New European Commentary


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Deu 29:1 These are the words of the covenant which Yahweh commanded Moses to make with the children of Israel in the land of Moab, besides the covenant which He made with them in Horeb-
This additional repetition of the covenant was because by grace, God wished to reaffirm the covenant even though Israel had broken their part of it- see on :13 and :23. The covenant on Sinai (Ex. 19:20) was reaffirmed in the plains of Moab (Dt. 29:1) and on Joshua's death (Josh. 24:25), and was to be reaffirmed every seven years (Dt. 31:9-11,25,26). It is this reaffirmation of covenant relationship which we make in the breaking of bread service. 

Deu 29:2 Moses called all Israel and said to them, You have seen all that Yahweh did before your eyes in the land of Egypt, to Pharaoh and to all his servants and to all his land;-
v. 2-3 "You have seen. . .your eyes have seen". As in 4:34 and 7:19. They had not literally seen these things- the audience by the end of Deuteronomy included those who had been born during the 40 years wandering. But historical events in God's word are as if we were there, hence David can rejoice as if he personally was delivered at the Red Sea.

Deu 29:3 the great trials which your eyes saw, the signs and those great wonders.
Deu 29:4 But Yahweh has not given you a heart to know and eyes to see and ears to hear, to this day-
In :2 we are told "you have seen" , but they didn't spiritually 'see' what they saw with their physical eyes. God confirms people in the psychological attitudes they adopt.

Deu 29:5 I have led you forty years in the wilderness. Your clothes have not grown old on you and your shoes have not grown old on your feet-
The observation that their "clothes didn’t grow old, and their feet didn’t swell" is made in the context of lamenting that "Yet Yahweh has not given you a heart to perceive nor eyes to see nor ears to hear" (Dt. 29:4). They refused to perceive His great and daily grace to them as witnessed in His daily provision of food and clothing, just as we can fail to perceive it today. Regular prayers of thanksgiving before food are a good way of guarding against this human tendency to not perceive such grace. The returned exiles likewise had been miraculously provided for by the decrees of the Persian kings, but refused to perceive the grace of all that provision (Neh. 9:21).

Deu 29:6 You have not eaten bread neither have you drunk wine or strong drink, that you may know that I am Yahweh your God.
Deu 29:7 When we came to this place, Sihon the king of Heshbon and Og the king of Bashan came out against us to battle and we struck them,
Deu 29:8 and we took their land and gave it for an inheritance to the Reubenites, the Gadites and the half-tribe of the Manassites-
To take and give land for an inheritance whilst still on the East side of Jordan was a foretaste of what was possible for them when they entered the land West of Jordan. The same terms are used about what Israel were to do with the rest of the land- although their fear of the Canaanite tribes suggests they didn't learn the lesson. It was a foretaste of the Kingdom... and our wilderness walk is designed, especially towards the end of it, to have similar foretastes encouraging us that really this is what we will experience.

Deu 29:9 Keep therefore the words of this covenant and do them, so that you may prosper in all that you do-
- see on Josh. 1:6

Deu 29:10 You stand this day, all of you, before Yahweh your God: your heads, your tribes, your elders and your officers, all the men of Israel-
Moses on that last day of his life addressed the whole assembly of Israel; and yet he so often speaks in the singular ("thee" rather than "ye" in the KJV), as if to emphasize that the laws and covenant he was giving them was to them personally. This is made clear in :10,12: "You (plural) stand this day, all of you, before Yahweh... that you (singular) may enter into covenant with Yahweh". That covenant was made anew by God to each generation and individual. We cannot hide within a family or a church. We are individually responsible to God and will personally be saved. In the same spirit, Moses points out that Yahweh is the only God that can be personally known; all the idols could not be known personally (:26). No fewer than 137 times in Scripture we read the phrase "my God". This was used in a public, unashamed way by many of God's children (it was a particular favourite of Nehemiah, David and Paul).

Deu 29:11 your little ones, your wives and the foreigner who is in the midst of your camps, from the one who cuts your wood to the one who draws your water-
Verses 10-13 is a very long sentence; from now until the end of his speech in Deuteronomy, Moses uses (in the Hebrew text) very long sentences, at times with unclear syntax- as if he was getting increasingly intense and excited as he speaks of the utter realities to which we stand personally related by our covenant with God.

Deu 29:12 You wish to enter into covenant with Yahweh your God and into His oath, which Yahweh your God makes with you this day-
For Israel in covenant with God, absolutely nothing- not sex, menstruation, the content of clothing fabric, diet- could fall outside the scope of their covenant relationship. And so in principle it is with us under the new covenant. Such a relationship also precludes the worship of any other God. The covenant we have entered has constant and binding claims upon our loyalty; and it also speaks of God’s constant and passionate commitment to us.

Deu 29:13 that He may establish you this day to Himself for a people and that He may be to you a God, as He spoke to you and as He swore to your fathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob-
The promise that Israel would be God's people and He would be their God was conditional upon their obedience- that was the deal made with them nearly 40 years previously (Ex. 19:5,6). They had not kept their side of it- but by grace, God still wanted to fulfill His side of it. Israel would be 'established' as God's people "unto Himself" only if they were obedient (Dt. 28:9)- the point of the covenant proclaimed in chapter 29 is that despite their disobedience, God was still going to establish them as His people. This was the grace that only comes from a deep love and desire for the beloved. Moses urges the peoples' faithfulness so that Yahweh might "establish His covenant" with them (Dt. 8:18; 28:9; 29:13); and we note that despite their disobedience, He still "established" the covenant with them, by grace alone (Dt. 9:5).

Deu 29:14 Not only with you do I make this covenant and this oath-
Moses is one of greatest types of the Lord Jesus, in whom the Father was supremely manifested. Because of this, it is fitting that we should see a very high level of God manifestation in Moses. Indeed it seems that God was manifest in Moses to a greater degree than in any other Old Testament character. Therefore the pronouns often change (in Deuteronomy especially), showing a confusion between the voice of God and that of Moses. Dt. 7:4 is an example: “They will turn away thy son from following me (this is Moses speaking for God)... so will the anger of the Lord be kindled against you”. Thus Moses’ comments on God’s words are mixed up with the words of God Himself. There are other examples of this in Dt. 7:11; 29:1,10,14,15 (“I” cp. “us”). Consider especially Dt. 11:13,14: “If ye shall diligently hearken unto my commandments which I command you this day, to love the Lord... that I will give you the rain of your land... I will send grass in thy fields”. The “I” here switches at ease between God and Moses. The Moses/God pronouns are also mixed in Rom. 10:19.

Deu 29:15 but with him who stands here with us this day before Yahweh our God and also with him who is not here with us this day.
Deu 29:16 For you know how we lived in the land of Egypt and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed,
Deu 29:17 and you have seen their abominations and their idols, wood and stone, silver and gold, which were among them.
Deu 29:18 This covenant is made lest there should be among you man or woman, family or tribe, whose heart turns away this day from Yahweh our God, to go to serve the gods of those nations; lest there should be among you a root that bears gall and wormwood-
Applied in Heb. 12:15 to those within the church who discourage others from total commitment to God. Those who don’t totally commit to Him will poison others by their attitude and cause them to fall away from God’s grace; and we must be keenly aware of this, because there are such people around- so says Heb. 12:15.

Deu 29:19 who, when he hears the words of this curse blesses himself in his heart saying I shall have peace, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart, to destroy the moist with the dry-

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 29:20 Yahweh will not pardon him, but then the anger of Yahweh and His jealousy will smoke against that man, and all the curse that is written in this book shall lie on him, and Yahweh will blot out his name from under the sky.
Deu 29:21 Yahweh will separate him unto evil out of all the tribes of Israel, according to all the curses of the covenant that is written in this book of the law-
The ministering of judgement on the unworthy will no doubt be supervised by an (the?) Angel of evil, in the same way that it appears an Angel of evil ministered the curses of the Law: "The Lord shall separate (Hebrew: sever) him (the disobedient man) out of all the  tribes of Israel, according to all the words of the covenant" (Dt. 29:21)- just as He did to Achan. In the same way the Angels "sever the wicked from among the just" (Mt. 13:49) at the judgement. The picture of the rejected severed from among God's people is fairly common in the pictures of condemnation- the people of God shall see the naked shame of the rejected (Rev. 16:15). Willful separation from God's people in this life, either by thinking them worthy of our rejection or through disinterest in them, is therefore living out the picture of condemnation.

Deu 29:22 The generation to come, your children who shall rise up after you and the foreigner who will come from a distant land, shall see the plagues of the land and the sicknesses with which Yahweh has made it sick.
Deu 29:23 The whole land is sulphur, salt and burning, that it is not sown nor giving produce and no grass grows therein, like the overthrow of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which Yahweh overthrew in His anger and in his wrath-
Israel were disobedient, but still this promised judgment didn't come. This chapter is full of grace.

Deu 29:24 They and all the nations shall say, Why has Yahweh done thus to this land? What does the heat of this great anger mean?
Deu 29:25 Then men shall say, Because they forsook the covenant of Yahweh the God of their fathers, which He made with them when He brought them forth out of the land of Egypt-

Jud. 2:13 says that the people did forsake Yahweh. But instead of these judgments , we are to read that although God punished them, He raised up saviours to save them from the judgments; and this looks forward to His grace in the Lord Jesus, 'Yah's salvation'.

Deu 29:26 and went and served other gods and worshipped them, gods that they didn’t know and that He had not given to them.
Deu 29:27 Therefore the anger of Yahweh was kindled against this land, to bring on it all the curse that is written in this book;
Deu 29:28 and Yahweh rooted them out of their land in anger in wrath and in great indignation and cast them into another land, as at this day-

As Israel were "cast" out of their land and into another country (Dt. 29:28) so the rejected are cast out of God's presence. Zedekiah fled, was overtaken, wept (Ez. 7:27), judgment was given upon him (Jer. 52:9), he was punished in the presence of the king (Jer. 52:10), cast into prison (Jer. 52:11 cp. Mt. 5:25).


Deu 29:29 The secret things belong to Yahweh our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law-
This could be translated as meaning that the secret things of God have been revealed unto God's children. Or it could mean that the things which have been revealed are the Law and Covenant made with Israel then, but they should not think that this was all there was to God. There was more, the "secret things", which had not then been opened to them. And those things were the things of Christ and the new covenant- 1 Cor. 2:9,10 appears to allude here by saying that "Eye hath not seen, nor ear heard, neither have entered into the heart of man, the things which God hath prepared for them that love him.  But God hath revealed them unto us by his Spirit; for the Spirit searcheth all things, yea, the deep things of God" . 

The Sabbath is described as a perpetual, eternal ordinance between God and His people (Ex. 31:16). Yet in the New Testament we read that the Old Covenant has been done away; and the Old Covenant clearly included the ten commandments (Dt. 4:13), one of which was concerning the Sabbath. For this reason the New Testament is at pains to explain that Sabbath keeping is not now required of God’s people (Col. 2:14-17; Rom. 14:1-3). Indeed, the whole Law of Moses is described as an everlasting covenant (Is. 24:5; Dt. 29:29), but it has now been done away (Heb. 8:13). The feasts of Passover and Atonement were to be “an everlasting statute unto you” (Lev. 16:34; Ex. 12:14); but now the Mosaic feasts have been done away in Christ (Col. 2:14-17; 1 Cor. 5:7). The Levitical priesthood was “the covenant of an everlasting priesthood” (Ex. 40:15; Num. 25:13), but “the priesthood being changed (by Christ’s work), there is made of necessity a change also of the law” (Heb. 7:12). There was an “everlasting covenant” between God and Israel to display the shewbread in the Holy Place (Lev. 24:8). This “everlasting covenant” evidently ended when the Mosaic Law was dismantled. But the same phrase “everlasting covenant” is used in 2 Samuel 23:5 concerning how Christ will reign on David’s throne for literal eternity in the Kingdom. In what sense, then, is God using the word olahm, which is translated “eternal”, “perpetual”, “everlasting” in the Old Testament? James Strong defines olahm as literally meaning “the finishing point, time out of mind, i.e. practically eternity”. It was God’s purpose that the Law of Moses and the associated Sabbath law were to continue for many centuries. To the early Israelite, this meant a finishing point so far ahead that he couldn’t grapple with it; therefore he was told that the Law would last for ever in the sense of “practically eternity”. For all of us, the spectre of ultimate infinity is impossible to intellectually grapple with. We may glibly talk about God’s eternity and timelessness, about the wonder of eternal life. But when we pause to really come to terms with these things, we lack the intellectual tools and linguistic paradigms to cope with it. Therefore there is no Hebrew or Greek word used in the Bible text to speak of absolute infinity. We know that death has been conquered for those in Christ, therefore we have the hope of immortal life in his Kingdom. But God speaks about eternity very much from a human viewpoint.