Deuteronomy 31:1
And Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel.
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(1) And Moses went and spake.—The expression is unusual. Possibly it means “went on to speak.” The Palestine Targum has, “He went into the house of instruction and spake.” The LXX. have apparently preserved a different reading, and say, “And Moses made an end of speaking these words” (like Deuteronomy 32:45), as if the Hebrew were vay’cal instead of vay-yelek. A transposition of two letters would make all the difference.

(2) I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in.—The description of Moses’ death in Deuteronomy 34:7, says, “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated.” Yet he may have felt within himself that his work was done. “I have no longer authority, for the authority is taken from me and given into the hand of Joshua” is one interpretation. And it suits with what follows. “The Lord hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.”

(3) The Lord thy God, he will go over before thee . . . Joshua, he shall go over before thee.—Can it be accidental that Jehovah and Joshua are spoken of in exactly the same language, and that there is no distinguishing conjunction between them, the “and” of the English Version being supplied? “Jehovah, He is going over; Joshua, he is going over.” Verbally, the two are as much identified as “The God who fed me all my life long unto this day, the Angel that redeemed me from all evil” (Genesis 48:15-16). The prophetical truth of this identification is too remarkable to be missed.

(4) As he did to Sihon and to Og.—The value of these two conquests, before Israel passed the Jordan, was inestimable, as an encouragement to them to persevere.

(5) According unto all the commandments.—The Hebrew word for “commandments” is in the singular, Mitzvah, the principle of action.

(6) Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid.—Here this is addressed to the people in the plural number. The same thing is said to Joshua in the next verse.

(7, 8) And Moses called unto Joshua.—In these words Moses formally delivers the charge of the people to Joshua, to lead them over Jordan.

He will not fail thee, neither forsake thee.—Repeated by Jehovah Himself (Joshua 1:5). “Will not let thee go” is the exact meaning of “fail” here. Comp. Deuteronomy 9:14, “let me alone.”

Deuteronomy 31:1-2. Went and spake — Continued to speak, a usual Hebrew phrase. Go out and come in — Perform the office of a leader or governor, because my death approaches.31:1-8 Moses assures Israel of the constant presence of God with them. This is applied by the apostle to all God's spiritual Israel, to encourage their faith and hope; unto us is this gospel preached, as well as unto them; he will never fail thee, nor forsake thee, Heb 13:5. Moses commends Joshua to them for a leader; one whose wisdom, and courage, and affection they had long known; one whom God had appointed to be their leader; and therefore would own and bless. Joshua is well pleased to be admonished by Moses to be strong and of good courage. Those shall speed well, who have God with them; therefore they ought to be of good courage. Through God let us do valiantly, for through him we shall do victoriously; if we resist the devil, he will flee from us.That thou mayest love the Lord - Compare Deuteronomy 6:5. Love stands first as the essential and only source of obedience.

He is thy life - Or, "that" (i. e., "to love the Lord") "is thy life;" i. e., the condition of thy life and of its prolongation in the promised land. Compare Deuteronomy 4:40; Deuteronomy 32:47.


De 31:1-8. Moses Encourages the People and Joshua.

1. Moses went and spake—It is probable that this rehearsal of the law extended over several successive days; and it might be the last and most important day on which the return of Moses to the place of assembly is specially noticed. In drawing his discourse towards a conclusion, he adverted to his advanced age; and although neither his physical nor intellectual powers had suffered any decay (De 34:7), yet he knew, by a special revelation, that the time had arrived when he was about to be withdrawn from the superintendence and government of Israel.Moses declares to the people his approaching death, and encourageth them, and Joshua, Deu 31:1-8. He delivereth the law unto the priests to read it every seventh year to the people, Deu 31:9-13. God putteth Joshua into his office; foretelleth to Moses and him the future disobedience and misery of the people; enjoineth Moses a song to testify against the people, Deu 31:14-23. Moses chargeth the Levites to lay up the book of the law beside the ark of the covenant, Deu 31:24-27 assembleth all the people to hear his song, Deu 31:28-30.

Went and spake, i.e. proceeded or continued to speak, a usual Hebrew phrase. Or, went to the place where he had assembled the people, that he might speak to them.

And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel. The following words, even to the whole body of the people summoned together on this occasion. It seems that after Moses had made the covenant with them he was directed to, he dismissed the people to their tents, and went to his own, and now returned, having ordered them to meet him again, very probably at the tabernacle; with which agrees the Targum of Jonathan, he"went to the tabernacle of the house of doctrine;''though, according to Aben Ezra, he went to the each tribes separately, as they lay encamped; his words are these,"he went to every tribe and tribe, to acquaint them that he was about to die, and that they might not be afraid, and to strengthen their hearts;''he adds,"in my opinion he then blessed them, though their blessings are afterwards written;''which is not improbable. And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.
1. went and spake these words] This can only refer to something preceding; see small print above. But LXX read finished speaking these words.Verse 1. - And Moses went; i.e. disposed or set himself. The meaning is not that he "went away" into the tent of teaching, as one of the Targums explains it (London Polyglot, tom. 4. p. 377), which does not agree with what follows; nor is "went" merely equivalent to "moreover;" nor is it simply redundant; - it intimates that the speaking was consequent on Moses having arranged, disposed, or set himself to speak (cf. Exodus 2:1; Joshua 9:4; Job 1:4). In conclusion, Moses sums up the contents of the whole of this preaching of the law in the words, "life and good, and death and evil," as he had already done at Deuteronomy 11:26-27, in the first part of this address, to lay the people by a solemn adjuration under the obligation to be faithful to the Lord, and through this obligation to conclude the covenant afresh. He had set before them this day life and good ("good" equals prosperity and salvation), as well as death and evil (רע, adversity and destruction), by commanding them to love the Lord and walk in His ways. Love is placed first, as in Deuteronomy 6:5, as being the essential principle of the fulfilment of the commandments. Expounding the law was setting before them life and death, salvation and destruction, because the law, as the word of God, was living and powerful, and proved itself in every man a power of life or of death, according to the attitude which he assumed towards it (vid., Deuteronomy 32:47). נדּח, to permit oneself to be torn away to idolatry (as in Deuteronomy 4:19).
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