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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 11

Whedon's Commentary on the BibleWhedon's Commentary


In Deuteronomy 11:1-12 the requirement of love to Jehovah is more fully enforced. Their love is to be shown by their obedience.

Verse 1

1. Keep his charge That is, observe what Jehovah requires of you. What follows more fully explains the passage.

Verse 2

2. I speak not with your children Better, And know ye this day: not with your children have I to do. The meaning is this: Not with your children born in the wilderness, who neither knew nor saw what you have seen, am I dealing. I am dealing with you who left Egypt when you were children. You saw the miracles in the time of the people’s deliverance; you saw what was done to your fathers; you saw the signal punishments that were inflicted on the rebellious.

Verse 6

6. What he did unto Dathan and Abiram Korah is not here mentioned, though in Numbers xvi the destruction of Korah and his company is recorded as well as that of Dathan and Abiram. Keil suggests that Korah is omitted out of regard to the feelings of his kindred who were then living. Another suggestion to account for the omission is that the rebellion was sufficiently characterized by the two names Dathan and Abiram. There is the same omission of Korah in Psalms 106:17: “The earth opened and swallowed up Dathan, and covered the company of Abiram.” Moses is not giving a full history of the misdeeds of the people. Nor does he mention all the rebellions. He is not writing as an annalist, he is talking as a prophet, and he introduces the historical incidents to add force to his admonitions.

The substance… in their possession Literally, the living thing which was at their feet. Undoubtedly it means all their servants. In Numbers 16:32, all the men that belonged to Korah is the correct rendering of the Hebrew expression, and is analogous to this.

Verses 10-12

10-12. The land… is not as… Egypt Moses contrasts the land they have left with the land they are to possess. Egypt depended, as it still does, for its fertility upon the annual overflow of its great river, whose waters were made available for the whole year by artificial water-courses. Human labour and human foresight were constantly required. Man must especially care for the land in Egypt. The country they are seeking is one that Jehovah cared for. Not a land of extended plains reclaimed from the desert by the waters of its single river, but a land of hills and valleys, which drinketh the rain of heaven.

Wateredst it with thy foot This expression suggests their servile toil in Egypt. It may refer to the use of some kind of machinery for irrigation worked by the foot, but “it is more probable that this alludes to the mode of stopping small watercourses with mud by the foot, and turning off the water into another channel.” WILKINSON’S Ancient Egyptians, vol. i, p. 581. Comp. THOMSON’S Land and the Book, vol. ii, p. 279.

A land which the Lord thy God careth for As if he watered it with his own hands. All that servile toil required in Egypt for irrigation will be unnecessary in the land to which they are bound.

Verse 13

13. Hearken Jehovah is now speaking. The passage, 13-21, is one of the four that the Jews placed in their phylacteries.

Verse 14

14. The first rain and the latter rain In “the present time rain in an ordinarily good year falls first at the autumnal equinox. During November frequent thunderstorms occur, and about Christmas the weather is generally stormy. In January the heaviest rains fall, and in February sometimes none at all; but the weather is never settled till after the vernal equinox and the early April showers are past.” Survey of Western Palestine, Special Papers, p. 196. In the Mishnah we find, “From what time shall they begin the form of praise that the Almighty power is manifested in giving rain? Rabbi Eliezer said from the first day of the feast of tabernacles. Others place it a few days later. Until what time shall rain be sought? Until the passover is finished. Comp. BARCLAY’S Talmud, p. 158.

Verse 21

21. As the days of heaven upon the earth If obedient to these precepts, faithful to Jehovah your God, the goodly land will be yours and your children’s as long as heaven is above the earth. Deuteronomy 11:18-21 is, in part, a repetition of Deuteronomy 6:6-9.

Verse 24

24. Every place… shall be yours The boundaries of the land are here briefly stated: from Arabia on the south to Lebanon on the north; from the Euphrates on the east to the Mediterranean on the west. For other statements of the boundaries comp. Genesis 15:18-21; Exodus 23:31; Numbers 34:6.

Verse 26

26. Behold, I set before you this day a blessing and a curse A blessing, if they obey and have Jehovah for their God; a curse, if they are disobedient and go after other gods.

Verse 29

29. Thou shalt put the blessing upon Mount Gerizim, and the curse upon Mount Ebal There were special reasons for selecting these mountains. They are almost at the geographical centre of the land. They lie opposite each other, with a beautiful, well-watered valley between Ebal on the north and Gerizim on the south, each rising more than twenty-five hundred feet in height above the level of the sea. In the valley was Shechem modern Nablus. The modern town is beautifully surrounded with well-watered and productive gardens. Shechem was so prominent in the history of the patriarchs that the gathering of the tribes there would be especially impressive and significant. This was the first spot where Abraham pitched his tent in Canaan, and where he built an altar. To this place Jacob came on his return from Mesopotamia, and pitched his tent east of the city near to Shechem. Here he bought the parcel of a field from Hamor, Shechem’s father. Genesis 33:19. Here, too, he built an altar for worship. Here the tribes were soon to bury the bones of Joseph. See Joshua 24:32.

Verse 30

30. By the way where the sun goeth down Referring to the great highway for travel from Syria to Egypt, which runs through the land on the west side of the Jordan. There was another main road on the east side of the river.

Which dwell in the champaign In the Arabah. This term was applied to the whole valley, extending from the sources of the Jordan to the gulf of Akabah. As the Israelites are now encamped on the east side of the Jordan, the Arabah would be right before them as they looked toward the west. Knobel thinks the region in which Nablus is situated to be meant.

Over against Gilgal Not Gilgal on the west side of the Jordan near Jericho, but probably the Gilgal mentioned in 2 Kings 2:1. In the narrative it is said that Elijah and Elisha came down from Gilgal to Bethel, and from Beth-el, going by Jericho, they pass on to the Jordan. This Gilgal was higher than Beth-el, and evidently more remote from Jordan. A place bearing the name Jiljilieh is thought to be the site of this Gilgal. The critics have made this one of the points of attack on the authenticity of the book. “It must seem strange that Moses, who had never been in the land of Canaan, should know all these places and be able to describe them so accurately. But it is still more strange that he should know the name Gilgal, which, according to the book of Joshua, was not given to the place till after the people had entered the land of Canaan. It is plain the text was written at a later age, when these names and places were familiarly known.” Pentateuch Examined, ii, p. 200. Now it would be strange indeed if Moses were not familiar with the geography of the land. The monuments of Egypt show acquaintance with Syria. The great roads for commerce and war led through Canaan. Forty years spent in Egypt, forty years in Midian, and forty years on the very borders of the land would certainly give opportunity for familiar knowledge of the physical features of the land. As there were several places that bore the name Gilgal, one at least may have had that name before the conquest.

The plains of Moreh Rather, the terebinths of Moreh, hallowed in the minds of the Israelites as the place of the divine manifestation to Abraham. Genesis 12:6-7.

Verses 31-32

31, 32. Ye shall pass over Jordan Moses gives a reason for these specific directions in the confident assurance he has that the people are to cross the Jordan and take possession of the land.

Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/deuteronomy-11.html. 1874-1909.
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