32:1 Listen, O heavens, and I will speak;
hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
32:2 My teaching will drop like the rain,
my sayings will drip like the dew, 1
as rain drops upon the grass,
and showers upon new growth.
you must acknowledge the greatness of our God.
for all his ways are just.
He is a reliable God who is never unjust,
he is fair 4 and upright.
They are a perverse 8 and deceitful generation.
you foolish, unwise people?
Is he not your father, your creator?
He has made you and established you.
32:7 Remember the ancient days;
Ask your father and he will inform you,
your elders, and they will tell you.
when he divided up humankind, 13
he set the boundaries of the peoples,
according to the number of the heavenly assembly. 14
32:9 For the Lord’s allotment is his people,
Jacob is his special possession. 15
in an empty wasteland where animals howl. 18
that hovers over its young,
he lifted him up on his pinions.
no foreign god was with him.
and he ate of the produce of the fields.
He provided honey for him from the cliffs, 28
32:14 butter from the herd
and milk from the flock,
along with the fat of lambs,
rams and goats of Bashan,
along with the best of the kernels of wheat;
and from the juice of grapes you drank wine.
you 33 got fat, thick, and stuffed!
Then he deserted the God who made him,
and treated the Rock who saved him with contempt.
they enraged him with abhorrent idols. 35
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 36 had not known about.
and put out of mind the God who gave you birth.
32:19 But the Lord took note and despised them
because his sons and daughters enraged him.
I will see what will happen to them;
for they are a perverse generation,
children 39 who show no loyalty.
enraging me with their worthless gods; 42
so I will make them jealous with a people they do not recognize, 43
with a nation slow to learn 44 I will enrage them.
32:22 For a fire has been kindled by my anger,
and it burns to lowest Sheol; 45
it consumes the earth and its produce,
and ignites the foundations of the mountains.
I will use up my arrows on them.
32:24 They will be starved by famine,
eaten by plague, and bitterly stung; 47
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 48 both the young man and the virgin,
the infant and the gray-haired man.
[32:4] sn The Hebrew term depicts God as a rocky summit where one may find safety and protection. Within a covenantal context it serves as a reminder to the people that their God has committed himself to their protection in return for their allegiance.
[32:5] 5 tc The 3rd person masculine singular שָׁחַת (shakhat) is rendered as 3rd person masculine plural by Smr, a reading supported by the plural suffix on מוּם (mum, “defect”) as well as the plural of בֵּן (ben, “sons”).
[32:5] tn Heb “have acted corruptly” (so NASB, NIV, NLT); NRSV “have dealt falsely.”
[32:7] 10 tc The Syriac, Targum, and Vulgate read 2nd person masculine singular whereas the MT has 2nd person masculine plural. The former is preferred, the latter perhaps being a misreading (בִּינוּ [binu] for בִּינָה [binah]). Both the preceding (“remember”) and following (“ask”) imperatives are singular forms in the Hebrew text.
[32:8] 12 tn The Hebrew term עֶליוֹן (’elyon) is an abbreviated form of the divine name El Elyon, frequently translated “God Most High” (so here NCV, CEV) or something similar. This full name (or epithet) occurs only in Gen 14, though the two elements are parallel in Ps 73:11; 107:11; etc. Here it is clear that Elyon has to do with the nations in general whereas in v. 9, by contrast, Yahweh relates specifically to Israel. See T. Fretheim, NIDOTTE 1:400-401. The title depicts God as the sovereign ruler of the world, who is enthroned high above his dominion.
[32:8] 14 tc Heb “the sons of Israel.” The idea, perhaps, is that Israel was central to Yahweh’s purposes and all other nations were arranged and distributed according to how they related to Israel. See S. R. Driver, Deuteronomy (ICC), 355-56. For the MT יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּנֵי (bÿney yisra’el, “sons of Israel”) a Qumran fragment has “sons of God,” while the LXX reads ἀγγέλων θεοῦ (angelwn qeou, “angels of God”), presupposing בְּנֵי אֵל (bÿney ’el) or בְּנֵי אֵלִים (beney ’elim). “Sons of God” is undoubtedly the original reading; the MT and LXX have each interpreted it differently. MT assumes that the expression “sons of God” refers to Israel (cf. Hos. 1:10), while LXX has assumed that the phrase refers to the angelic heavenly assembly (Pss 29:1; 89:6; cf. as well Ps 82). The phrase is also attested in Ugaritic, where it refers to the high god El’s divine assembly. According to the latter view, which is reflected in the translation, the Lord delegated jurisdiction over the nations to his angelic host (cf. Dan. 10:13-21), while reserving for himself Israel, over whom he rules directly. For a defense of the view taken here, see M. S. Heiser, “Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God,” BSac 158 (2001): 52-74.
[32:9] 15 tc Heb “the portion of his inheritance.” The LXX and Smr add “Israel” and BHS suggests the reconstruction: “The
[32:10] 17 tn The reference is to “his people/Jacob” (cf. v. 9), that is, Israel (using a collective singular). The singular pronouns are replaced by plural ones throughout vv. 10-14 by some English versions as an aid to the modern reader (cf. NAB, NCV, TEV, NLT).
[32:10] 18 tn Heb “in an empty, howling wasteland.” The word “howling” is derived from a verbal root that typically refers to the wailing of mourners. Here it likely refers to the howling of desert animals, or perhaps to the howling wind, in which case one may translate, “in an empty, windy wasteland.”
[32:10] 19 tn Heb “was surrounding him.” The distinctive form of the suffix on this verb form indicates that the verb is an imperfect, not a preterite. As such it draws attention to God’s continuing care during the period in view. See A. F. Rainey, “The Ancient Hebrew Prefix Conjugation in the Light of Amarnah Canaanite,” Hebrew Studies 27 (1986): 15-16.
[32:10] 20 tn Heb “he gave him understanding.” The form of the suffix on this verb form indicates that the verb is a preterite, not an imperfect. As such it simply states the action factually. See A. F. Rainey, “The Ancient Hebrew Prefix Conjugation in the Light of Amarnah Canaanite,” Hebrew Studies 27 (1986): 15-16.
[32:10] 21 tn The distinctive form of the suffix on this verb form indicates that the verb is an imperfect, not a preterite. As such it draws attention to God’s continuing protection during the period in view. See A. F. Rainey, “The Ancient Hebrew Prefix Conjugation in the Light of Amarnah Canaanite,” Hebrew Studies 27 (1986): 15-16.
[32:10] 22 tn Heb “the little man.” The term אִישׁוֹן (’ishon) means literally “little man,” perhaps because when one looks into another’s eyes he sees himself reflected there in miniature. See A. Harman, NIDOTTE 1:391.
[32:11] 25 tn The form of the suffix on this and the following verb forms (cf. “lifted him up”) indicates that the verbs are preterites, not imperfects. As such they simply state the action factually. The use of the preterite here suggests that the preceding verb (cf. “spread out”) is preterite as well.
[32:12] 26 tn The distinctive form of the suffix on this verb form indicates that the verb is an imperfect, not a preterite. As such it draws attention to God’s continuing guidance during the period in view.
[32:13] 27 tn The form of the suffix on this verbal form indicates that the verb is a preterite, not an imperfect. As such it simply states the action factually. Note as well the preterites with vav (ו) consecutive that follow in the verse.
[32:13] 31 sn Olive oil from rock probably suggests olive trees growing on rocky ledges and yet doing so productively. See E. H. Merrill, Deuteronomy (NAC), 415; cf. TEV “their olive trees flourished in stony ground.”
[32:15] 32 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).
[32:15] 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).
[32:15] 33 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.
[32:21] 40 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.
[32:21] 42 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!”).
[32:21] 43 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).
[32:22] 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).