Matthew Poole's Commentary
These are the words of the covenant, which the LORD commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb.The manifold works and mercies of God a motive to obedience, Deu 29:1-9. Moses solemnly engageth them to keep covenant with God, Deu 29:10-17. Unbelief, careless contempt, and breach of covenant shall be severely punished, Deu 29:18-28. The end and use of the revealed will of God, Deu 29:29.
These are the words of the covenant; these are the term, or conditions upon which God hath made, i.e. renewed covenant with you.
Beside the covenant, i.e. that entering into or striking of covenant. The covenant was but one in substance, but various in the time and manner of its dispensation.
And Moses called unto all Israel, and said unto them, Ye have seen all that the LORD did before your eyes in the land of Egypt unto Pharaoh, and unto all his servants, and unto all his land;No text from Poole on this verse.
The great temptations which thine eyes have seen, the signs, and those great miracles:No text from Poole on this verse.
Yet the LORD hath not given you an heart to perceive, and eyes to see, and ears to hear, unto this day.This verse comes in by way of correction or exception to the foregoing clause in this manner, I said indeed, Ye have seen, &c., Deu 29:2, and thine eyes have seen, &c., but I must recall my words, for in truth you have not seen them; in seeing you have not seen, and perceiving you have not perceived them: you have perceived and seen them with the eyes of your body, but not with your minds and hearts; you have not seen them to any purpose; you have not yet learned rightly to understand the word and works of God, so as to know them for your good, and to make a right use of them, and to comply with them; which he expresseth thus,
the Lord hath not given you, & c., not to excuse their wickedness, but partly to direct them what course to take, and to whom they must have recourse for the amending of their former errors, and for a good understanding and improvement of God’s works; and partly to aggravate their sin, and to intimate that although the hearing ear, and the seeing eye, and the understanding heart, be the workmanship of God, Proverbs 20:12, and the effects of his special grace, Deu 30:6 Jeremiah 31:33 32:39, &c., yet their want of this grace was their own fault, and the just punishment of their former sins; their present case being like theirs in Isaiah’s time, who first shut their eyes and ears that they might not see and hear, and would not understand, and then by the tremendous, but righteous judgment of God, had their hearts made fat, and their eyes and ears closed, that they should not be able to see, and hear, and understand, as is manifest from the history of their carriage in the wilderness.
And I have led you forty years in the wilderness: your clothes are not waxen old upon you, and thy shoe is not waxen old upon thy foot.So far that it was necessary for you to throw them away, and to get new ones. See on "Deu 8:4".
Ye have not eaten bread, neither have ye drunk wine or strong drink: that ye might know that I am the LORD your God.Not eaten bread, i.e. common bread purchased by your own money, or made by your own hands, but heavenly and angelical bread, Deu 8:3 Psalm 78:24,25. You have subsisted without bread, the staff of life.
Neither wine or strong drink, but only water out of the rock.
The Lord your God; the Lord omnipotent and all-sufficient for your provision, without the help of any creatures, and your God in covenant with you, who hath a true affection to you, and fatherly care of you, even when ordinary means fail.
And when ye came unto this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, came out against us unto battle, and we smote them:No text from Poole on this verse.
And we took their land, and gave it for an inheritance unto the Reubenites, and to the Gadites, and to the half tribe of Manasseh.No text from Poole on this verse.
Keep therefore the words of this covenant, and do them, that ye may prosper in all that ye do.No text from Poole on this verse.
Ye stand this day all of you before the LORD your God; your captains of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, with all the men of Israel,Before the Lord your God; in his presence, who sees your hearts and carriages; and before his tabernacle, where it is probable they were now called together, and assembled for this work. See Deu 29:2.
Your little ones, your wives, and thy stranger that is in thy camp, from the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water:Thy stranger; such strangers as had embraced their religion.
From the hewer of thy wood unto the drawer of thy water; all sorts of persons, yea, even the meanest of them, such as these were, Joshua 9:27, all sorts and ranks of servants.
That thou shouldest enter into covenant with the LORD thy God, and into his oath, which the LORD thy God maketh with thee this day:Into covenant, and into his oath, i.e. into covenant or agreement, confirmed by a solemn oath.
That he may establish thee to day for a people unto himself, and that he may be unto thee a God, as he hath said unto thee, and as he hath sworn unto thy fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob.No text from Poole on this verse.
Neither with you only do I make this covenant and this oath;No text from Poole on this verse.
But with him that standeth here with us this day before the LORD our God, and also with him that is not here with us this day:i.e. With your posterity; for so the covenant was made at first with Abraham and his seed, by which, as God engaged himself to continue the blessing of Abraham upon his posterity, so he also engaged them to the same duties and conditions which were required of Abraham. So it is even among men, where a king confers an estate upon a subject and his heirs for ever, upon some certain conditions, all his heirs who enjoy that benefit are obliged to the same conditions. But whatsoever becomes of man’s right, God the Creator and sovereign Lord of all men and things hath an unquestionable right and power to oblige all persons that are or shall be to such conditions as he pleaseth, and especially to such conditions as are for their own benefit, which is the present case.
(For ye know how we have dwelt in the land of Egypt; and how we came through the nations which ye passed by;In the land of Egypt, where you have seen their idolatries, and learned too much of them, as the golden calf showed, and therefore need to renew your covenant with God; where also we were in dreadful bondage, whence God alone hath delivered us, to whom therefore we are deeply obliged, and have all reason to renew our covenant with him.
How we came through the nations, i.e. with what hazards, if God had not appeared for us.
And ye have seen their abominations, and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them:)What sorry tools they are, what senseless and ridiculous deities; so that you have great reason to value your God, and to cleave to him in covenant, and to take heed of such abominable idolatries.
Lest there should be among you man, or woman, or family, or tribe, whose heart turneth away this day from the LORD our God, to go and serve the gods of these nations; lest there should be among you a root that beareth gall and wormwood;Lest there should be; or take heed or beware lest there be; for it seems to be an ellipsis, or defect of a verb, which is usual in Scripture, and which we have in a case parallel to this. Genesis 3:22. And now we must take care lest he put forth, &c. Or this particle lest may be joined with Deu 29:14,15, to this purpose, I now renew the covenant with you, and with your posterity, lest any of you or yours should be tempted to depart from God, &c. Whose heart turneth away, i.e. who turneth away from God to idols, not by constraint, but by choice, and the inclination of his own heart. By this phrase he leads them to the spring of their sin and ruin, even their own hearts, which he admonisheth them hereby to look to above all things.
A root; either,
1. An evil heart inclining you to such cursed idolatry, and bringing forth bitter fruits. Or rather,
2. Some secret and subtle apostate, who lurks and works like a root under ground, and slyly conveys his poison to the infection of others; for both the foregoing and following words speak of some particular person.
Gall and wormwood, i.e. which though for the present it may please your fancy, yet in the end, assure yourselves, will produce bitter fruits, not only distasteful to God, but also poisonful and destructive to yourselves.
And it come to pass, when he heareth the words of this curse, that he bless himself in his heart, saying, I shall have peace, though I walk in the imagination of mine heart, to add drunkenness to thirst:When he, i.e. that root or that man mentioned Deu 29:18.
Of this curse, i.e. of that oath mentioned Deu 29:12, wherein he swore that he would keep covenant with God, and that with a curse pronounced against himself if he did not perform it. Now if when he reads this again, or hears of it from others.
Bless himself in his heart, i.e. flatter himself in his own eyes, as Psalm 36:2, with vain conceits and hopes, as if God did not mind such things, and either could not or would not punish them. Compare Psalm 49:18 Jeremiah 2:20 Zechariah 11:5.
Peace, i.e. safety and prosperity.
Though I walk in the imagination of mine heart; though in my practices and worship I do not follow God’s command, but my own devices, and whatsoever my fancy best liketh, minding nothing but the gratifying of mine own fancy and humour.
To add drunkenness to thirst; i.e. not only to satisfy his
thirst, i.e. his concupiscence and inclination to wickedness, but even to exceed it, as drunkards take ofttimes more than their appetite desires, and drink out of mere wantonness, or from a desire to be drunk; and as filthy persons commit lewdness with others more than their natural inclinations desire, or their strength can well bear, merely from a wicked mind, and from contempt of God, and because they will do so. The words may be rendered, to add thirst to drunkenness, the particle eth, which is a note of the accusative case, being joined with thirst, and not with drunkenness; and so the sense may be this, that when he hath multiplied his sins, and made himself as it were drunk with them, yet he is not satisfied therewith, but still whets his appetite, and provokes his thirst after more, as drunkards commonly will use means and temptations to make themselves thirst after more drink, that they may drink more abundantly. Or thus, to add the moist or moistening to the thirsty, i.e. instead of restraining and mortifying, as he ought to do, fully and greedily to satisfy his idolatrous or wicked inclinations, and resolved to give up himself to all the desires of his own heart. Compare Job 34:7 Proverbs 23:35 Isaiah 30:1 56:12 Ephesians 4:19.
The LORD will not spare him, but then the anger of the LORD and his jealousy shall smoke against that man, and all the curses that are written in this book shall lie upon him, and the LORD shall blot out his name from under heaven.Shall smoke, i.e. shall burn and break forth with flame and smoke as it were from a furnace. Compare Psalm 18:8.
Blot out his name from under heaven, i.e. destroy his person and memory from amongst men.
And the LORD shall separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that are written in this book of the law:Unto evil, i.e. unto some peculiar and exemplary plague; he will make him a monument of his displeasure to the whole land.
According to all the curses of the covenant; he intimates that the covenant of grace, which God made with them, hath not only blessings belonging to it, as this foolish person imagined, but curses also to the transgressors of it.
So that the generation to come of your children that shall rise up after you, and the stranger that shall come from a far land, shall say, when they see the plagues of that land, and the sicknesses which the LORD hath laid upon it;The words following, Deu 29:24,25, &c.
And that the whole land thereof is brimstone, and salt, and burning, that it is not sown, nor beareth, nor any grass groweth therein, like the overthrow of Sodom, and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger, and in his wrath:Is brimstone, and salt, and burning, i.e. is burnt up and made barren, as with brimstone and salt. See Judges 9:45 Psalm 107:34 Jeremiah 17:6 Ezekiel 47:11.
Even all nations shall say, Wherefore hath the LORD done thus unto this land? what meaneth the heat of this great anger?No text from Poole on this verse.
Then men shall say, Because they have forsaken the covenant of the LORD God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them forth out of the land of Egypt:No text from Poole on this verse.
For they went and served other gods, and worshipped them, gods whom they knew not, and whom he had not given unto them:i.e. Whom God had not given or divided to them, as their portion, or for their worship, but hath divided them unto all nations, as it is said, Deu 4:19, not for their worship, but for their use and service. So he speaks here of the sun and moon and stars, which were the principal gods worshipped by the neighbouring nations. Or, to whom none hath given this, i.e. that they should be worshipped, or, to whom no worship belongs. So this is an argument against idolatry. Or,
who had not given unto them, to wit, any thing: it is an ellipsis of the accusative, which is very frequent: gods known to them by no benefits received from them, as they had from their God, whom therefore it was the greater folly and ingratitude to forsake.
And the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, to bring upon it all the curses that are written in this book:No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD rooted them out of their land in anger, and in wrath, and in great indignation, and cast them into another land, as it is this day.No text from Poole on this verse.
The secret things belong unto the LORD our God: but those things which are revealed belong unto us and to our children for ever, that we may do all the words of this law.Having now mentioned the dreadful and amazing judgments of God upon the whole land and people of Israel, and foreseeing by the Spirit of prophecy the utter extirpation and destruction which would come upon them for their wickedness, he breaks out into this pathetical exclamation, either to bridle their curiosity, who hearing this, would be apt to inquire into the time and manner of so great an event; or to quiet his own mind, and satisfy the scruples of others, who perceiving God to deal so severely with his own people, when in the mean time he suffered those nations which were guilty of grosser atheism, and idolatry, and impiety than the generality of the Jewish people were, to live and prosper in the world, might thence take occasion to deny or reproach his providence, or question the equity of his proceedings. To this he answers, that the ways and judgments of God, though never unjust, are ofttimes secret and hidden from us, and unsearchable by our shallow capacities, and are matter for our admiration, not for our inquiry.
Unto us and to our children: but the things which are revealed by God and his word, these are the proper object of our inquiries and studies, that thereby we may come to the knowledge of our duty, by the practice whereof we may be kept from such terrible punishments and calamities as these now mentioned.