Or the repetition of the law, the fifth book of the Pentateuch, so called by the Greeks, because in it Moses recapitulates what he had ordained in the preceding books, De 1:1-6; 29:1; 31:1; 33. This book contains the history of what passed in the wilderness from the beginning of the eleventh month, to the seventh day of the twelfth month, in the fortieth year after the Israelites' departure from Egypt, that is, about six weeks, B. C. 1451. That part which mentions the death of Moses was added afterwards, very probably by Joshua.
The book of Deuteronomy is the sublime and precious valedictory address of the inspired "man of God," now venerable for his age and experience, and standing almost in the gate of heaven. He gives the people of God his fatherly counsel and blessing, and then goes up into mount Pisgah alone to die. He recounts the dealings of God with them; recapitulates his laws; shows them why they should love him, and how they should serve him. It is full of tender solicitude, wise instruction, faithful warning, and the zealous love of a patriot and a prophet for the people of God, whom he had borne on his heart so long. It is often quoted by later inspired writers, and by our Lord, Mt 4:4,7,10.
In all the Hebrew manuscripts the Pentateuch (q.v.) forms one roll or volume divided into larger and smaller sections called parshioth and sedarim. It is not easy to say when it was divided into five books. This was probably first done by the Greek translators of the book, whom the Vulgate follows. The fifth of these books was called by the Greeks Deuteronomion, i.e., the second law, hence our name Deuteronomy, or a second statement of the laws already promulgated. The Jews designated the book by the two first Hebrew words that occur, 'Elle haddabharim, i.e., "These are the words." They divided it into eleven parshioth. In the English Bible it contains thirty-four chapters.
It consists chiefly of three discourses delivered by Moses a short time before his death. They were spoken to all Israel in the plains of Moab, in the eleventh month of the last year of their wanderings.
The first discourse (1-4:40) recapitulates the chief events of the last forty years in the wilderness, with earnest exhortations to obedience to the divine ordinances, and warnings against the danger of forsaking the God of their fathers.
The seond discourse (5-26:19) is in effect the body of the whole book. The first address is introductory to it. It contains practically a recapitulation of the law already given by God at Mount Sinai, together with many admonitions and injunctions as to the course of conduct they were to follow when they were settled in Canaan.
The concluding discourse (ch. 27-30) relates almost wholly to the solemn sanctions of the law, the blessings to the obedient, and the curse that would fall on the rebellious. He solemnly adjures them to adhere faithfully to the covenant God had made with them, and so secure for themselves and their posterity the promised blessings.
These addresses to the people are followed by what may be called three appendices, namely (1), a song which God had commanded Moses to write (32:1-47); (2) the blessings he pronounced on the separate tribes (ch. 33); and (3) the story of his death (32:48-52) and burial (ch. 34), written by some other hand, probably that of Joshua.
These farewell addresses of Moses to the tribes of Israel he had so long led in the wilderness "glow in each line with the emotions of a great leader recounting to his contemporaries the marvellous story of their common experience. The enthusiasm they kindle, even to-day, though obscured by translation, reveals their matchless adaptation to the circumstances under which they were first spoken. Confidence for the future is evoked by remembrance of the past. The same God who had done mighty works for the tribes since the Exodus would cover their head in the day of battle with the nations of Palestine, soon to be invaded. Their great lawgiver stands before us, vigorous in his hoary age, stern in his abhorrence of evil, earnest in his zeal for God, but mellowed in all relations to earth by his nearness to heaven. The commanding wisdom of his enactments, the dignity of his position as the founder of the nation and the first of prophets, enforce his utterances. But he touches our deepest emotions by the human tenderness that breathes in all his words. Standing on the verge of life, he speaks as a father giving his parting counsels to those he loves; willing to depart and be with God he has served so well, but fondly lengthening out his last farewell to the dear ones of earth. No book can compare with Deuteronomy in its mingled sublimity and tenderness." Geikie, Hours, etc.
The whole style and method of this book, its tone and its peculiarities of conception and expression, show that it must have come from one hand. That the author was none other than Moses is established by the following considerations: (1.) The uniform tradition both of the Jewish and the Christian Church down to recent times. (2.) The book professes to have been written by Moses (De 1:1; 29:1; 31:1,9-11, etc.), and was obviously intended to be accepted as his work. (3.) The incontrovertible testimony of our Lord and his apostles (Mt 19:7-8; Mr 10:3-4; Joh 5:46-47; Ac 3:22; 7:37; Ro 10:19) establishes the same conclusion. (4.) The frequent references to it in the later books of the canon (Jos 8:31; 1Ki 2:9; 2Ki 14:6; 2Ch 23:18; 25:4; 34:14; Ezr 3:2; 7:6; Ne 8:1; Da 9:11,13) prove its antiquity; and (5) the archaisms found in it are in harmony with the age in which Moses lived. (6.) Its style and allusions are also strikingly consistent with the circumstances and position of Moses and of the people at that time.
This body of positive evidence cannot be set aside by the conjectures and reasonings of modern critics, who contended that the book was somewhat like a forgery, introduced among the Jews some seven or eight centuries after the Exodus.
1. Structure, Origin, Influence.
--which means "the repetition of the law" --consists chiefly of three discourses delivered by Moses shortly before his death. Subjoined to these discourses are the Song of Moses the Blessing of Moses, and the story of his death.
1. The first discourse.
De 1:1,1; 4:40
After a brief historical introduction the speaker recapitulates the chief events of the last forty years in the wilderness. To this discourse is appended a brief notice of the severing of the three cities of refuge on the east side of the Jordan.
2. The second discourse is introduced like the first by an explanation of the circumstances under which it was delivered.
It extends from chap.
19 and contains a recapitulation, with some modifications and additions of the law already given on Mount Sinai.
3. In the third discourse,
20 the elders of Israel are associated with Moses. The people are commanded to set up stones upon Mount Ebal, and on them to write "all the words of this law." Then follow the several curses to be pronounced by the Levites on Ebal,
and the blessings on Gerizim.
4. The delivery of the law as written by Moses (for its still further preservation) to the custody of the Levites, and a charge to the people to hear it read once every seven years, Deut. 31; the Song of Moses spoken in the ears of the people,
De 31:30,1; 32:44
and the blessing of the twelve tribes.
The book closes, Deut 34, with an account of the death of Moses, which is first announced to him ch.
The book bears witness to its own authorship,
and is expressly cited in the New Testament as the work of Moses.
The last chapter, containing an account of the death of Moses, was of course added by a later hand, and probably formed originally the beginning of the book of Joshua. [PENTATEUCH]
See Pentateuch, The
DEUTERONOMY, from ????????, second, and ?????; law; the last book of the Pentateuch, or five books of Moses. As its name imports, it contains a repetition of the civil and moral law, which was a second time delivered by Moses, with some additions and explanations, as well to impress it more forcibly upon the Israelites in general, as in particular for the benefit of those who, being born in the wilderness, were not present at the first promulgation of the law. It contains also a recapitulation of the several events which had befallen the Israelites since their departure from Egypt, with severe reproaches for their past misconduct, and earnest exhortations to future obedience. The Messiah is explicitly foretold in this book; and there are many remarkable predictions interspersed in it, particularly in the twenty-eighth, thirtieth, thirty-second, and thirty-third chapters, relative to the future condition of the Jews. The book of Deuteronomy finishes with an account of the death of Moses, which is supposed to have been added by his successor, Joshua.