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DEUTERONOMY i. 1-8.
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 Kadesh-barnea.)
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, acording to 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.
[Here may be read from verse 9, to the end of the chapter.]
Such is the commencement of the fifth and last Book of the Pentateuch,called Deuteronomy, or the second law, because it contains a repetition of the law which had been already promulged. Not indeed of the whole law, for that which regarded the priests and Levites, does not appear to have been repeated, but those which chiefly affected the congregation, the body of the people. These were all rehearsed by Moses during the last month of his life, which, together with the month of mourning for the patriarch himself, occupies the whole period contained in this book.
There is something extremely striking in the view set before us, in the verses we have read. The whole body of the Israelites, upwards of six hundred thousand men, besides women and children, were encamped in the plains of Moab, and this immense multitude were to be called together, not to fight but to listen, while the aged Moses, now in his hundred and twentieth year, addresses them for the last time. Probably these important discourses of the patriarch were repeated by the seventy elders, to the different portions of their countrymen who were beyond the hearing of the voice of Moses, so that all might, during this last month of the life of their leader, profit by the great and important recollections which were thus brought before their minds.
Moses commences with the period, nearly forty years before, when having remained in the neighbourhood of Mount Horeb for a twelvemonth, the Almighty had summoned them to go up and possess the land which He had so often promised them. It was a painful point in Israel's history, and deeply must his hearers have felt their fathers' sin, when thus reminded of it. Still it was needful that they should both remember and feel it, that they might be warned by the terrors of God's judgments, as well as the blessings of his love, how sad and bitter a thing it is to depart from the living God, and how certainly the path of obedience, is the only path of safety and of peace. When this generation, the men who had been children at the time their fathers had refused to go up and take possession of the promised land, now heard all the particulars of that sin repeated, as they were throughout the remainder of the chapter, and recollected how fully the word of the Lord had come to pass, surely the most insensible among them must have felt his heart swell with the determination that nothing should tempt him to disobey so great, so awful, so powerful a Being
It was, no doubt, an incentive not to be despised or resisted ; and can any of us who read the narrative, look back upon twenty, or thirty, or forty years of life, and see perhaps, indeed, no trace of God's destroying judgments, but many of his fatherly protection, compassion, and love, marking the days that are gone? Then surely we have still stronger motives than ever filled the breast of an Israelite, to devote ourselves to a holy obedience to that God, from whom are derived all our mercies; who has not only given us that best, that “ unspeakable gift,” his onlybegotten Son, but has also,“ with Him, freely given us all things,” richly to enjoy. May the retrospect not be lost upon any of us. May the review of the mercies of the Israelites, recorded in the book upon which we have now entered, induce us all to revert gratefully and thankfully to our own individual and peculiar blessings. May we, both masters and servants, have grace to feel, that where much has been given, much will assuredly be required; and may the thought lead us to earnest, faithful prayer that our hearts may be knit more closely to Him who loved us and gave himself for us; that being not our own, but the property of that gracious and merciful Saviour, who bought us with a precious price, we may have no will but his, and no desire so great as to “ glorify Him in our bodies and in our spirits," which are already his.
DEUTERONOMY ii. 1—9.
1. Then we turned, and took our journey into the wilderness by the way of the Red Sea, as the Lord spake unto me : and we compassed mount Seir many days.
2. And the Lord spake unto me, saying,
3. Ye have compassed this mountain long enough : turn you northward.
4. And command thou the people, saying, Ye are to pass through the coast of your brethren the children of