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Bible Commentaries

Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary

Deuteronomy 32

Verses 1-6

DEUTERONOMY - CHAPTER THIRTY-TWO

Verses 1-6:

This song which Moses composed at God’s direction, demonstrates the depths of spiritual insight and the consummate literary skill of its author. Moses was no ignorant, semi-literate peasant. His writings demonstrate his skill as an orator, his sagacity as a legislator, and his insight as a poet.

This composition may be divided into six sections:

(1) Verses 1-3:Introduction. The announcement of the importance of what he is about to say.

(2) Verses 4-6: The excellence of Jehovah, in contrast to the fickleness and perversity of Israel.

(3) Verse 7-18: The folly and ingratitude of Israel.

(4) Verses 19-23: God’s rejection and chastisement of rebellious Israel.

(5) Verses 24-34: Judgment upon the rebels; mercy and compassion to the penitent.

(6) Verses 35-43: Divine judgment upon Israel’s enemies; blessings and mercy upon God’s servants.

"Doctrine," leqach, "the receiving, what is to be received;’ also translated "learning," Proverbs 1; Proverbs 5; Proverbs 9:9; Proverbs 16:21; Proverbs 16:23, q.v.

"Drop," araph, "be abundant," as the gentle falling of a soft rain drop, or the distillation of the dew.

The soft rains of the growing season aid the growth of the tender herbs, and nourish the vulnerable sprouts of the grain crops This symbolizes the care with which Moses entered upon the delivery of this magnificent song.

"Publish," qara, "call, or proclaim."

The song calls the hearers to join all nature in proclaiming the "greatness," godel, of God.

He is the "Rock," tsur, the sharp, strong fortress. This term is applied to God also in verses 13, 15, 18, 30, 31, 37; and eighteen times in the Psalms 31:2; Psalms 61:2; Psalms 92:15, et.al.

"Perfect," tamin, "complete, whole," needing nothing to make it whole; blameless.

"Right," yashar, "upright."

The character of God is in contrast to that of His people Israel. He is holy, without blame, dependable, just, upright, and true. They are the opposite.

This text focuses on the ingratitude of Israel toward Jehovah, in’ that they repay Him for His perfect character and gracious treatment with perversity and iniquity. God is to them a:

(1) Father, in that He had chosen them a His children.

(2) Purchaser, in redeeming them from Egyptian slavery.

(3) Maker, who made of them as a nation.

(4) Establisher, from kun, meaning"to form, prepare," in bringing them safely through the wilderness to establish them in their Land.

Verses 7-14

Verses 7-14:

"Most High," eylon, "uppermost, high," see Genesis 14:18-22; Numbers 24:16; Psalms 7:17; Daniel 7:18-27, et.al. This term denotes the sovereign God who alone has authority to decide the affairs of men and nations.

When the "Most High" allotted the nations their place and heritage, He reserved for Israel an inheritance proportioned to their numbers. Israel is the "lot" or "portion" of Jehovah, cp. Exodus 15:16-17; Exodus 19:5-6.

"Lot," chebel, "cord, portion," an allusion to the cord used in determining land measurements and boundaries. ’

Verse 10: God’s fatherly care of Israel. He found him in the land of the desert, in the "waste," tohu, "without form," cf. Genesis 1:2.

"Apple of his eye," ishon ayin, "the little man of the eye," or the pupil of the eye, see also Psalms 17:8; Proverbs 7:2.

Verses 11-14: as the eagle cares for her young, so Jehovah cared for Israel:

(1) Preparing the nest, using appropriate materials.

(2)’Fluttering, hovering over the young, to protect.

(3) Spreading the wings, to teach by example how to fly.

(4) Bearing them on her wings, to hold the young aloft as they learn for themselves how to fly.

(5) Eat of the choice produce of the earth; honey, olive oil, butter, milk, fat, grain, and pure wine.

Verses 15-18

Verses 15-18:

"Jeshurun," meaning "the darling upright," a poetical appellation of Israel. The term is used in three other instances: Deuteronomy 33:5; Deuteronomy 33:26; Isaiah 44:2. The root term is yashar, "righteous," and it denotes that God chose Israel to be a righteous (upright) nation, beloved of Himself.

Moses’ use of the term "Jeshurun" is in sharp reproach to Israel, for their conduct was the very opposite of righteous.

"Waxen fat," an allusion to a well-fed, fattened ox which becomes unmanageable and kicks at his master. Compare verse 15 with Deuteronomy 6:10-12; Deuteronomy 8:10-17; Deuteronomy 31:20.

"Lightly esteemed," lit. "treated as a fool."

God had entered into a marriage relationship with Israel at Sinai, Jeremiah 31:32. But Israel’s unfaithfulness to Jehovah by her repeated affairs with heathen gods provoked Him to jealousy, Deuteronomy 31:16; Exodus 34:15; Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 3:14; Hosea 5.

"Devils," shedim, "spoilers, destroyers," (LXX, diamonia), demons. Compare verse 18 with verse 4.

Verses 19-25

Verses 19-25:

"Abhorred," naats, "despise, pierce, sting." Israel’s perversity and rebellion pierced the heart of God. He despised what they were doing; He did not despise the people themselves.

As the consequence of their apostasy, Jehovah promised to withdraw His favor from Israel, and chasten them. He would no longer grant His protection from their enemies; then they would see how they would fare when left alone.

"Froward," tahpukoth, "perverseness," see also Proverbs 2:12; Proverbs 8:13; Proverbs 10:31; Proverbs 16:28; Proverbs 16:30. The term means "willfully wrong, set against doing right; wayward, petulant; obstinate, usually in a wrong action." This is Jehovah’s assessment of the "generation" or race of Israel.

Israel’s flirtations and affairs with the gods of the nations moved Jehovah to jealousy, see comments on verse 16.

"Lowest hell," tachti sheol. The term sheol denotes the state of the dead, and corresponds to hades (LXX).

The first of Divine wrath burn to the very depths of the lowest state of the unseen, the dead, and consumes all the earth’s produce. The reference in the text is not to a specific judgment, but to the general effects of God’s, judgment poured out upon rebellious mankind.

God threatened Israel, with famine; pestilence, plague, wild’ beasts, poison snakes, and war, as the consequence of rebellion

and apostasy.

Verses 26-33

Verses 26-33:

"Scatter into corners," paah, the verb (hiph.) occurs only here in the OT, and means, "I will blow them away." The meaning: utter destruction.

The text (verse 27) gives the reason God will not utterly destroy Israel: He did not fear the enemies: He was concerned or feared that the enemies should think they were the ones responsible for Israel’s destruction. God wanted it clearly understood that the calamities which would befall Israel were His chastisement for their sins, and not because of the strength of their enemies or God’s inability to protect them.

If Israel were wise, they would consider the consequences of their actions, and return to Jehovah, thereby preventing their further chastening. If they were wise, they would know that their only hope of victory over impossible odds was in the strength of Jehovah.

The heathen also have a rock in whom they trust: their gods. But the God of Israel is the true Rock, the only sure defense against all foes.

"Wine" is a symbol of joy and prosperity. The joy and prosperity of the heathen are bitter in the end, and doomed to destruction.

"Dragon," tannin, "sea-serpent." The term is translated "serpent," Exodus 7:9-10; Exodus 7:12.

Verses 34-43

Verses 34-43:

"This" (verse 34) has a two-fold application: it looks toward the sins of Israel and God’s chastisement for this sin, and to God’s judgment upon their enemies.

"My treasures," not only blessings, but instruments of judgment which He dispenses as He sees fit, cp. Deuteronomy 28:12.

Verse 35: compare with Psalms 94:1; Isaiah 1:24; Isaiah 59:18; Romans 12:19; Hebrews 10:30.

Verse 36: compare with Psalms 135:14; Hebrews 10:30; Psalms 106:45. The meaning: God will have compassion upon His servants, every one of them.

God asserts His superiority over the gods to whom Israel turned. None is able to aid their worshipers, except God Himself. He will execute terrible judgment upon all who array themselves in opposition to Him.

Moses’ song concludes, with an affirmation of God’s mercy to His own people. He will pour out vengeance upon those who oppress them, and will restore His people to their Land.

Verses 44-47

Verses 44-47:

Moses concluded the song he composed. Joshua (Hoshea) accompanied him in "singing" or speaking the words of the song to Israel. Moses once more reminded them of the importance of keeping God’s commandment, and of teaching their children to do so.

Hoshea means "Jehovah is help."

Verses 48-52

Verses 48-52:

"That selfsame day," the day in which Moses delivered the song to Israel. God reminded him of his impending death, and the reason for it.

Abarim, meaning "pas,sages, fords, ridges." The two sides of a range of mountains in Moab, east of Jordan, facing Jericho, reaching from the Arnon to Gilead, see Numbers 27:12; Numbers 33:47-48.

Mount Nebo, meaning "height," a mountain east of Jordan across from Jericho, part of the Abarim range, with a peak called Pisgah, six miles west of Heshbon. From this vantage point, Moses viewed the Land of Canaan.

Nebo was the place where Moses was to die, without realizing his dream of leading Israel into the Land of Promise. The reason: his actions at Meribah, see Numbers 20:7-13; Numbers 27:12-14.

Copyright Statement
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of Blessed Hope Foundation and the Baptist Training Center.
Bibliographical Information
Garner, Albert & Howes, J.C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 32". Garner-Howes Baptist Commentary. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/ghb/deuteronomy-32.html. 1985.