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Deuteronomy 31:14-29

Context
The Commissioning of Joshua

31:14 Then the Lord said to Moses, “The day of your death is near. Summon Joshua and present yourselves in the tent 1  of meeting 2  so that I can commission him.” 3  So Moses and Joshua presented themselves in the tent of meeting. 31:15 The Lord appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud that 4  stood above the door of the tent. 31:16 Then the Lord said to Moses, “You are about to die, 5  and then these people will begin to prostitute themselves with the foreign gods of the land into which they 6  are going. They 7  will reject 8  me and break my covenant that I have made with them. 9  31:17 At that time 10  my anger will erupt against them 11  and I will abandon them and hide my face from them until they are devoured. Many disasters and distresses will overcome 12  them 13  so that they 14  will say at that time, ‘Have not these disasters 15  overcome us 16  because our 17  God is not among us 18 ?’ 31:18 But I will certainly 19  hide myself at that time because of all the wickedness they 20  will have done by turning to other gods. 31:19 Now write down for yourselves the following song and teach it to the Israelites. Put it into their very mouths so that this song may serve as my witness against the Israelites! 31:20 For after I have brought them 21  to the land I promised to their 22  ancestors – one flowing with milk and honey – and they 23  eat their fill 24  and become fat, then they 25  will turn to other gods and worship them; they will reject me and break my covenant. 31:21 Then when 26  many disasters and distresses overcome them 27  this song will testify against them, 28  for their 29  descendants will not forget it. 30  I know the 31  intentions they have in mind 32  today, even before I bring them 33  to the land I have promised.” 31:22 So on that day Moses wrote down this song and taught it to the Israelites, 31:23 and the Lord 34  commissioned Joshua son of Nun, “Be strong and courageous, for you will take the Israelites to the land I have promised them, and I will be with you.” 35 

Anticipation of Disobedience

31:24 When Moses finished writing on a scroll the words of this law in their entirety, 31:25 he 36  commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the Lord’s covenant, 31:26 “Take this scroll of the law and place it beside the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God. It will remain there as a witness against you, 31:27 for I know about your rebellion and stubbornness. 37  Indeed, even while I have been living among you to this very day, you have rebelled against the Lord; you will be even more rebellious after my death! 38  31:28 Gather to me all your tribal elders and officials so I can speak to them directly about these things and call the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 31:29 For I know that after I die you will totally 39  corrupt yourselves and turn away from the path I have commanded you to walk. Disaster will confront you in the days to come because you will act wickedly 40  before the Lord, inciting him to anger because of your actions.” 41 

1 tc The LXX reads “by the door of the tent” in line with v. 10 but also, perhaps, as a reflection of its tendency to avoid over-familiarity with Yahweh and his transcendence.

2 tn Heb “tent of assembly” (מוֹעֵד אֹהֶל, ’ohel moed); this is not always the same as the tabernacle, which is usually called מִשְׁכָּן (mishkan, “dwelling-place”), a reference to its being invested with God’s presence. The “tent of meeting” was erected earlier than the tabernacle and was the place where Yahweh occasionally appeared, especially to Moses (cf. Exod 18:7-16; 33:7-11; Num 11:16, 24, 26; 12:4).

3 tn Heb “I will command him.”

4 tn Heb “and the pillar of cloud.” This phrase was not repeated in the translation; a relative clause was used instead.

5 tn Heb “lie down with your fathers” (so NASB); NRSV “ancestors.”

6 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they,” which is necessary in any case in the translation because of contemporary English style. The third person singular also occurs in the Hebrew text twice more in this verse, three times in v. 17, once in v. 18, five times in v. 20, and four times in v. 21. Each time it is translated as third person plural for stylistic reasons.

7 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

8 tn Or “abandon” (TEV, NLT).

9 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

10 tn Heb “on that day.” This same expression also appears later in the verse and in v. 18.

11 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

12 tn Heb “find,” “encounter.”

13 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

14 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

15 tn Heb “evils.”

16 tn Heb “me.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “us,” which is necessary in any case in the translation because of contemporary English style.

17 tn Heb “my.”

18 tn Heb “me.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “us,” which is necessary in any case in the translation because of contemporary English style.

19 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “certainly.”

20 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

21 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

22 tn Heb “his.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “their.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

23 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

24 tn Heb “and are satisfied.”

25 tn Heb “he.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “they.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

26 tn Heb “Then it will come to pass that.”

27 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

28 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

29 tn Heb “his.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “their.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

30 tn Heb “it will not be forgotten from the mouth of his seed.”

31 tn Heb “his.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “their.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

32 tn Heb “which he is doing.”

33 tn Heb “him.” Smr, LXX, and the Targums read the plural “them.” See note on the first occurrence of “they” in v. 16.

34 tn Heb “he.” Since the pronoun could be taken to refer to Moses, the referent has been specified as “the Lord” in the translation for clarity. See also the note on the word “you” later in this verse.

35 tc The LXX reads, “as the Lord promised them, and he will be with you.” This relieves the problem of Moses apparently promising to be with Joshua as the MT reads on the surface (“I will be with you”). However, the reading of the LXX is clearly an attempt to clarify an existing obscurity and therefore is unlikely to reflect the original.

36 tn Heb “Moses.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

37 tn Heb “stiffness of neck” (cf. KJV, NAB, NIV). See note on the word “stubborn” in Deut 9:6.

38 tn Heb “How much more after my death?” The Hebrew text has a sarcastic rhetorical question here; the translation seeks to bring out the force of the question.

39 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with “totally.”

40 tn Heb “do the evil.”

41 tn Heb “the work of your hands.”



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