Deuteronomy 29


A recapitulation of God's gracious dealings with Israel, 1-8.

An exhortation to obedience, and to enter into covenant with

their God, that they and their posterity may be established

in the good land, 9-15.

They are to remember the abominations of Egypt, and to avoid

them, 16, 17.

He who hardens his heart, when he hears these curses, shall be

utterly consumed, 18-21.

Their posterity shall be astonished at the desolations that

shall fall upon them, 22, 23;

shall inquire the reason, and shall be informed that the Lord

has done thus to them because of their disobedience and

idolatry, 24-28.

A caution against prying too curiously into the secrets of the

Divine providence, and to be contented with what God has

revealed, 29.


Verse 1. These are the words of the covenant] This verse

seems properly to belong to the preceding chapter, as a widely

different subject is taken up at De 29:2 of this; and it is

distinguished as the 69th verse in some of the most correct copies

of the Hebrew Bible.

Commanded Moses to make] lichroth, to cut,

alluding to the covenant sacrifice which was offered on the

occasion and divided, as is explained, See Clarke on Ge 15:18.

Beside the covenant which he made-in Horeb.] What is mentioned

here is an additional institution to the ten words given on Horeb;

and the curses denounced here are different from those denounced

against the transgressors of the decalogue.

Verse 4. The Lord hath not given you a heart, &c.] Some

critics read this verse interrogatively: And hath not God given

you a heart, &c.? because they suppose that God could not

reprehend them for the non-performance of a duty, when he had

neither given them a mind to perceive the obligation of it, nor

strength to perform it, had that obligation been known. Though

this is strictly just, yet there is no need for the interrogation,

as the words only imply that they had not such a heart, &c., not

because God had not given them all the means of knowledge, and

helps of his grace and Spirit, which were necessary; but they had

not made a faithful use of their advantages, and therefore they

had not that wise, loving, and obedient heart which they otherwise

might have had. If they had had such a heart, it would have been

God's gift, for he is the author of all good; and that they had

not such a heart was a proof that they had grieved his Spirit, and

abused the grace which he had afforded them to produce that

gracious change, the want of which is here deplored. Hence God

himself is represented as grieved because they were unchanged and

disobedient: "O that there were such a 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!"

See De 5:29, and the note there.

Verse 5. Your clothes are not waxen old]

See Clarke on De 8:4.

Verse 6. Ye have not eaten bread, &c.] That is, ye have not

been supported in an ordinary providential way; I have been

continually working miracles for you, that ye might know that I am

the Lord. Thus we find that God had furnished them with all the

means of this knowledge, and that the means were ineffectual, not

because they were not properly calculated to answer God's gracious

purpose, but because the people were not workers with God;

consequently they received the grace of God in vain.

See 2Co 6:1.

Verse 10. Ye stand-all of you before the Lord] They were about

to enter into a covenant with God; and as a covenant implies two

parties contracting, God is represented as being present, and they

and all their families, old and young, come before him.

Verse 12. That thou shouldest enter] leaber, to pass

through, that is, between the separated parts of the covenant

sacrifice. See Clarke on Ge 15:18.

And into his oath] Thus we find that in a covenant were these

seven particulars: 1. The parties about to contract were

considered as being hitherto separated. 2. They now agree to

enter into a state of close and permanent amity. 3. They meet

together in a solemn manner for this purpose. 4. A sacrifice is

offered to God on the occasion, for the whole is a religious act.

5. The victim is separated exactly into two equal parts, the

separation being in the direction of the spine; and those parts

are laid opposite to each other, sufficient room being allowed for

the contracting parties to pass between them. 6. The contracting

parties meet in the victim, and the conditions of the covenant by

which they are to be mutually bound are recited. 7. An oath is

taken by these parties that they shall punctually and faithfully

perform their respective conditions, and thus the covenant is made

and ratified. See Jer 34:18, 19,

and Clarke's notes on "Ge 6:18"; "Ge 15:18"; "Ex 29:45";

Le 26:44, 45.

Verse 15. Him that standeth here] The present generation. Him

that is not here-all future generations of this people.

Verse 18. A root that beareth gall and wormwood] That is, as

the apostle expresses it, Heb 3:12,

An evil heart of unbelief departing from the living God; for to

this place he evidently refers. It may also signify false

doctrines, or idolatrous persons among themselves.

Verse 19. To add drunkenness to thirst] A proverbial

expression denoting the utmost indulgence in all sensual


Verse 26. Gods-whom he had not given unto them] This is an

unhappy translation. Houbigant renders the original words

velo chalak lahem, et quibuscum nulla eis societas, "And

with whom they had no society;" and falls unmercifully on Le Clerc

because he had translated it, From whom they had received no

benefits. I must differ from both these great men, because I

think they differ from the text. chalak signifies a portion,

lot, inheritance, and God is frequently represented in Scripture

as the portion or inheritance of his people. Here, therefore, I

think the original should be rendered, And there was no portion to

them, that is, the gods they served could neither supply their

wants nor save their souls-they were no portion.

Verse 29. The secret things belong unto the Lord, &c.] This

verse has been variously translated. Houbigant renders it thus:

Quae apud Dominum nostrum abscondita sunt, nobis ea filiisque

nostris palam facta sunt ad multas aetates, "The things which were

hidden with the Lord our God, are made manifest to us and our

children for many generations." I am not satisfied with this

interpretation, and find that the passage was not so understood by

any of the ancient versions. The simple general meaning seems to

be this: "What God has thought proper to reveal, he has revealed;

what he has revealed is essential to the well-being of man, and

this revelation is intended not for the present time merely, nor

for one people, but for all succeeding generations. The things

which he has not revealed concern not man but God alone, and are

therefore not to be inquired after." Thus, then, the things that

are hidden belong unto the Lord, those that are revealed belong

unto us and our children. But possibly the words here refer to

the subjects of these chapters, as if he had said, "Apostasy from

God and his truth is possible. When a national apostasy among us

may take place, is known only to God; but he has revealed himself

to us and our children that we may do all the words of this law,

and so prevent the dreadful evils that shall fall on the


THE Jews have always considered these verses as containing

subjects of the highest importance to them, and have affixed marks

to the original lanu ulebaneynu, "to US and to our

CHILDREN," in order to fix the attention of the reader on truths

which affect them individually, and not them only, but the whole

of their posterity.

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