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Calvin's Commentaries, Vol. 6: Harmony of the Law, Part IV, tr. by John King, [1847-50], at

Deuteronomy 4

Deut. 4:21, 22

21. Furthermore, the Lord was angry with me for your sakes, and sware that I should not go over Jordan, and that I should go in unto that good land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance;

21. Jehova iratus fuit contra me propter verba vestra, juravitque quod non transirem Jordanem, neque ingrederer terram bonam, quam Jehova Deus tuus dat tibi in haereditatcm.

22. But I must die in this land, I must not go over Jordan: but ye shall go over, and possess that good land.

22. Ego enim morior in hac terra, neque transeo Jordanem: vos antem transitis, ut possideatis terram istam bonam.


21. Furthermore, the Lord was angry with me. He again records that it arose from the transgression of the people that he was not permitted to enter the land, not by way of expostulation, and much less in order to accuse God of cruelty, as if he had been improperly and unjustly substituted as a criminal in the place of others, but rather to magnify the goodness of God towards those whom He had treated with so much indulgence. For we must observe the comparison, that, whilst they were to enjoy the land, he was to be prevented from entering it. “I must die (he says) in this land” of Moab, whilst to you it is given to enjoy the promised inheritance. We perceive, therefore, that they are upbraided with their guilt in such a way that all the bitterness of the reproof is sweetened by the sense of God’s mercy; nay, that by this sweetness they may be ravished into admiration, when they understand how mercifully that pardon is extended to them, which was denied to Moses.

The sense of the expression which I have rendered “for your words,”  241 might be “for your things,” inasmuch as the Hebrews call men’s affairs (negotia), דברים, debarim. Assuredly, although he had been impelled to sin by their rebellious clamors, he simply states that he was now punished on their account. If any should inquire why he lays the blame on them, whereas the actual offenders were most of them dead, the reply is obvious, that many of them were still surviving, and that it is no novelty that the children should be included with the fathers, when the whole body of a people has sinned.



A. V., “for your sakes;” (דברים.)

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