1:9-18 Moses reminds the people of the happy constitution of their government, which might make them all safe and easy, if it was not their own fault. He owns the fulfilment of God's promise to Abraham, and prays for the further accomplishment of it. We are not straitened in the power and goodness of God; why should we be straitened in our own faith and hope? Good laws were given to the Israelites, and good men were to see to the execution of them, which showed God's goodness to them, and the care of Moses.
This appointment of the "captains" (compare Exodus 18:21
ff) must not be confounded with that of the elders in Numbers 11:16
ff. The former would number 78,600; the latter were 70 only.
A comparison between this passage and that in Exodus makes it obvious that Moses is only touching on certain parts of the whole history, without regard to order of time, but with a special purpose. This important arrangement for the good government of the people took place before they left Horeb to march direct to the promised land. This fact sets more clearly before us the perverseness and ingratitude of the people, to which the orator next passes; and shows, what he was anxious to impress, that the fault of the 40 years' delay rested only with themselves!
And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do. Delivered to them all the laws, moral, ceremonial, and judicial, which were then given him at Mount Sinai. And I commanded you at that time all the things which ye should do.
"How can I myself alone bear your cumbrance, and your burden, and your strife?" The burden and cumbrance of the nation are the nation itself, with all its affairs and transactions, which pressed upon the shoulders of Moses.
10. ye are this day as the stars of heaven for multitude—This was neither an Oriental hyperbole nor a mere empty boast. Abraham was told (Ge 15:5, 6) to look to the stars, and though they "appear" innumerable, yet those seen by the naked eye amount, in reality, to no more than three thousand ten in both hemispheres. The Israelites already far exceeded that number, being at the last census above six hundred thousand [Nu 26:51]. It was a seasonable memento, calculated to animate their faith in the accomplishment of other parts of the divine promise.
Ye shall not respect persons - Heb. faces. Let not the bold, daring countenance of the rich or mighty induce you to give an unrighteous decision; and let not the abject look of the poor man induce you either to favor him in an unrighteous cause, or to give judgment against him at the demand of the oppressor. Be uncorrupt and incorruptible, for the judgment is God's; ye minister in the place of God, act like Him.
1:18 All the things which ye shall do - I delivered unto you, and especially unto your judges, all the laws, statutes, and judgments revealed unto me by the lord in Horeb.