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Deuteronomy 32-34 Listen
Moses' song, but not very cheerful (Deuteronomy 32:1-43)
Here are the words to the song God told Moses to write back in Deuteronomy 31:19-21 (see notes). It's a rather long song and a very important song...with a big ending. It's a song that tells a story and issues a warning. On this day Moses seems to have introduced the writing technique that country music song writers would use centuries later - the story song.
Since this is a long song, we'll divide it up with some brief explanations regarding content:
Deuteronomy 32:1-2 Moses begins with, "Everybody listen up!"
1 Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
2 My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew, as the small rain upon the tender herb, and as the showers upon the grass:
Deuteronomy 32:3-6 He is a Rock. This is the first time God is called a "rock" in Scripture.
3 Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
4 He is the Rock, his work is perfect: for all his ways are judgment: a God of truth and without iniquity, just and right is he.
5 They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.
6 Do ye thus requite the LORD, O foolish people and unwise? is not he thy father that hath bought thee? hath he not made thee, and established thee?
Deuteronomy 32:7-14 Moses gives particular instances of Gods kindness and concern for the people of Israel.
7 Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations: ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.
8 When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when he separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.
9 For the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.
10 He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he led him about, he instructed him, he kept him as the apple of his eye.
11 As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:
12 So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
13 He made him ride on the high places of the earth, that he might eat the increase of the fields; and he made him to suck honey out of the rock, and oil out of the flinty rock;
14 Butter of kine, and milk of sheep, with 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.
Deuteronomy 32:15-18 Here are two instances of the wickedness of Israel, each was apostasy from God.
Jeshurun is another name for Israel meaning, upright people (Deuteronomy 32:15; 33:5, 26; Isaiah 44:2).
15 But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked: thou art waxen fat, thou art grown thick, thou art covered with fatness; then he forsook God which made him, and lightly esteemed the Rock of his salvation.
16 They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
17 They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
18 Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.
Deuteronomy 32:19-25 They move God to anger (that's not good).
19 And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.
20 And he said, I will hide my face from them, I will see what their end shall be: for they are a very froward generation, children in whom is no faith.
21 They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
22 For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
23 I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.
24 They shall be burnt with hunger, and devoured with burning heat, and with bitter destruction: I will also send the teeth of beasts upon them, with the poison of serpents of the dust.
25 The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
Deuteronomy 32:26-38 The idolatry and rebellions cause God to respond.
26 I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:
27 Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy, lest their adversaries should behave themselves strangely, and lest they should say, Our hand is high, and the LORD hath not done all this.
28 For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.
29 O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!
30 How should one chase a thousand, and two put ten thousand to flight, except their Rock had sold them, and the LORD had shut them up?
31 For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.
32 For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:
33 Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
34 Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?
35 To me belongeth vengeance, and recompence; their foot shall slide in due time: for the day of their calamity is at hand, and the things that shall come upon them make haste.
36 For the LORD shall judge his people, and repent himself for his servants, when he seeth that their power is gone, and there is none shut up, or left.
37 And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,
38 Which 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.
Deuteronomy 32:39-43 God is awesome.
39 See now that I, even I, am he, and there is no god with me: I kill, and I make alive; I wound, and I heal: neither is there any that can deliver out of my hand.
40 For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.
41 If I whet my glittering sword, and mine hand take hold on judgment; I will render vengeance to mine enemies, and will reward them that hate me.
42 I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.
43 Rejoice, O ye nations, with his people: for he will avenge the blood of his servants, and will render vengeance to his adversaries, and will be merciful unto his land, and to his people.
So, there you have it. As Moses is getting ready to leave them, he pens these words with the hopes that Israel will stay faithful to God. However, he's already received word from God that they won't stay faithful...introduced over the last three chapters beginning with Deuteronomy 29:22 (see notes). Those chapters are complete, including the consequences of rebellion against God. Putting the whole thing into a song is just another step to help Israel maintain their resolve for God.
44 And Moses came and spake all the words of this song in the ears of the people, he, and Hoshea the son of Nun.
45 And Moses made an end of speaking all these words to all Israel:
46 And he said unto them, Set your hearts unto all the words which I testify among you this day, which ye shall command your children to observe to do, all the words of this law.
47 For it is not a vain thing for you; because it is your life: and through this thing ye shall prolong your days in the land, whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.
48 And the LORD spake unto Moses that selfsame day, saying,
49 Get thee up into this mountain Abarim, unto mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, that is over against Jericho; and behold the land of Canaan, which I give unto the children of Israel for a possession:
50 And die in 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:
51 Because ye trespassed against me among the children of Israel at the waters of Meribah-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because ye sanctified me not in the midst of the children of Israel.
52 Yet thou shalt see the land before thee; but thou shalt not go thither unto the land which I give the children of Israel.
"Hoshea" in verse 44 is "Joshua." Here's the confirmation: No Canaan land for you, Moses. Of course, he already knew that from Numbers 20:1-13 (see notes). On that occasion Moses struck the rock with his rod in disobedience to the command of God to just speak to the rock. God told him then that he would not be entering Canaan, so the decree here in verses 50-52 is just a repeat from earlier.
Moses is to be "gathered unto his people," a term reflecting the Hebrews' knowledge of eternal life. Notice the places where this terminology is used in the Pentateuch.
He does get a view of the place, though, from atop Mount Nebo in the mountain range known as Abarim in Moab. Moses actually had rehearsed this point previously in Deuteronomy 3:23-29 (see notes).
Note: You will notice a reference to Jeshurun in 32:15, 33:5 and 33:26. It's also found in Isaiah 44:2 (see notes) with a slight deviation in spelling. Jeshurun a poetical name for the people of Israel, used in token of affection, meaning, "the dear upright people."
Just as Jacob had blessed the Tribes of Israel in Genesis 49 (see notes), Moses does it again here prior to his death.
Introduction to the blessings (Deuteronomy 33:1-5)
1 And this is the blessing, wherewith Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death.
2 And he said, The LORD came from Sinai, and rose up from Seir unto them; he shined forth from mount Paran, and he came with ten thousands of saints: from his right hand went a fiery law for them.
3 Yea, he loved the people; all his saints are in thy hand: and they sat down at thy feet; every one shall receive of thy words.
4 Moses commanded us a law, even the inheritance of the congregation of Jacob.
5 And he was king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people and the tribes of Israel were gathered together.
6 Let Reuben live, and not die; and let not his men be few.
7 And this is the blessing of Judah: and he said, Hear, LORD, the voice of Judah, and bring him unto his people: let his hands be sufficient for him; and be thou an help to him from his enemies.
8 And of Levi he said, Let thy Thummim and thy Urim be with thy holy one, whom thou didst prove at Massah, and with whom thou didst strive at the waters of Meribah;
9 Who said unto his father and to his mother, I have not seen him; neither did he acknowledge his brethren, nor knew his own children: for they have observed thy word, and kept thy covenant.
10 They shall teach Jacob thy judgments, and Israel thy law: they shall put incense before thee, and whole burnt sacrifice upon thine altar.
11 Bless, LORD, his substance, and accept the work of his hands: smite through the loins of them that rise against him, and of them that hate him, that they rise not again.
12 And of Benjamin he said, The beloved of the LORD shall dwell in safety by him; and the LORD shall cover him all the day long, and he shall dwell between his shoulders.
Joseph for Ephraim and Manasseh
13 And of Joseph he said, Blessed of the LORD be his land, for the precious things of heaven, for the dew, and for the deep that coucheth beneath,
14 And for the precious fruits brought forth by the sun, and for the precious things put forth by the moon,
15 And for the chief things of the ancient mountains, and for the precious things of the lasting hills,
16 And for the precious things of the earth and fulness thereof, and for the good will of him that dwelt in the bush: let the blessing come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the top of the head of him that was separated from his brethren.
17 His glory is like the firstling of his bullock, and his horns are like the horns of unicorns: with them he shall push the people together to the ends of the earth: and they are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and they are the thousands
Zebulun and Issachar
18 And of Zebulun he said, Rejoice, Zebulun, in thy going out; and, Issachar, in thy tents.
19 They shall call the people unto the mountain; there they shall offer sacrifices of righteousness: for they shall suck OF THE ABUNDANCE OF THE SEAS, AND OF treasures hid in the sand.
20 And of Gad he said, Blessed BE he that enlargeth Gad: he dwelleth as a lion, and teareth the arm with the crown of the head.
21 And he provided the first part for himself, because there, in a portion of the lawgiver, was he seated; and he came with the heads of the people, he executed the justice of the LORD, and his judgments with Israel.
22 And of Dan he said, Dan is a lion’s whelp: he shall leap from Bashan.
23 And of Naphtali he said, O Naphtali, satisfied with favour, and full with the blessing of the LORD: possess thou the west and the south.
24 And of Asher he said, Let Asher be blessed with children; let him be acceptable to his brethren, and let him dip his foot in oil.
25 Thy shoes shall be iron and brass; and as thy days, so shall thy strength be.
The conclusion to the blessings
26 There is none like unto the God of Jeshurun, who rideth upon the heaven in thy help, and in his excellency on the sky.
27 The eternal God is thy refuge, and underneath are the everlasting arms: and he shall thrust out the enemy from before thee; and shall say, Destroy them.
28 Israel then shall dwell in safety alone: the fountain of Jacob shall be upon a land of corn and wine; also his heavens shall drop down dew.
29 Happy art thou, O Israel: who is like unto thee, O people saved by the LORD, the shield of thy help, and who is the sword of thy excellency! and thine enemies shall be found liars unto thee; and thou shalt tread upon their high places.
Hey! Where's Simeon in these blessings? As a matter of fact, the Tribe of Simeon gets swallowed up into the Tribe of Judah when they reach Canaan. Their inheritance is contained within the boundaries of Judah. Later on, they seem to disappear altogether. Remember that attempt to overthrow the theocracy in lieu of a democracy back in Numbers 16 (see notes)? Well, the Tribes on the south side of the Tabernacle (Simeon was one) took a big population hit as a result. When the census is taken at the end of the 40 years, their numbers have diminished by nearly two-thirds. (Click here to see the population chart of the tribes from the Numbers 26 notes.) Now, at the end of the 40 years, they are the smallest Tribe of Israel with just 22,200 men. And to make things worse, they don't even get a mention in the blessings of Moses.
1 And Moses went up from the plains of Moab unto the mountain of Nebo, to the top of Pisgah, that is over against Jericho. And the LORD shewed him all the land of Gilead, unto Dan,
2 And all Naphtali, and the land of Ephraim, and Manasseh, and all the land of Judah, unto the utmost sea,
3 And the south, and the plain of the valley of Jericho, the city of palm trees, unto Zoar.
4 And the LORD said unto him, This is the land which I sware unto Abraham, unto Isaac, and unto Jacob, saying, I will give it unto thy seed: I have caused thee to see it with thine eyes, but thou shalt not go over thither.
5 So Moses the servant of the LORD died there in the land of Moab, according to the word of the LORD.
6 And he buried him in a valley in the land of Moab, over against Bethpeor: but no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day.
7 And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.
8 And the children of Israel wept for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days: so the days of weeping and mourning for Moses were ended.
9 And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses.
10 And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face,
11 In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land,
12 And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel.
Moses' time has arrived. He ascends "to the top of Pisgah" and looks over the new homeland. God assures him "I will give it unto thy seed" (verse 4). Then Moses dies in verse 5. Verse 6 says "And he buried him." Who's the "he" in that verse? All indications are that God himself buried Moses. The fact that "no man knoweth of his sepulchre unto this day" would indicate that to be the case. Moses' trusted assistant, Joshua, undoubtedly had a hand in the completion of the Book of Deuteronomy. He probably had a hand in Genesis through Numbers as well.
So, Moses was frail anyway, right? Look at Deuteronomy 34:7, "And Moses was an hundred and twenty years old when he died: his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated." Everyone should be so useful between the ages of 80 and 120. God took his life at the ripe old age of 120 after his mission was complete. This was no surprise to Moses; he first got the word back in Numbers 20:12 (see notes), "And the LORD spake unto Moses and Aaron, Because ye believed me not, to sanctify me in the eyes of the children of Israel, therefore ye shall not bring this congregation into the land which I have given them." Verse 8 says they wept and mourned his death for 30 days.
Now it's Joshua's turn. Notice the legacy of Moses in verses 10-12, "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face, In all the signs and the wonders, which the LORD sent him to do in the land of Egypt to Pharaoh, and to all his servants, and to all his land, And in all that mighty hand, and in all the great terror which Moses shewed in the sight of all Israel."
Joshua had been Moses' right-hand man since the beginning out of Egypt; he's ready for the big assignment here. We see in verse 9, "And Joshua the son of Nun was full of the spirit of wisdom; for Moses had laid his hands upon him: and the children of Israel hearkened unto him, and did as the LORD commanded Moses."
Moses is established as unique before God in verse 10, "And there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the LORD knew face to face." This unique means of communication with God was experienced by no one else in the Old Testament - just Moses. We see it explained in more detail in Exodus 33:7-23 (see notes).
1 He that dwelleth in the secret place of the most High shall abide under the shadow of the Almighty.
2 I will say of the LORD, He is my refuge and my fortress: my God; in him will I trust.
3 Surely he shall deliver thee from the snare of the fowler, and from the noisome pestilence.
4 He shall cover thee with his feathers, and under his wings shalt thou trust: his truth shall be thy shield and buckler.
5 Thou shalt not be afraid for the terror by night; nor for the arrow that flieth by day;
6 Nor for the pestilence that walketh in darkness; nor for the destruction that wasteth at noonday.
7 A thousand shall fall at thy side, and ten thousand at thy right hand; but it shall not come nigh thee.
8 Only with thine eyes shalt thou behold and see the reward of the wicked.
9 Because thou hast made the LORD, which is my refuge, even the most High, thy habitation;
10 There shall no evil befall thee, neither shall any plague come nigh thy dwelling.
11 For he shall give his angels charge over thee, to keep thee in all thy ways.
12 They shall bear thee up in their hands, lest thou dash thy foot against a stone.
13 Thou shalt tread upon the lion and adder: the young lion and the dragon shalt thou trample under feet.
14 Because he hath set his love upon me, therefore will I deliver him: I will set him on high, because he hath known my name.
15 He shall call upon me, and I will answer him: I will be with him in trouble; I will deliver him, and honour him.
16 With long life will I satisfy him, and shew him my salvation.
This is a Psalm magnifying God's protection for those who trust Him. While not stated, this Psalm was probably written by Moses as well; it seems very similar to Psalms 90 (see notes) which is definitely attributed to Moses.
An interesting point is worth mentioning here. Satan quoted verses 11-12 to Jesus in Matthew 4:6 (see notes) as he was tempting him. Isn't it interesting that a ploy of Satan is even to quote scripture out of context in order to make a point.