These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.
(There are eleven ° days journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadeshbarnea.)
And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh ° month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;
After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei:
On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying,
The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:
Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.
Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.
And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:
The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.
(The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)
How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?
Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.
And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.
So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.
And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.
Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.
And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.
And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea.
And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.
Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.
And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.
And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men ° of you, one of a tribe:
And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.
And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us.
Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:
And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.
Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.
Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.
The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;
And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.
Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,
Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.
And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,
Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers,
Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.
Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.
But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.
Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.
But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.
Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill.
And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them, Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.
So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill.
And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.
And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.
So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there.
 

Introduction to Deuteronomy

The last of the five books of Moses is Deuteronomy, which means “second law” (from Greek deuteros and nomos, meaning “second” and “law,” respectively). The name is derived from the fact that Deuteronomy 5:6-21 reiterates the ten commandments as well as many of the other Mosaic laws as first given in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. The earlier laws are also enlarged and applied in various ways.

Deuteronomy also can be regarded as Moses’ valedictory, reviewing the history of the nation, especially since their escape from Egypt. The book actually includes three components, delivered at different times and places (see Deuteronomy 1:5; 4:46; 29:1), but all at various locations in the land of Moab just east of the Jordan River. Israel had been in the wilderness almost forty years, and was finally preparing to enter the promised land. Moses would not be able to go with them, but would die in the land of Moab after viewing Canaan from afar (Deuteronomy 34:1-6) and having turned the leadership over to Joshua (Numbers 27:18-23; Deuteronomy 31:7,14).

Frequently cited in the New Testament, Deuteronomy contains Israel’s great statement of monotheistic faith (Deuteronomy 6:4-6), as well as Christ’s “greatest” commandment (Deuteronomy 6:5). Jesus chose words from Deuteronomy to turn back the three temptations of Satan (Deuteronomy 6:13,16; 8:3). Remarkable prophecies of both blessings and curses on Israel are found especially in Deuteronomy 28 and 29. The Song of Moses is recorded in Deuteronomy 32 and his final prophetic blessings on each tribe (except Simeon) in Deuteronomy 33.

Moses wrote Deuteronomy, as the book itself frequently claims (Deuteronomy 31:9,24), and as all the evidence, both internal and external, confirms. Jesus often quoted from it, accepting the Mosaic authorship (e.g., Matthew 19:8, citing Deuteronomy 24:1-4). Moses’ authorship was accepted as such by all authorities, ancient and modern, Jewish and Christian, until the rise of evolutionary higher criticism in the 19th century. Since that time, most liberal scholars have denied that Moses wrote Deuteronomy, but they cannot agree as to when and by whom it was written. Some would attribute it to the time of David, others to the revival under King Josiah, and others to the post-exile period. Such speculation is mere fantasy, deriving from the evolutionary prejudices of skeptical theologians.

Beyond reasonable question, Moses wrote Deuteronomy at a time very near the end of his life. No doubt Joshua wrote the account of Moses’ death (Deuteronomy 34) and possibly certain other editorial explanations. He probably added these to the Mosaic document after Moses died, and then continued to preserve all the Mosaic writings by placing them in the ark of the covenant (Deuteronomy 31:24-26).

1:3 Moses spake. Practically the entire book of Deuteronomy consists of spoken messages by Moses to the people of Israel, reviewing their forty years in the wilderness, along with the laws, commandments and promises made to them by the Lord. These messages were also written down by Moses and now comprise the book of Deuteronomy. The messages were originally given in the plains of Moab as their armies were preparing to cross the Jordan and possess the promised land.

1:6 long enough. Having experienced so many remarkable events in and near Mount Sinai (same as Mount Horeb), it is understandable that the people would be reluctant to leave. Analogously, modern believers who have experienced special blessings in a particular place may wish to stay there, hoping for more. But there is work yet to do in the regions beyond.

1:7 the river Euphrates. Moses originally was planning to conquer all the lands promised to Abraham (Genesis 15:18). But contrast the much smaller boundaries described by him in Numbers 34:1-12. The repeated complaints and rebellion among his followers had apparently led to the Lord’s postponement of the fulfillment of the larger promise.

1:10 the stars of heaven. Only about five thousand stars were visible to the unaided eye, so such a comparison as this, with the Israelites numbering over two million, indicates that Moses somehow knew (and it could only have been by divine revelation) that there were far more stars in heaven than they could see.

1:23 twelve men. For the account of the mission and the report of the twelve spies, see Numbers 13.

1:35 not one. Moses was speaking to the now-grown children of the deceased generation, as though it were these children that had been the rebels. They did, indeed, still harbor the same complaints and doubts as their fathers, and it was necessary that Moses speak harshly to them, lest they might still want to return to Egypt.


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