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Introduction to Deuteronomy

Part 1: General Introduction

Outline of Deuteronomy

  1. First teaching (1:1–4:43) -Reminder of Yahweh’s guidance of Israel (1:1–46)
    • Events at Kadesh and Sidon, and the defeat of Og, King of Basham (2:1–3:29)
    • Appeal to obey the law of Yahweh (4:1–43)
  2. Presenting the law of God and Rules and Warnings (4:44–28:68)
    • The Ten Commandments (5:1–10:22)
    • Rules and Warnings from the Law (11:1–26:19)
  3. Instructions for entering Canaan (27:1–28:68)
  4. Exhortation to obey the law of God, and ratification of the law (30)
  5. Last words of Moses, his blessing, Song of Moses, and his death (31–34)

What is the Book of Deuteronomy about?

In the book of Deuteronomy, Moses repeats the laws of the covenant that God made with the people of Israel. The people of Israel were about to go into the Promised Land. Before they entered the land Moses reminded them of what Yahweh did for them and what he expected from them. Moses warned the people about worshipping idols and no longer trusting Yahweh once they settled in the Promised Land. Yahweh promised to judge those who disobey him and to bless those who obey his Law. (See: rc://en/tw/dict/bible/kt/covenant)

How should the title of this book be translated?

The name “Deuteronomy” means “Second Law” or “the retelling of the Law.” Translators may decide on a title such as, “A Repeat of the Law” or “Moses Explains the Law Again.” (See: rc://en/ta/man/translate/translate-names)

Who wrote the Book of Deuteronomy?

The writers of both the Old and New Testament present Moses as being very involved with writing the Book of Deuteronomy. However, many scholars think that Joshua wrote chapter 34. This chapter concerns how Moses died.

What are the important features of the Book of Deuteronomy?

The book contains a series of speeches that Moses gave to Israel before he died. He spoke these things just before the people entered the Promised Land. (See: rc://en/tw/dict/bible/kt/promisedland)

Part 2: Important Religious and Cultural Concepts

Why did Yahweh command the Israelites to completely destroy the people who lived in the Promised Land?

As God prepared the Israelites to enter the Promised Land, he gave them instructions to completely destroy the people who were living there. These people become like the animals that Israel brought as whole burnt offerings to Yahweh. Yahweh wanted the people completely destroyed so that the Israelites would not be tempted to join them and worship their false gods.

Part 3: Important Translation Issues

What is the role of God’s name in Deuteronomy?

God’s name is mentioned over thirty times in the book of Deuteronomy. The use of God’s name in this book usually represents God’s honor or fame. At other times in Deuteronomy, God’s name represents his presence. God said he would choose a place and make his name dwell there. This means God’s presence will be there. The people were to go to that place to worship him.

Can this book be translated before the rest of the Pentateuch?

The books of Genesis and Exodus provide help explain what is happening in Deuteronomy. For this reason, those books should be translated before the Book of Deuteronomy.