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6For you are a people holy to the Lord your God; the Lord your God has chosen you out of all the peoples on earth to be his people, his treasured possession.

7 It was not because you were more numerous than any other people that the Lord set his heart on you and chose you—for you were the fewest of all peoples. 8It was because the Lord loved you and kept the oath that he swore to your ancestors, that the Lord has brought you out with a mighty hand, and redeemed you from the house of slavery, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt. 9Know therefore that the Lord your God is God, the faithful God who maintains covenant loyalty with those who love him and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations, 10and who repays in their own person those who reject him. He does not delay but repays in their own person those who reject him. 11Therefore, observe diligently the commandment—the statutes and the ordinances—that I am commanding you today.

Blessings for Obedience

12 If you heed these ordinances, by diligently observing them, the Lord your God will maintain with you the covenant loyalty that he swore to your ancestors; 13he will love you, bless you, and multiply you; he will bless the fruit of your womb and the fruit of your ground, your grain and your wine and your oil, the increase of your cattle and the issue of your flock, in the land that he swore to your ancestors to give you. 14You shall be the most blessed of peoples, with neither sterility nor barrenness among you or your livestock. 15The Lord will turn away from you every illness; all the dread diseases of Egypt that you experienced, he will not inflict on you, but he will lay them on all who hate you.


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6. For thou art a holy people. He explains more distinctly what we have lately seen respecting God’s gratuitous love; for the comparison of the fewness of the people with the whole world and all nations, illustrates in no trifling degree the greatness of God’s grace; and this subject is considerably enlarged upon. Almost the same expressions will very soon be repeated, and also in the Song of Moses; but there by way of reproof, whilst here it is directed to a different object, as is plain from the context, viz., that they might be, by so great a blessing, laid under obligation to devote themselves and their services to God. He begins by declaring the end of their election, viz., that God had deigned to bestow this peculiar honor upon them that He might acquire unto Himself a holy people, pure from all pollutions, and then, by adding the circumstance I have adverted to, he magnifies the excellence of the benefit. From his argument drawn from their dignity, that they ought therefore to labor after holiness, we gather, that in proportion to the abundance of grace with which any one is endued, he is solemnly bound to live piously and justly. For God does not wish the gifts he bestows upon us to lie idle, but to produce their appropriate fruits; and we must especially remember that when He adopts us, and gathers us into His Church, we are not “called to uncleanness,” but to purity of life, and to shew forth the praises of him who hath called us out of darkness into his marvellous light.” (1 Thessalonians 4:7, and 1 Peter 2:9.) The Hebrew word סגלה, segullah, which we translate “peculiaris,” special, some understand to mean a “treasure,” or a precious and desirable thing, as was stated on Exodus 19. Undoubtedly it appears from many passages that gold, silver, pearls, and the like, are designated by this word; but substantially it is agreed that this title is given to the elect people, because God delights Himself in them; and herein His incomparable goodness shines forth, that He so highly esteems such miserable and worthless creatures, (homunciones.) Hence, too, it appears that by His holy calling He, as it were, creates out of nothing “things which are not,” that they may excel every earthly being.

7. The Lord did not set his love upon you. He proves it to be of God’s gratuitous favor, that He has exalted them to such high honor, because He had passed over all other nations, and deigned to embrace them alone. For an equal distribution of God’s gifts generally casts obscurity upon them in our eyes; thus the light of the sun, our common food, and other things, which all equally enjoy, either lose their value, or, at any rate, do not obtain their due honor; whilst what is peculiar is more conspicuous. Moreover, Moses takes it for granted, that there was nothing naturally in the people to cause their condition to be better or more distinguished; and hence infers, that there was no other reason why God should choose them, except His mere choice of them. We have elsewhere observed, that by this His love, whatever men would bring of their own is excluded or annihilated. It follows, therefore, that the Israelites could never be sufficiently grateful to God, since they had been thus liberally dealt with by Him, without any desert of their own.

8. Because he would keep the oath. The love of God is here referred back from the children to the fathers; for he addressed the men of his own generation, when he said that they were therefore God’s treasure, because He loved them; now he adds that God had not just begun to love them for the first time, but that He had originally loved their fathers, when He chose to adopt Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. But although he more clearly proves that the descendants of Abraham had deserved nothing of the kind, because they are God’s peculiar people only by right of inheritance, still it must be remarked that God was induced to be kind to Abraham by no other cause than mere generosity. A little further on, therefore, he will say that those who then survived were dear to God, because He had already loved their fathers. But now he still further commends the goodness of God, because He had handed down His covenant from the fathers to the children, to shew that He is faithful and true to His promises. At the end of the verse, he teaches that the deliverance of the people was both an effect and a testimony of that grace.

9. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God. The verb 220220     “Heb. And thou shalt know.” — Ainsworth. “Et scies.” — V. might have been as properly translated in the future tense; and, if this be preferred, an experimental knowledge, as it is called, is referred to, as if he had said that God would practically manifest how faithful a rewarder He is of His servants. But if the other reading is rather approved, Moses exhorts the people to be assured that God sits in heaven as the Judge of men, so that they may be both alarmed by the fear of His vengeance, and also attracted by the hope of reward. This declaration, however, 221221     See on Deuteronomy 5:9, 10, vol. 2, p. 110, et seq. was appended to the Second Commandment, and there expounded; for since it is comprehended in the Decalogue, it was not right to separate it from thence; but since it is now repeated in confirmation of the whole Law, it is fitly inserted in this place. It will not be amiss, nevertheless, slightly to advert to what I there more fully explained. The promise stands first, because God chooses rather to invite His people by kindness than to compel them to obedience from terror. The word mercy is coupled with the covenant, that we may know that the reward which believers must expect, does not depend on the merit of their works, since they have need of God’s mercy. We may, however, thus resolve the phrase — keeping the covenant of mercy — or the covenant founded on mercy — or the mercy which He covenanted.

When it is required of believers that they should love God before they keep His Commandments, we are thus taught that the source and cause of obedience is the love wherewith we embrace God as our Father. With respect to the “thousand generations,” it is better that we should refer to the Second Commandment, because it is a point which cannot be hurried over in a few words.

10. And repayeth them that hate him. There is no mention here made of the vengeance “unto the third and fourth generation? 222222     Added in Fr., “Mais seulement que Dieu punira les delinquans;” but only that God will punish the transgressors.

Those who expound the passage that God confers kindnesses on the wicked, whilst they are living in this world, 223223     The question is as to the word פניו, literally his or their face. The first explanation noticed by C., in their lifetime, is that of the Chaldee and Syriac versions, and also of the Hebrew Commentators; the second, in his anger, is attributed in Poole’s Synopsis, amongst others, to S M. Dathe’s translation is, “praesentissima pernicie;” and his note “mihi quidem videtur פנים dictum esse pro nomine reciproco ille, ipse, ut Exodus 33:15; Deuteronomy 4:37; 2 Samuel 17:11. Vide Noldius sub hac voce, num. 2. Latine non commode iisdem verbis exprimi potest. Igitur notionem, quae vocabulo Hebraeo subisse videtur, cum sequenti להאבידו conjunetim indicavi.” that He may at length destroy them in final perdition, wrest the words too violently. Nor is the opinion of others probable, that God repays the wicked with the reward of hatred, in His face, or anger. I therefore interpret it to mean the face of those to whose disobedience God opposes Himself when He humbles their arrogance; for He alludes to their pride and audacity, because they do not hesitate to provoke God, as if He were without the courage or the power to contend with them. He declares, then, that their impudence and brazen front shall avail them nothing, but that He will cast down the impertinence of their countenance, and the insolence of their forehead; and signifies that they shall as certainly feel the judgment which they despise, as if He presented it before their eyes. He adds, moreover, that He will not deal towards the wicked with the clemency which he uses towards His children; for He so chastises them that His correction is always profitable for their salvation, whilst He denounces deadly punishment against the former; for although He seems to deal alike with both, when He inflicts temporal punishment, still, that which is but a medicine for believers, is to the reprobate a foretaste of their eternal destruction. What He says, however, as to taking vengeance without delay, does not seem to accord with other passages of Scripture, in which He declares Himself to be slow to anger, kind, and long-suffering. Besides, it seems also to be contradicted by experience, since He does not immediately hasten to inflict punishment, but proceeds slowly, so as to compensate by His severity for the slowness with which He acts. But we must remember what He says in Psalm 90:4, that a thousand years in His sight are but as a single day; and consequently, when we think that He delays, He is, in His infinite wisdom, hastening as much as is necessary. He seems, indeed, to take no notice for a time, that He may thus invite men to repent; but still He declares that He will not delay, but that He will come suddenly, like a whirlwind, to hasten His judgments, lest the ungodly should grow drowsy from their security. Let us, therefore, learn quietly and patiently to wait for the fit season of His vengeance.

12. Wherefore it shall come to pass. God appears so to act according to agreement, as to leave (His people) no hope of His favor, unless they perform their part of it; and undoubtedly this is the usual form of expression in the Law, in which the condition is inserted, that God will do good to His people if they have deserved it by their obedience. Still we must remember what we have elsewhere seen, that, after God has so covenanted with them, He Himself, in order that His promise may not be made of none effect, descends to the gratuitous promise of pardon, whereby He reconciles the unworthy to Himself. Thus the original covenant only avails to man’s condemnation. But when salvation is offered to them gratuitously, their works at the same time become pleasing to God. Inasmuch, however, as the cause of reward is unconnected with men and their works, all calculation of merit is out of the question: still it is profitable to believers that a reward should be promised them if they walk in the commandments of God; since, in His inestimable liberality, He deals with them as if they did something to deserve it.

In conclusion, Moses enumerates some of the proofs of God’s favor, such as fecundity, and an abundance of the fruits of the earth. It is questionable whether by what is added at the end respecting the diseases of Egypt, he means the boils which were generated by the scattered ashes, (Exodus 9:8,) or the lice which infested both man and beast, (Exodus 8:17,) or whether he extends them to those diseases which had prevailed long before the departure of the people. I am disposed to embrace the latter opinion; 224224     “Certain diseases, peculiar to Egypt, are meant; such as various diseases of the skin, as the scab, elephantiasis, plague, etc. Pliny, Nat. Hist., 26., calls Egypt the mother of such diseases. Even at the present day, there are in Egypt several peculiar diseases, especially ophthalmia, variolous diseases, and plague.” — Rosenmuller. Hengstenberg also, in his “Egypt and the Books of Moses,” has an article on this subject, p. 454, confirmative of the above. He quotes Wagner as calling Egypt, in his Natural History of Man, “a great focus of the diseases in universal history.” for in Deuteronomy 28:27, after mentioning “the botch of Egypt,” he adds “emerods, and the scab, and the itch:” it is, therefore, probable that the Egyptians were subject to various maladies, from which Moses declares that the people should be free by special privilege, if only they obeyed God’s Law.




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