Notes & Commentary:
Ver. 1. This day, very soon, (Menochius) within the space of a month. (Calmet) — Sky: an hyperbole to denote their surprising height. (Worthington)
Ver. 2. Stand. Hebrew, “who can stand before the sons of Enak?” as if this were a sort of proverb. (Calmet) — The spies had formerly terrified the people with the report of the high walls and gigantic inhabitants of Chanaan, Numbers xiii. 18.
Ver. 3. Fire. See chap. iv. 24. The conducting angel would fight for the Hebrews. (Haydock)
Ver. 7. Strove. Hebrew, “irritated.” (Calmet) — Septuagint, “continually disbelieved the Lord.” Moses hence takes occasion to lay before the people their frequent and most heinous offences, on account of which they might justly have feared being destroyed, as much as the infamous nations whom they were about to supplant. They might thus be convinced that they had been chosen gratuitously. (Haydock) — For God hates nothing more than ingratitude and presumption. (Calmet)
Ver. 8. Would, if He had not been appeased by earnest supplication, as [in] ver. 20.
Ver. 12. Have quickly. Hebrew, “have become corrupt; they have quickly abandoned the way which I commanded them.” (Haydock) — Septuagint, “the people hath sinned….they have quickly transgressed,” &c. (Calmet) — Idol. Protestants have “image.” The Hebrews had called the similitude of a calf their god, Exodus xxxii. (Haydock)
Ver. 16. Sinned, by idolatry, which comprises every sort of sin. Hence the Scripture only specifies that Jeroboam caused Israel to sin, when it means to assert that he engaged the people in the worship of idols. (Calmet)
Ver. 18. Sins. Many believe that Moses spent the whole time in obtaining pardon. Hiscuni agrees herein with the other Rabbins, only he thinks Moses was all the time in the tabernacle. Other 40 days, or a third rigid fast, were requisite to obtain the second tables of the law, as the text seems to insinuate, (ver. 25., and chap. x. 10,) unless Moses repeat what he has here asserted, as many able chronologers suppose. (Torneil; Usher; &c.) (Calmet) (Tirinus) — The former opinion is maintained, however, by Salien, &c., Exodus xxxiv. (Haydock)
Ver. 21. Sin. The Scripture designates by this name not only the evil action, but also the propensity to it, the object, matter, occasion, punishment , or victim of sin. — The calf. He broke the idol in pieces, and then ground it small, Exodus xxxii. 20. (Calmet)
Ver. 22. Burning, &c. The places called in Hebrew, “Tabera, Masa, and Kibroth Hattaavah.” (Haydock) — At the first, the murmurers were burnt; (Numbers xi. 1) at the second, or at Raphidim, (Calmet) the people demanded water, and were supplied from Horeb; (Exodus xvii. 2, 7.; Menochius) though some confound this with the former place. It seems rather to refer to the temptation, or murmur of the people, on account of quails, Numbers xi. 34., and Psalm lxxvii. 18. (Calmet)
Ver. 23. Slighted. Hebrew, “rebelled against,” &c., as [in] ver. 24. Septuagint, “you were incredulous to.” See Numbers xiii. 3.
Ver. 24. To know you. When Moses slew the Egyptian, and would have pacified two of his contending brethren, they refused to receive his mediation; so also, when he returned from Madian, to rescue them from slavery, they presently began to murmur against him, and continued to do so frequently for 40 years. (Haydock) — Septuagint refers this to God, “from the day that he was known to you,” and received you for his peculiar people, Exodus xi. 25.
Ver. 25. Nights. See ver. 18. (Calmet) — After specifying various seditions of the people, Moses returns to what he had been saying respecting the tables of the law, and shews with what difficulty he obtained pardon for the people, and the second tables. (Haydock) — Some people believe that Moses was thrice 40 days in the mountain. He mentions the prayer which he addressed to God before his first descent, Exodus xxxii. 11. (Menochius)
Bible Text & Cross-references:
Lest they should impute their victories to their own merits, they are put in mind of their manifold rebellions and other sins, for which they should have been destroyed but God spared them for his promise made to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
1 Hear, O Israel: Thou shalt go over the Jordan *this day: to possess nations very great, and stronger than thyself, cities great, and walled up to the sky,
2 A people great and tall, the sons of the Enacims, whom thou hast seen, and heard of, against whom no man is able to stand.
3 Thou shalt know therefore this day that the Lord thy God himself will pass over before thee, a devouring and consuming fire, to destroy and extirpate and bring them to nothing before thy face quickly, as he hath spoken to thee.
4 Say not in thy heart, when the Lord thy God shall have destroyed them in thy sight: For my justice hath the Lord brought me in to possess this land, whereas these nations are destroyed for their wickedness.
5 For it is not for thy justices, and the uprightness of thy heart that thou shalt go in to possess their lands: but because they have done wickedly, they are destroyed at thy coming in: and that the Lord might accomplish his word, which he promised by oath to thy fathers, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
6 Know therefore that the Lord thy God giveth thee not this excellent land in possession for thy justices; for thou art a very stiff-necked people.
7 Remember and forget not, how thou provokedst the Lord thy God to wrath in the wilderness. From the day that thou camest out of Egypt unto this place, thou hast always strove against the Lord.
8 *For in Horeb also thou didst provoke him, and he was angry, and would have destroyed thee,
9 *When I went up into the mount, to receive the tables of stone, the tables of the covenant which the Lord made with you: and I continued in the mount forty days and nights, neither eating bread, nor drinking water.
10 *And the Lord gave me two tables of stone written with the finger of God, and containing all the words that he spoke to you in the mount from the midst of the fire, when the people were assembled together.
11 And when forty days were passed, and as many nights, the Lord gave me the two tables of stone, the tables of the covenant;
12 And said to me: *Arise, and go down from hence quickly: for thy people, which thou hast brought out of Egypt, have quickly forsaken the way, that thou hast shewed them, and have made to themselves a molten idol.
13 And again the Lord said to me: I see that this people is stiff-necked:
14 Let me alone that I may destroy them, and abolish their name from under heaven, and set thee over a nation that is greater and stronger than this.
15 And when I came down from the burning mount, and held the two tables of the covenant with both hands,
16 And saw that you had sinned against the Lord your God, and had made to yourselves a molten calf, and had quickly forsaken his way, which he had shewed you:
17 I cast the tables out of my hands, and broke them in your sight.
18 And I fell down before the Lord, as before, forty days and nights, neither eating bread nor drinking water, for all your sins, which you had committed against the Lord, and had provoked him to wrath:
19 For I feared his indignation and anger, wherewith being moved against you, he would have destroyed you. And the Lord heard me this time also.
20 And he was exceeding angry against Aaron also, and would have destroyed him, and I prayed in like manner for him.
21 And your sin that you had committed, that is, the calf, I took, and burned it with fire, and breaking it into pieces, until it was as small as dust, I threw it into the torrent which cometh down from the mountain.
22 *At the burning also, and at the place of temptation, and at the graves of lust you provoked the Lord:
23 And when he sent you from Cades-barne, saying: Go up, and possess the land that I have given you, and you slighted the commandment of the Lord your God, and did not believe him, neither would you hearken to his voice:
24 But were always rebellious from the day that I began to know you.
25 And I lay prostrate before the Lord forty days and nights, in which I humbly besought him, that he would not destroy you as he had threatened:
26 And praying, I said: O Lord God, destroy not thy people, and thy inheritance, which thou hast redeemed in thy greatness, whom thou hast brought out of Egypt with a strong hand.
27 Remember thy servants, Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob: look not on the stubbornness of this people, nor on their wickedness and sin:
28 Lest perhaps the inhabitants of the land, out of which thou hast brought us, say: The Lord could not bring them into the land, that he promised them, and he hated them: therefore he brought them out, that he might kill them in the wilderness,
29 Who are thy people and thy inheritance, whom thou hast brought out by thy great strength, and in thy stretched-out arm.
1: Year of the World 2553.
8: Exodus xvii. 6. and xix. 3.
9: Exodus xiv. 18.
10: Exodus xxxi. 18. and xxxii. 15.
12: Exodus xxxii. 7.
22: Numbers xi. 1. and xvi. 2. and xxi. 5.