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the Week of Proper 21 / Ordinary 26
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 32

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-52


Deuteronomy 32-34


Deuteronomy 32:0

1Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak;

And hear, O earth [hear shall the earth] the words of my mouth.

2My doctrine shall drop [Let my doctrine drop] as the rain,

My speech [words] shall distil [flow] as the dew,
As the small rain [showers] upon the tender herb [grass],
And as the showers [rain-drops] upon the grass [herb];

3Because [For] I will publish the name of the Lord:

Ascribe [give] ye greatness unto our God.

4He is the rock, his work is perfect [The rock, perfect is his work];

For all his ways are judgment [right];

A God of truth [faithfulness] and without iniquity [deceit],
Just and right is he.

5They have corrupted themselves 1[corruptly act against him],

Their spot is not the spot of his children [sons]:2

They are a perverse and crooked generation.

6Do ye thus requite the Lord,

O foolish people and unwise?

Is not he thy father [?] that hath bought thee?3

Hath he not made and established [prepared] thee?

7Remember the days of old,

Consider the years of many generations [of generation and generation]:
Ask thy father—and he will show thee;
Thy elders [thine old men] and they will tell thee.

8When the Most High divided to the nations [Gentiles] their inheritance,

When he separated the sons of Adam [men],
He set [firm] the bounds of the people
According to [with reference to] the number of the children of Israel.

9For the Lord’s portion is his people;

Jacob is the lot [cord] of his inheritance.

10He found him in a [the] desert land [land of the desert],

And in the waste4 [waste, the] howling [of the steppe] wilderness;

He led him about [surrounded him], he instructed him,5

He kept him as the apple of his eye.

11As an [As the] eagle [, he] stirreth up her [his] nest,

Fluttereth [settles] over her [his] young,
Spreadeth abroad her [his] wings,
Taketh them, beareth them on her [his] wings [pinions]:

12So [om. So] the Lord alone did lead him,

And there was no strange God with him.

13He made him ride [drive] on [over] the high places of the earth,

That he might eat [And eat] the increase [fruits] of the fields;
And he made him to suck honey out of the rock,
And oil out of the flinty rock;

14Butter [cream] of kine, and milk of sheep [the flock],

With [the] fat of lambs,
And rams of the breed [sons] of Bashan, and goats [bucks],
With the fat of the kidneys of wheat;
And thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape [blood of the grape, even wine].

15But Jeshurun waxed [was] fat, and kicked.

Thou art waxen [Thou becamest] fat, thou art grown thick,
Thou art covered with fatness [art full, gross];

Then he forsook [And forsookest, rejected] God, which made him,

And lightly esteemed [despised] the Rock of his salvation.

16They provoked him to jealousy, with [through] strange gods,

With abominations provoked they him to anger.

17They sacrificed to devils [shedim6], not to God [which were not God],

To gods whom they knew not,
To new gods that came newly up [from near at hand],

Whom your fathers feared not [did not shudder at].

18Of the Rock that begat thee [The Rock, he bare thee] thou art unmindful [thou forsookest],

And hast forgotten God that formed thee [turned thee round].

19And when the Lord saw it, he abhorred them,

Because of the provoking of his sons and of his daughters,7

20And he said, I will hide my face from them,

I will see what their end [their last] shall be,

For they are a very froward [a generation of perversities] generation,

Children [sons] in whom is no [faithfulness] faith.

21They have moved me to jealousy, with that which is not God [through no God];

They have provoked me to anger [angered me] with their vanities;
And I will move them to jealousy, with those which are not8 a people [a no people].

22For a fire is kindled [burns] in [through] mine anger,

And shall burn9 [burns] unto the lowest hell [Sheol],

And shall consume10 [consumes] the earth with [and] its increase,

And sets on fire [devours] the foundations of the mountains.

23I will heap mischiefs [evils] upon them;

I will spend mine arrows upon [against] them.

24They shall be [or are] burnt [wasted, made lean] with [by] hunger,

And devoured with burning heat [fever heat], and with bitter [poisonous sting] destruction:
I will also send the teeth of beasts [wild animals] upon them,
With the poison of serpents [the creeping] of the dust.

25The sword without [From without the sword shall sweep thee away],

And terror within [From within—from the chambers of terror]
Shall destroy both the young man and the virgin,
The suckling also, with the man of gray hairs.

26I said, I would scatter them into corners11 [will blow them away],

I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:

27Were it not that I feared the wrath of [upon] the enemy,

Lest [That] their adversaries should behave themselves strangely,

And lest [that] they should say, Our hand is high,12

And the Lord hath not done all this.

28For they are a nation void [ruined as to counsel];

Neither is there any understanding [judgment] in them.13

29O that they were wise, that [If they were yet wise, they would] they understood this,

That they [They] would consider their latter end!

30How should one [yet] chase a thousand,

And two put ten thousand to flight,
Except their Rock had sold them,
And the Lord had shut [delivered] them up?

31For their rock is. not as our Rock,

Even our enemies themselves being [And our enemies are] judges.

32For their vine is of the vine of Sodom,14

And of the fields of Gomorrah:
Their grapes are grapes of gall [poisonous grapes],

Their clusters are bitter [Bitter clusters have they]:

33Their wine is the poison of dragons,

And the cruel venom [gall] of asps.

34Is not this laid up in store with me,

And sealed up among my treasures [in my treasure-chambers]?

35To me belongeth vengeance and recompense [retribution for the time],

Their foot shall slide [When their foot shall slide] in due time,15

For the day of their calamity [destruction] is at hand,

And the things that shall come upon them [prepared for them] make haste.

36For the Lord shall judge his people,

And repent himself for [have compassion upon] his servants,
When [For] he seeth that their power [hand] is gone [vanished],

And there is none shut up, or left [set free].

37And he shall say, Where are their gods, [?]

Their rock [?] in whom they trusted [they trusted on him],

38Which did eat the fat of their sacrifices,

And drank the wine of their drink-offerings?

Let them rise up and help you,

And be your protection [covering upon you].

39See now that I, even I [for I, I] am he,

And there is no God with [besides] me;

I kill, and I make alive, I wound [crush] and I heal;
Neither is there any that can deliver [any deliverer] out of my hand.

40For I lift up my hand to heaven,

And say, I live forever!16

41If I whet my glittering sword,

And mine hand take hold on judgment,
I will render vengeance to mine enemies [adversaries],
And will reward [requite] them that hate me.

42I will make mine arrows drunk with blood,

And my sword shall devour [eat] flesh;

And that with [From] the blood of the slain and the captives,

From the beginning [the head] of revenges [of the hairy] upon the enemy.17

43Rejoice [Praise], O ye nations, with his people [Schroeder: om. with]].18

For he will avenge the blood of his servants,
And will render [repay] vengeance to his adversaries,
And will be merciful unto his land, and to his people [expiate his land, his people].

44And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he and Hoshea the son of Nun. 45And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel: 46And he said unto them, Set [place, direct] your hearts unto all the words which I testify among [against] you this day, which ye shall command your 47children to observe to do, all the words of this law. For it is not a vain thing [word] for you: because it is your life; and through [in] this thing [word] ye shall 48prolong your days in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it. And the Lord spake unto Moses that self-same day, saying, 49Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against [before the face of] Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession: 50And die in [upon] the mount whither thou goest up, and be gathered unto thy people; as Aaron thy brother died in mount Hor, and was gathered unto his people: 51Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel. 52Yet thou shalt see the land before thee, but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.


Literature.—See Introd. pp. 44, 45.

Criticism.—Knobel: “The hints as to the religious and political condition of the people leave no doubt that it belongs to the post-Mosaic time. So also Vater, Gesenius, De Wette, Ewald, Bleek, and others. Fundamentally out of the assumption that there is no prophecy, and out of dogmatic prejudices (comp. Deuteronomy 31:16 sq.; Introd. §4, I. 18; Hengstenberg, Chris., 2d Ed., II., p. 196 sq.). The particulars cited by V. Lengerke, Ewald, and others, are either to be understood generally, or are directly a misunderstanding. For the rest, the striking remark of Lange upon the blessings of Jacob (Genesis, p. 650), as to “the reckless disposition of our time,” is of force here also. Knobel supposes it to be a remodelling; by the second Jehovist author, in the Syrian time, of a song found by him, and held to be Mosaic. Bunsen (Bibelwerk V.): “It is an address at the time of the Mesopotamian captivity (Judges 3:7 sq.).” Bleek: “The Deuteronomist has first given to this song, not originally published as Mosaic, its present relation and position.” Comp. further Introd. § 3.

The Mosaic Authorship.—“The most important thing here is that it breathes throughout the spirit of Moses, and in a measure seems to exclude any imitation. The manifold coincidences in the manner of representation, and in style with Deuteronomy are very noticeable—not indeed for those who believe that the authorship of this book by Moses must be rejected on independent grounds, but for those to whom these grounds or reasons are not satisfactory, and who find in the similarity as to style between this book and this song a proof of the Mosaic origin of Deuteronomy, while the Mosaic authorship of the song is not indeed for them conditioned or determined through that of the book, since that speaks indeed for itself.” Sack. The ever-recurring figure which rules the whole song is that of the Rock, the firm, the faithful; without a figure, Jehovah (Exodus 3:13 sq.; Deuteronomy 6:3 sq.). It is thus throughout, as is fitting the Song of God, as it were, a self-revelation of Jehovah. But that which thus corresponds to the divine origin testifies not less to the Mosaic authorship. The unity and simplicity of this fundamental thought, in the first place, guarantees the great antiquity of the song. With the sacred “earnestnestness, to which nothing in the world approaches, save one only,” the “fitting yet overwhelming energy,” the “profound losing of himself in God and his glory” (Schultz), appear precisely in the second place, as specifically Mosaic. Herder: “No shepherd people, no mere shepherd ideas of God and the circle of life; a man born and educated in Egypt, to whom Arabia is a second fatherland, the scene of his preparation, deeds, journey, and wonders, stands out clearly before us. The spirit of poetry takes from thence also its form and imagery. No one can mistake the altered style compared with the patriarchal history. The desert of Arabia gives the tone throughout: God is a rock—a burning, consuming fire. He whets the glittering of His sword—He shoots his arrows, which thirst for blood—His angry messengers are serpents, etc. The poetry of Moses is stern, earnest, simple, as were also his life and character. It gleams as his countenance, but a veil hangs before it. The spirit is widely different from that of Job, David and Solomon. Here the rugged, zealous soul of Moses, vexed even unto death, reveals itself in his last flaming song. In this poem appear the flaming mountain, the pillar of fire and cloud which went before Israel, and in if, the angel of his face.” The “rock” is his dwelling-place (Deuteronomy 33:27), Psalms 90:1. “The long residence of Moses upon the lofty rocks of Horeb, and the finding of his God upon it, is urged by Schultz in favor of this Mosaic authorship. Comp. also further Schultz, p. 648–650. Lastly, the fact that this song, with its peculiar, fixed, and very perfect method, remains and gives tone to the post-Mosaic poetry, speaks in favor of its Mosaic authorship. “The highest poetic images in the Psalms and the Prophets,” says Herder, “are derived especially from this last song of Moses; for this is, as the primitive prophecy, the type and canon of all the prophets.”

[The objections urged against the Mosaic authorship rest either upon the style, or the ideas of the song. The differences in style between this song and the preceding chapters in Deuteronomy are obvious and striking, but they prove nothing as to its authorship. They are just such differences as would be natural in a passage of this kind, and which appear in all languages between the prose and lyrical passages of the same writer. They may fairly be urged in favor of the Mosaic authorship, since they indicate, as the critics themselves concede, a very great antiquity. In many cases, too, these peculiarities point back to similar expressions in other parts of the Pentateuch. Thus, as Keil says, “The figure of the eagle, Deuteronomy 32:11, refers to Exodus 19:4; the description of God as a Rock in Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:15; Deuteronomy 32:18; Deuteronomy 32:30-31; Deuteronomy 32:37, recalls Genesis 49:24; the fire of the wrath of God, Deuteronomy 32:22, points to Deuteronomy 4:24; the expression “move to jealousy” in Deuteronomy 32:16; Deuteronomy 32:21, recalls the jealous God, Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 6:15; Exodus 20:5; Exodus 34:14, etc.” The obvious similarity between this song and the 90th Psalm also confirms its Mosaic authorship. The Psalm claims to be the prayer of Moses, and in the judgment of the critics themselves there is no sufficient reason for denying the validity of this claim. Kamphausen indeed admits “that if it were really certain that Deuteronomy was composed b]bout the authenticity of the song would be decided in the traditional way.”

The objection drawn from the ideas taught in the song rests mainly upon the assumption that any foreknowledge and prediction of the future is impossible, and therefore does not lie against this part of Deuteronomy any more than against those other passages, both of this book and the other books of the Pentateuch, which so distinctly contemplate the apostacy of Israel, its fearful punishments, and its ultimate return and blessedness. These are more vividly set forth in this song, as its poetical character demanded; but they are no less certainly predicted elsewhere. And the question therefore, so far forth, as to the Mosaic authorship of the song, resolves itself into the wider question, whether predictions of the future are possible. The fitness of the song in its style and character, its imagery and ideas to the person, position and life of Moses; its relation to the later poetry of the Bible; its adaptedness to the end sought, i.e. to protest vividly and impressively against apostacy, and to testify to the faithfulness of God; and still more the divine seal set upon this song as the work of Moses, Romans 10:19, place its Mosaic authorship beyond reasonable question.—A. G.]

The poetical form is in general the symmetry of the so-called parallelism of the clauses. This simple and elevated rhythm of the thought, as it was suited to the Hebrew poetry, was well calculated in the case before us to make a strong impression, to fasten on the memory, and also to aid to a better understanding, and on the other hand also fitted for the enunciation in song and with music. But in particular, three words (feet, מדות) nearly always form a clause, the small words, or those joined by Makkeph, not being reckoned; the two-membered strophes are partly used as grace-notes (Deuteronomy 32:1; Deuteronomy 32:3), and partly (Deuteronomy 32:9; Deuteronomy 32:12) they alternate parenthetically with the doubled four-membered strophes. The whole is arranged as a double song or dialogue between Moses and Jehovah. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:20; Deuteronomy 32:34; Deuteronomy 32:37.

The prophetical character. “The song is poetry in this highest style, only possible in Israel” (Sack), i.e. it has a prophetic character. If Genesis 49:0 is “the prophetic life-picture of the future of Israel” (Lange), so here Israel as a nation; the patriarchal family-prophecy gives place to the legal national prophecy. Israel’s position in the world is the prophetic element in this song, i.e. in particular, his being set for the world, his introduction into the world (Deuteronomy 32:6 sq.), his appearance in the world, his position yet to be presented to the world; the future position of the world to Israel in respect to retribution and promise (Deuteronomy 32:26 sq.). As in the succeeding prophets, the final judgment upon all the enemies of God is perfectly clear, so here already the prospect of it dawns upon us (Deuteronomy 32:34-35; Deuteronomy 32:41 sq.)—personally presented here, because as to form, the fundamental tone of the song is Jehovah, and as to substance the realization of the idea of God through the kingdom of God in Israel was assigned to the following prophecies (at the same time there is a progress here in comparison with chap. 30)—and this final judgment concerns every enemy both inward (Deuteronomy 32:35 sq.) and external (Deuteronomy 32:41 sq.), and is partly a retributory sifting, and partly a retributory destruction. The prophetic contents of the song close with this horizon, not avowedly, but essentially Messianic, namely, in the wider sense of that word.

Its character as to its contents. The point of departure, the basis in the present, that which Moses had sufficiently experienced, namely, the apostacy of the people still for the last time proclaimed, more especially the rejection of the first generation, is recalled to mind. Next follows the picture of the future. The approaching already manifoldly described enjoyment of the promised land, with its results in pride and idolatry, also already frequently repeated, is spoken of in the most fearful and monitory method, a real prophecy from Israel’s nature and way. The time of the judges gives already a satisfactory commentary upon it. The symbolical significance of this picture of the future for the wider history of salvation. The entire rejection, but also the restoration of an Israel, which shall be the true Israel, and indeed out of the Gentiles. Comp. Doctrinal and Ethical.

Deuteronomy 32:0 and Exodus 15:0. The distinction: here upon the threshold of Canaan, there upon that of the desert; there at the morning after the night filled with salvation, here with the look at the night, approaching with Canaan, of the corruption of Israel; there pre-eminently the subjection and terror of the heathen, here the judgment upon Israel and its consequences. The unity: as there so here, the rejoicing at the close of the song, because in both Jehovah is the fundamental thought (comp. Deuteronomy 32:3 and Exodus 15:1 sq.). As “the hallelujah has passed from Exodus 15:0 over to the Psalms” (Herder), so the succeeding prophecy of Israel from Deuteronomy 32:0. If the song of Moses, Revelation 15:3, has its bud and blossom in Exodus 15:0, the song of the Lamb finds the same in Deuteronomy 32:0. (We might say with Ziegler in reference to Exodus 15:0 and Deuteronomy 32:0 : “that the latter is to the former as the old wine is better than the new.”)

The Division.

Deuteronomy 32:1-5, the introduction and theme; Deuteronomy 32:6-14, Israel’s position through Jehovah; Deuteronomy 32:15-18, Israel’s apostacy; Deuteronomy 32:19-25, Jehovah’s sentence; Deuteronomy 32:26-43, the execution of the judgment in vengeance and mercy.


1.Deuteronomy 32:1-5. The introduction must indeed reconcile the actual divine address to Moses, with his human historical individuality. Hence, Deuteronomy 32:1, the truly deuteronomic invocation of the heavens and the earth. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 4:26 (32); Deuteronomy 30:19 (12); Deuteronomy 31:28. That they are summoned directly by the law-giver as witnesses is intelligible from his legal character (Deuteronomy 17:6; Deuteronomy 19:15); and still more historically from Deuteronomy 4:36, since they were participants in the law-giving, in the most solemn natal hour of Israel as a people. They were here invoked only as attentive hearers, as also in Isaiah 50:0, which is entirely appropriate, since not merely threatening, but promise also, appears in what follows. אָזַן, in Hiph. is not used in the sense of to be pointed, to sharpen, prick up the ear, rather in the sense of ready, quick, to fasten, to hold fast, (hence the ear as that which receives, catches up); to hearken. Moses here, as Christ, John 15:22 : Had I not spoken unto them? The figure of the rain, dew, sq., is suggested by the mention of the heavens, as also that of the grass and the herb, through the mention of the earth. His song comes from above, whence all good comes which does good, all blessings which produce fruit. The earth should not receive the curse, nor misery, the law is not given for this (Romans 7:12), still less should this most peculiar, testamentary work of Moses, and indeed this dying strain of Deuteronomy tend to this end. (לֶקַּה) to seize, grasp; but the reception is necessary (1 Thessalonians 2:13; 1 Timothy 1:15; 1 Timothy 4:9), and hence the term occurs here; and not “merely to make prominent the dignity and worth of his word, as one received, 1 Corinthians 11:23; 1 Corinthians 15:3” (Schultz). Power generally, the heavenly (rain), the gentle, secret flow (dew), the mighty, copious (showers, or storm-torrents, heavy rain, thick rain-drops רביבים from the multitude of the drops); are the points of comparison, not the refreshing, fertilizing, enlivening, and the like (Keil, Knobel), which relate rather to the effects of the rain, dew, etc. (יערף, only elsewhere, Deuteronomy 33:28; שׂעירם, only here.) Comp. Job 29:22-23; Isaiah 55:10-11; Psalms 72:6; Hosea 14:5; Micah 5:9. Deuteronomy 32:3 gives the reason for the demand, Deuteronomy 32:1, as also for the fulness of power which he wished, Deuteronomy 32:2, Let my doctrine drop. Luther: “It is as if he had said, I will sing a song, which I will begin in so high a strain that no one under the sun can strike a higher strain, or be able to make a nobler song. My best song and best doctrine shall be the first commandment.” שׂם קרא (not בשם, to invoke as the poets the muses, Ewald, not even to praise), but to proclaim, to make known to all the world, what he had said, the revelation of his being whereof heaven and earth should make confession, in case Israel should neglect it, who therefore is not directly addressed in the following clause: Ascribe, sq. Comp. Deuteronomy 3:24; Deuteronomy 5:21; Deuteronomy 9:26; Deuteronomy 11:2. This greatness is not His majesty generally, or as Luther: “Ye shall not honor other gods, or ascribe greatness to any creature, all other gods are vain, false and nonentities,” but in the transition to what follows, points out already as with all the fingers, His exalted nature, his glory as Jehovah. הצור, the Rock, placed first absolutely, and thus given the greater prominence. צוּר, the thick, strong, firm. Herder: “Derived without doubt from Sinai, where the covenant was made which on the side of God as the Rock was everlasting.” It reminds us of Genesis 49:24. It is the refuge, protection, security, for the forsaken. It presents the name Jehovah by a striking comparison (Isaiah 17:10; Isaiah 26:4; Psalms 18:2; Psalms 18:31). As alone in His being, so perfect in His work; without defect, without stain, nothing to be supplied, and nothing to be removed, both with respect to creation and providence (Herder: “Israel often blamed the providence, in its way through the desert”). For his ways are only right, as this is still more personally expressed in the fourth member parallel to the second. אמונח, firmness, the nature of the rock. עול (Deu 35:16) crooked, perverted nature, imperfection, vileness. (The prayer of the Jews in their burial-service begins as Deuteronomy 32:4, which is also found engraved upon their cemeteries and tables.) [How deeply the idea of God as the Rock (Tsur) penetrated the Jewish mind and life, is apparent from its frequent recurrence in names as Pedah-zur, Eli-zur, Zur-iel, Zur-ishaddai, etc.—A. G.]—The theme of the song finds its necessary completion, Deuteronomy 32:5, in the opposite description of Israel. Hence שׁחת לו cannot possibly refer to Jehovah; He deals not corruptly with him (Schultz), as already J. H. Michaelis: Num deus corrupit sibi (ipsi Israel) sc. vias suas? num ille est Israelitis causa exitii?Cocceius: Num corruptio ipsi? Nequaquam minime. The subject is clearly the generation, sq. Whether לו refers to Israel (Numbers 32:15), or to Jehovah in the Dat. Comm. may be doubtful; the latter appears to suit the connection better. Not Jehovah in His nature, work, ways, attributes (Deuteronomy 32:4), but Israel in its work, ways, nature, attributes, Deuteronomy 32:5, is an antithetic parallel to Deuteronomy 32:4. Comp. Deuteronomy 9:12. We are to recall the apostacy immediately at Sinai, and still further in the wilderness (Numbers 13:0 sq.). The clause in apposition with generation occurs parenthetically before it. Your ways should have appeared as that of His children (Deuteronomy 14:1). Sack “they are not His children” is almost too strong. לא before בניו, as frequently in this song before the substantive, is an observable idiomatic peculiarity. Their spot (the apposition and the opposition once more), rather: the children of Jehovah, as they should be, and His children as they are actually.—[Keil: They are not the children of Jehovah, but their stain, i.e. the stain or disgrace of God’s children.—A. G.]—(Others: to their own blemish, shame.) Schultz: His children are their own disgrace. [Regarding Jehovah as the subject, has He dealt corruptly with them? No, His children, etc.—A. G.]—The historical explanation of Knobel, referring it “to Judah and the faithful in Israel,” is needless, since even earlier the children of God (comp. Genesis 5:22), e.g. Noah, the patriarchs, Caleb, Joshua, are thus distinguished, and the idea was always made prominent as simply set over against the actual evil character (Philippians 2:15; Matthew 17:17).

2.Deuteronomy 32:6-14. Upon the ground of such a theme, of this opposite actual character, there is raised for the future, as the present, the question in Deuteronomy 32:6. גמל, to show, to cause, do, with reference to the recompense, retribution. נבל, as the following context shows (Deuteronomy 32:29), is foolish. Gesenius, Hupfeld, of the insipid, stale conduct, wanting the salt of divine wisdom, here used of the forgetfulness of God, godlessness. The derivation from, to swell, distend, and hence to be haughty, arrogant, agrees well also with the context. Comp. Deuteronomy 1:13; Deuteronomy 4:6. The fatherhood of Jehovah is set over against the not His children, Deuteronomy 32:5 (comp. Deuteronomy 32:20; Deuteronomy 14:1; Exodus 4:22 sq.). The thought that Abraham was only their father in the beneficent strength of the divine promise, seems apparent from the emphasis placed upon הוא (see Genesis 17:0). קנה combines the ideas, to prepare, to form (not precisely, create, Genesis 14:19; Genesis 14:22), to acquire, possess. If קנה marks the descent from Abraham, then עשה denotes fitly the constituting of the people in Egypt, and כון, the forming or preparation in the wilderness. Comp. upon the verse Isaiah 63:16; Isaiah 64:8; Isaiah 1:2; Malachi 2:10. In the יְמוֹת עולם, Deuteronomy 32:7 (this form occurs only here as the similar poetical term, שׁנוֹת, Psalms 90:15, agreeing with it), the עולם designates the covered time either before or behind the speaker (Deuteronomy 4:32). From the hoary antiquity the tradition here comes down through generation and generation (the repetition used poetically for the plural), forming the revolution or succession of old men (דוּר, the circle or revolving period), Psalms 90:1. Thus it comes to the fathers and elders (from the bowed, decrepid age, זָקֵן). עם in Deuteronomy 32:6 is collective, and hence the alternating singular and plural verbs. בִּינוּ (to separate, distinguish and understand). נגד, in Hiph.: to bring near, to bring over, to point out, declare. Deuteronomy 32:8 contains the result of the tradition; a retrospect to Genesis. The separation of the people as described Genesis 1:01עליון occurs constantly without the article, and here used instead of Jehovah, and equivalent to the Exalted One, the Highest. When He divided to the nations all their inheritance determined in Genesis 10:0; when He, the sons of Adam, (comp. Genesis 10:1; Genesis 10:32) dispersed, separated, Genesis 11:0 (Acts 17:26), He did so למספרaccording to the number, sq., i.e., so that Israel should possess a land corresponding to its population. Comp. also Genesis 9:25 sq.; Deuteronomy 2:0. Baumgarten combines the number seventy of the genealogical table, with the seventy ancestors of Israel, (Deuteronomy 10:22). [So Wordsworth also.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 32:9 gives the reason for this earliest provision and care. Comp. Deuteronomy 7:6; Deuteronomy 10:15; (Acts 14:16). חכל a cord, measure, then that which is measured by it. Comp. Deuteronomy 3:13. This two-membered strophe forms a beautiful pause or interruption. Thus it is from the beginning placed for the world, Exodus 19:5 sq. It follows now, Deuteronomy 32:10, how it was introduced into the world, to the ideal follows the real provision on the part of God. The connection is directly with Deuteronomy 32:6. The words form a description of that frequently enforced (Deuteronomy 1:27; Numbers 14:11; Numbers 14:4; Exodus 16:2) helpless condition of Israel. Thus even after the redemption from Egypt, thus always indeed with respect to Israel. Instead of Canaan, to which Deuteronomy 32:8 points, the land of the desert was the land where He found Israel. The reference to Egypt, with Keil, is artificial. As ארצ is clearly defined from the preceding, so it is placed also in reference to what follows, e.g., Deuteronomy 32:13. Tha prominence given to the leading through the wilderness is genuinely Deuteronomic. Comp. Deuteronomy 8:2 sq., 15 sq.; Deuteronomy 11:5; Deuteronomy 29:4 sq.; Deuteronomy 1:1. As the deliverance from Egypt was evidently presupposed, it is the more readily passed over here in silence because Israel is here spoken of as a nation, and Israel’s national existence dates from Sinai, from the wilderness. Found either after he had sought him in Egypt, the one that was lost (Luke 15:4) without him, or had found out, selected (Psalms 89:20) since he had closed the covenant with him at Sinai, or simply met with him; thus Israel found itself, began its conscious existence, when Jehovah took it into His school, to train and educate it to a people, (Hosea 9:10, a description as to the other side). Schultz emphasizes the fact that the Lord first appeared to Israel in the pillar of fire and cloud in the desert, Exodus 13:20 sq. The emphasis, he remarks correctly, does not lie upon the finding, but upon the desert land, which is made still more explicit by the (וְ). The waste (Genesis 1:2), from תהה literally; the dense, close wilderness, where no way is, Psalms 107:40. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 1:1; Deuteronomy 1:31. Howling: emphasizes the horrible howling of the beasts of the desert, especially in the early part of the night. Led him (compassed him) about—near Him in his love, to care for, (Psalms 26:6) but also to protect as a shield; (the pillar of fire and cloud, Zechariah 2:8). נצר; to keep, watch, preserve. אִישׁוֹןGesen.: the pupil (of the well-known little man, pet, the daughter, for the miniature image of him who looks in the eyes of another), literally the man (איש) of the eye. Or should one go back to the signification of אָנֵשׁ from which אישׂ is derived to bend, thus the arched eye-ball. Others: the eye-lid. Generally the comparison intimates that Jehovah had not left Israel out of His sight; the most careful, thoughtful protection, Psalms 17:8; Zechariah 2:12. On account of the desert, of the hostile nations, but especially after the rejection of the old, for preservation of the new generation. The first and second, and third and fourth clauses are parallel to each other, as also in Deuteronomy 32:7. [“The whole description of what the Lord did for Israel, Deuteronomy 32:10-14, is figurative.” Israel is represented as a man ready to perish in the wilderness, and so found and rescued by God. But there is no design or attempt to bring out in their succession, the events in Israel’s history, or what God had done for them. Only those are selected which bear upon the general theme and purpose of the song.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 32:11 gives the desert figure of the eagle. Israel is the eagle’s brood in the nest (קֵן a separated mountainous place) in the rocks at Sinai. Jehovah stirs it up, as He came down over it in the giving of the law (her young, from גזל, the stripped, naked, featherless young). Farther: the pillar of fire and cloud was like the outspread wings! Indeed He took it and bare it in His power and love, and with what patience? As the eagle is the subject, the suffixes refer to the nest, or to each individual one of the young. Deuteronomy 32:12 is a continuous exposition of the figure used. (Others refer alone and with him to Israel). For the rest comp. Exodus 19:4. (As out of Egypt so in the way to Canaan), Genesis 1:2; Deuteronomy 1:31. It is only a two-membered strophe, as Deuteronomy 32:9. [Keil: “If no other god stood by the Lord to help Him, He thereby laid Israel under the obligation to serve Him alone as its God.”—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 32:13 treats of the partly begun and partly approaching occupation of the mountainous Canaan. With the high places was the “earth,” (land) promised to Israel, assured. The occupation of Gilead was the beginning of the victorious dominion (chap. 3). So the enjoyment of Canaan is described with prophetic foresight, as in Deuteronomy 8:7-10. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 6:3. Palms, date trees growing upon the mountains, as well as bees building their hives in the rocks introduce honey into Palestine; olive trees are found in apparently the most unproductive places. A pleasant, childlike enjoyment, because throughout a blessing. Deuteronomy 32:14 is a continuation. The specification “testifies to the general faithfulness of the song,” (Herder) the East Jordan land was an earnest of the farther side. חָלָב: that which is drawn out through strokes or rubbing, the milk from the milking. חֵלֶב the selected, picked out; hence the fat, generally the best, (Numbers 18:12) here strengthened still further by the kidneys, the very finest wheat (in reference to the flour) or in the size of the grains. Lastly the bubbling, foaming red wine (Genesis 49:11). The last clause here, as in Deuteronomy 32:7, takes the form of an address. The five-membered strophe also shows the poetic fervor. For the rest comp. Numbers 32:1; Ezekiel 39:18. (It may be regarded as a four-membered strophe thus: butter of kine and milk of sheep with the fat of lambs, and rams of the breed of Bashan, and goats, with the fat of kidneys of wheat. And thou didst drink the pure blood of the grape). [Fat of kidneys was, as the best fat, specified as a part of the sacrificial animals which were to be presented to the Lord, and hence the figure here—for the finest, most nutritious wheat.—A. G.].

3.Deuteronomy 32:15-18. The apostacy of Israel comes to pass as was already foreseen, Deuteronomy 6:11; Deuteronomy 8:12 sq.; Deuteronomy 31:20. Deuteronomy 32:15. Jeshurun, found twice elsewhere in Deut. (Deuteronomy 33:5; Deuteronomy 33:26) and in Isaiah 44:2. Beyond question from ישׂר; comp. Jesharim, Numbers 23:10 (Joshua 10:13; 2 Samuel 1:18). It is not a diminutive (Gesenius: the pious, precise, blameless little people), which is destitute of philological (comp. Hengst.: Balaam, p. 98), proof (the אִישׁוֹן, Deuteronomy 32:10, referred to, is correctly with (Delitzsch) rather: the man, if not man-like), and an appellatio blanda et charititiva does not accord well with the serious character of the passage in which “a loving being, but no mere lover speaks,” but is perhaps a nomen proprium; the just, honorable man, the just, the righteous; but by no means the happy or the like, not even the justified (Calvin) although that is nearer the truth. The legal character, the national essence or nature of Israel was expressed in this term. (Comp. Deuteronomy 32:4). Over against the idea of the nation, as it rests in Jehovah, enters so much more offensively the character in which Israel actually appears in the world. A prophetic preterite. Johlson sees in Jeshurun a pun, which the figure of the fat and kicking ox (שור) completes. Comp. Acts 9:5 (Hosea 4:16; Hosea 13:6). The direct address in the second person vividly interrupts, and gives greater energy to the statement begun in the third person. It is not jocosely spoken, as Ewald, but the keenest sacred irony. [By reminding them of what they were in idea, of what they were called to in character and dignity, he censures more severely their guilt and perfidy.—A. G.]. אֱלוֹהַּ is the pathetic form for אלהים both in the old and in the later Aramaic Hebrew. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:6; Deuteronomy 32:4. [Lightly esteemed, from נָכָל to treat as a fool.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 32:16. The plural form, which gives the poetical coloring, occurs instead of the previously used singular, as in Deuteronomy 32:7. Upon the provocation of the divine zeal (jealousy), comp. Deuteronomy 4:24-25; Deuteronomy 5:9; Deuteronomy 6:15. The covenant is a marriage covenant, (Deuteronomy 31:16). זרים, “those standing beyond marriage, and the relationship effected by it, Deuteronomy 25:5,” Schultz. For the rest comp. Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 27:15. A two-membered strophe, as Deuteronomy 32:9; Deuteronomy 32:12.Deuteronomy 32:17. שֵׁשדִים. Baalim, lords (1 Corinthians 8:5), Demons? Further comp. Deuteronomy 11:28; Deuteronomy 13:7; Deuteronomy 29:25. [Wordsworth: “Wasters, destroyers” Bib.Com: “As indicating the malignant character of the deities in heathen worship”—A. G.]. New.—Lately risen in a temporal, as the following clause in a local sense. In both references not God, Jeremiah 23:23 sq. (Schultz figuratively; not worth much). Baumgarten: Israel had no historical relations with them. To understand the second clause, came newly up, temporally also, is tautological, and is not demanded by the parallelism. The third member is parallel to the first, the fourth to the second. In Deuteronomy 32:18 he renews at the close what was said in Deuteronomy 32:15; there using the masculine, and here the feminine termination. צור, as: to make thick is also to form (ציר in the plural: birth-throes) thus in a verbal way reconciling the figure of bearing (ילד to break through, of the birth) with the rock; with respect to its source, e.g., the noble metal, may be actually said to be born of the iron stone of the rock. תשׁי from נשׁה, to forsake, forget, Knobel, Schultz, Keil; from שיה, to neglect. The direct address appears again as at the close of Deuteronomy 32:14. God as the woman in birth throes (Psalms 2:7; Psalms 90:2; Isaiah 49:15; Galatians 4:19). [“To bring out more prominently the base ingratitude of the people, he represents the creation of Israel by Jehovah, the Rock of its salvation, under the figure of generation and birth, in which the paternal and maternal love of the Lord to His people had manifested itself.” Keil.—A. G.]

4.Deuteronomy 32:19-25. The judgment of Jehovah upon His apostate people, proceeds upon a personal observation. He needs no testimony, Deuteronomy 32:19. A comprehensive two-membered strophe, as Deuteronomy 32:16; Deuteronomy 32:9; Deuteronomy 32:12. (Comp. Deuteronomy 1:34). Schultz: “From indignation at, sq.” Herxheimer: “On account of the provocation of, sq.” [Our version brings out the force of the preposition as well, and is equally as intelligible as those suggested.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 32:20. The declaration of the judgment. Comp. Deuteronomy 31:17-18. He speaks after the manner of men (Genesis 37:20). They are no more regarded with favor; He will only see what their end, their last sins and last punishments will be. The reason is their wicked and faithless (Deuteronomy 32:4) way, which with them comes to the uttermost (1 Thessalonians 2:16). Deuteronomy 32:21. The retribution will at last correspond to the offence. Not God, is not a monster (1 Corinthians 8:4 sq.; Deuteronomy 10:19 sq.), to which in a corresponding way “not people,” would signify “an inhuman people, repulsive and frightful,” (Ewald, in order to bring into the text in a historical way the Assyrians), but: as idols to which the heathen correspond. Moreover the no-gods are explained through the term vanities (nothingness); they are as the breath of men, fugitive human forms (Matthew 15:9); and no-people through גוֹי, and the alliteration between נבל and הבל The designation occurs with more express reference to Israel, and is thus, as even Knobel concedes, “not to be pressed,” not even “to the Syrians under Baasha and Ahab,” generally not to any particular nation. No-people in the view of Israel, a foolish nation according to Israel’s own conscience, is a godless nation, one which has gone hitherto its own way, etc. (Ephesians 2:12). The Acts of the Apostles is a biblical commentary upon this passage. Comp. also Deuteronomy 32:6; thus it is such a nation or people, who (notwithstanding all the grace they had received) are, as they are by nature (comp. Deuteronomy 4:6 sq.). The emphasizing of the Gentile world for the end of Israel, Romans 10:19 (1 Thessalonians 2:15-16). The reception of the Gentiles in the place of Israel is certainly and literally contained in this verse. [No-people is not a people which does not deserve to be called a people, because it is behind the Israelites in its outward organization, or in its culture and general civilization, but because it does not rest as to its existence and growth upon the choice of God, because it does not “recognize Him as its Head and King,” because it does not submit itself to His statutes and judgments, (Deuteronomy 4:6) which alone make a wise or understanding people. The designation does not imply any inferiority in worldly or secular respects on the part of those to whom it is applied.

The Apostle Paul, quoting (Romans 10:19), the precise words of the Sept. here, gives the true interpretation, and puts their significance, as teaching the adoption of the Gentiles in the place of the Jews beyond question, by any one who accepts the teaching of the Apostle as inspired. His use of this passage, too, ought to settle the question as to the inspiration of this song, and as to its Mosaic authorship.—A. G.]. It is nowhere said in Deuteronomy 32:22 sq., that the Lord would use the Gentiles only as a rod against Israel comp. Deuteronomy 32:31, as Kamphausen asserts;and what else is “the provoking and angering,” (Deuteronomy 32:16) in this connection, than what J. H. Michaelis “illustrates metaphorically by the spirit of a loving husband, who sees himself scorned by his wife, and takes some poor maiden in her place, as Ahasuerus Esther in the place of Vashti.” The description which underlies and grounds the judicial sentence, Deuteronomy 32:22, corresponds to these awful extremities (Deuteronomy 4:24; Deuteronomy 6:15). Comp. upon Deuteronomy 29:19. The dimension even to the lowest (sheol) hell (the chasm, abyss; see Hupfeld upon Psalms 66:0) according to which this stands as the underworld in opposition to heaven,—here the lowest depth (Deuteronomy 30:13) may be intended,—presents the judgment first of all as a destruction reaching beyond the earthly life, and continuing in Sheol, (Numbers 16:30 sq.). The intensive extent or compass in the next place, when the fire which is kindled (Deuteronomy 11:17) consumes indeed the foundations of the earth, expresses the judgment, as in the analogy of Sodom (Deuteronomy 29:22 sq.), extending from Palestine, and spreading out to one which concerns the whole world. [The judgment thus described was not to fall upon Israel alone. It was first to suffer. “But the words were not intended to foretell one particular judgment, but refer to judgment in its totality and universality, as realized in the course of centuries in different judgments upon the nations, and only to be completely fulfilled at the end of the world.” Keil.—A. G.]. (2 Peter 3:7). Thus only does it correspond with the universal idea of Israel. Since the land of promise loses its peculiar significance through the curse of God, the heaven of Israel passed away with the temple, there exists in Christ with the new Israel, which is entirely, completely spiritual, already a new heaven and a new earth, according to the Spirit. Israel is the nearest object of the Divine love-judgment, Deuteronomy 32:23 sq. The transition to another figure, comp. Deuteronomy 31:11; Deuteronomy 31:21. In masses one upon another; as a warrior against his enemies, exhausting his arrows to the very last one in his quiver, heaps them together around the enemy. Deuteronomy 32:24. מָזָה, to draw, exhaust, or simply to extend, make thin. רֶשֶׁף the licking, lapping flame, used of fever, burning pestilence. קטב, cut, thrust, blow. Comp. Leviticus 26:22. [Keil paraphrases “when hunger, pestilence, plague, have brought them to the verge of destruction I will send, sq”.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 32:25. שׁכל in Piel: lonely, bereaved, made childless, (Genesis 43:14). חֶדֶר the closed, within the tent, house, where especially are the wives and children. בָחוּר, the chosen, manly youth, especially soldiers. שׂיב to have gray hairs, (Leviticus 19:32).

5.Deuteronomy 32:26-43. In such a position to the world would God bring them, but they should not disappear entirely from the race. In Deuteronomy 32:26, in which he passes from the sentence to its execution. I said occurs as “he said“(Deuteronomy 32:20) and with a similar purport. פאה, used only here, may mean: to drive into every corner, or: to cast out from every corner (Schultz); the last signification may agree with the connection, but not the first.—To blow away agrees still better, so that they are dispersed. Vulg., Luther, according to the Rabbinical solution אפּ אי הם: where are they? i.e., destroyed beyond any trace, so that one seeks after them in vain. Others: to make an end. Others still: they are exposed, abandoned as the corners of the fields to the poor. Or deriving it from אף anger, to let this have success or control). שׁבת in Hiphil: remove the Sabbath from their memory (Leviticus 26:43). Comp. Deuteronomy 25:19. Once more a two-membered strophe. Deuteronomy 32:27. What restrains Jehovah from this utter destruction is not anything in Israel, not even anything in Him in reference to Israel,—this is the icy character of the passage,—but Jehovah fears His wrath of (upon) the enemy, i.e., because the oppressors of Israel, if they should ignore (misunderstand) the fact, that Jehovah and not their power (Isaiah 26:11) had destroyed Israel, would excite His wrath. Comp. Cicero; pro Flacco, c. 28, cited by Baumgarten. The impeachment of His honor or glory through the enemy is to be explained perhaps as Deuteronomy 9:28. There may, however, be an intimation also of the gracious purpose of God toward the Gentiles. The blessedness of all is indeed the glory of God. The world should not occupy such a position to Israel on its own account; it should execute and recognize the judgment of God upon Israel; therefore it is arrested, however little the nation deserves it. As Israel, e.g., Deuteronomy 9:4 sq., could not assert its own goodness as a motive, so with the gentile world its power; there the heart, here the hand. In what follows, the correct reasons are presented against these possible false reasons: not the gentile power, but Israel’s corruption, which presents it as ripe for overthrow, is the reason, for its destruction by Jehovah. Thus Deuteronomy 32:28 gives the reasons for Deuteronomy 32:26, so that Deuteronomy 32:27 forms the conclusion to Deuteronomy 32:26. We have still the words of God, as also in the reasons given for the declaration of the judgment (Deuteronomy 32:20); Knobel: “the author here proceeds with his own words.” That the discourse treats of Israel is not doubtful, as Sack thinks, because the גוֹי, which is more commonly used for the gentiles, occurs here. It stands for Israel also, e.g., Deuteronomy 4:6 sq., agrees well with the more general style here, and moreover when emphasized could well serve to present the equality of Israel and the Gentiles. Void of counsel, generally; not knowing what to advise, they have lost the power of wise consideration, counsels, or: lost, ruined, truly with respect to that with which they might consult; they do not take advice from the law of God (Deuteronomy 4:6 sq.). תבונה, comp. with בינו Deuteronomy 32:7. The moral corruption has wrought intellectual. With reference to this sign of deserved destruction, Moses breaks out, Deuteronomy 32:29, in a sad lamentation: לוּ! (it will not be so, surely not in the whole people). [The particle expresses here the simple condition without any wish, implying that the condition does not exist, or is uncertain.—A. G.]. Luke 19:42. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:6-7, and upon Deuteronomy 32:20. זאת especially what follows, that Israel could not have the victory, but that its end was near. Deuteronomy 32:30 is usually understood of the unsuccessful wars of Israel, from which either the Gentiles could perceive (this is expressed Deuteronomy 32:27 sq.), how Jehovah gave over His people, or that Israel should perceive and consider. More correctly: the review of the earlier history, which they were not considering (Deuteronomy 32:29 comp. with Deuteronomy 32:7) would prove to them how mighty Israel could be, (Leviticus 26:8; comp. Joshua 23:10). But, since the actual case is altogether the reverse, the self-judgment of their end must follow upon this review, (אי, how would it still כהthus be, namely: it would, sq. אמ־לא כי־except (according to the usual interpretation) their Rock, sq., or: the actual case was that, sq.). Their Rock, as is clear from the parallel clause, is Jehovah (Deuteronomy 32:4). Deuteronomy 32:31 gives the proof through a comparison of Jehovah with that which the Gentiles call their rock. Their gods could only be called rock, never be so, (Deuteronomy 32:21). Moses includes himself with his people (according to the idea, [i.e., the true Israel]). פליליםSchultz: Against the faithless ones who had proved the vanity of idols. Most: Since they even had experienced the omnipotence of Jehovah, and the weakness of all gods besides Him, as e.g., of Egypt, Moab, Midian. (Numbers 23:24). Perhaps still more simply:—And our enemies are judges. Israel’s judges (Exodus 21:22) instead of Jehovah, carry out His judicial sentence, and do nothing more. Thus Deuteronomy 32:31 connects itself with the close of Deuteronomy 32:30 : because the rock of the heathen, the gods whom they worship, are not as Jehovah, so the Rock of Israel must have given it into their power. Otherwise Israel would, as of old, have been victorious in the field, instead of as now recognizing its enemies as its judges. Deuteronomy 32:32 holds a similar relation to Deuteronomy 32:31, and Deuteronomy 32:30, as Deuteronomy 32:28, to Deuteronomy 32:26-27. Israel had placed itself on an equality, in pleasure and pride (Deuteronomy 32:15), with the Gentiles, and indeed with those of Canaan, against whom a previous judgment of God had long ago warned, and is soon therefore to be upon an equality with them, in punishment likewise, (Deuteronomy 29:22). Against Sack and those who with him apply Deuteronomy 32:32-33 to the Gentiles, Keil asserts “that throughout the Old Testament the corruption of the lsraelites, and never that of the Gentiles, is compared with that of Sodom, sq.; Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 3:9; Jeremiah 23:14; Ezekiel 16:46 sq.” Their vine, so far as it is to be compared with any such, is of the vine of Sodom, is a scion from that, (רוֹש as Deuteronomy 29:17). Deuteronomy 32:33. “The sweetness of the luxuries was a bitter, fatal poison to the dwellers in the garden of God”. Baumgarten. As Deuteronomy 32:29 Moses, so now Deuteronomy 32:34 Jehovah breaks up the thought into the form of a dramatic dialogue. The position of the world to Israel should thus not be for the glory of its power, but for the glory of the Lord; Israel should be judged through the world, but from the Lord. הוא refers to the immediately foregoing, only so far as the corruption of Israel involves guilt which demands punishment, for as corruption is it plainly discovered, manifested, Deuteronomy 32:32 sq., thus in any case not “concealed,” as Schultz renders כמם, which is found only here. But the rendering also by “preserved,” or: “coiled up,” “shrivelled, bound,” (Isaiah 8:16) does not accord well with the sins of .the people as such; but does agree well with the guilt, the recorded guilt registers which were rolled together, so that nothing might fall out and be lost, Job 14:17; Hosea 13:12, and Daniel 7:10; but Psalms 139:6; Malachi 3:16, do not belong here. The sense is perfectly clear from the parallel sealed up, i.e., still secret, but to be opened in due time. (Daniel 12:9). The treasures (treasure chamber) according to Deuteronomy 28:12 is heaven. Comp. upon the whole Deuteronomy 29:28. Deuteronomy 32:35. What it is which this refers to is designated here more precisely under the known prominence of the literal Supreme Judge, (Genesis 18:25). לי not: “vengeance, as well as punishment, is prepared with me” (Herxheimer), which would be the same as Deuteronomy 32:34; but it belongs to me, is my part. The judge, the avenger am I peculiarly (Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30). נקם is destination, judicial sentence, decision, and hence first vengeance. שלם Piel: consummation, restitution, reaches to the end of Israel. When your support gives way, your pride, your secure confidence wavers, then is the time of God; for now, only kept sealed, but then also manifested where it was perhaps little expected, the day of their calamity is at hand. איד literally: crushing, oppressive burden. The singular includes all that shall come upon them, as that which is prepared (Deuteronomy 7:10). Deuteronomy 32:36. In which Moses again is the speaker, gives a new reason for the judgment in due time, and introduces also a new element. The mere fact that Jehovah appears as the one judging, allows us to infer a separation (Genesis 18:23 sq.), or distinction. The solemn and formal עַמּוֹ, while hitherto גוי (Deuteronomy 32:28) or at most עם נבל־ Deuteronomy 32:6 had been used of Israel, renders that inference more probable. The parallel עבדיו strengthens it, since the word refers to the true servants, those who are faithful in Israel. The judgment as a sifting. The people of the Lord indeed in name, but in nature apostate (so also Hebrews 10:30) causes and experiences the judgment, which not only procures their right, does not prevent their punishment, but as generally, it procures right to the true Israel, who correspond to its idea, so especially by such a distinction it helps that part of Israel which constitutes this people of the Lord, to its vindication (Romans 11:0). Thus also the name of Israel in the best sense, is not extirpated, comp. Deuteronomy 32:26; as a sign of judgment so also of mercy. יתנחם. The sorrow of His own gives Him sorrow (Psalms 90:13; Matthew 24:22). His seeing corresponds with Deuteronomy 32:19 : there the apostacy, here the result of the execution of the judgment, which is such that it excites to compassion: power, with national strength, namely, run out, dried up, exhausted. אפם a noun which takes the place of a verb and signifies to cease, i.e., is no more. The fourth-time occurring paranomasia עצור ועזוב.—There is none shut up or left. Keil, Knobel: the married and single, i.e., all men. Baumgarten: the captive and freed-man. Ewald: close and liberal, i.e., all, as our thick and thin, is in any case a proverbial designation of persons; but scarcely of boys who were still at home, and those of age; scarcely also of the impure, who must remain at home, and in this reference the free, but either servants and freed-men, (עצור the ruled), or the men of rank (who remain in the house) and the common people. Schultz, Meier: the vassal and the lord, the borrower and the lender, or one bound to service, and the free. Understanding the expression of things, some render it: the shut up (treasures) and the left free (the herd in the field), the precious and the trifling, and the like. Israel’s nationality is at an end. Deuteronomy 32:37 corresponding to Deuteronomy 32:20. It is naturally not the servants of the Lord, Deuteronomy 32:36, who are addressed, since they have held fast to Him as their Lord, but the question concerns the larger part of Israel. Their gods, and with this the rock used ironically here is not easily misunderstood. Literally, Jehovah alone could be the Rock (Deuteronomy 32:30), but they have despised Him (Deuteronomy 32:15), and strange gods, Deuteronomy 32:16 sq., have become their rock, even a rock as that of the Gentiles, Deuteronomy 32:31. The theme of the song in all its variations is repeated. Deuteronomy 32:38. Sept., Vulg., Luth., Schultz, “Whose sacrificial fat they ate, the wine of whose drink-offerings they drank,” as if it was said of the Israelites, while yet both the fat is burned for the deity (Leviticus 3:3 sq.) and the libations are poured out before it (Numbers 15:5), and this is certainly to be specially retained here, with respect to the way of the Lord, in order to bring out more prominently the qui [quid] pro quo right. The gods ate and drank in this way (Deuteronomy 4:28); had in Israel so good an entertainment. Upon יקומו comp. Numbers 10:35. A covering and defence they could still claim from them, in any case it is the cloud pillar of Jehovah over His people which is referred to.

Deuteronomy 32:39. The connection through their own sight, especially with respect to that upon which they were visibly trusting, is an altogether fitting connection. Now, after the strange gods have proved their powerlessness. אני אני ,הוא, an emphatic repetition, and at the same time an exposition of the name Jehovah. There is no God besides (with) me (Deuteronomy 32:12; Deuteronomy 3:24), thus הוא is equivalent to האלהים; Jehovah alone the true God (John 8:24). Schultz: “Jehovah could not be the true being, having the cause of His being in Himself, purely dependent upon Himself alone, if He had any one beside Himself, which He Himself could not be.” Baumgarten: “Jehovah the absolute subject.” What this exclusiveness and unchangeableness of His being says in the sphere of His deity, that, the killing and the making alive (וַאֲחַיֶּה alluding to Jehovah, in any case to the immediately following חַי, Deuteronomy 32:40) the wounding and healing, say in the sphere of the becoming (Werdens) and the mutable, the creature. Kill, wound, at first because of the judgment; make alive, heal, in reference to the true people of God, the servants of the Lord, (Deuteronomy 32:36) by which contrast it was intimated that the suffering which they endure here,is salvation through the hand of God. Moreover ידי here and in Deuteronomy 32:40 forms an antithesis to יד Deuteronomy 32:36. The declared execution of the judgment in vengeance and in mercy is confirmed Deuteronomy 32:40, for men, and hence, in the divine condescending love after the manner of men, by the oath. To heaven— the throne of God, essentially as if it was: by myself, but formally as men are accustomed to swear, who by the lifting up of the hand confess and invoke Him (Genesis 14:22). חי the oath formula: as truly as I live, by my life. What is sworn follows. The oath reaches over the whole world to heaven. Jehovah has to show the judgment, inwardly, with respect to Israel itself, in vengeance and mercy; and in the like manner also outwardly, so far as the future position of the world to Israel should be the right position, perfectly right; and hence it must be a final judgment over the collective enemies of the Lord. Otherwise it might occur, that as with Israel, their intractable pride grew out of their possessions and their apparent goodness, so with the others, the Gentile world, it might arise from their apparent powerful position. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:27; Deuteronomy 32:15). Deuteronomy 32:41. The warlike figure as in Deuteronomy 32:23 (sword, Deuteronomy 32:25). Entirely personal: my, sq., on account of the fundamental thought (Jehovah) of the prophetic stand-point of the song, and because the enemies of Israel as such could not come into view here, since it also is the very object of the divine judgment. Israel itself even is become an enemy of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 32:15 sq.).—Glittering (the flash) of the piercing (ברק) point of that in the hand of the heavenly hero, as the quivering flash of his sword.—Whet, denoting its preparation with all the earnestness of his zeal or anger. The judicial procedure (משפט) explains the sword which God grasps, and which He (ב) holds fast, until the judgment is completed. אשיב is explained through אשלם (Deuteronomy 32:35), as a retributive destruction. Deuteronomy 32:42. There is no exemption even of the captives. The divine arrows would become drunk as they drink the blood of the slain, as the divine sword would eat the flesh. פרע, to break forth, to be at the head, or in the front; hence Schultz: of the head, chief of the princes; Ewald: of the supreme ruler (King) of the princes; Keil, Knobel: of the hairy head (because פרע designates the hair of the head); others: “from the head of the uncovering (Leviticus 10:6) of the enemy, i.e. the uncovered enemy;” thus the destruction of the people as of their rulers (comp. Psalms 110:5-6), or as a supplementary portraiture of the destroyed power of the enemy; the hair, as already the head, naturally symbolizing youth, wanton strength, pride, haughtiness, and the like. Comp. Hupfeld upon Psalms 68:21.—[The rendering in our version has no foundation in the language itself, is not supported by other passages in which the word occurs, and breaks up the parallelism of the verse, the third clause being obviously related to the first, and the fourth in like manner to the second.—A. G.].

Deuteronomy 32:43 forms the conclusion, but in which also the divine mercy is announced in connection with the divine vengeance in reference to the world, those without or beyond Israel. As at the beginning, as especially at Deuteronomy 32:36, so now also at the close Moses takes up the word. If it was vengeance only which was in view for the Gentiles, the solemn, sacred summons to rejoice, which is directed to the Gentiles (thus at the end, as at the beginning, to heaven and earth with regard to Israel), would be simply fiendish. Comp. Romans 15:10 (Revelation 12:10; Revelation 12:12; Revelation 15:3); Genesis 12:3. The object of this loud rejoicing is His people, but is immediately set in its true light by His servants, as in Deuteronomy 32:36. (רנן in Hiph. with the accus. of the object is unusual, but surely to take עמו as in apposition with גוים, “nations which are His people” (e.g.Header) is still more unusual, and the way is not sufficiently prepared for it through Deuteronomy 32:21, or other passages. Sept.: μετὰ τοῦ λαοῦ αύτοῦ.)—[Our version follows the Sept., as does St. Paul in Romans 15:10. Nor does this rendering differ essentially from that which makes His people the direct object of the joy. “For the heathen here called upon to laud God’s people can only be required to do so when they have themselves received a share in God’s mercies to His land and His people, and had cause therefore themselves to rejoice with His people. It is apparent also that since the praise is to be addressed in the first instance to ‘His people,’ and not directly to God Himself, the mercies must be regarded as overflowing to the rejoicing Gentiles through and from the Jews. Nor can we imagine such praise to be bestowed by the Gentiles upon the Jews for such mercies whilst the Jews were themselves excluded from the same. It seems then that in this profound passage there is shadowed forth the purpose of God to overrule (1) the unbelief of the Jews to the bringing in of the Gentiles, and (2) the mercy shown to the Gentiles to the eventual restoration of the Jews (comp. Romans 11:25-36).” Bib. Com.—A. G.]—The blood of His servants appears as the blood of martyrs who have sealed their faithfulness to Jehovah with their blood (Matthew 23:31; Matthew 23:34-35; Luke 18:7; Revelation 6:10; Revelation 18:20; Revelation 18:24; Revelation 19:2). For the rest comp. Deuteronomy 32:41. Genuinely Mosaic is it to the last: to His land and people, the two fundamental references of the Pentateuch from Genesis onward. To which the remark of J. H. Michaelis well agrees, that in this song the enemies of God are peculiarly Israel after the flesh. How else indeed could the song be a testimony against Israel? At all events it relates to the guilt of blood, pressing as a burden upon the land, and at the same time the stain which through it comes upon the people, first of all upon Israel. Comp. Deuteronomy 21:8; Leviticus 16:33; Numbers 35:33; Zechariah 3:9. With this wonderful, mysterious tone the song ceases. (The close of the Old Covenant reflects itself in the way in which this song closes, Psalms 22:27 sq.” Schultz.)

6. Deuteronomy 32:44-52. This passage commends itself to us as from a different hand than that of Moses (Introd. § 2). It is not against this view, but rather in its favor, that it is from the same hand which has added also chaps. 33 and. 34הושׁע, Deuteronomy 32:44, instead of the earlier constantly used יהושע, is remarkable. The former, his domestic name, denotes simply help, salvation; the latter, his more public official name, denotes that Jehovah is this or his help. The first natural name of Joshua would be most appropriate if he was the person who has added this section and the following chapters, especially that at the first opportunity at which it could occur, he should thus at the beginning designate the tone corresponding to his modesty. He was Hoshea, as he was the servant of Moses, and so he names himself again when he, in this writing, actually serves him. Comp. further Deuteronomy 31:30; Deuteronomy 31:19.—And Hoshea, thus according to the divine direction; Joshua only assisted. Comp. Deuteronomy 32:45. In this way Israel could reach the conviction of the entire accord between the predecessor and his successor. Deuteronomy 32:45. Comp. Deuteronomy 31:24.Deuteronomy 32:46. Testify, more exactly, which I take to witness, or better still, through which I lay down my testimony; a reference to Deuteronomy 31:26, but especially to Deuteronomy 31:19; Deuteronomy 31:21. It is the song pre-eminently which is intended, which should help to faithfulness to the law. Comp. Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 11:19. Deuteronomy 32:47. The proof as Deuteronomy 30:11. רֵק, from רוּק (ריק), contracted from רחק, to remove, put far away. Hence מִכֶּם is neither: “so that it had no importance for them” (Schultz), nor as equivalent with “not more vain and empty than you yourselves” (Knobel). For the rest comp. Deuteronomy 30:20. Deuteronomy 32:48. The day of the song; thus this was his dying (swan) song. Deuteronomy 32:49. (Numbers 27:12 sq.) The particularity in the description of the locality should not escape notice; more appropriate for Joshua: than for God. Keil calls attention also to the imperatives. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 3:27. The plural, העברים, designates the mountain range on that side, east of the Jordan. The particular (הזה) mountain of this mountainous border of Moab is the הר־נבו. Hengstenberg, Hist. of Balaam. In this region (Buckingham, Travels) there are outlooks stretching from thirty to sixty miles in breadth, e.g. at Heshbon, from whence one can see Jerusalem directly to the west, and still more clearly Bethlehem. Deuteronomy 32:50. Comp. Genesis 25:8; Genesis 25:17; Numbers 20:25 sq. (Deuteronomy 10:6)—[Unto thy people seems to indicate something more than that the body of Moses was gathered with the buried dust of his fathers, and if not a proof of the immortality and consciousness of the soul after death” (Wordsworth), it is one of those passages which imply that truth.—A. G.]

Deuteronomy 32:51. מָעַל, to separate, to be rebellious, to act faithlessly. Numbers 20:12; Numbers 27:14; Numbers 20:13; Numbers 20:24.


1. What is said, Numbers 12:8, as to the distinct position of Moses, from the literal prophetic order, receives its full confirmation in this chapter. As God speaks to Moses without any reserve what related to the destiny of Israel and the world, literally “mouth to mouth,” it is a conversation or dialogue. The servant faithful “in all the house,” introduces the song in inspired faith and with burning zeal, accompanies and closes it with painful lamentation (Deuteronomy 32:29 sq.), yet not without blessed hope (Deuteronomy 32:43).

2. If Moses nevertheless is a prophet in the more general sense of the word, the בַּמַּרְאָה which is denied to him in distinction from the literal prophets, Numbers 12:6-7, and the וּמַרְאֶה granted to him, Deuteronomy 32:8 (although the latter is qualified and explained by בְחִירֹת (riddles) and וְלֹא), is intelligible through the figurative and generally poetical style of this chapter. We may say: the figurative term הַצּוּר for Jehovah, is perhaps from the תְּמוּנָה, which, according to Numbers 12:8, Moses saw.

3. Poetry and prophecy in their relationship and their difference. The relation is not a barely formal one. Goethe: “Poetry is inspiration,” which he explains more fully by “genius;” with which, for the Christian view of the world and life, there arises at once a distinction—a distinction like that between nature and grace. Comp. the excellent work of Sack (Songs in the Historical Books of the Old Testament, p. 3 sq.). Steinbeck, the Poet a Seer, Leipsic, 1836. Comp. Lange, Phil. Dogm., p. 367, 374.

4. But it is not poetry alone, music also, which here appears in the service of religion; the song, chap. 32, is not only a poem, it is at the same time a song. In the song we have the unity of poetry and music. Comp. the thoughtful treatment of the point in view here, in Lange as cited above, p. 375 (2 Kings 3:15).

5. The parallel between the ancient classical poetry and the Old Testament poetry and prophecy. “The form, the beautiful, festive appearance,” rules in the former; “the living realities,” the vehement, struggling conflict which marks the progress of history (des werdens), for the latter. “There the beautiful is prominent; here the sublime, exalted.” Lange (Herzog’s Realencycl. 11 773).

6. It is as a festive celebration of the beautiful with the good (the kalokagathie), that not only the deuteronomic discourses, but the entire historical activity of Moses closes in poetry and song. In correspondence with this is the look at Canaan from Nebo, closing his life—the most beautiful image.
7. “The contents and connection,” Sack correctly calls “so great and comprehensive,” that he speaks here of the “prototype of all prophecy in a certain measure of the connection of the Old and New Testaments.” That which forms the contents of the word of God, the contents of prophecy in the narrower sense, that also forms the contents of this song: the law and the gospel. The thread of its idea runs from Israel, the people of God in truth (Deuteronomy 32:36), in order to reach the nations generally in the future (Deuteronomy 32:43). Tholuck designates it “as a prophetical theodicee of God in history.”

8. Whoever is accustomed to place the divine anger in opposition to the divine love will never win an understanding of the deepest and truest nature of this song. The “perception of the burning zeal of God proceeds from the zeal of His love” (Sack).

9. “The righteousness of God is not especially a judicial, punitive righteousness, but a forthgoing in the direct way of that justice, grounded in His eternal holiness and love, according to which His creatures must regulate their lives,” etc. (Sack).

10. The fact that the adoption belonged to the Israelites, Romans 9:4 puts beyond question. The parallelism there is in any case between υἱοθεσία and νομοθεσία, and so much the more truly, as throughout the (morally) filial relation, outward or inward, formal or essential, must be formed according to the conduct in reference to the will of the Father, i.e. the law. If we hold to the objective side, then the law demands love. Thus it includes the gospel, love; and there remains thus between the Old and the New Testaments a difference only of method; there the demand, here the fulfillment, of which the antelegal time forms the promise. Thus the law is an institution, and the Israelitish adoption is also an institution, not, however, a ceremonial, but political, i.e. Israel as a nation is the adoption of God, placed as His right, His house, His glory among the nations. “Limited to Israel as the chosen people, the idea is therein proclaimed, that God is the creative founder and builder of its theocratic life, cherishing and training Israel as a child. It is (Galatians 4:1 sq.) the relation of a minor child, when in respect to the father, as is fitting the time of life, he is conscious only of that life-support in the form of care and guardianship, not the free spiritual communion which inwardly develops itself in riper years” (Beck, Christ. Lehr-wissensch. I., p. 344 sq.). It is not barely in a figurative (comparative) method (Hengstenberg); neither only typical (Lange). The typical in the Old Testament idea of adoption refers to the true Israel, and to Israel according to the truth. As to the subjective realization of the adoption of God, it does not require to be spoken to here upon this chapter: but its treatment properly belongs to the Psalms. It is not to be forgotten that the kernel of Israel, which comes into account here as to the adoption, appears rather as the servant of Jehovah (Deuteronomy 32:36; Deuteronomy 32:43). The stage of the Holy Spirit’s manifestation alluded to (John 7:39) is that of consummation (comp. Del., Bibl. Proph. Theol., p. 233 sq., 243 sq.), or better still, that of the seal, of confirmation, but not first of efficient working.

11. “The existence of Israel as a nation is indeed like that of other nations brought about in a natural way, not through a spiritual new birth, but still Israel has its remotest ground in the supernatural mighty word of promise given to Abraham (Genesis 17:15 sq.); and a circle of wonderful, mighty proofs and gracious leadings have brought Israel from this starting point of its existence, to the goal to which it attained with the exodus from Egypt” (Del. upon Isaiah 1:2).

12. It is very strange when Sack in opposition to Schultz, calls “the distinction of a better kernel in Israel, conceded to the later prophets,” here “a forced distinction, and one which in this Mosaic work has no place, is not even intimated in the song.” So essential a view could not fail entirely in “the very magna charta of prophecy” (Hengstenberg); it must at least be intimated, although its actual carrying out may be handed over to that which follows. The distinction between the nation, and the people of God, the separation of the servant of Jehovah is truly Mosaic; not merely according to the narrative of the primitive and preliminary history of Israel (comp. upon Deuteronomy 32:5), which Moses gives, but directly through the events with reference to Caleb, Joshua (Deuteronomy 1:36; Deuteronomy 1:38), Phinehas (Numbers 25:7), the Levites (Deuteronomy 10:8; comp. Exodus 32:26), and indeed through his own existence as the servant of the Lord above others (Numbers 12:7). On the other hand Schultz remarks upon Deuteronomy 30:0 : “In the most eventful moments of his life he had experienced that the Lord even then, when His anger burned most fiercely, and when He was ready to condemn Israel without any restraint, would spare at least him, the one, etc. He must have had the consoling conviction, without which he would not have had strength, even from the beginning, over against the general obstinacy of the people, that there was a sacred seed still existing, in order to produce from itself a new and better sowing for victory and glory. In the very being of God Himself, it lay concealed,” etc., etc. The exposition has pointed out the intimations in the song.

13. Sack, Deuteronomy 32:10 sq., opposes very finely “the view which has never yet entirely vanished, according to which the God of the Old Testament is pre-eminently a frightful and terrible God.” “It is the fundamental thought of the divine education of Israel to religious, godly sorrow, or a sorrow which works a change of mind, agreeing on one side with the drawing of the first man to love and obedience through the fullness of the surrounding glorious creation, and on the other side with the evangelical motive: Let us love Him, for He has first loved us.”

14. A superficial view only of the history of Israel reveals merely the opposition to Jeshurun; a closer examination will justly bring out the variance between the idea in Jeshurun and the reality in the manifestation of Israel. The history of the people is the history of this variance, reaches its greatest crisis when the Gentile judge repeatedly proclaims Him the Jeshurun, and Israel, on the contrary, cries: Crucify Him! crucify Him! A purpose fixed by God, which He realizes in the fullness of time through the Messiah, must verify itself also by the way, as drawing nearer this goal, however separated into its parts or elements in its realization. This is the truth of the divine word. “A deeper view of the history of Israel,” says Hengstenberg, “reveals to us, even in the most corrupt times, the existence of an ἐκλογὴ, to whom the predicate perfect belongs (?); the best evidence of whose existence is found in the judgment upon the dishonesty and unrighteousness of the people, which at all times comes forth from its own bosom. Where do we find such a morally reacting force among the Gentiles? So also the history shows that the times of corruption, in which honesty and righteousness are confined to the little flock, are ever followed by times of reformation, in which honesty and righteousness more or less penetrate the whole life of the nation. (The period of the judges already.) Israel is, especially in relation to the Gentiles, Jeshurun.”

15. The results of the sanctifying ordinances and institutions of Jehovah among His people entitle it to this name “Jeshurun;” of the law as giving the knowledge of His will; of the sacrifice especially as procuring the pardon of sin, of the Spirit working in the people, giving the experience of communion with God, the covenant-communion. It is equally erroneous to ground salvation upon a state or disposition attained subjectively by one’s own strength, and to regard this inward state as unnecessary (Hengstenberg).

16. The thought, Deuteronomy 32:26-27, is the more striking, inasmuch as after Israel, as this people, has come to an entire end, it presents its evil condition historically, and legitimates itself as a thought of God through the continuous existence of the Jews. Over against the hatred of the nations, foaming out in persecutions of the Jews (since the time of the Romans, especially in the Christian middle ages), its existence willed by God was strongly assured both through the remarkable outward means of existence (Deuteronomy 15:6; Deuteronomy 28:12), and through the peculiar inward and intellectual endowments which characterize it even to this day. (Keith, Witnesses, supposes their prosperity, indeed their wealth, to serve as the object of the threatened spoiling (28, 29?), and also for the approaching enrichment of the Israel of the future, formed again to a people; accompanied with the very singular remark, that their ill successes were limited to Canaan during the lime of the divine judgment upon them, as if under the Turkish power they could not prosecute their pursuits there as they could elsewhere!)

17. Israel’s end as to the flesh, Deuteronomy 32:29 (20), must be at the same time Israel’s completion as to the Spirit, and this is the Messianic horizon which environs this song.

18. The rejoicing of the nations, with which the song closes, sets in a clear light the conversion of the Gentiles as the consequence of the judicial sifting and destructive mighty deeds of the Lord upon Israel and upon the world at large (e.g. Heathen Rome). The first song of Moses already (Exodus 15:14 sq.) dwelt upon the issues of the deliverance of Israel from Egypt. The resulting impression upon the contiguous heathen nations at first indeed an impression of alarm. The other side of the results of the falling away of Israel, both for the world and the Gentiles, is set forth by St. Paul, Romans 11:11 sq. Whether the πλήρωμα, Romans 11:12, brings into view another complement of Israel than that through the Gentiles, a rescuing, namely, even of the unbelieving part of Israel, and thus the entire conversion of the people is intended, or whether the gain by means of the whole Israel, which is the new true Israel composed of Jews and Gentiles, for the yet wider world and all the Gentiles, and thus the conquest of the race through the Church of Christ is intended, may be left undecided. Comp. Doct. and Eth. upon chap. 30.


Deuteronomy 32:1. Luther: “It happens also that when God visits unbelievers, and lays hold upon them, they imagine that all the creatures have become their enemies. The whole creation agrees as a witness of the law with the law. Moses shows in this whole song the method of the law (Romans 4:15; Romans 7:7), and acts as a true preacher of the law. But he summons heaven and earth to witness, because he treats of so great a matter, which does not concern a kingdom, or gold and silver, but that which is of the utmost moment to every one, namely, either to have God, the fountain of all good, and with Him all eternal and temporal salvation, or to be eternally without either.” R. Bechai: “He begins with the creation of the world, and from thence onwards until he closes his discourse with the days of the Messiah.”—Heaven and earth as spectators, hearers and witnesses.—Jahn: “There is nothing elsewhere comparable to these first two verses in the boldness of expression.”

Deuteronomy 32:2. Luther: “When God’s word is preached purely then it is not as with human statutes, clouds without rain, 2 Peter 2:17. But he sets the herb and the grass over against the stony ground and the sand; for it belongs to the word, that the doctrine should be healthful, and the hearers thirsty and docile.” V. Gerlach: “The richness and fullness can only be a fullness of blessing. For the severest punitive testimony of the law has a life-giving and invigorating efficacy for the true servant of his covenant God.”

Deuteronomy 32:3. Luther: “But the little flock, the believers and saints upon the earth, give the glory to God the Lord alone. But hypocrites and other godless persons, whatever they may confess in words, in heart rely upon their own goodness, wisdom, power, or look to men for help and consolation.”

Deuteronomy 32:4. Teller (Engl. Bib.): “It declares the eternity of God, the unchangeableness of His purposes, and the insuperable power of His majesty.” Baumgarten: “He had proved Himself as the Rock, both in Egypt and the wilderness, as He had manifested Himself as the only support in heaven or upon earth, for Israel.”—The Rock of Israel: Jehovah according to His work, ways, nature and attributes.—Starke: “The name of the Lord is a strong tower, Proverbs 18:10; Nahum 1:7.” Zinzendorf: “Jesus is the true one, faithful unto death, in respect to His merits for us over death and the grave. A husband, who is perfection in His nature, has such an evil bride.” Schultz: “It is a great consolation that God is immutable in His power and will (faithfulness); that His way is right, He Himself without injustice, therefore, it is inculcated, because with this knowledge the punishment would not be received with incredulity.”

Deuteronomy 32:5. Richter: “The reformation corresponds with the redemption from Egypt; to the rejection of Jehovah corresponds, alas! the modern unbelief and apostacy.”

Deuteronomy 32:6. Herder: “God remains the father; but they cease to be His children, first by their wickedness, then in their destiny.”—[Wordsworth: “This is more fully verified in Christ, who hath purchased His Church with His own blood (Acts 20:28; 1 Corinthians 6:20). Dost thou, O Christian, who sinnest against Christ, thus requite the Lord who bought thee (Judges 4:0)?”—A.G.]

Deuteronomy 32:7. Richter: “How many Christian fathers, alas! would now grow dumb at such questions!” Cramer: “The Church the witness of the truth.”

Deuteronomy 32:8. Schultz: “His own people must at last possess the whole earth, or bear away the spoil thereof; for the meek shall inherit the earth.”—God is the Highest; why should men flatter others and call them by this title?

Deuteronomy 32:10. Starke: “God finds us; His grace is all, and in all. He here appears as the bridegroom who goes out to seek His bride. Israel unmarried was without law, etc. He named him after His own name,” etc. V. Gerlach: “The wilderness is the point of departure, because of the vivid contrasts to the fullness of blessing of the land of promise. He finds Israel as a lost sheep.”

Deuteronomy 32:11. Bochart: “In the Old Testament the figure of the eagle; in the new that of the hen.”—Here Israel, the eagles brood, over the carcass of Canaan; later the Romish eagle over the carcass of Israel.

Deuteronomy 32:12. Jehovah alone; thus the song sings, thus the whole history of Israel proclaims, and thus the experience of all the children of God attests.

Deuteronomy 32:13 sq. When the Lord is the leader then is the victory and the blessing. The lofty flight of His people to victory, to proud security, to a full enjoyment of all.

Deuteronomy 32:15. Cramer: “Good times and plenty often lead to a contempt of the word of God and to many sins.”—[The temptations and dangers of prosperity.—A. G.]

Deuteronomy 32:20. Richter: “Hidden as the sun behind the clouds.”

Deuteronomy 32:21. Baumgarten: “In so far as all the Gentile nations rest upon the ground of nature, their national character is transient and no people; thus in the light of the full eternal truth all and every one of the Gentiles are foolish nations, because they are without the source of all wisdom, the knowledge of God, because they do not possess the law of Israel.” Deuteronomy 32:22 sq. Herder: “With such a prophetic outlook must the law-giver of the people close his wearied life.” Deuteronomy 32:29. Cramer: “Blindness and security precede the divine punishments.” Berl. Bib.: “Who is there who has shown sufficient earnestness, diligence and care in a preparation for his latter end? Where is the dying before one dies, the judging before one is judged?”

Deuteronomy 32:37 sq. Cramer: “There is no protection or help in false doctrine.”

Deuteronomy 32:40. What consolation still is heaven for the earth!

Deuteronomy 32:43. The penitential Psalm becomes a song of rejoicing, as true repentance ends ever in shouts of triumph. True repentance is true joy. The history of the world is not first a world-judgment, but truly a judgment of Israel. The thoughts of peace of the Eternal One as to the times, in the calling of Israel, in the fullness of the Gentiles.

Deuteronomy 32:46. Berl. Bib.: “The command is without force if the example is worthless. We understand correctly; for hypocrisy makes hypocrites. The divine life and work conceals and carries with it also a divine authority more than in all blows, cries and words.”

Deuteronomy 32:47. Sin is suicide.

Deuteronomy 32:48 sq. Berl. Bib.: “Thus the Lord prepared Moses for his death.”

Deuteronomy 32:52. Berl. Bib.: He shall not go in thither; as David also should not build the temple whose model he was permitted to see.


[1][Deuteronomy 32:5. Margin: He hath corrupted himself.—A. G.].

[2][Deuteronomy 32:5. Margin: That they are not his children; that is, their blot. Schroeder, more literally: not his children—their spot—taking מום in the moral sense, as equivalent with stain or blemish.—A. G.].

[3][Deuteronomy 32:6. The word used here denotes rather the founding, or perhaps redeeming, and thus acquiring for himself.—A. G.].

[4][Deuteronomy 32:10. ובתהו, without form, Genesis 1:2—A. G.].

[5][Deuteronomy 32:10. Literally: took thought for him. Schroeder supplies nothing after the נשׁר, and makes כְּ open the sentence, and the apodosis begin at once: as the eagle, He, etc.—A. G.].

[6][Deuteronomy 32:17. Shedim. Schroeder transfers the Hebrew. The root seems to mean to waste, destroy. Gesen. derives it from the root meaning to rule, and hence renders idols, lords. It is used here most probably with reference to the malignant, destructive character of idol worship.—A. G.].

[7] [Deuteronomy 32:19. Our version, while substantially correct, is needlessly verbose, and weakens the force of the original. Better:

And the Lord saw, and rejected,
Out of indignation, his sons and his daughters.—A. G.].

[8][Deuteronomy 32:21. The italics are not only needless, but impair the force of the original.—A. G.].

[9][Deuteronomy 32:22. Margin: hath burned.—A. G.].

[10][Deuteronomy 32:22. Margin: hath consumed.—A. G.].

[11][Deuteronomy 32:26. The verb פּאה occurs only here, and is derived from a root to which Ges. and Fuerst assign the meaning—to breathe, blow,—thus utterly to scatter them.—A. G.].

[12][Deuteronomy 32:27. Margin: Our high hand, and not the Lord, hath done all this.—A. G.].

[13][Deuteronomy 32:28. Schröder views this as the close of what Jehovah began to say in the twentieth verse, regarding the intervening verses as in a special sense belonging to the Lord.—A. G.].

[14][Deuteronomy 32:32. Margin: is worse than the vine of Sodom, taking the מו in its local, comparative sense, rather than as a partitive.—A. G.].

[15][Deuteronomy 32:35. Literally: To me is vengeance, and retribution for the time their foot shall shake. Deuteronomy 32:34-35 are marked by Schroeder as in a peculiar sense the words of Jehovah.—A. G.].

[16][Deuteronomy 32:40. Keil and Bib. Com. remove the stop at the end of this verse, and make 40–42 one sentence. There is no necessity for this, as the sense is equally clear with the present pointing.—A. G.].

[17][Deuteronomy 32:42. Others, following Gesenius, take פרע here for princes, and render, from the head of the princes of the enemy. But see Psalms 68:22, which seems to confirm the rendering of Schroeder: the hairy head of the enemy.—A. G.].

[18][Deuteronomy 32:43. Or, Praise, O ye nations, his people. Keil: Rejoice, nations, over his people. The rendering of Schroeder is preferable. It preserves the distinction between nations and people which is insisted upon in the song, and supplies nothing to the text. The transitive sense of the verb, if not usual, is permissible.—A. G.].

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 32". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/deuteronomy-32.html. 1857-84.
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