Deuteronomy – Chapter 31

The Bible – Old Testament



Chapter 31


When Moses had finished speaking these words to all Israel,


he said to them, «I am now one hundred and twenty years old and am no longer able to move about freely; besides, the LORD has told me that I shall not cross this Jordan.


It is the LORD, your God, who will cross before you; he will destroy these nations before you, that you may supplant them. (It is Joshua who will cross before you, as the LORD promised.)


The LORD will deal with them just as he dealt with Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites whom he destroyed, and with their country.


When, therefore, the LORD delivers them up to you, you must deal with them exactly as I have ordered you.


Be brave and steadfast; have no fear or dread of them, for it is the LORD, your God, who marches with you; he will never fail you or forsake you.»


Then Moses summoned Joshua and in the presence of all Israel said to him, «Be brave and steadfast, for you must being this people into the land which the LORD swore to their fathers he would give them; you must put them in possession of their heritage.


It is the LORD who marches before you; he will be with you and will never fail you or forsake you. So do not fear or be dismayed.»


When Moses had written down this law, he entrusted it to the levitical priests who carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and to all the elders of Israel,


1 giving them this order: «On the feast of Booths, at the prescribed time in the year of relaxation which comes at the end of every seven-year period,


2 when all Israel goes to appear before the LORD, your God, in the place which he chooses, you shall read this law aloud in the presence of all Israel.


Assemble the people – men, women and children, as well as the aliens who live in your communities – that they may hear it and learn it, and so fear the LORD, your God, and carefully observe all the words of this law.


Their children also, who do not know it yet, must hear it and learn it, that they too may fear the LORD, your God, as long as you live on the land which you will cross the Jordan to occupy.»


3 The LORD said to Moses, «The time is now approaching for you to die. Summon Joshua, and present yourselves at the meeting tent that I may give him his commission.» So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves at the meeting tent.


And the LORD appeared at the tent in a column of cloud, which stood still at the entrance of the tent.


The LORD said to Moses, «Soon you will be at rest with your fathers, and then this people will take to rendering wanton worship to the strange gods among whom they will live in the land they are about to enter. They will forsake me and break the covenant which I have made with them.


At that time my anger will flare up against them; I will forsake them and hide my face from them, so that they will become a prey to be devoured, and many evils and troubles will befall them. At that time they will indeed say, ‘Is it not because our God is not among us that these evils have befallen us?’


Yet I will be hiding my face from them at that time only because of all the evil they have done in turning to other gods.


Write out this song, then, for yourselves. Teach it to the Israelites and have them recite it, so that this song may be a witness for me against the Israelites.


For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey which I promised on oath to their fathers, and they have eaten their fill and grown fat, if they turn to other gods and serve them, despising me and breaking my covenant;


then, when many evils and troubles befall them, this song, which their descendants will not have forgotten to recite, will bear witness against them. For I know what they are inclined to do even at the present time, before I have brought them into the land which I promised on oath to their fathers.»


So Moses wrote this song that same day, and he taught it to the Israelites.


Then the LORD commissioned Joshua, son of Nun, and said to him, «Be brave and steadfast, for it is you who must bring the Israelites into the land which I promised them on oath. I myself will be with you.»


When Moses had finished writing out on a scroll the words of the law in their entirety,


he gave the Levites who carry the ark of the covenant of the LORD this order:


«Take this scroll of the law and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the LORD, your God, that there it may be a witness against you.


For I already know how rebellious and stiff-necked you will be. Why, even now, while I am alive among you, you have been rebels against the LORD! How much more, then, after I am dead!


Therefore, assemble all your tribal elders and your officials before me, that I may speak these words for them to hear, and so may call heaven and earth to witness against them.


For I know that after my death you are sure to become corrupt and to turn aside from the way along which I directed you, so that evil will befall you in some future age because you have done evil in the LORD’S sight, and provoked him by your deeds.»


Then Moses recited the words of this song from beginning to end, for the whole assembly of Israel to hear:

1 [10] The year of relaxation: cf ⇒ Deut 15:1-3 and the note there.
2 [11-13] Reading the law not only instructed the people but also consoled them by the assurance of the divine goodness.
3 [14-15,23] ⇒ Deut 31:23 is best read immediately after ⇒ Deut 31:15; perhaps the original order was Deut 7,8,14,15,23.