on Deuteronomy 11 :10
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.
on Deuteronomy 11 :10
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.
on Deuteronomy 11 :10