Deuteronomy 1:39 MEANING

Deuteronomy 1:39
(39) Moreover your little ones.--This continues the sentence of Jehovah from Deuteronomy 1:36.

Which ye said should be a prey.--In Numbers 14:3, "that our wives and children should be a prey." (See also Deuteronomy 1:31.)

Verse 39. - Only among the young of that generation should the inheritance be divided, as they had no part in the rebellion of their seniors. Your little ones; i.e. children beginning to walk (טַפ, from טָפַפ, to trip, to take short and quick steps). And your children - boys and girls - which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil; rather, of whom [ye said] they know not today good and evil. The Hebrews were wont to express totality or universality by specifying contradictory opposites, as, e.g., great and small (2 Chronicles 34:30), master and scholar (Malachi 2:20), free and bond (Revelation 13:16; Revelation 19:18), shut up and left (Deuteronomy 32:36, where see note; 1 Kings 14:10), etc. Accordingly, when good and evil are set over against each other, the notion of entireness or universality is expressed. Thus, when Laban and Bethuel said to Abraham's servant "We cannot speak unto thee bad or good" (Genesis 24:50), the meaning is, We can say nothing at all. Absalom spake to Amnon "neither good nor bad" (2 Samuel 13:22); that is, he did not say anything to him. The woman of Tekoa said to David, "As an angel of God, so is my lord the king to discern good and bad" (2 Samuel 14:17); i.e. There is nothing the king does not know - his knowledge is universal. Hence to know good and evil came to mean to be intelligent, and not to know good and evil to be unintelligent, as is a babe. The children here referred to knew nothing, and consequently could not be held as morally responsible; comp. Isaiah 7:15; Homer, ' Odyssey,' 18:228 -

Οἴδα ἔκαστα
ἐσθλά τε καὶ χέρεια παρὸς δ ἔτι νήπιος ἠᾶ

1:19-46 Moses reminds the Israelites of their march from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, through that great and terrible wilderness. He shows how near they were to a happy settlement in Canaan. It will aggravate the eternal ruin of hypocrites, that they were not far from the kingdom of God. As if it were not enough that they were sure of their God before them, they would send men before them. Never any looked into the Holy Land, but they must own it to be a good land. And was there any cause to distrust this God? An unbelieving heart was at the bottom of all this. All disobedience to God's laws, and distrust of his power and goodness, flow from disbelief of his word, as all true obedience springs from faith. It is profitable for us to divide our past lives into distinct periods; to give thanks to God for the mercies we have received in each, to confess and seek the forgiveness of all the sins we can remember; and thus to renew our acceptance of God's salvation, and our surrender of ourselves to his service. Our own plans seldom avail to good purpose; while courage in the exercise of faith, and in the path of duty, enables the believer to follow the Lord fully, to disregard all that opposes, to triumph over all opposition, and to take firm hold upon the promised blessings.Moreover, your little ones, which ye said should be a prey,.... To the Amorites, into whose hands they expected to be delivered, Deuteronomy 1:27 see Numbers 14:3.

and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil; not being at years of understanding, and which is a common description of children; it is particularly expressed "in that day", for now they were the very persons Moses was directing his speech unto, and relating this history, it being thirty eight years ago when this affair was, so that now they were grown up to years of discretion:

they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it: the relation of which now might serve greatly to encourage their faith, as well as it would be a fulfilment of the promise of the land made unto Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, which was not made of none effect through the unbelief of the Israelites, whose carcasses fell in the wilderness, since their posterity was to enjoy it, and did.

Courtesy of Open Bible