THIS WEEK
THIS WEEK

Nitzavim-Vayelech

Standing/He went — נצבים/וילך


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TORAH: Deuteronomy 29:9-31:30

Deuteronomy 29:9–31:30

Therefore keep the words of this covenant and do them, that you may prosper in all that you do.

10 “You are standing today, all of you, before the LORD your God: the heads of your tribes, your elders, and your officers, all the men of Israel, 11 your little ones, your wives, and the sojourner who is in your camp, from the one who chops your wood to the one who draws your water, 12 so that you may enter into the sworn covenant of the LORD your God, which the LORD your God is making with you today, 13 that he may establish you today as his people, and that he may be your God, as he promised you, and as he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob. 14 It is not with you alone that I am making this sworn covenant, 15 but with whoever is standing here with us today before the LORD our God, and with whoever is not here with us today.

16 “You know how we lived in the land of Egypt, and how we came through the midst of the nations through which you passed. 17 And you have seen their detestable things, their idols of wood and stone, of silver and gold, which were among them. 18 Beware lest there be among you a man or woman or clan or tribe whose heart is turning away today from the LORD our God to go and serve the gods of those nations. Beware lest there be among you a root bearing poisonous and bitter fruit, 19 one who, when he hears the words of this sworn covenant, blesses himself in his heart, saying, ‘I shall be safe, though I walk in the stubbornness of my heart.’ This will lead to the sweeping away of moist and dry alike. 20 The LORD will not be willing to forgive him, but rather the anger of the LORD and his jealousy will smoke against that man, and the curses written in this book will settle upon him, and the LORD will blot out his name from under heaven. 21 And the LORD will single him out from all the tribes of Israel for calamity, in accordance with all the curses of the covenant written in this Book of the Law. 22 And the next generation, your children who rise up after you, and the foreigner who comes from a far land, will say, when they see the afflictions of that land and the sicknesses with which the LORD has made it sick—23 the whole land burned out with brimstone and salt, nothing sown and nothing growing, where no plant can sprout, an overthrow like that of Sodom and Gomorrah, Admah, and Zeboiim, which the LORD overthrew in his anger and wrath—24 all the nations will say, ‘Why has the LORD done thus to this land? What caused the heat of this great anger?’ 25 Then people will say, ‘It is because they abandoned the covenant of the LORD, the God of their fathers, which he made with them when he brought them out of the land of Egypt, 26 and went and served other gods and worshiped them, gods whom they had not known and whom he had not allotted to them. 27 Therefore the anger of the LORD was kindled against this land, bringing upon it all the curses written in this book, 28 and the LORD uprooted them from their land in anger and fury and great wrath, and cast them into another land, as they are this day.’

29 “The secret things belong to the LORD our God, but the things that are revealed belong to us and to our children forever, that we may do all the words of this law.

Repentance and Forgiveness

30:1 “And when all these things come upon you, the blessing and the curse, which I have set before you, and you call them to mind among all the nations where the LORD your God has driven you, and return to the LORD your God, you and your children, and obey his voice in all that I command you today, with all your heart and with all your soul, then the LORD your God will restore your fortunes and have mercy on you, and he will gather you again from all the peoples where the LORD your God has scattered you. If your outcasts are in the uttermost parts of heaven, from there the LORD your God will gather you, and from there he will take you. And the LORD your God will bring you into the land that your fathers possessed, that you may possess it. And he will make you more prosperous and numerous than your fathers. And the LORD your God will circumcise your heart and the heart of your offspring, so that you will love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul, that you may live. And the LORD your God will put all these curses on your foes and enemies who persecuted you. And you shall again obey the voice of the LORD and keep all his commandments that I command you today. The LORD your God will make you abundantly prosperous in all the work of your hand, in the fruit of your womb and in the fruit of your cattle and in the fruit of your ground. For the LORD will again take delight in prospering you, as he took delight in your fathers, 10 when you obey the voice of the LORD your God, to keep his commandments and his statutes that are written in this Book of the Law, when you turn to the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

The Choice of Life and Death

11 “For this commandment that I command you today is not too hard for you, neither is it far off. 12 It is not in heaven, that you should say, ‘Who will ascend to heaven for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 13 Neither is it beyond the sea, that you should say, ‘Who will go over the sea for us and bring it to us, that we may hear it and do it?’ 14 But the word is very near you. It is in your mouth and in your heart, so that you can do it.

15 “See, I have set before you today life and good, death and evil. 16 If you obey the commandments of the LORD your God that I command you today, by loving the LORD your God, by walking in his ways, and by keeping his commandments and his statutes and his rules, then you shall live and multiply, and the LORD your God will bless you in the land that you are entering to take possession of it. 17 But if your heart turns away, and you will not hear, but are drawn away to worship other gods and serve them, 18 I declare to you today, that you shall surely perish. You shall not live long in the land that you are going over the Jordan to enter and possess. 19 I call heaven and earth to witness against you today, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and curse. Therefore choose life, that you and your offspring may live, 20 loving the LORD your God, obeying his voice and holding fast to him, for he is your life and length of days, that you may dwell in the land that the LORD swore to your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them.”

Joshua to Succeed Moses

31:1 So Moses continued to speak these words to all Israel. And he said to them, “I am 120 years old today. I am no longer able to go out and come in. The LORD has said to me, ‘You shall not go over this Jordan.’ The LORD your God himself will go over before you. He will destroy these nations before you, so that you shall dispossess them, and Joshua will go over at your head, as the LORD has spoken. And the LORD will do to them as he did to Sihon and Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land, when he destroyed them. And the LORD will give them over to you, and you shall do to them according to the whole commandment that I have commanded you. Be strong and courageous. Do not fear or be in dread of them, for it is the LORD your God who goes with you. He will not leave you or forsake you.”

Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the sight of all Israel, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall go with this people into the land that 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 leave you or forsake you. Do not fear or be dismayed.”

The Reading of the Law

Then 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. 10 And Moses commanded them, “At the end of every seven years, at the set time in the year of release, at the Feast of Booths, 11 when all Israel comes to appear before the LORD your God at the place that he will choose, you shall read this law before all Israel in their hearing. 12 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, 13 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 that you are going over the Jordan to possess.”

Joshua Commissioned to Lead Israel

14 And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, the days approach when you must die. Call Joshua and present yourselves in the tent of meeting, that I may commission him.” And Moses and Joshua went and presented themselves in the tent of meeting. 15 And the LORD appeared in the tent in a pillar of cloud. And the pillar of cloud stood over the entrance of the tent.

16 And the LORD said to Moses, “Behold, you are about to lie down with your fathers. Then this people will rise and whore after the foreign gods among them in the land that they are entering, and they will forsake me and break my covenant that I have made with them. 17 Then my anger will be kindled against them in that day, and I will forsake them and hide my face from them, and they will be devoured. And many evils and troubles will come upon them, so that they will say in that day, ‘Have not these evils come upon us because our God is not among us?’ 18 And I will surely hide my face in that day because of all the evil that they have done, because they have turned to other gods.

19 “Now therefore write this song and teach it to the people of Israel. Put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for me against the people of Israel. 20 For when I have brought them into the land flowing with milk and honey, which I swore to give to their fathers, and they have eaten and are full and grown fat, they will turn to other gods and serve them, and despise me and break my covenant. 21 And when many evils and troubles have come upon them, this song shall confront them as a witness (for it will live unforgotten in the mouths of their offspring). For I know what they are inclined to do even today, before I have brought them into the land that I swore to give.” 22 So Moses wrote this song the same day and taught it to the people of Israel.

23 And the LORD commissioned Joshua the son of Nun and said, “Be strong and courageous, for you shall bring the people of Israel into the land that I swore to give them. I will be with you.”

24 When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book to the very end, 25 Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the LORD, 26 “Take this Book of the Law and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the LORD your God, that it may be there for a witness against you. 27 For I know how rebellious and stubborn you are. Behold, even today while I am yet alive with you, you have been rebellious against the LORD. How much more after my death! 28 Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears and call heaven and earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will surely act corruptly and turn aside from the way that I have commanded you. And in the days to come evil will befall you, because you will do what is evil in the sight of the LORD, provoking him to anger through the work of your hands.”

The Song of Moses

30 Then Moses spoke the words of this song until they were finished, in the ears of all the assembly of Israel:

(ESV)

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HAFTARAH: Isaiah 61:10-63:9

Isaiah 61:10–63:9

10   I will greatly rejoice in the LORD;
    my soul shall exult in my God,
  for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
    he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
  as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
    and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
11   For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
    and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
  so the Lord GOD will cause righteousness and praise
    to sprout up before all the nations.

Zion's Coming Salvation

62:1   For Zion's sake I will not keep silent,
    and for Jerusalem's sake I will not be quiet,
  until her righteousness goes forth as brightness,
    and her salvation as a burning torch.
  The nations shall see your righteousness,
    and all the kings your glory,
  and you shall be called by a new name
    that the mouth of the LORD will give.
  You shall be a crown of beauty in the hand of the LORD,
    and a royal diadem in the hand of your God.
  You shall no more be termed Forsaken,
    and your land shall no more be termed Desolate,
  but you shall be called My Delight Is in Her,
    and your land Married;
  for the LORD delights in you,
    and your land shall be married.
  For as a young man marries a young woman,
    so shall your sons marry you,
  and as the bridegroom rejoices over the bride,
    so shall your God rejoice over you.
  On your walls, O Jerusalem,
    I have set watchmen;
  all the day and all the night
    they shall never be silent.
  You who put the LORD in remembrance,
    take no rest,
  and give him no rest
    until he establishes Jerusalem
    and makes it a praise in the earth.
  The LORD has sworn by his right hand
    and by his mighty arm:
  “I will not again give your grain
    to be food for your enemies,
  and foreigners shall not drink your wine
    for which you have labored;
  but those who garner it shall eat it
    and praise the LORD,
  and those who gather it shall drink it
    in the courts of my sanctuary.”
10   Go through, go through the gates;
    prepare the way for the people;
  build up, build up the highway;
    clear it of stones;
    lift up a signal over the peoples.
11   Behold, the LORD has proclaimed
    to the end of the earth:
  Say to the daughter of Zion,
    “Behold, your salvation comes;
  behold, his reward is with him,
    and his recompense before him.”
12   And they shall be called The Holy People,
    The Redeemed of the LORD;
  and you shall be called Sought Out,
    A City Not Forsaken.

The Lord's Day of Vengeance

63:1   Who is this who comes from Edom,
    in crimsoned garments from Bozrah,
  he who is splendid in his apparel,
    marching in the greatness of his strength?
  “It is I, speaking in righteousness,
    mighty to save.”
  Why is your apparel red,
    and your garments like his who treads in the winepress?
  “I have trodden the winepress alone,
    and from the peoples no one was with me;
  I trod them in my anger
    and trampled them in my wrath;
  their lifeblood spattered on my garments,
    and stained all my apparel.
  For the day of vengeance was in my heart,
    and my year of redemption had come.
  I looked, but there was no one to help;
    I was appalled, but there was no one to uphold;
  so my own arm brought me salvation,
    and my wrath upheld me.
  I trampled down the peoples in my anger;
    I made them drunk in my wrath,
    and I poured out their lifeblood on the earth.”

The Lord's Mercy Remembered

  I will recount the steadfast love of the LORD,
    the praises of the LORD,
  according to all that the LORD has granted us,
    and the great goodness to the house of Israel
  that he has granted them according to his compassion,
    according to the abundance of his steadfast love.
  For he said, “Surely they are my people,
    children who will not deal falsely.”
    And he became their Savior.
  In all their affliction he was afflicted,
    and the angel of his presence saved them;
  in his love and in his pity he redeemed them;
    he lifted them up and carried them all the days of old.

(ESV)

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GOSPEL: John 12:41-50; Matthew 21:9-17

John 12:41–50

41 Isaiah said these things because he saw his glory and spoke of him. 42 Nevertheless, many even of the authorities believed in him, but for fear of the Pharisees they did not confess it, so that they would not be put out of the synagogue; 43 for they loved the glory that comes from man more than the glory that comes from God.

Jesus Came to Save the World

44 And Jesus cried out and said, “Whoever believes in me, believes not in me but in him who sent me. 45 And whoever sees me sees him who sent me. 46 I have come into the world as light, so that whoever believes in me may not remain in darkness. 47 If anyone hears my words and does not keep them, I do not judge him; for I did not come to judge the world but to save the world. 48 The one who rejects me and does not receive my words has a judge; the word that I have spoken will judge him on the last day. 49 For I have not spoken on my own authority, but the Father who sent me has himself given me a commandment—what to say and what to speak. 50 And I know that his commandment is eternal life. What I say, therefore, I say as the Father has told me.”

(ESV)

Matthew 21:9–17

And the crowds that went before him and that followed him were shouting, “Hosanna to the Son of David! Blessed is he who comes in the name of the Lord! Hosanna in the highest!” 10 And when he entered Jerusalem, the whole city was stirred up, saying, “Who is this?” 11 And the crowds said, “This is the prophet Jesus, from Nazareth of Galilee.”

Jesus Cleanses the Temple

12 And Jesus entered the temple and drove out all who sold and bought in the temple, and he overturned the tables of the money-changers and the seats of those who sold pigeons. 13 He said to them, “It is written, ‘My house shall be called a house of prayer,’ but you make it a den of robbers.”

14 And the blind and the lame came to him in the temple, and he healed them. 15 But when the chief priests and the scribes saw the wonderful things that he did, and the children crying out in the temple, “Hosanna to the Son of David!” they were indignant, 16 and they said to him, “Do you hear what these are saying?” And Jesus said to them, “Yes; have you never read,

  “‘Out of the mouth of infants and nursing babies
    you have prepared praise’?”

17 And leaving them, he went out of the city to Bethany and lodged there.

(ESV)

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Note: The regular readings above are often interrupted with special readings on Jewish holidays, special Sabbaths, and Rosh Chodesh. Refer to the annual Torah Portion schedule for these special portions.


Portion Summary

Nitzavim

The name of the fifty-first reading from the Torah is Nitzavim (נצבים), which means "standing." The name is derived from the first verse of the portion in which Moses says, "You stand (nitzavim) today, all of you, before the LORD your God" (Deuteronomy 29:10). In this portion, Moses invites the entire assembly of Israel to take on the covenant. He warns them that if they sin, they will go into exile, but he also predicts that, in the future, they will repent and God will return them to the land of Israel. In some years, Nitzavim is read together with the subsequent Torah portion, Vayelech, on the same Sabbath.

Vayelech

The name of the fifty-second reading from the Torah is Vayelech (וילך), which means "and he went." The name is derived from the first word of the first verse of the portion: "So Moses went (vayelech) and spoke these words to all Israel." In this short portion, Moses commands an assembly for a public Torah reading and covenant renewal once every seven years. He then finishes writing the scroll of the Torah and has it deposited in the Holy of Holies next to the ark of the covenant.


Portion Outline

  • Torah
    • Deuteronomy 30:1 | God's Fidelity Assured
    • Deuteronomy 30:11 | Exhortation to Choose Life
    • Deuteronomy 31:1 | Joshua Becomes Moses' Successor
    • Deuteronomy 31:9 | The Law to Be Read Every Seventh Year
    • Deuteronomy 31:14 | Moses and Joshua Receive God's Charge
  • Prophets
    • Isaiah 61:1 | The Good News of Deliverance
    • Isaiah 62:1 | The Vindication and Salvation of Zion
    • Isaiah 63:1 | Vengeance on Edom
    • Isaiah 63:7 | God's Mercy Remembered

Commentary from Nitzavim-Vayelech

United We Stand

Have you ever been to a ballgame when the national anthem is sung? Everyone stands up. After the song, everyone sits back down. Later in the game, during an exciting moment the entire crowd will all rise to their feet again with a mighty cheer. But the second standing up is not the same as the first standing up.

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Commentary from Nitzavim-Vayelech

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