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the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 31

Trapp's Complete CommentaryTrapp's Commentary

Verse 1

And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.

Went and spake,i.e., Went on to speak, setting things in order before his death.

Verse 2

And he said unto them, I [am] an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.

I am a hundred and twenty, … — And so might well bespeak them, as Augustus once did his army, and pacified them thereby when they were in a mutiny; Audite senem iuvenes, quem iuvenem senes audierunt. Suetonius.

Verse 3

The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, [and] he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: [and] Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said.

And Joshua. — Called Jesus. Hebrews 4:8 A clear type of Jesus Christ. What Moses could not do because of the people’s unbelief - viz., to bring them to Canaan, Joshua did. So what Moses’s law could not do - viz., to bring us to heaven, because of the infirmity of our flesh, Christ by his gospel hath done for us. Romans 8:3

Verse 4

And the LORD shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed.

And the Lord shall do unto them. — Every former mercy is a pledge of a future.

Verse 5

And the LORD shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.

According to all the command,sc., To root them out utterly. Deuteronomy 20:16-17

Verse 6

Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he [it is] that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.

He will not fall thee. — Five times in holy Scriptures is this precious promise repeated; and in Hebrews 13:5 , made common to all believers, with a very deep asseveration.

Verse 7

And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.

For thou must go with this people. — As a worthy guide, to lead them to their rest temporal; so doth Christ all his to their rest eternal.

Verse 8

And the LORD, he [it is] that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.

He will not fail thee. — See on Deuteronomy 31:6 .

Verse 9

And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.

Unto the priests. — God’s library-keepers, his depositaries.

Unto all the elders of Israel. — As to the keepers of both tables.

Verse 11

When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.

Thou shalt read this law. — Which was nevertheless "read in their synagogues every Sabbath day." Acts 15:21 And by this reading, at the feast of Tabernacles, every seventh year, the original copy written by Moses, they might perceive that those copies that they had amongst them were right and authentic. It was ill ordered in our English Bibles of the new translation, that between the printers’ haste and correctors’ oversight, such foul errors have been lately committed, as Judas printed for Jesus in the great Bible. The Turkish Koran is written and to be read in Arabic, under pain of death not to mistake a letter, Lightfoot’s Miscellanies. which is as easily done in this tongue as in any.

Verse 13

And [that] their children, which have not known [any thing], may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.

That they may hear, and that they may learn. — Hearing and seeing are by the philosopher called the learned senses. Faith also comes by hearing, Romans 10:17 and the Spirit. Galatians 3:2

Verse 14

And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.

In the tabernacle,i.e., Before the door of it; and this was before the Lord himself. Deuteronomy 31:11

Verse 17

Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God [is] not among us?

And many evils and troubles. — As it befell Samson and Saul, when God was gone; πονος πονω πονον φερει , all miseries came trooping and treading one in the heels of another. So Ezekiel 9:10-11 . God makes many moves, and as he goes out, some judgment comes in upon the land.

Verse 18

And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.

Hide my face,i.e., Withdraw my favour, and therewith all good.

Verse 19

Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.

Put it in their mouths. — That out of their own mouths I may judge them; things made up in metre are better remembered. Before the knowledge of letters and writing, among the ancients it was a custom to sing their laws, lest they might forget them; used in the days of Aristotle, by the Agathyrsi, a people near to the Scythians.

Verse 20

For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.

Then they will turn to other gods. — A bee is quickly drowned if she gets into a pot of honey. "Prosperity slayeth the foolish."

Verse 21

And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.

For I know their imagination. — As a man that knows what roots he hath in his garden; though there be not a flower appears, yet he can say, when the spring comes, this and this will come up, because he knows the garden, and knows what roots are there: so the Lord knows our thoughts afar off, because he knows the principles that are within, and knows what they will do when occasion serves; he is privy to that root that beareth gall and wormwood. Deuteronomy 29:18

Verse 22

Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.

And taught it the children.

Metra parant animos, pristina cornmemorant.

Verse 23

And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.

I will be with thee. — This must needs put mettle into him; for "if God be with us, who can be against us?" Romans 8:31 See Trapp on " Romans 8:31 "

Verse 26

Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.

In the side of the ark. — That it might be heard and regarded as the very law of God, though penned by Moses. And indeed the Jews at this day show exceeding great respect to the law; no man may touch it but with the right hand, and without a kiss of reverence, nor carry it behind him, but lay it next to his heart in his travel; if it but fall to the ground, they institute a fast for it, … The very Turks have so high an esteem of Moses, that if they find any piece of his writings, be it but a torn paper, lying on the ground, they presently take it up and kiss it. Schicard. Weemse. Pareus, Prol. in Genes.

That it may be therefor a witness. — Hence haply the ark was called "the ark of the testimony." The law might be called the Doomsday Book; such a book there is in our common law, so called, saith Matthew Paris, because it spares no man.

Verse 29

For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt [yourselves], and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.

To provoke him to anger. — Which is the greatest folly that can be; for are we stronger than he? Can we imagine to make our party good with him? Surely as Ulysses’s companions told him, when he would needs provoke Polydamus,

Sχετλιε, πιπτ εθελεις ερεθιζεμεν αγριον ανδρα ;

May not we much more say so to them that will needs provoke the Lord, It is good for men to meddle with their equals, and not contend with him that is mightier than they?

Bibliographical Information
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 31". Trapp's Complete Commentary. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jtc/deuteronomy-31.html. 1865-1868.
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