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Deuteronomy 32:15-52

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!”’

32:28 They are a nation devoid of wisdom,

and there is no understanding among them.

32:29 I wish that they were wise and could understand this,

and that they could comprehend what will happen to them.”

32:30 How can one man chase a thousand of them, 22 

and two pursue ten thousand;

unless their Rock had delivered them up, 23 

and the Lord had handed them over?

32:31 For our enemies’ 24  rock is not like our Rock,

as even our enemies concede.

32:32 For their vine is from the stock 25  of Sodom,

and from the fields of Gomorrah. 26 

Their grapes contain venom,

their clusters of grapes are bitter.

32:33 Their wine is snakes’ poison,

the deadly venom of cobras.

32:34 “Is this not stored up with me?” says the Lord, 27 

“Is it not sealed up in my storehouses?

32:35 I will get revenge and pay them back

at the time their foot slips;

for the day of their disaster is near,

and the impending judgment 28  is rushing upon them!”

32:36 The Lord will judge his people,

and will change his plans concerning 29  his servants;

when he sees that their power has disappeared,

and that no one is left, whether confined or set free.

32:37 He will say, “Where are their gods,

the rock in whom they sought security,

32:38 who ate the best of their sacrifices,

and drank the wine of their drink offerings?

Let them rise and help you;

let them be your refuge!

The Vindication of the Lord

32:39 “See now that I, indeed I, am he!” says the Lord, 30 

“and there is no other god besides me.

I kill and give life,

I smash and I heal,

and none can resist 31  my power.

32:40 For I raise up my hand to heaven,

and say, ‘As surely as I live forever,

32:41 I will sharpen my lightning-like sword,

and my hand will grasp hold of the weapon of judgment; 32 

I will execute vengeance on my foes,

and repay those who hate me! 33 

32:42 I will make my arrows drunk with blood,

and my sword will devour flesh –

the blood of the slaughtered and captured,

the chief 34  of the enemy’s leaders!’”

32:43 Cry out, O nations, with his people,

for he will avenge his servants’ blood;

he will take vengeance against his enemies,

and make atonement for his land and people.

Narrative Interlude

32:44 Then Moses went with Joshua 35  son of Nun and recited all the words of this song to the people. 32:45 When Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel 32:46 he said to them, “Keep in mind all the words I am solemnly proclaiming to you today; you must command your children to observe carefully all the words of this law. 32:47 For this is no idle word for you – it is your life! By this word you will live a long time in the land you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.”

Instructions about Moses’ Death

32:48 Then the Lord said to Moses that same day, 32:49 “Go up to this Abarim 36  hill country, to Mount Nebo (which is in the land of Moab opposite Jericho 37 ) and look at the land of Canaan that I am giving to the Israelites as a possession. 32:50 You will die 38  on the mountain that you ascend and join your deceased ancestors, 39  just as Aaron your brother died on Mount Hor 40  and joined his deceased ancestors, 32:51 for both of you 41  rebelled against me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribah Kadesh in the desert of Zin when you did not show me proper respect 42  among the Israelites. 32:52 You will see the land before you, but you will not enter the land that I am giving to the Israelites.”

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.”

22 tn The words “man” and “of them” are not in the Hebrew text, but are supplied in the translation for clarity.

23 tn Heb “sold them” (so NAB, NIV, NRSV, NLT).

24 tn Heb “their,” but the referent (enemies) is specified in the translation for the sake of clarity.

25 tn Heb “vine.”

26 sn Sodom…Gomorrah. The term “vine” is a reference to the pagan deities which, the passage says, find their ultimate source in Sodom and Gomorrah, that is, in the soil of perversion exemplified by these places (cf. Gen 18:20; 19:4-28; Isa 1:10; 3:9; Jer 23:14; Lam 4:6; Ezek 16:44-52; Matt 10:15; 11:23-24).

27 tn Verses 34-35 appear to be a quotation of the Lord and so the introductory phrase “says the Lord” is supplied in the translation.

28 tn Heb “prepared things,” “impending things.” See BDB 800 s.v. עָתִיד.

29 tn The translation understands the verb in the sense of “be grieved, relent” (cf. HALOT 689 s.v. נחם hitp 2); cf. KJV, ASV “repent himself”; NLT “will change his mind.” Another option is to translate “will show compassion to” (see BDB 637 s.v. נחם); cf. NASB, NIV, NRSV.

30 tn Verses 39-42 appear to be a quotation of the Lord and so the introductory phrase “says the Lord” is supplied in the translation for clarity.

31 tn Heb “deliver from” (so NRSV, NLT).

32 tn Heb “judgment.” This is a metonymy, a figure of speech in which the effect (judgment) is employed as an instrument (sword, spear, or the like), the means, by which it is brought about.

33 tn The Hebrew term שָׂנֵא (sane’, “hate”) in this covenant context speaks of those who reject Yahweh’s covenant overtures, that is, who disobey its stipulations (see note on the word “rejecting” in Deut 5:9; also see Deut 7:10; 2 Chr 19:2; Ps 81:15; 139:20-21).

34 tn Or “head” (the same Hebrew word can mean “head” in the sense of “leader, chieftain” or “head” in the sense of body part).

35 tn Heb “Hoshea” (so KJV, ASV), another name for the same individual (cf. Num 13:8, 16).

36 sn Abarim. This refers to the high plateau region of the Transjordan, the highest elevation of which is Mount Pisgah (or Nebo; cf. Deut 34:1). See also the note on the name “Pisgah” in Deut 3:17.

37 map For the location of Jericho see Map5 B2; Map6 E1; Map7 E1; Map8 E3; Map10 A2; Map11 A1.

38 tn In the Hebrew text the forms translated “you will die…and join” are imperatives, but the actions in view cannot really be commanded. The imperative is used here in a rhetorical, emphatic manner to indicate the certainty of Moses’ death on the mountain. On the rhetorical use of the imperative see IBHS 572 §34.4c.

39 tn Heb “be gathered to your people.” The same phrase occurs again later in this verse.

40 sn Mount Hor. See note on the name “Moserah” in Deut 10:6.

41 tn The use of the plural (“you”) in the Hebrew text suggests that Moses and Aaron are both in view here, since both had rebelled at some time or other, if not at Meribah Kadesh then elsewhere (cf. Num 20:24; 27:14).

42 tn Heb “did not esteem me holy.” Cf. NIV “did not uphold my holiness”; NLT “failed to demonstrate my holiness.”



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