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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 1

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-46

Deuteronomy 1:1 . In the plain over against the Red sea. סו Suph, red, not being joined in the text with ים Yam, sea, should not be rendered the Red sea. Zuph being the name of a town, and also of a district in Moab, many think that the latter is here to be understood.

Deuteronomy 1:3 . In the eleventh month. The Deuteronomy comprises only the space of a single month.

Deuteronomy 1:6 . Ye have dwelt long enough; that is, about a year, in Horeb.

Deuteronomy 1:13 . Take you wise men. The people elected the rulers, and God, who alone has all power, invested them with authority. From the seventy elders, down to the people, there was a vast gradation of magistrates and officers. The appointment of good and religious magistrates is among the first and best cares of a prince.

Deuteronomy 1:17 . Ye shall not respect persons. A judge must come into court with clean hands, and know the case only, and not the persons.

Deuteronomy 1:28 . The Anakims, giants, thought to be so called because of the large golden torques which they wore about their necks. The word literally is, born of the earth.


Moses having now but thirty seven days to live, though he knew not the exact number, was desirous happily to finish his work. Every evening or morning, he enlivened the devotion of the nation, by a rehearsal of the law and of the works of God. And oh how happy was Israel to have in this venerable man, the best of kings, the greatest of prophets, and the most enlightened of instructors. He opened the new series of his ministry by a review of providence for two eventful years, from the emancipation from Egypt, to the sentence passed on the revolted fathers at Kadesh-Barnea, to die in the desert.

In this rehearsal he marks the divine appointment of rulers, among the leading blessings which God had accorded to the nation; and surely an order of men who spend their life in determining causes, reconciling differences, and punishing delinquents, is inconceivably valuable for the peace and quiet of society.

In the probation of Israel at Kadesh-Barnea, an event so often referred to in the sacred writings, the people were taught to attribute all their calamities to the greatness of their sin. Some visitations, it is true, come in course of providence, when neither child nor parent has so sinned as to occasion the calamity. John 9:3. Yet it is always sanctifying, under the hand of God, to trace our unworthiness and defects. I will bear the indignation of the Lord, because I have sinned against him.

Moses, and all the subsequent prophets, in reviewing this calamity, lay the emphasis on unbelief. It fermented in their hearts, it paralyzed exertion, and occasioned all their other sins; and its consequences still are equally dreadful. In the gospel age it has driven the Jews from Jerusalem, and made them a reproach among all nations. While this principle predominates in the heart of man, the gospel is nothing worth, and judgments have no effect. What is still worse, after awhile, the Lord gives some men up to the hardness of their hearts.

But how calamitous to see Israel within a few stages of the promised land, and impatient to enter, and yet hurled back into the desert, under the high displeasure and inexorable oath of an offended God. Just so, some men for awhile sit under the gospel, and promise fair for conversion; but alas, some awful habit, or some predominating passion, blasts our hopes, and provokes the Lord to sentence them to the corruptions of their own hearts. How careful should we be to cherish the first overtures of grace, and to cultivate the early impressions of religion.

The importance of this will farther appear, if we consider that when the angry God is once induced to pass sentence on a provoking sinner, he perhaps will not reverse it. The sins in the desert were committed against so much light, and in the face of so many miracles, that he would neither retract nor reverse the sentence: their carcases fell in the wilderness. Moses himself was not exempt, because he twice struck the rock in a wrong spirit. The Israelites trembled, and repented. They went up to the mountains to fight; but the Amorites chased them with slaughter and vengeance. Let us learn to fear this awful God; let us learn wisdom by Israel’s folly, and obedience by their revolt. Let us above all know, that we cannot conquer our enemies while in our sins.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 1". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/deuteronomy-1.html. 1835.
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