Deuteronomy 32:10: The Faithfulness of God Demonstrated, Part 2

Verse 10:  He found him (Deut. 8:15; Jer. 2:6; Hos. 13:5) in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness; he (or, compassed him about[1]) led him about, he (Deut. 4:36) instructed him, he (Ps. 17:8; Prov. 7:2; Zech. 2:8) kept him as the apple of his eye.

[He found him in a desert, יִמְצָאֵ֙הוּ֙ בְּאֶ֣רֶץ מִדְבָּ֔ר]  1.  He discovered him (Vatablus, Aquila and Theodotion in Grotius, Munster, Syriac, Ainsworth, Malvenda).  He found (Oleaster), not by chance, but according to plan (Menochius).  God is brought in after the manner of a bridegroom seeking His bride, and, having found her in a desert, He binds her to Himself (Bonfrerius).  He appeared to Jacob in a cloud, while he was wandering in the desert, and He began to lead him.[2]  In Sinai He settled a covenant with him.  That is the second benefit (Vatablus).  He first claimed for Himself by occupation a property pertaining to the power of no one, as it were:  which happened, not in Egypt, but in the desert, where His glory first began to appear to the multitude (Fagius).  He does not count the time in Egypt, because, 1.  he was not yet erected into a people:  2.  at that time he was wrapped in many vices.  Read Ezekiel 16 (Oleaster).  He shall find, etc.  The future/imperfect in the place of the past, either in a poetic manner, or with respect to the Divine decree (Malvenda).  God seeks and finds His people, like wandering sheep, Isaiah 53:6; Psalm 119:176 (Ainsworth).  To others this translation is not satisfying; because God did not find him there, but rather He led him into the desert (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  2.  Others:  He shall suffice for him, or, sufficiently He gave necessities to him, in a desert (the Chaldean in Fagius, thus the Septuagint in Ainsworth and Cajetan).  מָצָא also signifies to suffice,[3] Numbers 11:22[4] (Ainsworth, Malvenda).

He found him, not by chance, but as it were looking out and seeking for him, He met with him there.  He did indeed manifest himself to him in Egypt, but it was in the wilderness at Sinai, where he found God, and God found him in an eminent manner, and revealed his mind and will to him, and entered into covenant with him, and imparted himself and his grace and blessing to him, that being the place appointed in Egypt for God and Israel to meet together, Exodus 3:12.  By this word he also signifies both their lost condition in themselves, and that their recovery was not from themselves, but only from God, who sought and found them out by his grace.  In a desert land; in a place destitute of all the necessaries and comforts of life, which also was a type of that desolate and comfortless condition in which all men are before the grace of God finds them out.  See Song of Solomon 3:6; 8:5; Ezekiel 16:4; Hosea 9:10; 13:9.

[In a place of horror, וּבְתֹהוּ[5]]  In a solitude (Pagnine), desolation (Montanus).  See Genesis 1:2[6] (Malvenda).  In emptiness (Ainsworth).

[And of waste wilderness, יְלֵ֣ל יְשִׁמֹ֑ן]  [They vary.]  יְלֵל/Jelel is a proper name (certain interpreters in Oleaster).  Others:  in a place of howling (Ainsworth, Montanus), or, in wailing (Malvenda).  So it is called, because there are wotn to howl either owls (Oleaster), or wild beasts (Ainsworth, Malvenda), or winds (Malvenda), or men because of scarcity (Ainsworth).  יְשִׁמֹן/Jeshimon either is, 1.  the proper name of a certain desert (thus Oleaster, Syriac).  Thus Numbers 21:20; 23:28; 1 Samuel 23:19, 24; Psalm 68:7;[7] 78:40[8] (Oleaster).  Or, 2.  it signifies a waste, or desert (thus Pagnine, Montanus, Munster, Cajetan, Malvenda, Ainsworth).  In a howling of waste, a Hypallage, for, a waste of howling, that is, where wailings are wont to be heard, etc. (Malvenda).  Others:  of howling of waste (Malvenda).  In an arid place (the Chaldean and Septuagint in Ainsworth).

In the waste howling wilderness, where instead of the voices of men, is nothing heard but the howlings, and yellings, and screeches of ravenous birds and beasts.  See Isaiah 43:20; Micah 1:8.

[He led him about (thus the Samaritan Text, Arabic, Junius and Tremellius, Ainsworth), יְסֹבְבֶנְהוּ[9]]  He caused him to go about (Pagnine, Oleaster, Ainsworth, Malvenda, Vatablus, Munster), namely, in the desert, around the land of Seir and Moab,[10] etc. (Oleaster).  He surrounded him (Oleaster, Ainsworth, the Septuagint in Ainsworth), that is, by protecting and watching over (Oleaster); with His love and providence.  Compare Psalm 32:7.[11]  And in Jeremiah 31:22, it is taken in the place of, to solicit the love of the other[12] (Ainsworth).  He gathered and embraced him (Syriac).  He placed them in the circuit of His majesty (the Chaldean in Ainsworth).  It is able to have regard unto situation of the camps around the Tabernacle of God (Ainsworth).

He led him about; he conducted them from place to place by his cloudy pillar and providence.  See Exodus 13:18, etc.  Or, he compassed him about, by his provident care over him, watching over him and preserving him on every side.  Compare Psalm 32:7.

[And He taught, יְבוֹנְנֵהוּ[13]]  He caused to understand (Pagnine).  He makes much of the fact that the thing signified is going to be suitable (Malvenda).  By leading about He taught him:  For vexation gives understanding.  They also saw many miracles there (Oleaster).  He taught them the words of His Law (Chaldean).

[As the pupil of His eye, כְּאִישׁ֥וֹן עֵינֽוֹ׃[14]]  As the blackness (the sight [Ainsworth]) of the eye (Malvenda, Ainsworth), from אִישׁ/man, or from אִישָּׁה/ woman; because in the black of the eye small images of them are conspicuous (Malvenda).  That is to say, He kept him most diligently (Montanus, Ainsworth).  Compare Psalm 17:8; Zechariah 2:8 (Ainsworth).

As the apple of his eye; as men use to keep the apple of their eye, i.e. with singular care and diligence, this being, as a most tender, so a most useful part.  Compare Psalm 17:8; Proverbs 7:2; Zechariah 2:8.


[1] Hebrew:  יְסֹבְבֶנְהוּ.

[2] See, for example, Exodus 13:18-22; Numbers 10.

[3] That is, to find enough.

[4] Numbers 11:22:  “Shall the flocks and the herds be slain for them, to suffice them (וּמָצָ֣א לָהֶ֑ם)? or shall all the fish of the sea be gathered together for them, to suffice them (וּמָצָ֥א לָהֶֽם׃)?”

[5] Deuteronomy 32:10a:  “He found him in a desert land, and in the waste howling wilderness (וּבְתֹ֖הוּ יְלֵ֣ל יְשִׁמֹ֑ן)…”  תֹּהוּ signifies formlessness or emptiness.

[6] Genesis 1:2a:  “And the earth was without form (תֹהוּ), and void; and darkness wasupon the face of the deep.”

[7] Psalm 68:7:  “O God, when thou wentest forth before thy people, when thou didst march through the wilderness (בִישִׁימוֹן); Selah…”

[8] Psalm 78:40:  “How oft did they provoke him in the wilderness, andgrieve him in the desert (בִּישִׁימוֹן)!”

[9] סָבַב, to turn about, or to surround, in the Poel conjugation signifies to surround, or to march about.

[10] See Deuteronomy 2.

[11] Psalm 32:7:  “Thou artmy hiding place; thou shalt preserve me from trouble; thou shalt compass me about (תְּסוֹבְבֵנִי) with songs of deliverance.  Selah.”

[12] Jeremiah 31:22:  “How long wilt thou go about, O thou backsliding daughter? for the Lord hath created a new thing in the earth, A woman shall compass (תְּסוֹבֵב) a man.”

[13] בִּין, to discern or understand, in the Polel signifies to consider attentively.

[14] אִישׁוֹן/pupil can also signify preciousness or middle.  When constructed with night, it can signify the middle or darkness.  For example, Proverbs 7:9:  “In the twilight, in the evening, in the blackness of night (בְּאִישׁ֥וֹן לַ֜֗יְלָה, in the middle of the night) and darkness…”

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