DEUTERONOMY: LIFE ON THE EDGE

Unit 2: Listen! Love God above All

Setting                 Context                Lesson                 Outline

(Sanctity of Life Lesson)
January 15                    Be Resolute About Life's Value
                   Deut. 5:6-21; 19:1-13; 24:6-22; Matt. 5:17-26
                                                          Deut. 5:17; 19:7-13; 24:6-7; Matt. 5:17-20

January 22                    Be Exclusive
                   Deuteronomy 1:1–4:43                  
                                      Deuteronomy 4:5-10, 15-19, 39-40

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SETTING

While we look at the five Books of Moses (Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy) as five separate books (Pentateuch), it is essentially one piece of writing. Genesis gives the beginnings: creation, man, sin, salvation, covenant, and Abraham’s family. Exodus sees Abraham’s family become the nation of Israel as they travel from Egypt to Mt. Sinai. Numbers finds them at Mt. Sinai. From Sinai they will travel to Kadesh-barnea twice within a forty year period. They will wander in the wilderness between them. Numbers ends where Deuteronomy begins, in the plains of Moab preparing to conquer the land of promise. Here Moses makes his final case for obeying and worshiping the LORD their God.

THE COVENANT

The covenant that begins to reveal God’s specific plans in salvation starts in Genesis 12 with Abraham. The Abrahamic covenant is made by God in such a way that all the provision are God’s responsibility to accomplish. This is called an unconditional covenant because God assumes all the responsibilities. The three major components of the Abrahamic covenant are land, seed, and blessing.

The land promise is fulfilled in the Mosaic covenant. This covenant is called a conditional covenant because it maintains “blessings and cursings” depending on whether or not Israel keeps the conditions. This covenant will become obsolete because man is not capable of meeting salvific conditions.

Of course the seed promise will be fulfilled through King David by Jesus Christ and the blessing promise will be fulfilled when the new covenant replaces the Mosaic covenant. The new covenant of Jeremiah 31 and Ezekiel 36 is an unconditional covenant whereby, once again, God does all the saving.

THE TEN COMMANMENTS

The heart of the books of Moses is the Ten Commandments. They reveal how man must relate to God (tablet one) and how he should relate to other men because of how he relates to God (tablet two). The rest of the Old Testament calls Israel to either continue or return to following these Ten Commandments. Deuteronomy provides a commentary on the Ten Commandments which links obedience and worship.

      The Ten Commandments

Tablet 1: DIVINE

Tablet 2: HUMAN

Authority

Commandment 1

Commandment 5

Dignity

Commandment 2

Commandment 6, 7, 8

Commitment

Commandment 3

Commandment 9

Rights & Privileges

Commandment 4

Commandment 10

Form of the Deuteronomic Covenant.

Modern biblical scholarship has established that the Sinai covenant and its renewals were formally patterned after a particular type of human covenant, namely the suzerainty treaty of the ancient world (an agreement between a great power and a lesser power). Archaeological discoveries in the 20th century have brought to light a number of such international political documents, the most interesting coming from the ancient Hittite empire and dating from approximately the 14th century b.c. Study of those treaty documents has revealed a fairly consistent pattern. Comparison with biblical passages describing the Sinai covenant shows a remarkable parallel. The structural parallel between the suzerainty treaties and the Book of Deuteronomy is outlined in the table, “Parallels Between Hittite Suzerainty Treaties and the Book of Deuteronomy,” which omits many minor details of similarity.

Parallels Between Hittite Suzerainty Treaties and the Book of Deuteronomy

Structure of Hittite Suzerainty
Treaties (14th Century b.c.)

 

Structure of Deuteronomy,
a Hebrew “Covenant Document”

 

1. Preamble. “These are the words of the Great King…”

 

1. Preamble (1:1–6). “These are the words which Moses spoke…”

 

2. Historical Prologue. The events leading up to the treaty.

 

2. Historical Prologue (1:7–4:49). Events leading up to the making and renewing of the covenant.

 

3. General Stipulations. The loyalty due to the suzerain.

 

3. General Stipulations (5–11). The loyalty due to God.

 

4. Specific Stipulations. Detailed law relating to the vassal’s obedience to the suzerain.

 

4. Specific Stipulations (12–26). The detailed Hebrew casuistic law.

 

5. Divine Witnesses. Called to witness the making of the treaty (“heaven and earth”).

 

5. Divine Witness (32). The witness of “heaven and earth” (30:19; 32:1).

 

6. Curses and Blessings. Contingent upon disobedience or obedience.

 

6. Curses and Blessings (27, 28). Contingent upon disobedience or obedience.

 

 In Deuteronomy the Hebrews seem to have adapted the form of international suzerainty treaties to express their own covenant relationship with God. Why did they choose that particular form? Perhaps the Hebrews had been bound to their Egyptian masters by that kind of treaty, so they wanted to dramatize their liberation by making a new treaty, this time with their God at Sinai. Also, the Sinai covenant formed the constitution of a new but small Near Eastern nation. Whereas other small nations commonly depended for their existence on the generosity of a suzerain power (e.g., Egypt) Israel was to be a free nation, owing allegiance only to God. Israel’s “treaty” with God meant that it could acknowledge no other master. Its freedom and strength lay in its wholehearted commitment to God alone.1

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1Walter A. Elwell and Barry J. Beitzel, Baker Encyclopedia of the Bible (Grand Rapids, Mich.: Baker Book House, 1988). 534-35.

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CONTEXT

I.      Preamble to the Covenant (1:1–6). “These are the words which Moses spoke…”

II.    Historical Prologue to the Covenant (1:7–4:49). Events leading up to the making and renewing of the covenant.

1.   The Past Dealings of the Lord with Israel (1:6–3:29)

(1)    Events at Horeb (1:6–18)

      The Command to Journey On (1:6–8)

      The Incapacity of Moses (1:9–15)

      The Instructions of Moses (1:16–18)

(2)    Instructions at Kadesh Barnea (1:19–25)

(3)    Disobedience at Kadesh Barnea (1:26–33)

(4)    Judgment at Kadesh Barnea (1:34–40)

(5)    Unsuccessful Conquest of Canaan (1:41–46)

(6)    The Journey from Kadesh Barnea to Moab (2:1–15)

      Instructions concerning Edom (2:1–8)

      Instructions concerning Moab (2:9–15)

(7)    Conflict with Transjordanian Enemies (2:16–3:11)

      Instructions concerning Ammon (2:16–25)

      Defeat of Sihon, King of Heshbon (2:26–37)

      Defeat of Og, King of Bashan (3:1–11)

(8)    Distribution of the Transjordanian Allotments (3:12–17)

(9)    Instructions to the Transjordanian Tribes (3:18–22)

(10)  Denial to Moses of the Promised Land (3:23–29)

2.   The Exhortation of Moses (4:1–40)

(1)    The Privileges of the Covenant (4:1–8)

(2)    Reminder of the Horeb Covenant (4:9–14)

(3)    The Nature of Israel’s God (4:15–24)

(4)    Threat and Blessing Following Covenant Disobedience (4:25–31)

(5)    The Uniqueness of Israel’s God (4:32–40)

3.   The Preparation for the Covenant Text (4:41–49)

(1)    The Narrative Concerning Cities of Refuge (4:41–43)

(2)    The Setting and Introduction (4:44–49)

[Full Outline]

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LESSON

Moses closes his historical review of God’s work in Israel from Egypt to the plains of Moab with an appeal to worship through obedience.

(1)   The Privileges of the Covenant (4:1–8)

All the nations around have sought divine wisdom by the trial and error method. God has uniquely blessed Israel by telling them what he expects. Following His directions in loving obedience will impress the watching world by the richness of their laws and thus, the loving nearness of their God.

'This great nation is indeed a wise and understanding people.' 7 For what great nation is there that has a god near to it as the LORD our God is to us whenever we call to Him? 8 And what great nation has righteous statutes and ordinances like this entire law I set before you today?” (Deu 4:6b-8 CSB)

(2)  Reminder of the Horeb Covenant (4:9–14)

Israel recalls the great Day at Mt. Horeb (Sinai) when they assembled at the base of the Mountain. There they learned the fear of the LORD and committed themselves to follow His directions. They quaked in terror at they were instructed to follow the LORD and teach their children the same. Moses reminds them of this event and commands their diligent attention to obedience for them and their children and their children’s children.

(3)  The Nature of Israel’s God (4:15–24)

Moses draws particular reference to God’s dignity as God has placed the witness of that dignity in Israel’s hands. They must not worship the creation in place of the Creator. All the nations have the Sun, Moon, and Stars, but Israel is not to be led astray by that worship or confuse God’s worship with them. This would demean God and God is Jealous of His dignity, His people, and His proper worship.

24 For the LORD your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God. (Deu 4:24 CSB)

(4)  Threat and Blessing Following Covenant Disobedience (4:25–31)

Moses understands both the inability of man to love God truly and the overwhelming compassion of the LORD their God. He calls “Heaven and Earth” to witness the failure of Israel to keep God’s trust, the judgment of God in dispersing them to the nations, and restoring love of God to return them in spite of themselves.

30 When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you, you will return to the LORD your God in later days and obey Him. 31 He will not leave you, destroy you, or forget the covenant with your fathers that He swore to them by oath, because the LORD your God is a compassionate God. (Deu 4:30-31 CSB)

(5)  The Uniqueness of Israel’s God (4:32–40)

The one and only God, the Creator and Owner of all things, He has performed a unique series of events in human history. Israel is the first and only nation that God has claimed for His own. He has rescued Israel with a strong arm and has prospered her by the same means. He has spoken to Israel and demonstrated a love for Her based on a love for Her patriarchs. This all the reason Israel needs to love and obey the LORD their God.

37 Because He loved your fathers, He chose their descendants after them and brought you out of Egypt by His presence and great power, 38 to drive out before you nations greater and stronger than you and to bring you in and give you their land as an inheritance, as is now taking place.39 Today, recognize and keep in mind that the LORD is God in heaven above and on earth below; there is no other. 40 Keep His statutes and commands, which I am giving you today, so that you and your children after you may prosper and so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you for all time." (Deu 4:37-40 CSB)

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Outline of Deuteronomy

I.      Preamble to the Covenant (1:1–6). “These are the words which Moses spoke…”

II.    Historical Prologue to the Covenant (1:7–4:49). Events leading up to the making and renewing of the covenant.

1.   The Past Dealings of the Lord with Israel (1:6–3:29)

(1)    Events at Horeb (1:6–18)

      The Command to Journey On (1:6–8)

      The Incapacity of Moses (1:9–15)

      The Instructions of Moses (1:16–18)

(2)    Instructions at Kadesh Barnea (1:19–25)

(3)    Disobedience at Kadesh Barnea (1:26–33)

(4)    Judgment at Kadesh Barnea (1:34–40)

(5)    Unsuccessful Conquest of Canaan (1:41–46)

(6)    The Journey from Kadesh Barnea to Moab (2:1–15)

      Instructions concerning Edom (2:1–8)

      Instructions concerning Moab (2:9–15)

(7)    Conflict with Transjordanian Enemies (2:16–3:11)

      Instructions concerning Ammon (2:16–25)

      Defeat of Sihon, King of Heshbon (2:26–37)

      Defeat of Og, King of Bashan (3:1–11)

(8)    Distribution of the Transjordanian Allotments (3:12–17)

(9)    Instructions to the Transjordanian Tribes (3:18–22)

(10)  Denial to Moses of the Promised Land (3:23–29)

2.   The Exhortation of Moses (4:1–40)

(1)    The Privileges of the Covenant (4:1–8)

(2)    Reminder of the Horeb Covenant (4:9–14)

(3)    The Nature of Israel’s God (4:15–24)

(4)    Threat and Blessing Following Covenant Disobedience (4:25–31)

(5)    The Uniqueness of Israel’s God (4:32–40)

3.   The Preparation for the Covenant Text (4:41–49)

(1)    The Narrative Concerning Cities of Refuge (4:41–43)

(2)    The Setting and Introduction (4:44–49)

III.   General Stipulations of the Covenant (5–11). The loyalty due to God.

1.   The Opening Exhortation (5:1–5)

2.   The Ten Commandments (5:6–21)

(1) The Commandments Pertaining to Humankind’s Relationship to God (5:6–15)

Commandment 1. Divine Authority—Deut 5:6-7 [Deut 6-11]

Commandment 2. Divine Dignity—Deut 5:8-10 [Deut 12]

Commandment 3. Divine Commitment—Deut 5:11 [Deut 13:1-14:21]

Commandment 4. Divine Rights & Privileges—Deut 5:12-15 [Deut 14:22-16:17]

(2) The Commandments Pertaining to Humankind’s Relationship to Others (5:16–21)

Commandment 5. Human Authority—Deut 5:16 [Deut 16:18-18:22]

Commandment 6. Human Dignity—Deut 5:17 [Deut 19:1-21:23]

Commandment 7. Human Dignity—Deut 5:18 [Deut 22:1-23:14]

Commandment 8. Human Dignity—Deut 5:19 [Deut 23:15-24:7]

Commandment 9. Human Commitment—Deut 5:20 [Deut 24:8-24:16]

Commandment 10. Human Rights & Privileges—Deut 5:21 [Deut 24:17-26:15]

3.   The Narrative Relating the Sinai Revelation and Israel’s Response (5:22–33)

(1) The Rehearsal of the Theophany (5:22–27)

(2) The Preparations for the Covenant Stipulations (5:28–33)

4.   Commentary on the Ten Commandments (6-26

Commandment 1. Divine Authority (Deut 6-11)

(1) The Nature of the Principles (6:1–25)

Exhortation to Keep Them (6:1–3)

The Essence of the Principles (6:4–5)

Exhortation to Teach Them (6:6–9)

Exhortation to Give the Lord Exclusive Recognition and Worship (6:10–15)

Exhortation to Give the Lord Exclusive Obedience (6:16–19)

Exhortation to Remember the Past (6:20–25)

(2) The Content of the Principles (7:1–11:32)

The Dispossession of Nonvassals (7:1–26)

The Lord as the Source of Blessing (8:1–20)

Blessing as a Product of Grace (9:1–10:11)

Love of the Lord and Love of Humankind (10:12–22)

Obedience and Disobedience and Their Rewards (11:1–32)

IV.   Specific Stipulations of the Covenant (12:1–26:15)

Commandment 2. Divine Dignity (Deut 12)

(1) The Central Sanctuary (12:1–14)

(2) The Sanctity of Blood (12:15–28)

(3) The Abomination of Pagan Gods (12:29–31)

Commandment 3. Divine Commitment (Deut 13:1-14:21)

(1) The Evil of False Prophets (12:32–13:18)

(2) The Distinction between Clean and Unclean Animals (14:1–21)

Commandment 4. Divine Rights & Privileges (Deut 14:22-16:17)

Commandment 5. Human Authority (Deut 16:18-18:22)

(1) Judges and Other Officials (16:18–17:13)

(2) Kings (17:14–20)

(3) Priests and Levites (18:1–8)

(4) Prophets (18:9–22)

Commandment 6. Human Dignity (Deut 19:1-21:23)

(1) Laws concerning Manslaughter (19:1–13)

(2) Laws concerning Witnesses (19:14–21)

(3) Laws concerning War (20:1–20)

(4) Laws concerning Unsolved Murder (21:1–9)

(5) Laws concerning Wives and Children (21:10–21)

Commandment 7. Human Dignity (Deut 22:1-23:14)

(1) Laws concerning Preservation of Life (21:22–22:8)

(2) Illustrations of the Principle (22:9–12)

(3) Purity in the Marriage Relationship (22:13–30)

(4) Purity in Public Worship (23:1–8)

(5) Purity in Personal Hygiene (23:9–14)

Commandment 8. Human Dignity (Deut 23:15-24:7)

(1) Purity in Treatment of the Disadvantaged (23:15–16)

(2) Purity in Cultic Personnel (23:17–18)

(3) Respect for the Possessions of Another (23:19–24:7)

Commandment 9. Human Commitment (Deut 24:8-24:16)

Commandment 10. Human Rights & Privileges (Deut 24:17-26:15)

(1) Respect for the Sanctity of Another (25:5–16)

(2) Dealing with the Amalekites (25:17–19)

(3) Laws of Covenant Celebration and Confirmation (26:1–15)

Presentation of the Firstfruits (26:1–11)

Presentation of the Third-year Tithe (26:12–15)

Exhortation and Narrative Interlude (26:16–19)

V.     The Curses and Blessings of the Covenant (27:1–29:1 [28:69])

1.   The Gathering at Shechem (27:1–13)

2.   The Curses That Follow Disobedience of Specific Stipulations (27:14–26)

3.   The Blessings That Follow Obedience (28:1–14)

4.   The Curses That Follow Disobedience of General Stipulations (28:15–68)

(1) Curses as Reversal of Blessings (28:15–19)

(2) Curses by Disease and Drought (28:20–24)

(3) Curses by Defeat and Deportation (28:25–37)

(4) The Curse of Reversed Status (28:38–46)

(5) The Curse of Military Siege (28:47–57)

(6) The Curse of Covenant Jeopardy (28:58–68)

5.   Narrative Interlude (29:1 [28:69])

Epilogue:

1. Historical Review (29:2–30:20)

(1).            Exodus, Wandering, and Conquest (29:2–8 [1–7])

(2). The Present Covenant Setting (29:9–15 [8–14])

(3). The Results of Covenant Disobedience (29:16–29 [15–28])

(4). The Results of Covenant Reaffirmation (30:1–10)

(5). The Appeals for Covenant Obedience (30:11–20)

2. Deposit of the Text and Provision for Its Future Implementation (31:1–29)

(1).            The Succession by Joshua (31:1–8)

(2). The Deposit of the Text (31:9–13)

(3). The Commissioning of Joshua (31:14–23)

(4). The Anticipation of the Leaders’ Defection (31:24–29)

3. The Song of Moses (31:30–32:44)

(1). Introduction to the Song (31:30)

(2). Invocation of Witnesses (32:1–4)

(3). Indictment of the People (32:5–6)

(4). Review of Past Blessings (32:7–14)

(5). Israel’s Rebellion (32:15–18)

(6). God’s Promise of Judgment (32:19–25)

(7). The Powerlessness of Other Gods (32:26–38)

(8). The Vindication of the Lord (32:39–43)

(9). Conclusion to the Song (32:44)

4. Narrative Interlude (32:45–52)

(1). Moses’ Exhortation to Obedience (32:45–47)

(2). Instructions Surrounding Moses’ Death (32:48–52)

5. The Blessing of Moses (33:1–29)

(1). Introduction to the Blessing (33:1–2a)

(2). Historical Review (33:2b-5)

(3). Blessing on Reuben (33:6)

(4). Blessing on Judah (33:7)

(5). Blessing on Levi (33:8–11)

(6). Blessing on Benjamin (33:12)

(7). Blessing on Joseph (33:13–17)

(8). Blessing on Zebulun and Issachar (33:18–19)

(9). Blessing on Gad (33:20–21)

(10). Blessing on Dan (33:22)

(11). Blessing on Naphtali (33:23)

(12). Blessing on Asher (33:24–25)

(13). A General Praise and Blessing on Israel (33:26–29)

6. Narrative Epilogue (34:1–12)

(1.) The Death of Moses (34:1–8)

(2). The Epitaph of Moses (34:9–12)[1]



Eugene H. Merrill, Deuteronomy, electronic ed., Logos Library System; The New American Commentary (Nashville: Broadman & Holman Publishers, 2001). 39-57.