THIS WEEK
THIS WEEK

Vayelech

He went — וילך


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TORAH: Deuteronomy 31:1-31:30

Deuteronomy 31

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 55:6-56:8

Isaiah 55:6–56:8

  “Seek the LORD while he may be found;
    call upon him while he is near;
  let the wicked forsake his way,
    and the unrighteous man his thoughts;
  let him return to the LORD, that he may have compassion on him,
    and to our God, for he will abundantly pardon.
  For my thoughts are not your thoughts,
    neither are your ways my ways, declares the LORD.
  For as the heavens are higher than the earth,
    so are my ways higher than your ways
    and my thoughts than your thoughts.
10   “For as the rain and the snow come down from heaven
    and do not return there but water the earth,
  making it bring forth and sprout,
    giving seed to the sower and bread to the eater,
11   so shall my word be that goes out from my mouth;
    it shall not return to me empty,
  but it shall accomplish that which I purpose,
    and shall succeed in the thing for which I sent it.
12   “For you shall go out in joy
    and be led forth in peace;
  the mountains and the hills before you
    shall break forth into singing,
    and all the trees of the field shall clap their hands.
13   Instead of the thorn shall come up the cypress;
    instead of the brier shall come up the myrtle;
  and it shall make a name for the LORD,
    an everlasting sign that shall not be cut off.”

Salvation for Foreigners

56:1   Thus says the LORD:
  “Keep justice, and do righteousness,
  for soon my salvation will come,
    and my righteousness be revealed.
  Blessed is the man who does this,
    and the son of man who holds it fast,
  who keeps the Sabbath, not profaning it,
    and keeps his hand from doing any evil.”
  Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
    “The LORD will surely separate me from his people”;
  and let not the eunuch say,
    “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
  For thus says the LORD:
  “To the eunuchs who keep my Sabbaths,
    who choose the things that please me
    and hold fast my covenant,
  I will give in my house and within my walls
    a monument and a name
    better than sons and daughters;
  I will give them an everlasting name
    that shall not be cut off.
  “And the foreigners who join themselves to the LORD,
    to minister to him, to love the name of the LORD,
    and to be his servants,
  everyone who keeps the Sabbath and does not profane it,
    and holds fast my covenant—
  these I will bring to my holy mountain,
    and make them joyful in my house of prayer;
  their burnt offerings and their sacrifices
    will be accepted on my altar;
  for my house shall be called a house of prayer
    for all peoples.”
  The Lord GOD,
    who gathers the outcasts of Israel, declares,
  “I will gather yet others to him
    besides those already gathered.”

(ESV)

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GOSPEL: Matthew 21:9-17

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

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 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
    • Deuteronomy 31:30 | The Song of Moses
  • Prophets
    • Isaiah 55:1 | An Invitation to Abundant Life
    • Isaiah 56:1 | The Covenant Extended to All Who Obey
    • Isaiah 56:9 | The Corruption of Israel's Rulers

Commentary from Vayelech

Shuvah Yisrael

Rabbi Levi said, "Great is repentance, for it reaches up to the Throne of Glory, as it is written, 'Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God.'" Resh Lakish said, "Great is repentance, for by virtue of it one's intentional sins are regarded as mere errors, as it is written [in Hosea 14:1], 'Return, O Israel, to the LORD your God for you have stumbled …

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Commentary from Vayelech

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