This is the book which contains Moses’ final teachings to the Children of Israel, and his last actions as their leader. And it also tells us of his death. And because it does tell us concerning the death and burial of Moses, it is commonly argued that Moses could not have written this entire book. And, of course, the argument grows from that to a denial of his even writing any of it. But anyone who believes in the divine inspiration of the Bible should have no difficulty in believing that he wrote it, because God can show anyone exactly what is going to take place, and just how it will be done, as well as He can show one what was done centuries before that one was born into the world: and all will agree that Moses was not present when “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” Moses could have known about that only by the revelation of God. And by the same manner he could have had complete knowledge of his death before it took place. Whatever arguments men may put up against it, I will go on record that I believe that the Bible is the written word of God, and that it was revealed to the writers by His power. Others must bear the responsibility for their own thoughts concerning the matter. Of course, it could be that Joshua wrote the entire book of Deuteronomy, since it even starts off in third person concerning Moses. But that would still not prevent its being the word of the LORD.
(Verses 1 through 8) These be the words which Moses spake unto all the children of Israel on this side of Jordan in the wilderness of Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab. (There are eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea.) And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according to all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them; after he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei; on this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying, The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount: :turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates. Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
Thus Moses begins his last address to the children of Israel. This took place after the LORD had given the victory to the Israelites over Sihon the king of the Amorites and Og the king of Bashan. He does not start at the beginning of their travels, but at the time when they were at Horeb, and the LORD commanded them to go to the land of the Amorites, and take possession of that land, and all the land of the Canaanites. The LORD had brought them out of Egypt, and they were to take their journey through the wilderness to the land of Canaan, and take possession of it.
(Verses 9 through 18) And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone: the LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude. (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as He hath promised you!) How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife? Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God’s: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it. And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.
It will be remembered that in Chapter 18 of Exodus we are told that Moses’ father in law suggested to him that he set up these judges among the children of Israel, and he agreed to do so. This is what he is recounting to them in the present address. No doubt, many of them did not know about the establishing of these judges, because many of them were not even born at that time, and others were too young to know about the matter. This was all taken care of before they left Horeb.
(Verses 19 through 21) And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadesh-barnea. And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us. Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
Without recounting all the events that took place along the way, Moses, in his speech, brings the children of Israel up to the time of their reaching the territory the LORD had given them. There he commanded them to “go up, and possess” the land which the LORD had given them.
(Verses 22 through 25) And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come. And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe: and they turned, and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out. And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down to us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us.
Moses here reminds the Israelites that when the LORD commanded them to go up and possess the land He was giving them, they wanted first to send spies to search out the land, and bring them word of its quality, and what was the best way of entering it. He agreed that he had thought this a very good way to approach the matter; and so he had sent a delegation as they desired. Those who were sent brought back a report concerning the land, and also brought some of the fruit of the country. They reported that it was a very good land. We took notice earlier that the first report of the spies was that this was indeed a land that “flowed with milk and honey,” just as the LORD had told them it would be; and then they changed their report, and said that it was a land that destroyed its inhabitants.
(Verses 26 through 31) Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God: and ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, He hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us. Whither shall we go up? Our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people are greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there. Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them. The LORD your God goeth before you, He shall fight for you, according to all that He did for you in Egypt before your eyes; and in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
Moses tells the Israelites that even though the spies had brought a good report on the land, and had brought some samples of the fruit thereof, when he told them that the LORD’S commandment was that they should go in and possess the land, they rebelled, and would not go, in spite of his reminding them how the LORD had fought for them in Egypt and in the wilderness, and had promised His care of them would continue. Even with this assurance, they refused to go up against the Amorites.
(Verses 32 through 36) Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God, Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day. And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying, Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see the good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers, save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.
Moses declared to the children of Israel that they had not believed the LORD when He promised to take care of them; and therefore they rebelled against His commandment, although He had gone before them in a cloud by day and in fire by night to search out even the places where they were to encamp throughout their journey from Egypt even to the place where they were at that time. So because of their unbelief the LORD swore that none of them except Caleb and Joshua would be permitted to enter into the Promised Land. Actually, in this statement, He only mentions Caleb But, as we shall soon see, Joshua was also given this privilege. This was because they only had wholly followed the LORD.
(Verses 37 through 42) Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither. But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it. Moreover your little ones, which ye said should become a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it. But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by way of the Red sea. Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all the LORD our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill. And the LORD said unto Me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.
Moses continued to remind the Israelites of their rebellion against the LORD. After the LORD had told them that because of their unbelief, and the rebellion it caused them to start, they could not enter into the Promised Land, but would have to wander in the wilderness until all that generation of them had perished, He commanded them to turn back , and begin their wilderness journey. At this point they had again rebelled, and disobeyed that commandment. Instead, they dressed themselves for war, and went up the hill to fight the Amorites. And, at the LORD’S command Moses told them to not go up against the Amorites, lest they be overcome by their enemies. But they would not obey this commandment. We should take notice of the fact that the time to obey the LORD’S command is when He gives it, not after He has voided it by another.
(Verses 43 through 46) So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill. And the Amorites, which dwelt in the mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah. And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you. So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according to the days that ye abode there.
Although Moses gave the LORD’S commandment to the Israelites that they not go up to engage the enemy, they would give no heed to him. So, just as the LORD had warned, the enemy came out against them, and completely routed them, chasing and destroying them all the way to Hormah. After their defeat they went before the LORD and wept before Him; but He would not give any heed to them, because they had disobeyed His commandment, and brought this defeat upon themselves. So they remained in Kadesh many days.
(Verses 1 through 7) Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by way of the Red sea, as the LORD spake unto me: and we compassed mount Seir many days. And the LORD spake unto me, saying, Ye have compassed this mountain long enough: turn you northward. And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of Esau, which dwell in Seir; and they shall be afraid of you: take ye good heed unto yourselves therefore: meddle not with them; for I will not give you of their land, no, not so much as a foot breadth; because I have given mount Seir unto Esau for a possession. Ye shall buy meat of them for money, that ye may eat; and ye shall also buy water of them for money, that ye may drink. For the LORD thy God hath blessed thee in all the works of thy hand: He knoweth thy walking through this great wilderness: these forty years the LORD thy God hath been with thee; thou hast lacked nothing.
Moses continues his narration of the journeys of the children of Israel. After they had gone around the mountain for a long time, the LORD spoke unto Moses, and told him to turn toward the north from where they were. He was also to command the Israelites that they were to pass by the land of the children of Esau. And in so doing, they were to not meddle with them at all, because the LORD had given this land to the children of Esau, and he would not give any of it (not even a foot breadth) to the Israelites. As they passed through they could buy food and water from the children of Esau, but that would be all the business they would transact with them. The LORD had taken care of them throughout their journey, and since in all that time they had lacked nothing, they could be assured that He would still keep them in His care.
(Verses 8 through 15) And when we passed by from our brethren the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, through the way of the plain from Elath, and from Ezion-gaber, we turned and passed by the way of the wilderness of Moab. And the LORD said unto me, Distress not the Moabites, neither contend with them in battle: for I will not give thee of their land for a possession; because I have given Ar unto the children of Lot for a possession. The Emims dwelt therein in times past, a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; which also were accounted giants, as the Anakims; but the Moabites call them Emims. The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime; but the children of Esau succeeded them, when they had destroyed them from before them, and dwelt in their stead; as Israel did unto the land of his possession, which the LORD gave unto them. Now rise up, said I, and get you over the brook Zered. And we went over the brook Zered. And the space in which we came from Kadesh-barnea, until we were come over the brook Zered, was thirty and eight years; until all the generation of the men of war were wasted out from among the host, as the LORD sware unto them. For indeed the hand of the LORD was against them, to destroy them from among the host, until they were consumed.
After the Israelites had passed by the land of Esau’s descendants, they turned and went by the way of the wilderness of Moab. Here the LORD commanded them to not distress the Moabites in any way, for He had given this territory to the descendants of Lot, and He would not give any of it to the children of Israel. Then Moses tells us a little about the history of this area. He tells who had been there before those who now held it had taken it for themselves. When he says, “The Horims also dwelt in Seir beforetime,” he does not mean that they were there before time began. The word, “beforetime,” simply means “in former times.” They had come to the brook Zered, and at that time Moses gave the command, and they went over the brook. He told them that they had wandered thirty-eight years from the time they left Kadesh-barnea until they crossed the brook Zered. And in that time the LORD had accomplished what He had told them He was going to do. He had caused all the generation of those who rebelled against Him to be consumed, so that they were no more among the congregation.
(Verses 16 through 24) So it came to pass, when all the men of war were consumed and dead from among the people, that the LORD spake unto me, saying, Thou art to pass through Ar, the coast of Moab, this day: and when thou comest nigh over against the children of Ammon, distress them not, nor meddle with them: for I will not give thee of the land of the children of Ammon any possession; because I have given it unto the children of Lot for a possession. (That also was accounted a land of giants: giants dwelt therein in old time; and the Ammonites call them Zamzummims; a people great, and many, and tall, as the Anakims; but the LORD destroyed then before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead. As He did to the children of Esau, which dwelt in Seir, when He destroyed the Horims from before them; and they succeeded them, and dwelt in their stead even unto this day: and the Avims which dwelt in Hazerim, even unto Azzah, the Caphtorims, which came forth out of Caphtor, destroyed them, and dwelt in their stead.)
Moses continued to tell the children of Israel of their journeys. And the events he mentions here are some that these to whom he was speaking already knew, for they had taken place recently. He also gives them a history lesson concerning the inhabitants of the lands through which they had passed. So far all the nations he has mentioned as being in this territory are some whom the LORD will not permit the Israelites to molest in any way. One can see the sovereign election of God in all of this; for in the next two verses, instead of forbidding the Israelites to molest the people of whom He will speak, He will charge them to attack them, and take their land for a possession unto themselves.
(Verses 24 and 25) Rise ye up, take your journey,, and pass over the river Arnon: behold, I have given into thy hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his land: begin to possess it, and contend with him in battle. This day will I begin to put the dread of thee and the fear of thee upon the nations that are under the whole heaven, who shall hear report of thee, and shall tremble, and be in anguish because of thee.
The LORD had heretofore restrained the children of Israel from attacking the people in the lands through which they pass. But Their passing over the river Arnon was the signal for them to be ready to begin the conquest of the land the LORD had sworn to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that He would give it to them, and their seed after them. Their first conquest was to be against Sihon king of Heshbon. With this battle, the LORD would begin to put the dread and fear of the Israelites upon the other nations whither they would go.
(Verses 26 through 31) And I sent messengers out of the wilderness of Kedemoth unto Sihon king of Heshbon with words of peace, saying, Let me pass through thy land: I will go along by the highway, I will neither turn unto the right hand nor to the left. Thou shalt sell me meat for money, that I may eat; and give me water for money, that I may drink: only I will pass through on my feet; (as the children of Esau which dwell in Seir, and the Moabites which dwell in Ar, did unto me;) until I pass over Jordan into the land which the LORD our God giveth us. But Sihon king of Heshbon would not let us pass by him: for the LORD thy God hardened his spirit, and made his heart obstinate, that He might deliver him into thy hand, as appeareth this day. And the LORD said unto me, Behold, I have begun to give Sihon and his land before thee: begin to possess, that thou mayest inherit his land.
So Moses did just as the LORD commanded him. He sent messengers to Sihon to arrange for peaceful passage of the Israelites through the kingdom of Sihon. But since the purpose of the LORD was to take the land of Sihon, and give it to Israel, He hardened the heart of Sihon so that he refused to let the children of Israel pass through his land.
(Verses 32 through 37) Then Sihon came out against us, he and all his people, to fight at Jahaz. And the LORD our God delivered him before us; and we smote him, and his sons, and all his people. And we took all his cities at that time, and utterly destroyed the men, and the women, and the little ones of every city, we left none to remain. Only the cattle we took for a prey unto ourselves, and the spoil of the cities which we took. From Aroer, which is by the brink of the river of Arnon, and from that city that is by the river, even unto Gilead, there was not one city too strong for us: the LORD our God delivered all unto us. Only unto the land of the children of Ammon thou camest not, not unto any place of the river Jabbok, nor unto the cities in the mountains, nor unto whatsoever the LORD our God forbad us.
(Verses 1 through 11) Then we turned, and went up the way to Bashan: and Og the king of Bashan came out against us, he and all his people, to battle at Edrei. And the LORD said unto me, Fear him not: for I will deliver him, and all his people, and his land, into thy hand, and thou shalt do unto him as thou didst unto Sihon king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon. So the LORD our God delivered into our hands Og also, the king of Bashan, and all his people: and we smote him until none was left unto him remaining. And we took all his cities at that time, there was not a city which we took not from them, threescore cities, all the region of Argob, the kingdom of Og in Bashan. All these cities were fenced with high walls, gates, and bars; beside unwalled towns a great many. And we utterly destroyed them, as we did unto Sihon king of Heshbon, utterly destroying the men, women, and children of every city. But all the cattle, and the spoil of the cities, we took for a prey to ourselves. And we took at that time out of the hand of the two kings of the Amorites the land that was on this side Jordan, from the river of Arnon unto mount Hermon; (which Hermon the Sidonians call Sirion; and the Amorites call it Shenir;) all the cities of the plain, and all Gilead, and all Bashan, unto Salchah and Edrei, cities of the kingdom of Og in Bashan. For only Og king of Bashan remained of the remnant of the giants; behold, his bedstead was a bedstead of iron; is it not in Rabbath of the children of Ammon? Nine cubits was the length thereof, and four cubits the breadth of it, after the cubit of a man.
In this Moses tells of the destruction of Og the king of Bashan together with all his army and the inhabitants of his cities. As we have mentioned before, people of today would, probably, consider the children of Israel as being far too bloodthirsty, as they completely destroyed the people of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og. But it was all according to the commandment of the LORD. Of course, people of today would call it genocide, and would try to bring them up before some manmade tribunal for “crimes against humanity.” But, whether we like it or not, it was all according to what the LORD had commanded them. Og was the last of the giants. He was so big that he had to have a bedstead thirteen and one-half feet long, and six feet wide. And it was of iron. So he must have been quite a big man.
(Verses 12 through 17) And this land, which we possessed at that time, from Aroer, which is by the river Arnon, and half mount Gilead, and the cities thereof, gave I unto the Reubenites and to the Gadites. And the rest of Gilead, and all Bashan, being the kingdom of Og, gave I unto the half tribe of Manasseh; all the region of Argob, with all Bashan, which was called the land of giants. Jair the son of Manasseh took all the country of Argob unto the coasts of Geshuri and Maachathi; and called them after his own name, Bashan-havoth-jair, unto this day. And I gave Gilead unto Machir. And unto the Reubenites and the Gadites I gave from Gilead even unto the river Arnon half the valley, and the border even unto the river Jabbok, which is the border of the children of Ammon; the plain also, and Jordan, and the coast thereof, from Chinnereth even unto the sea of the plain, even the salt sea, under Ashdoth-pisgah eastward.
Here Moses tells of the dividing of the kingdoms of Sihon and Og among the Reubenites and Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh, all of which he did according to what the LORD commanded him.
(Verses 18 through 20) And I commanded you at that time, saying, the LORD your God hath given you this land to possess it: ye shall pass over armed before your brethren the children of Israel, all that are meet for war. But your wives, and your little ones, and your cattle, (for I know that ye have much cattle,) shall abide in your cities which I have given you; until the LORD have given rest unto your brethren, as well as unto you, and until they also possess the land which the LORD your God hath given them beyond Jordan: and then shall ye return every man unto his possession, which I have given you.
Here Moses reminded the Reubenites, Gadites, and the half tribe of Manasseh of the covenant they had made to go before the LORD with the other children of Israel through the campaign of settling the land of Canaan, before settling down in the possessions that had been given them on the near side of Jordan.
(Verses 21 through 25) And I commanded Joshua at that time, saying, Thine eyes have seen all that the LORD your God hath done unto these two kings: so shall the LORD do unto all the kingdoms whither thou passest. Ye shall not fear them: for the LORD your God he shall fight for you. And I besought the LORD at that time, saying, O Lord GOD, Thou hast begun to shew Thy servant thy greatness, and thy mighty hand: for what God is there in heaven or in earth, that can do according to Thy might? I pray Thee, let me go over, and see the good land that is beyond Jordan, that goodly mountain, and Lebanon.
Moses recalls that at this time he encouraged Joshua as the LORD had instructed him. And then he prayed that the LORD would permit him to go over Jordan, and see the good land that He was giving to the children of Israel. For the LORD had told him that neither he nor Aaron would be permitted to go into the land. Now Aaron was already dead, and the LORD had told him that he must also shortly follow him.
(Verses 26 through 29) But the LORD was wroth with me for your sakes, and would not hear me: and the LORD said unto me, Let it suffice thee; speak no more unto Me of this matter. Get thee up into the top of Pisgah, and lift up thine eyes westward, and northward, and southward, and eastward, and behold it with thine eyes: for thou shalt not go over this Jordan. But charge Joshua, and encourages him, and strengthen him: for he shall go over before this people, and he shall cause them to inherit the land which thou shalt see. So we abode in the valley over against Beth-peor.
This brings the story of the journey of the Israelites up to date for the time when Moses was speaking. The LORD had refused to let him go over Jordan into the Promised Land. But He did promise him that he could go up into the mountain, and look over the land from that point. But Joshua would be the one to bring the children of Israel into the land of their possession.
(Verses 1 through 4) Now therefore hearken, O Israel, unto the statutes and unto the judgments, which I teach you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land which the LORD God of your fathers giveth you. Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish aught from it, that ye may keep the commandments of the LORD your God which I command you. Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baal-peor: for all the men that followed Baal-peor, the LORD thy God destroyed them from among you. But ye that did cleave unto the LORD your God are alive every one of you this day.
Moses at this point turned from his narration of the journey of the children of Israel, to admonishing them to keep all the statutes and commandments of the LORD without the slightest change. He stressed to them the importance of doing this, by reminding them that those who, in the matter of Baal-peor, had disobeyed the word of God, had been destroyed by the LORD Himself, while these who were hearing him had been spared because they had followed the commandment of the LORD. The fact that they were still alive, while the transgressors had been killed, was reason enough to remember to obey God in all things.
(Verses 5 through 10) Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the LORD my God commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it. Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, who hath God so nigh them, as the LORD our God is in all things that we call upon Him for? And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day? Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons; specially the day that thou stoodest before the LORD thy God in Horeb, when the LORD said unto me, Gather the people together, and I will make them hear My words, that they may learn to fear Me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
Moses had taught the Israelites all the commandments and statutes of the LORD, just as the LORD had commanded him. He emphasized to them the importance of keeping all these commandments, and remembering all things that the LORD had done for them. He assured them that to keep all these statutes and judgments would set them apart from all the other nations of the world, and would cause all these nations to see that they were a great and wise people. For no other nation would have the LORD God so near unto them, and none would have such a righteous code of laws as they. He called their special attention to the time when, at Horeb, the LORD had commanded Moses to gather all the children of Israel before Him, that He might make them hear His words, and thus be brought to fear Him all their lives, and that they might also teach these things to their children.
(Verses 11 through 13) And ye came near and stood under the mountain; and the mountain burned with fire unto the midst of heaven, with darkness, clouds, and thick darkness. And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of His words, but saw no similitude, only ye heard a voice. And He declared unto you His covenant, which He commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and He wrote them upon two tables of stone.
Moses reminded the people how they had come near unto the mountain, and stood “under it,” or near by it, while the LORD spoke unto them. They did not see Him, or any likeness of Him, that they might make an image thereof, but they did hear the sound (voice) of His words. At this time He declared unto them His covenant, and what they were to do. (See Exodus 19:5-9). Not only did He thus speak to them, but He also called Moses up into the mountain, and gave to him two tables of stone upon which He had written the ten commandments.
(Verses 14 through 19) And the LORD commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it. Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that the LORD spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire: lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female, the likeness of any beast that is on earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air, the likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth: and lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which the LORD thy God hath divided unto all the nations under the whole heaven.
When the LORD gave these commandments unto Moses, He also told him to teach the people statutes and judgments, that they might keep them, and obey them in the land to which they were going. Moses insisted that the children of Israel did not see any likeness of anything, when they were hearing the voice of the LORD. Therefore they were to make no molten or graven images of anything either on earth, in the air, or in the waters, as an object of worship. Neither were they to worship the heavenly bodies, such as the sun, the moon, or the stars. The only One Whom they were to worship is the LORD. And this rule should be observed even today. He is the One Who has divided all these objects “unto all the nations under the whole heaven.”
(Verses 20 through 25) But the LORD hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto Him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day. Furthermore the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go into that good land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance: but I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land. Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of the LORD your God, which He made with you, and make you a graven image, or a likeness of any thing, which the LORD thy God hath forbidden thee. For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.
Moses explained to the Israelites that because of disobedience, the LORD was angry with him for the sake of the people. And therefore even he would not be permitted to go over Jordan into the Promised Land. So He insisted that they always remember to worship the LORD God, and Him only. Not only should the Israelites remember this, but so also should we: “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.”
(Verses 25 through 30) When thou shalt begat children, and children’s children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of the LORD thy God, to provoke Him to anger: I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed. And the LORD shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither the LORD shall lead you. And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men’s hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell. But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
There is certainly nothing here that presents any difficulty to the understanding. But there is something of which we should take particular notice. The first four verses declare that something very unpleasant will take place, There is no “if” in any of these verses. Moses declares that there will come a time when the Israelites will depart from the worship of the true and living God, and follow after Idols. And when they do, the LORD will cause them to perish from off the land He has given them, and will scatter them throughout the nations of the world. Then verse 29 says, “But if from thence thou shalt seek the LORD thy God, thou shalt find Him, if thou seek Him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.” We see that the first part of this text has been completely fulfilled. And God has, by His prophets, declared that the last part of it will be fulfilled also, but only at His appointed time. He has promised that He will re-gather Israel, and join Israel and Judah together as one kingdom. And when He does this, our Lord, Christ Jesus shall be their king, and reign in Jerusalem.
(Verses 30 through 34) When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to the LORD thy God, and shalt be obedient unto His voice; (for the LORD thy God is a merciful God;) He will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which He sware unto them. For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that God created man upon the earth, and ask from one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it? Did ever people hear the voice of God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast, and live? Or hath God assayed to go and take Him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by an stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that the LORD your God did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
Verses 30 and 31 contain a promise that we believe reaches even to us as well as to the children of Israel. Even though we have been disobedient, and have thereby brought upon ourselves the chastening rod of God, if we turn to the LORD our God, and render to him obedience, He will still remember us, and remember the covenant He made with our fathers. He is here speaking of the covenant He made with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which antedates the covenant of Exodus 19:5-9 by many years. And the Apostle Paul assures us that if we have the same faith as did Abraham, we are his children. So we can thus claim the patriarchs as our fathers, just as do the children of Israel. Moses invited the children of Israel to look anywhere, and ask whomever they might, to find if there had ever been such wonderful mercy shown to any people as had been to them. Such had never been heard of in all the history of the world.
(Verses 35 through 40) Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD He is God; there is none else beside Him. Out of heaven He made thee to hear His voice, that He might instruct thee: and upon earth He shewed thee His great fire; and thou heardest His words out of the midst of the fire. And because He loved thy fathers, therefore He chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in His sight with His mighty power out of Egypt; to drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day. Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD He is God in heaven above, and upon earth beneath: there is none else. Thou shalt keep therefore His statutes, and His commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.
Moses told the Israelites that God had done all these great things for them because He loved their fathers, and for this great love of their fathers, He chose “their seed after them.” That is why He brought them out of Egypt with His mighty power, and drove out nations greater and mightier than they, in order to give to them the lands these nations had previously held. He charged them to consider all these things, and to know thereby that the LORD is God in heaven above, and in the earth beneath, and there is no other. Then he commanded them to keep His statutes and commandments; and this would do two very important things for them: “that it may go well with thee, and thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.”
(Verses 41 through 43) Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sun rising; that the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live: namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites, and Ramoth in Gilead of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan of the Manassites.
After giving this charge to the children of Israel, Moses selected the three cities of refuge that the LORD had commanded him to appoint on the near side of Jordan. He selected one in the possession of each of the tribes receiving their inheritance in this area. As the LORD had appointed, they were for the refuge of any man of the Israelites, or of the strangers among them, who had without intent killed any one, and for even the one who had been accused of murdering someone, until he could be brought before the judge, and properly tried for his crime.
(Verses 44 through 49) And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel: these are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt, on this side of Beth-peor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt: and they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sun rising; from Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon, and all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.
This requires no comment or explanation, since it is only a simple declaration that Moses had completed this address to the people. And it was delivered before the children of Israel crossed over Jordan to begin conquest of that part of their inheritance. And, indeed, Moses was not to go with them when they did cross over.
(Verses 1 through 6) And Moses called all Israel, and said unto them, Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments which I speak in your ears this day, that ye may learn them, and keep, and do them. The LORD our God made a covenant with us in Horeb. The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day. The LORD talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire, (I stood between the LORD and you at that time, to shew you the word of the LORD: for ye were afraid by reason of the fire, and went not up into the mount;) saying, I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.
Again Moses called all Israel together that he might remind them of the statutes, judgments, and commandments the LORD had given them at Horeb, when He gave them His ten commandments. There is one outstanding thing in this to be carefully noticed. Moses is not referring to the covenant the LORD made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. He emphasizes the fact that “The LORD made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day.” So they can make no claim to ignorance concerning this covenant. This is clearly the covenant of Exodus 19:5-9. At the time of the making of this covenant the LORD spoke directly to them from within the fire that appeared, and which greatly frightened the children of Israel. The LORD’S first message to them was, “I am the LORD thy God, which brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage.” This is the principal reason for them to do the remaining things He told them.
(Verses 7 through 15) Thou shalt have none other gods before Me. Thou shalt not make thee any graven image, or any likeness of any thing that is in heaven above, or that is in the earth beneath, or that is in the waters beneath the earth: Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generations of them that hate Me, and shewing mercy unto thousands of them that love Me and keep My commandments. Thou shalt not take the name of the LORD thy God in vain: for the LORD will not hold him guiltless that taketh His name in vain. Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: but the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, nor thy maidservant, nor thine ox, nor thine ass, nor any of thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates; that thy manservant and thy maidservant may rest as well as thou. And remember that thou wast a servant in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God brought thee out thence through a mighty hand and a stretched out arm: therefore the LORD thy God commanded thee to keep the sabbath day.
These are the same commandments that were given in Chapter 20 of Exodus. Remember that our Lord Jesus once said to one who was trying to find something that he could criticize concerning the Lord’s teaching, “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind. This is the first and greatest commandment. And the second is like unto it, Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself. On these two commandments hang (depend) all the law and the prophets.” The commandments thus far given concern our relation to God; and they surely are summed up in what Jesus said is the first and greatest of the commandments. If we keep it we certainly will not violate any of these commandments. And, as we shall soon see, the remainder of the Decalogue deals with our relation to our fellow man
(Verses 16 through 21) Honour thy father and thy mother, as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee; that thy days may be prolonged, and that it may go well with thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. Thou shalt not kill. Neither shalt thou commit adultery. Neither shalt thou steal. Neither shalt thou bear false witness against thy neighbour, Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour’s wife, neither shalt thou covet thy neighbour’s house, his field, or his manservant, his ox, or his ass, or any thing that is thy neighbour’s.
As mentioned above, this text covers the commandments that have to do with our relation to man. And if we love our neighbor as we ought, we will never violate one of them.
(Verses 22 through 27) These words the LORD spake unto all your assembly in the mount out of the midst of the fire, of the cloud, and the thick darkness, with a great voice: and He added no more. And He wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me. And it came to pass, when ye heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness, (for the mountain did burn with fire,) that ye came near unto me, even all the heads of your tribes, and your elders: and they said, Behold, the LORD our God hath shewed us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire: we have seen this day that God doth talk with man, and he liveth. Now therefore why should we die? for this great fire will consume us: if we hear the voice of the LORD our God any more, then we shall die. For who is there of all flesh, that hath heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire, as we have, and lived? Go thou near, and hear all that the LORD our God shall say: and speak thou unto us all that the LORD our God shall speak unto thee; and we will hear it, and do it.
Moses reminded the people how they had been so frightened by hearing the words of God, as the LORD spoke to them out of the great fire, that they entreated him that the LORD would no more speak directly unto them. But that he should approach unto the LORD and hear all that He would say, and relay it unto them. They declared that they would keep all His commandments, and do them; but they were afraid to hear His voice any more lest they die.
(Verses 28 through 33) And the LORD heard the voice of your words, when ye spake unto me; and the LORD said unto me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people, which they have spoken unto thee: they have well said all that they have spoken. O that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them, and with their children for ever! Go say to them, Get you into your tents again. But as for thee, stand thee here by Me, and I will speak unto thee all the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which thou shalt teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess it. Ye shall observe to do therefore as the LORD your God hath commanded you: ye shall not turn aside to the right hand or to the left. Ye shall walk in all the ways which the LORD your God hath commanded you, that ye may live, and that it may be well with you, and that ye may prolong your days in the land which ye shall possess.
Moses continued to tell the children of Israel what the LORD had told him after they had asked that they not any more hear His voice out of the fire. God granted the desire of the people, but commanded Moses to stand near Him while He told him more of the statutes and judgments that the people were to observe when they came into the land He was giving to them. And He promised that if they would keep his commandments He would prolong their lives in that land, and would cause all things to go well with them.
(Verses 1 through 9) Now these are the commandments, the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD your God commanded to teach you, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go to possess it: that thou mightest fear the LORD thy God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments, which I command thee, thou, and thy son, and thy son’s son, all the days of thy life; and that thy days may be prolonged. Hear therefore, O Israel, and observe to do it; that it may be well with thee, and that ye may increase mightily, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee, in the land that floweth with milk and honey. Hear, O Israel, the LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might. And these words, which I command thee this day, shall be in thine heart: and thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt bind them for a sign upon thine hand, and they shall be as frontlets between thine eyes. And thou shalt write them upon the posts of thy house, and on thy gates.
Moses continued to tell the children of Israel concerning the commandments and statutes that the LORD had given him for them to observe when they had come into the land He was giving them. The principal reason He gives for their keeping all these laws is that to do so would cause them to receive the blessings of the LORD as He had promised them. The foremost of these commandments is just as formerly noted, :Hear, O Israel, The LORD our God is one LORD: and thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thine heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy might.” Moses also gives them instruction that we, as well as they, should carefully remember and follow today. In verse 7, he says, “And thou shalt teach them diligently unto thy children, and shalt talk of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, and when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.” If we would do this, we would have a much more enjoyable life, in that we would constantly be in closer fellowship with our LORD, and more at peace with our neighbor.
(Verses 10 through 19) And it shall be, when the LORD thy God shall have brought thee into the land which He sware unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give thee great and goodly cities, which thou buildest not, and houses full of all good things, which thou filledst not, and wells, which thou diggedst not, vineyards and olive trees, which thou plantedst not; when thou shall have eaten and be full; then beware lest thou forget the LORD, Which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God, and serve Him, and shalt swear by His name. Ye shall not go after other gods, of the gods of the people which are round about; (for the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth. Ye shall not tempt the LORD your God, as ye tempted Him in Massah. Ye shall diligently keep the commandments of the LORD your God, and His testimonies, and His statutes, which He hath commanded thee. And thou shalt do that which is right and good in the sight of the LORD: that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest go in and possess the good land which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, to cast out all thine enemies from before thee, as the LORD hath spoken.
In this Moses reminded the Israelites that the LORD had sworn to the fathers to bring their descendants into this land, and give the land to them, but his instructions to them were in accord with the covenant God had made with them at Horeb, which was a covenant based upon “If ye will obey My voice indeed,” and not upon the unconditional covenant the LORD made with the fathers. and neither is it made upon “The New Covenant,” of Jeremiah 31, which, of course, had not yet been declared. He instructs them to diligently keep all the commandments of the LORD, that it may be well with them in the land given them by the LORD.
(Verses 20 through 25) And when thy son asketh thee in time to come, saying, what mean the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which the LORD our God hath commanded you? Then shalt thou say unto thy son, We were Pharaoh’s bondmen in Egypt; and the LORD brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand: and the LORD shewed signs and wonders, great and sore, upon Egypt, upon Pharaoh, and upon all his household, before our eyes: and He brought us out from thence, that He might bring us in, to give us the land which He sware unto our fathers. And the LORD commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear the LORD our God, for our good always, that he might preserve us alive, as at this day. And it shall be our righteousness, if we observe to do all these commandments before the LORD our God, as He hath commanded us.
These are the instructions concerning what answer the children of Israel were to give to future generations of their children, who would ask the meaning of all the commandments and statutes that they were to observe. They were to tell them of the great works of the LORD on their behalf, in freeing them from Egypt, and bringing them into the land of Canaan, as He had sworn to their fathers. And their observing all these commandments would be accounted righteousness unto them.
(Verses 1 through 6) When the LORD thy God shall bring thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, and hath cast out many nations before thee, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations greater and mightier than thou; and when the LORD thy God shall deliver them before thee; thou shalt smite them, and utterly destroy them; thou shalt make no covenant with them, nor shew mercy unto them: Neither shalt thou make any marriages with them; thy daughter thou shalt not give unto his son, nor his daughter shalt thou take unto thy son. For they will turn away thy son from following Me, that they may serve other gods: so will the anger of the LORD be kindled against you, and destroy thee suddenly. But thus shall ye deal with them; ye shall destroy their altars, and break down their images, and cut down their groves, and burn their images with fire. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God: the LORD thy God hath chosen thee to be a special people unto Himself, above all people that are upon the face of the earth.
Many today will tell us, “This is not to be interpreted literally, for God is too loving and merciful to give any such commandments as these. Such action as this is certainly nothing short of genocide.” Although this is genocide in its strongest form, it is still the commandment of the LORD, and it was to be followed by the children of Israel. Of course, from it we can also draw a very worthwhile lesson for our lives, inasmuch as our antagonists are temptations, doubts, fears, depressions, and all the many other weapons that Satan uses to draw us away from serving the LORD. We are to constantly carry on our warfare against such, and give them no quarter at all. We are to fight against them to the death. We are to make no agreements with, or concessions to them: for if we do such, they will lead us away from the LORD our God, and cause us to serve idols. We were chosen of God, just as were the children of Israel; and it is our duty to wholly follow the LORD, just as it was theirs.
(Verses 7 through 11) The LORD did not set His love upon you, nor choose you, because ye were more in number than any people; for ye were the fewest of all people: But because the LORD loved you, and because He would keep the oath which He had sworn unto your fathers, hath the LORD brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you out of the house of bondmen, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. Know ye therefore that the LORD thy God, He is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love Him and keep His commandments to a thousand generations; and repayeth them that hate Him to their face, to destroy them: He will not be slack to him that hateth Him, He will repay him to his face. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
This is a text that should readily set us in our place, just as it should the children of Israel. Moses declared to them that nothing about them could be construed as the reason for God’s choosing them. They could not claim that their superiority in numbers, or their power, or anything else, had anything to do with that choice. If it had, they would have been left out, because they were the “fewest of all people. Not only so, but surely they were not a strong people, for they were enslaved to another nation, Egypt. Had the LORD been looking for strength, surely, He would have passed over the Israelites, and would have chosen the Egyptians who were holding them in bondage. In fact, any nation of the seven that He was going to drive out that He might give their land to Israel, was stronger than they. But His dealing with Israel was based upon His love, and His faithfulness. And so it also is with us. We had no merit with which to attract His attention. But because of His love, He made choice of us, that he might redeem us from our sins, just as He redeemed Israel from the Egyptian bondage. So to honor Him for such a wonderful blessing, we are to keep His commandments, just as He commanded the children of Israel.
(Verses 12 through 16) Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep, and do them, that the LORD thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which He sware unto thy fathers: and He will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: He will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which He sware unto thy fathers to give thee. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle. And the LORD will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee. And thou shalt consume all the people which the LORD thy God shall deliver thee; thine eyes shall have no pity upon them: neither shalt thou serve their gods; for that will be a snare unto thee.
Notice that all the blessings promised unto the children of Israel for obedience to the commandments of the LORD are material blessings. This is, no doubt, one of the scriptures from which the Materialists get their doctrine. But what they forget is that this is all under the Old Covenant of Exodus 19:5-9, which was done away by the New Covenant of Jeremiah 31:31-34. And throughout The New Testament the LORD’S people are promised glory beyond death and the resurrection, but trials and suffering in the present life. Nevertheless, in His instructions to the Israelites, Moses continued to command them to show no mercy to the nations which the LORD would subdue under them. To even allow them to continue to exist would be a snare unto the children of Israel, and would lead them into idolatry
(Verses 17 through 21) If thou shalt say in thine heart, These nations are more than I; how can I dispossess them? Thou shalt not be afraid of them: but shalt well remember what the LORD thy God did unto Pharaoh, and unto all Egypt; the great temptations which thine eyes saw, and the signs, and the wonders, and the mighty hand, and the stretched out arm, whereby the LORD thy God brought thee out: so shall the LORD thy God do unto all the people of whom thou art afraid. Moreover the LORD thy God will send hornets among them, until they that are left, and hide themselves from thee, be destroyed. Thou shalt not be affrighted at them: for the LORD thy God is among you, a mighty God and terrible.
Moses charged the children of Israel to be courageous and unafraid, against all the nations around them, though they might think them to be mightier than themselves. His advice to them in verses18 and 19 appear to be very much the same as the writer of Hebrews tells us, (Heb. 10:32-33) “But call to remembrance the former days, in which, after ye were illuminated, ye endured a great fight of afflictions; partly, whilst ye were made a gazingstock both by reproaches and afflictions; and partly whilst ye became companions of them that were so used.” Thus drawing upon former experiences of suffering from which God has delivered us makes us have a stronger faith in Him. So, when the Israelites were tempted to think that their enemies were too strong for them they should remember the deliverance God had wrought for them in former times, and believe that He will still do the same for them in the present distress. This would calm their fears.
(Verses 22 through 26) And the LORD thy God will put out those nations before thee by little and little: thou mayest not consume them at once, lest the beasts of the field increase upon thee. But the LORD thy God shall deliver them unto thee, and shall destroy them with a mighty destruction, until they be destroyed. And He shall deliver their kings into thine hand, and thou shalt destroy their name from under heaven: there shall no man be able to stand before thee, until thou have destroyed them. The graven images of their gods shall ye burn with fire: thou shalt not desire the silver or gold that is in them, nor take it unto thee, lest thou be snared therein: for it is an abomination to the LORD thy God. Neither shalt thou bring an abomination into thine house, lest thou be an accursed thing like it: but thou shalt utterly detest it, and thou shalt utterly abhor it; for it is a cursed thing.
Moses declared that although the LORD would drive out all these nations before the Israelites, He would not do it all at once, lest the wild beasts of the field multiply against them by reason of the absence of human inhabitants of the land. As the children of Israel needed more land, He would drive out more of these nations. He would even enlist hornets in His war against them. And no man would be able to stand against them as they moved forward. But their side of the covenant was that they should keep all of God’s commandments, and completely destroy those people that He delivered into their hands. They were also to destroy all traces of the religion of the nations God delivered unto them. And they were to spare nothing for themselves that the LORD had condemned, not even the silver and gold of the images of these nations; for all such was cursed: and by their sparing such, they would “be a cursed thing like it.
(Verses 1 through 9) All the commandments which I command thee this day shall ye do, that ye may live, and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers. And thou shalt remember all the way which the LORD thy God led thee these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep His commandments, or no. And He humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of the LORD doth man live. Thy raiment waxed not old upon thee, neither did thy foot swell, these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in thine heart, that as a man chasteneth his son, so the LORD thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore thou shalt keep the commandments of the LORD thy God, to walk in His ways, and to fear Him. For the LORD thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; a land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig trees, and pomegranates; a land of oil olive, and honey; a land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.
Again, Moses reminded the congregation that they were to keep and obey all the commandments of the LORD that he had delivered to them.; and that their obedience was to be for their good, that they might receive the blessings the LORD had covenanted to give them if they obeyed His voice indeed. He further told them that the trials they had endured in their wilderness journey had been for the purpose of trying their faith and showing whether or not they would keep the commandments of the LORD. Then He reminded them that the land to which the LORD would bring them is a good land, and one wherein they would not suffer famine, and its attendant ills, as long as they obeyed the commandments of God.
(Verses 10 through 17) When thou hast eaten and art full, then thou shalt bless the LORD thy God for the good land which He hath given thee. Beware that thou forget not the LORD thy God, in not keeping His commandments, and His statutes, which I command thee this day: lest when thou hast eaten and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt therein; and when thy herds and thy flocks multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the LORD thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage; Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought, where there was no water; Who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that He might humble thee, and that He might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end; and thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth . But thou shalt remember the LORD thy God: for it is He that giveth thee power to get wealth, that He may establish His covenant which He sware unto thy fathers, as at this day.
Here Moses gave the Israelites a very solemn warning against letting the success that the LORD would give them cause them to be lifted up with pride in themselves, and think that they had done all these great things. They were to remember that it is the LORD Who enables them to accomplish those things which have brought them the wealth and power that they shall have. He is the One Who has given them the power to get wealth. So they must remember that it was He Who let them be brought low by thirst in the wilderness, that He might do them “good at their latter end.” And He might again bring them down, as then.
(Verses 19 and 20) And it shall be, if thou do at all forget the LORD thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. As the nations which the LORD destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the LORD your God.
Thus Moses gave them his testimony, not that they might perish if they forgot the LORD their God, but that they would surely perish for their failure to be obedient to His word.
(Verses 1 through 6) Hear , O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak! Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is He Which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire He shall destroy them, and He shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and utterly destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee. Speak not in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness, the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee. Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go in to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that He may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.
Moses continued to warn the children of Israel that they were not to become egotistical, and say, or even think, that their righteousness had anything to do with the LORD’S giving them the land of Canaan, and driving out the nations that already inhabited it. But it was, rather, for the wickedness of the nations that were there ahead of them that He drove them out, and for the oath He had made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, that He gave this land to them. For the LORD was well aware that they were a rebellious and stiff necked people. So they should remember this, and keep the commandments of the LORD.
(Verses 7 through 12) Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD. also in Horeb ye provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry with you to have destroyed you. When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I did neither eat bread nor drink water: and the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly. And it came to pass at the end of the forty days and nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant. And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.
Again Moses reminded the children of Israel of their rebellious ways, all the way from the time when they were at Horeb, when the LORD delivered the tables of the law to Moses, until what was to them the present time. He reminded them that even at Horeb the LORD was so angry with them that He threatened to destroy them. And while Moses was up on the mountain in the presence of the LORD to receive the tables, the children of Israel had turned to idolatry, and had made themselves a molten image, and were worshipping it as their god.
(Verses 13 through 19) Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people: let Me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they. So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands. And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you. And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes. And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke Him to anger. For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also.
The LORD was so angry against the children of Israel that He threatened to completely blot out both them and their memory from the face of the earth, and make a greater nation of the descendants of Moses. And Moses was so upset when he saw what the Israelites had done, and were doing, that he threw down the two tables of stone that he had in his hands, and broke them. Then he had to go back up the mountain, and spend another forty days and nights while the LORD wrote on two other tablets (which Moses had prepared, and taken with him) all that had been on the first two. He was very much afraid of what the LORD might do because of the sins of the people. But the LORD again showed mercy to them, and accepted Moses’ prayer for them.
(Verses 20 through 24) And the LORD was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time. And I took your sin, the calf which ye made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even till it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount. And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibroth-hattaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath. Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadesh-barnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed Him not, nor hearkened to His voice. Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.
There appear to be some slight variations between what Moses has said in verses 16 through 21and the record in Exodus, Chapter 32. However the same facts are reported in both places, although the chronology may be slightly altered. In this text Moses continued to remind the children of Israel of their rebellious nature, and their rebellious actions at many places along their journeys. His declaration in verse 24 seems to cap the entire situation. “Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.” They had never let up in their rebellion against the LORD.
(Verses 25 through 29) Thus I fell down before the LORD forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the LORD had said He would destroy you. I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not Thy people and Thine inheritance, which Thou hast redeemed through Thy greatness, which Thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand. Remember Thy servants Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin: lest the land whence Thou broughtest us out say, Because the LORD was not able to bring them into the land which He had promised them, and because He hated them, He hath brought them out to slay them in the wilderness. Yet they are Thy people and Thine inheritance, which Thou broughtest out by Thy mighty power and by Thy stretched out arm.
In this text, Moses returns to his second forty day and night vigil in the presence of the LORD on the mount. Because the LORD had said that He would destroy the children of Israel, Moses was very much afraid that He would do so. Therefore he prayed Him to not do so; not because of any goodness of the people, for he recognized that there was none, but lest the nations blaspheme the LORD, and say that He destroyed the people because of His weakness, in that He was not able to bring them into the land which He had promised them. Since they were the people of the LORD, and He had already shown forth His mighty power in thus bringing them out from Egypt, if He destroyed them without bringing them into the land of promise, the nations would think Him weak.
(Verses 1 through 5) At that time the LORD said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto Me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in my hand. And He wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the LORD spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the LORD gave them unto me. And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the LORD commanded me.
Again Moses tells of the event when he, after hewing out two more tables like the original ones, and making an ark according to the commandment of the LORD, went back up into the mount, and remained there another forty days and nights to have the LORD write upon the stone tables the same words He had written on the first two. When this was over, he went back down the mountain to the camp, and deposited the two stone tables in the ark he had made, just as the LORD had commanded him.
(Verses 6 and 7) And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan to Mosera: there Aaron died, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered in his stead. From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbath, a land of rivers of waters.
This was just another portion of the journey of the children of Israel through the wilderness. Apparently the only thing of moment that took place was the death and burial of Aaron. At that time Eleazar was elevated to the office of high priest.
(Verses 8 through 11) At that time the LORD separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to stand before the LORD to minister unto Him, and to bless in His name, unto this day. Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the LORD is his inheritance, according as the LORD thy God promised him. And I stayed in the mount, according to the first time, forty days and forty nights; and the LORD hearkened unto me at this time also, and the LORD would not destroy thee. And the LORD said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give it unto them.
This text seems a little strange, in that verse 10 seems to refer back to the time that the children of Israel were at Horeb, and the LORD gave Moses the tables of the covenant, while verses 8 and 9 refer to the setting apart of the Levites from the remainder of the children of Israel, for the service of the sanctuary, which, in the book of Exodus comes a little later than the receiving of the law. However, after this, the LORD commanded Moses to lead the children of Israel forward in their journey.
(Verses 12 through 15) And now, Israel, what doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the LORD, and His statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.
This sets forth the greatness of the Lord GOD, what He requires of His people, and what He has done for them, as clearly, and concisely, as it can be done. It is for our learning, just as much as it was for that of the children of Israel. First, by asking a simple question, Moses declares exactly what is the duty of every child of God. ”What doth the LORD thy God require of thee, but to fear the LORD thy God, to walk in all His ways, and to love Him, and to serve the LORD thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, to keep the commandments of the LORD, and His statutes, which I command you this day for thy good?” Notice that every one of the LORD’S commandments is for our good. Verse 14 tells of the greatness of God, “Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the LORD’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.” So, obviously, He did not make choice of Israel, nor of us, by necessity, since all in both heaven and earth are His. And it was not because of any goodness in us. His reason for this choice is given in verse15. “Only the LORD had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.” Since the LORD’S covenant with Abraham says, “In thy seed shall all nations of the earth be blessed,” we are also included in it; for the Apostle Paul declares that the Christ is the “Seed of Abraham,” in whom this part of the covenant is fulfilled.
(Verses 16 through 22) Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. For the LORD your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, Which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. Thou shalt fear the LORD thy God; Him shalt thou serve, and to Him shalt thou cleave, and swear by His name. He is thy praise, and He is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen. Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the LORD thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.
In this text Moses instructs the children of Israel to do more than take upon themselves the outward sign of being the people of the LORD. Just as circumcision is the cutting off, and throwing away of a certain part of the anatomy of the body, they are to put away the rebellious nature of their hearts, and submit themselves in obedience to the commandments of the LORD. He tells them that, just as the LORD takes special care of the fatherless, the widow, and the stranger, so should they. They ought to be especially mindful of the stranger, because they were strangers in Egypt, and should know the feelings of strangers. Also another reason for their obedience to the commandments of the LORD is that He is the One Who has brought them out from the bondage of Egypt, and will deliver them to the land He has promised. Just by comparing how few their people were when they went down into Egypt to how many there are of them at the present should give them some idea of the blessings God has given them.
(Verses 1 through 9) Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep all His charges, and His statutes, and His judgments, and His commandments, always. And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, His greatness, His mighty hand, and His stretched out arm, and His miracles, and His acts, which He did in the midst of Egypt unto Pharaoh the king of Egypt, and unto all his land; and what He did unto the army of Egypt, unto their horses, and their chariots; how He made the water of the red sea to overflow them as they pursued after you, and how the LORD hath destroyed them unto this day; and what He did unto you in the wilderness, until ye came into this place; and what He did unto Dathan and Abiram, the sons of Eliab, the son of Reuben: how the earth opened her mouth, and swallowed them up, and their households, and their tents, and all the substance that was in their possession, in the midst of all Israel: but your eyes have seen all the great acts of the LORD which He did. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments which I command you this day, that ye may be strong, and go in and possess the land, whither ye go to possess it; and that ye may prolong your days in the land, which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give unto them and to their seed, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
Moses commanded the children of Israel to love the LORD, and to keep all His charges, His statutes, His judgments, and His commandments always, because of all the wonderful things He had done for them; and he names many of these wonderful works, all of which they had witnessed. He reminded them that he was speaking to those who were old enough to have seen and remembered all these wonders: he was not addressing their children who were too young to have seen them. He gave them two further reasons why they should keep these commandments. The first is, that they might be strong, and go in and possess the land which the LORD was giving them, and the second was, that they might prolong their days in that good land: for it was a land that “floweth with milk and honey.”
(Verses 10 through 12) For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs: but the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven: a land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.
Here Moses gave a comparison of the land of Egypt with the land of Canaan. The area of Egypt in which the children of Israel had lived was in the delta of the Nile. So far as rain is concerned, there was very little of it. It was watered by the overflow of the Nile, and the people could irrigate their herb gardens by, with their foot making a little trench in which the water would run, and thus they could guide it where they wanted it. But this was only in the season of the overflow of the Nile. At other times there was not an abundance of water. Moses describes the land of Canaan as a land of hills and valleys. In such a place their system of irrigation could not be used, and neither was it needed because this land “drinketh water of the rain of heaven.” And it is such a place that “the LORD thy God careth for” it, not just in one short season of the year, but “from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.”
(Verses 13 through 17) And it shall come to pass, if ye hearken diligently unto My commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and serve Him with all your heart and with all your soul, that I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil. And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full. Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them; and then the LORD’S wrath be kindled against you, and He shut up the heaven, that there be no rain, and that the land yield not her fruit; and lest ye perish quickly from off the good land which the LORD giveth you.
This is exactly in keeping with the covenant of Exodus 19:5-9, which was a materialistic covenant, based upon “If ye will obey My voice indeed.” The LORD declares that if the children of Israel will keep His laws, and worship, and serve Him, He will lay great material blessings upon them; but if they will not obey, He will hold back all these blessings, and will cause them to perish off the land He is giving them.
(Verses 18 through 21) Therefore shall ye lay up these words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up. And thou shalt write them upon the door posts of thine house, and upon thy gates: that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.
Moses continues to admonish the children of Israel to keep all the commandments of the LORD in their hearts and souls, and to teach them to their descendants. He commands them to “bind them for a sign upon their hands, “that they may be as frontlets between their eyes.” That is, that they may be seen by everyone, who will thus know that they do follow the commandments of the LORD. This the Jews practiced even in the days when the Lord Jesus was here on earth. But they had let this degenerate into only a matter of show. They did not keep His commandments as Moses here told them to do. They were to teach these commandments to their children, and to keep them themselves, and to talk of them wherever they were. In short, they were to live them. By so doing they would receive the wonderful blessings the LORD promised. But if not, neither would they receive those blessings.
(Verses 22 through 25) For if ye shall keep all these commandments which I command you, to do them, to love the LORD your God, to walk in all His ways, and cleave unto Him; then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves. Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be. There shall no man stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as He hath said unto you.
This is a wonderful promise, and it is so clearly stated that it should need no comment for clarity. There is one thing that should be carefully noted. Here, as in many other places, Moses emphasizes that the children of Israel are to do what he has commanded them, instead of only keeping these commandments in mind. In verse 21 he says, “For if ye shall diligently keep all these commandments which I command you, TO DO THEM.” And this is the way it must be for anyone who keeps these commandments. Some may think that to keep them always in memory is all that is required; but such is not the case. One must do these commandments instead of just keeping them in memory. Then only can one expect the blessings that are here declared.
(Verses 26 through 32) Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse; A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day: and a curse, if ye will not obey the commandments of the LORD your God, but turn aside out of the way which I command you this day, to go after other gods, which ye have not known. And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee into the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal. Are they not on the other side Jordan, by the way where the sun goeth down, in the land of the Canaanites, which dwell in the champaign over against Gilgal, beside the plain of Moreh? For ye shall pass over Jordan to go in to possess the land which the LORD your God giveth you, and ye shall possess it, and dwell therein. And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.
When the children of Israel cross over Jordan, and possess the land of Canaan, they are to take notice of two mountains that are appointed as witnesses to them. One, mount Gerizim, is to be witness of the blessing the LORD has pronounced upon them, if they are obedient to all the commandments the LORD has given them by the hand of Moses, while the other, mount Ebal, is to be the witness of the curse He has declared upon them, if they turn away from Him, and serve and worship other gods. Moses again commands them, “And ye shall observe to do all the statutes and judgments which I set before you this day.”
(Verses 1 through 7) These are the statutes and judgments, which ye shall observe to do in the land, which the LORD God of thy fathers giveth thee to possess it, all the days that ye shall live upon the earth. Ye shall utterly destroy all the places, wherein the nations which ye shall possess served their gods, upon the high mountains, and upon the hills, and under every green tree: and ye shall overthrow their altars, and break their pillars, and burn their groves with fire; and ye shall hew down the graven images of their gods, and destroy the names of them out of that place. Ye shall not do so unto the LORD your God. But unto the place which the LORD your God shall choose out of all your tribes to put His name there, even unto His habitation shall ye seek, and thither thou shalt come: and thither ye shall bring your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and your tithes, and heave offerings of your hand, and your vows, and your freewill offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and your flocks: and there ye shall eat before the LORD your God, and ye shall rejoice in all that ye put your hand unto, ye and your households, wherein the LORD thy God hath blessed thee.
The nations that had inhabited the land of Canaan before the Israelites went in to possess the land as the LORD commanded them, had built altars, and set up images on all the high mountains, on all the high hills, and under every green tree. But the LORD commanded the children of Israel that they were not to do such things, and neither were they to inquire how the nations had served and worshipped their gods, with any intent to do the same. Instead, they were to utterly destroy all those places, break down all their altars and their images, cut down all the groves that the heathen had planted, and even eradicate the names of their gods from the land. And they were not to set up altars, even to the LORD, in multiple places. Instead, the LORD would choose one place in one of the tribes, and there is the place where all sacrifices and offerings must be brought and offered to Him.
(Verses 8 through 16) Ye shall not do after all the things that we do here this day, every man whatsoever is right in his own eyes. For ye are not as yet come to the rest and to the inheritance, which the LORD thy God giveth you. But when ye go over Jordan, and dwell in the land which the LORD thy God giveth you to inherit, and when He giveth you rest from all your enemies round about, so that ye dwell in safety; then there shall be a place which the LORD your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there; thither shall ye bring all that I command you, your burnt offerings, and your sacrifices, and the heave offering of your hand, and all your choice vows which ye vow unto the LORD: and ye shall rejoice before the LORD your God, ye and your sons, and your daughters, and your menservants, and your maidservants, and the Levite that is within your gates; forasmuch as he hath no part nor inheritance with you. Take heed to thyself that thou offer not thy burnt offerings in every place that thou seest: but in the place which the LORD shall choose in one of thy tribes, there thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, and there thou shalt do all that I command thee. Notwithstanding thou mayest kill and eat flesh in all thy gates, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which He hath given thee: the unclean and the clean may eat thereof, as of the roebuck, and as of the hart. Only ye shall not eat the blood; ye shall pour it upon the earth as water.
Moses very strongly cautions the children of Israel that they not make their offerings to the LORD in every place where they might be; but they were to take those offerings to the one place that the LORD would choose as the proper place of worship, and sacrifice. The heathen nations had made a habit of rearing up altars wherever they might happen to be, and offering their sacrifices unto their gods upon them. The LORD, by Moses, commanded the Israelites to offer their burnt offerings and sacrifices only at the place which He would choose, in one of their tribes, and nowhere else. And there they were to make these offerings in exactly the manner, and do exactly the things, that He commanded them. This would not prohibit them from killing, and eating any of the “clean animals” they might desire, wherever they might be. Nevertheless He did command them that they should never eat, or drink, the blood of any animal. It must be poured upon the ground as water.
(Verses 17 through 19) Thou mayest not eat within thy gates the tithe of thy corn, or of thy wine, or of thy oil, or the firstlings of thy herds or of thy flock, nor any of thy vows which thou vowest, nor thy freewill offerings, or heave offering of thine hand: but thou must eat them before the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God in all that thou puttest thine hands unto. Take heed to thyself that thou forsake not the Levite as long as thou livest upon the earth.
There were several different sacrifices and offerings that the children of Israel were commanded to make, of which they were also to eat. But none of them could be eaten anywhere except in the place where the LORD had chosen as the place where His name would dwell. They must be taken to that place, and be eaten before the LORD, according as He had commanded, although all the members of a man’s household might partake of them. And in all these, they were to include the Levite as a partaker thereof, for he had no inheritance of land among the Israelites. His inheritance was the LORD God. And they were to never forsake him.
(Verses 20 through 25) When the LORD thy God shall enlarge thy border, as He hath promised thee, and thou shalt say, I will eat flesh, because thy soul longeth to eat flesh, thou mayest eat flesh, whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. If the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to put His name there be too far from thee, then thou shalt kill of thy herd and of thy flock, which the LORD hath given thee, as I have commanded thee, and thou shalt eat in thy gates whatsoever thy soul lusteth after. Even as the roebuck and the hart is eaten, so thou shalt eat them: the unclean and the clean shall eat of them alike. Only be sure that thou eat not the blood: for the blood is the life: and thou mayest not eat the life with the flesh. Thou shalt not eat it; thou shalt pour it upon the earth as water. Thou shalt not eat it; that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.
This is further clarification as to what the children of Israel are to do concerning the satisfying of their appetites for flesh. Briefly said, They may kill and eat any clean animal, of their herd, or flock, at any time they please, in just the same manner that they would such wild animals as the roebuck and the hart. But in eating any animal, they must refrain from eating blood. The LORD reaffirms that the blood is the life of any animal, and therefore is not to be eaten by man. This is a law that antedates the law the LORD gave by Moses by many years. It was originally given to Noah who is the father, not only of the children of Israel, but of all families of the earth. And it should still be observed by all. The blood is to be poured on the earth as water. If the children of Israel would do “that which is right,” that is, if they would keep all the commandments of the LORD, things would go well with them, and with their children.
(Verses 26 through 28) Only thy holy things which thou hast, and thy vows, thou shalt take, and go unto the place which the LORD shall choose. And thou shalt offer thy burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, upon the altar of the LORD thy God: and the blood of thy sacrifices shall be poured out upon the altar of the LORD thy God, and thou shalt eat the flesh. Observe and hear all these words which I command thee, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee for ever, when thou doest that which is right in the sight of the LORD thy God.
The only things the Israelites were commanded to take to the altar of the LORD their God were their holy things, (dedicated things,) their vows, and their offerings and sacrifices. With these they were to do as the LORD had already commanded them. They were to follow all the commandments of the LORD. And the purpose of their so doing was that thus it would be well with them and their children after them.
(Verses 29 through 32) When the LORD thy God shall cut off the nations from before thee, whither thou goest to possess them, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their land; take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou inquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? Even so will I do likewise. Thou shalt not do so unto the LORD thy God: for every abomination to the LORD, which He hateth, have they done unto their gods; for even their sons and their daughters they have burnt in the fire to their gods. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.
This is a very solemn warning to the children of Israel that they not only destroy all vestiges of the religions of the nations that were in the land of Canaan before them, and not try to worship any of the gods of those nations, but they were not to try to include any of the practices used by those nations in the worship of their gods, in their worship of the LORD their God. Instead, they were to follow only that which the LORD had commanded them, neither adding to, nor taking from those commandments.
(Verses 1 through 5) If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder, and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spake unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after the LORD your God, and fear Him, and keep His commandments, and obey His voice, and ye shall serve Him, and cleave unto Him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death; because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God, Which brought you out from the land of Egypt, and redeemed you out of the house of bondage, to thrust thee out of the way which the LORD thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put evil away from the midst of thee.
No doubt some of the present day “gospel ministers” would consider what the LORD commanded here to be much too harsh. They would say that, this “prophet, or dreamer of dreams,” was indeed one of the LORD’S children who had just made a mistake in what he wanted to do, and should not be dealt with so harshly. The LORD says that he is to be put to death, “because he hath spoken to turn you away from the LORD your God.” Not only so, but He also said concerning him, “for the LORD your God proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.” Even though the sign that this man has given did come to pass, he is not to be counted as a servant of God. Rather, he is to be counted an enemy of the people of God, and therefore an enemy of God Himself. Perhaps, we today should not put such a person to death, physically; but we should, by all means, sever all communication between him and us. Only by so doing can we “put evil away form the midst” of us. The failure to do so is the cause of so many unscriptural doctrines among professed Christians today.
(Verses 6 through 11) If thy brother, the son of thy mother, or thy son, or thy daughter, or the wife of thy bosom, or thy friend, which is as thine own soul, entice thee secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which thou hast not known, thou nor thy fathers; namely, of the gods of the nations which are round about you, nigh unto thee, or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth; thou shalt not consent unto him, nor hearken unto him; neither shall thine eye pity him, neither shalt thou spare, neither shalt thou conceal him: but thou shalt surely kill him; thine hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. And thou shalt stone him with stones, that he die, because he hath sought to thrust thee away from the LORD thy God, that brought thee out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. And all Israel shall hear, and fear, and shall do no more such wickedness as this among you.
This is another commandment concerning what is to be done to one that tries to secretly entice one to turn away from serving the LORD to serving idols. Very careful notice should be taken of the closeness, by nature, of the one who might do this. And regardless of that closeness, no pity is to be shown such a person. there is no requirement for any effort to “rehabilitate” him. He is to be put to death; and the one he has secretly tried to lead away is to be the first to cast a stone at him. Then the whole congregation is to stone him to death. As we remarked above, today we might not put such to death, (in fact, the law of the land would not permit such,) but we should immediately cut off all communication with him, and make no effort to conceal him, or what he has tried to do.
(Verses 12 through 18) If thou hear say in one of thy cities, which the LORD thy God hath given thee to dwell there, saying, Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known; then shalt thou inquire, and make search, and ask diligently, and, behold, if it be truth, and the thing be certain, that such abomination is wrought among you; thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants of that city with the edge of the sword, destroying it utterly, and all that is therein, and the cattle thereof, with the edge of the sword. And thou shalt gather all the spoil of it into the midst of the street thereof, and shalt burn with fire the city, and all the spoil thereof every whit, for the LORD thy God: it shall be an heap for ever; it shall never be built again. And there shall cleave nought of the cursed thing to thine hand: that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger, and shew thee mercy, and have compassion upon thee, and multiply thee, as He hath sworn unto thy fathers; when thou shalt hearken to the voice of the LORD thy God, to keep all His commandments which I command thee this day, to do that which is right in the eyes of the LORD thy God.
Here Moses gives to Israel the LORD’S commandments concerning dealing with a city that has turned away from the LORD, and is serving idols. All living things in that city must be killed, and the city completely burned with fire. And it can never be rebuilt. Only these drastic measures will suffice to turn away the fierce anger of the LORD. When this is done, the LORD will show His mercy to Israel. So they must hearken to the voice of the LORD, and keep all His commandments.
(Verses 1 and 2) Ye are the children of the LORD your God: ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all nations that are upon the earth.
The first statement in this text is one we should always keep firmly in mind, “Ye are the children of the LORD your God.” Just as surely as God has, through Christ Jesus, adopted us into His family, we are the children of the LORD our God. And this is the basis for the remainder of this text. Although it was spoken to the children of Israel, it applies fully to us also; Compare the rest of this text, “Ye shall not cut yourselves, nor make any baldness between your eyes for the dead. For thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God, and the LORD hath chosen thee to be a peculiar people unto Himself, above all nations that are upon the face of the earth,” with Romans 12:1-2. “I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service. And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect will of God.” Moses called upon the children of Israel to not be conformed to the nations around them, (the world,) but, since the LORD had chosen them to be a special (“peculiar”) people unto Himself, to be transformed into a holy people, and not partake of the practices of the world around them.
(Verses 3 through 8) Thou shalt not eat any abominable thing. These are the beasts which ye shall eat: the ox, the sheep, and the goat, the hart, and the roebuck, and the fallow deer, and the wild goat, and the pygarg, and the wild ox, and the chamois. And every beast that parteth the hoof, and cleaveth the cleft into two claws, and cheweth the cud among the beasts, that ye shall eat. Nevertheless these shall ye not eat of them that chew the cud, or of them that divide the cloven hoof; as the camel, and the hare, and the coney: for they chew the cud, but divide not the hoof; therefore they shall be unclean unto you. And the swine, because it divideth the hoof, yet cheweth not the cud, it is unclean unto you: ye shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead carcase.
Earlier the LORD had given the children of Israel this law concerning which animals are clean, and which are not. This is only repeated to remind them that they are to be very careful to obey it. There is one animal named here that might not be clear to us, since the name has been changed. The name given here is “pygarg,” and I have been unable to find it in the dictionary. But the center column reference in some Bibles give it as the antelope; and for lack of further information, I accept that. Any of these animals that are declared “clean” may be used for food’ but those designated as “unclean,” not only may not be eaten, but even touching the carcase of a dead one is forbidden.
(Verses 9 and 10) These shall ye eat of all that are in the waters: all that have fins and scales shall ye eat: and whatsoever hath not fins and scales ye may not eat; it is unclean unto you.
Notice should be taken that He does not say, “fins or scales,” but “fins and scales.” This makes identification very simple. They may eat the clean, but not the unclean.
(Verses 11 through 20) Of all clean birds ye shall eat. But these are they which ye shall not eat: the eagle, and the ossifrage, and the osprey, and the glede, and the kite, and the vulture after his kind, and every raven after his kind, and the owl, and the night hawk, and the cuckoo, and the hawk after his kind, the little owl, and the great owl, and the swan, and the pelican, and the gier eagle, and the cormorant, and the stork, and the heron after her kind, and the lapwing, and the bat. And every creeping thing that flieth is unclean unto you: they shall not be eaten. But of all clean fowls ye may eat.
This is a very specific list of unclean birds. It is unclear whether all other birds are considered clean or if some of them are unclean. However, since this is one of the dietary laws, it was never imposed upon any people other that the Israelites.
(Verses 21 through 23) Ye shall not eat of any thing that dieth of itself: thou shalt give it unto the stranger that is in thy gates, that he may eat it; or thou mayest sell it unto an alien: for thou art an holy people unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his mother’s milk. Thou shalt truly tithe all the increase of thy seed, that the field bringeth forth year by year. And thou shalt eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which He shall choose to place His name there, the tithe of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the firstlings of thy herds and of thy flocks; that thou mayest learn to fear the LORD thy God always.
The Israelites were forbidden to eat of any animal that died by any other means than their slaying it intentionally for eating. Perhaps this was based upon the law against their eating any flesh with the blood thereof. They were always to draw forth the blood of any animal they killed, and pour it upon the ground. They could, however, either give such an animal to the stranger who was among them, or they could even sell it to an alien. Another commandment already given them is here repeated, “Thou shalt not seethe a kid in his, mother’s milk.” Then they are reminded that they must carefully tithe all the increase of their fields, their flocks, and their herds. Again they are told that it is essential that they take all their tithes to the place which the LORD would choose, and there “eat before the LORD thy God, in the place which He shall choose to place His name there.”
(Verses 24 through 27) And if the way be too long for thee, so that thou art not able to carry it; or if the place be too far from thee, which the LORD thy God shall choose to set His name there, when the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: then shalt thou turn it into money, and bind up the money in thine hand, and shalt go unto the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: and thou shalt bestow that money for whatsoever thy soul lusteth after, for oxen, or for sheep, or for wine, or for strong drink, or for whatsoever thy soul desireth: and thou shalt eat there before the LORD thy God, and thou shalt rejoice, thou, and thine household, and the Levite that is within thy gates; thou shalt not forsake him; for he hath no part nor inheritance with thee.
These are the instructions for one when the distance to the place which the LORD has chosen for His name to dwell is so great that it becomes unfeasible to carry his tithes to that place. He is to sell that which he is required to carry as his tithes, take the money, and “bind it up in his hand,” that is, he must take all of it, and carry it to the place the LORD has chosen, spend it all for what he wants to sacrifice to the LORD, and there follow the same ritual he would have followed, had he brought the tithes themselves. He is never to forget, or forsake “the Levite that is within thy gates.”
(Verses 28 and 29) At the end of three years thou shalt bring forth all the tithe of thine increase the same year, and lay it up within thy gates: and the Levite, (because he hath no part nor inheritance with thee,) and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, which are in thy gates, shall come, and shall eat and be satisfied; that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.
Thus the tithe of every third year, instead of being carried to the tabernacle, or the temple, is to be laid up “within the gates,” or on the premises, of the one who is tithing. Then the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, are to come, and help themselves to those things thus laid up. Moses tells them that this, as so many other things he has commanded them to do, is to be done “that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hand which thou doest.”
(Verses 1 through 6) At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner of the release: Every creditor that lendeth aught unto his neighbour shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called the LORD’S release. Of a foreigner thou mayest exact it again: but that which is thine with thy brother thine hand shall release; save when there shall be no poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it: only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command thee this day. For the LORD thy God blesseth thee, as He promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee.
There are many things today concerning which our laws establish a “statute of limitations.” And for many of them that time is seven years. Perhaps that law was based upon this one that the LORD gave to the children of Israel. So far as anything one of them might lend to another is concerned, if it was not repaid within seven years, it must be released. This did not affect a loan to a foreigner. But as long as there were poor among the children of Israel, this law would be in effect upon them. Moses told them that the time might come when there would be no poor among them, because of the great blessings the LORD would bestow upon them. But this could come about only if they would “carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to do all these commandments which I command this day.” Verse 6 contains a promise that history has amply borne out through the ages. “And thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow.” For centuries, the Jews have been in control of the finances of many nations. That was one of the major things that Hitler held against them in Germany. They still control the money of many nations. Although they have many times been overcome by other nations, and sometimes even carried into captivity, they have, in most cases, been blessed to rise to the top in financial matters of those nations. Consider Daniel and his three friends in the kingdom of Nebuchadnezzar, and Mordecai in that of Ahasuerus. Other instances could easily be found.
(Verses 7 through 11) If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any of thy gates in thy land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thine heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother: but thou shalt open thine hand wide unto him, and shalt surely lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the LORD against thee, and it be sin unto thee. Thou shalt surely give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto. For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open wide thy hand unto thy brother, to the poor, and to the needy, in thy land.
One might think that there is a contradiction between a statement in verse 11 and one in verse 4. But a little closer observation of the two will show that there is no contradiction. In verse 11 we are told, “For the poor shall never cease out of thy land,” while verse 4 says, “Save when there shall be no more poor among you; for the LORD shall greatly bless thee in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it.” If this were the end of this sentence, we might indeed have a contradiction. But verse 5 clarifies the matter. Although verse 4 seems to indicate that there will be a time when there will no more be any poor in the land. But Verse 5 says, “Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe and do all these commandments which I command thee this day.” Since the LORD knows that they will not be obedient in all these commandments, He says that “the poor shall never cease out of the land.” The principal instructions given herein are that those who are blessed to have sufficient to lend, are to be generous in lending to their poor brethren, even if it be immediately before the time of release for such debts. The LORD will Himself bless them for so doing.
(Verses 12 through 18) And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: thou shalt furnish him liberally out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy winepress: of that wherewith the LORD thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing today. And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee; then thou shalt take an awl, and thrust it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant for ever. And also unto thy maidservant thou shalt do likewise. It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away free from thee, in serving thee six years: and the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest.
This law has been previously given, but it is repeated here to impress it more upon the minds of the children of Israel. If one has bought one of the Hebrews, whether man or woman, as a servant, the time of the service of such can only be six years. And in the seventh year this servant shall go free. Not only so, but the one whom this servant has served, must liberally supply him for starting his own home. There is a provision given that, if this servant does not want his freedom, but prefers to remain as a servant in the home of him whom he has been serving, his master shall take him to the door of his house, and stick an awl through his ear into the door, and the servant shall serve him for life. This applies to both a manservant and a maidservant.
(Verses 19 through 23) All firstling males that come of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep. Thou shalt eat it before the LORD thy God year by year in the place which the LORD shall choose, thou and thy household. And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the LORD thy God. Thou shalt eat it within thy gates: the unclean and the clean person shall eat it alike, as the roebuck, and as the hart. Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water.
This is the law of the offering of the firstling of the herd or of the flock. If there be no blemish of any kind in it, it is to be taken to the place which the LORD shall choose, and there it is to be “eaten before the LORD,” as a sacrifice to Him. If it has any blemish, it cannot be a sacrifice to Him, but it can be eaten at home, just as the wild deer may be eaten. Anyone of the household, whether unclean or clean, may eat it. But again He cautions them that they shall not eat the blood thereof.
(Verses 1 through 8) Observe the month Abib, and keep the Passover unto the LORD thy God: for in the month Abib the LORD thy God brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt by night. Thou shalt therefore sacrifice the Passover unto the LORD thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the LORD shall choose to place His name there. Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction: for thou camest out of the land of Egypt in haste: that thou mayest remember the day when thou camest forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of thy life. And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coast seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst the first day at even, remain all night until the morning. Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee: but at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place His name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt. And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents. Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread: and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the LORD thy God: thou shalt do no work therein.
This is the law of the Passover. And it seems to be slightly different from that given when it was first to be observed, in that in the first Passover, they were to kill their sacrifice, at their homes, and strike the blood upon the lintel and the side posts of their doors: they were to eat the Passover lamb in their houses, and not go out side until the morning. But now they are told, in verses 5 through 7, “Thou mayest not sacrifice the Passover within any of thy gates, which the LORD thy GOD hath given thee: but at the place which the LORD thy God shall choose to place His name in, there thou shalt sacrifice the Passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season that thou camest forth out of Egypt. And thou shalt roast and eat it in the place which the LORD thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents. All other instructions seem to be the same as originally given.
(Verses 9 through 12) Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn. And thou shalt keep the feast of weeks unto the LORD thy God with a tribute of a freewill offering of thine hand, thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God, according as the LORD thy God hath blessed thee: and thou shalt rejoice before the LORD thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the LORD thy God hath chosen to place His name there. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt: and thou shalt observe and do these statutes.
Here Moses reminds the children of Israel of the “feast of weeks,” which they had been commanded to observe after they took possession of the Promised land. The time of this feast is to be established by counting seven weeks after they begin to put the sickle to their corn (not what we today call corn, which is a grain not known at that time, but any of what we today consider “small grain” such as wheat, barley, etc.) All instructions for keeping this feast have already been given. Notice that they are not only to rejoice in this feast with their own households, but also with the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow that are among them. And while keeping this feast, they are to remember that they were bondmen in Egypt, and be thankful to the LORD for delivering them from that bondage.
(Verses 13 through 15) Thou shalt observe the feast of tabernacles seven days after that thou hast gathered in thy corn and thy wine: and thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy manservant, and thy maidservant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates. Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the LORD thy God in the place which the LORD shall choose: because the LORD thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the work of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice.
After the harvest has been gathered in, the children of Israel were to have another feast for seven days. In this feast they together with all their households, including also the Levite, the fatherless, the stranger, and the widows that were among them were to participate. Since the LORD will bless them in all the work of their hands, they are to rejoice in this feast. In the event one might wonder why the LORD commands them, “Thou shalt surely rejoice,” it should be remembered that these feasts God has ordained for them are for the purpose of their giving thanks to Him for His wonderful blessings to them. Therefore their thanksgiving is shown by their rejoicing. If they didn’t show any signs of rejoicing for these blessings, it would appear that they did not appreciate them.
(Verses 16 and 17) Three times in a year shall all thy males appear before the LORD thy God in the place which He shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles: and they shall not appear before the LORD empty: every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of the LORD thy God which He hath given thee.
This does not mean that these are the only times when the children of Israel can come before the LORD, and make sacrifices unto Him; but that all the men of their people are required to come at these times. And they are not to come without gifts and sacrifices for the LORD.
(Verses 18 through 20) Judges and officers shalt thou make thee in all thy gates, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. Thou shalt not wrest judgment, thou shalt not respect persons, neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. That which is altogether just shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.
These are very simple instructions that the children of Israel may live in such a manner that the LORD will continue to bless them. They are to provide for themselves judges who can render righteous judgment. And these are to never wrest judgment, and to never show any partiality at all in their decisions. They are never to take gifts or bribes. A caution we, as well as they, should always remember is, “A gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous.” If the Israelites would follow this warning, they would live, and inherit the land which the Lord gave them.
(Verses 21 and 22) Thou shalt not plant thee a grove of any trees near unto the altar of the LORD thy God, which thou shalt make thee. Neither shalt thou set thee up any image; which the LORD thy God hateth.
These two verses are clear enough as written. They will stand without comment.
(Verse 1) Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the LORD thy God any bullock, or sheep, wherein is blemish, or any evilfavouredness: for that is an abomination unto the LORD thy God.
This is a commandment that covers any sacrifice made unto the LORD. Any animal to be accepted as a sacrifice unto the LORD must be perfect, so far as natural perfection is concerned. Anything less is an insult to the LORD. Even though we do not sacrifice animals as offerings to Him, we should be always mindful that for our service to be accepted by Him, it must be our very best. He is the same today as when He gave this commandment to Israel.
(Verses 2 through 7) If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the LORD thy God giveth thee, man or woman, that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the LORD thy God, in transgressing His covenant, and hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either the sun, or moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded; and it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and, behold, it be true, and the thing be certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: then thou shalt bring that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die. At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you.
Idolatry was to be a capital offense. If, after full investigation it was proved by at least two witnesses that one was guilty of idolatry, the guilty party was to be stoned to death. The first to cast stones were the witnesses, and they were followed by all the people. One witness could not prove one guilty of any crime; but two, or more, sealed the case.
(Verses 8 through 13) If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up to the place which the LORD thy God shall choose; and thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment: and thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: according to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, or to the left, And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel, and all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.
Moses instructs Israel, from the LORD, that when a matter of judgment arises that is too hard for those whom we might call the “lower court” judges to decide, the case is to be brought to the place which the LORD shall choose as the place of their coming together, and presented before the priests, and unto the judge that shall be in those days. (This seems to signify that there is to be among them at all times a judge who will be qualified to handle the difficult matters.) And whatever sentence he shall give is to be followed explicitly. None is to be permitted to change that sentence. In the event one should presume to disregard the sentence given by this judge, he is to be put to death Thus the people will be taught to obey the sentence from the judge.
(Verses 14 through 20) When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set me a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother. But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. Neither shall he multiply wives unto himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which is before the priests the Levites: and it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he not turn aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.
This is the law concerning the king, whom the people shall one day set over them. Notice that the LORD does not tell them to set up a kingdom, but, being all wise, He knew that the time would come when they would want a king, so that they would be as other people around them. So He gave them some very plain commandments concerning who this king must be, as well as some things he must do. And it is to be observed that most of the kings who reigned in Israel did not even attempt to observe these laws. And for that transgression, as well as many others, not only of the kings, but of the people also, the LORD sent many punishments upon them.
(Verses 1 and 2) The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and His inheritance. Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as He hath said unto them.
This is just a reminder that the priests, and all the Levites, shall have no inheritance of lands among the children of Israel, as do the other tribes. Their sustenance shall be, not from the increase of their flocks and herds, but from those things offered unto the LORD by the remainder of the Israelites. Thus He is their inheritance.
(Verses 3 through 5) And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw. The firstripe also of thy corn, of thy wine, and thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him. For the LORD thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes to minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for ever.
Even though Moses is the one speaking to the children of Israel, what he is saying is the word of the LORD. So when we refer to anything that Moses is telling them, we shall, in most instances, consider it as what the LORD is saying. And He tells the Israelites that this is to be the law of their dealing with the Levites and the priests. Certain parts of their animal sacrifices are to be given to them, as well as the firstfruits of their fields, their herds, and their flocks. And this is not just a temporary regulation, but is to be observed throughout their existence, “for ever.”
(Verses 6 through 8) And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he hath sojourned, and come with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the LORD shall choose; then he shall minister in the name of the LORD his God, as all his brethren the Levites do, which stand before the LORD. They shall have like portions to eat, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.
Although the LORD has said that the Levites shall have no inheritance among the other tribes of Israel, He here makes an exception, in that He refers to a Levite who has been residing among the people of one of the other tribes, and has obtained some property among them. In the event he has a sincere desire to leave from where he has been residing, and go to the place chosen of the LORD as the place wherein His name shall dwell, He may sell what property he has accumulated, come to the place of ministry, and join in the ministry unto the LORD. Then he shall have the same rights and privileges that his brethren, the other Levites, have. And in addition to what he has received from the sale of his property, he shall receive like portions of food as do his brethren, the Levites that minister before the LORD.
(Verses 9 through 14) When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch, or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee. Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God. For these nations which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.
Here the LORD names nine different practices of the nations that inhabited the land of Canaan before He brought the children of Israel into it to possess it. Each of these is an abomination to Him; and He commands the Israelites that they shall do none of these things. The first of these He names is the practice of sacrificing children to the idol gods. In this sacrifice a baby was placed in the arms of a metal statue of one of their gods, usually Molech, with the statue heated by fire so that the baby was burned to death as a sacrifice. This, the LORD many times commanded the children of Israel that they should never do. He commands them that they are not to consult diviners, those who observe omens of various sorts. Neither are they to take the advice of those who “observe times,” (those who are guided by horoscopes,) nor enchanters, witches, or consulters with familiar spirits, (those who claim to get their information from spirits,) wizards, (magicians,) or necromancers, (those who claim to be able to hold séances with the dead. These are all practices which the nations in that area followed. And the LORD forbade the children of Israel to do these things.
(Verses 15 through 20) The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto Him ye shall hearken; according to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren like unto thee, and will put My words in his mouth; and He shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him. But the prophet which shall presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.
This is a prophecy which most Christians recognize as referring to our Lord Christ Jesus. He is the great Prophet Whom the LORD said He would raise up unto the people, from among the people, to Whom all must hearken. Whosoever will not hearken unto the words of the LORD that this Prophet shall speak, shall be held to account for such disobedience. When the LORD says, “I will require it of him,” He is not saying that the children of Israel, or the church, shall require it of him, but rather, the requirement will be as Jesus said, (John 8:24) “I said therefore unto you, ‘Ye shall die in your sins: For if ye believe not that I am He, ye shall die in your sins.” And if a prophet shall arise, and presumptuously speak a word in the name of the LORD that He has not commanded him to speak, or if one speak in the name of other gods, that prophet shall be put to death.
(Verses 21 and 22) And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.
The LORD gives the measure by which the children of Israel shall measure the word spoken by the prophet. In the event they might be in doubt about whether or not the word spoken by a prophet is the truth, all they have to do is to take notice of what he says, and check it against what comes to pass. If it fails to be as he has said, they need have no fear of (and no respect for) that prophet. He has spoken presumptuously, and therefore he is to be dealt with as the LORD has declared.
(Verses 1 through 3) When the LORD thy God hath cut off the nations, whose land the LORD thy God giveth thee, and thou succeedest them, and dwellest in their cities, and in their houses; thou shalt separate three cities for thee in the midst of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it. Thou shalt prepare thee a way, and divide the coasts of thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee to inherit, into three parts, that every slayer may flee thither.
Here the LORD returns to a commandment which He has earlier given to Israel, that of the cities of refuge. Three of these cities have already been appointed on the side of Jordan where they were at this time encamped. So the other three are to be established after the Israelites are settled in the land of Canaan. These cities are to be prepared so that anyone who kills another may flee thither to avoid the avenger of blood. As we shall soon see, anyone who has killed another may go to one of these cities, and be safe for a while. But one who has murdered another must be brought back to his native city, be tried, and, if found guilty, executed.
(Verses 4 through 10) And this is the case of the slayer, which shall flee thither that he may live: whoso killeth his neighbour ignorantly, whom he hated not in time past: as when a man goeth into the wood with his neighbour to hew wood, and his hand fetcheth a stroke with his axe to cut down the tree, and the head slippeth from the helve, and lighteth upon his neighbour, that he die, he shall flee unto one of those cities, and live: lest the avenger of blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtake him, because the way is long, and slay him; whereas he was not worthy of death, inasmuch as he hated him not in time past. Wherefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt separate three cities for thee. And if the LORD thy God enlarge thy coast, as He hath sworn unto thy fathers; if thou shalt keep all these commandments to do them, which I command thee this day, to love the LORD thy God, and to walk ever in His ways; then shalt thou add three cities more for thee, beside these three: that the innocent blood be not shed in thy land, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, and so blood be upon thee.
This very clearly illustrates the situation under which one who has killed another may flee to one of these cities, and live, It is when the killing is accidental, with no previous intent of harming the one who was killed. The LORD promised Israel that if they would keep all His commandments He would enlarge them so that they would need, and should appoint three more cities of refuge, as these were. This was for the purpose of preventing the shedding of innocent blood which would defile their inheritance.
(Verses 11 through 13) But if any man hate his neighbour, and lie in wait for him, and rise up against him, and smite him mortally that he die, and fleeth into one of these cities: then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him thence, and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, that he may die. Thine eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, that it may go well with thee.
We have previously been dealing with the case of an accidental killing of a man; but this deals with the case of murder. When such is the situation, even if the murderer flees to one of these cities of refuge, the elders of his city shall have him brought back to his own city, and they shall deliver him to the avenger of blood, that he may be put to death. Only thus can they keep themselves and their land from being defiled by the shedding of innocent blood.
(Verses 14 and 15) Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour’s landmark, which they of old time have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land that the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it. One witness shall not rise up against a man for any iniquity, or for any sin, in any sin that he sinneth: at the mouth of two witnesses, or at the mouth of three witnesses, shall the matter be established.
Here are two commandments that the LORD gave Israel, They both seem to be clearly enough written that there should be no misunderstanding of them.
(Verses 16 through 21) If a false witness rise up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong; then both the men, between whom the controversy is, shall stand before the LORD, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days; and the judges shall make diligent inquisition: and, behold, if the witness be a false witness, and hath testified falsely against his brother; then shall ye do unto him, as he had thought to have done unto his brother: so shalt thou put the evil away from among you. And those which remain shall hear, and fear, and shall henceforth commit no more any such evil among you. And thine eye shall not pity; but life shall go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot.
We often think of this commandment as being very harsh. But, in reality, it is not nearly so harsh as disregarding it would be. It has nothing at all to do with our individual treatment one of another. But it does concern the dealing of the ruling entity with the individual. It, had it been used in church discipline, would have eradicated much of the trouble we now are, as a body, suffering. Certainly we do not, in the church, have the right nor the authority to put one to death, nor to cut off one of his limbs, but I personally know of some cases in which false witnesses have been permitted to destroy the respect that was due to some of the LORD’S servants. Had these rules been followed, such would not have taken place.
(Verses 1 through 4) When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, Which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people, and shall say unto them, O Israel, ye approach this day unto the battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them; for the LORD your God is He That goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
Here the LORD, by Moses, gives the children of Israel a little “pep talk.” He declares that He will be with them when they go into battle, and for that reason they are not to be afraid of their enemies. He will not only go with them, but will also fight for them. In such a blessed situation, they cannot fail, though the enemy greatly outnumber them. Their priests shall address them just prior to the battle, assuring them that the LORD is with them.
(Verses 5 through 9) And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another dedicate it. And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it. And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her. And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and faint hearted? Let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren’s heart faint as well as his heart. And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.
Notice that the LORD was not at all concerned about how many people He had in His army. Any man who had a new house that had not been dedicated, any man who had planted a vineyard, and had not yet enjoyed the fruit thereof, any man who had betrothed a wife, but had not yet married her, and even any man who was inclined to be fearful and fainthearted, was dismissed from the army. Only after this would the heads of the armies be selected, so that the warfare could begin. Since the LORD was Himself going to fight for them, they did not need an overwhelming number of soldiers.
(Verses 10 through 18) When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it. And it shall be if, it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee. And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it: and when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword: but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that be in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee. Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, and which are not of the cities of these nations. But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth: but thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee: that they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.
This commandment is very clear in what the children of Israel were to do concerning both the nations that were in the land of Canaan and those round about, but not included therein. The six nations that the LORD named were to be completely annihilated, while others could be taken as servants, if they were willing to make peace with the Israelites. No doubt we would judge these to be just as bad as those, and vice versa, but the LORD had used His right of sovereignty to choose some for utter destruction, and to leave some alive. His election is here shown just as clearly as can be done. He told the Israelites that these nations He named for complete destruction would, if left alive, lead the children of Israel into all the abominations they had been practicing with their idols.
(Verses 19 and 20) When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man’s life) to employ them in the siege: only the trees which thou knowest that they be not for meat, (food,) thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.
The LORD cautions the children of Israel to not cut down or destroy any of the trees that bear any kind of food, when they are besieging a city. They may use, to build their bulwarks, any tree that they know does not bear edible fruit. But He says, concerning those that do bear such fruit, “the tree of the field is man’s life.” So it can not be thus used.
(Verses 1 through 9) If one be found slain in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it not be known who hath slain him: then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that was slain. And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke; and the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer’s neck there in the valley. And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the LORD thy God hath chosen to minister unto Him, and to bless in the name of the LORD; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried: and all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: and they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. Be merciful, O LORD, unto Thy people Israel, whom Thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.
This is the law concerning the case of one who is found slain in the field, and no one knows who has done the murder. By measuring from the slain person to the cities close around, it can be determined which city is closest to the slain man. And since it is the nearest to him, it is logically inferred that someone in it could have slain the victim. Then the ritual herein described must be followed: and the LORD has promised to forgive them the blood of this slain one.
(Verses 10 through 14) When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the LORD thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, and thou seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall put the raiment of her captivity from her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. And if it shall be, if thou hast no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.
Thus provision is made for a man to take a woman who has been taken captive in war, and make her his wife. If he does this, and decides that he does not want her as his wife, he must set her free to go where she may please. He can not sell her to another, as other captives may be sold. Since he has had intercourse with her, he must either keep her as his wife, or set her free,
(Verses 15 through 17) If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated,, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: but he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.
This law was meant to do, and does do, two things. First it establishes the way God has determined the manner in which a man shall distribute his wealth among his sons when the time comes for them to inherit his fortune, whether great or small. It is to be divided equally among them, except that, the firstborn is to get twice the amount of any one of the others. And second, it establishes that this rule shall apply, even if the firstborn is of a wife whom the man does not love as he does another. It is to be understood that a man might have more than one wife. And there are commandments given for the treatment of multiple wives.
(Verses 18 through 21) If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; and they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. And all the men of the city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
This is certainly clearly enough stated that none should misunderstand. It may seem extremely harsh to many; but it is the commandment of the LORD; and if it were followed, even today, there can be no doubt that as soon as a few such sentences were carried out, the juvenile crime wave would subside to nothing more than a slight ripple, instead of the great wave that it is today. The people would indeed “hear and fear.”
(Verses 22 and 23) And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of GOD;) that thy land be not defiled, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
If the Israelites shall be faced with a case in which they find it necessary to put a man to death, and instead of stoning him, they crucify him, (“hang him on a tree,) they must take down his body from the cross, and bury him that day. For the LORD declares that one who is crucified is accursed of God: and to leave his body on the tree would defile the land which the LORD had given them.
(Verses 1 through 3) Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother. And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then shalt thou bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again. In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with any thing that is thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, thou shalt do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself.
Perhaps the simplest way of saying this is, “If you have found anything that belongs to someone else, and you know who he is, return the lost item to him. And if you do not know him, or how to get in touch with him, hold the item safely until he may come seeking it.”
(Verse 4) Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.
This seems very simple. If someone’s beast of burden should fall under his load, (whether because he is overloaded, or because he has stumbled and fallen,) there is no excuse for your not helping to get the animal up again, whether it only takes a little pulling at him to get him up, or if it should require completely unloading, and reloading him. You must help to lift him up again.
(Verse 5) The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all who do so are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.
Once a woman asked me, on the basis of discussing this scripture, “Is it wrong for a woman to wear a suit, that is, a pants and coat ensemble?” The answer to that is, “No.” the reason for it’s being negative is that such are designed for women. They are not even made exactly like pants and coats for men. So they do not “pertain unto a man.” This law is given to condemn the wearing of the clothing of one of opposite gender from the one to whom the clothing belongs. This might be done to conceal the identity of the wearer, whether to escape detection in the committing of a crime, or just as a transvestite. In either case such is an abomination to the LORD.
(Verses 6 and 7) If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young: but thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee, that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.
This seems to some, perhaps, to be a very trivial thing. But it shows the LORD’S care for even the birds of the fields and forests. He has told us that not even a sparrow shall fall to the ground without the notice of our heavenly Father. The commandment is itself clear enough to need no explanation.
(Verses 8 through 12) When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thy house, if any man fall from thence.
Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.
Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.
Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woolen and linen together.
Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou art covered.
These are miscellaneous commandments, but not unimportant ones. So far as the one concerning the house is concerned, it is more readily understood when we remember that most of the houses built in that area were built with flat tops, so that the roofs were often used, more, or less, as living areas. Therefore it was necessary that a battlement be constructed along the edges of the roof to prevent the falling of anyone from the roof of the house. The next commandment was given to prevent the crossing of one species of plant with another, by the mixing of the seeds that were sown, since such sometimes takes place by cross pollination. The next two commandments show the LORD’S hatred of mixing of unlike animals, or even materials of garments. And, since He scattered all the various races of people over the world, it is often considered as showing also His dislike for the mixing of the races, as it is so popular nowadays to advocate. The fifth commandment is one He has earlier given, and when giving it previously, He told the children of Israel that it was to be a reminder to them to remember, and do all His commandments.
(Verses 13 through 21) If a man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her, and give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid: then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate: and the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her; and, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him; and they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of her virginity be not found for the damsel: then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of the city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.
This is the law that concerns the case of a woman who has been accused of having committed fornication before her marriage. The way of ascertaining the truth, or falsehood, of the accusation is laid out here. Also are given both the sentence upon the man if the accusation is false, and that for the woman if it is true. This is the commandment upon which Jesus based His declaration in Matthew 19: 9, “And I say unto you, ‘Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery.’” While it is true that this commandment calls for the death of the woman who is found guilty, at the time of our Lord’s being in the flesh on the earth, the Romans had taken away from the Jews the right to execute the death sentence on anyone. So, they had changed the sentence to divorce, which Jesus allowed under such a case.
(Verse22) If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away the evil from Israel.
This seems to be very clear cut. There are no extenuating circumstances, and there is no escaping of the death sentence by either the man or the woman.
(Verses 23 and 24) If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto a husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her; then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of the city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
Notice that this has to do with a sin that is committed in the city. In the city there should be enough people within hearing distance, that if the woman had called for help, someone should have heard, and delivered her from her attacker, if it was an attack. And the fact that she did not call for help made the matter consensual. Therefore she is just as guilty as the man. So, both shall receive the same penalty, death by stoning.
(Verses 25 through 27) But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die: but unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter: for he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.
The only difference between this and the case in verses 23 and 24 is that, whereas in that case there was help for the damsel if she had only called, but in this case none could hear her when she called. So the man only shall be put to death, and nothing shall be done to the woman.
(Verses 28 and 29) If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found; the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of solver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.
This seems to be clear enough that none should misunderstand it. One might consider that if we had such laws concerning sexual activities as the LORD gave Israel, and enforced them, that might do away with much of the promiscuity of our modern society.
(Verse 30) A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor discover his father’s skirt.
The Israelites did in some cases practice polygamy. Therefore a man’s father’s wife was not necessarily his mother. But still, even if his father died, he could not take one of his father’s wives as his own.
(Verses 1 through 6)He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD. The Ammonite or the Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever: because they met you not with bread and water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee. Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken to Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee. Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.
Here is a list of some of the people that shall not be permitted to come into the congregation of the LORD. And in the absence of any explanation to the contrary, one might assume that they would not even be permitted to live among the Israelites. It may be that they would be allowed to live outside the camp, as were the lepers; but that is not made clear in this text. The man that is wounded in the stones, or has his privy member cut off, cannot enter into the congregation. But if he has any offspring, nothing is said about barring them from fellowship. Not only shall a bastard not be permitted to enter therein, but even his descendants, to the tenth generation, shall be barred from entering. This is, of course, because of the sin of his parents. There were two nations of people that the LORD declared should “not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever.” Both of these nations were closely related to the Israelites, They were the Ammonites and the Moabites. They were descended from the sons of Lot the nephew of Abraham. But since they, instead of meeting the children of Israel “with bread and water by the way,” when they came out of Egypt, even hired Balaam to curse Israel. But the LORD would not allow Balaam to curse them; and instead of cursing them the LORD blessed them. Not only are these nations not to enter into the congregation of the LORD, but the children of Israel are not to even seek to have peace with them forever.
(Verses 7 and 8) Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land. the children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.
An Edomite is a descendant of Esau the brother of Jacob. therefore the Edomites and the Israelites are closely related, “brothers.”So there is to be no animosity between the congregation of the LORD and the Edomites. Although their relation did deteriorate to the point that the children of Israel became slaves to the Egyptians, when they first came into Egypt, they were extremely well treated by the Egyptians. They were strangers in Egypt, but Joseph was chosen of Pharaoh to be in charge of all the resources of Egypt, and was second in command to Pharaoh himself. So, third generation children of the Egyptians were allowed to enter into the congregation of the LORD.
(Verses 9 through11) When the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing. If there be among you any man, that is unclean by reason of any uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then he shall go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp: but it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash himself with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp again.
The children of Israel were to be extra careful to avoid any kind of wickedness when the army was going out to war. And, although verses 10 and 11 may apply at any time, inasmuch as they follow verse 9, it would seem that they are particularly applicable when the army is going forth to war.
(Verses 12 through 14) Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad: and thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon, and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee: for the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that He see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.
These are instructions as to how the children of Israel shall keep their camp clean And they seem clear enough without further comment.
(Verses 15 and 16) Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee: he shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.
There is one thing that seems a little unclear about this commandment. This is, whether this applies to all servants who escape from their masters, or to servants of men of other nations that have escaped. Since the law of the LORD recognizes bond slaves as legal, and He has already given commandment that any livestock, that have wandered away from their owners must be returned to them, one might wonder if this applies to the servant of a fellow Israelite, that has escaped. At any rate those to whom this does apply are to be permitted to choose where they may want to dwell and be permitted to dwell there without any oppression.
(Verses 17 and 18) There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are an abomination unto the LORD.
Verse 17 is clear enough without any further comment. So far as verse 18 is concerned, we should look at the background of this situation. First of all, when one made a vow unto the LORD, he was to bring a sacrifice unto the LORD. It could be an animal for sacrifice, or a sum of money. If a woman wants to make a vow, and is not able to give anything for sacrifice, she is not to even consider doing an act of prostitution in order to obtain money to offer. Since the manner of obtaining this money is an abomination to the LORD, the money obtained thereby is also an abomination. And since a dog is an unclean animal, and would therefore be an abomination to the LORD if offered as a sacrifice; if the dog be sold, the price of him would also be an abomination if offered. So neither of these can be used for sacrifice. So, if one has no other way of obtaining that which he could offer, these are still forbidden, and would not be acceptable.
(Verses 19 and 20) Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury: unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.
This commandment is given that the Israelites may deal more liberally with their brethren than with people of other nations. If they will keep this commandment the LORD will bless them in the land which He is giving them.
(Verses 21 through 23) When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform, even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.
This is a commandment to which we today should show great respect. Anything we have vowed, or promised to the LORD, we had better do, because the LORD will require it of us. And it is a sin to make such vows, or promises, and not keep them. Now, if we do not make a promise, that is no sin. But if we make one and do not fulfill it, we have sinned. Whatever we have promised the LORD, even though it was promised as a freewill offering, God requires it of us.
(Verses 24 and 25) When thou comest into thy neighbour’s vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour’s standing corn.
This is, actually, only one commandment, although it covers both the vineyard and the field of one’s neighbor. One is permitted to eat what he may desire of the fruit while he is there, but he is not to take any of it away with him.
(Verses 1 through 4) When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: thou shalt let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house. And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife. And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife; her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.
This is a far cry from the way people of today act. A couple will get married. Then they will be divorced, and both parties will marry again; and then they will divorce their later partners, and re-marry each other. And this may be done more than once. The LORD is no more pleased with this practice today that He was when He gave this commandment to Israel. Such was an abomination to Him then, and since He does not change, it must still be an abomination to Him.
(Verse 5) When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.
Thus the LORD exempts a newlywed for one year, not only from military service, but even from having any responsibility in business.
(Verses 6 and 7) No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge. If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.
The commandment in verse 6, although it actually mentions only the lower and upper millstones as being unacceptable to be taken as a pledge, or as security for a debt, it can, by reason of the clause, “for he taketh a man’s life to pledge, be extended to many other things. The significance of this statement is, that the people of that day had no big mills in which to grind their grain for the making of bread, but each family had two flat sided stones, with which they did grind flour for their own use. And since bread has always been considered the most necessary part of the meal, if one of these stones were taken as security for a debt, the debtor would have no means of grinding his flour to make bread. Therefore the taking of that stone would amount to the taking of his life. The commandment given in verse 7 seems to be clear enough without any further explanation. However it does show the LORD’S care for His own, in that it does expressly forbid the stealing of one of the children of Israel, and says nothing about anyone else.
(Verses 8 and 9) Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do. Remember what the LORD thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after ye were come forth out of Egypt.
This is a caution that the children of Israel observe and do all that the priests shall teach them concerning the plague of leprosy. And they are to always be mindful of what the LORD did to Miriam the sister of Moses and Aaron, after He had brought the Israelites out from Egypt. This part of the caution is, probably, to remind them that even after the LORD has delivered them, and may have raised them up to a position of honor, He is still able to chastise them as He may see fit. Thus they should always fear Him.
(Verses 10 through 12) When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge. Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee. And if the man is poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge: in any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the LORD thy God.
This is a very simple commandment, and is self explanatory, but it does give us some insight into the practice of the times. Of course, in the first part of it, we see that when a loan was made, the lender could not go into the home of the borrower in order to get the pledge, or security for the loan. The borrower must bring it out to the lender. The remainder seems to indicate that clothing was sometimes taken as security for loans. In the case of the loan’s having been made to a poor man, the lender could not keep the security overnight, but he must give it back to the borrower as soon as the sun set on that day.
(Verses 14 through 16) Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are within thy gates: at his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down on it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry unto the LORD, and it be sin unto thee. The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.
Verses 14 and 15 require a man, who has hired another to work for him, to pay the worker promptly at the time agreed upon, and the payment shall be made before the sun goes down on the appointed day. Verse 16 declares that the children shall not be executed for the sins of the fathers, and neither shall the fathers be executed for the sins of the children. This also has a wider ranging effect than this. There was a practice, sometimes used among some of the heathen, that if a person was found guilty of a crime for which death was the penalty, his whole family, including fathers, mothers, and children, were put to death. This is by this commandment forbidden.
(Verses 17 and 18) Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge: but thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the LORD thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore have I commanded thee this thing.
Many times the LORD had cautioned the children of Israel that they must take care of the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. This is a reminder of that commandment. And although when making a loan to a man, his garment might be taken as security, this is not allowed when making a loan to a widow. And in all cases they are to remember that they were slaves in Egypt, but the Lord redeemed them from that bondage.
(Verses 19 through 22) When thou cutest down thy harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the LORD may bless thee in all the works of thine hands. When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow. And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee this thing.
This is a commandment several times mentioned in the laws of the LORD. Its purpose is, as is usually expressed, to provide for the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow. These are three characters for whom the LORD often speaks, and commands that the Israelites never forget. Also they are to always remember that they were slaves in the land of Egypt, and were redeemed therefrom by the hand of the LORD Himself.
(Verses 1 through 3) If there be a controversy between two men, and they come unto judgment, that the judges may judge them; then they shall justify the righteous, and condemn the wicked. And it shall be, if the wicked man be worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down, and be beaten before his face, according to his fault, by a certain number. Forty stripes he may give him, and not exceed: lest, if he should exceed, and beat him above these with many stripes, then thy brother should seem vile unto thee.
When a controversy is brought before the judge, and tried, and righteous judgment has been declared, the judge shall, when a beating is the sentence for him that is found guilty, order him to lie down, and to be beaten in his presence, (“before his face,”) with a specified number of stripes, which can, in no case, exceed forty, lest “thy brother should seem vile unto thee.”
(Verse 4) Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox when he treadeth out the corn.
This is a very simple commandment. But to understand its significance, one must have some idea of its background. The work of threshing grain in that day was usually done in one or the other of two ways. When threshing the grain for human consumption, one would pile up some sheaves of grain in a clean place, and beat them with a stick until the grain was loosened from the stalks and the husks. Then the chaff would be separated from it, and it be made ready for use. That which was to be used for stock feed or for seed, was usually laid out around a pole that was set up in the ground. Then an ox was tied to that pole in such a manner that he could be led, or driven in a circular path around the pole, thus walking over the sheaves of grain and doing with his hoofs the work that was done in the other method for threshing the grain. This was called, “treading out the corn.” When an ox was employed in this work, the children of Israel were forbidden to put a muzzle upon him. He must be permitted to take a bite of the grain from time to time as he was thus treading it. The Apostle Paul, in 1 Cor. 9:9, explains that this principle also applies to the gospel minister as he tends the flock of the LORD, and shows that he is to be supported in natural things by the ones whom he serves in spiritual things.
(Verses 5 through 10) If brethren dwell together, and one of them die, and have no child, the wife of the dead shall not marry without unto a stranger: her husband’s brother shall go in unto her, and take her to him to wife, and perform the duty of an husband’s brother unto her. And it shall be, that the firstborn which she beareth shall succeed in the name of his brother which is dead, that his name be not put out of Israel. And if the man like not to take his brother’s wife, then let his brother’s wife go up to the gate unto the elders, and say, My husband’s brother refuseth to raise up unto his brother a name in Israel, he will not perform the duty of my husband’s brother. Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak unto him: and if he stand unto it, and say, I like not to take her; then shall his brother’s wife come unto him in the presence of the elders, and loose his shoe from off his foot, and spit in his face, and shall answer and say, So shall it be done unto that man that will not build up his brother’s house. And his name shall be called in Israel, The house of him that hath his shoe loosed.
This is rather lengthy, but it adequately describes the manner in which such a case as this was to be handled. Apparently, the children of Israel extended the first clause of verse 5 to cover more than brethren living together, so that we find it even applying to “a near kinsman,” as is shown in the story of Boaz the kinsman of Elimelech, and Ruth, the Moabitess daughter in law of Naomi.
(Verses 11 and 12) When men strive together one with another, and the wife of the one draweth near for to deliver her husband out of the hand of him that smiteth him, and putteth forth her hand, and taketh him by the secrets: then thou shalt cut off her hand, thine eye shall not pity her.
This seems clear enough without further comment.
(Verses 13 through 16) Thou shalt not have in thy bag divers weights, a great and a small. Thou shalt not have in thine house divers measures, a great and a small. But thou shalt have a perfect and a just weight, a perfect and a just measure shalt thou have: that thy days may be lengthened in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee. For all who do such things , and all that do unrighteously, are an abomination unto the LORD thy God.
This commandment is not saying that we should not have various weights and measures, such as having a weight for a pound, and one for an ounce, or a measure for a bushel and another for a gallon, but we are not to have more than one weight for a pound, with one of them heavier than the other, and not to have more than one measure for a bushel with one smaller than the other, etc. Instead our weights and measures are to be standardized, and to be accurate for what they claim to be. Anything else is an unrighteous manner of operation, and is not acceptable to the LORD.
(Verses 17 through 19) Remember what Amalek did unto thee by the way, when ye were come forth out of Egypt; how he met thee by the way, and smote the hindmost of thee, even all that were feeble behind thee, when thou wast faint and weary; and he feared not God. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD thy God hath given thee rest from all thine enemies round about, in the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it, thou shalt blot out the remembrance of Amalek from under heaven; thou shalt not forget it.
This is the LORD’S commandment to the Israelites that they always remember that which Amalek did to them when they were tired and weary on their journey, and completely destroy the Amalekites, and even their memory from the earth. There are no Amalekites today.