Commentary Critical and Explanatory
on the Whole Bible
1. At that time the Lord said unto me, Hew thee two tables of stone
like unto the first--It was when God had been pacified through the
intercessions of Moses with the people who had so greatly offended Him
by the worship of the golden calf. The obedient leader executed the
orders he had received as to the preparation both of the hewn stones,
and the ark or chest in which those sacred archives were to be laid.
3. And I made an ark of shittim wood--It appears, however, from
that the ark was not framed till his return from the mount, or most
probably, he gave instructions to Bezaleel, the artist employed on the
work, before he ascended the mount--that, on his descent, it might be
finished, and ready to receive the precious deposit.
4, 5. he wrote on the tables, according to the first writing--that is,
not Moses, who under the divine direction acted as amanuensis, but God
Himself who made this inscription a second time with His own hand, to
testify the importance He attached to the ten commandments. Different
from other stone monuments of antiquity, which were made to stand
upright and in the open air, those on which the divine law was engraven
were portable, and designed to be kept as a treasure.
that each of the tables contained five precepts. But the tradition
generally received, both among Jewish and Christian writers is, that
one table contained four precepts, the other six.
5. I . . . put the tables in the ark which I had made; and there they
be, as the Lord commanded me--Here is another minute, but important
circumstance, the public mention of which at the time attests the
veracity of the sacred historian.
6-9. the children of Israel took their journey from Beeroth of the
children of Jaakan to Mosera--So sudden a change from a spoken
discourse to a historical narrative has greatly puzzled the most
eminent biblical scholars, some of whom reject the parenthesis as a
manifest interpolation. But it is found in the most ancient Hebrew
manuscripts, and, believing that all contained in this book was given
by inspiration and is entitled to profound respect, we must receive it
as it stands, although acknowledging our inability to explain the
insertion of these encampment details in this place. There is another
difficulty in the narrative itself. The stations which the Israelites
are said successively to have occupied are enumerated here in a
different order from
That the names of the stations in both passages are the same there can
be no doubt; but, in Numbers, they are probably mentioned in reference
to the first visit of the Hebrews during the long wandering
southwards, before their return to Kadesh the second time; while here
they have a reference to the second passage of the Israelites,
when they again marched south, in order to compass the land of Edom. It
is easy to conceive that Mosera (Hor) and the wells of Jaakan might lie
in such a direction that a nomadic horde might, in different years, at
one time take the former first in their way, and at another time
the latter [ROBINSON].
10-22. Moses here resumes his address, and having made a passing
allusion to the principal events in their history, concludes by
exhorting them to fear the Lord and serve Him faithfully.
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