View Deuteronomy 17 in the note window.
A charge, concerning sacrifices, ver. 1.
Concerning putting idolaters to death, ver. 2 - 7.
Concerning the decision of cases by the sanhedrim, ver. 8 - 13.
Concerning the choice and duty of a king, ver. 14 - 20.
1: Bullock or sheep - Either greater or smaller sacrifices,
all being comprehended under the two most eminent kinds.
2: ln transressing his covenant - That is, in idolatry, as it is
explained (De 17:3),
which is called a transgression of God's covenant made with Israel,
both because it is a breach of their faith given to God and of that law
which they covenanted to keep; and because it is a dissolution of that
matrimonial covenant with God, a renouncing of God and his worship, and a
chusing other Gods.
3: The host of heaven - Those glorious creatures, which are to be
admired as the wonderful works of God, but not to be set up in God's stead.
By condemning the most specious of all idolaters, he intimates, how absurd
a thing it is to worship stocks and stones, the works of men's hands.
I have not commanded - That is, I have forbidden. Such negative
expressions are emphatical.
6: Witnesses - Namely, credible and competent witnesses. The Jews
rejected the testimonies of children, women, servants, familiar friends or
enemies, persons of dissolute lives or evil fame.
7: First upon him - God thus ordered it, for the caution of
witnesses, that, if they had thro' malice or wrath accused him falsely, they
might now be afraid to imbrue their hands in innocent blood; and for the
security and satisfaction of the people in the execution of this punishment.
8: For thee - He speaks to the inferior magistrates, who were erected
in several cities. If thou hast not skill to determine, between blood
and blood - That is, in capital causes. Between plea and plea - In
civil causes, about words or estates. Between stroke and stroke - In
criminal causes, concerning blows, or wounds inflicted by one man upon
another. Matters of controversy - That is, such things being doubtful,
and the magistrates divided in their opinions about it. Chuse - Namely to
set up his tabernacle, or temple there; because there was the abode, both of
their sanhedrim, which was constituted of priests and civil magistrates, and
of the high - priests, who were to consult God by Urim, in matters which could
not be decided otherwise.
9: Unto the priests - That is, unto the great council, which
consisted chiefly of the priests and Levites, as being the best expositors
of the laws of God, by which all those controversies were to be decided.
And the high - priest was commonly one of that number, understood here
under the priests, whereof be was the chief. The judge - Probably the
high - priest, to whom it belonged to determine, some at least, of those
controversies, and to expound the law of God. And he may be distinctly
named, tho' he be one of the priests, because of his eminency, and to shew
that amongst the priests, he especially was to be consulted in such cases.
The sentence of judgment - Heb. The word, or matter of judgement,
that is, the true state of the cause, and what judgment or sentence ought
to be given in it.
10: Thou - Thou shalt pass sentence: he speaks to the inferior
magistrates; who were to give sentence, and came hither to be advised
11: Thou shalt do - In particular suits between man and man, altho'
the judge be hereby confined to his rule in giving the sentence, yet it
seems but fit and reasonable that people should be bound simply to
acquiesce in the sentence of their last and highest judge, or else there
would have been no end of strife.
12: Do presumptuously - That will proudly and obstinately oppose the
sentence given against him. The evil - The evil thing, that scandal,
that pernicious example.
13: When thou shalt - He only foresees and foretells what they would
do, but doth not approve of it. Yea when they did this thing for this very
reason, he declares his utter dislike of it, (1Sa 8:7).
15: Thy God shall chuse - Approve of, or appoint. So it was in
Saul and David. God reserved to himself the nomination both of
the family, and of the person. Thy brethren - Of the same nation and
religion; because such a person was most likely to maintain true religion,
and to rule with righteousness, gentleness, and kindness to his subjects;
and that he might be a fit type of Christ their supreme king, who was to
be one of their brethren.
16: He shall not multiply horses - Tho' he might have horses for his
own use, yet he was not to have many horses for his officers and guard,
much less for war, lest he should trust in them. The multiplying horses
is also forbidden, lest it should raise too great a correspondence with
Egypt which furnished Canaan with them. The Lord hath said - The
Lord hath now said to me, and I by his command declare it to you. Ye
shall no more return that way - Into Egypt, lest ye be again infected
with her idolatries.
17: Turn away - From God and his law.
18: He shall write - With his own hand, as the Jews say. Out of
that - Out of the original, which was carefully kept by the priests in the
sanctuary, that it might be a perfect copy, and that it might have the
greater influence upon him, coming to him as from the hand and presence
19: All the days of his life - 'Tis not enough to have Bibles, but we
must use them, yea, use them daily. Our souls must have constant meals
of that manna, which if well digested, will afford them true nourishment
20: If his heart be not lifted up - He intimates, that the scriptures
diligently read, are a powerful means to keep him humble, because they shew
him in that, tho' a king, he is subject to an higher monarch, to whom he
must give an account of all his administrations, and receive from him his
sentence agreeable to their quality, which is sufficient to abate the pride
of the haughtiest person in the world.