Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Beyond.
The eastern side of the Jordan is so called in Scripture, with reference to the promised land. (Menochius) --- Hebrew
may mean also, "on this side, or at the passage" about Bethabara, "the house of passage," near which the Hebrews
were encamped, and where Josue probably crossed over the Jordan, as it was the usual ford. Calmet seems to think that these
two first verses have been inverted by Esdras, &c., or interpolated, as he says Moses never crossed the Jordan, and certainly
addressed the Hebrews near that river, at a great distance from the Red Sea: but the text does not assert the contrary. It
only determines that the place where he harangued them, was a part of the wilderness, or the plains of Moab, over-against
the Red Sea, which they had left when they came from Asiongaber, unless the term Suph, which signifies red,
may be a proper name of the station Supha, near the torrent Zared, (Numbers xxi. 14,) as Calmet maintains. If this be admitted,
this difficulty vanishes, for the camp of Israel was certainly over-against, and not even remote from this place. The
other cities may have been in the environs, or Moses may have referred to the stations and places in the desert of Pharan,
at Tophel, Laban, or Lebna, Haseroth, (Numbers xxxiii. 17,) where there is very much gold, (Septuagint,
"gold mines;" Hebrew, "dizahab,") and Cades-barne. Lebna, Haseroth, and Cades-barne, were in the territory of the Idumeans,
who dwelt to the south-west of the plains of Moab. Tophel and Dizahab are unknown (Calmet) as well as Laban, Haseroth, and
Pharan, if they be not the names of encampments. Geographers vary so much in their descriptions of the road, which the Hebrews
followed, and in maps of the adjacent countries, that it is now impossible to decide. (Haydock)
Ver. 2. Cades-barne.
All the distance between Horeb and the Jordan, by Mount Seir, on the road to Cades-barne, might have been travelled
in eleven days' time, being about 300 miles; or the Hebrews were so long in going thither, Numbers xxxiii. 17. (Calmet) ---
It was to punish the Israelites for their frequent rebellions, that they were condemned to wander in that wilderness forty
years. (Du Hamel) --- They might have entered the promised land, when they first came to Cades-barne, from Mount Horeb, (Numbers
xiii. 1, 27,) which, even by the circuitous road of Mount Seir, would not have taken them above eleven days. He mentions this
to remind them of their folly. Perhaps all the aforesaid places may have been between Horeb and Cades-barne, as Bonfrere maintains
that Laban was in the neighbourhood of Sinai, where Moses first received the law which he is now going to explain.
His discourse turns upon the chief occurrences of the forty years' journey; and hence, these are the words, (ver. 1,)
may refer not only to what he was going to say, but also to the commands which he had already notified to the Israelites,
from the passage of the Red Sea till the station Abelsetim, upon the banks of the Jordan, Numbers xxxvi. 13. (Haydock)
--- Deuteronomy contains a recapitulation of the law, and therefore it was to be read aloud to all the people on the feast
of tabernacles, every seventh year; and the new kings, or rulers of the Hebrews, were commanded to transcribe it, and every
day read some part for the rule of their conduct, chap. xvii. 18., and xxxi. 10. (Tirinus)
Ver. 3. Month,
corresponding with our January, if the ecclesiastical calculation be followed; but if we date from Tisri, this eleventh
month will be our July or August. Moses died on the 7th of the following month. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 4. Astaroth
signifies "sheep," particularly ewes, with their dugs distended with milk. Hence the Sidonians formed the idea of their Astarte,
1 Kings xi. 5. (Haydock) --- The Rabbins say, that Astaroth denotes large mountains, generally covered with sheep. Astaroth-Carnaim,
was the city. (Eusebius) --- Here the famous Og resided, though he was defeated at Edrai, as the Hebrew intimates. (Calmet)
Ver. 5. Expound.
He begins, as usual, with commemorating the wonders of God, in favour of an ungrateful people. This book may be considered
as a supplement to the other four books. (Calmet) --- We need not wonder, therefore, if we find some new observations. The
reason why the sabbath is to be kept, is here said to be in the memory of the law being given to the Hebrews, and their liberation
from slavery; (chap. v. 15,) whereas in Exodus, it seems to be designed to remind people that God rested on the seventh day.
But here is no contradiction. (Watson)
Ver. 7. Turn
you. The Hebrews, after the passage of the Red Sea, seemed to turn their backs upon the promised land, to go southward.
Now, therefore, they are ordered to bend their course to the north, and to enter Chanaan, (Haydock) on the western side of
the lake of Sodom, where the Amorrhites dwelt. (Calmet) --- Their mountain, and the other hills, and
plains, and vales, (Hebrew sephela, mentioned [in] 1 Machabees xii. 38,) as far as the Nile and the Mediterranean,
were the southern limits of the Chanaanites, whose country extended to Libanus. See Numbers xxxiv. (Haydock) --- God
promises also to deliver the country as far as the Euphrates to the Hebrews, provided they continue faithful to him,
chap. xix. 8. As they neglected this condition, they never possessed the whole country, not even that of Chanaan, unmolested.
Yet the whole was tributary to them, in the days of David and Solomon. (St. Augustine, q. 21. in Jos.) (Masius) (Tirinus)
Ver. 9. I
said, following the advice of Jethro, Exodus xviii. 18.
Ver. 15. Who,
&c. Hebrew, "and shoterim (officers like our serjeants, designed to publish and execute the sentence of
the judges) over or among your tribes." The Persians still call such officers chaters. The Rabbins say, that
the shoterim were generally selected from among the Cinites, the descendants of Jethro, 1 Paralipomenon ii. 55. But we find
that the Levites were also chosen, 2 Paralipomenon xix. 11. They seem to have had sometimes the authority of judges, princes,
or doctors for the instruction of the people, as the Vulgate here expresses it. (Calmet)
Ver 17. Respect.
Hebrew, "fear." (Menochius) --- Those who judge ought to be quite impartial, and never suffer their sentence to be dictated
either by love or by fear. (Haydock) (Ecclesiasticus vii. 6.) --- Of God, to whom you must give an account of your
conduct, Wisdom vi. 4. Speak therefore in his name, and imitate his justice and other perfections. See Psalm lxxxi 1. (Calmet)
--- If any one absolve an oppressor because he is rich, that judge is guilty of partiality. (Du Hamel) (Isaias i. 23.) ---
Hear it, as the supreme judge. (Menochius) --- The people selected such as might be most proper, out of whom Moses
made his choice. (Salien) --- An appeal might be made to himself. (Abulensis, q. 11.)
Ver. 23. Pleased
me. Even Moses was deceived by the appearance of prudence: and God permitted the people to follow the directions of their
cowardice, ver. 26, 32. (Chap. ix. 29., and Numbers xiii. 1.) (Calmet)
Ver. 26. Being.
Hebrew, "but rebelled against, irritated, or rendered useless," &c. (Calmet)
Ver. 27. Hateth
us. Such an opinion, can bring nothing but destruction. (Du Hamel)
Ver. 30. For
you. Septuagint, "he will defeat them along with you." For man must do something. (St. Augustine, q. 1.)
Ver. 37. Neither,
&c. Hebrew simply, "The Lord was also angry with me on your account," &c. Moses had been so long witness to the rebellions
of the Hebrews, that at last he gave way to a certain diffidence, when he was ordered by God to give them water out of the
rock. He was afraid the Lord would not bear any longer with their repeated acts of ingratitude, nor work a miracle on this
occasion, chap. iii. 26., and Numbers xx. 12. (Haydock) --- He had also consented to the sending of the 12 spies imprudently.
(Du Hamel) (Ver. 23.)
Ver. 39. Evil.
These words were spoken to by God to the Hebrews, after they had refused to go from Cades-barne, to take immediate possession
of the land of Chanaan, and not after Moses had offended at the waters of contradiction, which happened only a short time
before his death. (Haydock) --- Those who were not come to the use of reason at the former period, (Menochius) or who had
not arrived at 20 years of age, were now permitted to enter. (Haydock)
Ver. 40. Sea.
This they deferred complying with for a long time, (ver. 46,) and then they directed their course along Mount Seir, towards
the west, and encamped at Hesmona. (Calmet) --- Many years after, they arrived at a different branch of the Red Sea from that
which they had crossed, Numbers xxxiii. 30, 35. (Haydock)
Ver. 41. Armed.
Septuagint, "in crowds." Arabic, "quickly." Syriac, "encouraging one another." Chaldean, "impiously." (Calmet) --- The conduct
of these people might seem to authorize all these interpretations. The Hebrew term occurs no where else. (Haydock)
Ver. 44. Bees
do. This similitude shews the vivacity, courage, and numbers of those who pursued the Hebrews from Seir to Horma. See
Numbers xxi. 3., Psalm cvii. 12., and Isaias vii. 18.
Ver. 46. Time.
Hebrew adds, "according to the days that you abode." All the time that the Hebrews spent in that neighbourhood, they remained
at Cades-barne. The Rabbins say 38 years; but Moses informs us, that they were so long in coming thence to the torrent of
Zared, chap. ii. 14. (Calmet)