(1) Give ear, O heavens, let me speak;
Let the earth hear the words I utter! (2) May my discourse come down as the rain,
My speech distill as the dew,
Like showers on young growth,
Like droplets on the grass.*May my discourse … on the grass I.e., may my words be received eagerly; cf. Job 29.22–23.
(3) For the name of יהוה I proclaim;
Give glory to our God!
(4) The Rock!—whose deeds are perfect,
Yea, all God’s ways are just;
A faithful God, never false,
True and upright indeed.
(5) *Meaning of verse uncertain. Unworthy children—
That crooked, perverse generation—
Their baseness has played God false.
(6) Do you thus requite יהוה,
O dull and witless people?
Is not this the Father*Father A poetic figure that takes as a given the ancient Near Eastern status and gender hierarchy: a promise of legitimacy, protection, and sustenance in return for obedience. See further the Dictionary under “father.” who created you—
Fashioned you and made you endure!
(7) Remember the days of old,
Consider the years of ages past;
Ask your parent, who will inform you,
Your elders, who will tell you:
(8) When the Most High gave nations their homes
And set the divisions of humanity,
[God] fixed the boundaries of peoples
In relation to Israel’s numbers.
(9) For יהוה’s portion is this people;
Jacob, God’s own allotment.
(10) [God] found them in a desert region,
In an empty howling waste.
[God] engirded them, watched over them,
Guarded them as the pupil of God’s eye.
(11) Like an eagle who rouses its nestlings,
Gliding down to its young,
So did [God] spread wings and take them,
Bear them along on pinions;
(12) יהוה alone did guide them,
No alien god alongside.
(13) [God] set them atop the highlands,
To feast on the yield of the earth;
Nursing them with honey from the crag,
And oil from the flinty rock,
(14) Curd of kine and milk of flocks;
With the best*best Lit. “fat.” of lambs,
And rams of Bashan, and he-goats;
With the very finest*very finest Lit. “kidney fat of.” wheat—
And foaming grape-blood was your drink.
(15) So Jeshurun grew fat and kicked—
You grew fat and gross and coarse*coarse Meaning of Heb. kasitha uncertain. —
They forsook the God who made them
And spurned the Rock of their support.
(16) They incensed [God] with alien things,
Vexed [God] with abominations.
(17) They sacrificed to demons, no-gods,
Gods they had never known,
New ones, who came but lately,
Who stirred not your forebears’ fears.*Who stirred not your forebears’ fears Meaning of Heb. uncertain; Arabic sha‘ara suggests the rendering “Whom your forebears did not know.”
(18) You neglected the Rock who begot you,
Forgot the God who labored to bring you forth.
(19) יהוה saw and was vexed
And spurned these sons and daughters.
(20) [God] said: I will hide My countenance from them,
And see how they fare in the end.
For they are a treacherous breed,
Children with no loyalty in them.
(21) They incensed Me with no-gods,
Vexed Me with their futilities;*futilities I.e., idols.
I’ll incense them with a no-folk,
Vex them with a nation of fools.
(22) For a fire has flared in My wrath
And burned to the bottom of Sheol,
Has consumed the earth and its increase,
Eaten down to the base of the hills.
(23) I will sweep misfortunes on them,
Use up My arrows on them:
(24) Wasting famine, ravaging plague,
Deadly pestilence, and fanged beasts
Will I let loose against them,
With venomous creepers in dust.
(25) The sword shall deal death without,
As shall the terror within,
To youth and maiden alike,
The suckling as well as the aged.
(26) I might have reduced them to naught,*I might have reduced them to naught Lit. “I said, I will reduce…”; meaning of Heb. ’aph’ehem uncertain.
Made their memory cease among humankind,
(27) But for fear of the taunts of the foe,
Their enemies who might misjudge
And say, “Our own hand has prevailed;
None of this was wrought by יהוה !”
(28) *Here, apparently, Moses is the speaker; God resumes in v. 32. For they are a folk void of sense,
Lacking in all discernment.
(29) Were they wise, they would think upon this,
Gain insight into their future:
(30) “How could one have routed a thousand,
Or two put ten thousand to flight,
Unless their Rock had sold them,
יהוה had given them up?”
(31) For their rock is not like our Rock,
In our enemies’ own estimation.*In our enemies’ own estimation I.e., as everyone must admit. For Heb. pelilim (“own estimation”) see Exod. 21.22; cf. Gen. 48.11.
(32) Ah! The vine for them is from Sodom,
From the vineyards of Gomorrah;
The grapes for them are poison,
A bitter growth their clusters.
(33) Their wine is the venom of asps,
The pitiless poison of vipers.
(34) Lo, I have it all put away,
Sealed up in My storehouses,
(35) To be My vengeance and recompense,
At the time that their foot falters.
Yea, their day of disaster is near,
And destiny rushes upon them.
(36) For יהוה will vindicate God’s people
And take revenge for*And take revenge for Cf. Isa. 1.24. Others “and repent Himself concerning.” God’s servants,
Upon seeing that their might is gone,
And neither bond nor free is left.
(37) [God] will say: Where are their gods,
The rock in whom they sought refuge,
(38) Who ate the fat of their offerings
And drank their libation wine?
Let them rise up to your help,
And let them be a shield unto you!
(39) See, then, that I, I am the One;
There is no god beside Me.
I deal death and give life;
I wounded and I will heal:
None can deliver from My hand.
(40) Lo, I raise My hand to heaven
And say: As I live forever,
(41) When I whet My flashing blade
And My hand lays hold on judgment,
Vengeance will I wreak on My foes,
Will I deal to those who reject Me.
(42) I will make My arrows drunk with blood—
As My sword devours flesh—
Blood of the slain and the captive
From the long-haired enemy chiefs.
(43) O nations, acclaim God’s people!
For He’ll avenge the blood of His servants,
Wreak vengeance on His foes,
And cleanse His people’s land.*And cleanse His people’s land Cf. Num. 35.33. Meaning of Heb. uncertain; Ugaritic ’udm‘t “tears” suggests the rendering “And wipe away His people’s tears.” Cf. Isa. 25.8. (44) Moses came, together with Hosea son of Nun, and recited all the words of this poem in the hearing of the people. (45) And when Moses finished reciting all these words to all Israel, (46) he said to them: Take to heart all the words with which I have warned you this day. Enjoin them upon your children, that they may observe faithfully all the terms of this Teaching. (47) For this is not a trifling thing for you: it is your very life; through it you shall long endure on the land that you are to possess upon crossing the Jordan. (48) That very day יהוה spoke to Moses: (49) Ascend these heights of Abarim to Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab facing Jericho, and view the land of Canaan, which I am giving the Israelites as their holding. (50) You shall die on the mountain that you are about to ascend, and shall be gathered to your kin, as your brother Aaron died on Mount Hor and was gathered to his kin; (51) for you both broke faith with Me among the Israelite people, at the waters of Meribath-kadesh in the wilderness of Zin, by failing to uphold My sanctity among the Israelite people. (52) You may view the land from a distance, but you shall not enter it—the land that I am giving to the Israelite people.