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Joshua Becomes Moses’ Successor


When Moses had finished speaking all these words to all Israel, 2he said to them: “I am now one hundred twenty years old. I am no longer able to get about, and the L ord has told me, ‘You shall not cross over this Jordan.’ 3The L ord your God himself will cross over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, and you shall dispossess them. Joshua also will cross over before you, as the L ord promised. 4The L ord will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. 5The L ord will give them over to you and you shall deal with them in full accord with the command that I have given to you. 6Be strong and bold; have no fear or dread of them, because it is the L ord your God who goes with you; he will not fail you or forsake you.”

7 Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel: “Be strong and bold, for you are the one who will go with this people into the land that the L ord has sworn to their ancestors to give them; and you will put them in possession of it. 8It is the L ord who goes before you. He will be with you; he will not fail you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

The Law to Be Read Every Seventh Year

9 Then Moses wrote down this law, and gave it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of the L ord, and to all the elders of Israel. 10Moses commanded them: “Every seventh year, in the scheduled year of remission, during the festival of booths, 11when all Israel comes to appear before the L ord your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12Assemble the people—men, women, and children, as well as the aliens residing in your towns—so that they may hear and learn to fear the L ord your God and to observe diligently all the words of this law, 13and so that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear the L ord your God, as long as you live in the land that you are crossing over the Jordan to possess.”

Moses and Joshua Receive God’s Charge

14 The L ord said to Moses, “Your time to die is near; call Joshua and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, so that I may commission him.” So Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting, 15and the L ord appeared at the tent in a pillar of cloud; the pillar of cloud stood at the entrance to the tent.

16 The L ord said to Moses, “Soon you will lie down with your ancestors. Then this people will begin to prostitute themselves to the foreign gods in their midst, the gods of the land into which they are going; they will forsake me, breaking my covenant that I have made with them. 17My anger will be kindled against them in that day. I will forsake them and hide my face from them; they will become easy prey, and many terrible troubles will come upon them. In that day they will say, ‘Have not these troubles come upon us because our God is not in our midst?’ 18On that day I will surely hide my face on account of all the evil they have done by turning to other gods. 19Now therefore write this song, and teach it to the Israelites; put it in their mouths, in order that this song may be a witness for me against the Israelites. 20For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I promised on oath to their ancestors, and they have eaten their fill and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, despising me and breaking my covenant. 21And when many terrible troubles come upon them, this song will confront them as a witness, because it will not be lost from the mouths of their descendants. For I know what they are inclined to do even now, before I have brought them into the land that I promised them on oath.” 22That very day Moses wrote this song and taught it to the Israelites.

23 Then the L ord commissioned Joshua son of Nun and said, “Be strong and bold, for you shall bring the Israelites into the land that I promised them; I will be with you.”

24 When Moses had finished writing down in a book the words of this law to the very end, 25Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the L ord, saying, 26“Take this book of the law and put it beside the ark of the covenant of the L ord your God; let it remain there as a witness against you. 27For I know well how rebellious and stubborn you are. If you already have been so rebellious toward the L ord while I am still alive among you, how much more after my death! 28Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officials, so that I may recite these words in their hearing and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly, turning aside from the way that I have commanded you. In time to come trouble will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the L ord, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.”

The Song of Moses

30 Then Moses recited the words of this song, to the very end, in the hearing of the whole assembly of Israel:

10. And Moses commanded them. The object of this precept is the same as that of the foregoing. He would have (the Law238238     Added from the French. ) represented, and constantly kept before their eyes; now He commands that it should also be recited every seventh year, lest the knowledge of it should ever depart. But let us follow the order of the words. First of all, Moses says that “he wrote” the Law. Before this, the doctrines of religion had only been expressed by word of mouth, for their fathers had handed down traditionally to their children whatever had been declared to them from heaven. Thus the religion and faith of the people in Egypt was only founded on ancient revelations (oraculis) and the traditions of their fathers. But, forasmuch as nothing is more easy than for men’s minds, in their vanity, speedily to forget true doctrine, and to involve themselves in manifold errors, God, willing to provide against this evil, consigned the rule of piety to public records,239239     En chartes authentiques. — Fr. so that there might be no pretense of ignorance if their posterity should decline from it. Behold, then, the reason why the Law was written down, that God’s truth might be witnessed in the continued lapse of ages. He does not mean that the Law was so “delivered” to the Levites, that they should suppress it, or should be its only keepers; but if he had exhorted them all indifferently to read it, scarcely any would have applied themselves to its study; for so it is wont to happen, that individuals neglect what is enjoined generally upon all. Wherefore the Levites are appointed to be the guardians of the Law (nomophylaces), to watch diligently, amidst the neglect and contempt of others, lest the knowledge of God should fail. Nor is there any question that the Law was therefore entrusted to their hands, that they might be its interpreters. And to this that passage of Malachi refers, (Malachi 2:7,) “For the priest’s lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the Law at his mouth; for he is the messenger of the Lord of hosts.” For what is added immediately afterwards, that they should read over the Law every seventh year, cannot properly be taken, as if, during the rest of the time, it should remain hidden among themselves; for God would have them to teach daily, and constantly to remind the people of their duty. But lest this practice should become obsolete, either by the aversion of the people or the laziness of the priests, this solemn rite was added, that every seventh year when the most numerous assembly of the people took place, the promulgation of the Law should be renewed. Whence it appears that nothing is too sacred nor too abundantly fortified by precautions to escape violation and infraction from man’s wickedness; for when the recitation of the Law was thus precisely enjoined upon the Levites, it was surely astonishing and detestable that it should be, as it were, discovered in the time of Josiah, and that all were aroused by its novelty, as if they had never heard of it before. (2 Kings 22:3, etc.) Exactly the same thing did not occur under the Papacy; but when its scarecrow240240     Larvati. — Lat. Les Eveques comus et masquez. — Fr. bishops desired to domineer and tyrannize, they used the artifice of declaring it unlawful to inquire into the mysteries of Scripture. Hence it was brought about that they might securely addict themselves to their ridiculous follies, and that the monks, their emissaries, might vent with impunity whatever fables came into their heads. But, in fine, the intention of God was that every seventh year the people should be reminded to meditate diligently on the law.

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