Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. Live a long and happy life; which was often promised to the carnal Jews, to encourage them to fulfil God’s commands. Christians are willing to forego these temporal advantages, that they may obtain such as may last for ever. (Calmet)
Ver. 2. Prove, which is done frequently by posterity also, ver. 3, 12, 14. After trying the fidelity of his people by various means, to make them sensible of their own weakness and inability to do good, God takes pity on them, ver. 16. (Calmet) — Known. Hebrew, “to know (by experience) what was in thy heart, whether,” &c. The original term signifies also to make known to others, Genesis xxii. 12. (Haydock)
Ver. 3. Not in bread alone, &c. i.e. That God is able to make food of what he pleases for the support of man. (Challoner) — Obedience to his law will ensure a happy life, ver. 1. — God can support a person’s life without any sustenance, as he did Moses, Elias, &c., for a long time. When the usual food is wanting, he can send some of a supernatural kind, as he did the manna. — Word. Hebrew, “by whatever proceedeth,” &c. The Septuagint and our Saviour (Matthew iv. 4,) cite it, however, agreeably to the Vulgate. The word of God and Jesus Christ nourish our souls. (St. Chrysostom) — Philo says, “God feeds us with his most universal word…which is more ancient than the creation.” (Calmet) — God could make the most poisonous things afford more nutrition, if he commanded us to eat them, than even the most delicious viands. (Abulensis) (Tirinus) — God can make food of whatever He pleases, or sustain men without meat. (Worthington)
Ver. 4. Worn, for want of shoes, chap. xxix. 5. (Chaldean) This miracle of the Hebrews, being so well provided with raiment in a desert country, is mentioned, 2 Esdras ix. 21. Cosmas (B. v.) allows only that merchants constantly supplied them, and Abenezra thinks that they had brought plenty for change out of Egypt. (Calmet) — But the Scripture seems to acknowledge something more wonderful; namely, the good condition of the people’s feet, and of their garments, after they had been worn for such a length of time. As their numbers had not increased, the children might be supplied with the clothes of the deceased; so that there is no need of making the miracle still greater, by asserting, as some have done, that the garments grew larger with the bodies of those who wore them. (Haydock) — The miracle was in favour both of good and bad, like manna, &c. (Tirinus)
Ver. 5. Up, by mildness and correction alternately. Hebrew, “chastiseth thee,” Proverbs iii. 12.
Ver. 7. Out. The Jordan was the only river of consequence; but there were many torrents, &c., which rendered the country very different from that where they had been travelling for 40 years. (Haydock) — Hebrew, “of fountains, of abysses, which spring in vales and on mountains,” having their origin in the sea. (Chaldean; Ecclesiastes i. 7.) “Judea is famous for its waters,” says Solinus, (35,) “and the Jordan, a most enchanting river, runs through regions of equal beauty.” (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Honey, extracted from dates. (Du Hamel) — Almost all the luxuries of the earth might be found in the promised land; so that it was justly said to flow with milk and honey. (Haydock)
Ver. 9. Iron, equal in hardness, and used to cut things, in the same manner as we use iron or steel, Isaias lx. 17. — Brass. There were mines of both in Mount Libanus; and David collected great quantities of such metals from Cœlosyria, 3 Kings xviii. 8., and 1 Paralipomenon xxii. 3, 14. Sidon was noted for its brass. (Homer, Odyssey xv. 425.) Sarepta probably took its name from the “foundry” established there. Dan and Aser had abundance of iron and of brass, chap. xxxiii. 25., and Ezechiel xxvii. 19. Cadmus brought from this country the art of melting gold, &c., into Greece. (Pliny, [Natural History?] vii. 56. In latter ages, many Christians were condemned to work in the mines of Palestine. (Eusebius)
Ver. 10. Bless, not forgetting to give thanks after meat, as well as to beg God’s blessing before: for it is sanctified by the word of God and prayer, 1 Timothy iv. 45. (Menochius) — In all things give thanks, 1 Thessalonians v. 18. Our Saviour did so at the last supper, Matthew xxvi. 26. At taking the cup, the Jews say, “Blessed be thou, O Lord, who createdst the fruit of the vine.” At the end of the repast, one of the most dignified at table, holding a cup full of wine, says, “Let us bless Him, who has fed us with his goods, and who preserves our life by his goodness;” and all answer, “Blessed be He from whom we have received food and life:” after which a long prayer is recited. (Fagius) — In compliance with this custom, our Lord took the cup after supper, and recited (Haydock) or sung a hymn, Luke xxii. 20., and Matthew xxvi. 30. (Calmet)
Ver. 15. Breath. Hebrew saraphh, or the basilisk, as it is rendered, Isaias xxx. 6. It destroys both the grass and animals, by the burning infection of its breath. (Galen; Pliny, [Natural History?] viii. 19. See Numbers xxi. 6. (Tirinus) — Scorpion stings with its tail. — Dipsas. A serpent whose bite causes a violent thirst: from whence it has its name; for in Greek, dipsa signifies thirst. (Challoner) — It is impossible to quench this thirst, (Worthington) and those who are bitten by this serpent can discharge no water. (Calmet) — They drink till they burst, unless they can procure some treacle, or remedy against the poison. (Dioscorides) (Tirinus) — Some translate the Hebrew, “scorpions, and (at the place of) drought, where there was no water: he brought,” &c., whether Tsommaon be the name of a particular place, (Isaias xxxv. 7.; Onkelos; Calmet) or it may be applied to the greatest part of that desert, where the want of water so often occasioned the murmurs of the people. (Haydock)
Ver. 17. For me. Hebrew, “hath procured me this wealth,” or strength, ver. 18.
Ver. 19. Thee. Hebrew, “I attest this day against you, (Septuagint add heaven and earth,) that you shall,” &c. God had already forbidden the worship of strange gods, Exodus xx. 3. He now threatens to punish the transgressors most severely. All nations have deemed it criminal to abandon the religion of their ancestors, unless when there were evident proofs of its absurdity, as was the case when so many embraced the doctrine of Jesus Christ, for which they were so cruelly persecuted. The Athenians would not suffer a word to be spoken against their gods; (Josephus, contra Ap. ii.) and Cicero (Leg. ii.) lays down this as a law, “Let no one have gods to himself, nor any new ones: let him not adore, even in private, strange gods; unless they have been publicly acknowledged.” (Calmet)
Ver. 20. Destroyed. Hebrew, “destroys.” Some were already subdued, others on the brink of ruin. — Disobedient to. God punished this sin in the most exemplary manner. (Haydock)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
The people is put in mind of God’s dealings with them, to the end that they may love him and serve him.
1 All the commandments, that I command thee this day, *take great care to observe: that you may live, and be multiplied, and going in may possess the land, for which the Lord swore to your fathers.
2 And thou shalt remember all the way, through which the Lord thy God hath brought thee for forty years through the desert, to afflict thee, and to prove thee, and that the things that were in thy heart might be made known, whether thou wouldst keep his commandments or not.
3 He afflicted thee with want, and gave thee manna for thy food, which neither thou nor thy fathers knew: to shew that *not in bread alone doth man live, but in every word that proceedeth from the mouth of God.
4 Thy raiment, with which thou wast covered, hath not decayed for age, and thy foot is not worn, lo this is the fortieth year.
5 That thou mayst consider in thy heart, that as a man traineth up his son, so the Lord thy God hath trained thee up,
6 That thou shouldst keep the commandments of the Lord thy God, and walk in his ways, and fear him.
7 For the Lord thy God will bring thee into a good land, of brooks, and of waters, and of fountains: in the plains of which and the hills deep rivers break out:
8 A land of wheat, and barley, and vineyards, wherein fig-trees and pomegranates, and oliveyards grow: a land of oil and honey.
9 Where without any want thou shalt eat thy bread, and enjoy abundance of all things: where the stones are iron, and out of its hills are dug mines of brass:
10 That when thou hast eaten, and art full, thou mayst bless the Lord thy God, for the excellent land, which he hath given thee.
11 Take heed, and beware, lest at any time thou forget the Lord thy God, and neglect his commandments, and judgments, and ceremonies, which I command thee this day:
12 Lest after thou hast eaten and art filled, hast built goodly houses, and dwelt in them,
13 And shalt have herds of oxen, and flocks of sheep, and plenty of gold, and of silver, and of all things,
14 Thy heart be lifted up, and thou remember not the Lord thy God, who brought thee out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of bondage:
15 And was thy leader in the great and terrible wilderness, *wherein there was the serpent burning with his breath, and the scorpion, and the dipsas, and no waters at all: **who brought forth streams out of the hardest rock,
16 *And fed thee in the wilderness with manna, which thy fathers knew not. And after he had afflicted and proved thee, at the last he had mercy on thee,
17 Lest thou shouldst say in thy heart: My own might, and the strength of my own hand, have achieved all these things for me.
18 But remember the Lord thy God, that he hath given thee strength, that he might fulfil his covenant, concerning which he swore to thy fathers, as this present day sheweth.
19 But if thou forget the Lord thy God, and follow strange gods, and serve and adore them: behold now I foretell thee, that thou shalt utterly perish.
20 As the nations, which the Lord destroyed at thy entrance, so shall you also perish, if you be disobedient to the voice of the Lord your God.
1: Year of the World 2553.
3: Matthew iv. 4.; Luke iv. 4.
15: Numbers xx. 9. and xxi. 6. — ** Exodus xvii. 6.
16: Exodus xvi. 14.