New European Commentary

 

About | PDFs | Mobile formats | Word formats | Other languages | Contact Us | What is the Gospel? | Support the work | Carelinks Ministries | | The Real Christ | The Real Devil | "Bible Companion" Daily Bible reading plan


Deeper Commentary

 

Deu 16:1 Observe the month of Abib and keep the Passover to Yahweh your God, for in the month of Abib Yahweh your God brought you forth out of Egypt by night-
Israel both kept Passover and went through the Red Sea at night. Indeed, it is stressed six times in Ex. 12 that it was  “night", and hence Dt. 16:1 reminds them to carefully keep the Passover (i.e. at night), “for... thy God brought thee forth  out of Egypt by night". Other latter day prophecies speak of the events of the second coming being at "night" :  Lot left Sodom in the very early hours of the morning;  and it was "at midnight (that) there was a cry made" informing the virgins of their Lord's return (Mt. 25:6).

Deu 16:2 You must sacrifice the Passover to Yahweh your God from the flock and the herd, in the place which Yahweh shall choose to cause His name to dwell there-
This seems to imply that now, in the ‘second law’ Moses was giving in Deuteronomy, the Passover sacrifice didn’t necessarily have to be a lamb, and it could be boiled not just roasted (:7).  See on Dt. 20:14. So eager is God for our fellowship that He is prepared to make concessions to our human situations; and we should have that spirit in dealing with others.


The softness of Moses, the earnestness of his desire for their obedience, his eagerness to work with them in their humanity, is shown by the concessions to human weakness which he makes in Deuteronomy (with God's confirmation, of course). When they attacked a foreign city, OK, Moses says, you can take the women for yourselves- even though this is contrary to the spirit of earlier commands (Dt. 20:14; 21:11). Likewise with the provisions for having a human king (Dt. 17:17) and divorce (Dt. 24:1-4). He knew the hardness of Israel's hearts, their likelihood to give way to temptation, and so he made concessions contrary to the principles behind other parts of the Law (Mt. 19:8). And Dt. 16:2 seems to imply that now, the Passover sacrifice didn’t necessarily have to be a lamb, it could be any animal from the flock or herd, and it could be boiled not just roasted (see on :7).  

 


Deu 16:3 You must eat no leavened bread with it. You must eat unleavened bread with it seven days, the bread of affliction, for you came forth out of the land of Egypt in haste, that you may remember the day when you came forth out of the land of Egypt all the days of your life.
Deu 16:4 No yeast shall be seen with you in all your borders seven days, neither shall any of the flesh, which you sacrifice the first day at evening, remain all night until the morning.
Deu 16:5 You may not sacrifice the Passover within any of your gates which Yahweh your God gives you,
Deu 16:6 but at the place which Yahweh your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell in, there you must sacrifice the Passover at evening, at the going down of the sun, at the time that you came forth out of Egypt.
Deu 16:7 You must roast and eat it in the place which Yahweh your God shall choose; and you shall turn in the morning and go to your tents-
See on :2. Israel were told specifically that the passover lamb must be roasted and not boiled (Ex. 12:9 uses two distinct words for 'boiled' and 'roasted'.). But the word used in Ex. 12:9 for "boiled" is that used in Dt. 16:7 of how the Passover could be boiled, although many Bible versions misleadingly translate the word there as "roast". The translators need not have feared such contradiction. For it is the contradiction of grace. Moses in Dt. 16:2,7 was allowing a less strict observation of the passover than originally intended, typical of the way Deuteronomy, 'the second law', seems to make concessions to Israel's weaknesses. Or it could be that here we have another example of where the Passover regulations given in Exodus were specific only to that time at the exodus. Thus a foreigner was not allowed to eat of that sacrifice, but foreigners were welcome to eat of the Passover later.  

At the first Passover, which they were re-living, they left Egypt at night and in the morning went into the promised land. They were to imagine their homes as in a sense the promised land; there the principles of the Kingdom were to be upheld so that the home became a small imitation of the Kingdom. That principle applies to us too. 

 


Deu 16:8 For six days you must eat unleavened bread. On the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to Yahweh your God; you shall do no work.

Deu 16:9 You must count for yourselves seven weeks: from the time you begin to put the sickle to the standing grain you shall begin to number seven weeks.
Deu 16:10 You must keep the feast of weeks to Yahweh your God with a tribute of a freewill offering, which you shall give according as Yahweh your God blesses you.
Deu 16:11 You shall rejoice before Yahweh your God, you, your son, your daughter, your male servant and your female servant, the Levite who is within your gates and the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, who are among you, in the place which Yahweh your God shall choose to cause His name to dwell there.
Deu 16:12 You must remember that you were a bondservant in Egypt, and you shall observe and do these statutes-

Moses' frequent references in Deuteronomy to the way in which the Exodus had separated Israel from Egypt shows his concern that they were slipping back to Egypt / the world in their hearts (Dt. 13:5; 15:15; 16:12); as our Lord in his time of dying was so strongly aware of the way in which he was redeeming us from this present evil world. 



Deu 16:13 You must keep the feast of tents seven days after you have gathered in from your threshing floor and from your winepress,
Deu 16:14 and you shall rejoice in your feast, you, your son and your daughter, your male servant, your female servant and the Levite, the foreigner, the fatherless and the widow, who are within your gates.
Deu 16:15 You must keep a feast to Yahweh your God seven days in the place which Yahweh shall choose. Because Yahweh your God will bless you in all your increase and in all the work of your hands, you shall be altogether joyful-
See on Ps. 90:3.  Moses was this confident of them, as Paul was confident of the obedience of the Corinthians despite it seeming humanly unlikely (2 Cor. 10:6). It’s far easier to have a negative attitude about people than a positive one; but God’s grace and imputing of righteousness to us personally should help us be positive about others.

Having stated that the Canaanite tribes would only be cast out if Israel were obedient, Moses goes on to enthuse that those tribes would indeed be cast out- so positive was he about Israel’s obedience (Dt. 6:18,19; 7:1). And yet on the other hand he realistically was aware of their future failures. He said those positive words genuinely, because he simply loved Israel, and had the hope for them which love carries with it. Throughout his speech, Moses is constantly thinking of Israel in the land; he keeps on telling them how to behave when they are there, encouraging them to be strong so that they will go into the land. I estimate that about 25% of the verses in Moses' speech speak about this. Israel's future inheritance of the Kingdom absolutely filled Moses' mind as he faced up to his own death. And remember that his speech was the outpouring of 40 years meditation. Their salvation, them in the Kingdom, totally filled his heart. And likewise with the Lord Jesus. Psalms 22 and 69 shows how his thoughts on the cross, especially as he approached the point of death, were centred around our salvation. And Moses was so positive about them. “The Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase, and in all the works of thine hands”, even though these blessings were conditional upon their obedience. Moses was this confident of them (Dt. 16:15 cp. 28:1,4,12).

Moses sounds as if his prayer of Ps. 90:17 has been answered: "Let the grace of the Lord our God be upon us; establish the work of our hands for us; yes, establish the work of our hands". God was willing to hearken to Moses as he prayed so, so earnestly, He was willing to change His expressed purpose in respect to destroying Israel (perhaps Ps. 90 is the transcript of this prayer- Ps. 90:3 in Hebrew asks God not to destroy the children of men, and to repent concerning His servants in:13-17). It should also be noted that Moses as a type of Christ was not the High Priest. He mediated for Israel on a voluntary basis; not because he was under any duty to offer up their prayers. Indeed, they didn't make any prayers for him to offer up. He pleaded with God for them on his own initiative, rather than being asked by them to do so. And this is the basis of Christ's mediation for us; he pleads for us even when we know not what to pray for, even when we don't realize the need to beseech the Father. Moses' mediation, not so much Aaron's offerings, are the prototype which the New Testament uses to explain the Lord's present work. In the Apocryphal Assumption of Moses (1:14), Moses is made to say of God: "He designed and devised me and he prepared me before the foundation of the world, that I should be the mediator". These words are alluded to in a number of NT passages. Clearly we are intended to see Moses' mediation as typical of the Lord's. His freewill mediation was the basis of Israel's salvation (Hos. 12:13). Likewise the intensity of his prayers and the supremacy of his willingness to sacrifice himself for them was tragically unknown to them at the time. It's almost sad that these things have to be typical of the Lord's preservation and redemption of us his thick-skinned and unknowing people.    


Deu 16:16 Three times in a year must all your males appear before Yahweh your God in the place which He shall choose: in the feast of unleavened bread, in the feast of weeks and in the feast of tents. They must not appear before Yahweh empty-
"Empty" may mean that they were to not attend without bringing a sacrifice, with empty hands. But "empty" is s.w. "without cause", "in vain". Attendance at the feasts was not to be mere ritual, appearing before Yahweh for no purpose. The meaning of the feasts was to be allowed to have the spiritual results intended. And this is a challenge to all whose Christian lives involve regular attendance at meetings. We can so easily slip into a rut of ritual observance, just going through motions "without cause". 


Deu 16:17 every man shall give as he is able, according to the blessing of Yahweh your God which He has given you-
Notice the past tense. Moses often speaks of the "blessing" which God would give them for obedience; but he here speaks of the future blessing of obedience in the prophetic perfect, so confident was he that they would receive it. The blessings of the Kingdom were already obtained for us on the cross. It’s for us to as it were claim them.

Despite being fully aware of how weak Israel were, Moses often speaks of the "blessing" which God would give them for obedience; he even speaks of the future blessing of obedience in the prophetic perfect, so confident was he that they would receive it: " Every man shall give as he is able (once he is settled in the land), according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee" (Dt. 16:17). Moses speaks with confidence of how God would grant them the blessing of the land and victory over their enemies, even though these things were conditional upon their obedience (Dt. 19:1; 20:13), and even though Moses clearly knew that most of them would disobey. The conclusion from this is that Moses thought so much of that minority who would obey his covenant, who would grasp the spirit of his life and the speech he was now making. And our Lord likewise- in his feelings for us, we trust.  

The Mosaic command to give, every man according to the blessing with which God had blessed him (Dt. 16:17), is purposely similar in phrasing to the command to eat of the Passover lamb, every man according to his need; and to partake of the manna (cp. the Lord Jesus), every man according to his need (Ex. 12:4; 16:6,16). According to the desperation of our need, so we partake of Christ; and in response, according to our blessing, we give, in response to the grace of His giving.  

 



Deu 16:18 You shall make judges and officers in all your gates which Yahweh your God gives you, according to your tribes, and they shall judge the people with righteous judgment-
 
This was specifically obeyed in 2 Chron. 19:7, because the previous system had been open to "respect of persons" and bribes. This was in distinction to how the judgment was done as in most primitive societies, by the heads of families. But that was bound to be open to "respect of persons" and bribes.


Deu 16:19 You must not twist justice, you must not respect persons, neither must you take a bribe; for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous-

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 16:20 You must follow that which is altogether just, that you may live, and inherit the land which Yahweh your God gives you-
 
The Pharisees had the “key of knowledge” that enabled men to reach the Kingdom (Lk. 11:52); but they took it away from men, and thus stopped them entering (Mt. 23:13). Likewise if the elders / judges of Israel had been wise, the entire people would have entered the land (Dt. 16:20).

"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.



Deu 16:21 You must not plant for yourselves an Asherah of any kind of tree beside the altar of Yahweh your God, which you shall make for yourselves-
Moses adds a whole series of apparently 'minor' commands which were designed to make obedience easier to the others already given. Thus he tells them in Deuteronomy not to plant a grove of trees near the altar of God - because he knew this would provoke the possibility of mixing Yahweh worship with that of the surrounding world (Dt. 16:21). Likewise he commands any future king not to send God's people to Egypt to buy horses because he could see that this would tempt them to go back to Egypt permanently (Dt. 17:16). There are many other example of this kind of thing (Dt. 14:24; 15:18; 17:17-19; 18:9; 20:7,8). The point is that Moses had thought long and hard about the ways in which Israel would be tempted to sin, and his words and innermost desire were devoted to helping them overcome. Glorious ditto for the Lord Jesus.


Deu 16:22 Neither shall you set yourself up a pillar, which Yahweh your God hates.