Deu 5:1-5 form the introduction, and point out the importance and great significance of the exposition which follows. Hence, instead of the simple sentence “And Moses said,” we have the more formal statement “And Moses called all Israel, and said to them.” The great significance of the laws and rights about to be set before them, consisted in the fact that they contained the covenant of Jehovah with Israel.
“Jehovah our God made a covenant with us in Horeb; not with our fathers, but with ourselves, who are all of us here alive this day.” The “fathers” are neither those who died in the wilderness, as Augustine supposed, nor the forefathers in Egypt, as Calvin imagined; but the patriarchs, as in Deu 4:37. Moses refers to the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, which was essentially distinct from the covenant at Sinai, which was essentially distinct from the covenant made with Abraham (Gen 15:18), though the latter laid the foundation for the Sinaitic covenant. But Moses passed over this, as it was not his intention to trace the historical development of the covenant relation, but simply to impress upon the hearts of the existing generation the significance of its entrance into covenant with the Lord. The generation, it is true, with which God made the covenant at Horeb, had all died out by that time, with the exception of Moses, Joshua, and Caleb, and only lived in the children, who, though in part born in Egypt, were all under twenty years of age at the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai, and therefore were not among the persons with whom the Lord concluded the covenant. But the covenant was made not with the particular individuals who were then alive, but rather with the nation as an organic whole. Hence Moses could with perfect justice identify those who constituted the nation at that time, with those who had entered into covenant with the Lord at Sinai. The separate pronoun (we) is added to the pronominal suffix for the sake of emphasis, just as in Gen 4:26, etc.; and אֵלֶּה again is so connected with אֲנַחְנוּ, as to include the relative in itself.
“Jehovah talked with you face to face in the mount out of the midst of the fire,” i.e., He came as near to you as one person to another. בְּפָנִים פָּנִים is not perfectly synonymous with פָּנִים אֶל פָּנִים, which is used in Exo 33:11 with reference to God's speaking to Moses (cf. Deu 34:10, and Gen 32:31), and expresses the very confidential relation in which the Lord spoke to Moses as one friend to another; whereas the former simply denotes the directness with which Jehovah spoke to the people. - Before repeating the ten words which the Lord addressed directly to the people, Moses introduces the following remark in Deu 5:5 - “I stood between Jehovah and you at that time, to announce to you the word of Jehovah; because ye were afraid of the fire, and went not up into the mount” - for the purpose of showing the mediatorial position which he occupied between the Lord and the people, not so much at the proclamation of the ten words of the covenant, as in connection with the conclusion of the covenant generally, which alone in fact rendered the conclusion of the covenant possible at all, on account of the alarm of the people at the awful manifestation of the majesty of the Lord. The word of Jehovah, which Moses as mediator had to announce to the people, had reference not to the instructions which preceded the promulgation of the decalogue (Exo 19:11.), but, as is evident from Deu 5:22-31, primarily to the further communications which the Lord was about to address to the nation in connection with the conclusion of the covenant, besides the ten words (viz., Exo 20:18; 22:1-23:33), to which in fact the whole of the Sinaitic legislation really belongs, as being the further development of the covenant laws. The alarm of the people at the fire is more fully described in Deu 5:25. The word “saying” at the end of Deu 5:5 is dependent upon the word “talked” in Deu 5:4; Deu 5:5 simply containing a parenthetical remark.