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Deuteronomy 4:18-20 New English Translation (NET Bible)

18 anything that crawls[a] on the ground, or any fish in the deep waters under the earth.[b] 19 When you look up[c] to the sky[d] and see the sun, moon, and stars—the whole heavenly creation[e]—you must not be seduced to worship and serve them,[f] for the Lord your God has assigned[g] them to all the people[h] of the world.[i] 20 You, however, the Lord has selected and brought from Egypt, that iron-smelting furnace,[j] to be his special people[k] as you are today.


  1. Deuteronomy 4:18 tn Heb “creeping thing.”
  2. Deuteronomy 4:18 tn Heb “under the earth.”
  3. Deuteronomy 4:19 tn Heb “lest you lift up your eyes.” In the Hebrew text vv. 16-19 are subordinated to “Be careful” in v. 15, but this makes for an unduly long sentence in English.
  4. Deuteronomy 4:19 tn Or “heavens.” The Hebrew term שָׁמַיִם (shamayim) may be translated “heaven(s)” or “sky” depending on the context.
  5. Deuteronomy 4:19 tn Heb “all the host of heaven.”
  6. Deuteronomy 4:19 tn In the Hebrew text the verbal sequence in v. 19 is “lest you look up…and see…and be seduced…and worship them…and serve them.” However, the first two actions are not prohibited in and of themselves. The prohibition pertains to the final three actions. The first two verbs describe actions that are logically subordinate to the following actions and can be treated as temporal or circumstantial: “lest, looking up…and seeing…, you are seduced.” See Joüon 2:635 §168.h.
  7. Deuteronomy 4:19 tn Or “allotted.”
  8. Deuteronomy 4:19 tn Or “nations.”
  9. Deuteronomy 4:19 tn Heb “under all the heaven.”sn The OT views the heavenly host as God’s council, which surrounds his royal throne ready to do his bidding (see 1 Kgs 22:19). God has given this group, sometimes called the “sons of God” (cf. Job 1:6; 38:7; Ps 89:6), jurisdiction over the nations. See Deut 32:8 (LXX). Some also see this assembly as the addressee in Ps 82. While God delegated his council to rule over the nations, he established a theocratic government over Israel and ruled directly over his chosen people via the Mosaic covenant. See v. 20, as well as Deut 32:9.
  10. Deuteronomy 4:20 tn A כּוּר (kur) was not a source of heat but a crucible (“iron-smelting furnace”) in which precious metals were melted down and their impurities burned away (see I. Cornelius, NIDOTTE 2:618-19); cf. NAB “that iron foundry, Egypt.” The term is a metaphor for intense heat. Here it refers to the oppression and suffering Israel endured in Egypt. Since a crucible was used to burn away impurities, it is possible that the metaphor views Egypt as a place of refinement to bring Israel to a place of submission to divine sovereignty.
  11. Deuteronomy 4:20 tn Heb “to be his people of inheritance.” The Lord compares his people to valued property inherited from one’s ancestors and passed on to one’s descendants.
New English Translation (NET)

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