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Bible Commentaries

Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

Deuteronomy 31

Verse 2

I am an hundred and twenty years old - The 40 years of the wandering had passed since Moses, then 80 years old, “spake unto Pharaoh” (Exodus 7:7; Compare Deuteronomy 34:7).

I can, no more go out and come in - Render I shall not longer be able to go out and come in: i. e., discharge my duties among you. There is no inconsistency with Deuteronomy 34:7. Moses here adverts to his own age as likely to render him in future unequal to the active discharge of his office as leader of the people: the writer of Deuteronomy 34:1-12, one of Moses’ contemporaries, remarks of him that up to the close of life “his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated” Deuteronomy 31:7; i. e. that he was to the last, in the judgment of others, in full possession of faculties and strength.

Verses 7-8

Moses hands over to Joshua that office as leader of the people, to which he had already been designated Deuteronomy 1:38; Numbers 27:23. He assigns also to the Levitical priests and the elders, as the ecclesiastical and civil heads of the nation, the responsibility of teaching the law and enforcing its observance Deuteronomy 31:10-13. Both these were symbolic acts, designed to mark the responsibility of the parties concerned after the death of Moses.

Verse 11

Compare the marginal references. It is not to be supposed that the whole of the Pentateuch was read, nor does the letter of the command require that it should be so. This reading could not be primarily designed for the information and instruction of the people, since it only took place once in seven years; but was evidently a symbolic transaction, intended, as were so many others, to impress on the people the conditions on which they held possession of their privileges and blessings.

Verses 14-23

He gave - i. e., the Lord gave.

Verses 24-29

How much more after my death - Hence, Deuteronomy 31:24 and the rest of the book (with the exception of the song, Deuteronomy 31:19) must be regarded as a kind of appendix added after Moses’ death by another hand; though the Blessing Deuteronomy 33:0 is of course to be regarded as a composition of Moses.

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Bibliographical Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 31". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bnb/deuteronomy-31.html. 1870.