What does Deuteronomy, The Book Of mean in the Bible?


Fausset's Bible Dictionary - Deuteronomy, the Book of
("repetition of the law".) Containing Moses' three last discourses before his death, addressed to all Israel in the Moabite plains E. of Jordan, in the eleventh month of the last year of their wanderings, the fortieth after their departure from Egypt; with the solemn appointment of his successor Joshua, Moses' song, blessing, and the account of his death subjoined by Joshua or some prophet (Deuteronomy 1:1 - 4:40; Deuteronomy 2:9-13 - 26:19; Deuteronomy 27:1 - 29:29). The first is introductory, reminding Israel of God's protection and of their ungrateful rebellion, punished by the long wandering; and warning them henceforth to obey and not lose the blessing. The second discourse begins with the Ten Commandments, the basis of the law, and develops and applies the first table; next declares special statutes as to:
(1) religion,
(2) administration of justice and public officers,
(3) private and social duties.
The third discourse renews the covenant, reciting the blessings and curses. The discourses must have been all spoken in the eleventh month; for on the tenth day of the 41st year Jordan was crossed (Joshua 4:19). Joshua 1:11; Joshua 2:22, three days previous were spent in preparations and waiting for the spies; so the encampment at Shittim was on the seventh day (Joshua 2:1). Thirty days before were spent in mourning for Moses (Deuteronomy 34:8); so that Moses' death would be on the seventh day of the twelfth month, and Moses began his address the first day of the eleventh month, fortieth year (Deuteronomy 1:3). Hence, the discourses, being delivered about the same time, exhibit marked unity of style, inconsistent with their being composed at distant intervals. The style throughout is hortatory, rhetorical, and impressive.
A different generation had sprung up from that to which the law at Sinai had been addressed. Parts of it had been unavoidably in abeyance in the wilderness. Circumcision itself had been omitted (Joshua 5:2). Now when Israel was to enter Canaan, their permanent abode, they needed to be reminded of much of the law which they but partially knew or applied, and to have under divine sanction, besides the religious ordinances of the previous books, supplementary enactments, civil and political, for their settled organization. Thus, Deuteronomy is not a mere summary recapitulation, for large parts of the previous code are unnoticed, but Moses' inspired elucidation of the spirit and end of the law. In it he appears as "the prophet," as in the previous books he was the historian and legislator. Two passages especially exhibit him in this character.
The first Deuteronomy 18:15-19; "the Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; according to all that thou desiredst of the Lord ... in Horeb, Let me not hear again the voice of ... God ... that I die not; and the Lord said, I will raise them up a Prophet ... and I will put My words in His mouth ... And whosoever will not hearken unto My words which He shall speak in My name, I will require it of him." In the ultimate and exhaustive sense Messiah fulfills the prophecy; Numbers 12:6-8 expressly says "there arose not a prophet since in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face." So Deuteronomy 34:10; Hebrews 3:2-5, state how the Antitype exceeded the type. In a lower sense the whole order of prophets, the forerunners of THE PROPHET, is included; hardly Joshua, for he was already designated as Moses' successor (Numbers 27:18; Numbers 27:23), and the prophecy contemplates a future "prophet."
Our Lord Himself must have had this prophecy in view in John 5:46, "Moses wrote of Me." The Samaritans, who received the Pentateuch alone, must have drawn their expectation of the all-revealing Messiah from it: "when He is come He will tell us all things," answering to "I will put My words in His mouth ... He shall speak in My name." In Acts 3:22, etc., Acts 7:37, Peter and Stephen both quote it as fulfilled in Jesus. The Jews, the adversaries of Christianity, are our librarians, so that we Christians cannot have altered the passage to favor our views. It at once foretells Christ's coming and their own chastisement from God ("I will requite it") for "not hearkening" to Him.
The second passage is Deuteronomy 28, where he declares more fully than in Leviticus 26 what evils should overtake Israel in the event of their disobedience, with such specific particularity that the Spirit in him must be not declaring contingencies, but foretelling the penal results of their sin which have since so literally come to pass; their becoming "a byword among all nations where the Lord has led them"; their being besieged by "a nation of a fierce countenance, until their high walls wherein they trusted came down"; their "eating the fruit of their own body, the flesh of their sons and daughters, in the straitness of the siege, and the eye of the tender and delicate woman being evil toward the husband of her bosom and toward her child which she shall eat for want of all things secretly in the siege"; their dispersion so as to "find no ease, and the sole of their foot to have no rest among the nations," but to have "a trembling heart, failing of eyes, and sorrow of mind, their life hanging in doubt, in fear day and night, and having none assurance of life"; "the whole land (Deuteronomy 29:23) not sown, nor bearing, nor having grass."
Nay, more, Moses foresaw their disobedience: "I know that after my death ye will utterly corrupt yourselves, and turn aside from the way which I have commanded you, and evil will befall you in the latter days" (Deuteronomy 31:29). So also Deuteronomy 32, Moses song. But in the distant future he intimates, not merely their continued preservation, but also a time when Israel, dispersed "among all the nations, shall call to mind how all these things, the blessing and the curse, have come upon them, and shall return unto the Lord with all their heart and soul; though they be driven unto the outmost parts of heaven, from thence will the Lord their God gather them, and He will circumcise their heart, and make them plenteous in the fruit of their land, and again rejoice over them for good" (Deuteronomy 30, also Deuteronomy 32:36; Deuteronomy 32:43).
In Deuteronomy 32:8 Moses intimates that from the beginning the distribution of races and nations had a relation to God's final purpose that Israel should be the spiritual center of the kingdom of God; "when the Most High divided to the nations their inheritance, when He separated the sons of Adam, He set the bound: of the people according to the number of the children of Israel," i.e., that their inheritance should be proportioned to their numbers. The coincidences of Moses' song with other parts of the Pentateuch and of Deuteronomy confirm its genuineness. The style is no more different than was to be expected in a lyrical, as compared with a historical, composition. Psalm 90, which is Moses' work, resembles it: Psalms 90:1; Psalms 90:13-16, with Deuteronomy 32:4; Deuteronomy 32:7; Deuteronomy 32:36; explain Deuteronomy 32:5 "they are not His children but their spot," i.e. a disgrace to them (to God's children).
Also Deuteronomy 32:42, not "from the beginning of revenges upon the enemy," but "from the head (i.e. the chief) of the princes of the enemy." These are the germs in Hoses which the prophets expand, setting forth the coming glory of the gospel church, and especially of Israel under the final Messianic kingdom. Herein Deuteronomy, "the second law," is the preparation for the gospel law; and Moses, in the very act of founding the Sinaitic law, prepares for its giving place to the higher law which is its end and fulfillment. The falsity of the theory that Deuteronomy is of a later age is proved by the fact that the archaisms of vocabulary and grammar characterizing the Pentateuch occur in Deuteronomy. The demonstrative pronoun haeel , characteristic of the Pentateuch, occurs Deuteronomy 4:42; Deuteronomy 7:22; Deuteronomy 19:11, and nowhere else but in the Aramaic (1 Chronicles 20:8 and Ezra 5:15). The use of h local. The future ending in -un .
The passive construed with 'eth of the direct object. Κeseb for Κebes (Deuteronomy 14:4). Ζakur for Ζakar (Deuteronomy 16:16). Ancient words: 'abib , yequm , shegar , 'alaphim , methim , hermeesh for magal , teneh for sal . The Canaanite 'ashteroth hatsion , "offspring of the flocks." Υeshurun , for Israel, copied in Isaiah 44:2. Μadweh , "sickness." The resemblance of Jeremiah to Deuteronomy is accounted for by the fact that the sins denounced in Deuteronomy were those abounding in Jeremiah's time. Jeremiah, as a priest of Anathoth, familiar with the law from childhood, naturally adopts the tone of Deuteronomy (as does Huldah his contemporary; compare 2 Kings 22:16, etc., with Deuteronomy 29:2, etc.), both in denunciation and in final consolation.
Possibly also the book of the law found in the temple by Hilkiah the high priest and brought before king Josiah, after disuse for the 60 years of the two previous reigns, was Deuteronomy alone. But if it was the whole Pentateuch put by the Levites, at Moses' command, in the sides of the ark (Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:26; 2 Chronicles 34:14), still Deuteronomy was the part that mainly awakened the conscience of king and people (Deuteronomy 12:2-3; Deuteronomy 12:16; Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 29:25-27; compare 2 Kings 22:13-17; 2 Kings 22:23). Josiah's reforms are just those most insisted upon in Deuteronomy. Jeremiah was the son of Hilkiah, probably related to the high priest, and his uncle, Shallum, was apparently the husband of Huldah, the prophetess. But while having some resemblance the language and idioms of Jeremiah are of an altogether later date than Deuteronomy.
While he imitates or repeats phrases of Deuteronomy, he uses characteristic expressions never found in Deuteronomy; for instances see The Introduction to Deuteronomy, Speaker's Commentary. The writer of Deuteronomy, if a forger, would never, having the rest of the Pentateuch before him, have left apparent discrepancies between his work and it, when desiring his work to appear as if by the same author. The original writer, Moses, could alone treat his own work in such a free spirit. The different circumstances and objects in view clear the seeming discrepancies. Thus, the directions in Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 14:22; Deuteronomy 14:28-29; Deuteronomy 26:12, etc., do not supersede the directions in Leviticus 27:30-34; Numbers 18:20, etc. The earlier directions refer to the general and first tithe of all produce, animal and vegetable, for the maintenance of the priests and Levites.
The later in Deuteronomy refer to the second and additional tithe on the increase of the field only, and for celebrating the sacred feasts each first and second year in the sanctuary, every third year at home with a feast to the Levites, the stranger, fatherless, and widow; like the love-feasts of New Testament (Deuteronomy 11:5.) The first tithe is taken for granted in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 10:9; Deuteronomy 18:1-2), and no fresh injunction as to it is given, it being from the first recognized in Genesis 14:20; Genesis 28:22, as well as in Leviticus and Numbers.
The different way in which the priests and Levites respectively are regarded in Deuteronomy and in the preceding books (in these "the Levites" ministering to the priests "the sons of Aaron," as the priests minister to God (Numbers 3:5, etc.; 4; Exodus 28:1; Exodus 29:1, etc.), and not mentioned as "blessing" the people, the prerogative of the priests (Numbers 6:23-27, compare Deuteronomy 10:8-9); but in Deuteronomy (Deuteronomy 18:7; Deuteronomy 11:6) the Levites and Aaronite priests not being mutually distinguished, and Korah not being mentioned with Dathan and Abiram in their rebellion) is accounted for by the consideration that Moses in Deuteronomy is addressing the people, and for the time takes no notice of the distinction of orders among ministers, and, similarly referring to the rebellions of the people against God, takes no notice of the minister Korah's share in the rebellion, as not suiting his present purpose. His additional enactment are just of that supplementary and explanatory kind which would come from the legislator himself, after a practical experience of the working of the law during the years of the wilderness wanderings.
In Deuteronomy 19:14, "thou shalt not remove ... landmark which they of old time have set in thine inheritance which thou shalt inherit," "they of old time" are those about first to occupy the land. Moses lays down a law for distant generations, as the land was to be a lasting inheritance; the words "shalt inherit" prove that the occupation was still future. The relaxation granted in Deuteronomy 12:15 as to killing in all their gates, whereas in Leviticus 17:3-4, the victim even for ordinary eating must be killed at the door of the tabernacle, is precisely what we might expect when Israel was on the verge of entering Canaan, which they were at the time of the delivering of Deuteronomy. Our Lord attests Deuteronomy by quoting from it alone the three passages wherewith He foiled the tempter in the wilderness (Matthew 4; Deuteronomy 8:3; Deuteronomy 6:13; Deuteronomy 6:16).
Paul (Romans 10:6; Romans 10:19; Romans 15:10 attests it Deuteronomy 30:12; Deuteronomy 30:18; Deuteronomy 32:21; Deuteronomy 32:43). Moses tells us that all the words of this law he wrote and gave to the Levites to be put in the side of the ark at the one time (Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:22-26. Paul's quotations, "Rejoice, O ye nations (Gentiles), with His people," and "I will move them to jealousy with those which are not a people," prove that Moses did not understand his own law as possessing that localized narrowness to which Judaism would restrict it. Many circumstances which would naturally be noticed on the eve of Israel's entrance into Canaan occur for the first time in Moses' last address. Now first he enjoins the observance of the three great feasts (mentioned previously), at the place which the Lord shall choose (Deuteronomy 12:5).
Now first he introduces the appointment of judges in the different cities (Deuteronomy 16:18; Deuteronomy 19:11; Deuteronomy 21:18). Tents were the abodes spoken of in the previous books, now houses. In first recording the appointment of captains, he attributes it to Jethro's counsel (Exodus 18:17, etc.); in repeating the fact to the people (Deuteronomy 1:9, etc.) he notices their part in the selection. Jethro doubtless suggested the plan, and Moses, after consulting God, laid it before the people, assigning the choice to them. So in Numbers 13; 14, the Lord commands the sending of the spies; but in addressing the people (Deuteronomy 1:19, etc.) Moses reminds them of what was not noticed before, but was most to his point now, their share in sending them.
They had been told to go up at once and possess the land, but requested leave first to send spies; God in compliance with their wish gave the command. His allusion to the Lord's anger and exclusion of himself, when speaking of that of the people, accords with the character of the meekest of men (Deuteronomy 1:34-38). A forger would magnify the miracles in referring to them; Moses alludes to them as notorious, and uses them only as an incentive to enforce obedience. His notices of the children of Esau supplanting the Horims by God's help, and Moab supplanting the giant Emim (Deuteronomy 5:1) are made the argument why Israel need not, as their fathers, fear the giant Anakims
Holman Bible Dictionary - Deuteronomy, the Book of
English name of fifth book of Old Testament taken from Greek translation meaning, “second law.” Deuteronomy is the last of five books of Law and should not be read in isolation from the other four books (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers). Pentateuch (five books) is the familiar title associated with these five books of Law, the first and most important division of the Hebrew Bible. By longstanding tradition these books have been associated with Moses, the human instrument of God's deliverance of Israel from bondage in Egypt and the negotiator of the covenant between God and Israel.
Title The probable origin of the title “Deuteronomy” is the translation in the Septuagint (Greek translation of the Hebrew Old Testament) of Deuteronomy 17:18-19 . These two verses contain instructions to the king about making “a copy of this law” to be read regularly and obeyed faithfully. The Septuagint translators rendered the above phrase “this second law” instead of “a copy of this law.” The Septuagint translation implies a body of legislation different from that contained in the previous books of Law. That does not seem to be the point of the instruction in Deuteronomy 17:18-19 . This apparent Greek mistranslation is the likely source of the title “Deuteronomy.”
The title used in the Hebrew Bible, “these (are) the words” (two words in Hebrew), follows an ancient custom of using words from the first line of the text to designate a book. Sometimes the title in the Hebrew Bible was shortened to “words.” This title more accurately defines the contents of the book than our familiar English title, Deuteronomy. In the main the book consists of the words by which Moses addressed Israel prior to their entry into the Promised Land. The style is sermonic, that of a preacher addressing his congregation with words designed to move them to obedience and commitment. “Words” is an informative title, affording a window into the nature of the book.
Background Deuteronomy is not primarily a law book or a book of history. It claims to be the words of Moses addressed to Israel on the eve of their entry into Canaan. Their wanderings in the wilderness were at an end. Their early efforts at conquest of the Promised Land east of the Jordan had met with success. The events recorded in Deuteronomy took place east of the Jordan before the beginning of the conquest west of the Jordan.
The historical background to the Book of Deuteronomy is found in Moses' opening address (Deuteronomy 1-4 ). Moses recounted the events of Israel's history from the time of their departure from Sinai to the time of their arrival in the land east of the Jordan. Behind that recitation lay the covenant-making procedures at Sinai, covered by Moses in Deuteronomy 5-11 . Before that was the Exodus from Egypt, God's mighty delivering act for His people Israel. Moses used the events of the past to press home to Israel the importance of the present moment.
Israel's Exodus from Egypt and the covenant at Sinai were the stages of Israel's birth as a nation. As yet they were a nation without a homeland. God's covenant with Israel at Sinai was in part a renewal of earlier covenants made with the patriarchs. Included in those covenants were the following promises: (1) that Israel would be God's special nation, (2) that Yahweh God would be their God, (3) that they would be obedient to God, and (4) that God would give them a homeland and innumerable descendants.
Now Israel was poised on the borders of Canaan ready to enter and to possess the Land of Promise. Moses, knowing that Israel's future hung on their obedience and commitment to God, led the people in a covenant renewal ceremony. Moses' approaching death and resulting transfer of human leadership to Joshua, plus Israel's approaching battles in conquest of the land, formed the basis for renewal of the covenant.
Contents Deuteronomy contains not one, but three (or more) addresses from Moses to Israel. Most interpreters agree that the structure of the book is patterned after Near Eastern vassal treaties. More will be said about this subject in the “Date and Authorship” section of this article. The present form of Deuteronomy emphasizes the words of Moses, not the details of the covenant renewal ceremony.
Deuteronomy 1:1-5 is an introduction, giving the time and place of the addresses. The time is “the fortieth year” ( Deuteronomy 1:3 ) of wilderness wandering, “in the eleventh month, on the first day of the month.” The place is “on this side Jordan in the wilderness” (Deuteronomy 1:1 ) and, more particularly, “in the land of Moab” (Deuteronomy 1:5 ).
Deuteronomy 1:6-4:40 is Moses' first address in which he recounted Israel's journey from Horeb to Moab and urged Israel to be faithful to Yahweh. Moses used Israel's immediate past history to teach the present generation of Israelites the importance of trusting God. Israel's obedience was imperative if they were to expect to possess the land of Canaan. Moses set up cities of refuge on the east bank of the Jordan ( Deuteronomy 4:41-43 ).
Deuteronomy 4:44-28:68 contains Moses' second address to Israel. The address is introduced in Deuteronomy 4:44-49 . Then Moses proceeded to teach Israel lessons from the law. These are not laws to be used in the courts to decide legal cases, but instructions for life in the land of Canaan.
Moses' third address is found in Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20 . The focus is upon covenant renewal. Repentance and commitment would assure life and the blessings of God. Rebellion would result in their death as a nation. The choice was theirs.
Deuteronomy 31:1-29 is Moses' farewell address. The song of Moses is given in Deuteronomy 31:30-32:52 . Moses' blessing is reported in Deuteronomy 33:1 , and his death is recounted in Deuteronomy 34:1 .
Date and Authorship The date when Deuteronomy was put in its final form was relatively late. Internal evidence seems to favor a time after the Mosaic era. The author makes third person references to Moses instead of first person statements about himself as one would expect Moses to do. “Beyond the Jordan,” a common phrase used for the territory east of that river, gives the perspective of a writer within the land of Canaan.
The Near Eastern vassal treaty form of Deuteronomy has been used by scholars to argue for a date for the book in the Mosaic period or shortly thereafter. Other scholars use the same information to argue for a date closer to 600 B.C. Differences in form between early Hittite treaties and later Assyrian treaties when compared to Deuteronomy are the bases for deciding in favor of an early or a later date for Deuteronomy. Such comparisons of the structure of Deuteronomy with the structure of Near Eastern vassal treaties do not provide firm evidence for dating Deuteronomy either early or late.
The “book of the law” found during the repair of the Temple in the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign (621 B.C.) has been identified as Deuteronomy since the early church fathers shortly after 300 A.D. That identity cannot be proved, but the nature of the reforms of Josiah and the contents of Deuteronomy show an interesting similarity. For example, the call for centralization of worship (Deuteronomy 12:1 ) is matched by Josiah's destruction of all altars except the one in the Temple in Jerusalem (2 Kings 23:4-20 ).
All the basic material in Deuteronomy seems to be quite ancient, but the book seems to have been edited after the death of Moses. No doubt Moses gave such addresses to Israel as the book reflects when it became known to him that God would not permit him to lead Israel into the Promised Land.
The scribe who recorded the final form of Deuteronomy is not known. Longstanding tradition among Christians and Jews favors Moses as the author, but third person references to Moses, the location of the writer in Palestine (Deuteronomy 1:1 ), and comparison of the laws in Deuteronomy with the laws in the Book of the Covenant (Exodus 20:23-23:19 ) all indicate that the book was produced later than the Mosaic period.
Gerhard von Rad has argued convincingly for the origin of Deuteronomy among the Levitical priests (Deuteronomy 10:8-9 ; Deuteronomy 17:9 ,Deuteronomy 17:9,17:18 ; Deuteronomy 18:1-8 ; Deuteronomy 21:5 ). His investigation shows that the materials in the book have a long history preceding that writing. The book apparently preserves genuine Mosaic covenant-faith. Whoever put it in its final form was inspired just as Moses was when he addressed the Israelites on the plains of Moab.
Purpose The sermonic style of Deuteronomy suits it well to serve just as most interpreters agree that it served originally. Deuteronomy is a call to repentance, a plea for God's disobedient people to mend their ways and renew the covenant God made with them at Sinai. Moses had led Israel to the borders of Canaan nearly forty years before, but in rebellion and unbelief the people turned back into the wilderness. Now the new generation of Israelites stood on the borders of the Promised Land. Would they turn back in rebellion and unbelief?
The approaching death of Moses put urgency into his appeal for covenant renewal. He called for obedience through love to Yahweh, the loving God, who had established the covenant with Israel. Moses was convinced that only through a renewed relationship with God could the new generation of Israelites hope to succeed under Joshua's leadership in possessing the land. No doubt Joshua used the materials of Deuteronomy when he led Israel in a covenant renewal ceremony at Shechem (Joshua 8:30-35 ). Later, covenant renewal became a regular feature of Israel's cult. Deuteronomy must have been used in these ceremonies.
Teaching Deuteronomy continues to exercise strong influence on God's people. In many ways it remains a guide to life under God. It reminds of the great things God has done and wants to do for His people. It calls to faith and action in response to God's acts. It holds high the belief in the uniqueness of God as the only God without rivals. Thus it points to worship of any other god as vain, without meaning or hope. It shows the Ten Commandments as the center of the covenant relationship for believers. It holds up love of God as the basic relationship God wants with His people. It calls for total separation from pagan practices and godless life-styles. It seeks to establish a community at rest, free from internal strife and external war. It focuses on the needs of the least privileged members of society, calling on God's people to meet their needs. It teaches that the commitment of people finds reflection in action. It pronounces curses on evildoers who forsake God's covenant and blessings on those faithful to the covenant. From first to last, it calls for repentance and renewal of faith.
I. Introduction: Historical Setting (Deuteronomy 1:1-5 )
II. Moses' First Sermon: Learn from God's Saving Acts (Deuteronomy 1:6-4:43 )
A. Historical memories call for present faith action (Deuteronomy 1:6-3:29 )
B. God's Word is the foundation for His people's life (Deuteronomy 4:1-43 )
III. Second Sermon: God's Law Guides and Gives Unique Identity to God's People (Deuteronomy 4:44-28:68 )
A. Covenant faith demands total allegiance and unchanging love for God (Deuteronomy 4:44 —-Deuteronomy 4:44—-11:32 )
B. God expresses His demands in worship, leadership, daily life, business life, legal practices, family life, and care for others (Deuteronomy 12:1-28:68 ).
IV. Third Sermon: God Seeks to Renew Covenant Relationships (Deuteronomy 29:1-30:20 ).
V. Conclusion: God Seeks Continuity in Leadership for His People (Deuteronomy 31:1-34:12 ).
Billy K. Smith

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