Deuteronomy 1

Israel's History after the Exodus

1 These are the words which Moses spoke to all Israel 1across the Jordan in the wilderness, in the 2Arabah opposite [a]Suph, between Paran and Tophel and Laban and Hazeroth and Dizahab.
2 It is eleven * days' journey from 3Horeb by the way of Mount 4Seir to 5Kadesh-barnea.
3 In the 6fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh * month, Moses spoke to the children of Israel, 7according to all that the LORD had commanded him to give to them,
4 after he had [b]8defeated Sihon the king of the Amorites, who lived in Heshbon, and 9Og the king of Bashan, who lived in 10Ashtaroth [c]and Edrei.
5 Across the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to expound this law, saying,
6 "The LORD our God 11spoke to us at Horeb, saying, 'You have [d]stayed long enough at this mountain.
7 'Turn and set your journey, and go to 12the hill country of the Amorites, and to all their neighbors in the Arabah, in the hill country and in the lowland and in 13the [e]Negev and by the seacoast *, the land of the Canaanites, and Lebanon, as far as the great river, the river Euphrates.
8 'See, I have placed the land before you; go in and possess the land which the LORD 14swore to give to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to them and their [f]descendants after them.'
9 "I spoke to you at that time, saying, '15I am not able to bear the burden of you alone.
10 'The LORD your God has 16multiplied you, and behold, you are this day like the stars of heaven in number.
11 'May the LORD, the God of your fathers, increase you a thousand-fold * more than you are and bless you, 17just as He has [g]promised you!
12 'How can I alone bear the load and burden of you and your strife?
13 '[h]18Choose wise and discerning and experienced men from your tribes, and I will appoint them as your heads.'
14 "You answered me and said, 'The thing which you have said to do is good.'
15 "So I took the heads of your tribes, wise and experienced men, and [i]appointed them heads over you, leaders of thousands and [j]of hundreds, [k]of fifties and [l]of tens, and officers for your tribes.
16 "Then I charged your judges at that time, saying, 'Hear the cases between your [m]fellow countrymen, and 19judge righteously between a man and his [n]fellow countryman, or the alien who is with him.
17 '20You shall not show partiality * in judgment; you shall hear the small and the great alike. You shall 21not fear [o]man, for the judgment is God's. 22The case that is too hard for you, you shall bring to me, and I will hear it.'
18 "23I commanded you at that time all the things that you should do.
19 "Then we set out from 24Horeb, and went through all that 25great and terrible wilderness which you saw on the way to the 26hill country of the Amorites, just as the LORD our God had commanded us; and we came to 27Kadesh-barnea.
20 "I said to you, 'You have come to the hill country of the Amorites which the LORD our God is about to give us.
21 'See, the LORD your God has placed the land before you; go up, take possession, as the LORD, the God of your fathers, has spoken to you. 28Do not fear or be dismayed.'
22 "29Then all of you approached me and said, 'Let us send men before us, that they may search out the land for us, and bring back to us word of the way by which we should go up and the cities which we shall enter.'
23 "The thing pleased * me and I took twelve * of your men, one man for each tribe.
24 "30They turned and went up into the hill country, and came to the valley of Eshcol and spied it out.
25 "Then they took some of the fruit of the land in their hands and brought it down to us; and they brought us back a report and said, 'It is a good land which the LORD our God is about to give us.'
26 "31Yet you were not willing to go up, but 32rebelled against the [p]command of the LORD your God;
27 and 33you grumbled in your tents and said, 'Because the LORD hates us, He has brought us out of the land of Egypt to deliver us into the hand of the Amorites to destroy us.
28 'Where can we go up? Our brethren have made our hearts melt, saying, "The people are bigger and taller than we; the cities are large and fortified to heaven. And besides, we saw 34the sons of the Anakim there."'
29 "Then I said to you, 'Do not be shocked, nor fear them.
30 'The LORD your God who goes before you will 35Himself fight on your behalf, [q]just * as He did for you in Egypt before your eyes,
31 and in the wilderness where you saw how 36the LORD your God carried you, just as a man carries his son, in all the way which you have walked until you came to this place.'
32 "But [r]37for all this, you did not trust the LORD your God,
33 38who goes before you on your way, 39to seek out a place for you to encamp, in fire by night and cloud by day, to show you the way in which you should go.
34 "Then the LORD heard the sound of your words, and He was angry and 40took an oath, saying,
35 '41Not one of these men, this evil generation, shall see the good land which I swore to give your fathers,
36 except Caleb the son of Jephunneh; he shall see it, and 42to him and to his sons I will give the land on which he has set foot, because * he has followed the LORD fully.'
37 "43The LORD was angry with me also on your account, saying, '44Not even you shall enter there.
38 'Joshua the son of Nun, who stands before you, 45he shall enter there; encourage him, for 46he will cause Israel to inherit it.
39 'Moreover, 47your little ones who you said would become a prey, and your sons, who this day have 48no knowledge of good or evil, shall enter there, and I will give it to them and they shall possess it.
40 'But as for you, 49turn around and set out for the wilderness by the way to the [s]Red * Sea.'
41 "50Then you said to me, 'We have sinned against the LORD; we will indeed go up and fight, just * as the LORD our God commanded us.' And every man of you girded on his weapons of war, and regarded it as easy to go up into the hill country.
42 "51And the LORD said to me, 'Say to them, "Do not go up nor fight, for I am not among you; otherwise you will be [t]defeated before your enemies."'
43 "So I spoke to you, but you would not listen. Instead 52you rebelled against the [u]command of the LORD, and acted presumptuously and went up into the hill country.
44 "53The Amorites who [v]lived in that hill country came out against you and chased you 54as bees do, and crushed you from Seir to Hormah.
45 "Then you returned and wept before the LORD; but the 55LORD did not listen to your voice nor give ear to you.
46 "So you remained in 56Kadesh many days, [w]the days that 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 56

  • 1. Deuteronomy 4:46
  • 2. Deuteronomy 2:8
  • 3. Exodus 3:1; Exodus 17:6
  • 4. Genesis 32:3
  • 5. Numbers 13:26; Numbers 32:8; Deuteronomy 9:23
  • 6. Numbers 33:38
  • 7. Deuteronomy 4:1, 2
  • 8. Numbers 21:21-26; Deuteronomy 2:26-35; Joshua 13:10; Nehemiah 9:22
  • 9. Numbers 21:33-35; Joshua 13:12
  • 10. Joshua 12:4
  • 11. Numbers 10:11-13
  • 12. Genesis 15:18; Deuteronomy 11:24; Joshua 10:40
  • 13. Genesis 12:9
  • 14. Genesis 12:7; Genesis 26:3; Genesis 28:13; Exodus 33:1; Numbers 14:23; Numbers 32:11; Hebrews 6:13, 14
  • 15. Exodus 18:18, 24; Numbers 11:14
  • 16. Genesis 15:5; Genesis 22:17; Exodus 32:13; Deuteronomy 7:7; Deuteronomy 10:22; Deuteronomy 26:5; Deuteronomy 28:62
  • 17. Deuteronomy 1:8, 10
  • 18. Exodus 18:21
  • 19. Deuteronomy 16:18; John 7:24
  • 20. Deuteronomy 10:17; Deuteronomy 16:19; Deuteronomy 24:17; 2 Chronicles 19:5, 6; Proverbs 24:23-26; Acts 10:34; James 2:1, 9
  • 21. Proverbs 29:25
  • 22. Exodus 18:22, 26
  • 23. Exodus 18:20
  • 24. Deuteronomy 1:2
  • 25. Deuteronomy 2:7; Deuteronomy 8:15; Deuteronomy 32:10; Jeremiah 2:6
  • 26. Deuteronomy 1:7
  • 27. Deuteronomy 1:2
  • 28. Joshua 1:6, 9
  • 29. Numbers 13:1-3
  • 30. Numbers 13:21-25
  • 31. Numbers 14:1-4
  • 32. Deuteronomy 9:23
  • 33. Deuteronomy 9:28; Psalms 106:25
  • 34. Numbers 13:28, 33; Deuteronomy 9:2
  • 35. Exodus 14:14; Deuteronomy 3:22; Deuteronomy 20:4; Nehemiah 4:20
  • 36. Deuteronomy 32:10-12; Isaiah 46:3, 4; Isaiah 63:9; Hosea 11:3; Acts 13:18
  • 37. Numbers 14:11; Psalms 106:24; Hebrews 3:19; Hebrews 4:2; Jude 5
  • 38. Exodus 13:21; Numbers 9:15-23; Nehemiah 9:12; Psalms 78:14
  • 39. Numbers 10:33
  • 40. Numbers 14:28-30; Hebrews 3:18
  • 41. Psalms 95:11; Psalms 106:26; Ezekiel 20:15; 1 Corinthians 10:5; Hebrews 3:14-19
  • 42. Numbers 14:24; Joshua 14:9
  • 43. Numbers 20:12; Deuteronomy 3:26; Deuteronomy 4:21
  • 44. Numbers 27:13, 18
  • 45. Numbers 14:30
  • 46. Numbers 34:17; Deuteronomy 3:28; Deuteronomy 31:7; Joshua 11:23
  • 47. Numbers 14:3, 31
  • 48. Isaiah 7:15, 16
  • 49. Numbers 14:25
  • 50. Numbers 14:40
  • 51. Numbers 14:41-43
  • 52. Numbers 14:40
  • 53. Numbers 14:45
  • 54. Psalms 118:12
  • 55. Job 27:8, 9; Psalms 66:18; John 9:31
  • 56. Numbers 20:1, 22; Deuteronomy 2:7, 14; Judges 11:17

Footnotes 23

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

New American Standard Bible Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, California.  All rights reserved.