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Bible Commentaries

Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible
Deuteronomy 32

 

 


Introduction

Deuteronomy 31-34. Moses' last words and the closing events of his life. The narrative parts (based on JE and in part on P) resemble chs. 1-3, and are probably by the same author or compiler. Deuteronomy 32:1-4 (the Song of Moses) and Deuteronomy 33 (the Blessing of Moses) are independent pieces of unknown origin.


Verses 1-52

Deuteronomy 32:1-43. Moses' Song is a didactic poem, a theodicy in which Yahweh's ways are vindicated. In its sentiments and artistic form it is unsurpassed in the poetry of the OT. Its dominant theme is Yahweh's justice and lovingkindness to Israel notwithstanding the nation's sinfulness. It is impossible to fix the date of this poem with any confidence. But points of contact with Jer., Isaiah 40-55, Ezek., and the Wisdom literature suggest the closing years of the Exile (say 550 B.C.). Moses is certainly not the author, for to the latter the Exodus belongs to his distant past (Deuteronomy 32:7-12), and the Israelites are already in Canaan (Deuteronomy 32:13 f.). The words translated "doctrine" (Deuteronomy 32:2), "abominations" (Deuteronomy 32:16), "vanities" (Deuteronomy 32:21), and many others, together with several expressions, "the day of their calamity" (Deuteronomy 32:35), "as I live" (Deuteronomy 32:40, etc.), are common in exilic and post-exilic, but hardly exist in pre-exilic writings (see Driver, p. 348).

Deuteronomy 32:1. heaven . . . earth: see Isaiah 1:2.

Deuteronomy 32:3. name: Deuteronomy 28:58*.

Deuteronomy 32:4. Rock: when a name of Yahweh, the LXX almost uniformly translates by "God" to obviate any suggestion of idolatry (see Cent. B on Psalms 75:5).—Render "A God faithful and without iniquity."

Deuteronomy 32:5. Read (with Driver, etc.), "those not His sons have corrupted their faithfulness to Him, a perverse," etc.

Deuteronomy 32:6. bought: render "begotten."

Deuteronomy 32:8. children of men: a Hebraism, meaning "men."

Deuteronomy 32:9. Read, "But Yahweh's portion is His people Jacob; Israel is the lot which He inherited" (i.e. possessed); so essentially LXX.

Deuteronomy 32:10. the apple: lit. "the little man"; so called because it reflects an onlooker's face; so in Arabic and Assyrian.

Deuteronomy 32:11. For the imagery, see ET, xxvi. pp. 101ff.

Deuteronomy 32:12. strange: better "foreign" (see Deuteronomy 31:16).

Deuteronomy 32:14. Render, "of rams . . . of goats."—Kidney-fat is the richest (Leviticus 3:4, Isaiah 34:6).—blood: Genesis 49:11*.

Deuteronomy 32:15. Prefix the following (found in the LXX, Sam., etc.), "Jacob ate and was satisfied," then continue, "and Jeshurun waxed fat."—Jeshurun: i.e. "the upright one," an ideal designation of Israel (Deuteronomy 33:5; Deuteronomy 33:26, Isaiah 44:2, cf. Numbers 23:10*, Joshua 10:13 mg.).

Deuteronomy 32:17. demons: so LXX daimonia; heathen deities are meant. The Heb. shd = the Assyrian shidu = any Assyrian deity (see Cent.B on Psalms 106:37).

Deuteronomy 32:20. froward: Heb. "perverse" (plural of intensity).—faith: render "faithfulness."

Deuteronomy 32:21. not God: what is no live god.—not a people, lit. "a not people"; i.e. a mere rabble or crowd.

Deuteronomy 32:22. the lowest Sheol (mg.): i.e. the lowest part of Sheol.

Deuteronomy 32:24. burning heat: Heb. "the fire bolt," supposed to bring pestilence and death.

Deuteronomy 32:26. Render, I should have said" (i.e. "to myself") "I will scatter" (so LXX).

Deuteronomy 32:29. Read, "They are not wise, nor do they understand this or consider their latter end" (cf. Sam. LXX). This verse continues the description of Deuteronomy 32:28.—latter end: the issue of their present conduct (cf. Deuteronomy 32:20).

Deuteronomy 32:31. their rock: i.e. the god of the heathen (Deuteronomy 32:4*).

Deuteronomy 32:32. vine: Israel is the genuine vine (see Hosea 10:1, Jeremiah 2:21). "Sodom" and "Gomorrah" are often types of wickedness (Isaiah 1:10; Isaiah 3:9, Jeremiah 23:14, Ezekiel 16:46-49). It is the sin of Israel's foes, not that of Israel, that is referred to in Deuteronomy 32:32 f.

Deuteronomy 32:33. dragons in Old English = "serpents."—asps: better "cobras."

Deuteronomy 32:34. treasures: mg. is better. The sin of Israel's enemies will be stored up (see Job 14:17, Hosea 13:12).

Deuteronomy 32:35. Read (with LXX, Sam.), "for the day of vengeance and of recompense, for the time," etc., joining immediately to Deuteronomy 32:34 and continuing the question to "slide." Another reading is implied in Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30, where Deuteronomy 32:35 a is quoted.

Deuteronomy 32:36. shut up or left at large: a Hebraism meaning all; cf. 1 Kings 14:10. In the original the words are alliterative: cf. "fettered and free."

Deuteronomy 32:40. to lift the hand: in Arabic and Heb. means to make an oath appealing to deity (Genesis 14:22).—As I live: Yahweh swears by Himself (see Genesis 22:16, and cf. Hebrews 6:13-18).

Deuteronomy 32:42. The blood is that which oozes from the head: render as RV.

Deuteronomy 32:43. Render, "Sing joyously of this people, O ye nations" (i.e. the heathen).

Deuteronomy 32:44. "Hoshea" read (with VSS) "Joshua": cf. Deuteronomy 31:19.

Deuteronomy 32:45-47. Moses' last words commending the song.

Deuteronomy 32:46. law: read (with Staerk, Steuernagel and Bertholet), "song." If the MT is retained this section attaches immediately to Deuteronomy 31:29, the intervening verses being an interpolation.

Deuteronomy 32:48-52. See Numbers 27:12-14 (P), on which it seems based.

 


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Bibliography Information
Peake, Arthur. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 32:4". "Arthur Peake's Commentary on the Bible ". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pfc/deuteronomy-32.html. 1919.

Lectionary Calendar
Tuesday, November 24th, 2020
the Week of Christ the King / Proper 29 / Ordinary 34
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