Deuteronomy 32:22
For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(22) For a fire is kindled in mine anger.—Quoted by Jeremiah (Jeremiah 15:14, and comp. Jeremiah 17:4).

The foundations of the mountains.—Rashi says, “Jerusalem, which is founded on the mountains,” as it is said, “Jerusalem, the mountains are about her” (Psalm 125:2).

Deuteronomy 32:22. For a fire is kindled in mine anger — In this verse are predicted the dreadful calamities which God would bring upon the land of Judea, in words which seem to import the total ruin of it. Devouring judgments are here compared to fire, as they are also Ezekiel 30:8; Amos 2:5. And from hence to Deuteronomy 32:28, the destruction of their city and country by the Romans, and the dreadful calamities which they have suffered since in different ages, seem chiefly to be intended. And shall burn to the lowest hell — Or to the lowest parts of the earth, as the word שׁאול, sheol, here rendered hell, signifies: Numbers 16:30-33. Most destructive calamities are meant, judgments that should never cease till they had overturned the whole Jewish constitution. And set on fire the foundations of the mountains — That is, subvert their strongest fortresses, yea, Jerusalem itself, founded on the holy mountains, which was perfectly fulfilled in its destruction by Titus. And, according to Josephus, Titus himself, though a heathen, saw and acknowledged the hand of God in the affair. For, observing the vast height of the walls, the largeness of every stone, and the exact order wherein they were laid and compacted, he cried out, “God was with us in this war: it is he that drove the Jews from these munitions. For what could the hands of men or machines have availed against such towers?” Perhaps it may not be improper to mention here, as a further illustration of this prophecy, and its accomplishment, what is related, not only by the Christian writers of that age, Chrysostom, Sozomen, and Socrates, but also by Ammianus Marcellinus, a heathen historian, that when Julian the Apostate ordered the temple of Jerusalem to be rebuilt, with a view to give the lie to our Saviour’s prophecy concerning it, “terrible globes of fire burst out near the foundations, which overturned all, burned the workmen, and made the place so inaccessible, that they desisted from the attempt.” See Bishop Warburton’s book, entitled Julian.

32:19-25 The revolt of Israel was described in the foregoing verses, and here follow the resolves of Divine justice as to them. We deceive ourselves, if we think that God will be mocked by a faithless people. Sin makes us hateful in the sight of the holy God. See what mischief sin does, and reckon those to be fools that mock at it.God would mete out to them the same measure as they had done to Him. Through chosen by the one God to be His own, they had preferred idols, which were no gods. So therefore would He prefer to His people that which was no people. As they had angered Him with their vanities, so would He provoke them by adopting in their stead those whom they counted as nothing. The terms, "not a people," and "a foolish nation," mean such a people as, not being God's, would not be accounted a people at all (compare Ephesians 2:12; 1 Peter 2:10), and such a nation as is destitute of that which alone can make a really "wise and understanding people" Deuteronomy 4:6, namely, the knowledge of the revealed word and will of God (compare 1 Corinthians 1:18-28).21. those which are not a people—that is, not favored with such great and peculiar privileges as the Israelites (or, rather poor, despised heathens). The language points to the future calling of the Gentiles. A fire is kindled, i.e. great and grievous judgments shall be inflicted, which oft come under the name of fire, &c. See Deu 4:24 Ezekiel 30:8 Amos 2:2,5.

Unto the lowest hell, or, unto hell, or the graves beneath. The sense is, it shall not only burn up all the corn and fruits and buildings which appear above ground, but it shall reach to the inwards and depths of the earth, and burn up the very roots and hopes of future increase.

For a fire is kindled in mine anger,.... Here begins the account of temporal and corporeal judgments inflicted on the Jews for their disbelief and rejection of the Messiah, their contempt of his Gospel, and ill treatment of his followers; and this here respects the destruction of the land of Judea in general, and the burning of the city and temple of Jerusalem in particular, as the effect of the wrath and anger of God like fire kindled against them:

and shall burn unto the lowest hell; which denotes an entire destruction, like that of the burning of Sodom and Gomorrah with fire and brimstone from heaven; which issued in a sulphurous lake, and which sulphureous matter sunk to the bottom of the Dead Sea; and to that destruction is this of the land of Judea compared, Deuteronomy 29:23,

and shall consume the earth with her increase: the land of Judea, with the cities and towns in it, and buildings on it, and the fruits of the earth; which were either gathered into their barns and storehouses, or were growing in their fields, and vineyards, and oliveyards; all were destroyed and consumed at or before the destruction of Jerusalem, or quickly after it:

and set on fire the foundations of the mountains; the city of Jerusalem, as Jarchi himself interprets it, whose foundations were by the mountains, according to Psalm 125:2; and the temple of Jerusalem particularly was built on Mount Moriah, and that as well as the city was utterly consumed by fire: and it is remarkable that when Julian the apostate attempted to rebuild it, as is related even by an Heathen historian (a), that flames of fire burst out from the foundations, and burnt the workmen; so that he was obliged to desist from his rash undertaking.

(a) Ammian. Marcellin. l. 23. in initio.

For a fire is kindled in mine anger, and shall burn unto the lowest hell, and shall consume the earth with her increase, and set on fire the foundations of the mountains.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
22. is kindled] but with the force of flaring up quickly, Jeremiah 15:14; Jeremiah 17:4, Isaiah 50:11; Isaiah 64:2 (1); it is not necessary to render ’aph, anger, by its original meaning nostril.

pit] Heb. She’ol, underworld, Psalm 86:13.

increase] See Deuteronomy 11:17.

And setteth on fire] licks or flames about; only in late writings.

Verse 22. - (Cf. Jeremiah 15:14; Jeremiah 17:4; Lamentations 4:11.) The lowest hell; the lowest sheol, the uttermost depth of the under-world. The Hebrew sheol (שְׁאול) answering to the Greek ἅδης, by which it is usually rendered by the LXX., is a general designation of the unseen state, the place of the dead. By some the word is derived from שָׁאַל, to ask, because sheol is ever asking, is insatiable (Proverbs 30:16); but more probably it is from a root signifying to excavate, to hollow, and, like the German holle, means primarily a hollow place or cavern. The Divine wrath kindles a consuming fire, that burns down to the lowest depths - to the deepest part of sheol - consumes the earth's produce, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. This does not refer to any particular judgment that was to befall the national Israel, but is a general description of the effects of the Divine wrath when that is poured forth in judgments on men. Deuteronomy 32:22In Deuteronomy 32:22, the determination of the Lord with regard to the faithless generation is explained by the threat, that the wrath of the Lord which was kindled against this faithlessness would set the whole world in flames down to the lowest hell. We may see how far the contents of this verse are from favouring the conclusion that "no-people" means a barbarous and inhuman horde, from the difficulty which the supporters of this view had found in dealing with the word כּי. Ewald renders it doch (yet), in total disregard of the usages of the language; and Venema, certe, profecto (surely); whilst Kamphausen supposes it to be used in a somewhat careless manner. The contents of Deuteronomy 32:22, which are introduced with כּי, by no means harmonize with the thought, "I will send a barbarous and inhuman horde;" whilst the announcement of a judgment setting the whole world in flames may form a very suitable explanation of the thought, that the Lord would excite faithless Israel to jealousy by a "no-people." This judgment, for example, would make the worthlessness of idols and the omnipotence of the God of Israel manifest in all the earth, and would lead the nations to seek refuge and salvation with the living God; and, as we learn from the history of the kingdom of God, and the allusions of the Apostle Paul to this mystery of the divine counsels, the heathen themselves would be the first to do so when they saw all their power and glory falling into ruins, and then the Israelites, when they saw that God had taken the kingdom from them and raised up the heathen who were converted to Him to be His people. The fire in the nose of the Lord is a figurative description of burning wrath and jealousy (vid., Deuteronomy 29:19). The fire signifies really nothing else than His jealousy, His vital energy, and in a certain sense His breath; it therefore naturally burns in the nose (vid., Psalm 18:9). In this sense the Lord as "a jealous God" is a consuming fire (vid., Deuteronomy 4:24, and the exposition of Exodus 3:2). This fire burns down even to the lower hell. The lower hell, i.e., the lowest region of sheol, or the lower regions, forms the strongest contrast to heaven; though we cannot deduce any definite doctrinal conclusions from the expression as to the existence of more hells than one. This fire "consumes the earth with its increase," i.e., all its vegetable productions, and sets on fire the foundations of the mountains. This description is not a hyperbolical picture of the judgment which was to fall upon the children of Israel alone (Kamphausen, Aben-Ezra, etc.); for it is a mistake to suppose that the judgment foretold affected the Israelitish nation only. The thought is weakened by the assumption that the language is hyperbolical. The words are not intended to foretell one particular penal judgment, but refer to judgment in its totality and universality, as realized in the course of centuries in different judgments upon the nations, and only to be completely fulfilled at the end of the world. "Calvin is right therefore when he says, "As the indignation and anger of God follow His enemies to hell, to eternal flames and infernal tortures, so they devour their land with its produce, and burn the foundations of the mountains;...there is no necessity therefore to imagine that there is any hyperbole in the words, 'to the lower hell.'" This judgment is then depicted in Deuteronomy 32:23-33 as it would discharge itself upon rebellious Israel.
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