Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 5: Harmony of the Law, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
11. And Moses charged the people the same day, saying,
11. Praecepitque Moses populo eo die, dicendo:
12. These shall stand upon mount Gerizim to bless the people, when ye are come over Jordan; Simeon, and Levi, and Judah, and Issachar, and Joseph, and Benjamin.
12. Hi stabunt ad benedicendum populo super montem Garizim, quando transieris Jordanem, Simon, et Levi, et Juda, et Issachar, et Joseph, et Benjamin:
13. And these shall stand upon mount Ebal to curse; Reuben, Gad, and Ashur, and Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali.
13. Isti vero stabunt ad maledictionem in monte Ebal, Ruben, Gad, et Aser, et Zebulon, Dan et Nephthali.
14. And the Levites shall speak, and say unto all the men of Israel with a loud voice,
14. Loquentur autem Levitae, ac dicent ad omnem virum Israel voce excelsa:
15. Cursed be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and putteth it in a secret place: and all the people shall answer and say, Amen.
15. Maledictus vir ille qui fecerit sculptile, et conflatile, abominationem Jehovae, opus manuum artificis, et posuerit in abscondito: et respondebunt universus populus, ac dicent, Amen.
16. Cursed be he that setteth light by his father or his mother: and all the people shall say, Amen.
16. Maledictus qui vilipenderit patrem suum, aut matrem suam: et dicet universus populus, Amen.
17. Cursed be he that removeth his neighbor’s land-mark: and all the people shall say, Amen.
17. Maledictus qui transfert terminum proximi sui, et dicet universus populus, Amen.
18. Cursed be he that maketh the blind to wander out of the way: and all the people shall say, Amen.
18. Maledictus qui aberrare facit caecum in via: et dicet universus populus, Amen.
19. Cursed be he that perverteth the judgment of the stranger, fatherless, and widow: and all the people shall say, Amen.
19. Maledictus qui pervertit judicium peregrini, pupilli, et viduae: et dicet universus populus, Amen.
20. Cursed be he that lieth with his father’s wife; because he uncovereth his father’s skirt: and all the people shall say, Amen.
20. Maledictus qui coierit cum uxore patris sui, quia discooperuit oram patris sui, et dicet universus populus, Amen.
21. Cursed be he that lieth with any manner of beast: and all the people shall say, Amen.
21. Maledictus qui coierit cum quovis animali, et dicet universus populus, Amen.
22. Cursed be he that lieth with his sister, the daughter of his father, or the daughter of his mother: and all the people shall say, Amen.
22. Maledictus qui coierit cum sorore sua, filia patris sui, vel filia matris suae, et dicet universus populus, Amen.
23. Cursed be he that lieth with his mother-in-law: and all the people shall say, Amen.
23. Maledictus qui coierit cum socru sua: et dicet universus populus, Amen.
24. Cursed be he that smiteth his neighbor secretly: and all the people shall say, Amen.
24. Maledictus qui percusscrit proximum suum abscondite: et dicet universus populus, Amen.
25. Cursed be he that taketh reward to slay an innocent person: and all the people shall say, Amen.
25. Maledictus qui acceperit munus, ut percutiat plaga animae sanguinem innocentem: et dicet universus populus, Amen.
26. Cursed be he that confirmeth not all the words of this law to do them: and all the people shall say, Amen.
26. Maledictus qui non stabilierit verba Legis istius faciendo illa: et dicet universus populus, Amen.
11. And Moses charged the people the same day. In order that both the promises and threats might have more efficacy in affecting the minds of all, God enjoined not only that they should be proclaimed in a solemn rite, but also that they should be approved by the people in a loud voice, and sealed, as it were, by their consent. It is elsewhere recorded that this was faithfully performed by Joshua. (Jos 8:33.) Let it suffice to say at present that they were all summoned, and conducted before God to subscribe to them, so that henceforth all subterfuge might be put an end to. The tribes of Israel were divided into two parties, that they might stand opposite to each other, and that the blessings might sound forth from one side, and the curses from the other, 196 like ἀντίστροφοι. I confess I do not know why the descendants of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin, were chosen by God to proclaim the blessings, rather than the others; 197 for there is no force in the opinion of the Hebrew writers that those who descended from free mothers were placed in the post of highest dignity: since the tribe of the first-born, Reuben, was united with some who sprang from the bond-maids; unless, perhaps, we may say that the descendants of Reuben were degraded into the second class as a mark of ignominy; but, since both the blessings and curses were offered in the name of the whole people, it is not a point of much importance. For, if this division 198 was made to bear witness to their common consent, it was equivalent to their all alike confessing that the transgressors of the Law were accursed, and those who kept it blessed; and consequently I am not very curious to know why, in their common office, God preferred some to the others. Moses will elsewhere relate that the tribes, which are here separated, were then united together. It would perhaps be a probable conjecture that God, who well knew what would hereafter be the inheritance of every tribe, placed them severally in that station which would correspond to their future allotment.
In order that the sanction might have more solemnity, God chose that the Levites should dictate the words as if He Himself spoke from heaven; for, since they were appointed to be the expounders of the Law, as it behooved them faithfully to repeat what God had dictated out of His own mouth, so they were heard with greater attention and reverence.
15. Cursed be the man that maketh any graven. Hence it appears that Moses is silent as to the half (of what he had spoken of before; 199 ) for no mention is made of the blessings 200 which occupied before the first place. Perhaps the Spirit would indirectly rebuke the wickedness of the people, from whence it arose that He was not at liberty to proclaim the praises conveyed in the blessings; for, when they ought to have embraced cheerfully the reward promised to them, their ungodliness deprived them of this honor; and nothing remained but that they should submit themselves to the just punishment of their iniquities. Meanwhile, it cannot be doubted but that they were taught by the forms of cursing which we here read what course was to be observed in blessing. For, when God pronounces His condemnation of transgressors, we may hence infer that the hope of blessedness is laid up for His true servants, if any fulfill His law. Besides, in the list of curses here recorded, a synecdoche is to be observed, since no special curse is separately denounced against blasphemers, perjurers, Sabbath-breakers, slanderers, and adulterers. It is plain, therefore, that some kinds of crime which were worthy of the greatest abomination, were selected, in order that the people might learn from hence that transgression against any particular of the Law would not be unpunished; for, by speaking of graven images, God undoubtedly defends His worship from all pollutions; and thus this curse extends to every breach of the First Table. Moreover, when He threatens to punish secret sins, we may readily infer that, although offenders might be hidden from earthly judges, and escape from their hands a hundred times, still God would be the avenger of His polluted worship. If any had put an idol in a secret place, or had smitten his neighbor secretly, he will not suffer the punishment which cannot be inflicted unless his crime be detected, and he is convicted of the offense; but, lest impunity should encourage any one to become obdurate in sin, the people are summoned before the heavenly tribunal of God, that they may be retained in the path of duty, not only by the fear of punishment, but for conscience-sake. Whence, again, it is clear that God did not only deliver a political Law, which should merely direct their outward morals, but one which would require true sincerity of heart.
16. Cursed be he that setteth light by his father. What follows refers to the Second Table of the Law; and, first, He pronounces those cursed who should be undutiful (impii) to their parents; for the word קלל, kalal, 201 which means to despise, as well as to curse, is put in opposition to the honor which, by the Fifth Commandment, is due to our father and mother. Then He mentions such thefts as generally escape the knowledge of men; as also, He only adverts to those acts of fornication which are anxiously concealed on account of their filthiness. To have connection with a beast, with one’s mother-in-law, or step-mother, or sister, is so unnatural and detestable a crime, that it is generally concealed more carefully. But God admonishes us that, whatever modes of concealment the sinner shall adopt, they will profit him nothing, but that, when He shall at length ascend His judgment-seat, their shame shall be discovered. For the same reason he does not curse all murderers, but only such as have shed innocent blood for hire, which nefarious compact cannot easily be discovered so as to be punished by laws. 202
26. Cursed is he that confirmeth not. Although it was God’s purpose to summon the consciences of all men before Him, and, in order that they might not only fear human judgments, He designedly threatened them with the punishment of secret sins, yet the conclusion, which is now added, extends the same judgment to all iniquities of whatever kind. Nay, He briefly declares, that whosoever shall not perform what the Law requires, are accursed. From whence Paul rightly infers, that “as many as are of the works of the Law are under the curse.” (Ga 3:10.) For let the most perfect man come forward, and, although he may have striven ever so diligently to keep the Law, he will have at least offended in some point or other; since the declaration of James must be borne in mind, “Whosoever shall keep the whole law, and yet offend in one point, he is guilty of all;” for he that forbade murder and adultery, forbade theft also. (Jas. 2:10, 11.) Paul indeed does not quote the very words of Moses, for he thus cites his testimony;
“Cursed is every one that continueth not in all things which are written in the book of the law to do them,” (Ga 3:10;)
but there is no difference in the sense, since all are here condemned without exception, who have not confirmed the Law of God, so as to fulfill to the uttermost whatever it contains. Whence if is clear that, in whatever respect the deficiency betrays itself, it brings men under the curse; and to this the Israelites are commanded to assent, so as to acknowledge that they were all without exception lost, since they were involved in the curse. And now-a-days, also, it is necessary that we should all to a man be struck with the same despair, in order that, embracing the grace of Christ, we should be delivered from this melancholy state of guilt; since he was made accursed for us, that He might redeem us from the curse of the Law. (Ga 3:13.)
“Comme correspondantes.” — Fr. “It was also customary on some occasions to dance round the altars whilst they sung the sacred hymns, which consisted of three stanzas or parts; the first of which, called strophe, was sung in turning from east to west; the other, named antistrophe, in returning from west to east: then they stood before the altar and sung the epode, which was the last part of the song.” — Potter’s Antiq. of Greece, Book II. chap. 4.
“The six nobler tribes answered amen to the blessings; the six more ignoble to the curses, viz., four who descended from the children of the hand-maids, i.e., Gad, Asher, Dan, and Naphtali, to whom Reuben is added, because he had defiled his father’s bed incestuously; and Zebulun, because he was the youngest son of Leah. So Raban and Theod., q. 34.” — Corn. a Lapide, in loco.
“De six a six.” — Fr.
Added from Fr.
“Howbeit, though Moses appointed these to bless, yet he expresseth not the blessings; by such silence leading his prudent reader to look for them by another, which is Christ. Joh 1:17, Ac 3:26. For silence in the holy story often implieth great mysteries, as the Apostle (in Heb 7:1-28.) teacheth from the narration of Melchisedek, in Ge 14:18-20.” — Ainsworth.
He assumes, what is scarcely tenable, that מקלה is derived from קלל rather than from קלה — W
“Des hommes.” — Fr.