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Moses informs them, that God was about to destroy the Canaanites for their iniquities; and to give the land to the Israelites; not because of their righteousness, but on account of the fidelity and constancy of the divine promises.
Before Christ 1451.
Ver. 1. Thou art to pass over Jordan this day— i.e. At this time; or, as we should say in English, You are now preparing to pass over Jordan. Day is often put for time in the Scripture. Moses delivered this discourse in the eleventh month of the last year of their journey; and it was not till the first month of the following year that the Israelites passed over Jordan. In this interval Moses died, and the people employed a month in lamenting him.
Ver. 2. Who can stand before the children of Anak!— The strength and valour of this people were so great, that they became proverbial. They were vanquished by Joshua, who made them flee to the Philistines, where, it should seem, a remnant of them lived till the time of David; for Goliah and his brethren appear to have been Anakims, 1Ch 20:6 being all born at Gath, whither the Anakims fled. 2 Samuel 21:22.Joshua 11:22; Joshua 11:22. Some critics think, that from the word Anak the Greeks derived their anax, or king, taken from the idea of the power and greatness of these men, some of whom, it is probable, passed into Greece when they were driven out of their own country by Joshua.
Ver. 3. So shalt thou drive them out—quickly— Not the whole seven nations, whom, he had said before, God would drive out by little and little, chap. Deu 7:22 but so many as to make a settlement for the Israelites in Canaan. They were to attack the nations successively; but when they attacked one party, it is promised that they should destroy them quickly.
Ver. 6. Understand, therefore, that—not—for thy righteousness— Moses repeats three times, in this and the foregoing verse, the same thing; because he well knew the heart of man so prone to vanity, and the character of the Israelites so self-prepossessed. Nothing was more important than to convince them that God gave them not the land of Canaan for their own righteousness or piety, or for any merit which was in them; so far from it, they are declared to be a very refractory and obstinate people. See Exodus 32:9. But God, of his favour and wisdom, dispenses different privileges to different states and nations: to some riches; to some empire; to some arts and knowledge; to others a purer form of worship; and deals with all of them most equitably, according to the use or abuse they make of their respective talents and opportunities. Houbigant well observes, that Moses here addresses the Israelites in the same manner as St. Paul does the Jews in his Epistle to the Romans; each of them pursuing the same thread of argument.
REFLECTIONS.—With awakening calls to attention, after some pause, Moses renews his discourse. They were shortly to pass over Jordan, and to enter into the land of Canaan, fortified indeed with the greatest art, and defended by the most mighty warriors. But the greater their strength, the more conspicuous would be the power of God in the certain victory to which he led them. They must beware hereupon, not to ascribe their conquests to their own deserts, for they were a stiff-necked people, but to the wickedness of the people on whom God would, by them, execute vengeance, and to the promise made to their fathers, wherein God would have his faithfulness appear. Note; (1.) The greater our enemies are, the more shall the power of God be magnified in our salvation. (2.) The people of God can never have too mean an opinion of themselves, nor too high a one of the riches of God's grace. When we come to the possession of eternal glory, every saint will with delight cast down his crown before the throne of Jesus, and own that all the praise and glory are due to him alone. (3.) God will find instruments to execute his wrath upon a devoted people. Though he bear long, he will not bear always. (4.) However long God's promises may seem delayed, he is faithful, and we shall see them fulfilled at the last. They who patiently wait shall see the salvation of our God.
Ver. 7. Remember—how thou provokedst the Lord thy God— The following expressions are very energetic: we evidently see in them the design of Moses to mortify the pride of the Israelites, by giving them an humbling view of their various rebellions and murmurings. Also, in the next verse, should undoubtedly be read even: even in Horeb; for the expression is emphatical, painting in the strongest colours their obstinacy, who, even amidst the display of the mightiest miracles, could provoke the Lord to wrath.
Ver. 9. I neither did eat bread nor drink water— Dr. Shaw observes, that "the eastern nations in general are great eaters of bread; it being computed that three persons in four live entirely upon it, or, at least, upon such compositions as are made of barley or wheat flour. Frequent mention is made of this simple diet in the Holy Scriptures; where the flesh of animals, though sometimes it may be included in the eating of bread, or making a meal, is not often recorded. See Genesis 18:5; Gen 21:14. 1 Samuel 28:22." Travels, vol. 1: p. 230.
Ver. 21. And I took your sin— That is to say, the occasion or matter of your sin, the idol which you had made: it is a metonymy frequently found in Scripture. See Isaiah 31:7.
Ver. 24. Ye have been rebellious, &c.— Thus Moses, in a very short sentence, excludes all idea of merit, and substitutes in its stead that of the greatest demerit and obstinacy.
Ver. 25. Thus I fell down before the Lord forty days— Having mentioned the above instances of their preservation, he returns to what he had begun to say (ver. 18.) concerning his intercession with God for a pardon, which he could not obtain without great importunity. See the passages in the margin of our Bibles.
REFLECTIONS.—As nothing is more difficult than to be put out of a good conceit with ourselves, Moses brings to their remembrance abundant proof how little reason they had to value themselves on their own righteousness. Their whole conduct, from the day of their coming from Egypt, had been a succession of rebellions; many of which are particularly specified, and many more there were probably during their sojourning in the wilderness. The grand apostacy of all was the calf in Horeb; a scene so shocking, that, after that, they should never dare to lift up their eyes to God but with shame and confusion. Then were they in danger of being abandoned for ever of God, and he had been justified in rejecting them. In fear of such a righteous doom, Moses, with fervent prayer, interposes, to avert, if possible, the fierce displeasure that was awakened against them. Nor had he one plea to make for them of their desert, but acknowledges their aggravated guilt, and only begs that their fathers might be remembered, and that their enemies might not be tempted to blaspheme God, if they should be destroyed. Nor had they been rebels themselves only, but even Aaron had been drawn or forced into compliance with them, and thereby also provoked God most highly, even to threaten to destroy him. And when the calf, their hateful sin, was destroyed, and undeserved mercy vouchsafed to them, the burnings of Taberah, the plague of Massah, the graves of Kibroth-hattaavah, and the slain at Kadesh-barnea, were awful monuments against them, how deep their rebellions were rooted, and how undeserving they were of the least of the mercies vouchsafed to them. Note; (1.) Whoever reviews carefully his own conduct towards God cannot but stand amazed, that, after such repeated provocations, there should be any mercy in store for him; and own how vile and unworthy he is of it. (2.) It is obstinate blindness of heart alone that can ever support in us a good opinion of ourselves.
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Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 9". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany