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Deuteronomy 32:20-22

Context

32:20 He said, “I will reject them, 1 

I will see what will happen to them;

for they are a perverse generation,

children 2  who show no loyalty.

32:21 They have made me jealous 3  with false gods, 4 

enraging me with their worthless gods; 5 

so I will make them jealous with a people they do not recognize, 6 

with a nation slow to learn 7  I will enrage them.

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

and it burns to lowest Sheol; 8 

it consumes the earth and its produce,

and ignites the foundations of the mountains.

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

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

3 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.

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

5 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!”).

6 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).

7 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.”

8 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).



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