Deuteronomy 31:23
And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for you shall bring the children of Israel into the land which I swore to them: and I will be with you.
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EXPOSITORY (ENGLISH BIBLE)
(23) And he (Jehovah) gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge.—This is the first record of God’s direct communion with Joshua. He was with Moses on the mount during the first forty days, and “departed not out of the Tabernacle” when they came down (Exodus 24:13; Exodus 33:11). But we have no note of any Divine communication made to Joshua apart from Moses before this. It ratifies Joshua’s appointment as leader of Israel.

Be strong . . .—Comp. Joshua 1:2; Joshua 1:6.

31:23-30 The solemn delivery of the book of the law to the Levites, to be deposited in, or rather by the side, of the ark, is again related. The song which follows in the next chapter is delivered to Moses, and by him to the people. He wrote it first, as the Holy Spirit taught him; and then spake it in the hearing of all the people. Moses tells them plainly, I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves. Many a sad thought, no doubt, it occasioned to this good man; but his comfort was, that he had done his duty, and that God would be glorified in their dispersion, if not in their settlement, for the foundation of God stands sure.He gave - i. e., the Lord gave. 19. Now therefore write ye this song—National songs take deep hold of the memories and have a powerful influence in stirring the deepest feelings of a people. In accordance with this principle in human nature, a song was ordered to be composed by Moses, doubtless under divine inspiration, which was to be learnt by the Israelites themselves and to be taught to their children in every age, embodying the substance of the preceding addresses, and of a strain well suited to inspire the popular mind with a strong sense of God's favor to their nation. This wickedness of theirs which I now foresee and foretell shall not hinder me from bringing them into Canaan. And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge,.... It may be a question who gave this charge, the Lord or Moses; according to the connection of the words with the preceding, it seems to be the latter; for the immediate antecedent to the relative he is Moses, and so the Septuagint interpreters understand it; but then they are obliged to read some following clauses different from the original, as, instead of "I swear", they read "the Lord sware"; and the last clause they read, "and he shall be with thee"; but Aben Ezra gives the same sense without departing from the common and genuine reading, supposing that Moses gave the charge in the name and by the authority of the Lord; his words are,"he gave charge by the commandment of the Lord, therefore he saith, "which I sware unto them";''but it seems best to understand this of the Lord himself, since he ordered Moses and Joshua to present themselves before him, that he might give the latter a charge, Deuteronomy 31:14; and the language of the following clauses best agrees with him:

and said, be strong and of a good courage; See Gill on Deuteronomy 31:6; See Gill on Deuteronomy 31:7,

for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them; See Gill on Deuteronomy 31:7;

and I will be with thee; See Gill on Deuteronomy 31:8; the Targum of Jonathan is,"my Word shall be thy help.''

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.
EXEGETICAL (ORIGINAL LANGUAGES)
23. The immediate continuation of 14 f., which we have seen reasons for assigning to E.

And he gave] The subject is not Moses, as the present context of this v. suggests, but must be Jehovah, as in Deuteronomy 31:15; this is quite certain. from the following I sware unto them and I will be with thee.

Song of Solomon of Nun] Deuteronomy 1:38.

Be strong and of a good courage] As in Deuteronomy 31:6-7; only found in Deut., and the deuteron. Joshua 1:6; Joshua 1:9; Joshua 1:18; Joshua 10:25; but possibly derived from E.

children of Israel] Not deuteronomic (see on Deuteronomy 4:44), but a frequent term for the people in E, Exodus 3:9-11; Exodus 3:13-15; Exodus 9:35; Exodus 10:20; Exodus 10:23; Exodus 13:18 f., Deuteronomy 14:10, Deut 20:22, Deuteronomy 24:5, Deuteronomy 32:20, Deuteronomy 33:5; and also found in J and P.

bring into the land] So in E, Joshua 24:8, Exodus 13:5; Exodus 13:11.

I will be with thee] So in E, Exodus 3:12, but also in J and in Deut.Verse 23. - And he gave, etc. The subject here is God, not Moses, as is evident partly from ver. 14, and partly from the expression, the land which I aware unto them; and I will be with thee (cf. Exodus 3:12). After handing over the office to Joshua, and the law to the priests and elders, Moses was called by the Lord to come to the tabernacle with Joshua, to command him (צוּה), i.e., to appoint him, confirm him in his office. To this end the Lord appeared in the tabernacle (Deuteronomy 31:15), in a pillar of cloud, which remained standing before it, as in Numbers 12:5 (see the exposition of Numbers 11:25). But before appointing Joshua, He announced to Moses that after his death the nation would go a whoring after other gods, and would break the covenant, for which it would be visited with severe afflictions, and directed him to write an ode and teach it to the children of Israel, that when the apostasy should take place, and punishment from God be felt in consequence, it might speak as a witness against the people, as it would not vanish from their memory. The Lord communicated this commission to Moses in the presence of Joshua, that he also might hear from the mouth of God that the Lord foreknew the future apostasy of the people, and yet nevertheless would bring them into the promised land. In this there was also implied an admonition to Joshua, not only to take care that the Israelites learned the ode and kept it in their memories, but also to strive with all his might to prevent the apostasy, so long as he was leader of Israel; which Joshua did most faithfully to the very end of his life (vid., Joshua 23 and 24). - The announcement of the falling away of the Israelites from the Lord into idolatry, and the burning of the wrath of God in consequence (Deuteronomy 31:16-18), serves as a basis for the command in Deuteronomy 31:19. In this announcement the different points are simply linked together with "and," whereas in their actual signification they are subordinate to one another: When thou shalt lie with thy fathers, and the people shall rise up, and go a whoring after other gods: My anger will burn against them, etc. קוּם, to rise up, to prepare, serves to bring out distinctly the course which the thing would take. The expression, "foreign gods of the land," indicates that in the land which Jehovah gave His people, He (Jehovah) alone was God and Lord, and that He alone was to be worshipped there. בּקרבּו is in apposition to שׁמּה, "whither thou comest, in the midst of it." The punishment announced in Deuteronomy 31:17 corresponds most closely to the sin of the nation. For going a whoring after strange gods, the anger of the Lord would burn against them; for forsaking Him, He would forsake them; and for breaking His covenant, He would hide His face from them, i.e., withdraw His favour from them, so that they would be destroyed. לאכל היה, it (the nation) will be for devouring, i.e., will be devoured or destroyed (see Ewald, 237, c.; and on אכל in this sense, see Deuteronomy 7:16, and Numbers 14:9). "And many evils and troubles will befall it; and it will say in that day, Do not these evils befall me, because my God is not in the midst of me?" When the evils and troubles broke in upon the nation, the people would inquire the cause, and would find it in the fact that they were forsaken by their God; but the Lord ("but I" in Deuteronomy 31:18 forms the antithesis to "they" in Deuteronomy 31:17) would still hide His face, namely, because simply missing God is not true repentance.
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