DEUTERONOMY (dū-têr-ŏn'o*ch-mē, Gr. Deuteronomion, second law). In sight of the Canaan he would not be allowed to enter, Moses gathered the hosts of Israel about him for his farewell addresses. These, set within the historical framework of several brief narrative passages, constitute the Book of Deuteronomy. Since the occasion of the renewal of the covenant made earlier at Sinai, the appropriate documentary pattern for covenant ratification supplied the pattern for Moses’ speeches and thus for the book.
The English title is unfortunate, being based on the LXX’s mistranslation of the phrase “a copy of this law” (
According to the Development Hypothesis, popular among nineteenth-century negative critics, Deuteronomy was a product of the seventh century b.c. and provided the program for the reform of Josiah (cf.
The unity, antiquity, and authenticity of Deuteronomy are evidenced by the conformity of its total structure to the pattern of Near Eastern suzerainty treaties dating from the second millennium b.c. The classic covenantal pattern consisted of the following sections: preamble, historical prologue, stipulations, curses and blessings, invocation of oath deities, directions for deposit of duplicate treaty documents in sanctuaries and periodic proclamation of the treaty to the vassal people.
This substantially is the outline of Deuteronomy:
1. Preamble: Covenant Mediator (1:1-5).
2. Historical Prologue: Covenant History (1:6-4:49).
3. Stipulations: Covenant Life (5-26).
4. Curses and Blessings: Covenant Ratification (27-30).
5. Succession Arrangements: Covenant Continuity (31-34).
The similarity between the style of Deuteronomy and that of international suzerainty treaties is well worth noting. Also important is the overall oratorical nature of the book. The style is similar throughout, a fluent prose (chapters 32-33 are poetry) marked by majestic periods, warm eloquence, and the earnest exhortation of the preacher, calling the people to choose whom they would follow.
Deuteronomy is the Bible’s full-scale exposition of the covenant concept and demonstrates that, far from being a contract between two parties, God’s covenant with his people is a proclamation of his sovereignty and an instrument for binding his elect to himself in a commitment of absolute allegiance.
Israel is confronted with the demands of God’s governmental omnipotence, redemptive grace, and consuming jealousy. They are to show their consecration to the Lord by obeying his mandate to establish his kingdom in his land. That involves conquering the land, by which divine judgment would be visited on those who worship alien gods in God’s land, and also establishing a community of brotherly love in common service to the Lord within the Promised Land. This covenant calling was not an unconditional license to national privilege and prosperity. By the covenant oath Israel came under both the curses and the blessings that were to be meted out according to God’s righteous judgment. The covenant relation called for responsible decision: “This day I call heaven and earth as witnesses against you that I have set before you life and death, blessings and curses. Now choose life, so that you and your children may live and that you may love the Lord your God....For the Lord is your life” (
Bibliography: M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King, 1963; Anthony Phillips, Deuteronomy (CBC), 1973; J. A. Thompson, Deuteronomy (TOTC), 1974; P. C. Craigie, The Book of Deuteronomy (NIC), 1976; A. D. H. Mayes, Deuteronomy (NCB), 1979.——MGK
The Eng. title of Deuteronomy, meaning “repetition of the law,” is derived from the LXX Δευτερονόμιον and the Vul. Deuteronomium. This inaccurate rendering is based on
Deuteronomy claims to consist almost entirely of the farewell speeches of Moses addressed to the new generation which had grown to manhood in the wilderness. The speeches are dated in the eleventh month of the forty years of wandering (
The ceremonial laws treat place of worship (
The civil ordinances treat appointment of judges (
The criminal laws cover the manslayer and cities of refuge (
Chapters 26 and 27 present the didactic applications of these laws and
The third discourse (
At least three elements—historical, legislative, didactic—can be traced through the book. The references to history are usually with a didactic aim. The legislative element tends directly to secure the national well-being.
The tone of exhortation which runs through the earlier and later addresses pervades also the legislative portion. The laws are not systematically stated but are ethically expounded in order to set forth their relation to the theocratic principles laid down in
The author wrote under a keen sense of idolatry and was deeply concerned to guard Israel against this, by insisting earnestly on the debt of gratitude and obedience it owed to its sovereign Lord. Therefore, the truths on which he dwells are the godhead of the Lord, His spirituality (
Throughout Exodus-Numbers the Lord speaks to Moses; through Deuteronomy Moses speaks to the people. Here Israel’s redemptive history is tr. into living principles; Deuteronomy is more commentary than history. The purpose is to arouse Israel’s loyalty to the Lord and His revealed law.
In recent years scholars have compared the extra-Biblical covenant (suzerain—vassal) treaties of the ancient Near E with the Biblical material and some have concluded that Deuteronomy, to a great extent, follows the classic covenant pattern consisting of the following sections: preamble, historical prologue, stipulations, curses and blessings, invocation of oath deities, direction for deposit of duplicate treaty documents in sanctuaries, and periodic proclamation of the treaty of the vassal people. M. Kline (Treaty of the Great King) has made a detailed comparison of Deuteronomy with this classic treaty structure and made the following outline of Deuteronomy: I. Preamble: Covenant Mediator (
Stylistically, this comparison of the pattern of the international suzerainty treaty is noteworthy. Deuteronomy is an exposition of the covenant concept and reveals that God’s covenant with His people is a proclamation of His sovereignty and an instrument for binding His elect to Himself in a commitment of absolute allegiance. Ancient suzerainty treaties began with a preamble in which the speaker, the one who was declaring his lordship and demanding the vassals’ allegiance, identified himself. The Deuteronomy preamble identifies the speaker as Moses (
Following the historical section were the stipulations which constituted the long and crucial central section of the covenant. When suzerainty treaties were renewed, these stipulations were repeated but with modifications, esp. such as were necessary to meet the changing situation. So, in these Deuteronomy stipulations (
The fourth standard division in the Near Eastern suzerainty treaties included the curses and blessings. In Deuteronomy this section is found in
The implications of this comparative evidence for the questions of the antiquity and authenticity of Deuteronomy are far-reaching. This kind of document with which Deuteronomy has been compared did not originate in some recurring ritual situations. Where, either in monarchic or pre-monarchic times, except in the very occasion to which Deuteronomy traces itself, can a historical situation be found in which such a treaty document is most appropriate?
This literary structure of Deuteronomy also has important implications for the way in which, having once been produced, this document would have been transmitted to subsequent generations. By their very nature treaties like Deuteronomy were inviolable. They were sealed legal documents; in fact, it was a practice to deposit such treaties in sanctuaries under the eye of the oath deities. There are examples in some of the extinct texts of specific curses pronounced against anyone who would in any way violate the treaty inscrs. Corresponding to these special stele curses is an injunction (
This extra-Biblical evidence confirms and illuminates not isolated data in Deuteronomy but the Deuteronomy treaty in its very structure; this information argues against a long evolutionary process being required to produce a book like Deuteronomy.
The traditional critical view (the Graf-Wellhausen hypothesis) claims that Deuteronomy (at least
Of course, the traditional critical view of the origin of Deuteronomy is an integral part of the documentary hypothesis; indeed, one might say that the question of Deuteronomy is the cornerstone of the documentary hypothesis. So the approach of the critics to the Book of Deuteronomy is based on their attitude toward the origin and nature of the Pentateuch itself, as well as to the whole question of the development of Israelite religion. The classical critical approach to Deuteronomy has been altered in various ways in recent years so that at the present time the origin of the Book of Deuteronomy is among the most controversial problems with the critics. Serious problems raised by late date theories have caused the critics to make various modifications which confuse and cancel each other. Almost every period has been advanced as the age in which the book was composed, while its authorship has been ascribed variously to Moses himself, Samuel or, less specifically to prophetic, priestly, and other circles. As to its origin, it has been associated with such sanctuaries as Jerusalem, Shechem and Bethel or, less precisely, to northern Israel or Judah. A convenient survey of the evolution of these differing and conflicting theories of the critics may be found in E. W. Nicholson’s Deuteronomy and Tradition (1967).
The traditional view of the Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy is based on the teaching of the Bible itself and Jewish and Christian tradition which was in full accord until the advent of higher criticism.
Deuteronomy is represented as emanating from Moses. Nearly forty times his name occurs, and in the majority of cases as the authoritative author of the subject matter. The first person is sometimes used (
The Bible clearly indicates, “And Moses wrote this law, and gave it to the priests the sons of Levi....When Moses had finished writing the words of this law in a book, to the very end, Moses commanded the Levites who carried the ark of the covenant of the Lord, ‘Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of the Lord your God, that it may be there for a witness against you’” (
The personal element again appears, quite unexpectedly in
Other incidents which must have deeply impressed Moses unexpectedly intrude into the law, such as the attack of the Amalekites (
The number and character of reminiscences is a striking feature. The mode of their occurrence is frequently quite incidental, such as the frequent references to Egypt and the reference to Miriam. They convey the impression that they issue from an old man who rebuked the people for disobedience as if they were children, and to display his anxiety that these younger hearers should “remember” and “not forget” his words, when he should be no longer there to guide (
There are also signs that the speaker has known the responsibility of leadership. He remembers the “ways” by which they traveled, the turnings, the treatment they received, the difficult crossings, and the places where water was attainable for the cattle.
There are names of events, all of which stirred Moses’ feelings deeply, the tempting (Massah), striving (Meribah), destruction (Hormah), the burning (Taberah), the graves of lust (Kibroth-hattaavah) and the chastisement (Mosera). Is this combination of words pure accident, or is it not probable that these are the names which Moses himself attached to the events? It is significant that Moses is never praised until after his death (34:10).
This is a formidable list when compared to the few references found in the prophetic writings. There is nothing to compare with this amount of detail in any of the speeches recorded in the historical books and much less than this would have sufficed to provide the law with a “Mosaic” setting. These reminiscences contribute nothing to the alleged program of reform attempted at a late date.
In Exodus it is related that Moses prayed for the people, but nothing is said about his prayer for Aaron. But in
Could all these personal Mosaic features have been introduced by some reformer, priest, prophet, or Levite, in order to invest his collection of laws with a Mosaic dress? Is it probable that such an author would have succeeded in establishing a correspondence so natural, so close in manifold and minute particulars, and so profound? Or is it more reasonable to think that this result proceeds from a true historical connection between the book of the law and the man whose name it has always borne? On every hand if Deuteronomy is acknowledged to be a great book which exerted great influence, should it not also have a great author? Who can fill that place so worthily as the old and tried leader who brought the Israelites out of Egypt, shared their experiences and laid the foundations of their faith?
The time for these discourses in Deuteronomy is plainly stated; it was the eleventh month of the forty years of wandering which were imposed upon the people for their unbelief (
The historical setting, moreover, is explicit in “when you go over the Jordan” (
Two of the most frequent phrases in the book are “go in and possess” (thirty-five times), and “the land which the Lord giveth thee” (thirty-four times). The occupation of the land by the Israelites had a primary place in the mind of the author. The language of promised blessings was for a people about to settle in a new land; not those settled for ages. The gods of the Canaanites are described as those of “the nations whom you shall dispossess” (
Where “tribes” are mentioned in Deuteronomy, they are separate entities but included in one whole; nothing to indicate a breach between N and S; Judah and Ephraim are not two kingdoms, and in fact are named only once, which is in the Blessing (
In Deuteronomy the election of Israel and the covenant at Horeb are always referred to as past events, but the inheritance of the land is always regarded as future. There is a national consciousness and a national religion, but as yet there was no central political organization. The contents are precisely suitable to the time and place (
It should also be noted that the primitive nature of the laws is suitable for a time when Israel first became a nation, but insufficient if viewed in relation to the needs of the 7th cent. b.c. These laws were to be executed by judges (
These laws were issued with a tone of authority which seems to proceed from a great leader. The prophets plead, but this author commands. This colors the whole legislation, and is explicit in the repeated phrase, “which I command you this day” (
The theology of the Deuteronomic legislation is simple and unsophisticated; it shows no advance upon that of Moses and no difference from it. The same cannot be said of the theological outlook of Isaiah or his successors. Deuteronomy reflects the optimism of the Mosaic era; the promise of the fathers, the wonders in Egypt, the people’s deliverance and the covenant at Horeb. Such a combination of qualities can scarcely be due to accident, nor does it wear the appearance of design. The laws laid down in
An analysis of the background data contained in Deuteronomy reveals geographical references too accurate for a Mosaic setting to be accidental. The account of the journeyings (
Deuteronomy contains numerous notices concerning nations with whom the Israelites had then come in contact, but who, after the Mosaic period, entirely disappeared from the pages of history, such as the accounts of the residences of the kings of Bashan (
Deuteronomy uses the appellation of “hill country of the Amorites” (
The Book of Deuteronomy clearly reflects the personality of Moses, the historical setting of his age, and the geographical data one would expect.
The influence of Deuteronomy upon the later writings and history of Israel is great. Of all the Pentateuch, Deuteronomy has been most used by the prophets, simply because it is best calculated to serve as a model for prophetic declarations.
J. Reider, “The Origin of Deuteronomy,” JQR, N.S. 27 (1936-1937), 349-371; G. T. Manley, “The Moabite Background of Deuteronomy,” EQ. XXI (1949), 81-92; G. E. Mendenhall, “Covenant Forms in Israelite Tradition,” BA, XVII (1954), 50-76; G. T. Manley, The Book of the Law (1957); J. Muilenburg, “The Form and Structure of the Covenantal Formulations,” VT, IX (1959), 347ff.; M. G. Kline, Treaty of the Great King (1963); D. J. McCarthy, Treaty and Covenant (1963); D. R. Hillers, Treaty-Curses and theProphets (1964); O. Eissfeldt, The Old Testament: An Introduction (1965); E. W. Nicholson, Deuteronomy and Tradition (1967).
International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)
2. What Deuteronomy Is
4. Ruling Ideas
7. Deuteronomy Spoken Twice
8. Deuteronomy’s Influence in Israel’s History
9. The Critical Theory
In Hebrew ’elleh ha-debharim, "these are the words"; in Greek, Deuteronomion, "second law"; whence the Latin deuteronomii, and the English Deuteronomy. The Greek title is due to a mistranslation by the Septuagint of the clause in
2. What Deuteronomy Is:
Deuteronomy is composed of three discourses, followed by three short appendices:
(a) chapters 5-11, an extended exposition of theon which theocracy was based;
(b) chapters 12-26, a code of special statutes concerning worship, purity, tithes, the three annual feasts, the administration of justice, kings, priests, prophets, war, and the private and social life of the people. The spirit of this discourse is most ethical and religious. The tone is that of a father no less than that of a legislator. A spirit of humanity pervades the entire discourse. Holiness is its ideal.
(a) Moses’ So (
(b) Moses’ Blessing (
(c) a brief account of Moses’ death and burial (
4. Ruling Ideas:
The great central thought of Deuteronomy is the unique relation which Yahweh as a unique God sustains to Israel as a unique people. "Hear O Israel; Yahweh our God is one Yahweh." The monotheism of Deuteronomy is very explicit. Following from this, as a necessary corollary almost, is the other great teaching of the book, the unity of the sanctuary. The motto of the book might be said to be, "One God, one sanctuary."
(1) Yahweh, a Unique God.
(2) Israel, a Unique People.
(3) The Relation between Yahweh and Israel a Unique Relation.
There is one passage bearing upon the authorship of Deuteronomy wherein it is stated most explicitly that Moses wrote "this law." It reads, "And Moses wrote this law, and delivered it unto the priests the sons of Levi. .... And it came to pass, when Moses had made an end of writing the words of this law in a book, until they were finished (i.e. to the end), that Moses commanded the Levites, that bare the ark of the covenant of Yahweh, saying, Take this book of the law, and put it by the side of the ark of the covenant of Yahweh your God, that it may be there for a witness against thee" (
(1) Deuteronomy as a Whole Is Eminently Appropriate to What We Know of Moses’ Times.
It closes most fittingly the formative period of Israel’s history. The historical situation from first to last is that of Moses. The references to foreign neighbors--Egypt, Canaan, Amalek, Ammon, Moab, Edom--are in every case to those who flourished in Moses’ own times. As a law book its teaching is based upon the Ten Commandments. If Moses gave the Ten Commandments, then surely he may have written the Book of Deuteronomy also. Besides, the, which antedates Moses by at least 700 years, makes it possible certainly that Moses also left laws in codified or written form.
(2) Deuteronomy Is Represented as Emanating from Moses.
The language is language put into Moses’ mouth. Nearly forty times his name occurs, and in the majority of instances as the authoritative author of the subject-matter. The first person is used predominatingly throughout: "I commanded Joshua at that time" De (
(3) Deuteronomy Is a Military Law Book, a Code of Conquest, a Book of Exhortation.
7. Deuteronomy Spoken Twice:
Certain literary features exist in Deuteronomy which lead the present writer to think that the bulk of the book was spoken twice; once, to the first generation between Horeb and Kadesh-barnea in the 2nd year of the Exodus wanderings, and a second time to the new generation, in the plains of Moab in the 40th year. Several considerations point in this direction:
(1) The Names of the Widely Separated Geographical Places Mentioned in the Title (
"These are the words which Moses spake unto all Israel beyond the Jordan in the wilderness, in the Arabah over against Suph, between Paran, and Tophel, and Laban, and Hazeroth, and Di-zahab"; to which is added, "It is eleven days’ journey from Horeb by the way of Mount Seir unto Kadesh-barnea." If these statements have any relevancy whatever to the contents of the book which they introduce, they point to a wide area, from Horeb to Moab, as the historico-geographical background of the book. In other words, Deuteronomy, in part at least, seems to have been spoken first on the way between Horeb and Kadesh-barnea, and later again when Israel were encamped on the plains of Moab. And, indeed, what would be more natural than for Moses when marching northward from Horeb expecting to enter Canaan from the south, to exhort the Israel of that day in terms of
(2) The Double Allusion to the
On the supposition that
(4) The Phrase "Began Moses to Declare This Law" (
The phrase "began Moses to declare this law" (
(5) The Author’s Evident Attempt to Identify the New Generation in Moab with the Patriarchs.
"Yahweh made not this covenant with our fathers, but with us, even us, who are all of us here alive this day," i.e. with us who have survived the desert discipline (
8. Deuteronomy’s Influence in Israel’s History:
9. The Critical Theory:
Over against the Biblical view, certain modern critics since De Wette (1805) advocate a late origin of Deuteronomy, claiming that it was first published in 621 BC, when Hilkiah found "the book of the law" in the temple in the 18th year of King Josiah (
.... "What is essentially new in Deuteronomy is not the matter, but the form. .... The new element in Deuteronomy is thus not the laws, but their parenetic setting" (Deuteronomy, lxi, lvi). This refined presentation of the matter would not be so very objectionable, were Drs. Smith and Driver’s theory not linked up with certain other claims and allegations to the effect that Moses in the 15th century BC could not possibly have promulgated such a lofty monotheism, that in theological teaching "the author of Deuteronomy is the spiritual heir of Hosea," that there are discrepancies between it and other parts of the Pentateuch, that in the early history of Israel down to the 8th century plurality of sanctuaries was legally permissible, that there are no traces of the influence of the principal teachings of a written Deuteronomy discoverable in Hebrew literature until the time of Jeremiah, and that the book as we possess it was originally composed as a program of reform, not by Moses but in the name of Moses as a forgery or pseudepigraph. For example, F. H. Woods says, "Although not a necessary result of accepting the later date, the majority of critics believe this book of the law to have been the result of a pious fraud promulgated by Hilkiah and Shaphan with the retention of deceiving Josiah into the belief that the reforms which they desired were the express command of God revealed to Moses" (HDB, II, 368). Some are unwilling to go so far. But in any case, it is claimed that the law book discovered and published by Hilkiah, which brought about the reformation by Josiah in 621 BC, was no other than some portion of the Book of Deuteronomy, and of Deuteronomy alone. But there are several considerations which are opposed to this theory:
(1) Deuteronomy emphasizes centralization of worship at one sanctuary (
(4) The law book discovered by Hilkiah was recognized at once as an ancient code which the fathers had disobeyed (
(6) Especially remarkable is it that if Deuteronomy were written, as alleged, shortly before the reign of Josiah, there should be no anachronisms in it betraying a post-Mosaic origin. There are no allusions to the schism between Judah and Israel, no hint of Assyrian oppression through the exaction of tribute, nor any threats of Israel’s exile either to Assyria or Babylonia, but rather to Egypt (
(7) The chief argument in favor of Deuteronomy’s late origin is its alleged teaching concerning the unity of the sanctuary. Wellhausen lays special emphasis upon this point. Prior to Josiah’s reformation, it is claimed, plurality of sanctuaries was allowed. But in opposition to this, it is possible to point victoriously to Hezekiah’s reformation (
(8) Another argument advanced in favor of the later origin of Deuteronomy is the contradiction between the laws of Deuteronomy and those of Lev-Nu concerning the priests and Levites. In
(9) Recently Professor Ed. Naville, the Egyptologist, has propounded a theory of the origin of "the Book of the Law" discovered by Hilkiah, which is not without some value. On the analogy of the Egyptian custom of burying texts of portions of "the Book of the Dead" at the foot of statues of gods and within foundations of temple walls, as at Hermopolis, he concludes that Solomon, when he constructed the Temple, probably deposited this "Book of the Law" in the foundations, and that when Josiah’s workmen were about their tasks of repairing the edifice, the long-forgotten document came to light and was given to Hilkiah the priest. Hilkiah, however, upon examination of the document found it difficult to read, and so, calling for Shaphan the scribe, who was more expert in deciphering antique letters than himself, he gave the sacred roll to him, and he in turn read it to both Hilkiah and the king. The manuscript may indeed have been written in cuneiform. Thus, according to Naville, "the Book of the Law," which he identifies with Deuteronomy, must be pushed back as far as the age of Solomon at the very latest. Geden shares a similar view as to its date: "some time during the prosperous period of David and the United Monarchy" (Intro to the Hebrew Bible, 1909, 330).
But why not ascribe the book to the traditional author? Surely there can be no philosophical objection to doing so, in view of the now-known Code of Hammurabi, which antedates Moses by so many hundreds of years! No other age accounts so well for its origin as that of the great lawgiver who claims to have written the bulk of it. And the history of the disintegration of the book only shows to what extremes a false method may lead; for example, Steuernagel separates the "Thou" and "Ye" sections from each other and assigns them to different authors of late date: Kennett, on the other hand, assigns the earliest strata to the period of the Exile (Jour. of Theol. Studies, 1904), On the whole, no theory is so satisfactory as that which, in keeping with
On the conservative side: James Orr, The Problem of the Old Testament, The Bross Prize, 1906; article "Deuteronomy," Illustrated Bible Dict., 1908; James Robertson, The Early, 1892; article "Deuteronomy," The Temple Bible Dict., 1910; John D. Davis, article "Deuteronomy," Davis’ Dict. of the Bible, 1911; John H. Raven, Old Testament Intro, 1906; A. S. Geden, Introduction to the Hebrew Bible, 1909; W. Moller, Are the Critics Right? 1903; R. B. Girdlestone, The Student’s Deuteronomy, 1899; Hugh Pope, The Date of the Composition of Deuteronomy, 1911; A. S. Zerbe, The Antiquity of Hebrew Writing and Lit., 1911; Ed. Naville, The Discovery of the Book of the Law under King Josiah, 1911; E. C. Bissell, : Its Origin and Structure, 1885; G. L. Robinson, The Expositor, "The Genesis of Deuteronomy," October and November, 1898, February, March, May, 1899; W. H. Green, Moses and the Prophets, 1891; The of the Pentateuch, 1895; A. M. Mackay, The Churchman’s Introduction to the Old Testament, 1901; J. W. Beardslee, Outlines of an Introduction to the Old Testament, 1903; G. Vos, The Mosaic Origin of the Pentateuchal Codes, 1886.
On the other side: S. R. Driver, A Crit. and Exeg. Commentary on Deuteronomy, 1895; The Hexateuch, by J. Estlin Carpenter and G. Harford-Battersby, I, II, 1900; G. A. Smith, Jerusalem, II, 1908; W. Robertson Smith, The Old Testament in the Jewish Church, 1895; A. Kuenen, The Hexateuch, 1886; H. E. Ryle, article "Deuteronomy," HDB, 1898; G. F. Moore, article "Deuteronomy," Encyclopedia Bibl., 1899; J. A. Paterson, article "Deuteronomy," Encyclopedia Brit, VIII, 1910.
In German: De Wette, Dissert. crit-exeget., 1805; Kleinert, Das De u. d. Deuteronomiker, 1872; Wellhausen, Die Comp. des Hexateuch. u. d. hist. Bucher des Altes Testament, 1889; Gesch. Israels, 1895; Steuernagel, Der Rahmen des Deuteronomy, 1894; Entsteh. des dt. Gesetzes, 1896.
George L. Robinson