Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe you greatness to our God.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)Deuteronomy 32:3. I will publish the name of the Lord — His glorious excellences and righteous actions, by which he hath made himself known as a man is known by his name, and by which it will appear both that there is no blame to be laid upon him whatsoever befalls you, and that it is gross madness to forsake such a God for dumb idols. Ascribe ye — As I am about to publish the majesty and glory of God, so do you also acknowledge it.Isaiah 59:21). This is in accordance with the promises everywhere made in he Bible to the people of God (see Genesis 12:7; Genesis 13:15; Genesis 15:18; Genesis 17:7-8; Exodus 20:6; Deuteronomy 7:9; Psalm 89:4; Isaiah 43:5). It may be regarded, first, as a promise of the richest blessings to them as parents - since there is to a parent's heart no prospect so consoling as that which relates to his offspring; and, secondly, as an assurance of the perpetuity of their religion; of their return from captivity, and their restoration to their own land. The name of the Lord, i.e. his glorious excellencies and righteous and worthy actions, by which he hath made himself known, as a man is known by his name, and by which it will appear both that there is no blame to be laid upon him, whatsoever befalls you, and that it is gross madness to forsake such a God for dumb idols and mere vanities.
As I am about to publish the great power and majesty and glory of God, so do you also own and acknowledge it, as you have reason to do; or, do you attend to the words which God hath commanded me to speak to you in his name with that diligence, reverence, and godly fear which the presence of so great and glorious a Majesty calls for. Exodus 34:6; and this is to be understood, not of Jehovah the Father, nor of Jehovah the Spirit, but of Jehovah the Son, the rock whose work is perfect, and the rock of salvation, Deuteronomy 32:4; and not of any particular name of his, unless any of those mentioned can be thought to be intended; rather his perfections and attributes, or his Gospel, called his name, Acts 9:15; though his name may signify no other than himself, who is the sum and substance of the Gospel, and who, in his person, office, grace, and salvation, is to be published and proclaimed, openly and publicly, constantly and faithfully, and his name only; for there is no other under heaven whereby man can be saved:
ascribe ye greatness unto our God; to Christ, the rock of salvation, who is truly God, our God, God in our nature, God manifest in the flesh, and who is the great God, and our Saviour, and therefore greatness is to be ascribed to him: he is great in his person and perfections; his works are great, those of creation and providence, and particularly of redemption and salvation; he is great in his offices, a great Saviour, a great High priest, a great Prophet, a great King, and the great Shepherd of the sheep: those that are called upon to give greatness to him, which is his due, are the heavens and the earth, Deuteronomy 32:1; and both have, literally and figuratively considered, bore a testimony to his greatness; the heavens, at his birth a wonderful star appeared, directing the wise men to him; at his death the sun was darkened; at his ascension the heavens were opened and received him, and still retain him; even God in heaven, by a voice from thence, bore witness of him as his beloved Son, in whom he was well pleased; also by raising him from the dead, declaring him to be the Son of God with power, and by exalting him at his right hand as a Saviour, and by the effusion of the Spirit on his apostles, to preach and spread his Gospel; the angels in heaven ascribed greatness to him, by their worship of him when he came into the world, by the declaration they made of him at his incarnation, and by the testimony they bore to his resurrection, and by their subjection to him in all things: the church below, sometimes called heaven, in the book of the Revelation, ascribe all honour, glory, and greatness to him: the earth, the whole terraqueous globe, in it have been displayed the greatness of Christ, the power and glory of his divinity; in the sea by becoming a calm at his word of command, in the rocks by being rent at his death, and will be in both by delivering up the dead in them, at the last day: the inhabitants of the earth, especially the redeemed from among men, ascribe greatness to him, by attributing daily to him all the perfections of the Godhead, and the glory of their salvation: Aben Ezra says, Moses refers to the heavens and the earth, or respects them, and compares with this Psalm 19:1.Because I will publish the name of the LORD: ascribe ye greatness unto our God.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)3. proclaim the name of Jehovah] See J, Exodus 33:19, where name = character and is parallel to glory (Deuteronomy 32:18) as above, Deuteronomy 26:19, it is parallel to praise and honour. Both ideas, character and renown, are probably included here. Cp. Deuteronomy 12:5, Deuteronomy 28:58.
give ye greatness unto our God] Cp. Deuteronomy 3:24, Psalm 29:1 f.Verse 3. - I will publish the name of the Lord; literally, I will call, i.e. proclaim, or celebrate, etc. Ascribe ye greatness unto our God. The hearers of the song are summoned to join in the celebration of the Divine majesty. The word rendered" greatness" occurs only in this book (Deuteronomy 3:24; Deuteronomy 5:21; Deuteronomy 9:26; Deuteronomy 11:2), and in Psalm 150:2. It is the greatness of God as the Almighty that is here celebrated. Deuteronomy 31:24-27). על־ספר כּתב, to write upon a book, equivalent to write down, commit to writing. תּמּם עד, till their being finished, i.e., complete. By the "Levites who bare the ark of the covenant" we are not to understand ordinary Levites, but the Levitical priests, who were entrusted with the ark. "The Levites" is simply a contraction for the full expression, "the priests the sons of Levi" (Deuteronomy 31:9). It is true that, according to Numbers 4:4., the Kohathites were appointed to carry the holy vessels, which included the ark of the covenant, on the journey through the desert; but it was the priests, and not they, who were the true bearers and guardians of the holy things, as we may see from the fact that the priests had first of all to wrap up these holy things in a careful manner, before they handed them over to the Kohathites, that they might not touch the holy things and die (Numbers 4:15). Hence we find that on solemn occasions, when the ark was to be brought out in all its full significance and glory, - as, for example, in the crossing of the Jordan (Joshua 3:3., Deuteronomy 4:9-10), when encompassing Jericho (Joshua 6:6, Joshua 6:12), at the setting up of the law on Ebal and Gerizim (Joshua 8:33), and at the consecration of Solomon's temple (1 Kings 8:3), - it was not by the Levites, but by the priests, that the ark of the covenant was borne. In fact the Levites were, strictly speaking, only their (the priests') servants, who relieved them of this and the other labour, so that what they did was done in a certain sense through them. If the (non-priestly) Levites were not to touch the ark of the covenant, and not even to put in the poles (Numbers 4:6), Moses would not have handed over the law-book, to be kept by the ark of the covenant to them, but to the priests. ארון מצּד, at the side of the ark, or, according to the paraphrase of Jonathan, "in a case on the right side of the ark of the covenant," which may be correct, although we must not think of this case, as many of the early theologians do, as a secondary ark attached to the ark of the covenant (see Lundius, Jd. Heiligth. pp. 73, 74). The tables of the law were deposited in the ark (Exodus 25:16; Exodus 40:20), and the book of the law was to be kept by its side. As it formed, from its very nature, simply an elaborate commentary upon the decalogue, it was also to have its place outwardly as an accompaniment to the tables of the law, for a witness against the people, in the same manner as the song in the mouth of the people (Deuteronomy 31:21). For, as Moses adds in Deuteronomy 31:27, in explanation of his instructions, "I know thy rebelliousness, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord (vid., Deuteronomy 9:7); and how much more after my death."
With these words Moses handed over the complete book of the law to the Levitical priests. For although the handing over is not expressly mentioned, it is unquestionably implied in the words, "Take this book, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant," as the finishing of the writing of the laws is mentioned immediately before. But if Moses finished the writing of the law after he had received instructions from the Lord to compose the ode, what he wrote will reach to Deuteronomy 31:23; and what follows from Deuteronomy 31:24 onwards will form the appendix to his work by a different hand.
(Note: The objection brought against this view by Riehm, namely, that "it founders on the fact that the style and language in Deuteronomy 31:24-30 and Deuteronomy 32:44-47 are just the same as in the earlier portion of the book," simply shows that he has not taken into consideration that, with the simple style adopted in Hebrew narrative, we could hardly expect in eleven verses, which contain for the most part simply words and sayings of Moses, to find any very striking difference of language or of style. This objection, therefore, merely proves that no valid arguments can be adduced against the view in question.)
The supposition that Moses himself inserted his instructions concerning the preservation of the book of the law, and the ode which follows, is certainly possible, but not probable. The decision as to the place where it should be kept was not of such importance as to need insertion in the book of the law, since sufficient provision for its safe keeping had been made by the directions in Deuteronomy 31:9.; and although God had commanded him to write the ode, it was not for the purpose of inserting it on the Thorah as an essential portion of it, but to let the people learn it, to put it in the mouth of the people. The allusion to this ode in Deuteronomy 31:19. furnishes no conclusive evidence, either that Moses himself included it in the law-book which he had written with the account of his oration in Deuteronomy 31:28-30 and Deuteronomy 32:1-43, or that the appendix which Moses did not write commences at Deuteronomy 31:14 of this chapter. For all that follows with certainty from the expression "this song" (Deuteronomy 31:19 and Deuteronomy 31:22), which certainly points to the song in ch. 32, is that Moses himself handed over the ode to the priests with the complete book of the law, as a supplement to the law, and that this ode was then inserted by the writer of the appendix in the appendix itself.
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