The Book of Deuteronomy Overview by The Bible Project

As Israel reached the border of the Promised Land, Moses gathered the people and gave them one last speech. Deuteronomy records the contents of that speech.

By this time, the original generation who left Egypt has died in the wilderness so Moses is speaking to their children, a second generation who has never known anything but the wilderness experience. God has told Moses he cannot enter the Promised Land so Moses reviews the history of Israel and the laws of God for them. In fact, Deuteronomy means “Second Law” because it was the second time Moses told them the Law. Finally, Moses encourages them to choose life by listening to God and obeying Him as they enter the Promised Land.

The guys at The Bible Project have produced a short video explaining the contents of Deuteronomy.

 

 

 

 

This video briefly mentioned the Shema. For a more detailed explanation, watch this short video by The Bible Project on Shema – “Listen.”

 

Deuteronomy Outline

Chapters 1-11  Moses Reviews the Rebellion and Resistance of Israel

Chapters 12-26  Moses Explains and Clarifies Laws

Chapters 27-34  Moses Urges the New Generation to Listen and Love God

 

Video Transcript

0:00
the book of Deuteronomy the epic conclusion to the Torah and…Spoiler
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Alert: “Moses is going to die!” Now in order to understand this book we need to
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remember the story so far so Israel has escaped from slavery in Egypt then
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they spend one year at Mount Sinai this is where they made the covenant
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with God to obey all of these laws and then they wander around the desert for 40 years
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before they make it to the Jordan River which is right across from the land God
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promised them. They are ready to go in this is where the book of Deuteronomy begins and
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what this book is really is a speech Moses gives these final words like a pep
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talk to the new generation of Israel that’s about to go into the land and the
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speech, it’s broken up into three large sections. So Moses begins the first part of
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the speech with somber tone because he’s highlighting Israel’s rebellion and
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resistance which has been going on for the last forty years and that sets up
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the rest of the opening section which is Moses challenge to this new generation
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to be different from their parents and to respond to God’s grace with love and
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obedience
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so he reminds them of the ten commandments like the basics of the covenant and then
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he gives them this very famous line listen oh Israel the Lord is our God
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the Lord alone love the Lord your God with all your heart with all your soul
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and with all your strength. Now in Jewish tradition this is called the Shema
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because the first Hebrew word in this line is Shema Israel and this became a
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very important prayer in judaism said twice a day
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and it emphasizes the Israelite’s exclusive commitment to their God the
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one true God who loved them who rescued them from slavery because they’re about
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to go into a land where people are worshipping many other gods and Moses
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thinks that loyalty to the Lord their God is the only way to life now notice,
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these keywords in the Shema: listen and love you are going to find these words all
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over this opening section of the speech the word ‘listen’ in hebrew means more
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than just let sound waves come into your ears it includes the idea of responding
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to what you hear so for Israel this means responding to God’s grace by
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obeying the laws of the covenant and then listen as always followed by love
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ya so love is the true motivation for obeying the laws. Israel won’t obey
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without love and they don’t truly love if they don’t obey. So there’s this tight
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connection between loving and listening their runs through the entire book so
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Moses tells them that if they do listen and love they will fulfill their
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original calling as the family at Abraham to show all of the nation’s the wisdom
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and justice of God and so become a blessing to them. The second big section
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in Deuteronomy is a large block of laws and commands and this is where the
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book gets its name
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Deuteronomy means a second law and it’s because many of these laws we’ve heard
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before in fact in the first line of the book we’re told that Moses is here
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explaining clarifying the laws so he’s repeating an expanding on the laws
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making them relevant to this new generation there’s laws about how
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israel’s to worship God, laws about their leadership structure, laws about social justice
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and then some more laws about their worship
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now after all of the laws of Moses warns Israel of the consequences of their
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obedience or disobedience or in his words the blessing for the curse if they
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listen and love they will experience blessing and abundance in the land and if
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they don’t there’s going to be famine plagues and they’ll be forced off their
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land into exile and that brings us to the final section of his speech. Here
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Moses says I set before you today
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life or death blessing or curse so choose life but then things get really
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interesting because after forty years with these people, Moses knows they’re not
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going to obey and so he predicts their failure and even their future exile from
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the promised land and he focuses on what he thinks is the true source of the
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problem that they have hired and selfish hearts it’s as if israel is incapable of
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truly loving God in a way that brings about obedience, but this problem isn’t
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unique to Israel. Yeah, in fact
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Moses when he’s using this language about blessing and curse he’s tying
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Israel’s story all the way back to all humanity’s story from Genesis 1 through 3 so Adam
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and Eve they were blessed by God just like Israel and given a choice to trust
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and obey God like Israel and then they rebelled and brought a curse on the land
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like Moses knows israel is going to do. And so these stories there about Israel’s hard
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heart but they’re actually a window into the universal human condition. But Moses
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doesn’t give up hope entirely that’s right he says that somehow on the other
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side israel’s exile God promises to transform their heart so that one day
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they truly can listen
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and love. In the final chapters joshua has appointed as the new leader of
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israel and then Moses takes the entire law code, the one he just predicted Israel
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would break. Thats right and he put it into the ark of the covenant and then Moses
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hikes up to the top of a mountain so we can see the promised land from afar
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and then he dies and that’s how the torah ends which is a strange place to
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end a story and it’s right there at the climax will they obey the laws and live
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faithfully in the land or not. Well the story does continue right into Joshua the next
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book of the Bible but this is the end of the Torah and it’s been ended here for a
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reason
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the Torah is written for people who are either outside of the land or who are
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still waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promise to bless the whole world
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and so now as each generation reads the torah they find themselves called to
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hope in what Moses hoped for: a new and transformed heart that one day can truly
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listen and love.
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