Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, June 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 17

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

Verses 1-20

Deuteronomy 17:3 . Either sun or moon. This would be going back to Sabianism, which from the dispersion of Babel became the religion of Asia, as stated in Job 1:15.

Deuteronomy 17:8 . A matter too hard for thee in judgment. In cases of capital crimes where evidence was deficient, or not sufficiently clear; as was the case of the two women brought before Solomon.

Deuteronomy 17:18 . He shall write him a copy of this law in a book. Being the king’s autograph, the leisure of the transcription would make it clear to his understanding, impress it on his memory, and conciliate his esteem for divine truth. So our Alfred employed his leisure.


Having already spoken of the punishments to be inflicted on the Israelites who should apostatize to idolatry, the first object which strikes us here is, the care that God took to purge his people from crimes where obscurity in the case might supersede justice. He provided seventy judges or rulers, the Urim and Thummim, besides the aid of extraordinary prophets, that no iniquity might be allowed among his people. And he who resisted the sentence, resisted God, and was accounted worthy of death: no nation, and no religious community can be happy, where judgment is not impartially administered.

Moses foresaw in the Spirit, that the age would come when Israel would ask a king, and therefore, in that case, he prescribes him laws of wisdom, temperance and moderation. The people were certainly happy in their theocracy. The interior of the country was regulated by the sanhedrim, and the exterior defended by Joshua and others in succession. But chasms occurred in which Israel had neither general, nor arms, nor force. At such times they became an easy prey to weaker nations, who often invaded their country. Great indeed are the blessings of a regular, wise, permanent government, where the king is beloved as the father of his people. They have protection in the throne; they glory in his glory; they enjoy the fruits of their labour without molestation and rapine. This prince, in whose happiness the happiness of the empire was involved, was not to assume regal dignity, by abusing the trusts of military command: he was to be nominated of God, anointed by the senior prophet, and sanctioned by the people. The prince so elected was the vicegerent of God, and the father of his people. He was to transcribe a copy of the law, and govern the country in conformity to it. A prince whose minority is distinguished by a religious education and religious virtues, is highly auspicious to a nation. The king was not to oppress his people by the accumulation of wealth, and by maintaining a vast force of cavalry. Every man of Israel, within a certain age, being liable to military duty, there was no need of marshal parade. Moses spake from experience, and supported his doctrine by example: and as to riches, the Israelites were liberal when called upon for supplies. A prince in the train of Cyrus expressed his surprise that he should distribute all his wealth, instead of hoarding it up like CrÅ“sus and the kings of the east. Cyrus, to convince the prince of his misguided policy, signified to his friends that he wanted a little money. The sums instantly offered were so abundant as to satisfy the strangers that all the riches of the east were at Cyrus’s command. The king of Israel was not to multiply wives. A crowd of jealous women filling his harem would effeminate his soul, and make him forgetful of every duty he owed to God and the people. The slight indulgences of the holy patriarchs in polygamy were derived from the prevalence of custom, and singular circumstances; assuredly not from the laws of God. And if polygamy was to be repressed in a prince, who had pleas of issue for the throne, it is altogether inadmissible in a private person; and Christ has said of divorce for a new marriage, “From the beginning it was not so.” Add to this, that the vengeance of God has often attended the issue of inordinate indulgence. Sixty nine of Jerubbaal’s sons were slain by their brother. Judges 9:0. And Ahab’s seventy sons were slain by the elders of Samaria. 2 Kings 10:0. These are additional motives for the observance of every divine precept, and the fear of the Lord.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 17". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/deuteronomy-17.html. 1835.
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