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Deuteronomy 32:15-27

Context
Israel’s Rebellion

32:15 But Jeshurun 1  became fat and kicked,

you 2  got fat, thick, and stuffed!

Then he deserted the God who made him,

and treated the Rock who saved him with contempt.

32:16 They made him jealous with other gods, 3 

they enraged him with abhorrent idols. 4 

32:17 They sacrificed to demons, not God,

to gods they had not known;

to new gods who had recently come along,

gods your ancestors 5  had not known about.

32:18 You have forgotten 6  the Rock who fathered you,

and put out of mind the God who gave you birth.

A Word of Judgment

32:19 But the Lord took note and despised them

because his sons and daughters enraged him.

32:20 He said, “I will reject them, 7 

I will see what will happen to them;

for they are a perverse generation,

children 8  who show no loyalty.

32:21 They have made me jealous 9  with false gods, 10 

enraging me with their worthless gods; 11 

so I will make them jealous with a people they do not recognize, 12 

with a nation slow to learn 13  I will enrage them.

32:22 For a fire has been kindled by my anger,

and it burns to lowest Sheol; 14 

it consumes the earth and its produce,

and ignites the foundations of the mountains.

32:23 I will increase their 15  disasters,

I will use up my arrows on them.

32:24 They will be starved by famine,

eaten by plague, and bitterly stung; 16 

I will send the teeth of wild animals against them,

along with the poison of creatures that crawl in the dust.

32:25 The sword will make people childless outside,

and terror will do so inside;

they will destroy 17  both the young man and the virgin,

the infant and the gray-haired man.

The Weakness of Other Gods

32:26 “I said, ‘I want to cut them in pieces. 18 

I want to make people forget they ever existed.

32:27 But I fear the reaction 19  of their enemies,

for 20  their adversaries would misunderstand

and say, “Our power is great, 21 

and the Lord has not done all this!”’

1 tn To make the continuity of the referent clear, some English versions substitute “Jacob” here (NAB, NRSV) while others replace “Jeshurun” with “Israel” (NCV, CEV, NLT) or “the Lord’s people” (TEV).

sn Jeshurun is a term of affection derived from the Hebrew verb יָשַׁר (yashar, “be upright”). Here it speaks of Israel “in an ideal situation, with its ‘uprightness’ due more to God’s help than his own efforts” (M. Mulder, TDOT 6:475).

2 tc The LXX reads the third person masculine singular (“he”) for the MT second person masculine singular (“you”), but such alterations are unnecessary in Hebrew poetic texts where subjects fluctuate frequently and without warning.

3 tc Heb “with strange (things).” The Vulgate actually supplies diis (“gods”).

4 tn Heb “abhorrent (things)” (cf. NRSV). A number of English versions understand this as referring to “idols” (NAB, NIV, NCV, CEV), while NLT supplies “acts.”

5 tn Heb “your fathers.”

6 tc The Hebrew text is corrupt here; the translation follows the suggestion offered in HALOT 1477 s.v. שׁיה. Cf. NASB, NLT “You neglected”; NIV “You deserted”; NRSV “You were unmindful of.”

7 tn Heb “I will hide my face from them.”

8 tn Heb “sons” (so NAB, NASB); TEV “unfaithful people.”

9 sn They have made me jealous. The “jealousy” of God is not a spirit of pettiness prompted by his insecurity, but righteous indignation caused by the disloyalty of his people to his covenant grace (see note on the word “God” in Deut 4:24). The jealousy of Israel, however (see next line), will be envy because of God’s lavish attention to another nation. This is an ironic wordplay. See H. Peels, NIDOTTE 3:938-39.

10 tn Heb “what is not a god,” or a “nondeity.”

11 tn Heb “their empty (things).” The Hebrew term used here to refer pejoratively to the false gods is הֶבֶל (hevel, “futile” or “futility”), used frequently in Ecclesiastes (e.g., Eccl 1:1, “Futile! Futile!” laments the Teacher, “Absolutely futile! Everything is futile!”).

12 tn Heb “what is not a people,” or a “nonpeople.” The “nonpeople” (לֹא־עָם, lo-am) referred to here are Gentiles who someday would become God’s people in the fullest sense (cf. Hos 1:9; 2:23).

13 tn Heb “a foolish nation” (so KJV, NAB, NRSV); NIV “a nation that has no understanding”; NLT “I will provoke their fury by blessing the foolish Gentiles.”

14 tn Or “to the lowest depths of the earth”; cf. NAB “to the depths of the nether world”; NIV “to the realm of death below”; NLT “to the depths of the grave.”

sn Sheol refers here not to hell and hell-fire – a much later concept – but to the innermost parts of the earth, as low down as one could get. The parallel with “the foundations of the mountains” makes this clear (cf. Pss 9:17; 16:10; 139:8; Isa 14:9, 15; Amos 9:2).

15 tn Heb “upon them.”

16 tn The Hebrew term קֶטֶב (qetev) is probably metaphorical here for the sting of a disease (HALOT 1091-92 s.v.).

17 tn A verb is omitted here in the Hebrew text; for purposes of English style one suitable to the context is supplied.

18 tc The LXX reads “I said I would scatter them.” This reading is followed by a number of English versions (e.g., KJV, ASV, NIV, NCV, NRSV, NLT, CEV).

19 tn Heb “anger.”

20 tn Heb “lest.”

21 tn Heb “Our hand is high.” Cf. NAB “Our own hand won the victory.”



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