These be the words which Moses spake - The five first verses of this chapter contain the introduction to the rest of the book: they do not appear to be the work of Moses, but were added probably either by Joshua or Ezra.
On this side Jordan - בעבר beeber, at the passage of Jordan, i. e., near or opposite to the place where the Israelites passed over after the death of Moses. Though עבר eber is used to signify both on this side and on the other side, and the connection in which it stands can only determine the meaning; yet here it signifies neither, but simply the place or ford where the Israelites passed over Jordan.
In the plain - That is, of Moab; over against the Red Sea - not the Red Sea, for they were now farther from it than they had been: the word sea is not in the text, and the word סוף suph, which we render red, does not signify the Red Sea, unless joined with ים yam, sea; here it must necessarily signify a place in or adjoining to the plains of Moab. Ptolemy mentions a people named Sophonites, that dwelt in Arabia Petraea, and it is probable that they took their name from this place; but see the note from Lightfoot, Numbers 20 (note), at the end.
Paran - This could not have been the Paran which was contiguous to the Red Sea, and not far from Mount Horeb; for the place here mentioned lay on the very borders of the promised land, at a vast distance from the former.
Dizahab - The word should be separated, as it is in the Hebrew, זהב די Di Zahab . As Zahab signifies gold, the Septuagint have translated it τα χρυσια, the gold mines; and the Vulgate ubi aurum est plurimum, where there is much gold. It is more likely to be the name of a place.
These verses are prefixed as a connecting link between the contents of the preceding books and that of Deuteronomy now to follow. The sense of the passage might be given thus: “The discourses of Moses to the people up to the eleventh month of the fortieth year” (compare Deuteronomy 1:3) “have now been recorded.” The proper names which follow seem to belong to places where “words” of remarkable importance were spoken. They are by the Jewish commentators referred to the spots which witnessed the more special sins of the people, and the mention of them here is construed as a pregnant rebuke. The Book of Deuteronomy is known among the Jews as “the book of reproofs.”
On this side of Jordan - Rather, “beyond Jordan” (as in Deuteronomy 3:20, Deuteronomy 3:25). The phrase was a standing designation for the district east of Jordan, and at times, when Greek became commonly spoken in the country, was exactly represented by the proper name Peraea.
In the wilderness, in the plain - The former term denotes the Desert of Arabia generally; the latter was the sterile tract (‹Arabah,‘ Numbers 21:4 note) which stretches along the lower Jordan to the Dead Sea, and is continued thence to the Gulf of Akaba.
Over against the Red Sea - Render it: “over against Suph.” “Sea” is not in the original text. “Suph” is either the pass Es Sufah near Ain-el-Weibeh (Numbers 13:26 note), or the name of the alluvial district (the Numbers 21:14 note).
Tophel is identified with Tufileh, the Tafyle of Burckhardt, still a considerable place - some little distance southeast of the Dead Sea. Paran is probably “Mount Paran” Deuteronomy 33:2; or a city of the same name near the mountain. Compare Genesis 14:6.
Rehearse God's Leadings—I feel deeply over our present situation. We must now do a work that should have been done long ago. We must do as the Lord directed Moses to do, when the children of Israel, having crossed the desert, were encamped on the borders of Jordan. Moses was bidden to rehearse to them all the dealings of the Lord to them during their journeyings through the wilderness. The record of this rehearsal is found in the book of Deuteronomy. CW 145.1
The record of the experience through which the people of God passed in the early history of our work must be republished. Many of those who have since come into the truth are ignorant of the way in which the Lord wrought. The experience of William Miller and his associates, of Captain Joseph Bates, and of other pioneers in the advent message, should be kept before our people. Elder Loughborough's book should receive attention. Our leading men should see what can be done for the circulation of this book. CW 145.2
We must study to find out the best way in which to take up the review of our experiences from the beginning of our work, when we separated from the churches, and went forward step by step in the light that God gave us. We then took the position that the Bible, and the Bible only, was to be our guide; and we are never to depart from this position. We were given wonderful manifestations of the power of God. Miracles were wrought. Again and again, when we were brought into strait places, the power of God was displayed in our behalf.—Letter 105, 1903. CW 145.3
Compilations of E. G. White Articles—The matter that has been brought before the people must be brought before them over and over again. The articles that are printed in our papers are soon forgotten by the readers. They must be brought together, reprinted in book form, and placed before believers and unbelievers.—Letter 71, 1903. CW 145.4Read in context »
Not alone the men of Israel, but “all the women and the little ones” listened to the reading of the law; for it was important that they also should know and do their duty. God had commanded Israel concerning His statutes: “Therefore shall ye lay up these My words in your heart and in your soul, and bind them for a sign upon your hand, that they may be as frontlets between your eyes. And ye shall teach them your children, ... that your days may be multiplied, and the days of your children, in the land which the Lord sware unto your fathers to give them, as the days of heaven upon the earth.” Deuteronomy 11:18-21. PP 503.1
Every seventh year the whole law was to be read in the assembly of all Israel, as Moses commanded: “At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles, when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: and that their children, which have not known anything, may hear, and learn to fear the Lord your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.” Deuteronomy 31:10-13. PP 503.2
Satan is ever at work endeavoring to pervert what God has spoken, to blind the mind and darken the understanding, and thus lead men into sin. This is why the Lord is so explicit, making His requirements so very plain that none need err. God is constantly seeking to draw men close under His protection, that Satan may not practice his cruel, deceptive power upon them. He has condescended to speak to them with His own voice, to write with His own hand the living oracles. And these blessed words, all instinct with life and luminous with truth, are committed to men as a perfect guide. Because Satan is so ready to catch away the mind and divert the affections from the Lord's promises and requirements, the greater diligence is needed to fix them in the mind and impress them upon the heart. PP 503.3Read in context »
15-24. Balak Amazed by Revelation—The Moabites understood the import of the prophetic words of Balaam—that the Israelites after conquering the Canaanites, should settle in their land, and all attempts to subdue them would be of no more avail than for a feeble beast to arouse the lion out of his den. Balaam told Balak that he would inform him what the Israelites should do to his people at a later period. The Lord unfolded the future before Balaam, and permitted events which would occur, to pass before his sight, that the Moabites should understand that Israel should finally triumph. As Balaam prophetically rehearsed the future to Balak and his princes, he was struck with amazement at the future display of God's power (Spiritual Gifts 4a:48). 1BC 1117.1Read in context »
The Lord directed Moses to recount to the children of Israel His dealings with them in their deliverance from Egypt and their wonderful preservation in the wilderness. He was to call to mind their unbelief and murmuring when brought into trial, and the Lord's great mercy and loving-kindness, which had never forsaken them. This would stimulate their faith and strengthen their courage. While they would be led to realize their own sin and weakness, they would realize also that God was their righteousness and strength. 7T 210.1
It is just as essential that the people of God in this day should bear in mind how and when they have been tested, and where their faith has failed; where they have imperiled His cause by their unbelief and also by their self-confidence. God's mercy, His sustaining providence, His never-to-be-forgotten deliverances, are to be recounted, step by step. As God's people thus review the past, they should see that the Lord is ever repeating His dealings. They should understand the warnings given, and should beware not to repeat their mistakes. Renouncing all self-dependence, they are to trust in Him to save them from again dishonoring His name. In every victory that Satan gains, souls are imperiled. Some become the subjects of his temptations, never to recover themselves. Then let those who have made mistakes walk carefully, at every step praying: “Hold up my goings in Thy paths, that my footsteps slip not.” Psalm 17:5. 7T 210.2
God sends trials to prove who will stand faithful under temptation. He brings all into trying positions to see if they will trust in a power out of and above themselves. Everyone has undiscovered traits of character that must come to light through trial. God allows those who are self-sufficient to be sorely tempted, that they may understand their helplessness. 7T 210.3Read in context »