Deuteronomy 34

CHAPTER XXXIV

Moses goes up Mount Nebo to the top of Pisgah, and God shews him

the whole extent of the land which he promised to give to the

descendants of Abraham, 1-4.

There Moses died, and was so privately buried by the Lord that

his sepulchre was never discovered, 5, 6.

His age and strength of constitution, 7.

The people weep for him thirty days, 8.

Joshua being filled with the spirit of wisdom, the Israelites

hearken to him, as the Lord commanded them, 9.

The character of Moses as a prophet, and as a worker of the

most extraordinary miracles, both in the sight of the Egyptians,

and the people of Israel: conclusion of the Pentateuch, 10-12.

NOTES ON CHAP. XXXIV

Verse 1. And Moses went up] This chapter could not have been

written by Moses. A man certainly cannot give an account of his

own death and burial. We may therefore consider Moses's words as

ending with the conclusion of the preceding chapter, as what

follows could not possibly have been written by himself. To

suppose that he anticipated these circumstances, or that they were

shown to him by an especial revelation, is departing far from

propriety and necessity, and involving the subject in absurdity;

for God gives no prophetic intimations but such as are absolutely

necessary to be made; but there is no necessity here, for the

Spirit which inspired the writer of the following book, would

naturally communicate the matter that concludes this. I believe,

therefore, that Deut. xxxiv., should constitute the first chapter

of the book of Joshua.

On this subject the following note from an intelligent Jew

cannot be unacceptable to the reader:-

"Most commentators are of opinion that Ezra was the author of

the last chapter of Deuteronomy; some think it was Joshua, and

others the seventy elders, immediately after the death of Moses;

adding, that the book of Deuteronomy originally ended with the

prophetic blessing upon the twelve tribes: 'Happy art thou, O

Israel! who is like unto thee, O people saved by the Lord,' &c.;

and that what now makes the last chapter of Deuteronomy was

formerly the first of Joshua, but was removed from thence and

joined to the former by way of supplement. This opinion will not

appear unnatural if it be considered that sections and other

divisions, as well as points and pauses, were invented long since

these books were written; for in those early ages several books

were connected together, and followed each other on the same roll.

The beginning of one book might therefore be easily transferred

to the end of another, and in process of time be considered as its

real conclusion, as in the case of Deuteronomy, especially as this

supplemental chapter contains an account of the last transactions

and death of the great author of the Pentateuch."-Alexander's Heb.

and Eng. Pentateuch.

This seems to be a perfectly correct view of the subject. This

chapter forms a very proper commencement to the book of Joshua,

for of this last chapter of Deuteronomy the first chapter of

Joshua is an evident continuation. If the subject be viewed in

this light it will remove every appearance of absurdity and

contradiction with which, on the common mode of interpretation, it

stands sadly encumbered.

Verse 5. So Moses-died-according to the word of the Lord.]

al pi Yehovah, at the mouth of Jehovah; i. e., by the

especial command and authority of the Lord; but it is possible

that what is here said refers only to the sentence of his

exclusion from the promised land, when he offended at the waters

of Meribah.

Verse 6. He buried him] It is probable that the reason why

Moses was buried thus privately was, lest the Israelites, prone to

idolatry, should pay him Divine honours; and God would not have

the body of his faithful servant abused in this way. Almost all

the gods of antiquity were defiled men, great lawgivers, eminent

statesmen, or victorious generals. See the account of the life of

Moses at the end of this chapter. See Clarke on De 34:10.

Verse 7. His eye was not dim] Even at the advanced age of a

hundred and twenty; nor his natural force abated-he was a young

man even in old age, notwithstanding the unparalleled hardships he

had gone through. See the account of his life at the end of this

chapter.

Verse 9. Laid his hands upon him] See on Nu 27:18-23.

Verse 10. There arose not a prophet, &c.] Among all the

succeeding prophets none was found so eminent in all respects nor

so highly privileged as Moses; with him God spoke face to face-

admitted him to the closest familiarity and greatest friendship

with himself. Now all this continued true till the advent of

Jesus Christ, of whom Moses said, "A Prophet shall the Lord your

God raise up unto you from among your brethren, like unto me;" but

how great was this person when compared with Moses! Moses desired

to see God's glory; this sight he could not bear; he saw his back

parts, probably meaning God's design relative to the latter days:

but Jesus, the Almighty Saviour, in whom dwells all the fulness of

the Godhead bodily, who lay in the bosom of the Father, he hath

declared God to man. Wondrous system of legal ordinances that

pointed out and typified all these things! And more wonderful

system of Gospel salvation, which is the body, soul, life, energy,

and full accomplishment of all that was written in the LAW, in the

PROPHETS, and in the PSALMS, concerning the sufferings and death

of Jesus, and the redemption of a ruined world "by his agony and

bloody sweat, by his cross and passion, by his death and burial,

by his glorious resurrection and ascension, and by the coming of

the Holy Ghost!" Thus ends the PENTATEUCH, commonly called the

LAW of MOSES, a work every way worthy of God its author, and only

less than the NEW COVENANT, the law and Gospel of our Lord and

Saviour JESUS CHRIST.

Now to the ever blessed and glorious TRINITY, FATHER, WORD, and

SPIRIT, the infinite and eternal ONE, from whom alone wisdom,

truth, and goodness can proceed, be glory and dominion for ever

and ever. Amen.

MASORETIC Notes on DEUTERONOMY

The number of verses in ELLAH HADDEBARIM, Deuteronomy, is 955;

the symbol of which is in which word tsade stands for 900,

nun for 50, and cheth for 5.

The middle verse is De 17:10. And thou shalt

observe to do all that they command thee.

Its Pareshioth or larger sections are 11, the numerical symbol

of which is chag; Ps 118:27:

Bind the SACRIFICE with cords to the horns of the altar. In which

word cheth stands for 8, and gimel for 3.

Its Sedarim or smaller sections are 27, the symbolical sign of

which is yaggid; Pr 12:17:

He that speaketh truth, SHOWETH FORTH righteousness. In which word

the two yods stand for 20, daleth for 4, and

gimel for 3.

Its Perakim or modern chapters are 34, the symbol of which is

lebab; Ps 111:1.

I will praise the Lord with my whole HEART. In which word the two

beths stand for 4, and the lamed for 30.

The number of open sections is 34, of its close sections 124,

total 158; the symbol of which is yanchilem, 148, and

cab-od, 10, 1Sa 2:8:

To make them to INHERIT the throne of his GLORY. The numerical

letters of the word yanchilem, 148, with od, 10,

taken from cabod, make 158, the total of its open and

close sections.

The number of verses in the whole Pentateuch is 5845, the

memorial symbol of which is hachammah, Isa 30:26:

Moreover the light of the moon shall be as the light of THE SUN.

In which word, the letters taken in their proper order make the

sum, . "5845"

The middle verse of the Law is Le 8:8:

And he put the breastplate upon him, and he put in the breastplate

the URIM and the THUMMIM.

The number of OPEN sections in the whole Law is 290, the symbol

of which is peri; (Cant.) So 4:16:

Let my beloved come into his garden, and eat his precious FRUITS.

The number of its CLOSE sections is 379, the symbol of which occurs

in the word bishbuah; Nu 30:10:

Or bound her soul with a bond BY AN OATH.

Total number of all the open and close sections, 669, the

memorial symbol of which is lo techsar; De 8:9: THOU

SHALT NOT LACK any thing in it.

SECTIONS of the Book of Deuteronomy, carried on from Numbers,

which ends with the FORTY-THIRD.

The FORTY-FOURTH, called debarim, begins De 1:1, and

ends De 3:22.

The FORTY-FIFTH, called vaethchannen, begins

De 3:23, and ends De 7:11.

The FORTY-SIXTH, called ekeb, begins De 7:12, and ends

De 11:25.

The FORTY-SEVENTH, called reeh, begins De 11:26, and

ends De 16:17.

The FORTY-EIGHTH, called shophetim, begins De 16:18,

and ends De 21:9.

The FORTY-NINTH, called tetse, begins De 21:10, and

ends De 25:19.

The FIFTIETH, called tabo, begins De 26:1, and ends

De 29:8.

The FIFTY-FIRST, called nitstsabim, begins De 29:9,

and ends De 30:20.

The FIFTY-SECOND, called vaiyelech, begins De 31:1,

and ends De 31:30.

The FIFTY-THIRD, called haazinu, begins De 32:1,

and ends De 32:51.

The FIFTY-FOURTH, called vezoth habberachah, begins

De 33:1, and ends De 34:12.

GENERAL OBSERVATIONS ON

THE FIVE BOOKS OF MOSES

WE have now passed through the Pentateuch, and have endeavoured

carefully to mark its important contents. Its antiquity sets it

at the head of all the writings in the world; and the various

subjects it embraces make it of the utmost consequence to every

civilized part of the earth. Its philosophy, jurisprudence,

history, geography, and chronology, entitle it to the respect of

the whole human race; while its system of theology and religion

demonstrably prove it to be a revelation from GOD. But on these

topics, as many observations have already been made as the nature

of a commentary professing to study brevity can possibly admit.

Of MOSES, the writer of the Pentateuch, considered as a

historian and philosopher, a great deal has been said in the

course of the notes on the book of GENESIS; and especially at the

conclusion of the fiftieth chapter; to which the reader is

particularly referred. See Clarke on Ge 50:26.

Of Moses as a legislator, volumes might be written, and the

subject not be exhausted. What is called the Law of Moses, is more

properly the Law of God; and Torath Yehovah, the Law

of Jehovah, is the grand title of the Pentateuch. Such a

definition of this term as comports with the nature, structure,

and design of the Pentateuch, has already been given in the note,

See Clarke on Ex 12:40, to which the reader is requested to refer.

Could we conceive Moses to have been the author of this system, we

must consider him more than mortal: no wisdom of man has ever yet been

able to invent such a code of laws.

This merit however has been disputed, and his laws severely

criticised by certain persons whose interest it was to prove

religion to be a cheat, because they had none themselves; and

whose case must be hopeless could it be proved to be true. To

some whose mental taste and feeling are strangely perverted, every

thing in heathenism wears not only the most fascinating aspect,

but appears to lay claim to and possess every excellence. These

have called up Confucius, Menu, Zoroaster, and Mohammed himself,

to dispute the palm of excellence with Moses! To examine the

claims of such competitors, and to decide on their respective

merits would require a large treatise, and my limits confine me to

a sketch. To any godly, impartial mind, properly acquainted with

the subject, little needs to be said; to those who are prejudiced,

all reasoning is thrown away. A few words on the merit of each of

these competitors must suffice.

1. To Con fu tsee, the great Chinese lawgiver, corruptly called

Confucius, are attributed, in the records of his country, a number

of ordinances and institutions which do honour to his times and to

his people; but alas! how much of the darkness, erroneousness, and

infirmity of the human mind do they exhibit! And however

profitable they may be, as prudential maxims and social

regulations to a certain extent, how little are they calculated to

elevate or ennoble the human mind, or inspire men with a just

notion of vice and virtue! Their author had no correct notion of

the Divine nature; his laws had no sanction but that of

convenience or necessity, and, notwithstanding their boasted

excellence, have left, from the time of their promulgation to the

present day, the sum total of that immense nation which profess to

be governed by them, in the thickest darkness of the most

degrading idolatry, closely verging upon atheism itself! Not so

the Mosaic code; it was the light that lightened the universe, and

the glory of the people who were governed by its dictates. We

have the firmest ground and the most ample authority to assert,

that the greatest kings, the wisest statesmen, the most

accomplished poets and rhetoricians, the most magnanimous heroes,

and the most holy and useful people that ever existed, were formed

on the model, and brought up in the bosom and under the influence,

of the Mosaic institutions. While the Proverbs and Ecclesiastes

of SOLOMON, the history and poetic compositions of DAVID, the

inimitable discourses of ISAIAH, JEREMIAH, JOEL, HABAKKUK, and

others of the Jewish prophets remain, every intelligent reader

will have the fullest proofs of the truth of the above assertion,

which shrinks not under the pretence of being hazarded; but which

must spring up in every ingenuous mind, from the fullest

conviction of its own truth, after a serious perusal of the sacred

code in question. All those eminent personages were brought up in

the Mosaic school and were prepared by the Pentateuch for the

prophetic influence.

2. The Institutes of MENU, lately clothed in an English dress by

the elegant hand of Sir William Jones, have been thought to stand

in fair competition with the laws of Moses. I have read them

carefully, with strong prejudice in their favour; and have

endeavoured, to the best of my judgment, duly to appreciate their

worth. I have sought for resemblances to the Mosaic institutions,

because I thought it possible that the same God who was so fully

known in Jewry, might have made at least a partial revelation of

himself in Hindostan; but while I alternately admired and

regretted, I was ultimately disappointed, as I plainly saw that

the system in its essential parts lacked the seal of the living

God. My readers may justly question my competency to form a

correct opinion of the work under consideration-I shall not

therefore obtrude it, but substitute that of the translator, who

was better qualified than perhaps any other man in Europe or Asia,

to form a correct judgment of its merits. "The work," says he,

"now presented to the European world, contains abundance of

curious matter, extremely interesting both to speculative lawyers

and antiquaries; with many beauties which need not be pointed out,

and with many blemishes which cannot be justified or palliated.

It is a system of despotism and priestcraft, both indeed limited

by law, but artfully conspiring to give mutual support though with

mutual checks. It is filled with strange conceits in metaphysics

and natural philosophy; with idle superstitions, and with a scheme

of theology most obscurely figurative, and consequently liable to

dangerous misconception. It abounds with minute and childish

formalities, with ceremonies generally absurd and often

ridiculous; the punishments are partial and fanciful; for

some crimes dreadfully cruel, and for others reprehensibly slight;

and the very morals, though rigid enough on the whole, are in one

or two instances, as in the case of light oaths and pious perjury,

unaccountably relaxed."-PREFACE to the Institutes of Menu.

We may defy its enemies to prove any of these things against the

Pentateuch. Priestcraft and despotism cannot appear under its

sanction: GOD is KING alone, and the priest his servant; and he

who was prevented, by the very law under which he ministered, from

having any earthly property, could consequently have no secular

power. The king, who was afterwards chosen, was ever considered

as God's deputy or vice-gerent; he was obliged to rule according

to the laws that were given by God through Moses, and was never

permitted either to change them, or add a single precept or rite

to the civil or sacred code of his country. Thus despotism and

priestcraft were equally precluded. As to its rites and

ceremonies, they are at once dignified and expressive; they point

out the holiness of their author, the sinfulness of man, the

necessity of an atonement, and the state of moral excellence to

which the grace and mercy of the Creator have promised to raise

the human soul. As to its punishments, they are ever such as the

nature and circumstances of the crime render just and necessary

-and its rewards are not such as flow merely from a principle of

retribution or remunerative justice, but from an enlightened and

fatherly tenderness, which makes obedience to the laws the highest

interest of the subject.

At the same time that love to God and obedience to his

commandments are strongly inculcated, love and benevolence to man

are equally enforced, together with piety, which is the soul of

obedience, patriotism, the life of society; hospitality to

strangers, and humanity to the whole brute creation. To all this

might be added that it includes in it, as well as points out, the

Gospel of the Son of God, from which it receives its consummation

and perfection. Such, reader, is the law of God given through

Moses to the people of Israel.

3. Of the laws of Zerdust or Zeratusht, commonly called

Zoroaster, It is unnecessary to speak at large; they are incapable

of comparison with the Mosaic code. As delivered in the Zend

Avesta, they cannot so properly be called a system as a congeries

of puerility, superstition, and absurdity; with scarcely a precept

or a rite that has any tendency to elevate the mind, or raise man

from his state of moral degradation to a proper rank in civilized

society, or to any worthy apprehension of the Maker and Governor

of the universe. Harmlessness is the sum of the morality they

seem to inculcate, with a certain superstitious reverence for

fire, probably as the emblem of purity; and for animal life,

principally in reference to the doctrine of the Metempsychosis or

transmigration of souls, on which it seems to have been originally

built.

4. The KORAN of MOHAMMED is the only remaining competitor that

can be supposed to be at all qualified to dispute the palm with

the Pentateuch of Moses; but the pretensions of this production

will be soon settled, when it is known that it possesses not one

excellence, the purity and elegance of its language excepted,

which it has not borrowed from the writings of Moses and the

prophets, or the sayings of Christ and his apostles. This is a

fact which none can successfully dispute, and of which the Koran

itself bears the most unequivocal evidences. What can be fairly

claimed as the peculium of the Arab lawgiver makes a motley

mixture with what he has stolen from the book of God, and is in

general as absurd and weak as it is on the whole false and wicked.

As to the boasted morality of the Koran, it will have as little to

exult in of this kind when the law and the Gospel have taken from

it that of which they have been plundered, as the daw in the fable

had when the different fowls had plucked away their own feathers,

with which the vain bird had decorated herself. Mohammed, it is

true, destroyed idolatry wherever he came; and he did the same by

true religion; for Judaism and Christianity met with no more

quarter from him than the grossest errors of pagan idolatry. To

compare him with the pure, holy, disinterested, humane, and

heavenly-minded Jewish legislator, would be as gross political as

it would be palpable religious blasphemy. When we allow that he

was a man of a deep and penetrating mind, well acquainted with the

superstitious turn of his countrymen; austere, cunning, and

hypocritical; a great general and a brutal conqueror, who seemed

to sacrifice at no other shrine than that of his lust and

ambition, we do him no injustice: the whole of his system bears

the most evident proofs of imposition and forgery; nor is there a

character to which imposture can lay claim that does not appear

prominently in the Koran, and in every part of the Mohammedan

system. The chief of these distinctive marks have already been

examined in reference to the Pentateuch, in the concluding note on

Exod. xviii. These are all found in the Koran, but not one of them

in the Pentateuch. The Pentateuch therefore is of God; the Koran

came from another quarter.

5. The different systems of the Grecian ethic philosophers

cannot come into this inquiry. They were in general incongruous

and contradictory, and none of them was ever capable of forming a

sect that could be said to have any moral perpetuity.

6. The laws of Lycurgus and Solon could not preserve those

states, at the basis of which they were laid; which the laws of

Moses have been the means of preserving the people who held them,

amidst the most terrible reverses of what are called fortune and

fate, for nearly the space of 4,000 years! This is one of the

most extraordinary and astonishing facts in the whole history of

mankind.

7. The republic of Plato, of which it is fashionable to boast,

is, when stripped of what it has borrowed from Moses, like the

Utopia of Sir T. More, the aerial figment of a philosophic mind,

en delire; both systems are inapplicable and impracticable in the

present state of man. To persons under the influence of various

and discordant passions, strongly actuated by self-interest, they

can never apply. They have no tendency to change the moral state

of society from vice to virtue: a nation of saints might agree to

regulate their lives and conduct by them, but where is such to be

found? Though Plato has borrowed much from Moses, yet he has

destroyed the effect of the whole by not referring the precepts

and maxims to God, by whom alone strength to fulfil them could be

furnished. It is the province of the revelation of God to make

the knave an honest man; the unholy and profane, pure and

pious; and to cause all who act by its dictates to love one

another with pure hearts fervently, and to feel the finest and

fullest impressions of

"The generous mind that's not confined at home,

But spreads itself abroad through all the public,

And feels for every member of the land."

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