Deuteronomy means "second law." It is a retelling of the covenant between God and his people Israel, presented in three addresses or sermons by Moses.

 

Written as the Israelites are to enter the Promised Land, Deuteronomy is a stern reminder that God is worthy of worship and obedience. His laws are given to us for our protection, not as punishment.

As we read Deuteronomy and meditate on it, the relevance of this 3,500 year-old book is startling. In it, God tells people that obeying him brings blessings and goodness, and disobeying him brings disaster. The consequences of using illegal drugs, breaking the law, and living an immoral life are proof that this warning still rings true today.

 

Deuteronomy is the last of the five books of Moses, called the Pentateuch. These God-inspired accounts, Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy, begin at Creation and end with the death of Moses. They detail God's covenant relationship with the Jewish people that is woven throughout the Old Testament.

Writer of the Book:

Date:

Moses

About 1500 B. C.
   

Key Thought:

Number of Chapters:

Key Verse:

Obedience

34

Deu_10:12-13
     
 

Conclusion of the Book

 
  Obedience to God is Imperative.  
     

Christ seen as:

Written To:

Prophet like Moses The generation of Israel about to enter the Promised Land, and all subsequent Bible readers.
   

Landscape of the Book of Deuteronomy

Written on the east side of the Jordan River, within view of Canaan.

Themes in the Book of Deuteronomy:

History of God's Help - Moses reviewed God's miraculous help in freeing the Israelite people from slavery in Egypt, and the people's repeated disobedience. Looking back, the people were able to see how rejecting God always brought calamity upon them.

 

Review of the Law - The people entering Canaan were bound by the same laws of God as their parents. They had to renew this contract, or covenant with God before entering the Promised Land. Scholars note that Deuteronomy is structured as a treaty between a king and his vassals, or subjects, in that time period. It represents a formal agreement between God and his people Israel.

 

God's Love Motivates Him - God loves his people as a father loves his children, but he also disciplines them when they disobey. God does not want a nation of spoiled brats! God's love is an emotional, heart-love, not just a legalistic, conditional love.

 

God Gives Freedom of Choice - People are free to obey or disobey God, but they should also know they are responsible for the consequences. A contract, or covenant, requires obedience, and God expects nothing less.

 

Children Must be Taught - To keep the covenant, the people must instruct their children in God's ways and be sure they follow them. This responsibility continues through every generation. When this teaching becomes lax, trouble begins.

Key Verses:

Deuteronomy 6:4-5

 Hear, O Israel: The LORD our God, the LORD is one. Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength. (NIV)

 

Deuteronomy 7:9

Know therefore that the LORD your God is God; he is the faithful God, keeping his covenant of love to a thousand generations of those who love him and keep his commandments. (NIV)

 

Deuteronomy 34:5-8

And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone. The Israelites grieved for Moses in the plains of Moab thirty days, until the time of weeping and mourning was over. (NIV)

Brief Overview of Deuteronomy

  • Moses Gives his First Speech About Israel's History - Deuteronomy 1:6-4:43.
  • Moses Gives his Second Speech About Basic Requirements of the Law - Deuteronomy 4:44-11:32.
  • Moses Continues his Second Speech on Detailed Requirements of the Law - Deuteronomy 12:1-26:19.
  • Moses Gives his Third Speech Relating Blessings and Curses - Deuteronomy 27:1-28:68.
  • Moses Continues his Third Speech with Warnings and Encouragement - Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20.
  • Commissioning of Joshua and Moses' Final Words - Deuteronomy 31:1-34:12.

Introduction to Deuteronomy

This Book is called Deuteronomy, which signifies a second law, because it repeats and inculcates the ordinances formerly given on Mount Sinai, with other precepts not expressed before. The Hebrews, from the first words in the Book, call it Elle Haddebarim. (Challoner) --- It may be divided into many discourses, which Moses made to the people during the last two months of his life. (Haydock) --- The first was delivered by him on the first day of the eleventh month of the fortieth year, since the deliverance of the Hebrews out of Egypt, and relates various particulars which had occurred to them. In chap. iv. 41, and following, and a supplement from the Book of Numbers is given to this discourse. Chap. v., a fresh exhortation to the people commences, which continues until chap. xxii., where the famous blessings and maledictions, from the mountains of Garizim and Hebal, are related. In the following chapters, Moses exhorts the people, in the most pathetic manner, to be faithful to the Lord, adding the strongest threats and promises to enforce their compliance; and having appointed Josue to succeed him, and repeated that beautiful canticle which God ordered them to write, (chap. xxxi. 19,) he gives the Book of Deuteronomy, to be kept with care, (ver. 9,) blesses the tribes like a good and tender father, and gives up his soul to God on Mount Nebo in the 120th year of his age. (Calmet) --- There can be no doubt but that Moses was the author of this book, as well as of the four preceding ones; though the last chapter may, perhaps, form a part of the Book of Josue, which formerly was written immediately after the works of Moses, without any such marks of distinction as we find at present. The whole Bible seemed to make but one verse. How easily, therefore, might the account of the death of Moses be taken in, as forming a part of the Pentateuch, when the different books came to be distinguished by separate titles! Such an insertion cannot hurt the general claim of Moses to be the author of the Pentateuch; or, if it should be thought to do so, no absolute proof can be brought to shew that he did not write this chapter also, by the spirit of prophecy. All the people spoke to Esdras, the scribe, to bring the book of the law of Moses, which the Lord had commanded, to Israel. The whole nation of the Jews has all along maintained, that Moses wrote these books: and he himself repeatedly asserts that he was ordered to leave on record many things of importance. Hence both internal and external evidence concur to establish his title to them; and if we be not disposed to cavil with all other authors, and to deny that Demosthenes, for example, Cæsar, and others, have written the works which bear their names, we must confess that the Pentateuch is to be attributed to the Jewish legislator. Yet if this were a matter of doubt, the things contained in these books could not, on that account, be controverted. How many anonymous works have been published which are of unquestionable authority! Many of the books of Scripture are of this nature. But as we have every reason to believe, that they have come down to us without any material corruption, and were written by people of veracity, by divine inspiration, they deserve to be regarded as authentic records. This is true, whether we speak of the originals or of the versions authorized by the Church; though it should suffice to stop the mouths of infidels, if we can procure an authentic history of the Bible by the collation of the different copies which are extant. Thus, where the Hebrew editions appear to be incorrect, they may receive great light from the Samaritan copy of the Pentateuch, and from the versions of the Septuagint, and of other respectable authors on the whole Bible. The variations, which we may discover, are not of such moment, but that, if the very worst copy were selected, we should find the same great outlines of Scripture history, the same precepts of faith and morality. The laws of Moses, which are scattered through his five books, may be seen all together in their natural order, collected by Cornelius a Lapide and Calmet. But the spirit of God was pleased to intersperse historical facts among them, which both shew the occasion on which they were given, and enable us to read them with greater pleasure and satisfaction. The four preceding books might be compared to the four Gospels; Deuteronomy represents the whole, (Ven. Bede) and may be styled a Diatessaron, as it recalls to our mind the great Creator of all things, who was about to fulfil the promises which he had made to the Patriarchs. Almost all those to whom Moses addresses himself, had been unborn or very young, when their parents received God's commands at Sinai, and wandered in the desert. He therefore gives them an account of what had happened during the last eventful period of forty years. He shews what had brought on so many disasters, and cautions his hearers, that if they imitate the perfidy of their fathers, as he foresees, with sorrow, that they will, (chap. xxxi.) they must expect to be treated with no less severity. This prediction we behold verified, at the present day, in the persons of the scattered remnants of Israel. How sublime! how terrifying are the truths which Moses enforces with so much earnestness! The same threats which he denounces against the perfidious Jews, regard us in some measure. If we feel not their effects at present, in being driven out from our country, we have more reason to fear lest we should be excluded from our heavenly inheritance, if we do not repent.

(Haydock)

Outline of the Book of Deuteronomy

Chapter 1 - Review of the failure at Kadesh-barnea.
 
 Chapter 2 - The wanderings and conflicts in the wilderness.
 
Chapter 3 - Further review of journeyings.
 
Chapter 4 - The new generations taught the lessons of Sinai. Cities of refuge designated.
 
Chapter 5 - New generations taught the Mosaic covenant.
 
Chapter 6 - Israel exhorted to observe all God’s commandments.
 
Chapter 7 - Command to be separate people and to destroy opposing nations.
 
Chapter 8 - Israel reminded of God’s gracious past dealings and warned to walk in His Way.
 
Chapter 9 - Israel reminded of their unworthiness to possess the land in themselves.
 
Chapter 10 - Further warnings and exhortation and reminders of God’s dealings
 
Chapter 11 - Rewards for Obedience
 
Chapter 12 - Pagan Shrines to Be Destroyed
 
Chapter 13 -  The test of false prophets.
 
Chapter 14 - Pagan Practices Forbidden
 
Chapter 15 - Laws concerning the Sabbatical Year 
 
Chapter 16 - Laws concerning annual feasts.
 
Chapter 17 - Laws concerning idolaters and obedience to authority and kings.
 
Chapter 18 - Provision for Priests and Levites
 
Chapter 19 - Cities of refuge; landmarks, witnesses.  
 
Chapter 20 - Laws of warfare.
 

Chapter 21 - Inquest for the slain. Domestic regulations.

 
Chapter 22 - Law of brotherhood, separation, unchaste wives and husbands.
 

Chapter 23 - Divers regulations.  

 

Chapter 24 - Law concerning divorce; miscellaneous regulations.

 
Chapter 25 - Divers regulations.
 
Chapter 26 - Law of the offering of the firstfruits. 
 
Chapter 27 - The blessing and cursing from Mt. Ebal and Gerizim.
 
 

Chapter 28 -  Conditions of blessing in the land and causes of chastisement.

 
Chapter 29 - Introductory words to the Palestinian covenant.  
 
Chapter 30 - The Palestinian covenant declared.
 
Chapter 31 - Moses’ last counsel to the priests and instruction to the Levites. Warning of Israelitish apostasy.
 
Chapter 32 - The song and exhortation of Moses.
 
Chapter 33 - Moses’ blessing upon the tribes.
 
Chapter 34 - Vision and death of Moses.
 

 

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