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Introduction to the Books of the Bible

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BOOK : Deuteronomy

Description : 5th book of the Pentateuch, the Law of Moses – recounting recent history and laws

Author: Mostly Moses but obviously with additions by a later scribe.

Date written : somewhere about 1400 BC (latter part of Moses' life)

Chapters : 34


Brief Synopsis:

•  A series of addresses given by Moses (with help later on) at the end of the forty years wandering in the desert and just before entering the Land
•  Recounts recent history of Israel , and then reminders of the Law they have received, followed a number of injunctions to remain faithful to the Lord as they go into the Land.




(NB. Although we go along with a traditional outline indicating different ‘addresses' it is unclear exactly when such words were spoken and such divisions may not be strictly accurate.)

Ch.1-4 Recapping Israel's journey from Egypt: Moses' first address
Ch.4-26 Principles for Godly living: Moses' second address
Ch. 4-11 The Great Commandment: The Demand for Absolute Allegiance
Ch.4,5 God's covenant Lordship
Ch.6 The principle of consecration
Ch.7 The program for conquering Canaan
Ch.8 A call to commitment in the new land
Ch.9-11 The lesson of the broken tablets & another call to commitment
Ch.12-26 Supplementary Requirements
Ch.12-16 Ceremonial Consecration
Ch.16-21 Leaders in God's kingdom
Ch.22-25 Sanctity in God's kingdom
Ch.26 God as redeemer-king
Ch.27-30 A Call for Commitment to God: Moses' third address
Ch.27-28 Long term: Curses & Blessings
Ch.29 Present: Renewal of the Covenant
Ch.30 Future: Obedience in prosperity
Ch.31-34 Leadership Succession
Ch.31 Change of Leadership
Ch.31,32 Song of Moses
Ch.32,33 Moses' Blessing on the Tribes
Ch.34 Death of Moses) and Succession of Joshua



Significant Markers in the Book

This book is unique in as far as it comprises speech after speech after speech. We thus include the following so that you may catch something of this.


1:1 These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the desert east of the Jordan
4:44-46 This is the law Moses set before the Israelites. These are the stipulations, decrees and laws Moses gave them when they came out of Egypt and were in the valley near Beth Peor east of the Jordan, in the land of Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon and was defeated by Moses and the Israelites as they came out of Egypt.
5:1   Moses summoned all Israel and said: Hear, O Israel, the decrees and laws I declare in your hearing today. Learn them and be sure to follow them.
6:1,2 These are the commands, decrees and laws the LORD your God directed me to teach you to observe in the land that you are crossing the Jordan to possess, so that you, your children and their children after them may fear the LORD your God as long as you live  by keeping all his decrees and commands that I give you, and so that you may enjoy long life.
12:1 These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess--as long as you live in the land
27:1-3,9,10 Moses and the elders of Israel commanded the people: "Keep all these commands   that I give you today. When you have crossed the Jordan into the land the LORD your God is giving you, set up some large stones and coat them with plaster. Write on them all the words of this law when you have crossed over to enter the land the LORD your God is giving you….. Then Moses and the priests, who are Levites, said to all Israel, "Be silent, O Israel, and listen! You have now become the people of the LORD your God. Obey the LORD your God and follow his commands and decrees that I give you today."  
29:1,2  These are the terms of the covenant the LORD commanded Moses to make with the Israelites in Moab, in addition to the covenant he had made with them at Horeb. Moses summoned all the Israelites and said to them: Your eyes have seen all that the LORD did in Egypt to Pharaoh, to all his officials and to all his land.
31:1,2,7,8 Then Moses went out and spoke these words to all Israel : "I am now a hundred and twenty years old   and I am no longer able to lead you.   The LORD has said to me, 'You shall not cross the Jordan.'….. Then Moses summoned Joshua and said to him in the presence of all Israel, "Be strong and courageous, for you must go with this people into the land that the LORD swore to their forefathers to give them, and you must divide it among them as their inheritance.  The LORD himself goes before you and will be with you; he will never leave you nor forsake you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged."


The Setting for the Book

1:3 In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed   to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them.


Record of their Travels

1:19 as the LORD our God commanded us, we set out from Horeb and went toward the hill country of the Amorites through all that vast and dreadful desert that you have seen, and so we reached Kadesh Barnea.  
1:26 But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God.
2:1 Then we turned back and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea, as the LORD had directed me. For a long time we made our way around the hill country of Seir.  
2:8 So we went on past our brothers the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir. We turned from  the Arabah road, which comes up from Elath and Ezion Geber, and travelled along the desert road of Moab .
2:13,14 And the LORD said, "Now get up and cross the Zered Valley." So we crossed the valley. Thirty-eight years passed from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley. By then, that entire generation of fighting men had perished from the camp, as the LORD had sworn to them.
2:17-19   the LORD said to me, "Today you are to pass by the region of Moab at Ar. When you come to the Ammonites, do not harass them or provoke them to war, for I will not give you possession of any land belonging to the Ammonites.
Deut 2:24 "Set out now and cross the Arnon Gorge. See, I have given into your hand Sihon the Amorite, king of Heshbon, and his country.
Deut 3:1-3 Next we turned and went up along the road toward Bashan, and Og king of Bashan   with his whole army marched out to meet us in battle at Edrei. The LORD said to me, "Do not be afraid   of him, for I have handed him over to you with his whole army and his land. Do to him what you did to Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon." So the LORD our God also gave into our hands Og king of Bashan and all his army.

Final historical record of Moses' death

34:1-7   Then Moses climbed Mount Nebo from the plains of Moab to the top of Pisgah,   across from Jericho. There the LORD showed   him the whole land--from Gilead to Dan, all of Naphtali, the territory of Ephraim and Manasseh, all the land of Judah as far as the western sea,   the Negev and the whole region from the Valley of Jericho, the City of Palms, as far as Zoar. Then the LORD said to him, "This is the land I promised on oath to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob when I said, 'I will give it to your descendants.' I have let you see it with your eyes, but you will not cross over into it."  And Moses the servant of the LORD died there in Moab, as the LORD had said. He buried him in Moab, in the valley opposite Beth Peor, but to this day no one knows where his grave is. Moses was a hundred and twenty years old when he died, yet his eyes were not weak nor his strength gone.





Apart from the first four chapters recounting their recent past, Deuteronomy has a certain feeling of repetition about it for the new reader. Again and again there is the call to remain faithful to the Lord as they enter the Promised Land.
However, as well as

•  The calls to remain faithful and

•  The reminders of the Law given

we also see

•  The many promises of blessing on obedience as well as

•  Awful warnings of misfortunes (curses) that will befall them for disobedience.

The reader who knows their Bible will know that eventually those curses can be seen as prophetic for they were all seen as a result of Israel's ongoing unfaithfulness. That said, we can also see the blessing of God coming on them again and again when they called out for His help.
The greatest lesson that we can ever learn is that God knows best! Living a life in harmony with His guidance and direction is guaranteed to receive His blessing.


Additional Bible Studies on this site:



           and      Meditations in Deut 1-11