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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 4

Peake's Commentary on the BiblePeake's Commentary

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 *).

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