Deuteronomy 32:26
I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:
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(26, 27) The argument of these verses is such as no man would dare to put into the mouth of the Most High. Moses had pleaded it (in Numbers 14:13-16; Exodus 32:12), but none but Jehovah Himself would say for Himself, “I feared the wrath of the enemy.”

32:26-38 The idolatry and rebellions of Israel deserved, and the justice of God seemed to demand, that they should be rooted out. But He spared Israel, and continues them still to be living witnesses of the truth of the Bible, and to silence unbelievers. They are preserved for wise and holy purposes and the prophecies give us some idea what those purposes are. The Lord will never disgrace the throne of his glory. It is great wisdom, and will help much to the return of sinners to God, seriously to consider their latter end, or the future state. It is here meant particularly of what God foretold by Moses, about this people in the latter days; but it may be applied generally. Oh that men would consider the happiness they will lose, and the misery they will certainly plunge into, if they go on in their trespasses! What will be in the end thereof? Jer 5:31. For the Lord will in due time bring down the enemies of the church, in displeasure against their wickedness. When sinners deem themselves most secure, they suddenly fall into destruction. And God's time to appear for the deliverance of his people, is when things are at the worst with them. But those who trust to any rock but God, will find it fail them when they most need it. The rejection of the Messiah by the Jewish nation, is the continuance of their ancient idolatry, apostacy, and rebellion. They shall be brought to humble themselves before the Lord, to repent of their sins, and to trust in their long-rejected Mediator for salvation. Then he will deliver them, and make their prosperity great.Rather, I would utterly disperse them, etc., were it not that I apprehended the provocation of the enemy, i. e., that I should be provoked to wrath when the enemy ascribed the overthrow of Israel to his own prowess and not to my judgments. Compare Deuteronomy 9:28-29; Ezekiel 20:9, Ezekiel 20:14, Ezekiel 20:22.

Behave themselves strangely - Rather, misunderstand it, i. e., mistake the cause of Israel's ruin.

23. I will spend mine arrows upon them—War, famine, pestilence (Ps 77:17) are called in Scripture the arrows of the Almighty. No text from Poole on this verse.

I said,.... Or could have said, or might have said; that is, determined and resolved, as it was in his power, and in right and justice might have done what follows:

I would scatter them into corners; which does not fitly express the sense of the word used, and besides this was what was done; it is notorious that the Jews were and are scattered into the several corners of the world, and there is no corner where they are not; whereas the phrase is expressive of something that could and might have been done, but was not: moreover, to disperse them into the several parts of the world does not agree with what follows; for that, instead of making their remembrance to cease, would make them the more known, and the more to be remembered. But the word literally taken may be rendered, "I will corner them" (f); drive them up into a corner, and cut them off together, or search for them in, and ferret them out of, every corner in which they should get, and destroy them all: agreeably to which is the Targum of Onkelos,"mine anger shall rest upon them, and I will destroy them;''and so Aben Ezra interprets it of the destruction of them, and observes, that otherwise it would not agree with what follows. There may be an allusion in it to the corner of the field, which was ordered to be left to the poor, and not reaped, Leviticus 19:9; and so the sense is, I could and might have determined when the harvest of this land and people was come, or the time of wrath upon them, to cut down every corner, and leave none, no, not one standing stalk of corn, but make clean riddance of them:

I would make the remembrance of them cease from among men; as of the Amalekites, Moabites, Midianites, Edomites, Chaldeans, and others, whose names as well as nations are no more. This is what the enemies of the Jews plotted and conspired to do, Psalm 83:4; and what God could and might have done, but has not; the Jews continue to this day a distinct people, though it is now near 1900 years since the destruction of their city and temple, and their dispersion in the various parts of the world; which is what was never known of any other people in the like circumstances, and which is a most amazing and surprising event; the reasons of it follow.

(f) "angulabo illos", Oleaster, Vitringa; "ad angulos usque quaeram ipsos, seu ad verbum, angulabo ipsos", Van Till; "ab angulo succidam ipsos", Cocceius. Vid. Gusset. Ebr. Comment. p. 661.

I said, I would scatter them into corners, I would make the remembrance of them to cease from among men:
26. I would have said, I will] The meaning of the ensuing vb pa’ah is uncertain: cleave them in pieces (Dri. and the Oxf. Heb. Lex.) is hardly justified by the Ar. fa‘a, which means only to split; A.V., scatter them into corners, is founded on a doubtful etymology; R.V., scatter them afar, is due to the LXX διασπερῶ, which probably read another vb. The meaning adopted since Gesenius by most moderns, will blow them away, is, in view of the parallel line, the most probable.

26–33. The Stay of God’s Vengeance

26 ‘I had said, “I will blow them away (?)

And still among men their remembrance,”

27 Had I feared not the taunt of the foe,

Lest their enemies misconstrue,

And should say, “Our hand was high,

Nor was this the work of Jehovah!”

28 For a rede-lorn people are they,

And among them insight is not.

29 Were they wise this would they ken,

See through to their fate at the last.’

30 How could one have chased a thousand,

Or two put ten thousand to flight,

Were it not that their Rock had sold them

And the Lord had given them up!

Verses 26, 27. - Israel's desert was to be utterly destroyed, but God refrained from this for his own Name's sake. I said, I would scatter them into corners; rather, I should say, I trill blow them away, i.e. disperse them as by a mighty wind. The verb here is the Hiph, of פָאָה, to breathe, to blow, and is found only here. The rabbins make it a denominative from פֵאָה, a corner, and this the Authorized Version follows; others trace it to an Arabic root, פאא, amputavit, excidit, and render, "will cut them off." The idea intended to be conveyed is obviously that of entire destruction, and this is not satisfied by the representation of their being scared or driven into corners. Were it not that I feared the wrath of the enemy. Various renderings and interpretations of this passage have been given.

1. Were it not that I feared the provocation of the enemy, i.e. that I should be provoked to wrath by the enemy ascribing the destruction of Israel to their own prowess.

2. Were it not that I feared a wrath upon the enemy, with much the same meaning.

3. Were it not that I feared the fury of the enemy, i.e. against Israel - feared lest the enemy should be encouraged to rise up against Israel and ascribe their destruction to their own valor. Of these that most generally approved is the first. (On this reason for sparing Israel, see Deuteronomy 9:28; Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13, etc.; Isaiah 10:5, etc.; Ezekiel 20:13, 14.) Should behave themselves strangely; rather, should mistake or falsely pretend. The verb is the Piel of נָכַר, to look upon, to mark, and conveys the idea of looking on askance or prejudicially, hence being ignorant of, mistaking, feigning, or falsely pretending. Our hand is high; rather, was high, i.e. was mighty in power. Vers 28-33. - The cause of Israel's rejection was that they were a people utterly destitute of counsel and without understanding. Had they been wise, they would have looked to the end, and acted in a way conducive to their own welfare, instead of rushing upon ruin. Deuteronomy 32:26"I should say, I will blow them away, I will blot out the remembrance of them among men; if I did not fear wrath upon the enemy, that their enemies might mistake it, that they might say, Our hand was high, and Jehovah has not done all this." The meaning is, that the people would have deserved to be utterly destroyed, and it was only for His own name's sake that God abstained from utter destruction. אמרתּי to be construed conditionally requires לוּלי: if I did not fear (as actually was the case) I should resolve to destroy them, without leaving a trace behind. "I should say," used to denote the purpose of God, like "he said" in Deuteronomy 32:20. The ἁπ. λεγ. אפאיחם, which has been rendered in very different ways, cannot be regarded, as it is by the Rabbins, as a denom. verb from פּאה, a corner; and Calvin's rendering, "to scatter through corners," does not suit the context; whilst the meaning, "to cast or scare out of all corners," cannot be deduced from this derivation. The context requires the signification to annihilate, as the remembrance of them was to vanish from the earth. We get this meaning if we trace it to פּאה, to blow, - related to פּעה (Isaiah 42:14) and פּהה, from which comes פּה, - in the Hiphil "to blow away," not to blow asunder. השׁבּית, not "to cause to rest," but to cause to cease, delere (as in Amos 8:4). "Wrath upon the enemy," i.e., "displeasure on the part of God at the arrogant boasting of the enemy, which was opposed to the glory of God" (Vitringa). פּן, lest, after גּוּר, to fear. On this reason for sparing Israel, see Deuteronomy 9:28; Exodus 32:12; Numbers 14:13.; Isaiah 10:5. Enemy is a generic term, hence it is followed by the plural. נכר, Piel, to find strange, sc., the destruction of Israel, i.e., to mistake the reason for it, or, as is shown by what follows, to ascribe the destruction of Israel to themselves and their own power, whereas it had been the word of God. "Our hand was high," i.e., has lifted itself up or shown itself mighty, an intentional play upon the "high hand" of the Lord (Exodus 14:8; cf. Isaiah 26:11). - The reason why Israel did not deserve to be spared is given in Deuteronomy 32:28 : "For a people forsaken of counsel are they, and there is not understanding in them." "Forsaken of counsel," i.e., utterly destitute of counsel.

This want of understanding on the part of Israel is still further expounded in Deuteronomy 32:29-32, where the words of God pass imperceptibly into the words of Moses, who feels impelled once more to impress the word which the Lord had spoken upon the hearts of the people.

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