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Saturday, June 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 11

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

Therefore thou shalt love the LORD thy God, and keep his charge, and his statutes, and his judgments, and his commandments, alway.

Therefore thou shalt love the Lord ... and keep his charge. The reason of the frequent repetition of the same or similar counsels is to be traced to the infantine character and state of the congregation, which required line upon line, and precept upon precept. Besides, the Israelites were a headstrong and perverse people, impatient of control, prone to rebellion, and, from their long stay in Egypt, so violently addicted to idolatry that they ran imminent risk of being seduced by the religion of the country to which they were going, which, in its characteristic features, bore a strong resemblance to that of the country they had left.

Verses 2-9

And know ye this day: for I speak not with your children which have not known, and which have not seen the chastisement of the LORD your God, his greatness, his mighty hand, and his stretched out arm,

I speak not with your children which have not known ... but your eyes have seen. Moses is here giving a brief summary of the marvels and miracles of awful judgment which God had performed in effecting their release from the tyranny of Pharaoh, as well as those which had taken place in the wilderness; and he knew that he might dwell upon these, because he was addressing many who had been witnesses of these appalling incidents. For it will be remembered that the divine threatening, that they should die in the wilderness, and its execution, extended only to males from 20 years and upward, who were able to go forth to war. No males under 20 years of age, no females, and none of the tribe of Levi, were objects of the denunciation (see Numbers 14:28-30; Numbers 16:49). There might, therefore, have been many thousands of the Israelites at that time of whom Moses could say, "your eyes have seen all the great acts which He did;" and with regard to those, the historic review of Moses was well calculated to stir up their minds to the duty and advantages of obedience.

Verse 10

For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:

For the land, whither thou goest ... is not as the land of Egypt. The physical features of Palestine present a striking contrast to those of the land of bondage. A widely extending plain forms the cultivated portion of Egypt, and on the greater part of this low and level country rain never falls. This natural want is supplied by the annual overflow of the Nile, and by artificial means from the same source-namely, by the pole and bucket, the shadoof of modern Egypt, and by other implements-when the river has receded within its customary channel close by the bank the process of irrigation is very simple. The cultivator opens a small sluice on the edge of the square bed in which seed has been sown, making drill after drill, and when a sufficient quantity of water has poured in, he shuts them up with his foot.

Where the bank is high, the water is drawn up by hydraulic engines, of which there are three kinds used, of different power, according to the subsidence of the stream, simple in construction, and worked by the foot. The water is distributed in small channels or earthen conduits, formed with a mattock by the gardener who directs their course, and which are banked up or opened, as occasion may require, by pressing in the soil with the foot (Bovet, p. 63: cf. Morier).

It is a mistake to say that rain never falls in Egypt. There are a few drops at long intervals-perhaps of 10 years; it is a very rare phenomenon, (Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' b. 3:, ch. 10:)

Thus was the land watered in which the Israelites had dwelt so long. Such vigilance and laborious industry would not be needed in the promised land; for instead of being visited only at one brief season, and left during the rest of the year under a withering blight, every season it would enjoy the benign influences of a genial climate; the hills would attract the frequent clouds, and in the refreshing showers the blessing of God would specially rest upon the land.

Verse 11

But the land, whither ye go to possess it, is a land of hills and valleys, and drinketh water of the rain of heaven:

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 12

A land which the LORD thy God careth for: the eyes of the LORD thy God are always upon it, from the beginning of the year even unto the end of the year.

A land which the Lord thy God careth for - i:e., 'watering it as it were with his own hands, without human aid or mechanical means.

Verse 13

And it shall come to pass, if ye shall hearken diligently unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the LORD your God, and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul,

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 14

That I will give you the rain of your land in his due season, the first rain and the latter rain, that thou mayest gather in thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil.

The first rain, and the latter rain. The early rain commenced in autumn - i:e., chiefly during the months of September and October; while the latter rain fell in the spring of the year - i:e., during the months of March and April. It is true that occasional showers fell all the winter; but at the autumnal and vernal seasons they were more frequent, copious, and important; because the early rain was necessary, after a hot and protracted summer, to prepare the soil for receiving the seed; and the latter rain, which shortly preceded the harvest, was, though not excessively copious, of the greatest use in invigorating the languishing powers of vegetation (Jeremiah 3:3; Jeremiah 5:24; Joel 11:23; Amos 4:7; James 5:7).

Verse 15

And I will send grass in thy fields for thy cattle, that thou mayest eat and be full.

I will send grass. Undoubtedly the special blessing of the former and the latter rain was one principal cause of the extraordinary fertility of Canaan in ancient times. That blessing was promised to the Israelites as a temporal reward for their fidelity to the national covenant. It was threatened to be withdrawn on their disobedience or apostasy; and most signally is the execution of that threatening seen in the present sterility of Palestine (Deuteronomy 28:23; 1 Kings 8:35; Jeremiah 3:3; Jeremiah 14:2).

Mr. Lowthian, an English farmer, who was struck during his journey from Joppa to Jerusalem by not seeing a blade of grass, where even in the poorest localities of Britain some wild vegetation is found, directed his attention particularly to the subject, and pursued the inquiry during a month's residence in Jerusalem, where he learned that a miserably small quantity of milk is daily sold to the inhabitants at a very high rate, and that chiefly donkey's milk. 'Most clearly,' says he, 'did I perceive that the barrenness of large portions of the country was owing to the cessation of the early and latter rain, and that the absence of grass and flowers made it no longer the land (Deuteronomy 11:9) flowing with milk and honey.'

Verses 16-17

Take heed to yourselves, that your heart be not deceived, and ye turn aside, and serve other gods, and worship them;

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 18

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes.

Therefore shall ye lay up these my words ... bind them - (see the note at Deuteronomy 6:8.)

Verses 19-22

And ye shall teach them your children, speaking of them when thou sittest in thine house, and when thou walkest by the way, when thou liest down, and when thou risest up.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 23

Then will the LORD drive out all these nations from before you, and ye shall possess greater nations and mightier than yourselves.

Greater nations and mightier than yourselves - (see the notes at Deuteronomy 7:1; Deuteronomy 9:1; Septuagint.)

Verse 24

Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours: from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea shall your coast be.

Every place ... shall be yours - not as if the Jews should be lords of the world, but of every place within the promised land. It should be granted to them, and possessed by them, on condition of obedience.

From the wilderness - the Arabah, on the south. Lebanon - the northern limit.

Euphrates - their boundary on the east: their grant of dominion extended so far, and the right was fulfilled to Solomon.

Uttermost sea - the Mediterranean (cf. Joshua 1:3-4, which is almost a literal transcript of this passage).

Verse 25

There shall no man be able to stand before you: for the LORD your God shall lay the fear of you and the dread of you upon all the land that ye shall tread upon, as he hath said unto you.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 26

Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse;

Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse - (see the note at Deuteronomy 27:11.)

Verses 27-28

A blessing, if ye obey the commandments of the LORD your God, which I command you this day:

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 29

And it shall come to pass, when the LORD thy God hath brought thee in unto the land whither thou goest to possess it, that thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal.

Thou shalt put the blessing upon mount Gerizim, and the curse upon mount Ebal [ har (H2022) Gªriziym (H1630)], mount of the Gerizites-a tribe of Bedouin nomads (1 Samuel 27:8) who had a settlement there, now Jebel et-Tur. "Ebal" [ har (H2022) `Eeybaal (H5858)] - a name founded on the naked, desolate appearance of its sides; from a verb signifying to strip a tree of its leaves (Gesenius).

Stanley, however, denies that this derivation is supported by the present sterile aspect of the mountain. The same writer says that the name by which it is now called is Imad-el-Deen (the pillar of religion) ('Sinai and Palestine,' p. 233, note). These two mountains stand, the one on the south, the other on the northern side of the valley of Shechem. Jerome ('De Locis Hebraicis, voce Gerizim') maintained that the true site of these mountains was in the neighbourhood of Jericho, opposite the Arboth Moab, where Moses was addressing the people-an assertion to which the mention of Gilgal is thought by some to give an air of plausibility. But the words, "which dwell in the champaign," which is erroneously translated for 'the Arabah'-the valley of the Jordan-are omitted in the Septuagint; and the statement that the mountains were by the terebinths of Moreh compels us to adhere to the ordinary view as to their topographical position (Stanley, 'Sinai and Palestine,' p.


Dr. Colenso thinks it very improbable that Moses could possess so accurate a knowledge of the relative situation or the close proximity of these hills as to appoint that the people, ranged in two great divisions, should stand on both of them to hear the blessings and the curses pronounced. But it may suffice here to say, in answer to this objection, that a constant traffic was carried on by the trading caravans of Gilead, who passed by Shechem on their journeys into Egypt, and consequently the topography of that central part of Canaan ought be well and generally known.

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/deuteronomy-11.html. 1871-8.
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