Deuteronomy 31

Joshua to Succeed Moses

1 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel:
2 “I am now a hundred and twenty years old and I am no longer able to lead you. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not cross the Jordan.’
3 The LORD your God himself will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you will take possession of their land. Joshua also will cross over ahead of you, as the LORD said.
4 And the LORD will do to them what he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, whom he destroyed along with their land.
5 The LORD will deliver them to you, and you must do to them all that I have commanded you.
6 Be strong and courageous. Do not be afraid or terrified because of them, for the LORD your God goes with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you.”
7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their ancestors to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.
8 The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

Public Reading of the Law

9 So Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.
10 Then Moses commanded them: “At the end of every seven years, in the year for canceling debts, during the Festival of Tabernacles,
11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place he will choose, you shall read this law before them in their hearing.
12 Assemble the people—men, women and children, and the foreigners residing in your towns—so they can listen and learn to fear the LORD your God and follow carefully all the words of this law.
13 Their children, who do not know this law, must hear it and learn to fear the LORD your God as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

Israel’s Rebellion Predicted

14 The LORD said to Moses, “Now the day of your death is near. Call Joshua and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, where I will commission him.” So Moses and Joshua came and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.
15 Then the LORD appeared at the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the cloud stood over the entrance to the tent.
16 And the LORD said to Moses: “You are going to rest with your ancestors, and these people will soon prostitute themselves to the foreign gods of the land they are entering. They will forsake me and break the covenant I made with them.
17 And in that day I will become angry with them and forsake them; I will hide my face from them, and they will be destroyed. Many disasters and calamities will come on them, and in that day they will ask, ‘Have not these disasters come on us because our God is not with us?’
18 And I will certainly hide my face in that day because of all their wickedness in turning to other gods.
19 “Now write down this song and teach it to the Israelites and have them sing it, so that it may be a witness for me against them.
20 When I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, the land I promised on oath to their ancestors, and when they eat their fill and thrive, they will turn to other gods and worship them, rejecting me and breaking my covenant.
21 And when many disasters and calamities come on them, this song will testify against them, because it will not be forgotten by their descendants. I know what they are disposed to do, even before I bring them into the land I promised them on oath.”
22 So Moses wrote down this song that day and taught it to the Israelites.
23 The LORD gave this command to Joshua son of Nun: “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the Israelites into the land I promised them on oath, and I myself will be with you.”
24 After Moses finished writing in a book the words of this law from beginning to end,
25 he gave this command to the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD:
26 “Take this Book of the Law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God. There it will remain as a witness against you.
27 For I know how rebellious and stiff-necked you are. If you have been rebellious against the LORD while I am still alive and with you, how much more will you rebel after I die!
28 Assemble before me all the elders of your tribes and all your officials, so that I can speak these words in their hearing and call the heavens and the earth to testify against them.
29 For I know that after my death you are sure to become utterly corrupt and to turn from the way I have commanded you. In days to come, disaster will fall on you because you will do evil in the sight of the LORD and arouse his anger by what your hands have made.”
30 And Moses recited the words of this song from beginning to end in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel:

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Deuteronomy 31 Commentary

Chapter 31

Moses encourages the people, and Joshua. (1-8) The law to be read every seventh year. (9-13) The Israelites' apostacy foretold, A song given to be witness against them. (14-22) The law delivered to the Levites. (22-30)

Verses 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, ( Hebrews 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.

Verses 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.

Verses 14-22 Moses and Joshua attended the Divine Majesty at the door of the tabernacle. Moses is told again that he must shortly die; even those who are most ready and willing to die, need to be often reminded of its coming. The Lord tells Moses, that, after his death, the covenant he had taken so much pains to make between Israel and their God, would certainly be broken. Israel would forsake Him; then God would forsake Israel. Justly does he cast those off who so unjustly cast him off. Moses is directed to deliver them a song, which should remain a standing testimony for God, as faithful to them in giving them warning, and against them, as persons false to themselves in not taking the warning. The word of God is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of men's hearts, and meets them by reproofs and correction. Ministers who preach the word, know not the imaginations of men; but God, whose word it is, knows perfectly.

Verses 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.

Cross References 62

  • 1. S Exodus 7:7; Deuteronomy 34:7
  • 2. Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 3:7
  • 3. S Deuteronomy 3:23,26
  • 4. Numbers 27:18
  • 5. S Deuteronomy 9:3
  • 6. S Deuteronomy 7:1
  • 7. S Deuteronomy 3:28
  • 8. S Numbers 21:33
  • 9. S Deuteronomy 2:33; Deuteronomy 7:2
  • 10. ver 7,23; Jos 1:6,9,18; Joshua 10:25; 1 Chronicles 22:13; 1 Chronicles 28:20; 2 Chronicles 32:7
  • 11. Deuteronomy 7:18; Jeremiah 1:8,17; Ezekiel 2:6
  • 12. S Genesis 28:15; S Deuteronomy 1:29; Deuteronomy 20:4; S Matthew 28:20
  • 13. Joshua 1:5; Psalms 56:9; Psalms 118:6
  • 14. S Deuteronomy 4:31; 1 Samuel 12:22; 1 Kings 6:13; Psalms 94:14; Isaiah 41:17; Hebrews 13:5*
  • 15. ver 23; Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28
  • 16. Joshua 1:6
  • 17. S Exodus 13:21; Exodus 33:14
  • 18. S Genesis 28:15; S Deuteronomy 4:31
  • 19. S Exodus 17:14
  • 20. ver 25; Numbers 4:15; Joshua 3:3; 1 Chronicles 15:2
  • 21. S Deuteronomy 15:1
  • 22. S Exodus 23:16; Deuteronomy 16:13; Leviticus 23:34
  • 23. S Deuteronomy 16:16
  • 24. Deuteronomy 12:5
  • 25. Joshua 8:34-35; 2 Kings 23:2; Nehemiah 8:2
  • 26. Deuteronomy 4:10
  • 27. Haggai 1:12; Malachi 1:6; Malachi 3:5,16
  • 28. S Deuteronomy 11:2; Psalms 78:6-7
  • 29. S Genesis 25:8; S Numbers 27:13; Deuteronomy 32:49-50
  • 30. Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 34:9; Joshua 1:1-9
  • 31. S Numbers 27:19
  • 32. Exodus 33:9-11
  • 33. S Exodus 33:9
  • 34. S Genesis 15:15
  • 35. S Exodus 34:15; Deuteronomy 4:25-28; Judges 2:12
  • 36. Judges 10:6,13; 1 Kings 9:9; 1 Kings 18:18; 1 Kings 19:10; Jeremiah 2:13; Jeremiah 5:19; Jeremiah 19:4
  • 37. Deuteronomy 32:16; Judges 2:14,20; Judges 10:7; 2 Kings 13:3; 2 Kings 22:13; Psalms 106:29,40; Jeremiah 7:18; Jeremiah 21:5; Jeremiah 36:7
  • 38. Judges 6:13; 2 Chronicles 15:2; 2 Chronicles 24:20; Ezra 8:22; Psalms 44:9; Isaiah 2:6
  • 39. Deuteronomy 32:20; Isaiah 1:15; Isaiah 8:17; Isaiah 45:15; Isaiah 53:3; Isaiah 54:8
  • 40. Job 13:24; Psalms 13:1; Psalms 27:9; Psalms 30:7; Psalms 104:29; Isaiah 50:6; Jeremiah 33:5; Ezekiel 39:29; Micah 3:4
  • 41. Jeremiah 4:20; Ezekiel 7:26
  • 42. Numbers 14:42; Hosea 9:12
  • 43. ver 22
  • 44. S Genesis 31:50
  • 45. Deuteronomy 6:10-12
  • 46. Deuteronomy 32:15-17; Psalms 4:2; Psalms 16:4; Psalms 40:4; Jeremiah 13:25; Daniel 3:28; Amos 2:4
  • 47. Deuteronomy 8:19; Deuteronomy 11:16-17
  • 48. ver 16
  • 49. ver 17; S Deuteronomy 4:30
  • 50. 1 Chronicles 28:9; Hosea 5:3; John 2:24-25
  • 51. ver 19
  • 52. S ver 7
  • 53. Joshua 1:6
  • 54. Deuteronomy 17:18; 2 Kings 22:8
  • 55. Deuteronomy 28:58
  • 56. S ver 9
  • 57. ver 19
  • 58. S Exodus 23:21
  • 59. S Deuteronomy 9:27; Exodus 32:9; Deuteronomy 9:6,24
  • 60. Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 32:1; Job 20:27; Isaiah 26:21
  • 61. S Deuteronomy 4:16; Revelation 9:20; Deuteronomy 32:5; Judges 2:19
  • 62. 1 Kings 9:9; 1 Kings 22:23; 2 Kings 22:16; Deuteronomy 28:15

Chapter Summary


Moses being old, and knowing he should quickly die, and must not go over Jordan with the people of Israel, acquaints them with it, and encourages them and Joshua to go over notwithstanding, and not be afraid of their enemies, since the Lord would go with them, and deliver them into their hands, De 31:1-8; and having written the law, he delivered it to the priests, and ordered that it should be read at the end of every seven years before all the people, that they and theirs might learn it, and fear the Lord, De 31:9-13; and whereas the death of Moses was very near, and the Lord foreseeing the people would quickly fall into idolatry, which would bring great calamities upon them, he directed Moses to write a song, which should be a witness for him, and against them, in ages to come; which Moses accordingly did, De 31:14-22; and Moses having given a charge to Joshua, and finished the writing of the law in a book, gave it to the Levites to put it in the side of the ark, De 31:23-27; and then ordered the chief of the tribes to be gathered together, that he might deliver the song, which by the direction and under the inspiration of God he had written, De 31:28-30; which song is recorded in De 32:1-43.

Deuteronomy 31 Commentaries

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