Deuteronomy 31

Moses' Last Counsel

1 So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel.
2 And he said to them, "I am 1a hundred and twenty years old today; 2I am no longer able to come and go, and the LORD has said to me, '3You shall not cross this Jordan.'
3 "4It is the LORD your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. 5Joshua is the one who will cross ahead of you, just as the LORD has spoken.
4 "The LORD will do to them just as He did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when He destroyed them.
5 "6The LORD will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the commandments which I have commanded you.
6 "7Be strong and courageous, 8do not be afraid or tremble at them, for 9the LORD your God is the one who goes with you. 10He will not fail you or forsake you."
7 Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "11Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land which the LORD has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall give it to them as an inheritance.
8 "12The LORD is the one who goes ahead of you; He will be with you. 13He will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed."
9 So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi 14who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel.
10 Then Moses commanded them, saying, "At the end of every seven years, at the time of 15the year of remission of debts, at the 16Feast of Booths,
11 when all Israel comes 17to appear before the LORD your God at 18the place which He will choose, 19you shall read this law in front of all Israel in their hearing.
12 "Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the alien who is in your town, so that they may hear and 20learn and fear the LORD your God, and be careful to observe all the words of this law.
13 "Their children, who have not known, will hear and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long * as you live on the land which you are about to cross the Jordan to possess."

Israel Will Fall Away

14 Then the LORD said to Moses, "Behold, 21the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the tent of meeting, that I may commission him." 22So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the tent of meeting.
15 23The LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood at the doorway of the tent.
16 The LORD said to Moses, "Behold, 24you are about to lie down with your fathers; and 25this people will arise and play the harlot with the strange gods of the land, into the midst of which they are going, and 26will forsake Me and break My covenant which I have made with them.
17 "27Then My anger will be kindled against them in that day, and 28I will forsake them and 29hide My face from them, and they will be consumed, and many evils and troubles will come upon them; so that they will say in that day, '30Is it not because * our God is not among us that these evils have come upon us?'
18 "But I will surely hide My face in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods.
19 "Now therefore, 31write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it on their lips, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel.
20 "32For when I bring them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to their fathers, and they have eaten and are satisfied and 33become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and spurn Me and break My covenant.
21 "Then it shall come about, 34when many evils and troubles have come upon them, that this song will testify before them as a witness (for it shall not be forgotten from the lips of their descendants ); for 35I know their intent which they are developing today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore."
22 36So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the sons of Israel.

Joshua Is Commissioned

23 37Then He commissioned Joshua the son of Nun, and said, "38Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the sons of Israel into the land which I swore to them, and 39I will be with you."
24 It came about, when Moses finished writing the words of this law in a book until they were complete,
25 that Moses commanded the Levites 40who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying,
26 "Take this book of the law and place it beside * the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may remain there as a witness against you.
27 "For I know 41your rebellion and 42your stubbornness *; behold, while I am still alive with you today, you have been rebellious against the LORD; how much * more *, then, after my death?
28 "Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their hearing and 43call the heavens and the earth to witness against them.
29 "For I know that after my death you will 44act corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days, for you will do that which is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking Him to anger with the work of your hands."
30 Then Moses spoke in the hearing of all the assembly of Israel the words of this song, until they were complete:

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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 44

  • 1. Deuteronomy 34:7
  • 2. Numbers 27:17; 1 Kings 3:7
  • 3. Deuteronomy 1:37; Deuteronomy 3:27
  • 4. Deuteronomy 9:3
  • 5. Numbers 27:18
  • 6. Deuteronomy 7:2
  • 7. Joshua 10:25; 1 Chronicles 22:13
  • 8. Deuteronomy 1:29; Deuteronomy 7:18; Deuteronomy 20:1
  • 9. Deuteronomy 20:4
  • 10. Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5
  • 11. Deuteronomy 1:38; Deuteronomy 3:28
  • 12. Exodus 13:21; Exodus 33:14
  • 13. Deuteronomy 31:6; Joshua 1:5; Hebrews 13:5
  • 14. Num 4:5, 6, 15; Deuteronomy 10:8; Deuteronomy 31:25, 26; Joshua 3:3
  • 15. Deuteronomy 15:1, 2
  • 16. Leviticus 23:34; Deuteronomy 16:13
  • 17. Deuteronomy 16:16
  • 18. Deuteronomy 12:5
  • 19. Joshua 8:34; 2 Kings 23:2
  • 20. Deuteronomy 4:10
  • 21. Numbers 27:12, 13; Deuteronomy 4:22; Deuteronomy 32:50
  • 22. Exodus 33:9-11
  • 23. Exodus 33:9
  • 24. Genesis 15:15
  • 25. Exodus 34:15; Deuteronomy 4:25-28; Judg 2:11, 12, 17
  • 26. Judges 10:6; 1 Kings 18:18; 1 Kings 19:10; Jeremiah 2:13
  • 27. Judges 2:14; Judges 6:13
  • 28. 2 Chronicles 15:2; 2 Chronicles 24:20
  • 29. Psalms 104:29; Isaiah 8:17
  • 30. Numbers 14:42
  • 31. Deuteronomy 31:22
  • 32. Deuteronomy 6:10-12; Deuteronomy 8:10, 19; Deuteronomy 11:16, 17
  • 33. Deuteronomy 32:15-17
  • 34. Leviticus 26:41; Deuteronomy 4:30
  • 35. 1 Chronicles 28:9; John 2:24, 25
  • 36. Deuteronomy 31:19
  • 37. Numbers 27:23; Deuteronomy 31:7
  • 38. Joshua 1:6
  • 39. Exodus 3:12
  • 40. Deuteronomy 31:9
  • 41. Deuteronomy 9:7, 24
  • 42. Exodus 32:9; Deuteronomy 9:6, 13
  • 43. Deuteronomy 4:26; Deuteronomy 30:19; Deuteronomy 32:1
  • 44. Judges 2:19

Footnotes 11

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