Deuteronomy 30:11

(11) For this commandment.--Heb., Mitzvah. This duty, this form of obedience to the law.

Is not hidden from thee--i.e., not too hard. Literally, too wonderful for thee. (Comp. Deuteronomy 17:8; Psalm 139:6.)

(12) It is not in heaven.--St. Paul cites the words thus: "The righteousness which is of faith speaketh on this wise, Say not in thine heart, Who shall ascend into heaven? that is, to bring Christ down from above" (Romans 10:6-7).

(13) Neither is it beyond the sea.--St. Paul continues, "Or (say not), Who shall descend into the deep? that is, to bring up Christ again from the dead." The alteration here is remarkable. The LXX. will not account for it. "Beyond the sea" generally suggests the idea of a land on the other side of the surface of the ocean. But a descent into the "abyss," which is what St. Paul indicates, means a passage through the sea to that which is beneath it, "beyond the sea "in a very different sense. No one but Jonah ever went beyond the sea in this way, as he says, "Out of the belly of hell cried I . . . Thou hadst cast me into the deep, in the heart of the seas . . . I went down to the bottoms of the mountains . . . The deep (abyss) closed me about." And this descent of Jonah is chosen as the "sign" of Christ's descent into hell.

(14) But the word is very nigh unto thee.--Here the difference between the Jewish and the Christian commentator is very striking. "The Law is given you in Scripture and in tradition" (written and orally), says Rashi on this place. But St. Paul continues thus: "But what saith it (the righteousness of faith)? The word is nigh thee, in thy mouth, and in thine heart, that is, the word of faith which we preach; that if thou shalt confess with thy mouth the Lord Jesus, and shalt believe in thine heart that God hath raised Him from the dead, thou shalt be saved." It is worthy of notice that St. Paul in this place contrasts the righteousness of faith with the righteousness of the law, and describes both alike in the words of the Pentateuch. Concerning the righteousness of the law, he says, Moses describeth it, "The man which doeth those things shall live by them." The citation is from Leviticus 18:5. And there is a similar passage in Deuteronomy 6:25. What could more clearly prove that the covenant of Deuteronomy 28, 29 was meant to present the way of salvation from a different point of view to the Sinaitic covenant, and was "beside the covenant which he made with them in Horeb." Not that we are to suppose there was ever a different way of salvation. The Decalogue itself begins (like the new covenant) with "I am the Lord thy God." But, unlike the new covenant, it makes no provision whereby Israel may keep the laws arising out of the relationship. The new covenant not only asserts the relationship, but provides the means whereby men may walk worthy of it. "I will put my laws in their mind, and write them in their heart." (See Note on Deuteronomy 29:13.)

It is only in the power of this principle that Moses, in the exhortation which he founds on this statement of the way of righteousness through faith, could say as he did in Deuteronomy 30:19, "therefore choose life."

Verses 11-14. - The fulfillment of this condition was not impossible or even difficult; for God had done everything to render it easy for them. The commandment of God was not hidden from them; literally, was not wonderful to them; i.e. hard to be understood or to perform (see the use of the Hebrew word in Psalm 131:1; Proverbs 30:18); nor was it far off; it was not in heaven - i.e. though heavenly in its source, it had not remained there, but had been revealed - so that there was no need for any one to say, Who will ascend to heaven, and bring it down to us, that we may hear it, and do it? The idea is not, as Keil suggests, that of "an inaccessible height" which none could scale; nor is it, as suggested by Knobel, that of something "incomprehensible, impracticable, and superhuman;" it is simply a statement of fact that the Law had not been retained in heaven, but had been revealed to men. Nor was this revelation made in some far distant place across the sea, so that any need say, Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it unto us, that we may hear it, and do it? On the contrary, it was very near to them, had been disclosed in words so that they could utter it with their own mouth, converse over it, and ponder it in their hearts (cf. Isaiah 45:19; Jeremiah 23:28; Romans 10:6). In the allusion to the sea, the representation is not that of depth (Targum Jon.), but that of distance.

30:11-14 The law is not too high for thee. It is not only known afar off; it is not confined to men of learning. It is written in thy books, made plain, so that he who runs may read it. It is in thy mouth, in the tongue commonly used by thee, in which thou mayest hear it read, and talk of it among thy children. It is delivered so that it is level to the understanding of the meanest. This is especially true of the gospel of Christ, to which the apostle applies it. But the word is nigh us, and Christ in that word; so that if we believe with the heart, that the promises of the Messiah are fulfilled in our Lord Jesus, and confess them with our mouth, we then have Christ with us.For this commandment which I command thee this day,.... Which the Jews understand of the law, but the Apostle Paul has taught us to interpret it of the word of faith, the Gospel preached by him and other ministers, Romans 10:6; which better suits with the context, and the prophecies before delivered concerning the conversion of the Jews, their reception of the Messiah, and his Gospel:

it is not hidden from thee; being clearly revealed, plainly and fully preached: if hidden from any, it is from them that are lost; from the wise and prudent, while it is revealed to babes, and given to them to know the mysteries of it: or too "wonderful" (q); hard, difficult, and impossible; its doctrines, are not beyond the understanding of an enlightened person; they are all plain to them that understand and find the knowledge of them; and the ordinances of it are not too hard and difficult to be kept; the commandments of Christ are not grievous:

neither is it far off; for though it is good, news from a far country, from heaven, it is come down from thence; it is brought nigh in the ministry of the word to the ears and hearts of men.

(q) "mirabile", Montanus, Cocceius.

Deuteronomy 30:10
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