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Commentary Recommendations

There are a large number of commentaries on Deuteronomy today. Rather than describe all of them, I will describe several to be aware of and to consider for your personal library.


If you're trying to narrow it down to one to three, here's my summary:


  • for academic detail, consider Tigay 

  • for exegetical discussion with some discussion of theological and practical matters, consider Wright, Block 

  • for application and help in preaching, consider Block

Most pastors would be well served if they had Wright, Tigay, and Block.

Dan Block's commentary on Deuteronomy (2012) in the NIVAC series provides good explanation of the text and has significant discussion of contemporary application. For more in-depth exegesis, a work such as Tigay might be necessary. One reviewer notes that Block's tendency to refer to Moses as a "pastor" might lead one to back-read a New Testament understanding of the pastor into Moses's role (note Deuteronomy's own emphasis on him as a prophet) and also suggests that Block's distinctions of ‘affectionate grace’, ‘electing grace’, ‘saving grace’ and ‘redemptive grace’ appear artificial and overly systematized. Nonetheless, the same reviewer concludes that for preachers and readers of Deuteronomy in general, this commentary is outstanding

Daniel Block Deuteronomy Commentary NIVAC
Jeffrey Tigay Deuteronomy Commentary JPS

Jeffrey Tigay's commentary on Deuteronomy (1991) in the JPS series provides even and balanced exegesis with good awareness of the larger ancient Near Eastern context. He does not provide wider theological discussion or application.

Also from a Jewish commentator, Umberto Cassuto’s Exodus commentary (1967) is excellent, providing concise yet solid and insightful explanation of the text. Like Sarna, he does not provide wider theological discussion or application.

Cassuto Exodus Commentary
Alexander Exodus Commentary Apollos IVP

Desi Alexander’s Exodus commentary (2017) in the Apollos series goes into more detail than most evangelical commentaries in terms of interacting with (and critiquing) source critical theories of the Pentateuch. He has also written a shorter Exodus commentary in the Teach the Text series (2016) though most pastors might find it to be too brief to answer their questions.

William Propp has written the two-volume Exodus commentary for the Anchor Bible series (1999, 2006). Propp’s commentary is not focusing on theology or application, and he writes in general from a historical-critical approach, but those wanting to go into very great depth in the analysis of the Hebrew will find his commentary one of the most thorough discussions available (though be forewarned that the Anchor series uses transliteration in place of Hebrew font, which can prove tricky for those at the front end of their Hebrew studies).

Propp Exodus Commentary Anchor Bible
Propp Exodus Commentary Anchor Bible
Jay Sklar Exodus Commentary ESVEC ESV Expository Commentary Series

I wrote the Exodus volume for the ESV Expository Commentary series (forthcoming, 2024?). My goal was to provide solid exegesis of the text that is rounded out with discussion of theology, apologetic matters, and practical application. The last of these is addressed at some length in the application section of each chapter, which I usually divide into three or four sections that could correspond to the three or four points of a sermon.

Along with the normal goals one has in writing a commentary, I had the following specific goals in mind when writing this one:

  • I tried to be aware of issues in the text that will seem strange, or simply wrong, to modern people. Exodus has many of these, leading to many discussions on apologetic matters related to the book, e.g., the plagues, the death of the firstborn in particular, laws on slavery, etc.

  • Where possible, I’ve tried to use language throughout the commentary that translates well to the person in the pew. (It seems to me that pastors are sometimes left with the hardest work: translating academic parlance into everyday language.)

  • In the application sections, I always kept in mind how this would have applied to an ancient Israelite before I considered how it also applies to us today (this helps keep the application rooted in the original message of the text as opposed to allegorical leapfrogging from the Old Testament into the New Testament).

  • The commentary maintains a strong focus on the grace that God provides to us and on the mission to which he calls us—emphases that are central to Numbers itself.

  • The theology of Exodus through Numbers leads me to believe that we read Exodus best when we read it as the story of the heavenly King (the Lord), who has come to dwell in his palace-tent (the Tabernacle), where he is served by his palace servants (the priests), and which rests in the midst of his covenant people (the Israelites). Reading Exodus through that lens brings it to life in exciting ways.

The Gospel Coalition is publishing commentaries online for free that cover all the books of the Bible. The goal is to translate them into the five most popular languages of the world, thus providing a free mini-library to countless pastors across the globe! I contributed the Exodus volume (as well as Jonah) to the series. 


TGC Commentary by Jay Sklar

So once again, if you're trying to narrow it down to one to three commentaries, here's my summary:


  • for academic detail, consider Stuart, Propp (vol 1, vol 2)

  • for exegetical discussion with some discussion of theological and practical matters, consider Wright, Stuart, and Sklar (forthcoming)

  • for application and help in preaching, consider Wright, Sklar (forthcoming)


Most pastors would be well served if they had Wright, Stuart and Sklar (forthcoming).

*As an Amazon Associate, I receive a small percentage from qualifying purchases made at Amazon.

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