Matthew Poole's Commentary
And Moses went and spake these words unto all Israel.Moses declares to the people his approaching death, and encourageth them, and Joshua, Deu 31:1-8. He delivereth the law unto the priests to read it every seventh year to the people, Deu 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, Deu 31:14-23. Moses chargeth the Levites to lay up the book of the law beside the ark of the covenant, Deu 31:24-27 assembleth all the people to hear his song, Deu 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.
And he said unto them, I am an hundred and twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: also the LORD hath said unto me, Thou shalt not go over this Jordan.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 Deu 34:7, or because I foresee the time of my death approaches.
The LORD thy God, he will go over before thee, and he will destroy these nations from before thee, and thou shalt possess them: and Joshua, he shall go over before thee, as the LORD hath said.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD shall do unto them as he did to Sihon and to Og, kings of the Amorites, and unto the land of them, whom he destroyed.Which he gave to you to possess.
And the LORD shall give them up before your face, that ye may do unto them according unto all the commandments which I have commanded you.Before your face, i.e. into your power. See Poole "Deu 1:8".
Be strong and of a good courage, fear not, nor be afraid of them: for the LORD thy God, he it is that doth go with thee; he will not fail thee, nor forsake thee.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Moses called unto Joshua, and said unto him in the sight of all Israel, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou must go with this people unto the land which the LORD hath sworn unto their fathers to give them; and thou shalt cause them to inherit it.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD, he it is that doth go before thee; he will be with thee, he will not fail thee, neither forsake thee: fear not, neither be dismayed.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, and unto all the elders of Israel.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 3:13,17 6:12 1 Kings 8:3; though the Levites also might bear it, as appears from Num 3 Num 4 Num 10 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.
And Moses commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the solemnity of the year of release, in the feast of tabernacles,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.
When all Israel is come to appear before the LORD thy God in the place which he shall choose, thou shalt read this law before all Israel in their hearing.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, men, and women, and children, and thy stranger that is within thy gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear the LORD your God, and observe to do all the words of this law: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 8:2,3.
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.
And that their children, which have not known any thing, may hear, and learn to fear the LORD your God, as long as ye live in the land whither ye go over Jordan to possess it.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thy days approach that thou must die: call Joshua, and present yourselves in the tabernacle of the congregation, that I may give him a charge. And Moses and Joshua went, and presented themselves in the tabernacle of the congregation.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, Deu 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.
And the LORD appeared in the tabernacle in a pillar of a cloud: and the pillar of the cloud stood over the door of the tabernacle.No text from Poole on this verse.
And the LORD said unto Moses, Behold, thou shalt sleep with thy fathers; and this people will rise up, and go a whoring after the gods of the strangers of the land, whither they go to be among them, and will forsake me, and break my covenant which I have made with them.The death of men, both good and bad, is oft called a
sleep, because they shall certainly awake out of it by resurrection. See Psalm 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.
Then my anger shall be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them, and I will hide my face from them, and they shall be devoured, and many evils and troubles shall befall them; so that they will say in that day, Are not these evils come upon us, because our God is not among us?Hide my face, i.e. withdraw my favour and help.
And I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evils which they shall have wrought, in that they are turned unto other gods.No text from Poole on this verse.
Now therefore write ye this song for you, and teach it the children of Israel: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Israel.This song, which is contained Deu 32, 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.
For when I shall have brought them into the land which I sware unto their fathers, that floweth with milk and honey; and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and waxen fat; then will they turn unto other gods, and serve them, and provoke me, and break my covenant.No text from Poole on this verse.
And it shall come to pass, when many evils and troubles are befallen them, that this song shall testify against them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they go about, even now, before I have brought them into the land which I sware.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.
Moses therefore wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Israel.No text from Poole on this verse.
And he gave Joshua the son of Nun a charge, and said, Be strong and of a good courage: for thou shalt bring the children of Israel into the land which I sware unto them: and I will be with thee.This wickedness of theirs which I now foresee and foretell shall not hinder me from bringing them into Canaan.
And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished,No text from Poole on this verse.
That Moses commanded the Levites, which bare the ark of the covenant of the LORD, saying,The Levites, i.e. the priests, Deu 31:9 who also were Levites.
Take this book of the law, and put it in the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee.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.
For I know thy rebellion, and thy stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you this day, ye have been rebellious against the LORD; and how much more after my death?No text from Poole on this verse.
Gather unto me all the elders of your tribes, and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and call heaven and earth to record against them.No text from Poole on this verse.
For I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will befall you in the latter days; because ye will do evil in the sight of the LORD, to provoke him to anger through the work of your hands.No text from Poole on this verse.
And Moses spake in the ears of all the congregation of Israel the words of this song, until they were ended.No text from Poole on this verse.