Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, , at sacred-texts.com
These verses are closely connected with the preceding chapter, and state very briefly the results of the intercession of Moses recorded in Deu 9:25-29. The people are reminded that all their blessings and privileges, forfeited by apostasy as soon as bestowed, were only now their own by a new and most unmerited act of grace on the part of God, won from Him by the self-sacrificing mediation of Moses himself Deu 10:10.
Deu 10:1-5. The order for making the ark and tabernacle was evidently given before the apostasy of the people (Exo. 25ff); but the tables were not put in the ark until the completion and dedication of the tabernacle Exo. 40. But here as elsewhere (compare the Deu 9:1 note) Moses connects transactions closely related to each other and to his purpose without regard to the order of occurrence.
There Aaron died - i. e., while the people were encamped in Mosera or Moseroth. In Deu 32:50; as well as in Num 20:25 ff Mount Hor is assigned as the place of Aaron's death. It is plain then that Moserah was in the neighborhood of Mount Hor. The appointment of Eleazar to minister in place of Aaron, is referred to as a proof of the completeness and fulness of the reconciliation effected between God and the people by Moses. Though Aaron was sentenced to die in the wilderness for his sin at Meribah, yet God provided for the perpetuation of the high priesthood, so that the people would not suffer. Compare Deu 9:20 and note.
At that time - i. e., that of the encampment at Sinai, as the words also import in Deu 10:1. Throughout the passage the time of the important events at Sinai is kept in view; it is reverted to as each incident is brought forward by Moses, alluded to sufficiently for his purpose, and dismissed.
Moses is evidently here speaking of the election by God of the tribe of Levi at large, priests and others also, for His own service.
After these emphatic warnings against self-righteousness the principal topic is resumed from Deut. 6, and this division of the discourse is drawn to a conclusion in the next two chapters by a series of direct and positive exhortations to a careful fulfillment of the duties prescribed in the first two of the Ten "Words."
What doth the Lord thy God require ... - A noteworthy demand. God has in the Mosaic law positively commanded many things. However, these relate to external observances, which if need be can be enforced. But love and veneration cannot be enforced, even by God himself. They must be spontaneous. Hence, even under the law of ordinances where so much was peremptorily laid down, and omnipotence was ready to compel obedience, those sentiments, which are the spirit and life of the whole, have to be, as they here are, invited and solicited.
On "circumcision" see Gen 17:10. This verse points to the spiritual import of circumcision. Man is by nature "very far gone from original righteousness," and in a state of enmity to God; by circumcision, as the sacrament of admission to the privileges of the chosen people, this opposition must be taken away ere man could enter into covenant with God. It was through the flesh that man first sinned; as it is also in the flesh, its functions, lusts, etc., that man's rebellion against God chiefly manifests itself still. It was fitting therefore that the symbol which should denote the removal of this estrangement from God should be worked in the body. Moses then fitly follows up the command "to circumcise the heart," with the warning "to be no more stiff-necked." His meaning is that they should lay aside that obduracy and perverseness toward God for which he had been reproving them, which had led them into so many transgressions of the covenant and revolts from God, and which was especially the very contrary of that love and fear of God required by the first two of the Ten Commandments. The language associated with circumcision in the Bible distinguishes the use made of this rite in the Jewish religion from that found among certain pagan nations. Circumcision was practiced by some of them as a religious rite, designed (e. g.) to appease the deity of death who was supposed to delight in human suffering; but not by any, the Egyptians probably excepted, at all in the Jewish sense and meaning.
The grounds on which circumcision was imposed as essential by the Law are the same as those on which Baptism is required in the Gospel. The latter in the New Testament is strictly analogous to the former under the Old; compare Col 2:11-12.