1#The whole song is a poetic sermon, having for its theme the Lord’s benefits to Israel (vv. 1–14) and Israel’s ingratitude and idolatry in turning to the gods of the nations; these sins will be punished by the nations themselves (vv. 15–29); in turn, the foolish pride of the nations will be punished, and the Lord’s honor will be vindicated (vv. 30–43). Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak;
let the earth hear the words of my mouth!#a. [32:1] Dt 4:26; 30:19; 31:28.
2May my teaching soak in like the rain,
and my utterance drench like the dew,
Like a downpour upon the grass,
like a shower upon the crops.
3For I will proclaim the name of the Lord,
praise the greatness of our God!
4The Rock—how faultless are his deeds,
how right all his ways!
A faithful God, without deceit,
just and upright is he!#b. [32:4] Dt 7:9; 32:15, 18, 30–31; 2 Sm 22:3; Ps 18:2, 31, 46; 92:15; Is 17:10; Hb 1:12; Rev 15:3.
5Yet his degenerate children have treated him basely,
a twisted and crooked generation!#c. [32:5] Dt 9:12; 14:1; 31:29; Ps 78:8; Is 1:2–4; Lk 9:41.
6Is this how you repay the Lord,
so foolish and unwise a people?
Is he not your father who begot you,
the one who made and established you?#d. [32:6] Ex 4:22–23; Is 63:16; 64:8; Jer 31:9; Hos 11:1–4.
7Remember the days of old,
consider the years of generations past.
Ask your father, he will inform you,
your elders, they will tell you:#e. [32:7] Dt 4:32–34.
8When the Most High allotted each nation its heritage,
when he separated out human beings,#f. [32:8] Gn 14:18–22; Nm 24:16; Jb 1:6; 2:1; Ps 29:1; 47:2; 82:6; 83:18; 89:5–7; Is 14:14; Acts 17:26.
He set up the boundaries of the peoples
after the number of the divine beings;#Divine beings: lit., “sons of God” (see also v. 43); members of the divine assembly; cf. 1 Kgs 22:19; Jb 1:6; 2:1; 38:7; Ps 82; 89:6–7. The nations are portrayed as having their respective tutelary deities.
9But the Lord’s portion was his people;
his allotted share was Jacob.#g. [32:9] Dt 7:6; Ex 19:5–6; Ps 33:12; Sir 17:17; Jer 10:16; Zec 2:16.
10He found them in a wilderness,
a wasteland of howling desert.
He shielded them, cared for them,
guarded them as the apple of his eye.#h. [32:10] Dt 1:31; 2:7; 8:15; Ps 17:8; Prv 7:2; Jer 2:2–3, 6; Hos 2:15; 13:5–6; Zec 2:12.
11As an eagle incites its nestlings,
hovering over its young,
So he spread his wings, took them,
bore them upon his pinions.#i. [32:11] Ex 19:4.
12The Lord alone guided them,
no foreign god was with them.#j. [32:12] Ex 15:13; Is 43:12; Hos 13:4.
13#k. [32:13–14] Dt 8:7–10; Ps 81:16. He had them mount the summits of the land,#The land: Canaan.
fed them the produce of its fields;
He suckled them with honey from the crags
and olive oil from the flinty rock;
14Butter from cows and milk from sheep,
with the best of lambs;
Bashan#Bashan: a fertile grazing land east of the Jordan, famous for its sleek, strong cattle. Cf. Ps 22:13; Ez 39:18; Am 4:1. bulls and goats,
with the cream of finest wheat;
and the foaming blood of grapes you drank.
15So Jacob ate and was satisfied,
Jeshurun#Jeshurun: a term for Israel from yashar, meaning “upright”; its use here is possibly ironic. grew fat and kicked;
you became fat and gross and gorged.
They forsook the God who made them
and scorned the Rock of their salvation.#l. [32:15] Dt 8:12–18; 31:20; 33:5, 26; Neh 9:25; Is 44:2.
16With strange gods they incited him,
with abominations provoked him to anger.#m. [32:16–17] Dt 31:16; Ps 78:58; 81:9; 106:34–39.
17They sacrificed to demons, to “no-gods,”
to gods they had never known,
Newcomers from afar,
before whom your ancestors had never trembled.
18You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you,
you forgot the God who gave you birth.#n. [32:18] Is 49:15; Jer 2:32.
19The Lord saw and was filled with loathing,
provoked by his sons and daughters.#o. [32:19] Dt 4:24.
20He said, I will hide my face from them,
and see what becomes of them.
For they are a fickle generation,
children with no loyalty in them!#p. [32:20] Dt 31:17–18; Nm 6:25–26.
21Since they have incited me with a “no-god,”
and provoked me with their empty idols,
I will incite them with a “no-people”;#“No-god”…“no-people”: worship of the gods of the nations brings destruction at the hands of a foreign invader. A false god cannot sustain or protect (cf. Jer 14:22); and though the nations seem “foolish” (see their characterization in such passages as Ps 114:1; Is 28:11; 33:19), they will prove to be anything but nonentities when the Lord stirs them up against Israel (Is 9:10–12). For the “no-” or “not-” construction, see Hos 1:6, 9; 2:1, 25.
with a foolish nation I will provoke them.#q. [32:21] Dt 28:49–50; Jgs 2:14–15; Is 9:11–12; Rom 10:19.
22For by my wrath a fire is kindled
that has raged to the depths of Sheol,
It has consumed the earth with its yield,
and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.#r. [32:22] Dt 4:24; Ps 18:7–8; 50:3; Lam 4:11.
23I will heap evils upon them
and exhaust all my arrows against them:#s. [32:23] Dt 32:42; Ps 7:12–13; 18:14; Ez 5:16.
24Emaciating hunger and consuming fever
and bitter pestilence,
And the teeth of wild beasts I will send among them,
with the venom of reptiles gliding in the dust.#t. [32:24] Dt 28:21–22.
25Out in the street the sword shall bereave,
and at home the terror
For the young man and the young woman alike,
the nursing babe as well as the gray beard.#u. [32:25] Lv 26:25; Jer 6:11; Lam 1:20; 2:21; Ez 7:15.
26I said: I will make an end of them
and blot out their name from human memory,
27Had I not feared the provocation by the enemy,
that their foes might misunderstand,
And say, “Our own hand won the victory;
the Lord had nothing to do with any of it.”#v. [32:27] Dt 9:26–29; Ex 32:11–14; Ps 74:18.
28For they are a nation devoid of reason,#The reference is to the nations, not to Israel.
having no understanding.
29If they had insight they would realize this,
they would understand their end:
30“How could one rout a thousand,
or two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless it was because their Rock sold them,
the Lord delivered them up?”
31Indeed, their “rock” is not like our Rock;
our enemies are fools.
32For their vine is from the vine of Sodom,
from the vineyards of Gomorrah.
Their grapes are grapes of poison,
and their clusters are bitter.#w. [32:32] Dt 29:23.
33Their wine is the venom of serpents,
the cruel poison of vipers.
34Is not this stored up with me,
sealed up in my storehouses?
35Vengeance is mine and recompense,
for the time they lose their footing;
Because the day of their disaster is at hand
and their doom is rushing upon them!#x. [32:35] Ps 94:1; Is 59:18; 61:2; Hos 9:7.
36Surely, the Lord will do justice for his people;
on his servants he will have pity.
When he sees their strength is gone,
and neither bond nor free#Neither bond nor free: an all-inclusive expression; cf. 1 Kgs 14:10; 2 Kgs 9:8. is left,#y. [32:36] Ps 9:8; 135:14; 2 Mc 7:6.
37He will say, Where are their gods,#z. [32:37–38] Jgs 10:14; 1 Kgs 18:27; Jer 2:28.
the rock in whom they took refuge,
38Who ate the fat of their sacrifices
and drank the wine of their libations?
Let them rise up now and help you!
Let them be your protection!
39See now that I, I alone, am he,
and there is no god besides me.
It is I who bring both death and life,
I who inflict wounds and heal them,
and from my hand no one can deliver.#a. [32:39] Dt 4:35; 6:4; 1 Sm 2:6–8; Jb 5:18; Tb 13:2; Wis 16:13; Is 30:26; 43:10–13; 44:6; Hos 6:1–2.
40For I raise my hand to the heavens
and will say: As surely as I live forever,
41When I sharpen my flashing sword,
and my hand lays hold of judgment,
With vengeance I will repay my foes
and requite those who hate me.#b. [32:41] Is 1:24; Na 1:2.
42I will make my arrows drunk with blood,
and my sword shall devour flesh—
With the blood of the slain and the captured,
from the long-haired heads of the enemy.
43Exult with him, you heavens,
bow to him, all you divine beings!
For he will avenge the blood of his servants,
take vengeance on his foes;
He will requite those who hate him,
and purge his people’s land.#c. [32:43] Dt 32:1, 8; Is 49:13.
44So Moses, together with Hoshea,#Hoshea: a variant of “Joshua.” Cf. note on Nm 13:16. son of Nun, went and spoke all the words of this song in the hearing of the people.#d. [32:44] Dt 31:14–15, 23.
45When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 46he said to them,#e. [32:46] Dt 4:9. Take to heart all the words that I am giving in witness against you today, words you should command your children, that they may observe carefully every word of this law. 47For this is no trivial matter for you, but rather your very life; by this word you will enjoy a long life on the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.#f. [32:47] Dt 4:40; 6:1–2.
Moses Looks upon Canaan.
48On that very day the Lord said to Moses, 49Ascend this mountain of the Abarim,#Abarim: probably the mountain range to the east of the Dead Sea. Mount Nebo in the land of Moab facing Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites as a possession.#g. [32:49] Dt 34:1; Nm 27:12. 50Then you shall die on the mountain you are about to ascend, and shall be gathered to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor#Mount Hor: on the western border of Seir or Edom; cf. Nm 20:23–28; 33:37–38. Dt 10:6 locates elsewhere the place of Aaron’s death. and there was gathered to his people,#h. [32:50] Dt 10:6; Nm 20:23–29; 27:13; 33:38–39. 51because both of you broke faith with me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin: you did not manifest my holiness among the Israelites.#Cf. note on 3:26. #i. [32:51] Ex 17:1–7; Nm 20:1–13; 27:14; Ps 106:32–33. 52You may indeed see the land from a distance, but you shall not enter that land which I am giving to the Israelites.#j. [32:52] Dt 3:27; 34:4.