(1) Now therefore hearken.—The whole point of the exhortation in this chapter is the same which we find in Joshua’s address to the people (Joshua 24), that they should serve Jehovah. And the ground of the exhortation is His revelation of Himself in Horeb as their God.
The statutes . . . and the judgments.—Perhaps we should say “institutions and requirements” in modern language. For “judgments,” see Exodus 21-23.
That ye may live, and go in.—Life is put before possession. The penalty of the broken law is death.
Teach them thy sons, and thy sons’ sons.—A command which Israel evidently failed to obey. For a generation speedily rose up “which knew not Jehovah nor yet the works which he had done for Israel” (Judges 2:10). It is worth while to observe that we cannot find any trace of a system of national education in Israel until many years later. When education is purely parental, it is likely to be neglected in many instances. It is not every parent who finds himself able to “teach his sons, and his sons’ sons.”
The day . . . in Horeb is not only to be regarded as a special subject of instruction; it is the root of the whole matter.
Gather me the people together.—The Greek here is εκκλησίασον, which might be paraphrased according to New Testament language, “Form a Church of this people,” The “day of the assembly” alluded to in this and other passages (as Deuteronomy 10:4) may be similarly paraphrased as “the day of the Church.” It seems to be the source of the expression used by St. Stephen, “the Church in the wilderness” (Acts 7:38). Thus the analogy between Israel’s receiving the letter of the law at Sinai, and the gift of the Holy Spirit in Jerusalem is still further brought out.
He wrote them.—See on Deuteronomy 10:2.
(17,18) Likeness of any beast . . . fowl . . .—There may be an allusion to the animal idolatry of Egypt here.
Which the Lord thy God hath divided unto all nations.—The heavenly bodies could never be regarded as special protectors of any one nation. But Jehovah was pledged to be the God of Israel. This appears to be the argument of Deuteronomy 4:19-20.
(29, 30, 31) Comp. Deuteronomy 30:1-5 for a more explicit promise and prophecy of the same thing, and see Note on that passage.
Deuteronomy 4:40Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which the LORD thy God giveth thee, for ever.
Deuteronomy 4:41Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;THE APPOINTMENT OF THREE CITIES OF REFUGE.
(41) Then Moses severed.—The word “then” appears to be a note of time. It would seem that the appointment of the three cities of refuge on the eastern side of Jordan actually followed this discourse.
On this side Jordan.—Heb., b’ ’êber hay-yardên. The expression is here defined by the words that follow, “toward the sun-rising,” and it need not, therefore, be taken to fix the writer’s point of view. By itself, the expression would naturally mean, on the other side of Jordan.
(43) Bezer is as yet unidentified.
Ramoth in Gilead, though famous in the history of Israel as the scene of Ahab’s death and of the anointing of Jehu (1 Kings 21 and 2 Kings 9), is also as yet unknown.
Golan has given a name to the district of Gaulonitis. But it is as yet also unknown. We may hope that when the survey of Eastern Palestine is concluded, these ancient sites will be recovered.
Deuteronomy 4:42That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:
Deuteronomy 4:43Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.
Deuteronomy 4:44And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:SECOND DISCOURSE.
(44-49) These words form an introduction to the second discourse, which occupies the larger portion of the book—from Deuteronomy 5:1 to the end of Deuteronomy 26. There is no real break between. The present introduction differs from what we find in Deuteronomy 1:1. There is no intimation that this portion of Deuteronomy was a repetition of what had been delivered between Sinai and Kadesh-barnea. What follows is said to have been spoken in the land of Sihon and Og, after the conquest by Israel.
(46) On this side Jordan.—Literally, on the other side. The same expression in Deuteronomy 4:47 is defined by the addition, “toward the sun-rising.”
The whole passage (Deuteronomy 4:44-49) may be editorial, and added by Joshua in Canaan. But there is no necessity for this view.
(48) Mount Sion.—See Note on Deuteronomy 3:9.