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Moses continues to relate how he made the second tables at the Lord's command; and exhorts them to the love of God, the circumcision of the heart, and a regard for strangers.
Before Christ 1451.
Ver. 1. And make thee an ark of wood— This order, given before to Moses, was here repeated on account of the new tables which he was to make to put into the ark. And I made, in the third verse, can only mean, according to a common mode of expression, I ordered to be made.
Ver. 6, 7. And the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth, &c.— Beeroth is rendered wells by many. Calmet observes on this passage, "It is, doubtless, very difficult for us to arrive at Moses's purpose in reciting these words; but it is not always permitted us to penetrate into the designs of the spirit of God: it suffices, that all the Scriptures are canonical in all their parts, to merit our highest respect." There are certainly several difficulties in the Hebrew text. For, in the 6th verse, it is said, that the children of Israel journeyed from the children of Jaakan to Mosera, when, in the Book of Numbers, where their journeys are enumerated, it is said, that they came from Mosera unto the children of Jaakan. Again, it is here said, that Aaron died in Mosera; and in the book of Numbers, that he died in mount Hor. But the Samaritan text entirely removes these seeming contradictions. The passage is there read as follows, ver. 6. But the children of Israel, journeying from Mosera, pitched their tents in Ben-jaakim; ver. 7. From thence they journeyed, and pitched in Gedgad, and from thence in Jotbathha, which is a valley of rivers of waters: from thence they journeyed, and pitched in Ebronah; from thence they journeyed, and pitched in Ezion-gaber; from thence they journeyed, and pitched in the wilderness of Zin, which is Kadesh; from thence they journeyed, and pitched in mount Hor; there Aaron died, &c. We must also observe, in defence of the Hebrew text, that the Israelites in their wandering in the wilderness might as well here, as they did elsewhere, go to and fro; namely, from Jaakan to Mosera, and back again from Mosera to Jaakan. If so, Moses, in this place, does but insert a passage omitted in the book of Numbers. As to the other objection, namely, it being said here that Aaron died at Mosera, whereas it is evident from Num 25:18 that he died in mount Hor: it is no unusual thing for one place to have different names, especially with respect to the several parts thereof; and, with regard to the connection, it may be urged, that Moses, having mentioned his intercession for the Israelites, when they were in danger to be destroyed for their sins, and when the tables of the law were broken, adds here what was the effect of this intercession, namely, that thereby the favour of God was regained; of which he gives several instances: first, The restoring of the two tables, and placing them in the ark, ver. 1. 5. 2nd, Their journeys under the divine conduct, which were not stopped. 3rdly, The separation of the priests and Levites for the service of the tabernacle, and a continuance of the high-priesthood in Eleazar, after the death of Aaron, &c.
Ver. 8. At that time the Lord separated the tribe of Levi— At that time means not long after Moses came down from the mount the second time, ver. 5. Calmet supposes, that the sacred historian would here insinuate, that the rebellion of Korah happening at Jotbath, (upon which occasion God confirmed the priesthood and the ministry to the tribe of Levi,) it is to this event that Moses alludes in the words, at that time. This phrase is frequently used in the Scripture with some latitude. See Genesis 38:1. Moses mentions in this verse three functions of the Levites; first, The bearing of the ark; Num 31:2 nd, Standing before the Lord; that is to say, keeping themselves always in readiness to receive orders to serve him, (1 Kings 17:1; 1Ki 18:15. 2 Kings 5:25.) as the assistants of the priests, and guardians of the tabernacle. 1 Chronicles 23:28, &c. 3rdly, Blessing in his name; by which, probably, is understood the sacerdotal benediction, which belonged to the priests only, as children of Levi, to deliver to the congregation. See Numbers 3:26-27. But, though the solemn pronouncing of the blessing upon the people was the peculiar office of the priests, yet the Levites were likewise concerned in blessing and praising God, 1Ch 16:4 and, by the faithful discharge of their ministry, did contribute towards deriving blessings upon the people. Blessing, in Scripture, is sometimes used for singing the praises of God. 1 Chronicles 23:13. See chap. Deuteronomy 23:8, &c.
Ver. 10. And I stayed in the mount— Moses here returns to that which he began to say in the 5th verse, or, farther backward, in the 25th of the foregoing chapter.
Ver. 12. And now, Israel— Moses here, applying what he had said, exhorts the Israelites to obedience, by various motives taken from the preceding benefits of God, ver. 10, 11. 22 from His supreme authority and their dependance, ver, 14 from his particular care and paternal tenderness towards them, ver. 15 from his infinite power, ver. 17 and from his inflexible justice, ver. 17, 18.
Ver. 14. Behold, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens— As much as to say, "The whole universe is his: all people are under his government. If he has chosen you, it is the pure effect of his grace." The first heaven comprehends the atmosphere, and the space where the sun, moon, and stars shine: the second, or the heaven of heavens, all the glorious regions beyond them; particularly what is called the throne of God, the everlasting abode of blessedness and glory. In these words, the sacred writer here opposes the true God, the sovereign of the universe, the Lord and creator of all men, (who might therefore have chosen to himself any people of the earth) to the local deities of the heathens, who were thought to preside over a certain tract or region, within whose limits their power was confined.
Ver. 16, 17. Circumcise, therefore, the foreskin of your heart— The Targum of Jonathan renders this, Cast away, therefore, the folly of your heart; and the LXX, the hardness of your heart. Circumcision was an emblem of sanctification. See Gen 17:11 and the Reflections at the end of that chapter. The exhortation of Moses may be thus paraphrased: "Think not that, to please God, external circumcision and observance of the ceremonies of the law will suffice. It is essentially necessary, that you should reform what is vicious in your affections, that you should cut off and cast away whatever may render your hearts ungrateful to the benefits, insensible of the chastisements, and disobedient to the laws of your God; who, though peculiarly your God, (ver. 17.) is still the God of all mankind: a most righteous judge; who will not connive at your sins because you are circumcised, nor be bribed by any sacrifices to overlook your wickedness: nor, on the contrary, will he reject those who serve him in sincerity, though they may not be Jews; for he regardeth not persons." See Acts 10:34. In one word, the sacred writer means to inculcate the necessity of that internal circumcision which St. Paul so strongly recommends, Romans 2:28-29. In the words, nor taketh reward, Moses seems to allude to the gifts which were offered by the princes for the building of the tabernacle; perhaps also to the victims and gifts of the sacrifices, which were never acceptable to him without love in the heart of the giver.
Ver. 18. He doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow— See Exodus 22:22. God may be said to execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow, not only by taking them under the especial care of his providence, but by implanting compassion in the human breast; which, as his voice, calls upon men to protect the orphan, to assist the widow, to relieve the distressed. See James 1:27. The laws of hospitality are wisely and strongly inculcated in the sacred writings. The providence of God, which extends to all, is peculiarly attentive to strangers; to such as are either driven unjustly from their own country, or who travel, for good reasons, into other countries. Neither proselytes of justice, nor those of the gate, are here meant; but strangers in general, according to the utmost latitude of the word; and the motives, by which this regard to strangers is enforced upon the children of Israel, are certainly the strongest and most affecting possible. The wisest and best men among the heathens considered love to strangers as one of the characteristics of divinity. The Ζευς ξενιος, god of strangers, was the peculiar attribute of Jupiter, their supreme deity, benign to mankind, and the patron of universal benevolence. Hence, among other laws of Charondas, mentioned by Stobaeus, this is one, "to receive every stranger with kindness and humanity, and send them away in peace, in reverence to Jupiter, the god of strangers, who is as a god to all in common, and a narrow inspector of those who obey or violate the laws of hospitality." To the same purpose are many beautiful sentiments in Homer; as where Eumaeus says to Ulysses, disguised as a beggar,
It never was our guise To slight the poor, or aught humane despise; For Jove unfolds the hospitable door, 'Tis Jove that sends the stranger and the poor. See Odyss. 14: ver. 65-69 and Mr. Pope's note.
There is a remarkable letter of the emperor Julian, preserved by Sozomen in his Eccles. Hist. and in Julian's works, in which he speaks in the most honourable terms of the excellence and superiority of the Christian hospitality.
Ver. 21. He is thy praise— That is, "It is he whom you ought to praise without ceasing; or rather, it is he whose protection makes your glory. Nothing in the world can or ought to appear more honourable, than to have him for your God." See Psalms 106:20.
REFLECTIONS.—Mercies like those above mentioned, no doubt, deserve the warmest returns of gratitude and duty. We have here, 1. These reasonable demands of God upon them described. To fear him, because his majesty is glorious, his wrath dreadful, and his mercy great. To love him, with supreme desire after him, with delight in him beyond all things, and with growing conformity of our souls to his image. To serve him with that cheerful, universal, happy obedience, which love dictates, making his service perfect freedom. To keep his commandments, without reserve, or murmuring. To circumcise the foreskin of their hearts, by putting off the old man, which is corrupt, with the affections and lusts, and neither sparing, nor desiring to spare, the least filthiness or superfluity of naughtiness in the heart. Not stiff-necked, but humble, and cheerfully submissive to the rod of correction, as to the yoke of obedience. Swearing by his name, as the only omniscient God, to whom such appeal should be made; and cleaving to him with unshaken fidelity, and persevering steadfastness; withal extending their regard to their neighbours, and loving even the stranger, who is the object of God's regard, and should be of their's; especially when they considered their own desolate estate in Egypt, where God so graciously, as a father, relieved them of their distresses. Fellowship in suffering should be an argument to pity and relieve the afflicted. Note; Israel's duty is our own, and all this does the Lord our God require of every one of his spiritual Israel. 2. There is the greater justice and suitableness in this conduct towards God; because God is glorious above all gods, mighty to protect and bless, and terrible to punish; above all partiality to persons, and possessing all power in heaven and earth, whether to reward the fidelity of his people, or to execute vengeance on his enemies: full of grace towards the poor and destitute; tender of his own Israel, and the object of their just praises. Note; Every view of God in his glorious perfections, is an argument to love and serve him.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 10". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany