Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 29:18 - 29:18

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 29:18 - 29:18


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“That there may not be among you,” etc.: this sentence may be easily explained by introducing a thought which may be easily supplied, such as “consider this,” or “do not forget what ye have seen, that no one, either man or woman, family or tribe, may turn away from Jehovah our God.” - “That there may not be a root among you which bears poison and wormwood as fruit.” A striking image of the destructive fruit borne by idolatry (cf. Heb 12:15). Rosh stands for a plant of a very bitter taste, as we may see from the frequency with which it is combined with לַעֲנָה, wormwood: it is not, strictly speaking, a poisonous plant, although the word is used in Job 20:16 to denote the poison of serpents, because, in the estimation of a Hebrew, bitterness and poison were kindred terms. There is no other passage in which it can be shown to have the meaning “poison.” The sense of the figure is given in plain terms in Deu 29:19, “that no one when he hears the words of this oath may bless himself in his heart, saying, I will prosper with me, for I walk in the firmness of my heart.” To bless himself in his heart is to congratulate himself. שְׁרִירוּת, firmness, a vox media; in Syriac, firmness, in a good sense, equivalent to truth; in Hebrew, generally in a bad sense, denoting hardness of heart; and this is the sense in which Moses uses it here. - “To sweep away that which is saturated with the thirsty:” a proverbial expression, of which very different interpretations have been given (see Rosenmüller ad h. l.), taken no doubt from the land and transferred to persons or souls; so that we might supply Nephesh in this sense, “to destroy all, both those who have drunk its poison, and those also who are still thirsting for it” (Knobel). But even if we were to supply אֶרֶץ (the land), we should not have to think of the land itself, but simply of its inhabitants, so that the thought would still remain the same.