The Meaning of Deuteronomy 4:12 Explained

Deuteronomy 4:12

KJV: And the LORD spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but saw no similitude; only ye heard a voice.

YLT: 'And Jehovah speaketh unto you out of the midst of the fire; a voice of words ye are hearing and a similitude ye are not seeing, only a voice;

Darby: And Jehovah spoke to you from the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of the words, but ye saw no form; only ye heard a voice.

ASV: And Jehovah spake unto you out of the midst of the fire: ye heard the voice of words, but ye saw no form; only ye heard a voice.

What does Deuteronomy 4:12 Mean?

Context Summary

Deuteronomy 4:1-14 - "take Heed To Thyself"
Strong faith was required by the two and a half tribes to leave their wives and children while they went to succor their brethren. But God's commands and assurances foreclosed all arguments. Whenever we are summoned to special service, we may consign the care of our personal interests to God. Seek first the kingdom, and all other things will be added.
Notice that Moses referred to the wondrous acts of the Exodus as only the beginning of God's wondrous works, Deuteronomy 3:24. Probably in the countless ages of eternity we shall always feel that we are witnessing only the beginning of God's self-revelation.
Moses, like Paul afterward, tried to reverse the divine decision. Compare Deuteronomy 3:23-25 and 2 Corinthians 12:8-9. Do not pray against God's will, but with it, 1 John 5:14. When God says No, there are always tender compensations, such as this Pisgah-vision.
Israel's tenure of Canaan depended on obedience to God's will, in statutes, including the ordinances of religion, and in judgments relating to civil matters. [source]

Chapter Summary: Deuteronomy 4

1  An exhortation to obedience
41  Moses appoints the three cities of refuge on that side of Jordan
44  Recapitulation

What do the individual words in Deuteronomy 4:12 mean?

and spoke Yahweh to you out of the midst of the fire the sound of the words You heard but form no saw only [you heard] a voice
וַיְדַבֵּ֧ר יְהוָ֛ה אֲלֵיכֶ֖ם מִתּ֣וֹךְ הָאֵ֑שׁ ק֤וֹל דְּבָרִים֙ אַתֶּ֣ם שֹׁמְעִ֔ים וּתְמוּנָ֛ה אֵינְכֶ֥ם רֹאִ֖ים זוּלָתִ֥י קֽוֹל

וַיְדַבֵּ֧ר  and  spoke 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Verb, Piel, Consecutive imperfect, third person masculine singular
Root: דָּבַר 
Sense: to speak, declare, converse, command, promise, warn, threaten, sing.
יְהוָ֛ה  Yahweh 
Parse: Proper Noun, masculine singular
Root: יהוה 
Sense: the proper name of the one true God.
אֲלֵיכֶ֖ם  to  you 
Parse: Preposition, second person masculine plural
Root: אֶל  
Sense: to, toward, unto (of motion).
מִתּ֣וֹךְ  out  of  the  midst 
Parse: Preposition-m, Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: תָּוֶךְ  
Sense: midst, middle.
הָאֵ֑שׁ  of  the  fire 
Parse: Article, Noun, common singular
Root: אֵשׁ  
Sense: fire.
ק֤וֹל  the  sound 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular construct
Root: קֹול 
Sense: voice, sound, noise.
דְּבָרִים֙  of  the  words 
Parse: Noun, masculine plural
Root: דָּבָר  
Sense: speech, word, speaking, thing.
שֹׁמְעִ֔ים  heard 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine plural
Root: שָׁמַע 
Sense: to hear, listen to, obey.
וּתְמוּנָ֛ה  but  form 
Parse: Conjunctive waw, Noun, feminine singular
Root: תְּמוּנָה  
Sense: form, image, likeness, representation, semblance.
אֵינְכֶ֥ם  no 
Parse: Adverb, second person masculine plural
Root: אַיִן 
Sense: nothing, not, nought n.
רֹאִ֖ים  saw 
Parse: Verb, Qal, Participle, masculine plural
Root: רָאָה 
Sense: to see, look at, inspect, perceive, consider.
זוּלָתִ֥י  only 
Parse: Preposition
Root: זוּלָה  
Sense: a removal, a putting away prep.
קֽוֹל  [you  heard]  a  voice 
Parse: Noun, masculine singular
Root: קֹול 
Sense: voice, sound, noise.