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Deuteronomy Summary

DEUTERONOMY, the repetition of the Law, consists mainly of three addresses by Moses to the people who had been born in the wilderness, and had not heard the original promulgation of the Law. To these are added some of the final acts and words of the lawgiver, viz. the appointment of his successor, his funeral ode, and final blessing, to which was appended (probably by Joshua) the account of his death.

The first address is introductory, reminding the people of their deliverance from bondage, of God’s guidance and protection in their wanderings, and their frequent ingratitude, closing with a warning from the past, and an exhortation to obedience in the future, so as to secure the inheritance now within reach. The second is a practical exposition of the whole Law, beginning with the Ten Commandments, more particularly applying the precepts of the First Table; followed by the enforcement of particular regulations in three main groups, viz. (1) laws concerning religion; (2) concerning administration of justice; (3) concerning private and social rights. The third address is the solemn renewal of the covenant, with an impressive recital of the blessings upon observance, and the curses on neglect of the Law. The delivery of these speeches, of the song, and final benediction, together with the closing scene of Moses’ life, could not have occupied more than ten days (the first ten of the eleventh month of the fortieth year). Their aim is that of a solemn exhortation, their style earnest, impressive, and heart-stirring, with a review of the past, and a glowing appeal to the future career open before his hearers on the other side of the Jordan. Moses vividly portrays to those who had not seen it the divine delivery of the Law at Sinai. He recalls much that had been forgotten, or remained in abeyance from want of opportunity to exercise it in the wilderness; but all of which would now be the code of laws under which, as a settled people, they must be governed. His hearers are only partially conversant with the Law; hence some things are assumed, others are dealt with in minute detail, and even supplemented by new regulations to complete the Mosaic system (chaps, xii.—xxvi.). These later civil institutions are promulgated by God’s command, and so have the same Divine sanction as those relating to religious worship. In this book Moses comes forth as a prophet, enunciating some of the most notable predictions in the Old Testament. Hence our Lord’s quotations from the Law are taken from Deuteronomy

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