Deuteronomy 10:16
Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff necked.
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(16) Circumcise . . . your heart.—“For circumcision is that of the heart, in the spirit, and not in the letter” (Romans 2:29). The verse literally runs thus: Circumcise the foreskin of your heart, and ye will harden your neck no more. It is the same line of thought as St. Paul’s (Galatians 5:16) “Walk in the Spirit, and (then) ye will not fulfil the lust of the flesh.”

(17,18) A great God, a mighty, and a terrible . . . he doth execute the judgment of the fatherless and widow.—“Behold (says Rashi) His might! And close beside His might thou mayest find His humility.” It is not otherwise in later passages of Scripture: He healeth the broken in heart, and bindeth up their wounds. He telleth the number of the stars, and calleth them all by their names.”

Deuteronomy 10:16. Circumcise, therefore, your heart — Rest not in your bodily circumcision, or in any mere external observances or duties; but seriously set upon that substantial and most important circumcision of the heart and of the spirit which is signified by that of the flesh, and intended to be inculcated thereby: see Romans 2:28-29. Cleanse your hearts from all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness; fitly compared to the foreskin, which, under the Jewish law, if not cut off, made persons profane, unclean, and odious in the sight of God.10:12-22 We are here taught our duty to God in our principles and our practices. We must fear the Lord our God. We must love him, and delight in communion with him. We must walk in the ways in which he has appointed us to walk. We must serve him with all our heart and soul. What we do in his service we must do cheerfully, and with good will. We must keep his commandments. There is true honour and pleasure in obedience. We must give honour to God; and to him we must cleave, as one we love and delight in, trust in, and from whom we have great expectations. We are here taught our duty to our neighbour. God's common gifts to mankind oblige us to honour all men. And those who have themselves been in distress, and have found mercy with God, should be ready to show kindness to those who are in the like distress. We are here taught our duty to ourselves. Circumcise your hearts. Cast away all corrupt affections and inclinations, which hinder you from fearing and loving God. By nature we do not love God. This is original sin, the source whence our wickedness proceeds; and the carnal mind is enmity against God, for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be; so then they that are in the flesh cannot please God, Ro 8:5-9. Let us, without delay or reserve, come and cleave to our reconciled God in Jesus Christ, that we may love, serve, and obey him acceptably, and be daily changed into his image, from glory to glory, by the Spirit of the Lord. Consider the greatness and glory of God; and his goodness and grace; these persuade us to our duty. Blessed Spirit! Oh for thy purifying, persevering, and renewing influences, that being called out of the state of strangers, such as our fathers were, we may be found among the number of the children of God, and that our lot may be among the saints.On "circumcision" see Genesis 17:10. This verse points to the spiritual import of circumcision. Man is by nature "very far gone from original righteousness," and in a state of enmity to God; by circumcision, as the sacrament of admission to the privileges of the chosen people, this opposition must be taken away ere man could enter into covenant with God. It was through the flesh that man first sinned; as it is also in the flesh, its functions, lusts, etc., that man's rebellion against God chiefly manifests itself still. It was fitting therefore that the symbol which should denote the removal of this estrangement from God should be worked in the body. Moses then fitly follows up the command "to circumcise the heart," with the warning "to be no more stiff-necked." His meaning is that they should lay aside that obduracy and perverseness toward God for which he had been reproving them, which had led them into so many transgressions of the covenant and revolts from God, and which was especially the very contrary of that love and fear of God required by the first two of the Ten Commandments. The language associated with circumcision in the Bible distinguishes the use made of this rite in the Jewish religion from that found among certain pagan nations. Circumcision was practiced by some of them as a religious rite, designed (e. g.) to appease the deity of death who was supposed to delight in human suffering; but not by any, the Egyptians probably excepted, at all in the Jewish sense and meaning.

The grounds on which circumcision was imposed as essential by the Law are the same as those on which Baptism is required in the Gospel. The latter in the New Testament is strictly analogous to the former under the Old; compare Colossians 2:11-12.

16. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart—Here he teaches them the true and spiritual meaning of that rite, as was afterwards more strongly urged by Paul (Ro 2:25, 29), and should be applied by us to our baptism, which is "not the putting away of the filth of the flesh, but the answer of a good conscience toward God" [1Pe 3:21]. Rest not in your bodily circumcision, but seriously set upon that substantial work which is signified and designed thereby: cleanse your hearts from all filthiness and superfluity of naughtiness, which is fitly compared to the foreskin, which if not cut off, made persons profane, unclean, and odious in the sight of God. Compare Deu 30:6 Jeremiah 4:4 9:25 Romans 2:28,29 Col 2:11. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart,.... Content not yourselves with, nor put your confidence in outward circumcision of the flesh, but be concerned for the circumcision of the heart; for removing from that whatever is disagreeable to the Lord, even all carnality, sensuality, hypocrisy, and superfluity of naughtiness, and for having that put there which is well pleasing in his sight; and which though it is the work of God, and he only can do it and has promised it, yet such an exhortation is made to bring men to a sense of their need of it, and of the importance of it, and to show how agreeable it is to the Lord, and so to stir them up to seek unto him for it; see Deuteronomy 30:6.

and be no more stiffnecked; froward, obstinate, and disobedient, as they had been hitherto; Deuteronomy 9:6.

{h} Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiffnecked.

(h) Cut off all your evil affections, Jer 4:4.

16. Circumcise the foreskin of your heart] The same metaphor in Jeremiah 4:4 (cp. Deuteronomy 9:25); whether it is original to the prophet or to D is impossible to determine. In view of the style of Jeremiah’s earlier discourses, in which abrupt and unrelated metaphors are frequently conjoined, and of the secondary character of these verses before us, the presumption is that the metaphor is here derived from Jeremiah. ‘Wohl bei Jeremias ursprünglich,’ Wellh. Comp. Hex. 193. Steuernagel states the converse opinion.

stiffnecked] See Deuteronomy 9:6 Sg. and 13 Pl.

16–19. The form of address changes to Pl., and a qualification is made of the great statement just given. Though God has elected (for reasons of His own) to love Israel’s fathers and to choose their posterity after them out of all peoples to be His peculiar people, He is not one that regards persons, but as He takes the part of the helpless within Israel so He loves also the foreigner resident among them, and therefore Israel must love the foreign sojourner, having themselves been sojourners in Egypt. No doubt all this is more or less relevant to the main theme of the discourse, but it is outside it, and as its introduction is coincident with the change to the Pl. address, the passage must be considered as a later addition, or additions (for Deuteronomy 10:18-19 is still a further departure from Deuteronomy 10:16-17). The same idea, that Israel cannot count on God’s partiality for them if they continue to be stiffnecked, had been already put by Amos in a more striking form, Amos 3:2, you only have I known of all the families of the earth; therefore I will visit on you all your iniquities. Cp. John 8:31-45; and Acts 10:34; Romans 2:11; Galatians 2:6, in which the argument of this passage is developed.Verse 16. - They were, therefore, to lay aside all insensibility of heart and all obduracy, to acknowledge God's supremacy, to imitate his beneficence, and to fear and worship him. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart. As circumcision was the symbol of purification and sign of consecration to God, so the Israelites are enjoined to realize in fact what that rite symbolized, viz. purity of heart and receptivity for the things of God. This is enforced by the consideration that Jehovah the alone God, the Almighty, is mighty and terrible without respect to persons, and at the same time is a righteous Judge, and the Protector of the helpless and destitute. In Deuteronomy 10:8, Moses returns to the form of an address again, and refers to the separation of the tribe of Levi for the holy service, as a manifestation of mercy on the part of the Lord towards Israel. The expression "at that time" is not to be understood as relating to the time of Aaron's death in the fortieth year of the march, in which Knobel finds a contradiction to the other books. It refers quite generally, as in Deuteronomy 9:20 and Deuteronomy 10:1, to the time of which Moses is speaking here, viz., the time when the covenant was restored at Sinai. The appointment of the tribe of Levi for service at the sanctuary took place in connection with the election of Aaron and his sons to the priesthood (Exodus 28 and 29), although their call to this service, instead of the first-born of Israel, was not carried out till the numbering and mustering of the people (Numbers 1:49., Deuteronomy 4:17., Deuteronomy 8:6.). Moses is speaking here of the election of the whole of the tribe of Levi, including the priests (Aaron and his sons), as is very evident from the account of their service. It is true that the carrying of the ark upon the march through the desert was the business of the (non-priestly) Levites, viz., the Kohathites (Numbers 4:4.); but on solemn occasions the priests had to carry it (cf. Joshua 3:3, Joshua 3:6, Joshua 3:8; Joshua 6:6; 1 Kings 8:3.). "Standing before the Lord, to serve Him, and to bless in His name," was exclusively the business of the priests (cf. Deuteronomy 18:5; Deuteronomy 21:5, and Numbers 6:23.), whereas the Levites were only assistants of the priests in their service (see at Deuteronomy 18:7). This tribe therefore received no share and possession with the other tribes, as was already laid down in Numbers 18:20 with reference to the priests, and in Numbers 18:24 with regard to all the Levites; to which passages the words "as the Lord thy God promised him" refer. - Lastly, in Deuteronomy 10:10, Deuteronomy 10:11, Moses sums up the result of his intercession in the words, "And I stood upon the mount as the first days, forty days (a resumption of Deuteronomy 9:18 and Deuteronomy 9:25); and the Lord hearkened to me this time also (word for word, as in Deuteronomy 9:19). "Jehovah would not destroy thee (Israel)." Therefore He commanded Moses to arise to depart before the people, i.e., as leader of the people to command and superintend their removal and march. In form, this command is connected with Exodus 34:1; but Moses refers here not only to that word of the Lord with the limitation added there in Exodus 34:2, but to the ultimate, full, and unconditional assurance of God, in which the Lord Himself promised to go with His people and bring them to Canaan (Exodus 34:14.).
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