do, not only kern that duty of sympathy which they owe to all people, and especially to God’s ancient people, whereby they are to rejoice with them that rejoice, but because of that singular advantage and happiness which all nations will have at that time, and upon that occasion. Or, Rejoice, O ye Gentiles, his people; i.e. O you Gentiles, who once were not God’s people, but now are his people, do you rejoice for God’s mercies to the Jews his ancient people, bless God for their conversion and salvation.
Deut 32:44. Hoshea, or Joshua, who is here joined with Moses in this action, because though Moses only spake the words, yet Joshua consented to them; and, it may be, afterwards repeated them; this being not a song to be sung once for all, but a standing monument, which was written and kept for future use, Deut 31:22, etc., and to be repeated again and again upon solemn occasions, which Joshua and other magistrates were to take care of.
Deut 32:45-47. It is not an unprofitable or contemptible work I advise you to, but well worthy of your most serious care, oft to remember and diligently to consider it.
Deut 32:48-49. Nebo was a ridge or top of the mountains of Abarim. See on Num 27:12; Deut 3:27.
Deut 33:1-5: The majesty of God.
Deut 33:6-25: Blessings prophesied of the twelve tribes.
Deut 33:26-29: The excellency of Israel.
Deut 33:1. He is said to bless them ministerially, partly by praying to God with faith for his blessing upon them; partly by foretelling the blessings which God would confer upon them, for the prophets are oft said to do what they foretell should be done, as Gen 49:7; Jer 1:10; Ezek 43:3; Hos 6:5. And Moses calls himself here the man of God, i.e. the servant, or prophet, or minister of God, as this phrase signifies, 1 Sam 9:6-7; 1 Tim 6:11, to acquaint them that the following prophecies were not his own inventions, but Divine inspirations. The children of Israel, i.e. the several tribes; only Simeon is omitted, either, 1. In detestation of their parent Simeon’s bloody and wicked carriage, for which Jacob also gives that tribe a curse rather than a blessing, in Gen 49. But as for Levi, who is joined with him in that censure and curse, Gen 49:5-7, he is here separated from him, and exempted from that curse, and blessed with an eminent blessing for a singular and valuable reason expressed here, Deut 33:8-9; whereas Simeon’s tribe had been so far from expiating their father’s crime, that they added new ones, their prince being guilty of another notorious crime, Num 25:6,14, and his tribe too much concurring with him in such actions, as interpreters gather from the great diminution of the numbers of that tribe, which were 59,300 in Num 1:23, and but 22,200 in Num 26:14, which was near forty years after. Or, 2. Because that tribe had no distinct inheritance, but was to have his portion in the tribe of Judah, as he had, Josh 19:1, and therefore must needs partake with them in their blessing.
Deut 33:2. The Lord came, to wit, to the Israelites, i.e. manifested graciously and gloriously among them. From Sinai, i.e. beginning at Sinai, where the first and most glorious appearance of God was, and so going on with them to Seir and Paran. Or, to Sinai, the particle mem oft signifying to, as is evident by comparing Isa 59:20, with Rom 11:26; 1 Kings 8:30, with 2 Chron 6:21; 2 Sam 6:2, with 1 Chron 13:6. See also Gen 2:8; Gen 11:2; Gen 13:11; 1 Sam 14:15. Or, in Sinai; mem being put for beth, in, as Exod 25:18; Deut 15:1; Job 19:26; Ps 68:29; Ps 72:16. Rose up; he appeared or showed himself, as the sun doth when it riseth. From Seir, i.e. from the mountain or land of Edom, which is called Seir, Gen 32:3; Gen 36:8; Deut 2:4, to which place the Israelites came, Num 20:14, etc.; and from thence God led them on towards the Land of Promise, and then gloriously appeared for them in subduing Sihon and Og before them, and giving their countries unto them; which glorious work of God’s is particularly celebrated Judg 5:4. But because the land of Seir or Edom is sometimes taken more largely, and so reacheth even to the Red Sea, as appears from 1 Kings 9:26, and therefore Mount Sinai was near to it; and because Paran, which here follows, was also near Sinai, as being the next station into which they came from the wilderness of Sinai, Num 10:12; all this verse may belong to God’s appearance in Mount Sinai, where that glorious light which shone upon Mount Sinai directly did in all probability scatter its beams into adjacent parts, such as Seir and Paean were; and so this is only a poetical and prophetical variation of the phrase and expression of the same thing in divers words, and God coming, or rising, or shining from or to or in Sinai, and Sear, and Paran note one and the same illustrious action of God appearing there with ten thousands of his saints or holy angels, and there giving a fiery law to them, as it here follows. And this interpretation may receive some strength from Hab 3:3, where this glorious march of God before his people is remembered; only teman, which signifies the south, is put for Seir, which is here, possibly to signify that that Seir which is here mentioned was to be understood of the southern part of the country of Seir or Edom, which was that part adjoining to the Red Sea. Others refer this of Seir to the brazen serpent, that eminent type of Christ, which was erected in this place. Mount Paran; a place where God eminently manifested his presence and goodness, both in giving the people flesh which they desired, and in appointing the seventy elders, and pouring forth his Spirit upon them, Num 11; though the exposition mentioned in the foregoing branch may seem more probable. With ten thousands of saints, i.e. with a great company of holy angels, Ps 68:17; Dan 7:10, which attended upon him in this great and glorious work of giving the law, as may be gathered from Acts 7:53; Gal 3:19; Heb 2:2; Heb 12:22. From his right hand; which both wrote the law and gave it to men; an allusion to men, who ordinarily write and give gifts with their right, and not with their left hand. A fiery law. The law is called fiery, partly, because it is of a fiery nature, purging, and searching, and inflaming, for which reasons God’s word is compared to fire, Jer 23:29; partly, to signify that fiery wrath and curse which it inflicteth upon sinners for the violation of it, 2 Cor 3:7,9; and principally, because it was delivered out of the midst of the fire, Exod 19:16,18; Deut 4:11; Deut 5:22-23.
Deut 33:3. The people, i.e. the tribes of Israel, which are called people, Gen 48:19; Judg 5:14; Acts 4:27. The sense is, This law, though delivered with fire, and smoke, and thunder, which might seem to portend nothing but hatred and terror, yet in truth it was given to Israel in great love, as being the great mean of their temporal and eternal salvation. And although God shows a general and common kindness to all men, yet he loved this people in a singular and peculiar manner. All his saints; all God’s saints or holy ones, i.e. his people, as they are now called, the people of Israel, who are all called holy, Exod 19:6; Num 16:3; Deut 7:6; Dan 7:25; Dan 8:24; Dan 12:7, because they all professed to be so, and were obliged to be so, and many of them were such; though some appropriate this to the true saints in Israel. Are in thy hand, or, were in thy hand, i.e. under God’s care, to protect, and direct, and govern them, as that phrase signifies, Num 4:28,33; John 10:28-29. These words are spoken to God; and for the change of persons, his and thy, that is most frequent in the Hebrew tongue. See Dan 9:4. This clause may further note God’s kindness to Israel in upholding and preserving them when the fiery law was delivered, which was done with so much dread and terror, that not only the people trembled and were ready to sink under it, Exod 20:18-19, but even Moses himself did exceedingly fear and quake, Heb 12:21. But in this fright God sustained both Moses and the people in or by his hand, whereby he in a manner hid and covered them, that no harm might come to them by this terrible apparition. They sat down at thy feet, like scholars, to receive instructions and counsels from thee. He alludes either, 1. To the manner of disciples among the Jews, who used to sit at their masters’ feet, Luke 10:39; Acts 22:3. See also Gen 49:10; 2 Kings 4:38. But it is doubtful whether this custom was so ancient as Moses. Or, 2. To the place where the people waited when the law was delivered, which was at the foot of the mount. Shall receive of thy words; the people, easily understood from the foregoing words, did or will receive or submit to thy instructions and commands. This may respect either, 1. The people’s promise when they heard the law, that they would hear and do all that was commanded, Deut 5:27. Or, 2. The people’s duty to do so. 3. The people’s privilege, that they were admitted to receive so great a privilege as the words and laws of God were.
Deut 33:4. Moses speaks this of himself in the third person, which is very usual in the Hebrew language. The law is called their inheritance, partly because the obligation of it was hereditary, passing from parents to their children, and partly because this was the best part of all their inheritance and possessions, the greatest of all those gifts and favours which God bestowed upon them.
Deut 33:5. Moses was their king, not in title, but in reality, being under God their supreme and uncontrollable governor and lawgiver: though the word oft signifies only a prince or chief ruler, as Judg 19:1; Jer 19:3; Jer 46:25. In Jeshurun, i.e. in Israel, so called Deut 32:15. When the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together: when the princes and people met together for the management of public affairs, Moses was owned by them as their king and lawgiver, and he directed and ruled them as their superior. This he saith to show that the people approved and consented to the authority and law of Moses.
Deut 33:6. Though Reuben deserve to be cut off, or greatly diminished and obscured, according to Jacob’s prediction, Gen 49:4; yet God will spare them, and give them a name and portion among the tribes of Israel, and bless them with increase of their numbers.
Deut 33:7. Hear, Lord, the voice of Judah, i.e. God will hear his prayer for the accomplishment of those great things promised to that tribe, Gen 49:8-11. This implies the delays and difficulties Judah would meet with herein, which would drive him to his prayers, and that those prayers should be crowned with success. Bring him unto his people; either, 1. When he shall go forth to battle against God’s and his enemies, and shall fall fiercely upon them, as was foretold Gen 49:8-9, bring him back with honour, and victory, and safety to his people, i.e. either to the rest of his tribe, who were left at home when their brethren went to battle, or to his brethren the other tribes of Israel. Or, 2. When that tribe shall go into captivity, let them not always be kept in captivity, as the ten tribes are like to be, but do thou bring him again to his people. Or, 3. As thou hast promised the gathering of the people to him, even to the Shiloh, who was to come out of his loins, Gen 49:10; so do thou bring him, i.e. the Messias, who may be understood out of that parallel prophecy, and who may be here called Judah, because he was to come from him, as he is for that reason called David in divers places, to his people, i.e. to that people which thou hast given to him. Or, 4. Bring him in, to wit, as a prince and governor, as thou hast promised, Gen 49, to his people, i.e. to thy people of Israel, now to be reckoned as his people, because of their subjection to him. Or rather, 5. Bring him in to his people, to that people which thou hast promised and given to him, i.e. to that portion of land which thou hast allotted to him, settle him in his possession; the people or inhabitants being here put for the land inhabited by them, as the Israelites are told they should possess the nations or people of Canaan, Deut 11:23; Deut 12:2, i.e. their land, as it is explained, Deut 17:14; Deut 30:18; for the people they were not to possess, but to dispossess, and to root out. Let his hands be sufficient for him: this tribe shall be so numerous, and potent, and valiant, that it shall suffice to defend itself without any aid, either from foreign nations or from other tribes; as appeared when this tribe alone was able to grapple with nine or ten of the other tribes. Be thou an help to him from his enemies; thou wilt preserve this tribe in a special manner, so as his enemies shall not be able to ruin it, as they will do other tribes, and that for the sake of Messias, who shall spring out of it.
Deut 33:8. Thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one; the Thummim and the Urim, which are thine, O Lord, by special institution and consecration; by which he understands the ephod, in which they were put, Exod 28:30, by a synecdoche, and the high priesthood, to which they were appropriated, by a metonymy; and withal the gifts and graces signified by the Urim and Thummim, and necessary for the discharge of that high office, shall be with thy holy one, i.e. with that Levite, that priest, which thou hast consecrated to thyself, and which is holy in a more peculiar manner than all the people were, i.e. the priesthood shall be confined to and continued in Aaron’s family. Whom thou didst prove: this seems added by way of anticipation; although thou didst try him, and rebuke him, and shut him out of Canaan for his miscarriage about fetching water out of the rock, yet thou didst not therefore take away the priesthood from him. At Massah; not at that Massah mentioned Exod 17, which is also called Meribah, where neither Moses nor Aaron are reproved, nor is Aaron so much as named, but at that other Meribah, Num 20, where this is expressed, which as it is called by one of the names of that place, Exod 17, to wit, Meribah, Num 20, so it may be here called by its other name, Massah; and well may the same names be given to those two places, because the occasion of them was in a great measure one and the same. Though this place may be otherwise rendered, whom thou didst try in trying, or with trial, i.e. whom thou didst exactly and thoroughly try, such repetitions being very frequent and elegant in the Hebrew language. And it may be observed, that in the Hebrew text here are two several prepositions, though the English translation render them both by at, here beth, in or with, and in the next branch al, at, or near, or concerning the waters of Meribah; which may seem to intimate that the former is not the name of the place, as the latter is: why else should they not have been expressed by the same preposition? With whom thou didst strive, or, contend, i.e. whom thou didst reprove and chastise, as that phrase signifies, Isa 49:25; Jer 2:9.
Deut 33:9. I have not seen him, i.e. I have no respect unto them, for so knowledge is oft used, as Job 9:21; Prov 12:10-11; 1 Thess 5:12. The sense is, who followed God and his command fully, and executed the judgment enjoined by God without any respect of persons, Exod 32:26-27. This seems better than to refer it either to their not mourning for their next kindred, for that was allowed to all but the high priest in case of the death of father or mother, and that was only a ceremonial rite, and no matter of great commendation; or to their impartiality in executing the judgments committed to them, Deut 17:9, of which they had as yet given no considerable proof. Kept thy covenant, i.e. when the rest broke their covenant with God by that foul sin of idolatry with the calf, that tribe kept themselves more pure from that infection, and adhered to God and his worship and service, as appears from Exod 32:26,28. Compare Mal 2:6-7.
Deut 33:10. They, i.e. the priests and Levites. Before thee, i.e. upon thine altar of incense, which stood before the ark, the place of God’s special presence.
Deut 33:11. His substance, i.e. his outward estate, as Deut 8:18, because he hath no inheritance of his own, and therefore wholly depends upon thy blessing. Or, his host or army, as the word is used Ezek 37:10. The priests that attended upon God’s service in the tabernacle or temple are oft compared to an host or army in regard of their exquisite order and courses and constant watches there. See Num 4:3. The work of his hands, i.e. all his holy administrations, which he fitly calls the works of his hands; either more largely, the hand, one great instrument of action being put for all the rest; or because a great part of the service of the Levites and priests was done by the labour of their hand and body, whereas the service of evangelical ministers is more spiritual and heavenly. Smite through the loins of them that rise against him: he prays thus earnestly for them, partly because he foresaw they who were to teach, and admonish, and reprove, and chastise others would have many enemies, Jer 15:10; Amos 5:10; and partly because they were, under God, the great preservers and upholders of religion, and their enemies were the enemies of religion itself; as is evident from the history of the Old Testament.
Deut 33:12. The beloved of the Lord, i.e. this beloved tribe: so called partly in allusion to their father Benjamin, who was the beloved of his father Jacob; and partly because of the love and kindness of God towards this tribe, which appeared both in this, that they dwelt in the fattest and best part of the land, as Josephus affirms and especially in the following privilege. Shall dwell in safety by him, i.e. shall have his lot nigh unto God’s temple, which was both a singular comfort and safeguard to him. The Lord may well be understood here, because he was expressed in the former member. Shall cover him all the day long; shall protect that tribe continually while they cleave to him. He shall dwell between his shoulders; the Lord shall dwell, i.e. his temple shall be placed, between his shoulders, i.e. in his portion, or between his borders, or sides, as the word shoulder is oft used, as Exod 28:7; Num 34:11; Josh 15:8,10; Ezek 47:1-2. And this was truly the situation of the temple, on both sides whereof was Benjamin’s portion; and though Mount Sion was in the tribe of Judah, yet Mount Moriah, on which the temple was built, was in the tribe of Benjamin.
Deut 33:13. His portion shall be excellent, and endowed with choice blessings from God, as it here follows. For the precious things of heaven, i.e. the precious fruits of the earth brought forth by the influences of heaven, the warmth of the sun, and the rain which God will send from heaven. For the deep that coucheth beneath; the springs of water bubbling out of the earth.
Deut 33:14. By the sun, which opens and warms the earth, cherisheth and improveth, and in due time ripeneth the seeds and fruits of the earth. By the moon, which by its moisture refreshes and promotes them Heb. of the moons, or months, i.e. which it bringeth forth in the several months or seasons of the year.
Deut 33:15. i.e. The excellent fruits, as grapes, olives, figs, etc., which delight in mountains, growing upon, or the precious minerals contained in, their mountains and hills, called ancient and lasting, i.e. such as have been from the beginning of the world, and likely to continue to the end of it, in opposition to those hills or mounts which have been cast up by the wit of man.
Deut 33:16. For the precious things of the earth; and in general for all the choice fruits which the land produceth in all the parts of it, whether hills or valleys. Fulness thereof, i.e. the plants and cattle, and all creatures that grow, increase, and flourish in it. For the good will of him that dwelt in the bush; for all other effects of the good will and kindness of God, who not long since did for a time dwell or appear in the bush to me in order to the relief of his people, Exod 3:2. Of Joseph, i.e. of Joseph’s posterity.
Deut 33:17. The firstling of his bullock; in whose countenance there is a kind of awful majesty and comely generosity, as Tully, ﾆlian, etc. observe. This seems to note the kingdom which Ephraim should obtain in Jeroboam and his successors. His horns are like the horns of unicorns; his strength and power shall be very great. He shall push the people, i.e. all that shall oppose him, and particularly the Canaanites. To the ends of the earth, i.e. of the land of Canaan. They are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands of Manasseh; though Manasseh be now more numerous, yet Ephraim shall shortly outstrip him, as was foretold, Gen 48:19.
Deut 33:18. Thou shalt prosper; and have cause of rejoicing. In thy going out; either, 1. To war, as this phrase is oft used, as Gen 14:17, which was in part verified, Judg 5:18. Or, 2. To sea, in way of traffic, because their portion lay near the sea. Or both may be joined; and in both respects his course is opposite to that of Issachar, who was a lover of peace and pasturage. See Gen 49:14-15. Issachar is here joined with Zebulun, both because they were brethren by father and mother too, and because their possessions lay near together. In thy tents, i.e. thou shalt give thyself to the management of land and cattle, living quietly in thy own possessions, disliking the troubles of war and of merchandise. So the phrase is used Gen 25:27; Josh 22:4; Judg 5:24; Judg 7:8.
Deut 33:19. They; either, 1. Zebulun and Issachar. Or rather, 2. Zebulun only, as the following matter shows; and it was Zebulun that Moses takes more special notice of, Deut 33:18, bringing in Issachar only by the by, in conjunction with him, or in opposition to him. And so having despatched Issachar in two words, he returns to Zebulun, a more active tribe. The people, i.e. the Gentiles; either those of Galilee, which was called Galilee of the Gentiles, who were their neighbours; or people of other nations, with whom they had commerce, which they endeavoured to improve in persuading them to the true God, and his worship and service. Unto the mountain, i.e. to the temple, which Moses knew was to be seated upon a mountain. Sacrifices of righteousness, i.e. such as God requires and righteousness obligeth them to offer. Their trafficking abroad with heathen nations shall not make them forget or neglect their duty at home, nor shall their distance from the place of sacrifice hinder them from coming to it to discharge that duty. They shall suck of the abundance of the seas; they shall grow rich by the traffic of the sea; and their riches shall not make them the worse, as they do others, but they shall consecrate themselves and their riches to the service of God. Treasures hid in the sand; such precious things as either, 1. Are contained in the sand of the sea and rivers, in which sometimes there is mixed a considerable quantity of gold and silver. Or, 2. Such as grow in the sea, or are fetched from the sandy bottom of it, as pearls, coral, ambergris, etc. Or, 3. Such as being east into the sea by shipwreck are cast upon the shore by the workings of the sea, and thence taken either by merchants, or by the people that live upon the seacoast.
Deut 33:20. By praising God for enlarging Gad he supposeth the ground of these praises, that God would enlarge Gad, i.e. either. 1. Enlarge his territories; which seems needless, because they had a very large portion now when Moses uttered these words. Or, 2. Bring him out of his straits and troubles, which he was likely to be oft engaged in, because he was encompassed with potent enemies. And in this sense the phrase is used Ps 4:1: compare Ps 31:8; Ps 118:5. One instance of the fulfilling hereof we have Judg 11. He dwelleth as a lion, i.e. safe and secure from his enemies, and terrible to them when they rouse and molest him. See 1 Chron 5:18, etc.; 1 Chron 12:8. Teareth the arm with the crown of the head, i.e. utterly destroys his enemies; both the head, the seat of the crown, their dignity and principality, and the arm, the subject of strength and instrument of action; both chief princes, and their instruments and subjects.
Deut 33:21. The first part; the firstfruits of the Land of Promise, the country of Sihon, which was first conquered, which he is said to provide for himself, because he desired and so obtained it of Moses, Num 32. A portion of the lawgiver, i.e. of Moses, whose portion this is called, either because this part of the land beyond Jordan was the only part of the land which Moses was permitted to enter upon; or because it was given to him by Moses; whereas the portions beyond Jordan were given to the several tribes by Joshua, according to the direction of the lot. Was he seated, Heb. hid or protected; for their wives and children were secured in their cities, whilst many of their men went over to the war in Canaan. He came with the heads of the people, i.e. he went, or he will go, (the preter tense being put for the future, after the manner of the prophets,) to wit, to the war in Canaan, with the princes, or captains, or rulers of the people of Israel, i.e. under their command and conduct, as indeed they did; or with the first of the people; or, in the front of the people, as the Syriac renders it; for this tribe and their brethren, whose lot fell beyond Jordan, were to march, and did march, into Canaan before their brethren, as it is expressed, Josh 1:14. And the Hebrew word rosch oft signifies the beginning or first of a thing. He executed the justice of the Lord, and his judgments with Israel, i.e. he did or will execute the just judgment of God against the Canaanites, as the rest of the Israelites did; he will join in the war against them, as he promised to do, Num 32:27, and actually did, Josh 1:14.
Deut 33:22. Lion’s whelp, i.e. courageous, and generous, and strong, and successful against his enemies. He shall leap from Bashan, or, which leapeth from Bashan; for this clause seems not to belong to the tribe of Dan, which was at a great distance from Bashan, even at the other end of the land, and therefore this seems too great a leap for him; and if he did leap so far, he should rather be said to take his leap from his own lot in the south of Canaan, and thence to leap not from Bashan, but to Bashan, to fall upon his enemies there: but it rather is a continuation of the metaphor, and belongs to the lion, which is said to leap from Bashan, because there were many and fierce lions in those parts; see Judg 14:5; whence they used to come forth to prey, and their manner was to leap upon the prey.
Deut 33:23. With favour; either, 1. With God’s favour, as it follows; or, 2. With men’s favour or goodwill, his carriage being peaceable, courteous, and obliging, as is intimated, Gen 49:21, according to the common translation: see the notes there. Full with the blessing of the Lord, i.e. seated in a pleasant, and fertile, and happy soil; such as Galilee (in which their share lay) eminently was, as Josephus and others report. The west and the south, or, the sea and the south. This is not to be understood of the places, that his lot should fall there, for he was rather in the east and north of the land; but of the pleasures and commodities of the west, or of the sea, which were conveyed to him from his neighbour Zebulun; and of the south, i.e. from the southern tribes and parts of Canaan, which were brought to him down the river Jordan, and both sorts of commodities were given him in exchange for the fruits of his rich soil, which he had in great abundance.
Deut 33:24. He shall have numerous, and those strong, and healthful, and comely, children. Or, shall be blessed or praised of or above the sons, i.e. the other sons of Israel, or his brethren, as it here follows, i.e. his portion shall fall in an excellent part, where he may have the benefits both of his own fat soil, and of the sea, by his neighbours Tyrus and Sidon. Acceptable to his brethren; by his sweet disposition and winning carriage, and communication of his excellent commodities to his brethren, he shall gain their affections. Let him dip his foot in oil; he shall have such plenty of oil, that he may not only wash his face, but his feet also, in it. Or, the fatness and fertility of his country may be expressed by oil, as Job 29:6. And so it agrees with Jacob’s blessing of him, Gen 49:20.
Deut 33:25. Thy shoes shall be iron and brass: this may note either, 1. Their great strength, by which they should be able to tread down and crush their enemies, as Christ’s feet for this very reason are said to be of brass, Rev 1:15. Or, 2. The mines of iron and copper, which were in their portion, whence Sidon their neighbour was famous among the heathens for its plenty of brass and iron, and Sarepta is thought to have its name from the brass and iron, which were melted there in great quantity. Compare Deut 8:9. Or, 3. The strength of its situation; and so some ancients and modems render the words, thy habitation or thy enclosure shall be iron and brass, i.e. fortified as it were with walls and gates of iron and brass, being defended by the sea on one side, by their brethren on other sides, as also by mountains and rivers. So shall thy strength be, i.e. thy strength shall not be diminished with thine age, but thou shalt have the rigour of youth even in thine old age; thy tribe shall grow stronger and stronger.
Deut 33:26. Upon the heaven, i.e. upon the clouds, to succour thee from thence, by sending thunder and lightning upon thine enemies. See Ps 18:7; Ps 68:34, etc. In his excellency, or, in his magnificence, i.e. magnificently, gloriously, and with great majesty as well as power.
Deut 33:27. Thy refuge, or, thy dwellingplace. Compare Ps 91:1. Underneath, i.e. under thy arms to hold thee up, as my hands were once held up by Aaron and Hur. He will support and defend thee. Or the meaning is, Though he dwelleth on high, yet he comes down to the earth beneath to assist and deliver thee. Shall say, Destroy them, i.e. shall give thee not only command and commission, but also power, to destroy them; for God’s saying is doing, his word comes with power.
Deut 33:28. Alone; either, 1. Though they be alone, and have no confederates to defend them, but have all the world against them, yet my single protection shall be sufficient for them. Or, 2. Distinct and separated from all other nations, with whom I will not have them to mingle themselves. See Num 23:9; Ezra 9:1-2. The fountain of Jacob, i.e. the posterity of Jacob, which flowed from him its waters from a fountain, in great abundance. Compare Ps 68:26; Isa 48:1. The fountain is here put for the river or streams which flow from it, as Ps 94:10; as the root is put for the branch, 2 Chron 22:10; Isa 11:10; Rev 5:5; and as Jacob or Israel, who is the fountain, is oft put for the children of Israel. Or, the eye (for so the Hebrew word oft signifies) of Jacob, i.e. of the people of Israel; and so the sense is, They who now only hear of the land of promise shall shortly see it, which I am not suffered to do, and shall enjoy it, which is oft signified by seeing, as Ps 4:6; Ps 27:13; Ps 34:12; Eccles 2:1; Eccles 3:13. His heavens, i.e. those heavens or that air which hangs over his land.
Deut 33:29. Saved by the Lord, the giver and preserver of all that excellency, that glory, safety, and happiness, which thou hast above all other people, which thou dost not obtain either by or for thy own wisdom, or strength, or goodness. The sword of thy excellency, or, thy most excellent sword, i.e. thy strength and the author of all this, past or approaching victories. Shall be found liars unto thee, i.e. shall be deceived, as to all their vain hopes and confidences of destroying thee or saving themselves, whether grounded upon their own numbers, and valour, and strong holds, or upon old prophecies and predictions of success, or upon their idols. Or, shall lie unto thee, i.e. shall submit themselves to thee, though it be done but feignedly and by constraint, as this phrase is used, Ps 18:44; Ps 66:3; Ps 81:15. Possibly this may design the lies and frauds which the Gibeonites would use to deceive them, Josh 9:4. Thou shalt tread upon their high places, i.e. thou shalt subdue their greatest princes, and their strongest holds, Deut 32:13, and their idols, temples, and worship.
Deut 34:1-4: Moses from Mount Nebo vieweth the land.
Deut 34:5: He dieth there.
Deut 34:6: His burial.
Deut 34:7: His age.
Deut 34:8: Thirty days’ mourning for him.
Deut 34:9: Joshua succeedeth him.
Deut 34:10-12: The praises of Moses.
Deut 34:1. Moses went up, in compliance with God’s will, that he should then and there resign up his soul to God. Of the mountain of Nebo, see Num 27:12; Num 32:38; Deut 32:49. Of the land of Gilead Moses had as yet seen and enjoyed but a small part. Of this land, see Gen 31:21; Num 32:1,19, etc. Unto Dan; to that city which after Moses’s death was called Dan, Josh 19:47; Judg 18:29. So that here is an anticipation. But it seems most probable, and is commonly believed, that this chapter was not written by Moses, but by Eleazar, or Joshua, or Ezra, or some other man of God, directed herein by the Holy Ghost; this being no more impeachment to the Divine authority of this chapter, that the penman is unknown, which also is the lot of some other books of Scripture, than it is to the authority of the acts of the king or parliament, that they are written or printed by some unknown person.
Deut 34:2. All Naphtali, i.e. the land of Naphtali, which, together with Dan, was in the north of Canaan, as Ephraim and Manasseh were in the midland parts, and Judah on the south, and the sea on the west. So these parts lying in the several quarters are put for all the rest. He stood in the cast, and saw also Gilead, which was in the eastern part of the land, and thence he saw the north, and south, and west. The utmost sea, i.e. the midland sea, which was the utmost bound of the Land of Promise on the west.
Deut 34:3. i.e. The south quarter of thee land of Judah, which is towards the Salt Sea, which is described Num 34:3-5; Josh 15:1-4, as the western quarter of Judah was described in the words next foregoing. The plain of the valley of Jericho; or, in which lies Jericho; which was in the tribe of Benjamin. The city of palm trees, i.e. Jericho, so called both here and Judg 1:16; Judg 3:13; 2 Chron 28:15, from the multitude of palm trees which were in those parts, as Josephus and Strabo write; from whence and the balm there growing it was called Jericho, which signifies odoriferous, or sweet-smelling.
Deut 34:4. With thine eyes, to wit, by a miraculous power strengthening thy sight, or making a clear representation of all these parts to thy view.
Deut 34:5. i.e. In the land which Israel took from the Amorites, which anciently was the land of Moab.
Deut 34:6. He, i.e. the Lord, last mentioned, buried him either immediately, or by the ministry of angels, whereof Michael was the chief or prince, Jude 9. No man knoweth of his sepulchre, i.e. of the particular place of the valley where he was buried; which God hid from the Israelites, to prevent their superstition and idolatry, to which he knew their great proneness. And for this very reason the devil endeavoured to have it known, and contended with Michael about it, Jude 9. And seeing God would not endure the worship of the relics or tomb of so eminent a person as Moses was, it is ridiculous to think God would permit this honour to be given to any of the succeeding saints, who were so far inferior to him.
Deut 34:7. By a miraculous work of God in mercy to his church and people.
Deut 34:8. Thirty days was the usual time of mourning for persons of high place and eminency. See Gen 1:3,10; Num 20:29. For others seven days sufficed.
Deut 34:9. The spirit of wisdom; and other gifts and graces too, as appears from the history; but wisdom is mentioned as being most necessary for the government, to which he was now called. Moses had laid his hands upon him; which God had appointed as a sign to Moses, and Joshua, and the Israelites, that this was the person whom he had appointed and qualified for his great work. See Num 27:18, etc. Compare Gen 48:10; Num 8:10.
Deut 34:10. Like unto Moses, in the privileges here following. Whom the Lord knew face to face, i.e. whom God did so freely, and familiarly, and frequently converse with. See on Exod 33:11; Num 12:8; Deut 5:4.
Deut 34:11. In all the signs: this is to be joined, either, 1. With the words immediately foregoing, as an eminent instance wherein God did know or acknowledge and own or converse so familiarly with Moses, namely, in the working of all his signs and wonders in Egypt, where God spake to him so oft, and sometimes even in Pharaoh’s presence, and answered his requests so particularly and punctually, whether he called for vengeance or for deliverance. Or, 2. With the more remote words, there was none like unto Moses in regard of all the signs, etc., the words, whom the Lord knew face to face, coming in by way of parenthesis.