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Deuteronomy 32:21-24

Context

32:21 They have made me jealous 1  with false gods, 2 

enraging me with their worthless gods; 3 

so I will make them jealous with a people they do not recognize, 4 

with a nation slow to learn 5  I will enrage them.

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

and it burns to lowest Sheol; 6 

it consumes the earth and its produce,

and ignites the foundations of the mountains.

32:23 I will increase their 7  disasters,

I will use up my arrows on them.

32:24 They will be starved by famine,

eaten by plague, and bitterly stung; 8 

I will send the teeth of wild animals against them,

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

1 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.

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

3 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!”).

4 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).

5 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.”

6 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).

7 tn Heb “upon them.”

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



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