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Parashah 52 VaYelech

Deuteronomy 31:1-30

By Dr. K. Blad©

Second edition 2013-14

Lucrative copying not permitted. 

Torah Readings: (the years when this Parashah is read separately):

  1. 31:1-3

  2. 31:4-6

  3. 31:7-9

  4. 31:10-13

  5. 31:14-19

  6. 31:20-24

  7. 31:25-30

  8. Maftir: 31:28-30

Haftarah: Hosea 14:2-10; Micah 7:18-20; Joel 2:15-27



Means “and he went”

The First Aliyah, 31:1-3

31:2 “He said to them, I am one hundred twenty years old this day; I can no more go out and come in: and HaShem has said to me, You shall not go over this Yarden.”(HNV revised) – According to Talmud,[1] this was the seventh of Adar, Moshe’s birthday. The time had come for him to die. That is why he first said goodbye to the people, see verses 1-6. Then he instituted Yehoshua as his successor, see verse 7-8. And finally he commanded that the Torah be read publicly every Shabbat year, see verses 9-13.

31:3 “HaShem your God, he will go over before you; he will destroy these nations from before you, and you shall dispossess them: and Yehoshua, he shall go over before you, as HaShem has spoken.”(HNV revised) – According to archeological discoveries in Yericho from approximately year 1400 BCE, fatal epidemics had struck the land of Kana’an so that the population was drastically reduced. This happened shortly before the children of Israel took over the land. In this way the Eternal went before them and destroyed a large part of the population of the seven nations.

The Second Aliyah, 31:4-6

31:6 “Be strong and of good courage, don't be afraid, nor be scared of them: for HaShem your God, he it is who does go with you; he will not fail you, nor forsake you.”(HNV revised) – Fear is destroyed by the knowledge that the Eternal is with me, as it is written in Psalm 23:4a,

“Even though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death, I will fear no evil, for you are with me.”(HNV)

The Third Aliyah, 31:7-9

31:6-7 “Be strong… be strong” – The Hebrew word that is translated as “strong” is chazak,[2] which means “strong”, “firm”, “hard”, “violent”, “mighty”, “powerful”. Steadfastness and strength is an inner power that helps man not to lose courage and pull back in times of crisis. Steadfastness and strength are necessary in order to keep the commandments when met with resistance. Steadfastness and strength are necessary in order to get the victory when under attack. When you feel tempted to become discouraged, it is important to stand firm and keep pressing on to see the Eternal’s supernatural intervention. 

In 1 Corinthians 15:58, it is written,

Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the Lord's work, because you know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.”(HNV)

In Ephesians 6:10-18, it is written,

Finally, be strong in the Lord, and in the strength of his might. Put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to stand against the wiles of the devil. For our wrestling is not against flesh and blood, but against the principalities, against the powers, against the world's rulers of the darkness of this age, and against the spiritual hosts of wickedness in the heavenly places. Therefore, put on the whole armor of God, that you may be able to withstand in the evil day, and, having done all, to stand. Stand therefore, having the belt of truth buckled around your waist, and having put on the breastplate of righteousness, and having fitted your feet with the preparation of the Good News of shalom; above all, taking up the shield of faith, with which you will be able to quench all the fiery darts of the evil one. And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God; with all prayer and requests, praying at all times in the Spirit, and being watchful to this end in all perseverance and requests for all the consecrated ones”(HNV revised)

In Matthew 10:22, it is written,

“You will be hated by all men for my name's sake, but he who endures to the end will be saved.”(HNV)

In Matthew 24:13, it is written

“But he who endures to the end, the same will be saved.”(HNV)

In Mark 13:13, it is written,

“You will be hated by all men for my name's sake, but he who endures to the end, the same will be saved”(HNV)

Steadfastness, courage, strength to resist, perseverance, tenacity, patience, and faithfulness are characteristics that must be in the one who is to lead the people called to fulfill the Eternal’s commandments in a world full of resistance.

In Hebrews 10:35-39, it is written,

Therefore don't throw away your boldness, which has a great reward. For you need endurance so that, having done the will of God, you may receive the promise. ‘In a very little while, he who comes will come, and will not wait. But the righteous will live by faith. If he shrinks back, my soul has no pleasure in him.’ But we are not of those who shrink back to destruction, but of those who have faith to the saving of the soul.”(HNV revised)

The opposite of having faith is to shrink back. One who shrinks back will lose his soul.

In Luke 9:62, it is written,

“But Yeshua said to him, ‘No one, having put his hand to the plow, and looking back, is fit for the Kingdom of God.’”(HNV revised)

31:8 “HaShem, he it is who does go before you; he will be with you, he will not fail you, neither forsake you: don't be afraid, neither be dismayed.”(HNV revised) – Yehoshua needed encouragement to be fully convinced of the Eternal’s presence and intervention in his assignment. He could not trust himself, but the Eternal.

31:9  “Moshe wrote this Torah, and delivered it to the priests, the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of HaShem, and to all the elders of Yisra'el.”(HNV revised) – A Midrash[3] tells,

“The day before the seventh of Adar, when Moshe was to die, he heard a voice from heaven that told him that he would soon die. He immediately began to supernaturally write thirteen copies of the Torah. He wrote twelve copies for the twelve tribes plus one copy that he placed in the consecrated ark. So if anyone took the liberty of falsifying it, they would always be able to look up the original text, which would always be kept in its original condition. Furthermore Moshe thought, “If I devote myself to Torah through the entire day, the angel of death will not have power over me”. But the sun shone until Moshe finished his work.”

It is most probable that this is an exaggeration, as is the case with many of the Midrashim. However, it shows us the thought that the Torah was given to all twelve tribes of Israel, so that no one might say that it applies only to the tribe of Levi. The Torah was not given only to be hidden away in the ark, or only for the tribe of Levi, but to be used and read every day so that all of Israel can practice it in their daily lives. Dear reader, do you read from the Torah every day?

“delivered it to the priests… and to all the elders of Yisra’el” – The Torah is not in heaven, see 30:12. It is in the hands of men. Nothing can be added to it or subtracted from it. The Levite priests have the greatest responsibility to keep the Torah and to teach it to the people. Thereafter the responsibility lies with all the elders in Israel. This also teaches us that the interpretation of the Torah is not a personal thing. It is important to ask for counsel and to listen to the interpretation that the wise men of Israel have made throughout the course of history, see 2 Peter 1:20.

In Malachi 2:4-7, it is written,

“’You will know that I have sent this commandment to you, that my covenant may be with Levi,’ says HaShem of Hosts. ‘My covenant was with him of life and shalom; and I gave them to him who he might be reverent toward me; and he was reverent toward me, and stood in awe of my name. The Torah of truth was in his mouth, and unrighteousness was not found in his lips. He walked with me in shalom and uprightness, and turned many away from iniquity. For the priest's lips should keep knowledge, and they should seek the Torah at his mouth; for he is the messenger of HaShem of Hosts.’”(HNV revised)

The Fourth Aliyah, 31:10-13

31:10-11 “Moshe commanded them, saying, At the end of every seven years, in the set time of the year of release, in the feast of booths, when all Yisra'el is come to appear before HaShem your God in the place which he shall choose, you shall read this Torah before all Yisra'el in their hearing.”(HNV revised) – Rashi teaches that it was the king who had the responsibility to read to all the people beginning with the first verse of Devarim, Deuteronomy. Talmud[4] teaches that the whole book was not read, but only chosen portions. These portions were 1:1 – 6:9; 11:13-21 and 14:22 – 28:69. These passages primarily speak of loyalty to the Eternal in fulfilling his commandments, being faithful to the covenant and to accept heavenly reward and punishment.

The feast of Tabernacles is a prophetic picture of the time of the Messianic reign, the thousand year reign. During this time the Torah will go out from Yerushalayim, not only to all of Israel, but to all the nations, as it is written in Isaiah 2:2-4,

It shall happen in the latter days, that the mountain of HaShem’s house shall be established on the top of the mountains, and shall be raised above the hills; and all nations shall flow to it. Many peoples shall go and say, ‘Come, let's go up to the mountain of HaShem, to the house of the God of Ya`akov; and he will teach us of his ways, and we will walk in his paths. For out of Tziyon the Torah shall go forth, and the word of HaShem from Yerushalayim. He will judge between the nations, and will decide concerning many peoples; and they shall beat their swords into plowshares, and their spears into pruning-hooks.’”(HNV revised) see Micah 1:1-4.

In Isaiah 42:4, it is written,

“He will not fail nor be discouraged, until he has set justice in the earth; and the islands shall wait for his Torah.”(HNV revised)

This teaching from the Torah will be given to all the leaders of the nations during the annual feast of Sukkot when they will have to be present in Yerushalayim, as it is written in Zechariah 14:16-17,

It will happen that everyone who is left of all the nations that came against Yerushalayim will go up from year to year to worship the King, HaShem of Hosts, and to keep the feast of tabernacles. It will be, that whoever of all the families of the earth doesn't go up to Yerushalayim to worship the King, HaShem of Hosts, on them there will be no rain.”(HNV revised)

This is talking about physical rain, but it is also speaking allegorically. Rain symbolizes the Torah, see Deuteronomy 32:2. During the feast of Sukkot, the Messiah Yeshua will give all of Israel and the rulers of the gentiles an annual Torah seminar. It will be completely different than it is today, when top political leaders gather to try to make order in the world and to solve its problems without submitting to Israel’s God, his Messiah, and his Instruction Book. Only once the Messiah restores the Torah among all the nations of the earth, will there be peace in the world.

31:12 “Assemble the people, the men and the women and the little ones, and your foreigner who is within your gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear HaShem your God, and observe to do all the words of this Torah”(HNV revise) – Even women and children need to hear and be instructed from the Torah.

“foreigner who is within your gates… observe to do all the words of this Torah” – These foreigners are the proselytes, those who have converted to become Jews. They are obligated to live like Jews and to fulfill all the commandments of the Torah, as it is written in Galatians 5:3,

“Yes, I testify again to every man who receives circumcision, that he is a debtor to do the whole Torah.”(HNV revised)

The gentiles who have converted and come into Israel through the Messiah Yeshua, do not have the same obligation to fulfill all the commandments of the Torah.

31:13 “and that their children, who have not known, may hear, and learn to fear HaShem your God, as long as you live in the land where you go over the Yarden to possess it.”(HNV revised) – Fear of HaShem is one of the most important elements in our relationship with Him. This fear is created by reading the Torah. Children who listen to their parents when they read the Torah at home will learn to fear the Eternal, as it also is written in Psalms 78:5-7,

“For he established a testimony in Ya`akov, and appointed a teaching in Yisra'el, which he commanded our fathers, that they should make them known to their children; that the generation to come might know, even the children who should be born; Who should arise and tell their children, that they might set their hope in God, and not forget the works of God, but keep his commandments,”(HNV revised)

The Fifth Aliyah, 31:14-19

31:14, 16 “you must die… you shall sleep… will rise up”(HNV) – The death of the righteous is considered as sleep. When the Torah uses the expression “will rise up” immediately after announcing the death of Moshe, it is translated in Talmud[5] as a reference to the resurrection. This is one of the passages where the Torah of Moshe speaks of the resurrection of the dead, compare also with 32:39. When the Messiah Yeshua comes back, Moshe Rabbenu will be raised up.

In Daniel 12:2, it is written,

“Many of those who sleep in the dust of the earth shall awake, some to everlasting life, and some to shame and everlasting contempt.”(HNV)

31:17 “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 come on them; so that they will say in that day, Haven't these evils come on us because our God is not among us?”(HNV revised) – This is a reference to the Babylonian exile.

31:18 “I will surely hide my face in that day for all the evil which they shall have worked, in that they are turned to other gods.”(HNV) – This is referring to the dispersion under the Romans (Edom).

31:19 “Now therefore write you this song for you, and teach you it the children of Yisra'el: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the children of Yisra'el.”(HNV) – This song was written as a testimony against the children of Israel in order to teach them the seriousness of apostasy and idol worship. It is written in chapter 32. It is a prophetic song that revealed the whole future history of Israel. The end is glorious with complete victory over the enemies.

The Sixth Aliyah, 31:20-24

31:21 “It shall happen, when many evils and troubles are come on them, that this song shall testify before them as a witness; for it shall not be forgotten out of the mouths of their seed: for I know their imagination which they frame this day, before I have brought them into the land which I swore.”(HNV) – Rashi interprets this word to be referring to the entire Torah, not only Moshe’s song. He says that thus the Torah will not be completely forgotten among the descendants of Israel.

It is possible that Moshe based the song on the notes of the Hebrew scale when he sang, and thus he taught it to Israel so that it would never be forgotten. It has not been forgotten by the descendants of Israel. Those who sing the songs of Tziyon ought to learn to use the Hebrew scale. It goes like this:

Escala hebrea

The popular song “Hava Nagila” is built on this scale.              

31:24 “It happened, when Moshe had made an end of writing the words of this Torah in a scroll, until they were finished”(HNV revised) – This teaches us that Moshe, and no one else, wrote the entire five books of Moshe, the Chumash. In Talmud,[6] there is a discussion concerning the last part of the Torah, which speaks of Moshe’s death and burial. Was it really written by Moshe? Some say that Yehoshua wrote it, and others say that HaShem dictated everything to Moshe who wrote it down before it happened.

The Seventh Aliyah, 31:25-30

31:26 “Take this Torah scroll, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of HaShem your God, that it may be there for a witness against you.”(HNV revised) - Talmud[7] writes about a discussion between the different sages in Israel concerning whether the ark had a board that stuck out where they placed the Sefer Torah, the Torah scroll, or if the Torah was placed inside the ark. The text literally reads, “alongside the ark”.

The Mashiach in this Parashah

31:2-3 “You shall not go over this Yarden… Yehoshua, he shall go”(HNV revised) – Both Moshe and Yehoshua are prophetic pictures of the Messiah. Moshe’s death and his successor, Yehoshua, foreshadow the Messiah’s death and resurrection.

Moshe could also be a picture of the first man and Yehoshua the second man. The first man died, and the second man received an indestructible life.

In 1 Corinthians 15:22, 47-50, it is written,

“For as in Adam all die, so also in Messiah all will be made alive… The first man is of the earth, made of dust. The second man is heavenly. As is the one made of dust, such are those who are also made of dust; and as is the heavenly, such are they also that are heavenly. As we have borne the image of those made of dust, let's also bear the image of the heavenly. Now I say this, brothers, that flesh and blood can't inherit the Kingdom of God; neither does corruption inherit incorruption.”(HNV revised)

In Romans 6:5-11, it is written,

“For if we have become united with him in the likeness of his death, we will also be part of his resurrection; knowing this, that our old man was hung on a tree with him, that the body of sin might be done away with, so that we would no longer be in bondage to sin. For he who has died has been freed from sin. But if we died with Messiah, we believe that we will also live with him; knowing that Messiah, being raised from the dead, dies no more. Death no more has dominion over him! For the death that he died, he died to sin one time; but the life that he lives, he lives for God. Thus consider yourselves also to be dead to sin, but alive to God in Messiah Yeshua our Lord.”(HNV revised)

31:7 “Moshe called to Yehoshua, and said to him in the sight of all Yisra'el, Be strong and of good courage: for you shall go with this people into the land which HaShem has sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall cause them to inherit it.”(HNV revised) – Yehoshua, who has the name as Yeshua in its long form, was the one who would make sure that the twelve tribes entered the Promised Land. This is also the job of the Messiah Yeshua; to cause all the tribes of Israel to come into the land that was promised to their forefathers.

In Isaiah 49:6, it is written,

“yes, he says, It is too light a thing that you should be my servant to raise up the tribes of Ya`akov, and to restore the preserved of Yisra'el: I will also give you for a light to the gentiles, that you may be my salvation to the end of the earth.”(HNV revised)

Ever since the birth of the Messiah Yeshua in Beit Lechem, which the Scriptures speak of, until today, he has been working on his assignment to seek and restore the twelve tribes. Many, maybe all, of those who have been born again spiritually among the gentiles are physical descendants of the lost tribes of Israel. Through the new birth they have been given spiritual contact with Israel. And in that level this prophecy is being fulfilled in the entire world.

However, in the physical level, there will also be a restoration of the twelve tribes. When Yeshua comes back, he will tell each person what people and tribe he belongs to and restorer the twelve tribes in the land that is promised to the physical descendants of Avraham forever. That will be the physical fulfillment of that prophecy.

In order to come into the new Yerushalayim, one must go through one of the twelve gates. Each gate has the name of one of the twelve tribes of Israel. The tribes are therefore the gates into the heavenly city, as it is written in Revelation 21:10-13,

“He carried me away in the Spirit to a great and high mountain, and showed me the sacred city, Yerushalayim, coming down out of heaven from God, having the glory of God. Her light was like a most precious stone, as if it was a jasper stone, clear as crystal; having a great and high wall; having twelve gates, and at the gates twelve angels; and names written on them, which are the names of the twelve tribes of the children of Yisra'el. On the east were three gates; and on the north three gates; and on the south three gates; and on the west three gates.”(HNV revised)

The only way to enter the city is by going through one of Israel’s tribes.

This Parashah contains commandments number 612-613 of the 613 commandments.

  1. The command to gather all the people and make sure that they listen to the Torah (hakhel), Deuteronomy 31:12.

  2. The command to write a Torah scroll (Sefer Torah), Deuteronomy 31:19.


[1]     Sotah 13b, Kiddushín 38a.

[2]     Strong H2388 châzaq, khaw-zak', A primitive root; to fasten upon; hence to seize, be strong (figuratively courageous, causatively strengthen, cure, help, repair, fortify), obstinate; to bind, restrain, conquer: - aid, amend, X calker, catch, cleave, confirm, be constant, constrain, continue, be of good (take) courage (-ous, -ly), encourage (self), be established, fasten, force, fortify, make hard, harden, help, (lay) hold (fast), lean, maintain, play the man, mend, become (wax) mighty, prevail, be recovered, repair, retain, seize, be (wax) sore, strengten (self), be stout, be (make, shew, wax) strong (-er), be sure, take (hold), be urgent, behave self valiantly, withstand.

[3]     Devarim Rabbah.

[4]     Sotah 7:8.                    

[5]     Jomah 52a-b; Sanhedrín 90b.

[6]     Babah Batrah 15a.

[7]     Babah Batrah 14a-b.