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Deuteronomy 27:26

Adam Clarke
Bible Commentary

That confirmeth not all the words of this law - The word כל col, All, is not found in any printed copy of the Hebrew text; but the Samaritan preserves it, and so do six MSS. in the collections of Kennicott and De Rossi, besides several copies of the Chaldee Targum. The Septuagint also, and St. Paul in his quotation of this place, Galatians 3:10. St. Jerome says that the Jews suppressed the word, that it might not appear that they were bound to fulfill All the precepts in the law of Moses.

  1. Dr. Kennicott, who contends that it was the Decalogue that was written on the stones mentioned in this chapter, says, "If we examine these twelve curses, they will appear to contain a strong enforcement of the ten commands; and it is highly probable that the curses were here proclaimed principally to secure obedience to the commandments, as will be made more clear by the table: -

The first, second, third, and fourth Commandments

    Galatians 3:15; - Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination to the Lord, etc.

The fifth Commandment

    Galatians 3:16; - Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother.

The sixth Commandment

    Galatians 3:25; - Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person.

    Galatians 3:24; - Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbor secretly.

    Galatians 3:18; - Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way.

The seventh Commandment

    Galatians 3:20; - Cursed be he that lieth with his father's wife.

    Galatians 3:21; - Cursed be he that lieth with any beast.

    Galatians 3:22; - Cursed be he that lieth with his sister.

    Galatians 3:23; - Cursed be he that lieth with his mother-in-law.

The eighth Commandment

    Galatians 3:17; - Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor's landmark.

The ninth Commandment

    Galatians 3:19; - Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow.

The tenth Commandment

    Galatians 3:26; - Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them."

    Many will think this arrangement fanciful; and the analogy far from being natural.

  1. In pronouncing these blessings and curses, the Talmud says, six tribes went up towards the top of Mount Gerizim, and six towards the top of Mount Ebal; and the priests and the Levites, and the ark stood beneath in the midst. The priests encompassed the ark, and the Levites stood around about the priests; and all Israel on this side and on that; see Joshua 8:33. Then they turned their faces towards Mount Gerizim and pronounced the blessings, Blessed be the man, etc., and those on each side answered Amen! then they turned their faces towards Mount Ebal, and pronounced the curse, Cursed be the man, etc., and those on each side answered Amen! till they had finished the blessings and the curses; and afterwards they brought stones and built an altar. Some suppose that the Levites were divided into two grand bodies, part standing at or on Mount Gerizim, and part on Mount Ebal, and that with each division were some of the priests. The whole Dr. Parry supposes to have been arranged in the following manner: -
  2. It is worthy of remark that Moses assigns to the children of Rachel and Leah, the two mothers of the family, the office of blessing the people, as being the most honorable; and these he places on Mount Gerizim. On the contrary, he assigns the office of cursing the people to the sons of Zilpah and Bilhah, as being the least honorable office; but with these he joins Zebulun, the youngest of Leah's sons, and Reuben, the eldest. As there must be six tribes on each mountain, it was necessary that while six of the sons of Rachel and Leah, the legitimate wives, should be employed in blessing, two tribes descending from the same mothers should be joined to the other four who proceeded from the handmaids in order to make up the number six. The question is, which two of the more honorable tribes should be joined to the four least honorable, in order to complete the number six? Zebulun is chosen, because being the sixth and youngest of all Leah's sons, he was the least honorable of those who proceeded from the free woman; and Reuben is chosen, who, though the eldest of Jacob's sons, and entitled to the birthright, had lost it by his transgression. And hence he, in his posterity, was degraded, and was obliged to pronounce the curse, Cursed is he that lieth with his father's wife. See Genesis 49:3-4; (note), and Genesis 35:22; (note), and the notes on both places.
  • It is strange how long the disgrace consequent on some flagrant transaction of a parent may cleave to his posterity! See this exemplified in the posterity of Reuben. Hence, with great propriety we may pray, Remember not, Lord, our offenses, nor the offenses of our forefathers; neither take thou vengeance of our sins." - Litany. For the offenses of our forefathers may be so remembered against their posterity, that God, in the course of his providence, may still keep up a controversy in secular matters with the descendants (though even pious) of unholy ancestors; for as all men are seminally included in the parents, they come into the world depraved with their depravity, and in some sort liable to their curses, though not so far as to affect their eternal interests without the addition of their own personal offenses. Thus God may be said to visit the sins of the fathers upon the children, even unto the third and fourth generation; as he may have a controversy with the land for the evil which has been done in it, and for which no proper atonement has been made. Why is it that at this moment Spain is suffering the most afflictive and cruel desolations? What has she done to merit all this? Is she more wicked than all the European nations because she suffers such things? Here is the mystery: Nations, as such, can only be punished in this world. Look at the torrents of innocent blood shed by their ancestors in South America 300 years ago; and see now and adore the awful hand of retributive justice! (December, 1811). We often see persons tried and afflicted, for whose distresses we can give no legitimate reason. We find others who, though they rise early, sit up late, work hard, eat the bread of carefulness, and have a full knowledge of their business, yet never get on in life. Who can account for this? Shall we say that some injustice in their ancestors has brought down the displeasure of God upon the earthly possessions that descended in that line, so that the goods ill gotten shall never be permitted to multiply? I knew an honest man, dead many years since, who by great diligence, punctuality, and integrity in his business, had acquired considerable property. Some time before his death, having by will divided his substance among his sons and his daughters, he expressed himself thus: "Children, you need not fear the curse of God on this property; every penny of it was honestly earned." Many years have since elapsed, and the blessing of God has been in the basket and in the store of all his children. Parents! leave nothing behind you that you cannot say before your God, with a clear conscience, "This has been honestly earned." If all bequests of a contrary description were to be deducted from last wills and testaments, the quantum of descending property would be, in many cases, small indeed.
  • Albert Barnes
    Notes on the Whole Bible
    Verses 11-26

    Compare Joshua 8:32-35. The solemnity was apparently designed only for the single occasion on which it actually took place.

    Deuteronomy 27:12, Deuteronomy 27:13

    The tribes appointed to stand on Gerizim to bless the people all sprang from the two wives of Jacob, Leah and Rachel. All the four tribes which sprang from the handmaids Zilpah and Bilhah are located on Ebal. But in order, as it would seem, to effect an equal division, two tribes are added to the latter from the descendants of the wives, that of Reuben, probably because he forfeited his primogeniture Genesis 49:4; and of Zebulun, apparently because he was the youngest son of Leah.

    The transaction presents itself as a solemn renewal of the covenant made by God with Abraham and Isaac, but more especially with Jacob and his family. Accordingly the genealogical basis of the “twelve patriarchs” (compare Acts 7:12; Revelation 7:4 ff), the sons of Jacob, is here assumed. The tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh are merged in the name of Joseph, their father; and Levi regains on this occasion his place collaterally with the others. “The Levites” of Deuteronomy 27:14 are no doubt “the priests the Levites” (compare Joshua 8:33), in whom the ministerial character attaching to the tribe was more particularly manifested. It is noteworthy that the group of tribes which stood on Gerizim far exceeded the other in numbers and in importance, thus perhaps indicating that even by the Law the blessing should at length prevail.

    Deuteronomy 27:15

    The “Amen” attested the conviction of the utterers that the sentences to which they responded were true, just, and certain; so in Numbers 5:22, and in our own Commination Office, which is modelled after this ordinance of Moses.

    Deuteronomy 27:15-26

    Twelve curses against transgressions of the covenant. The first eleven are directed against special sins which are selected by way of example, the last comprehensively sums up in general terms and condemns all and every offence against God‘s Law. Compare the marginal references.

    Matthew Henry
    Concise Bible Commentary
    The six tribes appointed for blessing, were all children of the free women, for to such the promise belongs, Ga 4:31. Levi is here among the rest. Ministers should apply to themselves the blessing and curse they preach to others, and by faith set their own Amen to it. And they must not only allure people to their duty with the promises of a blessing, but awe them with the threatenings of a curse, by declaring that a curse would be upon those who do such things. To each of the curses the people were to say, Amen. It professed their faith, that these, and the like curses, were real declarations of the wrath of God against the ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, not one jot of which shall fall to the ground. It was acknowledging the equity of these curses. Those who do such things deserve to fall, and lie under the curse. Lest those who were guilty of other sins, not here mentioned, should think themselves safe from the curse, the last reaches all. Not only those who do the evil which the law forbids, but those also who omit the good which the law requires. Without the atoning blood of Christ, sinners can neither have communion with a holy God, nor do any thing acceptable to him; his righteous law condemns every one who, at any time, or in any thing, transgresses it. Under its awful curse we remain as transgressors, until the redemption of Christ is applied to our hearts. Wherever the grace of God brings salvation, it teaches the believer to deny ungodliness and wordly lusts, to live soberly, righteously, and godly in this present world, consenting to, and delighting in the words of God's law, after the inward man. In this holy walk, true peace and solid joy are to be found.
    Ellen G. White
    Patriarchs and Prophets, 372

    The terms of the “old covenant” were, Obey and live: “If a man do, he shall even live in them” (Ezekiel 20:11; Leviticus 18:5); but “cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them.” Deuteronomy 27:26. The “new covenant” was established upon “better promises”—the promise of forgiveness of sins and of the grace of God to renew the heart and bring it into harmony with the principles of God's law. “This shall be the covenant that I will make with the house of Israel; After those days, saith the Lord, I will put my law in their inward parts, and write it in their hearts.... I will forgive their iniquity, and will remember their sin no more.” Jeremiah 31:33, 34. PP 372.1

    The same law that was engraved upon the tables of stone is written by the Holy Spirit upon the tables of the heart. Instead of going about to establish our own righteousness we accept the righteousness of Christ. His blood atones for our sins. His obedience is accepted for us. Then the heart renewed by the Holy Spirit will bring forth “the fruits of the Spirit.” Through the grace of Christ we shall live in obedience to the law of God written upon our hearts. Having the Spirit of Christ, we shall walk even as He walked. Through the prophet He declared of Himself, “I delight to do Thy will, O My God: yea, Thy law is within My heart.” Psalm 40:8. And when among men He said, “The Father hath not left Me alone; for I do always those things that please Him.” John 8:29. PP 372.2

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    Ellen G. White
    Patriarchs and Prophets, 499-504

    After the execution of the sentence upon Achan, Joshua was commanded to marshal all the men of war and again advance against Ai. The power of God was with His people, and they were soon in possession of the city. PP 499.1

    Military operations were now suspended, that all Israel might engage in a solemn religious service. The people were eager to obtain a settlement in Canaan; as yet they had not homes or lands for their families, and in order to gain these they must drive out the Canaanites; but this important work must be deferred, for a higher duty demanded their first attention. PP 499.2

    Before taking possession of their inheritance, they must renew their covenant of loyalty to God. In the last instructions of Moses, direction had been twice given for a convocation of the tribes upon Mounts Ebal and Gerizim, at Shechem, for the solemn recognition of the law of God. In obedience to these injunctions the whole people, not only men, but “the women, and the little ones, and the strangers that were conversant among them” left their camp at Gilgal, and marched through the country of their enemies, to the vale of Shechem, near the center of the land. Though surrounded by unconquered foes, they were safe under the protection of God as long as they were faithful to Him. Now, as in the days of Jacob, “the terror of God was upon the cities that were round about them” (Genesis 35:5), and the Hebrews were unmolested. PP 499.3

    The place appointed for this solemn service was one already sacred from its association with the history of their fathers. It was here that Abraham raised his first altar to Jehovah in the land of Canaan. Here both Abraham and Jacob had pitched their tents. Here the latter bought the field in which the tribes were to bury the body of Joseph. Here also was the well that Jacob had dug, and the oak under which he had buried the idolatrous images of his household. PP 499.4

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