Moses’ Last Counsel
31 So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel. 2 And he said to them, “I am [a]a hundred and twenty years old today; I am no longer able to come in and go out [as your spiritual and military leader], and the Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’ 3 It is the Lord your God who will cross ahead of you; He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua is the one who will go across before you [to lead you], just as the Lord has said. 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 The Lord will hand them over to you, and you shall do to them in accordance with all the commandments which I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid or tremble in dread before them, for it is the Lord your God who goes with you. He will not fail you or abandon you.”
7 Then Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all [the people of] Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you will go with this people into the land which the Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them, and you will give it to them as an inheritance. 8 It is the Lord who goes before you; He will be with you. He will not fail you or abandon you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”
9 So Moses wrote this law and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who 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 year when debts are forgiven, at the Feast of Booths (Tabernacles), 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place which He chooses, you shall read this law before all [the people of] Israel [b]so that they may hear. 12 Assemble the people, the men and the women and children and the stranger (resident alien, foreigner) within your cities, so that they may hear and learn and fear the Lord your God [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect], and be careful to obey all the words of this law. 13 Their children, who have not known [the law], will hear and learn to fear [and worship] the Lord your God, as long as you live in the land which you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”
Israel Will Fall Away
14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “Behold, the time for you to die is near; call Joshua, and present yourselves at the Tent of Meeting, so that I may commission him.” So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the Tent of Meeting. 15 Then the Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud, and the pillar of cloud stood beside the doorway of the tent. 16 The Lord said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down [in death] with your fathers; and this people will arise and [c]play the prostitute (commit apostasy) with the foreign gods [of the people] of the land, where they go to be among them. They will abandon (turn away from) Me and break My covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then My anger will be kindled and burn against them in that day, and I will abandon (turn away from) them and hide My face from them. They will be devoured, and many evils and troubles will come on them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have come on us?’ 18 But I will certainly hide My face [from them] in that day because of all the evil which they will do, for they will turn to other gods [to worship lifeless idols, to honor handmade relics].
19 “Now then, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the sons of Israel; put it in their mouth, so that this song may be a witness for Me against the sons of Israel. 20 For when I bring them into the land which I have sworn to their fathers, a land [of plenty] [d]flowing with milk and honey, and they have eaten and are satisfied and become prosperous, then they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise and reject Me and break My covenant. 21 Then it shall come about, when many evils and troubles have come on them, that this [sacred] song will confront them as a witness; for it will not be forgotten from the mouth of their descendants. For I know their inclination which is developing even now, before I bring them into the land which I have sworn to give them.” 22 So Moses wrote this song the same day, and taught it to the children of Israel.(A)
Joshua Is Commissioned
23 Then He commanded and commissioned Joshua, the son of Nun, and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you will bring the sons of Israel into the land which I have sworn to give them, and I will be with you.”
24 And when Moses completely finished writing the words of this law in a book, 25 he commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying, 26 “Take this Book of the Law and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, so that it may remain there as a witness against you. 27 For I know your rebellion and contention and your 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 before me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, so that I may speak these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth as witnesses against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will behave corruptly and turn from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will come upon you in the latter days, because you will do 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 congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended:
- Deuteronomy 31:2 Lit a son of one hundred-twenty years.
- Deuteronomy 31:11 Lit in their hearing.
- Deuteronomy 31:16 I.e. abandon the true God for worthless idols.
- Deuteronomy 31:20 This phrase referred to the abundant fertility of the land of Canaan. Milk (typically that of goats and sheep) was associated with abundance; “honey” referred mainly to syrups made from dates or grapes and was the epitome of sweetness. Bees’ honey was very rare and was considered the choicest of foods.