1 Give ear, O heavens, while I speak; let the earth hearken to the words of my mouth!
May my instruction soak in like the rain, and my discourse permeate like the dew, Like a downpour upon the grass, like a shower upon the crops.
For I will sing the LORD’S renown. Oh, proclaim the greatness of our God!
The Rock – how faultless are his deeds, how right all his ways! A faithful God, without deceit, how just and upright he is!
Yet basely has he been treated by his degenerate children, a perverse and crooked race!
Is the LORD to be thus repaid by you, O stupid and foolish people? Is he not your father who created you? Has he not made you and established you?
Think back on the days of old, reflect on the years of age upon age. Ask your father and he will inform you, ask your elders and they will tell you:
2 When the Most High assigned the nations their heritage, when he parceled out the descendants of Adam, He set up the boundaries of the peoples after the number of the sons of God;
While the LORD’S own portion was Jacob, His hereditary share was Israel.
He found them in a wilderness, a wasteland of howling desert. He shielded them and cared for them, guarding them as the apple of his eye.
As an eagle incites its nestlings forth by hovering over its brood, So he spread his wings to receive them and bore them up on his pinions.
The LORD alone was their leader, no strange god was with him.
3 He had them ride triumphant over the summits of the land and live off the products of its fields, Giving them honey to suck from its rocks and olive oil from its hard, stony ground;
4 Butter from its cows and milk from its sheep, with the fat of its lambs and rams; Its Bashan bulls and its goats, with the cream of its finest wheat; and the foaming blood of its grapes you drank.
5 (So Jacob ate his fill,) the darling grew fat and frisky; you became fat and gross and gorged. They spurned the God who made them and scorned their saving Rock.
They provoked him with strange gods and angered him with abominable idols.
They offered sacrifice to demons, to «no-gods,» to gods whom they had not known before, To newcomers just arrived, of whom their fathers had never stood in awe.
You were unmindful of the Rock that begot you, You forgot the God who gave you birth.
When the LORD saw this, he was filled with loathing and anger toward his sons and daughters.
‘I will hide my face from them,» he said, «and see what will then become of them. What a fickle race they are, sons with no loyalty in them!
«Since they have provoked me with their ‘no-god’ and angered me with their vain idols, I will provoke them with a ‘no-people’; with a foolish nation I will anger them.
«For by my wrath a fire is enkindled that shall rage to the depths of the nether world, Consuming the earth with its yield, and licking with flames the roots of the mountains.
I will spend on them woe upon woe and exhaust all my arrows against them:
«Emaciating 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.
«Snatched away by the sword in the street and by sheer terror at home Shall be the youth and the maiden alike, the nursing babe as well as the hoary old man.
«I would have said, ‘I will make an end of them and blot out their name from men’s memories,’
Had I not feared the insolence of their enemies, feared that these foes would mistakenly boast, ‘Our own hand won the victory; the LORD had nothing to do with it.'»
6 For they are a people devoid of reason, having no understanding.
If they had insight they would realize what happened, they would understand their future and say,
«How could one man rout a thousand, or two men put ten thousand to flight, Unless it was because their Rock sold them and the LORD delivered them up?»
Indeed, their «rock» is not like our Rock, and our foes are under condemnation.
They are a branch of Sodom’s vinestock, from the vineyards of Gomorrah. Poisonous are their grapes and bitter their clusters.
Their wine is the venom of dragons and the cruel poison of cobras.
«Is not this preserved in my treasury, sealed up in my storehouse,
Against the day of vengeance and requital, against the time they lose their footing?» Close at hand is the day of their disaster and their doom is rushing upon them!
7 Surely, the LORD shall do justice for his people; on his servants he shall have pity. When he sees their strength failing, and their protected and unprotected alike disappearing,
He will say, «Where are their gods whom they relied on as their ‘rock’?
Let those who ate the fat of your sacrifices and drank the wine of your libations Rise up now and help you! Let them be your protection!
«Learn then that I, I alone, am God, 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 there is no rescue.
«To the heavens I raise my hand and swear: As surely as I live forever,
I will sharpen my flashing sword, and my hand shall lay hold of my quiver. «With vengeance I will repay my foes and requite those who hate me.
I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall gorge itself with flesh – With the blood of the slain and the captured, Flesh from the heads of the enemy leaders.»
Exult with him, you heavens, glorify him, all you angels of God; For he avenges the blood of his servants and purges his people’s land.
So Moses, together with Joshua, son of Nun, went and recited all the words of this song for the people to hear.
When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel,
he said, «Take to heart all the warning which I have now given you and which you must impress on your children, that you may carry out carefully every word of this law.
For this is no trivial matter for you; rather, it means your very life, since it is by this means that you are to enjoy a long life on the land which you will cross the Jordan to occupy.»
On that very day the LORD said to Moses,
«Go up on Mount Nebo, here in the Abarim Mountains (it is in the land of Moab facing Jericho), and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the Israelites as their possession.
Then you shall die on the mountain you have climbed, and shall be taken to your people, just as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and there was taken to his people;
because both of you broke faith with me among the Israelites at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the desert of Zin by failing to manifest my sanctity among the Israelites.
You may indeed view the land at a distance, but you shall not enter that land which I am giving to the Israelites.»
1 [1-43] In the style of the great prophets, the speaker is often God himself. The whole song is a poetic sermon, having for its theme God’s benefits to Israel (⇒ Deut 32:1-14) and Israel’s ingratitude and idolatry in turning to the gods of the pagans, which sins will be punished by the pagans themselves (⇒ Deut 32:15-29); in turn, the foolish pride of the pagans will be punished, and the Lord’s honor will be vindicated (⇒ Deut 32:30-43).
2  The sons of God: the angels; cf ⇒ Job 1:6; ⇒ 2:1; ⇒ 38:7; ⇒ Psalm 89:6-7. Here the various nations are portrayed as having their respective guardian angels. Cf ⇒ Daniel 10:20-21; ⇒ 12:1.
3  The land: Canaan.
4  Bashan: a fertile grazing land east of the Jordan, famous for its strong cattle. Cf ⇒ Psalm 22:13; ⇒ Ezekiel 39:18; ⇒ Amos 4:1.
5  The darling: a probable meaning of the Hebrew word yeshurun, a term of endearment for «Israel.» Cf ⇒ Deut 33:5, ⇒ 26; ⇒ Isaiah 44:2.
6 [28-35] The reference is to the pagan nations, not to Israel.
7  Their protected and unprotected: the meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain; according to some, the idea is «slaves and freemen.»