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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 8

Utley's You Can Understand the BibleUtley Commentary


Deuteronomy 8:0


Remember the Lord Your GodThe Temptation to Pride and Self-SufficiencyA Good Land to be PossessedThe Ordeal in the Desert
Deuteronomy 8:1-10Deuteronomy 8:1-10Deuteronomy 8:1-10Deuteronomy 8:1-4
Deuteronomy 8:5-6
The Promised Land and Its Temptations
Warning Against Forgetting the LordDeuteronomy 8:7-10
Deuteronomy 8:11-20Deuteronomy 8:11-20Deuteronomy 8:11-20Deuteronomy 8:11-16
Deuteronomy 8:17-20

READING CYCLE THREE (see “Guide to Good Bible Reading”)


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

Read the chapter in one sitting. Identify the subjects (reading cycle #3). Compare your subject divisions with the four modern translations above. Paragraphing is not inspired, but it is the key to following the original author's intent, which is the heart of interpretation. Every paragraph has one and only one subject.

1. First paragraph

2. Second paragraph

3. Third paragraph

4. Etc.

Verses 1-10

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 8:1-10 1”All the commandments that I am commanding you today you shall be careful to do, that you may live and multiply, and go in and possess the land which the LORD swore to give to your forefathers. 2And you shall remember all the way which the LORD your God has led you in the wilderness these forty years, that He might humble you, testing you, to know what was in your heart, whether you would keep His commandments or not. 3And He humbled you and let you be hungry, and fed you with manna which you did not know, nor did your fathers know, that He might make you understand that man does not live by bread alone, but man lives by everything that proceeds out of the mouth of the LORD. 4Your clothing did not wear out on you, nor did your foot swell these forty years. 5Thus you are to know in your heart that the LORD your God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son. 6Therefore, you shall keep the commandments of the LORD your God, to walk in His ways and to fear Him. 7For the LORD your God is bringing you into a good land, a land of brooks of water, of fountains and springs, flowing forth in valleys and hills; 8a land of wheat and barley, of vines and fig trees and pomegranates, a land of olive oil and honey; 9a land where you shall eat food without scarcity, in which you shall not lack anything; a land whose stones are iron, and out of whose hills you can dig copper. 10When you have eaten and are satisfied, you shall bless the LORD your God for the good land which He has given you.”

Deuteronomy 8:1 “All the commandments that I am commanding you today” Notice the NOUN (BDB 846, see Special Topic at Deuteronomy 4:1) and VERB (BDB 845, KB 1010, Piel PARTICIPLE) are COGNATE (from the same root).

“you shall be careful to do” The VERB (BDB 1036, KB 1581, Qal IMPERFECT, see note at Deuteronomy 6:12) is used often in Deuteronomy (cf. Qal, Deuteronomy 4:2, Deuteronomy 4:6, Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 5:1, Deuteronomy 5:10, Deuteronomy 5:12, Deuteronomy 5:29, Deuteronomy 5:32; Deuteronomy 6:2, Deuteronomy 6:3, Deuteronomy 6:17[twice],25; Deuteronomy 7:8, Deuteronomy 7:9, Deuteronomy 7:11, Deuteronomy 7:12[twice]; Deuteronomy 8:1, Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 8:6, Deuteronomy 8:11; Deuteronomy 10:13; Deuteronomy 11:1, Deuteronomy 11:8, Deuteronomy 11:22[twice],32; Niphal Deuteronomy 2:4; Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 4:15, Deuteronomy 4:23; Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:11; Deuteronomy 11:16). This verse shows that a loving covenant relationship and obedience are God's way of blessing humanity and fulfilling His promises (cf. Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 8:6, Deuteronomy 8:16, Deuteronomy 8:18; Deuteronomy 4:1).

“possess the land” See Special Topic below.


Deuteronomy 8:2 “remember” This VERB (BDB 269, KB 269, Qal PERFECT, cf. Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:18[twice]; Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 8:18; Deuteronomy 9:7, Deuteronomy 9:27; Deuteronomy 15:15; Deuteronomy 16:3, Deuteronomy 16:12; Deuteronomy 24:9, Deuteronomy 24:18, Deuteronomy 24:22; Deuteronomy 25:17; Deuteronomy 32:7), “remember,” is used in two ways in the OT. It is covenant humanity's requirement to remember God's acts and His laws. This was a Hebrew idiom, “keep God as priority.” It is humanity's request that God not remember our sins.

“in the wilderness” Israel (i.e., her rabbis) looked back on the wilderness wandering period as the “honeymoon” between YHWH and Israel. God was never closer to His people than during this trying time because they had to depend on Him for everything. Now they were going to have abundance and blessings in the Promised Land. God was warning them to continue to depend on Him because He was and is the source of all things (cf. Deuteronomy 8:18).

“forty years” This number was often used in a figurative way to designate a long period of time, longer than a lunar cycle (i.e., 28 days). However, at other times it was literal. It is often difficult to know which to choose without other historical or Scriptural information. The wilderness wandering period lasted about 38 years. See Special Topic: Symbolic Numbers in Scripture

“He might humble you, testing you” Notice the sequence:

1. CONJUNCTION, “in order that” (BDB 775)


a. “to humble” (BDB 776, KB 853, cf. Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 8:16)

b. “to test” (BDB 650, KB 702, cf. Deuteronomy 8:16)

c. “to know” (BDB 393, KB 390, cf. Deuteronomy 8:2[twice],3,[thrice],5,16)

God tests (BDB 650, KB 702, Piel INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT, Deuteronomy 8:16; Deuteronomy 13:3; Judges 2:22; Judges 3:1, Judges 3:4) us with a view toward strengthening our faith (e.g., Genesis 22:1; Exodus 15:25; Exodus 16:4; Exodus 20:20; Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 8:16; Deuteronomy 13:3; Judges 2:22; 2 Chronicles 32:31 and Matthew 4:1; Hebrews 12:5-13). If we are a child of God we will be tested! We are usually tested in the area of our life that is priority to us. Testing is meant to make us more like Christ.

The term “humble” (BDB 776, KB 853, Piel INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT) is used in Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 8:16. The OT only calls Moses humble (cf. Numbers 12:3; and many times in the Psalms) and the NT calls Jesus humble (cf. Matthew 11:29). God desires a humble and trusting attitude in His people (e.g., Deuteronomy 10:3; Ezra 8:21).

The term “heart” is used figuratively of our motives (cf. Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 8:5, Deuteronomy 8:14, and 17). See Special Topic at Deuteronomy 2:30.


Deuteronomy 8:3 “manna” This (BDB 577 I, the people called it “manna” [Exodus 16:31] from the question of Exodus 16:15, “What is it?” Moses called it “bread from heaven,” Exodus 16:4) was God's special provision of food during the wilderness wandering period. It is described in Exodus 16:4, Exodus 16:14-15; Exodus 31:0; Numbers 11:7-8, but its exact substance is unknown to us (BDB says it was known to Bedouins in the Sinai and that it was strictly a juice from a certain twig, but this does not fit the biblical description). God provided what they needed for each day, not for a long period of time so the people would learn to trust Him for their daily needs. He does this for new covenant believers also (cf. Matthew 6:11).

“know” This (BDB 393, KB 390, see Special Topic: Know) root is used three times in this verse (see full note at Deuteronomy 4:35):

1. “which you did not know” - Qal PERFECT

2. “nor did your fathers know” - Qal PERFECT

3. “that He might make you understand” - Hiphil INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT

Also notice other places in this chapter:

v. Deuteronomy 8:2 “to know” - Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT

v. Deuteronomy 8:5 “to know” - Qal PERFECT

v. Deuteronomy 8:16 repeat of #2

“that man does not live by bread alone” This is one of the passages Jesus quoted to Satan in His temptation experience (cf. Matthew 4:14; Luke 4:4). Humans need a personal, trusting relationship with God more than anything (e.g., Psalms 42:1-4; Psalms 63:1; Psalms 143:6, Augustine said there is a god-shaped hole in every person)! The physical is not enough for authentic life (i.e., “by everything that proceeds from the mouth of the LORD”).

Deuteronomy 8:4 “Your clothing did not wear out on you” Both Rashi (Jewish commentator of the Middle Ages) and Justin Martyr (early church father) asserted that the children's clothing grew as they grew and never wore out (cf. Deuteronomy 29:5 adds neither did their sandals; Nehemiah 9:21)! What a wonderful expression of God's care for every need.

“nor did your foot swell” This is a rare Hebrew VERB (BDB 130, KB 148, Qal PERFECT, cf. Nehemiah 9:21) that means “swell.” The same root as a NOUN refers to bread rising. This asserts that their physical bodies were also strengthened to withstand the long, hard journey.

Deuteronomy 8:5 “God was disciplining you just as a man disciplines his son” Here is the specific analogy of YHWH as a loving father (cf. Proverbs 3:15). He disciplines us for our own good ( Hebrews 12:5-13).


Deuteronomy 8:6 “to walk in His ways” This is a common biblical metaphor for lifestyle (e.g., Deuteronomy 5:33; Deuteronomy 8:6; Deuteronomy 10:12; Deuteronomy 11:22; Deuteronomy 19:9; Deuteronomy 26:17; Deuteronomy 28:9; Deuteronomy 30:16). God wants us to live for Him every day. Biblical faith is not a creed, nor a sacramental act, nor a memory lesson nor a systematic theology, but a daily relationship with God.

“to fear Him” This Qal INFINITIVE CONSTRUCT is parallel to “to walk.” This is the concept of awe and respect (cf. Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 5:29; Deuteronomy 6:2, Deuteronomy 6:13, Deuteronomy 6:24; Deuteronomy 7:19; Deuteronomy 8:6; Deuteronomy 10:12, Deuteronomy 10:20; Deuteronomy 13:4; Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 17:19; Deuteronomy 31:12-13).

Deuteronomy 8:7-10 This is an emphasis on the value of water to an agricultural society and the fruitfulness of the soil of the Promised Land. In the ancient documents of Mesopotamia, Palestine was known as “the land flowing with milk and honey” (cf. Exodus 3:8, Exodus 3:17; Exodus 13:5; Exodus 33:3; Deuteronomy 6:3; Deuteronomy 11:9; Deuteronomy 26:9; Deuteronomy 27:3; Deuteronomy 31:20). It also had tremendous mineral deposits, Deuteronomy 8:9. God's blessings on Israel were meant to create a grateful response (cf. Deuteronomy 8:10). God wants us to enjoy His creation but to remember that He gave it to us.

Deuteronomy 8:10 The first part of this verse is the source of the rabbinical mandate to pray after one has eaten. This type of non-contextual literalism, though pious, has nothing to do with “authorial intent”!

Verses 11-20

NASB (UPDATED) TEXT: Deuteronomy 8:11-20 11”Beware lest you forget the LORD your God by not keeping His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes which I am commanding you today; 12lest, when you have eaten and are satisfied, and have built good houses and lived in them, 13and when your herds and your flocks multiply, and your silver and gold multiply, and all that you have multiplies, 14then your heart becomes proud, and you forget the LORD your God who brought you out from the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 15He led you through the great and terrible wilderness, with its fiery serpents and scorpions and thirsty ground where there was no water; He brought water for you out of the rock of flint. 16In the wilderness He fed you manna which your fathers did not know, that He might humble you and that He might test you, to do good for you in the end. 17Otherwise, you may say in your heart, 'My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth.' 18But you shall remember the LORD your God, for it is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers, as it is this day. 19And it shall come about if you ever forget the LORD your God, and go after other gods and serve them and worship them, I testify against you today that you shall surely perish. 20Like the nations that the Lord makes to perish before you, so you shall perish; because you would not listen to the voice of the LORD your God.”

Deuteronomy 8:11 “Beware” This VERB (BDB 1036, KB 1581, Niphal IMPERATIVE, cf. Deuteronomy 5:12; ; Deuteronomy 8:6; Deuteronomy 11:8; Deuteronomy 16:1) is translated “keep,” “observe,” “carefully to do” (see note at Deuteronomy 6:12). It is a call to obedience.

“forget” This VERB (BDB 1013, KB 1489, Qal IMPERFECT, cf. Deuteronomy 4:9, Deuteronomy 4:23, Deuteronomy 4:31; Deuteronomy 6:12; Deuteronomy 8:11, Deuteronomy 8:14, Deuteronomy 8:19[twice]; Deuteronomy 9:7; Deuteronomy 25:19) is the opposite of “remember” (cf. Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:18; Deuteronomy 8:2, Deuteronomy 8:18; Deuteronomy 9:7, Deuteronomy 9:27; Deuteronomy 15:15; Deuteronomy 16:3, Deuteronomy 16:12; Deuteronomy 24:9, Deuteronomy 24:18; Deuteronomy 25:17; Deuteronomy 32:7). This is the tendency of satisfied, fallen man, even religious man. When we forget God's blessing we deceive ourselves into thinking that we did it ourselves by our own resources! The Giver must be priority, not the gift (cf. Psalms 103:20)!

“the LORD your God” Notice they are to remember God and the proper way to do that is obedience (cf. Luke 6:46). For the names of deity, see Special Topic: Names for Deity.

“His commandments and His ordinances and His statutes” See Special Topic: TERMS FOR GOD'S REVELATION.

Deuteronomy 8:13 “multiply” This VERB (BDB 915, KB 1176, Qal IMPERFECT) is repeated three times to show different categories of God's blessings.

Deuteronomy 8:15 “fiery serpents” It is uncertain if they (ADJECTIVE, BDB 977 I and NOUN BDB 638) have this name because of their color (from VERB) or the pain (from poison) of their bite (cf. Numbers 21:0).

“He brought water for you out of the rock of flint” This event is recorded in Exodus 17:6 and again in Numbers 20:0; Numbers 11:0. Paul, in 1 Corinthians 10:4, says this rock was a symbol of God's Messianic provision.

Deuteronomy 8:16 YHWH tests so as to bless (e.g., Abraham in Genesis 22:0; Israel in Exodus 20:20; manna in Exodus 16:4). Testing (BDB 650, KB 702) even becomes a prayer in Psalms 26:2 and in different terms, but same thought, in Psalms 139:1, Psalms 139:23.

Deuteronomy 8:17 “My power and the strength of my hand made me this wealth” Watch out for self-sufficiency and pride (cf. Deuteronomy 8:18; James 4:13-17). See Special Topic: YHWH's GRACE ACTS TO ISRAEL.

Deuteronomy 8:18 “you shall remember” See note at Deuteronomy 7:18.

“His covenant which He swore to your fathers” The Conquest was the culmination of YHWH's redemptive plan going back to Genesis 3:15; Genesis 12:1-3; Genesis 26:24; Genesis 28:13-15. This phrase becomes a repeated affirmation in Deuteronomy (cf. Deuteronomy 1:8; Deuteronomy 6:10; Deuteronomy 8:18; Deuteronomy 9:5, Deuteronomy 9:27; Deuteronomy 29:13; Deuteronomy 30:20; Deuteronomy 34:4).

The VERB (BDB 989, KB 1396) is a Niphal PERFECT, which in covenant promises can be PASSIVE or REFLEXIVE (e.g., Genesis 12:3).

Deuteronomy 8:19 The results of disobedience are as plain as the result of obedience! Notice the VERBS “go after” (BDB 229, KB 246, Qal PERFECT), “serve” (BDB 712, KB 773, Qal PERFECT), and “worship” (BDB 1005, KB 295, Hishtpaphel PERFECT) are parallel.

NASB“if you ever forget the LORD” NKJV“if you by any means forget the LORD” NRSV“if you do forget the LORD” TEV“Never forget the LORD” NJB“Be sure, if you forget Yahweh”

The construction is the VERB “forget” (BDB 1013, KB 1485) repeated, an INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE followed by a Qal IMPERFECT. This construction is an Hebraic method of emphasis. This same form is seen with “perish” in Deuteronomy 8:19.

Deuteronomy 8:20 “you shall perish” Notice that in Deuteronomy 8:19 and 20 the VERB “perish” (BDB 1, KB 2) is used four times (INFINITIVE ABSOLUTE in Deuteronomy 8:19; Qal IMPERFECT twice in Deuteronomy 8:19 and 20, and a Hiphil PARTICIPLE in Deuteronomy 8:20). This is a common word of warning in Deuteronomy. It is used in several ways:

1. God will destroy the Israelites if they do not obey His covenant - Deuteronomy 4:26(twice); Deuteronomy 8:19, Deuteronomy 8:20; Deuteronomy 9:3; Deuteronomy 11:17; Deuteronomy 28:20, Deuteronomy 28:22, Deuteronomy 28:51, Deuteronomy 28:63; Deuteronomy 30:18(twice).

2. God commands Israel to completely destroy the Canaanites - Deuteronomy 7:24; Deuteronomy 8:20; Deuteronomy 12:2, Deuteronomy 12:3.

3. God will destroy those who hate Him - Deuteronomy 7:10.

4. God destroyed the Egyptian Army - Deuteronomy 11:4

Israel will be put under the consequences to “holy war” if she violates the covenant (Deut. 27-29)! God is no respecter of persons!

There are grave consequences for disobedience as well as great benefits for obedience. Privilege brings responsibility! “To whom much is given, much is required” (cf. Luke 12:48)!


This is a study guide commentary which means that you are responsible for your own interpretation of the Bible. Each of us must walk in the light we have. You, the Bible, and the Holy Spirit are priority in interpretation. You must not relinquish this to a commentator.

These discussion questions are provided to help you think through the major issues of this section of the book. They are meant to be thought provoking, not definitive.

1. List God's gracious miracles which He performed for His people in the wilderness which are listed in chapter 8.

2. Does God test His people? Why?

3. Why is humbleness stressed so many times in this chapter?

Bibliographical Information
Utley. Dr. Robert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 8". "Utley's You Can Understand the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ubc/deuteronomy-8.html. 2021.
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