Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
COMMEMORATION OF THE
1. Hear, O Israel, the statutes and judgments--Whether this rehearsal
of the law was made in a solemn assembly, or as some think at a general
meeting of the elders as representatives of the people, is of little
moment; it was addressed either directly or indirectly to the Hebrew
people as principles of their peculiar constitution as a nation; and
hence, as has been well observed, "the Jewish law has no obligation
upon Christians, unless so much of it as given or commanded by Jesus
Christ; for whatever in this law is conformable to the laws of nature,
obliges us, not as given by Moses, but by virtue of an antecedent law
common to all rational beings" [BISHOP
3. The Lord made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us--The
meaning is, "not with our fathers" only, "but with us" also, assuming
it to be "a covenant" of grace. It may mean "not with our fathers" at
all, if the reference is to the peculiar establishment of the covenant
of Sinai; a law was not given to them as to us, nor was the covenant
ratified in the same public manner and by the same solemn sanctions.
Or, finally, the meaning may be "not with our fathers" who died in the
wilderness, in consequence of their rebellion, and to whom God did not
give the rewards promised only to the faithful; but "with us," who
alone, strictly speaking, shall enjoy the benefits of this covenant by
entering on the possession of the promised land.
4. The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount--not in a
visible and corporeal form, of which there was no trace
(De 4:12, 15),
but freely, familiarly, and in such a manner that no doubt could be
entertained of His presence.
5. I stood between the Lord and you at that time--as the messenger
and interpreter of thy heavenly King, bringing near two objects
formerly removed from each other at a vast distance, namely, God and
In this character Moses was a type of Christ, who is the only mediator
between God and men
the Mediator of a better covenant
(Heb 8:6; 9:15; 12:24).
to show you the word of the Lord--not the ten commandments--for they
were proclaimed directly by the Divine Speaker Himself, but the
statutes and judgments which are repeated in the subsequent portion of
6-20. I am the Lord thy God--The word "Lord" is expressive of
authority or dominion; and God, who by natural claim as well as by
covenant relation was entitled to exercise supremacy over His people
Israel, had a sovereign right to establish laws for their government.
The commandments which follow are, with a few slight verbal
alterations, the same as formerly recorded
and in some of them there is a distinct reference to that
12. Keep the sabbath day to sanctify it, as the Lord thy God hath
commanded thee--that is, keep it in mind as a sacred institution of
former enactment and perpetual obligation.
14. that thy man-servant and thy maid-servant may rest as well as
thou--This is a different reason for the observance of the Sabbath
from what is assigned in
where that day is stated to be an appointed memorial of the creation.
But the addition of another motive for the observance does not imply
any necessary contrariety to the other; and it has been thought
probable that, the commemorative design of the institution being well
known, the other reason was specially mentioned on this repetition of
the law, to secure the privilege of sabbatic rest to servants, of
which, in some Hebrew families, they had been deprived. In this view,
the allusion to the period of Egyptian bondage
when they themselves were not permitted to observe the Sabbath either
as a day of rest or of public devotion, was peculiarly seasonable and
significant, well fitted to come home to their business and bosoms.
16. that it may go well with thee--This clause is not in Exodus, but
21. Neither shalt thou desire thy neighbour's wife, . . . house, his
field--An alteration is here made in the words (see
but it is so slight ("wife" being put in the first clause and "house"
in the second) that it would not have been worth while noticing it,
except that the interchange proves, contrary to the opinion of some
eminent critics, that these two objects are included in one and the
22. he added no more--
The pre-eminence of these ten commandments was shown in God's
announcing them directly: other laws and institutions were communicated
to the people through the instrumentality of Moses.
23-28. And . . . ye came near unto
29. Oh, that there were such an heart in them, that they would fear
me--God can bestow such a heart, and has promised to give it, wherever
it is asked
But the wish which is here expressed on the part of God for the piety
and steadfast obedience of the Israelites did not relate to them as
individuals, so much as a nation, whose religious character and
progress would have a mighty influence on the world at large.