Deuteronomy 31:12
Gather the people together, men and women, and children, and your stranger that is within your 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:
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
31:9-13 Though we read the word in private, we must not think it needless to hear it read in public. This solemn reading of the law must be done in the year of release. The year of release was typical of gospel grace, which is called the acceptable year of the Lord; for our pardon and liberty by Christ, engage us to keep his commandments. It must be read to all Israel, men, women, children, and to the strangers. It is the will of God that all people should acquaint themselves with his word. It is a rule to all, therefore should be read to all. Whoever has read of the pains taken by many persons to get scraps of the Scriptures, when a whole copy could not be obtained, or safely possessed, will see how thankful we should be for the thousands of copies amongst us. They will also understand the very different situation in which the Israelites were placed for many ages. But the heart of man is so careless, that all will be found too little, to keep up a knowledge of the truths, precepts, and worship of God.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. 10, 11. At the end of every seven years, … thou shalt read this law—At the return of the sabbatic year and during the feast of tabernacles, the law was to be publicly read. This order of Moses was a future and prospective arrangement; for the observance of the sabbatic year did not commence till the conquest and peaceful occupation of Canaan. The ordinance served several important purposes. For, while the people had opportunities of being instructed in the law every Sabbath and daily in their own homes, this public periodical rehearsal at meetings in the courts of the sanctuary, where women and children of twelve years were present (as they usually were at the great festivals), was calculated to produce good and pious impressions of divine truth amid the sacred associations of the time and place. Besides, it formed a public guarantee for the preservation, integrity, and faithful transmission of the Sacred Book to successive ages. Gather the people together; not into one place, where all could not hear, but into divers assemblies or synagogues.

Women hereby are required to go to Jerusalem at this solemnity, as they were permitted to do in other solemnities, when the males only were enjoined to go, Exodus 23:17.

Children, to wit, such of them as could understand, as appears from Nehemiah 8:2,3.

Thy stranger, i.e. the proselytes, though others also were admitted.

That they may learn; that they may then certainly and constantly do so, though they had also other opportunities to do so, as upon the sabbath days, Acts 15:21, and other solemn feasts, yea, even in their private houses. Gather the people together, men, and women, and children,.... At the three grand festivals in other years, only males were obliged to appear; women might if they would, but they were not bound to it; but at this time all of every age and sex were to be summoned and assembled together; and it is said (z), when the king read in the book of the law, all the people were obliged to come and bring their families, as it is said Deuteronomy 31:12; "gather the people", &c. and as it could not be done when it happened on the sabbath day, the reading of the section was put off to the day following:

and thy stranger that is within thy gates; not only the proselyte of righteousness, but the proselyte of the gate that renounced idolatry, for his further conviction and thorough conversion to the religion of the true God; or, as the Targum of Jonathan expresses it, that they might see the honour and glory of the law. The end is more fully expressed as follows:

that they may hear; all the laws which God had given:

and that they may learn; and attain unto the true knowledge and right understanding of them:

and fear the Lord your God; serve and worship him internally and externally, according to these laws:

and observe to do all the words of this law; so take notice of them as to put them in practice; and reading them in such a solemn and reverent manner made them the more servable, and raised the greater attention to them, to the importance of them; otherwise they were read in their families, and on sabbath days in their synagogues; see Deuteronomy 6:7 Acts 13:15.

(z) Bartenora in Misn. Megillah, c. 1. sect. 3.

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:
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
12. Assemble the people] Again Sg. confirmed by Sam. though LXX codd. have Pl. Cp. Deuteronomy 4:10, assemble me the people. On assemble see Deuteronomy 5:22. It is not necessary to take Assemble … gates as a later intrusion (Marti) on the grounds that the command to assemble the people is out of order after the previous v., for this may be explained by the looseness of the writer’s style and by the writer’s use of the Sg., for as we have seen there are reasons for supposing that this is original. On men, women … gates see Deuteronomy 29:11.

hear … learn … fear, etc.] See Deuteronomy 4:10, Deuteronomy 14:23, Deuteronomy 17:19.

observe to do] Deuteronomy 5:1; all the words of this law, Deuteronomy 5:9.Israel was therefore to be of good courage, and not to be afraid of them (vid., Deuteronomy 1:21; Deuteronomy 20:3).
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