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Expositor's Dictionary of Texts Expositor's Dictionary
by Editor - William Robertson Nicoll
Introduction to Deuteronomy The Book of Reviews
This book is essentially a book of Moses, for it consists of his final words to the people whom he had led. It may therefore be most simply divided by the six discourses which it chronicles.
I. Retrospective. In reviewing the forty years of wandering Moses dealt with the three great movements; from Horeb to Kadesh-barnea, from Kadesh-barnea to Heshbon, and finally, from Heshbon to Beth-peor. Having surveyed the history he exhorted the people to obedience, and continuing this exhortation he looked unto the future. At the close of the first discourse we have a brief account of his appointment of three cities of refuge.
II. Resume of Laws. A general introduction indicates the place, time, and subject of this second discourse, which deals with testimonies, statutes, and judgment. The testimonies were the actual words of the law given. The statutes were the provisions for worship and the conduct harmonizing therewith. The judgment dealt with the arrangements for civil and religious authority and the administration of justice.
III. Warnings. Before proceeding to the more specific purpose of this discourse, he spoke of the blessings which would follow obedience. The effect of disobedience he described first in their own borders; and we find here a detailed description of the Roman victories which came so long after.
IV. The Covenant The terms of the covenant had been already given. In urging the people to be true to it, Moses referred to the Lord's deliverance wrought in the past. We have here a great prophetic evangel the value of which Israel has perhaps not learned even until today. Moses spoke to the people of his own departure and encouraged their hearts in view of their coming into the land by reassuring them of the presence and power of God.
V. The Song of Moses. Preceding the public utterance of the great song, Moses and Joshua appeared before the Lord in order that the latter might be officially appointed to succeed in the administration of affairs. The first part of the song consisted of a call to attention, and a statement concerning its nature. Then in a description equally brief he referred to the people. There follows a description of the tender government of God which is full of exquisite beauty. In strange contrast the song now became a wail as the unfaithfulness of the loved people was described. The song then broke out into lament, 'Oh that they were wise,' and celebrated God's ultimate deliverance of His people. Finally Moses appealed to the people to be obedient.
VI. The Blessing. These were the final words of the man of God. His last words were of blessing only. In stately and majestic language he affirmed anew the majesty of Jehovah. The great words of blessing were pronounced upon the tribes, Simeon only being omitted. The last chapter of Deuteronomy contains the story of the death of Moses, the equipment of Joshua for his work, and a last tender reference to the great leader and lawgiver.
G.Campbell Morgan, The Analysed Bible, p. 85.