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Deeper Commentary


Deu 10:1 At that time Yahweh said to me, Cut two tablets of stone like the first and come up to Me onto the mountain and make an ark of wood.

Deu 10:2 I will write on the tablets the words that were on the first tablets which you broke, and you shall put them within that ark.
Deu 10:3 So I made an ark of acacia wood and cut two tablets of stone like the first, and went up onto the mountain, having the two tablets in my hand-

The acacia bush was all they had in the wilderness. It was hardly suitable for making furniture, being brittle and the sticks very thin and hard to weld together. The root translated "shittim" really means a stick or rod, and is translated "thorns" in Josh. 23:13. It refers to the common thorn bushes found in the scrubland they were passing through in the desert. Thorns were part of the curse in Eden. We shouldn't be surprised at the brittle nature of the folk with whom God works, their difficulty in binding together and resistance to being worked with- this is as it were all God has to work with. Acacia was plentiful in the wilderness, but it is little more than brushwood; a surprising choice of material to be used in God’s dwelling place. But His choice of us with all our weakness and dysfunction, the common, weak stuff of the wilderness, is no less surprising. The choice of acacia wood for constructing the tabernacle is one of several points in the whole enterprise where it seems a less than ideal material was chosen, from a construction point of view. This aspect emphasizes that God prefers to work with the soft, weak and broken in order to do His work (as also in Ez. 15:2-5).

Ex. 25:10 "They shall make an ark" becomes "I made an ark" in Moses' autobiography (Dt. 10:3), although apparently Bezaleel made the ark (Ex. 37:1). The people were generous when asked, but were not real workers. Perhaps Moses himself had to make the ark because they didn't get to it. Or maybe his work was counted as theirs, as happens between the Lord Jesus and ourselves.

Deu 10:4 He wrote on the tablets according to the first writing, the Ten Commandments, which Yahweh spoke to you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly, and Yahweh gave them to me.
Deu 10:5 I turned and came down from the mountain and put the tablets into the ark which I had made, and there they are as Yahweh commanded me.
Deu 10:6 (The children of Israel travelled from Beeroth Bene Jaakan to Moserah. There Aaron died and there he was buried, and Eleazar his son ministered in the priest’s office in his place.
Deu 10:7 From there they travelled to Gudgodah and from Gudgodah to Jotbathah, a land of brooks of water.
Deu 10:8 At that time Yahweh set apart the tribe of Levi to bear the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, to stand before Yahweh to minister to Him and to bless in His name, to this day.
Deu 10:9 Therefore Levi has no portion or inheritance with his brothers; Yahweh is his inheritance according as Yahweh your God spoke to him.)-
The Levites had no material inheritance because "the sacrifices of Yahweh the God of Israel... are his inheritance... Yahweh God of Israel was their inheritance" (Josh. 13:14,33; Num. 18:20; Dt. 10:9; 18:2). Notice how "Yahweh" is put for what is sacrificed to Him. His very existence is an imperative to sacrifice to Him, despising all material advantage in doing so. Job comments that to make gold our hope and wealth our confidence is to deny “the God that is above” (Job 31:24,28). To trust in material wealth is effectively to proclaim ourselves atheists. We are described as the new priesthood (1 Pet. 2:5), so all that was true for the Levites becomes true for us. We are not to seek material inheritance. God will provide for us in ways other than our possessing land and leaving an inheritance to our children. The wonder of serving Him is to more than compensate for this.

Deu 10:10 I stayed on the mountain, as at the first time, forty days and forty nights and Yahweh listened to me that time also; Yahweh would not destroy you-
Israel were certainly representative of us. The degree of love shown by Moses to Israel is only a shadow of the degree, the kind of love shown by Christ to us, who hopefully are not rejecting him as Israel did. The power of this point just has to be reflected upon. That Moses could love Israel, to the extent of being willing to give his life and salvation for them, is a fine, fine type of the devotion of Christ. There is another oft emphasised aspect of Moses' love for Israel: the power of his mediation for them. We are told that God "hearkened" to Moses' prayers for them (Dt. 9:19; 10:10). He prayed for them with an intensity they didn't appreciate, he prayed for and gained their forgiveness before they had even repented, he pleaded successfully for God to relent from His plans to punish them, even before they knew that God had conceived such plans  (Ex. 32:10,14; 33:17  etc.). The fact we will, at the end, be forgiven of some sins without specifically repenting of them (as David was in Ps. 19:12) ought to instil a true humility in us. This kind of thing is in some ways a contradiction of God's principles that personal repentance is required for forgiveness, and that our own effort is required if we are to find acceptability with Him. Of course ultimately these things are still true, and were true with respect to Israel.

Deu 10:11 Yahweh said to me Arise, take your journey before the people, and they shall go in and possess the land, which I swore to their fathers to give to them-
It was only through Moses' leadership that they reached Canaan: "The Lord said unto (Moses), Arise (cp. Christ's resurrection), take thy journey before the people (as Christ, the good shepherd, goes before the flock, Jn. 10:3), that they may go in and possess the land" (Dt. 10:11).
10:21 One of the most repeated themes of Moses in Deuteronomy is the way he keeps on telling them to " remember" all the great things which God had done for them on their wilderness journey (e.g. Dt. 10:21; 11:3-6), and especially the wonder of how he had redeemed them as children (his audience had been under twenty years old when they went through the Red Sea). Just look up all the times " remember" occurs in Deuteronomy. He really wanted them to overcome the human tendency to forget the greatness of God as manifested earlier in our lives and spiritual experience. Our tendency as the new Israel is just the same- to forget the wonder of baptism, of how God reached out His arm to save us.   

Moses led God’s people to the land, the Kingdom, but couldn’t himself take them in there- the Law with which he was associated revealed the Kingdom, but it needed Joshua / Jesus to actually bring them into it.

"Drive out" is s.w. "possess". We must note the difference between the  Canaanite peoples and their kings being "struck" and their land "taken" by Joshua-Jesus; and the people of Israel permanently taking possession. This is the difference between the Lord's victory on the cross, and our taking possession of the Kingdom. Even though that possession has been "given" to us. The word used for "possession" is literally 'an inheritance'. The allusion is to the people, like us, being the seed of Abraham. The Kingdom was and is our possession, our inheritance- if we walk in the steps of Abraham. But it is one thing to be the seed of Abraham, another to take possession of the inheritance; and Israel generally did not take possession of all the land (Josh. 11:23 13:1; 16:10; 18:3; 23:4). The language of inheritance / possession is applied to us in the New Testament (Eph. 1:11,14; Col. 3:24; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Pet. 1:4 etc.). Israel were promised: "You shall possess it" (Dt. 30:5; 33:23). This was more of a command than a prophecy, for sadly they were "given" the land but did not "possess" it. They were constantly encouraged in the wilderness that they were on the path to possessing the land (Dt. 30:16,18; 31:3,13; 32:47), but when they got there they didn't possess it fully.

It was God's intention that Moses would go before the people and lead them into the land (Dt. 10:11), but Moses failed, and so it fell to Joshua. But it seems he was nervous, and so God used the ark rather than Joshua personally to 'go before the people' (s.w. Josh. 3:6). All the time we see God setting up potential programs which have to be amended because of human weakness.

The repeated references to the “journeys” of the people in the wilderness had as their basis the description of Abraham taking his journey through the desert to the promised land (Gen. 13:3); the very same two Hebrew words recur in the command to Israel to now ‘take their journey’ (Dt. 10:11), following in the steps of their father Abraham. As Abraham was commanded to "be perfect" (Gen. 17:1), so Israel were told: "You [after the pattern of father Abraham] shall be perfect with the Lord" (Dt. 19:13).

Deu 10:12 Now Israel, what does Yahweh your God require of you, but to fear Yahweh your God, to walk in all His ways and to love Him and to serve Yahweh your God with all your heart and with all your soul-
Alluded to in Mic. 6:8, where walking in God’s ways is understood as walking in humility; and ‘loving God’ is expanded into loving to show justice and mercy. To love [God]" is paralleled with "to love mercy". If we love God, we will be merciful as He is. To know Him in truth is to actively be like Him. We can be tempted to think that we can ‘love God’ within our own hearts by accepting His existence and reading the Bible. But it has to be more than that; to love God is to love others, to be merciful to the irritating and ungracious (:18). We cannot love God without loving our brethren (1 Jn. 3:17; 4:21). To love God in this way is in the end ‘for our own good’ (:13).

Yahweh was to be loved with all the heart, soul and mind (Dt. 6:5). This is understood by Joshua as meaning that those who loved Yahweh would not "mix with" and intermarry with the nations and accept their gods (Josh. 23:11,12,16). "Love" for God was not therefore a feeling; Joshua said that they must "take good heed therefore to yourselves, that you love Yahweh" (Josh. 23:11). This is the love of conscious direction of the mind, the love which is a choice rather than an emotion.    

Some time, read through the book of Deuteronomy in one or two sessions. You'll see many themes of Moses in Deuteronomy. It really shows how Moses felt towards Israel, and how the Lord Jesus feels towards us, and especially how he felt towards us just before his death. For this is what the whole book prefigures. "Love" and the idea of love occurs far more in Deuteronomy than in the other books of the Law. "Fear the Lord your God" of Ex. 9:30; Lev. 19:14,32; 25:17 becomes "love the Lord your God" in Deuteronomy (Dt. 6:5; 7:9; 10:12; 11:1; 19:9; 30:6,16,20). There are 23 references to not hating in Deuteronomy, compared to only 5 in Ex. - Num.; Moses saw the danger of bitterness and lack of love. He saw these things as the spiritual cancer they are, in his time of maturity he warned his beloved people against them. His mind was full of them. The LXX uses the word ekklesia eight times in Deuteronomy, but not once in Moses' other words (Dt. 4:10; 9:10; 18:16; 23:1,2,3,8; 32:1). Responsibility for the whole family God had redeemed was a mark of Moses; maturity at the end of his life, at the time of Deuteronomy. It is observable that both as a community and as individuals, this will be a sign of our maturity too.

Deu 10:13 to keep the commandments of Yahweh and His statutes, which I command you this day for your good?
Deu 10:14 Behold, to Yahweh your God belongs heaven and the heaven of heavens, the earth, with all that is in it.
Deu 10:15 It’s just that Yahweh had a delight in your fathers to love them, and He chose their seed after them, even you above all peoples, as it is at this day-

“You did not choose me, but I chose you… out of the world” (Jn. 15:16,19) corresponds to the oft repeated theme of Moses that God has chosen Israel “out of all peoples” (Dt. 7:6 RVmg.), by grace (Dt. 4:37; 10:15; 14:2).

Deu 10:16 Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked-

Time and again, Moses speaks of the state of their heart. He warns them against allowing a bad state of heart to develop, he speaks often of how apostasy starts in the heart. Moses makes a total of 49 references to the heart / mind of Israel in Deuteronomy, compared to only 13 in the whole of Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. This indicates the paramount importance which our Lord attaches to the state of our mind. This was perhaps his greatest wish as He faced death; that we should develop a spiritual mind and thereby manifest the Father and come to salvation. Moses likewise saw the state of our mind as the key to spiritual success. But do we share this perspective? Do we guard our minds against the media and influence of a mind-corrupting world? It's been observed that the phrase "The God of [somebody]", or similar, occurs 614 times in the Old Testament, of which 306 are in Deuteronomy. Our very personal relationship with God was therefore something else which Moses came to grasp in his spiritual maturity. Statistical analysis of the word "love" in the Pentateuch likewise reveals that "love" was a great theme of Moses at the end of his life (Moses uses it 16 times in Deuteronomy, and only four times in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers).

Deu 10:17 For Yahweh your God, He is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, the mighty and the awesome, who doesn’t respect persons nor take reward.
Deu 10:18 He executes justice for the fatherless and widow and loves the foreigner, in giving him food and clothing-

The Hebrew mishpat, "ordinances", has a wide range of meaning. The idea is of judgment, as if God and His Angels gave these laws as their considered judgment after considering the human condition, and Israel were to abide by them. But the word also the idea of a right or privilege; and that is how we should see God's laws. They are only felt as a burden because of human hardness of neck towards God's ways. His laws are not of themselves burdensome, but rather a privilege and blessing. The law was indeed "holy, just and good" (Rom. 7:12), designed to inculcate a holy, just and good life (Tit. 1:8), a way in which a man should "walk" in daily life (Lev. 18:4), a culture of kindness and grace to others which reflected God's grace to man. If we dwell upon the idea of "rights" carried within the word mishpat, we note that the law begins in Ex. 21:1,2 (also Dt. 15:12-18) with the rights of a slave- those considered to have no rights in the society of that day. The "rights" to be afforded by us to others are the essence of God's rightness / justice.  

Deu 10:19 Therefore love the foreigner, for you were foreigners in the land of Egypt.
Deu 10:20 You must fear Yahweh your God; you must serve Him and cling to Him and you shall swear by His name-

The idea of 'cleaving' to God is a big theme of Moses in Deuteronomy (Dt. 4:4; 10:20; 11:22; 13:4,17; 28:21,60; 30:20); the only other time Moses uses the word in his writings is in Gen. 2:24, concerning a man cleaving to his wife. Moses seems to have been suggesting to Israel that their covenant relationship with God meant they were marrying God. This was a real paradigm breaker. We may be used to such things. But against the theological background of the time, not to say the generally low level of spirituality among Israel, this was a shocking idea. It reflected the heights to which Moses had risen. 

The Lord’s common Upper Room theme of ‘abiding’ in Him uses the same word as Moses used in the LXX when exhorting his people to ‘cleave unto’ God (Dt. 10:20; 11:22). This abiding involved loving God and keeping His commandments- all ideas which occur together in Dt. 13:4; 30:20.

Deu 10:21 He is your praise and He is your God, Who has done for you these great and awesome things which your eyes have seen-

One of the most repeated themes of Moses in Deuteronomy is the way he keeps on telling them to "remember" all the great things which God had done for them on their wilderness journey (e.g. Dt. 10:21; 11:3-6), and especially the wonder of how he had redeemed them as children (his audience had been under twenty years old when they went through the Red Sea). Just look up all the times " remember" occurs in Deuteronomy. He really wanted them to overcome the human tendency to forget the greatness of God as manifested earlier in our lives and spiritual experience. Our tendency as the new Israel is just the same- to forget the wonder of baptism, of how God reached out His arm to save us.  


Deu 10:22 Your fathers went down into Egypt with seventy persons, and now Yahweh your God has made you as the stars of the sky for multitude-
This was an initial, primary fulfilment of the promises to Abraham; we too have some foretastes of the Kingdom life even now. Like Paul in his time of dying, Moses in Deuteronomy saw the importance of obedience, the harder side of God; yet he also saw in real depth the surpassing love of God, and the grace that was to come, beyond Law. This appreciation reflected Moses' mature grasp of the Name / characteristics of God. He uses the name "Yahweh" in Deuteronomy over 530 times, often with some possessive adjective, e.g. "Yahweh thy God" [AV- i.e. you singular], or "Yahweh our God". He saw the personal relationship between a man and his God. Jacob reached a like realization at his peak.