Deuteronomy 32:17
They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.
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(17) They sacrificed unto devils, not to God.—St. Paul repeats this expression in 1Corinthians 11:20.

Gods that came newly up.—Literally, that came from close at hand. Compare the description of the idol in Isaiah 44:15, easily made from the firewood; and see also Wisdom Of Solomon 13:13, “A carpenter taking a crooked piece of wood, and full of knots, hath carved it diligently, when he had nothing else to do”—a comment on the passage in Isaiah 44

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!Devils - Render, destroyers. The application of the word to the false gods points to the trait so deeply graven in all pagan worship, that of regarding the deities as malignant, and needing to be propitiated by human sufferings.

Not to God - Rather, "not God," i. e., which were not God; see the margin and Deuteronomy 32:21. Compare Deuteronomy 13:7; Deuteronomy 29:25.

17. They sacrificed unto devils—(See on [168]Le 17:7). Unto devils, i.e. unto idols, which the devils brought into the world in opposition to God, in and by which the devils ofttimes manifested themselves unto men, and gave them answers, and received their worship. Compare 1 Corinthians 10:20. The Gentiles pretended to worship God in those idols, and the devils which inspired them deluded the nations with false pretences that they were a sort of lower gods. Moses therefore takes off this mask, and shows the Israelites that these pretended gods were really devils, those great enemies of mankind, and therefore that it was the height of madness to honour or worship them.

Not to God: this he saith, either because though at first they joined God and idols together in worship, yet at last they quite forsook God, and adhered to idols only; or because God utterly rejected those sacrifices which they offered to him together with idols, and took them for no sacrifices. See 1 Corinthians 10:21.

Whom they knew not, or, who never knew them, i.e. never showed any kindness to them, or did them any good; for so words of knowledge are oft used, as Psalm 1:6 Hosea 13:5.

That came newly up; not simply or absolutely, for some of these gods had been worshipped for many generations, and had a fair pretence of long antiquity, but comparatively to the true God, who is the Ancient of days, Daniel 7:9, and who was worshipped from the beginning of the world. To this original and first antiquity Moses recalls them; as also our Saviour doth recall the Jews to the first institution, Matthew 19:8. And therefore we may safely follow both their patterns in despising all pretences of antiquity, which are contrary to God’s first institutions contained (as all confess) in the Holy Scriptures.

Whom your fathers feared not, i.e. served not, worshipped not, but justly despised and abhorred them.

They sacrificed to devils, not to God,.... Their sacrifices being continued, when it was the will of God they should cease, were reckoned by him not as, offered to him, but to demons, and to such that were not God; they being therein under the instigation of Satan, and doing his lusts, John 8:44; just as Pagans and Papists, worshipping idols under the influence and direction of Satan, are said to worship devils, and sacrifice to them, 1 Corinthians 10:20; and indeed setting up their own righteousness was sacrificing to their own net, and burning incense to their own drag, to an idol, and not to God: to which may be added, that whereas they trampled under foot the Son of God, and did despite to the Spirit of grace, by which Christ cast out devils, and offered himself without spot, they excluded two of the divine Persons in the Deity, and so worshipped not the true God, Father, Son, and Spirit:

to gods whom they knew not, to gods that came newly up; such as angels, into the worship of which they fell, as their writings testify (i), and to which the apostle seems to have respect, Colossians 2:18,

whom your fathers feared not; paid no regard unto, put no trust or confidence in; or, as the Targum of Jonathan,"with whom your fathers had nothing to do:''as they had not with the idol of man's righteousness, but wholly looked unto and trusted in the grace and righteousness of Christ, and expected salvation alone by him: the Gospel of righteousness and salvation by Christ was preached to our first parents in Eden's garden, which they embraced and believed in; Noah was an heir and preacher of the righteousness of faith, that is, of the righteousness of Christ, received by faith; that righteousness, which was what Abraham believed in, was imputed to him for his justifying righteousness; and Jacob waited for the Messiah, the salvation of God; in short all the Old Testament saints were saved by the grace of Christ, as we are; the idols, the works of men's own righteousness, are new deities they paid no deference to, placed no confidence in.

(i) Vid. Van Till in loc.

They sacrificed unto devils, not to God; to gods whom they knew not, to {l} new gods that came newly up, whom your fathers feared not.

(l) Scripture calls new, whatever man invents, be the error ever so old.

17. demons] Heb. shedîm, only here and in Psalm 106:37, ‘certainly a Babylonian loan-word,’ shedu, a good demon figured in the bull-colossi that guarded the entrances to temples (Zimmern, KAT3[152], 455 f., 460–2, 649); but according to Psalm 106:37 human sacrifices were offered them, which of course does not preclude the idea that they were protective spirits.

[152] Die Keilinschriften und das AIte Testament, 3rd edition (1903), by H. Zimmern and H. Winckler.

no God] Heb. ’Eloah as in Deuteronomy 32:15.

whom they had not known] Deuteronomy 11:28, Deuteronomy 13:2; Deuteronomy 13:6; Deuteronomy 13:13, Deuteronomy 28:64.

new ones lately come in] Or arrived.

dreaded] Lit. bristled or shuddered at, Heb. sacar, as in Jeremiah 2:12, Ezekiel 27:35; Ezekiel 32:10. Some, however, translate knew, on the strength of the Ar. sacara.

Verse 17. - Devils; shedim, a word which occurs only here and Psalm 106:37. It stands connected with the verb שׁוּד, to rule, and means primarily "lords." The LXX. render by δαιμόνια, demons. In Assyrian it is said to be a name for demigods. Not to God; rather, to a not God, a composite term in apposition to shedim; the meaning is rightly given in the margin of the Authorized Version, "which were not God." To new gods that came newly up. The word rendered by "newly" (קָרוב) properly means "near;" it is an adjective both of place and of time; here it is the latter, equal to of a near time, recently - gods recently invented or discovered. Deuteronomy 32:17"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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