Deuteronomy 11

CHAPTER XI

The people are exhorted to obedience from a consideration of

God's goodness to their fathers in Egypt, 1-4,

and what he did in the wilderness, 5,

and the judgment on Dathan and Abiram, 6,

and from the mercies of God in general, 7-9.

A comparative description of Egypt and Canaan, 19-12.

Promises to obedience, 13-15.

Dissuasives from idolatry, 16,17.

The words of God to be laid up in their hearts, to be for a sign

on their hands, foreheads, gates, &c., 18,

taught to their children, made the subject of frequent

conversation, to the end that their days may be multiplied,

19-21.

If obedient, God shall give them possession of the whole land,

and not one of their enemies shall be able to withstand them,

22-25.

Life and death, a blessing and a curse, are set before them,

26-28.

The blessings to be put on Mount Gerizim and the curses on Mount

Ebal, 29, 30.

The promise that they should pass over Jordan, and observe these

statutes in the promised land, 31, 32.

NOTES ON CHAP. XI

Verse 1. Thou shalt love the Lord] Because without this there

could be no obedience to the Divine testimonies, and no happiness

in the soul; for the heart that is destitute of the love of God,

is empty of all good, and consequently miserable.

See Clarke on De 10:12.

Verse 6. What he did unto Dathan, &c.]

See the notes on Nu 16:24-33.

Verse 8. Therefore shall ye keep all the commandments] Because

God can execute such terrible judgments, and because he has given

such proofs of his power and justice; and because, in similar

provocations, he may be expected to act in a similar way;

therefore keep his charge, that he may keep you unto everlasting

life.

Verse 10. Wateredst it with thy foot] Rain scarcely ever falls

in Egypt, and God supplies the lack of it by the inundations of

the Nile. In order to water the grounds where the inundations do

not extend, water is collected in ponds, and directed in

streamlets to different parts of the field where irrigation is

necessary. It is no unusual thing in the East to see a man, with a

small mattock, making a little trench for the water to run by, and

as he opens the passage, the water following, he uses his foot to

raise up the mould against the side of this little channel, to

prevent the water from being shed unnecessarily before it reaches

the place of its destination. Thus he may be said to water the

ground with his foot. See several useful observations on this

subject in Mr. Harmer, vol. i., pp. 23-26, and vol. iii., p. 141.

"For watering land an instrument called janta is often used in the

north of Bengal: It consists of a wooden trough, about fifteen

feet long, six inches wide, and ten inches deep, which is placed

on a horizontal beam lying on bamboos fixed in the bank of a pond

or river in the form of a gallows. One end of the trough rests

upon the bank, where a gutter is prepared to carry off the water,

and the other is dipped into the water by a man standing on a

stage near that end, and plunging it in with his foot. A long

bamboo, with a large weight of earth at the farther end of it, is

fastened to that end of the janta near the river, and passing over

the gallows, poises up the janta full of water, and causes it to

empty itself into the gutter." This, Mr. Ward supposes,

illustrates this passage. See Hindoo Customs, &c., vol. iii.,

p. 104. But after all, the expression, wateredst it with thy

foot, may mean no more than doing it by labour; for, as in the

land of Egypt there is scarcely any rain, the watering of gardens,

&c., must have been all artificial. But in Judea it was different,

as there they had their proper seasons of rain. The compound word

beregel, with, under, or by the foot, is used to signify any

thing under the power, authority, &c., of a person; and this very

meaning it has in the sixth verse, all the substance that was in

their possession, is, literally, all the substance that was under

their feet, beragleyhem, that is, in their power,

possession, or what they had acquired by their labour.

Verse 14. The rain-in his due season, the first rain and the

latter rain] By the first or former rain we are to understand

that which fell in Judea about November, when they sowed their

seed, and this served to moisten and prepare the ground for the

vegetation of the seed. The latter rain fell about April, when

the corn was well grown up, and served to fill the ears, and

render them plump and perfect. Rain rarely fell in Judea at any

other seasons than these. If the former rain were withheld, or

not sent in due season, there could be no vegetation: if the

latter rain were withheld, or not sent in its due season, there

could be no full corn in the ear, and consequently no harvest. Of

what consequence then was it that they should have their rain in

due season! God, by promising this provided they were obedient,

and threatening to withhold it should they be disobedient, shows

that it is not a general providence that directs these things, but

that the very rain of heaven falls by particular direction, and

the showers are often regulated by an especial providence.

Verse 18. Therefore shall ye lay up these my words] See

De 6:4-8,

and See Clarke on Ex 13:9.

Verse 24. From the river] Euphrates, which was on the east, to

the uttermost sea-the Mediterranean, which lay westward of the

promised land. This promise, notwithstanding the many

provocations of the Israelites, was fulfilled in the time of

Solomon, for "he reigned over all the kings from the river

(Euphrates) even unto the land of the Philistines, and to the

border of Egypt." See 2Ch 9:26, and the note,

See Clarke on Nu 34:12.

Verse 26. Behold, I set before you-a blessing and a curse] If

God had not put it in the power of this people either to obey or

disobey; if they had not had a free will, over which they had

complete authority, to use it either in the way of willing or

nilling; could God, with any propriety, have given such precepts

as these, sanctioned with such promises and threatenings? If they

were not free agents, they could not be punished for

disobedience, nor could they, in any sense of the word, have been

rewardable for obedience. A STONE is not rewardable because, in

obedience to the laws of gravitation, it always tends to the

centre; nor is it punishable be cause, in being removed from that

centre, in its tending or falling towards it again it takes away

the life of a man.

That God has given man a free, self-determining WILL, which

cannot be forced by any power but that which is omnipotent, and

which God himself never will force, is declared in the most formal

manner through the whole of the sacred writings. No argument can

affect this, while the Bible is considered as a Divine revelation;

no sophistry can explain away its evidence, as long as the

accountableness of man for his conduct is admitted, and as long as

the eternal bounds of moral good and evil remain, and the

essential distinctions between vice and virtue exist. If ye

will obey, (for God is ever ready to assist,) ye shall live; if

ye will disobey and refuse that help, ye shall die. So hath

Jehovah spoken, and man cannot reverse it.

Verse 29. Thou shalt put the blessing upon Mount Gerizim, and

the curse upon Mount Ebal.] The etymology of these names may be

supposed to cast some light on this institution. gerizzim,

from garaz, to cut, cut off, cut down; hence

gerizzim, the cutters down, fellers, and reapers or

harvest-men, this mountain being supposed to have its name from

its great fertility, or the abundance of the crops it yielded,

which is a possible case. Of ebal or eybal the root is not

found in Hebrew; but in Arabic [Arabic] abala signifies rough,

rugged, curled, &c.; and [Arabic] abalo, from the same root,

signifies white stones, and a mountain in which such stones are

found; [Arabic] alabalo, the mount of white stones. See Giggeius

and Golius. And as it is supposed that the mountain had this name

because of its barrenness, on this metaphorical interpretation the

sense of the passage would appear to be the following: God will so

superintend the land, and have it continually under the eye of his

watchful providence, that no change can happen in it but according

to his Divine counsel, so that its fertility shall ever be the

consequence of the faithful obedience of its inhabitants, and a

proof of the blessing of God upon it; on the contrary, its

barrenness shall be a proof that the people have departed from

their God, and that his curse has in consequence fallen upon the

land. See the manner of placing these blessings and curses,

De 27:12, &c.

That Gerizim is very fruitful, and that Ebal is very barren, is

the united testimony of all who have travelled in those parts.

See Ludolf, Reland, Rab, Benjamin, and Mr. Maundrell. Sychem lies

in the valley between these two mountains.

THAT the land of Judea was naturally very fertile, can scarcely

be supposed by any who considers the accounts given of it by

travellers; with the exception of a few districts, the whole land

is dry, stony, and barren, and particularly all the southern parts

of Judea, and all the environs of Jerusalem, most of which are

represented as absolutely incapable of cultivation. How then

could it ever support its vast number of inhabitants? By the

especial providence of God. While God kept that people under his

continual protection, their land was a paradise; they lent to all

nations and borrowed from none. What has it been since? A

demi-solitude, because that especial blessing no longer descends

upon it. No land, says Calmet, was more fertile while under the

benediction of God; none more barren when under his curse. Its

present state is a proof of the declaration of Moses,

De 28:23:

"The heaven over their head is brass; the earth under their feet,

iron." The land itself, in its present state is an ample proof of

the authenticity of the Pentateuch. Should facts of this kind be

lost sight of by any who read the sacred writings?

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