Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 11

By Joseph Benson


Verse 2
Deuteronomy 11:2. Know ye this day — That is, acknowledge and consider it with diligence and thankfulness; for that is the sense of the original word here, and in a multitude of other places. Your children, who have not known — But your eyes have seen, Deuteronomy 11:7. The chastisement of the Lord — His judgments executed on the Egyptians in various plagues, the sundry methods of punishment and correction he has used to chastise, amend, and render you obedient to his laws, see Deuteronomy 4:36; and Deuteronomy 8:5; and Proverbs 1:2, where the same Hebrew word is used in this sense. His greatness, &c. — His majesty and great power, appearing in his works. He uses a variety of words to make them sensible in how many instances the divine power and goodness had been manifested in effecting their deliverance out of Egyptian bondage, and their subsequent preservation.

Verse 4-5
Deuteronomy 11:4-5. Hath destroyed them unto this day — Brought them so low that they have not yet recovered their strength. Or, the effect of which destruction continueth to this day, in their weakness and fear, and our safety from their further attempts against us. What he did in the wilderness — Both in a way of judgment and mercy.

Verse 7
Deuteronomy 11:7. Your eyes have seen — Some of them had seen all the great things done for them in Egypt, and at the Red sea, and in the wilderness; and all of them had seen some of his mighty acts in their behalf. As if he had said, You yourselves have had experience of God’s goodness and power, and therefore you should be the more affected therewith. What our eyes have seen, especially in our younger days, should be improved by us long after.

Verse 10
Deuteronomy 11:10. The land is not as the land of Egypt — The fruitfulness of it depends more especially on the divine providence, and therefore you should be careful to serve the Lord, and secure his favour and blessing. Wateredst it with thy foot — That is, with great pains and labour of thy feet; partly by fetching water and dispersing it, and partly by digging furrows, by a spade, with thy foot, and using engines for distributing the water, which engines they wrought with their feet. This is explained by a passage out of Philo, who tells us that the Egyptians, to supply the want of rain, were wont to water their gardens by machines for drawing water, fixed upon the banks of the Nile; which machines were so contrived as to be turned with their feet. So the meaning is, that whereas Egypt was watered by human art, Canaan was watered by rain from heaven, as the next verse explains.

Verse 11
Deuteronomy 11:11. A land of hills and valleys — Which could not be made fruitful but by rain from heaven, which seldom fell in Egypt, whose fruitfulness depended on the overflowing of the Nile. Thus he informs them that the promised land was of such a condition as would keep them in a constant dependance upon God for the fruitfulness of it. He means, however, also to signify that it was much more pleasant and healthful than Egypt, which, as it was enriched, so it was annoyed with the Nile, which, overflowing the land in summer-time, made the country both unpleasant and unhealthy. And health being the greatest of all outward blessings, Canaan must therefore be a more desirable habitation than Egypt. The rain of heaven — Which was more easily obtained, being given them without any charge or pains; more sweet and pleasant, not hindering their going abroad upon their affairs, as the overflowing of the Nile did; more safe and healthful, being free from that mud which attended the waters of the Nile; and more certain too, while they were obedient, the former and the latter rain being promised to be given to them in the proper season, on condition of their adhering to God’s worship, and obeying his laws. And even this condition, though it might seem a clog and inconvenience, yet indeed was a great benefit; for thus, by their own interest and necessities, they were obliged to that obedience and reliance on God upon which their happiness depended, both for this life and the next.

Verse 12
Deuteronomy 11:12. Which the Lord careth for — In a special manner, watering it immediately, as it were, by his own hand, without man’s help, and giving peculiar blessings to it, which Egypt enjoyed not. To the end of the year — To give it the rain, and other blessings proper to the several seasons. But all these mercies, and the fruitfulness of the land consequent upon them, were suspended upon their disobedience. And therefore it is not at all strange that some later writers describe the land of Canaan as a barren soil; which is so far from affording ground to question the authority of the Scriptures, that it much more confirms it, this being an effect of that threatening, that God would turn a fruitful land into barrenness for the wickedness of those that dwelt in it, Psalms 107:34.

Verse 14-15
Deuteronomy 11:14-15. I will give you — Moses here personates God; or, rather, God speaks by him. The rain of your land — Which is proper to your land, and not common to Egypt, where there is little rain. The first rain and the latter rain — In Judea and the neighbouring countries there is seldom any rain, save at two seasons, about the autumnal and vernal equinox, called the former and latter rain. The first fell about the time of sowing their seed, and served to prepare the ground, and make the grain take root in the earth; and the other when the corn was well grown, toward earing-time, to make the ears full and plump for harvest. I will send grass in thy fields — So godliness has here the promise of the life which now is. But the favour of God puts gladness into the heart more than the increase of corn, wine, and oil.

Verse 16-17
Deuteronomy 11:16-17. That your heart be not deceived — By the specious pretence of idolaters, persuading you that they enjoy fruitful seasons, and other temporal blessings, as a reward for their worship. And he shut up the heaven — Withhold rain from you, which will be a sore judgment, quickly bringing a famine, whereby you will be wasted and consumed. Here, and elsewhere, heaven is compared to a great store-house, wherein God lays up his treasures of dew and rain, (Job 38:22,) the doors whereof God is said to open when he gives rain, and to shut when he withholds it.

Verse 18
Deuteronomy 11:18. Lay up these my words — Let us all observe these three rules: 1st, Let our hearts be filled with the word of God; let it dwell in us richly, in all wisdom, (Colossians 3:16,) and be laid up within us as in a store- house, to be used upon all occasions. 2d, Let our eyes be fixed upon it: Bind these words for a sign upon your hand — Which is always in view; and as frontlets between your eyes — Which you cannot avoid the sight of. 3d, Let our tongues be employed about the word of God, especially with our children, who must be taught this, as far more needful than the rules of decency, any branch of human learning, or the calling they are to live by.

Verse 21
Deuteronomy 11:21. As the days of heaven — As long as the heaven keeps its place, and continues its influences upon the earth. Thus the psalmist says of the son of David, the Messiah, His seed shall endure for ever, and his throne as the days of heaven.

Verse 24
Deuteronomy 11:24. Every place — Not absolutely, as the Jewish rabbis fondly imagine, but in the promised land, as the sense is restrained in the following words; either by possession or by dominion, namely, upon condition of your obedience. From the wilderness — Of Sin, on the south of Canaan, and Lebanon — On the north. From Euphrates — On the east. So far the right of dominion extruded, but that their sins cut them short; so far, however, Solomon extended his dominion. Unto the uttermost sea — The Mediterranean, on the west.

Verse 26
Deuteronomy 11:26. I set before you — I propose them to your consideration and your choice. So that if a curse should be your portion, instead of a blessing, and you should be in a calamitous and miserable, and not in a prosperous and happy condition, you must thank yourselves for it. This he explains more at large in the 28th chapter. And the whole historical part of the Old Testament bears witness that God caused a blessing or a curse to attend them, according as they observed or broke his laws.

Verse 28
Deuteronomy 11:28. Other gods which ye have not known — With which you have no acquaintance, and of whose power, and wisdom, and goodness, you have no experience, as you have had of mine.

Verse 29-30
Deuteronomy 11:29-30. Put — Hebrew, Thou shalt give; that is, speak, or pronounce, or cause to be pronounced. This is more particularly expressed Deuteronomy 27:12-13. Over against — Looking toward Gilgal, though at some considerable distance from it. Beside the plains of Moreh — This was one of the first places that Abraham came to in Canaan. So that in sending them thither to hear the blessing and the curse, they were reminded of the promise made to Abram in that very place, Genesis 12:6-7.