In these verses, Moses was stressing that the commandment of the Lord is not as hard as they thought, but it was something that could be achieved. What was requested of them was achievable and did not require expenditure to accomplish. It also did not require a lot of effort or great daring to know and achieve God's secret, but it called for a positive and loving effort to what was already known to them. It was not something that could not be reached as because it was far off, no, it was very near and within their reach. The only thing that was required of them was to hand if they would but seize it.
For this commandment which I command you this day, it is not too hard for you, neither is it far off.
He emphasized that the commandment which contained the statutes and the ordinances was neither too hard for them to know or discover or too far from them. It may be that he thought of how men seek guidance and consulted other gods for wisdom and understanding on how to travel beyond the seas and ascend into the heavens. These were known motifs where one or other is found in, for instance, the Canaanite legend of King Keret. They could have thought of a place that was inaccessible and remote like the sky which was unreachable and the sea that was feared.
It is not in heaven, that you should say, Who will go up for us to heaven, and bring it to us, and make us hear it, that we may do it?
God did not put his commandments beyond the reach of a man. They asked who would go for them because they did not want to get too close to God. If the commandments were in heaven, they would have wanted someone to get them just as they wanted Moses to get them on the mountain. This means there was great danger that lay ahead for they could be easily manipulated by other people such as Balaam. On the other hand, Yahweh's ways were clear and plain to all. They also wanted to make someone make them hear the word. This implies that we're already aware of their weaknesses. They did not want to hear the words from God's own mouth for His voice was very strong and terrible as they had heard it once from Heaven. Someone was to tell it to them so that they may do it and have no excuse.
Nor is it beyond the sea, that you should say, Who will go over the sea for us, and bring it to us, and make us hear it, that we may do it?
No one would go beyond the seas or a great adventure to unknown lands to obtain it for them to hear and do it. There was nothing of the great mystery that would have brought them wisdom and understanding as it had already been given to them openly by God.
But the word is very nigh to you, in your mouth, and in your heart, that you may do it.
The word was already in their hearts that they could do it, it was nowhere far from them. The word had been taught to them, and it was up to them to teach it to their children, speak of it and meditate it in their hearts every day. No one could teach them how to hear and do it. Therefore, it was up to them to make their own choice of hearing and doing according to it. Israelites were unable to keep most of the commandments, but this did not contradict or mislead others. This is because they fell into temptations, sinned but God forgave them.
Romans 10: 5-8
Paul already set out the message and them the verses clear. The Jews did not attain righteousness, not because they never tried but because they did try it. However, the Gentiles achieved righteousness without trying it out. Paul says that the difference is between faith and works. This is because the Jews tried to earn righteousness by keeping the law while the Gentiles received it as a gift from Jesus. Paul stresses out that there are two different ways of salvations; the Old Testament where the only way of salvation is by keeping the law whereas the New Testament is by faith. Paul contrasts the salvation of the fallen man where he is saved by his works instead of faith. Paul uses these verses to address the second generation of the Israelites, children of those led out of Egypt. Their parents perished in the wilderness because of their rebellion and unbelief at Kadesh- Barnea.
Bauer, Walter. A Greek-English Lexicon of the New Testament and Other Early Christian Literature. Translated by William F. Arndt and F.Wilbur Gingrich. 3d ed. Revised and Edited by Frederick William Danker. Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 2000.
Cairns, Ian. Word and Presence: A Commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy. International Theological Commentary. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1992.
Longenecker, Richard. Biblical Exegesis in the Apostolic Period. 2d ed. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1999.
Moo, Doug. The Epistle to the Romans. New International Commentary on the New Testament. Grand Rapids: Eerdmans, 1996.
Seifrid, Mark A. Pauls Approach to the Old Testament in Rom 10:6-8. TrinJ 6 NS (1985): 3-37.
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