Deuteronomy 29:1


(1) These are the words of the covenant.--The Hebrew Bibles add this verse to the previous chapter, and begin Deuteronomy 29 at the second verse. But they cannot be right in so doing. For though the pronoun "these" in Hebrew has nothing to determine whether it belongs to what precedes or to what follows, yet the context shows that the covenant is described in Deuteronomy 29, not in Deuteronomy 28 (See Deuteronomy 29:12-15 below). It is very significant that this "covenant in the land of Moab" stands outside the tremendous sanction appended to the expansion of the Sinaitic covenant in Deuteronomy. The effect of this arrangement may be illustrated by a reference to Leviticus 26, 27. The "sanction" of the law in Leviticus, which is a complete code of ceremonial and moral holiness, is contained in Deuteronomy 26. But that chapter is followed by a passage respecting vows, which are not compulsory, and therefore obviously lie, as a whole, outside that which is "commanded." The position of Deuteronomy 29, 30 is analogous to that of Leviticus 27. Thus we see that the tremendous curse of the Sinaitic covenant is not the end of God's dealings with the chosen people. After that, there is still another covenant, to the force of which there is no limit (see Deuteronomy 29:15 below). The gifts and calling of God are irrevocable. Nothing can destroy the relation between Jehovah and Israel. Their resurrection as a nation may well be described by the words of Moses in Psalms 90, "Thou turnest man to destruction (national death--Deuteronomy 28), and sayest (Deuteronomy 29, 30), Return, ye children of men (resurrection). For a thousand years in thy sight (though spent in the grave) are but as yesterday when it is past, and as a watch in the night" (to be followed by the dawn of morning). "A watch in the night" is not the blackness of darkness for ever.

Beside the covenant which He made with them in Horeb.--It should be carefully noted that the formal repetition of the law in Moses' second great discourse in this book opens with these words (Deuteronomy 5:2), "the Lord our God made a covenant with us in Horeb." There is no real break in Deuteronomy from Deuteronomy 5:1 to the end of Deuteronomy 26 and Deuteronomy 27, 28 are the "sanction" of that covenant.

Verse 1. - Beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb. This was not a new covenant in addition to that made at Sinai, but simply a renewal and reaffirmation of that covenant. At Sinai the covenant was, properly speaking, made; sacrifices were then offered, and the people were sprinkled with the sacrificial blood, whereby the covenant was ratified (Exodus 24; cf. Psalm 1:5); but on the occasion here referred to, no sacrifices were offered, for this was merely the recognition of the covenant formerly made as still subsisting.

29:1-9 Both former mercies, and fresh mercies, should be thought on by us as motives to obedience. The hearing ear, and seeing eye, and the understanding heart, are the gift of God. All that have them, have them from him. God gives not only food and raiment, but wealth and large possessions, to many to whom he does not give grace. Many enjoy the gifts, who have not hearts to perceive the Giver, nor the true design and use of the gifts. We are bound, in gratitude and interest, as well as in duty and faithfulness, to keep the words of the covenant.These are the words of the covenant,.... Not what go before, but follow after, in the next chapters, to the end of the book; in which are various promises of grace, and promises of good things, both with respect to Jews and Gentiles, intermixed with other things:

which the Lord commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab; or to declare unto them, and acquaint them with, they being now in the plains of Moab, ready to enter into the land of, Canaan:

besides the covenant which he made with them at Horeb: or Sinai; which Jarchi interprets, besides the curses in Leviticus, delivered on Sinai; he seems to have respect to Leviticus 26:14. This covenant was different from that at Sinai, spoken of Exodus 24:8; being made not only at a different time, at near forty years' distance, and at a different place, nor Sinai; but when Israel were come nearer Mount Sion, and were actually possessed of part of their inheritance, the land of promise, that part of the land of Moab which the two kings of the Amorites had seized and dwelt in, whom Israel had dispossessed; and with different persons, that generation being dead, excepting a very few, which were at Sinai: but it was different as to the substance and matter of it, it not only including that, and being a renewal of it, as is generally thought, but containing such declarations of grace which had not been made before, not only respecting the repenting and returning Israelites, but the Gentiles also; for this covenant was made with the stranger, as well as with Israel, Deuteronomy 29:11; and relates to the times of the Messiah, the call of the Gentiles, the conversion of the Jews, and their return to their own land in the latter day.

Deuteronomy 28:68
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