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Deuteronomy 32:1 [study!]

American Standard Version (ASV 1901) [2]
— Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak; And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
King James Version (KJV 1769)
— Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
New American Standard Bible (NASB ©1995)
— “Give ear, O heavens, and let me speak; And let the earth hear the words of my mouth.
Webster's Revision of the KJB (WEB 1833)
— Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.
Darby's Translation (DBY 1890)
— Give ear, ye heavens, and I will speak; And hear, O earth, the words of my mouth!
Rotherham's Emphasized Bible (EBR 1902)
— Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak, And let the earth hear the sayings of my mouth:
Young's Literal Translation (YLT 1898)
— 'Give ear, O heavens, and I speak; And thou dost hear, O earth, sayings of my mouth!
Douay-Rheims Challoner Revision (DR 1750)
— Hear, O ye heavens, the things I speak, let the earth give ear to the words of my mouth.
Original King James Bible (AV 1611) [2]
— Giue eare, O yee heauens, and I will speake; And heare, O earth, the words of my mouth.
Brenton Greek Septuagint (LXX, Restored Names)
— Attend, O heaven, and I will speak; and let the earth hear the words out of my mouth.
Full Hebrew Names / Holy Name KJV (2008) [2] [3]
— Give ear, O ye heavens, and I will speak; and hear, O earth, the words of my mouth.

Strong's Numbers & Hebrew NamesHebrew Old TestamentColor-Code/Key Word Studies
Give ear, 238
{0238} Prime
אָזַן
'azan
{aw-zan'}
A primitive root; probably to expand; but used only as a denominative from H0241; to broaden out the ear (with the hand), that is, (by implication) to listen.
z8685
<8685> Grammar
Stem - Hiphil (See H8818)
Mood - Imperative (See H8810)
Count - 731
O ye heavens, 8064
{8064} Prime
שָׁמַיִם
shamayim
{shaw-mah'-yim}
The second form being dual of an unused singular; from an unused root meaning to be lofty; the sky (as aloft; the dual perhaps alluding to the visible arch in which the clouds move, as well as to the higher ether where the celestial bodies revolve).
and I will speak; 1696
{1696} Prime
דִּבֵּר
dabar
{daw-bar'}
A primitive root; perhaps properly to arrange; but used figuratively (of words) to speak; rarely (in a destructive sense) to subdue.
z8762
<8762> Grammar
Stem - Piel (See H8840)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 2447
and hear, 8085
{8085} Prime
שָׁמַע
shama`
{shaw-mah'}
A primitive root; to hear intelligently (often with implication of attention, obedience, etc.; causatively to tell, etc.).
z8799
<8799> Grammar
Stem - Qal (See H8851)
Mood - Imperfect (See H8811)
Count - 19885
O earth, 776
{0776} Prime
אֶרֶץ
'erets
{eh'-rets}
From an unused root probably meaning to be firm; the earth (at large, or partitively a land).
the words 561
{0561} Prime
אֵמֶר
'emer
{ay'-mer}
From H0559; something said.
of my mouth. 6310
{6310} Prime
פֶּה
peh
{peh}
From H6284; the mouth (as the means of blowing), whether literally or figuratively (particularly speech); specifically edge, portion or side; adverbially (with preposition) according to.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Commentary

Deuteronomy 32:1

_ _ Deuteronomy 32:1-43. Moses’ song, which sets forth the perfections of God.

_ _ Give ear, O ye heavens; ... hear, O earth — The magnificence of the exordium, the grandeur of the theme, the frequent and sudden transitions, the elevated strain of the sentiments and language, entitle this song to be ranked amongst the noblest specimens of poetry to be found in the Scriptures.

Matthew Henry's Commentary

Deuteronomy 32:1-6

_ _ Here is, I. A commanding preface or introduction to this song of Moses, Deuteronomy 32:1, Deuteronomy 32:2. He begins, 1. With a solemn appeal to heaven and earth concerning the truth and importance of what he was about to say, and the justice of the divine proceedings against a rebellious and backsliding people, for he had said (Deuteronomy 31:28) that he would in this song call heaven and earth to record against them. Heaven and earth would sooner hear than this perverse and unthinking people; for they revolt not from the obedience to their Creator, but continue to this day, according to his ordinances, as his servants (Psalms 119:89-91), and therefore will rise up in judgment against rebellious Israel. Heaven and earth will be witnesses against sinners, witnesses of the warning given them and of their refusal to take the warning (see Job 20:27); the heaven shall reveal his iniquity, and the earth shall rise up against him. Or heaven and earth are here put for the inhabitants of both, angels and men; both shall agree to justify God in his proceedings against Israel, and to declare his righteousness, Psalms 50:6; see Revelation 19:1, Revelation 19:2. 2. he begins with a solemn application of what he was about to say to the people (Deuteronomy 32:2): My doctrine shall drop as the rain. “It shall be a beating sweeping rain to the rebellious;” so one of the Chaldee paraphrasts expounds the first clause. Rain is sometimes sent for judgment, witness that with which the world was deluged; and so the word of God, while to some it is reviving and refreshing — a savour of life unto life, is to others terrifying and killing — a savour of death unto death. It shall be as a sweet and comfortable dew to those who are rightly prepared to receive it. Observe, (1.) The subject of this song is doctrine; he had given them a song of praise and thanksgiving (Ex. 15), but this is a song of instruction, for in psalms, and hymns, and spiritual songs, we are not only to give glory to god, but to teach and admonish one another, Colossians 3:16. Hence many of David's psalms are entitled Maschilto give instruction. (2.) This doctrine is fitly compared to rain and showers which come from above, to make the earth fruitful, and accomplish that for which they are sent. (Isaiah 55:10, Isaiah 55:11), and depend not upon the wisdom or will of man, Micah 5:7. It is a mercy to have this rain come often upon us, and our duty to drink it in, Hebrews 6:7. (3.) He promises that his doctrine shall drop and distil as the dew, and the small rain, which descend silently and without noise. The word preached is likely to profit when it comes gently, and sweetly insinuates itself into the hearts and affections of the hearers. (4.) He bespeaks their acceptance and entertainment of it, and that it might be as sweet, and pleasant, and welcome to them as rain to the thirsty earth, Psalms 72:6. And the word of God is likely to do us good when it is thus acceptable. (5.) The learned bishop Patrick understands it as a prayer that his words which were sent from heaven to them might sink into their hearts and soften them, as the rain softens the earth, and so make them fruitful in obedience.

_ _ II. An awful declaration of the greatness and righteousness of God, Deuteronomy 32:3, Deuteronomy 32:4.

_ _ 1. He begins with this, and lays it down as his first principle, (1.) To preserve the honour of God, that no reproach might be cast upon him for the sake of the wickedness of his people Israel; how wicked and corrupt soever those are who are called by his name, he is just, and right, and all that is good, and is not to be thought the worse of for their badness. (2.) To aggravate the wickedness of Israel, who knew and worshipped such a holy god, and yet were themselves so unholy. And, (3.) To justify God in his dealings with them; we must abide by it, that God is righteous, even when his judgments are a great deep, Jeremiah 12:1; Psalms 36:6.

_ _ 2. Moses here sets himself to publish the name of the Lord (Deuteronomy 32:3), that Israel, knowing what a God he is whom they had avouched for theirs, might never be such fools as to exchange him for a false god, a dunghill god. He calls upon them therefore to ascribe greatness to him. It will be of great use to us for the preventing of sin, and the preserving of us in the way of our duty, always to keep up high and honourable thoughts of God, and to take all occasions to express them: Ascribe greatness to our God. We cannot add to his greatness, for it is infinite; but we must acknowledge it, and give him the glory of it. Now, when Moses would set forth the greatness of God, he does it, not by explaining his eternity and immensity, or describing the brightness of his glory in the upper world, but by showing the faithfulness of his word, the perfection of his works, and the wisdom and equity of all the administrations of his government; for in these his glory shines most clearly to us, and these are the things revealed concerning him, which belong to us and our children, Deuteronomy 32:4. (1.) He is the rock. So he is called six times in this chapter, and the Septuagint all along translates it theos, God. The learned Mr. Hugh Broughton reckons that God is called the rock eighteen times (besides in this chapter) in the Old Testament (though in some places we translate it strength), and charges it therefore upon the papists that they make St. Peter a god when they make him the rock on which the church is built. God is the rock, for he is in himself immutable immovable, and he is to all that seek him and fly to him an impenetrable shelter, and to all that trust in him an everlasting foundation. (2.) His work is perfect. His work of creation was so, all very good; his works of providence are so, or will be so in due time, and when the mystery of God shall be finished the perfection of his works will appear to all the world. Nothing that God does can be mended, Ecclesiastes 3:14. God was now perfecting what he had promised and begun for his people Israel, and from the perfection of this work they must take occasion to give him the glory of the perfection of all his works. The best of men's works are imperfect, they have their flaws and defects, and are left unfinished; but, as for God, his work is perfect; if he begin, he will make an end. (3.) All his ways are judgment. The ends of his ways are all righteous, and he is wise in the choice of the means in order to those ends. Judgment signifies both prudence and justice. The ways of the Lord are right, Hosea 14:9. (4.) He is a God of truth, whose word we may take and rely upon, for he cannot lie who is faithful to all his promises, nor shall his threatenings fall to the ground. (5.) He is without iniquity, one who never cheated any that trusted in him, never wronged any that appealed to his justice, nor ever was hard upon any that cast themselves upon his mercy. (6.) Just and right is he. As he will not wrong any by punishing them more than they deserve, so he will not fail to recompense all those that serve him or suffer for him. He is indeed just and right; for he will effectually take care that none shall lose by him. Now what a bright and amiable idea does this one verse give us of the God whom we worship; and what reason have we then to love him and fear him, to live a life of delight in him, dependence on him, and devotedness to him! This is our rock, and there is no unrighteousness in him; nor can there be, Psalms 92:15.

_ _ III. A high charge exhibited against the Israel of God, whose character was in all respects the reverse of that of the God of Israel, Deuteronomy 32:5. 1. They have corrupted themselves. Or, It has corrupted itself; the body of the people has: the whole head sick, and the whole heart faint. God did not corrupt them, for just and right is he; but they are themselves the sole authors of their own sin and ruin; and both are included in this word. They have debauched themselves; for every man is tempted when he is drawn away of his own lust. And they have destroyed themselves, Hosea 13:9. If thou scornest, thou alone shalt bear the guilt and grief, Proverbs 9:12. 2. Their spot is not the spot of his children. Even God's children have their spots, while they are in this imperfect state; for if we say we have no sin, no spot, we deceive ourselves. But the sin of Israel was none of those; it was not an infirmity which they strove against, watched and prayed against, but an evil which their hearts were fully set in them to do. For, 3. They were a perverse and crooked generation, that were actuated by a spirit of contradiction, and therefore would do what was forbidden because it was forbidden, would set up their own humour and fancy in opposition to the will of God, were impatient of reproof, hated to be reformed, and went on frowardly in the way of their heart. The Chaldee paraphrase reads this verse thus: They have scattered or changed themselves, and not him, even the children that served idols, a generation that has depraved its own works, and alienated itself. Idolaters cannot hurt God, nor do any damage to his works, nor make him a stranger to this world. See Job 35:6. No, all the hurt they do is to themselves and their own works. The learned bishop Patrick gives another reading of it: Did he do him any hurt? That is, “Is God the rock to be blamed for the evils that should befal Israel? No, His children are their blot,” that is, “All the evil that comes upon them is the fruit of their children's wickedness; for the whole generation of them is crooked and perverse.” All that are ruined ruin themselves; they die because they will die.

_ _ IV. A pathetic expostulation with this provoking people for their ingratitude (Deuteronomy 32:6): “Do you thus requite the Lord? Surely you will not hereafter be so base and disingenuous in your carriage towards him as you have been.” 1. He reminds them of the obligations God had laid upon them to serve him, and to cleave to him. He had been a Father to them, had begotten them, fed them, carried them, nursed them, and borne their manners; and would they spurn at the bowels of a Father? He had bought them, had been at a vast expense of miracles to bring them out of Egypt, had given men for them, and people for their life, Isaiah 43:4. “Is not he thy Father, thy owner (so some), that has an incontestable propriety in thee?” and the ox knoweth his owner. “he has made thee, and brought thee into being, established thee and kept thee in being; has he not done so? Can you deny the engagements you lie under to him, in consideration of the great things he has done and designed for you?” And are not our obligations, as baptized Christians, equally great and strong to our Creator that made us, our Redeemer that bought us, and our Sanctifier that has established us. 2. Hence he infers the evil of deserting him and rebelling against him. For, (1.) It was base ingratitude: “Do you thus require the Lord? Are these the returns you make him for all his favours to you? The powers you have from him will you employ them against him?” See Micah 6:3, Micah 6:4; John 10:32. This is such monstrous villany as all the world will cry shame of: call a man ungrateful, and you can call him no worse. (2.) It was prodigious madness: O foolish people and unwise! Fools, and double fools! who has bewitched you? Galatians 3:1. “Fools indeed, to disoblige one on whom you have such a necessary dependence! To forsake your own mercies for lying vanities!” Note, All wilful sinners, especially sinners in Israel, are the most unwise and the most ungrateful people in the world.

John Wesley's Explanatory Notes

Deuteronomy 32:1

O heavens, O earth — You lifeless and senseless creatures, which he calls upon partly to accuse the stupidity of Israel, that were more dull of hearing than these: and partly as witnesses of the truth of his sayings and the justice of God's proceedings against them.

Geneva Bible Translation Notes

Deuteronomy 32:1

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

(a) As witness of this people's ingratitude.

Cross-Reference Topical ResearchStrong's Concordance

Deuteronomy 4:26 I call heaven and earth to witness against you this day, that ye shall soon utterly perish from off the land whereunto ye go over Jordan to possess it; ye shall not prolong [your] days upon it, but shall utterly be destroyed.
Deuteronomy 30:19 I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, [that] I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing: therefore choose life, that both thou and thy seed may live:
Deuteronomy 31:28 Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.
Psalms 49:1 [[To the chief Musician, A Psalm for the sons of Korah.]] Hear this, all [ye] people; give ear, all [ye] inhabitants of the world:
Isaiah 1:2 Hear, O heavens, and give ear, O earth: for the LORD hath spoken, I have nourished and brought up children, and they have rebelled against me.
Jeremiah 2:12 Be astonished, O ye heavens, at this, and be horribly afraid, be ye very desolate, saith the LORD.
Jeremiah 6:19 Hear, O earth: behold, I will bring evil upon this people, [even] the fruit of their thoughts, because they have not hearkened unto my words, nor to my law, but rejected it.
Jeremiah 22:29 O earth, earth, earth, hear the word of the LORD.
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Dt 4:26; 30:19; 31:28. Ps 49:1. Is 1:2. Jr 2:12; 6:19; 22:29.

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