A Survey of Deuteronomy
William Arnold III
Moses’ first sermon, 1-4 · Moses’ second sermon, 5-28 · Moses third sermon, 29-30 · Closing, 31-34
The book of Deuteronomy is a summary of the law of Moses as given in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. The first generation of Israelites who came out of Egypt had died during the wilderness wandering and Moses is going back over the law for the next generation. The book can be divided into four parts, Moses' three sermons and then a conclusion. Moses' first sermon is a review of their recent history. His second sermon is a review of the law. The third sermon is to warn the people against disobedience and to encourage them to obey. The conclusion records the final acts of Moses' life and his death.
Moses’ first sermon, 1-4
Moses tells the people that he appointed judges to help him with his work, then moves to the story of the sending out of the spies from Kadesh Barnea. He shows that they brought back a negative report and that God in turn punishes them. This leads into the years of wandering in the desert, which these people were familiar with, but then Moses goes on to show them how God has helped them conquer King Sihon and King Og. He talks of the tribes which had already settled in the land they had conquered thus far and how God would let him go no further. Finally, he charges them to obey God and not make idols once they enter the land.
Moses’ second sermon, 5-28
1. (General stipulations, ch. 5-11) Moses begins by going back over the Ten Commandments and then sums them up with the statement that there is only one God and the command to love him. He exhorts them to teach these commandments to their children and warns them against disobedience. He further instructs the people to drive out the heathen and their idolatry from the land and admonishes them not to forget where God brought them from once they enter the land. He shows that God has been good to them time and time again even though they have been disobedient. He also describes the beauty of the land they are about to enter.
2. (Laws governing life, worship and calendar, ch. 12-16:17) In this section, Moses begins discussing some more specific issues and laws for the people. He warns strongly against idolatry and even instructs them to kill anyone who tries to lead them into it. From here he discusses the different clean and unclean animals as well as the law of the tithe. He then goes over the seventh year, Passover and other festivals.
3. (Laws of government, justice and warfare, 16:18-20) Moses gives them instructions for administering justice and gives them specific instructions for the day that they choose to have a king. He goes over the Levites' portion and then, in the middle of all this, he foretells of the prophet like him whom God would raise up (which both refers to Joshua and then ultimately, the Messiah). He discusses the purpose and instructions for the cities of refuge and discusses laws for witnesses and more on administering justice. He also gives them specific instructions for times of warfare.
4. (Miscellaneous laws, ch. 21-26) In this section, Moses goes over a wide variety of laws, many of which seem to have no relation to each other or pattern of organization. Some of those that stand out are laws on sexual purity, marriage and divorce, the duty to a dead brother and especially instructions for the harvest offerings.
5. (Charge to the people, ch. 27-28) After he has finished going over the law, Moses reiterates the need for obedience to it and instructs that the law be written on stones once they enter the land. He then pronounces many blessings for obedience and cursings for disobedience.
Moses third sermon, 29-30
Again, Moses warns the people against disobedience and he encourages the people to obey the Lord and his commandments and finally calls them to make a choice between good and evil.
In this closing section, Joshua replaces Moses and the Lord calls the two of them together to speak to each of them. Moses recites his song to the people and then blesses the various tribes of Israel. Finally, Moses climbs Mount Nebo and dies and we read his obituary.
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