And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law of Moses, which he wrote in the presence of the children of Israel.
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George Leo Haydock
Stones, of which the altar was formed, (Calmet) or on a separate monument, (Masius) consisting of two stones of black marble, so as to leave the letters prominent, and to fill up the vacuities with white plaster, that they might be seen more plainly, and might, at the same time, be more durable than if they had been only written on the cement, whatever some may have said of the tenacity of the ancient plaster.
Deuteronomy., or copy of the Decalogue, which, by way of eminence, is called the law, Acts vii. 53. It is distinguished from the blessings and the curses; (ver. 34,) and Moses referred to it, as already existing, (Deuteronomy xxvii. 3, 8,) though the Book of Deuteronomy was not finished till afterwards. He might point to the very tables contained in the ark. "This law, consisting of only 16 verses, might easily be engraved on this solemn day; whereas to engrave the 80 verses of blessings and cursings, would be improbable; and engraving the Pentateuch, or indeed the Book of Deuteronomy, had been impossible. "That the Decalogue was to be thus solemnly proclaimed is evident, from the Samaritan text, Exodus xx. 18. (Kennicott)
This was the covenant which God had made with his people, (Deuteronomy iv. 13,) and which Moses cautions the Israelites to observe; as upon their fidelity, their present and future happiness entirely depended. It was on this title alone that they could hold the land of Chanaan; and therefore Josue takes care thus publicly to admonish them of their duty. (Haydock)
The Rabbins say that the whole Pentateuch was written on this occasion in 70 languages, that no nation might plead ignorance. But we can hardly believe that even the Book of Deuteronomy could be written, and read, and explained to the people, as that would require many days. (Calmet)