Lately I have been reading through Deuteronomy and it has been amazing to see the diversity of genres that it contains. It includes narrative, law, and even poetry. Thanks be to God for giving us such a masterpiece that is infused with both history, moral imperative, and awe-inspiring beauty.
In Deuteronomy 32 we see one of the literary achievements of the Bible, The Song of Moses. It is a song that is to be sung by all generations of God’s people to remind them of God’s goodness and to hold them accountable to their covenant.
So to practice some of my (meager) Hebrew skills, I have decided to start working on a personal translation of this poem. Here is the first part of my translation vs. 1-3. Feel free to throw in some suggestions or insight (i.e. Ron Giese).
Lend me your ears, Oh Heavens, and let me speak,
Let the Earth hear the utterances of my mouth.
May my tradition drip like rain,
May my sayings fall like dew,
Like a light shower on sprouting grass,
Like a downpour upon crops.
For I will call upon the Name of the Lord,
Ascribe magnitude to our God!
Here are some brief observations that I have noticed so far. In vs. 1 Moses is beckoning the attention of all creation with the merism of Heavens and Earth. He continues his merism imagery in vs. 2 as he likens the desired effect of his words to rain from the Heavens falling upon the Earth. Both the Heavens and the Earth are interacting in a life producing relationship. We can see this in the poetic progression of both the rains and the earth. The rains go from mere dew, to a light shower, and end up with heavy rains. The earth goes from not being mentioned, to young grass, to agricultural crops. Each stage of vegetation is receiving its most specific need. I think Moses is trying to tell us that if we take his words to heart then we will have abundant life in any situation.
In vs. 3 it seems as if Moses is acting as a priest when he says he will call upon the name of the Lord and commands the creation to ascribe greatness to God. This is reminiscent of the Genesis 1 where man was to have dominion over all of creation and have it bring glory to God.
Let me know what you guys think about it. I know many of us have done some training in the languages. Even if you haven’t I think it would be really beneficial if we all start sharing some exegetical insights with each other. At the very least it will keep us sharp.