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[Devarim 4 Orthodox Jewish Bible (OJB)]
1 Now therefore hearken [shema], O Israel [Yisroel], unto the statutes [chukkim] and unto the judgments [mishpatim], which I teach [melammed] you, for to do them, that ye may live, and go in and possess the land [ha'aretz] which Yahweh elohim of your fathers [Avoteichem] giveth you.
2 Ye shall not add unto the word which I command you, neither shall ye diminish ought from it, that ye may keep [be shomer mitzvot] the commandments of Yahweh your elohim which I command you.
God requires that His doctrine be kept pure and separate from man's ideas. As soon as other ideas are added, or some of the commands taken away, the Truth becomes lost, and men grope in darkness. The Word of God is pure, every word is given by inspiration (Prov. 30:5; 2 Tim. 3:16) and is to be humbly and thankfully received and obeyed by the faithful.
Bro David Clubb
This, in the Mosaic shadow, is the condemnation of all human invention in religion; and the confutation of the popular idea that sincere ignorance or ignorant sincerity is eligible in worship: or that man can save himself by his own devices.
Man is "condemned already", and can only escape this position by God's own provision, of which man can only become aware or avail himself through the enlightenment of revelation. The revelation is abundant and clear, if men would but make themselves acquainted with it.
Law of Moses.
3 Your eyes have seen what Yahweh did because of Baalpeor: for all the men that followed Baalpeor, Yahweh thy Elohim hath destroyed them from among you.
4 But ye that did cleave unto Yahweh your Elohim are alive every one of you this day.
5 Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as Yahweh my Elohim commanded me, that ye should do so in the land whither ye go to possess it.
6 Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.
7 For what nation is there so great, who hath Elohim so nigh unto them, as Yahweh our Elohim is in all things that we call upon him for?
8 And what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments [chukkim and mishpatim] so righteous [tzaddikim] as all this law [torah], which I set before you this day?
LAW: ITS NEED AND BEAUTY
How much the excellence of human life depends upon law we do not at first realize how much! We grow up under the feeling that the best thing for us is to be just let alone to follow the bent of our own sweet will. We learn at last that this is just the worst for any man or nation. Experience confounds false philosophy. Men are not as cabbage roses that will automatically unfold their blushing beauty, and exhale their fragrant odour if left alone; they are rather as the apple trees that will grow crabs unless grafted with good slips. The dictum of Christ and Paul is found correct: "In the flesh dwelleth no good thing" (John 6:63; Rom. 7:18).
The fact is nationally illustrated in barbarous races, and, individually, in the uneducated members of civilized communities. The extremest demonstration is seen when a child happens to be kidnapped and brought up in the woods away from human culture, of which there have been instances.
Modern literature is impregnated with false notions on this subject. These false notions are generated by a false method of study. Man is looked at as he develops under the surroundings of an established civilization, and because he is interesting when enlightened and subject to law, he is supposed to be innately good and rational, requiring only a proper self-evolution. Disastrous results come from this theory when it is acted on in either public or family life. A lawless community, or stubborn and rebellious children bring misery when the hand of repressive discipline and kindly culture is absent. Human nature in itself is only a bundle of potentialities, which cannot be developed except by firm discipline under the wise administration of good laws. The best men of the best nations are those that have seen the most trouble, along with the possession of knowledge.
But what is law? In the abstract, it is a rule of action made obligatory; but its value must depend not only upon its obligatoriness, but upon its nature. Unless a law is calculated to evoke results of well-being, its obligatoriness will be a calamity. Its enforcement will oppress--and destroy instead of blessing. Hence the importance of devising laws and rules that will work out for good. But who is able to do this? It evidently requires a very far-sighted acquaintance with human nature and its needs to be qualified to prescribe a law which in all points will work out individual and social well-being. The world knows much of law of one kind or another. That it has not attained to the law that it needs, is manifest from its evil state, and the ceaseless law-tinkering and agitation for law-tinkering going on in every country.
Among all the systems of law that have appeared among men, there is only one that makes any admissible claim to be Divine; and that is the system known as the Law of Moses. Of this we have the most ample information in the Bible, apart from which we could have no reliable knowledge of it, for Jewish tradition and Rabbinical gloss tend rather to obscure than to reveal its features. We could wish for nothing fuller or more satisfactory on the subject than we get in the Bible; and we must assume on the present occasion that the Bible is good authority in spite of all the hostile endeavours of German, French, and British criticism. That body of criticism seems a weighty affair to people who make no endeavour to master the subject for themselves. In the abstract it is a mighty mass, but reduced to its elements, it only amounts to the opinions of men groping in obscurities, who hazard suggestions in a learned style, and catch up and send round each other's suggestions with the effect of holding each other up in their uncertainties. A single authoritative declaration of the resurrected Christ is as destructive to the whole mass as a spark of fire would be to a mountain of gunpowder.
We have more than a single word. Christ says that God spoke to Moses (Mark 12:26), and that Moses gave the law (John 7:19), and that the books containing it are his writings (John 5:46-47); and that it is easier for heaven and earth to pass than one tittle of the law to fail (Luke 16:17). This is decisive against a whole world of speculation or doubt. We may trust absolutely, on Christ's authority, to the unmixed divinity of the law given by the instrumentality of Moses. We are certain not to be deceived or disappointed in Christ's view of the case: who can say as much for the merely speculative critics of these late days?
If the law of Moses were not divine, there could be no object in considering it. A merely human conception of what was suitable for an age long gone by would be of no practical interest to men of our age, and of no value for guidance in a state of things so radically different. If it could be shown there were good things in it, they could only appear good on a principle that would leave us at liberty to discard or modify them according to our particular bias. Moses, in that case, would be down on our own level; and we probably should not feel disposed to submit our judgment to his on the mere score of antiquity, but probably the reverse, as we should naturally hold a later and longer experience to be a better guide than the experience of Moses at so early a time.
It is as a divine system that its study becomes so important. There is something in a work of God for us profitably to exercise our faculties on. A divinely prescribed rule of human action must be wise; and a ritual system that is divinely declared to be an allegory of the principles and the purposes before the divine mind in His dealings with the human race, cannot but be interesting and profitable when worked out by the clues divinely supplied (as they are in the later writings of inspiration, by the apostles).
The study of the law of Moses on this basis will lead us to share the intense admiration of it expressed in various parts of the Bible--panegyrics that otherwise appear as the mere extravagances of sentimentalism. Such for example as the language of the Psalmist: "O, how love I thy law; it is my meditation all the day". And again, "The law of thy mouth is better to me than thousands of gold and silver"; and again, "I hate vain thoughts; but thy law do I love"; and again, "The judgments of the Lord are true and righteous altogether. More to be desired are they than gold, yea, than much fine gold: sweeter also than honey and the honeycomb; Moreover by them thy servant is warned: and in keeping of them there is great reward" (Psa. 119:97, 72, 113; 19:9-11).
Moses himself speaks thus on the subject: "Behold, I have taught you statutes and judgments, even as the Lord my God commanded me . . . Keep therefore and do them; for this is your wisdom and your understanding in the sight of the nations, which shall hear all these statutes, and say, Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people. For what nation is there so great, that hath statutes and judgments so righteous as all this law which I set before you this day?" (Deut. 4:5-8). Paul in another way utters the same praise: "The law is holy, and the commandment holy, and just, and good... The law is spiritual: but I am carnal, sold under sin" (Rom. 7:12, 14).
Law of Moses Ch 1
9 Only take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently, lest thou forget the things which thine eyes have seen, and lest they depart from thy heart all the days of thy life: but teach them thy sons, and thy sons' sons;
10 Specially the day that thou stoodest before Yahweh thy Elohim in Horeb, when Yahweh said unto me, Gather me the people together, and I will make them hear my words, that they may learn to fear me all the days that they shall live upon the earth, and that they may teach their children.
12 And Yahweh spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.
13 And he declared unto you his covenant, which he commanded you to perform, even ten commandments; and he wrote them upon two tables of stone.
14 And Yahweh commanded me at that time to teach you statutes and judgments, that ye might do them in the land whither ye go over to possess it.
15 Take ye therefore good heed unto yourselves; for ye saw no manner of similitude on the day that Yahweh spake unto you in Horeb out of the midst of the fire:
16 Lest ye corrupt yourselves, and make you a graven image, the similitude of any figure, the likeness of male or female,
17 The likeness of any beast that is on the earth, the likeness of any winged fowl that flieth in the air,
18 The likeness of any thing that creepeth on the ground, the likeness of any fish that is in the waters beneath the earth:
19 And lest thou lift up thine eyes unto heaven, and when thou seest the sun, and the moon, and the stars, even all the host of heaven, shouldest be driven to worship them, and serve them, which Yahweh thy Elohim hath divided unto all nations under the whole heaven.
20 But Yahweh hath taken you, and brought you forth out of the iron furnace, even out of Egypt, to be unto him a people of inheritance, as ye are this day.
21 Furthermore Yahweh was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should not go in unto that good land, which Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee for an inheritance:
22 But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land.
23 Take heed unto yourselves, lest ye forget the covenant of Yahweh your Elohim, which he made with you, and make you a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, which Yahweh thy Elohim hath forbidden thee.
24 For Yahweh thy Elohim is a consuming fire, even a jealous El.
I pretend not to define the primitive essence of God's nature, for he has not revealed it, but his character only. I used the phrase "condensed lightning" illustratively. Lightning, which we also style electricity, I take to be the Spirit of God in physical manifestation.
It is omnipotent, light, and a consuming fire, which are qualities predicable absolutely of God alone, and applied to him in the Scriptures. The atoms of all bodies, from the sun to a grain of sand, and from the highest intelligence in the universe to the minutest insect, are electrical in some sense; therefore God, by his Spirit, pervades every thing.
Now God is Spirit," and from him this omnipotent principle proceeds. It may be said to irradiate from his substance as light from his sun. He is
"a consuming fire, dwelling in unapproachable light."
This is Paul's statement. Hence, the most tangible idea I can form of his physical constitution is, that it is the focal condensation of Spirit, which, having length, breadth, and thickness, impenetrability, &c., we call matter, or substance, as distinct from radiant matter, or "free spirit." This is what I mean by "every atom, as it were, being condensed lightning."
Herald of the Kingdom and Age to Come, February, 1855
24 For Yahweh thy Elohim is a consuming fire, even a jealous El.
25 When thou shalt beget children, and children's children, and ye shall have remained long in the land, and shall corrupt yourselves, and make a graven image, or the likeness of any thing, and shall do evil in the sight of Yahweh thy Elohim, to provoke him to anger:
26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong your days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
27 And Yahweh shall scatter you among the nations, and ye shall be left few in number among the heathen, whither Yahweh shall lead you.
28 And there ye shall serve gods, the work of men's hands, wood and stone, which neither see, nor hear, nor eat, nor smell.
29 But if from thence thou shalt seek Yahweh thy Elohim, thou shalt find him, if thou seek him with all thy heart and with all thy soul.
30 When thou art in tribulation, and all these things are come upon thee, even in the latter days, if thou turn to Yahweh thy Elohim, and shalt be obedient unto his voice;
31 (For Yahweh thy Elohim is a merciful El;) he will not forsake thee, neither destroy thee, nor forget the covenant of thy fathers which he sware unto them.
32 For ask now of the days that are past, which were before thee, since the day that Elohim created man upon the earth, and ask from the one side of heaven unto the other, whether there hath been any such thing as this great thing is, or hath been heard like it?
33 Did ever people hear the voice of Elohim speaking out of the midst of the fire, as thou hast heard, and live?
34 Or hath Elohim assayed to go and take him a nation from the midst of another nation, by temptations, by signs, and by wonders, and by war, and by a mighty hand, and by a stretched out arm, and by great terrors, according to all that Yahweh your Elohim did for you in Egypt before your eyes?
35 Unto thee it was shewed, that thou mightest know that Yahweh he is Elohim; there is none else beside him.
36 Out of heaven he made thee to hear his voice, that he might instruct thee: and upon earth he shewed thee his great fire; and thou heardest his words out of the midst of the fire.
37 And because he loved thy fathers, therefore he chose their seed after them, and brought thee out in his sight with his mighty power out of Egypt;
38 To drive out nations from before thee greater and mightier than thou art, to bring thee in, to give thee their land for an inheritance, as it is this day.
39 Know therefore this day, and consider it in thine heart, that Yahweh he is Elohim in heaven above, and upon the earth beneath: there is none else.
40 Thou shalt keep therefore his statutes, and his commandments, which I command thee this day, that it may go well with thee, and with thy children after thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days upon the earth, which Yahweh thy Elohim giveth thee, for ever.
41 Then Moses severed three cities on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
42 That the slayer might flee thither, which should kill his neighbour unawares, and hated him not in times past; and that fleeing unto one of these cities he might live:
43 Namely, Bezer in the wilderness, in the plain country, of the Reubenites; and Ramoth in Gilead, of the Gadites; and Golan in Bashan, of the Manassites.
44 And this is the law which Moses set before the children of Israel:
45 These are the testimonies, and the statutes, and the judgments, which Moses spake unto the children of Israel, after they came forth out of Egypt,
46 On this side Jordan, in the valley over against Bethpeor, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who dwelt at Heshbon, whom Moses and the children of Israel smote, after they were come forth out of Egypt:
47 And they possessed his land, and the land of Og king of Bashan, two kings of the Amorites, which were on this side Jordan toward the sunrising;
48 From Aroer, which is by the bank of the river Arnon, even unto mount Sion, which is Hermon,
49 And all the plain on this side Jordan eastward, even unto the sea of the plain, under the springs of Pisgah.