Lectionary Calendar
Thursday, June 20th, 2024
the Week of Proper 6 / Ordinary 11
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 31

Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the BibleKretzmann's Commentary

Verses 1-13

The Charge to Joshua

v. 1. And Moses went, he appeared before the people in a last solemn farewell, and spake these words unto all Israel.

v. 2. And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day, Cf Exodus 7:7; I can no more go out and come in, his personal work before the people had now come to an end, Numbers 27:17; also the Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan, Numbers 20:24.

v. 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, take possession of all the land which had formerly belonged to the Canaanitish tribes and which they still occupied; and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the Lord hath said, Deuteronomy 3:28.

v. 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, Numbers 21:21-35.

v. 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, Deuteronomy 7:2-24; for the Lord's intention was to make it a war of extermination.

v. 6. Be strong and of a good courage, Deuteronomy 1:21; Deuteronomy 20:3; fear not, nor be afraid of them, Deuteronomy 7:18; for the Lord, thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee nor forsake thee, literally, He will not let thee sink down nor loosen His hold on thee; He would not leave them without His guiding, sustaining hand, nor indeed entirely forsake them.

v. 7. And Moses called unto Joshua and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, with formal solemnity, 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; as the future leader of the people he was bound, of course, to set them all the best example of steadfast courage.

v. 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 was not to sink down and shrink back in view of the magnitude of the task set before him.

v. 9. And Moses wrote this Law, the entire code of precepts as it had been transmitted to him by the Lord, and delivered it unto the priests, the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the Covenant of the Lord, Numbers 4:15, and unto all the elders of Israel; for these two classes were given permanent charge of Israel's ordinances and precepts, as being responsible for their promulgation and observance.

v. 10. And Moses commanded them, saying, at the end of every seven years, in the so called Sabbatical Year, in the solemnity of they ear of release, Deuteronomy 15:1-11, in the Feast of Tabernacles, the last great festival of the Jewish ecclesiastical pear,

v. 11. when all Israel is come to appear before the Lord, thy God, in the place which he shall choose, at the central Sanctuary, thou shalt read this Law before all Israel in their hearing, for that was the purpose for which they were entrusted with the written code of the Law, that they might proclaim and teach it.

v. 12. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is time in thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the Lord, your God, with that wholesome reverence and awe which flows from faith, and observe to do all the words of this Law;

v. 13. and that their children, which have not known anything, not having heard the proclamation of the various precepts by the mouth of Moses, 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, as long as they and their descendants occupied the land of Canaan. In this way the Law of the Lord was to be made pleasant and acceptable to the entire nation, and children and children's children were to treasure it as a precious gift of His mercy. Note the prominence given to the children at this point and the emphasis placed upon their being taught properly. We are also bound to the written Word of God, and if we are truly members of God's people, we shall be grateful for every opportunity to hear the proclamation of the Word of God and keep it with a cheerful observance.

Verses 14-30

The Lord's Charge to Moses and to the Levites

v. 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, the direct divine appointment to his office as leader of the people. And Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the Tabernacle of the Congregation.

v. 15. And the Lord appeared in the Tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud, Exodus 33:9; and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the Tabernacle, in demonstration of God's majesty and power.

v. 16. And the Lord said unto Moses, in a special discourse addressed to him alone, although in the presence of Joshua, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers, lie down in the sleep of death to await the great day of resurrection; and this people will rise up and go a-whoring, in every loathsome form of spiritual adultery, after the gods of the strangers of the land whither they go to be among them, it being implied that they would not exterminate all the Canaanitish tribes, and will forsake Me, and break My covenant which I have made with them.

v. 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, thus shutting them out from all mercy; and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them, literally "find them," as though after a deliberate search; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us? This realization would be forced upon them, and they would pronounce their judgment with their own mouths.

v. 18. And I will surely hide My face in that day for all the evils, in punishment of all the sins and transgressions, which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods, the sin of idolatry being the basis of all other transgressions of God's holy Law.

v. 19. Now, therefore, write ye, Moses and Joshua, this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel, in the form inspired and dictated by the Lord; put it in their mouths, that this song, which follows in the nest Chapter, may be a witness for Me against the children of Israel. The manner in which the song should be used as a witness is now explained.

v. 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, under the rich blessings of Jehovah, then will they turn unto other gods and serve them, as the Lord foresees and knows, and provoke Me, and break My covenant, by a particularly contemptuous, insulting rejection.

v. 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 in singing the praises of God's mercy it would remind them of their base ingratitude, and in holding out mercy to them in case they would repent, it would put them to shame; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed, being transmitted after the manner of a folk-song, it would live on among the people; for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware; the Lord was aware, by virtue of His omniscience, that they would realize their evil intentions and perform their idolatrous purpose.

v. 22. Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, obeying the divine command, as narrated in detail below, and taught it the children of Israel.

v. 23. And He, Jehovah, 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. Thus the Lord Himself, formally and solemnly, inducted Joshua, into office, by assuring him of His permanent assistance.

v. 24. And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this Law in a book until they were finished,

v. 25. that Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the Covenant of the Lord, the priests of the tribe of Levi charged with this special work, saying,

v. 26. Take this book of the Law, the five books of Moses, the Pentateuch, as Moses had written it to this point, and put it in the side of the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord, your God, to be stored and kept safe in that sacred chest, that it may be there for a witness against thee. It was a commentary upon the Decalog, and would testify against Israel in the case of every transgression.

v. 27. For I know thy rebellion and thy stiff neck, the callous and disobedient disposition of the people. Behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the Lord; and how much more after my death? Moses now formally gave the book of the Law into the charge of the Levitical priests, together with the song which he composed by the inspiration of Jehovah.

v. 28. Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, as the representatives of the people, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them, Deuteronomy 30:19.

v. 29. for I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, for so Moses had just been informed by Jehovah, 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, their idols and their idolatrous practices.

v. 30. And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, as given in the next Chapter, until they were ended. The great leader of Israel was faithful to the end, as a shining example to all whom the Lord places into positions of authority.

Bibliographical Information
Kretzmann, Paul E. Ph. D., D. D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 31". "Kretzmann's Popular Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/kpc/deuteronomy-31.html. 1921-23.
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