Deuteronomy Chapter 32  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Deuteronomy 32
Deu 32:1(top)
Deu 32:2

“grass.” The Hebrew word eseb (#06212 עֵשֶׂב), translated “grass” is hard to bring into English. It was the general word for the weeds that naturally grew in any field. The biblical world did not have “grass” as we know it today. It just had areas of weeds. Sometimes those weeds were long and thick, like a weedy field today, while in other areas people’s sheep, goats, and cows, kept the weeds eaten down, but they were still just weeds. [For more on “grass” see commentary on Proverbs 19:12].

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Deu 32:8

“he set the bounds of the peoples.” When God chose Israel, He gave them a land with set boundaries.

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Deu 32:21

“made me angry.” The NET text note on Deuteronomy 4:25 gets the sense of the text correctly when it says, “The infinitive construct [in the Hebrew text] is understood here as indicating the result, not the intention of their actions.” Although many English versions use the word “provoke,” the Israelites did not worship idols with the intention of provoking God. But the result of their idolatry was that God was angered. In everyday English, “provoke” means to do something to intentionally upset someone, and that is not what was happening with Israel’s idolatry.

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Deu 32:36

“none remaining to help.” There have to be people remaining, or else there would be no one for God to have compassion on. The JPS Torah Commentary gives evidence that the Hebrew idiom “has to do with power or help and means ‘neither supporter nor helper,’ as the Peshitta and the Talmud render it.” Especially in the context, which says, “their power is gone,” it makes sense that, rather than being no people at all, there were no people who could help.

“slave or free.” The Hebrew is unclear, and more literally just means “restrained” or “loose.” Different scholars have different opinions about exactly what that means, and so the English versions differ in their translations. Given the culture, and the fact that slaves were restrained or confined by their circumstances while free people were “loose,” the translation “slave or free” made sense.

Deu 32:37(top)
Deu 32:38

“ate the fat of their sacrifices.” This is a powerful word picture using a kind of personification, and picturing the pagan gods, who were made of metal, stone, and wood, as if they ate the sacrifices made to them and drank the drink offerings. God is mocking them and the people. Basically, God is saying, “They ate your food and drank your wine and oil, why aren’t they helping you?”

Deu 32:39

“There is no god with me.” God is not saying that no other “gods” exist. Many verses in the Bible attest to the fact that they do. God is saying there is no other being who is His equal, and specifically in this context, God has no other god “with” Him in what He does, helping Him out. God wants people to love Him with all their heart, soul, mind, and strength, and does not want the worship due to Him divided up among He and other gods. He alone is the creator and source of everything, and desires and deserves singular recognition. The entire Old Testament is filled with admonitions for God’s people not to worship other gods, and 1 Corinthians 8:5 says there are many “gods.” Of course, it is also the case that a number of so-called “gods” do not exist, but that is not the point of this verse.

“I kill and I make alive.” This is a general statement about God’s power to give and take life, and statements like this occur at other places in the Bible. However, they intrinsically also point to God’s ultimate power to raise the dead into everlasting life. What is the point of God giving life if it always only leads to death? Thus, for example, in the Keil and Delitzsch Commentary on the Old Testament, C. F. Keil writes: “These words do not refer to the immortality of the soul, but to the restoration of life of the people of Israel, which God had delivered to death (so 1 Sam. 2:6; 2 Kings 5:7; cf. Isa. 26:19; Hos. 13:10; Wisd. 16:13; Tobit 13:2).” Isaiah 26:19 and Hosea 13:10 in Keil’s list are very clearly about the resurrection from the dead at the Resurrection of the Righteous. If the Sadducees had paid closer attention to the Pentateuch and the purposes of God, they would not have come to the sad and purposeless conclusion that there was no resurrection from the dead (Matt. 22:23-33; Mark 12:18-27; Luke 20:27-38). The Old Testament has a number of verses about God raising the dead in the future (cp. Deut. 32:39; Job. 19:25-27; Ps. 71:20; Isa. 26:19; 66:14; Ezek. 37:12-14; Dan. 12:2, 13; and Hos. 13:14). For more about the Sadducees and the resurrection, see commentary on Matthew 22:23.

Deu 32:40

“lift up my hand.” One way a person swore a solemn oath was to raise his hand and swear. See commentary on Genesis 14:22.

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