Deuteronomy 32:21
They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(21)“They have made me jealous with a no-god;

They have provoked me with their vanities:

And I will make them jealous with a no-people;

With a foolish nation will I provoke them.”

St. Paul comments on this in Romans 10, as proving that Israel was informed of the calling of the Gentiles, and compares Isaiah 65:1, “I was found of them that sought me not. I made myself manifest unto those that inquired not after me.”

Rashi quotes, perhaps not quite inappropriately Isaiah 23:13, and gives this explanation, “A no-people,” i.e., a nation without a name; as it is said, “Behold the land of the Chaldseans: this people was not.”

Deuteronomy 32:21. They have provoked me to anger with their vanities — By vanities here are meant the fictitious deities of the nations with whose worship the Israelites corrupted themselves: see Jeremiah 8:19; Jeremiah 14:22. I will move them to jealousy, &c. — God here threatens to repay their frequent revolts from him in their own kind, in a way most mortifying to their proud spirits; by causing the very Gentile nations, whom they much despised, not only to become their masters and conquerors, but also to be taken into his covenant, while they themselves were excluded from it. See Matthew 21:43-44; Romans 10:19. With those that are not a people — With the heathen nations, who were none of God’s people, who scarce deserved the flame of a people, as being without the knowledge and fear of God, which is the foundation of all true policy and government, and many of them destitute of all government, laws, and order. And yet these people God declares he will take in their stead, receive them, and reject the Israelites, which when it came to pass, how desperately did it provoke the Jews to jealousy! A foolish nation — So the Gentiles were, both in the opinion of the Jews, and in truth and in reality, notwithstanding all their pretences to wisdom, there being nothing more foolish or brutish than the worship of idols.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. With those which are not a people, i.e. with the Gentile or heathenish nations, who are none of my people, who scarce deserve the name of a people, as being without yoke, without the knowledge and fear of God, which is the foundation of all true policy and government, and without righteous and necessary laws; and many of them are destitute of all government, and laws, and order, barbarous and rude, and savage, and brutish in their manners. And yet these people I will prefer before you, and take in your stead; receive them, and reject you; which, when it came to pass, how desperately it provoked the Jews to jealousy, may be gathered from Matthew 21:43 Acts 11:2,3 22:21-23 1 Thessalonians 2:15,16.

A foolish nation; so the Gentiles were both in the opinion of the Jews, and in truth and reality, notwithstanding all their pretences to wisdom, Romans 1:22, there being nothing more foolish or brutish than the worship of idols. See Jeremiah 10:8 1 Corinthians 12:2. They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God,.... With a false messiah; for after the death of Jesus, the true Messiah, God as well as man, many false Christs arose, as he predicted, and were received for a time, who were mere men, and deceivers; and their now vainly expected messiah, or whom they look for, according to their own sense of him, is no other than a mere creature, and not God: or with the idol of their own righteousness; which, as an idol is nothing in the world, that is, nothing in the business of justification, and put in the room of Christ highly provokes the Lord to jealousy:

they have provoked me to anger with their vanities; such were their false Christs they in vain trusted in, and such the idol of their own righteousness they set up, but could not make to stand; and such were the traditions of their elders; they put upon an equality with, or above the word of God; all which stirred up the wrath and anger of God against them:

and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people: this is not to be understood of any particular nation, but of the Gentiles in general, and of God's elect among them, and of the calling of them; which would be provoking to the Jews, as the Apostle Paul has taught us to understand it, Romans 10:19. These were not the people of God, or not my people, as he says Romans 9:25; In some sense indeed they were his people, being chosen by him, and taken into covenant with him; for he is God not of the Jews only, but of the Gentiles also; and those were given to Christ as his people, and are his other sheep which were not of the Jewish fold; and who were redeemed by him to be a peculiar people out of every kindred, tongue, people, and nation, all which was before their calling: yet, in another sense they were not his people; they were without any spiritual privileges, the word and ordinances, without the knowledge of God and Christ, without communion with them; they were not a people near unto the Lord, he had not laid hold on and formed them for himself in regeneration and conversion; they were not reckoned the people of God, nor called so, and especially by the Jews, who accounted themselves to be the only people of God; see Ephesians 2:11,

I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation; either the Romans in particular are meant, so called because of their gross idolatry, to which they were addicted, who otherwise in their political affairs were a wise and understanding people; to these Judea became a province, and were subject to tribute; and by the exactions of the Romans, and their ill usage of them, they were provoked to rise against them, which issued in their ruin: or rather the Gentiles in general, who might be called foolish because of their superstition and idolatry, ignorance, and blindness in religious matters, and especially were so in the account of the Jews; and the elect of God among them in particular, who in their state of unregeneracy were foolish, as all unregenerate men are; both their principles and practices were foolish, and they were the foolish things of the Gentile world that God chose and called: and the calling of them was exceedingly provoking to the Jews; which was as if a man, moved to jealousy by the behaviour of his wife, should strip her of her ornaments and jewels, and reject her as his wife; and take another before her eyes of mean estate, and marry her, and put her ornaments on her, to which the allusion is; for the Lord, being moved to jealousy by the conduct of the Jewish nation towards him, rejected them from being his people, and stripped them of all their privileges, civil and religious, and took the Gentiles in the room of them, and so in just retaliation moved them to jealousy and wrath. It was displeasing to the carnal Jews to hear of the prophecies of the calling of the Gentiles, Romans 10:20; and the first display of grace to them was resented even by believing Jews themselves at first, Acts 11:2. The anger of the Scribes and Pharisees on this account is thought by some to be hinted at in the parable of the two sons, Luke 15:27. The Jews were offended with Christ for eating with publicans, the Roman tax gatherers, and were greatly displeased when he told them the kingdom of God would be taken from them, and given to another nation, Matthew 9:10 Matthew 21:43. Their rage and envy were very great when the Gospel was first preached to the Gentiles, Acts 13:41; and there is such an extraordinary instance of their spite and malice to the Gentiles, and of their jealousy and anger they were moved unto, as is not to be paralleled, 1 Thessalonians 2:15.

They have moved me to jealousy with that which is not God; they have provoked me to anger with their vanities: and I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a {n} people; I will provoke them to anger with a foolish nation.

(n) Which I have not favoured, nor given my law to them.

EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
21. moved … to jealousy] See on Deuteronomy 32:16. Mark the antitheses: no-god (lo’-’el), no-people (lo’-‘am, as hitherto outside the nations known and to be reckoned with, by Israel, as unfit to serve any Divine purpose); and vanities (lit. breaths, or as we should say, bubbles, so in Jer. of the heathen gods, Deuteronomy 8:19, etc.) and foolish (nabal, chosen perhaps both because of its probable root-meaning fading, worthless, parallel to vanities, and because it was used in a religious sense, godless, infidel). See Paul’s application of the v. in Romans 10:19.

22 For a fire has flared from my wrath,

And burned to the lowest Shĕ’ól,

It devours earth and her increase,

It flames round the roots of the hills.

23 I will sweep up evils upon them,

Against them exhaust mine arrows.

24 Drained by famine, devoured by fever (?)

And poisonous pestilence (?),

The teeth of brute beasts will I send them,

With venom of things that crawl in the dust.

25 Abroad shall the sword bereave,

And terror be in the chambers—

As well the youth as the maiden,

The suckling and gray-headed man.Verse 21. - (Cf. Deuteronomy 5:16.) Because they had moved God to jealousy and provoked him to anger by their vanities, their nothingnesses, mere vapors and empty exhalations (הִבְלָים; cf. Jeremiah 10:6; John 2:8; 1 Corinthians 8:4); as they had forsaken him for a no-God, he would send retribution on them by adopting as his a no-people, and giving to a foolish nation, i.e. a nation not before possessed of that true wisdom the beginning of which is the fear of the Lord, the privileges and blessings which Israel had forfeited by their apostasy. By "a no-people" is not to be understood a savage tribe not yet formed into a community, but a people without God, and not recognized by him as in covenant union with him (cf. Romans 10:19; Ephesians 2:12; 1 Peter 2:10). Israel had repaid its God for all these benefits by a base apostasy. - Deuteronomy 32:15. "But Righteous-nation became fat, and struck out - thou becamest fat, thick, gross - and let go God who made him, and despised the rock of his salvation." So much is certain concerning Jeshurun, that it was an honourable surname given to Israel; that it is derived from ישׁר, and describes Israel as a nation of just or right men (a similar description to that given by Balaam in Numbers 23:10), because Jehovah, who is just and right (Deuteronomy 32:4), had called it to uprightness, to walk in His righteousness, and chosen it as His servant (Isaiah 44:2). The prevalent opinion, that Jeshurun is a diminutive, and signifies rectalus, or "little pious" (Ges. and others), has no more foundation than the derivation from Israel, and the explanation, "little Israel," since there is no philological proof that the termination un ever had a diminutive signification in Hebrew (see Hengstenberg, Balaam, p. 415); and an appellatio blanda et charitativa is by no means suitable to this passage, much less to Deuteronomy 33:5. The epithet Righteous-nation, as we may render Jeshurun, was intended to remind Israel of its calling, and involved the serverest reproof of its apostasy. "By placing the name of righteous before Israel, he censured ironically those who had fallen away from righteousness; and by thus reminding them with what dignity they had been endowed, he upbraided them with the more severity for their guilt of perfidy. For in other places (sc., Deuteronomy 33:5, Deuteronomy 33:26) Israel is honoured with an eulogium of the same kind, without any such sinister meaning, but with simple regard to its calling; whilst here Moses shows reproachfully how far they had departed from that pursuit of piety, to the cultivation of which they had been called" (Calvin). The words, "became fat, and struck out," are founded upon the figure of an ox that had become fat, and intractable in consequence (vid., Isaiah 10:27; Hosea 4:16; and for the fact itself, Deuteronomy 6:11; Deuteronomy 8:10; Deuteronomy 31:20). To sharpen this reproof, Moses repeats the thought in the form of a direct address to the people: "Thou hast become fat, stout, gross." Becoming fat led to forsaking God, the Creator and ground of its salvation. "A full stomach does not promote piety, for it stands secure, and neglects God" (Luther). נבּל is no doubt a denom. verb from נבל, lit., to treat as a fool, i.e., to despise (vid., Micah. Deu 7:6).
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