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There were fewer lessons in Numbers in proportion to its length than in the previous books, and the same will be true of Deuteronomy and some others. The reason is because of the lesser comparative importance of these books, and because of the repetitions they contain.

It would be serious, however, both to the understanding of the Bible and the spiritual life of those following these lessons if the books referred to should be omitted in the course of study. They are part of the revelation of God's will, and have their value in our coming to know Him, and in the moulding of our character and our training for service.

How to Utilize the Lessons.

But how shall the teachers of Bible classes utilize such lessons? Let not their length discourage them, but let that feature be seized upon as a precious opportunity to get their classes feeding on the Word of God in large portions, and drinking from the fountain of life in copious draughts. The experience to many will be new, but that will give it freshness. At the same time the task will be easy, simply to read and not necessarily to study the assigned chapters. The interest is likely to increase with the reading, until the variety afforded by such lessons over those briefer in space and more closely analytic in character will be anticipated with pleasure.

A Method Suggested.

The author would recommend this method: Announce to the class that the next lesson will be on such or such a general theme, and cover so many chapters. As it has few difficulties of any kind, or covers matters treated previously, the class are asked merely to read the text carefully and in a prayerful spirit. But they are asked to read it several times, if possible make it their daily reading for the intervening week. Then when they come together in the class they will begin to discuss its contents as familiar with it, having something to communicate worth while.

The teacher or leader of the class will always find a basis or starting point for such discussions in the questions and annotations furnished in the Commentary.


Chapters 1-3

A book has been written by Canon Bernard entitled, "The Progress of Doctrine in the New Testament," in which he shows not only that the contents of its books are inspired, but their arrangement and order as well.

The same might be said of the Old Testament, especially of the Pentateuch. To illustrate, the purpose of the Bible is to give the history of redemption through a special seed. In Genesis we have the election of that seed (Abraham), in Exodus their redemption, in Leviticus their worship, in Numbers their walk and warfare, and in Deuteronomy their final preparation for the experience towards which all has been directed. (C. H. M.)

The Book of Review.

A secondary name for Deuteronomy might be "The Book of Review." The word comes from two Greek words, deuter, "second," and nomos, "law," the second law, or the repetition of the law. And yet when it comes to reviewing the law it adds certain things not mentioned previously (see 29:1).

The one great lesson it contains is that of obedience grounded on a known and recognized relationship to God through redemption.

The Divisions of the Book.

1., Review of the History, 1-3; 2. Review of the Law, 4-1 1; 3. Instructions and Warnings, 12-27; 4. Prophecy of Israel's Future, 28-30; 5. Moses' Final Counsels, 31; 6. Moses' Song and Blessing, 32-33; 7. Moses' death, 34.

Review of the History.

"This side Jordan" (v. 1), is in the Revised Version "beyond Jordan," and means the east side, where Moses and the people now were. How long is the direct journey from Horeb (or Sinai) to Kadesh-Barnea (2)? The allusion is doubtless to remind the people of their sin, which prolonged this journey from eleven days to forty years.

What is the first great fact of the review (5-8)? The second (11-18)? What do you recall about this second fact from our previous studies? What is the third fact (19-46)? What do you recall about this? What is the fourth (2:1-8)? The fifth (9-12)? Is there anything in vv. 10-12 to suggest an addition by a later hand than Moses?

Note to the Student.

It is hardly necessary to analyze the chapter further. Every student who has pursued the course thus far will be able to do it for himself, after receiving the suggestions above. If there are any beginning to study the Commentary now for the first time, let them examine the marginal references in their Bible for the places where the facts are first mentioned in Numbers, and it will be easy to compare the instruction given upon it in the previous lessons.

This may be a good place to again state that the object of this Commentary is to assist the reader to study the Bible. It has little value for those who eat only predigested food. There are better helps of that kind at hand, and more are scarcely called for.

The author also has in mind leaders of adult Bible classes who are looking for suggestions more than anything else, and to whom it is hoped the Commentary may be a blessing.

An Explanation or Two.

While further questions on the text of this lesson are hardly necessary, there are some things calling for explanation.

For example, chapter 2:4 says: "The children of Esau shall be afraid of you," which seems contradictory to Num. 20: 14. But the solution is that in the former instance the Israelites were on their western frontier where the Edomites were strong, while now they were on the eastern, where they were weak.

It may be asked why they should be necessitated to buy food of the Edomites, when the manna, still continued to be given them. The reply is, that there was no prohibition against eating other food, if they did not have an inordinate desire for it.

A reasonable explanation of other seeming contradictions may be found, but the student must be referred to larger commentaries, and a good many of them, if he wishes to learn everything that can be learned. Many things must be taken for granted in these lessons, but if we only get well acquainted with those that are explained we shall be in a fair way to master the rest.

Og and His Bedstead.

But what about the giant Og and his bedstead? He was the only remnant in the transjordanic country (Joshua 15:14) of a gigantic race, supposed to be the most ancient inhabitants of Palestine.

Although beds in the east are with the common people a simple mattress, yet bedsteads were not unknown among the great. Taking a cubit at half a yard, the bedstead of Og would measure thirteen and one-half feet, and as beds are usually a little larger than the persons who occupy them, the stature of the Amorite king may be estimated at about eleven or twelve feet.

But how did the bedstead come to be "in Rabbath, of the children of Ammon"? Perhaps on the eve of the engagement they conveyed it to Rabbath for safety. This is so unlikely, however, that some take the Hebrew word "bedstead" to mean "coffin," and think that the king having been wounded in battle, fled to Rabbath, where he died and was buried, and that here we have the size of his coffin.


1. How far may the inspiration of the Scriptures have extended, and how is it illustrated in the Pentateuch?

2. What is the meaning of "Deuteronomy"?

3. Name the seven divisions of the book.

4. On which side of the Jordan was this book written?

5. How would you explain the allusion to the bedstead of Og?


Chapters 4-6

1. The Lessons of Sinai, c. 4.

What makes a nation wise and understanding (6)? What makes a nation great (7, 8)? What obligation does one generation owe the next (9)? Of all the divine commandments, which are the most important (10-13)? Of these ten, which one is particularly emphasized (15-28)? How is God's merciful character illustrated in one connection with these commandments (29-31)? What expression in v. 31 gives a peculiar interest to this promise just now? On what divine action does the hope of Israel rest (31, last clause)?

2. The Mosaic Covenant, cc. 5, 6.

By "all Israel" (1) may be meant a general assembly of the people, or possibly only the elders, as their representatives. "The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us" (3), means not with our fathers only, but also with us, their successors. "The Lord talketh with you face to face" (4), means not in a corporeal or visible form, but in a free and familiar manner.

What comment is added to the fourth commandment in this review (15)? What expression of mingled desire and disappointment is attributed to God in connection with the original giving of the law (29)? What is the sum of the commandments (6:4, 5)? in what particular do these words testify to the divine nature? How do verses 6-9 amplify the thought in chapter 4:9 previously referred to? As suggested by the verses following, how were the people to keep their religion in mind through the avenue of their eye? What provision was made for its inculcation in the young?

Jewish Phylacteries.

The following quotation is interesting as bearing upon the Jewish phylacteries: "It is probable that Moses used the phraseology in the seventh verse in a figurative way, to signify earnest and frequent instruction; and perhaps the eighth verse is to be taken in the same sense also. But as the Israelites interpreted it literally, many suppose that a reference was made to a superstitious custom of the Egyptians, who wore jewels and trinkets on the forehead and arm, inscribed with words and sentences, as amulets to protect them from danger.

"These, it has been conjectured, Moses intended to supersede by substituting sentences of the law; and so the Hebrews understood him, for they have always considered the wearing of the tephilim or frontlets a permanent obligation.

"The form was as follows: Four pieces of parchment, inscribed, the first with Exod. 13:2-10; the second with Exod. 13:11-16; the third with Deut. 6:1-8; and the fourth with Deut. 11:18-21, were enclosed in a square case or box of tough skin, on the side of which was placed the Hebrew letter shin, and bound round the forehead with a thong or ribbon. When designed for the arms, these four texts were written on one slip of parchment, which, as well as the ink, was carefully prepared for the purpose.

"With regard to the other usage supposed to be alluded to, the Egyptians had the lintels and imposts of their door and gates inscribed with sentences indicative of a favorable omen, which is still the case; the front doors of houses -- in Cairo, for instance -- are painted red, white and green, bearing inscribed upon them sentences from the Koran, the Mohammedan bible.

"Moses designed to turn this custom to a better account, and ordered that, instead of the former superstitious inscriptions, should be written the words of God."


1. What three allusions are explained under the head of the "Mosaic Covenant"?

2. What is the history of the Jewish phylacteries?

3. Describe the phylacteries.

4. What was the Mosaic design in their use?


Chapters 7-11

1. Obedience, c. 7.

What were the names of the seven nations of Canaan to be cast out for their iniquity (1)? Who would cast them out, and in what manner is the supernatural character of the act emphasized? Nevertheless, what illustrates the divine use of means (2)? What command is laid on the Israelites in the premises (2, 3)? And why (4)? To what extent should their zeal be exhibited, and why (5, 6)? What shows the choice of Israel to be of grace and not debt (7, 8)?

What shows the blessing of Israel to be grounded on obedience (9-12)? How is the temporal and material character of the blessing illustrated (13-15)? How are the people encouraged (17-21)? What shows God's very particular care for them {22, 23)?

2. Gratitude, c. 8.

What shows that Israel was too small a people to occupy the land at first (1)? Notice in the verses following (2, 3), how their experiences in the wilderness were intended to teach obedience as well as impress them with the goodness of God. What miraculous occurrence is noted in verse 4? Compare 29:5.

What attractive features of the land are named (7-9)? All accounts, speak of the natural beauty and fertility of Palestine, and its great capabilities when properly developed. To be among its brooks, and hills and valleys after passing through the desert, can be appreciated by those who have entered California after crossing the plains.

For the plenteousness of the wheat and barley of Palestine see Matt. 13:8; but these products of the northern regions were equalled by the fruits of the south. "Honey'' is often used indeterminately to signify a syrup of dates or grapes, which was esteemed a great luxury in the east, "Iron" was found in the mountains of Lebanon. The "brass" was not the alloy brass, but copper ore. Compare 1 Chron. 22:3; 29:2-7; Isa. 60:17.

After mentioning these instances of God's goodness, what arguments are founder upon them in the closing verses? Note the appropriateness of this chapter to be read on Thanksgiving day, and other national holidays.

3. Humility, cc. 9-11.

Notice the description of the Canaanitish cities in v. 1. They are called "great" because of the space they covered. Unlike our cities, the houses stood far apart, with gardens and fields intervening. They were usually fenced, sometimes as high as forty feet, with burnt or sun-dried bricks. It would not be much to demolish such a wall in our day, but such engineering skill was then unknown. Nevertheless, would any obstacle prevent their taking possession?

Would the victory be theirs, or God's? And would He give it to them on the ground of merit (4)? What would move Him in the premises (4, 5)? How does Moses dissuade the people from any idea of their own righteousness (see the remainder of the chapter)? The plainness of Moses' speech and the submission of the people is a strong evidence of the truth of the history. An impostor would have operated on opposite lines.

What instances of unfaithfulness does Moses name? For answer note vv. 12-21, 22, 23. The reference to his humiliation in the last-named verse does not apply to a third experience of the kind, but is a fuller description of the second named in v. 18.

The Bible Commentary has the following on "the brook that descended out of the mount" (21): "Though the Israelites were supplied with water from this rock when they were stationed at Rephidim (Wady Feiran), there is nothing in the narrative which should lead us to suppose that the rock was in the immediate neighborhood of that place (see on Exod. 17:5, 6). The water of this rock was probably the brook that descended from the mount. The water may have flowed many miles from the rock, as the winter torrents do now through the wadys of Arabia Petraea (Ps. 78:15, 16). And the rock may have been smitten at such a height, and at a spot bearing such a relation to the Sinaitic valleys, as to furnish supplies of water during the journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir and Kadesh-Barnea (c. 1:1, 2). On this supposition new light is cast on the language of the apostle, when he speaks of 'the rock following' the Israelites (1 Cor. 10:4)."

The general subject of chapter 9 is extended into chapters 10 and 11.

In chapter 10 note, in verse 4, that it was not Moses who wrote the words on the tables of stone, but God Himself. A professor in one of our universities is quoted as making light of this by inquiring whether God is supposed to have turned stone mason and chiselled these words with His own hand. We can afford to treat such remarks with silence, remembering the words of Scripture that some professing themselves to be wise have become fools (Rom. 1:22).

Note in v. 5, a minute circumstance, the mention of which at the time attests the truth of the record.

Note that vv. 6-9 seem to be inserted out of their place, the explanation of which no one knows. The address of Moses is resumed again at v. 10.

With v. 16 compare Rom. 2:25, 29 for its New Testament application to the Jew, and Col. 2:11, to the Christian.

In chapter 11 there is little requiring particular notice. The blessing and the curse (26-32) will be referred to in a later chapter, but just here it may be mentioned that "most signally is the execution of the curse seen in the present sterility of Palestine."


1. What were the wilderness experiences intended to teach Israel?

2. What were the chief products of northern and southern Palestine, respectively?

3. Why were the cities of Canaan called "great"?

4. What evidence of its truth does this record contain?

5. Can you quote 1 Cor. 10:4?


Chapters 12-16

1. Places of Worship, c. 12.

In Canaan, what were the Israelites to destroy and how thoroughly was the work to be done (1-3)? What contrast were they to place between themselves and the heathen in public worship (4-7)? Did this apply to the same extent in the wilderness, and if not, why not (8-14)? What exception was made as to their private and domestic affairs (15, 16)? What were they not at liberty to eat in their own homes (17-19) Against what snare were they to be on their guard (29-32)?

In explanation of the foregoing it should be observed that no mention is made of heathen temples in Canaan at this time, and doubtless none were in existence. The places chosen for worship were the mountain tops, or groves, in order to direct attention toward heaven and secure retirement.

Note that while God promises to choose a place for the worship of Himself in the land, yet He does not divulge it in advance. Was this to prevent the Canaanites from concentrating their opposition there, or to prevent a course of strife among the Israelites themselves?

Notice from v. 12 that while the males only were commanded to appear before God at the annual feasts (i. e. at Jerusalem), yet the women were at liberty to accompany them.

The heathen believed in local deities who expected their dues from all who came to inhabit the country they protected.

This explains the caution in the closing verses of the chapter.

2. False Prophets, c. 13.

How were they to regard the teachings of false prophets (1-3)? How were they to deal with the prophets themselves (5)? Did it make any difference even if the wonders of the prophet had a show of reality? Does God ever permit such wonders to be done by false prophets, and if so, for what purpose? How are God's people to be preserved from such temptations (4)? Compare Isaiah 7:19, 20, and 1 John 4:1-6. The student will see the bearing of this upon the false teachings of the present day, such as Theosophy, the New Thought, Spiritualism, Christian Science, and anything else, no matter how fair it appears, that is not in accord with the Gospel (see Gal. 1:8).

In the case of these false teachers should it make any difference if they were friends or relations (6-11)? Suppose a whole city should have been led away into idolatry thus, what then (12-16)? Might this action be taken hastily, or only after investigation?

The Jews appeal to this chapter as justifying their crucifixion of Jesus Christ, but it is replied that "to Him gave all the prophets witness." He had all the characteristics of the true prophet and was the fulfillment of all that had been written in the Scriptures concerning the Coming One. Moreover so far from alienating the people from Jehovah and His worship, He honored Him by observing His worship, and the purpose of His life was to fulfill the law and the prophets and put away the reproach of sin.

3. Dietary Matters, c. 14.

This chapter is taken up chiefly with dietary matters, but before they are touched upon what prohibition is laid in vv. 1, 2, and for what cause? It was an idolatrous practice on certain occasions (1 Kings 18:28; Jer. 16:6, 41:5), to make cuttings on the face and other parts of the body with the finger nails or sharp instruments. To make a large bare space between the eyebrows was another such custom in honor of the dead. This was referred to in Lev. 19. These usages, were degrading, and inconsistent with the people of God (1 Thess. 4:13).

Coming to the dietary matters, the student must be referred to what was said in earlier lessons, particularly in Leviticus.

No misunderstanding of verse 21 should be allowed as though what was not good enough in the physical sense for the Jew might do for the Gentile. The explanation has been shown previously, that it was for ceremonial and spiritual reasons.

4. The Sabbatic Year, c. 15.

The subject of this chapter has been dealt with in Exodus and Leviticus (see the marginal references in your Bible), but there are a few features calling for particular notice.

(1) The first matter is release from debt in the Sabbatic year (1-11). At this time what is every creditor obliged to do, and why (2)? It is not necessary to suppose that this was an absolute discharge of the debt, but a suspension of payment for the period named; and this, because in that period there was a suspension of agricultural labor which might have made it a hardship to pay a debt. We have seen that the underlying idea of the Sabbatic year was to impress all with the fact that they held their property from God, and that supreme gratitude was due to Him.

From whom might such civil rights and privileges be withheld (3)? What further qualifying thought is in v. 4? This seems to mean that in the case of well-to-do Israelites debts might be collected even in the Sabbatic year. But some think the words should be: "In order that there may be no poor among you," which would preclude any exception.

What promise does God renew unto Israel (6)? Remember that this is to be literally fulfilled unto Israel in that day when, obedient and penitent, they shall return unto God and Jesus as their Messiah.

Read carefully vv. 7-11, and observe the detail with which God as the theocratic King of His people would watch over their welfare. The foregoing law of release might prevent some covetous Hebrew from lending to the poor, hence the warning and the promise.

(2) The second matter is release from slavery. For the former treatment see Lev. 25. What provision is made for enabling such an one to regain his original status in society (13-14)? For the ceremony of the awl-boring see the chapter before mentioned. The meaning of verse 18 seems to be that such a servant is entitled to double wages because his service was more advantageous on the ground that he was serving "without wages and for a length of time, while hired servants were commonly engaged only by the year."

5. The Feasts, c. 16.

There is nothing in this chapter calling for particular attention. Students will find the feasts treated of in Exodus and Leviticus where they are first brought before us. See the marginal references in your Bibles for these places.


1. Why were groves or mountains chosen by the heathen as places of worship?

2. Why presumably did not God reveal His intended place of worship?

3. Have you examined the New Testament references in this lesson?

4. What argument offsets the present Jewish appeal to chapter 13?

5. How would you explain 14:21?

6. Does 15:2 contemplate an absolute discharge of debt?

7. When will the promise of 15:6 be fulfilled?

8. Give the probable meaning of 15:18.

9. Are you observing the marginal references in your Bible?


Chapters 17-20

1. The Judge and the King, c. 17.

In the preceding chapter, v. 18, provision was made for judges and other officers of the civil law. They were to hold court in the gates of the cities, the place of ingress and egress, for the cities were walled. This idea of judges sitting in the gates still lingers in the Orient and gives significance to the Mohammedan terms "Ottoman Porte" and "Sublime Porte."

Review the preceding chapter and observe the charge laid on these judges to be just, straight, impartial and of clean hands. Then compare the present chapter, vv. 2-13, and note the method of procedure in the courts.

What is the offense here treated of (2, 3)? How should they guard against hasty judgment (11)? What was the punishment in such cases (5)? The extent of the testimony (6)? Who were the executioners of the penalty (7)? (Compare Acts 7:58.) The object of this requirement "was to deter the witnesses from rash charges and to give a public assurance that the crime had met its due punishment."

Verses 8-13 are explained by the Bible Commentary thus: "In all cases where there was difficulty in giving decision, the local magistrates were to submit them to the Sanhedrin -- the supreme council, composed partly of civil and partly of ecclesiastical persons. 'The priests and Levites' should be 'the priests -- the Levites'; and who, as forming one body, are called 'the judge.' their sittings were in the neighborhood of the sanctuary, because in emergencies the high priest had to consult God by Urim (Num. 27:21). From their judgment there was no appeal; and if a person were so perverse as to refuse obedience, his conduct was to be punished as a capital crime."

What prophecy is made in v. 14 (compare 1 Sam. 8:7)? What prohibition is laid on them in the matter (15)? What prohibitions are laid upon the king himself (16, 17)? (Compare 2 Sam. 8:4; 1 Kings 16:26; 2 Chron. 1:16; Isa. 31:3.) Can you name a king who violated both these prohibitions? What command is laid upon the king, and why (18-20)?

2. The Messianic Prophecy, c. 18.

This chapter is one of the most important in the Mosaic legislation.

After touching on the Levitical dues elsewhere considered, abominations are dealt with which, under other names, are ripe in our own time exposing those under their influence to the divine curse.

Note the things warned against in vv. 10, 11; the relation they bore to the cursing of Canaan, 12; and the obligation resting upon Israel, and on us, to have nothing to do with them. (Compare the marginal references for former allusions to these matters.)

The modern names of some of these are fortune telling, clairvoyance, astrology, mesmerism, palmistry, spiritualism and the like, all associated more or less with demonolatry, and although practiced sometimes by professing Christians, as much of an abomination unto God as they ever were. Verse 13 shows the reason. To be "perfect (or sincere) with the Lord thy God," means to worship, and serve Him implicitly and without the intrusion of another god. But they who consult fortune tellers, mediums, etc., do so to be guided or comforted by what they reveal. And since that which they reveal, when it is fact and not fraud, comes through demoniac channels and from the powers of darkness, it is really worshiping and serving Satan when the lips are professing to worship and serve God.

The Israelites might plead that since Moses was to leave them before they entered Canaan, and they would be without a mediator between them and Jehovah, it might be necessary to cultivate these who were regarded as the gods of the land.

How is such a plea met before it could be advanced (15)? Had they ever sought a mediator (16, 17)? How does this show that the successor to Moses, here referred to, was to have all his power and authority? What was the nature of that authority (18)? And power (19)? How might they be satisfied as to the divinity of such a prophet (21, 22)?

This prophet, the immediate successor of Moses, we know to have been Joshua, but it is evident from John 1:45, Acts 3:22, 23 and other places that ultimately it is Jesus Christ.

What a solemn obligation is thus placed upon all Christians to hearken to Jesus Christ, and how awful the consequences to those who while in lip they confess Him, do in heart and in life deny Him? (Compare Heb. 10:28-31.)

3. Landmarks and Warfare, cc. 19-20.

The first part of chapter 19 deals with the cities of refuge which we considered in our concluding lesson in Numbers. The only other matter claiming special attention is that of landmarks (14). Palestine in this respect was the same then as now. Gardens and vineyards were surrounded by hedges or walls, but tilled fields were marked by a little trench or a simple stone placed at certain intervals, hence a dishonest person could easily fill the trench and remove the stones. Thus he would enlarge his own field by stealing part of his neighbor's.

The oft repeated question, "Is war ever justifiable?" is answered in this chapter. In a world of sin war must needs be. It is one of God's methods of punishing sin in the present time. As the theocratic King of Israel He expected war and made ample provision for it, a consideration which should aid us in determining another question about the future retribution of the sinner. Thoughtless and ignorant men say He is too good to punish. But the fact is that He punishes because He is so good. As long as sin exists punishment must exist, and since Jesus Christ teaches that there is such a thing as eternal sin (Mark 3:29, R. V.), we may expect, alas! eternal punishment.

What words of encouragement are to be addressed to the army and by what officials (1-4)? The presence of the priest in this case rather than an army officer is explained by the fact that in a theocratic government everything is done directly by God through His delegated ministers, and these were the priests.

On what principles was the army to be sifted, or rather, what were the grounds of exemption from army service (5-8)? The answer is:

(1) The dedication of a new house which, as in all Oriental countries still, was an important event, and celebrated by festive and religious ceremonies (Neh. 12:27); in this case there was exemption for a year.

(2) The planting of a vineyard. The fruit of the first three years being declared unfit for use, and the first-fruits being producible only on the fourth, the exemption in this case lasted at least four years.

(3) The betrothal of a wife, which was a considerable time before marriage. It was deemed a hardship to leave a house unfinished, a new property half cultivated, and a recently contracted marriage; and the exemptions in these cases were founded on the principle that a man's heart being engrossed with something at a distance, he would not be enthusiastic in the public service.

(4) The fourth ground of exemption was cowardice. From the composition of the Israelitish army, which was an irregular militia, all above 20 years being liable to serve, many, totally unfit for war, must have been called to the field; and it was therefore a prudential arrangement to rid the army of such unwarlike elements -- persons who could render no efficient service, and the contagion of whose craven spirit might lead to panic and defeat." -- Bible Commentary.

The same authority thus comments on the following verses of this chapter:

"With the cities of those people which God doth give thee" in Canaan, it was to be a war of utter extermination (vv. 17, 18). But when on a just occasion they went against other nations, they were first to make a proclamation of peace, in which case, if followed by a surrender, the people would become dependent, and in the relation of tributaries. The conquered nations would then receive the highest blessings from alliance with the chosen people; they would be brought to the knowledge of Israel's God and of Israel's worship, as well as a participation of Israel's privileges. But if the besieged city, or nation, refused to be taken, a massacre was to be made of the males, while the women and children were to be preserved and kindly treated (vv. 13, 14). By this means a provision was made for a useful connection being established between the captors and the captives; and Israel, even through her conquest, would prove a blessing to the nation.

In a protracted siege, wood would be required, both for military work and for fuel, but fruit bearing trees were to be carefully spared. In countries like India, where the people live much more on fruit than we do, the destruction of a fruit tree is a sort of sacrilege.


1. What significance attaches to the Oriental use of the word "Porte"?

2. What was the later name of the Jewish Supreme Court, and of whom was it composed?

3. Give modern names to some of the abominations mentioned in chapter 18.

4. Explain v. 13 of that chapter.

5. How can you prove the application of verses 15-22 to Jesus Christ?

6. Why the need of landmarks in Palestine?

7. What evidence of future retribution is suggested by the legislation concerning warfare?

8. Can you name the grounds and give the reasons for exemption from army service?

9. How does this lesson magnify God's attributes of righteousness and holiness?

10. Do you think God can ever overlook sin?

11. What provision has He made for satisfying Himself on the question of sin?


Chapters 21-22

In these chapters are a number of matters which, for want of a better title, we class as above.

1. Expiation of Innocent Blood, c. 21:1-9.

These ceremonies showed the sanctity associated with human life. The "rough valley" of verse 4 is in the Revised Version "running water," and the whole was calculated to lead to the discovery of criminals and repress crime.

2. Female Captives, vv. 10-14.

These regulations were to improve the usages of the nations concerning the capture of females in war. A month was the period of mourning among the Jews, and the details of v. 4 were the signs of grief which the captive must be permitted to manifest for the loss of her parents and old associates now the same as dead. The delay was an act of humanity and kindness. How further were these virtues to be manifested (14)? We should ever remember, that we are comparing conditions not with our present ideas of social and domestic obligations, which are what they are because of the later teachings of the Bible, but with those existing in the days of Moses.

3. Right of the First-born, vv. 15-17.

In this case it is presupposed that the first wife was dead at the time referred to. The opening of verse 15 should be: "If a man have had two wives." In other words, the legislation does not touch a man who has two wives at the same time, for polygamy, while tolerated under the Mosaic law, was never legalized.

4. Prodigal Sons, vv. 18-21.

This law was qualified by the fact that the consent of both parents was necessary to its execution.

5. Common Humanities, c. 22:1-12.

"Brother" in v. 1 comprehends not only relatives, but neighbors or even strangers which should stand in need of such justice and charity.

The command of vv. 6, 7 needs re-enforcement today in certain quarters. Birds serve important uses in nature, and the extirpation of a species is productive of evils. The mother bird should be left for propagation, but the young occasionally might be taken as a check on too rapid an increase.

There is a lesson in the prohibitions of vv. 9-11, to which reference has been made in Leviticus; but touching v. 10: "An ox and ass being of different species, and different characters, cannot associate comfortably, nor unite cheerfully in drawing a plough or a wagon. The ass being smaller and his step shorter, there must be an unequal and irregular draught. Besides, the ass, from feeding on poisonous weeds, has a foetid breath, which its yoke-fellow seeks to avoid, not only as offensive, but producing leanness, or, if long continued, death; and hence it has been observed to hold away its head from the ass, and to pull only with one shoulder." -- Bible Commentary.

6. Sexual Matters, vv. 13-30.

On these verses Home says: "The regulations might be imperatively needful in the then situation of the Israelites; and yet, it is not necessary that we should curiously inquire into them. So far was it from being unworthy of God to leave such things upon record, that the enactments must heighten our admiration of His wisdom and goodness in the management of a people so perverse and so given to irregular passions.

"Nor is it a better argument that the Scriptures were not written by inspiration to object that this passage, and others of a like nature, tend to corrupt the imagination, than it is to say that the sun was not created by Gou, because its light may be abused by men as an assistant in committing crimes."


1. What was the intended effect of the legislation about innocent blood?

2. With what conditions should this legislation be compared?

3. Was polygamy legalized by Moses?

4. How is the severity of the legislation about the "prodigal son" qualified.

5. How does this lesson illustrate the divine care for the comfort of animal life?

6. How would you reply in general terms to arguments against the contents of vv. 13-20?


Chapters 23-26

1. Public Privileges, c. 23:1-9.

The privileges referred to here are doubtless honors in the state and perhaps, in the case of foreigners, incorporation with Israel by marriage. Eunuchs and bastards were denied these privileges (1, 2), and also members of what Gentile nations (3)? What caused the latter prohibition (4-6)? Such passages as Neh. 13:1; Ruth 4:10, and 2 Kings 10:2, show that there were some exceptions to this prohibition, although it may be that it excluded males, but not females. What other two nations were exempt from this rule, and on what grounds (7, 8)?

2. Bodily Uncleanness and Other Details, vv. 10-25.

Verse 13, should be translated as in the Revised Version, "thou shalt have a paddle (marg. or shovel) among thy weapons," which explains the meaning of the direction. Think of it in the light of the following verse, and remember the words of Wesley, that "cleanliness is next to godliness." There is a sense indeed, in which it is godliness, and the man who honors his Creator and Redeemer will see to it that himself and his surroundings are ever in a wholesome and sanitary condition. These directions have reference to camp life when engaged in war (9), but how much more obligatory in ordinary living.

Verses 15 and 16 refer to slaves who run away from tyrannical masters, or for deliverance from heathenism, and they afforded a ground for the action of Northern abolitionists who aided runaway slaves prior to our civil war.

As to verses 19 and 20, the Israelites lived in a simple state of society, and were encouraged to lend to each other without hope of gain. But the case was different with foreigners, who, engaged in trade and commerce, borrowed to enlarge their capital, and might reasonably be expected to pay interest on loans. Besides, the distinction was conducive to keeping the Israelites separate from the rest of the world.

3. Marriage and Divorce, c. 24:1-5.

Divorce seems to have become known to the Hebrews in Egypt, and was tolerated by the Mosaic laws for the reason indicated in Matt. 19:3-9. But it was restricted by two conditions. What was the first (1)? And the second (4)? Because of increasing laxity in these matters today, we ought to familiarize ourselves with these two passages of Scripture, and especially the words of Christ.

4. Consideration for the Poor, vv. 6-22.

Why was a creditor not at liberty to take either the mill (R. V.), or the upper millstone as a pledge for debt (6)? Corn was ground every morning for that day's consumption, and if either were taken it would be depriving a man of his necessary provision.

According to verses 10 and 11, how were a borrower's feelings to be considered?

Verses 12 and 13 are explained by the fact that the cloak of a poor man was commonly all the covering he had to wrap himself in when he retired for the night.

What beneficient provision for the poor is made in verses 19-22, and why?

5. Justice in Law and in Trade, c. 25.

The bastinado was common to Egypt, but God through Moses here introduces two important restrictions (1-3):

First, the punishment should be inflicted in presence of the judge, instead of in private by some heartless official;

Second, the maximum amount should be forty stripes, instead of the arbitrary will of the magistrate. The Egyptian, like Turkish and Chinese rulers, often applied the stick till they caused death or lameness for life. In later times, when the Jews were exceedingly scrupulous in adhering to the letter of the law, and, for fear of miscalculation, were desirous of keeping within the prescribed limit, the scourge was formed of three cords, terminating in leathern thongs, and thirteen strokes of this counted thirty-nine (2 Cor. 11:24).

The usage concerning a childless widow existed before this time (Gen. 38), but the law now made it obligatory on younger brothers or the nearest kinsman to marry the widow (Ruth 4:4, Matt. 22:25). The reason for this was not only to perpetuate the name but also preserve the property in the family and tribe.

The reference to Amalek's deed (17-19) is not mentioned in Exod. 17, where the battle is recorded, but as it was a daring defiance of God, this command against them went forth. (See 1 Sam. 15.)

6. The Laws of Tithing, c. 26.

The regulations here considered, like almost all the foregoing, were for observance, not in the wilderness, but in Canaan after they should enter it (1). What were they then to do? Where were they to go (2)? What were they to say (3)? After the priest's acceptance of the basket and its contents, what was the next feature in this ritual (5-10)? In what spirit should this be done (11)?

This is not so much a question of tithing, i. e., the giving of one-tenth, as a general acknowledgment that all belongs to God as represented by the basket of first fruits and the confession and thanksgiving.

The actual tithing is referred to in the verses following (12-15). There were really two tithings. The first was appropriated to the Levites (Num. 18:21); and the second, the tenth of what remained, was brought to Jerusalem, in kind or in money value. In the latter case, the money was used to purchase materials for the offerings and their thanksgiving feast (Deut. 14:22, 23). This was done for two years together, but on the third year (Deut. 14:28, 29), the thanksgiving was to be eaten at home and distribution to be made among the poor.


1. Name the six leading subjects of this lesson.

2. What two restrictions on divorce are given?

3. How would you explain 24:12, 13?

4. What light can you throw on 2 Cor. 11:24?

5. Who should marry a childless widow, and why?


Chapters 27-28

As we approach the conclusion of this book we come to its most important part from a prophetical point of view -- indeed the present lesson contains (chapter 28), a foreview of Israel's history to the end of the present age, in some respects unparalleled in the 'Bible, although touched upon in Leviticus (26), as we saw.

1. Stones for the Law and Stones for an Altar, c. 27:1-8.

What should they do when they crossed the Jordan (2)? How should they cover these stones to obtain a writing surface or to render them more conspicuous? What was to be written on them (3)? (It is a question whether the decalogue is here meant or the blessings and cursings that follow.) Where were they to be set up (4)? Rocks and stones are seen in the Far East today with inscriptions in paint or plaster thousands of years old.

Besides these stones for the law, what others are commanded, and for what purpose (5) ? Were these to be hewn or unhewn? The probability is that this pile was to be a pedestal for the other stones containing the law, as well as a place for sacrifice. What religious ceremonies were to be observed there (6, 7)? The burnt offerings were part of the "worship for sinful men," while the peace offerings were connected with the "festivities of a reconciled people." Hence we have here, "the law which condemned and the typical expiation -- the two great principles of revealed religion."

2. Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal, vv. 11-26.

These ridges lay in Samaria, the peaks being near Shechem, rising to about 800 feet, and separated by a valley about 500 yards wide.

On Mount Gerizim (now Jebel-et-Tur) were the descendants of Rachel and Leah, the two principal wives of Jacob, and to them was assigned the office of pronouncing the benedictions; while on the twin hill of Ebal (now Imad-el-Deen) were the posterity of the two secondary wives, Zilpah and Bilhah, with those of Reuben, who had lost the primogeniture, and Zebulun, son of Leah; to them was committed the duty of pronouncing the maledictions (see Judges 9:7). Amid the silent expectations of the assembly, the priests, standing round the ark in the valley, said aloud, looking to Gerizim, "Blessed is the man that maketh not any graven image," when the people ranged on that hill responded, "Amen"; then turning round to Ebal, they cried, "Cursed is the man that maketh any graven image"; to which those that covered the ridge answered, "Amen." The same course at every pause was followed with all the blessings and curses (see Josh. 8:33, 34).

"These curses are given in the form of a declaration, not a wish, as the words should be rendered, 'cursed is he.' and not 'Cursed be he.' " -- Bible Commentary.

3. The Great Prophecy, c. 28.

This chapter seems a continuation of the former, the blessings and cursings being enumerated more at length. Here the whole destiny of Israel is laid out before them as the result of their obedience or disobedience.

What comprehensive blessing is promised in verse 1? Observe that the lesser blessings following go to make up this great one. These include every kind of material prosperity (2-6); the confusion of their national enemies (7); and the independent power of Israel (12, 13). Moreover, all this shall tend to the glory of Jehovah before the nations (9, 10).

The curses are the counterpart of the blessings (15-19). "Sword," verse 22, is in some ancient versions "drought"; which agrees better with the figurative expressions of the two following verses.

The history of the Jews for the past 2,500 years has been a minute fulfillment of this prophecy, but it may be said to be divided into three periods, marked off by the Babylonian and Roman captivities and their present scattered and distressed condition.

(1) The Babylonian captivity comes into view at verse 36, say, to the close of verse 48.

(2) The Roman captivity, begins at verse 49, continuing to verse 64. The Romans "came from afar"; their ensign was an "eagle"; their "tongue" was not understood; they were of a fierce countenance," i. e., bold, implacable; they let neither "corn, wine nor oil," but strewed devastation everywhere. They successfully besieged the fortified cities, even Jerusalem being razed to the ground. So terrific was the suffering from famine (verses 53-57), that parental affection was extinguished, and delicate and refined women ate the flesh of their own children. For the details we are indebted to Josephus.

(3) The present scattered and distressed condition of Israel is depicted, beginning at verse 64, for an account of whose fulfillment it is only necessary to keep one's eye on the daily press. Well, therefore, may we ask, with Bishop Newton, "What stronger proof can we desire of the divine legislation of Moses?"


1. What is the sweep of the great prophecy in this lesson?

2. Describe Mounts Gerizim and Ebal.

3. What three things are included in the blessings?

4. Into what three periods is the fulfillment of the curses divided?

5. Who is a distinguished uninspired historian of the Jews?


Chapters 29-30

The subject of these chapters is new and exceedingly important, containing what is called the Palestinian covenant.

Following the Scofield Bible, note that while the land was unconditionally given to Abraham and his seed in what we call the Abrahamic covenant (Gen. 13:15; 15:7). yet it was under another and conditional one that Israel ultimately entered the land under Joshua. It is this covenant that is recorded in the present chapters.

This was utterly violated by the nation, for which reason the latter was first disrupted (1 Kings 12), and then altogether cast out of the land (2 Kings 17:1-8; 24:1; 25:11). But this covenant unconditionally promises a national restoration of Israel yet to be accomplished, in accordance with the original promise to Abraham (Gen. 15:18). It will be then, and not till then, that Israel will possess the whole land. This she has never done hitherto.

The Need of Eye Salve.

The first of these chapters is simply an introduction to the covenant fully declared in the following one. We would not pause in its consideration were it not for the spiritual truth of verse 4, which we would emphasize.

Great as the events were which the Israelites had seen in Egypt and in the wilderness, yet, they had made no lasting impression on them. The reason was that they lacked the divine wisdom to apprehend them.

Do not pass this verse without comparing the passages in the Old and New Testaments, which throw light upon it. These are indicated in the margin of your Bible, such as Isa. 6:9, 10; 63:17; Matt. 16:17; John 8:43; Acts 28:26, 27; 1 Cor. 2:9-14 ; Eph. 1:15-23; 4:18; 2 Thess. 2:11, 12; 1 Peter 1:10-12; Rev. 2:29; 3:18.

The Terms of the Covenant, c. 30.

The Scofield Bible analyzes the Palestinian covenant into seven parts, as follows:

Verse 1. Dispersion for disobedience. Compare c. 28:63-68 and Gen. 15:18.

Verse 2. Future repentance while in dispersion.

Verse 3. Return of the Lord (compare Amos 9:9-14; Acts 15:14-17).

Verse 5. Restoration to the land (compare Isa. 11:11, 12; Jer. 23:3-8; Ezek. 37:21-25).

Verse 6. National conversion (compare Hos. 2:14-16; Rom. 11:26, 27).

Verse 7. Judgment on Israel's oppressors (compare Isa. 14:1, 2; Joel 3:1-8; Matt. 25:31-46).

Verse 9. National prosperity (compare Amos 9:11-14).

We are not to suppose that the promises were fulfilled by Israel's restoration from the Babylonian captivity. It will be recalled that she was not then scattered "among all the nations" or "unto the utmost parts of heaven." Moreover, when God recalled them from Babylon, they were not all brought back nor multiplied above their fathers (5), nor were their hearts circumcised to love the Lord (6).

It may be said that there was a foreshadowing of the ultimate fulfillment of the prophecy at that time, but nothing more. The complete accomplishment is yet to come. Israel is yet to be converted to Jesus Christ as her Messiah, and returned to her land in accordance with what all the prophets teach.


1. Name and distinguish between the two covenants mentioned.

2. How many of the Scripture references have you examined under the paragraph "The Need of Eye Salve"?

3. Name the seven features of the Palestinian covenant.

4. Why was not the restoration from Babylon the fulfillment of these promises?

5. When will they be fulfilled?


Chapters 31:1-32:43

1. Encouragement, 31:1-8.

The law has been rehearsed and Moses' exhortation is drawing to a conclusion. Several days may have been occupied in the review covered by Deuteronomy thus far. And now, Israel, by its leaders, having been gathered together at the place of meeting, Moses is apprising them of his departure.

Though advanced in years (2), was he conscious of mental or physical decay (34:7)? Can you perceive a reason for the mention of this fact? Has it any bearing on the truth and virility of the divine messages Moses was chosen to communicate? What indicates that it was by revelation he knew of his approaching separation? Name three or four elements of the encouragement Moses gives Israel in verses 3-6.

2. Responsibility, vv. 9-13.

What provision was made for the perpetuity of the law (9)? Note the allusion to the bearing of the ark by the priests, which they did on extraordinary occasions (Joshua 3:3-8; 1 Chron. 15:11, 12), although commonly it was borne by the Levites.

While the people were to be instructed in the law in their homes, what public rehearsal of it was here provided for (10-11)? We appreciate how this guaranteed the preservation of the sacred oracles from generation to generation, and can thank God for remembering us in this obligation upon them.

3. Prediction, vv. 14-30.

In what language is the infidelity of Israel foretold (16)? What would cause this apostasy? What consequence would follow (17, 18)? When God says, "I will forsake them," "I will hide My face," etc.. He refers to that withdrawal of His protection as symbolized by the cloud of glory, the shekinah. This never appeared in the second temple, i. e., after the Babylonian captivity, and, "its non-appearance was a prelude of 'all the evils that came upon them, because their God was not among them.'"

Where was the book of the law placed (26)? In the Revised Version "in" is "by." It is thought that it was deposited in a receptacle by the side of the ark which contained nothing but the tables of stone (1 Kings 8:9). But some, guided by Hebrews 9:4, believe it was placed within, and that this was the copy found in the time of Josiah (2 Kings 22:8).

4. Inspiration, 32:1-43.

In verse 19 of the preceding chapter Moses is commanded to write a song and teach it to Israel, and get them singing it as a witness for God against them in the day of their unfaithfulness.

"National songs take deep hold of the memories and have a powerful influence in stirring the deepest feelings of a people," and because of this God causes this song to be composed, and is indeed Himself the composer of it. In the Revised Version the whole chapter down to verse 44 is arranged as poetry.

(1) After the exordium (1), notice the comparison of the divine instruction to what gentle, useful and beautiful feature of nature (2)? What gives this instruction this character (3)? Point out the seven attributes of God indicated in the ascription of praise that follows (3, 4). Notice that these attributes constitute the proclamation of His name. Preachers and Christian workers will find the outline of a rich discourse here.

(21 After the exordium we come to an indictment of the people (5, 6). It is predictive as indicating what they would do in the future, and yet also a historic record of what they had already done. These verses, especially 5, are clearer in the Revised Version.

(3) The indictment leads to a reminiscence of God's goodness to them, to deepen their repentance in that day as it shall quicken their gratitude (7-14).

With verse 8, compare Acts 17:26, 27 in the light of chapter 2:5-9 of the present book, and Genesis 10:5, and observe that God has from the beginning reserved Palestine for this people, through whom He would show forth His wonders to the other nations. And admirably suited is the locality for the purpose. In Ezekiel it is described as "the middle of the earth," and as from a common center the glad tidings were, and shall be, "wafted to every part of the globe."

Notice the figure in verses 11 and 12. When the eaglets are sufficiently grown, the mother bird at first supports them on the tip of her wing, encouraging and aiding their feeble efforts to higher flight.

(4) This reminiscence of God's goodness is followed by another indictment, fuller than the former, and showing the aggravation of the people's sin.

"Jeshurun" is a poetic name for Israel. Notice the reference to "demons" of verse 1"? (R. V.), and observe that such beings exist and are the real objects of the worship of false religions.

(5) This second indictment is followed by an announcement of punishment (19-28). Note the allusion to the calling out of the Gentiles into the Church in verse 21 (third clause). What are God's arrows (23)? See for answer the following verses -- famine, pestilence, wild beasts, the sword, fear, captivity, etc. Why would He not altogether destroy such a faithless people (26, 27)?

(6) The announcement of punishment leads to a promise of forgiveness and restoration in the latter time (29-47). When will the Lord lift His hand from off His people (36)? How shall He afflict them who afflicted Israel (41)? What shows that the day of Israel's blessing will be that of the whole earth (43)? Compare Psalm 65.


Chapters 32, 44-34:12

After Moses ended his song (32:44) he exhorted the people in language familiar to us (45-47), and then the voice of the Lord was heard to what purport (49, 50)? And why (51)? Can you recall the details referred to in that verse? If not, look up the story again as indicated in the margin of your Bible. What grace does God show Moses, notwithstanding his disobedience (52)? Does Moses complain at his disappointment? On the contrary, what does he now do, as indicated in the next chapter?

1. Blessing the Tribes, c. 33.

Notice the sublime exordium (2, 3). From what object of nature is the metaphor borrowed? Why does he describe the law as "fiery"? (Compare again Ex. 19:16-18). Nevertheless, in what spirit had the law been given (3)? What shows the law to have been a great privilege to as well as a great obligation upon Israel (4)?

Which tribe is first blessed (6)? Reuben, as we saw in Genesis 49, was denied the right of primogeniture, and yet he was to hold rank as one of the tribes of Israel. Observe the reward of Levi (8-11) for their zeal in supporting Moses at the time of Israel's idolatry (Ex. 32:26-28). What indicates their impartiality in executing judgment at that time (9)?

Read the beautiful words expressive of Benjamin's blessing (12). Historically it means that the land of this tribe was located near the temple. "Between his shoulders" might be rendered "on his borders," and means that Mt. Moriah, the site of the temple, lay in the territory of Benjamin, although Mt. Zion, on which Jerusalem itself stood, was in Judah.

How does the language of Joseph's blessing (13-17) show that his territory would be diversified in beauty and rich in productions?

What shows that Zebulun's progeny would be sailors and traders, while that of Issachar would be landsmen (18)? And yet would not the latter traffic in the things the Zebulunites would bring home with them (19)?

Do you remember on which side of the Jordan Gad was located, and why? May this explain the reference (20) to the enlargement of his borders? What expression (21) may refer to his having been settled in his territory by Moses himself, and before the conquest by Joshua?

What is said of Dan (22)? His original settlement was in the south, but these quarters being limited, he suddenly leaped, made an irruption, and established a colony in the north.

Which tribe seemed to have no occasion for murmuring with their assignment (23)? And which was a close second (24, 25)? Is there anything to indicate that Asher's soil may have been particularly adapted to the olive? Were there any minerals in his rocky coast?

Do not omit the map in the back of your Bible, entitled, "Canaan in Its Division among the Tribes," which will aid you in fastening the details on your minds.

2. Moses' Death, c. 34.

This chapter seems to have been written after the death of Moses, and has been regarded as a kind of introduction to Joshua.

Travelers say that no miraculous powers were necessary to be communicated to Moses to discern what is here recorded (1-3), and that any one could see the same from that elevation, the climate being very "subtle and free from vapor."

What distinction had Moses in his death above all other men (6)? While the concealment of Moses' tomb seems wise to prevent its becoming the resort of superstitious pilgrims, yet that there was a deeper reason for it seems clear from Jude 9. What that was we may not at present know, and yet there are hints about it which will be considered later on.

What eulogium does inspiration pronounce upon Moses (10-12)?

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