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with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Deuteronomy 1

The words Moses spake to Israel in the plains of Moab, The promise of Canaan. (1-8) Judges provided for the people. (9-18) Of the sending the spies-God’s anger for their unbelief and disobedience. (19-46)

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The words Moses spake to Israel in the plains of Moab, The promise of Canaan

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.

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

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;

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:

5 On this side Jordan, in the land of Moab, began Moses to declare this law, saying,

6 The LORD our God spake unto us in Horeb, saying, Ye have dwelt long enough in this mount:

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.

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.

Judges provided for the people

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

10 The LORD your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.

11 (The LORD God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)

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

13 Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.

14 And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.

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.

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.

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.

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

Of the sending the spies-God’s anger for their unbelief and disobedience

19 And when we departed from Horeb, we went through all that great and terrible wilderness, which ye saw by the way of the mountain of the Amorites, as the LORD our God commanded us; and we came to Kadeshbarnea.

20 And I said unto you, Ye are come unto the mountain of the Amorites, which the LORD our God doth give unto us.

21 Behold, the LORD thy God hath set the land before thee: go up and possess it, as the LORD God of thy fathers hath said unto thee; fear not, neither be discouraged.

22 And ye came near unto me every one of you, and said, We will send men before us, and they shall search us out the land, and bring us word again by what way we must go up, and into what cities we shall come.

23 And the saying pleased me well: and I took twelve men of you, one of a tribe:

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

25 And they took of the fruit of the land in their hands, and brought it down unto us, and brought us word again, and said, It is a good land which the LORD our God doth give us.

26 Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD your God:

27 And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the LORD hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.

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.

29 Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.

30 The LORD your God which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;

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.

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

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.

34 And the LORD heard the voice of your words, and was wroth, and sware, saying,

35 Surely there shall not one of these men of this evil generation see that good land, which I sware to give unto your fathers.

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.

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

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.

39 Moreover your little ones, which ye said should be a prey, and your children, which in that day had no knowledge between good and evil, they shall go in thither, and unto them will I give it, and they shall possess it.

40 But as for you, turn you, and take your journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red sea.

41 Then ye answered and said unto me, We have sinned against the LORD, we will go up and fight, according to all that the LORD our God commanded us. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill.

42 And the LORD said unto me, Say unto them. Go not up, neither fight; for I am not among you; lest ye be smitten before your enemies.

43 So I spake unto you; and ye would not hear, but rebelled against the commandment of the LORD, and went presumptuously up into the hill.

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.

45 And ye returned and wept before the LORD; but the LORD would not hearken to your voice, nor give ear unto you.

46 So ye abode in Kadesh many days, according unto the days that ye abode there.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Beyond. The eastern side of the Jordan is so called in Scripture, with reference to the promised land. M. — Heb. 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, (Num. 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, (Num. xxxiii. 17,) where there is very much gold, (Sept. “gold mines;” Heb. “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 (C.) 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. H.

Ver. 2. Cades-barne. All the distance between Horeb and the Jordan, by Mount Seir, on the road to Cades-barne, might have been traveled in eleven days’ time, being about 300 miles; or the Hebrews were so long in going thither. Num. xxxiii. 17. C. — It was to punish the Israelites for their frequent rebellions, that they were condemned to wander in that wilderness for forty years. D. — They might have entered the promised land when they first came to Cades-barne, from Mount Horeb, (Num. 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, (v. 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. Num. xxxvi. 13. H. — 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. C. xvii. 18. and xxxi. 10. T.

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. D.

Ver. 4. Astaroth signifies “sheep,” particularly ewes, with their dugs distended with milk. Hence the Sidonians formed the idea of their Astarte, 1 K. xi. 5. H. — The Rabbins say, that Astaroth denotes large mountains, generally covered with sheep. Astaroth-Carnaim was the city. Euseb. — Here the famous Og resided, though he was defeated at Edrai, as the Heb. intimates. C.

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. C. — 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 memory of the law being given to the Hebrews, and their liberation from slavery; (C. 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, (H.) on the western side of the lake of Sodom, where the Amorrhites dwelt. C. — Their mountain, and the other hills, and plains, and vales, (Heb. sephela, mentioned 1 Mac. xii. 38,) as far as the Nile and Mediterranean, were the southern limits of the Chanaanites, whose country extended to Libanus. See Num. xxxiv. H. — God promises also to deliver the country as far as the Euphrates to the Hebrews, provided they continue faithful to him. C. 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. S. Aug. q. 21. in Jos. Masius. T.

Ver. 9. I said, following the advice of Jethro. Exod. xviii. 18.

Ver. 15. Who, &c. Heb. “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 Par. ii. 55. But we find that the Levites were also chosen, 2 Par. 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. C.

Ver 17. Respect. Heb. “fear.” M. — Those who judge ought to be quite impartial, and never suffer their sentence to be dictated either by love or by fear. H. Eccli. vii. 6. — Of God, to whom you must give an account of your conduct. Wisd. vi. 4. Speak therefore in his name, and imitate his justice and other perfections. See Ps. lxxxi 1. C. — If any one absolve an oppressor because he is rich, that judge is guilty of partiality. D. Isai. i. 23. — Hear it, as the supreme judge. M. — 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, v. 26. 32. C. ix. 29. Num. xiii. 1. C.

Ver. 26. Being. Heb. “but rebelled against, irritated, or rendered useless,” &c. C.

Ver. 27. Hateth us. Such an opinion, can bring nothing but destruction. D.

Ver. 30. For you. Sept. “he will defeat them along with you.” For man must do something. S. Aug. q. 1.

Ver. 37. Neither, &c. Heb. 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. C. iii. 26. Num. xx. 12. H. — He had also consented to the sending of the 12 spies imprudently. D. v. 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. H. — Those who were not come to the use of reason at the former period, (M.) or who had not arrived at 20 years of age, were now permitted to enter. H.

Ver. 40. Sea. This they deferred complying with for a long time, (v. 46,) and then they directed their course along Mount Seir, towards the west, and encamped at Hesmona. C. — Many years after, they arrived at a different branch of the Red Sea from that which they had crossed. Num. xxxiii. 30, 35. H.

Ver. 41. Armed. Sept. “in crowds.” Arab. “quickly.” Syr. “encouraging one another.” Chaldee, “impiously.” C. — The conduct of these people might seem to authorize all these interpretations. The Hebrew term occurs no where else. H.

Ver. 44. Bees do. This similitude shews the vivacity, courage, and numbers of those who pursued the Hebrews from Seir to Horma. See Num. xxi. 3. Ps. cvii. 12. Isai. vii. 18.

Ver. 46. Time. Heb. 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. C. ii. 14. C.