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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 1

Benson's Commentary of the Old and New TestamentsBenson's Commentary


A.M. 2553. B.C. 1451.

The preface, fixing the time and place, Deuteronomy 1:1-5 . Israel commanded to march, Deuteronomy 1:6-8 . Judges provided 9-13. They come to Kadesh-barnea, Deuteronomy 1:19-21 . Spies sent, their report, the people’s murmuring, Deuteronomy 1:22-33 . The sentence passed upon them, Deuteronomy 1:34-40 . They are smitten by the Amorites, and remain at Kadesh, Deuteronomy 1:41-46 .

Verse 1

Deuteronomy 1:1. These be the words which Moses spake In the last encampment of the Israelites, which was in the plains of Moab, there being now but two months before the death of Moses, and their passage into the land of Canaan. Moses spent this last part of his time in laying before them an account of their travels, and of the many singular providences, mercies, and judgments which had attended them; in repeating and enlarging upon the several laws which God had prescribed for their civil and religious conduct in that promised country; and in the most pressing applications, and earnest persuasions, to a grateful and dutiful obedience. These things, here termed words, with his last prophetic blessing upon their tribes, constitute the subject of this book. Unto all Israel Namely, by their heads or elders, who were to communicate these discourses to all the people. In the wilderness over against the Red sea This is undoubtedly a wrong translation, for they were now at a vast distance from the Red sea, and in no sense over against it. סו Š , Suph, here rendered Red sea, is, no doubt, the name of a town or district in the country of Moab, of which see Numbers 21:14. The Red sea is never expressed by Suph alone, but always by ים סו Š, Jam Suph. This place seems to have been near the Dead sea, and to have had its name Suph, a rush, from the many flags or rushes which grew there. Between Paran This cannot well be meant of the wilderness of Paran, mentioned Numbers 10:12, for that was far remote from hence; but of some place in the country of Moab, as Suph was, and the rest of the places which here follow. And Dizahab Hebrew, די זהב , Di zahab, which the Vulgate renders, Where there is much gold, as the words signify. Perhaps it had its name from some mines of gold that were there; which circumstance seems to have determined the Seventy to render it καταχρυσεα , golden places, or gold mines.

Verse 2

Deuteronomy 1:2. There are eleven days’ journey This is added, to show that the reason why the Israelites in so many years were advanced no farther from Horeb than to these plains, was not the distance of the places, but because of their rebellions. Kadesh-barnea Which was not far from the borders of Canaan.

Verses 3-4

Deuteronomy 1:3-4. The eleventh month Which was but a little before his death. All that the Lord had given him in command Which shows not only that what he now delivered was in substance the same with what had formerly been commanded, but that God now commanded him to repeat it. He gave this rehearsal and exhortation by divine direction: God appointed him to leave this legacy to the church. Og His palace or mansion-house was at Astaroth, and he was slain at Edrei.

Verse 6

Deuteronomy 1:6. Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount They had stayed at mount Sinai, or Horeb, almost a year, receiving the law, erecting the tabernacle, numbering the people, ranking them under their standards, &c. And so, being fitted for an orderly march, they were commanded to depart thence, and proceed to the nearest borders of Canaan.

Verses 7-8

Deuteronomy 1:7-8. To the mount of the Amorites That is, to the mountainous country on the south part of Canaan, inhabited chiefly by the Amorites, Deuteronomy 1:19-20; Deuteronomy 1:44. The country to which Moses directed the spies to go up, Numbers 13:17. This order is not mentioned in the book of Numbers, nor a great many other things, for a knowledge of which we are indebted to this supplemental book of Deuteronomy. Behold, I have set the land before you Hebrew, before your faces; it is open to your view, and to your possession; there is no impediment in your way. And thus is the heavenly Canaan, and the kingdom of grace which leads to it, laid open to the view and enjoyment of all believers. Which the Lord sware unto your fathers, Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:7; Genesis 28:13. It is not indeed said in any of these places that God confirmed his promise with an oath; but he did what was equivalent thereto; he engaged his veracity by the solemn transaction of a covenant, which is called the oath of God, Genesis 26:3.

Verse 9

Deuteronomy 1:9. I spake unto you Unto your fathers, who were alive at the time here referred to, but now dead, Numbers 26:64. At that time That is, about that time, a little before their coming to Horeb. See Exodus 18:0. This was by the advice of Jethro, his father-in-law.

Verses 12-13

Deuteronomy 1:12-13. How can I alone bear your burden? The trouble of ruling and managing so perverse a people. Your strife Your contentions among yourselves, for the determination whereof the elders were appointed. Take ye wise men and understanding Persons of knowledge, wisdom, and experience. Known among your tribes Hebrew, to your tribes; men had in reputation for ability and integrity; for to such they would more readily submit.

Verse 15

Deuteronomy 1:15. So I took the chief Not in authority, but in endowments for governing. And officers Inferior officers, that were to attend upon the superior magistrates, and to execute their decrees.

Verse 16

Deuteronomy 1:16. The stranger That converseth or dealeth with him. To such God would have justice equally administered as to his own people, partly for the honour of religion, and partly for the interest which every man hath in matters of common right.

Verse 17

Deuteronomy 1:17. Respect persons Hebrew, not know, or acknowledge faces; that is, not give sentence according to the outward qualities of the person, as he is poor or rich, your friend or enemy, but purely according to the merit of the cause. For which reason some of the Grecian lawgivers ordered that the judges should give sentence in the dark, where they could not see men’s faces. The judgment is God’s It is passed in the name of God, and by commission from him, by you, as representing his person, and doing his work; who therefore will defend you therein against all your enemies, and to whom you must give an exact account.

Verse 18

Deuteronomy 1:18. I commanded you, &c. I instructed you in your duty, by delivering to you, and especially to your judges, the laws, statutes, and judgments revealed unto me by the Lord in Horeb.

Verse 19

Deuteronomy 1:19. Great and terrible wilderness Great, because it extended a great way; and terrible, because mostly desolate, or only inhabited by wild beasts. By the way of the mountain of the Amorites All the way you went toward that mountain.

Verses 24-25

Deuteronomy 1:24-25. Eshcol That is, grapes, so called from the goodly cluster of grapes which they brought from thence. It is a good land So they said unanimously, Numbers 13:27. Only they added, that they were not a match for the inhabitants of it, as is intimated Deuteronomy 1:28.

Verse 27

Deuteronomy 1:27. Because the Lord hated us This shows what dishonourable and unworthy thoughts they had entertained of God, to imagine him capable of being actuated by hatred to his own creatures. Their sins, indeed, he could not but view with hatred; just as every good and wise parent must dislike all evil dispositions and practices in his children: but God, infinitely good, can no more hate any thing that he has made, than a tender mother can be hardened against her sucking child.

Verse 28

Deuteronomy 1:28. The people is greater In number, and strength, and valour. The cities are great, and walled up to heaven An hyperbole, signifying that their cities were fenced with very high walls, which Moses himself allows to be true, Deuteronomy 9:1. But, however strong they were, the Israelites had no reason to fear, since they were assured of the divine protection and aid in the execution of his command.

Verse 30

Deuteronomy 1:30. Shall fight for you according to all that he did in Egypt This was one of the strongest arguments possible to beget in them a firm reliance on the protection and help of God; since they could not but own that the same power which had redeemed them out of Egypt, was no less able to bring them into Canaan; yet even this proved to be of no avail.

Verses 31-34

Deuteronomy 1:31-34. Bare thee Or carried thee, as a father carries his weak and tender child in his arms, through difficulties and dangers, gently leading you according as you were able to go, and sustaining you by his power and goodness. Ye did not believe the Lord So they could not enter in, because of unbelief. It was not any other sin that shut them out of Canaan, but their disbelief of that promise which was typical of gospel grace; to signify that no sin will ruin us but unbelief, which is a sin against the remedy, and therefore without remedy. Your words That is to say, your murmurings, your unthankful, impatient, distrustful, and rebellious speeches.

Verses 36-37

Deuteronomy 1:36-37. Save Caleb Under whom Joshua is comprehended, though not here expressed, because he was not now to be one of the people, but to be set over them as a chief governor: we are also to except Eleazar and some other Levites. For your sakes Upon occasion of your wickedness and perverseness, by which you provoked me to speak unadvisedly.

Verse 44

Deuteronomy 1:44. As bees As bees, which, being provoked, come out of their hives in great numbers, and with great fury pursue their adversary and disturber.

Verses 45-46

Deuteronomy 1:45-46. The Lord would not hearken to you Your sorrow not proceeding from a penitent mind, or from a concern that God was displeased with you, but from this, that you yourselves could not do as you desired, God would not listen to your cry, as he always doth to the cry of those who pray to him in sincerity, and weep from genuine, godly sorrow. Ye abode in Kadesh many days Near a whole year, not being now permitted to make any further progress toward Canaan.

Bibliographical Information
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 1". Benson's Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/rbc/deuteronomy-1.html. 1857.
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