The rest of Scripture unquestionably attributes Deuteronomy and the other books of the Pentateuch to Moses, the prophet we first meet in the book of Exodus. This is expressly supported by Jesus himself (see Mt 8:4; Mk 7:10, 12:26; Lk 16:29-31, 24:44; Jn 5:46-47), the gospel writers (e.g., Lk 2:22), the apostle Peter (see Ac 3:22-23), the apostle Paul (see Ac 13:38-39, 26:22) and others (see Mt 22:24; Ac 7:37; Heb 3:5). This is also stated throughout the Old Testament (see Jos 1:7, 8:31-35, 9:24, 11:12-15,20, 14:5-10, 20:2, 21:2,8, 22:5,9; Jdg 3:4; 1 Ki 8:53-56; 2 Ki 18:6,12, 21:8; 1 Chr 6:49, 15:15, 22:13; 2 Chr 8:13, 33:8, 34:14, 35:12; Ezra 3:2, 6:18, 7:6; Neh 1:7-8, 8:1,14, 9:14, 10:29, 13:1; Ps 103:7; Dan 9:11-13; Mal 4:4).
Purpose for Writing
“Deuteronomy” is a word from Greek that means “2nd law” (deutero-nomy), which points to the second giving of the law by Moses as he restated the commandments and statutes to the people of Israel before his death. Deuteronomy, however, contains more than a simple repetition of laws. The book has a style and character all its own. It is more sermon than law code. It reflects the situation in which it is found: the last words of a tried and faithful leader who is taking solemn leave of his people. Restatements of the law are therefore presented in such a way as to impress them deeply upon the hearts of his hearers. Promises are bountiful and attractive. Threats are forbidding and severe. The covenant is emphatically confirmed (Deut 26:16-19). The entire tone is that of a heartfelt sermon. Repeatedly Moses reminds Israel of God’s gracious, redeeming acts in spite of their unfaithfulness. He encourages and exhorts God’s people to be faithful to the covenant.
Another difference can be seen in the fact that the book of Deuteronomy presents a development of the law in view of Israel’s future as a people living a settled life in the land of Canaan. There is no intention to give a new or second law. Israel has reached the plains of Moab. It is on the threshold of the Promised Land. Explanations and illustrations are now furnished in Moses’ sermon to the people on how to apply the law to the forms of religious, social, and political life of the nation in this new land.
Date of Writing
There is much debate that surrounds the dating of the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt. The traditional dating that is supported by biblical references is roughly 1446 BC. This date is arrived at by counting backward from the 4th year of King Solomon’s reign, dated at 967 or 966 BC by the majority of historians (through archaeological discoveries, particularly a list of Assyrian officials), 480 years (1 Kings 6:1) to 1446 BC. Following the biblical text itself, it seems Moses must have written the first five books of the Bible between the time of the Exodus (when God called him to be a prophet) and the arrival of the Israelites at the edge of the Promised Land 40 years later (when he died), and therefore the date of writing is believed to be between roughly 1446 BC and 1406 BC.
Place of Writing
Since Moses must have written the first five books of the Bible between the time of the Exodus and the arrival of the Israelites at the edge of the Promised Land 40 years later, it is believed that he wrote them as the Israelites wandered in the desert between the two lands.
Since Deuteronomy is Moses’ farewell sermon to the Israelite people, he repeats God’s law to remind them of its importance and so they can avoid the bad example given by the previous generation. Thankfully the Savior Jesus who was to come through these Israelite people has fulfilled this important law for all of us (Rom 10:4).
Moses himself also gives us an example of the important role Jesus plays for all of us. Moses and Jesus are both prophets, priests, and kings (or leaders). Both are in danger of death as children, both are a savior of some sort, and both are rejected by people. Moses even prophesies Jesus’ coming (Deut 18:15). Jesus also quotes Deuteronomy when resisting the temptations of Satan (Mt 4:1-11), showing not only its importance but also its usefulness as we fight the devil in our daily lives.
- Deuteronomy 4:32-40
- Deuteronomy 5:6-21
- Deuteronomy 6:4-5
- Deuteronomy 6:13
- Deuteronomy 6:16
- Deuteronomy 8:3
- Deuteronomy 10:12-22
- Deuteronomy 18:15
- The legislative addresses of Moses, Deut 1-30
- The First Address: Historical and rebuking (Deut 1:1-4:43)
- The Second Address: Repetition and completion of the law (Deut 4:44-26:19)
- The Third Address: Encouragement to keep the law faithfully (Deut 27-30)
- The last acts and death of Moses, Deut 31-34
- Joshua’s appointment (Deut 31)
- The Song of Moses (Deut 32)
- Moses’ blessing (Deut 33)
- Moses’ death (Deut 34)