The Torah/Haazinu



As told in Deuteronomy 32:1–52, this is the story of the Torah reading Haazinu:

“My doctrine shall drop as the rain, my speech shall distil as the dew.” (Deuteronomy 32:2.)



Moses called on heaven and earth to hear his words, and asked that his speech be like rain and dew for the grass. Moses proclaimed that God was perfect in deed, just, faithful, true, and upright. God’s children were unworthy, a crooked generation that played God false, ill requiting the Creator. Moses exhorted the Israelites to remember that in ages past, God assigned the nations their homes and their due, but chose the Israelites as God’s own people. God found the Israelites in the desert, watched over them, guarded them, like an eagle who rouses his nestlings, gliding down to his young, God spread God’s wings and took Israel, bearing Israel along on God’s pinions, God alone guided Israel. God set the Israelites atop the highlands to feast on the yield of the earth and fed them honey, oil, curds, milk, lamb, wheat, and wine. So Israel grew fat and kicked and forsook God, incensed God with alien things, and sacrificed to demons and no-gods.



God saw, was vexed, and hid God’s countenance from them, to see how they would fare. For they were a treacherous breed, children with no loyalty, who incensed God with no-gods, vexed God with their idols; thus God would incense them with a no-folk and vex them with a nation of fools. A fire flared in God’s wrath and burned down to the base of the hills. God would sweep misfortunes on them, use God’s arrows on them — famine, plague, pestilence, and fanged beasts — and with the sword would deal death and terror to young and old alike.

Punishment restrained


God might have reduced them to nothing, made their memory cease among men, except for fear of the taunts of their enemies, who might misjudge and conclude that their own hand had prevailed and not God’s. For Israel’s enemies were a folk void of sense, lacking in discernment. Were they wise, they would think about this, and gain insight into their future, for they would recognize that one could not have routed a thousand unless God had sold them. They were like Sodom and Gomorrah and their wine was the venom of asps. God stored it away to be the basis for God’s vengeance and recompense when they should trip, for their day of disaster was near. God would vindicate God’s people and take revenge for God’s servants, when their might was gone. God would ask where the enemies’ gods were — they who ate the fat of their offerings and drank their libation wine — let them rise up to help! There was no god beside God, who dealt death and gave life, wounded and healed. God swore that when God would whet God’s flashing blade, and lay hand on judgment, God would wreak vengeance on God’s foes. God would make God’s arrows drunk with blood, as God’s sword devoured flesh, blood of the slain and the captive from the long-haired enemy chiefs. God would avenge the blood of God’s servants, wreak vengeance on God’s foes, and cleanse the land of God’s people.

view of the Dead Sea from Mount Nebo

Parting words


Moses came, together with Joshua, and recited all this poem to the people. And when Moses finished reciting, he told them to take his warnings to heart and enjoin them upon their children, for it was not a trifling thing but their very life at stake. That day God told Moses to ascend Mount Nebo and view the land of Canaan, for he was to die on the mountain, as his brother Aaron had died on Mount Hor, for they both broke faith with God when they struck the rock to produce water in the wilderness of Zin, failing to uphold God’s sanctity among the Israelite people.