Hear, O Israel: Thou art to pass over Jordan this day, to go in to possess nations greater and mightier than thyself, cities great and fenced up to heaven,
The Hebrew hyyom, "this day," frequently denotes, as here, this time. They had come, 38 years before this, nearly to the verge of the promised land, but were not permitted, because of their unbelief and rebellion, at that day or time, to enter; but this time they shall certainly pass over. This was spoken in the eleventh month of the fortieth year of their journeying; and it was on the first month of the following year they passed over: and during this interval Moses died.
A people great and tall, the children of the Anakims, whom thou knowest, and of whom thou hast heard say, Who can stand before the children of Anak!
Who can stand
Understand therefore this day, that the LORD thy God is he which goeth over before thee; as a consuming fire he shall destroy them, and he shall bring them down before thy face: so shalt thou drive them out, and destroy them quickly, as the LORD hath said unto thee.
a consuming fire
Speak not thou in thine heart, after that the LORD thy God hath cast them out from before thee, saying, For my righteousness the LORD hath brought me in to possess this land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD doth drive them out from before thee.
for the wickedness
Not for thy righteousness, or for the uprightness of thine heart, dost thou go to possess their land: but for the wickedness of these nations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee, and that he may perform the word which the LORD sware unto thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
Though the Canaanites were expelled for their wickedness, it does not follow, that the Israelites were established in their room on account of any distinguished virtue, or because they deserved it. On many occasions, it may be seen in the history of the world, that God punishes the wicked by the instrumentality of other men, who are as wicked as themselves. Not the Israelites' righteousness, but the wickedness of the inhabitants, and the promise of God to their fathers, was the cause of their obtaining Canaan.
that he may
Understand therefore, that the LORD thy God giveth thee not this good land to possess it for thy righteousness; for thou art a stiffnecked people.
Moses repeats this a third time, that, if it were possible, he might root out of the Israelites the opinion of their own deserts, before God rooted out the Canaanites from their country.
Remember, and forget not, how thou provokedst the LORD thy God to wrath in the wilderness: from the day that thou didst depart out of the land of Egypt, until ye came unto this place, ye have been rebellious against the LORD.
In order to destroy the opinion which the Israelites had of their own righteousness, it was necessary to call to mind some of their most notorious provocations and rebellions, which Moses exhorts them to preserve in their mind, as a means to keep them humble.
from the day
Also in Horeb ye provoked the LORD to wrath, so that the LORD was angry with you to have destroyed you.
Also in Horeb
Or rather, "Even at Horeb," for there is a peculiar emphasis here, even there where they had lately received the law, attended with the most astonishing appearances and circumstances.
When I was gone up into the mount to receive the tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant which the LORD made with you, then I abode in the mount forty days and forty nights, I neither did eat bread nor drink water:
And the LORD delivered unto me two tables of stone written with the finger of God; and on them was written according to all the words, which the LORD spake with you in the mount out of the midst of the fire in the day of the assembly.
all the words
And it came to pass at the end of forty days and forty nights, that the LORD gave me the two tables of stone, even the tables of the covenant.
the tables of the covenant
And the LORD said unto me, Arise, get thee down quickly from hence; for thy people which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt have corrupted themselves; they are quickly turned aside out of the way which I commanded them; they have made them a molten image.
Furthermore the LORD spake unto me, saying, I have seen this people, and, behold, it is a stiffnecked people:
Let me alone, that I may destroy them, and blot out their name from under heaven: and I will make of thee a nation mightier and greater than they.
and I will
So I turned and came down from the mount, and the mount burned with fire: and the two tables of the covenant were in my two hands.
And I looked, and, behold, ye had sinned against the LORD your God, and had made you a molten calf: ye had turned aside quickly out of the way which the LORD had commanded you.
And I took the two tables, and cast them out of my two hands, and brake them before your eyes.
Moses might have done this through distress and anguish of spirit, on beholding their abominable idolatry and dissolute conduct; or probably he did it emblematically, and perhaps by the direction of God; intimating thereby, that as by this act of his the tables were broken in pieces, on which the Law of God was written, so they, by their present conduct, had made a breach in the covenant, and broken the laws of their Maker and Sovereign.
And I fell down before the LORD, as at the first, forty days and forty nights: I did neither eat bread, nor drink water, because of all your sins which ye sinned, in doing wickedly in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger.
I fell down
The transgressions of the people rendered this second forty days' fasting necessary to Moses. Their pardon was indeed in some sense obtained before he ascended the mount; yet probably much of the time which he spent there was employed in supplication: and when he descended the second time, with the tables of the law in his hands, the pardon was, as it were, ratified and sealed.
For I was afraid of the anger and hot displeasure, wherewith the LORD was wroth against you to destroy you. But the LORD hearkened unto me at that time also.
And the LORD was very angry with Aaron to have destroyed him: and I prayed for Aaron also the same time.
And I took your sin, the calf which ye had made, and burnt it with fire, and stamped it, and ground it very small, even until it was as small as dust: and I cast the dust thereof into the brook that descended out of the mount.
This was the stream which flowed from the rock that Moses smote with his rod, (Ex 17:6,) and to which the Psalmist alludes in Ps 78:16-20; 105:41. Philo relates, that upon Moses' striking the rock, the water poured out like a torrent, affording not only a sufficient quantity for allaying their present thirst, but to fill their water vessels, to carry with them on their journey.
And at Taberah, and at Massah, and at Kibrothhattaavah, ye provoked the LORD to wrath.
Likewise when the LORD sent you from Kadeshbarnea, saying, Go up and possess the land which I have given you; then ye rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God, and ye believed him not, nor hearkened to his voice.
Ye have been rebellious against the LORD from the day that I knew you.
Thus I fell down before the LORD forty days and forty nights, as I fell down at the first; because the LORD had said he would destroy you.
I prayed therefore unto the LORD, and said, O Lord GOD, destroy not thy people and thine inheritance, which thou hast redeemed through thy greatness, which thou hast brought forth out of Egypt with a mighty hand.
which thou hast redeemed
which thou hast brought forth
Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob; look not unto the stubbornness of this people, nor to their wickedness, nor to their sin:
Yet they are thy people and thine inheritance, which thou broughtest out by thy mighty power and by thy stretched out arm.