Parashah 52 – Vayelekh (He went)
31:1 Moshe went and spoke the following words to all Isra’el: 2 “I am 120 years old today. I can’t get around any longer; moreover, Yehovah has said to me, ‘You will not cross this Yarden.’ 3 Yehovah your God — he will cross over ahead of you. He will destroy these nations ahead of you, and you will dispossess them. Y’hoshua — he will cross over ahead of you, as Yehovah has said. 4 Yehovah will do to them what he did to Sichon and ‘Og, the kings of the Emori, and to their land — he destroyed them. 5 Yehovah will defeat them ahead of you, and you are to do to them just as I have ordered you to do. 6 Be strong, be bold, don’t be afraid or frightened of them, for Yehovah your God is going with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you.”
7 Next Moshe summoned Y’hoshua and, in the sight of all Isra’el, said to him, “Be strong, be bold, for you are going with this people into the land Yehovah swore to their ancestors he would give them. You will be the one causing them to inherit it. 8 But Yehovah — it is he who will go ahead of you. He will be with you. He will neither fail you nor abandon you, so don’t be afraid or downhearted.”
9 Then Moshe wrote down this Torah and gave it to the cohanim, the descendants of Levi who carried the ark with the covenant of Yehovah, and to all the leaders of Isra’el. 10 Moshe gave them these orders: “At the end of every seven years, during the festival of Sukkot in the year of sh’mittah, 11 when all Isra’el have come to appear in the presence of Yehovah at the place he will choose, you are to read this Torah before all Isra’el, so that they can hear it. 12 Assemble the people — the men, the women, the little ones and the foreigners you have in your towns — so that they can hear, learn, fear Yehovah your God and take care to obey all the words of this Torah; 13 and so that their children, who have not known, can hear and learn to fear Yehovah your God, for as long as you live in the land you are crossing the Yarden to possess.”
14 Yehovah said to Moshe, “The time is coming for you to die. Summon Y’hoshua, and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, so that I can commission him.” Moshe and Y’hoshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting. 15 Yehovah appeared in the tent in a column of cloud; the column of cloud stood above the entrance to the tent. 16 Yehovah said to Moshe, “You are about to sleep with your ancestors. But this people will get up and offer themselves as prostitutes to the foreign gods of the land where they are going. When they are with those gods, they will abandon me and break my covenant which I have made with them. 17 Then my anger will flare up, and I will abandon them and hide my face from them. They will be devoured, and many calamities and troubles will come upon them. Then they will ask, ‘Haven’t these calamities come upon us because our God isn’t here with us?’ 18 But I will be hiding my face from them because of all the evil they will have done in turning to other gods.
19 “Therefore, write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the people of Isra’el. Have them learn it by heart, so that this song can be a witness for me against the people of Isra’el. 20 For when I have brought them into the land I swore to their ancestors, flowing with milk and honey; and they have eaten their fill, grown fat and turned to other gods, serving them and despising me, and broken my covenant; 21 then, after many calamities and troubles have come upon them, this song will testify before them as a witness, because their descendants will still be reciting it and will not have forgotten it. For I know how they think even now, even before I have brought them into the land about which I swore.” 22 So Moshe wrote this song that same day and taught it to the people of Isra’el.
23 Yehovah also commissioned Y’hoshua the son of Nun with these words: “Be strong and full of courage; for you are to bring the people of Isra’el into the land about which I swore to them; and I will be with you.”
24 Moshe kept writing the words of this Torah in a book until he was done. When he had finished, 25 Moshe gave these orders to the L’vi’im who carried the ark with the covenant of Yehovah: 26 “Take this book of the Torah and put it next to the ark with the covenant of Yehovah your God, so that it can be there to witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stiffnecked you are! Here, even while I am still alive with you today, you have rebelled against Yehovah; so how much more will you do so after my death? 28 Assemble for me all the leaders of your tribes and your officials, so that I can say these things in their hearing, calling heaven and earth to witness against them — 29 because I know that after my death you will become very corrupt and turn aside from the way that I have ordered you, and that disaster will come upon you in the acharit-hayamim, because you will do what Yehovah sees as evil and provoke him by your deeds.”
30 Then Moshe spoke in the hearing of the whole assembly of Isra’el the words of this song, from beginning to end:
2 Return, Isra’el, to Yehovah your God,
for your guilt has made you stumble.
3 Take words with you, and return to Yehovah;
say to him, “Forgive all guilt,
and accept what is good;
we will pay instead of bulls
[the offerings of] our lips.
4 Ashur will not save us,
we will not ride on horses,
and we will no longer call
what we made with our hands our gods.
For it is only in you
that the fatherless can find mercy.”
5 “I will heal their disloyalty,
I will love them freely;
for my anger has turned from him.
6 I will be like dew to Isra’el;
he will blossom like a lily
and strike roots like the L’vanon.
7 His branches will spread out,
his beauty be like an olive tree
and his fragrance like the L’vanon.
8 Again they will live in his shade and raise grain;
they will blossom like a vine,
and its aroma will be
like the wine of the L’vanon.
9 Efrayim [will say], ‘What have I
to do any more with idols?’
And I, I answer and affirm him;
I am like a fresh, green cypress tree;
your fruitfulness comes from me.”
10 Let the wise understand these things,
and let the discerning know them.
For the ways of Yehovah are straight,
And the righteous walk in them,
but in them sinners stumble.
11 Yehovah shouts orders to his forces —
his army is immense, mighty,
and it does what he says.
For great is the Day of Yehovah, fearsome,
terrifying! Who can endure it?
12 “Yet even now,” says Yehovah,
“turn to me with all your heart,
with fasting, weeping and lamenting.”
13 Tear your heart, not your garments;
and turn to Yehovah your God.
For he is merciful and compassionate,
slow to anger, rich in grace,
and willing to change his mind about disaster.
14 Who knows? He may turn, change his mind
and leave a blessing behind him,
[enough for] grain offerings and drink offerings
to present to Yehovah your God.
15 “Blow the shofar in Tziyon!
Proclaim a holy fast,
call for a solemn assembly.”
16 Gather the people; consecrate the congregation;
assemble the leaders; gather the children,
even infants sucking at the breast;
let the bridegroom leave his room
and the bride the bridal chamber.
17 Let the cohanim, who serve Yehovah,
stand weeping between the vestibule and the altar.
Let them say, “Spare your people, Yehovah!
Don’t expose your heritage to mockery,
or make them a byward among the Goyim.
Why should the peoples say, ‘Where is their God?’”
18 Then Yehovah will become jealous for his land
and have pity on his people.
19 Here is how Yehovah will answer his people:
“I will send you grain, wine and olive oil,
enough to satisfy you;
and no longer will I make you
a mockery among the Goyim.
20 No, I will take the northerner away,
far away from you,
and drive him to a land
that is waste and barren;
with his vanguard toward the eastern sea
and his rearguard toward the western sea,
his stench and his rottenness will rise,
because he has done great things.”
21 Don’t fear, O soil; be glad! rejoice!
for Yehovah has done great things.
22 Don’t be afraid, wild animals;
for the desert pastures are green,
the trees are putting out their fruit,
the fig tree and vine are giving full yield.
23 Be glad, people of Tziyon!
rejoice in Yehovah your God!
For he is giving you
the right amount of rain in the fall,
he makes the rain come down for you,
the fall and spring rains — this is what he does first.
24 Then the floors will be full of grain
and the vats overflow with wine and olive oil.
25 “I will restore to you the years that the locusts ate,
the grasshoppers, shearer-worms and cutter-worms,
my great army that I sent against you.
26 You will eat until you are satisfied
and will praise the name of Yehovah your God,
who has done with you such wonders.
Then my people will never again be shamed.
27 You will know that I am with Isra’el
and that I am Yehovah your God,
and that there is no other.
Then my people will never again be shamed.
18 Who is a God like you,
pardoning the sin and overlooking the crimes
of the remnant of his heritage?
He does not retain his anger forever,
because he delights in grace.
19 He will again have compassion on us,
he will subdue our iniquities.
You will throw all their sins
into the depths of the sea.
20 You will show truth to Ya‘akov
and grace to Avraham,
as you have sworn to our ancestors
since days of long ago.
14 But how can they call on someone if they haven’t trusted in him? And how can they trust in someone if they haven’t heard about him? And how can they hear about someone if no one is proclaiming him? 15 And how can people proclaim him unless God sends them? — as the Tanakh puts it, “How beautiful are the feet of those announcing good news about good things!”
16 The problem is that they haven’t all paid attention to the Good News and obeyed it. For Yesha‘yahu says,
“Yehovah, who has trusted what he has heard from us?”
17 So trust comes from what is heard, and what is heard comes through a word proclaimed about the Messiah.
18 “But, I say, isn’t it rather that they didn’t hear?” No, they did hear —
“Their voice has gone out throughout the whole world
and their words to the ends of the earth.”