Tuesday, May 11, 2010


Chapter 32
Summary:(Note: Because of the way this chapter is written - with the majority of the verses being song lyrics - I'm going to change up my approach to summarizing this chapter by leaving the verses in their original King James translation, and then commenting every so often between them, with my comments written in italics.)

Moses recites the lyrics to God's song:

 1Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

 2My 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:

 3Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
These first three verses basically see Moses setting up metaphors implying that these lyrics will hit the listener like rain and dew hits the grass, and that they are intended to explain how "great" God is.

 4He 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.
Moses is claiming here that both God and all of his works are "perfect", that he is a god of truth, and that he is without "sin".

 5They have corrupted themselves, their spot is not the spot of his children: they are a perverse and crooked generation.

 6Do 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?
Moses is implying here that the Israelites have corrupted themselves and are no longer "God's children", but instead have corrupted themselves. Moses calls them foolish and unwise for doing so, considering that God brought them here from out of their Egyptian slavery and made them into the mighty nation that they became.

 7Remember 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.

 8When 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.
Moses tells people to "remember" the stories of the "days of old", by asking their elders to recount the stories to them. Moses claims that when God (the Most High) divided up the people of the world (the sons of Adam) into their separate nations (presumably after the Tower of Babel incident) that he set the borders of these nation in accordance to the population of the people of Israel. This seems suspect considering that the entire population of "Israel" at the time of their migration to Egypt - an already well established nation - was 70.

 9For the LORD's portion is his people; Jacob is the lot of his inheritance.

 10He 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.
It is important that a distinction should be made between Jacob/Israel the person and Jacob/Israel the people. While Jacob/Israel himself found favor with God, God wanted to destroy the people of Israel not just once, not just twice, not just three times, but distinctly four times so far in our story so far alone - which Moses had to talk God out of each time. Although perhaps Jacob himself, along with Moses, may have been, the people of Israel were hardly the "apple of [God's] eye".

 11As an eagle stirreth up her nest, fluttereth over her young, spreadeth abroad her wings, taketh them, beareth them on her wings:

 12So the LORD alone did lead him, and there was no strange god with him.
Although it may be arguable that outside of the various mass killings, plagues, and violent anger towards the Israelites that God did take care of them somewhat, it would be impossible for the Israelites to be certain that God alone - without the aid of other "strange gods" - lead them, aside from taking Moses' word for it. According to the story found in Exodus: Chapter 20, the Israelites begged Moses to not have God speak to them directly, fearing that the voice of God would kill them.

 13He 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;

 14Butter 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.

 15But 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.
These three verses are prophetic, where Moses tells how God will provide the Israelites with all a wealth of good food, meats, and wines, but that the Israelites (referred to by an unusual poetic variant, "Jeshurun") would simply become gluttonous and forsake God's generosity and their own "salvation". It's unclear whether this might be a case of self-fulfilling prophecy; whether God is simply stating predestination, which is not alterable, and thereby negating what many believers claim as people having free-will; or whether God might be manipulating the Israelites into behaving this way.

 16They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.

 17They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
Moses again places heavy emphasis on the "sin" of worshiping other gods being a justification out of jealousy for the extremities of God's violence against the Israelites. Curiously this also marks the second occurrence of the term "devil", this time in reference to the "other gods" the Israelites have turned to. Moses also adds that these will be gods that the Israelites have never encountered before, and ones that have been newly invented.

 18Of the Rock that begat thee thou art unmindful, and hast forgotten God that formed thee.

 19And when the LORD saw it, he abhorred them, because of the provoking of his sons, and of his daughters.
Moses states here that the Israelites (by worshiping other gods) will become ungrateful to the god that supposedly "created them", and that they in turn will provoke God into detesting them.

 20And 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.

 21They 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.
Moses states that God's punishment to the Israelites for making him jealous of their new gods will be to take away his blessings to the Israelites, and will make the Israelites themselves jealous by giving those blessings to other nations who are not "God's people", which will provoke their own anger.

When we examine what's being said in these verses a lot closer, we realize that what is most likely really going on here is psychological manipulation to further vilify the religions of other cultures. Broken down, we see that in order for the Israelites to receive God's blessings they have to jump through all sorts of hoops: they have to meticulously follow and obey numerous and complex commandments, rules, animal sacrifices, and laws to appease God or else they will be killed or excommunicated. Whereas the only thing that the enemies of the Israelites have to do to receive these same blessings are to get the Israelites to worship "idols" - whether they are their own or they encourage the Israelites to create their own. The enemy nations don't have to follow any of God's complex rules and regulations to benefit from God's blessings, all they have to do is lead the Israelites to worship other gods - ANY gods.

Imagine you were given a mansion to live in rent free, but in order to live there you had to do all sorts of complex tasks, follow strict rules, and follow your landlord's religion. If you fail at these tasks your landlord will give your mansion away to your neighbors, who can live there without having to follow all of the strict rules that you have to abide by. When your neighbor stops by with his copy of the "Book of Mormon" - even if he might have no idea about your landlord's rules - you're apt to act out even more defensively, angrily, and perhaps violently, out of fear of your neighbor's motives. Clearly you're being psychologically manipulated regardless of whether whether your landlord's or your neighbor's intentions are meant in good will or not.

 22For 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.

 23I will heap mischiefs upon them; I will spend mine arrows upon them.

 24They 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.

 25The sword without, and terror within, shall destroy both the young man and the virgin, the suckling also with the man of gray hairs.
Now God also dishes out the nasty stuff. Not only will he give his blessings to your enemies, but his anger will be so intense, that he will consume the "promised land" with fire, shoot the people with arrows, starve them, burn them, have wild animals tear them apart, and have poisonous snakes bite them. He will not spare any children (neither male nor young virgin girls), babies who are still nursing, or the elderly; despite the fact they're probably not able to properly convince the able adults not to worship other gods, leaving them helpless to their own destruction - not to mention that babies have no protection against their own destruction at God's hands.

Also interesting of note is that this is the first mention of "hell" in the bible.

 26I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:

 27Were 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.
God now appears to have second thoughts about scattering the Israelites all over to distant lands, thinking that the enemy nations might believe that they destroyed Israel by their own might, and denying that God had anything to do with it.

28For they are a nation void of counsel, neither is there any understanding in them.

 29O that they were wise, that they understood this, that they would consider their latter end!

 30How 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?

 31For their rock is not as our Rock, even our enemies themselves being judges.

 32For their vine is of the vine of Sodom, and of the fields of Gomorrah: their grapes are grapes of gall, their clusters are bitter:

 33Their wine is the poison of dragons, and the cruel venom of asps.
God "reasons" that the enemies of Israel are "unwise" for thinking that they themselves could drive out an army of 1,000 Israelites with a single one of their soldiers, or that an army of 10,000 Israelites with two of their soldiers, without realizing that God was punishing the Israelites; positing that even they know that their gods aren't genuine like Yahweh, the god of the Israelites. God reasons that this should be evident because their vineyards are the "vine of Sodom" and that their "fields of Gomorrah" produce sour and poisonous grapes, their wine is the "poison of dragons" and the "venom of [snakes]". Therefore, apparently if you can't harvest edible grapes, it serves to reason that your gods are false.

34Is not this laid up in store with me, and sealed up among my treasures?

 35To 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.
God now states that the people of Israel will always be "among [his] treasures", and that he will have vengeance and retribution against the enemies of Israel, and that their good fortune will run out in due time.

36For 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.
Once God sees that the Israelites have been "beaten up" enough, he'll repent himself.

37And he shall say, Where are their gods, their rock in whom they trusted,

 38Which 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.
In these two verses God taunts the enemies of Israel by asking them "where are your gods now?"

39See 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.

 40For I lift up my hand to heaven, and say, I live for ever.

 41If 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.

 42I 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.

 43Rejoice, 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.
God claims that he is the only "real god", that he is the arbiter of life and death, and the one who wounds and heals, and that none can do what he can do. God continues, saying that he is eternal, and lifts his "sword" in judgment, delivering vengeance to his enemies and repaying those who oppose him. God says that his arrows with be bloodthirsty, his sword will devour flesh, fueled by the blood of the slain and captive Israelites becoming the beginning of God's revenge upon their enemies. God finishes out by stating that he will avenge the Israelites and have revenge on their enemies - showing mercy to the "promised land" and the Israelites.

Moses and "Hoshea"*, the son of Nun, recited these lyrics to the people of Israel.

Moses finished speaking to the people of Israel telling them:
"Take these words that I testify to you today to heart, and teach them to your children, for them to obey all the words of these laws. It is not vain for you to do this, because it will prolong your days in the land when you cross the Jordan River to possess it."
God spoke to Moses that same day telling him:
Go up into the mountain of Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab across from Jericho; and gaze upon the land of Canaan which I gave to the people of Israel as a possession. You will die up in the mountain and will be join your ancestors, just as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor. Because you trespassed against me in front of the people of Israel, at the waters of Meribah-Kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin. Because you didn't sanctify me in the midst of the people of Israel, you will be allowed to see the land spread out before you, but you will not enter the land which I give to the people of Israel."
Notes:1.) "Jeshurun" is an alternate poetic equivalent for "Israel". It can mean the people of Israel (as it is used here), the land of Israel, or as an alternate name for Jacob/Israel.
2.) "Hoshea" is yet another spelling of "Joshua", similar to "Oshea" as seen in Numbers: Chapter 13 prior to Moses renaming him "Jehoshua", or Joshua. It's unclear why this form of Joshua's name is used here, but it might possibly be further evidence for the documentary hypothesis.
Thoughts:After Moses (and Joshua, or is it Hoshea?) recite the song lyrics to God's #1 hit single to the Israelites, he tells the people to take the lyrics to heart, and to ensure that they teach them to their children - adding that it's not "vain" for them to do so, since it will prolong their lives in the "promised land"

Next God tells Moses to climb Mount Nebo and to take a good look at the land of Canaan - the "promised land" - since he won't be allowed to enter it. He tells Moses that he will die upon the mountain, in a similar fashion to his brother Aaron, due to both of them messing up that whole striking a rock instead of speaking to it that somehow didn't "sanctify" God in the presence of the people of Israel.

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