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Deeper Commentary


Deu 9:1 Hear, Israel-
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.  


You are to pass over the Jordan this day-
They did not pass over that day because they mourned for Moses 30 days (Dt. 34:8). It is possible that Moses felt so despised by them that he assumed there would be no period of mourning for him. He could be using "this day" in a general sense of "at this time", but this may also be an example of 'I tell you this day' being a solemn statement, as discussed on Dt. 8:19.   

To go in to dispossess nations greater and mightier than yourself, cities great and walled up to the sky-
"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 9:2 a people great and tall, the sons of the Anakim, whom you know and of whom you have heard say, Who can stand before the sons of Anak?-
This was apparently a proverbial expression of the time, but it caught hold of the minds of the spies who first entered the land, and came to dominate the thinking of the generation who refused to enter the Kingdom and were therefore condemned in the wilderness. We see here the power of words and phrases; the little credos by which men live are often taught by snatches of lyrics from popular songs, or half remembered quotations once seen somewhere online. This is why we are to speak to ourselves in psalms, hymns and spiritual songs, and not allow our self talk to be donated by the phrases of the secular world (Eph. 5:19). We are to speak also to each other in these terms (Col. 3:16); for our self talk is reflected in our words to others. And this is what happened to that generation who failed to enter the land; it was exactly this repetition of the words "Who can stand before the sons of Anak?", in their hearts and to each other, which led to a generation of Israel being denied the Kingdom which had been prepared for them.

Deu 9:3 Know therefore this day that Yahweh your God is He who goes over before you as a devouring fire-
It was the Angel in the pillar of fire which was to go before Israel. Deborah in Jud. 4:14 quotes the words of Dt. 9:3 concerning the Angel going before Israel to drive out the nations to Barak, to inspire him with courage in fighting them. She recognized that the work the Angels did when they went out many years ago to do all the groundwork necessary for Israel to destroy all the tribes of Canaan was done for all time. It was not too late to make use of that work by making a human endeavour in faith. So with us, the smaller objectives in our lives as well as our main goal of reaching the Kingdom have all been made possible through the work of Christ and the Angels in the past. Deborah's recognition of this is shown in her song- Jud. 5:20: "They (the Angels) fought from Heaven; the stars (Biblical imagery for Angels) in their courses fought against Sisera". 

He will destroy them and He will bring them down before you; so you shall drive them out-
The nations in the land being "subdued" or 'brought down' was the outcome of Israel being obedient to the covenant (s.w. Dt. 9:3). We read this word "subdued" used of how the land was at times subdued before Israel (Jud. 3:30; 4:23; 8:28; 11:33). But each time it is clear that the people generally were not obedient to the covenant. One faithful leader was, and the results of his faithfulness were counted to the people. This is what happened with the Lord's death leading to righteousness being imputed to us.

And make them perish quickly, as Yahweh has spoken to you-
See on Josh. 5:13,14; Jud. 1:8. The implications that we should respond ‘quickly’ to the Gospel surely mean that we should not have any element of indifference in our response to the call of God, and yet the foundations of a true spiritual life cannot be laid hastily. The Father drove out the tribes from Canaan slowly, not immediately- or at least, He potentially enabled this to happen (Jud. 2:23). But Israel were to destroy those tribes “quickly” (Dt. 9:3). Here perhaps we see what is meant- progress is slow but steady in the spiritual life, but there must be a quickness in response to the call of God for action in practice. Compare this with how on one hand, God does not become quickly angry (Ps. 103:8), and yet on the other hand He does  get angry quickly in the sense that He immediately feels and responds to sin (Ps. 2:12); His anger ‘flares up in His face’.

Deu 9:4 Don’t say in your heart-
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).

After Yahweh your God has thrust them out from before you, For my righteousness Yahweh has brought me in to possess this land; because Yahweh drives them out before you because of the wickedness of these nations-
The thrusting out of Israel's enemies from the land was conditional upon Israel's obedience (Dt. 6:18,19). They were disobedient, and yet still God thrust out the tribes and warned them therefore not to think that this was done because of their righteousness (Dt. 9:4). It was by grace alone that they inherited the Kingdom, as with us. But there was always a tendency for Israel to forget that they had been given the Kingdom despite their lack of the required personal righteousness; they became over familiar with living in it under such grace. And so the warning comes down to us.

Deu 9:5 Not for your righteousness or for the uprightness of your heart do you go in to possess their land, but for the wickedness of these nations Yahweh your God drives them out from before you-
The grace of God guarantees our salvation. Yet we find it so hard to believe- that I, with all my doubts and fears, will really be there. Israel were warned that they were being given the land (cp. salvation) "not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thy heart... for thou art a stiffnecked people" (Dt. 9:5,6). These words are picked up in Tit. 3:5 and applied to the new Israel: "Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to his mercy he saved us, by the washing (baptism) of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Spirit" - by His grace alone. Moses urges the peoples' faithfulness so that Yahweh might "establish His covenant" with them (Dt. 8:18); but here we note that despite their disobedience, He still "established" the covenant with them, by grace alone (Dt. 9:5).

And that He may establish the word which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac and to Jacob-
We could say that the promises to Abraham which form the basis of the covenant are about grace. Dt. 9 spells out that Israel would not inherit the land sworn to their fathers because they were righteous- the implication was that it was a gift promised by pure grace.

Deu 9:6 Know therefore that Yahweh your God doesn’t give you this good land to possess-
The Hebrew word for "spied out" in Dt. 1:24 also means 'to slander' (s.w. 2 Sam. 19:27; Ps. 15:3). Their slander of the land was in that they misrepresented the strength of the people there, who were in fact fearful of the Israelites. They brought up an evil report of the land (Num. 13:32), characterizing it as not "good" but "evil", as if inhabited by insuperable forces of cosmic evil. They disbelieved God's simple statement that He was bringing them a "good land" (Ex. 3:8). Moses therefore repeatedly calls the land a "good land", denying their wrong idea that the land was inhabited by 'evil spirits' (Dt. 3:25; 4:21,22; 6:18; 8:7; 9:6; 11:17). We see here how belief in 'evil spirits' or 'demons' militated against their faith in God and His eagerness to give His good Kingdom to His people. That continues to be His "good pleasure" (Lk. 12:32) toward us, but like Israel, we are tempted to disbelieve this and allow our own perceptions and empirical conclusions to lead us away from simple faith in this.

Because of your righteousness, for you are a stiff-necked people-
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.

Although the people were "stiff-necked", refusing to bow their necks in obedience, and thereby liable to destruction if God was amongst them (Ex. 32:9; 33:3,15), God was willing to give this stiff-necked people a place in God's Kingdom (Dt. 9:6). And so although God had said that He would not go in the midst of a stiff-necked people, yet Moses asks Him to do so (Ex. 34:9)- for He senses God's desire to save them by grace despite their hardened disobedience. We contrast this with the God who demands respect, the God who slew Uzzah and insists upon loyalty to Him.  

Deu 9:7 Remember, don’t forget, how you provoked Yahweh your God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that you went forth out of the land of Egypt until you came to this place you have been rebellious against Yahweh-
We are left to imagine in what tone of voice Moses said that. Israel had rebelled against the commandment of Yahweh through disbelief, and therefore couldn't enter Canaan (Dt. 1:26; 9:7,23,24; 31:27; Num. 27:4); they were as the rebellious son who rebelled against his father's commandment (s.w. Dt. 21:18,20). For he himself had rebelled against the commandment of Yahweh and because of this was also barred from entering Canaan (Num. 20:24; 27:14). One reason for this was that he had called the Israelites "rebels" (Num. 20:10), and no sooner had he done so, than he himself rebelled against Yahweh's commandment just like them, but in a different way.

Deu 9:8 Also in Horeb you provoked Yahweh to wrath and Yahweh was angry with you to destroy you-
God can be provoked to anger (Dt. 9:7; Ezra 5:12), His wrath ‘arises’ because of sinful behaviour (2 Chron. 36:16). He drove Israel into captivity in anger and fury (Jer. 32:37). The wrath of God ‘waxes hot’ against sinful men, and Moses begged God to ‘turn’ from that wrath (Ex. 32:11,12). The whole intercession of Moses with God gives the impression of God changing His mind because of the intercession of a mere man. Admittedly the idea of anger flaring up in God’s face and then Him ‘turning’ from that wrath is some sort of anthropomorphism. The very same words are used about Esau’s wrath ‘turning away’, i.e. being pacified, as are used about the pacification of God’s wrath (Gen. 27:45). But all the same, this language must be telling us something. The wrath of God did come upon Israel in the wilderness (Ps. 78:31; Ez. 22:31), but Moses ‘turned’ God from executing it as He planned (Ps. 106:23). Many times He turned away from the full extent of His wrath (Ps. 78:38). It is by righteous behaviour and repentance that the wrath of God turns away (Dt. 13:17; 2 Chron. 12:12; 29:10; 30:8). Ezra 10:14 speaks of God’s wrath turning away because those who had married Gentile women divorced them. God’s wrath is also turned away by the death of the sinner- the heads of the sinners in Num. 25:4 were to be ‘hung up’ before the Lord so that His wrath would turn away. A similar example is to be found in Josh. 7:26. Jeremiah often comments that God’s wrath is turned away by the execution of judgment upon the sinner (e.g. Jer. 30:24). In this sense His anger and wrath are poured out or ‘accomplished’, i.e. they are no more because they have been poured out (Lam. 4:11). The fact that men such as Moses and Jeremiah (Jer. 18:20) turned away God’s wrath without these things happening, or simply by prayer (Dan. 9:16) therefore means that God accepted the intercession of those men and counted their righteousness to those from whom His wrath turned away. We shouldn’t assume that these righteous men merely waved away God’s wrath. That wrath was real, and required immense pleading and personal dedication on their behalf.

Deu 9:9 When I had gone up onto the mountain to receive the tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant which Yahweh made with you. Then I stayed on the mountain forty days and forty nights-
Ex. 24:16 says that Moses was six and a half days on the mountain waiting for the call to meet God, so he was with God for 33 and a half days. This perhaps looks forward to the 33 and a half years ministry of the Lord Jesus.

I neither ate bread nor drank water-
It could be argued that this is not speaking of absolutely not eating nor drinking (it would be hard not to drink for 40 days), but rather that He didn't eat bread nor drink water. The implication is that He had food to eat from God, associated with the word given him, which others weren't aware of. The Lord may allude to this in Jn. 4:32. This is the third period of 40 days which Moses was there, and the Rabbis calculate that he would have therefore returned from the mountain (cp. the Lord's second coming from Heaven) on the Day of Atonement.

Deu 9:10 Yahweh delivered to me the two tablets of stone written with the finger of God-
The tables themselves were made by God, and were written on both sides (Ex. 32:15,16). As they were small enough to be carried, we assume they contained the ten commandments and not the rest of the laws given to Moses. They were the tables of the covenant, and so the letter of the law which was to give way to the spirit of the new covenant therefore includes the command about the Sabbath. For that was one of the ten commandments.

And on them were all the words which Yahweh spoke with you on the mountain out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly-
Moses graciously doesn't mention that they shied away from Yahweh's appearance at that time and wanted him only to engage with Yahweh. Grace and speaking graciously about others' weaknesses is a sign of spiritual maturity, and we see it in Moses now at the end of his life.

The references to fire, smoke, furnace, earthquake and the descent of Yahweh (Ex. 19:18) is very similar to the language of Divine judgment, especially of Sodom (Gen. 19:28; Rev. 9:2). And we know from the prophets that Israel were considered by God as Sodom. We could read this as His wrath with Israel for breaking His simple commandments about not touching the mountain, and for not having sufficiently sanctified themselves (see on Ex. 19:10,14,18). The argument of Heb. 12 appears to be that the scene here is one of condemnation of sinful man- and we have not been called to that, but to salvation by grace in the new covenant in Christ. But out of that condemnation, God earnestly wished to reach out to His people, with words of covenant salvation.


Deu 9:11 At the end of forty days and forty nights Yahweh gave me the two tablets of stone, the tablets of the covenant-
The tables had the ten commandments written upon them, for this was the old covenant which was made with Israel (Dt. 4:13). We are not now under the old covenant, but under the new. Which means we are not bound to keep the Sabbath, seeing this was one of the ten commandments. Knowing the apostacy of Israel, God still gave Moses the tokens of the covenant. The implication was that there was grace as the basis of the giving of that covenant.

Deu 9:12 Yahweh said to me Arise, get down quickly from here, for your people whom you have brought out of Egypt have corrupted themselves. They have quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made themselves a molten image-
When God told Moses to leave Him alone to destroy them, and go back down to the people immediately (Dt. 9:12), Moses stayed on to plead with God not to destroy them. And God listened (Ex. 32:7-14). He repented of the evil He had thought to do. He changed His mind, because Moses stayed on. There is an element of striving with God in prayer, knowing that His mind is open to change (Rom. 15:30). Jacob is a symbol of us all. He became Israel, he who struggles with God. And this is a key feature of all those who comprise the true Israel. This is what stimulates me to what intensity in prayer I can muster. That God is open to hearing and even changing His holy mind about something. Such is His sensitivity to us. Such is His love, that God changing His mind becomes really feasible as a concept. And such is the scary implication of the total freewill which the Father has afforded us. This is why God could reason with Moses as a man speaks to his friend and vice versa. It was a dynamic, two way relationship in thought and prayer and being.

Deu 9:13 Furthermore Yahweh spoke to me saying, I have seen this people and truly it is a stiff-necked people-
Pharaoh was condemned and Egypt overthrown because of his hard heart- but the very word is used to describe the hardness of Israel's heart at the time (Ex. 32:9; 33:3-5; 34:9). Israel were really no better than Egypt- just as Egypt was plagued "so that they could not drink the water" (Ex. 7:24), so we find Israel in the same situation right after leaving Egypt (Ex. 15:23). As the Egyptians were stripped of their jewellery, so Israel stripped themselves of it before the golden calf (Ex. 12:36; 33:6). Although the people were "stiff-necked", refusing to bow their necks in obedience, and thereby liable to destruction if God was amongst them (Ex. 32:9; 33:3,15), God was willing to give this stiff-necked people a place in God's Kingdom (Dt. 9:6). And so although God had said that He would not go in the midst of a stiff-necked people, yet Moses asks Him to do so (Ex. 34:9)- for He senses God's desire to save them by grace despite their hardened disobedience. We contrast this with the God who demands respect, the God who slew Uzzah and insists upon loyalty to Him.  

Deu 9:14 let Me alone-
This reflects the amazingly close relationship between God and Moses. It’s as if God is saying: ‘I know you might persuade Me to change My mind on this one, but please, don’t try, I might give in, when really they do need to be destroyed’. We too can have this level of intimacy with God.

This seems to suggest that God knew both Himself and Moses well enough to know that Moses could well persuade Him to change His mind, against His ideal intention. And Moses doesn't leave God alone, and does persuade Him. We marvel at the humility and humanity of God, and His extreme openness to human intercession. 

Think of God's bitter disappointment with Israel when He invites Moses into the mount as their representative, in order to enter into further covenant with them. Down below, they started worshipping other gods. When God says to Moses "Leave me alone..." (Ex. 32:10), He may well refer to the desire for isolation / solitude which a person in extreme grief desires. And of course we are aware of how Moses reasons with God, and asks God to consider His own future and how it might turn out, and how that can be avoided. And God takes Moses seriously, with integrity, and appears to even acquiesce to his arguments. It's amazing. This God is our God.


That I may destroy them and blot out their name from under the sky, and I will make of you a nation mightier and greater than they-
Moses prayed that his name would be ‘blotted out’ instead (Ex. 32:32). To be blotted out of the book God had written may have been understood by Moses as asking for him to be excluded from an inheritance in the promised land; for later, a ‘book’ was written describing the various portions (Josh. 18:9). The connection is made explicit in Ez. 13:9. If Israel were to be blotted out there and then in the wilderness, then Moses wanted to share this experience, such was his identity with his ungrateful people; and yet this peak of devotion is but a dim shadow of the extent of Christ’s love for us. In Dt. 9:18 he says that his prayer of Ex. 32:32 was heard- in that he was not going to enter the land, but they would. Hence his urging of them throughout Deuteronomy to go ahead and enter the land- to experience what his self-sacrifice had enabled. In this we see the economy of God, and how He works even through sin. On account of Moses’ temporary rashness of speech, he didn't enter the land. And yet by this, his prayer was heard. He was temporarily blotted out of the book, so that they might enter the land. This is why Moses stresses now at the end of his life that he wouldn’t enter the land for Israel’s sake (1:37; 3:26; 4:21). He saw that his sin had been worked through, and the essential reason for him not entering was because of the offer he had made. It “went badly with him for their sakes” (Ps. 106:32).  

Despite knowing their weakness and his own righteousness, Moses showed a marvellous softness and humility in that speech recorded in Deuteronomy. When he reminds them how God wanted to reject them because of their idolatry with the golden calf, he does not mention how fervently he prayed for them, so fervently that God changed His expressed intention (Dt. 9:14); and note deeply, Moses does not mention how he offered his physical and eternal life for their salvation. That fine, fine act and desire by Moses went unknown to Israel until the book of Exodus came into circulation. And likewise, the depth of Christ's love for us was unrecognized by us at the time. Moses had such humility in not telling in Israel in so many words how fervently he had loved them. The spiritual culture of the Lord is even greater. See on Ex. 32:32.

There is almost a pattern with God- to devise His purpose, and then in the 'gap' until its fulfillment, be open to the persuasion of His covenant people to change or ammend those plans. This could be what Am. 3:7 is speaking of: "Surely the Lord God does nothing without revealing His secret to His servants the prophets". It's as if He reveals His plans to them so that they can then comment upon them in prayer. And maybe this is why God tells Jeremiah not to pray to Him to change His stated plans against Israel (Jer. 7:16 cp. Jer. 11:14; 14:11; 15:1), and why He asks Moses to 'leave Me alone' and not try to persuade Him to change His mind (Ex. 32:10). He didn't want, in these cases, His stated plans to be interrupted by the appeals of His people to change them. Interestingly, in both these examples, Moses and Jeremiah know God well enough, the relationship is intimate enough, for them to still speak with Him- and change His mind. Those who've prayed to God in cases of terminal illness [and countless other situations] will have sensed this 'battle', this 'struggle' almost, between God and His friends, His covenant people, and the element of 'persuasion' which there is going on both ways in the dialogue between God and ourselves. The simple fact that God really can change- there are over 40 references to His 'repentance' in Scripture- is vital to understand- for this is the basis of the prayer that changes things, that as it were wrestles with God.


Deu 9:15 So I turned and came down from the mountain, and the mountain was burning with fire-
See on Ex. 32:30. Moses in great humility doesn't mention how he persuaded God through intense intercession not to do this. The “pillar of fire” was only “as it were the appearance of fire” (Num. 9:15) but the record elsewhere speaks of it as “fire”, because that’s what it looked like to the Israelites. The Scriptures speak of how a pillar of fire was with Israel in the wilderness (Ps. 105:39). But actually when it first appeared, it was described as “the appearance of fire” (Num. 9:15). It wasn’t fire, it appeared as fire. And yet it’s spoken of later simply as “fire”. There’s no inspired footnote reminding us that, well, actually, it wasn’t really fire. Likewise “the mount [of Sinai] burnt with fire” (Dt. 9:15). The mountain didn’t catch fire. But that’s how it looked to the Israelites from a distance; and so that’s how it’s described. And this explains the NT language of demons.

And the two tablets of the covenant were in my two hands-
They were not therefore that large, and fitted within the ark, which was also not large. They would not have had space on them for all the law, just the ten commandments.

Deu 9:16 I looked and truly-
This implies Moses had such a high view of Israel and hope or them, that he didn't fully believe what God had told him about their apostacy. Admission of past failings was a sign of his spiritual maturity, speaking now on the last day of his life.

You had sinned against Yahweh your God; you had made yourselves a molten calf; you had turned aside quickly out of the way which Yahweh had commanded you-
"Molten" is literally 'covered'. They had presumably made the calf of the common acacia wood, and covered it with gold- just as the tabernacle furniture was to be constructed in a similar way. Again we see that they were mixing Yahweh worship with idolatry.

As explained on Ex. 32:4-6, they were worshipping an idol in the name of Yahweh worship. They had corrupted or turned aside the glory of God into the form of an ox which eats grass (Ps. 106:20). And this is the abiding temptation for us all. The glory of God was visible to them on Sinai at the time. God's glory was in His invisible leading of them through the Angel (Ex. 32:1). But they changed that into the visible and secular. They were not totally rejecting Yahweh, but making an ox / calf similar to one facet of the cherubim. This is classic apostacy, mixing truth with error.

It appears that Israel identified the golden calf with the Egyptian goddess Hathor. “The Egyptian goddess Hathor came in the form of a cow, a woman with a cow’s head, or a woman with cows horns and / or cows ears. She bore several other titles including The Golden One and Mistress of Music. She was the patron of love, motherhood, drunkenness, fun, dance and music. The worship of Hathor degenerated into immorality and she is depicted in some scenes and statues as a sensual young woman. Hathor was the protector of travellers from Egypt to various areas including Sinai”. So Israel so quickly forgot the lesson so artlessly taught them – that the idols / demons of Egypt were of no power at all, seeing they had all been targetted by the plagues.

The following references to Hathor provide further insight; supporting references are to be found in my book "The Real Devil" section 4-2-3:
Hathor had several forms including, a cow, a women with a cow’s head, or a woman with cows horns and or ears.
Hathor was also known as ‘The Golden One’
Hathor was the protector of travellers from Egypt to various areas including Sinai
Patron of drunkenness
Hathor had the title ‘Mistress of Music’
The worship of Hathor included playing on all kinds of musical instruments together with dancing
The worship of Hathor was for the joy and pleasure of those who took part
Hathor is also the goddess of love
The worship of Hathor degenerated into immorality.

Deu 9:17 I took hold of the two tablets and cast them out of my two hands and broke them before your eyes-
Ex. 32:19 adds: "Moses’ anger grew hot, and he threw the tablets out of his hands, and broke them beneath the mountain". God’s anger “burned hot” and so did that of Moses. But Moses asks God not to wax hot in anger (Ex. 32:10,11,19). What are we to make of this? Surely, positively, Moses was totally in tune with the feelings of God. And yet he does himself what he asks God not to do.  His anger growing hot was exactly the feeling of God. But unlike God, he immediately broke the symbols of the covenant with Israel. Again, God is revealed as more gracious and patient than man. As Moses had pleaded with Yahweh not to be so angry, so Aaron was to do so with the furiously angry Moses. Aaron in all his weakness therefore becomes as Moses, who was also weak before God's presence. 

Deu 9:18 I fell down before Yahweh as at the first, forty days and forty nights. I neither ate bread nor drank water, because of all your sin which you sinned, in doing that which was evil in the sight of Yahweh to provoke him to anger-
At the very end of his life, Moses reeled off this great speech of Deuteronomy, knowing full well that he was to die without entering the land. In Dt. 9:18 he says that his prayer of Ex. 32:32 was heard- in that he was not going to enter the land, but they would. Hence his urging of them to go ahead and enter the land- to experience what his self-sacrifice had enabled. In this we see the economy of God, and how He works even through sin. On account of Moses’ temporary rashness of speech, he was excluded- and yet by this, his prayer was heard. He was temporarily blotted out of the book, so that they might enter. Moses’ fleeting requests to enter the land must be read as a flagging from the height of devotion he reached, rather like the Lord’s request to escape the cross in Gethsemane. But ultimately he did what he intended- he gave his place in the Kingdom / land so that they might enter [although of course he will be in the future Kingdom]. This is why Moses stresses on the last day of his life that he wouldn’t enter the land for Israel’s sake (Dt. 1:37; 3:26; 4:21). He saw that his sin had been worked through, and the essential reason for him not entering was because of the offer he had made. It “went ill with him for their sakes” (Ps. 106:32).

God can be grieved [s.w. 'provoke to anger']. He has emotions, and His potential foreknowledge doesn't mean that these feelings are not legitimate. They are presented as occurring in human time, as responses to human behaviour. This is the degree to which He has accommodated Himself to human time-space limits, in order to fully enter relationship and experience with us. As He can limit His omnipotence, so God can limit His omniscience, in order to feel and respond along with us. 

True prayer is to be "in secret". There should be an appropriate modesty in speaking about it to others. Consider how Moses spent 40 days in intense intercession for Israel, and succeeded in changing God's mind. But he didn't tell them this for about 37 years, until Moses recounted it to the people at the end of his life in Dt. 9:18. We have no idea how many others are praying for us, or how the Lord in Heaven is praying for us as Moses did on Sinai.


Deu 9:19 For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure with which Yahweh was angry against you to destroy you. But Yahweh listened to me that time also-
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 emphasized 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 instill 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 9:20 Yahweh was very angry with Aaron to destroy him, and I prayed for Aaron also at the same time-
This must be given its full weight. Aaron comes over in Ex. 32:22 as more worried about the wrath of Moses his brother than that of God: "Don’t let the anger of my lord grow hot". And so it can easily be with us. We can forget God's feelings and worry only about our image with our family and brethren.

We can as it were do the work of the Saviour Himself, if we truly live as in Him. In this spirit, Moses’ faith in keeping the Passover led to Israel’s salvation, they left Egypt by him (Heb. 3:16; 11:28); and when Aaron deserved death, he was redeemed by Moses’ prayer on his behalf. Sodom's destruction was largely due to Abraham's prayer for his deliverance; without this, it would seem Lot was altogether too unprepared and spiritually insensitive to have responded to the Angels' call in his own strength. The Lord spared Aaron because of Moses' intercession for him; and this is perhaps the basis for James' appeal to pray for one another, that we may be healed, knowing that through our prayer and pastoral work for others, we can save a man from his multitude of sins and his soul from death (James 5:20). The very ability we have to do this for each other should register deeply with us. And in response, we should live lives dedicated to the spiritual welfare and salvation of our brethren.

It was only thanks to Moses' intercession for Aaron that Aaron's life was spared at this point. We see here how intercession even for the impenitent can be effective (for Aaron in Ex. 32:24 was impenitent, claiming the calf had jumped out of the fire ready made). This has huge pastoral implications for our ministry and prayer life, recalling how for the sake of the faith of the friends, the Lord pronounced the paralyzed man forgiven (Mk. 2:5; also James 5:20).

Deu 9:21 I took your sin, the calf which you had made-
"A great sin" (Ex. 32:21) is the phrase used of Jeroboam's golden calf, which was based upon this calf (2 Kings 17:21). Aaron made the calf, but "you made" it. People can be made to sin by others- a sober reminder to watch our behaviour.

The Biblical record highlights the sin of Aaron and the people; the Jewish literature excuses it by blaming it on Satan / "mastema". Time and again, the Jewish apocryphal literature wrongly sought to distance God from doing anything negative in human life. Gen. 22:1 clearly states that it was God who put Abraham to the test by asking him to kill his son Isaac; Jubilees retells the story with "Prince Mastema", the Satan figure, telling Abraham to do this (Jub. 17:15-18). Likewise Ex. 4:24 recounts how "the Lord", presumably as an Angel, met Moses and tried to kill him for not circumcising his son; but Jubilees again claims that Mastema / Satan did this (Jub. 48:1-3). Indeed, several times the Hebrew word mastema ['hostility, enmity'] occurs, it is in the context of urging Israel to see that they and their internal desires to sin are the true mastema. Hos. 9:7 is an example: "Because your sins are so many and your hostility [mastema] so great".

And burnt it with fire and stamped it, grinding it very small until it was as fine as dust, and I cast its dust into the brook that descended out of the mountain-
They were forced to drink / eat dust, just as Adam had to; for he was dust and had to eat the fruit of the dust in punishment. His sin was the essence of every man's sin, including Israel's at this time. The reference to their being made naked (Ex. 32:25) is another allusion to Adam. Israel had been an unfaithful wife to Yahweh, and so they were punished as the woman tested for adultery was (Num. 5:24). "Grinding it very small until it was as fine as dust" would have been necessary for it to float on the surface on the water, as gold is so heavy.

Deu 9:22 (At Taberah and at Massah and at Kibroth Hattaavah you provoked Yahweh to wrath-
God can be grieved [s.w. 'provoke to anger']. He has emotions, and His potential foreknowledge doesn't mean that these feelings are not legitimate. They are presented as occurring in human time, as responses to human behaviour. This is the degree to which He has accommodated Himself to human time-space limits, in order to fully enter relationship and experience with us. As He can limit His omnipotence, so God can limit His omniscience, in order to feel and respond along with us. Idolatrous Israel never consciously  tried to provoke Yahweh to anger with their apostasy; the words of the prophets must have seemed to them a gross exaggeration. But this was really how God saw it (2 Chron. 34:25). I have suggested that Deuteronomy was edited, under Divine inspiration, during the exile. This statement has particular relevance to the exiles, who had likewise "provoked Yahweh to wrath" and had therefore been exiled, and were now to return to the land; just as Israel at the end of the 40 year wandering (Ezra 5:12; Zech. 8:14).

Deu 9:23 When Yahweh sent you from Kadesh Barnea, saying Go up and possess the land which I have given you, then you rebelled against the commandment of Yahweh your God, and you didn’t believe Him, nor listen to His voice-
Israel did not obey / hearken to the voice of Yahweh, and He did not hearken to their voice in prayer (Dt. 1:45; 9:23; 28:15; Josh. 5:6; Jud. 2:20; 6:10 cp. Dt. 8:20 s.w.). 2 Kings 18:12 states this specifically. God hearkened to Joshua's voice in prayer (Josh. 10:14) because Joshua hearkened to His voice. It was to be the same with Saul. He didn't hearken to God's voice (1 Sam. 15:19) and God didn't hearken to Saul's voice in prayer in his final desperation at the end of his life (1 Sam. 28:18). If God's word abides in us, then our prayer is powerful, we have whatever we ask, because we are asking for things according to His will expressed in His word (Jn. 15:7). 

Deu 9:24 You have been rebellious against Yahweh from the day that I knew you)-
They were disobedient from the day God knew them, i.e. Passover night. The number of firstborn males after Israel left Egypt was remarkably small (around 20,000, Num. 3:43). Women in most primitive societies have an average of 7 births. this would mean that given a total population of around 2,800,000 on leaving Egypt (Ex. 12:37), there should have been around 400,000 firstborn males. But instead, there is only a fraction of this number. Why? Did all Israel eat the Passover? Were many in fact slain. My suggestion- and this is well in the category of things you will never know for sure and can only ponder- is that many Hebrew firstborns died on Passover night. Israel were warned that if they did not properly keep the Passover, “the Destroyer” Angel would kill their firstborn (Ex. 12:23). “The Destroyer” is mentioned in 1 Cor. 10:10: “Neither murmur ye, as some of them also murmured, and were destroyed of the Destroyer” (olothreutes; this is a proper noun in the Greek). Who was the Destroyer? If Scripture interprets Scripture, it was the ‘Destroyer’ Angel of Passover night. In similar vein Heb. 11:28 speaks of “He (the Angel) that destroyed (Gk. olothreuo) the firstborn”. Israel were side-tracked from what should have been the central object of their attention: the blood of the lamb.  

Deu 9:25 So I fell down before Yahweh the forty days and forty nights because Yahweh had said He would destroy you-
It is likely that this was the first time Israel knew about this. The intensity of those 40 days intercession, after having spent 40 days also in the mountain just days beforehand, was one of the most amazing and intense spiritual achievements of anyone apart from the Lord Jesus. For Moses succeeded in persuading God to change His mind about destroying His sinful people, even without their repentance. But Moses didn't boast of it nor tell anyone about it, until the day of his death. We like Israel can live our lives unaware of the intensity of the Lord's mediation for us over specific issues. For the Lord in Heaven with the Father, from which He will return, was represented by Moses with God at the top of Sinai.

Deu 9:26 I prayed to Yahweh and said Lord Yahweh, don’t destroy Your people and Your inheritance that You have redeemed through Your greatness, that You have brought out of Egypt with a mighty hand-
"Corrupted" in :12 is s.w. "'destroyed" here. All judgment is finally self inflicted. Sin is its own judgment; hence the Hebrew word for "corruption" also means "destruction", for moral corruption is its own destruction. God Himself does judge, but always prefers men to judge themselves.

The might and "greatness" of Yahweh's hand was shown through His grace in as it were forcing Israel out of Egypt, when they actually wanted to remain there and He wished to destroy them (Ez. 20:8). They were idolatrous and had told Moses to leave them alone and let them serve the Egyptians. Yahweh's strength therefore refers to the power of His grace in continuing His program with them. 

Deu 9:27 Remember Your servants, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. Don’t look at the stubbornness of this people, nor at their wickedness, nor their sin-
"Corrupted" or 'destroyed' in :12 is the same word used of the threatened destruction of everyone in Sodom, which Abraham's intercession avoided (s.w. Gen. 18:28,31). That incident surely motivated Moses to rise up to the same possibility of dialogue with God in order to change His intended purpose. We too are to be motivated by Biblical examples of intercession. God could have given legitimate answers to each of Moses' objections; for there were indeed times when He did not turn from the fierceness of His wrath (Ex. 32:12)- such as Jer. 4:8; 2 Kings 23:26. He intended to fulfil the promises to Abraham, but through Moses. But such is His sensitivity and pure pity that He accepted Moses' pleas. 

Deu 9:28 lest the land You brought us out from say, ‘Because Yahweh was not able to bring them into the land which He promised to them and because He hated them He has brought them out to kill them in the wilderness’-
Caleb and Joshua perceived that Israel were “well able” to overcome the tribes and inherit the land, seeing that the Angel-hornet had gone ahead and prepared the way; and yet due to Israel’s disabling of this possibility at the time, it was in some ways so that God Himself was “not able” to give them the inheritance, because they judged that they were “not able” to take it (Num. 13:30,31; 14:16).

The way Moses pleaded with God to change His mind and not destroy Israel for the sake of what the surrounding nations would say is indeed inspirational to us all. It surely inspired David to pray likewise- for “wherefore should the heathen say, Where is now there God?” (Ps. 115:2). We see here God's sensitivity to how the Gentiles perceive Him, and this has big implications for how we act before them. For we are God's representatives, and how we represent Him before the world is so significant to Him. For effectively we are Him in this world, and it is our living example far more than our doctrinal explanations which will convert others to Him.

Deu 9:29 Yet they are Your people and Your inheritance, which You brought out by Your great power and by Your outstretched arm-
We are God's portion / inheritance (Dt. 4:20; 9:29; Eph. 1:18), and He is our inheritance (Ps. 16:5,6; 73:26; Lam. 3:22-24; Eph. 1:11 RV); we inherit each other. There is a mutuality between God and His people.