A Chiasm in Deuteronomy 31

It is immediately clear in reading this chapter that there are things going on in the text, but the precise patterns are difficult to pick out. I checked out how a few others have broken it out, but none of them looked quite right to me. I'm not convinced that I have it right either, but I think it's not far from the intended arrangement.

Let me know what you think.

  • A: V1 – Moses speaks to Israel
    • B: V2 – Joshua succeeds Moses (v3-5a - God punishes the Canaanites)
      • C: V5b – Keep the commandments of God
        • D: V6a – Israel, be strong & courageous because God is with you
        • D: V7-8 – Joshua, be strong & courageous as you lead the people because God will be with you
      • C: V9-13 – The Law, the Ark, & the reading of the Law at Sukkot
    • B: V14 – Joshua succeeds Moses (v5-21 - God punishes Israel for their sins.)
  • A: V22 – Moses taught Israel the song
    • V23a – Joshua succeeds Moses
      • V23b – Joshua, be strong & courageous as you lead the people because God will be with you
        • V24-28 – The Law and the Ark
          • V29 – Israel will rebel and be punished
  • A: V30 – Moses taught Israel the song

I believe that these might be some of the intended points: God speaks to his people through prophets, but most especially through Moses and Yeshua, represented in this passage by Joshua, aka Yehoshua. God has shown us immeasurable favor by redeeming us from slavery to Egypt and sin, by making us into a people, destroying other peoples and fighting for us so that we would have a place in his Kingdom. But in order to avoid the same fate as those other peoples, we must listen to Moses and Yeshua. We must follow their lead, read and study the commandments, walk them out every day of our lives, and teach them to our children so that we will remain securely in the Kingdom.

This interpretation is speculative, only a drash. I think it's and supported by the rest of Scripture, but whether or not it was intended in this passage is another matter.

On the surface, of course, Deuteronomy 31 is talking about ancient Israel living in the land, and that meaning is primary. They rebelled, just as God predicted, but they (we!) will repent (are repenting!) and be restored eventually. 

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