Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 5: Harmony of the Law, Part III, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at sacred-texts.com
9. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God, the faithful God, which keepeth covenant and mercy with them that love him, and keep his commandments, to a thousand generations;
9. Scias quod Jehova Deus tuus, est Deus, Deus fidelis, custodiens pactum et misericordiam diligentibus se, et custodientibus praecepta sua, usque ad mille generationes:
10. And repayeth them that hate him to their face, to destroy them: he will not be slack to him that hateth him, he will repay him to his face.
10. Et rependens odio habenti ipsum, in faciem ejus, ut perdat eum: neque tardabit, odio habenti ipsum, in faciem ejus rependet ei.
11. Thou shalt therefore keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the judgments, which I command thee this day, to do them.
11. Custodias ergo praecepta, et statuta, et judicia quae ego praecipio tibi hodie, ut ea facias.
12. Wherefore it shall come to pass, if ye hearken to these judgments, and keep and do them, that the Lord thy God shall keep unto thee the covenant and the mercy which he sware unto thy fathers.
12. Et erit, propterea quod audieritis judicia ista, et custodieritis, feceritisque ea: custodiet Jehova Deus tuus tibi pactum, et misericordiam de quo juravit patribus tuis.
13. And he will love thee, and bless thee, and multiply thee: he will also bless the fruit of thy womb, and the fruit of thy land, thy corn, and thy wine, and thine oil, the increase of thy kine, and the flocks of thy sheep, in the land which he sware unto thy fathers to give thee.
13. Diliget quoque te, et benedicet tibi, multiplicabitque te: benedicet namque fructui ventris tui, et fructui terrae tuae, frumento tuo, et musto tuo, et oleo tuo, foetui boum tuorum, et gregibus ovium tuarum, in terra quam juravit patribus tuis se daturum tibi.
14. Thou shalt be blessed above all people: there shall not be male or female barren among you, or among your cattle.
14. Benedictus eris prae cunctis populis: non erit in te infoecundus, neque infoecunda, neque in jumentis tuis.
15. And the Lord will take away from thee all sickness, and will put none of the evil diseases of Egypt, which thou knowest, upon thee; but will lay them upon all them that hate thee.
15. Auferetque a te Jehova omnem morbum, et onmes aegritudines Aegypti pessimas quas nosti: non ponet illas in te, sed ponet eas in omnibus qui te oderint.
9. Know therefore that the Lord thy God, he is God. The verb 220 might have been as properly translated in the future tense; and, if this be preferred, an experimental knowledge, as it is called, is referred to, as if he had said that God would practically manifest how faithful a rewarder He is of His servants. But if the other reading is rather approved, Moses exhorts the people to be assured that God sits in heaven as the Judge of men, so that they may be both alarmed by the fear of His vengeance, and also attracted by the hope of reward. This declaration, however, 221 was appended to the Second Commandment, and there expounded; for since it is comprehended in the Decalogue, it was not right to separate it from thence; but since it is now repeated in confirmation of the whole Law, it is fitly inserted in this place. It will not be amiss, nevertheless, slightly to advert to what I there more fully explained. The promise stands first, because God chooses rather to invite His people by kindness than to compel them to obedience from terror. The word mercy is coupled with the covenant, that we may know that the reward which believers must expect, does not depend on the merit of their works, since they have need of God’s mercy. We may, however, thus resolve the phrase — keeping the covenant of mercy — or the covenant founded on mercy — or the mercy which He covenanted.
When it is required of believers that they should love God before they keep His Commandments, we are thus taught that the source and cause of obedience is the love wherewith we embrace God as our Father. With respect to the “thousand generations,” it is better that we should refer to the Second Commandment, because it is a point which cannot be hurried over in a few words.
10. And repayeth them that hate him. There is no mention here made of the vengeance “unto the third and fourth generation? 222
Those who expound the passage that God confers kindnesses on the wicked, whilst they are living in this world, 223 that He may at length destroy them in final perdition, wrest the words too violently. Nor is the opinion of others probable, that God repays the wicked with the reward of hatred, in His face, or anger. I therefore interpret it to mean the face of those to whose disobedience God opposes Himself when He humbles their arrogance; for He alludes to their pride and audacity, because they do not hesitate to provoke God, as if He were without the courage or the power to contend with them. He declares, then, that their impudence and brazen front shall avail them nothing, but that He will cast down the impertinence of their countenance, and the insolence of their forehead; and signifies that they shall as certainly feel the judgment which they despise, as if He presented it before their eyes. He adds, moreover, that He will not deal towards the wicked with the clemency which he uses towards His children; for He so chastises them that His correction is always profitable for their salvation, whilst He denounces deadly punishment against the former; for although He seems to deal alike with both, when He inflicts temporal punishment, still, that which is but a medicine for believers, is to the reprobate a foretaste of their eternal destruction. What He says, however, as to taking vengeance without delay, does not seem to accord with other passages of Scripture, in which He declares Himself to be slow to anger, kind, and long-suffering. Besides, it seems also to be contradicted by experience, since He does not immediately hasten to inflict punishment, but proceeds slowly, so as to compensate by His severity for the slowness with which He acts. But we must remember what He says in Ps 90:4, that a thousand years in His sight are but as a single day; and consequently, when we think that He delays, He is, in His infinite wisdom, hastening as much as is necessary. He seems, indeed, to take no notice for a time, that He may thus invite men to repent; but still He declares that He will not delay, but that He will come suddenly, like a whirlwind, to hasten His judgments, lest the ungodly should grow drowsy from their security. Let us, therefore, learn quietly and patiently to wait for the fit season of His vengeance.
12. Wherefore it shall come to pass. God appears so to act according to agreement, as to leave (His people) no hope of His favor, unless they perform their part of it; and undoubtedly this is the usual form of expression in the Law, in which the condition is inserted, that God will do good to His people if they have deserved it by their obedience. Still we must remember what we have elsewhere seen, that, after God has so covenanted with them, He Himself, in order that His promise may not be made of none effect, descends to the gratuitous promise of pardon, whereby He reconciles the unworthy to Himself. Thus the original covenant only avails to man’s condemnation. But when salvation is offered to them gratuitously, their works at the same time become pleasing to God. Inasmuch, however, as the cause of reward is unconnected with men and their works, all calculation of merit is out of the question: still it is profitable to believers that a reward should be promised them if they walk in the commandments of God; since, in His inestimable liberality, He deals with them as if they did something to deserve it.
In conclusion, Moses enumerates some of the proofs of God’s favor, such as fecundity, and an abundance of the fruits of the earth. It is questionable whether by what is added at the end respecting the diseases of Egypt, he means the boils which were generated by the scattered ashes, (Ex 9:8,) or the lice which infested both man and beast, (Ex 8:17,) or whether he extends them to those diseases which had prevailed long before the departure of the people. I am disposed to embrace the latter opinion; 224 for in De 28:27, after mentioning “the botch of Egypt,” he adds “emerods, and the scab, and the itch:” it is, therefore, probable that the Egyptians were subject to various maladies, from which Moses declares that the people should be free by special privilege, if only they obeyed God’s Law.
“Heb. And thou shalt know.” — Ainsworth. “Et scies.” — V.
See on Deut. 5:9, 10, vol. 2, p. 110, et seq.
Added in Fr., “Mais seulement que Dieu punira les delinquans;” but only that God will punish the transgressors.
The question is as to the word פניו, literally his or their face. The first explanation noticed by C., in their lifetime, is that of the Chaldee and Syriac versions, and also of the Hebrew Commentators; the second, in his anger, is attributed in Poole’s Synopsis, amongst others, to S M. Dathe’s translation is, “praesentissima pernicie;” and his note “mihi quidem videtur פנים dictum esse pro nomine reciproco ille, ipse, ut Ex 33:15; De 4:37; 2Sa 17:11. Vide Noldius sub hac voce, num. 2. Latine non commode iisdem verbis exprimi potest. Igitur notionem, quae vocabulo Hebraeo subisse videtur, cum sequenti להאבידו conjunetim indicavi.”
“Certain diseases, peculiar to Egypt, are meant; such as various diseases of the skin, as the scab, elephantiasis, plague, etc. Pliny, Nat. Hist., 26., calls Egypt the mother of such diseases. Even at the present day, there are in Egypt several peculiar diseases, especially ophthalmia, variolous diseases, and plague.” — Rosenmuller. Hengstenberg also, in his “Egypt and the Books of Moses,” has an article on this subject, p. 454, confirmative of the above. He quotes Wagner as calling Egypt, in his Natural History of Man, “a great focus of the diseases in universal history.”