Deuteronomy 1

The Command to Leave Horeb

1 These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah—opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab.
2 (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.)
3 In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them.
4 This was after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth.
5 East of the Jordan in the territory of Moab, Moses began to expound this law, saying:
6 The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain.
7 Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighboring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates.
8 See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the LORD swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.”

The Appointment of Leaders

9 At that time I said to you, “You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone.
10 The LORD your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky.
11 May the LORD, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised!
12 But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself?
13 Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.”
14 You answered me, “What you propose to do is good.”
15 So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials.
16 And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you.
17 Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.”
18 And at that time I told you everything you were to do.

Spies Sent Out

19 Then, as the LORD our God commanded us, we set out from Horeb and went toward the hill country of the Amorites through all that vast and dreadful wilderness that you have seen, and so we reached Kadesh Barnea.
20 Then I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the LORD our God is giving us.
21 See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”
22 Then all of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.”
23 The idea seemed good to me; so I selected twelve of you, one man from each tribe.
24 They left and went up into the hill country, and came to the Valley of Eshkol and explored it.
25 Taking with them some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us.”

Rebellion Against the LORD

26 But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God.
27 You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us.
28 Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’ ”
29 Then I said to you, “Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them.
30 The LORD your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes,
31 and in the wilderness. There you saw how the LORD your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”
32 In spite of this, you did not trust in the LORD your God,
33 who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.
34 When the LORD heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore:
35 “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors,
36 except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly.”
37 Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either.
38 But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it.
39 And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it.
40 But as for you, turn around and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.[a]
41 Then you replied, “We have sinned against the LORD. We will go up and fight, as the LORD our God commanded us.” So every one of you put on his weapons, thinking it easy to go up into the hill country.
42 But the LORD said to me, “Tell them, ‘Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.’ ”
43 So I told you, but you would not listen. You rebelled against the LORD’s command and in your arrogance you marched up into the hill country.
44 The Amorites who lived in those hills came out against you; they chased you like a swarm of bees and beat you down from Seir all the way to Hormah.
45 You came back and wept before the LORD, but he paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you.
46 And so you stayed in Kadesh many days—all the time you spent there.

Deuteronomy 1 Commentary

Chapter 1

This book repeats much of the history and of the laws contained in the three foregoing books: Moses delivered it to Israel a little before his death, both by word of mouth, that it might affect, and by writing, that it might abide. The men of that generation to which the law was first given were all dead, and a new generation was sprung up, to whom God would have it repeated by Moses himself, now they were going to possess the land of Canaan. The wonderful love of God to his church is set forth in this book; how he ever preserved his church for his own mercies sake, and would still have his name called upon among them. Such are the general outlines of this book, the whole of which shows Moses' love for Israel, and marks him an eminent type of the Lord Jesus Christ. Let us apply the exhortations and persuasions to our own consciences, to excite our minds to a believing, grateful obedience to the commands of God.

The words Moses spake to Israel in the plains of Moab, The promise of Canaan. (1-8) Judges provided for the people. (9-18) Of the sending the spies-God's anger for their unbelief and disobedience. (19-46)

Verses 1-8 Moses spake to the people all the Lord had given him in commandment. Horeb was but eleven days distant from Kadesh-barnea. This was to remind them that their own bad conduct had occasioned their tedious wanderings; that they might the more readily understand the advantages of obedience. They must now go forward. Though God brings his people into trouble and affliction, he knows when they have been tried long enough. When God commands us to go forward in our Christian course, he sets the heavenly Canaan before us for our encouragement.

Verses 9-18 Moses reminds the people of the happy constitution of their government, which might make them all safe and easy, if it was not their own fault. He owns the fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham, and prays for the further accomplishment of it. We are not straitened in the power and goodness of God; why should we be straitened in our own faith and hope? Good laws were given to the Israelites, and good men were to see to the execution of them, which showed God's goodness to them, and the care of Moses.

Verses 19-46 Moses reminds the Israelites of their march from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, through that great and terrible wilderness. He shows how near they were to a happy settlement in Canaan. It will aggravate the eternal ruin of hypocrites, that they were not far from the kingdom of God. As if it were not enough that they were sure of their God before them, they would send men before them. Never any looked into the Holy Land, but they must own it to be a good land. And was there any cause to distrust this God? An unbelieving heart was at the bottom of all this. All disobedience to God's laws, and distrust of his power and goodness, flow from disbelief of his word, as all true obedience springs from faith. It is profitable for us to divide our past lives into distinct periods; to give thanks to God for the mercies we have received in each, to confess and seek the forgiveness of all the sins we can remember; and thus to renew our acceptance of God's salvation, and our surrender of ourselves to his service. Our own plans seldom avail to good purpose; while courage in the exercise of faith, and in the path of duty, enables the believer to follow the Lord fully, to disregard all that opposes, to triumph over all opposition, and to take firm hold upon the promised blessings.

Cross References 100

  • 1. S Numbers 13:29; Deuteronomy 4:46
  • 2. ver 7; Deuteronomy 2:8; Deuteronomy 3:17; Joshua 3:16; Joshua 8:14; Joshua 11:2; Ezekiel 47:8
  • 3. S Numbers 10:12
  • 4. S Exodus 3:1
  • 5. S Genesis 14:7; Numbers 13:26; Deuteronomy 2:14; Deuteronomy 9:23; Joshua 15:3
  • 6. S Numbers 24:18
  • 7. ver 19
  • 8. Numbers 14:33; Numbers 32:13; Deuteronomy 8:2; Hebrews 3:7-9; Numbers 33:38
  • 9. Genesis 50:3; Deuteronomy 34:8; Joshua 4:19
  • 10. Deuteronomy 4:1-2
  • 11. Numbers 21:21-26
  • 12. S Genesis 10:16; S Genesis 14:7
  • 13. S Numbers 21:25
  • 14. Numbers 21:33-35; Deuteronomy 3:10; Joshua 13:12
  • 15. Joshua 9:10; Joshua 12:4; 1 Chronicles 11:44
  • 16. S Numbers 21:11
  • 17. Numbers 10:13
  • 18. S Exodus 3:1
  • 19. Deuteronomy 2:3
  • 20. ver 19; Deuteronomy 2:24; Deuteronomy 7:1; Joshua 10:5
  • 21. S ver 1
  • 22. S Numbers 21:1; Joshua 11:16; Joshua 12:8; 2 Samuel 24:7; Joshua 10:40
  • 23. S Genesis 10:18
  • 24. Deuteronomy 11:24
  • 25. S Genesis 2:14
  • 26. S Joshua 23:13
  • 27. S Numbers 34:2
  • 28. S Exodus 13:11; S Numbers 14:23; Hebrews 6:13-14; Genesis 12:7; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:7-8; Genesis 26:4; Genesis 28:13
  • 29. S Numbers 11:14; Psalms 38:4
  • 30. S Exodus 18:18
  • 31. ver 11; Ezekiel 16:7
  • 32. S Deuteronomy 7:13
  • 33. S Genesis 15:5; Isaiah 51:2; Isaiah 60:22; Ezekiel 33:24
  • 34. S Genesis 22:17; S Numbers 10:36; Deuteronomy 10:22; Deuteronomy 28:62
  • 35. S ver 10
  • 36. ver 8; Genesis 22:17; Exodus 32:13; 2 Samuel 24:3; 1 Chronicles 21:3
  • 37. S Exodus 5:22; S Exodus 18:18
  • 38. S Genesis 47:6; Exodus 18:21
  • 39. Exodus 18:25
  • 40. Exodus 5:14; Numbers 11:16; Joshua 1:10; Joshua 3:2
  • 41. S Genesis 47:6
  • 42. Numbers 31:14; 1 Samuel 8:12; 1 Samuel 22:7; 1 Kings 14:27
  • 43. S Numbers 1:4
  • 44. 1 Kings 3:9; Psalms 72:1; Proverbs 2:9
  • 45. S Genesis 31:37; Deuteronomy 16:18; John 7:24
  • 46. S Exodus 12:19,49; S Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 24:22
  • 47. S Exodus 18:16; S Leviticus 19:15; Deuteronomy 16:19; Proverbs 24:23; Acts 10:34; James 2:1
  • 48. Proverbs 29:25; 2 Chronicles 19:6
  • 49. Exodus 18:26
  • 50. S Genesis 39:11
  • 51. S ver 7
  • 52. Deuteronomy 2:7; Deuteronomy 8:15; Deuteronomy 32:10; Psalms 136:16; Jeremiah 2:2,6; Hosea 13:5
  • 53. ver 2; Numbers 13:26
  • 54. Deuteronomy 9:23
  • 55. S Numbers 14:9; Jos 1:6,9,18; 2 Samuel 10:12; Psalms 27:14
  • 56. Deuteronomy 7:18; Joshua 8:1; Joshua 10:8
  • 57. Numbers 13:1-3
  • 58. S Genesis 42:9
  • 59. Numbers 13:1-3
  • 60. Numbers 13:21-25; S Numbers 32:9
  • 61. S Numbers 13:27
  • 62. S Numbers 14:7
  • 63. Joshua 1:2
  • 64. Numbers 14:1-4
  • 65. S Numbers 14:9
  • 66. Deuteronomy 9:28; Psalms 106:25
  • 67. S Numbers 13:32
  • 68. S Numbers 13:33; Deuteronomy 9:1-3
  • 69. Deuteronomy 3:22; Deuteronomy 20:3; Nehemiah 4:14
  • 70. Deuteronomy 7:18; Deuteronomy 20:1; Deuteronomy 31:6
  • 71. S Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 3:22; Nehemiah 4:20
  • 72. Exodus 19:4; Deuteronomy 32:10-12; Psalms 28:9; Isaiah 46:3-4; Isaiah 63:9; Hosea 11:3; Acts 13:18
  • 73. Jeremiah 31:32
  • 74. S Numbers 14:11
  • 75. Deuteronomy 9:23; Psalms 78:22; Psalms 106:24; Zephaniah 3:2; Hebrews 3:19; Jude 1:5
  • 76. Exodus 13:21; Numbers 9:15-23; Nehemiah 9:12; Psalms 78:14
  • 77. S Numbers 10:33
  • 78. S Numbers 11:1
  • 79. S Numbers 32:14
  • 80. S Nu 14:23,28-30; Ezekiel 20:15; Hebrews 3:11
  • 81. S Numbers 14:29; Psalms 95:11
  • 82. S Numbers 13:6
  • 83. S Numbers 14:24; Joshua 14:9
  • 84. Psalms 106:32; Deuteronomy 3:26; Deuteronomy 4:21
  • 85. S Numbers 27:13; Numbers 20:12
  • 86. S Numbers 11:28; Numbers 14:30
  • 87. Deuteronomy 31:7
  • 88. Deuteronomy 3:28
  • 89. Joshua 11:23; Psalms 78:55; Psalms 136:21
  • 90. S Numbers 14:3
  • 91. Isaiah 7:15-16
  • 92. S Exodus 14:27; Judges 11:16; Numbers 14:25
  • 93. S Numbers 14:41-43
  • 94. Psalms 118:12
  • 95. S Numbers 24:18
  • 96. S Numbers 14:45
  • 97. S Numbers 14:1
  • 98. Job 27:9; Job 35:13; Psalms 18:41; Psalms 66:18; Proverbs 1:28; Isaiah 1:15; Jeremiah 14:12; Lamentations 3:8; Micah 3:4; S John 9:31
  • 99. Psalms 28:1; Psalms 39:12; Proverbs 28:9
  • 100. S Numbers 20:1; Judges 11:17

Footnotes 1

Chapter Summary


This book is sometimes called "Elleh hadebarim", from the words with which it begins; and sometimes by the Jews "Mishneh Torah", the repetition of the law; and so in the Syriac version, with which agrees the Arabic title of it; and when the Greeks, and we after them, call it "Deuteronomy", it is not to be understood of a second, a new, or another law, but of the law formerly delivered, but now repeated, and also more largely explained; to which are likewise added several particular laws, instructions, and directions; all which were necessary, on account of the people of Israel, who were now a new generation, that either were not born, or not at an age to hear and understand the law when given on Mount Sinai; the men that heard it there being all dead, excepting a very few; and these people were also now about to enter into the land of Canaan, which they were to enjoy as long as they kept the law of God, and no longer, and therefore it was proper they should be reminded of it; and besides, Moses was now about to leave them, and having an hearty desire after their welfare, spends the little time he had to be with them, by inculcating into them and impressing on them the laws of God, and in opening and explaining them to them, and enforcing them on them, which were to be the rule of their obedience, and on which their civil happiness depended. And sometimes the Jews call this book "the book of reproofs", because there are in it several sharp reproofs of the people of Israel for their rebellion and disobedience; and so the Targums of Jonathan and Jerusalem begin it by calling it the words of reproof which Moses spake That this book was written by Moses there can be no doubt, from De 1:1, 31:4,9,24, only the eight last verses, which give an account of his death, and of his character, were wrote by another hand, equally inspired by God, as either Eleazar the priest, as some, or Samuel the prophet, as others; or, as it is the more commonly received opinion of the Jews, Ezra; though it is highly probable they were wrote by Joshua his successor. This book was written and delivered by Moses, at certain times in the last month of his life, and towards the close of the fortieth year of the children of Israel's coming out of Egypt. And that it is of divine authority need not be questioned, when the several quotations out of it are observed, as made by the apostles of Christ, in Ac 3:22, Ro 12:19 Heb 10:30, Ga 3:10 out of \De 18:15 32:35,36 27:26\ and by our Lord himself, Mt 18:16 from De 19:15. Yea, it is remarkable, that all the passages of Scripture produced by Christ, to repel the temptations of Satan, are all taken out of this book, Mt 4:7,10 compared with De 8:3, 6:10,13, and the voice from heaven, directing the apostles to hearken to him, refers to a prophecy of him in De 18:15.


The time and place when the subject matter of this book was delivered to the Israelites are observed by way of preface, De 1:1-5, and it begins with reminding them of an order to them to depart from Mount Horeb, and pass on to the land of Canaan, which the Lord had given them, De 1:6-8, and with observing the very great increase of their number, which made it necessary for Moses to appoint persons under him to be rulers over them, whom he instructed in the duty of their office, De 1:9-18, and he goes on to observe, that when they were come to the mountain of the Amorites, they were bid to go up and possess the land; but, instead of that, they desired men might be sent to search the land first, which was granted, De 1:19-23, and though these men upon their return brought of the fruits of the land, and a good report of it, particularly two of them; yet being discouraged by the report of the rest, they murmured, distrusted, and were afraid to enter, though encouraged by Moses, De 1:24-33, which caused the Lord to be angry with them, and upon it threatened them that they should die in the wilderness, and only two of them should ever see and enjoy the land, and therefore were bid to turn and take their journey in the wilderness, De 1:34-40, but being convinced of their evil, they proposed to go up the hill, and enter the land, which they attempted against the commandment of the Lord, but being repulsed by the Amorites, they fled with great loss, to their great grief, and abode in Kadesh many days, De 1:41-46.

Deuteronomy 1 Commentaries

Scripture quoted by permission.  Quotations designated (NIV) are from THE HOLY BIBLE: NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®.  NIV®.  Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica.  All rights reserved worldwide.