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Deuteronomy 31-33

Supplemental notes for the Daily Bible Study Bible Reading Plan

by Wayne Blank

Deuteronomy Chapter 31

Moses was the appointed human leader of Israel, but he was also the primary early human historian (The Lord gave Moses the information for the most ancient times; see Bible History) and librarian of Israel, beginning 40 years earlier (e.g. Exodus 17:14, 24:4-7, Numbers 33:2). When Moses reached the end of his own journey, he began preparing a succession of leadership and the library.

Men of God

"So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. And he said to them, "I am a hundred and twenty years old this day; I am no longer able to go out and come in. The Lord has said to me, 'You shall not go over this Jordan.'" (Deuteronomy 31:1-2 RSV)

"Then Moses summoned Joshua, and said to him in the sight of all Israel, "Be strong and of good courage; for you shall go with this people into the land which The Lord has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall put them in possession of it. It is The Lord who goes before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you or forsake you; do not fear or be dismayed." (Deuteronomy 31:7-8 RSV)

Moses then transferred possession of his library to the other Levites. Moses himself was a Levite (Exodus 2:1); the Levitical priesthood was established through Moses' brother Aaron and his successors (see The Lines Of Eleazar and Ithamar).

"And Moses wrote this law, and gave it to the priests the sons of Levi, who carried the ark of the covenant of The Lord, and to all the elders of Israel. And Moses commanded them, "At the end of every seven years, at the set time of the year of release, at the feast of booths [i.e. the Feast of Tabernacles; see Christ's Feast of Tabernacles], when all Israel comes to appear before The Lord your God at the place which he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. Assemble the people, men, women, and little ones, and the sojourner within your towns, that they may hear and learn to fear The Lord your God, and be careful to do all the words of this law, and that their children, who have not known it, may hear and learn to fear The Lord your God, as long as you live in the land which you are going over the Jordan to possess." (Deuteronomy 31:9-13 RSV)

Deuteronomy Chapter 32

The "Song of Moses" (not his only composition; Moses also wrote what became Psalm 90) was bittersweet in how it expressed the faithfulness of The Lord toward the people who so often became unfaithful to Him.


"For I will proclaim the Name of The Lord. Ascribe greatness to our God! The Rock [see 1 Corinthians 10:1-4 to understand who the "Rock" was], His work is perfect; for all His ways are justice. A God of faithfulness and without iniquity, just and right is He. They have dealt corruptly with Him, they are no longer His children because of their blemish; they are a perverse and crooked generation. Do you thus requite The Lord, you foolish and senseless people? Is not He your father, who created you [see Christ The Creator], Who made you and established you?" (Deuteronomy 32:3-6 RSV)

The Lord's final word on Moses, in this life (see the Fact Finder questions below; also The Valley of Moses' Grave).

"And The Lord said to Moses that very day, "Ascend this mountain of the Abarim, Mount Nebo, which is in the land of Moab, opposite Jericho; and view the land of Canaan, which I give to the people of Israel for a possession; and die on the mountain which you ascend, and be gathered to your people, as Aaron your brother died in Mount Hor and was gathered to his people; because you broke faith with Me in the midst of the people of Israel at the waters of Meribath-kadesh, in the wilderness of Zin; because you did not revere me as holy in the midst of the people of Israel. For you shall see the land before you; but you shall not go there, into the land which I give to the people of Israel." (Deuteronomy 32:48-52 RSV)

Deuteronomy Chapter 33

Moses' final official act was a blessing upon the tribes of Israel, very similar to that given to them by their father Jacob, who The Lord renamed as Israel, just before he died (Genesis 49; see also the notes for Genesis 48-50).

Tribes of Israel

"This is the blessing with which Moses the man of God blessed the children of Israel before his death. He said, "The Lord came from Sinai, and dawned from Seir upon us; he shone forth from Mount Paran, he came from the ten thousands of holy ones, with flaming fire at his right hand. Yea, he loved his people; all those consecrated to him were in his hand; so they followed in thy steps, receiving direction from thee, when Moses commanded us a law, as a possession for the assembly of Jacob. Thus The Lord became king in Jeshurun, when the heads of the people were gathered, all the tribes of Israel together." (Deuteronomy 33:1-5 RSV)

Although the Messiah would come through Judah, as had long been known (e.g. " The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the ruler's staff from between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs; and to him shall be the obedience of the peoples" Genesis 49:10 RSV), the physical and national blessings would come to the tribe of Joseph (see The Israelite Patriarchs - Joseph), which had been made into two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh. Interestingly, Moses' successor Joshua was of the tribe of Ephraim (1 Chronicles 7:20,27).

"And of Joseph he said, "Blessed by The Lord be his land, with the choicest gifts of heaven above, and of the deep that couches beneath, with the choicest fruits of the sun, and the rich yield of the months, with the finest produce of the ancient mountains, and the abundance of the everlasting hills, with the best gifts of the earth and its fulness, and the favor of him that dwelt in the bush. Let these come upon the head of Joseph, and upon the crown of the head of him that is prince among his brothers. His firstling bull has majesty, and his horns are the horns of a wild ox; with them he shall push the peoples, all of them, to the ends of the earth; such are the ten thousands of Ephraim, and such are the thousands of Manasseh." (Deuteronomy 33:13-17 RSV)

Fact Finder: (a) How did The Lord prepare Moses for the mission that he would be given? (b) Was anyone closer to The Lord than Moses? (c) Why didn't Moses enter the physical promised land?
(a) See The Education Of Moses
(b) See The Trysting Tent
(c) See Why Did Christ Put Moses To Death?

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