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Deuteronomy 32:8-11 New English Translation (NET Bible)

When the Most High[a] gave the nations their inheritance,
when he divided up humankind,[b]
he set the boundaries of the peoples,
according to the number of the heavenly assembly.[c]
For the Lord’s allotment is his people,
Jacob is his special possession.[d]
10 The Lord[e] found him[f] in a desolate land,[g]
in an empty wasteland where animals howl.[h]
He continually guarded him[i] and taught him;[j]
he continually protected him[k] like the pupil[l] of his eye.
11 Like an eagle that stirs up[m] its nest,
that hovers over its young,
so the Lord[n] spread out his wings and took him,[o]
he lifted him up on his pinions.

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 32:8 tn The Hebrew term עֶלְיוֹן (ʿelyon) is an abbreviated form of the divine name El Elyon, frequently translated “God Most High” (so here NCV, CEV) or something similar. This full name (or epithet) occurs only in Gen 14, though the two elements are parallel in Pss 73:11; 107:11; etc. Here it is clear that Elyon has to do with the nations in general whereas in v. 9, by contrast, Yahweh relates specifically to Israel. See T. Fretheim, NIDOTTE 1:400-401. The title depicts God as the sovereign ruler of the world, who is enthroned high above his dominion.
  2. Deuteronomy 32:8 tn Heb “the sons of man” (so NASB); or “the sons of Adam” (so KJV).
  3. Deuteronomy 32:8 tc Heb “the sons of Israel.” The idea, perhaps, is that Israel was central to Yahweh’s purposes and all other nations were arranged and distributed according to how they related to Israel. See S. R. Driver, Deuteronomy (ICC), 355-56. For the MT יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּנֵי (bene yisraʾel, “sons of Israel”) a Qumran fragment has “sons of God,” while the LXX reads ἀγγέλων θεοῦ (angelōn theou, “angels of God”), presupposing בְּנֵי אֵל (bene ʾel) or בְּנֵי אֵלִים (bene ʾelim). “Sons of God” is undoubtedly the original reading; the MT and LXX have each interpreted it differently. MT assumes that the expression “sons of God” refers to Israel (cf. Hos. 1:10), while LXX has assumed that the phrase refers to the angelic heavenly assembly (Pss 29:1; 89:6; cf. as well Ps 82). The phrase is also attested in Ugaritic, where it refers to the high god El’s divine assembly. According to the latter view, which is reflected in the translation, the Lord delegated jurisdiction over the nations to his angelic host (cf. Dan. 10:13-21), while reserving for himself Israel, over whom he rules directly. For a defense of the view taken here, see M. S. Heiser, “Deuteronomy 32:8 and the Sons of God,” BSac 158 (2001): 52-74.
  4. Deuteronomy 32:9 tc Heb “the portion of his inheritance.” The LXX and Smr add “Israel” and BHS suggests the reconstruction: “The Lord’s allotment is Jacob, the portion of his inheritance is Israel” (cf. NAB). While providing good parallelism, it destroys a fine chiastic structure: “allotment” (a), “his people” (b), “Jacob (b’), and “inheritance” (a’).
  5. Deuteronomy 32:10 tn Heb “he.” The referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  6. Deuteronomy 32:10 tn The reference is to “his people/Jacob” (cf. v. 9), that is, Israel (using a collective singular). The singular pronouns are replaced by plural ones throughout vv. 10-14 by some English versions as an aid to the modern reader (cf. NAB, NCV, TEV, NLT).
  7. Deuteronomy 32:10 tn Heb “a land of wilderness.” A מִדְבָּר (midbar, “wilderness”) refers to a dry region which is characterized as receiving less than twelve inches of rain per year. It therefore cannot support trees and may or may not have sparse vegetation (if receiving less than six inches of rain). The point of the poetic image is that it is desolate.
  8. Deuteronomy 32:10 tn Heb “in an empty, howling wasteland.” The word “howling” is derived from a verbal root that typically refers to the wailing of mourners. Here it likely refers to the howling of desert animals, or perhaps to the howling wind, in which case one may translate, “in an empty, windy wasteland.”
  9. Deuteronomy 32:10 tn Heb “was surrounding him.” The distinctive form of the suffix on this verb form indicates that the verb is an imperfect, not a preterite. As such it draws attention to God’s continuing care during the period in view. See A. F. Rainey, “The Ancient Hebrew Prefix Conjugation in the Light of Amarnah Canaanite,” Hebrew Studies 27 (1986): 15-16.
  10. Deuteronomy 32:10 tn Heb “he gave him understanding.” The form of the suffix on this verb form indicates that the verb is a preterite, not an imperfect. As such it simply states the action factually. See A. F. Rainey, “The Ancient Hebrew Prefix Conjugation in the Light of Amarnah Canaanite,” Hebrew Studies 27 (1986): 15-16.
  11. Deuteronomy 32:10 tn The distinctive form of the suffix on this verb form indicates that the verb is an imperfect, not a preterite. As such it draws attention to God’s continuing protection during the period in view. See A. F. Rainey, “The Ancient Hebrew Prefix Conjugation in the Light of Amarnah Canaanite,” Hebrew Studies 27 (1986): 15-16.
  12. Deuteronomy 32:10 tn Heb “the little man.” The term אִישׁוֹן (ʾishon) means literally “little man,” perhaps because when one looks into another’s eyes he sees himself reflected there in miniature. See A. Harman, NIDOTTE 1:391.
  13. Deuteronomy 32:11 tn The prefixed verbal form is an imperfect, indicating habitual or typical behavior. The parallel verb (cf. “hovers” in the next line) is used in the same manner.
  14. Deuteronomy 32:11 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the Lord) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  15. Deuteronomy 32:11 tn The form of the suffix on this and the following verb forms (cf. “lifted him up”) indicates that the verbs are preterites, not imperfects. As such they simply state the action factually. The use of the preterite here suggests that the preceding verb (cf. “spread out”) is preterite as well.
New English Translation (NET)

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