פָּרָשָׁה וַיֵּלֶךְ Parashah Vayelekh "And he went out"
Breakdown Parashah Vayelekh is the 52nd weekly portion, the 9th in the book of Deuteronomy. It covers Deut. 31:1-30.It contains 30 verses. The title of the portion, Vayelekh, means "and he went out."
Overview Vayelekh starts off with Moses finishing up the words that he was commanded to speak to Israel. He then tells the people that he is 120 years old, and that YHWH told him he would not be crossing the Jordan. Then he tells them Joshua will be over them, and will lead them into the promised land. Moses then exhorts Joshua, with the same words that YHWH speaks to him in the Book of Joshua: "Be strong and courageous!" Moses then finished writing the Torah, and handed it to the priests, along with the command to read it every 7 years (during the Sh'mittah, or "Year of Release) at Sukkot (Feast of Tabernacles). It was commanded that everyone assemble: men, women, and children, so that all would hear and obey the Torah. The portion ends with Moses just about to begin his second song. This Parashah is sometimes combined with Parashah Nitsavim (though not for 2015 or 2016).
Deuteronomy 31:1-30 1 Mosheh went and spoke these words to all Yisra'el. 2 He said to them, "I am one hundred twenty years old today; I can no more go out and come in: and יהוהhas said to me, 'You shall not go over this Yarden.' 3 יהוהyour Elohim, 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 יהוהhas spoken. 4 יהוהwill do to them as he did to Siḥon and to Og, the kings of the Amorites, and to their land; whom He destroyed. 5 יהוהwill deliver them up before you, and you shall do to them according to all the command which I have commanded you. 6 Be strong and courageous, do not be afraid, nor be scared of them: for יהוהyour Elohim, He it is who does go with you; He will not fail you, nor forsake you."
7 Mosheh called to Yehoshua, and said to him in the sight of all Yisra'el, "Be strong and courageous: for you shall go with this people into the land which יהוהhas sworn to their fathers to give them; and you shall cause them to inherit it. 8 יהוה, He it is who does go before you; He will be with you, He will not fail you, neither forsake you: do not be afraid, neither be dismayed."
9 Mosheh wrote this Torah, and delivered it to the priests the sons of Levi, who bore the ark of the covenant of יהוה, and to all the elders of Yisra'el. 10 Mosheh commanded them, saying, "At the end of every seven years, in the set time of the year of release, in the feast of Tabernacles, 11 when all Yisra'el is come to appear before יהוהyour Elohim in the place which He shall choose, you shall read this Torah before all Yisra'el in their hearing. 12 Assemble the people, the men and the women and the little ones, and your sojourner who is within your gates, that they may hear, and that they may learn, and fear יהוהyour Elohim, and guard to do all the words of this Torah; 13 and that their children, who have not known, may hear, and learn to fear יהוהyour Elohim, as long as you live in the land where you go over the Yarden to possess it."
14 יהוהsaid to Mosheh, "Behold, your days approach that you must die: call Yehoshua, and present yourselves in the Tent of Appointment, that I may commission him." Mosheh and Yehoshua went, and presented themselves in the Tent of Appointment. 15 יהוהappeared in the Tent in a pillar of cloud: and the pillar of cloud stood over the door of the Tent. 16 יהוהsaid to Mosheh, "Behold, you shall sleep with your fathers; and this people will rise up, and whore after the strange elohim of the land, where they go to be among them, and will forsake Me, and break My covenant which I have cut with them. 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, 'Have not these evils come on us because our Elohim is not among us?' 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 elohim.
19 "Now therefore write this song for yourselves, and teach it to the children of Yisra'el: put it in their mouths, that this song may be a witness for Me with the children of Yisra'el. 20 For when I shall have brought them into the land which I swore to their fathers, flowing with milk and honey, and they shall have eaten and filled themselves, and grown fat; then will they turn to other elohim, and serve them, and despise Me, and break My covenant. 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 inclination which they go about today, before I have brought them into the land which I swore." 22 So Mosheh wrote this song the same day, and taught it the children of Yisra'el.
23 He commissioned Yehoshua the son of Nun, and said, "Be strong and courageous; for you shall bring the children of Yisra'el into the land which I swore to them: and I will be with you."
24 And it came about, when Mosheh finished writing the words of this Torah in a book, until they were complete, 25 that Mosheh commanded the Levites, who bore the ark of the covenant of יהוה, saying, 26 "Take this book of the Torah, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of יהוהyour Elohim, that it may be there for a witness against you. 27 For I know your rebellion, and your stiff neck: behold, while I am yet alive with you today, you have been rebellious against יהוה; and how much more after my death? 28 Assemble to me all the elders of your tribes, [and your judges] and your officers, that I may speak these words in their ears, and cause the heavens and the earth to witness against them. 29 For I know that after my death you will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you; and evil will happen to you in the latter days; because you will do that which is evil in the sight of יהוה, to provoke Him to anger through the work of your hands."
30 Mosheh spoke in the ears of all the assembly of Yisra'el the words of this song, until they were finished.
In verse 2, Moses informs the people that he is 120 years old. The Talmud, in tractate Rosh Hashanah 11a, interprets this to mean that on that very day he turned 120. That is to say, it was his birthday. The reason for this is given from Ex. 23:26, where Elohim says, "I will fulfill the number of your days."
In verses 7 and 8, we find Moses exhorting Joshua with the same words that YHWH speaks afterwards.
Josh. 1:6-7 - Be strong and courageous; for you shall cause this people to inherit the land which I swore to their fathers to give them. 7 Only be strong and very courageous, to observe to do according to all the Torah, which Mosheh My servant commanded you. Do not turn from it to the right hand or to the left, that you may have good success wherever you go.
Paul has similar words of exhortation in 1 Cor. 16:13, Eph. 6:10, and 2 Tim. 2:1. If his intention was to encourage the people to be strong and courageous, we cannot help but wonder if he was drawing their attention back to these verses in Joshua 1, which includes the command that "This book of the Torah shall not depart from your mouth, but you shall meditate on it day and night…" (Josh. 1:8)
This leads to our next point. Deut. 31:12 commands that men, women, and children are required to know the Torah, and to obey it. This is what it is crucial that everyone have an understanding of it themselves. "I left all that up to my husband" will not be an acceptable excuse on judgment day. In the days this was written, and even for the next 2000 years after that, very few people had their own copies of the Torah. It was not until the Byzantine era that the rich could afford personal codices, and even then it was uncommon. In the Book of Acts, the eunuch reading from Isaiah was, undoubtedly, able to read it only because he served a queen (Candace, queen of Ethiopia [Kush]). Eunuchs were men who served primarily as guards and servants in the inner chambers of women, and thus given his status and ability to read, he was obviously well-educated. But no one else is seen reading the Torah or the prophets outside of the Temple and synagogues. Why? Because no one had personal copies. Prior to the printing press, Bibles belonged to clergy. Even for a short time during the Reformation, Bibles were public property. They would be chained to a podium in the public square for anyone who knew how to read, to make use of.
No, we are quite fortunate in our modern world to own our own Bible. And for many of us, we own MANY Bibles. I personally own somewhere between 12 and 15, including about 9 or 10 different versions. And once you access the Internet, the supply is endless.
But in the context and culture of Deuteronomy, it was vitally important that everyone come to the Feasts, so that everyone could hear the Torah. In fact, when commenting on this passage, Rabbi Dosan ben Horkinas, in the Jerusalem Talmud (Yevamot 1:6) remarked, "I remember his [Rabbi Joshua ben Chananya's] mother bringing round his cradle to the study hall, so that his ears should pick up words of Torah."
We find that the Apostles had extensive knowledge of the Torah, Paul especially. And not just of the Torah, but of the entire Tanakh. He quoted Scripture extensively, and from memory. This is, no doubt, on account of his Rabbinic education in the House of Hillel (under Gamaliel, the grandson of Hillel himself).
So getting back to Deut., we can actually find an example in the Scriptures of this being fulfilled. We also see what happened when it was NOT fulfilled.
Nehemiah 8:1-3 - All the people gathered themselves together as one man into the wide place that was in front of the water gate; and they spoke to Ezra the scribe to bring the book of the Torah of Mosheh, which יהוהhad commanded to Yisra'el. 2Ezra the priest brought the Torah before the assembly, both men and women, and all who could hear with understanding, on the first day of the seventh new moon. 3He read from it before the wide place that was in front of the water gate from early morning until midday, in the presence of the men and the women, and of those who could understand. The ears of all the people were attentive to the book of the Torah.
Here Ezra was fulfilling this command, but a little early. Note that he read this on the "first day of the seventh month." This was Yom Teruah (Rosh Hashanah), the Day of Trumpets, not Sukkot. And yet, we see a reason for this as we continue reading.
Neh. 8:13-14 - On the second day, the heads of fathers' households of all the people, the priests, and the Levites were gathered together to Ezra the scribe, to study the words of the Torah. 14 They found written in the Torah how יהוהhad commanded by Moses that the children of Yisra'el should dwell in booths in the Feast of the seventh new moon;
So they began reading the Torah just in time. When it says, "they found written in the Torah…" it means they had forgotten. They were less than 2 weeks away from Sukkot, and they did not know about it. Now I strongly suggest you continue through chapter 8 and go into 9 as well, as this is a great study for the times we are in right now (in the seventh month).
According to Rashi, there is a debate on where exactly the Book of the Torah was placed. Some said it was placed on a shelf that extended out from the Ark, and others say it was placed along the side of the Ark, INSIDE, next to the tablets.
The portion ends with Moses preparing his final song.
 28 Bracketed section indicates reading present in the Dead Sea Scrolls and the Greek Septuagint but absent from the Hebrew Masoretic Text.