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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Deuteronomy 4

 

 


Verses 1-40

Deuteronomy 4:1-40. Second Part of Moses' First Address.—This contains exhortations to obedience from motives of self-interest and of gratitude to Yahweh, and forms an apparent logical unity with Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 3:29 : but the two pieces had probably a separate origin. The lessons in Deuteronomy 4:1-40 are not drawn immediately from chs. 1-3. The writer of 1-3 has in mind the events which followed the departure from Horeb: that of Deuteronomy 4:1-40 concentrates attention upon the theophany on Horeb.

Deuteronomy 4:27-31 seems to imply that the exile has taken place. Yet the editor of Dt. evidently regarded Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:40 as a unity, and the characteristic language and spirit of D runs through the whole.

Deuteronomy 4:1-4. Long life and possession of Canaan are often mentioned in Dt. as rewards of obedience.—statutes and judgments: Deuteronomy 4:45*. The principle of a fixed Canon of Scripture is involved in 2. At the close of his Code Hammurabi pronounces a blessing upon the man who will not deface or alter his law, and a curse upon anyone who will change it in the least degree.

Deuteronomy 4:3. because of: read, "in" (see Numbers 25:1-5).

Deuteronomy 4:4. The idea of cleaving to Yahweh is peculiar to Dt.

Deuteronomy 4:5. Render, "I teach," etc.

Deuteronomy 4:7. a god: render, "gods."

Deuteronomy 4:9. thy soul: Hebraism = "thyself" (emphatic), Deuteronomy 2:30*.—thy children: Dt. lays stress on the duty of training children (Deuteronomy 6:7, etc.).

Deuteronomy 4:10 f. Cf. Exodus 19:9 f., Ex. 1917f.

Deuteronomy 4:10. in Horeb: i.e. in the space in front of Horeb, so Deuteronomy 9:8, Deuteronomy 18:16. The duty of fearing Yahweh (Job 1:1) is often insisted upon in Dt.

Deuteronomy 4:13. The idea of a covenant between Yahweh and Israel holds a conspicuous place in Dt. and in allied writings of the OT, especially in Jer. Dt. mentions three covenants: (a) That made with the fathers in which Yahweh promises a numerous posterity (Deuteronomy 13:17) and the possession of the land of Canaan (Deuteronomy 6:18, cf. Genesis 15:18 (JE), etc.). (b) The covenant made at Horeb based upon the Decalogue (see Deuteronomy 5:7 ff., Deuteronomy 9:9 f., cf. Deuteronomy 4:23). (c) That made in the land of Moab, sharply distinguished from that of Mount Horeb in Deuteronomy 29:1 (Heb. rightly 28:69), see Deuteronomy 29:9; Deuteronomy 29:12; Deuteronomy 29:14; Deuteronomy 29:21, Deuteronomy 26:17-19. It is not strictly true that the conception of a covenant between Yahweh and Israel occurs first in D (see Hosea 2:18; Hosea 6:7 f., Genesis 15:18 (J), Deuteronomy 26:1-4 (J), and Deuteronomy 28:13 f. (J).—ten commandments: Heb. "ten words" (Exodus 34:28), hence the technical term "Decalogue" from the Gr. (LXX) rendering (deka logoi).—two tables of stone: in P "the two tables of the testimony" (Exodus 31:18).

Deuteronomy 4:15-24 gives reasons why Israel should not worship idols.

Deuteronomy 4:16. corrupt yourselves: render, "act corruptly."—graven image: Exodus 20:4*. The specific forms follow (cf. "molten image," Deuteronomy 9:12).

Deuteronomy 4:18. the water under the earth: the abyss of waters on which the earth was supposed to rest; see Genesis 1:6-8*, Genesis 49:25. Exodus 20:4, and Cent.B, "Psalms," vol. ii. p. 174f.

Deuteronomy 4:20. iron furnace: one heated sufficiently to melt iron (see Jeremiah 11:4, etc.).—a people of inheritance: a Hebraism, meaning "a possessed people" (see Deuteronomy 7:6).

Deuteronomy 4:21. for your sakes: Deuteronomy 1:37*, cf. Deuteronomy 3:26.—sware: Yahweh's oath to exclude Moses from Canaan is not mentioned elsewhere. Some omit the clause.—giveth: better here and elsewhere in the same connexion, "is about to give."

Deuteronomy 4:25-31 seems to presuppose the Exile if not also the Restoration.

Deuteronomy 4:25. provoke: the Heb. word, common in Dt., Jer., etc. means, "to annoy," "bother," not "to make angry" (so Deuteronomy 9:18, Deuteronomy 31:29, Deuteronomy 32:16; Deuteronomy 32:21; cf. Deuteronomy 9:7 a*).

Deuteronomy 4:26. Heaven and earth are summoned as abiding witnesses; see Deuteronomy 30:19, Deuteronomy 31:28, Deuteronomy 32; Isaiah 1:2, Jeremiah 2:12; Jeremiah 6:19.

Deuteronomy 4:31. merciful: better, "compassionate."

Deuteronomy 4:33 f. God: render in both verses "a god."

Deuteronomy 4:34. temptations: better, "testings" (see Deuteronomy 6:16). These and also the "signs" and "wonders" (lit. outstanding acts) refer all of them to the plagues of Egypt viewed on different sides.—by a mighty hand, etc.: a frequent expression in Dt. (Deuteronomy 5:15, etc.), cf. Jeremiah 32:21.

Deuteronomy 4:35; Deuteronomy 4:39 teach absolute monotheism.

Deuteronomy 4:36. instruct: in the moral and religious sense (see Deuteronomy 8:5, "chasten," same verb).—Add to Deuteronomy 4:36 "and didst live" (see Deuteronomy 4:33), and omit the first word of Deuteronomy 4:37. The difference in the Heb. is slight.

Deuteronomy 4:37. loved; Dt. dwells much on Yahweh's love (Deuteronomy 7:8; Deuteronomy 7:13, etc.) and also on Israel's duty to love Yahweh.—with his presence: Hebraism for "Himself"; "my presence" (lit. "face") in Heb. means, "I myself" (see Exodus 33:14 (J), and cf. Deuteronomy 2:30*, Deuteronomy 4:9*).

Deuteronomy 4:40. Obedience pays, so Dt. constantly teaches (see Deuteronomy 5:16; Deuteronomy 5:33, etc.).

Deuteronomy 4:41-43 (three cities of refuge E. of the Jordan) is an interpolation, and has no connexion here with the preceding or succeeding verses. The sites are unknown (see Deuteronomy 19:1 ff.*, where the subject is introduced as if for the first time.

Deuteronomy 4:45-49 is the proper introduction to Deuteronomy 6-11 as Deuteronomy 4:44 is that to Deuteronomy 12-26 and Deuteronomy 28.

Deuteronomy 4:44. law: Deuteronomy 1:5*.

Deuteronomy 4:45. Render "these are the admonitions" (lit. "commands given in the presence of witnesses") "and the statutes" (lit. what is engraved on wood or stone, cf. CH) "and the ordinances" (lit. judicial decisions, then precedent laws).—Moses . . . Egypt: Moses could not have written so.

Deuteronomy 4:48. Sion: a clerical slip for "Sirion" (Deuteronomy 3:9*).

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 4:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/deuteronomy-4.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Saturday, October 24th, 2020
the Week of Proper 24 / Ordinary 29
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