Lectionary Calendar
Sunday, December 10th, 2023
the Second Week of Advent
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 32

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-52

The Song of Moses

The theme of this noble Song is the goodness of Jehovah in choosing Israel and bringing them into a rich land. When they provoke Him with their forgetfulness and unfaithfulness, He disciplines them. But He does not utterly reject them; when they repent He takes part with them against their enemies and delivers them. It will be observed that the exodus begins and concludes with a Song of Moses: see Exodus 15:1-18. Psalms 90 is also attributed to him.

1-6. Heaven and earth are called to witness the perfect righteousness and faithfulness of Jehovah which Israel has requited with ingratitude.

2. As the dew] in its gentleness and beneficent results: cp. Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalms 133:3; Job 29:22, Job 29:23.

3. Name of the Lord] i.e. His character: see on Deuteronomy 28:58.

4. The Rock] This frequent name of Jehovah expresses His absolute and unwavering faithfulness: see e.g. Psalms 18:2. Observe the number of words in this v. all emphasising this attribute of the divine character, and serving to throw into stronger relief the fickleness of Israel.

5. The first part of this v. is obscure, and various emendations have been suggested. RV has ’they have dealt corruptly with him (i.e. with Jehovah), they are not his children, it is their blemish; they are a perverse and crooked generation,’ which seems to express the general meaning of the original.

7-14. Think of the goodness of Jehovah in choosing Israel, rescuing them in the wilderness, and bringing them into a rich land. 8. Jehovah is not the God of Israel only, but of all the nations of the earth. He has, however, a special f avour towards Israel; and, when He divided the world among the nations, He left room for the people whom He had chosen.

9. The converse is also true. Jehovah is the portion of His people: see e.g. Numbers 18:20; Psalms 16:5-6; Psalms 73:26; Psalms 142:5; Jeremiah 10:16.

10. He found him] like a lost child or wandering sheep. Led him about] RV ’compassed him about.’

11. The image is that of the old eagle encouraging her timorous young to fly. So Jehovah disciplined Israel in the wilderness, preparing the people for their life in Canaan: see on Exodus 19:4.

12. There was no strange god with him] i.e. with Jehovah. He did everything for Israel. No other god, therefore, has any claim upon their gratitude and obedience.

14. Rams.. of Bashan] see on Numbers 21:33-35. Fat of kidneys of wheat] the finest and most nourishing of wheat, the kidneys being enclosed in the best fat of the animal: cp. Numbers 18:12, where the Heb. is ’all the fat of..’

15-18. All this grace Israel has requited with forgetfulness and unfaithfulness.

15. Jeshurun] (cp. Deuteronomy 33:5, Deuteronomy 33:26; Isaiah 44:2) is a poetical name for Israel, meaning probably ’the righteous one’: see on Numbers 23:10. Prosperity made Israel self-willed and forgetful: see on Deuteronomy 4:25, and cp. Deuteronomy 8:10 to Deuteronomy 18:16 Jealousy] see on Exodus 20:5.

17. Unto devils, not to God] RV ’unto demons which were no God’: cp. Deuteronomy 32:21. The ’demons’ may mean the divinities worshipped in Assyria in the form of colossal bulls: cp. Psalms 106:37.

19-33. In consequence of this perversity Jehovah is provoked and corrects them in His anger.

20. No faith] i.e. no faithfulness or fidelity. They have broken their covenant with Jehovah.

21. Vanities] i.e. false gods: see e.g. Isaiah 41:29; Isaiah 44:10; Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 10:15; 1 Corinthians 8:4; Not a people] i.e. most probably an undisciplined horde of barbarians, whom God will permit to gain the mastery over Israel. In Romans 10:19 this passage is applied to the Gentiles, whose acceptance of the gospel will have the effect of provoking the jealousy of the chosen people and moving them ultimately to follow their example.

22. Lowest hell] RV ’pit’: Heb. Sheol. God’s righteous indignation reaches to the deepest and remotest part of the universe: cp. Amos 9:2.

27. Behave themselves strangely] RV ’misdeem,’ draw a false conclusion from Jehovah’s treatment of Israel by taking credit to themselves for its humiliation: see Numbers 14:15-17 and note there, and cp. Deuteronomy 9:28.

28. They] Israel.

29. Their latter end] the consequences of their conduct.

30. Shut them up] delivered them into the hand of their enemies.

31. Their rock] the gods of the heathen.

32. Their vine] The analogy with their rock in Deuteronomy 32:31 suggests that the reference is to the enemy, but more probably it is to Israel itself, whose apostasy is thus severely condemned. Israel is frequently compared to a vine of God’s planting, which instead of bearing fruit is either fruitless (Hosea 10:1) or bears wild grapes (Isaiah 5:2-7). Sodom and Gomorrah are types of wickedness, and the vines ascribed to them may be no specific plants, but figurative growths or outcomes.

33. Dragons] i.e. serpents.

34-43. When Israel is reduced to extremities Jehovah will be merciful to them and avenge them.

34. This] referring to the vengeance of God (Deuteronomy 32:35), which for the present is laid up in store against the day when it will be manifested.

35. RV ’vengeance is mine and recompence, at the time when their foot shall slide.’

36. Shut up, or left] i.e. left at large, a proverbial expression meaning everybody: see 1 Kings 14:10; 1 Kings 21:21; 2 Kings 9:8; 2 Kings 14:26.

37. Cp. Judges 10:14; Jeremiah 2:28.

39. No god with me] This is almost equivalent to ’no god beside me.’ Jehovah alone is able to work and save: cp. Isaiah 43:10-13.

40. Lift up my hand] The usual attitude of taking an oath: see Genesis 14:22; Numbers 14:30 mg. Revelation 10:5, Revelation 10:6. I live for ever] rather, ’As I live for ever.’

41. Mine enemies] the heathen.

42. From the beginning.. enemy] RV ’from the head of the leaders of the enemy.’

43. Read, with RM, ’Praise His people, ye nations, for.. He will make expiation for His land, His people (or, for the land of His people),’ i.e. He will make atonement for the blood shed in the land by the slaughter of those who shed it. Then those who witness this righteous judgment will recognise that Israel is the people of Jehovah and will bless, or congratulate, them.

44. Hoshea] see on Exodus 17:9.

48-52. See Numbers 27:12-14 and notes there. On the death of Aaron see Numbers 20:22-29.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 32". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/deuteronomy-32.html. 1909.
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