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DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 31
Moses declares to the people his approaching death, and encourageth them, and Joshua, Deuteronomy 31:1-8.
He delivereth the law unto the priests to read it every seventh year to the people, Deuteronomy 31:9-13.
God putteth Joshua into his office; foretelleth to Moses and him the future disobedience and misery of the people; enjoineth Moses a song to testify against the people, Deuteronomy 31:14-23.
Moses chargeth the Levites to lay up the book of the law beside the ark of the covenant, Deuteronomy 31:24-27 assembleth all the people to hear his song, Deuteronomy 31:28-30.
Went and spake, i.e. proceeded or continued to speak, a usual Hebrew phrase. Or, went to the place where he had assembled the people, that he might speak to them.
Go out and come in, i.e. perform the office of a leader or governor, either because I now find a decay of my mind and body, which seems not well to agree with Deuteronomy 34:7, or because I foresee the time of my death approaches.
Which he gave to you to possess.
Before your face, i.e. into your power. See Poole "Deuteronomy 1:8".
This law, largely so called, the whole law or doctrine delivered unto Moses contained in these five books.
Delivered it unto the priests, that they might keep it carefully and religiously, and bring it forth upon occasion, and read it, and instruct the people out of it.
Which bare the ark, to wit, sometimes in great solemnities, as Joshua 3:13,Joshua 3:17; Joshua 6:12; 1 Kings 8:3; though the Levites also might bear it, as appears from Numbers 3:0; Numbers 4:0; Numbers 10:0; 1 Chronicles 15:2.
The elders of Israel were assistants to the priests, and overseers to take care that the law should be kept, and read, and observed.
The year of release; when they were freed from debts and troubles, and cares of worldly matters, and thereby fitter to attend upon God and his service.
Thyself in part, for the Jews tell us that the king was in person to read some part of it; or, at least, thou shalt cause it to be read by the priests or Levites, for he could not read it himself in the hearing of all Israel, but this was to be done by several persons, and to the people met in several congregations. See Nehemiah 8:1, &c.
Gather the people together; not into one place, where all could not hear, but into divers assemblies or synagogues.
Women hereby are required to go to Jerusalem at this solemnity, as they were permitted to do in other solemnities, when the males only were enjoined to go, Exodus 23:17.
Children, to wit, such of them as could understand, as appears from Nehemiah 8:2,Nehemiah 8:3.
Thy stranger, i.e. the proselytes, though others also were admitted.
That they may learn; that they may then certainly and constantly do so, though they had also other opportunities to do so, as upon the sabbath days, Acts 15:21, and other solemn feasts, yea, even in their private houses.
In the tabernacle; either properly so called, for though the priests only might ordinarily enter there, yet others might go in upon a call and command from God, which here they had; or in the court of the tabernacle, at the door of which God stood in the cloudy pillar, Deuteronomy 31:15, the court coming here under the name of the tabernacle, as elsewhere it comes under the name of the temple.
That I may give him a charge, immediately from myself, for his greater encouragement, and to gain him more authority with the people.
The death of men, both good and bad, is oft called a
sleep, because they shall certainly awake out of it by resurrection. See Psalms 76:5; Daniel 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 4:13, &c.; 2 Peter 3:4. This people will go a whoring: God certainly foresees all things to come, yea, even those which depend upon the wills of men, or contingencies of the things, as this unquestionably did.
Of the strangers of the land, i.e. of the Canaanites, who now are possessors, but shortly will be turned out of their possessions, and become as strangers in their own land. This aggravates their folly, to worship such gods as could neither preserve their friends, nor annoy their enemies.
Hide my face, i.e. withdraw my favour and help.
This song, which is contained Deuteronomy 32:0, and is put into a song that it may be better learned, and more fixed in their minds and memories.
Put it in their mouths; cause them to learn it, and sing it one to another, to oblige them to more circumspection and watchfulness.
A witness for me; of my kindness in giving them so many blessings, of my patience in bearing so long with them, of my clemency in giving them such fair and plain warnings, and my justice in punishing such an unthankful, perverse, and incorrigible people.
It shall not be forgotten: this seems not to be a precept that they should remember it, but a prediction, that God would give them sad occasion to remember it, by bringing upon them the dreadful calamities mentioned in it.
Their imagination which they go about, even now; either their inward inclinations to idolatry, which they do not check, as they ought, but rather entertain with delight; and some of them do not only cherish it in their hearts, but as far as they can and dare secretly practise it, as may be gathered from Amos 5:26; Acts 7:43; or their secret purposes to allow themselves therein, when they are settled in their land, which were clearly known to God, though it may be not fully evident to themselves.
This wickedness of theirs which I now foresee and foretell shall not hinder me from bringing them into Canaan.
The Levites, i.e. the priests, Deuteronomy 31:9 who also were Levites.
In the side, i.e. in the outside, in a little chest fixed to it, for nothing but the tables of stone were contained in the ark, 1 Kings 8:9. Here it was kept for greater security and reverence.
A witness against thee, i.e. against thy people, to whom he turns his speech, that they might be more affected with it.
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Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 31". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/
the Fourth Week after Epiphany