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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 8

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-20

Deuteronomy 8:1-20

1All the commandments [commandment] which I command thee this day shall ye observe to do, that ye may live, an multiply, and go in and possess the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers. 2And thou shalt remember all the way which the Lord thy God led thee [has caused thee to go] these forty years in the wilderness, to humble thee, and to prove thee, to know what was in thine heart, whether thou wouldest keep his commandments [commandment] or no. 3And he humbled thee, and suffered thee to hunger, and fed thee with [suffered thee to eat] manna, which thou knewest not, neither did thy fathers know; that he might make thee know that man doth not live by bread only, but by every word that proceedeth [every out-going] out of the mouth of the Lord, doth man live. 4Thy raiment waxed not old [fell not away from] upon thee, neither did thy foot swell1 5[trickle] these forty years. Thou shalt also consider in [with] thine heart, that as 6a man chasteneth his son, so the Lord thy God chasteneth thee. Therefore [and] thou shalt keep the commandments [commandment] of the Lord thy God, to walk in his ways, and to fear him. 7For the Lord thy God bringeth thee into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains, and depths that spring out of valleys and hills; 8A land of wheat, and barley, and vines, and fig-trees, and pomegranates, a land of oil-olive2 [olive trees], and honey; 9A land wherein thou shalt eat bread without scarceness, thou shalt not lack any thing in it; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills thou mayest dig brass.3 10When thou hast eaten [And thou eatest] and art full, then thou shalt bless [and blessedst] the Lord thy God for the good land which he hath given thee. 11Beware that thou forget [Keep thee, lest thou forget] not the Lord thy God, in not keeping his commandments [commandment], and his judgments, and his statutes, which I command thee this day: 12Lest when thou hast eaten, and art full, and hast built goodly houses, and dwelt 13therein; And when thy herds and thy flocks [small cattle] multiply, and thy silver and thy gold is multiplied, and all that thou hast is multiplied; 14Then thine heart be lifted up, and thou forget the Lord thy God, which brought thee forth out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage [servants]; 15Who led thee through that great and terrible wilderness, wherein were [omit wherein were] fiery serpents, and scorpions, and drought [dry land], where there was no water: who brought thee forth water out of the rock of flint; 16Who fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not, that he might humble thee, and that he might prove thee, to do thee good at thy latter end: 17And thou say in thine heart, My power and the might of mine hand hath gotten me this wealth. 18But thou shalt remember the Lord thy God; for it is he that giveth thee power to get wealth, that he may establish his covenant which he sware unto thy fathers, as it is this day. 19And it shall be, if thou do at all forget4 [in fact forgettest] the Lord thy God, and walk after other gods, and serve them, and worship [bowest down to] them, I testify against you this day that ye shall surely perish. 20As the nations [heathen] which the Lord destroyeth before your face, so shall ye perish; because [for this; for a reward] ye would not be obedient unto the voice of the Lord your God.


1.Deuteronomy 8:1-6. As Moses ever keeps in view the purpose of his deuteronomic discourses, it cannot appear strange if he, when the occasion offers, announces it again. Repetition has the tendency rather to strengthen than to weaken this discourse. The emphasis upon the whole law (all the commandments) (Deuteronomy 8:1, as Deuteronomy 6:24-25; comp. Deuteronomy 8:1; Deuteronomy 7:11) shows that this occurs not merely for the sake of the repetition, not even alone for the explanation of individual commands from the idea of the whole, hut also for the enlargement, completeness (Deuteronomy 5:28), especially through the prominence given to the motives to obedience, and with reference to Canaan (the rationes legi adjectæ). It is less a repeated, than a continuous (this day) enduring (part. מְצַוְּךָ) law-giving. The work cleaves to the person; while Moses lives, he gives the law. So thoroughly is he the bearer of his idea. The expressions are nearly stereotype. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:2; Deuteronomy 6:1; Deuteronomy 5:1; Deuteronomy 6:3; Deuteronomy 5:30; Deuteronomy 6:18; Deuteronomy 7:13.Deuteronomy 8:2. And thou shalt remember, as Deuteronomy 5:15. The recollection of the leading through the wilderness, (Deuteronomy 1:31; Deuteronomy 2:7) bears here upon the obedience to the commands. God works this obedience only from the self-conscious man, in that He brings him to a true self-consciousness (Luke 15:17), i.e., of his own weakness (as over against the divine omnipotence) of his sin (which the sense of the holiness and righteousness of God produces), of his ingratitude (in view of the love of God). ענה in Piel (Genesis 34:2) points out this more and more intimate power exercised over any one. Broken in his own strength, humbled from his self-presumption, the man is referred to God (Genesis 32:26-27), to hear and obey Him. With this purpose in the leading through the wilderness, (לְמַעַן confessedly from עָנַה in the sense to incline, declare his meaning, to aim at, and thus the humiliation of Israel and the design of God coincide) are connected to prove and to know as secondary or incidental designs (לְּ) which may be distinguished from each other as means and ends, or as subjective and objective: since the knowledge here is only of service to God, as it serves to reveal the people to themselves, as it justifies His ways to them in every case (comp. Doct. and Ethical 2, on Deuteronomy 1:1-6). With such a knowledge of Israel, there (what was in thine heart), was naturally sought at the same time the knowledge in what it would result (whether thou wouldst keep) and thus the pedagogical significance of the wilderness agrees well, with the end for which the recollection of the way through the wilderness was here enjoined. Since the humiliation is the means of discipline unto obedience (Psalms 119:67; Psalms 119:71) so it is not only confirmed, but Deuteronomy 8:3 specifically exemplified with respect to food, as in Deuteronomy 8:4 with respect to the clothing of Israel in the desert (Isaiah 3:7). Hunger is not alluded to as a temptation any more than the knowledge of Deuteronomy 8:3 is co-extensive with that of Deuteronomy 8:2, but as introductory, preparatory, and throwing light upon the feeding with manna. Hunger, the want of bread, and desire for it (Exodus 16:3 sq.; Numbers 21:5). Which thou knowest not qualifies and characterizes this feeding. The more unknown, the more clearly separated from the usual means of life. Not upon bread alone (עַלGen 27:40; Isaiah 38:16) as the ordinary food, as if instar omnium, upon which the life of man rests (Leviticus 26:26; Isaiah 3:1; Ezekiel 4:16; Ezekiel 5:16). [Wordsworth: “As if bread could nourish life irrespective of God’s will, or as if He could not support life without it, or without any means at all. See Matthew 4:4, where He who is the living bread quotes these words against the tempter.—A. G.]. But by every word, not: but also upon, rather: much more upon, sq. Thus not the bread, but the Lord. Literally, every outgoing of the mouth of Jehovah, word, command, promise, thus not specially the law. But if the life of men rests upon the mouth of God, then men must cleave to the mouth of God and obey Him. Comp. Deuteronomy 1:26; Deuteronomy 1:43. Obedience is not only better than sacrifice, (1 Samuel 15:22) but even than bread, (John 4:34). The feeding with manna was therefore the most decided, and at the same time to the believer the most blessed humiliation (Psalms 73:25). If man lives upon the Lord, so the Lord can nourish and sustain his life, in every way, even miraculously. Matthew 4:4; Luke 4:4. God is thus simply indispensable to the life of men in every aspect (Deuteronomy 29:5); John 6:32 sq [“The lesson was thus taught, that it is not nature which nourishes man, but God the Creator, by and through nature; and generally that God is not tied to the particular channels through which He is pleased to work.” Bib. Com.—A. G.]. As in the manna extraordinary food was miraculously created, the creative power of God remedied the hunger, so Deuteronomy 8:4 presents the providence of God to the people, which in so marvellous a way preserves their clothing beyond what could have been expected, Starke: “That thou hast not necessarily to wear rent garments and such as could not cover thee”). בָּצֵק, to become soft, liquid, water blisters upon the feet, because the sandals being worn out they were compelled to march barefoot. It was a miraculous blessing, Moses says, without once stopping to reason why it should occur. It does not exclude the use of the natural supplies to which Kurtz refers, the rich herds supplying abundantly wool and leather, the numerous garments and sandals which every Israelite must have possessed, (Exodus 12:34-35) the garments of the Egyptians which were washed ashore (Exodus 14:30) and the booty they would have secured from the Amalekites, sq. We need not hold with some Jewish Rabbis, or some Christian expositors, that the clothes and shoes upon the children grew with their growth, or with a reference to Ezekiel 16:10 sq., that the Angel was present as a tailor in the wilderness. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 2:7. [It is idle, of course, to speculate as to the process by which this result was secured, as it would be to ask how Christ multiplied the loaves and fishes. But while we need not overlook the natural supplies, nor exclude human agency in part, as that agency was used in collecting and preparing the manna; it is clear that these natural supplies were supplemented by some special and miraculous exercise of the divine power.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 8:5. And consider, as and remember, in Deuteronomy 8:2. The recollection of the journey through the wilderness should serve to bring Israel to the consideration which that leading had in view, hence the comparison, (Exodus 4:22) of a man and his son, as Deuteronomy 1:31, and chasteneth (Schroeder instructeth) as in Deuteronomy 4:36. Comp. the same. To give such knowledge God is continually teaching. And this instruction is very fitting here, where Moses calls attention to obedience. עמ־לְבָבֶךָ. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:39). Deuteronomy 8:6. Announces the practical end (Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 6:24). To walk in his ways, in opposition to Deuteronomy 4:3; Deuteronomy 6:14, thus to follow Him in the way in which He leads His people, and has pointed out in His law, which is equivalent to walking in His commandments, i.e., to do them, to live according to them, Deuteronomy 10:12; Deuteronomy 11:22; Deuteronomy 19:9; Deuteronomy 26:17.

2.Deuteronomy 8:7-10. Over against the wilderness with its miraculous leading, Canaan now enters as the goal of this leading, in a comprehensive and gorgeous description; the extraordinary there, becomes here nearly the ordinary, because belonging to the character of the land. Whoever there has, to him shall be given, that he may have abundantly. So much greater is the obligation to obedience. [This description of the land is peculiarly appropriate on the supposition that Moses actually described it, just as the people stood upon its borders, and with a view to encourage them to faithfulness and obedience. It would have been comparatively aimless if the book came from a later author, and out of entirely different circumstances.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 8:7. (Deuteronomy 3:25; Deuteronomy 4:21). תְהֹמֹת usually the waves of the sea, as תְהוֹם the sea, but here the masses of water below the earth, which here and there find issue through the surface. We think of the valley streams, as the Arnon, the Jabbok, sq., but especially of the Jordan, with its seas, its different sources in Lebanon and Hermon, “fed by the snows and rains upon its lofty summit, and grotto basins, through its icy treasure chambers and caverns, kept in its course through the whole year, while nearly all the other Syrian streams sink away through the dry season.” Thus abundance of water. Then fruitfulness, as also Tacitus, Ammian, and others (Winer, II., p. 188), affirm. Wheat in abundance (1 Kings 5:11; Ezekiel 27:17) found even now in considerable measures. Barley for the cattle, especially for the horses, but used also for the poorer classes of the people, also largely raised. Vines, the cultivation of which constituted a main branch of agriculture, to which the land and climate are favorable. [The vine is still cultivated in Palestine in those parts in which there is a considerable population. See Stanley, S. and P., and Robinson’sBibl. Res.—A. G.]. Vines and fig-trees used proverbially for the peaceful condition in Palestine. The pomegranates, partly wild, partly in gardens, of brilliant color, beautiful form, fruit, fleshy, juicy, and refreshing. זַיִת שֶׁמֶןthe olive of oil (the olive tree which yields oil) in distinction from the wild olive (עֵץ שֶׁמֶן). The olive of Palestine was specially prized. Honey, the favorite food still in Eastern lands, used instead of the unknown sugar. Deuteronomy 8:9. A special application of such fruitfulness, with a reference to Genesis 3:19, so that a characteristic feature of the lost paradise cleaves to the land. כְּמִסְכֵּנֻת from סָכַן to humble oneself, to be poor. It is as much as if he said, in which thou shalt not have to stoop to toil, and to pour out the sweat of thy brow in order to eat thy bread. But more generally, as, God is sufficient to Israel instead of the gods of the heathen, so His land affords all that is necessary, so that the people need not to enter into commerce with other people from any want or necessity, and may avoid dangerous alliances with them. Hence also the iron and the brass (copper) the indispensable metals are alluded to. Not only are the warm springs at Tiberias ferruginous, and the soil at Hasbeiya, strongly impregnated with iron, but iron stones are found upon Lebanon, and iron strata are supposed to exist between Jerusalem and Jericho (Ezekiel 27:19). We are to think also of the ferruginous basalt in North Canaan, especially in the East of Jordan, and also in the land of the Amorites. Did Israel engage in mining, or did they neglect it? [See the passage in Job 28:1-11.—A. G.]. Traces of former copper works are found on Lebanon. Deuteronomy 8:10 gives the result of the description of the land, which could not be deferred. It must be so—cannot be otherwise. The Jewish tradition of grace at meals, and indeed after meals, founded upon this passage is too narrow and special an explanation. In this respect Christ introduces the thanks and blessing before the meal, Matthew 14:19; Matthew 15:36; Matthew 26:26.

3.Deuteronomy 8:10-20. Still how the transition to the warning reminds us of home and the Christian grace; Lord Jesus, let us never forget Thy love in the eating! Deuteronomy 8:11. Comp. Deuteronomy 4:9; Deuteronomy 4:15; Deuteronomy 4:23; Deuteronomy 6:12. To forget leads to the not keeping. Self-keeping guards against the forgetting, Deuteronomy 4:1 sq.; Deu 6:40; Deuteronomy 5:1; Deuteronomy 6:2-3; Deuteronomy 6:17; Deuteronomy 7:11; Deuteronomy 8:1. That thou forget not is the main thought here, hence Deuteronomy 8:12, illustrating practically the thought, resumes after the manner of Deuteronomy 6:10, the particulars completed in the next verse (Deuteronomy 7:13). Deuteronomy 8:14 shows how the want of self-circumspection finds utterance in self-exaltation, which is always with respect to Jehovah, boastfulness. Hence, as a conclusion, the great deeds of Jehovah are still once more succinctly stated; the exodus from Egypt, (Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 6:21 sq.; Deuteronomy 7:8; Deuteronomy 7:19), and (Deuteronomy 8:15) the leading through the wilderness (Deuteronomy 8:2 sq.) in the light of which every thought of self-glorying falls away. Comp. Deuteronomy 1:19. The fearfulness is portrayed through the נָחָשׁ שָׂרָף (Numbers 21:6). שָׂרָף according to its primary sense, that which draws itself together, thus the coiled, rolled together (hence less easily distinguished and more dangerous) serpents,—those peculiarly poisonous; and in its secondary meaning (even without the בָּאֵשׁ) burning, whose bite produced burning inflammation. The Sinaitic peninsula abounds in all kinds of poisonous creeping animals. The following words are simply a rhetorical apposition, thrown together, without כִּ (Keil), and therefore the more striking. צִמָּאוֹן from צָמֵא to be dry, to thirst, leads fitly to the most wonderful (out of the flinty, hardest rock) water supply, to which the fever produced by the bite of the fiery serpents, even more fitly leads, as also that dryness and thirst were characteristics of the wilderness, in contrast with Canaan abounding in water (Deuteronomy 8:7). Exodus 17:6; Numbers 20:11. Since the feeding with manna, Deuteronomy 8:16, refers back to Deuteronomy 8:3, and therefore must be regarded as a humiliation, so the two-fold (למַעַן) defining the end, appears, at least according to the sense, to be referred to the entire works of Jehovah mentioned, in any case, to those spoken of in Deuteronomy 8:15, after Deuteronomy 8:2. These deeds cannot be spoken of as favors, since the favors or good deeds are fixed at the end of Israel, i.e., not at the end of life, which is not involved in the connection, but the end of the desert journey. The favor of the promised land was the end of Israel here addressed; as if he had said the final act of kindness. [Wordsworth: “The latter end of Israel was not only their entrance into Canaan, but it extends to the last days in which God comforted the true Israel of God by the coming of Christ.”—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 8:17 is a parallel continuation of Deuteronomy 8:14. In thine heart, lifting itself up, growing presumptuous. Moses traces the emotion to its source, as if he had said, think in thyself, persuade thyself. This wealth, land, possessions, position, etc. Deuteronomy 8:18. But remember (rather), for that would be to forget. That he may (the end, the purpose) establish (cause to stand up, preserve entire, fulfil) his covenant (Deuteronomy 4:31), especially the promise of Canaan (Genesis 26:3). As it is this day (Deuteronomy 2:30; Deuteronomy 4:20). “If the East Jordan region was conquered, the West Jordan also should be taken” (Knobel) Deuteronomy 4:37 sq. A solemn testimony closes the warning, as Deuteronomy 4:26. Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 6:10; Deuteronomy 12:14; Deuteronomy 5:9. Deuteronomy 8:20. If ye place yourselves by the side of the Canaanites in their apostacy, ye shall perish like them. A counterpart to Deuteronomy 7:12.


1. Everything in the present life is laid under obligation in the Pentateuch, which aims at a life of ever renewed obedience to God, a life which carries in itself a security for that which lies beyond the present. This inward light serves to explain many of the expressions used, and understood especially of external earthly things, but which thus win a spiritual interpretation reaching to the other life (Deuteronomy 8:16). Thus, as Deuteronomy 8:18 shows, the legal character of Israel has its deep foundation in grace and faith. The reward excludes all righteousness of works.

2. Humiliation (comp. Exeget. and Crit.), the end of the leading through the wilderness. When thus pride in the possession of Canaan (Deuteronomy 8:14; Deuteronomy 8:17) was the result, the very opposite to the design of God appears, and hence also God could not at last do good (Deuteronomy 8:16) but must destroy, (Deuteronomy 8:19 sq). The like position in this case indeed with the Canaanites, shows us that Israel by nature was not different from the other nations. It is all grace, which it appropriates by faith, but must prove through obedience, as the preference of God for Israel approves itself morally through the moral teachings, legally in the ordo salutis. Therefore the whole leading of the people (Deuteronomy 8:14) especially in the desert, tends to humiliation. As the experience of our own nothingness is the first condition for grace, so humility, the consciousness that we deserve nothing, can accomplish nothing, remains the constant attendant of grace.

3. While humiliation is the general design, trial, temptation, is the peculiar characteristic of the wilderness. נִסָּה, from the root, to divide, separate, signifies to put to the test, to prove, thus to bring into a position, in which nature reveals itself in haughty confidence or despondency, and grace in man reveals itself in his faith or obedience. Wherefore humiliation, and especially temptation, terminate (Deuteronomy 8:16, לְהֵיטִבְךָ) in good (James 1:13 sq.). In the individual it works a correct knowledge (Deuteronomy 8:2) as to his relations to God; for the Church it serves also to distinguish the true from the false members, in entire accordance with the primary sense of the Hebrew word.

4. The desert and the temptation meet again in the Messiah, in whom the idea of Israel reaches completion (Matthew 4:0; Luke 4:0). The wilderness was especially appropriate to the temptation to lust, or to the hasty anticipation of their rest, which has its parallel in the Satanic through want or pain; and this temptation respects the ordinary things in life, that which was usual in Egypt. That it does not concern wealth or power is all the more clear, from the extraordinary character of the gifts, through which the giver represents Himself to His people. These gifts (water out of the flinty rock and manna) form a counterbalance to this temptation of the wilderness, similar to that which the solemn repeated warnings form to the gift of Canaan, the good deed, corresponding generally to the desert (Deuteronomy 8:19 sq.; Deuteronomy 6:10 sq.). Through these warnings Israel was prepared for the temptation which came with the possession of the promised land, as on the other hand the temptation through the desert was then completed. [It is the very object of this chapter, and this accords with the whole spirit and tone of the book, which is preparatory, provides for the future—to guard the Israelites against the temptation growing out of the possession of the promised land. Hitherto they had been under a peculiar discipline. They had lived at the hand of God, partly upon the supplies directly and miraculously given. It had been an humbling, but salutary process. Now their whole circumstances were to be changed, and the temptation would be to forgetfulness of God and self-dependence, against which Moses here warns them.—A.G.]


Deuteronomy 8:2. Luther: “We never know our own hearts, which are ever open to God, more certainly than when we are tempted in poverty or other sorrows.” Berl. Bib.: “Many esteem themselves pious and righteous if they do nothing outwardly wicked, much more when they do what is good. Nothing is more needful for such than to be placed in temptation, and thus learn what is in them.” God never constrains any to be good; He simply commands it (Deuteronomy 8:1). But as He allures men to the choice of God by all the promises of this life and that to come, and by corresponding threatenings, so He not only reveals what it is in their hearts, the wicked lusts, which prevent the choice, but also humbles men and trains them generally for the possessions to follow (Deuteronomy 30:15; Deuteronomy 30:19; Romans 12:21; Romans 5:3-5; Hebrews 12:7-11; 1 Corinthians 10:13; Psalms 26:2; Psalms 139:23 sq.; 1 Peter 1:7; James 1:12; Matthew 25:20 sq., 29). The divine programme of leading (educating, training) His children. Deuteronomy 8:3. Luther: “He suffered thee to hunger before He gave thee manna, that although the manna never came, He might still support thee through that word in which He promised that He would be thy God, and never leave thee. Faith in the word of God nourishes not only the soul, but the body; although truly the ravens and the woman of Sarepta came at the right time to Elijah, and here also the manna. Thus faith teaches that we have a God, according to the sense of the first command (Psalms 37:18; Psalms 37:24).” Cramer: “The ordinary means by which God supports us are not to be despised; but if these fail, we should still trust in God for help.” The divine chastisements as the continuous educating of the children of God will be considered in the heart (Deuteronomy 8:5) and observed in a divine walk in the fear of God (Deuteronomy 8:6). Deuteronomy 8:7 sq. The favor (blessing) of a good land: for the satisfying of our necessities, for independence and self-support (Deuteronomy 8:9). The spiritual application to the kingdom of God (Matthew 6:33). Starke: “Does God give so much on the earth, what will be done in heaven?” Deuteronomy 8:10. Cramer: “Are riches yours, fix not your heart upon them, Psalms 62:10.” Deuteronomy 8:16. Berl. Bib.: “The end of the children of God is thus ever in blessing, as with Job and Lazarus.” [Bib. Com.: The wilderness was to the Jewish Church analogous to the Cross, Canaan to the Crown.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 8:17-18. Tub. Bib.: “Temporal prosperity is a blessing of God; but if not so regarded, it becomes a curse.” Deuteronomy 8:19-20. Starke: “Behold the goodness and the severity of God,” Romans 11:0.


[1][Deuteronomy 8:4. בָּצֵק occurs only here and in Nehemiah 11:21. It is variously rendered, callous, unshod, swell, connected with “dough” through the swelling in fermentation. Shroeder renders trickle or drop, from the water-blisters which would form upon unshod feet. A. V. seems best.—A. G.]

[2][Deuteronomy 8:8. Margin: olive trees of oil.]

[3][Deuteronomy 8:9. Bib. Com. and Wordsworth render copper.—A. G.]

[4][Deuteronomy 8:19. Forgetting, thou forgettest. We have no full equivalent. So again in the last clause; perishing, ye shall perish.—A. G.]

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 8". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/deuteronomy-8.html. 1857-84.
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