Moses Encourages the People and
1. Moses went and spake—It is probable
that this rehearsal of the law extended over several successive days;
and it might be the last and most important day on which the return of
Moses to the place of assembly is specially noticed. In drawing his
discourse towards a conclusion, he adverted to his advanced age; and
although neither his physical nor intellectual powers had suffered any
34:7), yet he knew, by a
special revelation, that the time had arrived when he was about to be
withdrawn from the superintendence and government of Israel.
2-8. also the Lord hath said—should be
"for the Lord hath said" thou shalt not go over this Jordan.
While taking a solemn leave of the people, Moses exhorted them not to
be intimidated by the menacing opposition of enemies; to take
encouragement from the continued presence of their covenanted God; and
to rest assured that the same divine power, which had enabled them to
discomfit their first assailants on the east of Jordan, would aid them
not less effectually in the adventurous enterprise which they were
about to undertake, and by which they would obtain possession of "the
land which He had sworn unto their fathers to give them."
De 31:9-13. He Delivers the
Law to the Priests, to Read It Every Seventh Year to the
9-13. And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it
unto the priests—The law thus committed to writing was either
the whole book of Deuteronomy, or the important part of it contained
between the twenty-seventh and thirtieth chapters. It was usual in
cases of public or private contract for two copies of the engagement to
be made—one to be deposited in the national archives or some
secure place for reference, should occasion require. The other was to
remain in the hands of the contracting parties (Jer 32:12-14). The same course was followed on
this renewal of the covenant between God and Israel. Two written copies
of the law were prepared, the one of which was delivered to the public
representatives of Israel; namely, the priests and the elders.
the priests, … who bare the ark of the
covenant—In all ordinary journeys, it was the common duty of
the Levites to carry the ark and its furniture (Nu 4:15); but, on solemn or extraordinary
occasions, that office was discharged by the priests (Jos
3:3-8; 6:6; 1Ch 15:11, 12).
all the elders of Israel—They were
assistants to the priests and overseers to take care of the
preservation, rehearsal, and observance of the law.
10, 11. At the end of every seven years, …
thou shalt read this law—At the return of the sabbatic year
and during the feast of tabernacles, the law was to be publicly read.
This order of Moses was a future and prospective arrangement; for the
observance of the sabbatic year did not commence till the conquest and
peaceful occupation of Canaan. The ordinance served several important
purposes. For, while the people had opportunities of being instructed
in the law every Sabbath and daily in their own homes, this public
periodical rehearsal at meetings in the courts of the sanctuary, where
women and children of twelve years were present (as they usually were
at the great festivals), was calculated to produce good and pious
impressions of divine truth amid the sacred associations of the time
and place. Besides, it formed a public guarantee for the preservation,
integrity, and faithful transmission of the Sacred Book to successive
14, 15. the Lord said unto Moses, …call
Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the
congregation—Joshua had been publicly designated to the
office of commander by Moses [Nu 27:22, 23]; and God was pleased to confirm his
appointment by the visible symbols of His presence and approval. As
none but the priests were privileged to enter the sanctuary, it is
probable that this significant manifestation of the cloudy pillar was
made while the leaders stood at the door of the tabernacle.
16-22. the Lord said unto Moses, … this
people will rise up—In this remarkable interview, Moses was
distinctly apprised of the infidelity of Israel, their corruptions of
the true religion through intercourse with the idolatrous inhabitants
of Canaan (Am 5:26), and
their chastisements in consequence of those national defections.
17. Then my anger shall be kindled, … and I
will hide my face from them—an announcement of the withdrawal
of the divine favor and protection of which the Shekinah was the symbol
and pledge. It never appeared in the second temple; and its
non-appearance was a prelude of "all the evils that came upon them,
because their God was not among them."
19. Now therefore write ye this
song—National songs take deep hold of the memories and have a
powerful influence in stirring the deepest feelings of a people. In
accordance with this principle in human nature, a song was ordered to
be composed by Moses, doubtless under divine inspiration, which was to
be learnt by the Israelites themselves and to be taught to their
children in every age, embodying the substance of the preceding
addresses, and of a strain well suited to inspire the popular mind with
a strong sense of God's favor to their nation.
26. Take this book of the law, and put it in the
side of the ark—The second copy of the law (see on De 31:9) was deposited for greater security and reverence
in a little chest beside the ark of the covenant, for there was
nothing contained within it but the tables of stone (1Ki 8:9). Others think it was put within
the ark, it being certain, from the testimony of Paul (Heb 9:4), that there were once other things
inside the ark, and that this was the copy found in the time of Josiah