The portion of Ha’azinu contains the song mentioned in the previous Torah portion (Vayeilech), which God told Moses to teach the Children of Israel so they would always understand the consequences of their actions. It ends with Moses preparing to die before the people cross into the Promised Land.
God’s Kindness to Israel
The song of Moses begins by calling on the heavens and the earth to bear witness to the teachings within. Moses describes God’s greatness in detail. Unlike His children, God is not corrupt. He is perfect and His works are perfect. He is Father and Master to the universe, He created and formed the whole world.
Moses says the knowledge of God shall be passed from generation to generation, each bearing witness to the fact that God set the land of Israel for the Children of Israel, that He apportioned it according to the numbers of each tribe, that He cared for the Israelites and showered them with blessings.
The Israel Bible explains that while man’s life is fleeting, heaven and earth are eternal. It is for this reason that Moses chooses to call them as witnesses. It is fitting that they should attest to the fulfillment of God’s word, no matter how long it takes.
Points to Ponder
Moses calls the Children of Israel “the lot of [God’s] inheritance”. What do you think that means?
Israel’s Ingratitude and God’s Wrath
In contrast to God’s steadfastness, Israel, Moses predicts, will become accustomed to God’s blessings and rebel. The nation will abandon God’s ways and provoke Him with idolatry. Then God will hide His face and cease to offer His protection for the threats of the outside world. Famine, suffering and war will besiege the people.
Moses says God will threaten to wipe out the nation, as he did during Moses’s own time, but ultimately He will refrain, if but to prevent the nations from believing they defeated God.
Moses then reminds the people there is always hope. God will relent of the suffering of His people, and turn against their enemies. He will demonstrate to the world that He alone possesses the power to alter the universe. He will rain havoc and death upon those who rose up against Israel and avenge them. Moses advises the nations of the world to sing the praises of the Children of Israel, for those who stand against the Israelites will ultimately suffer.
Points to Ponder
Why do you think God will seek retribution from the nations if He is the one Who decided the Israelites should suffer at their hands?
Moses Prepares for Death
When Moses finishes his song, which he sang with Joshua, he instructs the people to take heed of everything he has said and to teach it to their children. It is with these lessons that the people will cross the Jordan, and they will keep the nation prosperous in the land.
God then tells Moses to ascend Mount Nebo so that he may overlook the land of Israel before he dies. Just as Aaron died upon a mountain, God tells Moses he shall, too, and for the same reason: because the two brothers sinned against God at Meribath-kadesh, neither merited to enter the land with the nation.
Points to Ponder
Why do you think Joshua sang the song with Moses? If you look back at the previous portion, where the song is commanded (31:16-22), he is not included in the command, nor do the introductory comments note that Joshua participated (31:30).