Deuteronomy 31


וַיֵּלֶךְ מֹשֶׁה וַיְדַבֵּר אֶת־הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה אֶל־כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל   31:1

Deut. 31:1  So Moses went and spoke these words to all Israel.

The scribe again interjects in this verse and the next, once more interrupting Moses’ speech.

וַיֹּאמֶר אֲלֵהֶם בֶּן־מֵאָה וְעֶשְׂרִים שָׁנָה אָנֹכִי הַיֹּום לֹא־אוּכַל עֹוד לָצֵאת וְלָבֹוא וַיהוָה אָמַר אֵלַי לֹא   31:2

תַעֲבֹר אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּן הַזֶּה

Deut. 31:2  Then he said to them, “I am one hundred and twenty years of age.  I am not able to go out anymore or to come in, and the Lord has said to me, ‘You shall not cross this Jordan.’”

יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ הוּא עֹבֵר לְפָנֶיךָ הוּא־יַשְׁמִיד אֶת־הַגֹּויִם הָאֵלֶּה מִלְּפָנֶיךָ וִירִשְׁתָּם יְהֹושֻׁעַ הוּא עֹבֵר   31:3

לְפָנֶיךָ כַּאֲשֶׁר דִּבֶּר יְהוָה

Deut. 31:3  “The Lord, your God, He will be crossing over before you; He will overthrow these nations from before you and you will dispossess them.  Joshua, he will be going over before you, as the Lord has spoken.”

וְעָשָׂה יְהוָה לָהֶם כַּאֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה לְסִיחֹון וּלְעֹוג מַלְכֵי הָאֱמֹרִי וּלְאַרְצָם אֲשֶׁר הִשְׁמִיד אֹתָם   31:4

Deut. 31:4  “And the Lord will do to them as He did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorite, and to their lands, when He destroyed them.”

וּנְתָנָם יְהוָה לִפְנֵיכֶם וַעֲשִׂיתֶם לָהֶם כְּכָל־הַמִּצְוָה אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִי אֶתְכֶם   31:5

Deut. 31:5  “And the Lord will deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to every commandment that I have commanded you.”

For the first time in this long discourse comprising most of Deuteronomy, Moses used the perfect form of the first-person verb to command, indicated that he is done with repeating the commandments of the Lord to this second generation of wilderness wanderers.

חִזְקוּ וְאִמְצוּ אַל־תִּירְאוּ וְאַל־תַּעַרְצוּ מִפְּנֵיהֶם כִּי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ הוּא הַהֹלֵךְ עִמָּךְ לֹא יַרְפְּךָ וְלֹא   31:6


Deut. 31:6  “Be strong and of good courage!   You need not fear, or have dread because of their appearance, for the Lord, your God, He will be walking with you.  He will not fail you and He will not forsake you.”

וַיִּקְרָא מֹשֶׁה לִיהֹושֻׁעַ וַיֹּאמֶר אֵלָיו לְעֵינֵי כָל־יִשְׂרָאֵל חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ כִּי אַתָּה תָּבֹוא אֶת־הָעָם הַזֶּה אֶל־   31:7

הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבַּע יְהוָה לַאֲבֹתָם לָתֵת לָהֶם וְאַתָּה תַּנְחִילֶנָּה אֹותָם

Deut. 31:7  And Moses called to Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and of good courage, for you must bring this people to the land that the Lord had sworn to their fathers to give them, and you shall cause them to inherit it.”

The scribe again interjects in this verse.

וַיהוָה הוּא הַהֹלֵךְ לְפָנֶיךָ הוּא יִהְיֶה עִמָּךְ לֹא יַרְפְּךָ וְלֹא יַעַזְבֶךָּ לֹא תִירָא וְלֹא תֵחָת   31:8

Deut. 31:8  “And the Lord, He will be walking before you.  He will be with you.  He will not fail you and He will not forsake you.  You need not be afraid or dismayed.”

In v. 31:6 Moses is talking directly to the individuals of the assembly, reassuring them.  Here in v. 31:8, he is speaking directly to Joshua, reassuring him.

 וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הַתֹּורָה הַזֹּאת וַיִּתְּנָהּ אֶל־הַכֹּהֲנִים בְּנֵי לֵוִי הַנֹּשְׂאִים אֶת־אֲרֹון בְּרִית יְהוָה וְאֶל־   31:9

כָּל־זִקְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

Deut. 31:9  And Moses wrote this Torah and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi who were carrying the ark of the covenant of the Lord, and to all the elders of Israel.

I ask you, do you think Moses wrote this Torah all at one time, as implied by this verse?  I don’t believe that to be true.  This verse, in my opinion, was inserted here to remind us that Moses did write the Torah as it may have existed in the time of the scribe.  Then I ask, did Moses actually write the Torah or did he dictate to a scribe?  I believe the latter.  Why?  Because, as I’ve mentioned before, it was unlikely that he knew Hebrew.   However, I’m willing to concede that the Lord may have instilled in him the knowledge of the language. 

Yet one more interjection by the scribe here and in the next verse!

וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה אֹותָם לֵאמֹר מִקֵּץ שֶׁבַע שָׁנִים בְּמֹעֵד שְׁנַת הַשְּׁמִטָּה בְּחַג הַסֻּכֹּות   31:10

Deut. 31:10   And Moses commanded them saying, “After the end of seven years, in the set time of the year of release, during the Feast of Tabernacles,

בְּבֹוא כָל־יִשְׂרָאֵל לֵרָאֹות אֶת־פְּנֵי יְהוָה אֱלֹהֶיךָ בַּמָּקֹום אֲשֶׁר יִבְחָר תִּקְרָא אֶת־הַתֹּורָה הַזֹּאת   31:11

נֶגֶד כָּל־יִשְׂרָאֵל בְּאָזְנֵיהֶם

Deut. 31:11   with the coming of all Israel to discern the presence of the Lord, your God, in the place that He shall choose, you shall recite this Torah before all Israel in their ears.”

The pronouns your and you in this verse are singular, signifying that one person, priest or elder (at least one of them at a time), is to read to the people.  Presumably the reading would take all or most of the seven days of the Succoth festival.  Moreover, this was to be done once every seven years during the year of release.

הַקְהֵל אֶת־הָעָם הָאֲנָשִׁים וְהַנָּשִׁים וְהַטַּף וְגֵרְךָ אֲשֶׁר בִּשְׁעָרֶיךָ לְמַעַן יִשְׁמְעוּ וּלְמַעַן יִלְמְדוּ וְיָרְאוּ   31:12

אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְשָׁמְרוּ לַעֲשֹׂות אֶת־כָּל־דִּבְרֵי הַתֹּורָה הַזֹּאת

Deut. 31:12   “Assemble the people, the men and the women and the children and your guests who will be within your gates so that they may hear and so that they may learn and they may revere the Lord, your God, and they may take heed to do all the words of this Torah,

וּבְנֵיהֶם אֲשֶׁר לֹא־יָדְעוּ יִשְׁמְעוּ וְלָמְדוּ לְיִרְאָה אֶת־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם כָּל־הַיָּמִים אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם חַיִּים עַל־   31:13

הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר אַתֶּם עֹבְרִים אֶת־הַיַּרְדֵּן שָׁמָּה לְרִשְׁתָּהּ

Deut. 31:13   and their children, who will not know, will hear and learn to revere the Lord, your God, all the days that you will be living on the land where you will be crossing the Jordan to possess it.”

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה הֵן קָרְבוּ יָמֶיךָ לָמוּת קְרָא אֶת־יְהֹושֻׁעַ וְהִתְיַצְּבוּ בְּאֹהֶל מֹועֵד וַאֲצַוֶּנּוּ וַיֵּלֶךְ   31:14

מֹשֶׁה וִיהֹושֻׁעַ וַיִּתְיַצְּבוּ בְּאֹהֶל מֹועֵד

Deut. 31:14   And the Lord said to Moses, “Lo, your days to die approach.  Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tent of meeting and I will give him a charge.”  So Moses went, with Joshua, and they presented themselves in the tent of meeting.

There’s a first-person imperfect verb with a non-inverting vav prefix in the fifth-from-last word in this verse.  It is translated as and I will give him a charge.

Also yet another interjection that continues into v. 31:16 below!

וַיֵּרָא יְהוָה בָּאֹהֶל בְּעַמּוּד עָןָן וַיַּעֲמֹד עַמּוּד הֶעָןָן עַל־פֶּתַח הָאֹהֶל   31:15

Deut. 31:15   And the Lord appeared in the tent within a column of cloud, and the column of cloud stood over the entrance of the tent.

וַיֹּאמֶר יְהוָה אֶל־מֹשֶׁה הִנְּךָ שֹׁכֵב עִם־אֲבֹתֶיךָ וְקָם הָעָם הַזֶּה וְזָנָה אַחֲרֵי אֱלֹהֵי נֵכַר־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר   31:16

הוּא בָא־שָׁמָּה בְּקִרְבֹּו וַעֲזָבַנִי וְהֵפֵר אֶת־בְּרִיתִי אֲשֶׁר כָּרַתִּי אִתֹּו

Deut. 31:16   And the Lord said to Moses, “Lo, you will be lying down with your fathers; and this people will rise up and go whoring after gods of the foreign land where it is going to be in the midst of it, and it will forsake Me and annul My covenant that I made with it.”

וְחָרָה אַפִּי בֹו בַיֹּום־הַהוּא וַעֲזַבְתִּים וְהִסְתַּרְתִּי פָנַי מֵהֶם וְהָיָה לֶאֱכֹל וּמְצָאֻהוּ רָעֹות רַבֹּות וְצָרֹות   31:17

וְאָמַר בַּיֹּום הַהוּא הֲלֹא עַל כִּי־אֵין אֱלֹהַי בְּקִרְבִּי מְצָאוּנִי הָרָעֹות הָאֵלֶּה

Deut. 31:17   “And My ‘anger’ will be kindled on it on that day and I will forsake them and conceal My presence from them so it will be for food, and it will encounter it, many evils and troubles, that it will say on that day, ‘Is it not because my God is not in my midst these evils have befallen me?’”

Notwithstanding the human traits by which the scribe describes the Lord, this prophecy has been fulfilled.  The Lord is here telling Moses what the congregation of Israel will be saying throughout the ages:  Where has the Lord gone?  And how this will greatly influence how future generations view God and His relationship with them.  I believe this is the mechanism by which we would become overly ritualistic and fearful of the Lord.  But fear of the Lord is only for those who do not love the Lord.  Joy in the Lord and reverence is for those who love the Lord.  The Lord never has and never will conceal His presence from us.

וְאָנֹכִי הַסְתֵּר אַסְתִּיר פָּנַי בַּיֹּום הַהוּא עַל כָּל־הָרָעָה אֲשֶׁר עָשָׂה כִּי פָנָה אֶל־אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים   31:18

Deut. 31:18   “And I will surely conceal My presence on that day because of all the evil that it had done when it turned to other gods.”

וְעַתָּה כִּתְבוּ לָכֶם אֶת־הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת וְלַמְּדָהּ אֶת־בְּנֵי־יִשְׂרָאֵל שִׂימָהּ בְּפִיהֶם לְמַעַן תִּהְיֶה־לִּי   31:19

הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת לְעֵד בִּבְנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל

Deut. 31:19   “So now write this song for yourselves and make the children of Israel learn it; place it in their mouths in order that this song shall be a witness for Me with the children of Israel.”

כִּי־אֲבִיאֶנּוּ אֶל־הָאֲדָמָה אֲשֶׁר־נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לַאֲבֹתָיו זָבַת חָלָב וּדְבַשׁ וְאָכַל וְשָׂבַע וְדָשֵׁן וּפָנָה אֶל־   31:20

אֱלֹהִים אֲחֵרִים וַעֲבָדוּם וְנִאֲצוּנִי וְהֵפֵר אֶת־בְּרִיתִי

Deut. 31:20   “When I will have brought it to the land gushing milk and honey that I had sworn to its fathers, and it shall eat and be satisfied and grow fat, and turn to other gods and serve them, and scorn Me and break My covenant,

וְהָיָה כִּי־תִמְצֶאןָ אֹתֹו רָעֹות רַבֹּות וְצָרֹות וְעָנְתָה הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת לְפָנָיו לְעֵד כִּי לֹא תִשָּׁכַח מִפִּי   31:21

זַרְעֹו כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת־יִצְרֹו אֲשֶׁר הוּא עֹשֶׂה הַיֹּום בְּטֶרֶם אֲבִיאֶנּוּ אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר נִשְׁבָּעְתִּי

Deut. 31:21   then it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles will befall it, that this song will testify before it as a witness, for it must not be forgotten from the mouth of its seed, for I know its imagination that it brings about today, before I will have brought it to the land of which I had sworn.”

וַיִּכְתֹּב מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת בַּיֹּום הַהוּא וַיְלַמְּדָהּ אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל   31:22

Deut. 31:22   So Moses wrote this song on that day and made the children of Israel learn it.

The song consists of the first 43 verses of the next chapter.  Another interjection here that is followed by four more until the end of this chapter.

וַיְצַו אֶת־יְהֹושֻׁעַ בִּן־נוּן וַיֹּאמֶר חֲזַק וֶאֱמָץ כִּי אַתָּה תָּבִיא אֶת־בְּנֵי יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶל־הָאָרֶץ אֲשֶׁר־   31:23

נִשְׁבַּעְתִּי לָהֶם וְאָנֹכִי אֶהְיֶה עִמָּךְ

Deut. 31:23   And He charged Joshua son of Nun and said, “Be strong and of good courage, for you are about to bring the children of Israel to the land that I swore to them, and I will be with you.”

וַיְהִי כְּכַלֹּות מֹשֶׁה לִכְתֹּב אֶת־דִּבְרֵי הַתֹּורָה־הַזֹּאת עַל־סֵפֶר עַד תֻּםָּם   31:24

Deut. 31:24   And it happened, as Moses finished writing the words of this Torah on a scroll up to their end,

וַיְצַו מֹשֶׁה אֶת־הַלְוִיִּם נֹשְׂאֵי אֲרֹון בְּרִית־יְהוָה לֵאמֹר   31:25

Deut. 31:25   that Moses commanded the Levites, bearers of the ark of the covenant of the Lord, saying,

לָקֹחַ אֵת סֵפֶר הַתֹּורָה הַזֶּה וְשַׂמְתֶּם אֹתֹו מִצַּד אֲרֹון בְּרִית־יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵיכֶם וְהָיָה־שָׁם בְּךָ לְעֵד   31:26

Deut. 31:26   “Take the scroll of this Torah and you shall put it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord, your God, and it shall be there with you for a witness.”

כִּי אָנֹכִי יָדַעְתִּי אֶת־מֶרְיְךָ וְאֶת־עָרְפְּךָ הַקָּשֶׁה הֵן בְּעֹודֶנִּי חַי עִםָּכֶם הַיֹּום מַמְרִים הֱיִתֶם עִם־יְהֹוָה   31:27

וְאַף כִּי־אַחֲרֵי מֹותִי

Deut. 31:27   “For I have known your rebellion and your sore stiff neck.  Lo, while I am yet alive with you today, you are rebellious with the Lord, then how much more when it is after my death!”

הַקְהִילוּ אֵלַי אֶת־כָּל־זִקְנֵי שִׁבְטֵיכֶם וְשֹׁטְרֵיכֶם וַאֲדַבְּרָה בְאָזְנֵיהֶם אֵת הַדְּבָרִים הָאֵלֶּה וְאָעִידָה בָּם   31:28

אֶת־הַשָּׁמַיִם וְאֶת־הָאָרֶץ

Deut. 31:28   “Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak in their ears these words and call the heavens and the earth to witness to them.”

Two words in this verse consist of first-person imperfect verbs with non-inverting vav prefixes.  They are the eighth and thirteenth words, translated as that I may speak ...and call ... to witness.

כִּי יָדַעְתִּי אַחֲרֵי מֹותִי כִּי־הַשְׁחֵת תַּשְׁחִתוּן וְסַרְתֶּם מִן־הַדֶּרֶךְ אֲשֶׁר צִוִּיתִי אֶתְכֶם וְקָרָאת אֶתְכֶם   31:29

הָרָעָה בְּאַחֲרִית הַיָּמִים כִּי־תַעֲשׂוּ אֶת־הָרַע בְּעֵינֵי יְהוָה לְהַכְעִיסֹו בְּמַעֲשֵׂה יְדֵיכֶם

Deut. 31:29   “For I have been advised that after my death you will surely become corrupted and turn aside from the way in which I commanded you, and evil will befall you in the latter days, because you will do what is evil in the eyes of the Lord, provoking Him with the deeds of your hands.”

וַיְדַבֵּר מֹשֶׁה בְּאָזְנֵי כָּל־קְהַל יִשְׂרָאֵל אֶת־דִּבְרֵי הַשִּׁירָה הַזֹּאת עַד תֻּםָּם   31:30

Deut. 31:30   And Moses uttered in the ears of all of the assembly of Israel the words of this song up to their end.

No one can say how many generations sang the song.  But I’m sure if it had not been recorded in this Torah, no one could sing it now.

Torah Commandments in this Chapter

558. Every seventh year on Sukkoth in the year of release, the Torah shall be

        read to all assembled before the Lord.    V. 31:12


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