Deuteronomy (book of the Bible)

Deuteronomy . It is a biblical book of the Old Testament and the Hebrew Tanach. (Hebrew Debarim דברים , “words”). Fifth book of the Pentateuch . It corresponds to those that in the Hebrew tradition form The Torah (the Law), nucleus of the Jewish religion.

Deuteronomy is derived from the translation of a phrase from 17:18 in the Septuagint (Greek version of the Old Testament ). The king was to prepare “a copy of this law.” The phrase translates into Greek as to deuteronomion touto , “this second law.” Later, in the Latin Vulgate (translation of the Bible into Latin, carried out at the end of the 4th century), it was translated from Greek as deuteronomium . The content of the book was considered as a second law, since the first was given on Mount Horeb ( Sinai ), and the second (the repetition) on the plains of Moab .


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  • 1 Author and date
    • 1 Conservation and influence
  • 2 Background
  • 3 Contribution to theology
  • 4 Comment
  • 5 Outline of content
  • 6 Jewish calendar
  • 7 Sources

Author and date

  • Author. Deuteronomy identifies Moses as the author of the book: “These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel” (1.1). “And Moses wrote this law, and gave it to the priests” (31.9), may also be an indication that he wrote the entire book. The name of Moses appears about forty times in this text, which closely reflects the personality of that great figure. Likewise, the continued use of the first person throughout the book supports the authorship of Moses.

Both Jewish and Samaritan tradition unanimously identify Moses as the author of Deuteronomy. Christ also does it expressly, like Peter and Stephen (Mt 19.7, 8; Mk 10.3, 4; Acts 3.22; 7.37).

The last chapter, which contains the account of the death of Moses, was probably written by his closest friend, Joshua.

  • Date. Moses and the Israelites began the exodus from

Egypt around 1440 BC They arrived in the fields of Moab, where Deuteronomy was probably written, around 1400 BC, on the occasion of communicating its content to the people “in the eleventh month, the first of the month” of the fortieth year of their pilgrimage through the desert (1.3). This was exactly before the death of Moses and before the entry of the Israelites to Canaan under the direction of Joshua. Therefore, the book of Deuteronomy covers a period of less than two months, which includes the thirty days of mourning for the death of Moses.

Conservation and influence

The people were commissioned to write the laws after the death of Moses (27.1–8). The elders (27.1) and the Levites (27.9, 11, 14) participated with Moses in the oral production of the material.

Moses charged his Levite brothers with the faithful preservation of the book (4.2; 17.18; 31.9, 24–26). There are relatively recent studies showing that Deuteronomy was carefully preserved and used, particularly in the northern tribes (compare for example 33.13–17 with 33.7), by the prophets (13.1–5); 18.15–22; 34.10) and the Levites (33.8–11; cf. 10.8, 9; 12.12, 18, 19; 14.27s; 16.11, 14; 18.1–8).

Deuteronomy was read every seven years (10.31, 11); cf. 15.1–6) at the Feast of Tabernacles (16.13–15) to celebrate the renewal of the covenant between the servant Israel and their king Jehovah (33.2–5). It may be that this feast was celebrated for many years, especially in Shechem (Jos 24.1, 25s).

After the fall of Samaria (722 BC), the prophets and Levites from the north would take the book to Jerusalem, where it inspired the reform in the time of Josiah (2 R 22; 23 //).

During the many years the book was preserved and used. He adapted himself to the various local situations, taking care of the inspiration of the same Spirit that had directed Moses. Compare the laws of Exodus 21–23 with those of Deuteronomy and cf. Joshua 24.25s.


The arrival of the Israelites in the lands of Moab is the fact that practically marked the end of the journey begun in Egypt forty years ago (1: 3). The plains of Moab, east of the Jordan , were the last stage of that long journey, in the course of which fell, one after another, the members of the people who had lived through the times of slavery and who later, collectively, had starred the drama of liberation (1: 34–39; cf. Numbers 14: 21–38). That was the punishment for Israel’s stubborn rebellion : that, “excepting Caleb the son of Jephone and Joshua the son of Nun,” none of those belonging to the exodus generation would enter Canaan.. Not even Moses himself , the faithful guide, legislator, and prophet (1: 34–40; 34: 1–5; cf. Numbers 14: 21-38).

In Moab, opposite Jericho , realizing that the end of his life was very near, “Moses resolved to proclaim this law” to the people (1: 5). So he called him together for the last time to give him what might be called his “spiritual testament.” Before “all Israel” (1: 1), Moses recalled the years lived together, instructed the Israelites about the conduct they were to observe to truly be the people of God, and reminded them that their permanence in the promised land depended on the faithfulness with which they observed the divine commandments and precepts (8: 11–20).

Contribution to theology

Like a ” liturgical ” book promoting renewal of the covenant, Deuteronomy represents an effort to bridge the gap between generations (4.9; 5.2, 3, etc.), and relates the Mosaic faith to the new life in Canaan (4.14; 6.1, etc.). It is addressed to the integral man, and explains the law to the intellect (for example 4.12, 15, 16), appeals to the heart (4.29, 39; 6.4–6, etc.) and stimulates the will (30.19, 20).

As an ” ecumenical ” book , Deuteronomy emphasizes the unity of God’s people (“all Israel”; 1.1; 5.1, etc.). And the centralization of the worship that Jehovah chose (12.5, 11, 14, 18, 21, 26, etc.).

As a “book of protest, ” Deuteronomy underscores the supreme authority of the Word of God, a clear (30-11-14) and simple (29.29) revelation that parents can teach their children (6.6-9; 20.25, etc.). ).

As an ” evangelistic ” book , Deuteronomy insists on the need for regeneration (10.16; 30.6) and individual conversion (4.29; 30.19, 20). God’s people are instructed in a holy, energetic, and victorious war (20: 1–20). But Deuteronomy also stresses the importance of fair laws (4.8) to govern society (16.18–19.21, etc.).

Deuteronomy defines for the first time in the Old Testament the doctrine of the election of Israel (4.20, 34; 7.6ss; 8.17s; 9.4s; 10.15, etc.), based on the grace of Jehovah.

As an ” existentialist ” book , Deuteronomy insists on the importance of the present and the need for a decision “today” (30.2, 8, 11, 16, etc.).

For the first time in the Old Testament , explicit monotheism appears (4.35, 39; 32.39, etc.). On this is based what Jesus called “the first commandment” (6.4, 5; cf. Mk 12.29,30).

Knowing well that the provisions of the old covenant were not enough (31.1, 22, 26–29), Moses spoke of a coming prophet (18.15–19) whose teaching would produce obedience. In his own death Moses symbolized that of the new Servant who would suffer Jehovah’s criminal wrath instead of the people (1.37; 3.26; 4.21; 34.4; cf. Is 53; Gl 3.10–14).

  • Christians see Christ in Deuteronomy

Moses was the first to prophesy the coming of the Messiah, a prophet like Moses himself (18.15). Remarkably, Moses is the only figure that Christ compares himself to. “Because if you believed Moses, you would believe me, because he wrote of me. But if you do not believe his writings, how will you believe my words? (Jn 5.46, 47). Jesus quoted Deuteronomy often. When asked to name the most important commandment, he responded by quoting Deuteronomy 6.5. When Satan confronted him with his temptations, he quoted exclusively the book of Deuteronomy (8.3; 6.16; 6.13; 10.20). Christ, who was perfectly obedient to the Father, even in the presence of death, used this book dedicated to obedience to God, to demonstrate his submission to the Father’s will.

  • Pentecost Christians see the Holy Spirit in Deuteronomy

Deuteronomy reminds people that the Spirit of God has been with his people from the time of liberation from Egyptian bondage to the present day, and that they will continue to guide and protect them if they obey the stipulations of the covenant.

In 2 Peter 1.21 Moses is referred to as one of the “holy men of God” who “spoke speaking being inspired by the Holy Ghost.” As God’s messenger, Moses testified to the presence of the Holy Spirit as he prophesied before the people. Several of his most important prophecies announced the coming of the Messiah (18.15), the dispersion of Israel (30.1), repentance (30.2) and the restoration of Israel (30.5), his future establishment as a nation (30.5, 6), as well as the prosperity that awaited him (30.9).


Deuteronomy theology is relevant to modern Christians, they read it in the light of the coming of Jesus Christ. Christians consider themselves to be God’s chosen people (1 Peter 2: 9), albeit in a somewhat different way than that of ancient Israel. They do not constitute a political nation, living among other nations, nor do they need a territory to live criminal laws. They are not looking for a particular place of worship on earth, where God is more present than in other places. The time is past when these things were important in relation to the way God dealt with human beings. Since Jesus came the people of God have been international, living under different political systems and actively seeking to extend the kingdom of God throughout the world. They no longer make sacrifices in order to atone for sin.

Content Outline

Moses’ first speech (1: 1—4: 43)

  • Introduction to the book (1: 1-5)
  • Hindsight and Prologue (1: 6—3: 29)
  • Preaching God’s laws (4: 1-40)
  • Cities of refuge (4: 41-43)

Moses’ second speech (4: 44—28: 68)

  • Introduction to the laws (4: 44-49)
  • The Ten Commandments (5: 1-21)
  • Basic exhortations (5: 22—11: 32)
  • Specific laws (12: 12—26: 15)
  • The terms of the covenant (26: 16-19)
  • Putting the laws in writing (27: 1-26)
  • Blessings and curses (28: 1-68)

Moses’ third speech (29: 1—30: 20)

  • Violation of the covenant (29: 1-29)
  • Covenant renewal (30: 1-20)

From Moses to Joshua (31: 1—34: 12)

  • Moses hands over command to Joshua (31: 1-8)
  • Reading the law (31: 9-13)
  • Israel’s infidelity predicted (31: 14-29)
  • Moses’ song and his final exhortation (31: 30—32: 43)
  • Moses prepares for his death (32: 44-52)
  • Moses blesses the people (33: 1-29)
  • Moses’ death (34: 1-12)

Jewish calendar

The Jews used two types of calendar:

  • The civil calendar, for official, family and commercial events.
  • The sacred calendar, to celebrate religious holidays.
  • The 30-day months alternate with the 29-month month on the Hebrew calendar. Shorter than ours, its year has 354 days. Therefore, every three years (7 times in 19 years) an extra month was added, adar sheri, between adar and nisan .
The Jewish Calendar 16.1
Name of the months Belong to No. of days Month of the calendar year Month of the holy year
Tisri Sep-Oct 30 days First seventh
Marchesvan Oct-Nov 29 or 30 second eighth
Quisleu Nov-Dec 29 or 30 third nineth
Tebet Dec-Jan 29 quarter tenth
Sebat Jan-Feb 30 fifth eleventh
To give Feb-Mar 29 or 30 sixth twelfth
Nisan Mar-Apr 30 seventh First
Iyar Apr-May 29 eighth second
If they go may-jun 30 nineth third
Tammuz Jun-Jul 29 tenth quarter
Ab Jul-Aug 30 eleventh fifth
Elul Aug-Sep 29 twelfth sixth


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