Deuteronomy 1:9-18

9. And I spoke unto you at that time, saying, I am not able to bear you myself alone:

9. Dixi vobis in tempore illo, dicendo, Non possum solus ferre vos.

10. The Lord your God hath multiplied you, and, behold, ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude.

10. Jehova Deus vester multiplicavit vos, ita ut sitis hodie sicut stellae coeli in multitudine.

11. (The Lord God of your fathers make you a thousand times so many more as ye are, and bless you, as he hath promised you!)

11. Jehova Deus patrum vestrorum addat super vos sicut estis, mille vicibus, et benedicat vobis quemadmodum loquutus est vobis.

12. How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?

12. Quomodo feram solus laborem vestrum, et onus vestrum, et lites vestras.

13. Take you wise men, and understanding, and known among your tribes, and I will make them rulers over you.

13. Date ex vobis viros sapientes et intelligentes, et peritos e tribubus vestris, ut praeficiam illos vobis.

14. And ye answered me, and said, The thing which thou hast spoken is good for us to do.

14. Et respondistis mihi atque dixistis, Bona res est quam dixisti ut faciamus.

15. So I took the chief of your tribes, wise men, and known, and made them heads over you, captains ever thousands, and captains over hundreds, and captains over fifties, and captains over tens, and officers among your tribes.

15. Tulique principes tribuum vestrarum, viros sapientes et peritos, ac constitui eos principes super vos, tribunos, et centuriones, et quinquagenarios, et decuriones, et praefectos tribubus vestris.

16. And I charged your judges at that time, saying, Hear the causes between your brethren, and judge righteously between every man and his brother, and the stranger that is with him.

16. Atque praecepi judicibus vestris tempore illo, dicendo, Audite inter fratres vestros, et judicate juste inter virum et fratrem suum, et inter peregrinum ejus.

17. Ye shall not respect persons in judgment, but ye shall hear the small as well as the great; ye shall not be afraid of the face of man; for the judgment is God's: and the cause that is too hard for you, bring it unto me, and I will hear it.

17. Non agnoscetis faciem in ipso judicio: sicut parvum, sic et magnum audietis: non timebitis a facie cujusquam, quia judicium Dei est: rem autem quae gravior erit vobis, referetis ad me, et audiam illam.

18. And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.

18. Praecepique vobis tempore illo onmia quae facere deberetis.

9. And I spoke unto you at that time. He does not here say that the counsel was suggested to him from another quarter, as to the appointment of the judges; but, perhaps, he dared not mention any name to these proud and perverse people, lest they should reject the thing which was otherwise good, from dislike of its author, as a foreigner. No doubt he is here recounting what had before happened; therefore he confesses himself, from his own personal feelings, unequal to bearing the burden, if he alone is set over the whole people. He adduces as the cause the immense multitude amongst whom there must necessarily arise many strifes and controversies. As to what he says of their increase, the commencement of its period must not be taken from the Exodus, but he commemorates the extraordinary and incredible favor of God, because they had so largely multiplied under the cruel tyranny when they were doomed to total destruction; and he adds a prayer, that for the future also the same blessing may attend them. Yet in these words he reminds them that the burden of government would become daily more arduous and weighty; whereby he may more readily persuade them to provide at once for what could not be eventually avoided.

13. Take you wise men. Hence it more plainly appears that those who were to preside in judgment were not appointed only by the will of Moses, but. elected by the votes of the people. And this is the most desirable kind c f liberty, that we should not be compelled to obey every' person who may be tyrannically put over our heads; but which allows of election, so that no one should rule except he be approved of by us. And this is further confirmed in the next verse, wherein Moses recounts that he awaited the consent of the people, and that nothing was attempted which did not please them all. Again, he does not here mention the same virtues as in Exodus 18; but only distinguishes the judges by three qualifications, viz., that they should be wise, and understanding, and experienced, all of which are comprised under one head, that they should possess acuteness of intellect and prudence, confirmed by experience and practice; for neither the greatest probity nor diligence would be sufficient; for the office of ruler, apart from skill and sagacity. 1 But the first epithet which the Hebrews often apply in a bad sense to the crafty and deceitful, here means acute and perspicacious. The second I explain as pointing out prudent persons, endued with sound judgment and discretion. 2 The third may be taken either actively or passively; some therefore translate it known or tried; but here the active sense is most suitable. Thus, then, experience and acquaintance with business is required in judges; because none but the practiced are competent for the management of business.

16. And I charged your judges. This charge is not found in Exodus 18, where the only object of Moses was to point out the origin of the alteration; but now omitting the praise of his father-in-law, he merely recalls to the recollection of the Israelites what he did with them. The sum, however, of the exhortation is, that they should adjudicate impartially between their brethren; which is more fully expressed in the next verse, where they are forbidden to "acknowledge faces." 3 For there can be no greater corruption than to judge from personal appearance, which always draws away men's minds from the merits of the ease. Wherefore Christ rightly opposes these two things to one another, to "judge righteous judgment," and "according to the appearance." (John 7:24.) This even philosophers have perceived, when they have advised that, as far as possible, judges should be restrained by fixed laws, lest;, being left free, they should be swayed this way or that by favor or ill will. And, in point of fact, wherever there is a sufficient capacity of intellect, equity and rectitude will prevail, unless respect to persons influences the judge. It, is plain from the context, where Moses forbids the making a distinction between small and great, what is meant by "acknowledging persons." But although judges often inflict injury upon the poor and wretched out of contempt of them, yet Moses adverts to the more common fault, when he charges them "to be afraid of no man;" since it very often happens that those who are otherwise just, and disposed to study what is equitable and right, are made to swerve through fear of the threats of the powerful, and dare not; manfully encounter their ill will. Moses, therefore, requires magnanimity in judges, so that they may not hesitate to bring upon themselves the hatred of any, in their defense of a good cause. But we must specially observe the reason whereby he corrects their fear and alarm; for he says that they are to be afraid of no mortal man, because "the judgment is God's." He does not here merely remind them, as it; appears to some, that an account must be rendered to God; but shows how absurd it is to turn from the right course out of the fear of man, because thus the majesty of God is prostituted and exposed to scorn; as much as to say that this honor must be paid to God, whose representatives they are, that they should look upon all men as beneath them, and restrain the audacity of rite wicked with such inflexible magnanimity, that God alone may have the preeminence. The same is the object of Jehoshaphat's words:

"Take heed what ye do: for ye judge not for man but for the Lord." (2 Chronicles 19:6.)

If this were thoroughly impressed upon the minds both of magistrates and pastors, they would not vacillate so often; for relying on God's aid, they would stand firmly against all the terrors by which they are so pitifully agitated. Wherefore let all those who are called to any public office, sustain themselves by this doctrine, that they are doing God's work, who is well able to keep them safe from the violence as well as the craftiness of the whole world. Yet, at the same time we are taught by these words that all posts of command are sacred to God, so that whosoever are called to them should reverently and diligently serve God, and ever reflect that His is the dominion whereof they are the ministers.

1 Mymkx, wise men. C. had already said in his Commentary on Exodus 1:10, that the Hebrews often used this epithet in an ill sense, but the assertion is scarcely tenable. -- W.

2 Myedy. The third characteristic can only be said to be ambiguous by such as reject the authority of the Hebrew points. The translators who admit that authority must hold this participle to be passive: and therefore our A. V. renders the clause, known among your tribes. -- W.

3 So margin A. V.


Back to

These files are public domain. This electronic edition was downloaded from the Christian Classics Ethereal Library.