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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 11

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

Verses 1-32

Deuteronomy 11:10 . Water it with thy foot. Egypt was watered periodically by the overflowing of the Nile; and the husbandman, following the retiring waters, sowed his seed. When the droughty season came on, the country being intersected with canals, they watered the corn with machines worked by the foot. The overflowing of rivers is finely improved in the sacred writings. “Thou visitest the earth and waterest it, thou greatly enrichest it with the river of God.” Psalms 65:9. Of the increase of divine wisdom, the author of Ecclesiasticus says, “He maketh understanding to abound like the Euphrates, and as Jordan in the time of harvest.” Sir 24:26 .

Deuteronomy 11:14 . The first rain. This fell in October, when the sun entered the sign of Aquarius, the waterman, and caused the wheat to germinate. The barley was sown about the winter solstice, and reaped after a hundred days; that is, after Easter. The latter rain fell in March, and fed and nourished the corn while eating.

Deuteronomy 11:18 . A sign upon your hand. These phylacteries were of use to make the scriptures known: we do not need them now, having bibles almost in every house, which are read daily in christian families.

Deuteronomy 11:24 . From the wilderness and Lebanon; that is, east of Lebanon, and south-west, as far as the brook Bezor, going to Egypt. This describes the kingdom of Israel as in the days of Solomon. The boundaries of nations once settled, ought to prevent war for aggrandizement and conquest. The whole of the small kingdom of Damascus was included in the grant, because the words are, from the river Euphrates: yet they never possessed it, but were often annoyed by its wars.

Deuteronomy 11:30 . Beside the plains of Moreh. The readings vary here. The Septuagint reads, “Near the tall oak.” The Samaritan version after Moreh, adds an expletive, “before Sichem,” which was necessary, in order that a stranger might identify the spot. See note on Genesis 13:18.


This chapter opens with a charge deduced from the preseding discourse to love the Lord, and to keep his statutes and judgments. The charge is farther enforced by an appeal to a nation of men who were eye-witnesses of the plagues of Egypt, of the overthrow of Pharaoh and his host in the sea, and of the visitations of heaven on their fathers for their sins. What an argument for the truth of revealed religion, what a stroke at infidelity, what conviction must it not have conveyed to the audience, and proofs of a particular providence! Could any consideration more effectually command the obedience of the future age, than such a review of the past? Vain and giddy man, alive to his passions and interest, but forgetful of God and futurity, needs the high imposing hand of revelation, sealed by the visitations of providence, frequently to be set before him, to perpetuate in his heart the fear of the Lord.

Obedience is farther pressed by the consideration, that the promised land exceeded Egypt, in regard to hills and vales; refreshing rains, wholesome fountains, and salubrity of climate; for the country they had left, however fertile, where the Nile overflows, was in other parts nearly a total desert. Its towns during the rainy season were inundated with water, and during the drought the inhabitants were exhausted with the labour of watering the corn. And if this argument was forcible with Israel, how much more should the infinitely glorious rest of heaven induce us to obey the gospel, which calls us to an inheritance which fadeth not away. Revelation affords us an open view, to wean our affections from the world, and join them to the Lord.

The Israelites are next charged, not only to treasure up the divine precepts, but to teach them diligently to their children, long life being promised to obedience. Children, whether Hebrew or Christian, are born with propensities to stray like the wild ass’s colt. If not early initiated into the knowledge and discipline of the Lord, they would all become as the Indian or Arabian race. This is a subject of the last importance to the cause of God, and it must be admitted that the primitive church far excelled us in the care of children. In the higher walks of life, boys are taught to read the ancient and modern classics, the productions in general of profane and infidel men. Youth readily imbibes sentiments so refined, and glows with emulation to imitate the morals and conduct of a favourite hero. But the morals of that hero may be ruinous to youth, and ruinous to a nation. For instance, ├ćneas escaped from Troy with the fragments of a fleet. Dido, queen of Carthage, received him into her port and into her palace, with the most refined hospitality. She loved him, she gave him her hand at the altar, and made him her superior in the throne. Yet he almost instantly abandoned her to shame and grief, to seek a more romantic fortune on the Italian shores. All this ingratitude and crime Virgil paints in the most enchanting language, and without the slightest censure; nay, he sanctifies this foulest of deeds by a mandate from the gods! What effect are systems of this nature, early imbibed by youth, likely to produce on the morals of a court. What can we expect from an age ignorant of the bible, and licentious by principle, but dissipation, seduction, and divorce.

Among the children of the poor, the cause of alarm is scarcely less than among the great. Our flourishing ports and manufacturing towns have attracted a multitude of people, who being known in the narrow circles only of domestic society, scarcely dream that they have a moral character to sustain. Add to this, we see a thousand smiling factories, ornaments indeed to our country, and blessings to the poor; but the proprietors, wholly absorbed in the idea of realizing a fortune and distinguishing their name, seldom deign to consult the morals of the poor. They turn males and females upon the same floor, and daily expose them to all the insolence of language, and power of temptation: and what are the consequences? Surely, except the Lord had left us a remnant, we had been as Sodom, or like unto Gomorrah. Surely, except the Lord had latterly revived religion, and inclined the hearts of his people to establish Sunday schools to preserve a part of the rising age from the mass of corruption, the cause of morality had been overwhelmed by the inundation of vice.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1835.
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