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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 6: Harmony of the Law, Part IV, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

The Repetition of the same Narrative

Deuteronomy 1

Deuteronomy 1:26-33

26. Notwithstanding ye would not go up, but rebelled against the commandment of the Lord your God:

26. Et tamen noluistis ascendere, sed rebellastis verbo Jehovae Dei vestri.

27. And ye murmured in your tents, and said, Because the Lord hated us, he hath brought us forth out of the land of Egypt, to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites, to destroy us.

27. Et murmurastis in tabernaculis vestris dicentes, Propterea quod odio habebat nos Jehova, eduxit nos e terra AEgypti, ut traderet nos in manum Emorrhaei, ut perderet nos.

28. Whither shall we go up? our brethren have discouraged our heart, saying, The people is greater and taller than we; the cities are great, and walled up to heaven: and, moreover, we have seen the sons of the Anakims there.

28. Quo nos ascendimus? fratres nostri dissolverunt cor nostrum, dicendo, Populus iste major et procerior nobis est, urbes magnae et munitae usque ad coelum: et etiam filios gigantum vidimus ibi.

29. Then I said unto you, Dread not, neither be afraid of them.

29. Tunc dixi vobis, Ne pavearis neque timeatis ab eis:

30. The Lord your God, which goeth before you, he shall fight for you, according to all that he did for you in Egypt before your eyes;

30. Jehova Deus vester qui praecedit vos, ipse pugnabit pro vobis, prorsus ut fecit vobiscum in AEgypto in oculis vestris.

31. And in the wilderness, where thou hast seen how that the Lord thy God bare thee, as a man doth bear his son, in all the way that ye went, until ye came into this place.

31. Et in ipso deserto vidistis quod portaverit Jehova Deus tuus, quemadmodum portare solet homo filium suum, et hoc per totam viam per quam ambulastis, donec veneritis ad locum istum.

32. Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord your God,

32. Atqui ea in re non credidistis Jehovae Deo vestro,

33. Who went in the way before you, to search you out a place to pitch your tents in, in fire by night, to show you by what way ye should go, and in a cloud by day.

33. Qui praecedebat vos per viam ad explorandum vobis locum in quo castra figeretis, per ignem in nocte, ut ostenderet vobis viam per quam ambularetis, et per nubem in die.

27. And ye murmured in your tents. Elsewhere he says that they also wept; here he only speaks of their murmuring, which better suited his reproof. He then reminds them how malignant had been their ingratitude and perversity in upbraiding God on account of the special blessing which He had conferred upon them, as if He had done them a grievous injury. He could not have afforded them a more manifest proof of His paternal love towards them than by their deliverance. Most iniquitous, therefore, is their mode of repaying Him, viz., by complaining that they had been cruelly brought forth to die, and by construing into hatred His exceeding great love. It is clear from the next verse that, although Moses does not relate the details in their proper order, there is still no contradiction in his words. A little before, he had seemed to give unqualified praise to the spies, as if they had performed their office honestly and faithfully, but now, from the language of the people, he shows that they were the authors of the revolt, inasmuch as they rendered inert, by the terror they inspired, those whom they ought to have encouraged.

29. Then I said unto you, Dread not. He here omits the address of Caleb and Joshua: since he only states briefly the heads of what he had spoken to the people. He merely shows that, when he endeavored to recall them to their right senses, his efforts and pains were ineffectual. Moreover, he reasons from experience that they might well place their hopes in the assistance of God, because He went before them as a light; and, in proof of this, he reminds them that, after the discomfiture of the Egyptians, He did not fail still to exert His power, so as to protect even to the end those whom He had once delivered. This, then, is his proposition, that although they might be aware of their own weakness, still, through the power of God, they would be conquerors, since He had taken them under His care, and had declared Himself their leader; which he indicates by the expression, “goes before you.” And, lest any hesitation should remain, he sets against their present obstacles the miracles of God’s power, which they had experienced, not only in the commencement of their redemption, but in the continued progress of their deliverance’s, when, in their lost and desperate state, He had by ways innumerable restored them from death unto life. Hence he concludes that they ought not to be afraid, not that he would wish them to be altogether free from all fear and care, but so that they might overcome all hindrances, when confidence derived from the ready help of God should prevail in their hearts. He says emphatically that God had fought “before their eyes,” to lead them to fuller conviction by the evidence of their own senses.

31. And it, the wilderness where thou hast seen. The constant course of God’s grace is here commemorated; from whence they might safely infer, that He, who had pursued them with so many benefits, would still be the same in this crowning act. He, therefore, uses the image of bearing, because the way would have been by no means passable unless God had borne them, as it were, on His shoulders, just as a father is wont to bear his infant child. Thus, on the one hand, the incredible goodness of God is exalted, who had deigned so far to condescend as to take up the people in His arms; and, on the other hand, the people are reminded of their own infirmity, for, unless upheld by the power of God, they would scarcely have been competent to advance a step. Elsewhere, retaining a portion of this similitude, Moses compares God to an eagle,  56 who bears her young upon her wings, and teaches them to fly. And surely, unless (the Israelites) had been uplifted by supernatural means, they would never have been equal to a hundredth part of the difficulties they encountered.

32. Yet in this thing ye did not believe the Lord. He signifies that they had been most prejudiced observers of the works of God, since His power, so often experienced and. so thoroughly understood, had not aroused them to confidence in Him. For in the word דבר, dabar, which we have translated thing, he embraces all the proofs whereby God had testified, that in Him alone there was all that was necessary to insure their complete salvation. And this was, so to speak, real or practical doctrine, when God called upon them to trust Him by stretching forth His hand. Still, He accuses them of unbelief with reference to the promise; for, whilst faith is not only prompt and ready in obedience, but invigorates and quickens the whole mall, so the cause of their inertness was that they gave no heed to God who had promised to bestow upon them the land of Canaan, and did not rest upon His covenant. In relation to this also, he says, that God marked out the places and stations where they should pitch their camp, for, unless it had been His design to guide them onwards, this change of places would have been superfluous. It was, therefore, gross supineness not to refer these signs for halting and proceeding to their proper object, since it was equivalent to despising God when He held out His hand to them.



De 32:11. The last sentence of the paragraph in omitted in Fr.

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