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10. Tablets Like the First Ones

At that time the Lord said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone like unto the first, and come up unto me into the mount, and make thee an ark of wood. 2And I will write on the tables the words that were in the first tables which thou brakest, and thou shalt put them in the ark. 3And I made an ark of shittim wood, and hewed two tables of stone like unto the first, and went up into the mount, having the two tables in mine hand. 4And he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing, the ten commandments, which the Lord spake unto you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly: and the Lord gave them unto me. 5And I turned myself and came down from the mount, and put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they be, as the Lord commanded me.

6And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of the children of Jaakan to Mosera: there Aaron died, and there he was buried; and Eleazar his son ministered in the priest’s office in his stead. 7From thence they journeyed unto Gudgodah; and from Gudgodah to Jotbath, a land of rivers of waters.

8At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi, to bear the ark of the covenant of the Lord, to stand before the Lord to minister unto him, and to bless in his name, unto this day. 9Wherefore Levi hath no part nor inheritance with his brethren; the Lord is his inheritance, according as the Lord thy God promised him. 10And I stayed in the mount, according to the first time, forty days and forty nights; and the Lord hearkened unto me at that time also, and the Lord would not destroy thee. 11And the Lord said unto me, Arise, take thy journey before the people, that they may go in and possess the land, which I sware unto their fathers to give unto them.

12And now, Israel, what doth the Lord thy God require of thee, but to fear the Lord thy God, to walk in all his ways, and to love him, and to serve the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, 13To keep the commandments of the Lord, and his statutes, which I command thee this day for thy good? 14Behold, the heaven and the heaven of heavens is the Lord’S thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is. 15Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day. 16Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked. 17For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward: 18He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, and loveth the stranger, in giving him food and raiment. 19Love ye therefore the stranger: for ye were strangers in the land of Egypt. 20Thou shalt fear the Lord thy God; him shalt thou serve, and to him shalt thou cleave, and swear by his name. 21He is thy praise, and he is thy God, that hath done for thee these great and terrible things, which thine eyes have seen. 22Thy fathers went down into Egypt with threescore and ten persons; and now the Lord thy God hath made thee as the stars of heaven for multitude.

16. Circumcise, therefore. From this inference it appears wherefore mention was made of this adoption,. viz., that the Jews should more earnestly and solemnly serve God, whom they had known from experience to be so gracious. He requires, then, a reciprocal love; for nothing could be more base than not to testify their gratitude by a pious and righteous life. But, because men are by no means inclined or disposed to obey God, Moses exhorts them to self-renunciation, and to subdue and correct their carnal affections; for to circumcise the heart is equivalent to cleansing it from wicked lusts. Meanwhile, he reproves their former perverseness, when he desires them to be no more stiff-necked; as much as to say, that now at last they should put off that depravity of mind, wherein they had too long hardened themselves. We now perceive the design of Moses. He would have his fellow-Israelites submissive and obedient to God, who, by His great goodness, had furnished them with the motive. But, because hitherto they had repaid His kindnesses with ingratitude, at the same time, he enjoins them to amend their conduct. In the first clause, he alludes to the rite appointed by the Law; for circumcision is, as it were, the solemn consecration, whereby the children of Abraham were initiated unto the worship of God and true piety, and at the same time were separated from heathen nations, to be His holy and peculiar people; and they were to be admitted to this elementary rite in their infancy, that by its visible sign they might learn that the defilements of the flesh and the world were to be renounced. There were also other objects in circumcision, but here reference is only made to newness of life, or repentance (resipiscentia). Wherefore, the conclusion is, that since God had chosen them as His people, and by an external sign had devoted them to the cultivation of holiness, they ought sincerely and really to prove that they differed from heathen nations, and that they were circumcised in spirit, no less than in the flesh. For Paul declares, that they alone are truly Jews who are circumcised “inwardly,” as he says, and not those who only have to boast of “the letter” of circumcision. (Romans 2:28, 29.) Wherefore, the Prophets frequently taunt the transgressors of the Law by calling them uncircumcised, although they bore the visible sign in their flesh. In fine, when he desires to exhort them to sanctify themselves to God, he reasons from the nature and use of the sign, whereby they professed themselves to be His chosen people. In the second clause, there is an elegant metaphor, of frequent occurrence, taken from oxen; for, since the oxen which quietly offer their necks to the yoke are easily subdued to obedience, those are said to be “stiff-necked” (durae cervicis) which are fierce and obstinate in their nature.


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