Deuteronomy 1


1 These [are] the words that Moses spoke to all [of] Israel {on the other side of}[a] the Jordan in the desert,[b] in the desert plateau[c] opposite Suph, between Paran and between Tophel and Laban and Hazeroth and Dizahab.
2 It is [a journey of] {eleven days}[d] from Herob {by the way of Mount Seir}[e] up to Kadesh Barnea.
3 {And it was}[f] in the fortieth year, on the eleventh month, on [the] first [day] of the month, Moses spoke to the {Israelites}[g] according to all that Yahweh had instructed him [to speak] to them.
4 [This happened] {after defeating}[h] Sihon king of the Amorites, who [was] reigning[i] in Heshbon, and Og the king of Bashan, who [was] reigning[j] in Ashtaroth in Edrei.
5 On the other side of [k] the Jordan in the land of Moab Moses began to explain this law,[l] {saying}:[m]

Historical Prologue

6 "Yahweh our God spoke to us at Horeb, {saying},[n] 'You have stayed {long enough}[o] at this mountain.
7 Turn [now] and {move on},[p] and go [into] the hill of the Amorites[q] and to all [of] the neighboring regions[r] in the Jordan {Valley}[s] in the hill country and in the Negev and in the coastal area along the sea, [into] the land of the Canaanites[t] and [into] the Lebanon, as far as the great river Euphrates.
8 Look, I have set the land {before you};[u] go and take possession of the land that Yahweh swore to your ancestors,[v] to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give [it] to them and to their offspring after them.'
9 "And I spoke to them at that time, {saying},[w] 'I am not able to bear you alone.
10 Yahweh your God has multiplied you, and look; you [are] today as the stars of the heaven {in number}.[x]
11 Yahweh, the God of your ancestors,[y] may he add to you as you are [now] a thousand times, and may he bless you just as he {promised you}.[z]
12 How can I bear you {by myself},[aa] your burden and your load and your strife?
13 Choose for yourselves {wise and discerning and knowledgeable men}[ab] for [each of] your tribes, and I will appoint them as your leaders.'
14 "And you answered me, and you said, 'The thing you have said to do is good.'
15 And so I took the leaders of your tribes, wise and knowledgeable men, and [then] I appointed them as leaders over you [as] commanders of [groups of] thousands and commanders of [groups of] hundreds and commanders of [groups of] fifties and commanders of [groups of] tens [as] officials for your tribes.
16 And at that time I instructed your judges, saying, '{hear out your fellow men},[ac] and [then] judge fairly[ad] between a man and between his brother and between {his opponent who is a resident alien}.[ae]
17 You must not {be partial}[af] {in your judgment}; [ag] hear [out] the small [person] as [also] the great [person]; {do not be intimidated by any person},[ah] because the judgment [is] God's; and the case that is too difficult[ai] for you, bring [it] to me, and I will hear it [out].'
18 And so I instructed you at that time [concerning] all [of] the things that you should do.
19 "Then we set out from Horeb, and we went [through] the whole [of] that great and terrible desert that you saw [on] the way [to] the hill country of the Amorites[aj] as Yahweh our God had commanded us, and [so] we came up to Kadesh Barnea.
20 I said to you, '{You have reached}[ak] the hill country of the Amorites[al] that Yahweh our God [is] giving to us.
21 See, Yahweh your God has set before you the land; go up and possess [it] as Yahweh the God of your ancestors[am] said to you; do not fear and do not be dismayed.'
22 "Then all of you approached me, and [you] said, 'Let us send men {before us},[an] and let them explore the land for us, and let them bring back {a report}[ao] to us [concerning] the way that {we should take}[ap] [and concerning] the cities that we shall come to.'
23 The plan was good {in my opinion},[aq] and [so] I took from [among] you twelve men, {one from each tribe}.[ar]
24 And they {set out}[as] and {went up into the hill country},[at] and they went up to the wadi[au] of Eschol, and they spied out [the land].
25 They took in their hands[av] {some of the fruit}[aw] of the land, and they brought [it] down to us, and they brought to us back {a report},[ax] and they said, 'The land that Yahweh our God [is] giving to us [is] good.'
26 But you were not willing to go up, and you rebelled against the {command}[ay] of Yahweh your God.
27 And you grumbled in your tents, and you said, 'Because of the hatred of Yahweh [toward] us he has brought us out from the land of Egypt to give us into the hand of the Amorites[az] to destroy us.
28 Where [can] we go up? Our brothers have {made our hearts melt},[ba] {saying},[bb] "The people are greater[bc] and taller than we are,[bd] [and there are] great fortified cities [reaching] up to heaven, and we saw the sons of the Anakites [living] there." '
29 "And so I said to you, 'Do not be terrified, and do not fear them.
30 Yahweh your God, who is going {before you},[be] will himself[bf] fight for you, {just as}[bg] he did for you in Egypt before your eyes,
31 and [just as he did] in the wilderness[bh] when[bi] you saw that[bj] Yahweh your God carried you, just as someone[bk] carries his son, all [along] the way [that] you traveled until {you reached}[bl] this place.'
32 But through all of this you did not trust in Yahweh your God,
33 {who goes}[bm] {before you}[bn] on your[bo] way, seeking a place for your encampment, in fire at night and in a cloud by day, to show you the way that {you should go}.[bp]
34 "Then Yahweh heard the sound of your words, and he was angry, and he swore, {saying},[bq]
35 'No one of these men[br] of this evil generation will see the good land that I swore to give to your ancestors,[bs]
36 except Caleb, the son of Jephunneh; he himself[bt] shall see it, and to him I will give the land upon which he has trodden and to his sons[bu] because {he followed Yahweh unreservedly}.'[bv]
37 Even with me Yahweh was angry because of you, saying, 'Not even you shall enter there.
38 Joshua, the son of Nun, {your assistant},[bw] will go there; encourage him because he will cause Israel to inherit it.
39 And your little children, who you thought shall become plunder, and your sons, who do not today know good or bad, shall themselves[bx] go there, and I will give it to them, and they shall take possession of it.
40 But you turn and set out [in the direction of] the wilderness by way of the {Red Sea}.'[by]
41 "You replied and said to me, 'We have sinned against Yahweh, [and now] we will go up and fight according to all that Yahweh our God commanded us'; and [so] each man fastened on {his battle gear},[bz] and you regarded [it] as easy to go up [into] the hill country.
42 So Yahweh said to me, 'Say to them, "You shall not go up, and you shall not fight because I am not in your midst; you will be defeated {before}[ca] your enemies." '
43 So I spoke to you, but you did not listen; you rebelled against the {command of Yahweh};[cb] you behaved presumptuously, and you went up into the hill country.
44 The Amorites living in the hill country went out {to oppose you}[cc] and chased you as [a swarm of] wild honey bees do; and [so] they {beat}[cd] you down in Seir as far as Hormah.
45 So you returned and wept {before Yahweh};[ce] but Yahweh did not listen to your voice and did not pay [any] attention to you.
46 You stayed in Kadesh many days; such were the days that you stayed [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.

Footnotes 83

  • [a]. Literally "in the beyond [of]"
  • [b]. Or "the wilderness"
  • [c]. Or "desert plain"; others render this as a named location, "Arabah"
  • [d]. Literally "one and ten days"
  • [e]. Literally "by the mountain of Seir"
  • [f]. Literally "and it happened" or "and then"
  • [g]. Literally "sons/children of Israel"
  • [h]. Literally "after he had struck down"
  • [i]. Or "dwelling," and in this context "reigning"
  • [j]. Or "dwelling," and in this context "reigning"
  • [k]. Literally "in the beyond [of]"
  • [l]. Hebrew torah
  • [m]. Literally "to say"
  • [n]. Literally "to say"
  • [o]. Literally "much [time]"
  • [p]. Literally "journey on with respect to yourselves" or "move yourselves out"
  • [q]. Hebrew "Amorite"
  • [r]. Or "peoples"
  • [s]. Literally "Arabah," arid stretches of land.
  • [t]. Hebrew "Canaanite"
  • [u]. Literally "before your face"
  • [v]. Or "fathers"
  • [w]. Literally "to say"
  • [x]. Literally "with respect to multitude/abundance"
  • [y]. Or "fathers"
  • [z]. Literally "spoke to you"
  • [aa]. Literally "to me alone"
  • [ab]. Literally "men wise and discerning and knowledgeable"
  • [ac]. Literally "hear between your brothers," with the idea of listening carefully in this context
  • [ad]. Or "righteously"
  • [ae]. Literally "between his resident alien/non-Israelite who dwells temporarily among Israel"
  • [af]. Literally "recognize faces"
  • [ag]. Literally "in the process of rendering a judgment"
  • [ah]. Literally "do not fear before the faces of [any] man"
  • [ai]. Or "hard"
  • [aj]. Hebrew "Amorite"
  • [ak]. Literally "You have come up to"
  • [al]. Hebrew "Amorite"
  • [am]. Or "fathers"
  • [an]. Literally "before our faces" or "ahead of us"
  • [ao]. Literally "a word"
  • [ap]. Literally "we should go up by it"
  • [aq]. Literally "in my eyes"
  • [ar]. Literally "man one from the tribe"
  • [as]. Literally "turned"
  • [at]. Literally "went up toward the hill [country] mountain"
  • [au]. A valley that is dry most of the year, but contains a stream during the rainy season
  • [av]. Hebrew "hand"
  • [aw]. Literally "from the fruit"
  • [ax]. Literally "a word"
  • [ay]. Literally "mouth"
  • [az]. Hebrew "Amorite"
  • [ba]. Literally "caused to melt our hearts"
  • [bb]. Literally "to say"
  • [bc]. Or "bigger"
  • [bd]. Hebrew "than us"
  • [be]. Literally "to your faces"
  • [bf]. The Hebrew pronoun indicates emphasis
  • [bg]. Literally "like all that"
  • [bh]. Or "desert"
  • [bi]. Or "where"
  • [bj]. Or "how"
  • [bk]. Or "a man"
  • [bl]. Literally "you came"
  • [bm]. Literally "[is] the one going"
  • [bn]. Literally "before your faces"
  • [bo]. Hebrew "the"
  • [bp]. Literally "you should go in it"
  • [bq]. Literally "to say"
  • [br]. The beginning of an oath in Hebrew; the text emphatically denies anyone of that evil generation the privilege of seeing the promised land
  • [bs]. Or "fathers"
  • [bt]. Emphatic use of the pronoun
  • [bu]. Or "descendants"
  • [bv]. Literally "he filled [his hands] after Yahweh"
  • [bw]. Literally "the one standing before you"
  • [bx]. The Hebrew pronoun is used for emphasis
  • [by]. Literally "sea of reeds"
  • [bz]. Literally "his vessels of battle"
  • [ca]. Literally "in the faces of your enemies"
  • [cb]. Literally "mouth of Yahweh"
  • [cc]. Literally "to meet you"
  • [cd]. Literally "cut"
  • [ce]. Literally "before the faces of Yahweh"

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 quotations marked (LEB) are from the Lexham English Bible. Copyright 2012 Logos Bible Software. Lexham is a registered trademark of Logos Bible Software.