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Rewards for Obedience

11

You shall love the Lord your God, therefore, and keep his charge, his decrees, his ordinances, and his commandments always. 2Remember today that it was not your children (who have not known or seen the discipline of the Lord your God), but it is you who must acknowledge his greatness, his mighty hand and his outstretched arm, 3his signs and his deeds that he did in Egypt to Pharaoh, the king of Egypt, and to all his land; 4what he did to the Egyptian army, to their horses and chariots, how he made the water of the Red Sea flow over them as they pursued you, so that the Lord has destroyed them to this day; 5what he did to you in the wilderness, until you came to this place; 6and what he did to Dathan and Abiram, sons of Eliab son of Reuben, how in the midst of all Israel the earth opened its mouth and swallowed them up, along with their households, their tents, and every living being in their company; 7for it is your own eyes that have seen every great deed that the Lord did.

8 Keep, then, this entire commandment that I am commanding you today, so that you may have strength to go in and occupy the land that you are crossing over to occupy, 9and so that you may live long in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give them and to their descendants, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10For the land that you are about to enter to occupy is not like the land of Egypt, from which you have come, where you sow your seed and irrigate by foot like a vegetable garden. 11But the land that you are crossing over to occupy is a land of hills and valleys, watered by rain from the sky, 12a land that the Lord your God looks after. The eyes of the Lord your God are always on it, from the beginning of the year to the end of the year.

13 If you will only heed his every commandment that I am commanding you today—loving the Lord your God, and serving him with all your heart and with all your soul— 14then he will give the rain for your land in its season, the early rain and the later rain, and you will gather in your grain, your wine, and your oil; 15and he will give grass in your fields for your livestock, and you will eat your fill. 16Take care, or you will be seduced into turning away, serving other gods and worshiping them, 17for then the anger of the Lord will be kindled against you and he will shut up the heavens, so that there will be no rain and the land will yield no fruit; then you will perish quickly off the good land that the Lord is giving you.

18 You shall put these words of mine in your heart and soul, and you shall bind them as a sign on your hand, and fix them as an emblem on your forehead. 19Teach them to your children, talking about them when you are at home and when you are away, when you lie down and when you rise. 20Write them on the doorposts of your house and on your gates, 21so that your days and the days of your children may be multiplied in the land that the Lord swore to your ancestors to give them, as long as the heavens are above the earth.

22 If you will diligently observe this entire commandment that I am commanding you, loving the Lord your God, walking in all his ways, and holding fast to him, 23then the Lord will drive out all these nations before you, and you will dispossess nations larger and mightier than yourselves. 24Every place on which you set foot shall be yours; your territory shall extend from the wilderness to the Lebanon and from the River, the river Euphrates, to the Western Sea. 25No one will be able to stand against you; the Lord your God will put the fear and dread of you on all the land on which you set foot, as he promised you.

26 See, I am setting before you today a blessing and a curse: 27the blessing, if you obey the commandments of the Lord your God that I am commanding you today; 28and the curse, if you do not obey the commandments of the Lord your God, but turn from the way that I am commanding you today, to follow other gods that you have not known.

29 When the Lord your God has brought you into the land that you are entering to occupy, you shall set the blessing on Mount Gerizim and the curse on Mount Ebal. 30As you know, they are beyond the Jordan, some distance to the west, in the land of the Canaanites who live in the Arabah, opposite Gilgal, beside the oak of Moreh.

31 When you cross the Jordan to go in to occupy the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and when you occupy it and live in it, 32you must diligently observe all the statutes and ordinances that I am setting before you today.


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1. Therefore thou shalt love the Lord thy God. The whole address has this scope, that the people should testify their gratitude by their obedience, and thus being allured by God’s bounties, should reverently embrace His Law. On this account also, he requires them to love God, before he exhorts them to obey the Law itself. For, although he might have imperiously and menacingly commanded them, he preferred to lead them gently to obedience, by setting before them the sweetness of His grace. In sum, he exhorts them that, being invited by God’s love, they should love him in return. Meanwhile, it is well to observe that free affection is the foundation and beginning of duly obeying the Law, for what is drawn forth by constraint, or servile fear, cannot please God. He designates the precepts of the Law by various names, in order that they may zealously and attentively apply themselves to listen to God, who has omitted nothing calculated to regulate their life; for, by this variety of words, he signifies that God had familiarly and perfectly taught whatever was required. As to the three latter words, “his statutes, and judgments, and commandments,” what I have observed in Genesis and in the Psalms may be referred to. The word משמות,254254     משמרת. A. V., charge. The LXX. keeps closest to the Hebrew idiom, φυλάξη τὰ φυλάγματα ἄυτου. — W. meshamroth, or guards, (custodiae,) which here stands first, is spoken in commendation of the Law on this ground, that it fences in our life, as it were, with rails, lest it should be exposed to errors on the right hand and on the left,. At the end of the verse he exhorts them to perseverance, because it was not allowable for the recollection of their deliverance ever to cease.

2. And know ye this day. He again confirms the preceding sentence; because they had been more than sufficiently taught by the illustrious acts of God, how great was His power and how remarkable His mercy toward themselves. Two meanings may be given to the words; for some connect them thus, “Know ye this day the chastisement of the Lord,” and include in a parenthesis the clause, “for I speak not with your children, which have not known, and have not seen;” but others read the word of exhortation “know ye” separately, and255255     Tellement que tont le reste va son train. — Fr. without any connection. The latter view pleases me best; although it little affects the substance of the matter which exposition we follow. For Moses admonishes them, that, if they only pay attention to the works of God, His glory, which may instruct them to fear Him, may be clearly beheld in them. In order, however, to urge them more vehemently, he adds, that he does not speak to posterity, to which the fame of these miracles would reach, but that he addresses eye-witnesses, who need no proof of them, having been assured of them by certain experience. He celebrates in many expressions of eulogy these miracles, whereby God had testified to them His power and goodness, lest they should lightly pass by what was worthy of their most earnest attention, and constant meditation. I forbear now to speak of other points, which I have elsewhere commented on. The word מוסר256256     מוסר S.M. has rendered this word castigatio. V., disciplina. The root is יסר; and both the root and noun meaning to correct and correction, will sometimes mean to chastise, etc. — W musar, which stands first, is general, and extends to all the specific terms that follow; some, therefore, improperly render it “chastisement.” Where it is said at the end of verse 4, that the Egyptians were “destroyed unto that day,” we must understand that the effects of the slaughter, wherewith God destroyed them, were felt as if still present.

5. And what he did unto you. These things will be spoken of in their proper place in the regular course of the history, from which my method of teaching has compelled me to wander a little. For Moses, to heighten the authority of the Law, sets before them compendiously the circumstances which had occurred in the desert, partly in order that God’s judgments might alarm them by their severity, and partly that His mercies might draw their minds towards Him by their graciousness. Finally, he concludes by saying that he does not speak of unknown things, but that he merely recalled to their recollection the works of God whereof they had been themselves spectators.

16 Take heed to yourselves. By often inculcating the same thing, viz., that they should diligently take heed, he indirectly arraigns man’s proneness to superstition; and this too is again expressed in the words, “that your heart be not deceived;” for by them he signifies, that unless they take diligent heed to themselves, nothing will be more easy than for them to fall into the snares of Satan. Wherefore the impudence of the Papists is the less excusable, who intoxicate their own and others’ minds with security, when God constantly exhorts them to solicitude. Let us learn, then, that since many impostures and deceits besiege us on every side, we shall in the vanity of our nature be liable immediately to fall into them, unless we carefully guard ourselves. By the expression “turn aside,” he implies what has been before said, that whosoever declines to corrupted worship, impiously falls away from the true God. Unbelievers but little think so, for with them it is a light transgression to exceed in this respect; and they would wilfully blind the eyes of God with their inventions (commentis), nay, there is nothing too silly for them to desire to be approved of, and sanctioned by God. But if it be objected that obedience is better than sacrifice, they shield themselves under the cover of their good intention, as if God were not at liberty to repudiate what they foolishly obtrude upon Him. At any rate, they so pertinaciously indulge themselves in their inconsiderate zeal, that they will hardly acknowledge the slightest fault in it. But, on the other side, God declares that all are apostates who do not confine themselves to the simplicity of the Law. A threat is again added, that God will avenge the violation of His worship, and will curse their land, until He shall destroy them by dearth and famine; and, finally, He pronounces that they shall perish off that land which God had promised them to the end that He might be there purely worshipped.

18. Therefore shall ye lay up these my words. He again demands their serious attention, lest if the doctrine he propounds should be only lightly and carelessly received, it should speedily be let slip; for to lay up in, or on, the heart, is the same as to hide deeply in it; although, where the word “soul” is added, the “heart” refers to the mind, or the intellectual faculties. In fine, he commands them to have the Law not only impressed on the mind, but embraced with sincere affection. In the next place, he commands that aid to the memory which we have just considered, viz., that they should wear the precepts on the arms and foreheads; as if God should constantly meet them, to arouse their senses. For (as has been said) God had no regard to the bands themselves, but would have them seen on their arms and foreheads for another object, viz.,236236     C’est de renouveler aux enfans d’Israel la pensee, qu ils devoyent avoir de s’enquerir de sa volonte;” to renew in the children of Israel the care they ought to have in inquiring as to His will. — Fr. to suggest and renew their care for religion. Again, He appointed them to occupy the place of ornaments, in order to accustom the people to take their chief delight in meditating on the Law. Thus that foolish ambition is sufficiently refuted, when hypocrites sought after a reputation for holiness by their fringes and other fopperies, as well as that gross error of the whole people, in thinking that they discharged their duty to God by their outward dress. What follows afterwards, that the precepts should be written on the gates of their cities, and on their private houses, tends to the same thing; for we have said, that since men’s minds are prone to vanity, and are easily distracted by innumerable allurements, they have need of such stays to hold them back. And this object is plainly expressed, when He commands them severally to speak of the precepts of the Law, whether they are sitting at home, or going abroad, or lying down, or rising up; because without diligent exercise, it usually happens that whatever men have once learnt is soon lost. He adds, also, another effect of this diligence, viz., that not only should each of them consult their own individual advantage, but also teach their children, whereby God’s Law would ever be maintained in rigor by perpetual succession.

26. Behold, I set before you this day. He now embraces the two points at once, viz., that they would be blessed if they earnestly apply themselves to the keeping of the Law, and cursed, if they shake off its yoke and revel in their lusts. But, when he says that he here sets before them a blessing and a curse, it is as much as to declare, that he does not merely tell them what is right, but that the reward is prepared if they obey; and if not, that the punishment is also at hand. Thus we see, that the doctrine which he had hitherto delivered is sealed by hope and fear, since they would not lose their labor if they obeyed it, nor be unpunished if they rejected it. But, that they may learn surely to embrace the promises and to fear the threatenings, he repeats what we have met with before, 203203     Added in Fr., “Plusieurs fois.” that God, who is both a faithful rewarder, and a severe judge, is the Author of the Law; yet at the same time he magnifies his own ministry, 204204     Added in Fr., “Disant que c’est luy qui commande apres Dieu;” saying that it is he who commands after God. since it behooved them to depend upon God, and to acquiesce in His commandments, in such a manner as still to submit themselves to His Prophet. For such is men’s pride, that they desire to fly above the clouds to listen to God; whilst He would be heard in His servants, by whose mouth He speaks. Moses, therefore, would again enforce upon them this humility, when he states that he enjoins what God has commanded, as if to call himself the organ of the Holy Spirit.

29. And it shall come to pass, when the Lord. I have lately expounded a similar passage, which, although it is subsequent in the order observed by Moses, yet, inasmuch as it sets out the matter more clearly, I have not hesitated for perspicuity’s sake to put first. I said that God’s intention was, whilst appointing the Israelites to proclaim their own condemnation, to lay them under more solemn obligation to keep the Law. If He had Himself declared His will through the Levites only, they ought indeed to have been seriously affected, and to have listened with reverence both to the blessings and the curses; but when each of them testifies with his own mouth what the Levites dictated by God’s command, the introduction of this assent, as a solemn ratification, 205205     The Latin word used by C. is a legal one, ratihabitio, explained by Du Cange by “confirmatio, occurring more than once in the Digest, and in more modern writers.” — Adelung’s Gloss. Man., in voce. was more efficacious in awakening their zeal and attention. A more fitting season, however, for this protest was after they had entered the promised land than as if it had been made in the plain of Moab; for the sight of the land tended to its confirmation, as if they had been brought into court to make a covenant with God.

These 206206     “Ebal and Gerizim are two closely adjoining mountains, separated by a narrow valley, about a furlong in breadth, in which stands the town of Naplous, the ancient Shechem. This beautiful valley, covered with olive woods and corn fields, has Mount Gerizim on the south, and Mount Ebal on the north. The two mountains are, according to Buckingham, nearly equal in altitude, neither of them exceeding seven or eight hundred feet above the level of the valley, but much more above the level of the sea, as the whole country here is considerably elevated.” — Illustrated Comment on Deuteronomy 27:4. two mountains are situated opposite to each other, in such a manner that the two divisions of the people might easily stand to bless and to curse, so that they might in concert approve of the promises and threats of God.

30. Are they not on the other side of Jordan. Although the form of interrogation is common in Hebrew, yet in this place Moses affirms more vehemently than as if he had only stated directly that these mountains were in the land of Canaan; for he wishes to encourage them in the confidence of entering the promised inheritance; just as he adds immediately afterwards, “Ye shall pass over Jordan.” For, although they had already experienced the miraculous power of God in the conquest of the Amorites, and in heir occupation of the land of Bashan, yet such was their incredulity, that it was necessary constantly to dissipate their fears, so that they might lay aside all hesitation, and boldly prepare to advance. Finally, he founds an exhortation upon this great goodness of God; for the actual enjoyment of the land ought to have stimulated them the more in the service of God, because they were made to inherit it for the purpose of keeping the Law.




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