the Week of Proper 19 / Ordinary 24
Kretzmann's Popular Commentary of the Bible Kretzmann's Commentary
by Paul E. Kretzmann
The Book of Deuteronomy
The name which has been given to this last of the five books of Moses characterizes its contents as "the second giving of the Law," or "the repetition of the Law," since the greater part of the book is devoted to the repetition, explanation, and inculcation of the Law as contained in the preceding hooks. It is a review of the commandments and statutes which the Lord had given to His people. The book contains the last discourses of Moses, the man of God, addressed to the children of Israel. Before being gathered to his people, as the Lord had said in telling him of his coming death, he once more reminds the children of Israel of all the mercies, ordinances, and promises of God. The time is the eleventh month of the fortieth year after the departure from Egypt: the place is the encampment of Israel on the east side of Jordan, opposite Jericho, in the Plains of Moab. Here the great prophet makes his closing appeal to those whom he had led and formed into a nation, asking them to keep inviolate the covenant of the Lord and to walk in His ways at all times. Moses eagerly desires the happiness of his people. "Oh, that there were such an heart in them that they would fear Me, and keep all My commandments always, that it might be well with them and with their children forever!" Deuteronomy 5:29. The last three sections of the hook, which contain the announcement of the death of Moses, his last blessing, and the narrative of his death, were probably added to Deuteronomy by the inspired author of the Book of Joshua.
"The forty years of wandering are at an end. The children of Israel are in sight of the Promised Land. Moses recognizes the fact that his leadership is about to end, but that the covenant is to abide. A crisis has come in the affairs of the nation, and a review of Israel's history and a restatement of God's laws must be made A new generation had grown up, which had not heard the original promulgation of the Law at Sinai. A new country was before the nation. This country was devoted to an idolatrous worship of the most seductive kind. On every high hill and in every grove this worship was carried on. An unflinching devotion to God was necessary to resist this alluring worship, which was more to be dreaded than an armed resistance. Moses endeavors to impress his hearers with the advantages of obedience and the disadvantages of disobedience to God's Law. " (Sell. )
The book, as indicated above, may be divided into two unequal divisions. In the first division, which contain-the farewell addresses of Moses, we have his introductory address, the repetition and inculcation of the Law, and the announcement of blessing and curse. The second division, embracing the last four Chapters, contains the account of the farewell of Moses, of his last hymn, blessing, with its Messianic contents, and death.