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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 11:10

 

 

"For the land, into which you are entering to possess it, is not like the land of Egypt from which you came, where you used to sow your seed and water it with your foot like a vegetable garden.

Adam Clarke Commentary

Wateredst it with thy foot - Rain scarcely ever falls in Egypt, and God supplies the lack of it by the inundations of the Nile. In order to water the grounds where the inundations do not extend, water is collected in ponds, and directed in streamlets to different parts of the field where irrigation is necessary. It is no unusual thing in the East to see a man, with a small mattock, making a little trench for the water to run by, and as he opens the passage, the water following, he uses his foot to raise up the mould against the side of this little channel, to prevent the water from being shed unnecessarily before it reaches the place of its destination. Thus he may be said to water the ground with his foot. See several useful observations on this subject in Mr. Harmer, vol. i., pp. 23-26, and vol. iii., p. 141. "For watering land an instrument called janta is often used in the north of Bengal: It consists of a wooden trough, about fifteen feet long, six inches wide, and ten inches deep, which is placed on a horizontal beam lying on bamboos fixed in the bank of a pond or river in the form of a gallows. One end of the trough rests upon the bank, where a gutter is prepared to carry off the water, and the other is dipped into the water by a man standing on a stage near that end, and plunging it in with his foot. A long bamboo, with a large weight of earth at the farther end of it, is fastened to that end of the janta near the river, and passing over the gallows, poises up the janta full of water, and causes it to empty itself into the gutter." This, Mr. Ward supposes, illustrates this passage. See Hindoo Customs, etc., vol. iii., p. 104. But after all, the expression, wateredst it with thy foot, may mean no more than doing it by labor; for, as in the land of Egypt there is scarcely any rain, the watering of gardens, etc., must have been all artificial. But in Judea it was different, as there they had their proper seasons of rain. The compound word ברגל beregel, with, under, or by the foot, is used to signify any thing under the power, authority, etc., of a person; and this very meaning it has in the sixth verse, all the substance that was in their possession, is, literally, all the substance that was under their feet, ברגליהם beragleyhem, that is, in their power, possession, or what they had acquired by their labor.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Another motive for fidelity is added, namely, the entire dependence of the promised land upon God for its fertility. It was “a land flowing with milk and honey;” yet this its richness was not, as was that of Egypt, the reward of truman skill and labor, but was, on the contrary, the gift of God simply and entirely; the effect of “the former and the latter rains” sent by Him. The spiritual significance of these and many other such peculiarities of the promised land must not be overlooked.

Egypt and Canaan are distinguished in this and the following verses, by certain of their most remarkable physical traits. Canaan as a mountainous country (compare Deuteronomy 3:25 note) was well watered, but by the rains of heaven, on which it absolutely depended for its crops. Artificial irrigation could do nothing to remedy this dependence. Hence, it was a land on which, so long as God‘s people were faithful and consequently prosperous, “the eyes of God” would always be: i. e., He would supply at each successive season (compare Deuteronomy 11:14-15) the useful conditions of productiveness. But Egypt, fit emblem here as elsewhere of the world of nature in distinction from the world of grace, though of course deriving its all ultimately from the Giver of all good things, yet directly and immediately owed its riches and plenty to human ingenuity and capital. It enjoyed no rain worth speaking of, but drew its water supply from the annum overflowing of the Nile. This only lasts about a hundred days; but is rendered available for agricultural purposes throughout the year by an elaborate and costly system of tanks, canals, forcing machines, etc. To these mechanical appliances allusion is made in Deuteronomy 11:10. The inhabitants of Egypt probably watered “with the foot” in two ways, namely, by means of tread-wheels working sets of pumps, and by means of artificial channels connected with reservoirs, and opened, turned, or closed by the feet. Both methods are still in use in Egypt.


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Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/deuteronomy-11.html. 1870.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

For the land whither thou goest in to possess it,.... The land of Canaan they were about to take possession of:

is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out; either the whole land of Egypt, or that part of it, Rameses, in which Israel dwelt, and which was the best of it, as Jarchi observes, and yet Canaan exceeded that; though the design of this passage is not so much to set forth the superior excellency and fertility of the land of Canaan to that of Egypt, which was certainly a very fruitful country; see Genesis 13:10 but to observe some things in which they differed, whereby they both became fruitful, and in which Canaan had the advantage:

where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs; as a gardener when he has sowed his seed, or planted his plants, waters them that they may grow, by carrying his water pot from bed to bed, which requires much labour and toil. In Egypt rain seldom fell, especially in some places it was very rare, though that there was none at all is a vulgar mistake; See Gill on Zechariah 14:18 F5See also Vansleb's Relation of a Voyage to Egypt, p. 213. who speaks of large rains in Egypt. . To supply the want of it the river Nile overflowed once a year, which not only moistened the earth, but left mud or slime upon it, which made it fruitful; but this was not sufficient, for what through the river not overflowing enough sometimes, and so as to reach some places, and through the heat of the sun hardening the earth again, it was found necessary to cut canals from it, and by water from thence to water it, as a gardener waters his seed and plants; and it is to this watering that respect is here had, not to the overflowing of the Nile, for that was before the seed was sown; but to the watering of it out of the canals, which was done after it was sown; the former was without any trouble of theirs, the latter with much labour; the manner in which it is done is expressed by the phrase "with thy foot", which the Targum explains "by thyself", by their own labour and industry. Jarchi is more particular; "the land of Egypt had need to "have water brought from the Nile with thy foot; he seems to have understood the phrase to signify carrying water on foot from the Nile to the place where it was wanted; but the custom still in use in Egypt, when they water their fields, plantations, or gardens, will give us a clear understanding of this phrase; as a late traveller informs usF6Shaw's Travels, p. 408. , the water is drawn out of the river (Nile) by instruments, and lodged in capacious cisterns; when plants require to be refreshed, they strike out the plugs that are fixed in the bottoms of the cisterns, and then the water gushing out, is conducted from one rill to another by the gardener, who is always ready as occasion requires to stop and divert the torrent by turning the earth against it "with his foot", and opening at the same time with his mattock a new trench to receive it: and to the same purpose another learned personF7Clayton's Chronology of the Hebrew Bible, p. 478. has observed, that at other times (than the flowing of the Nile) they are obliged to have recourse to art, and to raise the water out of the river and some deep pits by the help of machines, which water is afterwards directed in its course by channels cut in the ground, which convey the water to those places where it is wanted; and when one part of the ground is sufficiently watered, they then stop that channel, by thrusting some earth into the entrance of it "with their foot", and then also "with their foot" open a passage into the next channel, and so on: and Philo the JewF8De Confusione Ling p. 325. speaks of a machine with which they used to water fields, and was worked with the feet by going up the several steps within, which gave motion to it.


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Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-11.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, [is] not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst [it] with thy d foot, as a garden of herbs:

(d) By making gutters for the water to come out of the Nile river to water the land.

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Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/deuteronomy-11.html. 1599-1645.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:

With thy foot — That is, with great pains and labour of thy feet, partly by going up and down to fetch water and disperse it, and partly by digging furrows with thy foot, and using engines for distributing the water, which engines they thrust with their feet. For tho' the river Nile did once in a year overflow the grounds, and made them fruitful, yet often it failed them, at least in part, and then they were put to great pains about their ground. And when it did overflow sufficiently, and left its mud upon the earth, yet that mud was in a little time hardened, and needed another watering, and much digging and labour both of the hand and feet, especially in places more remote from that river; which inconvenience Canaan was free from.


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Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/deuteronomy-11.html. 1765.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 11:10 For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, [is] not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst [it] with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:

Ver. 10. And wateredst it with thy foot.] Fetching and carrying water, called therefore the water of their feet, as our life is called, "the life of our hands," [Isaiah 57:10] because maintained with the labour of our hands.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". John Trapp Complete Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1865-1868.

Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible

Ver. 10. And wateredst it with thy foot That is, with labour; for it is not Moses's design to compare the countries with respect to fertility; but with respect to the labour which it took in one to receive the fruits of the earth, and the facility with which they were received in the other; at the same time making the people sensible that they were to depend immediately, and in an especial manner, upon God's providence. As Egypt was not watered from heaven, but by the Nile only, they were used to supply the want of rain in an artificial manner. Dr. Shaw, upon this subject, observes, that "such vegetable productions as require more moisture than what is occasioned by the inundation, are refreshed by water drawn out of the river by instruments, and lodged afterwards in capacious cisterns. Archimedes's screw seems to have been the first that was made use of upon these occasions; though at present the inhabitants serve themselves with leathern buckets, or else with a sakiah (as they call the Persian wheel), which is the general as well as the most useful machine. However, engines and contrivances of both these kinds are placed all along the banks of the Nile, from the sea quite up to the cataracts; and as these banks, i.e. the land itself, become higher in proportion as we advance up the river, the difficulty of raising water becomes so much the greater. When therefore their various sorts of pulse, safranon, or carthamus, musa, melons, sugar-canes, &c. all of which are commonly planted in rills, require to be refreshed, they strike out the plugs that are fixed in the bottoms of the cisterns; and then the water gushing out, is conducted from one rill to another, by the gardener, who is always ready as occasion requires, to stop and divert the torrent, by turning the earth against it with his foot, and opening at the same time with his mattock a new trench to receive it. This method of conveying moisture and nourishment to a land rarely or ever refreshed with rain, is often alluded to in the Holy Scriptures, where also it is made the distinguishing quality betwixt Egypt and the land of Canaan." See Travels, p. 408. Another writer observes, that, "as there was very little rain in Egypt, and as the water of the Nile could not be conveyed to all parts of the country without labour, it was therefore watered with the feet in some places. How this was done, we seem not to know, but probably in some such manner as is used to this time among the Chinese, who convey water from one place to another, by treading on certain pieces of wood, or cogs, fixed to an engine. The cogs force the water from a low ground, through a tube into a higher ground. On the coast of Coromandel they also water the land with the feet, but in a different manner; a man walks backwards and forwards on a board, suspended properly, to one end of which a tub is affixed, which falls into the water and fills; the man by walking back, brings the tub up, which is emptied by another man on the ground, whence it runs where it is wanted, and then the first man walks on again. This method is not so good as the Chinese, in which the feet only are employed. It is however watering the land by the feet." The land of Canaan, as well as the land of Egypt, was sometimes subject to drought, and watered by labour. The editor of the observations remarks, that "This drought in summer occasions frequent watering in Judea. Bishop Pococke, in his journey from Acre to Nazareth, observes a well, from whence water, drawn up by oxen, was carried by women in earthen jars up a hill, to water plantations of tobacco. He mentions another well presently after, whose water was drawn up by boys in leathern buckets, and carried off in jars by women, as before. See Pococke's Travels, vol. 2: p. 61. If it should be asked, how does this agree with the present passages, which distinguish the Holy Land from Egypt, by its drinking the rain from heaven, (ver. 11.) while Egypt was watered with the foot? The answer, I imagine, which should be returned, is this: These passages themselves suppose gardens of herbs, and consequently such plantations as these were to be watered by art in the Jewish country; and the difference to be pointed out, was the necessity the Egyptians were under of watering their corn-lands in the same manner to prepare them for sowing; whereas the lands of Judea are prepared by the descent of rain. These lands of Egypt, indeed, are watered by the overflowing of the Nile, and are thereby so saturated with moisture, that, as Maillet assures us, they want no more watering for the producing of corn, and several other things, though the gardens require fresh supplies of moisture every three or four days; but then it is to be remembered, that immense labour was requisite to conduct the waters of the Nile to many of their lands. Maillet himself celebrates those works of the ancient kings of Egypt, by which they distributed the waters of the Nile through their whole country, as the greatest, the most magnificent, and the most admirable of all their works; and these, which they caused their subjects to undergo, were doubtless designed to prevent much heavier, which they must otherwise have submitted to. Perhaps there might be an emphasis in these words of Moses, which has not of late been at all understood: for the last mentioned author tells us, that he was assured, that the large canal which filled the cisterns of Alexandria, and is at least fifteen leagues long, was entirely paved, and its sides lined and supported by walls of brick, which were as perfect as in the times of the Romans. See Maillet's Descript. de l'Egypte, par. 1: p. 45. 144 and par. 2: p. 5, 6. If these bricks were used in the construction of their more ancient canals, and if those made by the Israelites in Egypt were designed for purposes of this kind, they must have heard with great pleasure the words of Moses, assuring them that the country, to which they were going, would want no canals to be dug, no bricks to be prepared for paving and lining them, in order to water it: labours, which had been so bitter to them in Egypt. This account is certainly favoured by Exodus 1:14 where hard bondage in mortar and in brick is joined with the other services of the field.

Philo understands these hard services, of digging canals and cleansing them; and in this view, the mortar and the brick are very naturally joined with them. See de Vit. Mosis, lib. 1: Dr. Shaw has explained the term, watering with the foot: May I take the liberty of adding to it, that this way of watering, by conveying a little stream to the roots of plants, is so universal, that though the Misna forbids all watering of plants in the seventh year, as contrary to the law; yet R. Eleazar, (in Tit. Shebush) allows the watering the leaf of a plant, though not the root? A stranger to the eastern management would hardly know what to make of this indulgence." See Scheuchzer on the place.


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Bibliography
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". Thomas Coke Commentary on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tcc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1801-1803.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

i.e. With great pains and labour of thy feet, partly by going up and down to fetch water and disperse it, and partly by digging furrows with thy foot, and using engines for distributing the water, which engines they thrust with their feet. For though the river Nilus did once in a year overflow the grounds, and made them fruitful, yet ofttimes it failed or scanted them, and then they were put to great pains about their ground; and when it did overflow sufficiently, and left its mud upon the earth, yet that mud was in a little time hardened, and needed another watering and much digging and labour both of the hands and feet, especially in places something higher or more remote from that river; which inconvenience Canaan was free from.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1685.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 11:10. The land is not as the land of Egypt — The fruitfulness of it depends more especially on the divine providence, and therefore you should be careful to serve the Lord, and secure his favour and blessing. Wateredst it with thy foot — That is, with great pains and labour of thy feet; partly by fetching water and dispersing it, and partly by digging furrows, by a spade, with thy foot, and using engines for distributing the water, which engines they wrought with their feet. This is explained by a passage out of Philo, who tells us that the Egyptians, to supply the want of rain, were wont to water their gardens by machines for drawing water, fixed upon the banks of the Nile; which machines were so contrived as to be turned with their feet. So the meaning is, that whereas Egypt was watered by human art, Canaan was watered by rain from heaven, as the next verse explains.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". Joseph Benson's Commentary. http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Gardens. Hebrew, "where thou didst sow the seed, and water it with the foot, as a garden," by means of various machines or wheels, which were turned by the feet. (Philo) --- Solinus (ii. 22, 36,) takes notice of this inconvenience in Egypt. The country is watered only by the Nile, which overflows for six weeks, about the beginning of June. Various canals or reservoirs are formed to preserve a sufficient supply of water during the remainder of the year. Pliny ([Natural History?] xviii.) observes, that "if the Nile rise less than 12, or more than 16 cubits high, famine is inevitable." (Calmet) See Genesis xlii. 3. --- Prince Radzivil saw the canals of Egypt, which the people said had been dug by the Hebrews. Augustus ordered his soldiers to clean them out. (Suetonius, c. 18.) --- After the seed was committed to the earth, it was necessary to water it frequently, as the sun would harden the soil too much. No rain falls in that part of Egypt where the Hebrews had dwelt, according to many respectable authors; (Tirinus) or at least what little may fall is not sufficient to keep the earth moist. Proclus allows that some showers are felt in Lower Egypt, which lies nearest to the Mediterranean Sea; and travellers often take notice of them, in their journeys from Alexandria to Memphis. Yet the country in general is destitute of this advantage, Zacharias xiv. 18. (Lloyd) (Haydock)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

is not = "it [is] not".

as the land of Egypt. Rain very rare in Egypt. Compare Zechariah 14:18.

wateredst . . . foot. Referring to the system of irrigation, by which the water was turned into different channels by the foot.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/deuteronomy-11.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:

For the land, whither thou goest ... is not as the land of Egypt. The physical features of Palestine present a striking contrast to those of the land of bondage. A widely extending plain forms the cultivated portion of Egypt, and on the greater part of this low and level country rain never falls. This natural want is supplied by the annual overflow of the Nile, and by artificial means from the same source-namely, by the pole and bucket, the shadoof of modern Egypt, and by other implements-when the river has receded within its customary channel close by the bank the process of irrigation is very simple. The cultivator opens a small sluice on the edge of the square bed in which seed has been sown, making drill after drill, and when a sufficient quantity of water has poured in, he shuts them up with his foot.

Where the bank is high, the water is drawn up by hydraulic engines, of which there are three kinds used, of different power, according to the subsidence of the stream, simple in construction, and worked by the foot. The water is distributed in small channels or earthen conduits, formed with a mattock by the gardener who directs their course, and which are banked up or opened, as occasion may require, by pressing in the soil with the foot (Bovet, p. 63: cf. Morier).

It is a mistake to say that rain never falls in Egypt. There are a few drops at long intervals-perhaps of 10 years; it is a very rare phenomenon, (Rawlinson's 'Herodotus,' b. 3:, ch. 10:)

Thus was the land watered in which the Israelites had dwelt so long. Such vigilance and laborious industry would not be needed in the promised land; for instead of being visited only at one brief season, and left during the rest of the year under a withering blight, every season it would enjoy the benign influences of a genial climate; the hills would attract the frequent clouds, and in the refreshing showers the blessing of God would specially rest upon the land.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/deuteronomy-11.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers

(10) Not as the land of Egypt.—“But much better. And Egypt was praised above all lands, as it is said (Genesis 13:10), ‘As the garden of the Lord, like the land of Egypt.’ And the land of Goshen, where Israel dwelt, is called ‘the best of the land of Egypt’ (Genesis 47:6). And even this was not so good as the land of Israel” (Rashi).

Wateredst it with thy foot.—An allusion either to the necessity of carrying the water or to the custom of turning the water into little channels with the foot, as it flowed through the garden.


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/deuteronomy-11.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

For the land, whither thou goest in to possess it, is not as the land of Egypt, from whence ye came out, where thou sowedst thy seed, and wateredst it with thy foot, as a garden of herbs:
wateredst it with thy foot
Rain seldom falls in Egypt; the land being chiefly watered by the inundations of the Nile. In order to water the grounds where the inundations do not extend, water is collected in ponds, and directed in streamlets to the different parts of the field where irrigation is necessary. It is no unusual thing in the East to see a man, with a small mattock, making a little trench for the water to run into; and, as he opens the passage, the water following, he uses his foot to raise up the mould against the side of this little channel, to prevent the water from being shed unnecessarily, before it reaches the place of its destination. Hence he may justly be said to water the ground with his foot.
Zechariah 14:18

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 11:10". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". http://odl.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-11.html.

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