The Lord’s Leadership.
1When Moses had finished speaking these words to all Israel, 2he said to them, I am now one hundred and twenty years old#a. [31:2] Dt 1:37; 3:23–28; 4:21–24; 34:7; Gn 6:3; Ex 7:7; Nm 20:12; Acts 7:23, 30. and am no longer able to go out and come in; besides, the Lord has said to me, Do not cross this Jordan. 3It is the Lord, your God, who will cross before you; he will destroy these nations before you, that you may dispossess them.#b. [31:3] Dt 1:30–33; 3:22, 28; 9:3. (It is Joshua who will cross before you, as the Lord promised.) 4#c. [31:4] Dt 2:26–3:7; 3:21–22; Nm 21:21–35. The Lord will deal with them just as he dealt with Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and with their country, when he destroyed them. 5When, therefore, the Lord delivers them up to you, you shall deal with them according to the whole commandment which I have given you.#d. [31:5] Dt 7:1–5; 20:16–18. 6Be strong and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the Lord, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.#e. [31:6] Dt 1:29; 20:3–4.
Call of Joshua.
7Then Moses summoned Joshua and in the presence of all Israel said to him,#f. [31:7–8] Dt 1:21; 31:23; Jos 1:6–9; 10:25. “Be strong and steadfast, for you shall bring this people into the land which the Lord swore to their ancestors he would give them; it is you who will give them possession of it. 8It is the Lord who goes before you; he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed.”#g. [31:8] Ex 3:12; Jos 1:5, 17; 3:7; 2 Sm 7:9.
The Reading of the Law.
9#h. [31:9–13] Dt 31:24–27. When Moses had written down this law, he gave it to the levitical priests who carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel.#i. [31:9] Dt 10:1–5, 8. 10Moses commanded them, saying, On the feast of Booths,#j. [31:10–12] Dt 12:5; 15:1–11; 16:13–15; 2 Kgs 23:2; Neh 8:1–8. at the prescribed time in the year for remission#The year for remission: cf. 15:1–3 and note there. which comes at the end of every seven-year period, 11when all Israel goes to appear before the Lord, your God, in the place which he will choose, you shall read this law aloud in the presence of all Israel. 12Assemble the people—men, women and children, as well as the resident aliens who live in your communities—that they may hear and so learn to fear the Lord, your God, and to observe carefully all the words of this law. 13Their children also, who do not know it yet, shall hear and learn to fear the Lord, your God, as long as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess.
Commission to Joshua.
14#k. [31:14–15] Ex 33:7–11; Nm 12:5. The Lord said to Moses, The time is now approaching for you to die. Summon Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting that I may commission him. So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting. 15And the Lord appeared at the tent in a column of cloud; the column of cloud stood at the entrance of the tent.
A Command to Moses.
16The Lord said to Moses, Soon you will be at rest with your ancestors, and then this people will prostitute themselves#Prostitute themselves: lit., “whore after,” a play on the phrase “go after,” viz. after other gods. by following the foreign gods among whom they will live in the land they are about to enter.#l. [31:16] Dt 32:16–17; Ex 34:15–16; Jgs 2:11–23; 8:27, 33; 1 Kgs 11:1–10; 2 Kgs 17:7–41; Jer 11:9–10; Hos 4:12; 9:1. They will forsake me and break the covenant which I have made with them. 17#m. [31:17–18] Dt 1:42; 32:19–25; Nm 14:42. At that time my anger will flare up against them; I will forsake them and hide my face from them; they will become a prey to be devoured, and much evil and distress will befall them. At that time they will indeed say, “Is it not because our God is not in our midst that these evils have befallen us?” 18Yet I will surely hide my face at that time because of all the evil they have done in turning to other gods. 19Now, write out this song#n. [31:19] Dt 6:6–9; 31:21; 32:1–43. for yourselves. Teach it to the Israelites and have them recite it, so that this song may be a witness for me against the Israelites. 20For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey which I promised on oath to their ancestors, and they have eaten and are satisfied and have grown fat, if they turn to other gods and serve them, despising me and breaking my covenant, 21then, when great evil and distress befall them, this song will speak to them as a witness, for it will not be forgotten if their descendants recite it. For I know what they are inclined to do even at the present time, before I have brought them into the land which I promised on oath. 22So Moses wrote this song that same day, and he taught it to the Israelites.
Commission of Joshua.
23Then he commissioned Joshua, son of Nun, and said to him, Be strong and steadfast, for it is you who will bring the Israelites into the land which I promised them on oath.#o. [31:23] Dt 31:7–8; Nm 27:15–23; Jos 1:1–9. I myself will be with you.
The Law Placed in the Ark.
24When Moses had finished writing out on a scroll the words of this law in their entirety, 25Moses gave the Levites#p. [31:24–25] Dt 31:9. who carry the ark of the covenant of the Lord this order: 26Take this book of the law and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord, your God, that there it may be a witness against you.#q. [31:26] Dt 10:1–5; Ex 40:20; 1 Kgs 8:9. 27For I already know how rebellious and stiff-necked you will be. Why, even now, while I am alive among you, you have been rebels against the Lord! How much more, then, after I am dead!#r. [31:27] Dt 9:6–7, 22–24. 28#s. [31:28] Dt 31:12–13, 19–22; 30:19; 32:1–43. Assemble all your tribal elders and your officials before me, that I may speak these words for them to hear and so may call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29#t. [31:29] Jgs 2:11–23. For I know that after my death you are sure to act corruptly and to turn aside from the way along which I commanded you, so that evil will befall you in time to come because you have done what is evil in the Lord’s sight, and provoked him by your deeds.
The Song of Moses.
30Then Moses recited the words of this song in their entirety, for the whole assembly of Israel to hear: