The Song of Haazinu in Devarim / Deuteronomy 32:1-43, also known as Shirat Haazinu, opens with an invocation of the heavens and the earth to listen (to give ear, א הַאֲזִינוּ הַשָּׁמַיִם וַאֲדַבֵּרָה וְתִשְׁמַע הָאָרֶץ אִמְרֵי-פִי). Here the heaven and the earth are called as witnesses. In the verses preceding Parashat Haazinu, the Lord tells Moshe to call all of the people to hear the teaching of the song of Haazinu.
Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:19-30
31:19 ‘Now therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel. 31:20 ‘For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant.
31:21 ‘Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants); for I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.’ 31:22 So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel. 31:23 Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, ‘Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and I will be with you.’ 31:24 It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete, 31:25 that Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, 31:26 ‘Take this book of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you. 31:27 ‘For I know your rebellion and your stubbornness; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the Lord; how much more, then, after my death? 31:28 ‘Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 31:29 ‘For I know that after my death you will act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the Lord, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands.’ 31:30 Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete.
יט וְעַתָּה כִּתְבוּ לָכֶם אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת וְלַמְּדָהּ אֶת-בְּנֵי-יִשְֹרָאֵל שִֹימָהּ בְּפִיהֶם לְמַעַן תִּהְיֶה-לִּי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת לְעֵד בִּבְנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל: [ששי] [שביעי כשהן מחוברין] כ כִּי-אֲבִיאֶנּוּ אֶל-הָאֲדָמָה | אֲשֶׁר-נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לַאֲבֹתָיו זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ וְאָכַל וְשָֹבַע וְדָשֵׁן וּפָנָה אֶל-אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וַעֲבָדוּם וְנִאֲצוּנִי וְהֵפֵר אֶת-בְּרִיתִי: כא וְהָיָה כִּי-תִמְצֶאן ָ אֹתוֹ רָעוֹת רַבּוֹת וְצָרוֹת וְעָנְתָה הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת לְפָנָיו לְעֵד כִּי לֹא תִשָּׁכַח מִפִּי זַרְעוֹ כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת-יִצְרוֹ אֲשֶׁר הוּא עֹשֶֹה הַיּוֹם בְּטֶרֶם אֲבִיאֶנּוּ אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבָּעְתִּי: כב וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת בַּיּוֹם הַהוּא וַיְלַמְּדָהּ אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל: כג וַיְצַו אֶת-יְהוֹשֻׁעַ בִּן-נוּן וַיֹּאמֶר חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ כִּי אַתָּה תָּבִיא אֶת-בְּנֵי יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶל-הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר-נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לָהֶם וְאָנֹכִי אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ: כד וַיְהִי | כְּכַלּוֹת מֹשֶׁה לִכְתֹּב אֶת-דִּבְרֵי הַתּוֹרָה-הַזֹּאת עַל-סֵפֶר עַד תֻּמָּם: [שביעי] כה וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה אֶת-הַלְוִיִּם נֹשְֹאֵי אֲרוֹן בְּרִית-יְהוָֹה לֵאמֹר: כו לָקֹחַ אֵת סֵפֶר הַתּוֹרָה הַזֶּה וְשַֹמְתֶּם אֹתוֹ מִצַּד אֲרוֹן בְּרִית-יְהוָֹה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְהָיָה-שָׁם בְּךָ לְעֵד: כז כִּי אָנֹכִי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת-מֶרְיְךָ וְאֶת-עָרְפְּךָ הַקָּשֶׁה הֵן בְּעוֹדֶנִּי חַי עִמָּכֶם הַיּוֹם מַמְרִים הֱיִתֶם עִם-יְהֹוָה וְאַף כִּי-אַחֲרֵי מוֹתִי: [מפטיר] כח הַקְהִילוּ אֵלַי אֶת-כָּל-זִקְנֵי שִׁבְטֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם וַאֲדַבְּרָה בְאָזְנֵיהֶם אֵת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וְאָעִידָה בָּם אֶת-הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת-הָאָרֶץ: כט כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אַחֲרֵי מוֹתִי כִּי-הַשְׁחֵת תַּשְׁחִתוּן וְסַרְתֶּם מִן-הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִי אֶתְכֶם וְקָרָאת אֶתְכֶם הָרָעָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים כִּי-תַעֲשֹוּ אֶת-הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי יְהֹוָה לְהַכְעִיסוֹ בְּמַעֲשֵֹה יְדֵיכֶם: ל וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה בְּאָזְנֵי כָּל-קְהַל יִשְֹרָאֵל אֶת-דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת עַד תֻּמָּם:
Based upon this “pre-text” (the previous Torah portion) the heavens and earth are not the primary, or even the intended audience of Shirat Ha’azinu. Just before recording the song, the Torah informs us that Moshe “spoke the words” of this song in the “ears” (וַאֲדַבְּרָה בְאָזְנֵיהֶם) of the entire community of Israel (31:30, וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה בְּאָזְנֵי כָּל-קְהַל יִשְֹרָאֵל). It is “in the ears” (בְּאָזְנֵי ) of the Children of Israel, the elders (כָּל-זִקְנֵי שִׁבְטֵיכֶם), the officers (וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם), and the community members that must hear the “speaking of these words.” The heavens and earth are summoned to listen along, to bear witness to the song and to its contents while Moshe speaks these words to the Children of Israel. What we have here is the heavens and the earth functioning as witnesses, this illustrates for us something the Lord is trying to tell us, the word of God is to be viewed as part of a larger witness.
It is not just this song, in its current form, either written or spoken, but all of Scripture constitutes an act of witnessing and testimony on behalf of God!
This is why we find in the Torah the instruction to take a copy of this scroll (the Torah) and to place it inside of the Ark of the Covenant as a witness against the people. The Word of God stands as an eternal testimony to the contents of this song which calls out a warning to those who would not believe by faith, and walk in faithfulness, to God’s Word. These words speak of the Lord God Almighty, functioning as a testimony to His Mercy, His Love, His power, and to the fear of the Lord. The opening phrase calling to the heavens and the earth seems to be textually related to the witness function of the song itself as stated in the previous Torah portion, and to the powerful testimony of all of Scripture in God’s plan for mankind. The importance (significance) of these words, is to teach these words to the Children, to “place it in their mouths” (Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:19). Yeshua also talked about this witnessing aspect of Scripture based upon what he said in John 5:39.
5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; (NASB)
Yeshua said that the Scriptures testify (bear witness) of who he is, the Messiah of God, establishing the fact that God’s Word bears witness. In the witness that Moshe wrote (31:19) the song describes upon entering the good and rich land, the people will become “fat” (31:20), they will forget about the God of Israel, they will engage in idol worship meaning that they will “turn to other gods” and “spurn” God Himself (31:20). As a result of this, many “evils” and “troubles” will befall the people. The prophet Isaiah explains what it means to turn from the Lord God Almighty.
55:6 Seek the Lord while He may be found; Call upon Him while He is near. 55:7 Let the wicked forsake his way And the unrighteous man his thoughts; And let him return to the Lord, And He will have compassion on him, And to our God, For He will abundantly pardon. 55:8 ‘For My thoughts are not your thoughts, Nor are your ways My ways,’ declares the Lord. (NASB)
ו דִּרְשׁוּ יְהֹוָה בְּהִמָּצְאוֹ קְרָאֻהוּ בִּהְיוֹתוֹ קָרוֹב: ז יַעֲזֹב רָשָׁע דַּרְכּוֹ וְאִישׁ אָוֶן מַחְשְׁבֹתָיו וְיָשֹׁב אֶל-יְהֹוָה וִירַחֲמֵהוּ וְאֶל-אֱלֹהֵינוּ כִּי-יַרְבֶּה לִסְלוֹחַ: ח כִּי לֹא מַחְשְׁבוֹתַי מַחְשְׁבוֹתֵיכֶם וְלֹא דַרְכֵיכֶם דְּרָכָי נְאֻם יְהֹוָה:
Isaiah states that the wicked are to forsake their ways (יַעֲזֹב רָשָׁע דַּרְכּוֹ), and the unrighteous man his thoughts. (וְאִישׁ אָוֶן מַחְשְׁבֹתָיו) Here wickedness is paralleled to how one lives life (our ways) and unrighteousness is paralleled to our thought life. The Lord God is interested not just in what we do, but also what we think in our hearts. Repentance includes both of these things. According to Parashat Haazinu, Moshe says the people will turn away from God, and in doing so will suffer the consequences. The Word of God testified of this, and studying the history of Israel, that is exactly what they did.
Contained within this idea of “witnessing” is related to the overarching purpose of the Torah and all of Scripture. The Torah is a guide for life and it is also a testimony. This is illustrated in the Ark of the Covenant (Devarim / Deuteronomy 31:9, 31:26) which was also known as the Ark of the Testimony (Shemot / Exodus 26:33, 40:3). Both of these names for the Ark are derived from the Lord commanding Moshe to put the tablets of the covenant into the Ark. The covenant of God contained in God’s Word (in the Torah) constitute the agreement and the promises of God to dwell in the midst of His people, where these things constitute a system of testimony to the covenant relationship that we have with Him. This is the point and purpose of our lives, to have a relationship with God and to live our lives as a testimony for God to others. All of Scripture is the story of a loving and merciful God entering into a covenant relationship with His people. In the Torah, within the context of His living in our midst, the Lord God sent his Son Yeshua the Messiah, to show us the way to eternal life. Having faith in God’s Messiah, the Lord sends His Spirit to dwell in our hearts empowering us to overcome sin and to bear His testimony before a lost and falling world. This is how Yeshua understood the Scriptures according to John 5:39 “You search the Scriptures because you think that in them you have eternal life; it is these that testify about Me; (NASB) Our lives are to be rooted and founded in the Messiah because in Him we have eternal life!