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Joshua Is Appointed the Leader of Israel

31 Moses again spoke to the whole nation of Israel:

I am a hundred twenty years old, and I am no longer able to be your leader. And besides that, the Lord your God has told me that he won’t let me cross the Jordan River. 3-5 But he has promised that he and Joshua will lead you across the Jordan to attack the nations that live on the other side. The Lord will destroy those nations just as he destroyed Sihon and Og, those two Amorite kings. Just remember—whenever you capture a place, kill everyone who lives there.

Be brave and strong! Don’t be afraid of the nations on the other side of the Jordan. The Lord your God will always be at your side, and he will never abandon you.

Then Moses called Joshua up in front of the crowd and said:

Joshua, be brave and strong as you lead these people into their land. The Lord made a promise long ago to Israel’s ancestors that this land would someday belong to Israel. That time has now come, and you must divide up the land among the people. The Lord will lead you into the land. He will always be with you and help you, so don’t ever be afraid of your enemies.

Read These Laws

Moses wrote down all of these laws and teachings and gave them to the priests and the leaders of Israel. The priests were from the Levi tribe, and they carried the sacred chest that belonged to the Lord. 10-11 Moses told these priests and leaders:

Each year the Israelites must come together to celebrate the Festival of Shelters at the place where the Lord chooses to be worshiped. You must read these laws and teachings to the people at the festival every seventh year, the year when loans do not need to be repaid.[a] 12-13 Everyone must come—men, women, children, and even the foreigners who live in your towns. And each new generation will listen and learn to worship the Lord their God with fear and trembling and to do exactly what is said in God’s Law.

Israel Will Reject the Lord

14 The Lord told Moses, “You will soon die, so bring Joshua to the sacred tent, and I will appoint him the leader of Israel.”

Moses and Joshua went to the sacred tent, 15 and the Lord appeared in a thick cloud right over the entrance to the tent. 16 The Lord said:

Moses, you will soon die. But Israel is going into a land where other gods are worshiped, and Israel will reject me and start worshiping these gods. The people will break the agreement I made with them, 17 and I will be so furious that I will abandon them and ignore their prayers. I will send disasters and suffering that will nearly wipe them out. Finally, they will realize that the disasters happened because I abandoned them. 18 They will pray to me, but I will ignore them because they were evil and started worshiping other gods.

19 Moses and Joshua, I am going to give you the words to a new song. Write them down and teach the song to the Israelites. If they learn it, they will know what I want them to do, and so they will have no excuse for not obeying me. 20 I am bringing them into the land that I promised their ancestors. It is a land rich with milk and honey, and the Israelites will have more than enough food to eat. But they will get fat and turn their backs on me and start worshiping other gods. The Israelites will reject me and break the agreement that I made with them.

21 When I punish the Israelites and their descendants with suffering and disasters, I will remind them that they know the words to this song, so they have no excuse for not obeying me.

I will give them the land that I promised, but I know the way they are going to live later on.

22 Moses wrote down the words to the song[b] right away, and he taught it to the Israelites.

23 The Lord told Joshua, “Be brave and strong! I will help you lead the people of Israel into the land that I have promised them.”

24 Moses wrote down all these laws and teachings in a book, 25 then he went to the Levites who carried the sacred chest and said:

26 This is The Book of God’s Law. Keep it beside the sacred chest that holds the agreement the Lord your God made with Israel. This book is proof that you know what the Lord wants you to do. 27 I know how stubborn and rebellious you and the rest of the Israelites are. You have rebelled against the Lord while I have been alive, and it will only get worse after I am gone. 28 So call together the leaders and officials of the tribes of Israel. I will bring this book and read every word of it to you, and I will call the sky and the earth as witnesses that all of you know what you are supposed to do.

29 I am going to die soon, and I know that in the future you will stop caring about what is right and what is wrong, and so you will disobey the Lord and stop living the way I told you to live. The Lord will be angry, and terrible things will happen to you.

The Song of Moses

30 Moses called a meeting of all the people of Israel, so he could teach them the words to the song that the Lord had given him. And here are the words:

32 Earth and Sky,
    listen to what I say!
Israel, I will teach you.
My words will be like gentle rain
    on tender young plants,
    or like dew on the grass.

Join with me in praising
the wonderful name
    of the Lord our God.
The Lord is a mighty rock,[c]
    and he never does wrong.
God can always be trusted
    to bring justice.
But you lie and cheat
    and are unfaithful to him.
You have disgraced yourselves
and are no longer worthy
    to be his children.[d]
Israel, the Lord is your Father,
    the one who created you,
but you repaid him
    by being foolish.
Think about past generations.
Ask your parents
    or any of your elders.
They will tell you
that God Most High
    gave land to every nation.
He assigned a guardian angel
    to each of them,[e]
but the Lord himself
    takes care of Israel.[f]

10 Israel, the Lord discovered you
in a barren desert
    filled with howling winds.
God became your fortress,
protecting you
as though
    you were his own eyes.
11 The Lord was like an eagle
    teaching its young to fly,
always ready to swoop down
    and catch them on its back.
12 Israel, the Lord led you,
and without the aid
    of a foreign god,
13 he helped you
    capture the land.
Your fields were rich
    with grain.
Olive trees grew
    in your stony soil,
and honey was found
    among the rocks.
14 Your flocks and herds
    produced milk and yogurt,
and you got choice meat
from your sheep and goats
    that grazed in Bashan.
Your wheat was the finest,
    and you drank the best wine.

15 Israel,[g] you grew fat and rebelled
    against God, your Creator;
you rejected the Mighty Rock,[h]
    your only place of safety.
16 You made God jealous and angry
by worshiping disgusting idols
    and foreign gods.
17 You offered sacrifices
to demons, those useless gods[i]
    that never helped you,
new gods that your ancestors
    never worshiped.
18 You turned away
    from God, your Creator;
you forgot the Mighty Rock,[j]
    the source of your life.
19 You were the Lord’s children,
    but you made him angry.
Then he rejected you 20 and said,
“You are unfaithful
    and can’t be trusted.
So I won’t answer your prayers;
I’ll just watch and see
    what happens to you.
21 You worshiped worthless idols,
and made me jealous
    and angry!
Now I will send a cruel[k]
    and worthless nation
to make you jealous and angry.

22 “My people, I will breathe out fire
that sends you down
    to the world of the dead.
It will scorch your farmlands
and burn deep down
    under the mountains.
23 I’ll send disaster after disaster
    to strike you like arrows.
24 You’ll be struck by starvation
    and deadly diseases,
by the fangs of wild animals
    and poisonous snakes.
25 Young and old alike
will be killed in the streets
    and terrified at home.

26 “I wanted to scatter you,
so no one would remember
    that you had ever lived.
27 But I dreaded the sound
    of your enemies saying,
‘We defeated Israel with no help
    from the Lord.’”

28 People of Israel,
that’s what the Lord
    has said to you.
But you don’t have good sense,
and you never listen
    to advice.
29 If you did, you could see
    where you are headed.
30 How could one enemy soldier
chase a thousand
    of Israel’s troops?
Or how could two of theirs
    pursue ten thousand of ours?
It can only happen if the Lord
stops protecting Israel
    and lets the enemy win.
31 Even our enemies know
that only our God
    is a Mighty Rock.[l]

32 Our enemies are grapevines
rooted in the fields
    of Sodom and Gomorrah.[m]
The grapes they produce
    are full of bitter poison;
33 their wine is more deadly
    than cobra venom.
34 But the Lord has written
a list of their sins
    and locked it in his vault.
35 Soon our enemies will get
    what they deserve[n]
suddenly they will slip,
and total disaster
    will quickly follow.

36 When only a few
    of the Lord’s people remain,
when their strength is gone,
    and some of them are slaves,
the Lord will feel sorry for them
    and give them justice.

37 But first the Lord will say,
“You ran for safety to other gods—
    couldn’t they help you?
38 You offered them wine
    and your best sacrifices.
Can’t those gods help you now
    or give you protection?
39 Don’t you understand?
I am the only God;
    there are no others.
I am the one who takes life
    and gives it again.
I punished you with suffering.
But now I will heal you,
    and nothing can stop me!

40 “I make this solemn promise:
    Just as I live forever,
41 I will take revenge
    on my hateful enemies.
I will sharpen my sword
and let it flash
    like lightning.
42 My arrows will get drunk
    on enemy blood;
my sword will taste the flesh
    and the blood
of the enemy.
It will kill prisoners,
and cut off the heads
    of their leaders.”[o]

43 Tell the heavens to celebrate
and all gods to bow down
    to the Lord,[p]
because he will take revenge
on those hateful enemies
    who killed his people.
He will forgive the sins of Israel
    and purify their land.[q]

44-45 Moses spoke the words of the song so that all the Israelites could hear, and Joshua[r] helped him. When Moses had finished, 46 he said, “Always remember this song I have taught you today. And let it be a warning that you must teach your children to obey everything written in The Book of God’s Law. 47 The Law isn’t empty words. It can give you a long life in the land that you are going to take.”

Moses Will See the Land

48 Later that day the Lord said to Moses:

49 Go up into the Abarim Mountain range here in Moab across the Jordan River valley from Jericho. And when you reach the top of Mount Nebo, you will be able to see the land of Canaan, which I am giving to Israel. 50 Then you will die and be buried on the mountaintop, just as your brother Aaron died and was buried on Mount Hor. 51 Both of you were unfaithful to me at Meribah Spring near Kadesh in the Zin Desert.[s] I am God, but there in front of the Israelites, you did not treat me with the honor and respect I deserve. 52 So I will give the land to the people of Israel, but you will only get to see it from a distance.


  1. 31.10,11 every seventh year. . . repaid: See 15.1,2 and the note there.
  2. 31.22 the words to the song: See 32.1-43.
  3. 32.4 mighty rock: The Hebrew text has “rock,” which is sometimes used in poetry to compare the Lord to a mountain where his people can run for protection from their enemies.
  4. 32.5 and are unfaithful. . . children: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  5. 32.8 He assigned. . . them: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text “So there were as many nations as Israel (that is, Jacob) had children.”
  6. 32.9 Israel: The Hebrew text has “Jacob,” another name for Israel’s ancestor.
  7. 32.15 Israel: The Standard Hebrew Text has “Jeshurun,” a rare name for Israel related to a word meaning “honest.” The Samaritan Hebrew Text and one ancient translation also use “Jacob,” another name for the ancestor of the nation of Israel.
  8. 32.15 Mighty Rock: See the note at 32.4.
  9. 32.16,17 disgusting idols. . . foreign gods. . . demons. . . those useless gods: Different ways of referring to gods of other nations.
  10. 32.18 Mighty Rock: See the note at 32.4.
  11. 32.21 cruel: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  12. 32.31 Mighty Rock: See the note at 32.4.
  13. 32.32 Sodom and Gomorrah: Two cities that the Lord destroyed because their people were so evil (see Genesis 18.16—19.28).
  14. 32.35 our enemies. . . deserve: The Samaritan Hebrew Text and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text “I will pay them back.”
  15. 32.42 leaders: Or “long-haired warriors,” who let their hair grow to show that they had made sacred promises to their gods.
  16. 32.43 Tell. . . Lord: The Dead Sea Scrolls and one ancient translation; the Standard Hebrew Text “Let the nations, his people, celebrate.”
  17. 32.43 because he will. . . land: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  18. 32.44,45 Joshua: The Hebrew text has “Hoshea,” another form of Joshua’s name.
  19. 32.51 Both of you were unfaithful. . . the Zin Desert: See Numbers 20.1-13.