Joshua 5:9: The Mysterious Case of Israel’s Circumcision at Gilgal, Part 6

Verse 9:[1] And the LORD said unto Joshua, This day have I rolled away the reproach of Egypt from off you. Wherefore the name of the place is called Gilgal unto this day.

[I have taken away the reproach of Egypt, גַּלּוֹתִי] I rolled away (Vatablus, Junius and Tremellius, Drusius out of the Hebrews, Masius). To roll away reproach from someone is to free him from disgrace and shame, and to render to him his dignity, Psalm 119:22[2] (Masius). Question: What is the reproach of Egypt here? Responses: 1. The shame that the Egyptians were casting upon the Israelites, namely, that the Lord led them out so that He might destroy them.[3] This now ceased, when God had introduced them into the land of Canaan (Vatablus, Menochius). Thus Ralbag [that is, Rabbi Levi Ben Gershon]. And perhaps the Egyptians that were with the Israelites in the desert either privately or publicly reproached the Israelites (Menochius). From these jeers God now freed them, while He by means of circumcision assures them of the possession of the land of Canaan (Rabbi Levi in Masius). 2. This is said, because both in customs and manner of life they are yet more able to be called Egyptians than Hebrews, and they, not yet having been circumcised, are able in nothing to be distinguished from them. To this these words have regard, that they might thoroughly blot out the desire of Egypt from their souls, and, with the vice-filled manners of that people left behind, might direct their life by the standard prescribed to them by Moses (Masius). That is to say, You, bound to me by a new covenant of circumcision, and already brought into possession of the Promised Land, I will to strip of depraved rites and manners (which you have imbibed from the Egyptians), and especially the desire of the land of Egypt, which was your greates disgrace and shame (Malvenda). 3. This shame is Egyptian servitude: They are said to be freed from the reproach of Egypt, because, having been sent through circumcision unto possession of the land of Canaan, they are now lords of the Promised Land, who were just recently the slaves of the Egyptians (Theodotion in Masius). 4. To others this shame is the foreskin, which, just as it had always adhered to the Egyptians, so also to the Israelites for forty years now (Serarius, thus Bonfrerius, Estius, Menochius, Lapide, Piscator, Munster). Which was shameful, because it was a sign that they were strangers to the covenant of God (Piscator), and it was accounted as shameful by the Israelites. See Genesis 34:14; 1 Samuel 14:6; 17:26. But why is this called the reproach of Egypt, when all other nations were uncircumcised, and the Egyptians were wont to circumcise themselves, Jeremiah 9:25, 26; Herodotus’[4] The Histories 2 (Serarius)? Diodorus Siculus in his Historical Library[5] 1, and Strabo in his Geography 17, and Philo in Concerning Circumcision, testify to the same thing. Responses: 1. In later times they received circumcision, but not at this time, as Exodus 2:6 teaches, in which the infant Moses was recognized to be a Hebrew from his circumcision. 2. Because the uncircumcision of the Egyptians was more familiar to them than of others (Bonfrerius, Serarius). 3. Because the Idumæans and neighbors of the posterity of Abraham are thought with some likelihood to have been circumcised (Estius). 4. The Egyptians were turning it to their disgrace, that circumcision, which they so much commended, they themselves neglected for so long a time (Serarius). 5. They were liable to this ignominy for the reason that they had dwelt in Egypt for so long (Vatablus). 6. It is called the reproach of Egypt, that is, drawn from Egypt, because that omission happened on account of this cause, that they longed to return into Egypt, and, although they were not able actually to return, in heart they always hoped for it, and therefore by the office of circumcision they desisted (Junius in Serarius). But this was refuted above (Serarius). 5. To others this ignominy was the belief that some had that they had worshipped the Egyptian gods (Hebrews in Vatablus).

The reproach of Egypt, that is, uncircumcision, which was both in truth, and in the opinion of the Jews, a matter of great reproach, Genesis 34:14; 1 Samuel 14:6; 17:26. And although this was a reproach common to most nations of the world, yet it is particularly called the reproach of Egypt; either, 1. Because the other neighbouring nations, being the children of Abraham by the concubines, are supposed to have been circumcised, which the Egyptians at this time were not, as may be gathered from Exodus 2:6, where they knew the child to be an Hebrew by this mark. Or, 2. Because they came out of Egypt, and were esteemed to be a sort of Egyptians, Numbers 22:5, which they justly thought a great reproach; but by their circumcision they were now distinguished from them, and manifested to be another kind of people. Or, 3. Because many of them lay under this reproach in Egypt, having wickedly neglected this duty there for worldly reasons; and others of them continued in the same shameful condition for many years in the wilderness.

[And it was called] Hebrew: and he called,[6] namely, Joshua, or God, or he that imposed the name on that place (Malvenda, Masius). Or passively, after the manner of the Hebrews, it was called (Malvenda).

[Gilgal] Namely, because of the shame rolled away from them (Malvenda).

[Unto the present day] Therefore, this book was written long after the times of Joshua (Piscator). [But others deny that this is rightly concluded, as previously noted.]

[1] Hebrew: וַיֹּ֤אמֶר יְהוָה֙ אֶל־יְהוֹשֻׁ֔עַ הַיּ֗וֹם גַּלּ֛וֹתִי אֶת־חֶרְפַּ֥ת מִצְרַ֖יִם מֵעֲלֵיכֶ֑ם וַיִּקְרָ֞א שֵׁ֣ם הַמָּק֤וֹם הַהוּא֙ גִּלְגָּ֔ל עַ֖ד הַיּ֥וֹם הַזֶּֽה׃

[2] Psalm 119:22:  “Remove (גַּל) from me reproach and contempt; for I have kept thy testimonies.”

[3] Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13-16; Deuteronomy 9:28.

[4] Herodotus (c. 484-c. 425) was a Greek historian, sometimes called “The Father of History”.

[5] Diodorus Siculus (c. 90-c. 30 BC), a Greek historian, wrote the massive Bibliotheca Historica in forty books.  Unhappily, only fifteen books have survived.

[6] Hebrew: וַיִּקְרָא.

Joshua 5:4-6: The Mysterious Case of Israel’s Circumcision at Gilgal, Part 3

Verse 4:[1] And this is the cause why Joshua did circumcise: (Num. 14:29; 26:64, 65; Deut. 2:16) All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness by the way, after they came out of Egypt.

[Now, this is the cause, etc., וְזֶ֥ה הַדָּבָ֖ר אֲשֶׁר־מָ֣ל] And this is the word for which reason he circumcised (Montanus). Now, in this manner he thoroughly purged (Septuagint). Now, these are they that he circumcised (Syriac). This is the cause because of which, etc. (Arabic, Munster, Pagnine, Tigurinus, similarly Junius and Tremellius); thus in Genesis 12, עַל־דְּבַר, on account of the cause of Abraham, that is, because of Abraham.[2] It is closely related that דָּבָר is put in the place of case, matter of dispute, lawsuit, Exodus 18:16.[3] This is the word, that is, the thing; Metonomy of adjunct (Piscator). Thus, not any thing, πᾶν ῥῆμα, any word, is impossible with God, Luke 1:37 (Drusius).

[All the people] Take it of those alone that had kept themselves from that sin, concerning which Numbers 14 (Masius).

All the people that came out of Egypt, that were males, even all the men of war, died in the wilderness: This is to be restrained to such as were then above twenty years old, and such as were guilty of that rebellion, Numbers 14, as it is expressed below, Joshua 5:6.

 

Verse 5:[4] Now all the people that came out were circumcised: but all the people that were born in the wilderness by the way as they came forth out of Egypt, them they had not circumcised.

They; either their parents, or the rulers of Israel, whose omission hereof was not through neglect; for then God, who had ordered the neglecter of circumcision to be cut off, Genesis 17:14, would not have left so gross a fault unpunished; but by Divine permission and indulgence; partly because they were now in a journey, in which case the passover also might be neglected, Numbers 9:10, 13, and in that journey the passover was but once observed; and partly because there was not so great a necessity of this note of circumcision to distinguish them from other nations, whilst they dwelt alone and unmixed in the wilderness, as there was afterwards.

 

Verse 6:[5] For the children of Israel walked (Num. 14:33; Deut. 1:3; 2:7, 14; Ps. 95:10) forty years in the wilderness, till all the people that were men of war, which came out of Egypt, were consumed, because they obeyed not the voice of the LORD: unto whom the LORD sware that (Num. 14:23; Ps. 95:11; Heb. 3:11) he would not shew them the land, which the LORD sware unto their fathers that he would give us, (Exod. 3:8) a land that floweth with milk and honey.

[For forty years] But the Septuagint has forty-two. Evidently they supposed that those forty years in Numbers 14:33, fixed and determined from that fateful day, are to be numbered. For at that time they had already spent two years from their departure from Egypt, and additionally some few months, in the wilderness. But Moses himself reckons forty years, and no more, unto the plains of Moab. But concerning these things, see further discussion on Joshua 11:18 (Masius).

All the people; the Hebrew word commonly signifies the Gentiles;[6] so he calls them, to note that they were unworthy of the name and privileges of Israelites.

[Until they were consumed, who had not hearkened to the voice of the Lord, and to whom He had previously sworn that He would not show the land to them,אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־שָׁמְע֖וּ בְּק֣וֹל יְהוָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֙ר נִשְׁבַּ֤ע יְהוָה֙ לָהֶ֔ם וגו״[7]] Who had not hearkened to the voice of Jehovah: namely, to whom He had sworn, etc. (Pagnine, Dutch). Who had not acquiesced to the speech of God in which He had sworn (Arabic, Jonathan). Who had not listened to the voice of Jehovah: to such an extent that He swore, etc. (Junius and Tremellius). Because they did not hearken to the voice of the Lord, and because the Lord swore to them (Tigurinus) (or, whence also the Lord swore to them [Munster]). Because they had not hearkened to the voice of Jehovah, and the Lord had sworn to them (Syriac). The connection of the words is quite intricate, but has this sense: Who, I say, perished along the way in the desert, etc., because they had not obeyed the voice of the Lord; they are they to whom the Lord swore that He was not going to give the land, etc. (Masius). It is to be observed here that those sinners are called, not His people, but גּוֹי/nation,[8] in this verse (and also in verse 8[9]), that is, by an odious term, and which generally signified profane men and strangers to the covenant, from which they had made themselves strangers through that scandal. Moreover, the change of person in this verse, whereby it is said that He was going to give to us, in the place of He was going to give to their seed, indicates the antithesis between those descendants that degenerate from them through vice, and those that tread in their footsteps (Masius).

He would not show them, that is, not give them so much as a sight of it, which he granted to Moses, much less the possession and enjoyment of it. Or showing is put for giving, as it is Psalm 4:6; 60:3; Ecclesiastes 2:24.[10]

[1] Hebrew: וְזֶ֥ה הַדָּבָ֖ר אֲשֶׁר־מָ֣ל יְהוֹשֻׁ֑עַ כָּל־הָעָ֣ם הַיֹּצֵא֩ מִמִּצְרַ֙יִם הַזְּכָרִ֜ים כֹּ֣ל׀ אַנְשֵׁ֣י הַמִּלְחָמָ֗ה מֵ֤תוּ בַמִּדְבָּר֙ בַּדֶּ֔רֶךְ בְּצֵאתָ֖ם מִמִּצְרָֽיִם׃

[2] Genesis 12:17:  “And the Lord plagued Pharaoh and his house with great plagues because of Sarai Abram’s wife (עַל־דְּבַ֥ר שָׂרַ֖י אֵ֥שֶׁת אַבְרָֽם׃).”

[3] Exodus 18:16:  “When they have a matter (כִּֽי־יִהְיֶ֙ה לָהֶ֤ם דָּבָר֙), they come unto me; and I judge between one and another, and I do make them know the statutes of God, and his laws.”

[4] Hebrew: כִּֽי־מֻלִ֣ים הָי֔וּ כָּל־הָעָ֖ם הַיֹּֽצְאִ֑ים וְכָל־הָ֠עָם הַיִּלֹּדִ֙ים בַּמִּדְבָּ֥ר בַּדֶּ֛רֶךְ בְּצֵאתָ֥ם מִמִּצְרַ֖יִם לֹא־מָֽלוּ׃

[5] Hebrew: כִּ֣י׀ אַרְבָּעִ֣ים שָׁנָ֗ה הָלְכ֣וּ בְנֵֽי־יִשְׂרָאֵל֮ בַּמִּדְבָּר֒ עַד־תֹּ֙ם כָּל־הַגּ֜וֹי אַנְשֵׁ֤י הַמִּלְחָמָה֙ הַיֹּצְאִ֣ים מִמִּצְרַ֔יִם אֲשֶׁ֥ר לֹֽא־שָׁמְע֖וּ בְּק֣וֹל יְהוָ֑ה אֲשֶׁ֙ר נִשְׁבַּ֤ע יְהוָה֙ לָהֶ֔ם לְבִלְתִּ֞י הַרְאוֹתָ֣ם אֶת־הָאָ֗רֶץ אֲשֶׁר֩ נִשְׁבַּ֙ע יְהוָ֤ה לַֽאֲבוֹתָם֙ לָ֣תֶת לָ֔נוּ אֶ֛רֶץ זָבַ֥ת חָלָ֖ב וּדְבָֽשׁ׃

[6] Hebrew: כָּל־הַגּוֹי.

[7] אֲשֶׁר can serve as a relative, or a causal, particle.

[8] גּוֹי is a normal way to refer to a Gentile nation.

[9] Joshua 5:8:  “And it came to pass, when they had done circumcising all the people (כָל־הַגּוֹי), that they abode in their places in the camp, till they were whole.”

[10] Ecclesiastes 2:24:  “There is nothing better for a man, than that he should eat and drink, and that he should show (וְהֶרְאָה) his soul good in his labour.  This also I saw, that it was from the hand of God.”

Exegetical Studies in Poole’s Synopsis: An Apologetic Point concerning Supposed Contradictions in the Bible

Apologetic Point

In the late-seventeenth century, the Puritan divine and Biblical scholar, Matthew Poole, compiled his massive and masterly Synopsis Criticorum (Synopsis of Biblical Interpreters), a verse-by verse history of interpretation, setting the most important interpreters and interpretive positions side-by-side, for the help of the student of God’s Word.

These Exegetical Studies in Poole’s Synopsis are intended to capture some of the sweetest, most informative and edifying sections in a readily accessible format, to encourage Christians in indepth Bible study.

Much of the History of Interpretation is taken up with the reconciliation of apparent contradictions.  In this excerpt, Poole promises in the Preface to his Synopsis to give special and detailed attention to these problematic texts in the body of his Work.  However, before taking up the particular texts, he makes an important and powerful apologetic point from the history of Biblical interpretation, as only a Master of the History of Interpretation could.

Deuteronomy 34:9-12: Moses’ Place in Redemptive History

Verse 9:  And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the (Is. 11:2; Dan. 6:3) spirit of wisdom; for (Num. 27:18, 23) Moses had laid his hands upon him:  and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.

[Joshua was full]  In the place of, had been filled (Bonfrerius).

The spirit of wisdom; and other gifts and graces too, as appears from the history; but wisdom is mentioned as being most necessary for the government, to which he was now called.

[Because Moses laid]  In the place of, had laid (Bonfrerius, Menochius), or, since he had imposed (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  See Numbers 27:18; Deuteronomy 31:7, 23 (Malvenda).

Moses had laid his hands upon him; which God had appointed as a sign to Moses, and Joshua, and the Israelites, that this was the person whom he had appointed and qualified for his great work.  See Numbers 27:18, etc.  Compare Genesis 48:10; Numbers 8:10.

 

Verse 10:  And there (see Deut. 18:15, 18) arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, (Ex. 33:11; Num. 12:6, 8; Deut. 5:4) whom the LORD knew face to face…

[Not…like Moses]  Not similar with respect to the following things (Menochius, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals):  namely, familiarity with God (Estius, Menochius, Bonfrerius, Lapide), and portents (Lapide).

Like unto Moses, in the privileges here following.

[Whom the Lord know face to face, אֲשֶׁר֙ יְדָע֣וֹ יְהוָ֔ה]  Whom He knew, etc., that is, who thus familiarly conversed and spoke with Jehovah (Vatablus).  Almost all translate it, whom the Lord knew (Dieu).  I refer it to Moses:  which exposition the following verse requires (Piscator).  But because it is not at all exceptional that God knew someone familiarly, but it is especially exceptional that someone in this life knew God familiarly, neither, as far as I know, is it in Scripture ever attributed to God with respect to us, but always to us with respect to God, whose face, it is promised, we are at length going to see; we are not afraid to profess that it is able to be translated, who knew God [Oleaster similarly translates it]; so that the object suffix on יְדָעוֹ, he knew him, is referred to the following substantive יְהוָה/Jehovah, and is pleonastic:  which in the Chaldean and Syriac is very common, and not unusual in Scripture; as in Exodus 2:6, וַתִּרְאֵ֣הוּ אֶת־הַיֶּ֔לֶד, and she saw him, the child, where the הוּ/him is superfluous, and is referred to the following substantive; in Numbers 23:18, בְּנ֥וֹ צִפֹּֽר׃, the son of him, Zippor; in Deuteronomy 32:43, וְכִפֶּ֥ר אַדְמָת֖וֹ עַמּֽוֹ׃, and He will be merciful to the land of it, His people; Psalm 64:9, וַיַּכְשִׁיל֣וּהוּ עָלֵ֣ימוֹ לְשׁוֹנָ֑ם, and they shall cause to fall it, their tongue, upon themselves.  And on this place Onkelos reads, to whom the Lord was revealed, that is, who saw the Lord (Dieu).

Whom the Lord knew face to face, i.e. whom God did so freely, and familiarly, and frequently converse with.  See on Exodus 33:11; Numbers 12:8; Deuteronomy 5:4.

 

Verse 11:  In all (Deut. 4:34; 7:19) the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land…

In all the signs:  this is to be joined, either, 1.  With the words immediately foregoing, as an eminent instance wherein God did know or acknowledge and own or converse so familiarly with Moses, namely, in the working of all his signs and wonders in Egypt, where God spake to him so oft, and sometimes even in Pharaoh’s presence, and answered his requests so particularly and punctually, whether he called for vengeance or for deliverance.  Or, 2.  With the more remote words, there was none like unto Moses in regard of all the signs, etc., the words, whom the Lord knew face to face, coming in by way of parenthesis.

 

Verse 12:  And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.

[A mighty hand]  That is, Works done by a mighty hand (Ainsworth).  He understands those things that were done in the exodus from Egypt, and in the Red Sea (Vatablus).

[וּלְכֹ֖ל הַמּוֹרָ֣א[1]In all marvels (Septuagint, Chaldean); in every great vision (Samaritan Text, similarly the Syriac); in all terror (Arabic, Montanus, Oleaster, Ainsworth), or, terrible works (Junius and Tremellius).  Either, 1.  in the giving of the Law (Vatablus); or, 2.  whereby He terrified the Egyptians (Oleaster), and the Israelites, Numbers 16; 25 (Lapide).

[1] מוֹרָא may be related to the verbal root יָרֵא, to fear, or to רָאָה, to see.

Deuteronomy 34:5-8: The Death and Burial of Moses

Verse 5:  (Deut. 32:50; Josh 1:1, 2) So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.

[And Moses died, etc.]  This was written, either, 1.  by Moses, prophetically (Josephus and Philo in Bonfrerius, Malvenda):  or, 2.  by Eleazar,[1] who added both this, and that concerning the death of Joshua, Joshua 24 (Estius):  or, 3.  by Ezra (certain interpreters in Menochius):  or, 4.  by Joshua (Menochius, Bonfrerius, Tirinus, Munster); and that some years after the death of Moses, because it says, unto this day[2] (Munster).

[The servant of the Lord]  Thus he is called, because, even while dying, he performed the commands of God, as a servant, namely, he went up, etc. (Ibn Ezra in Muis).  He was not called the Servant of the Lord until he passed from this life.  By this title is designated the highest excellence of status obtained.  For a servant lives continually with his master, enters upon his more private chambers, and is always ready at his command.  Without any fear of contradiction they said, THE FATHERS ARE RIGHTEOUS IN DEATH, AS IN LIFE (Bechai in Muis).  With (his) soul separated from his body, he ascends to the ministry on High; and therefore he is called THE SERVANT OF THE LORD with respect to the coming age, as he obtained as a faithful servant (Abarbanel in Muis).

[In the land of Moab]  That is, which the Israelites had seized from the Amorites, which formerly had been a region of Moab (Tirinus).

In the land of Moab:  i.e. In the land which Israel took from the Amorites, which anciently was the land of Moab.

[With the Lord appointing[3]]  Hebrew:  according to (or, upon [Montanus, Malvenda]) the mouth (Tigurinus, Ainsworth), or, speech, of the Lord (Pagnine).  Either, 1.  according to the foreordination of Jehovah (certain interpreters in Malvenda):  or, 2.  as the Lord had often foretold to him[4] (Malvenda):  or perhaps, 3.  according to the royal edict (that is, of death) brought against the first man on account of sin (Muis).

 

Verse 6:  And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Beth-peor:  but (see Jude 9) no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.

[And he buried]  Who?  Understand, God, or an Angel (Vatablus).  God by the ministry of Angels (Menochius, Tirinus, Bonfrerius, likewise the Septuagint and Philo in Tirinus, Grotius).  Whose prince was Michael (Grotius).  Jehovah, or Michael,[5] that is, Christ:  With this signifying that it belongs to Christ alone to abolish the Law of Moses (Ainsworth).  Others:  And he buried himself, that is, he entered into a narrow cave, where he exhaled his spirit (certain Hebrews in Munster).  Others maintain that the third person, preterite, active, is taken passively, or impersonally, after the manner of the Hebrews, and he buried, in the place of, and he was buried (Malvenda, Vatablus).

He, i.e. the Lord, last mentioned, buried him either immediately, or by the ministry of angels, whereof Michael was the chief or prince, Jude 9.

[In a valley[6]]  Or, in Gai (Septuagint, Vatablus), so that it might a name of mount Nebo, by which he has regard to Moab (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  See Numbers 21:20 (Vatablus).  He died on the mountain; he was buried in the valley (Ainsworth).

[And no one knew his sepulchre]  The reason was so that the Israelites, inclined to idolatry, might not worship him as God (Menochius, Bonfrerius, Lapide, Malvenda, Estius, Lyra).  Lest they should offer superstitious worship to the relics of such a man (Grotius).  Concerning this was the contention of Michael with the Devil:  see Jude 9.  In a perverse imitation of Moses, the Heathen appear to have feigned the rapture of their legislators; as of Romulus,[7] and of Apollonius of Tyana[8] in Philostratus’ Life of Apollonius of Tyana[9] 8:12 (Malvenda).

No man knoweth of his sepulchre, i.e. of the particular place of the valley where he was buried; which God hid from the Israelites, to prevent their superstition and idolatry, to which he knew their great proneness.  And for this very reason the devil endeavoured to have it known, and contended with Michael about it, Jude 9.  And seeing God would not endure the worship of the relics or tomb of so eminent a person as Moses was, it is ridiculous to think God would permit this honour to be given to any of the succeeding saints, who were so far inferior to him.

 

[1451 BC]  Verse 7:  (Deut. 31:2) And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died:  (see Gen. 27:1; 48:10; Josh. 14:10, 11) his eye was not dim, nor his natural force (Heb. moisture[10]) abated (Heb. fled[11]).

[An hundred and twenty years]  Trebellius Pollio in “Claudius” 11, The most learned of the Mathematicians judge that one hundred and twenty years have been given to man in order to live, and they do not mention that anything more was conceded to anyone; even adding that Moses alone, as the books of the Jews say, the intimate of God, lived one hundred and twenty-five [indeed, only one hundred and twenty] years; who, when he complained that he died as a young man, they brought a response to him from an uncertain God (by which this Gentile writers imprudently indicates the passage in Genesis 6:3), No one is going to live more (Malvenda, Gataker).

[His eye was not dark (thus the Septuagint, Chaldean, Montanus, Junius and Tremellius, Ainsworth), as in Genesis 27:1[12] (Ainsworth), לֹֽא־כָהֲתָ֥ה עֵינ֖וֹ]  His eye did not restrict itself; that is, his sight was not diminished (Oleaster).  It was not heavy (Syriac); it was not contracted into wrinkles (Oleaster).  Or thus, his face was not contracted into wrinklesEye is taken for color, etc., Exodus 10:5;[13] Numbers 11:7.[14]  Chizkuni explains it of the splendor of his face, Exodus 34:30 (Ainsworth).

[Nor his teeth wanting, וְלֹא־נָ֥ס לֵחֹֽה׃]  Neither did flee (or, had begun to lose vigor [Samaritan Text]) his verdure (Oleaster, Malvenda, Syriac, Montanus, Ainsworth), that is, robustness, or vivacity of color (Oleaster).  Vigor (Pagnine, Munster, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals); innate moisture, or, radical humor (Ainsworth).  Neither did his moisture depart (Arabic).  Neither had he withered, faded; that is to say, his face was always full of sap.  For old age is wont to be dry (Vatablus).  Neither did his cheek, or jaw, fade (When Augustus was about to die…he ordered his falling cheeks to be set right, Suetonius’ Lives of the Twelves Cæsars 99 [Malvenda]).  Thus the Syriac and Arabic Manuscripts and the Septuagint (χελώνια αὐτοῦ, his lips).  They read לחיו, his jaw (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:45:506:21).  Neither did his cheeks contract wrinkles (Syriac).  The splendor of the rays (concerning which, Exodus 34) never vanished or ebbed (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Neither did the splendor of the glory of his face change (Chaldean).

His eye was not dim, etc.:  By a miraculous work of God in mercy to his church and people.

 

Verse 8:  And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab (see Gen. 50:3, 10; Num. 20:29; Ecclus. 38:16, 17[15]) thirty days:  so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.

[Thirty days]  As they did for Aaron, Numbers 20:28, 29 (Ainsworth, Grotius), and Miriam, as Josephus testifies.  In mourning over men of the common sort, seven days sufficed:  Ecclesiasticus 22:12;[16] Josephus’ Jewish Antinquities 6 at the end; Ammianus Marcellinus’[17] Matters Conducted[18] 19 (Grotius).

Thirty days was the usual time of mourning for persons of high place and eminency.  See Genesis 50:3, 10; Numbers 20:29.  For others seven days sufficed.

[1] See Deuteronomy 10:6.

[2] Verse 6.

[3] Hebrew:  עַל־פִּ֥י יְהוָֽה׃.

[4] Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 1:37; 3:26, 27; 32:49, 50.

[5] Michael means who is like God?

[6] Hebrew:  בַגַּיְ.

[7] Romulus and Remus, twins, were the mythical founders of Rome.

[8] Apollonius of Tyana (first century AD) was a Greek Neopythagorean philosopher from Tyana, in the province of Cappadocia.  He was known for practicing divination, alchemy, and magic, and working miracles.

[9] Very little is known about Philostratus “the Athenian” (c. 170-247).  His Life of Apollonius Tyana describes the life and travels of Apollonius of Tyana.

[10] Hebrew:  לֵחֹה.

[11] Hebrew:  נָס.

[12] Genesis 27:1a:  “And it came to pass, that when Isaac was old, and his eyes were dim (וַתִּכְהֶ֥יןָ עֵינָ֖יו), so that he could not see, he called Esau his eldest son…”

[13] Exodus 10:5a:  “And they shall cover the face (עֵין/eye) of the earth, that one cannot be able to see the earth…”

[14] Numbers 11:7:  “And the manna was as coriander seed, and the colour thereof (וְעֵינוֹ, and the eye thereof) as the colour of bdellium.”

[15] Ecclesiasticus 38:16, 17:  “My son, let tears fall down over the dead, and begin to lament, as if thou hadst suffered great harm thyself; and then cover his body according to the custom, and neglect not his burial.  Weep bitterly, and make great moan, and use lamentation, as he is worthy, and that a day or two, lest thou be evil spoken of:  and then comfort thyself for thy heaviness.”

[16] Ecclesiasticus 22:12:  “Seven days do men mourn for him that is dead; but for a fool and an ungodly man all the days of his life.”

[17] Ammianus Marcellinus (c. 330-c. 390) was Roman noble, soldier, and historian.

[18] Res Gestæ.

Deuteronomy 34:1-4: Moses’ View of the Promised Land

Verse 1:  And Moses went up from the plains of Moab (Num. 27:12; 33:47; Deut. 32:49) unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah (or, the hill[1]), that is over against Jericho.  And the LORD (Deut. 3:27; 2 Mac. 2:4[2]) shewed him all the land of Gilead, (Gen. 14:14) unto Dan…

Moses went up, in compliance with God’s will, that he should then and there resign up his soul to God.

[From the plains of Moab, מֵעַרְבֹת[3]From the conjunctions, or borders, of Moab, that is, where the borders of diverse kingdoms came together (Oleaster).

[Upon mount Nebo, unto the peak of Pisgah[4] (thus the Septuagint, Samaritan Text, Vatablus)]  Mount Nebo was the tallest of the mountains of AbarimPisgah was the highest peak of mount Nebo (Menochius, Lyra).

[רֹ֚אשׁ הַפִּסְגָּ֔ה[5]Unto, or toward, the peak of the hill (Chaldean, Syriac), or, of the cliff (Arabic), or, of the overlook (Samaritan Version).  See Numbers 21:20 (and 27:12 [Bonfrerius]); Deuteronomy 3:27 (Malvenda).

Of the mountain of Nebo, see Numbers 27:12; 32:38; Deuteronomy 32:49.

[The land of Gilead, אֶת־כָּל־הָאָ֛רֶץ אֶת־הַגִּלְעָ֖ד]  They translate it, 1.  from Gilead (Junius and Tremellius, Hebrews in Ainsworth).  They take אֶת[6] for מִן/from; for it was not needful that he regard that which he had subdued (Ainsworth).  Gilead, vulgarly Galaad, was the name of the mountain situated on the other side of the Jordan, toward the East, from a comparison of Numbers 32 verse 1 and verse 19 (Piscator).  2.  Gilead, that is, taken broadly, or the land of the two and a half Tribes (Menochius).  He shows this in its entirety, because Moses had not visited the whole, neither had he perceived its pleasantness with his eyes.  God appears to strengthen the eyes of Moses, so that he might better regard things at a distance (Bonfrerius).

Of the land of Gilead Moses had as yet seen and enjoyed but a small part.  Of this land, see Genesis 31:21; Numbers 32:1, 19, etc.

[Unto Dan]  The name of a city occupied by the Danites, previously called Leshem, or Laish.  See Joshua 19:47 (Piscator).

Unto Dan; to that city which after Moses’s death was called Dan, Joshua 19:47; Judges 18:29.  So that here is an anticipation.  But it seems most probable, and is commonly believed, that this chapter was not written by Moses, but by Eleazar, or Joshua, or Ezra, or some other man of God, directed herein by the Holy Ghost; this being no more impeachment to the Divine authority of this chapter, that the penman is unknown, which also is the lot of some other books of Scripture, than it is to the authority of the acts of the king or parliament, that they are written or printed by some unknown person.

 

Verse 2:  And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, (Deut. 11:24) unto the utmost sea…

All Naphtali, i.e. the land of Naphtali, which, together with Dan, was in the north of Canaan, as Ephraim and Manasseh were in the midland parts, and Judah on the south, and the sea on the west.  So these parts lying in the several quarters are put for all the rest.  He stood in the east, and saw also Gilead, which was in the eastern part of the land, and thence he saw the north, and south, and west.

[Unto the utmost sea, עַ֖ד הַיָּ֥ם הָאַחֲרֽוֹן׃]  The hindmost (Samaritan Text, Ainsworth, Malvenda, Montanus, similarly the Chaldean, Junius and Tremellius), or, extreme (Ainsworth), see Deuteronomy 11:24[7] (Vatablus), farthest (Syriac), last (Septuagint).  Namely, the Western (Ainsworth, Bonfrerius, Arabic), as it is evident, inasmuch as everywhere the utmost sea is opposed to the Eastern, which is the sea of Gennesaret, Joel 2:20; Zechariah 14:8 (Bonfrerius).

The utmost sea, i.e. the midland sea, which was the utmost bound of the Land of Promise on the west.

 

Verse 3:  And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, (Judg. 1:16; 3:13; 2 Chron. 28:15) the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.

 

And the south, etc.:  i.e. The south quarter of thee land of Judah, which is towards the Salt Sea, which is described Numbers 34:3-5; Joshua 15:1-4, as the western quarter of Judah was described in the words next foregoing.

[The breadth of the plain of Jericho, וְֽאֶת־הַכִּכָּ֞ר בִּקְעַ֧ת יְרֵח֛וֹ[8]]  They translate it, and the plain of the valley (or, the plain, the valley [Pagnine], that plain, the ravine [Junius and Tremellius], the plain of the field [Chaldean], or, the level plain [Munster, Tigurinus]) of Jericho (Montanus, Ainworth).  The portion of the rupture, or division, of Jericho:  that is, the southern part, which Jericho divides; or, the ruptures that Jordan makes, or, the torrents in the land of Jericho (Oleaster).  And the plain of the valley (or the valley, by apposition [Vatablus, Malvenda]) of Jericho (Ainsworth).  The plain, the plain, I say, of the valley, in which is Jericho (Vatablus, similarly Piscator).

The plain of the valley of Jericho; or, in which lies Jericho; which was in the tribe of Benjamin.

[The city of palms]  They refer it, 1.  to Engedi, a city famous for palm-groves.  See Genesis 14:17; Judges 1:16.  So that it might be asyndeton, and the city of palms (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  2.  To Jericho, which is thus called, Judges 1:16 (and 3:13 [Ainsworth]); 2 Chronicles 28:15 (Malvenda, Ainsworth).  The same is affirmed by Pliny in his Natural History 5:14, Jericho, planted with palm-groves, and Diodorus Siculus in his Historical Library 2:93, and Strabo in his Geography 16:763, and Josephus in his Jewish Wars 5:4 (Malvenda).  From these and the balsam, etc. growing there Jericho had its name; that is to say, Odoriferous.[9]  What Moses last saw was both the closest to him, and the most pleasant of the whole land (see Genesis 13:10), and the first occupied by the Israelites (Ainsworth).

The city of palm trees, i.e. Jericho, so called both here and Judges 1:16; 3:13; 2 Chronicles 28:15, from the multitude of palm trees which were in those parts, as Josephus and Strabo write; from whence and the balm there growing it was called Jericho, which signifies odoriferous, or sweet-smelling.

 

Verse 4:  And the LORD said unto him, (Gen. 12:7; 13:15; 15:18; 26:3; 28:13) This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed:  (Deut. 3:27; 32:52) I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.

With thine eyes, to wit, by a miraculous power strengthening thy sight, or making a clear representation of all these parts to thy view.

[1] Hebrew:  הַפִּסְגָּה.

[2] 2 Maccabees 2:4:  “It was also contained in the same writing, that the prophet, being warned of God, commanded the tabernacle and the ark to go with him, as he went forth into the mountain, where Moses climbed up, and saw the heritage of God.”

[3] עֲרָבָה, desert-plain, is derived from the verbal root ערב, to be arid.  ערב can also signify to mix.

[4] Hebrew:  אֶל־הַ֣ר נְב֔וֹ רֹ֚אשׁ הַפִּסְגָּ֔ה.

[5] פִּסְגָּה/Pisgah may be derived from the verbal root פָּסַג, to split.

[6] The direct object marker.

[7] Deuteronomy 11:24:  “Every place whereon the soles of your feet shall tread shall be yours:  from the wilderness and Lebanon, from the river, the river Euphrates, even unto the uttermost sea (וְעַד֙ הַיָּ֣ם הָֽאַחֲר֔וֹן) shall your coast be.”

[8] כִּכָּר, a round district, is derived from the verbal root כָּרַר, to move around; בִּקְעָה/ valley, from the verbal root בָּקַע, to cleave.

[9] יְרִיחוֹ/Jericho may be related to רָוַח, a fragrant land.

Deuteronomy 34 Outline

Moses from Mount Nebo vieweth the land, 1-4.  He dieth there, 5.  His burial, 6.  His age, 7.  Thirty days’ mourning for him, 8.  Joshua succeedeth him, 9.  The praises of Moses, 10-12.

 

The Hebrews say that this chapter was written by Joshua, by the prophetic spirit (Vatablus).

Deuteronomy 33:28, 29: The Blessedness of Israel, Part 2

Verse 28:  (Num. 23:9; Jer. 23:6; 33:16) Israel then shall dwell in safety alone:  (Deut. 8:7, 8) the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his (Gen. 27:28; Deut. 11:11) heavens shall drop down dew.

[Israel shall dwell confidently and alone]  Even alone, without any protection, he shall be safe (Menochius, Lyra):  as in Jeremiah 49:31.  Or, alone, that is, not mixed with other nations (Vatablus):  as in Numbers 23:9 (Ainsworth).

Alone; either, 1.  Though they be alone, and have no confederates to defend them, but have all the world against them, yet my single protection shall be sufficient for them.  Or, 2.  Distinct and separated from all other nations, with whom I will not have them to mingle themselves.  See Numbers 23:9; Ezra 9:1, 2.

[The eye of Jacob, etc., עֵ֣ין יַעֲקֹ֔ב אֶל־אֶ֖רֶץ דָּגָ֣ן וְתִיר֑וֹשׁ]  [They vary.]  The eye of Jacob toward, or upon, a land of crops, etc. (Samaritan Text, Munster, Dutch, Montanus, Tigurinus, Oleaster, Malvenda), supply, shall be (Dutch), or, aspires, or regards, because they were not yet possessing it (Oleaster).  He shall cast an eye toward toward a land fertileTo see here is in the place of to take possession of (Castalio).  They shall consider the land given to them (Menochius, Tirinus).  Others:  the fountain of Jacob in the land (Syriac), or, upon the land (Ainsworth).  And shall dwell Israel, the fountain of Jacob, in the land (Pagnine).  The fountain, Jacob (Ainsworth, Vatablus), by apposition; that is to say, the People of Israel, which is, as it were, a stream derived from Jacob, who is the fountain, shall dwell alone (Vatablus, Ainsworth).  Waters signify peoples, Revelation 17:15.  And fountain here is taken in the place of a stream from a fountain, as in Psalm 104:10 (Ainsworth).

The fountain of Jacob, i.e. the posterity of Jacob, which flowed from him as waters from a fountain, in great abundance.  Compare Psalm 68:26; Isaiah 48:1.  The fountain is here put for the river or streams which flow from it, as Psalm 104:10; as the root is put for the branch, 2 Chronicles 22:10; Isaiah 11:10; Revelation 5:5; and as Jacob or Israel, who is the fountain, is oft put for the children of Israel.  Or, the eye (for so the Hebrew word oft signifies) of Jacob, i.e. of the people of Israel; and so the sense is, They who now only hear of the land of promise shall shortly see it, which I am not suffered to do, and shall enjoy it, which is oft signified by seeing, as Psalm 4:6; 27:13; 34:12; Ecclesiastes 2:1;[1] 3:13.[2]  His heavens, i.e. those heavens or that air which hangs over his land.

 

Verse 29:  (Ps. 144:15) Happy art thou, O Israel:  (2 Sam. 7:23) who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, (Ps. 115:9-11) the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies (2 Sam. 22:45; Ps. 18:44; 66:3; 81:15) shall be found liars (or, shall be subdued[3]) unto thee; and (Deut. 32:13) thou shalt tread upon their high places.

[Blessed art thou]  Understand:  On account of this thou art blessed, etc. (Vatablus).

[Who art saved in the Lord? the shield,[4] etc.]  Who art saved by Jehovah? (Vatablus, Ainsworth, Pagnine).

[The shield of thy help (thus Ainsworth)]  That is, by whom thou art helped (Vatablus).

Saved by the Lord, the giver and preserver of all that excellency, that glory, safety, and happiness, which thou hast above all other people, which thou dost not obtain either by or for thy own wisdom, or strength, or goodness.

[And the sword of thy glory[5]Of thy excellency; a Hebraism, by which glory is furnished for thee (Vatablus).  Or, of thy elevation.  That is to say, He is the shield by which thou art protected, and the elevated sword with which thou smites thine enemies (Oleaster, Menochius).  The sword of thy glorying (Munster, Tigurinus).  Whose sword is thy excellency, in which thou art able safely to glory/ boast; Psalm 44:3, 6 (Ainsworth).  Who is the sword of thy elevation; that is, who exalted thee by His protection unto that dignity (Castalio).

The sword of thy excellency, or, thy most excellent sword, i.e. thy strength and the author of all this, past or approaching victories.

[They shall refuse thee, וְיִכָּחֲשׁוּ[6]]  [They render it variously.]  They shall lie to thee (Montanus, Grotius, Chaldean, Samaritan Text, Syriac, Tigurinus).  That is, If the subjugated people break faith, thou shalt conquer them (Grotius).  They shall feign themselves to be thy friends, as the Gibeonites did (Ainsworth out of Rabbi Salomon).  Let them be render abject (Junius and Tremellius); they shall submit unwillingly (Castalio); they shall be humbled (Pagnine); they shall be made subject to thee (Arabic); they shall refuse thee (Oleaster); falsely they shall refuse thee (Ainsworth).  They shall be made thin, from Psalm 109:24[7] (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  They shall be made liars; they shall defraud; in vain shall they evade their vows and obligations (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  They shall fail (Oleaster, Malvenda).  To lie is in the place of to fail, 1 Kings 13:18;[8] Psalm 109 (Oleaster); likewise Hosea 9:2;[9] Habakkuk 3:17.[10]  Thus also Horace, spem mentita seges, the crop deceived hope[11] (Malvenda).

Shall be found liars unto thee, i.e. shall be deceived, as to all their vain hopes and confidences of destroying thee or saving themselves, whether grounded upon their own numbers, and valour, and strong holds, or upon old prophecies and predictions of success, or upon their idols.  Or, shall lie unto thee, i.e. shall submit themselves to thee, though it be done but feignedly and by constraint, as this phrase is used, Psalm 18:44;[12] 66:3;[13] 81:15.[14]  Possibly this may design the lies and frauds which the Gibeonites would use to deceive them, Joshua 9:4.

[Their necks, עַל־בָּמוֹתֵימוֹ]  Upon their high places (Pagnine, Vatablus, Oleaster).  Either, 1.  upon the necks of enemy Kings shalt thou tread (Vatablus, Lyra, the Chaldean in Ainsworth, Munster); Joshua 10:24 (Malvenda).  Upon princes (Arabic).  Or, 2.  upon their fortified places (Oleaster, Malvenda, Ainsworth).  See Deuteronomy 32:13 (Ainsworth).

Thou shalt tread upon their high places, i.e. thou shalt subdue their greatest princes, and their strongest holds, Deuteronomy 32:13, and their idols, temples, and worship.

[1] Ecclesiastes 2:1:  “I said in mine heart, Go to now, I will prove thee with mirth, therefore enjoy (וּרְאֵה, therefore see) pleasure : and, behold, this also is vanity.”

[2] Ecclesiastes 3:13:  “And also that every man should eat and drink, and enjoy (וְרָאָה) the good of all his labour, it is the gift of God.”

[3] Hebrew:  וְיִכָּחֲשׁוּ.

[4] Hebrew:  עַ֚ם נוֹשַׁ֣ע בַּֽיהוָ֔ה מָגֵ֣ן.

[5] Hebrew:  חֶ֖רֶב גַּאֲוָתֶ֑ךָ.  גַּאֲוָה/excellency is derived from the verbal root גָּאָה, to rise up.

[6] כָּחַשׁ can signify to fail, to grow lean, or to deceive.

[7] Psalm 109:24:  “My knees are weak through fasting; and my flesh faileth (כָּחַשׁ) of fatness.”

[8] 1 Kings 13:18:  “He said unto him, I am a prophet also as thou art; and an angel spake unto me by the word of the Lord, saying, Bring him back with thee into thine house, that he may eat bread and drink water.  But he lied (כִּחֵשׁ) unto him.”

[9] Hosea 9:2:  “The floor and the winepress shall not feed them, and the new wine shall fail (יְכַחֶשׁ) in her.”

[10] Habakkuk 3:17:  “Although the fig tree shall not blossom, neither shall fruit be in the vines; the labour of the olive shall fail (כִּחֵשׁ), and the fields shall yield no meat; the flock shall be cut off from the fold, and there shall be no herd in the stalls…”

[11] Epistles 1:1:7:87.

[12] Psalm 18:44:  “As soon as they hear of me, they shall obey me:  the strangers shall submit themselves (יְכַחֲשׁוּ) unto me.”

[13] Psalm 66:3:  “Say unto God, How terrible art thou in thy works! through the greatness of thy power shall thine enemies submit themselves (יְכַחֲשׁוּ) unto thee.”

[14] Psalm 81:15:  “The haters of the Lord should have submitted themselves (יְכַחֲשׁוּ) unto him:  but their time should have endured for ever.”

Deuteronomy 33:26, 27: The Blessedness of Israel, Part 1

Verse 26:  There is (Ex. 15:11; Ps. 86:8; Jer. 10:6) none like unto the God of (Deut. 32:15) Jeshurun, (Ps. 68:4, 33, 34; 104:3; Hab. 3:8) who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.

[The rider of heaven, רֹכֵ֤ב שָׁמַ֙יִם֙]  The one riding the heaven (Pagnine, Vatablus, Oleaster, Ainsworth); or, the one sitting upon the heavens (Oleaster).  Riding is a sign both of honor, and of one hastening to help, Psal. 68:33, 34 (Ainsworth).  That is to say, thy God dwelleth in heaven; in the revelation of His majesty He sits upon the clouds or the heavens, whence He hastens to bring help to thee (Vatablus).

Upon the heaven, i.e. upon the clouds, to succour thee from thence, by sending thunder and lightning upon thine enemies.  See Psalm 18:7; 68:34, etc.

[Thy helper]  Hebrew:  in thy help[1] (Ainsworth), or, unto the help of thee (Vatablus, Ainsworth, Oleaster).

[From His magnificence, וּבְגַאֲוָת֖וֹ שְׁחָקִֽים׃[2]And in His excellency (Ainsworth, Malvenda) (elevation [Oleaster], or, height [Cajetan]) the heavens (Oleaster, Pagnine, Cajetan), or, the clouds (Vulgate, Samaritan Text).  Understand, either He rides upon the clouds (Ainsworth), or, He sits upon (Oleaster); or, the clouds rush off (Vulgate in Bonfrerius).  Or, unto His magnificence, namely, for the manifestation of His glory (Ainsworth).  In His magnificence; I repeat, He rides:  πρόζευγμα/prozeugma[3] (Piscator).

In his excellency, or, in his magnificence, i.e. magnificently, gloriously, and with great majesty as well as power.

 

Verse 27:  The eternal God is thy (Ps. 90:1) refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms:  and (Deut. 9:3-5) he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.

[His dwelling-place is on high, מְעֹנָה֙ אֱלֹ֣הֵי קֶ֔דֶם[4]]  [They refer it, 1.  to the clouds.]  Which (that is, ether, or the heaven) already of old (from the beginning [Chaldean], from eternity [Syriac]) is the dwelling-place of God (Tigurinus, thus Pagnine, Munster, Chaldean, Syriac, Oleaster).  [2.  To God.]  The dwelling-place (Montanus, Vatablus, Ainsworth), or refuge, of him (Grotius), or of thee (Munster, Ainsworth) (supply, is, or shall be [Ainsworth], or may it be [Ainsworth, Piscator]:  See Psalm 90:1 [Ainsworth]) the eternal God (Grotius, Munster, Ainsworth, Vatablus).  I pray to God, that He would protect thee, O Israel (Piscator).  קֶדֶם is πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, before eternity, Psalm 55:19.[5]  For the Hebrews do not have a special word by which they express eternity, and so they make use of translation and circumlocution.  Thus God is said to be the Ancient of days, Daniel 7 (Grotius).  Others:  the God of antiquity, or, the ancient God (Ainsworth).  The God of antecedence, of the ages (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Or, the God in advance, that is, He protects him beyond, above (Malvenda).  That is to say, God will be the protection of Israel, just as a cottage defends its inhabitants from injury by the heavens.  מְעֹנָה signifies that little cottage that is made in the field or vineyards (Vatablus).  Well do the Greeks render it σκεπάσει σε, it will cover thee.  The Seputagint adds, Θεοῦ ἀρχὴ, the principate of God.[6]  But perhaps they wrote Θεὸς ἀρχῆς, the God of the beginning[7] (Grotius).

[And beneath are the everlasting arms, וּמִתַּ֖חַת זְרֹעֹ֣ת עוֹלָ֑ם]  And from underneath, or beneath (supply, are [Ainsworth]) the arms of eternity, or the eternal arms (Malvenda, Ainsworth, Vatablus); that is, Under Israel are the indefatigable arms, which hold him:  that is to say, From the crown of the head to the sole of the foot the Lord diligently keeps all Israel (Vatablus).  Under the arms of God, which shall support thee, thou shalt be forever; or, under the arms of eternity thou shalt be safe (Munster).  Others thus:  Heaven is His habitation, and yet beneath, in the world, He stretches forth His arms, that is, exerts His power (Onkelos in Munster, Tigurinus).  Or, He extends His arms beneath, He is so immense (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Although He dwells in the heavens, yet He does not despise earthly things, but sends forth His arms into the earth, so that He might be near to Israel (Castalio).  Under His arm forever (Samaritan Text).  Below Him are the Kings of the world (Arabic).  And beneath He shall sow the earth (Syriac).

Thy refuge, or, thy dwelling-place.  Compare Psalm 91:1.  Underneath, i.e. under thy arms to hold thee up, as my hands were once held up by Aaron and Hur.[8]  He will support and defend thee.  Or the meaning is, Though he dwelleth on high, yet he comes down to the earth beneath to assist and deliver thee.

[And He shall say, Be thou brought to nought[9]Destroy thou (Pagnine, Piscator), that is, thy enemy (Piscator).  He shall say, etc., that is, He will equip thee with a mandate and might to destroy him (Malvenda, Ainsworth, Vatablus).

Shall say, Destroy them, i.e. shall give thee not only command and commission, but also power, to destroy them; for God’s saying is doing, his word comes with power.

[1] Hebrew:  בְעֶזְרֶךָ.

[2] גַּאֲוָה/excellency is derived from the verbal root גָּאָה, to rise up; שַׁחַק, dust or cloud, from שָׁחַק, to rub away or beat fine.

[3] That is, the verb is borrowed from the preceding clause.

[4] קֶדֶם can signify front, east, or aforetime.

[5] Psalm 55:19:  “God shall hear, and afflict them, even he that abideth of old (וְיֹ֤שֵׁ֥ב קֶ֗דֶם; ὁ ὑπάρχων πρὸ τῶν αἰώνων, in the Septuagint).  Selah.  Because they have no changes, therefore they fear not God.”

[6] That is, the principate of God will cover/protect thee.

[7] That is, the God of the beginning will cover/protect thee.

[8] Exodus 17:12.

[9] Hebrew:  וַיֹּ֥אמֶר הַשְׁמֵֽד׃.

Deuteronomy 33:24, 25: The Blessing of Asher

Verse 24:  And of Asher he said, (Gen. 49:20) Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him (see Job 29:6) dip his foot in oil.

[Blessed in children, מִבָּנִים]  On account of, or because of, children (Tigurinus, Ainsworth, Munster, Samaritan Text, Piscator); or, from children (Piscator), in the name of (or, from the part of) the children; or, on account of descendants (Vatablus), or, with children (Ainsworth), with the blessing of children (the Chaldean in Ainsworth).  Because of offspring, both abundant and handsome, so that because of their beauty their young men and virgins are the favorites of all (Bonfrerius, Tirinus).  Others:  before the children (Oleaster, Montanus, Pagnine), that is, before the abundance of children; or, before the other tribes; or, from the children (Septuagint, Syriac), that is, by the remaining children of Israel, to whom they shall supply the best things from their own land (Malvenda out of Junius).

Let Asher be blessed with children:  He shall have numerous, and those strong, and healthful, and comely, children.  Or, shall be blessed or praised of or above the sons, i.e. the other sons of Israel, or his brethren, as it here follows, i.e. his portion shall fall in an excellent part, where he may have the benefits both of his own fat soil, and of the sea, by his neighbours Tyrus and Sidon.  Acceptable to his brethren; by his sweet disposition and winning carriage, and communication of his excellent commodities to his brethren, he shall gain their affections.

[Let him dip in oil, etc.]  That is, He shall so abound in oil that he is able to wash his feet in it.  See Genesis 49:20 (Vatablus, Oleaster, Ainsworth, Malvenda).

Let him dip his foot in oil; he shall have such plenty of oil, that he may not only wash his face, but his feet also, in it.  Or, the fatness and fertility of his country may be expressed by oil, as Job 29:6.  And so it agrees with Jacob’s blessing of him, Genesis 49:20.

 

Verse 25:  Thy shoes shall be (Deut. 8:9) iron and brass (or, under thy shoes shall be iron and brass[1]); and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.

[Iron and brass shall be his shoe, מִנְעָלֶיךָ[2]]  They vary.  Iron and brass shall be under thy shoes (Junius and Tremellius, Tigurinus, Bochart, Grotius), or, shall be thy feet (Ainsworth, Oleaster, Vatablus, Montanus).  Thy shoes, that is, thy treading; the instrument in the place of the action:  that is to say, Whatever ye tread upon will be iron and brass (Vatablus).  That is, In thy region there shall be mines of iron and brass (Vatablus, Ainsworth, Oleaster).  See Deuteronomy 8:9 (Malvenda).  Sarepta, between Tyre and Sidon, has its name from the casting of brass and iron.[3]  To this pertains that saying of Eumæus[4] in Homer, Odyssey ο´:425, Ἐκ μὲν Σιδῶνος πολυχάλκου εὔχομαι εἶναι, that is, from bronze-bearing Sidon, etc.  There is no reason why interpreters would draw the words of the Poet to another sense (Bochart’s Sacred Geography “Phaleg” 4:34:343, Drusius).  I might believe that the Asherites because of the abundance of these metals were wont to sole their shoes with iron and brass nails, as was the manner of peasants, soldiers, and other travelers among the Romans and Syrians (Bonfrerius, Tirinus).  There shall be such an abundance of brass and iron that thou mightest be able to make shoes from it (Oleaster, Tirinus).  This does not satisfy; for מִנְעָל in this form no where occurs as shoe (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 898).  Others:  Strong as brass and iron shall be thy habitation (Chaldean).  His land shall be as fortified, as if it were enclosed with brass walls, etcTheir mighty men were dwelling in coastal cities, to which they were prohibiting access, lest an enemy be able to enter, as if they were enclosed bars and bolts of iron and brass (Rabbi Salomon in Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 2:6:16:885).  Iron and brass shall be thine enclosure, that is, this lot shall be highly fortified (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Others:  thy shackles shall be of brass and iron (the Samaritan Text in Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 885, similarly Masius).  He understands Foreigners in Galilee of the Gentiles,[5] who oppressed the Asherites that an iron shoe, that is, shackles, presses their foot (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 885).  Others translate מִנְעָלֶיךָ, thy bars (Samaritan Version, Arabic), thy bolt (Munster), thine enclosures (Castalio).  This is able to signify his strength, by which he would tread upon enemies; as Christ’s feet were of brass, Revelation 1:15 (Ainsworth).

Thy shoes shall be iron and brass:  this may note either, 1.  Their great strength, by which they should be able to tread down and crush their enemies, as Christ’s feet for this very reason are said to be of brass, Revelation 1:15.  Or, 2.  The mines of iron and copper, which were in their portion, whence Sidon their neighbour was famous among the heathens for its plenty of brass and iron, and Sarepta is thought to have its name from the brass and iron, which were melted there in great quantity.  Compare Deuteronomy 8:9.  Or, 3.  The strength of its situation; and so some ancients and moderns render the words, thy habitation or thy enclosure shall be iron and brass, i.e. fortified as it were with walls and gates of iron and brass, being defended by the sea on one side, by their brethren on other sides, as also by mountains and rivers.

[As the days of youth, so also thine old age, וּכְיָמֶ֖יךָ דָּבְאֶֽךָ׃]  [They vary.]  And as thy days (or, according to thy days [Oleaster], as the days of youth [Chaldean]) thy strength (Pagnine, Vatablus, Oleaster, Ainsworth, Grotius out of the Septuagint, Montanus, similarly the Syriac).  However long thou mayest live, thou shalt be strong (Vatablus).  The longer that Tribe endures, the stronger it shall become (Grotius).  Strength in proportion to age (Castalio, similarly Pagnine).  As thy days, that is, of youth (who are of a florid and placid land, and thus they obtain to come unto the reckoning of their days), thine old age (Forster in Bonfrerius).  Old age shall be vigorous and youthful (Menochius, Lyra).  [The Vulgate] took דּוֹבֶא for זוֹבֶא, from זוּב, to flow:  days of flowing are old age (Grotius).  Or they derived it from דָּאַב, to be debilitated (Chizkuni in Ainsworth).  As thy days, thy fame (others in Grotius).  They read דְּבָרֶיךָ, thy fame (Grotius).  According to thy days let thy fame be; that is, As long as thou shalt be a people, so long mayest thou be celebrated in the speeches of men (Piscator).  They derive it from דָּבַב, to speak.  May thou always be celebrated on account of the goodness of thy soil (Malvenda).  And as long as thy days shall endure, let speeches be made concerning thee (Junius and Tremellius).  Others:  according to thy (good) days, thy anguish (Munster).  And as many as thy days, just so many are thine troubles; that is to say, to thee there is going to be a perpetual struggle with the old inhabitants (certain interpreters in Malvenda).

So shall thy strength be, i.e. thy strength shall not be diminished with thine age, but thou shalt have the rigour of youth even in thine old age; thy tribe shall grow stronger and stronger.

[1] Hebrew:  בַּרְזֶ֥ל וּנְחֹ֖שֶׁת מִנְעָלֶ֑יךָ.

[2] נָעַל signifies a bar or bolt; נַעַל, a shoe.

[3] Luke 4:26:  “But unto none of them was Elias sent, save unto Sarepta (Σάρεπτα), a city of Sidon, unto a woman that was a widow.”  Σάρεπτα/Sarepta is a Greek form of the Hebrew צָרְפַת /Zarephath, 1 Kings 17:9, 10, from the verbal root צָרַף, to smelt.

[4] Eumæus was Odysseus’ swineherd and loyal friend.  Eumæus father had been the king of an island called Syria, but Phœnicians kidnapped him, and sold him into slavery.

[5] Matthew 4:15.