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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 4

Everett's Study Notes on the Holy ScripturesEverett's Study Notes

Verses 1-40

Moses Exhorts Israel to Hearken Unto the Law In Deuteronomy 4:1-40 Moses exhorts Israel to hearken unto the Law in order that they may prosper in the Promised Land.

Deuteronomy 4:3 Your eyes have seen what the LORD did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, the LORD thy God hath destroyed them from among you.

Deuteronomy 4:3 Comments - The story of Israel’s sin with the Moabite idol called Baalpeor and God’s swift judgment is recorded in Numbers 25:1-18.

Deuteronomy 4:8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?

Deuteronomy 4:8 Comments - In 1901 a man by the name of M. J. de Morgan discovered a great stele at Susa in Elam, in which was inscribed the most ancient set of civil laws known to man, called The Code of Hammurabi, dating back to the 2100 B.C. [22] Many scholars believe that King Hammurabi is referred to in Genesis 14:1 as “Amraphel king of Shinar.” This code of laws deals with rights and responsibilities as well as worker’s wages and was effective throughout the entire Middle East. Thus, when Moses states that there has been no nation with so great a set of statues and judgments so righteous, he was certainly comparing the Mosaic Law to The Code of Hammurabi.

[22] T. G. Pinches, “Code of Hammurabi,”in International Standard Bible Encyclopedia, ed. James Orr (Grand Rapids, Michigan: Wm. B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., c1915, 1939), in The Sword Project, v. 1.5.11 [CD-ROM] (Temple, AZ: CrossWire Bible Society, 1990-2008).

Deuteronomy 4:24 For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire, even a jealous God.

Deuteronomy 4:24 “For the LORD thy God is a consuming fire” - Comments - This same description regarding God’s divine nature is found in two others Scripture passages (Deuteronomy 9:3, Hebrews 12:29).

Deuteronomy 9:3, “Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them , and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.”

Hebrews 12:29, “For our God is a consuming fire .”

Deuteronomy 4:24 “even a jealous God” Comments - The description of YHWH as a jealous God was used frequently by Moses and Joshua:

Exodus 20:5, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself to them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God , visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me;”

Exodus 34:14, “For thou shalt worship no other god: for the LORD, whose name is Jealous, is a jealous God :”

Deuteronomy 5:9, “Thou shalt not bow down thyself unto them, nor serve them: for I the LORD thy God am a jealous God , visiting the iniquity of the fathers upon the children unto the third and fourth generation of them that hate me,”

Deuteronomy 6:15, “(For the LORD thy God is a jealous God among you) lest the anger of the LORD thy God be kindled against thee, and destroy thee from off the face of the earth.”

Joshua 24:19, “And Joshua said unto the people, Ye cannot serve the LORD: for he is an holy God; he is a jealous God ; he will not forgive your transgressions nor your sins.”

Deuteronomy 4:26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.

Deuteronomy 4:26 “I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day” Comments Moses will make this same statement throughout the book of Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 4:29; Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 31:28; Deuteronomy 32:1-2).

Deuteronomy 30:19, “I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:”

Deuteronomy 31:28, “Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.”

Deuteronomy 32:1-2, “Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth. My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:”

Note a similar statement in Psalms 50:4, “He shall call to the heavens from above, and to the earth, that he may judge his people.” The prophet Isaiah opens his collection of prophecies with a similar statement, “Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.” (Isaiah 1:2)

The closing passage of Isaiah explains that the heaven is God’s throne and the earth is his footstool (Isaiah 66:1). Therefore, the description of God calling heaven and earth together means that He is entering into divine judgment. He will issue indictments against His people and bring due judgment for their sins. Thus, the book of Deuteronomy is a collection of sermons in which Moses decrees divine judgment upon Israel in God’s stead.

Isaiah 66:1, “Thus saith the LORD, The heaven is my throne, and the earth is my footstool: where is the house that ye build unto me? and where is the place of my rest?”

Deuteronomy 4:35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that the LORD he is God; there is none else beside him.

Deuteronomy 4:35 Old Testament Quotes in the New Testament - Mark 12:32 makes a reference to Deuteronomy 4:35.

Mark 12:32, “And the scribe said unto him, Well, Master, thou hast said the truth: for there is one God; and there is none other but he:”

Deuteronomy 4:39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that the LORD he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.

Deuteronomy 4:39 “he is God in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath” - Comments - The children of Israel are given a description of God as the Almighty God in contrast to the multitude of gods that the surrounding nations worship. These nations credit their gods to the oversight of heaven and earth.

Deuteronomy 4:40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.

Deuteronomy 4:41-43 Moses Appoints Three Cities of Refuge East of Jordan In Deuteronomy 4:41-43 Moses appoints three cities of refuge east of Jordan. Joshua will later appoint such cities in the Promised Land (Joshua 20:1-9). The charge to appoint cities of refuge was first given by Moses in Numbers 35:6; Numbers 35:11-34. There were to be three cities of refuge east of Jordan and three cities west of Jordan (Numbers 35:14).

Numbers 35:14, “Ye shall give three cities on this side Jordan, and three cities shall ye give in the land of Canaan, which shall be cities of refuge.”

Deuteronomy 4:41 Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;

Deuteronomy 4:42 That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:

Deuteronomy 4:43 Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.

Verses 1-49

The First Speech of Moses Deuteronomy 1:3 to Deuteronomy 4:49 contains the first speech of Moses to the children of Israel in order to prepare them to enter the Promised Land. The purpose of this speech is to exhort Israel to obey the Law that has been delivered to them in order that they prosper in their new land. In this speech Moses gives an historical overview of Israel’s relationship with the Lord since they made a covenant with Him at Mount Sinai. Moses rehearses Israel’s forty-year wilderness journey in order to show them God’s faithfulness in watching over His people.

1. Charge to Depart Mount Sinai & Go Possess the Promised Land Deuteronomy 1:3-8

2. Moses Appoints Judges Over the Children of Israel Deuteronomy 1:9-18

3. Israel’s Failure to Possess the Promised Land at Kadeshbarnea Deuteronomy 1:19-46

4. The Children of Israel Pass Through Edom Deuteronomy 2:1-7

5. The Children of Israel Pass Through Moab Deuteronomy 2:8-12

6. The Children of Israel Journey Forty Years in the Wilderness Deuteronomy 2:13-15

7. The Children of Israel Pass Through the Ammonites Deuteronomy 2:16-23

8. Israel Defeats Sihon King of the Amorites Deuteronomy 2:24-37

9. The Children of Israel Defeat Og King of Bashan Deuteronomy 3:1-7

10. The Lord Gives Israel the Land of the Two Amorite Kings Deuteronomy 3:8-22

11. God Raises Up Joshua to Lead Israel into the Promised Land Deuteronomy 3:23-29

12. Moses Exhorts Israel to Hearken Unto the Law Deuteronomy 4:1-40

13. Moses Appoints Three Cities of Refuge East of Jordan Deuteronomy 4:41-43

14. Conclusion to Moses’ First Speech Deuteronomy 4:44-49

Verses 44-49

Conclusion to Moses’ First Speech Deuteronomy 4:44-49 serves as a conclusion to Moses’ first speech.

Deuteronomy 4:49 And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.

Deuteronomy 4:49 “the sea of the plain” Comments - The “sea of the plain” mentioned in Deuteronomy 4:49 is the Sea of Arabah, which refers to the depression of the Jordan valley, extending from Mount Hermon to the Gulf of Akabah.

JPS, “and all the Arabah beyond the Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the Arabah , under the slopes of Pisgah.”

Bibliographical Information
Everett, Gary H. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 4". Everett's Study Notes on the Holy Scriptures. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghe/deuteronomy-4.html. 2013.
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