Deuteronomy 32:7-9: The Faithfulness of God Demonstrated, Part 1

Verse 7:  Remember the days of old, consider the years of many generations (Heb. generation and generation[1]):  (Ex. 13:14; Ps. 44:1; 78:3, 4) ask thy father, and he will shew thee; thy elders, and they will tell thee.

[The days of old, יְמ֣וֹת עוֹלָ֔ם]  Of an age (Malvenda, Montanus); everlasting (Pagnine), ancient (Tigurinus).  It properly  signifies a hidden time, of which there is no memory (Oleaster).  Past (Oleaster).  These shall testify of the grace of God toward His people (Ainsworth).  That is to say, from these thou wilt learn that thou wast chosen from the beginning by me, namely, in the time of Abraham, Genesis 12 (Oleaster).  He begins to enumerate in succession the benefits bestowed and lost upon this ungrateful people (Vatablus).

The days of old, i.e. the history and events of ancient days or former ages, and thou wilt find that I had a respect unto thee, not only in Abraham’s time, but long before it.  Compare Jeremiah 2:20.

[The individual generations, דּוֹר־וָדוֹר]  Of generation and generation (Pagnine, Ainsworth), that is, of every generation, as in Psalm 89:1.[2]  Thus, day and day, in Esther 3:4,[3] is, on every day; and, city and city, Ezra 10:14,[4] that is, in every city (Ainsworth).

[And they will tell thee]  The benefits that follow (Menochius).

 

Verse 8:  When the most High (Zech. 9:2; Acts 17:26) divided to the nations their inheritance, when he (Gen. 11:8) separated the sons of Adam, he set the bounds of the people according to the number of the children of Israel.

[When the Most High divided the nations, בְּהַנְחֵ֤ל עֶלְיוֹן֙ גּוֹיִ֔ם[5]]  When He caused to inherit (Vatablus, Pagnine, Oleaster, Malvenda).  When He divided the regions to all the nations (Fagius, Vatablus, Ainsworth).  See Deuteronomy 2:5, 9; Amos 9:7; Acts 17:26, 27 (Ainsworth).  This was done in Genesis 10; 11 (Ainsworth, Malvenda), at Babel (Menochius, Tirinus, Bonfrerius).

When the most High divided to the nations their inheritance:  When God by his providence did allot the several parts of the world to several people, which was done Genesis 10; 11.  See Deuteronomy 2:5, 9; Amos 9:7; Acts 17:26, 27.

[He separated]  He distinguished them into families, and peoples, and languages (Ainsworth).

Separated the sons of Adam, i.e. divided them in their languages and habitations according to their families.

[He set the bounds of the peoples according to the number of the sons of Israel]  [Thus all interpreters except the Septuagint, concerning which presently.]  Although Israel was not yet existing, God was thinking of it, and was preparing a habitation for it (Tirinus out of Bonfrerius).  Already at that time He had decreed to give to them the land of the seven peoples[6] (Fagius, Vatablus, Menochius).  Or, at that time He gave to the seven nations the entire region, which would suffice for the number of the sons of Israel (Munster, Vatablus, Oleaster, Menochius, Tirinus, Bonfrerius, Ainsworth).  It is the first benefit, that, although God be the God of all nations, nevertheless He did not choose all for Himself as a people; but He set bounds, so that only where the sons of Israel were, in that place His people; and where their boundary ended, there the people of God left off, and the borders of the Gentile peoples began (Vatablus).  Or, at that time He established for the Israelites the borders of certain peoples, that is, of the Canaanites (Oleaster).

[According to the number of the sons of Israel]  That is, in such a way that He might allot to the sons of Israel a large space, according to the greatness of their number (Piscator).  Although there is also a proportion between the seventy nations enumerated in Genesis 10, and the seventy souls of the Israelites, Genesis 46:27; Deuteronomy 10:22.  Others thus:  according to the number of the Angels of God.  Thus the Septuagint has translated it, lest the Heathn be offended that Israel is compared to seventy nations.  And the Hebrews were thinking that there were seventy principal Angels, prefects of seventy nations (Ainsworth).  [Others thus:]  He has dispersed them so far, that they might never be so many that the Israelites would not be able to prevail over them (Grotius).

He set the bounds of the people, i.e. he disposed of the several lands and limits of the people, so as he did reserve a convenient and sufficient place for the great numbers of the people of Israel, whom he designed to make as numerous as the stars of heaven.  And therefore he so guided the hearts of several people, that the posterity of Canaan, which was accursed of God, Genesis 9:25-27, and devoted to ruin, should be seated in that country which God intended for the children of Israel, that so when their iniquities were ripe,[7] and God’s time came, they might be rooted out, and the Israelites might come in their stead.

 

Verse 9:  For (Ex. 15:16; 19:5; 1 Sam. 10:1; Ps. 78:71) the LORD’S portion is his people; Jacob is the lot (Heb. cord[8]) of his inheritance.

[The portion of the Lord is His people[9]]  [Thus the majority of interpreters.  But the Samaritan Text translates it, For the Lord distributed His people Jacob, etc.  Thus it takes חֵלֶק/portion for a Verb.[10]]  The sense:  Not content with this, He willed to choose it for a people, etc. (Menochius).  That is to say, It is not strange that, with those people driven out, He gave to Israel their land; for these are the peculiar and unique people of God (Vatablus).

The Lord’s portion, etc.:  It is no wonder God had so great a regard to this people, for he chose them out of all mankind to be his peculiar portion and treasure.

[Jacob]  It is the name of his infirmity:[11]  God loves us, weak and unworthy (Ainsworth).

[Cord, חֶבֶל]  That is, inheritance; so called because inheritances were divided by cords (Munster, Vatablus, Oleaster, Malvenda, Ainsworth, Menochius).

 

[1] Hebrew:  דּוֹר־וָדוֹר.

[2] Psalm 89:1:  “I will sing of the mercies of the Lord for ever:  with my mouth will I make known thy faithfulness to all generations (לְדֹ֥ר וָדֹ֓ר׀, to generation and generation).”

[3] Esther 3:4a:  “Now it came to pass, when they spake daily (י֣וֹם וָי֔וֹם, on a day and a day) unto him, and he hearkened not unto them, that they told Haman, to see whether Mordecai’s matters would stand…”

[4] Ezra 10:14:  “Let now our rulers of all the congregation stand, and let all them which have taken strange wives in our cities come at appointed times, and with them the elders of every city (זִקְנֵי־עִ֥יר וָעִ֖יר, the elders of a city and a city), and the judges thereof, until the fierce wrath of our God for this matter be turned from us.”

[5] נָחַל, to take possession, in the Hiphil conjugation signifies to cause to take possession or to inherit.

[6] Deuteronomy 7:1; Acts 13:19.

[7] Genesis 15:16.

[8] Hebrew:  חֶבֶל.

[9] Hebrew:  כִּ֛י חֵ֥לֶק יְהֹוָ֖ה עַמּ֑וֹ.

[10] חָלַק signifies to divide.

[11] יַעֲקֹב/Jacob signifies supplanter; יִשְׂרָאֵל/Israel, he prevails with God.  See Genesis 32:27, 28; 35:10.

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