Deuteronomy 32:7

A kind of personal motto for me regarding this project – my ‘Notes on History’ – is Deuteronomy 32:7. I consulted all sorts of translations online and combined what I thought was the best of them. I first wrote a version years ago and created a graphic, using a blue color scheme, in Freehand. What happened to that file I don’t know. It is probably lurking somewhere on a CD and even possibly online.

I first recall reading this Bible passage probably more than a decade ago. It’s on a plaque on a building extension at Peoples Church, which our family attended for many years when I was growing up. I’d been to that church so many times, but had never really noticed this dedication plaque. It’s on the expansion building for the children’s program and library.

Most of the translations are very similar, but occasionally a new word or phrase crops up and stands out. Perhaps the weakest and strangest version is from The Message. The New Living Translation has the word inquire, which I really like. I decided to use the more provocative word question.

Some translations have cross-references, including the English Standard Version and the New American Standard Bible. The New Century Version, which I don’t know anything about, uses the word inform, but this seems a little dry. Teach and show are much better words. Young’s Literal Translation starts out well: “Understand the years of many generations.”

I like the phrases generation to generation, which is used in the Darby Translation, and years long past from the Holman Christian Standard Bible. “Think about what the Lord did through those many years” comes from the New International Reader’s Version.

The only line I really dislike from my version is “Dig into the past, understand your roots.” I am not sure what to do with it. I may just end up deleting it, but I’d like to somehow rewrite it. As it is now, the line just doesn’t seem to fit in with the rest of what’s written.

Remember the days of old
Consider the generations long past
Ask your father
He will show you
Question the elders
They will tell you

They will teach you and explain
The years of many generations
Dig into the past, understand your roots
Think about what has happened through those many years
So that you may pass understanding from generation to generation

— Deuteronomy 32:7*

* (Note: This is my own compilation from a variety of translations.)

AJH

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