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Succession of Moses by Joshua

31 Then Moses went[a] and spoke these words[b] to all Israel. He said to them, “Today I am 120 years old. I am no longer able to get about,[c] and the Lord has said to me, ‘You will not cross the Jordan.’ As for the Lord your God, he is about to cross over before you; he will destroy these nations before you, and you will dispossess them. As for Joshua, he is about to cross before you just as the Lord has said. The Lord will do to them just what he did to Sihon and Og, the Amorite kings, and to their land, which he destroyed. The Lord will deliver them over to you, and you will do to them according to the whole commandment I have given you. Be strong and courageous! Do not fear or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who is going with you. He will not fail you or abandon you!” Then Moses called out to Joshua[d] in the presence of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you will accompany these people to the land that the Lord promised to give their ancestors,[e] and you will enable them to inherit it. The Lord is indeed going before you—he will be with you; he will not fail you or abandon you. Do not be afraid or discouraged!”

The Deposit of the Covenant Text

Then Moses wrote down this law and gave it to the Levitical priests, who carry the ark of the Lord’s covenant, and to all Israel’s elders. 10 He[f] commanded them: “At the end of seven years, at the appointed time of the cancellation of debts,[g] at the Feast of Shelters,[h] 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses, you must read this law before them[i] within their hearing. 12 Gather the people—men, women, and children, as well as the resident foreigners[j] in your villages—so they may hear and thus learn about and fear the Lord your God and carefully obey all the words of this law. 13 Then their children, who have not known this law,[k] will also hear about and learn to fear the Lord your God for as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Jordan to possess.”

The Commissioning of Joshua

14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The day of your death is near. Summon Joshua and present yourselves in the tent[l] of meeting[m] so that I can commission him.”[n] So Moses and Joshua presented themselves in the tent of meeting. 15 The Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud that[o] stood above the door of the tent. 16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “You are about to die,[p] and then these people will begin to prostitute themselves with the foreign gods of the land into which they[q] are going. They[r] will reject[s] me and break my covenant that I have made with them.[t] 17 At that time[u] my anger will erupt against them,[v] and I will abandon them and hide my face from them until they are devoured. Many disasters and distresses will overcome[w] them[x] so that they[y] will say at that time, ‘Have not these disasters[z] overcome us[aa] because our[ab] God is not among us[ac] ?’ 18 But I will certainly[ad] hide myself at that time because of all the wickedness they[ae] will have done by turning to other gods. 19 Now write down for yourselves the following song and teach it to the Israelites. Put it into their very mouths so that this song may serve as my witness against the Israelites! 20 For after I have brought them[af] to the land I promised to their[ag] ancestors—one flowing with milk and honey—and they[ah] eat their fill[ai] and become fat, then they[aj] will turn to other gods and worship them; they will reject me and break my covenant. 21 Then when[ak] many disasters and distresses overcome them[al] this song will testify against them,[am] for their[an] descendants will not forget it.[ao] I know the[ap] intentions they have in mind[aq] today, even before I bring them[ar] to the land I have promised.” 22 So on that day Moses wrote down this song and taught it to the Israelites, 23 and the Lord[as] commissioned Joshua son of Nun, “Be strong and courageous, for you will take the Israelites to the land I have promised them, and I will be with you.”[at]

Anticipation of Disobedience

24 When Moses finished writing on a scroll the words of this law in their entirety, 25 he[au] commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the Lord’s covenant, 26 “Take this scroll of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God. It will remain there as a witness against you, 27 for I know about your rebellion and stubbornness.[av] Indeed, even while I have been living among you to this very day, you have rebelled against the Lord; you will be even more rebellious after my death![aw] 28 Gather to me all your tribal elders and officials so I can speak to them directly about these things and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after I die you will totally[ax] corrupt yourselves and turn away from the path I have commanded you to walk. Disaster will confront you in future days because you will act wickedly[ay] before the Lord, inciting him to anger because of your actions.”[az] 30 Then Moses recited the words of this song from start to finish in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel:

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 31:1 tc For the MT reading וַיֵּלֶךְ (vayyelekh, “he went”), the LXX and Qumran have וַיְכַל (vayekhal, “he finished”): “So Moses finished speaking,” etc. The difficult reading of the MT favors its authenticity.
  2. Deuteronomy 31:1 tn In the MT this refers to the words that follow (cf. NIV, NCV).
  3. Deuteronomy 31:2 tn Or “am no longer able to lead you” (NIV, NLT); Heb “am no longer able to go out and come in.”
  4. Deuteronomy 31:7 tn The Hebrew text includes “and said to him.” This has not been included in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  5. Deuteronomy 31:7 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 20).
  6. Deuteronomy 31:10 tn Heb “Moses.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons.
  7. Deuteronomy 31:10 tn The Hebrew term שְׁמִטָּה (shemittah), a derivative of the verb שָׁמַט (shamat, “to release; to relinquish”), refers to the procedure whereby debts of all fellow Israelites were to be canceled. Since the Feast of Tabernacles celebrated God’s own deliverance of and provision for his people, this was an appropriate time for Israelites to release one another. See note on this word at Deut 15:1.
  8. Deuteronomy 31:10 tn The Hebrew phrase חַג הַסֻּכּוֹת (khag hassukkot, “festival of huts” [or “shelters”]) is traditionally known as the Feast of Tabernacles. See note on the name of the festival in Deut 16:13.sn For the regulations on this annual festival see Deut 16:13-15.
  9. Deuteronomy 31:11 tn Heb “before all Israel.”
  10. Deuteronomy 31:12 sn The ger (גֵּר) “foreign resident” or “naturalized citizen,” (see Exod 12:19 and Deut 29:10-13) could make sacrifices (Lev 17:8; 22:18; Num 15:14) and participate in Israel’s religious festivals: Passover Exod 12:48; Day of Atonement Lev 16:29; Feast of Weeks Deut 16:10-14; Feast of Tabernacles/Temporary Shelters Deut 31:12.
  11. Deuteronomy 31:13 tn The phrase “this law” is not in the Hebrew text, but English style requires an object for the verb here. Other translations also supply the object which is otherwise implicit (cf. NIV “who do not know this law”; TEV “who have never heard the Law of the Lord your God”).
  12. Deuteronomy 31:14 tc The LXX reads “by the door of the tent” in line with v. 10 but also, perhaps, as a reflection of its tendency to avoid over-familiarity with Yahweh and his transcendence.
  13. Deuteronomy 31:14 tn Heb “tent of assembly” (מוֹעֵד אֹהֶל, ʾohel moʿed); this is not always the same as the tabernacle, which is usually called מִשְׁכָּן (mishkan, “dwelling-place”), a reference to its being invested with God’s presence. The “tent of meeting” was erected earlier than the tabernacle and was the place where Yahweh occasionally appeared, especially to Moses (cf. Exod 18:7-16; 33:7-11; Num 11:16, 24, 26; 12:4).
  14. Deuteronomy 31:14 tn Heb “I will command him.”
  15. Deuteronomy 31:15 tn Heb “and the pillar of cloud.” This phrase was not repeated in the translation; a relative clause was used instead.
  16. Deuteronomy 31:16 tn Heb “lie down with your fathers” (so NASB); NRSV “ancestors.”
  17. Deuteronomy 31:16 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they,” which is necessary in any case in the translation because of contemporary English style. The third person singular also occurs in the Hebrew text twice more in this verse, three times in v. 17, once in v. 18, five times in v. 20, and four times in v. 21. Each time it is translated as third person plural for stylistic reasons.
  18. Deuteronomy 31:16 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  19. Deuteronomy 31:16 tn Or “abandon” (TEV, NLT).
  20. Deuteronomy 31:16 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  21. Deuteronomy 31:17 tn Heb “on that day.” This same expression also appears later in the verse and in v. 18.
  22. Deuteronomy 31:17 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  23. Deuteronomy 31:17 tn Heb “find,” “encounter.”
  24. Deuteronomy 31:17 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  25. Deuteronomy 31:17 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  26. Deuteronomy 31:17 tn Heb “evils.”
  27. Deuteronomy 31:17 tn Heb “me.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “us,” which is necessary in any case in the translation because of contemporary English style.
  28. Deuteronomy 31:17 tn Heb “my.”
  29. Deuteronomy 31:17 tn Heb “me.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “us,” which is necessary in any case in the translation because of contemporary English style.
  30. Deuteronomy 31:18 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “certainly.”
  31. Deuteronomy 31:18 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  32. Deuteronomy 31:20 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  33. Deuteronomy 31:20 tn Heb “his.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “their.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  34. Deuteronomy 31:20 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  35. Deuteronomy 31:20 tn Heb “and are satisfied.”
  36. Deuteronomy 31:20 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  37. Deuteronomy 31:21 tn Heb “Then it will come to pass that.”
  38. Deuteronomy 31:21 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  39. Deuteronomy 31:21 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  40. Deuteronomy 31:21 tn Heb “his.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “their.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  41. Deuteronomy 31:21 tn Heb “it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his seed.”
  42. Deuteronomy 31:21 tn Heb “his.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “their.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  43. Deuteronomy 31:21 tn Heb “which he is doing.”
  44. Deuteronomy 31:21 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.
  45. Deuteronomy 31:23 tn Heb “he.” Since the pronoun could be taken to refer to Moses, the referent has been specified as “the Lord” in the translation for clarity. See also the note on the word “you” later in this verse.
  46. Deuteronomy 31:23 tc The LXX reads, “as the Lord promised them, and he will be with you.” This relieves the problem of Moses apparently promising to be with Joshua as the MT reads on the surface (“I will be with you”). However, the reading of the LXX is clearly an attempt to clarify an existing obscurity and therefore is unlikely to reflect the original.
  47. Deuteronomy 31:25 tn Heb “Moses.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
  48. Deuteronomy 31:27 tn Heb “stiffness of neck” (cf. KJV, NAB, NIV). See note on the word “stubborn” in Deut 9:6.
  49. Deuteronomy 31:27 tn Heb “How much more after my death?” The Hebrew text has a sarcastic rhetorical question here; the translation seeks to bring out the force of the question.
  50. Deuteronomy 31:29 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “totally.”
  51. Deuteronomy 31:29 tn Heb “do the evil.”
  52. Deuteronomy 31:29 tn Heb “the work of your hands.”

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