Deuteronomy 1




-Year before the common Year of Christ, 1451

-Julian Period, 3263.

-Cycle of the Sun, 10.

-Dominical Letter, B

-Cycle of the Moon, 10.

-Indiction, 15.

-Creation from Tisri or September, 2553.


Introduction to the book, 1, 2.

Moses addresses the people in the fortieth year after the exodus

from Egypt, 3-5;

and shows how God had spoken to them in Horeb, and the

directions he gave them, 6-8.

How, at the commandment of the Lord, he had appointed officers,

judges, &c., to share the government with him, 9-18.

Of their travels in the terrible wilderness, 19-21.

The people's request to have spies sent to search out the land,


Of their murmuring and rebellion when they heard the report of

the spies, 26-28.

How Moses encouraged them, 29-33.

The displeasure of the Lord against them because of their

murmurings, and his purpose to exclude them from the good land,

and give it to their children only, 34-40.

How they repented, and yet, without the authority of God, went

against the Amorites, by whom they were defeated, 41-44.

Their return to Kadesh, where they abode many days, 45, 46.


Verse 1. These be the words which Moses spake] The five first

verses of this chapter contain the introduction to the rest of the

book: they do not appear to be the work of Moses, but were added

probably either by Joshua or Ezra.

On this side Jordan] beeber, at the passage of Jordan,

i. e., near or opposite to the place where the Israelites passed

over after the death of Moses. Though eber is used to signify

both on this side and on the other side, and the connection in

which it stands can only determine the meaning; yet here it

signifies neither, but simply the place or ford where the

Israelites passed over Jordan.

In the plain] That is, of Moab; over against the Red Sea-not

the Red Sea, for they were now farther from it than they had been:

the word sea is not in the text, and the word suph, which we

render red, does not signify the Red Sea, unless joined with

yam, sea; here it must necessarily signify a place in or adjoining

to the plains of Moab. Ptolemy mentions a people named

Sophonites, that dwelt in Arabia Petraea, and it is probable that

they took their name from this place; but see the note from

Lightfoot, See Clarke on Nu 20:28, at the end.

Paran] This could not have been the Paran which was

contiguous to the Red Sea, and not far from Mount Horeb; for the

place here mentioned lay on the very borders of the promised land,

at a vast distance from the former.

Dizahab.] The word should be separated, as it is in the Hebrew,

Di Zahab. As Zahab signifies gold, the Septuagint

have translated it ταχρυσια, the gold mines; and the Vulgate ubi

aurum est plurimum, where there is much gold. It is more likely

to be the name of a place.

Verse 2. There are eleven days' journey] The Israelites were

eleven days in going from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, where they were

near the verge of the promised land; after which they were

thirty-eight years wandering up and down in the vicinity of this

place, not being permitted, because of their rebellions, to enter

into the promised rest, though they were the whole of that time

within a few miles of the land of Canaan!

Verse 3. The fortieth year] This was a melancholy year to the

Hebrews in different respects; in the first month of this year

Miriam died, Nu 20:1; on the first day of the fifth month Aaron

died, Nu 33:38; and about the conclusion of it, Moses himself


Verse 5. Began Moses to declare this law] Began, hoil,

willingly undertook; to declare, beer, to make bare, clear,

&c., fully to explain, this law. See the conclusion of the


Verse 6. Ye have dwelt long enough, &c.] They came to Sinai in

the third month after their departure from Egypt, Ex 19:1, 2; and

left it the twentieth of the second month of the second year, so

it appears they had continued there nearly a whole year.

Verse 7. Go to the mount of the Amorites] On the south of the

land of Canaan, towards the Dead Sea.

Land of the Canaanites] That is, Phoenicia, the country of

Sidon, and the coasts of the Mediterranean Sea from the country of

the Philistines to Mount Libanus. The Canaanites and Phoenicians

are often confounded.

The river Euphrates] Thus Moses fixes the bounds of the land,

to which on all quarters the territories of the Israelites might

be extended, should the land of Canaan, properly so called, be

found insufficient for them. Their SOUTH border might extend to

the mount of the Amorites; their WEST to the borders of the

Mediterranean Sea; their NORTH to Lebanon; and their EAST border

to the river Euphrates: and to this extent Solomon reigned; see

1Ki 4:21. So that in his time, at least, the promise to Abraham

was literally fulfilled; see below.

Verse 10. Ye are this day as the stars of heaven for

multitude.] This was the promise God made to Abraham, Ge 15:5, 6;

and Moses considers it now as amply fulfilled. But was it really

so? Many suppose the expression to be hyperbolical; and others,

no friends to revelation, think it a vain empty boast, because the

stars, in their apprehension, amount to innumerable millions. Let

us consider this subject. How many in number are the stars which

appear to the naked eye? for it is by what appears to the naked eye

we are to be governed in this business, for God brought Abraham

forth abroad, i. e., out of doors, and bade him look towards

heaven, not with a telescope, but with his naked eyes, Ge 15:5.

Now I shall beg the objector to come forth abroad, and look up in

the brightest and most favourable night, and count the stars-he

need not be terrified at their abundance; the more they are, the

more he can count; and I shall pledge myself to find a male

Israelite in the very last census taken of this people, Num. xxvi.,

for every star he finds in the whole upper hemisphere of heaven.

The truth is, only about 3,010 stars can be seen by the naked eye

in both the northern and southern hemispheres; and the Israelites,

independently of women and children, were at the above time more

than 600,000. And suppose we even allow that, from the late

discoveries of Dr. Herschel and others with telescopes which have

magnified between 35 and 36,000 times, there may be 75 millions of

stars visible by the help of such instruments, which is the highest

calculation ever made, yet still the Divine word stands literally

true: St. Matthew says, Mt 1:17, that the generations from Abraham

to Christ were 42; now we find at the second census that the

fighting men among the Hebrews amounted to 603,000; and the

Israelites, who have never ceased to be a distinct people, have so

multiplied as far to exceed the number of all the fixed stars taken


Verse 13. Take you wise men] chachamim, such as had

gained knowledge by great labour and study. Understanding

nebonim, persons of discernment, judicious men. Known,

yeduim, persons practised in the operations of nature, capable of

performing curious and important works.

Verse 15. Captains over thousands, &c.] What a curious and

well-regulated economy was that of the Israelites! See its order

and arrangement: 1. GOD, the KING and Supreme Judge; 2. Moses,

God's prime minister; 3. The priests, consulting him by Urim and

Thummim; 4. The chiefs or princes of the twelve tribes; 5.

Chilliarchs, or captains over thousands; 6. Centurions, or

captains over hundreds; 7. Tribunes, or captains over fifty men;

8. Decurions, or captains over ten men; and, 9. Officers, persons

who might be employed by the different chiefs in executing

particular commands. All these held their authority from God,

and yet were subject and accountable to each other. See the

notes on Num. ii.

Verse 17. Ye shall not respect persons] Heb. faces. Let not

the bold, daring countenance of the rich or mighty induce you to

give an unrighteous decision; and let not the abject look of the

poor man induce you either to favour him in an unrighteous cause,

or to give judgment against him at the demand of the oppressor.

Be uncorrupt and incorruptible, for the judgment is God's; ye

minister in the place of God, act like HIM.

Verse 22. We will send men before us] See on Nu 13:1-3.

Verse 28. Cities-walled up to heaven] That is, with very high

walls which could not be easily scaled. High walls around houses,

&c., in these parts of Arabia are still deemed a sufficient

defence against the Arabs, who scarcely ever attempt any thing in

the way of plunder but on horseback. The monastery on Mount Sinai

is surrounded with very high walls without any gate; in the upper

part of the wall there is a sort of window, or opening, from which

a basket is suspended by a pulley, by which both persons and goods

are received into and sent from the place. It is the same with

the convent of St. Anthony, in Egypt; and this sort of wall is

deemed a sufficient defence against the Arabs, who, as we have

already observed, scarcely ever like to alight from their horses.

Verse 30. The Lord-shall fight for you] In the Targum of

Onkelos, it is, the WORD of the Lord shall fight for you. In a

great number of places the Targums or Chaldee paraphrases use the

term meimera dayeya or Yehovah, the Word of the Lord,

exactly in the same way in which St. John uses the term λογος

Logos in the first chapter of his Gospel. Many instances of this

have already occurred.

Verse 34. The Lord-was wroth] That is, his justice was

incensed, and he evidenced his displeasure against you; and he

could not have been a just God if he had not done so.

Verse 36. Caleb-wholly followed the Lord.]

See Clarke on Nu 14:24.

Verse 37. The Lord was angry with me] See on Clarke "Nu 20:12",

&c., where a particular account is given of the sin of Moses.

Verse 44. The Amorites-chased you]

See Clarke on Nu 14:40:

as bees do-by irresistible numbers.

Verse 46. According unto the days that ye abode there.] They

had been a long time at this place, see Nu 13:27; 20:1, 14, 21.

And some think that the words mean, "Ye abode as long at Kadesh,

when you came to it the second time, as ye did at the first." Or,

according to others, "While ye were in that part of the desert, ye

encamped at Kadesh."

1. As one grand object of the law of God was to instruct the

people in those things which were calculated to promote their

peace and insure their prosperity; and as they were apt to lose

sight of their spiritual interests, without a due attention to

which their secular interest could not be promoted; Moses, not

only in this chapter, but through the whole book, calls upon them

to recollect their former miserable situation, in which they held

neither life nor property but at the will of a merciless

tyrant, and the great kindness and power of God manifested in their

deliverance from a bondage that was as degrading as it was

oppressive. These things properly remembered would lead them to

prize their blessings, and duly appreciate the mercy of their


2. But it was not only this general display of God's kindness,

in the grand act of their deliverance from Egypt, that he wished

them to keep constantly in view, but also that gracious providence

which was manifested in every step they took; which directed all

their movements, provided for all their wants, continually showing

what they should do, how they should do it, and also the most

proper time and place for every act, whether religious or civil.

By bringing before them in one point of view the history of almost

forty years, in which the strangest and most stupendous

occurrences had taken place that had ever been exhibited to the

world, he took the readiest way to impress their minds, not only

with their deep obligation to God, but also to show them that they

were a people on whom their Maker had set his heart to do them

good, and that if they feared him they should lack nothing that

was good. He lays out also before them a history of their

miscarriages and rebellion, and the privations and evils they had

suffered in consequence, that this might act as a continual

warning, and thus become, in the hands of God, a preventive of


3. If every Christian were thus to call his past life into

review, he would see equal proofs of God's gracious regards to his

body and soul; equal proofs of eternal mercy in providing for his

deliverance from the galling yoke and oppressive tyranny of sin,

as the Israelites had in their deliverance from Egypt; and equal

displays of a most gracious providence, that had also been his

incessant companion through all the changes and chances of this

mortal life, guiding him by its counsel, that he might be at last

received into glory. O reader, remember what God has done for

thee during thy forty, fifty, &c., years! He has nourished, fed,

clothed, protected, and saved thee. How often and how powerfully

has his Spirit striven with thee! How often and how impressively

thou hast heard his voice in his Gospel and in his providences!

Remember the good resolutions thou hast made, the ingratitude and

disobedience that have marked thy life; how his vows are still

upon thee, and how his mercy still spares thee! And wilt thou

live so as to perish for ever? God forbid! He still waits to be

gracious, and rejoices over thee to do thee good. Learn from what

is before thee how thou shouldst fear, love, believe in, and obey

thy God. The Lamb of God, that taketh away the sin of the world,

is still before the throne; and whosoever cometh unto God through

him shall in nowise be cast out. He who believes these things

with an upright heart will soon be enabled to live a sanctified


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