Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 3: Harmony of the Law, Part I, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
14. Behold, the heaven, and the heaven of heavens, is the Lord’s thy God, the earth also, with all that therein is.
14. Ecce, Jehovae Dei tui sunt coeli, et coeli coelorum, terra et omnia quae in ea sunt.
15. Only the Lord had a delight in thy fathers to love them, and he chose their seed after them, even you above all people, as it is this day.
15. Tantummodo in patribus tuis beneplacitum est Jehovae, ut diligeret eos: et elegit semen eorum post eos, nempe vos, ex omnibus populis, sicut hodie.
16. Circumcise therefore the foreskin of your heart, and be no more stiff-necked.
16. Circumcidite igitur praeputium cordis vestri, et cervicem vestram ne induretis ultra.
17. For the Lord your God is God of gods, and Lord of lords, a great God, a mighty, and a terrible, which regardeth not persons, nor taketh reward.
17. Jehova enim Deus vester est, Deus deorum, et Dominus dominorum, Deus magnus, potens et terribilis.-
14. Behold the heaven. He again enforces upon them the grace, on account of which we have seen that the people were under obligation to God; because this was the most effectual observation for moving them to submit themselves to their deliverer, to whom they were reminded that they owed altogether themselves and all that they had. First, then, he admonishes them that they differed from others, not by their personal dignity, nor the excellency of their race, but because it pleased God to prefer them, when He ruled equally over all. Literally it is, “Jehovah coveted to love your fathers,” by which expression, as may be gathered from many passages, the feeling of inclination to love them is undoubtedly marked. Jerome, therefore, has not aptly used the word “adhere.” 230 Now, this desire, whereby God was freely and liberally induced, Moses opposes to all other causes, lest Israel should arrogate anything to themselves or their fathers. We must also remark the comparison between the less and the greater; for this was inestimable condescension, that he should in a manner pass by the heaven and earth with all their beauty and abundance, and set His heart upon a few obscure men. To this the limitation refers, that of all people He chose the seed of Abraham alone; for the word רק, rak, is here used exclusively, therefore, I have translated it “tantummodo,” only; unless it should be thought better to render it “But,” or “And yet.” The meaning, however, is clear, that God, having disregarded all the nations of the earth, had gratuitously adopted Abraham and his race. For he says that not only were their fathers loved, but all their descendants in their persons; since otherwise the exhortation which follows would not be suitable.
16. Circumcise, therefore. From this inference it appears wherefore mention was made of this adoption,. viz., that the Jews should more earnestly and solemnly serve God, whom they had known from experience to be so gracious. He requires, then, a reciprocal love; for nothing could be more base than not to testify their gratitude by a pious and righteous life. But, because men are by no means inclined or disposed to obey God, Moses exhorts them to self-renunciation, and to subdue and correct their carnal affections; for to circumcise the heart is equivalent to cleansing it from wicked lusts. Meanwhile, he reproves their former perverseness, when he desires them to be no more stiff-necked; as much as to say, that now at last they should put off that depravity of mind, wherein they had too long hardened themselves. We now perceive the design of Moses. He would have his fellow-Israelites submissive and obedient to God, who, by His great goodness, had furnished them with the motive. But, because hitherto they had repaid His kindnesses with ingratitude, at the same time, he enjoins them to amend their conduct. In the first clause, he alludes to the rite appointed by the Law; for circumcision is, as it were, the solemn consecration, whereby the children of Abraham were initiated unto the worship of God and true piety, and at the same time were separated from heathen nations, to be His holy and peculiar people; and they were to be admitted to this elementary rite in their infancy, that by its visible sign they might learn that the defilements of the flesh and the world were to be renounced. There were also other objects in circumcision, but here reference is only made to newness of life, or repentance (resipiscentia). Wherefore, the conclusion is, that since God had chosen them as His people, and by an external sign had devoted them to the cultivation of holiness, they ought sincerely and really to prove that they differed from heathen nations, and that they were circumcised in spirit, no less than in the flesh. For Paul declares, that they alone are truly Jews who are circumcised “inwardly,” as he says, and not those who only have to boast of “the letter” of circumcision. (Rom. 2:28, 29.) Wherefore, the Prophets frequently taunt the transgressors of the Law by calling them uncircumcised, although they bore the visible sign in their flesh. In fine, when he desires to exhort them to sanctify themselves to God, he reasons from the nature and use of the sign, whereby they professed themselves to be His chosen people. In the second clause, there is an elegant metaphor, of frequent occurrence, taken from oxen; for, since the oxen which quietly offer their necks to the yoke are easily subdued to obedience, those are said to be “stiff-necked” (durae cervicis) which are fierce and obstinate in their nature.
17. For the Lord your God. Lest they should despise this teaching, he reminds them of God’s awful power; for the cause of contempt and negligence is, that the majesty of God does not always obtain its due reverence. Wherefore he inspires them with fear, to deter them from self-indulgence and indifference.
Conglutinatus est. — V.