Deuteronomy 1 Bible Commentary

John Wesley’s Explanatory Notes

(Read all of Deuteronomy 1)

Verse 1

[1] These be the words which Moses spake unto all Israel on this side Jordan in the wilderness, in the plain over against the Red sea, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Dizahab.

All Israel — Namely, by the heads or elders of the several tribes, who were to communicate these discourses to all the people.

In the wilderness — In the plain of Moab, as may appear by comparing this with Deuteronomy 1:5, and Numbers 22:1, and Deuteronomy 34:8. The word Suph here used does not signify the Red-Sea, which is commonly called jam-suph, and which was at too great a distance, but some oiher place now unknown to us, (as also most of the following places are) so called from the reeds or flags, or rushes (which that word signifies) that grew in or near it.

Paran — Not that Numbers 10:12, which there and elsewhere is called the Wilderness of Paran, and which was too remote, but some other place called by the same name.

Laban, Hazeroth, and Dizahab — These places seem to be the several bounds, not of the whole country of Moab, but of the plain of Moab, where Moses now was.

Verse 2

[2] (There are eleven days' journey from Horeb by the way of mount Seir unto Kadeshbarnea.)

There are eleven days journey — This is added to shew that the reason why the Israelites, in so many years were advanced no farther from Horeb, than to these plains, was not the distance of the places but because of their rebellions.

Kadesh-barnea — Which was not far from the borders of Canaan.

Verse 3

[3] And it came to pass in the fortieth year, in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month, that Moses spake unto the children of Israel, according unto all that the LORD had given him in commandment unto them;

The eleventh month — Which was but a little before his death.

All that the Lord had given him in commandment — Which shews not only that what he now delivered was in substance the same with what had formerly been commanded, but that God now commanded him to repeat it. He gave this rehearsal and exhortation by divine direction: God appointed him to leave this legacy to the church.

Verse 4

[4] After he had slain Sihon the king of the Amorites, which dwelt in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, which dwelt at Astaroth in Edrei:

Og — His palace or mansion-house was at Astaroth, and he was slain at Edrei.

Verse 7

[7] Turn you, and take your journey, and go to the mount of the Amorites, and unto all the places nigh thereunto, in the plain, in the hills, and in the vale, and in the south, and by the sea side, to the land of the Canaanites, and unto Lebanon, unto the great river, the river Euphrates.

To the mount of the Amorites — That is, to the mountainous country where the Amorites dwelt, which is opposed to the plain, where others of them dwelt. And this is the first mentioned, because it was in the borders of the land.

Verse 8

[8] Behold, I have set the land before you: go in and possess the land which the LORD sware unto your fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give unto them and to their seed after them.

Before you — Heb. Before your faces; it is open to your view, and to your possession; there is no impediment in the way.

Verse 9

[9] And I spake unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:

At that time — That is, about that time, namely, a little before their coming to Horeb.

Verse 12

[12] How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?

Your burden — The trouble of ruling and managing so perverse a people.

Your strife — Your contentions among yourselves, for the determnination whereof the elders were appointed.

Verse 15

[15] So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains over thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.

Officers — Inferior officers, that were to attend upon the superior magistrates, and to execute their decrees.

Verse 16

[16] And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.

The stranger — That converseth or dealeth with himn. To Such God would have justice equally adtninistred as to his own people, partly for the honour of religion, and partly for the interest which every man hath in matters of common right.

Verse 17

[17] Ye shall not respect persons in judgment; but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.

Respect persons — Heb. Not know, or acknowledge faces, that is, not give sentence according to the outward qualities of the person, as he is poor or rich, your friend or enemy, but purely according to the merit of the cause. For which reason some of the Grecian law-givers ordered that the judges should give sentence in the dark where they could not see mens faces.

The judgment is God's — It is passed in the name of God, and by commission from him, by you as representing his person, and doing his work; who therefore will defend you therein against all your enemies, amid to whom you must give an exact account.

Verse 18

[18] And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.

All the things which ye shall do — I delivered unto you, and especially unto your judges, all the laws, statutes, and judgments revealed unto me by the lord in Horeb.

Verse 24

[24] And they turned and went up into the mountain, and came unto the valley of Eshcol, and searched it out.

Eshcol — That is, of grapes, so called from the goodly cluster of grapes which they brought from thence.

Verse 28

[28] Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great and walled up to heaven; and moreover we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.

Greater — In number and strength and valour.

Verse 31

[31] And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the LORD thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.

Bare thee — Or, carried thee, as a father carries his weak and tender child in his arms, through difficulties and dangers, gently leading you according as you are able to go, and sustaining you by his power and goodness.

Verse 32

[32] Yet in this thing ye did not believe the LORD your God,

Ye did not believe the Lord — So they could not enter in, because of unbelief. It was not any other sin shut them out of Canaan, but their disbelief of that promise, which was typical of gospel grace: to signify that no sin will ruin us but unbelief, which is a sin against the remedy; and therefore without remedy.

Verse 33

[33] Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to shew you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.

Your words — That is to say, your murmurings, your unthankful, impatient, distrustful and rebellious speeches.

Verse 36

[36] Save Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and to him will I give the land that he hath trodden upon, and to his children, because he hath wholly followed the LORD.

Save Caleb — Under whom Joshua is comprehended, though not here expressed, because he was not now to be one of the people, but to be set over them as a chief governor.

Verse 37

[37] Also the LORD was angry with me for your sakes, saying, Thou also shalt not go in thither.

For your sakes — Upon occasion of your wickedness and perverseness, by which you provoked me to speak unadvisedly.

Verse 38

[38] But Joshua the son of Nun, which standeth before thee, he shall go in thither: encourage him: for he shall cause Israel to inherit it.

Who standeth — Who is now thy servant.

Verse 44

[44] And the Amorites, which dwelt in that mountain, came out against you, and chased you, as bees do, and destroyed you in Seir, even unto Hormah.

As bees — As bees which being provoked come out of their hives in great numbers, and with great fury pursue their adversary and disturber.