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Analysis and Synthesis of the Book of Deuteronomy

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The analysis and synthesis approach to biblical studies applied here to Deuteronomy is a methodology developed by the author (DeCanio, 2007) in conjunction with his doctoral studies at the University of South Africa. An abbreviated version of this work entitled, Biblical Hermeneutics and a Methodology for Studying the Bible, will be posted as an article on bible.org.

The bibliography for this study of Deuteronomy is presented at the end of the article, Introduction to the Pentateuch.

Analysis of the context

Authorship

Arguments supporting Mosaic authorship are presented in the Introduction to the Pentateuch. In addition to the many statements in the rest of Scripture which support Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch, there are statements made within the Book of Deuteronomy which indicate that Moses was the author of the words written here at Yahweh's direction (see, for example, 1:6, 9; 5:1; 27:1, 9; 31:1, 30; 33:1, etc.). Of particular importance is 31:9, 24 which refer explicitly to Moses' writing—"And Moses wrote this law, and gave it to the priests the sons of Levi . . . When Moses had finished writing the words of the law in a book, . . " Thus, although the work is essentially anonymous, when all the evidence is objectively considered, Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy is hard to deny.

Recipients

It is clear from the text of Deuteronomy that Moses is addressing the second generation from the Exodus; those who, in obedience to, and trust in, Yahweh, will enter the land of Canaan and take possession of it by conquest. Thus, it would seem that Moses' original recipients of Deuteronomy was the generation of the Conquest. Furthermore, since Deuteronomy deals with the renewal of the covenant by the second generation, a written record of the covenant stipulations would be necessary for that generation as well as for succeeding generations.

Time period of historical events and composition

Date of events

Events recorded in the Book of Deuteronomy occurred while Israel was encamped on the Plains of Moab and poised to cross the River Jordan in order to enter and take possession of the Land of Promise. These events took place over about a two month period of time (see, for example, 1:3; 34:5, 8; Josh 4:19; and see Introduction to the Pentateuch for a discussion of the chronology of the Pentateuch in general), ending with the death of Moses and a 30 day period of mourning for him. Assuming a date for the Exodus of 1446 B.C. (see Introduction to the Pentateuch for arguments supporting this date), that would place the events of Deuteronomy in the year 1406 B.C.

Date of composition

Dating of the composition of the Book of Deuteronomy has been disputed by critical scholars who assert that Moses did not write the book. Instead, they attribute Deuteronomy to other writers who lived at a later date—either to Samuel in the eleventh century B.C. or religious leaders during the seventh century B.C., and even possibly to the postexilic period by the so-called "Deuteronomist."

However, in addition to the evidence already presented for Mosaic authorship, support also comes from the similarities between the structure of Deuteronomy and the Middle Eastern suzerainty treaties. It has been suggested by some (Craigie 1983:25) that Deuteronomy is a covenant renewal document which in its total structure exhibits the classical legal form of the suzerainty treaties of the Mosaic age. The contention is that when one recognizes that a biblical document reflects the historical and cultural context of a specific period, it is reasonable to date it where it will not be out of harmony with the age in which it is purported to have been written. It is reasonable, therefore, to assign a date of composition to the Book of Deuteronomy to the time period just prior to Israel's crossing of the Jordan. Since Moses died before Israel crossed the Jordan, the composition of Deuteronomy could not have taken place any later than 1406 B.C.

Biblical context

The biblical context consists of three components; the historical element, the socio–cultural element, and the theological element.

Historical element

The events which form the historical context for Deuteronomy take place on the Plains of Moab which is situated on the East Bank of the Jordan opposite the Canaanite city of Jericho. The Exodus generation had finally died off and Moses had led the new generation from wandering in the wilderness to the Plains of Moab. Encamped there, they were waiting for the word from Yahweh to cross the Jordan and enter the Land of Promise. But before that could take place certain other events must happen. The covenant, which had been broken by the Exodus generation, must first be renewed by the new generation. Thus Moses leads the sons of Israel through a covenant renewal ceremony which is not fully realized until Israel crosses the Jordan and declares the covenant curses from atop Mount Ebal (chs. 27-30). Secondly, since God did not permit Moses to enter the Land of Promise with Israel, his death must take place (34:1-7) along with the orderly transfer of leadership from Moses to Joshua (31:1-8,14-21; 34:9), Yahweh's appointed replacement for Moses. All of this takes place over the course of one month, after which all Israel mourns the death of Moses for 30 days (34:8).

Socio-cultural element

The socio-cultural context in which the events of Deuteronomy are played out has not changed significantly from that of Numbers. In the former book, the Israelites were living a nomadic life for some 38 years while wandering about in the wilderness. Although the covenant-relationship between Yahweh and Israel had been disrupted as a result of Israel’s refusal to obey Yahweh’s command to enter the land promised to Abraham and take possession of it, the Mosaic Covenant had not been terminated. A fact that is well documents by Moses in Numbers. Israelite society, therefore, is yet bound by the stipulations of the Mosaic Covenant. As significant and complex is the socio-cultural context established by this covenant, it has little affect on understanding the theological message developed by Moses in Deuteronomy.

Theological element

The theological context for Deuteronomy looks back on the previous four books of the Pentateuch and subsumes all of their theological revelations as foundational to its framework. Most significant of this now extensive context is the covenant Yahweh has entered into with the nation as whole at Sinai, and which has been broken by the Exodus generation through their refusal to obey Yahweh and enter the Promised Land. Consequently, as the new generation is poised to enter and take possession of the land of Canaan, Israel’s covenant-relationship with Yahweh is disrupted and must be restored through a renewal of the covenant. Yahweh’s basis for not terminating the covenant and destroying Israel for their disobedience to the covenant stipulations is his unconditional covenant with Abraham. Yahweh’s faithfulness to the conditional Mosaic Covenant is, as noted in Numbers, founded on the unconditional covenant He made with Abraham. This is significant because it demonstrates that God will fulfill all the promises He made with Abraham independent of Israel’s faithfulness to Him. Thus the disruption of Israel’s covenant-relationship with Yahweh sets the theological stage for Deuteronomy in that Israel cannot enter into the Land and take possession of it without Yahweh’s blessings which are conditioned on the nation walking in covenant-relationship with him. Thus a major addition to the theological context of Deuteronomy is the concept of covenant renewal.

Analysis of the text

Broad descriptive overview of the text

Chapter

Descriptive Summary

3-Jan

review of Israel’s history from Mount Sinai to the Plains of Moab;

4

call to obedience;

10-May

review/reiteration and expansion of the Law;

11-Oct

call to commitment with promise of blessings and cursings;

12

laws concerning central sanctuary;

13

laws concerning false prophets and worship of other gods;

14

laws concerning clean and unclean food;

 

laws concerning tithes;

15

laws concerning Sabbatical year;

16

laws concerning festivals;

 

laws concerning judges;

17

laws concerning worship of the Lord;

 

laws concerning court cases;

 

laws concerning Kings;

18

laws concerning Levites;

 

laws concerning separation from practices of the people living in the Land;

 

 

laws concerning the Prophet like Moses;

19

laws concerning cities of refuge;

 

laws concerning witnesses;

20

laws concerning going to war;

21

laws concerning manslaughter;

 

laws concerning marriage and family;

22

laws concerning  moral and ethical issues;

23

laws concerning the congregation;

 

laws concerning society;

24-25

laws concerning society;

26

laws concerning first fruits and tithes;

27

charge to keep all the commands;

 

curses to be recited from Mount Ebal after entering the Land;

28

promises of blessings for obedience;

 

promises of curses for disobedience;

29-30

renewal of the Covenant;

31

Moses' personal charge to Israel and to Joshua;

 

command for public reading of the Law every seven years during

 

Feast of Tabernacle;

32

Song of Moses;

33

Moses' blessings of the tribes of Israel;

34

death of Moses;

Major theological theme

The literary shape of Deuteronomy, as discussed below, makes evident the theological emphasis of the Book of Deuteronomy. The Mosaic covenant, which Israel entered into with Yahweh at Mount Sinai, is reiterated, expounded on, and expanded by Moses as he leads the new generation in renewing the covenant prior to their entering the Land of Promise to possess it. The continual rebelling of the Exodus generation, culminating in their defiant refusal to obey Yahweh and enter the land of Canaan and take possession of it, led to their breaking of the covenant. Hence the necessity for renewing the covenant by the new generation.

What is significant in Deuteronomy, and different from the presentation of the covenant stipulations recorded in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, is Moses' expounding of the Law and expansion of it, and his inclusion of promises of blessing for obedience to the Law and threats of curses for disobedience to the Law. Because of Israel's passed history of continual rebellion against Yahweh, and the severity of the curses promised for disobedience, Moses, again and again, exhorts the new generation to obey the covenant stipulations.

Significantly, the curses enumerated far outweigh the blessings. Further, there is a progression in the degree of severity of the curses, with the worst of all possible curses culminating in the violent expulsion of Israel out of the Land of their inheritance and into exile where they will once again serve their enemies under the yoke of oppression (28:15-68). In view in this worst case scenario are the Assyrian and Babylonian captivities (28:36), as well as a horrific description of the devastation that will result from the invading army God will send against His people in response to their disobedience (28:45-68).

Yet Yahweh is ever faithful to His elect people whom He promised Abraham He would bless. Thus along with the threat of destruction of the nation due to disobedience to the Law of the Covenant, a promise is given for restoration in response to repentance. Even in the worst case with Israel expelled from the land and scattered among the nations in exile, if the remnant of Israel will return to Yahweh and obey Him with all their heart and with all their soul according to all that is written in the Law, then Yahweh will gather His people from the lands that He scattered them and have compassion on them and restore them to the Land of Promise and bless them abundantly (30:1-10).

Literary characteristics

Literarily, as Kalland (1992:3-4) has noted, the Book of Deuteronomy may be approached from several different directions:

1. as a “Book of the Law”

2. as a series of addresses—an exposition of the Law—given by Moses with materials that are repetitive of formerly given content in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and with additions to it;

The major divisions for such a structuring of Deuteronomy are:

Introduction (1:1-5)

Moses' First Message (1:6-4:49)

Moses' Second Message (chs. 5-26)

Moses' Third Message (chs. 27-30)

Epilogue (chs. 31-34)

3. as a covenant-treaty in both form and content (see, for example, 29:1; 31:9-13, 24-26), including the narratives of the adoption of that agreement and the exhortations to adopt the covenant-treaty and to adhere to its stipulations;

4. as a compendium of the directives of Yahweh given through Moses to prepare the second generation for the conquest, occupation, and settlement to the land of Canaan;

It becomes clear, however, from a comparison of suzerainty-vassal treaties of the second millennium B.C. with the form and content of Deuteronomy that the whole of this last book of the Pentateuch is in the covenant–treaty form of that age (see the Introduction to the Pentateuch for a discussion of this similarity). The procedure for the establishment and continuity of these treaties, as well as their literary structure, lends itself strikingly to the covenant which defines the relationship between Yahweh and His chosen people.

The main components of the Near Eastern treaties of this era include:

1. preamble;

2. historical prologue;

3. stipulations, laws, and regulations;

4. arrangements for depositing treaty copies;

5. arrangements for the regular reading of the treaty before the people;

6. witnesses to the covenant agreement;

7. curses for violating the covenant stipulations, and blessings for obedience to them;

Collectively, the Deuteronomic address of Moses follow this order, although in addition to the historical prologue, historical allusions are intermixed along with exhortations to Israel to give heed to Yahweh their God and to obey the covenant–treaty stipulations, which Moses not only states but also expounds on. This structure, which does not strictly follow the development of the Deuteronomy text, is summarized as:

1. preamble—Deut 1:1-5;

2. historical prologue— Deut 1:6-4:43;

3. stipulations, laws, and regulations—Deut 4:44-26:15;

4. arrangements for depositing treaty copies— Deut 31:24-26;

5. arrangements for regular reading of the treaty—Deut 30:9-12;

6. witnesses of the covenant agreement—Deut 4:26; 30:19; 31:28;

7. curses and blessings—Deut 28:1-68;

Additionally, the Book of Deuteronomy calls for the renewal of the covenant, first entered into at Mount Sinai with the Exodus generation, as preparation for the new, or second, generation's entrance into Canaan—its conquest and occupation—and presents the way of life that the sons of Israel were to follow in the Land of Promise. Further, Deuteronomy makes provision for the transition of the covenant mediatorship through the commissioning of Joshua to replace Moses at his death.

Unlike the Book of Exodus, which records the proposal, ratification, and foundational stipulations of the covenant, the Book of Deuteronomy is structured in the form of the suzerainty-vassal treaty. Thus, an appropriate outline of Deuteronomy, and one that correctly portrays the development of the message, has the following major divisions (a discussion of these divisions can be found in Craigie 1976:36-45):

1. preamble to the renewed covenant—Deut 1:1-5;

2. historical prologue to the renewed covenant—Deut 1:6-4:43;

3. stipulations and responsibilities of the renewed covenant—Deut 4:44-26:15;

4. renewal, ratification, and sanctions (blessings and curses) of the covenant—Deut 26:16-30:20;

5. provisions for the continuance of the covenant—Deut 31:1-34:12;

Synthesis of the text as a unified and coherent whole

The analyses discussed above have been used, implicitly and explicitly, to obtain an understanding of Deuteronomy as a unified and coherent whole. This understanding is expressed here in the form of the statement of its message, its synthetic structure, and a synthesis of the text which follows from that message and structure.

Development and statement of the message

The reiteration of the covenant stipulations recorded in Deuteronomy most likely were necessitated by the need to renew the covenant with the new generation after it had been effectively broken by the Exodus generation. Further, there was a need to expound the fundamental statutes and judgments previously given in order to better inform the new, and soon to be Conquest, generation on more of the specific stipulations brought into focus because Israel was about to transition from a nomadic way of living to a more sedentary lifestyle. And because of this, there was a need to expand these stipulations to take into account Israel’s new community lifestyle.

The message of Deuteronomy is focused on the book’s strong emphasis of covenant renewal to which Moses led the new generation as they were poised on the Plains of Moab to enter the Land of Promise (see, for example, 26:16-19; 29:1; chs. 27-29). The issue of Deuteronomy seems not to be so much the need for covenant renewal as the Israelites were apparently willing to do that. Rather it seems to be the degree to which they were willing to commit themselves in obedience to Yahweh. The foundational principle on which the whole of the covenant stood required Israel obey Yahweh wholeheartedly. Thus throughout this book Moses places a major stress on obedience to Yahweh and His commandments (see, 4:5, 13, 14, 40; 5:1, 29, 32; 6:1, 24, 25; 7:11, 12; 8:1, 6:11:1, 8, 13, 22, 26, 32; 12:1, 32; 13:4, 18; 15:5; 17:19; 19:9; 26: 16, 17; 27:2, 10; 28:1, 13, 15, 45, 58, 62; 29:9; 30:8, 10, 15-17, 20; 31:12). The point that Moses is making is that what is required is absolute obedience. Nothing short of total commitment to Yahweh will do as Moses calls for the sons of Israel to love Yahweh with all their heart and soul (4:29; 30:2, 10) and to fear Him and obey all His commandments (see, 4:10; 14:23; 17:19; 31:12, 13)

Another important factor that drives the development of the message of Deuteronomy is the fact that this is now Moses speaking. No longer does the text say "And Yahweh spoke to Moses" as it so often does in the Books of Exodus (see, for example, 5:1; 6:1; 7:1, 14; 8:1, 16, 20; etc.), Leviticus (1:1; 4:1; 5:14; 6:1, 8; etc.), and Numbers (1:1; 2:1; 4:1, 21; 5:1, 11; 6:1; 8:1; etc.). Further, Moses is not just reiterating what Yahweh had revealed to him, but is expounding the word of God given to him. Here it is important to recognize that the word Moses is expounding is the Ten Commandments (ch. 5). The foundation of the covenant law is the Ten Commandments. That is what Yahweh gave to Moses on the top of Mount Sinai, what Yahweh told to the sons of Israel when He spoke to them from Mount Sinai, what Yahweh inscribed on tablets of stone and which was deposited in the Ark of the Covenant (4:10-13; 9:10; 10:1-5), and that is what Moses expounded before the sons of Israel (ch. 5) to give them covenant stipulations which were to be obeyed (chs. 6-7, and 12-26).

One other factor that is important for the message of the Book of Deuteronomy, and that differs from the covenant law presented in the Book of Exodus, is the strong emphasis placed on the covenant sanctions of blessings and curses (Deut chs. 27-29), particularly on the curses where there are approximately five times more verses dealing with curses than are dealing with blessings.

The  message of the Book of Deuteronomy may be determined on the basis of these considerations and the analyses discussed above. The analysis of the text of Deuteronomy suggests that a possible subject for this book is Yahweh's terms of covenant renewal. When viewed from this perspective, the text of Deuteronomy may be understood as making the following theological judgment/evaluation about this subject:

This understanding of Deuteronomy leads to the following synthetic structure and synthesis of its text as a unified and coherent whole.

Synthetic structure of the text

Broad synthetic structure

I Identification of the covenant mediator, and the time and place of covenant renewal—preamble to the renewed covenant (1:1-5)

II Covenant history as a basis for covenant renewal in preparation for entering and possessing the Land—historical prologue to the renewed covenant (1:6–4:43)

A. Covenant history from Mount Sinai to the Plains of Moab (1:6–3:29)

1. covenant history from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea (1:6–46)

2. covenant history from Kadesh-Barnea to the Plains of Moab (2:1-25)

3. covenant history of the conquest of the Transjordan (2:26–3:29)

B. Covenant history at Mount Sinai—review of Israel's entrance into covenant-relationship (4:1-40)

C. Appointment of the cities of refuge in the Transjordan (4:41-43)

III Stipulations of the renewed covenant reiterated, expanded, expounded, and exhorted for living in the Land (4:44–26:15)

A. Historical setting for the recapitulation and explication of the Law (4:44-49)

B. Reiteration, explication, and exhortation of the Ten Commandments (5:1–11:32)

1. reiteration of the Ten Commandments (5:1-33)

2. explication exhortation of the First Commandment (6:1-25)

3. explication and exhortation of the Second Commandment (7:1-26)

4. exhortation to remember Yahweh's covenant faithfulness and Israel's unfaithfulness (8:1–10:10)

5. call to covenant faithfulness through obedience to the covenant stipulations (10:12–11:32)

C. Specific covenant stipulations required for living in the Land (12:1–26:15)

1. stipulations pertaining to cultic and ceremonial order (12:1–16:17)

2. stipulations pertaining to civil order (16:18–20:20)

3. stipulations pertaining to social order (21:1–26:15)

IV Renewal, ratification, and sanctions of the covenant (26:16–30:20)

A. Declaration of covenant renewal (26:16-19)

B. Ratification of the renewed covenant (27:1–30:20)

1. ratification ceremony to be observed upon entering the Land (27:1-26)

2. declaration of the renewed covenant sanctions (28:1-68)

3. oath of covenant renewal (29:1–30:20)

V Provision for the continuance of the covenant—transition of covenant mediator from Moses to Joshua (chs. 31–34)

A. Final charges to Israel and the commissioning of Joshua (31:1-29)

B Conclusion of Moses' mediatorial role (31:30–33:29)

C Transfer of responsibility of covenant mediator from Moses to Joshua (ch. 34)

Detailed Synthetic Structure

I Identification of the covenant mediator, and the time and place of covenant renewal—preamble to the renewed covenant (1:1-5)

II Covenant history as a basis for covenant renewal—historical prologue to the renewed covenant (1:6–4:43)

A. Covenant history from Mount Sinai to the Plains of Moab (1:6–3:29)

1. The covenant history from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea (1:6-46)

a. departure from Sinai (1:6-8)

b. appointment of leaders (1:9-18)

c. rebellion at Kadesh-Barnea (1:19-46)

2. covenant history from Kadesh-Barnea to the Plains of Moab (2:1-25)

a. wandering in the wilderness for 40 years (2:1-3)

b. journey around Edom by way of the wilderness of Moab (2:4-25)

3. covenant history of the conquest of the Transjordan (2:26–3:29)

a. defeat of Sihon and the Amorites (2:26-37)

b. defeat of Og and the taking of the land of Gilead and Bashan (3:1-11)

c. division of the Transjordan between Reuben, Gad, and half-tribe of Manasseh (3:12-20)

d. Yahweh's refusal to permit Moses to enter the Land and His directive to replace Moses with Joshua (3:21-29)

B. Covenant history at Mount Sinai—review of Israel's entering into covenant-relationship (4:1-40)

1. call to obedience in keeping the Ten Commandments (4:1-8) 

2. historical constituting of Israel under the covenant—call to remember the day Israel agreed to the covenant at Horeb/Mount Sinai (4:9-14)

3. warning to be careful to obey the first of the Ten Commandments (4:15-31)

a. warning against idolatry which is a clear violation of the First Commandment (4:15-24)

b. prophetic warning of Israel's falling away from Yahweh in the latter days for violating the First Commandment (4:25-31)

4. Israel's unique relationship with Yahweh as His chosen people to whom He revealed Himself and of whom He demands covenantal obedience (4:32-40)

C. appointment of the cities of refuge in the Transjordan (4:41-43)

III Stipulations of the renewed covenant reiterated, expanded, expounded, and exhorted for living in the Land (4:44–26:15)

A. Historical setting for the reiteration and explication of the Law (4:44-49)

B. Reiteration, explication, and exhortation of the Ten Commandments (5:1–11:32)

1. reiteration of the Ten Commandments (5:1-33) 

a. historical circumstances of the covenant agreement entered into at Sinai (5:1-5)

b. reiteration of the Ten Commandments (5:6-21)

c. appointment of Moses as covenant mediator (5:22-33)

2. explication and exhortation of the First Commandment (6:1-25)

a. intent of the Ten Commandments—teach Israel to fear God, keep His commandments and so be blessed (6:1-3)

b. greatest aspect of the commandment—love God wholeheartedly (6:4-5)

c. provision for propagating obedience to the commandments from generation to generation (6:6-9)

c. exhortation to remember in the time of prosperity that it was Yahweh who gave Israel all the good things of life (6:10-15)

d. reason for Israel's need to obey the commandments—to fear Yahweh and so be blessed (6:16-25)

3. explication and exhortation of the Second Commandment (7:1-26)

a. commandment to utterly destroy the Canaanites and their instruments of idolatry (7:1-5)

b. reason for such a radical command—Israel was chosen to be a holy people separated to Yahweh their God for His own possession (7:6-11)

c. result of obedience to the commandments—Yahweh will keep His covenant and bless Israel (7:12-16)

d. exhortation not to fear the people of Canaan (7:17-24)

e. exhortation to destroy all the idols of the Canaanites (7:25-26)

4. exhortation to remember Yahweh's covenant faithfulness in spite of Israel's unfaithfulness (8:1–10:11)

a. exhortation to remember Yahweh's covenant faithfulness (8:1–9:6)

(1) exhortation to remember it was Yahweh who provided for Israel for 40 years in the wilderness (8:1-6)

(2) exhortation to remember in time of prosperity it was Yahweh, who gave Israel the blessings of good land, and an abundance of water, food, houses, and herds (8:7-17)

(3) exhortation to remember Yahweh who blesses Israel to confirm His covenant with the Patriarchs (8:18-20)

(4) exhortation to know it is Yahweh who is going before Israel to bring His people safely into the Land (9:1-6)

b. exhortation to remember Israel's unfaithfulness to the covenant (9:7–10:11)

(1) exhortation to remember Israel's unfaithfulness to the covenant at Horeb when they rebelled against Yahweh by worshiping the golden calf (9:7-21) 

(2) exhortation to remember Israel's unfaithfulness to the covenant at Taberah and Kibroth Hattaavah where they provoked Yahweh to anger (9:22)

(3) exhortation to remember Israel's unfaithfulness to the covenant at Kadesh-Barnea where they rebelled against Yahweh by defiantly refusing to enter the Land (9:23–10:11)

5. call to covenant faithfulness through wholehearted obedience to the covenant stipulations (10:12–11:32)

a. requirement of allegiance to Yahweh—to fear, love and obey Him—who chose Israel's forefathers and them as well, to set His affection on them to love them (10:12-22)

b. call to love Yahweh and obey His commandments (11:1-32)

C. Specific covenant stipulations required for living in the Land (12:1–26:15)

1. stipulations pertaining to cultic and ceremonial order (12:1–16:17)

a. stipulations pertaining to the central sanctuary (12:1-28)

b. stipulations pertaining to idolatry (12:29–13:18)

c. stipulations pertaining to clean and unclean food (14:1-21)

d stipulations pertaining to tithes (14:22-29)

e. stipulations pertaining to the Sabbatical year (15:1-11)

f. stipulations pertaining to the freeing of Hebrew slaves (15:12-18)

g. stipulations pertaining to the consecration of first-born domestic animals (15:19-23)

h. stipulations pertaining to the appointed feasts (16:1-17)

2. stipulations pertaining to civil order (16:18–20:20)

a. stipulations pertaining to national leadership (16:18–18:22)

(1) stipulations pertaining to judges (16:18–17:13)

(2) stipulations pertaining to kings (17:14-20)

(3) stipulations pertaining to priests and prophets (18:1-22)

b. stipulations pertaining to cities of refuge (19:1-13)

c. stipulations pertaining to boundary markers (19:14)

d. stipulations pertaining to witnesses for criminal cases (19:15-21)

e. stipulations pertaining to warfare and military service (20:1-20)

3. stipulations pertaining to social order (21:1–26:15)

a. stipulations pertaining to manslaughter (21:1-9)

b. stipulations pertaining to the family (21:10-23)

c. stipulations pertaining to a countryman's property (22:1-4)

d. stipulations pertaining to the confusion of the sexes, and to the mingling of seeds or of diverse animals (22:5-12)

e. stipulations pertaining to marriage violations (22:13-30)

f. stipulations pertaining to exclusion some from the assembly of Yahweh (23:1-14)

g. stipulations pertaining to miscellaneous social issues (23:15–25:19)

h. stipulations pertaining to the offering of first fruits and tithes to Yahweh (26:1-15)

IV  Renewal, ratification and sanctions of the covenant (26:16–30:20)

A. Declaration of covenant renewal (26:16-19)

1. Israel's declaration of acceptance of Yahweh as their God and obedience to all His commandments (26:16-17)

2. Yahweh's declaration of acceptance of Israel as His people, a treasured possession which He shall set above all other nations (26:18-19)

B. Ratification of the renewed covenant (27:1–30:20)

1. ratification ceremony to be observed upon entering the Land (27:1-26)

a. Moses' charge to keep all the commandments of the covenant (27:1)

b. Moses' charge to observe a ratification ceremony in the Land (27:2-26)

(1) Moses' charge to write out the all the words of the Law on stones and set them on Mount Ebal (27:2-8)

(2) Moses' declaration that Israel had "this day" renewed the covenant and become a people for Yahweh (27:9-10)

(3) Moses' charge for recitation of the covenant blessings on Mount Gerizim and covenant curses from Mount Ebal (27:11-26)

2. declaration of the renewed covenant sanctions (28:1-68)

a. declaration of covenantal blessings which will result in response to obedience to the commandments (28:1-14)

b. declaration of covenantal curses which will result in response to disobedience to the commandments (28:15-68)

3. oath of covenant renewal (29:1–30:20)

a. Moses' call to Israel to take an oath of allegiance to Yahweh and His covenant (29:1-15)

b. consequences of going back on the oath of covenant allegiance (29:16-29)

c. promise of restoration to a state of blessing after repenting from going back on the oath of covenant allegiance (30:1-20)

V Provision for the continuance of the covenant—transition of covenant mediator from Moses to Joshua (31:1–34:12)

A. Final charges to Israel and the commissioning of Joshua (31:1-30)

1. Moses' final charge (31:1-13)

a. Moses' final charge to all Israel (31:1-6)

b. Moses' final charge to Joshua (31:7-8)

c. Moses' final charge to the priests to read the Law in the hearing of the people in every Sabbath year at the Feast of Booths (31:9-13)

2. Yahweh's commissioning of Joshua (31:14-23)

a. Yahweh's command to Moses to bring Joshua before Him that He might commission him (31:14-15)

b. Yahweh's revelation to Moses that Israel will forsake Him for other gods and break the covenant for which He will severely punish them (31:16-18)

c. Yahweh's command to Moses to write a song and teach it to the sons of Israel that it might be a witness for Him against His people (31:19-22)

d. commissioning of Joshua with the charge to be strong and courageous (31:23)

3. Moses' charge to the Levites to deposit the book of the Law in the Ark of the Covenant as a witness against Israel (31:24-29)

B Conclusion of Moses' mediatorial role (31:30-33:29)

1. The Song of Moses: Israel's responsibilities to the covenant (31:30-32:47)

2. Yahweh's directives to Moses concerning his death (32: 48-52)

3. Moses' final (prophetic) blessing upon Israel, tribe by tribe (33:1-29)

C Transfer of responsibility of covenant mediator from Moses to Joshua (34:1-12)

1. death of Moses (34:1-8)

2. succession of Joshua (34:9)

3. priority of Moses as a prophet in Israel (34:10-12)

Synthesis of the text

Based on the message statement and synthetic structure developed above the synthesis of the text of Deuteronomy may be constructed as:

I Yahweh’s terms of covenant renewal are expressed through Moses, the mediator of the covenant, as he reiterates, expands, and expounds the Law to Israel on the Plains of Moab where the new generation is poised to enter and take possession of the Land. (1:1-5)

II Yahweh’s terms of covenant renewal must be understood in the context of Israel's covenant history. (1:6–4:49)

A. Moses' review of Israel's covenant history from Mount Sinai to the Plains of Moab demonstrates Yahweh's faithfulness to the covenant in spite of Israel's repeated unfaithfulness to it. (1:6–3:29)

1. Moses' review of Israel's covenant history from Mount Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea demonstrates Yahweh's faithfulness to the covenant in spite of Israel's defiant refusal to enter and take possession of the Land, for although He executed judgment upon the Exodus generation He extended the promise of inheriting the Land to the next generation. (1:6-46)

2. Moses' review of Israel's covenant history from Kadesh-Barnea to the Transjordan demonstrates Yahweh's faithfulness to the covenant for although the Exodus generation was under condemnation, yet for the sake of the new generation He provided for all of Israel's needs for 40 years in the wilderness and brought His people safely to the Plains of Moab. (2:1-25)

3. Moses' review of Israel's covenant history in the region of the Transjordan demonstrates Yahweh's continued faithfulness to the covenant by showing that He gave Israel victory over Sihon and Og, kings of the Amorites, and gave Israel all their land which was then apportioned to the tribes of Reuben and Gad and the half tribe of Manasseh as an inheritance. (2:26–3:29)

B. Moses' review of Israel's entrance into covenant-relationship at Sinai provides the context for his call to obedience to the Ten Commandments and for his issuing a warning against idolatry which will cause Israel to be exiled from the Land, yet Yahweh's faithfulness to the covenant holds out a promise of restoration in response to a wholehearted return to Him. (4:1-40)

C. Moses' appointment of cities of refuge in the Transjordan extends the jurisdiction of the Law to the land east of the Jordan thus establishing that the sons of Israel living there are subject to the statutes and judgments of the covenant just as are the sons of Israel living in the land promised to Abraham. (4:41-43)

III Yahweh's terms of covenant renewal must be met in wholehearted obedience to the covenant stipulations which are reiterated, expanded, expounded, and exhorted on by Moses. (4:44–26:15)

A. Moses' reiteration and explication of the Law occurs on the east side of the Jordan in the region of the Transjordan where the new generation is poised to enter the Land. (4:44-49)

B. Moses' reiteration, explication, and exhortation of the Ten Commandments demands wholehearted obedience. (5:1–11:22)

1. Moses’ reiteration of the covenant stipulations to the new generation  begins with the Ten Commandments which were given directly by Yahweh at Sinai to the Exodus generation. (5:1-33)

2. Moses' explication of the First Commandment reveals that the greatest aspect of the foundational stipulation of the covenant is to love Yahweh wholeheartedly. (6:1-25)

3. Moses' explication and exhortation of the Second Commandment demands that Israel separate themselves from the people and gods of the nations they are displacing by utterly destroying them. (7:1-26)

4. Moses' exhortation to remember Yahweh's covenant faithfulness, in spite of Israel's continual rebellion against Him, serves as a warning to remember Yahweh in the time of prosperity because He is the one who is blessing them and therefore they ought not to forget Him or His commandments. (8:1–10:11)

a. Moses exhortation to remember in the time of pros­perity that it is not because Israel is righteous or mighty that they are prospering, serves to warn Israel they ought to remain faithful to Yahweh by obeying His commandments for it is because of His covenant faithfulness that they are blessed, just as they were blessed for 40 years in the wilderness. (8:1–9:6)

b. Moses exhortation to remember Israel's history of continual rebellion against Yahweh, beginning at Horeb where they worshiped the golden calf, and then at Taberah, Massah, and Kibroth Hattaavah where they provoked Yahweh to anger, and again at Kadesh-Barnea where they defiantly refused to enter the Land, confronts the new generation with Israel's propensity to rebel and therefore the need to obey His commandments wholeheartedly. (9:7-10:11)

5. Moses' call for wholehearted love for Yahweh and obedience to His commandments constitutes Israel's necessary response to Him because He is the God of gods and the Lord of lords, the great and mighty God to whom belongs the whole world yet He chose their fathers and them above all the people of the earth to set His affection on them to love them. (10:12–11:32)

C. Moses' exposition and expansion of the renewed terms of the covenant focuses on specific stipulations which demand wholehearted obedience for living in the Land in a state of blessing. (12:1­2–6:15)

1. Moses' exposition of the renewed terms of the covenant pertaining to cultic and ceremonial order demands wholehearted obedience on the part of the covenant community to specific stipulations concerned with such issues as the priority of the central sanctuary, idolatry, clean and unclean food, tithes, the Sabbatical year, and the keeping of the three appointed festivals. (12:1–16:17)

2. Moses' exposition of the renewed terms of the covenant pertaining to civil order in the covenant community demands wholehearted obedience on the part of the national leadership—judges, kings, priests, and prophets—to specific stipulations governing their leadership, and on the part of the people to specific statutes and judgments concerned with cities of refuge, boundary markers, witnesses, and warfare and military service. (16:18–20:20)

Moses' exposition of the renewed terms of the covenant pertaining to social order in the covenant community demands wholehearted obedience on the part of the people to specific stipulations concerned with such social issues as manslaughter, family relationships, property rights, confusion of the sexes, and the exclusion of those who are unclean from the assembly of Yahweh. (21:1–26:15)

IV Yahweh’s terms of covenant renewal requires the new generation to ratify the covenant and take an oath of allegiance to Him and His covenant. (26:16–30:20)

A. The renewed terms of the covenant obliges Israel to ratify the covenant by declaring Yahweh to be their God whom they will obey, and for Yahweh to declare Israel to be His people whom He will set high above all other nations. (26:16-19)

B. The renewed terms of the covenant necessitates Israel conduct a ceremony declaring the covenant curses and blessings, and take an oath of allegiance to Yahweh and His commandments. (27:1–30:20)

1. Finalization of the ratification of covenant renewal requires Israel to conduct a ceremony from atop Mounts Gerizim and Ebal on the day they enter the Land, where they are to declare the commandments of Yahweh and denounce as cursed the one who breaks anyone of the Ten Commandments. (27:1-26)

2. The renewed terms of the covenant include the promise of great blessings in return for obedience to Yahweh's commandments, and sanctions involving cruel curses, the ultimate of which is destruction of the nation and exile from the Land, in response to defiant disobedience. (28:1-68)

3. The renewed terms of the covenant call for an oath of allegiance to Yahweh and His commandments, which if turned away from will eventually result in destruction of the nation and exile from the Land, yet a promise is offered for restoration to the Land and for spiritual renewal in response to wholehearted repentance and a return to Yahweh. (29:1–30:20)

a. Moses' call to take an oath of allegiance to the covenant points to the historical witness as confirming Yahweh's oath to the covenant, and to the new generation as witnesses confirming Israel's oath, yet the extent of the oath of covenant allegiance extends to not just the present generation, but future generations as well. (29:1-15)

b. The consequences to Israel for going back on the oath of covenant allegiance foresee the destruction of the nation and exile of the people from the Land as the full extent of the curses of the covenant falls upon people and land, for although chosen people are privileged to possess the revelation of God, they also have the responsibility of obedience to that revelation. (29:16-29)

c. A promise of physical restoration to the Land and to a state of material blessing and spiritual renewal is offered in response to wholehearted repentance. (30:1-20)

(1) The promise of a gathering of the exiles and restoration from captivity to a state of blessing in the Land is offered in response to wholehearted repentance. (30:1-5)

(2) The promise of spiritual renewal through Yahweh's circumcising of the hearts of the sons of Israel, making it disposed to love Yahweh and obey Him, is offered in response to wholehearted repentance. (30:6-10)

(3) Moses' concluding charge to Israel to choose life and prosperity through obedience to the commandments of the covenant, rather than death and adversity through disobedience, places the burden of responsibility upon the sons of Israel for true covenant renewal. (30:11-20)

V. Yahweh’s terms of covenant renewal, established through the mediatorial work of Moses, requires a continuity in covenant mediators which is provided through Yahweh's commissioning of Joshua to replace Moses. (31:1–34:12)

A. The transition of covenant mediator from Moses to Joshua entails Moses' final charges to Israel, to Joshua, and to the priests, and continues with Yahweh's commissioning of Joshua. (31:1-29)

B The conclusion to Moses' mediatorial work is marked by the Song of Moses, by Yahweh's directives concerning his imminent death, and by Moses’ final blessing which he conferred on Israel tribe by tribe. (31:30–33:29)

C The completion of the transfer of covenant mediator from Moses to Joshua occurs as Moses dies and Joshua succeeds him, yet neither Joshua nor any mediator following him had the stature of Moses for no prophet has risen in Israel whom Yahweh knew face to face. (34:1-12)

Related Topics: Introductions, Arguments, Outlines