The name Deuteronomy means the repetition of the law, or the second legislation. The word is of Greek derivation, and appears first in the Greek work of Philo. Among the Hebrews the book is known as are the other fifths of the Law by its first noun, d’bharim, meaning the words, or it is sometimes called, with special reference to the powerful chapter twenty-eight, the book of threatenings.
This the final and, from a literary standpoint, by far the most powerful fifth of the Law, is but feebly described by its name, Deuteronomy. It does indeed iterate considerable portions of the laws laid down in the three preceding books, and it also reviews much of the history of Moses and his followers; but it returns to these passages not as would a mere law book or history. It employs them for a purpose. Deuteronomy is the great hortatory or preaching Book of the Law, in which the Israelites are earnestly, passionately urged and entreated to remember and to uphold their faith.
The book deals with the final month of Moses’ life and its writer or writers have endeavored not to record as did the earlier books a mere summary of the great leader’s deeds and teachings, but to reproduce for a later age something of the actual spirit, the burning words of his final speeches, those tremendous closing addresses in which, knowing that his death was at hand, this greatest of all prophetic chieftains endeavored to complete his mission, to drive home his teachings, and perpetuate his faith. What little history of this final month the book contains had been already told in Numbers chapter 27, where God bids Moses view the promised land and prepare for death, and where Joshua is named and consecrated his successor. Deuteronomy retells these things, and then in its final chapter describes Moses’ death.
As regards to its contents, the book is easily divided into three parts. The first address of Moses runs from the beginning through chapter four at verse 49. It reviews the long journey of the Israelites from Sinai to the Jordan, seeking to impress upon them the power of their God and His mercy in the face of their ingratitude. The second address of Moses extends from chapter five through chapter twenty-eight. It is the great central portion of the book, in which Moses reviews, enlarges and discusses such portions of the law as he wishes specially to emphasize. Chapters five to eleven are, like his first speech, hortatory, a backward glance over God’s dealing with Israel. Chapters twelve to sixteen dwell on the religious duties of the people; chapters seventeen to twenty deal with civil ordinances; and chapters twentyone to twenty-five enforce the rules of social life.
Then in chapters twenty-six to twenty-eight we have the mighty oratorical close of the speech, the directions for the celebration with which the people are to take possession of the promised land, and the prophetic series of blessings and of curses called down upon their future. The remainder of the book consists of several separated bits, the closing scenes. Moses’ last exhortation to his people, his final speech, occupies chapters twenty-nine and thirty. His final deeds are told in the next chapter; then comes his great and beautiful song of triumph; then in chapter thirty-three his song of blessing; and then in the last chapter of The Law, the story of his death.
Deuteronomy is far more of unity as well as of literary force than any of the preceding fifths of the Law. This is one reason for regarding this book as being of later composition. The date at which Deuteronomy was written down in its present form has been a subject of much discussion, but there is a general agreement among scholars that this remarkable book, or at least the central portion chapters 5-28, is that "book of the law" which was lost, and the finding of which is described in II Kings, chapters 22 and 23. Its discovery thus caused the great reform of the Jews under King Josiah in the year 621 B.C., when the book was made the law of the state.
In its teachings Deuteronomy is mainly an enforcement of the earlier laws; but it develops several new arid important points of doctrine. It insists on the unity and spirituality of Jehovah; emphasizes repeatedly the necessity of the temple at Jerusalem as the one central place of worship, and to unify the life of the Israelites by the principle of love to God and to their fellows.
Moses views the Promised Land, circa 1900
"I call heaven and earth to record this day against you, that I have set before you life and death, blessing and cursing. Therefore choose life, that both you and your decedents may live. |
That you may love the Lord your God, and that you may obey his voice, and that you may cleave unto Him: for He is your life, and the length of your days: that you may dwell in the land which the Lord swore unto your fathers, to Abraham, to Isaac, and to Jacob, to give them."
Deuteronomy Chapter 1
The words Moses spoke to Israel in the plains of Moab, The promise of Canaan 1-8. Judges provided for the people 9-18. Of the sending the spies, God’s anger for their unbelief and disobedience 19-46.
Deuteronomy Chapter 2
The Edomites to be spared 1-7. The Moabites and Ammonites to be spared 8-23. The Amorites to be destroyed 24-37.
Deuteronomy Chapter 3
The conquest of Og king of Bashan 1-11. The land of Gilead and Bashan 12-20. Moses encourages Joshua 21-29.
Deuteronomy Chapter 4
Summary of the Covenant, obedience and idolatry 1-23. Warnings against disobedience, promises of mercy 24-40. Cities of refuge appointed 41-49.
Deuteronomy Chapter 5
The covenant in Horeb 1-5.
The ten commandments repeated 6-22. The request of the people that the law might be delivered through Moses 23-33.
Deuteronomy Chapter 6
A persuasive to obedience 1-3. An exhortation to obedience 4,5. Obedience taught 6-16. General precepts, Instructions to be given to their children 17-25.
Deuteronomy Chapter 7
Intercourse with the Canaanites forbidden 1-11. Promises if they were obedient 12-26.
Deuteronomy Chapter 8
Exhortations and cautions, enforced by the Lord’s former dealings with Israel, and his promises 1-9. Exhortations and cautions further enforced 10-20.
Deuteronomy Chapter 9
The Israelites not to think their success came by their own worthiness 1-6. Moses reminds the Israelites of their rebellions 7-29.
Deuteronomy Chapter 10
God’s mercies to Israel after their rebellion 1-11. An exhortation to obedience 12-22.
Deuteronomy Chapter 11
The great work God wrought for Israel 1-7. Promises and threatenings 8-17. Careful study of God’s word requisite 18-25. The blessings and the curse set forth 26-32.
Deuteronomy Chapter 12
Monuments of idolatry to be destroyed 1-4. The place of God’s service to be kept 5-32.
Deuteronomy Chapter 13
Enticers to idolatry to be put to death 1-5. Relations who entice to idolatry not to be spared 6-11. Idolatrous cities not to be spared 12-18.
Deuteronomy Chapter 14
The Israelites to distinguish themselves from other nations 1-21. Respecting the application of tithes 22-29.
Deuteronomy Chapter 15
The year of release 1-11. The release of servants 12-18. Respecting cattle 19-23.
Deuteronomy Chapter 16
The yearly feasts 1-17. Of judges, Groves and images forbidden 18-22.
Deuteronomy Chapter 17
All sacrifices to be perfect, Idolaters must be slain 1-7. Difficult controversies 8-13. The choice of a king, His duties 14-20.
Deuteronomy Chapter 18
A provision respecting Levites 1-8. The abominations of the Canaanites to be avoided 9-14. Christ the great Prophet 15-22.
Deuteronomy Chapter 19
The cities of refuge, The man-slayer, The murderer 1-13. Landmarks not to be removed 14. The punishment of false witnesses 15-21.
Deuteronomy Chapter 20
Exhortation and proclamation respecting those who went to war 1-9. Peace to be offered, what cities were to be devoted 10-20.
Deuteronomy Chapter 21
Law of unknown murder 1-9. Respecting a captive taken to wife 10-14. The first-born not to be disinherited for private affection 15-17. A stubborn son to be stoned 18-21. Malefactors not to be left hanging all night 22,23.
Deuteronomy Chapter 22
Of humanity towards brethren 1-4. Various precepts 5-12. Against impurity 13-30.
Deuteronomy Chapter 23
Who are shut out from the congregation 1-8. Cleanliness enjoined 15-25. Of fugitive servants, Usury, and other precepts 9-14.
Deuteronomy Chapter 24
Of divorce 1-4. Of new-married persons, Of man-stealers, Of pledges 5-13. Of justice and generosity 14-22.
Deuteronomy Chapter 25
Extent of punishment 1-3. Marriage of a brother’s wife 5-12. Of unjust weights 13-16. War against Amalek 17-19.
Deuteronomy Chapter 26
Confession in offering the first-fruits 1-11. The prayer after disposal of the third year’s tithe 12-15. The covenant between God and the people 16-19.
Deuteronomy Chapter 27
The law to be written on stones in the promised land 1-10. The curses to be pronounced on mount Ebal 11-26.
Deuteronomy Chapter 28
The blessings for obedience 1-14. The curses for disobedience 15-44. Their ruin, if disobedient 45-68.
Deuteronomy Chapter 29
Moses calls Israel’s mercies to remembrance 1-9. The Divine wrath on those who flatter themselves in their wickedness 10-21. The ruin of the Jewish nation 22-28. Secret things belong unto God 29.
Deuteronomy Chapter 30
Mercies promised to the repentant 1-10. The commandment manifest 11-14. Death and life, choose life! 15-20.
Deuteronomy Chapter 31
Moses encourages the people, and Joshua 1-8. The law to be read every seventh year 9-13. The Israelites’ apostasy foretold, A song given to be witness against them 14-22. The law delivered to the Levites 22-30.
Deuteronomy Chapter 32
The song of Moses 1,2. The character of God, The character of Israel 3-6. The great things God had done for Israel 7-14. The wickedness of Israel 19-25. The judgments which would come upon them for their sins 15-18. Deserved vengeance withheld 26-38. God’s deliverance for his people 39-43. The exhortation with which the song was delivered 44-47. Moses to go up mount Nebo to die 48-52.
Deuteronomy Chapter 33
The glorious majesty of God 1-5. The blessings of the twelve tribes 6-23. Strength to believers 24,25. The excellency of Israel 26-29.
Deuteronomy Chapter 34
Moses views the promised land from mount Nebo 1-4. The death and burial of Moses, The mourning of the people 5-8. Joshua succeeds Moses, The praise of Moses 9-12.
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