SONG OF MOSES.
Poem found in Deut. xxxii. 1-43. It is said that "Moses spake in the ears of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song" (Deut. xxxi. 30, R. V.; comp. ib. xxxii. 44). The song exhibits striking originality of form; nowhere else in the Old Testament are prophetic thoughts presented in poetical dress on so large a scale.
The poem opens with an exordium (verses 1-3) in which heaven and earth are summoned to hear what the poet is to utter. In verses 4-6 the theme is defined: it is the rectitude and faithfulness of
The general plan of the poem resembles that of Ps. lxxviii., cv., cvi., and the prose of Ezek. xx., as well as the allegories of Ezek. xvi. and xxiii. In the Song of Moses, however, the theme is treated with greater completeness and with superior poetic power.—Critical View:
The poet was also an artist. Conspicuous literary ability and artistic skill are manifested in the development of his theme. His figures are diversified and forcible; the parallelism is unusually regular. One of the best examples of poetic simile in the Bible occurs in verses 11 and 12 of this song:
"Like a vulture, that stirreth up its nest, That hovereth over its young, He spread abroad His wings, He took him, He bore him upon His pinion:
Yhwhalone did lead him; And no foreign god was with Him."
The conditions presupposed by the poem render the Mosaic authorship of it impossible. The Exodus and the wilderness wanderings lie in the distant past. The writer's contemporaries may learn of them from their fathers (verse 7). The Israelites are settled in Palestine (verses 13-14); sufficient time has passed for them not only to fall into idolatry (verses 15-19), but to be brought to the verge of ruin. They are pressed hard by heathen foes (verse 30); but
On the other hand, there are many points of contact, both in expression and in theological conception, with the prophets of the eighth to the fifth century
- Kamphausen, Das Lied Moses, 1862;
- Klostermann, in Studien und Kritiken, 1871, pp. 249 et seq.; 1872, pp. 230 et seq., 450 et seq.;
- Stade's Zeitschrift, 1885, pp. 297 et seq.;
- Cornill, Einleitung in das Alte Testament, 1891, pp. 70 et seq.,
- Driver, Deuteronomy, in International Critical Commentary, 1895, pp. 344 et seq.;
- Steuernagel, Deuteronomium, in Nowack's Handkommentar, 1900, pp. 114 et seq.;
- Bertholet, Deuteronomium, in K. H. C. 1899, pp. 94 et seq.