And what nation is there so great, that has statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)What nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous?—These words direct our attention to the law of Moses, as distinctly in advance of the time when it was given.Deuteronomy 4:9-40, the spiritual nature of the Deity, His exclusive right to their allegiance, His abhorrence of idolatry in every form, His choice of them for His elect people. Compare further Moses' third and last address, Deuteronomy 27-30.
as all this law which I set before you this day? which he then repeated, afresh declared, explained and instructed them in; for otherwise it had been delivered to them near forty years ago. Now there was not any nation then in being, nor any since, to be compared with the nation of the Jews, for the wise and wholesome laws given unto them; no, not the more cultivated and civilized nations, as the Grecians and Romans, who had the advantage of such wise lawgivers as they were accounted, as Solon, Lycurgus, Numa, and others; and indeed the best laws that they had seem to be borrowed from the Jews.And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law, which I set before you this day?
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)8. And what great nation … hath statutes … so righteous] This challenge is as just as the preceding. Other great codes and systems of ethics there undoubtedly were in Israel’s world (e.g. the Code of Ḫammurabi and various systems in Egypt). But the deuteronomic Torah is rightly exalted above them—because of its pure religious fervency, its revelation of the Divine character, and its enforcement, in the details of human conduct, of the example of God Himself. Moreover, the Law of no other nation in Israel’s world has exerted so practical an influence on the ethics of mankind. How necessary it was to impress Israel, both immediately before and during the Exile, with the distinction which the Law gave them among the nations is seen from such passages as Ezekiel 20:32; Ezekiel 25:8. The heathen said Israel is like all the nations, and Israelites were tempted to fall back upon the easier ethics of their neighbours, we will be as the heathen. This is the temptation of all recipients of high ideals and duties; none are more exposed to it than Christians; they must remind themselves, as this discourse insists, of the privilege and responsibility of those who having known the better dare not be content with the easier. The substance of these verses then is, Walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye have been called. The abuse of such a conscience is the self-righteousness born of a merely formal fulfilment of the Law (Luke 18:11). ‘Pharisaism and Deuteronomy came into the world the same day’ (A. B. Davidson, Hastings DB. ii. 577).
set before you] Not prescribe or enforce; but offer for your decision and acceptance. So Deuteronomy 11:26; Deuteronomy 11:32; Deuteronomy 30:1; Deuteronomy 30:15; Deuteronomy 30:19. The affirmation of the people’s responsibility is characteristic of D.Deuteronomy 13:1; it is then revived by the prophets (Jeremiah 26:2; Proverbs 30:6), and enforced again at the close of the whole revelation (Revelation 22:18-19). In the same sense Christ also said that He had not come to destroy the law or the prophets, but to fulfil (Matthew 5:17); and the old covenant was not abrogated, but only glorified and perfected, by the new.
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