Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 4: Harmony of the Law, Part II, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
12. When thou hast made an end of tithing all the tithes of thine increase the third year, which is the year of tithing, and hast given it unto the Levite, the stranger, the fatherless, and the widow, that they may eat within thy gates, and be filled;
12. Postquam compleveris decimare omnes decimas fructuum tuorum anno tertio, anno decimae, et dederis Levitae, peregrino, pupillo, et viduae, et comederint intra portas tuas, et saturati fuerint:
13. Then thou shalt say before the LORD thy God, I have brought away the hallowed things out of mine house, and also have given them unto the Levite, and unto the stranger, to the fatherless, and to the widow, according to all thy commandments which thou hast commanded me: I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them:
13. Tunc dices coram Jehova Deo tuo, Subduxi sanctificatum e domo, et etiam dedi illud Levitae, et peregrino, pupillo, et viduae, secundum omne prtaeceptum tuum quod praecepisti mihi: non transgressus sum a praeceptis tuis, neque oblitus sum.
14. I have not eaten thereof in my mourning, neither have I taken away ought thereof for any unclean use, nor given ought thereof for the dead: but I have hearkened to the voice of the LORD my God, and have done according to all that thou hast commanded me.
14. Non comedi in tristitia mea ex eo, neque subduxi ex eo in pollutione, neque dedi quicquam ex eo in funere: obedivi voci Jehovae Dei mei: feci secundum omnia qum praecepisti mihi.
15. Look down from thy holy habitation, from heaven, and bless thy people Israel, and the land whieh thou hast given us, as thou swarest unto our fathers, a land that floweth with milk and honey.
15. Respice de habitaculo sanctitatis tuae, e coelo, et benedic populo tuo Israeli, et terrae quam dedisti nobis, quemadmodum juravisti patribus nostris, terrae fluenti lacte et melle.
12. When thou hast made an end of tithing. In this passage Moses urgently stimulates them to offer the tithes willingly and abundantly, by placing God, as it were, before their eyes, as if they paid them into his hand: for a solemn protestation is enjoined, in which they condemn themselves as guilty before God, if they have not faithfully paid the tax imposed upon them; but they pray for grace and peace if they have honestly discharged their duty. For nothing can be more awakening to men, than when 219 God is introduced as the judge of any particular matter. This is the reason why he commands them to protest in God’s sight that they have obeyed His ordinance in the payment of their tithes. To separate, or “bring away out of the house,” is equivalent to their being conscious of no fraud in withholding from God what was His; and thus that they were guiltless of sacrilege, since they had not diverted anything holy to their private use. What follows, “I have not transgressed thy commandments, neither have I forgotten them,” must only be referred to the matter in hand; for it would have been too great an act of temerity and arrogance in them, to have boasted that they had kept and fulfilled the Law in every part and parcel. Still this manner of speaking signifies desire rather than perfection; as if they had said, that it was the full purpose of their minds to obey God’s precepts. We must remember, however, what I have said, that this properly refers to the legal ceremonies. With the same meaning it is soon after said, “I have done according to all that thou hast commanded me:” for if they had gloried in their perfection, they had no need of sacrifices, or other means of purification. But as I have just said, God only invites them to examine themselves, 220 so that they may in sincerity of heart call upon Him as the witness of their piety.
14. I have not eaten thereof in my mourning (tristitia) It is clear that the sacred offerings are here spoken of; but the question is, what is meant by eating in mourning? This is the exposition received by almost universal consent; that although want may have tempted them to theft and fraud, yet the people assert that, even in their poverty and straits, they have abstained from the hallowed things; and to this I willingly assent; although this word “mourning” may be taken for the anxiety of a mind conscious of its iniquity in this sense, “I have not knowingly and willingly eaten anything consecrated to God, so that the hot iron (cauterium) of an evil conscience should burn me, in the way in which man’s guilt ever torments and troubles him.” As to the second clause, interpreters differ. Some translate the word ‘בער bagnar, 221 “to destroy:” as if it were said, that they had suffered nothing to perish through uncleanness; but others explain it, I have taken away nothing for a profane purpose. My own opinion is, however, that the word ‘טמא, tama, is used adverbially for “impurely,” so that the people testify that they are not polluted, or contaminated by withholding anything. 222 Thus, in my idea, some do not badly translate it “by uncleanness:” for it was not possible for the Israelites to apply the tithes to other uses, without contracting pollution by their wicked abuse of them. The ambiguity in the third clause is still greater; literally it is, “I have not given thereof to the dead.” In my version I have followed those who refer it to funeral rites; but some suppose that the word “dead” is used metaphorically for an unclean thing; others, in a less natural sense, for expenses, which do not contribute to support man’s life. But it does not yet appear wherefore it should he said that nothing had been spent on funeral rites. It is true that whatever had touched a dead body was unclean; and therefore some expound it, that the victims had not been polluted by any connection with funeral preparations. But if this sense is preferred, the expression must be taken by synecdoche for anything unclean. My own opinion however, is, that under this particular head all things are included which have a shew of piety. The burial of the dead was a praiseworthy office and a religious exercise; 223 so that it might afford a colorable pretext for peculiar laxity; in this word, therefore, God would have the Israelites declare, that they offered no excuse if they had misemployed any of the consecrated things.
15. Look down from thy holy habitation. Whilst they are commanded to offer their prayers and supplications, that God would bless the land, on this condition, that they had not defiled themselves by any sacrilege, at the same time they are reminded, on the other hand, that God’s blessing was not else to be hoped for. Meanwhile the expression is remarkable, “Bless the land which thou hast given us, a land that floweth with milk and honey:” for we infer from hence that the land was not so much fertile by nature, as because God daily watered it by His secret blessing to make it so.
“Il n’y a rien qui esveille mieux les hommes, et les touche plus au vif, que quand Dieu leur est amend et produit pour juge, et qu’ilsont adjournez comme en sa presence:” there is nothing which awakens men more, or touches them more on the quick, than when God is brought forward and produced as their Judge, and when they are summoned as it were into His presence. — Fr.
The Fr. gives a different turn to this, “seulement Dieu les a voulu aussi examiner, en les faisant tesmoins et juges de leur syncerite et rondeur:” God only wished them also to make an examination, calling themselves as witnesses of their own sincerity and integrity.
בער, is to consume, and especially as fire consumes. The verb is here in Pihel, in which conjugation it further signifies to carry away, as rendered in A.V. Our author gives the paraphrase of Aben Ezra, as quoted in S. M. — W.
“En rien appliquant a soy de ce qui appartenoit a Dieu:” by appropriating anything to themselves of what belonged to God. — Fr.
“Telle apparence pouvoit enhardir les gens a y employer les offertes deues a Dieu:” this pretext might embolden the people to employ upon it the offerings due to God. — Fr.