Matthew Poole's Commentary
And Moses with the elders of Israel commanded the people, saying, Keep all the commandments which I command you this day.A command to set up stones for a remembrance, and to write the law upon them: they must build the altar of the Lord with whole stones, Deu 26:1-8. To pronounce the blessing on Gerizim, and the curse on Ebal, Deu 27:9-26.
No text from Poole on this verse.
And it shall be on the day when ye shall pass over Jordan unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, that thou shalt set thee up great stones, and plaister them with plaister:On that day, i.e. about that time, for it was not done till some days after their passing over.
Day is oft put for time, as hath been noted before.
Plaister them with plaister, for conveniency of writing upon them.
And thou shalt write upon them all the words of this law, when thou art passed over, that thou mayest go in unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, a land that floweth with milk and honey; as the LORD God of thy fathers hath promised thee.All the words of this law; either,
1. All the words of this Book of Deuteronomy. But that seems too large for this place. Or,
2. The blessings and curses here following. But they are mentioned as a different thing. Or,
3. The law properly so called, i.e. the sum and substance of the precepts or laws of Moses, especially such as were moral and general, as may be guessed from the following part of the chapter, where the curses pronounced against all that confirm not all the words of this law to do them are particularly applied unto the transgressors of moral laws only, Deu 27:15,16, &c. And especially the decalogue, which oft goes under that name. Compare Joshua 8:32, &c.
Therefore it shall be when ye be gone over Jordan, that ye shall set up these stones, which I command you this day, in mount Ebal, and thou shalt plaister them with plaister.Mount Ebal; the mount of cursing. Here the law is written, to signify that a curse was due to the violators of it, and that no man could expect justification or blessing from the works of the law, by the sentence whereof all men are justly accursed, as being all guilty of the transgression of it in one kind and deuce or other. Here the sacrifices are to be offered, to show that there is no way to be delivered from this curse but by the blood of Christ, which all these sacrifices did typify, and by Christ’s being made a curse for us, Galatians 3:13.
And there shalt thou build an altar unto the LORD thy God, an altar of stones: thou shalt not lift up any iron tool upon them.No text from Poole on this verse.
Thou shalt build the altar of the LORD thy God of whole stones: and thou shalt offer burnt offerings thereon unto the LORD thy God:Whole stones; i.e. not hewed or polished.
And thou shalt offer peace offerings, and shalt eat there, and rejoice before the LORD thy God.No text from Poole on this verse.
And thou shalt write upon the stones all the words of this law very plainly.So as to be easily read by all.
And Moses and the priests the Levites spake unto all Israel, saying, Take heed, and hearken, O Israel; this day thou art become the people of the LORD thy God.By thy solemn renewing of thy covenant with him.
Thou shalt therefore obey the voice of the LORD thy God, and do his commandments and his statutes, which I command thee this day.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Moses charged the people the same day, saying,No text from Poole on this verse.
These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin:Object. In Joshua 8:33, they stood over against Mount Gerizim.
1. Both are true; they who stood upon the one mount, stood over against the other.
2. These words may be rendered beside or near to (as the Hebrew al oft signifies) Mount Gerizim, which might be over against it. To bless the people; whence it appears that the blessings also were pronounced as well as the curses, though they be not here mentioned. See Joshua 8:33.
Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin were the children of the free-women, Leah and Rachel, to show both the dignity of the blessings above the curses, and that the blessings belong only to those as are evangelically such, as this is expounded and applied, Galatians 4:22, &c., even to those that receive the Spirit of adoption and liberty. Joseph is here put for both his sons and tribes, Manasseh and Ephraim, which are here reckoned as one tribe, because Levi is here numbered; but when Levi is omitted, as it is where the division of the land is made, there Manasseh and Ephraim pass for two tribes.
And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Asher, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.To curse; he saith to bless the people, Deu 27:12, but here only to curse, not expressing whom, either because he was loth to mention the people as objects of the curse; or because he presumed and hoped that though some particular persons might deserve the curse, yet the generality of the people would keep out of the reach of it; or to intimate, that though the blessing was peculiar to the people of Israel, yet the curse was indefinite and common to all nations, as may appear from the particular sins here numbered, which are such as made the Gentiles guilty and abominable to God, as is elsewhere affirmed. See Leviticus 18:28.
Gad and Asher, Dan and Naphtali, are the children of the bond-women, to show that the curse belongs to those of servile and disingenuous spirits and carriages to God. With these are joined
Reuben, who by his shameful sin fell from his dignity, Genesis 49:4, and
Zebulun, as the youngest of Leah’s children, who was necessary to be joined with those, that the numbers might be equal.
And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice,The Levites, i.e. some of the Levites, to wit, the priests,
which bare the ark, as it is expressed, Joshua 8:33, for the body of the Levites stood upon Mount Gerizim, Deu 27:12; but these stood in the valley between Gerizim and Ebal, looking towards the one or the other mountain as they pronounced either the blessings or the curses, as may be gathered from Joshua 8:33.
With a loud voice; so as they might be heard by a great number of the people, by whom the rest were informed and directed by some signal when they should answer.
Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the LORD, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place. And all the people shall answer and say, Amen.Under this particular he understands all the gross violations of the first table, as under the following branches he comprehends all other sins against the second table, as is manifest from hence, that there are other sins, not here mentioned, which are as sinful as these, and will as certainly expose a man to the curse as any of the rest.
And putteth it, or although, as that particle sometimes signifies,
In a secret place; he takes special notice of such partly to show the folly of those men who think to hide their sins by this means; and partly to deter men from such practices, which men could not see nor punish, by making them their own condemners and executioners.
Amen, i.e. So let it be: I wish this curse may befall me, if I be guilty of this crime See Numbers 5:22 Jeremiah 11:5.
Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.Setteth light; or, despiseth in his heart; or reproacheth or curseth, to wit, secretly, as before; for if the fact was notorious, it was punished with death, Leviticus 20:9.
Cursed be he that removeth his neighbour's landmark. And all the people shall say, Amen.To wit, designedly, to defraud his neighbour, or enlarge his own portion.
Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way. And all the people shall say, Amen.That misleadeth simple souls, giving them pernicious counsel, either for this life or for the next.
Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow. And all the people shall say, Amen.No text from Poole on this verse.
Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife; because he uncovereth his father's skirt. And all the people shall say, Amen.See Deu 22:30.
Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast. And all the people shall say, Amen.No text from Poole on this verse.
Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother. And all the people shall say, Amen.No text from Poole on this verse.
Cursed be he that lieth with his mother in law. And all the people shall say, Amen.No text from Poole on this verse.
Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbour secretly. And all the people shall say, Amen.Smiteth, i.e. killeth, as that word is oft used.
Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person. And all the people shall say, Amen.No text from Poole on this verse.
Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them. And all the people shall say, Amen.Confirmeth not, i.e. performeth not; for he that transgresseth doth in some sort destroy and make void the law of God, as to the main end for which it was given, even to the regulation of his life and actions, and as far as lies in him disannuls the authority and force of God’s law.