And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.
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 an hundred and twenty years old - The 40 years of the wandering had passed since Moses, then 80 years old, "spake unto Pharaoh" (Exodus 7:7; Compare Deuteronomy 34:7).
I can, no more go out and come in - Render I shall not longer be able to go out and come in: i. e., discharge my duties among you. There is no inconsistency with Deuteronomy 34:7. Moses here adverts to his own age as likely to render him in future unequal to the active discharge of his office as leader of the people: the writer of Deuteronomy 34:1-12, one of Moses' contemporaries, remarks of him that up to the close of life "his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated" Deuteronomy 31:7; i. e. that he was to the last, in the judgment of others, in full possession of faculties and strength.
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 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 give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.
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.
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.
Moses hands over to Joshua that office as leader of the people, to which he had already been designated Deuteronomy 1:38; Numbers 27:23. He assigns also to the Levitical priests and the elders, as the ecclesiastical and civil heads of the nation, the responsibility of teaching the law and enforcing its observance Deuteronomy 31:10-13. Both these were symbolic acts, designed to mark the responsibility of the parties concerned after the death of Moses.
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.
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.
And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,
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.
Compare the marginal references. It is not to be supposed that the whole of the Pentateuch was read, nor does the letter of the command require that it should be so. This reading could not be primarily designed for the information and instruction of the people, since it only took place once in seven years; but was evidently a symbolic transaction, intended, as were so many others, to impress on the people the conditions on which they held possession of their privileges and blessings.
Gather the people together, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law:
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.
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.
The transaction recorded in these verses may be regarded as the solemn inauguration of Joshua to the office to which he had some time before Numbers 27:22 been called, and his recognition in it by God, which were manifested by his being summoned into the tabernacle with Moses while the Lord appeared in the pillar of cloud (compare Numbers 11:25; Numbers 12:5).
And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.
The future apostasy of the people is announced in the presence of Joshua that the latter might be fully aware of the danger and strive in his day to avert it. This he faithfully did (compare Joshua 24:31); but we find him in his own last address to Israel repeating Joshua 23:15-16 the self-same prediction and warning.
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 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.
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.
A witness for me against them - i. e., an attestation from their own mouths at once of God's benefits, their own duties, and their deserts when they should fall away. Being in verse it would be the more easily learned and kept in memory. The use of songs for such didactic purposes was not unknown to the legislators of antiquity. Compare also the advice of Paul, "teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs" Colossians 3:16.
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.
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.
Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.
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.
He gave - i. e., the Lord gave.
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,
Moses completes the writing out of the book of the Law, and directs it to be placed by the ark of the covenant.
That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying,
The Levites, which bare the ark - i. e., as in Deuteronomy 31:9, "the priests the sons of Levi." The non-priestly Levites could not so much as enter the sanctuary or touch the ark (compare Numbers 4:15). Though in the journeys through the wilderness the ark was borne by the non-priestly Kohathites, yet on occasions of a more solemn and public character it was carried by the priests themselves (Joshua 3:3 ff, Joshua 4:9-10; Joshua 6:6, Joshua 6:12; Joshua 8:33; 1 Kings 8:3).
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.
Put it in the side of the ark - Rather, by the side of the ark. The two tables of the Decalogue were in the ark 1 Kings 8:9; the Book of the Law was to be laid up in the holy of holies close by the ark of the covenant, probably in a chest. Compare 2 Kings 22:8.
For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?
How much more after my death - Hence, Deuteronomy 31:24 and the rest of the book (with the exception of the song, Deuteronomy 31:19) must be regarded as a kind of appendix added after Moses' death by another hand; though the Blessing Deuteronomy 33 is of course to be regarded as a composition of Moses.
Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.
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.
And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.