In Balaam says Israel will be numerous and that God will be with them. He says in that God will bless their friends and curse their enemies. He says in God will help them conquer the land. In other words God will keep all the promises made to Abraham. So, the Balaam stories I believe are factual, I believe they are historically accurate.
I believe it is possible for the sovereign God who created donkeys to use them to speak. But I think it is even more important to focus on even this pagan prophet can see that God was keeping promises made to Abraham. In chapter 26 the old generation has about died out. So in chapters 27 to 30 the Lord begins to re-instruct the people, to instruct the new generation how they will live and what they shall do. In chapter 31 and following we find God giving the people victory against their opponents.
And we see the Lord instructing the people in how they will obey God and possess the land. Finally this tragic books draws to a conclusion. It then follows a discussion of what part of Canaan each tribe will possess and there is a naming of new leaders in chapter In chapter 35 Moses explains how the Levites are to be treated and in chapter 36 rules that women may inherit land, there is equality before the law. Israel can expect to approach Canaan again.
Horrible things have happened but a new era is dawning. Numbers has delayed the fulfillment of the promise of the giving of the land. The last book of the law, of the five books of Moses is Deuteronomy. This book emphasizes the fact that God renews His covenant with His people. God starts fresh with His people. He is a God who forgives, a God who renews and a God who keeps His promises. So we come to Deuteronomy, a very important book for the rest of the Bible. We will summarize it fairly quickly but I want to emphasize a few important passages that are used throughout the Bible.
First, as we have been doing lets set out an outline of the book of Deuteronomy.
The Book of Deuteronomy
The outline of Deuteronomy follows the pattern of an ancient covenant treaty. That is, it is in the form that nations would have used to make agreements with one another. In particular, the form of the book of Deuteronomy follows a format used by the Hittite nation. The Hittites were famous for making treaties with lesser nations, which were called vassal nations. Thus when we think of this treaty form, this covenant form, this outline, it is often called the Hittite Vassal Treaty Form.
This similarity between Deuteronomy and Hittite vassal treaty is significant in helping us to date the book of Deuteronomy. The Hittite vassal treaty was a format used in the second millennium B.
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Some scholars have argued that the first five books of the Bible were written many, many centuries after Moses lived. Yet as we look at the shape of Deuteronomy and compare it to the ancient literature, we find that it fits a form that was being used quite frequently in Moses time. Remember that the setting of the book is about B.
If Israel went out of Egypt around , as we discussed in our introduction to Exodus and they spent 40 years or so in the desert we are now coming close to to B. Israel has migrated northward from the desert now across the boarder of Canaan in the land of Moab poised to invade the land. The book of Deuteronomy emphasizes God renewing His covenant.
Well, back to the outline. There are six basic portions to a Hittite vassal treaty. First of all there is the preamble, the opening to the covenant. It states the parties who are making the covenant. Second the Hittite vassal treaty offered a historical prologue outlining the relationship between the parties in the past. The third section of the Hittite vassal treaty was to give general stipulations, general rules for the relationship between the two parties.
In Deuteronomy 5 through 11 we find the general stipulations that God gives to Israel for His relationship with Him. These general stipulations include a repetition of the Ten Commandments. They also include some very basic statements about how Israel is to love Yahweh as He has loved them.
The fourth section of the Hittite vassal treaty stated specific stipulations. That is, the very particular details of how the nations would relate to one another. This relationship would include details about trade agreements, military agreements, boarders and that sort of thing. In Deuteronomy 12 through 26 we have the very specific stipulations that the Lord gives to His people about how they will live with one another in the land.
And in these chapters we have some very important material that gets cited and reflected upon later in the Old Testament. We have material about how specifically prophets must act and how priests must act and how kings must act and how the people must act. There are a lot of case laws in this section, that is, material that says that if one thing happens then this is what you do, so specific stipulations.
The fifth section of the Hittite vassal treaty included blessings and consequences. That is, the nation that was greater would say to the nation that was lesser, if you will keep this covenant and do as required, there will be good things happen to you. But if you break the agreement, then consequences will occur. Usually these consequences had to do with invading the land and defeating them or cutting them off economically. These chapters, Deuteronomy 27 and 28, correspond to a similar passage in Leviticus 26 that we have already studied.
Sixth and finally, the Hittite vassal treaty included witnesses being called to ratify the covenant. Generally speaking chapters 29 through 33 include the witnesses and the ratification of the covenant in Deuteronomy. So let me summarize the six parts. A preamble stating the parties Fourth, specific stipulations for how the relationship will unfold, that is chapters 12 through Fifth, blessings and consequences for obedience to the covenant or for covenant breaking, that is chapters 27 to And witnesses called and a ratification ceremony undertaken, that is chapters 29 through Now of course there are 34 chapters in Deuteronomy, not So what is in chapter 34?
It is a conclusion to the first five books of the Bible. Rather it is a bridge text between the end of the Law and the beginning of the prophetic section of the Old Testament. Deuteronomy 1 through 4 helps us understand how God renews His covenant with His people by stressing His gift of the land and the past. When Numbers ends a new generation has emerged. Moses is determined to prepare them to enter into the land so he advises them on a number of issues. Including, how to wage war, establish their worship, chose future leaders and deal with false prophets.
He reminds them of their history in Deuteronomy 1 to 4. You rebelled against God.
David Guzik :: Study Guide for Deuteronomy 1
Because in the past the people refused to invade Canaan The Lord made them live in the desert forty years He reminds them the Lord gave them victories in the desert to prepare them to conquer the Promised Land. He makes that statement in — Moses concludes this historical section of the treaty by reminding the people that obedience to God is the key to their future. He tells them in that they serve the only living God. In fact, He is God in heaven above and on the earth beneath. There is no other. The God they serve is the only god. He is not just the only god for them, He is the only god there is.
He is the sovereign Lord of the universe and they should obey Him. So chapters 1 through 4 introduce the book.
Reminds us that God renews the covenant, reminds us that He is taking His people to the land in fulfillment of the promise He made to Abraham back in Genesis In the next section, Deuteronomy 5 through 11 we have the basic rules for possessing the land. Having completed his brief summary of the past, Moses reviews the basics of the covenant.
He also establishes the basis of their national life. I think three ideas receive special treatment. First, in Deuteronomy 5, Moses tells the people to keep the 10 commandments and the other foundational covenant laws. He tells them in that their future in the land depends on this faithfulness.
Second, they must love God above all else, an effort that involves their hearts, minds and strength, all that they are. You shall love the Lord God with all of your heart, will all of your soul and with all might. And these words that I command you today shall be on your heart.
You shall teach them diligently to your children and shall talk of them when you sit in your house, when you walk by the way and when lie down and when you rise. You shall bind them as a sign on your hand and they shall be as frontlets between your eyes. You shall write them on the door post of your house and on your gates.
When they believe in God and know Him they will love Him. And according to Deuteronomy 8, this love motivates their obedience to Yahweh and eliminates idolatry. Third, God has chosen them to be a special people. Because He loved them and because He made promises to Abraham, the Lord continues to bless this stubborn and rebellious group. Their love is as a result of His first love. As the New Testament says, we love God because He first loved us. If Israel remembers and responds correctly to these truths, that their future depends on faithfulness to God and His teaching, that love is the motivation both for their relationship with God and His relationship with them, and that God has chosen them to be a special people as a way of keeping promises made to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.
If they will remember these truths, their love for God will lead to a long stay in Canaan Dt. Once grasped, however, the basic requirements unlock new opportunities for blessing. So with a history of the people outlined in chapters 1 to 4, and with the basic standards and motivations for serving the Lord and thus being prepared to possess the land in chapters 5 through 11, Deuteronomy 12 through 26 sets forth specific rules for possessing the land.
Many of the standards that are explained in chapters 12 to 26 are familiar to readers. After all they have already appeared in the Pentateuch, in the book of the Law, in the first five books of the Old Testament. For instance, Deuteronomy 13 says Israel must not worship other gods. This is a repetition of the first two commandments. Leaving Egypt: Exodus — skip This section may easily be read in one session, and is especially worthy of being read aloud.
A few observations. There are no Israelite heroes that could, in any way, account for the success of this liberation story. For starters, Moses is a murderer, and a fugitive to boot. The two Israelite midwives and we know their names! That includes the slow but intensifying preparation towards leaving which drives the Egyptians to so such desperation that they heap treasures on their departing slaves Exodus , treasures that would greatly assist the Israelites as they made their way.
But not after that, as the plague screws get slowly turned tighter. This question: is Yahweh being fair to Pharaoh, by deliberately not having that tyrant give in to the demands of Moses until Yahweh is good and ready? My own view is that we must once more remember the writers redactors of this narrative as they composed it. Especially the kings! How stupid were they we? And is that the Egypt dynamic at play? In preparation for the seventh plague Yahweh lets ordinary Egyptians know that they may escape the impending damage if they put themselves and their livestock under cover against the coming hail storm Grace to the Egyptians!
Moreover, two crucial crops, wheat and spelt, were saved When did Israel begin to experience relief?
That seems to be an Old Testament pattern. When the People of God no longer look for God, God hides himself. God is hidden, but he makes himself found to those who look for him. Many mountains and other distinguished geological features have become shrine locations in human history. Had their exile in Babylon a very sophisticated city at the time taught them something about diplomacy, which seems dependent on subterfuge, secrecy, double talk and hidden objectives?
The second major chunk. Once again, keep in mind that all this writing was done well after the events, by scribes intent on preserving and restoring the identity of those for whom a return to the promised land seemed imminent, an identity that could only be understood in relationship to Yahweh, the God of Abraham, Isaac and Jacob. You might want to read Psalm once more. Those scribes, using whatever preservation tools were available to them oral tradition stories, fragments of writing, and their own wisdom and imagination arising out of their own diaspora communities , struggled with these two prime agenda points:.
Given human imperfections, what is the relationship of Yahweh to his chosen people? With regards to point 1, those scribes did not lay out a kind of philosophical-theological blueprint. Rather, they offered a number of stories, which, together, form a narrative strand in these four books. God is a character in these stories, and so are the wandering people. Moses stands in between both, functioning as leader for his people, an intermediary, and also as frequent pleader for mercy when those people once again make a mess of things. Leading some theologians to observe that in all this Moses foreshadows Christ.
For now I suggest you skip the material relevant to point 2, all those laws and regulations. However, I disagree with those who claim that those portions are of no or little import for us today. But many sections are worth pondering. They deal with justice in the land, with ownership and stewardship, with love towards the brother and the sister, with acceptance of the stranger, with violence and retribution.
And as many theologians suggest, while the specifics may not count for much anymore, the principles underlying them, still do. For instance, while old Israel recognized ownership of land, it stepped back from absolute ownership. God offers mercy to his people Israel if they are repentant and turn again to the way of the Lord The final portion of Deuteronomy Chapters relates the last acts of Moses, the commission of Joshua, the Song of Moses and his death.
The Book of Deuteronomy is often quoted in the New Testament, as noted in the following three examples. The Lord is our God, the Lord is one. Therefore, you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind and all your strength. King James I commissioned a group of Biblical scholars in to establish an authoritative translation of the Bible from the ancient languages and other translations, and the work was completed in The original King James Bible included the Apocrypha but in a separate section.
A masterpiece of the English language, the original King James Bible is still in use today. And when ye had girded on every man his weapons of war, ye were ready to go up into the hill. And we went over the brook Zered. And he wrote them in two tables of stone, and delivered them unto me.