Deuteronomy 29

The third heading: The new covenant at Moab

1 These are the words of the covenant the LORD commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in the land of Moab in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb.
2 Moses summoned all Israel, saying to them: You've seen with your own eyes everything the LORD did in Egypt, to Pharaoh, his servants, and all his land—
3 the great trials your eyes witnessed, those awesome signs and wonders!
4 But until this very moment, the LORD hasn't given you insight to understand, eyes to see, or ears to hear.
5 I've led you in the wilderness forty years now; neither the clothes on your back nor the sandals on your feet have worn out.
6 Neither have you eaten bread nor drunk wine or beer during this time—so that you would know that I am the LORD your God.
7 When you arrived here, Sihon, Heshbon's king, and Og, Bashan's king, marched out to fight against us, but we defeated them.
8 We took possession of their land and gave it as an inheritance to the Reubenites, Gadites, and half of Manasseh's tribe.
9 So then keep the words of this covenant and do them so you can succeed in all you do.
10 Right now, all of you are in the presence of the LORD your God—the leaders of your tribes, your elders, and your officials, all the Israelite males,
11 your children, your wives, and the immigrants who live with you in your camp, the ones who chop your wood and those who draw your water—
12 ready to enter into the LORD your God's covenant and into the agreement that the LORD your God is making with you right now.
13 That means the Lord will make you his own people right now—he will be your God just as he promised you and just as he swore to our ancestors: to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob.
14 But I'm not making this covenant and this agreement with you alone
15 but also with those standing here with us right now before the LORD our God, and also with those who aren't here with us right now.
16 You know firsthand how we used to live in Egypt and how we passed right through the nations that you passed through.
17 You saw the horrific things, the filthy idols of wood and stone, silver and gold, that they had with them.
18 Make sure there isn't any one among you right now—male or female, clan or tribe—whose mind is turning from being with the LORD our God in favor of going to serve these nations' gods. Make sure there isn't any root among you that is sprouting poison and bitterness.
19 When that kind of person hears the words of this agreement, they congratulate themselves, thinking: I'll be fine even though I insist on being stubborn. This would cause something wet to dry up and become like something parched.
20 The LORD won't be willing to forgive that kind of person; instead, the LORD's anger and passion will smolder against that person. Every curse written in this scroll will stretch out over them, and the LORD will wipe out their name from under the heavens.
21 Out of all Israel's tribes, the LORD will single them out for disaster in compliance with all the covenant curses that are written in this Instruction scroll.
22 Future generations, your children after you, or foreigners from distant lands will say: Look at all that land's plagues and the sicknesses that the LORD laid on it!
23 Look at all its land burned by sulfur and salt, unsuitable for planting, unable to grow or produce any vegetation, as devastated as Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah and Zeboiim, which the LORD devastated in anger and wrath!
24 Indeed, all nations will ask: Why did the LORD do this to this land? What led to this terrible display of anger?
25 They will deduce: It was because those people abandoned the covenant of the LORD, their ancestors' God, which he made with them when he brought them out of Egypt.
26 They followed other gods, serving them and worshipping them—other gods that they hadn't experienced before and that the Lord hadn't designated for them.
27 Then the LORD's anger burned against that land, and he brought against it every curse written in this scroll.
28 The LORD ripped them off their land in anger, wrath, and great fury. He threw them into other lands, and that's how things still stand today.
29 The secret things belong to the LORD our God. The revealed things belong to us and to our children forever: to keep all the words of this covenant.

Deuteronomy 29 Commentary

Chapter 29

Moses calls Israel's mercies to remembrance. (1-9) The Divine wrath on those who flatter themselves in their wickedness. (10-21) The ruin of the Jewish nation. (22-28) Secret things belong unto God. (29)

Verses 1-9 Both former mercies, and fresh mercies, should be thought on by us as motives to obedience. The hearing ear, and seeing eye, and the understanding heart, are the gift of God. All that have them, have them from him. God gives not only food and raiment, but wealth and large possessions, to many to whom he does not give grace. Many enjoy the gifts, who have not hearts to perceive the Giver, nor the true design and use of the gifts. We are bound, in gratitude and interest, as well as in duty and faithfulness, to keep the words of the covenant.

Verses 10-21 The national covenant made with Israel, not only typified the covenant of grace made with true believers, but also represented the outward dispensation of the gospel. Those who have been enabled to consent to the Lord's new covenant of mercy and grace in Jesus Christ, and to give up themselves to be his people, should embrace every opportunity of renewing their open profession of relation to him, and their obligation to him, as the God of salvation, walking according thereto. The sinner is described as one whose heart turns away from his God; there the mischief begins, in the evil heart of unbelief, which inclines men to depart from the living God to dead idols. Even to this sin men are now tempted, when drawn aside by their own lusts and fancies. Such men are roots that bear gall and wormwood. They are weeds which, if let alone, overspread the whole field. Satan may for a time disguise this bitter morsel, so that thou shalt not have the natural taste of it, but at the last day, if not before, the true taste shall be discerned. Notice the sinner's security in sin. Though he hears the words of the curse, yet even then he thinks himself safe from the wrath of God. There is scarcely a threatening in all the book of God more dreadful than this. Oh that presumptuous sinners would read it, and tremble! for it is a real declaration of the wrath of God, against ungodliness and unrighteousness of man.

Verses 22-28 Idolatry would be the ruin of their nation. It is no new thing for God to bring desolating judgments on a people near to him in profession. He never does this without good reason. It concerns us to seek for the reason, that we may give glory to God, and take warning to ourselves. Thus the law of Moses leaves sinners under the curse, and rooted out of the Lord's land; but the grace of Christ toward penitent, believing sinners, plants them again in their land; and they shall no more be pulled up, being kept by the power of God.

Verse 29 Moses ends his prophecy of the Jews' rejection, just as St. Paul ends his discourse on the same subject, when it began to be fulfilled, ( Romans 11:33 ) . We are forbidden curiously to inquire into the secret counsels of God, and to determine concerning them. But we are directed and encouraged, diligently to seek into that which God has made known. He has kept back nothing that is profitable for us, but only that of which it is good for us to be ignorant. The end of all Divine revelation is, not to furnish curious subjects of speculation and discourse, but that we may do all the words of this law, and be blessed in our deed. This, the Bible plainly reveals; further than this, man cannot profitably go. By this light he may live and die comfortably, and be happy for ever.

Footnotes 6

  • [a]. 28:69 in Heb
  • [b]. 29:1 in Heb
  • [c]. Or that I, the LORD, am your God.
  • [d]. LXX, Syr; MT your leaders, your tribes
  • [e]. Heb uncertain; perhaps the agricultural imagery of 29:18 is continued here or the terms are metaphors for human states.
  • [f]. Or after they see

Chapter Summary


This chapter begins with an intimation of another covenant the Lord was about to make with the people of Israel, De 29:1; and, to prepare their minds to an attention to it, various things which the Lord had done for them are recited, De 29:2-9; the persons are particularly mentioned with whom the covenant would now be made, the substance of which is, that they should be his people, and he their God, De 29:10-15; and since they had seen the idols in Egypt and other countries, with which they might have been ensnared, they are cautioned against idolatry and idolaters, as being most provoking to the Lord, De 29:16-21; which would bring destruction not only on particular persons, but upon their whole land, to the amazement of posterity; who, inquiring the reason of it, will be told, it was because they forsook the covenant of God, and particularly were guilty of idolatry, which, whether privately or openly committed, would be always punished, De 29:22-29.

Deuteronomy 29 Commentaries

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