Deuteronomy 32:42
I will make my arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges on the enemy.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(42) My sword shall devour flesh.—Comp. Isaiah 66:16 : “For by fire and by His sword will the Lord plead with all flesh, and the slain of the Lord shall be many”

With blood.—Literally, from the blood of the slain and of the captivity, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. Judgment must begin at the house of God, as it did in Ezekiel’s vision (Ezekiel 9:6), “and begin at my sanctuary;” but it will not end there.

32:39-43 This conclusion of the song speaks, 1. Glory to God. No escape can be made from his power. 2. It speaks terror to his enemies. Terror indeed to those who hate him. The wrath of God is here revealed from heaven against them. 3. It speaks comfort to his own people. The song concludes with words of joy. Whatever judgments are brought upon sinners, it shall go well with the people of God.From the beginning of revenges upon the enemy - Render, (drunk with blood) from the head (i. e. the chief) of the princes of the enemy. 32. vine of Sodom … grapes of gall—This fruit, which the Arabs call "Lot's Sea Orange," is of a bright yellow color and grows in clusters of three or four. When mellow, it is tempting in appearance, but on being struck, explodes like a puffball, consisting of skin and fiber only. Of the captives; whom my sword hath sorely wounded, though not utterly killed.

From the beginning of revenges upon the enemy, i.e. when once I begin to revenge myself and my people upon mine and their enemies, I will go on and make a full end. Or, with the head, or with the blood of the head, i.e. of the chief or chiefs, of the revenges of the enemy, i. e. of the revengeful or malicious enemy of God and of his people. The noun substantive is oft put for the adjective; as Genesis 17:5, a multitude of nations is put for many nations, Romans 4:17 Genesis 45:22, changes of raiment, i.e. changeable raiment; and Psalm 99:4, the king’s strength, i.e. the strong and mighty king; and so here, the revenges of the enemy, i.e. the revengeful enemy. And by the head may be here understood either the devil, or the beads and rulers of those empires which were enemies to God’s people. Or, of the head shall be the revenges upon the enemies, i.e. I will take vengeance upon all mine enemies, yea, upon the head or heads of them. I will make mine arrows drunk with blood,.... Signifying, that by various judgments he would bring upon them, which, like arrows, would come suddenly, fly swiftly, and pierce deeply, there would be a prodigious effusion of blood like that in Revelation 14:20; so that these arrows, which cause it, being plunged and soaked, and covered in it, may be said to be inebriated with it, just as the sword is said to be bathed and filled with blood, Isaiah 34:5; which prophecy respects the same vengeance of Christ on the selfsame enemies of his as here; and as the whore of Rome is said to be drunken with the blood of the saints and martyrs of Jesus, the arrows of her destruction are represented in just retaliation as drunk with her blood, Revelation 17:6,

and my sword shall devour flesh: the flesh of kings, of captains, of mighty men, of horses, and of them that sit on them the flesh of all men, bond and free, small and great, Revelation 19:18; that is, shall destroy great multitudes of men:

and that with the blood of the slain, and of the captives; that is, his arrows should be drunk not only with the blood of these that were wounded and killed, but of the captives; who commonly are spared, but in this case should not, their blood should be shed: it may be rendered, "because of the blood of the slain", &c. (y); because of the blood of the saints whom they have killed, and carried captive, and who have died in prisons:

from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy; or "of the enemy"; that is, from the time the enemy began to oppress the saints, and take revenge on them, and shed their blood; all that blood shall be found in them that has been from the beginning shed, and charged to their account, and revenged on them; just as the blood of all the righteous, from the beginning of the world, was brought upon the Jews, Matthew 23:35. The Targum of Jerusalem is,"from the heads of their mighty men, the generals of their armies;''to, which agrees the Septuagint version,"from the head of the princes of the enemies;''and so may refer to the head or heads of the antichristian people, the pope of Rome, and his princes, the cardinals, and all the antichristian kings and states, the captains and generals of their armies, which will be brought to Armageddon, and there destroyed, see Psalm 68:21.

(y) "propter sanguinem", Pagninus, Tigurine version.

I will make mine arrows drunk with blood, and my sword shall devour flesh; and that with the blood of the slain and of the captives, from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
42. and the captives] Assigned to death later.

leaders] So LXX ἀρχόντων, Heb. para‘ôth, Ar. fara‘, to excel; A.V. beginning of revenges from the analogy of Aram. phara. In Numbers 6:5, Ezekiel 44:20, pere‘ = flowing locks. Cp. W. R. Smith on Jdg 5:2, in Black’s Judges, in Smaller Cambridge Bible for Schools.

43 Sing, O ye nations, His people,

For His servants’ blood He avengeth,

And vengeance He wreaks on His foes,

And assoils the land of His people.Verse 42. - My sword shall devour flesh; literally, shall eat flesh; "the edge of the sword is called its mouth, because, like a mouth, it is said to eat and devour" (Gesenius). From the beginning of revenges upon the enemy. Different renderings of this have been given: LXX., ἀπὸ κεφαλῆς ἀρχόντων ἐχθρῶν, "from the head of the hostile princes;" "from the head of the chiefs of the enemy" (Geseuius, Furst, Rosenmüller); "from the hairy head of the foe" (Keil, Herxheimer, Knobel). פְרַעות, the plural of פֶרַע, hair, locks, signifies primarily hairs, and a head of hairs, and may be taken as equivalent to "a hairy head;" but the word is also used in the sense of "princes" or "chiefs" (probably because such were distinguished by copious flowing locks; cf. Judges 5:2); hence the rendering, "head of the chiefs." The former is to be preferred here, for why chiefs or princes should be referred to in this connection does not appear (cf. Psalm 68:22). The rendering of the Authorized Version is wholly unauthorized. This verse presents an instance of alternate parallelism; each half falls into two members, and of the four members thus constituted, the third corresponds to the first, and the fourth to the second; thus -

a "I will make my arrows drunk with blood,

b And my sword shall devour flesh;

a' With the blood of the slain and the captives,

b' From the hairy head of the foe." "Vengeance is Mine, and retribution for the time when their foot shall shake: for the day of their destruction is near, and that which is determined for them cometh hastily. For the Lord will judge His people, and have compassion upon His servants, when He seeth that every hold has disappeared, and the fettered and the free are gone." - The Lord will punish the sins of His people in due time. "Vengeance is Mine:" it belongs to Me, it is My part to inflict. שׁלּם is a noun here for the usual שׁלּוּם, retribution (vid., Ewald, 156, b.). The shaking of the foot is a figure representing the commencement of a fall, or of stumbling vid., Psalm 38:17; Psalm 94:18). The thought in this clause is not, "At or towards the time when their misfortune begins, I will plunge them into the greatest calamity," as Kamphausen infers from the fact that the shaking denotes the beginning of the calamity; and yet the vengeance can only be completed by plunging them into calamity, - a though which he justly regards as unsuitable, though he resorts to emendations of the text in consequence. But the supposed unsuitability vanishes, if we simply regard the words, "Vengeance is Mine, and retribution," not as the mere announcement of a quality founded in the nature of God, and residing in God Himself, but as an expression of the divine energy, with this signification, I will manifest Myself as an avenger and recompenser, when their foot shall shake. Then what had hitherto been hidden with God, lay sealed up as it were in His treasures, should come to light, and be made manifest to the sinful nation. God would not delay in this; for the day of their destruction was near. איד signifies misfortune, and sometimes utter destruction. The primary meaning of the word cannot be determined with certainty. That it does not mean utter destruction, we may see from the parallel clause. "The things that shall come upon them," await them, or are prepared for them, are, according to the context, both in Deuteronomy 32:26 and also in Deuteronomy 32:36., not destruction, but simply a calamity or penal judgment that would bring them near to utter destruction. Again, these words do not relate to the punishment of "the wicked deeds of the inhuman horde," or the vengeance of God upon the enemies of Israel (Ewald, Kamphausen), but to the vengeance or retribution which God would inflict upon Israel. This is evident, apart from what has been said above against the application of Deuteronomy 32:33, Deuteronomy 32:34, to the heathen, simply from Deuteronomy 32:36, which unquestionably refers to Israel, and has been so interpreted by every commentator. - The first clause is quoted in Romans 12:19 and Hebrews 10:30, in the former to warn against self-revenge, in the latter to show the energy with which God will punish those who fall away from the faith, in connection with Deuteronomy 32:36, "the Lord will judge His people." - In Deuteronomy 32:36 the reason is given for the thought in Deuteronomy 32:35. דּין is mostly taken here in the sense of "procure right," help to right, which it certainly often has (e.g., Psalm 54:3), and which is not to be excluded here; but this by no means exhausts the idea of the word. The parallel יתנחם does not compel us to drop the idea of punishment, which is involved in the judging; for it is a question whether the two clauses are perfectly synonymous. "Judging His people" did not consist merely in the fact that Jehovah punished the heathen who oppressed Israel, but also in the fact that He punished the wicked in Israel who oppressed the righteous. "His people" is no doubt Israel as a whole (as, for example, in Isaiah 1:3), but this whole was composed of righteous and wicked, and God could only help the righteous to justice by punishing and destroying the wicked. In this way the judging of His people became compassion towards His servants. "His servants" are the righteous, or, speaking more correctly, all who in the time of judgment are found to be the servants of God, and are saved. Because Israel was His nation, the Lord judged it in such a manner as not to destroy it, but simply to punish it for its sins, and to have compassion upon His servants, when He saw that the strength of the nation was gone. יד, the hand, with which one grasps and works, is a figure employed to denote power and might (vid., Isaiah 28:2). אזל, to run out, or come to an end (1 Samuel 9:7; Job 14:11). The meaning is, "when every support is gone," when all the rotten props of its might, upon which it has rested, are broken (Ewald). The noun אפס, cessation, disappearance, takes the place of a verb. The words עזוּב עצוּר are a proverbial phrase used to denote all men, as we may clearly see from 1 Kings 14:10; 1 Kings 21:21; 2 Kings 4:8; 2 Kings 14:6. The literal meaning of this form, however, cannot be decided with certainty. The explanation given by L. de Dieu is the most plausible one, viz., the man who is fettered, restrained, i.e., married, and the single or free. For עזוּב the meaning caelebs is established by the Arabic, though the Arabic can hardly be appealed to as proving that עצוּר means paterfamilias, as this meaning, which Roediger assigns to the Arabic word, is founded upon a mistaken interpretation of a passage in Kamus.
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