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Deu 5:1 Moses called to all Israel and said to them, Hear, Israel, the statutes and the ordinances which I speak in your ears this day, that you may learn them and observe to do them-
Learning / understanding God’s principles is the way towards being obedient to them. None of His laws are mere senseless tests of our obedience or submission to Him; they have specific intention. They were to "hear" in such a way as they learned and observed the commandments. But "hear" means effectively 'to obey'. Our attitude to God's word, how we hear it, is critical. We can be a forgetful hearer, or a hearer who "does" (James 1:25). And obedience, 'hearing', leads to further obedience. But it all depends upon our attitude to God's word.

Moses really wanted Israel's well-being, he saw so clearly how obedience would result in blessing (e.g. Dt. 6:3; 12:28). This is a major theme of Moses in Deuteronomy. There was therefore a real sense of pleading behind his frequent appeal for Israel to "hear" or obey God's words. "Hear, O Israel" in Deuteronomy must have had a real passion behind it in his voice, uncorrupted as it was by old age. He didn't rattle it off as some kind of Sunday School proof. At least four times Moses interrupts the flow of his speech with this appeal: "Hear [‘be obedient’], O Israel" (Dt. 5:1; 6:3,4; 9:1; 20:3). And a glance through a concordance shows how often in Deuteronomy Moses pleads with them to hear God's voice. So he was back to his favourite theme: Hear the word, love the word, make it your life. For in this is your salvation. And the Lord Jesus (e.g. in passages like Jn. 6) makes just the same urgent appeal.  

Deu 5:2 Yahweh our God made a covenant with us in Horeb-
But that generation to whom Moses spoke at the end of his life had not been at Horeb / Sinai 40 years previously. Israel were to teach their children that God had personally saved them at the Red Sea. The covenant made with Israel then was made not only with the “fathers” who were then alive, but with every member of every generation of God’s people (Dt. 5:3; 6:20). In this sense, Biblical history is a living word to every generation.

Deu 5:3 Yahweh didn’t make this covenant with our fathers but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day-
We must read in an ellipsis here; clearly the idea is that what God had done at Sinai wasn’t only between Him and the people there at that time, not so much with the first hearers as with the later ones, with all His subsequent people. In our Bible study we must be aware that we are reading translations of languages which often rely on understanding the idiom for their real meaning to be delivered to us the readers. In Hebrew especially, we often have to read in an ellipsis; and this verse is a parade example.  

Deu 5:4 Yahweh spoke with you face to face on the mountain out of the midst of the fire-
Moses himself realized the extent to which God saw him as representative of Israel; thus he told Israel: "The Lord talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire, I stood between the Lord and you at that time, to shew you the word of the Lord" (Dt. 5:4,5). This is similar to the Lord Jesus Christ saying that because he had spoken God's words to us, we have seen God (Jn. 14:8). It was Moses who saw God face to face (Ex. 33:11), yet he knew he was so representative of Israel that in reality they had seen God face to face. All the honours and glory given to Moses were thereby given to Israel if they identified themselves with him. And ditto for us and the Lord Jesus. 

Deu 5:5 (I stood between Yahweh and you at that time to show you the word of Yahweh, for you were afraid because of the fire, and didn’t go up onto the mountain) saying-
The way Moses sees Israel as far more righteous than they were reflects the way the Lord imputes righteousness to us. He says that Israel didn't go near the mountain because they were afraid of the fire (Dt. 5:5), whereas Ex. 19:21-24 teaches that Israel at that time were not so afraid of the fire, and were quite inclined to break through the dividing fence and gaze in unspiritual fascination at a theophany which was beyond them. Standing between God and man means effectively to intercede (Num. 16:48), so it seems even on the first or second ascent of Sinai, Moses was interceding for the people.

Israel heard a voice, but were scared by the noise (Dt. 4:12), and so perhaps the idea is that Moses "showed" them the words by interpreting the words to them.

Deu 5:6 I am Yahweh your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage-
The fact that Yahweh really did redeem His people from Egypt is connected and associated with the command to have no other Gods apart from Him (Dt. 5:6,7). The more we believe that we really have been redeemed, perceiving the saving hand of God in leading us out of Egypt, the more evident it becomes that this Saviour God demands our whole and total devotion. The exit from Egypt is described as a jail break, from the house of bondage. Their desire to return to it was strong, and so Moses continually stresses the true and awful nature of Egypt / the world. The language echoes that of God to Abraham: "I am Yahweh who brought you out of Ur" (Gen. 15:7). They were being asked to act as Abraham's seed, and respond as He did to the Divine initiative in separating them from the world- by following His commandments.

Deu 5:7 You must have no other gods before Me-
It could be argued that this was a concession to weakness; for we could read this as meaning that even if Israel had other gods, Yahweh was to be supreme, and the others were not to be placed before Him. This was the attitude taken by the Lord Jesus in His tolerance of belief in demons, which were also false gods and connected with idols. But "before Me" can also mean 'in My presence'. To come into Yahweh's presence with any idol... would be unthinkable. See on Ex. 18:11.

Deu 5:8 You must not make an engraved image for yourself, any likeness of what is in heaven above, or what is in the earth beneath, or what is in the water under the earth-
“Likeness” is used in the LXX in the frequent warnings not to make an image or likeness of any god, let alone Yahweh (Ex. 20:4; Dt. 4:16-25; Ps. 106:20; Is. 40:18,19). The reason for this prohibition becomes clearer in the New Testament; the ultimate likeness of God is in His Son, and we are to create the likeness of His Son not as a mere physical icon, but within the very structure of our human personality and character.

Deu 5:9 You must not bow down yourself to them nor serve them, for I Yahweh your God am a jealous God, visiting the iniquity of the fathers on the children, and on the third and the fourth generation of those who hate Me-
It's especially easy for young people to assume that they have little influence, that they can chose to act as they like and their choices won't affect anyone much beyond themselves. Yet we read of how God "visits" (Heb. to arrange, set in order, ordain) the sins of the fathers unto the third and even fourth generations- i.e. the number of generations which an old man is likely to see gathered around him (Ex. 20:5; 34:7; Num. 14:18; Dt. 5:9). The choices of youth affect family life, which means our children, grandchildren and even great-grandchildren are affected by the choices we make in carefree youth.

Throughout Ez. 18 God clarifies that He doesn’t punish children for the sin of their parents; He deals with people on an individual level. However, the effect of sin is often felt in the society of subsequent generations, and in the process of how that works out, God is there enabling and permitting it to happen; in the same way as we all suffer the consequence of Adam’s sin and yet can still be God’s acceptable children.

Israel is so often set up as the bride of God (Is. 54:5; 61:10; 62:4,5; Jer. 2:2; 3:14; Hos. 2:19,20). This is why any infidelity to God is spoken of as adultery (Mal. 2:11; Lev. 17:7; 20:5,6; Dt. 31:16; Jud. 2:17; 8:27,33; Hos. 9:1). The language of Israel 'selling themselves to do iniquity' uses the image of prostitution. This is how God feels our even temporary and fleeting acts and thoughts of unfaithfulness. This is why God is jealous for us (Ex. 20:15; 34:14; Dt. 4:24; 5:9; 6:15)- because His undivided love for us is so exclusive. He expects us to be totally His. Just as Israel were not to be like the Egyptians they were leaving, nor like the Canaanites into whose land they were going (Lev. 18:1-5; 20:23,24). We are to be a people separated unto Him.

The prophets were up against the same passionless spirit that pervades our societies today. “The Lord thy God [is] a jealous God” (Ex. 20:5) was changed in the Targums to “I am a God above jealousy” (Mechilta). The prophets speak so often of God’s wrath, love, hurt, pain, passion, anger, pathos… And they speak too of the terrible “repentings”, the kindling of contradictory impulses, which there apparently is in the mind of God. But jealousy is a lead feature within Yahweh's personality (Ex. 20:5; 34:14). It speaks specifically of the jealousy of a man concerning the faithfulness of his wife (Num. 5:14). God was the passionate lover and husband of His people, and it is inevitable therefore that the extent of that love would produce jealousy when they spurned Him and went after other men, the idols.

Deu 5:10 and showing loving kindness to thousands of those who love Me and keep My commandments-
“If you love me you will keep my commandments” (Jn. 14:15,21,23; 15:10) reflects a major identical theme in Dt. 5:10; 7:9; 11:1,22; 13:3,4; 19:9; 30:16. Moses at the end of his life, when he spoke Deuteronomy, was very much the image of the future Lord Jesus.

God is His word (Jn. 1:1); to love God is to love His word. If we love Christ, we will keep His words (Jn. 14:15,21; 15:10). This is evidently alluding to the many Old Testament passages which say that Israel's love for God would be shown through their keeping of His commands (Ex. 20:6; Dt. 5:10; 7:9; 11:1,13,22; 30:16; Josh. 22:5). Israel were also told that God's commands were all related to showing love (Dt. 11:13; 19:9). So there is a logical circuit here: We love God by keeping His commands, the essence of which is love of people, therefore His commands are fundamentally about love. Thus love is the fulfilling of the law of God; both under the Old and New covenants (Rom. 13:10).

Deu 5:11 You must not take the name of Yahweh your God in vain, for Yahweh will not hold him guiltless who takes His name in vain-
One reference of this is to the idea of a wife taking her husband's name; just as we do when we call the Name upon ourselves in baptism (Acts 15:17; 22:16). The Hebrew for "take" is also translated "marry" or "accept". Perhaps 2 Cor. 6:1 alludes to the idea in urging us not to "accept" or 'take' God's grace [the essence of His Name] "in vain". The vulnerability and sensitivity of God is reflected in the way that He is concerned that His covenant people, His wife, who bears His Name, might profane His Name (Lev. 19:12; Ex. 20:7; Dt. 5:11). His repeated concern that His Name be taken in vain doesn't simply refer to the casual use of the word "God" as an expression of exasperation. God is concerned about His people taking His Name upon themselves (Num. 6:27) in vain- i.e., marrying Him, entering covenant relationship with Him, taking on His Name- but not being serious about that relationship, taking it on as a vain thing, like a woman who casually marries a man who loves her at the very core of his being, when for her, it's just a casual thing and she lives a profligate and adulterous life as his wife. When God revealed His Name to His people, opening up the very essence of His character to them, He was making Himself vulnerable. We reveal ourselves intimately to another because we wish for them to make a response to us, to love us for what we revealed to them. God revealed Himself to Israel, He sought for intimacy in the covenant relationship, and therefore was and is all the more hurt when His people turn away from Him, after having revealed to them all the wonders of His word (Hos. 8:12).

We take on the Name of the Lord by baptism into that Name, just as Israel carried God’s Name as a people in Old Testament times. Our relationship with Him is not to be a vain thing to us, a mere social club we joined, a casual association- it is to be our life, at the very core of our being.

But the idea of not taking Yahweh's Name "in vain", 'vanity', is often associated with idolatry. Israel never formerly rejected Yahweh, and never became atheists. They mixed Yahweh worship with idolatry on the basis that they claimed that they worshipped Yahweh through worshipping the idols. This is what emboldened them to later place idols in Yahweh's temple. They were taking Yahweh's Name as a form of vanity, "in vain", a kind of idol. Thus their relationship with Yahweh was not to be a "vain thing" (Dt. 32:47). 

"Guiltless" is a term which can mean "clear of responsibility to covenant relationship' (Gen. 24:8,41). God would not overlook the fact they were in covenant with Him and had taken His Name upon them, just as we take His Name upon us in baptism. And we are therefore not guiltless or clear of responsibility to Him.


Deu 5:12 Observe the Sabbath day to keep it holy, as Yahweh your God commanded you-
We note that the Sabbath was one of the ten commandments. But the Sabbath was specifically "a sign between them (Israel) and Me (God), that they might know that I am the Lord who sanctifies them" (Ez. 20:12). As such, it has never been intended to be binding on Gentiles (non-Jews). “... the Lord has given you [not all mankind] the Sabbath (Ex. 16:29); “... You [God] made known to them [Israel] Your holy Sabbath” (Neh. 9:14). The Old Covenant refers to the Law of Moses, which was replaced on the cross by the New Covenant. The ten commandments, including that concerning the Sabbath, were part of the Old Covenant which was done away by Christ. God "declared to you (Israel) His covenant which he commanded you (Israel) to perform, that is the Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone" (Dt. 4:13). God "wrote on the tablets the words of the covenant, the Ten Commandments" (Ex. 34:28). If we argue that keeping the covenant made in the ten commandments is necessary, we must also observe every detail of the entire Law, seeing that this is all part of the same covenant. It is evidently impossible to do this. “There was nothing in the ark except the two tablets of stone which Moses put there at Horeb ... the ark, in which is the covenant of the Lord” (1 Kings 8:9,21). Those tablets, on which were the ten commandments, were the covenant. Heb. 9:4 speaks of "the tablets of the covenant". The ten commandments were written on the tablets of stone, which comprised "the (old) covenant". Paul refers to this covenant as "written and engraved on stones", i.e. on the tablets of stone. He calls it "the ministry of death... the ministry of condemnation...” that which is “... passing away" (2 Cor. 3:7-11). 

However, nine of the ten commandments have been reaffirmed, in spirit at least, in the New Testament: 1st. - Eph. 4:6; 1 Jn. 5:21; Mt. 4:10; 2nd. - 1 Cor. 10:14; Rom. 1:25; 3rd. - James 5:12; Mt. 5:34,35; 5th. - Eph. 6:1,2; Col. 3:20; 6th. - 1 Jn. 3:15; Mt. 5:21; 7th. - Heb. 13:4; Mt. 5:27,28; 8th. - Rom. 2:21; Eph. 4:28; 9th. - Col. 3:9; Eph. 4:25; 2 Tim. 3:3; 10th. - Eph. 5:3; Col. 3:5. Numbers 3,5,6,7,8 and 9 can be found in 1 Tim. 1 alone, and numbers 1,2 and 10 in 1 Cor. 5. But never is the fourth commandment concerning the Sabbath repeated in the New Testament as obligatory for us.

Deu 5:13 You shall labour six days and do all your work-
The context in :15 explains that one reason for the Sabbath was so that servants might rest, just as Israel had been servants in Egypt and had been given rest. The Sabbath was therefore not just to remember creation, but also the salvation from Egypt. Which is why, as explained on :12, the Sabbath was uniquely a sign between God and Israel rather than with other nations.

The idea is that man's week of labour is to reflect God's six days of labour during the creation week (:11). This parallel empowers us to see the grind of daily work as ultimately creative, and not mere vanity. The daily work which was part of the curse in Eden now becomes creative- if done "as unto the Lord". But we could also consider "you shall labour" to be a command to work, rather than laze around and by all means seek to avoid the results of the curse. Rather we are to see in the six days of labour an opportunity to reflect God's creative work; to use our labour to create, rather than to merely exist. This lifts the curse of labour so far above what it otherwise is.

Deu 5:14 but the seventh day is a Sabbath to Yahweh your God in which you must not do any work, you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your ox, nor your donkey, nor any of your livestock, nor the stranger who is within your gates; so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you-
The Lord Jesus invites those who follow Him to accept the “rest” which He gives (Mt. 11:28), using the word which is used in the Septuagint for the Sabbath rest. Jesus was offering a life of Sabbath, of rest from trust in our own works (cp. Heb. 4:3,10). We shouldn’t, therefore, keep a Sabbath one day per week, but rather live our whole lives in the spirit of the Sabbath. Just as we are to live the "eternal life" now, the type of life we will eternally live in the Kingdom is to be lived and experienced now. In this sense, as Hebrews makes clear, we "have entered into rest", and yet in another sense we labour now to enter into that rest at the Lord's return. This is a classic case of the "now but not yet" theme of the Bible.

Deu 5:15 You shall remember that you were a servant in the land of Egypt, and Yahweh your God brought you out of there by a mighty hand and by an outstretched arm, therefore Yahweh your God commanded you to keep the Sabbath day-
Israel stood at Sinai and were told that if they were obedient, then they would be God's people. But then they were told that actually, God accepted them anyway as His people. And only then was the Law given to Moses- with the message that it was to be kept out of gratitude for what God had already done by grace in saving them just "simply so", because he loved them and had chosen their ancestors by grace (Dt. 4:34-40). Likewise it was because God sanctified Israel that they were to keep the Sabbath (Ex. 31:13,14; Dt. 5:15). It wasn't that any human obedience made them holy- the laws were simply an opportunity to respond to the grace shown them. For God's salvation of them from Egypt, like ours from this world, was nothing but grace.

Moses was to stretch forth his hand to cause the waters of the Red Sea to part and return, not his rod; because he was manifesting the hand of Yahweh which was to deliver Israel (s.w. Ex. 7:5). The repeated references to the stretched our arm or hand of Yahweh to save His people invite us to recall this incident, and to perceive that Yahweh's hand had been manifest through the hand of Moses (Dt. 4:34; 5:15; 7:19; 11:2; 26:8). That stretched out, saving arm and hand of Yahweh was and is stretched out still, to save His people (1 Kings 8:42; Ez. 20:34; Dan. 9:15 "as at this day") and bring about a new creation in human lives (Is. 45:12). For the deliverance through the Red Sea is intended to be experienced by all God's people, and is now seen through His saving grace at baptism (1 Cor. 10:1,2). What happened there was but the beginning of the work of God's outstretched arm (Dt. 3:24). Yet the stretched out arm / hand of God is also a figure for His judgment (1 Chron. 21:16; Is. 9:12; 10:4). His hand is at work in our lives- either to our condemnation or our salvation. And it is for us therefore to humble ourselves beneath that mighty hand (1 Pet. 5:6).

Deu 5:16 Honour your father and your mother as Yahweh your God commanded you, that your days may be long, and that it may go well with you in the land which Yahweh your God gives you-
Paul quotes this in Eph. 6:2, with the comment that this is "the first commandment with promise". Paul clearly saw "the promise" of the old covenant as being the hope of the new covenant; the hope of the promises made to the Jewish fathers was the Christian hope, as Paul so clearly stated at his trials. This involves eternal possession of a glorified earth- and not going to Heaven on death as an immortal soul.

The contemporary Near Eastern legal codes prescribed the most severe penalties for crimes against the wealthy and their property. Rich people were given lesser punishments than poor people for the same crime. The value of persons reflected in Yahweh's law meant that all people were judged equally before the law, and truly there was no respect of persons with the true God. Both father and mother are placed together as worthy of equal honour (Lev. 19:3; Ex. 20:12)- whereas the contemporary laws were oriented towards respect of the male rather than females.

The Lord Jesus saw as parallel the commands to honour parents and also not to curse them. These two separate commands (from Ex. 20:12 and 21:17) He spoke of as only one: "the commandment" (Mk. 7:9). He therefore saw that not to honour parents was effectively to curse them (Mk. 7:10). Omitting to honour parents, even if it involved appearing to give one's labour to God's temple, was therefore the same as committing the sin of cursing them. Sins of omission are perhaps our greatest weakness.

Deu 5:17 You must not murder-
The command not to murder has as its basis the fact that human life is not for us to use as we will (Ex. 20:13; Lev. 17:11; Gen. 9:6). It is God's life and is His- and this applies to our view of others lives as well as our own. Others, therefore, are not for us to use as we will. Gentleness and sensitivity to the life of others, in family life, the workplace, on the road... is therefore an outcome of our belief that the 'other' person likewise has been created by God and has life from Him. To drive in an unkind way, to act in a thoughtless way to others detriment, is therefore the same basic error as taking human life in murder.

The command "You shall not murder" must be understood in the context of a situation where the same Law also commanded certain sinners to be put to death within the community, and at times Israel were Divinely commanded and enabled to kill others outside of the community. We have to look, therefore, for a more specific meaning for this commandment- and it seems it is speaking specifically of blood revenge, killing the person who murdered one of your relatives. According to Num. 35:25-28, if the murder was unintentional, i.e. manslaughter rather than murder, then the person could flee to a city of refuge lest he be slain by the avenger of blood. There is no guidance for the avenger of blood in these 'cities of refuge' passages; rather is there the assumption that he might well attempt to take revenge even for manslaughter, and in this case the unintentional murderer should flee from him into a city of refuge. But clearly enough, this was not God's will- for "You shall not kill". But such is God's grace that He built into His law a recognition that His people would fail. This isn't what we would expect of a 2+2=4 God, where broken commandments are to be punished and period. In this case, we see here a tacit recognition even within the Mosaic Law that the commandments- in this case "You shall not kill"- wouldn't always be obeyed, and therefore extra legislating was added to enable this situation to be coped with. This isn't only an example of God's sensitivity to human sin and weakness of hot blood [although it is that]. It's an insight into how the very structure of His law is such that He understands human weakness, and is eager to ensure that it hurts others as little as possible. No more human 'god' would have dreamed this up. This grace has the stamp of the ultimately Divine, and any attempt to understand it within the frames of literalistic, legalistic analysis are doomed to failure.

Deu 5:18 Neither must you commit adultery-
This is as is, but we note the majority of references to "adultery" in the Hebrew Bible refer to unfaithfulness to God. And we cannot rule out the possibility that God also had that in view; for these commandments were the basis of His relationship with His people.

Deu 5:19 Neither must you steal-
The Hebrew indeed means to steal, but also carries the idea of deceit. For to deceive another is to effectively steal from them, to take away and misuse their belief and trust in you and your integrity. And all deceit is ultimately in order to gain something wrongly, even the thing gained isn't anything material.  

Deu 5:20 Neither must you give false testimony against your neighbour-
AV "bear false witness". But the Hebrew for "bear" means not only "to give" in a legal sense. Otherwise this commandment would only apply to the need to be truthful in a court case. The Hebrew anah is literally "to eye", 'to give heed to'. Don't pay attention to lies, don't listen to gossip- understood like that, this commandment becomes relevant to daily life, and not just to the occasional times when a person might have to bear legal witness against someone. 

Deu 5:21 Neither must you covet your neighbour’s wife, neither shall you desire your neighbour’s house, his field, or his male servant, or his female servant, his ox, or his donkey, or anything that is your neighbour’s-
The Law of Moses was the only legal code to criminalize internal attitudes; nobody knows who covets what in their hearts, and there was no legal apparatus to punish this particular transgression of law. But the Law of Moses was a direct covenant between God and every individual amongst His people, and to Him they were personally responsible and answerable.

The command not to covet what looks good is very much rooted in a warning not to commit Eve’s sin of seeing the fruit and yielding to temptation (Ex. 20:17 = Gen. 3:6). The sin in Eden was every sin; we see elements of every one of our own sins in that sin. The frequent command "You shall not covet" (Ex. 20:17 etc.) uses the same Hebrew word translated "desire" when we read of how Eve "desired" the fruit (Gen. 3:6); yet Israel "desired" the wrong fruit (Is. 1:29). As Eve saw the fruit and fell for it, so the people of Reuben and Gad saw the land East of Jordan and imagined how good it would be to have it, despite having been given 'all the land' West of Jordan to enjoy [cp. Adam and Eve's dominion in Eden] (Num. 32:1,2,7). In all these allusions [and they exist in almost every chapter of the Bible] we are being shown how human sin is a repetition in essence of that of our first parents. The insistent emphasis is that we should rise above and not be like them. And yet this call for personal effort and struggle with ourselves in order to overcome sin is muted and misplaced by all the stress upon a supposed Devil tempting Eve, pushing the blame onto him, and thereby de-emphasizing our role in overcoming sin within ourselves. And so we see so many loud-mouthed condemners of the Devil totally not 'getting it' about the need for personal self-control and spiritual mindedness in daily life and private character.

Deu 5:22 These words Yahweh spoke to all your assembly on the mountain out of the midst of the fire, the cloud and the thick darkness, with a great voice; and He added no more. He wrote them on two tablets of stone and gave them to me-
When he commented about the commandments that God “added no more” (Dt. 5:22), he foresaw his people’s tendency to add the Halacahs of their extra commandments… He could foresee the spiritual problems they would have in their hour by hour life, he appreciated how both their nature and their disobedience would be such a problem for them, and Moses foresaw that they would not cope well with it (ditto for our Lord Jesus). See on Dt. 4:42.

Ex. 13:21 says that there was a pillar of cloud in the day time and a pillar of fire by night. But at the time of the Exodus, there was a pillar of cloud for the Egyptians and a pillar of fire to give light in the night for the Israelites (Ex. 14:20,24). Could this mean that the meaning of time was collapsed at this time? It was night for the Israelites but daytime for the Egyptians? Is. 42:16, amidst many exodus / Red Sea allusions, speaks of how God makes the darkness light before His exiting people. The many Johanine references to the Lord Jesus being a light in the darkness for His followers would then be yet more elaborations of the idea that the Lord Jesus is the antitype of the Angel that led Israel out of Egypt (Jn. 8:12; 12:35,46). Num. 9:21 says that the pillar of cloud was with the Israelites at night, and sometimes it was taken up in the night and they therefore had to move on. Does this mean that there were times when the meaning of time was collapsed during their journey, and the night was made as the day (perhaps Ps. 139:12 alludes to this experience)? When Yahweh came down on Sinai, He was enveloped in a cloud of fire- suggesting that there was no day and night for Him (Ex. 24:15-17; Dt. 5:22).

Deu 5:23 When you heard the voice out of the midst of the darkness as the mountain was burning with fire, you came near to me, all the heads of your tribes and your elders-
They came near to Moses, but remained at a distance from God, indeed they fled away from Him (Ex. 20:18). The original plan had been as in Ex. 19:13 LXX: "When the voices and trumpets and cloud depart from off the mountain, they shall come up on the mountain". But this didn't happen- see on Ex. 19:14. They were not sufficiently sanctified; see on Ex. 19:10. The people "perceived" Yahweh's holiness and their sinfulness and continued idolatry. And they shied away from Him, whereas His intention was that they came close. These words are so sad. It was a rejection of intimacy with God. 

There were so many similarities between Elijah and Moses; Dale Allison points out:
Confronted Ahab (1 Kings 17:1) = Confronted Pharaoh (Ex. 5:1)
Fled into the wilderness fearing for his life (1 Kings 19:3) = Fled into the wilderness fearing for his life (Ex. 2:15)
Miraculously fed “...bread and meat in the morning and bread and meat in the evening...” (1 Kings 17:6) = Miraculously fed “...meat to eat in the evening, and bread to the full in the morning...” (Ex. 16:8, 12)
Gathered all Israel to Mount Carmel (1 Kings 18:19)=Gathered all Israel to Mount Sinai (Ex. 19:17)
Combated the prophets of Baal (1 Kings 18:20-40) = Combated the magicians of Pharaoh (Ex. 7:8-13, 20-22; 8:1-7)
Successful in his intercession for Israel to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel (1 Kings 18:36-39) = Successful in his intercession for Israel to the God of Abraham, Isaac and Israel (Ex. 32:11-14)
Elijah took twelve stones at Carmel “...according to the number of the tribes of the sons of Jacob...” (1 Kings 18:30-32) = Moses had twelve pillars set up at Sinai “...corresponding to the twelve tribes of Israel...” (Ex. 24:4)
The Lord accepted Elijah’s offering by sending fire from heaven and consuming it completely. The people threw themselves down on their faces. (1 Kings 18:36-39) = The Lord accepted Moses and Aaron’s offering by sending fire from heaven and consuming it completely. The people threw themselves down on their faces. (Lev. 9:22-24)
By Elijah’s authority 3000 idolatrous prophets were slain (1 Kings 18:40) = By Moses’ authority 3000 idolaters were slain (Ex. 32:25-29)
After killing the prophets of Baal Elijah climbed Carmel to pray. (1 Kings 18:42) = After killing the idolaters Moses climbed Sinai to pray (Ex. 32:30)
Went without food for forty days and forty nights (1 Kings 19:8) = Went without food for forty days and forty nights (Ex. 34:38; Dt. 9:9)
Elijah was in “the cave” on Horeb (=Sinai) when the Lord “passed by” (1 Kings 19: 9-11) = Moses was hidden “in the cleft of the rock” when the Lord passed by Sinai (Ex. 33:21-23)
Elijah saw storm, wind, an earthquake and fire upon Horeb (=Sinai). (1 Kings 19:11-12) = Moses saw storm, wind, an earthquake and fire upon Sinai (Ex. 19:16-20; 20:18; Dt. 4:11; 5:22-27).
Prayed that he might die (1 Kings 19:1-4) = Prayed that he might die. (Num. 11:10-15).
The Lord brought down fire from heaven upon his enemies (2 Kings 1:9-12) = The Lord brought down fire from heaven upon those who rebelled against him (Num. 16; cf. Lev. 10:1-3)
Elijah parted the waters of the Jordan by striking the waters with his cloak and passed over on dry ground. (2 Kings 2:8) = Moses parted the waters of the Red Sea by stretching out his staff and passed over on dry ground (Ex. 14:16, 21-22)
His successor was one who had served him and came to resemble him in many ways, parting the waters of the Jordan as he had (2 Kings 2) = His successor was one who had served him and came to resemble him in many ways, parting the waters of the Jordan as he had the Red Sea (Josh. 3)
Was taken away in the Transjordan (2 Kings 2:9-11) = Died in the Transjordan (Dt. 34:5)
Mysteriously translated (2 Kings 9-18) = Died mysteriously and buried in a valley, but his burial place was unknown. (Dt. 34:6)
The point of these similarities was that the Angel wanted Elijah to be like Moses; to pray for the peoples’ salvation, to return to the people and lead them and teach them. Moses had begged for God’s mercy for His people; but Elijah was so full of self-justification that he prayed against Israel. And so with us, we are potentially led into situations where we are to discern the similarities between us and Bible characters; we are set up with opportunities to respond in a way that reflects how we have learnt the lessons from them. The way the Lord Jesus perceived this in His wilderness temptations is a great example.

Deu 5:24 and you said, Behold, Yahweh our God has shown us His glory and His greatness, and we have heard His voice out of the midst of the fire. We have seen this day that God does speak with man and he lives-
They recognized the theory- that they had heard the voice of their God, and that God could speak with a man like Moses directly without the man dying. But they didn't want that intimacy; it was not for them (:25). And they justified it beneath a veneer of fake humility, claiming they were too sinful to hear God's voice. They rejected intimacy with God for religion and following a man, even if he were a very good and genuine man.


Deu 5:25 Now therefore why should we die? For this great fire will consume us. If we hear the voice of Yahweh our God any more, then we shall die-
The tragedy was that to hear the personal voice of their God was intended to build their faith, and was the most wonderful empirical, experiential evidence that He was real (Dt. 4:32,33). But faced with it, they hurriedly turned away. And this is true in essence of so many people. See on :26.

Deu 5:26 For who is there of all humanity that has ever heard the voice of the living God speaking out of the midst of the fire as we have, and has lived?-
Israel complained that no other nation had ever been asked to hear the voice of their God in a personal way; they feared that hearing this voice meant their condemnation (Dt. 5:26). But God meant it so positively; the fact they had heard God's voice was a sign of His amazing grace (Dt. 4:32,33). Yet Israel turned the display of that grace into a reason to fear condemnation. They were far happier not being confronted by such radical grace, and the personal engagement of God with them. And so they desperately sought to use mere religion to shield them from this, asking Moses to go through with this engagement with God and then give them a few rules to obey, which didn't too deeply interrupt their lives. This is the abiding tendency of men of all ages; to flee from grace to the structures of mere religion. 

Deu 5:27 Go near and hear all that Yahweh our God shall say, and tell us all that Yahweh our God shall tell you, and we will hear it and do it-
See on Dt. 30:12. God wanted to speak directly with Israel at Sinai; and yet they urged Moses personally to go and hear what God wished to say, and tell them about it: "Go thou [you singular] near and hear" (Dt. 5:23,27). Moses urged them not to fear, and told them that this was all a test from God for them (Ex. 20:20). But they didn't rise to it. Yet God accepted this lower level, so did He wish to communicate with them. And He used Moses as a mediator through whom He spoke His word to His people.

We too have a tendency to shy away from a direct relationship with God through His word, and prefer a system of human mediators to bring God to us- as we see in the established churches. But God wants to have direct contact with us through the medium of His word.

Deu 5:28 Yahweh heard the voice of your words when you spoke to me and Yahweh said to me, I have heard the voice of the words of this people which they have spoken to you; they have well said all that they have spoken-
This is all intentionally similar to the situation with Pharaoh in Ex. 10:29, when "Moses said, You have spoken well. I will see your face again no more". For Israel had seen God's face insofar that Moses had seen it (Dt. 5:24). And they didn't want it, and so they would not be given it.

Deu 5:29 Oh that there were-
God’s capacity to imagine, to see possible futures to some extent, explains the poignancy behind His words in places like Is. 48:18: "O that you had hearkened to my commandments!", "Oh that they would have a mind such as this always" (Dt. 5:29), "O Israel, if you would but listen to me" (Ps. 81:8,13). It's as if He could see the potentially happy future which they could've had stretching out before Him.

Such a heart in them, that they would fear Me and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!-
Adam Clarke correctly understands the Hebrew here as meaning "Who will give such a heart to them, that they may fear, etc. They refuse to receive such a heart from me; who then can supply it?". God was willing to give them a new heart, to work through His Spirit directly upon their spirit. But they didn't accept that gift, just as many refuse it today, preferring to keep God at a distance and follow mere religion. The new covenant as explained in Jeremiah and Ezekiel is all about accepting this new heart and spirit from God. 

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 5:30 Go, tell them, Return to your tents-
God went along with their rejection of intimacy with Him, and so He surely said these words with much regret. They preferred their tents to His tent.

Deu 5:31 But as for you, stand here by Me-
God through the Angel had earlier stood upon a rock in Sinai with Moses next to Him (Ex. 17:6). Later, Yahweh asks Moses to stand upon a rock in Sinai next to Him (Ex. 33:21 s.w.). We see how God gently and progressively leads His people closer to Him, using every experience He gives us to prepare for the next one, on an ever more intimate level with Him.  

And I will tell you all the commandments, the statutes and the ordinances, which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I give them to possess-
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 5:32 You must observe to do therefore as Yahweh your God has commanded you; you must not turn aside to the right hand or to the left-
The wall of water on their right hand and left when they crossed the Red Sea is twice emphasized (Ex. 14:22,29). It is alluded to later, when they are urged to not depart from God's way, not to the right hand nor left (Dt. 5:32; 17:11,20; 28:14). We passed through the Red Sea when we were baptized (1 Cor. 10:1,2). We were set upon a path which is walled up to keep us within it. And we are to remain in that path upon which we were set. To turn aside from it would be as foolish as Israel turning away from their path and trying to walk into the walls of water.

Deu 5:33 You must walk in all the way which Yahweh your God has commanded you, in order that you may live and that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days-
Does "prolong your days" mean that long life promised to the obedient Israelite under the Old Covenant? Solomon observed that a just mad perished young and "a wicked man who prolongs his life in his wickedness" (Ecc. 7:15). Ez. 12:22 suggests that faithless Israel cynically observed that "The days are prolonged" and God's prophetic word of condemnation had failed- implying they thought that prolonged days were being experienced by them despite their disobedience. The Hebrew phrase 'to prolong days' is found in Is. 53:10, where it is applied to how Messiah would 'prolong His days' not in this life, but in the resurrection. The repeated promises recorded in Deuteronomy of prolonged days upon the land of Israel would therefore hint at the eternity of the Kingdom rather than this life. Indeed, Dt. 4:40 says they would prolong their days "for ever". For an individual Israelite might be faithful but not prolong his or her days in the land because the whole people were to be carried away captive for their sins and the land given to a Gentile power. The opposite of 'days being prolonged' was 'utter destruction' (:26)- which would then speak of condemnation in the second death. This is one of many examples of where eternal life was possible under the Old Covenant- there were multiple different possibilities and plans God could have worked by. Israel could have accepted the Lord Jesus as their Messiah and not killed Him, and so forth. It seems the closer we probe God's word, the more open He is revealed as being.


In the land which you shall possess-
"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.