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[deuteronomy] Name: Deuteronomy Interpreted literally, the name of this book means "second law" which comes from the translation of Deuteronomy 17:18 ("a copy or repetition of the law") thinking that it meant "second law." The problem with considering it the "second law" is that it implies that this book comes as an addition to the law given in Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers. This book is best understood as a restatement or repetition of the Law previously given. Occasion: This book contains a copy of the words Moses spoke to the children of Israel before they entered into the promised land. This restatement of law might be due to the issues they had with the Israelites and the fact that the hearers are at least forty years removed from the giving of the original Law on Sinai. This also demonstrates its main purpose, to recount the words given by Moses to the Israelites prior to his death and the entering of the promised land. Background: This book occurs at the very end of the Mosaic period, prior to the entering the promised land. This means at the end of the narrative of Numbers, Moses launches into a speech to prepare them for what they will be encountering in the promised land, and reminding this new Generation of the laws of God and reminding them of the importance of obedience. The future promise of Canaan and being God's people is contingent on their obedience, and that point is to be reinforced. This would be to try and steer them away from the mistakes their fathers made and encourage them toward obedience. Authorship/Time:
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Some suggest that Moses was not the author, but either someone else recorded the speech, or potentially the speech was passed down via oral tradition and social memory for a time, and was later recored as an editor put together all of these different pieces. Though Moses is still likely the author in my mind, it is fine with me if some other editor recorded his speech or segments thereof later, because I still believe it to be accurate and preserved. As with all the other books, I see no need for its content to have been written by someone else other than Moses, but the fact that this story does include the death of Moses, it seems most likely to me (if we assume it to be one book which is a whole and not pieces later put together) that someone listening recorded Moses' speech and recorded even his death. This places the final book of the Pentateuch contemporary with Moses once again. Why believe it was recorded them instead of being passed down till later? I think one of the main purposes of the speech in the first place was to be a reminder to Israel when they entered the promised land to remain faithful to God and their covenant with him, it would make complete sense to me if this was recorded and taken with them so as to constantly remind and encourage faithfulness and obedience. Notable Things: One of the best ways to view this book, especially its outline is through understanding the "Near Eastern Vassal Treaty." These treaties established by the King to the nation which he conquered basically establish the ground rules of their relationship. These treaties often took the following outline: Preamble, Historical Prologue (events leading up to the formation of the treaty), General Stipulations (establishment of the substance concerning the future relationship based on the history, and summary of the purpose of these stipulations), Specific Stipulations, Divine Witness (God is called as a witness for the treaty), Blessings and Curses (these are given in regards to whether the nation keeps, or breaks the stipulations of the covenant). This is also the basic flow for Deuteronomy. That means that Moses is intentionally entering them into a covenant as the lesser of two parties and reminding them through the establishment of this that they owe their obedience and lives to YHWH. Therefore they should keep his commands. Also, because of its legal nature, it makes me assume that it was immediately written and carried with the Israelites as
Studying the Bible the proof of their relationship with God and as a legal witness against them should they ever break the law. This is the law that Josiah found and caused him to break down because he realizes they have broken the covenant with God.
This booklet helps us cross the interpretive bridge for the book of Deuteronomy.