Deuteronomy 32:16
They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.
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Deuteronomy 32:16-17. They provoked him to jealousy — Speaking after the manner of men. See on Numbers 25:11. The word expresses not only the hot displeasure and indignation of God, but also the ground of it, which was Israel’s falseness to him, whom they had accepted as their husband, and their spiritual whoredom with other gods. They sacrificed unto devils — Not that they actually considered their gods under the notion of devils; but, whatever pretext they might have for their idolatry, when they sacrificed, they really did it unto devils, the wasters and destroyers of mankind, as the Hebrew word שׁדים, shedim, here used, is thought to signify, and as the devil is called, Revelation 9:11. Some, indeed, think it is a word of the same import with שׂעירם, segnirim, (Leviticus 17:7,) a name given to demons, either because they were conceived to haunt waste places, or to appear in the form of goats. To devils or demons the Israelites sacrificed their sons and daughters, when they sacrificed them unto the idols of Canaan, <19A636>Psalm 106:36-38. But these idols may here and elsewhere be termed devils, because devils brought them into the world in opposition to the true God, and gave answers by them, and in and through them received men’s worship. Many of the heathen considered their idols as a sort of lower gods, and pretended to worship the supreme God by them: but Moses here takes off this mask, and shows the Israelites that in worshipping these idols they worshipped devils, whose will they hereby obeyed, and whose work and service they promoted. And not to God — For God utterly rejected those sacrifices which they offered to him together with idols. To gods whom they knew not — Had no experience of receiving any good from them, or who knew not them, as the words may be rendered; that is, who had never bestowed any benefits upon them. As, on the contrary, the true God says, (Hosea 13:5,) I did know thee in the wilderness, which the Chaldee interprets, I supplied thy necessities. New gods — Not simply or absolutely, for some of them had been worshipped for many generations; but in comparison of the true God who is the Ancient of days, (Daniel 7:9,) and who was worshipped from the beginning of the world. Moses may, however, also intend to signify that they had not so much as the plea of ancient custom or tradition for the worship of many of their idols, and that they were so prone to idolatry, that every new object or mode of heathen superstition caught their fancy, and drew them away from their allegiance to the true God. Whom your fathers feared not — Worshipped not: and concerning whom they had no superstitious dread, (as the word שׂערו, segnaru, here used, imports,) no fear lest they should be hurt by them if they did not worship them, which fear differs essentially from that pious fear and reverence which we owe to the true God. He means they were such gods as could neither do good nor evil, Jeremiah 10:5.

32:15-18 Here are two instances of the wickedness of Israel, each was apostacy from God. These people were called Jeshurun, an upright people, so some; a seeing people, so others: but they soon lost the reputation both of their knowledge and of their righteousness. They indulged their appetites, as if they had nothing to do but to make provision for the flesh to fulfil the lusts of it. Those who make a god of themselves, and a god of their bellies, in pride and wantonness, and cannot bear to be told of it, thereby forsake God, and show they esteem him lightly. There is but one way of a sinner's acceptance and sanctification, however different modes of irreligion, or false religion, may show that favourable regard for other ways, which is often miscalled candid. How mad are idolaters, who forsake the Rock of salvation, to run themselves upon the rock of perdition!They provoked him to jealousy - The language is borrowed from the matrimonial relationship, as in Deuteronomy 31:16.15. But Jeshurun waxed fat, and kicked—This is a poetical name for Israel. The metaphor here used is derived from a pampered animal, which, instead of being tame and gentle, becomes mischievous and vicious, in consequence of good living and kind treatment. So did the Israelites conduct themselves by their various acts of rebellion, murmuring, and idolatrous apostasy. To jealousy, i.e. to anger and fury,

for jealousy is the rage of a man, Proverbs 6:31. And withal it implies the ground of his anger, to wit, their falseness to God, whom they had owned and accepted as their Husband, and their spiritual whoredom with other gods.

They provoked him to jealousy with strange gods,.... Or "with others" (h); the word "gods" is not in the text, nor were the Jews guilty of worshipping strange gods or idols in the times of Christ, nor had they been from the time of their coming out of the Babylonish captivity; but the word, as Cocceius observes, is used for "another", as in Job 19:27; and signifies other saviours, other messiahs, whom the Jews set up when they rejected Christ, the rock of salvation; and it is observable, that before the coming of Christ, they never attempted to set up any; but, after they had rejected him, were ready to embrace everyone that offered, of which one, called Bar Cochab, the son of a star, in allusion to Numbers 24:17; is a flagrant instance; and whom, when they found themselves deceived, they called Bar Cozba, the son of a lie, or a lying fellow; to whom our Lord may be thought to have respect, John 5:43; and where he expressly calls him another. Now, not only to reject Jesus, the true Messiah, but to set up others in his room, false Christs, was highly provoking to God, who is a jealous God, and will not give his glory to another:

with abominations provoked they him to anger; by advancing the traditions of the elders to an equality with, and above the word of God; and by continuing sacrifices, after the great sacrifice was offered up, when they ought to have ceased; for, by continuing them, it was saying Christ was not come in the flesh, nor his sacrifice offered up; it was trampling under foot the Son of God, and treating his blood and sacrifice with contempt; which must be an abomination to God, and highly provoking of his anger, when that sacrifice was of a sweet smelling savour to him; and especially what was abominable to him, and grievously provoked him to anger and wrath, was their setting up the idol of their own righteousness, refusing to submit to the righteousness of Christ, Romans 10:3; and indeed, whenever anything is set up in competition with him, or in opposition to him, be it what it will, it must be an abomination to God; because it opposes his purposes and resolutions of saving men by Christ alone, reflects on his wisdom in the scheme of salvation, flies in the face of his love, grace, and mercy, makes the death of Christ of none effect, advances pride in the creature, gives God the lie, who says there is no other Saviour, and is a total slight and neglect of his Gospel; all which must be abominable, and dreadfully provoking to him; see Isaiah 65:5;

(h) "per alios", Cocceius.

They provoked him to jealousy with {k} strange gods, with abominations provoked they him to anger.

(k) By changing his service for their superstitions.

16. moved him to jealousy] This form of the vb. is found only here, and in Deuteronomy 32:21 b, Psalm 78:58; another form in Deuteronomy 32:21 a. On God’s jealousy see Deuteronomy 4:24.

strange] Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 3:13. See above on Deuteronomy 32:12.

abominations] See Deuteronomy 7:25, and cp. Isaiah 44:19.

provoked] Deuteronomy 4:25.

Verse 16. - They provoked him to jealousy. God had bound Israel to himself as by the marriage bond, and they by their unfaithfulness had incited him to jealousy (cf. Deuteronomy 31:16; Exodus 34:15; Isaiah 54:5; Hosea 1, etc.). Strange gods (cf. Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 3:13). Deuteronomy 32:16"They excited His jealousy through strange (gods), they provoked Him by abominations. They sacrificed to devils, which (were) not-God; to gods whom they knew not, to new (ones) that had lately come up, whom your fathers feared not. The rock which begat thee thou forsookest, and hast forgotten the God that bare thee." These three verses are only a further expansion of Deuteronomy 32:15. Forsaking the rock of its salvation, Israel gave itself up to the service of worthless idols. The expression "excite to jealousy" is founded upon the figure of a marriage covenant, under which the relation of the Lord to Israel is represented (vid., Deuteronomy 31:16, and the com. on Exodus 34:15). "This jealousy rests upon the sacred and spiritual marriage tie, by which God had bound the people to Himself" (Calvin). "Strange gods," with which Israel committed adultery, as in Jeremiah 2:25; Jeremiah 3:13. The idols are called "abominations" because Jehovah abhorred them (Deuteronomy 7:25; Deuteronomy 27:15; cf. 2 Kings 23:13). שׁדים signifies demons in Syriac, as it has been rendered by the lxx and Vulgate here; lit., lords, like Baalim. It is also used in Psalm 106:37. - "Not-God," a composite noun, in apposition to Shedim (devils), like the other expressions which follow: "gods whom they knew not," i.e., who had not made themselves known to them as gods by any benefit or blessing (vid., Deuteronomy 11:28); "new (ones), who had come from near," i.e., had but lately risen up and been adopted by the Israelites. "Near," not in a local but in a temporal sense, in contrast to Jehovah, who had manifested and attested Himself as God from of old (Deuteronomy 32:7). שׂער, to shudder, construed here with an accusative, to experience a holy shuddering before a person, to revere with holy awe. - In Deuteronomy 32:18 Moses returns to the thought of Deuteronomy 32:15, for the purpose of expressing it emphatically once more, and paving the way for a transition to the description of the acts of the Lord towards His rebellious nation. To bring out still more prominently the base ingratitude of the people, he represents the creation of Israel by Jehovah, the rock of its salvation, under the figure of generation and birth, in which the paternal and maternal love of the Lord to His people had manifested itself. חולל, to twist round, then applied to the pains of childbirth. The ἁπ. λεγ. תּשׁי is to be traced to שׁיה, and is a pausal form like יחי in Deuteronomy 4:33. שׁיה equals שׁהה, to forget, to neglect.
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