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Deuteronomy 32:16-21

Context

32:16 They made him jealous with other gods, 1 

they enraged him with abhorrent idols. 2 

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 3  had not known about.

32:18 You have forgotten 4  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, 5 

I will see what will happen to them;

for they are a perverse generation,

children 6  who show no loyalty.

32:21 They have made me jealous 7  with false gods, 8 

enraging me with their worthless gods; 9 

so I will make them jealous with a people they do not recognize, 10 

with a nation slow to learn 11  I will enrage them.

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

2 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.”

3 tn Heb “your fathers.”

4 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.”

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

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

7 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.

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

9 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!”).

10 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).

11 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.”



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