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. Deuteronomy contains much of what we learned in
- Popularity of Deuteronomy
- Chapter by Chapter Breakdown
- Important People
- Other People Mentioned in Deuteronomy
- Lessons Learned: A Summary to Make it Stick
- Other Posts Related to Deuteronomy
- References and Footnotes
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. Either explanation works fine for how and why the details of Moses’ death are in book he himself authored.
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 three 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.
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 allegiance to God manifested in keeping the law. In Israelite culture, "secular" did not exist. Some view Deuteronomy as the constitution of Israel.
Chapter by Chapter Breakdown
Other People Mentioned in Deuteronomy
I may expand on these people over time, but for now here is a list of of important people mentioned in Deuteronomy that I have not written a post on:
- Joshua, son of Nun
Lessons Learned: A Summary to Make it Stick
There's little that can be considered new information in Deuteronomy; it's mostly a rehash of
Repetition is used throughout the Books of Law, but Deuteronomy itself is a repetition of the Books of Law. In one of his addresses, Moses says the law was to be read every 7 years to the whole congregation, which sheds light on why there is such repetition. The people of Israel didn't have the internet where they could just log in and check the law, or even books that they could keep in their homes for reference. It's possible (and likely) that most of the Israelites may not have even been able to read! Repetition would help them remember the law as it was passed to them orally.
Walking away from Deuteronomy, the repetition of the book left me with two main points:
- Idolatry is a horrible thing that God absolutely hates, and
- It is important for us to provide for the poor and less fortunate.
It seemed like every chapter touches on at least one of these two topics. I find it ironic however, that despite God's insistence upon helping the poor, evangelical Christians are more likely to be Republican in the United States, and thus support cutting public assistance programs which are designed to provide for the poor. Of course, there is the positive that religious people (in general, not specifically Christians) are more likely to donate to charities.
Though, it seems odd that people are willing to donate to a charity but not ok with public assistance programs. Whatever the case, Deuteronomy makes it very clear that as servants of God, we should be concerned for our fellow man. Based on God's law, churches should be running their own public assistance programs (perhaps then we wouldn't need a governmental one).
The first 5 books of the Bible are meant to introduce us to God: Who He is, what He has done, and how He expects us to behave. Deuteronomy concludes this message with a recap of the other books. I found it refreshing in a way I can't really describe... As I approached the last few chapters of Deuteronomy, I actually found myself growing sad to read about Moses' impending death. I already knew he was going to die, but I was so caught up in the text that I actually felt the loss of a great prophet. That was a new level of connection to the Word for me.
Can you imagine if preachers today were as righteous and connected to God as Moses?
Deuteronomy is heavily quoted from throughout the Bible; a solid foundation of this book is needed to understand the Bible as a whole. Jesus quotes from Deuteronomy to shut down Satan 3 times! Not only does this tell us about God's power, but it reiterates the importance of God's law, even under the New Testament. We are to keep these words in our heart because they are our defense against Satan and his army.
Other Posts Related to Deuteronomy
References and Footnotes
- Porter, Eduardo. "The Republican Party's Strategy to Ignore Poverty". The New York Times. October 2015
- Daniels, Alex. "Religious Americans Give More, New Study Finds". The Chronicle of Philanthropy. November 2013
- Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg 299. 2014
- Thomas Nelson Bible Publishers. KJV Study Bible. pg 324. 1988
- Morris Jastrow, Jr., S. R. Driver, Emil G. Hirsch, and Benno Jacob. "Deuteronomy". Jewish Encyclopedia. 2011