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Deuteronomy 4:32-40

Context
The Uniqueness of Israel’s God

4:32 Indeed, ask about the distant past, starting from the day God created humankind 1  on the earth, and ask 2  from one end of heaven to the other, whether there has ever been such a great thing as this, or even a rumor of it. 4:33 Have a people ever heard the voice of God speaking from the middle of fire, as you yourselves have, and lived to tell about it? 4:34 Or has God 3  ever before tried to deliver 4  a nation from the middle of another nation, accompanied by judgments, 5  signs, wonders, war, strength, power, 6  and other very terrifying things like the Lord your God did for you in Egypt before your very eyes? 4:35 You have been taught that the Lord alone is God – there is no other besides him. 4:36 From heaven he spoke to you in order to teach you, and on earth he showed you his great fire from which you also heard his words. 7  4:37 Moreover, because he loved 8  your ancestors, he chose their 9  descendants who followed them and personally brought you out of Egypt with his great power 4:38 to dispossess nations greater and stronger than you and brought you here this day to give you their land as your property. 10  4:39 Today realize and carefully consider that the Lord is God in heaven above and on earth below – there is no other! 4:40 Keep his statutes and commandments that I am setting forth 11  today so that it may go well with you and your descendants and that you may enjoy longevity in the land that the Lord your God is about to give you as a permanent possession.

1 tn The Hebrew term אָדָם (’adam) may refer either to Adam or, more likely, to “man” in the sense of the human race (“mankind,” “humankind”). The idea here seems more universal in scope than reference to Adam alone would suggest.

2 tn The verb is not present in the Hebrew text but has been supplied in the translation for clarification. The challenge has both temporal and geographical dimensions. The people are challenged to (1) inquire about the entire scope of past history and (2) conduct their investigation on a worldwide scale.

3 tn The translation assumes the reference is to Israel’s God in which case the point is this: God’s intervention in Israel’s experience is unique in the sense that he has never intervened in such power for any other people on earth. The focus is on the uniqueness of Israel’s experience. Some understand the divine name here in a generic sense, “a god,” or “any god.” In this case God’s incomparability is the focus (cf. v. 35, where this theme is expressed).

4 tn Heb “tried to go to take for himself.”

5 tn Heb “by testings.” The reference here is the judgments upon Pharaoh in the form of plagues. See Deut 7:19 (cf. v. 18) and 29:3 (cf. v. 2).

6 tn Heb “by strong hand and by outstretched arm.”

7 tn Heb “and his words you heard from the midst of the fire.”

8 tn The concept of love here is not primarily that of emotional affection but of commitment or devotion. This verse suggests that God chose Israel to be his special people because he loved the patriarchs (Abraham, Isaac, Jacob) and had promised to bless their descendants. See as well Deut 7:7-9.

9 tc The LXX, Smr, Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate read a third person masculine plural suffix for the MT’s 3rd person masculine singular, “his descendants.” Cf. Deut 10:15. Quite likely the MT should be emended in this instance.

10 tn Heb “(as) an inheritance,” that is, landed property that one can pass on to one’s descendants.

11 tn Heb “commanding” (so NRSV).



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