The history, origins, and contents of Deuteronomy are examined. Deuteronomy is one of the most quoted books of the Bible.


Deuteronomy is the 5th book of the Old Testament and the final book of law. The title of the book actually comes from the Septuagint and means "2nd law" or "repetition of the law." Although this is likely a mistranslation of Deuteronomy 17:18 (from "copy of the law"), it is quite fitting.[1] Deuteronomy contains much of what we learned in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. In Hebrew, there are 2 names for the book of Deuteronomy: Debarim—meaning "words"—and Mishneh Torah.[3]


Like the other books of law, the author is generally agreed to be Moses and thus the date of authorship would fall somewhere in the 40 years the Israelites spent in the wilderness (likely during the final year since it discusses events that happened during that final year). Because Deuteronomy contains the detail of Moses' death, some question his authorship, while others conclude that someone like Joshua may have appended those details posthumously. I believe that it is entirely possible for Moses' to have written the details of his own death. It isn't as though he died suddenly and without warning! God told Moses he would not cross into the promised land, so when the Israelites began preparing to conquer the land, Moses would have known his days were numbered. Considering he was able to speak directly to God daily, it is reasonable to assume God told Moses he would be buried where no one would find him, and thus Moses could have added that detail to the book as well.

Popularity of Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy is the 5th most quoted Old Testament book by New Testament authors and the 3rd most quoted book of law. Jesus quotes Deuteronomy 3 times to resist Satan's temptation. This tells us that there is much to be gleaned from the pages of Deuteronomy. Our ancient brothers and sisters must have come to this conclusion as well, considering 24 manuscripts of Deuteronomy were found amongst the Dead Sea Scrolls.[2]


Deuteronomy is known for its theological ideas, some of which include creeds, the God who acts, the election of Israel, the covenant, and sin. Deuteronomy 6:4 presents us with the first creed, known as the Shema. The Shema was the creed of Israel, which emphasized the holiness and uniqueness of God. As a confession of faith, this was to be a sign of the covenant for the Israelites. The election of Israel, along with deliverance to the promised land, is God's portion of the covenant, while the Israelites' end of the bargain was to be obedient. Israel's allegience to God manifested in keeping the law. In Israelite culture, "secular" did not exist. Some view Deuteronomy as the constitution of Israel.[1]

People Discussed in Deuteronomy

Prominent Individuals


Moses is the primary character in Exodus, as well as the author of the Pentateuch (Genesis, Exodus, Deuteronomy, Leviticus, and Numbers). While many others had the pleasure of speaking with God before Moses, he is the first to be in God's undisguised physical presence.

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Other Individuals

Some of these people were mentioned for genealogies. Others play a larger role in future books. More information on the significance of these people can be found on the People page.
  1. Joshua, son of Nun
  2. Caleb
  3. Sihon
  4. Og
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  1. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg 299. 2014
  2. Thomas Nelson Bible Publishers. KJV Study Bible. pg 324. 1988
  3. Morris Jastrow, Jr., S. R. Driver, Emil G. Hirsch, and Benno Jacob. "Deuteronomy". Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011

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