Joshua Becomes Israel’s Leader
1When Moses had finished giving these instructions#31:1 As in Dead Sea Scrolls and Greek version; Masoretic Text reads Moses went and spoke. to all the people of Israel, 2he said, “I am now 120 years old, and I am no longer able to lead you. The Lord has told me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan River.’ 3But the Lord your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy the nations living there, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua will lead you across the river, just as the Lord promised.
4“The Lord will destroy the nations living in the land, just as he destroyed Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites. 5The Lord will hand over to you the people who live there, and you must deal with them as I have commanded you. 6So be strong and courageous! Do not be afraid and do not panic before them. For the Lord your God will personally go ahead of you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
7Then Moses called for Joshua, and as all Israel watched, he said to him, “Be strong and courageous! For you will lead these people into the land that the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them. You are the one who will divide it among them as their grants of land. 8Do not be afraid or discouraged, for the Lord will personally go ahead of you. He will be with you; he will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
Public Reading of the Book of Instruction
9So Moses wrote this entire body of instruction in a book and gave it to the priests, who carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant, and to the elders of Israel. 10Then Moses gave them this command: “At the end of every seventh year, the Year of Release, during the Festival of Shelters, 11you must read this Book of Instruction to all the people of Israel when they assemble before the Lord your God at the place he chooses. 12Call them all together—men, women, children, and the foreigners living in your towns—so they may hear this Book of Instruction and learn to fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the terms of these instructions. 13Do this so that your children who have not known these instructions will hear them and will learn to fear the Lord your God. Do this as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to occupy.”
Israel’s Disobedience Predicted
14Then the Lord said to Moses, “The time has come for you to die. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the Tabernacle,#31:14 Hebrew Tent of Meeting; also in 31:14b. so that I may commission him there.” So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the Tabernacle. 15And the Lord appeared to them in a pillar of cloud that stood at the entrance to the sacred tent.
16The Lord said to Moses, “You are about to die and join your ancestors. After you are gone, these people will begin to worship foreign gods, the gods of the land where they are going. They will abandon me and break my covenant that I have made with them. 17Then my anger will blaze forth against them. I will abandon them, hiding my face from them, and they will be devoured. Terrible trouble will come down on them, and on that day they will say, ‘These disasters have come down on us because God is no longer among us!’ 18At that time I will hide my face from them on account of all the evil they commit by worshiping other gods.
19“So write down the words of this song, and teach it to the people of Israel. Help them learn it, so it may serve as a witness for me against them. 20For I will bring them into the land I swore to give their ancestors—a land flowing with milk and honey. There they will become prosperous, eat all the food they want, and become fat. But they will begin to worship other gods; they will despise me and break my covenant. 21And when great disasters come down on them, this song will stand as evidence against them, for it will never be forgotten by their descendants. I know the intentions of these people, even now before they have entered the land I swore to give them.”
22So that very day Moses wrote down the words of the song and taught it to the Israelites.
23Then the Lord commissioned Joshua son of Nun with these words: “Be strong and courageous, for you must bring the people of Israel into the land I swore to give them. I will be with you.”
24When Moses had finished writing this entire body of instruction in a book, 25he gave this command to the Levites who carried the Ark of the Lord’s Covenant: 26“Take this Book of Instruction and place it beside the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord your God, so it may remain there as a witness against the people of Israel. 27For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Even now, while I am still alive and am here with you, you have rebelled against the Lord. How much more rebellious will you be after my death!
28“Now summon all the elders and officials of your tribes, so that I can speak to them directly and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29I know that after my death you will become utterly corrupt and will turn from the way I have commanded you to follow. In the days to come, disaster will come down on you, for you will do what is evil in the Lord’s sight, making him very angry with your actions.”
The Song of Moses
30So Moses recited this entire song publicly to the assembly of Israel: