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Deuteronomy 12

Deuteronomy 12:29-32

29. 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;

29. Quum exciderit Jehova Deus tuns gentes ad quas tu venis possidendas a facie tua, et eas possederis, et habitaveris in terra ipsarum.

30. Take heed to thyself that thou be not snared by following them, after that they be destroyed from before thee; and that thou enquire not after their gods, saying, How did these nations serve their gods? even so will I do likewise.

30. Cave tibi ne to illaquees post ipsas, postquam deletae fuerint a facie tua: et ne inquiras ad deos earum, dicendo, Quomodo servierunt gentes istae diis suis, sic etiam ego faciam.

31. 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.

31. Non facies sic Jehovae Deo tuo: quia quicquid abominatio est Jehovae, et quod odit, fecerunt diis suis: quinetiam filios suos et filias suas combusserunt igni diis suis.

32. What thing soever I command you, observe to do it: thou shalt not add thereto, nor diminish from it.

32. Omne igitur verbum quod ego praecipio vobis, observabitis ad faciendum: non adjicies super illud, neque minues quicquam ex eo.

29. When the Lord thy God shall cut off. This passage has some affinity to that in the eighteenth chapter of Deuteronomy, which we have already remarked on. For inasmuch as it was easy for the people to lapse into the imitation of the Gentiles, and to worship their false gods, under whose protection the inhabitants boasted their land to be, all inquiry respecting them is also strictly forbidden.305305     Addition in French, “de peur que de l’un ils ne vienent a l’autre;” for fear that they should pass from one to the other. For this is the origin of idolatry, when the genuine simplicity of God’s worship is known, that people begin to be dissatisfied with it, and curiously to inquire whether there is anything worthy of belief in the figments of men; for men’s minds are soon attracted by the snares of novelty, so as to pollute, with various kinds of leaven, what has been delivered in God’s word. Nor does he only withdraw and restrain them from the desire of inquiry, but expressly commands them to “take heed to” themselves, or to keep themselves; because men are naturally disposed to this wanton curiosity, and take much delight in it. Therefore God encloses His people with barriers, which may keep them back from all hurtful desires; nay, He would have them so abominate the practice of superstitions, as to fly even from the infection of hearing of them. We must briefly observe respecting the words, which we have translated “to possess the nations,” that Moses does not mean that they were to become their prey, so as to be their slaves by right of capture, but that he refers to the land. Therefore he says, “thou shalt possess them before thy face;” i.e., when they are destroyed, the land will be vacant for you to possess it. In the Hiphil conjugation this word signifies to expel, as we have already seen; and to this meaning Moses perhaps makes allusion. The word306306     תנקש, 2. fut. pass. of נקש. The Chaldee paraphrast is cited by S. M. as explaining it by a word equivalent to thou stumble. It does not appear who has rendered it be carried away. W.
   Pol. Syn. gives “aberres,” as the Syriac version, and “ne captarts,” as that of Malvenda.
which I have translated “illa-queare,” to snare, some interpreters render to stumble, and others to be carried away, which would be more agreeable to the construction, “lest you should be carried away after them;” yet I have been unwilling to depart from the generally received opinion, when the metaphor of “ensnaring” is very appropriate; as if he had said, that all the perversities of the Gentiles were so many nets or snares to entrap men, if they come too near them; for it presently follows, “after that they be destroyed,” which some also thus render, “lest you should perish after them,” as if He would awaken their fears by holding forth the example of their destruction.

31. Thou shalt not do so. From these words we may gather what it is not to make to one’s self the gods of others, viz., to bid farewell to all the inventions of men, and to pay attention to this one thing — what God commands. For why does God desire to be worshipped by His elect people, otherwise than the nations were in the habit of serving their gods, except because there ought to be a notable distinction, so that religion may not be confused? And surely unless men cleave to God’s word, so as resolutely to determine that nothing else is permitted to them except what is there taught, they will not only be vacillating, but. they will receive indiscriminately whatever comes in their way. We must then hold fast to this, “Thou shalt not do so;” and our minds must be restrained by this curb, lest any superstition which may defile the service of God should insinuate or establish itself. He adds, that God not only repudiates these strange worships, but even abominates them; and in order to impress this the more, he adduces one form of superstition, in which its absurdity was unusually manifest; for it is a foul barbarity that innocent children should be burnt by their parents.

32. What thing soever I command. In this brief clause he teaches that no other service of God is lawful, except that of which He has testified His approval in His word, and that obedience is as it were the mother of piety; as if he had said that all modes of devotion are absurd and infected with superstition, which are not directed by this rule. Hence we gather, that in order to the keeping of the First Commandment, a knowledge of the true God is required, derived from His word, and mixed with faith. By forbidding the addition, or diminishing of anything, he plainly condemns as illegitimate whatever men invent of their own imagination; whence it follows that they, who in worshipping God are guided by any rule save that which He Himself has prescribed, make to themselves false gods; and, therefore, horrible vengeance is denounced by Him against those who are guilty of this temerity, through Isaiah,

“Forasmuch as this people draw near me, etc., by the precept of men; therefore, behold I will proceed to do a marvellous work and a wonder: for the wisdom of their wise men shall perish,” etc. (Isaiah 29:13, 14.)

Now, since all the ceremonies of the Papal worship are a mass of superstitions, no wonder that all her chief rulers and ministers should be blinded with that stupidity wherewith God has threatened them.307307     Addition in French, “avoit menace les anciens Sacrificateurs.”

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