- Moses encourages the people and Joshua, verse 1-8.
- 23. Delivers to the priests the law, to be read every seventh year, verse 9-13.
- God informs Moses of his approaching death, and the future apostasy of Israel, verse 14-18.
- Orders him to write a song, which should be a testimony against them, verse 19-22.
- Moses gives the law to the Levites to lay up beside the ark, and bids them assemble the people to hear his song, verse 24-30.
Went and spake - Continued to speak, an usual Hebrew phrase.
Go out and come in - Perform the office of a leader or governor, because the time of my death approaches.
This law - Largely so called, the whole law or doctrine delivered unto Moses contained in these five books. To 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. The elders - Who were assistants to the priests, 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 on God and his service.
Thou shalt read - Thou shalt cause it to be read by the priest 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 so the people met in several congregations.
Together - Not in one place. But into divers assemblies or synagogues. Women who hereby are required to go to Jerusalem at this solemnity, as they were permitted to do in other solemnities. Children - Such of them as could understand, as appears from Nehemiah 8:2,3, the pious Jews doubtless read it daily in their houses, and Moses of old time was read in the synagogues every sabbath day. But once in seven years, the law was thus to be read in public, to magnify it and make it honourable.
Give him a charge - Immediately from myself for his greater encouragement, and to gain him more authority with the people.
The strangers of the land - That is, of the Canaanites, who 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 - Withdraw my favour and help. Whatever outward troubles we are in if we have but the light of God's countenance, we are safe. But if God hide his face from us then we are undone.
Write this song - Which is contained Deuteronomy 32:1-43, 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. A witness - 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 incorrigible people.
Their imaginations - Inclinations to Idolatry, which they do not check, as they ought; 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 5:25; Acts 7:43.
The Levites - The priests, Deuteronomy 31:9, who also were Levites.
Take this book - Probably the very same book, which (after having been some way misplaced) was found in the house of the Lord, in the days of Josiah, and publickly read by the king himself, for a witness against a people, who were then almost ripe for ruin. In the side - 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 - Against thy people, to whom he turns his speech that they might be the more affected with it.