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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy 29

Moses is near the close of his earthly career. The generation that heard the law from Horeb has passed away. The children of those who rebelled are now on the very borders of the Land of Promise. It is well that the people should be reminded of the obligations under which they were placed. The addresses which follow in chaps. 29 and 30 are characterized as the words of the covenant which Jehovah commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel, besides the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.

Verse 2

2. Ye have seen As a people they had seen the wonderful works of God.

Verse 3

3. The great temptations The Hebrew word translated temptations has reference to the plagues which came upon the Egyptians, and which were tests or proofs of the power of Israel’s God. The miracles wrought and the signs given were these proofs.

Verse 4

4. A heart to perceive Their disobedience had rendered them incapable of perceiving their true relations to Jehovah their God. Comp. Isaiah 6:9; Matthew 13:15, and John 12:37-40.

Verse 5

5. Forty years in the wilderness Comp. Deuteronomy 1:3; Deuteronomy 8:2.

Your clothes are not waxen old See note on Deuteronomy 8:4.

Verse 6

6. Not eaten bread, neither… drunk wine The meaning is, that in their desert wandering they were not sustained by ordinary or natural means. Their provision was from God.

Verse 7

7. Sihon… and Og Comp. Deuteronomy 2:30; Deuteronomy 3:2.

Verse 8

8. We took their land See Deuteronomy 3:12-13.

Verse 10

10. Ye stand… before the Lord See Deuteronomy 29:10-15. Moses here calls upon the nation to enter into a new covenant with Jehovah their God.

Your captains… elders… officers, with all the men of Israel The Hebrew is better rendered, your captains, your tribes, your elders, and your officers, every man of Israel.

Verse 11

11. Little ones,… wives As the covenant was with the nation in its organic unity it included all the members the men, the women, the children, the Egyptians who left Egypt with them, (see Exodus 12:38,) and the Midianites who united with Israel. See Numbers 10:29-31.

Thy stranger The proselyte. Comp. Exodus 12:38-48.

The hewer of thy wood Comp. Joshua 9:21.

Verses 14-15

14-15. Neither with you only Moses here impresses upon the people that the covenant is not merely with those he is addressing, but also with their descendants. “For the promise is unto you, and to your children, and to all them that are afar off.” Acts 2:39.

Verses 16-17

16-17. Ye know how we have dwelt In this passage the reference is to the idol worship of Egypt and of the nations with whom they had been brought in contact on their journey. They are told in effect to remember what they have seen of the worthlessness and vileness of such worship. These verses are not parenthetical, as in our version, but are closely connected with the following verse.

Verse 18

18. Lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood This figurative expression may be compared with the passage in Hebrews 12:15, “Lest any man fail of the grace of God; lest any root of bitterness springing up trouble you, and thereby many be defiled.” The word translated gall probably does not denote a poisonous plant.

Verse 19

19. Though I walk in the imagination of mine heart The word translated imagination is generally used in a bad sense. But it may be used, as in the corresponding Syriac, in a good sense.

To add drunkenness to thirst The literal translation is, so that satiety increases thirst. The whole passage has almost baffled the ingenuity of commentators. We think the meaning is, I shall have peace even though I do not keep the laws of God, even though I do what is pleasing to myself and indulge my passions to satiety even to a satiety that produces greater longing for indulgence.

Verse 20

20. The Lord will not spare him He may go on in fancied security; but, in the graphic language of the original, the indignation of Jehovah will smoke and he will be utterly destroyed. How sad must have been the scene that lies in thought before the great lawgiver and prophet! He sees the nation as going away from Jehovah, worshipping strange gods. He sees the terrible retribution that is to come upon them.

Verse 23

23. The whole land thereof is brimstone, etc. The description is taken from the Dead Sea and the destruction of the Cities of the Plain.

Verse 24

24. What meaneth the heat of this great anger Literally, what is this great burning of wrath? Comp. 1 Kings 9:8-9; Jeremiah 22:8-9.

Verse 28

28. And cast them into another land “The Hebrew word yashlichem is written with a great lamed and with yod defective. The former letter is the first in the word l’olam, forever; the latter used as a numeral signifies ten. In this mode of writing is supposed to be mystically signified the perpetual rejection of the ten tribes. BUXTORF, Mas. Com., 14.” Speaker’s Com.

Verse 29

29. The secret things belong unto the Lord our God It lies with God to carry out these threatened judgments. Of that day and of that hour knows no man.

Unto us and to our children The Hebrew words have an extraordinary pointing, the meaning of which is uncertain. The most probable explanation is, that the points were employed to make the passage emphatic.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 29". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". 1874-1909.