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Overview of Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy is the fifth in the Books of Moses and is the final book in what is called the Pentateuch. Written by Moses in 1405 B.C., Deuteronomyís theme is covenant and renewal. The word Deuteronomy stems from the Septuagint and means second law. It is at the end of Deuteronomy that we read about Mosesí death and the events that lead to the transfer of authority to Joshua, son of Nun.

Deuteronomy begins with the children of Israel leaving Mount Sinai, wandering through the desert, and then reaching the Plains of Moab. Moses gives three addresses in Deuteronomy that are calls for the children of Israel to obedience. The first occurs in Deuteronomy 1-4, the second occur through chapters 4-26, and the third through Deuteronomy 27-34. Deuteronomy provides the children of Israel with numerous instructions to live by, in what may be viewed as an expansion from the rules and regulations in Exodus and Leviticus. Deuteronomy 4-18 deals with the Ten Commandments, the Shema, promises, blessings, and cursings, words of warning, rules regarding worship, false prophets, food, tithes, and the Sabbath years, annual feasts, leadership, and laws regarding civil and social life. Deuteronomy chapter 28 is widely known for its focus on blessing and cursings. Mosesí death is chronicled in Deuteronomy 31-34.

As it was a new generation that would soon enter Canaan, Deuteronomy reiterates, renews, and avows the childrenís commitment to obey God and live holy lives. Deuteronomy is referred to as the second law because it effectually summarizes all of the law that has previously been given in Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. As Deuteronomy focuses on Godís exploits and miraculous delivery of the children of Israel and the previous books of Moses, it is known as the book of remembrance. Deuteronomy does not introduce new information but rather causes the children of Israel to remember Godís works and law so they may show themselves faithful and enter the Promised Land. In order for the children to enter the Promised Land, they would need to show they were not only obedient, but faithful as well. Deuteronomy explores the importance of faith combined with obedience.

Deuteronomy is referenced several times in the New Testament. Some of the most powerful quotes are when satan tempted Jesus Christ after his baptism and Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 8:3, Deuteronomy 6:13, and Deuteronomy 6:16. The temptation is documented in Matthew 4: 4, 7, and 10 and Jesus quoted Deuteronomy to satan each time. In Matthew 22:37, Jesus was asked which was the greatest of all commandments. Jesus responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6:5. Deuteronomy 18:15-19 is a Messianic prophecy that is referred to in the New Testament, including in Acts 3:23.

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