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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 4

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-43

First Discourse (
Deuteronomy 1:14 to Deuteronomy 4:43)

The long sojourn in the wilderness is now drawing to a close. The Israelites are encamped in the Plains of Moab within sight of the Promised Land. Moses, feeling that his death is approaching, delivers his final charges to the people. In the first, he reviews briefly the history of Israel from Mt. Sinai to the Jordan, dwelling on the goodness of God, and making it the basis of an earnest appeal to the people to remember all that He has done for them, and to keep His commandments.

Verses 1-49

Exhortations To Obedience

This chapter contains the practical part of the discourse. Having briefly rehearsed the experiences of the Israelites in the wilderness up to the present point, Moses closes with an eloquent appeal not to forget what they had seen and learned, but to keep the commandments of the Lord. The argument is quite evangelical. Jehovah of His own free grace has chosen and redeemed this people, they ought, therefore, to love and serve Him alone: cp. Joshua’s exhortation in Joshua 24.

3. Because of Baal-peor] see Numbers 25:1-9.

10. See Exodus 19, 20, Exodus 24:3-8. At Mt. Sinai the people entered into a national covenant with Jehovah their Redeemer, promising to keep the Law delivered unto them there.

15. The foundation of true religion and morals is a right conception of the nature of God. In the first and second commandments of the Decalogue Israel had been taught the truths of the unity and spirituality of God. They are specially exhorted here to keep themselves from idolatry.

16-18. This prohibition probably refers to the animal worship of the Egyptians with which their fathers had been familiar in their bondage.

19. There may be allusion here to the worship of the Persians and Chaldeans. The Israelites fell into this form of idolatry: see e.g. 2 Kings 17:16; 2 Kings 21:3.

24. Cp. Deuteronomy 9:3; Hebrews 12:29. On the nature of the divine jealousy see on Exodus 20:5.

25. Remained long in the land] lit. ’slumbered in the land.’ The word expresses not only long continuance but a loss of vigour, a gradual weakening of first impressions due to unbroken peace and prosperity. Those who have no changes are apt to forget God (Psalms 55:19). Prosperity sometimes acts like a narcotic and sends the soul to sleep: cp. Deuteronomy 6:10-13; Deuteronomy 8:10-20; Deuteronomy 32:15 see also 2 Chronicles 12:1; 2 Chronicles 26:16; 2 Chronicles 32:25.

28. Bodily subjection to their heathen conquerors would lead to spiritual bondage. They would be ’given over to a reprobate mind’: see Romans 1:24-28.

29-31. These vv. indicate the nature of true repentance. It is not merely sorrow for past sins and their consequences, but a seeking God with all the heart, and obedience to His voice. Such repentance procures the divine mercy, for God does not forget His part of the covenant, however His people forget theirs. ’The gifts and calling of God are without repentance,’ i.e. they are irrevocable: see Romans 11:29; Hebrews 6:17.

32-38. These vv. state the ground of Jehovah’s choice of Israel. It is purely an election of grace and love. Hence Israel ought to cleave to Him. No other nation has been so highly favoured by Jehovah. 38. The Israelites did not take possession of the land of their enemies by their own might. Jehovah went before them into battle: cp. Deuteronomy 8:17, Deuteronomy 8:18.

41-43. The appendix to the First Discourse.

On the Cities of Refuge see Numbers 35:9-34 and notes there, and cp. also Deuteronomy 19 Joshua 20:1-9. The cities appointed here are those E. of the Jordan. In Deuteronomy 19 those in Canaan are referred to. On the phrase on this side Jordan see on Deuteronomy 1:1. Bezer was the southernmost of the three. It is mentioned on the Moabite Stone as having being rebuilt by Mesha: see on Numbers 21:29. Its site has not been identified. It is probably the same as the Bozrah mentioned in Jeremiah 48:24. Ramoth in Gilead played an important part in the wars between the kings of Damascus Israel. It was the scene of the death of Ahab (1 Kings 22) and the anointing of Jehu (2 Kings 9). Golan gave its name to the district E. of the Sea of Galilee, still known as the Jaulan. The precise locality of the city is unknown.

Second Discourse (
Deuteronomy 4:44; Deuteronomy 28)

This is the longest of the three discourses, and fills over twenty-five chapters The opening vv (Deuteronomy 4:44-49) are in the form of an introduction: Deuteronomy 5-11 are mainly hortatory: the following chapters (12-28), which form the nucleus of the book of Deuteronomy, are taken up with a special code of laws.

45. After they came forth] RV ’when they came forth.’ It was really in the fortieth year of the exodus.

46. See on Deuteronomy 1:1.

48. On Mount Sion, see on Deuteronomy 3:9.

49. Springs of Pisgah] RV ’slopes of Pisgah’: see on Deuteronomy 3:17.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 4". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/deuteronomy-4.html. 1909.
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