Deuteronomy literally means “second law” in Greek. The Hebrew title “These Are the Words” is probably better. It is not a second law but rather three sermons of Moses based on the Law. Deut 31.9 says that Moses wrote down “this law” (probably referring to chapters 1-30). Most of this is the speech that Moses gave to Israel on the plains of Moab at the end of the 40-year wilderness period. Other books also refer to Moses as the author: Josh. 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3; Mal. 4:4; Matt. 19:7–8; Rom. 10:19). There are three sermons and two prophetic poems in Deuteronomy. He reminds them of past mistakes and warns them not to repeat them. Entry into the Promised Land fulfills God’s promises. Yet failure to keep the law will result in exile.
Deuteronomy pulls together the promises God gave to the patriarchs, the experience of the Exodus, and the laws given at Sinai. Josiah referred to it when he began his reforms in 2 Kings 23, so did Jeremiah and Hosea. Jesus quoted from it during His temptation in the wilderness, and Paul refers to it in the letter to the Romans.
We need to remember that the Law of Moses was part of God’s preparation for the coming of the Messiah. Some of the statutes applied only to the Israelites to give them an identity different from the nations around them. Some statutes (rules for warfare or land possession) only applied to Israel before the Messiah because a “physical” Messiah had to be born in a physical place to a physical people. These laws prepared the world for that. Since the Messiah has come, all eyes are on Jesus. He is our king (political issues). He is our priest and sacrifice (blood offerings, etc.). He is our prophet (“the greater one” of Deut 18.18). He is our “land” in the sense that we are part of His kingdom. Nevertheless, just because some parts of Deuteronomy have been fulfilled and certain practices may not be continued, we still keep the heart of the law as it is especially found in the Ten Commandments and all other parts of the law that are carried over into the New Testament.
1.4-4.43 First Sermon
4.44-26.19 Second Sermon
27.1-29.1 Third Sermon
29.2-30.20 Fourth Sermon
31-34 Transition from Moses to Joshua
01) Moses’ first sermon (chapters 1-4). He urged Israel to journey to the land the LORD swore to Abraham, Isaac & Jacob. Israel had become a multitude. Moses reminds them how he chose leaders from each tribe. Moses sent the twelve spies. When they came back, the people were discouraged and refused to enter. Moses reminded them that the LORD will fight for them, but they still refused to enter. God promised that generation would die in the wilderness except for Calep and Joshua. They changed their minds and tried to enter, but they were driven back.
02) Moses reminds them how they “skirted Mt. Seir for many days.” This is the forty years in the wilderness. Then they turned north. They were not to meddle with Esau’s people. Next they approached Moab and were not to contend with them. Next was Ammon, and again they were not to harass them. God did command them to disposess Sihon, king of the Amorites after he refused to let them pass.
03) Next they encounter Og of Bashan, who attacked. They defeated and disposed him. They destroyed all the people. He was the last of the giants and had a large iron bed. Moses divided the land east of the Jordan with the tribes of Rueben, Gad, and Manasseh. They still helped in the conquest west of the Jordan. Moses was only allowed to see the promised land from Pisgah. Joshua would take over.
04) Moses emphasizes the laws and statutes which Israel was to obey in the promised land. They were to teach them to their children and grandchildren. Especially important was when God spoke from Sinai and gave the Ten Commandments. They are warned not to worship any created thing. If they practice idolatry, they will be scattered. He appointed three cities of refuge. Moses introduces the Law.
05) 4.44 - 26.19 Moses Summarizes the Law. He reaffirms the Ten Commandments. In the Sabbath Commandment they are to remember the Exodus from Egypt. Moses received the law from the LORD because the people were afraid. The LORD commanded not to turn to the right or left and that in keeping the commandments Israel will prolong their days in the land.
06) 6.4 Could be translated “The LORD is our God, the LORD alone.” Love the LORD with heart, mind and soul. Teach the commandments to the children, keep them diligently, that it would go well with them.
07) The LORD commanded them to destroy the seven nations of Canaan and especially their religious things. Israel is a holy, chosen people. He is merciful to those who keep His commandments. He destroys those who hate Him.
08) Keep the commandments and prosper. They were tested in the wilderness. He provided then, and He will provide now. They were not to forget the LORD. They would not succeed by their own power. If they did forget the LORD and worship other gods, they would be destroyed like the other nations.
09) They were to drive out and destroy the nations of Canaan not because of their own righteousness. Because of the wickedness of the nations God would destroy them. Moses warned them not to provoke the LORD as they did with the Golden Calf and at other times. He reminded them how he interceded for them.
10) Moses made two more tablets, and God wrote on them the Ten Commandments. Aaron died at Moserah. Israel was to fear the LORD and serve Him, circumcise the foreskin of their hearts. The LORD is just. Since Israel was a stranger in Egypt, they were to love the stranger.
11) Moses urges Israel to remember the discipline they experienced in the wilderness (some of the children born in the wilderness had not experienced all these things). For this reason they were to love the LORD and keep His commandments. He would then bless them in the promised land. They were to memorize His words, teach them to their children, and carefully do them. Upon entering this land, they were to remember the LORD’s blessings and curses at Mt Gerizim and Mt. Ebal. This is where the LORD first gave Abraham the promise of the land (the oak of Moreh).
12) They were to destroy all the worship places of the nations. They were to seek the place where He put His name. (This was wherever the Tabernacle was. Eventually it would be Temple at Jerusalem. God is present where His word is given.) Here they were to bring their offerings and tithes. They were not to eat the blood, for the life is in the blood. They were not to inquire about how the Canaanites served their gods to do the same. They did abominable things in their worship including the sacrifice of children.
13) A false prophet who leads Israel to serve other gods was to be put to death. Family or friend who tries to lead anyone away from the LORD was to be put to death by stoning. If a city goes astray, it was to be completely destroyed.
14) Israel is a chosen people. They were not to shave the front of their heads for the dead. They could eat animals with cloven hoof and that chewed cud. They could eat fish with fins and scales. They could not eat birds of prey. They could not eat anything that died of itself. They could not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. Moses had taught the people to tithe for the Levites (Num. 18:21-32). Now he also tells them to eat part of the tithe at the tabernacle.
15) Every seven years loans and servants were released. They were not to harden their hearts against the poor. God would bless those who help the poor. Servants were released every seven years. They could become permanent servants voluntarily. All first born animals were dedicated to the LORD and could not be used for work. They were sacrificed and eaten. Blemished animals could not be used as sacrifices. They were not to eat the blood.
16) They celebrated the Passover on the first month (Abib) when the LORD brought them out of Egypt. They were to make the Passover sacrifice where God chose to make His name dwell at sunset. They were to eat unleavened bread for six days. They (Israelites and sojourners) were to count seven weeks from the time they began to harvest and celebrate the Feast of Weeks. They (Israelites and sojourners) were to keep the Feast of Booths for seven days after the harvest. All males were required to celebrate the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks, and the Feast of Booths. Every man gave as he was able. They were always to practice justice, no bribes.
17) No defective animals for sacrifice. A wicked man or woman must be stoned to death. Difficult matters were taken to the priests and Levites, and the people were to follow their decisions. When Israel choses a king, that king was to be chosen by God from among the people of Israel. He was not to multiply horses, wives or riches. He was to read the book of the Law all the days of his life.
18) The priests and Levites had no inheritance. The Israelites were to give offerings to support them. They were not to follow the abominations of the nations such as child sacrifice. Moses promised another prophet. False prophets had to die. False prophets were identified by their words which did not come to pass.
19) Israel had three cities of refuge to which anyone could flee if they had done something wrong by accident. If someone does murder intentionally and flees to one of these cities, he would be avenged. They were not to move boundary markers. At least two or three witnesses needed for judgment. False accusers would punished with the punishment they were seeking. Punishments had to fit the crime (lex taliones).
20) The priests would exhort soldiers. The officers would exclude those recently built a house, were recently married, or who were faint of heart. There were to make peace with cities, and if no peace could be made, they were to destroy (saving the women, little ones, and live stock).They were to utterly destroy the cities of the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. They were to save the trees good for food.
21) If someone was murdered, the elders and priest of the nearest town were to sacrifice a heifer for atonement. The Israelites could take a female captured in war as a wife. If she was not pleasing, they could set her free. Firstborn sons received the rights of the firstborn, whether or not they came from the wife most loved. They could stone a son who was consistently rebellious. The body of someone punished by death was to be buried the same day he died.
22) Israelites were to return lost animals or items. They were not to cross dress. If they found a bird with young, they could take the young but not both the young and the mother. They were to have a barrier on the roof so no one might fall. They were not to sow different kinds of seed in their vineyards, no pow with ox and donkey, or where garments of mixed threads (wool/linen). They were to make tassels for the corners of their clothing. Anyone who falsely accuses his wife of not being a virgin was punished. She could be stoned if she was not a virgin before marriage. If a man commits adultery with a married woman, both had to die. Rapists were put to death. If a man had sexual relations with a young , unbetrothed woman, he paid a fine and both were married.
23) A castrated man could not be part of the assembly of the LORD. A person of illegitimate birth could not be part of the assembly to the tenth generation. Ammonites or Moabites could not be part of the assembly to the tenth generation. The Israelites were not to seek their peace or prosperity. Sanitation requirements. Escaped slaves were not forced to return. No female or male temple prostitutes. No interest to fellow Israelites but allowed for Gentiles. Vows were to be repaid. Israelites could eat grapes or grain by hand, but could not harvest to a container.
24) Divorce allowed but not remarriage. Married men exempt from war for one year. Lending laws. Fathers not put to death for the sins of their children and visa versa. Grain was to be left in the field and grapes in the vineyard for the poor.
25) No more than 40 blows for punishment. They could not muzzle an ox treading grain. A brother must take his brother’s wife if he dies to preserve his name in Israel. In a fight, a woman who seizes a man’s genitals must have her hand removed. Just weights were required. They were to destroy the Amalekites for their attacks on Israel when coming out of Egypt.
26) Moses commanded the people to give an offering of first fruits. They may have been a one time offering as they entered the promised land. The LORD proclaimed them to be His special people to keep His commandments.
27) This is the beginning of the third sermon. The were to set up whitewashed stones at Mt. Ebal with the words of the law written on them. They were to offer peace offerings there. Six tribes were to stand on Mt. Gerizim to curse and six on Mt. Ebal to bless. Curses are listed. The people are to say “Amen.”
28) The LORD would bless them with food and protection. He would bless their crops and livestock. They would lend but not borrow and be the head not the tail as they heeded His word. If they did not follow the LORD’s word carefully, they would be afflicted with curses: disease, defeat, confusion of heart, removal from the land. If they would not serve the LORD, they would serve their enemies. The enemy would fly like an eagle (Rome?). They would besiege their gates. They will eat the fruit of their bodies. The diseases of Egypt would come upon them.
29) The fourth sermon begins. The LORD preserved them in the wilderness. They did not eat bread or drink wine. They were to keep the words of the covenant that they might prosper. God affirmed His covenant with them. If they turn to other gods they will be cursed, uprooted from the land, and cast into another land.
30) Moses says these things will happen, but those who return to the LORD and obey will return from “all the nations.” The LORD will circumcise their hearts and put all the curses on their enemies. The commandment was not too hard. They had the choice between life and good and death and evil. He encouraged them to choose life by loving God and obeying Him.
31) The transition from Moses to Joshua begins here. Moses would not go into the new land. They were to trust in the LORD, be strong, and not be afraid. He would not forsake them. Moses commanded that this Law be read every seven years at the Feast of Tabernacles (men, women & little ones). The LORD met with Moses and Joshua. He said Israel would forsake Him. The LORD gave them a song to remember His prophecy that Israel would forsake the LORD. The Book of the Law was to be kept by the Ark of the Covenant.
32) The Song of Moses. He acknowledges God’s attributes: great, perfect, just, upright. But the people were perverse and crooked. The LORD provided food. “Jeshurun” an affectionate name for Israel. They sacrificed to demons. The LORD would punish them. Yet He will have compassion when their power is gone. The LORD kills and makes alive. Moses was to view the promised land from Mt. Nebo.
33) Moses blessed the children of Israel before his death. The tribe of Levi is given special emphasis for their steadfastness in the Golden Calf apostasy. Joseph (Ephraim and Manasseh) also receive special attention. At the end Israel is upheld as a people saved by the LORD.
34) The Death of Moses
An anonymous author explained the last days of Moses. He went up to Mt. Pisgah to view the Promised Land. He died and was buried by the LORD. He wasn’t allowed to enter because of his disobedience (Numbers 20.12). No other Hebrew prophet was a great as Moses. Yet Moses said there would be one that they should listen to (Deuteronomy 18.18). The New Testament teaches that this prophet was Jesus (John 1.17-18).
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