Book of Deuteronomy

The Book of Deuteronomy (literally "second law" from Greek deuteros + nomos[1]) is the fifth book of the Christian Old Testament and of the Jewish Torah, where it is called "Devarim" (Heb. דברים).

Chapters 1–30 of the book consist of three sermons or speeches delivered to the Israelites by Moses on the plains of Moab, shortly before they enter the Promised Land. The first sermon recounts the forty years of wilderness wanderings which had led to that moment, and ends with an exhortation to observe the law (or teachings), later referred to as the Law of Moses; the second reminds the Israelites of the need to follow Yahweh and the laws (or teachings) he has given them, on which their possession of the land depends; and the third offers the comfort that even should Israel prove unfaithful and so lose the land, with repentance all can be restored.[2] The final four chapters (31–34) contain the Song of Moses, the Blessing of Moses, and narratives recounting the passing of the mantle of leadership from Moses to Joshua and, finally, the death of Moses on Mount Nebo.

Presented as the words of Moses delivered before the conquest of Canaan, virtually all modern scholars reject its attribution to Moses and date the book much later, between the 7th and 5th centuries BC.[3] Furthermore, scholars have identified multiple literary strata in Deuteronomy, written by different authors at different times. Chapters 12-26, containing the Deuteronomic Code, are the earliest, followed by the second prologue (Ch. 5-11), and then the first prologue (Ch. 1-4); the chapters following 26 are similarly layered.[4] Most scholars believe that the Deuteronomic Code was composed during the late monarchic period, around the time of King Josiah (late 7th century BC), although some scholars have argued for a later date, either during the Babylonian captivity (597-539 BC) or during the Persian period (539-332 BC).[5][6] Many scholars see the book as reflecting the economic needs and social status of the Levite caste, who are believed to have provided its authors;[7] those likely authors are collectively referred to as the Deuteronomist.

One of its most significant verses is Deuteronomy 6:4, the Shema Yisrael, which has become the definitive statement of Jewish identity: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one." Verses 6:4–5 were also quoted by Jesus in Mark 12:28–34 as part of the Great Commandment.


Patrick D. Miller in his commentary on Deuteronomy suggests that different views of the structure of the book will lead to different views on what it is about.[8] The structure is often described as a series of three speeches or sermons (chapters 1:1–4:43, 4:44–29:1, 29:2–30:20) followed by a number of short appendices[9] – Miller refers to this as the "literary" structure; alternatively, it is sometimes seen as a ring-structure with a central core (chapters 12–26, the Deuteronomic Code) and an inner and an outer frame (chapters 4–11/27–30 and 1–3/31–34)[9] – Miller calls this the covenantal substructure;[8] and finally the theological structure revealed in the theme of the exclusive worship of Yahweh established in the first of the Ten Commandments ("Thou shalt have no other god before me") and the Shema.[8]


Karolingischer Buchmaler um 840 002
Moses receiving the Law (top) and reading the Law to the Israelites

(The following "literary" outline of Deuteronomy is from John Van Seters;[10] it can be contrasted with Alexander Rofé's "covenantal" analysis in his Deuteronomy: Issues and Interpretation.[11])

  • Chapters 1–4: The journey through the wilderness from Horeb (Sinai) to Kadesh and then to Moab is recalled.
  • Chapters 4–11: After a second introduction at 4:44–49 the events at Mount Horeb are recalled, with the giving of the Ten Commandments. Heads of families are urged to instruct those under their care in the law, warnings are made against serving gods other than Yahweh, the land promised to Israel is praised, and the people are urged to obedience.
  • Chapters 12–26, the Deuteronomic code: Laws governing Israel's worship (chapters 12–16a), the appointment and regulation of community and religious leaders (16b–18), social regulation (19–25), and confession of identity and loyalty (26).
  • Chapters 27–28: Blessings and curses for those who keep and break the law.
  • Chapters 29–30: Concluding discourse on the covenant in the land of Moab, including all the laws in the Deuteronomic code (chapters 12–26) after those given at Horeb; Israel is again exhorted to obedience.
  • Chapters 31–34: Joshua is installed as Moses's successor, Moses delivers the law to the Levites (a priestly caste), and ascends Mount Nebo or Pisgah, where he dies and is buried by God. The narrative of these events is interrupted by two poems, the Song of Moses and the Blessing of Moses.

The final verses, Deuteronomy 34:10–12, "never again did there arise in Israel a prophet like Moses," make a claim for the authoritative Deuteronomistic view of theology and its insistence that the worship of the Hebrew God as the sole deity of Israel was the only permissible religion, having been sealed by the greatest of prophets.[12]

Deuteronomic code

Deuteronomy 12–26, the Deuteronomic Code, is the oldest part of the book and the core around which the rest developed.[13] It is a series of mitzvot (commands) to the Israelites regarding how they ought to conduct themselves in Canaan, the land promised by Yahweh, God of Israel. The following list organizes most of the laws into thematic groups:

Laws of religious observance

  • All sacrifices are to be brought and vows are to be made at a central sanctuary (12:1–28).
  • The worship of Canaanite gods is forbidden. The order is given to destroy their places of worship (12:29–31) and to commit genocide against Canaanites and others with "detestable" religious beliefs (20:16-18).
  • Native mourning practices such as deliberate disfigurement are forbidden (14:1–2).
  • The procedure for tithing produce or donating its equivalent is given (14:22–29).
  • A catalogue of which animals are permitted and which forbidden for consumption is given (14:3–20).
  • The consumption of animals which are found dead and have not been slaughtered is prohibited (14:21).
  • Sacrificed animals must be without blemish (15:21, 17:1).
  • First-born male livestock must be sacrificed (15:19–23).
  • The Pilgrimage Festivals of Passover, Shavuot, and Sukkot are instituted (16:1–17).
  • The worship at Asherah groves and setting up of ritual pillars are forbidden (16:21–22).
  • Prohibition of mixing kinds (22:9-11).
  • Tzitzit are obligatory (22:12).

Laws concerning officials

  • Judges are to be appointed in every city (16:18).
  • Judges are to be impartial and bribery is forbidden (16:19–20).
  • A central tribunal is established (17:8–13).
  • Should the Israelites choose to be ruled by a King, regulations for the office are given (17:14–20).
  • Regulations of the rights, and revenue, of the Levites are given (18:1–8).
  • Concerning the future (unspecified) prophet (18:9–22).
  • Regulations for the priesthood are given (23:1–8).

Civil law

  • Debts are to be released in the seventh year (15:1–11).
  • Regulations of the institution of slavery and the procedure for freeing slaves (15:12–18).
  • Regulations for the treatment of foreign wives taken in war (21:10-14)
  • Regulations permitting taking slaves and plunder in war (20:14)
  • Lost property, once found, is to be restored to its owner (22:1–4).
  • Marriages between women and their stepsons are forbidden (22:30).
  • The camp is to be kept clean (23:9–14).
  • Usury is forbidden except for foreigners (23:19–20).
  • Regulations for vows and pledges are given (23:21–23, 24:6, 24:10–13).
  • The procedure for tzaraath (a disfigurative condition) is given (24:8–9).
  • Hired workers are to be paid fairly (24:14–15).
  • Justice is to be shown towards strangers, widows, and orphans (24:17–18).
  • Portions of crops are to be given to the poor (24:19–22).

Criminal law

  • The rules for witnesses are given (19:15–21).
  • The procedure for a bride who has been slandered is given (22:13–21).
  • Various laws concerning adultery and rape are given (22:22–29).
  • Kidnapping is forbidden (24:7).
  • Just weights and measures are obligatory (25:13–16).


Tissot Moses Sees the Promised Land from Afar
Moses viewing the Promised Land, Deuteronomy 34:1–5 (Tissot)

Composition history

Since the idea was first put forward by W.M.L de Wette in 1805, most scholars have accepted that the core of Deuteronomy was composed in Jerusalem in the 7th century BC in the context of religious reforms advanced by King Josiah (reigned 641–609 BC).[14] On this view, the history of Deuteronomy is seen in the following general terms:[15]

  • In the late 8th century BC both Judah and Israel were vassals of Assyria. Israel rebelled and was destroyed c.722 BC. Refugees fleeing to Judah brought with them a number of new traditions (new to Judah, at least). One of these was that the god Yahweh, already known and worshiped in Judah, was not merely the most important of the gods, but the only god who should be served. This outlook influenced the Judahite landowning elite, who became extremely powerful in court circles after they placed the eight-year-old Josiah on the throne following the murder of his father, Amon of Judah.
  • By the eighteenth year of Josiah's reign, Assyrian power was in rapid decline, and a pro-independence movement gathered strength in the court. This movement expressed itself in a state theology of loyalty to Yahweh as the sole god of Israel. With Josiah's support, they launched a full-scale reform of worship based on an early form of Deuteronomy 5–26, which takes the form of a covenant (i.e., treaty) between Judah and Yahweh to replace that between Judah and Assyria. This covenant was formulated as an address by Moses to the Israelites (Deut.5:1).
  • The next stage took place during the Babylonian captivity. The destruction of the Kingdom of Judah by Babylon in 586 BC and the end of kingship was the occasion of much reflection and theological speculation among the Deuteronomistic elite, now in exile in the city of Babylon. They explained the disaster as Yahweh's punishment of their failure to follow the law and created a history of Israel (the books of Joshua through Kings) to illustrate this.
  • At the end of the Exile, when the Persians agreed that the Jews could return and rebuild the Temple in Jerusalem, chapters 1–4 and 29–30 were added and Deuteronomy was made the introductory book to this history, so that a story about a people about to enter the Promised Land became a story about a people about to return to the land. The legal sections of chapters 19–25 were expanded to meet new situations that had arisen, and chapters 31–34 were added as a new conclusion.


The prophet Isaiah, active in Jerusalem about a century before Josiah, makes no mention of the Exodus, covenants with God, or disobedience to God's laws; in contrast Isaiah's contemporary Hosea, active in the northern kingdom of Israel, makes frequent reference to the Exodus, the wilderness wanderings, a covenant, the danger of foreign gods and the need to worship Yahweh alone; this has led scholars to the view that these traditions behind Deuteronomy have a northern origin.[16] Whether the Deuteronomic code – the set of laws at chapters 12–26 which form the original core of the book – was written in Josiah's time (late 7th century) or earlier is subject to debate, but many of the individual laws are older than the collection itself.[17] The two poems at chapters 32–33 – the Song of Moses and the Blessing of Moses were probably originally independent.[16]

Position in the Hebrew Bible

Deuteronomy occupies a puzzling position in the Bible, linking the story of the Israelites' wanderings in the wilderness to the story of their history in Canaan without quite belonging totally to either. The wilderness story could end quite easily with Numbers, and the story of Joshua's conquests could exist without it, at least at the level of the plot; but in both cases there would be a thematic (theological) element missing. Scholars have given various answers to the problem. The Deuteronomistic history theory is currently the most popular (Deuteronomy was originally just the law code and covenant, written to cement the religious reforms of Josiah, and later expanded to stand as the introduction to the full history); but there is an older theory which sees Deuteronomy as belonging to Numbers, and Joshua as a sort of supplement to it. This idea still has supporters, but the mainstream understanding is that Deuteronomy, after becoming the introduction to the history, was later detached from it and included with Genesis-Exodus-Leviticus-Numbers because it already had Moses as its central character. According to this hypothesis, the death of Moses was originally the ending of Numbers, and was simply moved from there to the end of Deuteronomy.[18]



Deuteronomy stresses the uniqueness of God, the need for drastic centralisation of worship, and a concern for the position of the poor and disadvantaged.[19] Its many themes can be organised around the three poles of Israel, Israel's God, and the covenant which binds them together.


The themes of Deuteronomy in relation to Israel are election, faithfulness, obedience, and God's promise of blessings, all expressed through the covenant: "obedience is not primarily a duty imposed by one party on another, but an expression of covenantal relationship."[20] Yahweh has chosen ("elected") Israel as his special property (Deuteronomy 7:6 and elsewhere),[21] and Moses stresses to the Israelites the need for obedience to God and covenant, and the consequences of unfaithfulness and disobedience.[22] Yet the first several chapters of Deuteronomy are a long retelling of Israel's past disobedience – but also God's gracious care, leading to a long call to Israel to choose life over death and blessing over curse (chapters 7–11).


Deuteronomy's concept of God changed over time. The earliest 7th century layer is monolatrous, not denying the reality of other gods but enforcing the worship of Yahweh in Jerusalem alone. In the later, Exilic layers from the mid-6th century, especially chapter 4, this becomes monotheism, the idea that only one god exists.[23] God is simultaneously present in the Temple and in heaven – an important and innovative concept called "name theology."[24]

After the review of Israel's history in chapters 1 to 4, there is a restatement of the Ten Commandments in chapter 5. This arrangement of material highlights God's sovereign relationship with Israel prior to the giving of establishment of the Law.[25]


The core of Deuteronomy is the covenant that binds Yahweh and Israel by oaths of fidelity (Yahweh and Israel each faithful to the other) and obedience (Israel obedient to Yahweh).[26] God will give Israel blessings of the land, fertility, and prosperity so long as Israel is faithful to God's teaching; disobedience will lead to curses and punishment.[27] But, according to the Deuteronomists, Israel's prime sin is lack of faith, apostasy: contrary to the first and fundamental commandment ("Thou shalt have no other gods before me") the people have entered into relations with other gods.[28]

The covenant is based on seventh-century Assyrian suzerain-vassal treaties by which the Great King (the Assyrian suzerain) regulated relationships with lesser rulers; Deuteronomy is thus making the claim that Yahweh, not the Assyrian monarch, is the Great King to whom Israel owes loyalty.[29] The terms of the treaty are that Israel holds the land from Yahweh, but Israel's tenancy of the land is conditional on keeping the covenant, which in turn necessitates tempered rule by state and village leaders who keep the covenant: "These beliefs", says Norman Gottwald, "dubbed biblical Yahwism, are widely recognised in biblical scholarship as enshrined in Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic History (Joshua through Kings)."[30]

Dillard and Longman in their Introduction to the Old Testament stress the living nature of the covenant between Yahweh and Israel as a nation: The people of Israel are addressed by Moses as a unity, and their allegiance to the covenant is not one of obeisance, but comes out of a pre-existing relationship between God and Israel, established with Abraham and attested to by the Exodus event, so that the laws of Deuteronomy set the nation of Israel apart, signaling the unique status of the Jewish nation.[31] The land is God's gift to Israel, and many of the laws, festivals and instructions in Deuteronomy are given in the light of Israel's occupation of the land. Dillard and Longman note that "In 131 of the 167 times the verb "give" occurs in the book, the subject of the action is Yahweh."[32] Deuteronomy makes the Torah the ultimate authority for Israel, one to which even the king is subject.[33]

Weekly Torah portions

  • Devarim, on Deuteronomy 1–3: Chiefs, scouts, Edom, Ammonites, Sihon, Og, land for two and a half tribes
  • Va'etchanan, on Deuteronomy 3–7: Cities of refuge, Ten Commandments, Shema, exhortation, conquest instructions
  • Eikev, on Deuteronomy 7–11: Obedience, taking the land, golden calf, Aaron's death, Levites’ duties
  • Re'eh, on Deuteronomy 11–16: Centralized worship, diet, tithes, sabbatical year, pilgrim festivals
  • Shofetim, on Deuteronomy 16–21: Basic societal structure for the Israelites
  • Ki Teitzei, on Deuteronomy 21–25: Miscellaneous laws on civil and domestic life
  • Ki Tavo, on Deuteronomy 26–29: First fruits, tithes, blessings and curses, exhortation
  • Nitzavim, on Deuteronomy 29–30: covenant, violation, choose blessing and curse
  • Vayelech, on Deuteronomy 31: Encouragement, reading and writing the law
  • Haazinu, on Deuteronomy 32: Punishment, punishment restrained, parting words
  • V'Zot HaBerachah, on Deuteronomy 33–34: Farewell blessing and death of Moses

Influence on Judaism and Christianity


The Book of Deuteronomy, Debarim. Hebrew with translation in Judo-Arabic, transcribed in Hebrew letters. From Livorno, 1894 CE. Moroccan Jewish Museum, Casablanca
The Book of Deuteronomy, Debarim. Hebrew with translation in Judeo-Arabic, transcribed in Hebrew letters. From Livorno, 1894 CE. Moroccan Jewish Museum, Casablanca

Deuteronomy 6:4–5: "Hear, O Israel (shema Yisra'el), the LORD is our God, the LORD is one!" has become the basic credo of Judaism, the Shema Yisrael, and its twice-daily recitation is a mitzvah (religious commandment). It continues, "Thou shalt love the LORD thy God with all thy heart and all thy soul and all thy might"; it has therefore also become identified with the central Jewish concept of the love of God, and the rewards that come as a consequence.


In the Gospel of Matthew, Jesus cited Deuteronomy 6:5 as a Great Commandment. The earliest Christian authors interpreted Deuteronomy's prophecy of the restoration of Israel as having been fulfilled (or superseded) in Jesus Christ and the establishment of the Christian Church (Luke 1–2, Acts 2–5), and Jesus was interpreted to be the "one (i.e., prophet) like me" predicted by Moses in Deuteronomy 18:15 (Acts 3:22–23). While the exact position of Paul the Apostle and Judaism is still debated, a common view is that in place of the elaborate code of laws (mitzvah) set out in Deuteronomy, Paul the Apostle, drawing on Deuteronomy 30:11–14, claimed that the keeping of the Mosaic covenant was superseded by faith in Jesus and the gospel (the New Covenant).[34]

See also


  1. ^ "Deuteronomy"
  2. ^ Phillips, pp.1–2
  3. ^ Bos 2013, p. 133.
  4. ^ Van Seters 2015, pp. 79-82.
  5. ^ Pakkala 2009, p. 391.
  6. ^ Davies 2013, p. 101-103, "In short, the belief of most biblical scholars that a scroll depriving the monarch of all real powers (and in effect destroying the institution of monarchy) is a plausible product of seventh-century Judah is astonishing and can only be explained by assuming that such scholarship is taking the fact for granted and thus either ignoring the absurdity or fabricating an implausible rationalization for it... the fifth century BCE provides a plausible context..."
  7. ^ Sommer 2015, p. 18.
  8. ^ a b c Miller, p.10
  9. ^ a b Christensen, p.211
  10. ^ Van Seters 1998, pp. 15–17.
  11. ^ Rofé, pp.1–4
  12. ^ Tigay, pp.137ff.
  13. ^ Van Seters 1998, p. 16.
  14. ^ Rofé, pp.4–5
  15. ^ Rogerson 2003.
  16. ^ a b Van Seters 1998, p. 17.
  17. ^ Knight, p.66
  18. ^ Bandstra, pp.190–191
  19. ^ McConville
  20. ^ Block, p.172
  21. ^ McKenzie, p.266
  22. ^ Bultman, p.135
  23. ^ Romer (1994), p.200-201
  24. ^ McKenzie, p.265
  25. ^ Thompson, Deuteronomy, 112.
  26. ^ Breuggemann, p.53
  27. ^ Laffey, p.337
  28. ^ Phillips, p.8
  29. ^ Vogt, p.28
  30. ^ Gottwald
  31. ^ Dillard & Longman, p.102.
  32. ^ Dillard & Longman, p.104.
  33. ^ Vogt, p.31
  34. ^ McConville, p.24



Deuteronomy in NIV


  • Craigie, Peter C (1976). The Book of Deuteronomy. Eerdmans. ISBN 9780802825247.
  • Miller, Patrick D (1990). Deuteronomy. Cambridge University Press. ISBN 9780664237370.
  • Phillips, Anthony (1973). Deuteronomy. Westminster John Knox Press. ISBN 9780521097727.
  • Plaut, W. Gunther (1981). The Torah: A Modern Commentary. ISBN 0-8074-0055-6
  • Avigdor Miller (2001). Fortunate Nation: Comments and notes on DVARIM.


External links

Book of Deuteronomy
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Old Testament

4Q41 or 4QDeuteronomyn (often abbreviated 4QDeutn or 4QDtn), also known as the All Souls Deuteronomy is a Hebrew Bible manuscript from the first century BC containing two passages from the Book of Deuteronomy. Discovered in 1952 in a cave at Qumran, near the Dead Sea, it preserves the oldest existing copy of the Ten Commandments.

Amorite language

Amorite is an extinct early Semitic language, formerly spoken during the Bronze Age by the Amorite tribes prominent in ancient Near Eastern history. It is known from Ugaritic, classed by some as its westernmost dialect and the only known Amorite dialect preserved in writing, and non-Akkadian proper names recorded by Akkadian scribes during periods of Amorite rule in Babylonia (the end of the 3rd and the beginning of the 2nd millennium BC), notably from Mari and to a lesser extent Alalakh, Tell Harmal and Khafajah. Occasionally, such names are also found in early Egyptian texts; and one placename, "Sənīr"(شنير((שְׂנִיר) for Mount Hermon, is known from the Bible (Book of Deuteronomy, Deuteronomy 3:9).Amorite is considered an archaic Northwest Semitic language, but there is also some evidence for other groupings.

Notable characteristics include the following:

The usual Northwest Semitic imperfective-perfective distinction is found: Yantin-Dagan, 'Dagon gives' (ntn); Raṣa-Dagan, 'Dagon was pleased' (rṣy). It included a 3rd-person suffix -a (unlike Akkadian or Hebrew) and an imperfect vowel, a-, as in Arabic rather than the Hebrew and Aramaic -i-.

There was a verb form with a geminate second consonant — Yabanni-Il, 'God creates' (root bny).

In several cases that Akkadian has š, Amorite, like Hebrew and Arabic, has h, thus hu 'his', -haa 'her', causative h- or ʼ- (I. Gelb 1958).

The 1st-person perfect is in -ti (singular), -nu (plural), as in the Canaanite languages.

Chalice (pipe)

A chalice, also known as a wisdom chalice or chillum chalice, is a type of cannabis smoking pipe used most often by members of the Jamaican Rastafari movement. It is a sort of water pipe with a hose, or drawtube, for inhaling; the water cools and filters the smoke and the hose provides additional airspace for cooling. A screen embedded in the crater protects against drawing in burning particles to clog the interior.

The word chalice (along other permutations such as chalwa, chali, etc.) is often used to refer to marijuana itself, which certain Rastafari consider to be of specific religious importance as they believe it is a gift from Jah. The term "lick the chalice" refers to Rasta communing with Jah. A group of practitioners gather, a prayer is said, and the chalice lit and passed counter-clockwise among the group.A bong-like chillum equipped with a water filtration chamber is sometimes referred to as a chalice, based on a quote from the Biblical book of Deuteronomy. Thanks and praises are offered to Jah before smoking the chillum.

Deuteronomic Code

The Deuteronomic Code is the name given by academics to the law code set out in chapters 12 to 26 of the Book of Deuteronomy in the Hebrew Bible. The code outlines a special relationship between the Israelites and Yahweh and provides instructions covering "a variety of topics including religious ceremonies and ritual purity, civil and criminal law, and the conduct of war". They are similar to other collections of laws found in the Torah (the first five books of the Tanakh) such as the Covenant Code at Exodus 20-23, except for the portion discussing the Ethical Decalogue, which is usually treated separately. This separate treatment stems not from any concern over authorship, but merely because the Ethical Decalogue is treated academically as a subject in its own right.

Almost the entirety of Deuteronomy is presented as the last few speeches of Moses, beginning with an historical introduction as well as a second introduction which expands on the Ethical Decalogue, and ending with hortatory speeches and final words of encouragement. Between these is found the law code, at Deuteronomy 12-26. In critical scholarship, this portion, as well as the majority of the remainder of Deuteronomy, was written by the Deuteronomist.


The Deuteronomist, abbreviated as either Dtr or simply D, may refer either to the source document underlying the core chapters (12-26) of the Book of Deuteronomy, or to the broader "school" that produced all of Deuteronomy as well as the Deuteronomistic history of Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings and also the book of Jeremiah. The adjectives "Deuteronomic" and "Deuteronomistic" are sometimes used interchangeably; if they are distinguished, then the first refers to the core of Deuteronomy and the second to all of Deuteronomy and the history.The Deuteronomist is one of the sources identified through source criticism as underlying much of the Hebrew Bible. Among source-critical scholars, it is generally agreed that Deuteronomy and the Deuteronomistic history originated independently of the books of Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers (the first four books of the Torah, sometimes called the "Tetrateuch", whose sources are the Priestly source and the Jahwist), and the history of the books of Chronicles; most scholars trace all or most of it to the Babylonian exile (6th century BCE), and associate it with editorial reworking of both the Tetrateuch and Jeremiah.

Deuteronomy Rabbah

Deuteronomy Rabbah (Hebrew: דברים רבה‎) is an aggadah or homiletic commentary on the Book of Deuteronomy.

It does not contain running commentaries on the entire book of Deuteronomy. Rather, it consists of 25 complete, independent homilies (and two fragmentary ones) on 27 sections of Deuteronomy, most of which are recognizable as sedarim (the Sabbatical lessons for public worship according to the Palestinian three-year cycle). The commentary covers only one verse, or a few verses, from each section.


Eliphaz (Hebrew: אֱלִיפַז/אֱלִיפָז "My Elohim is strength", Standard Hebrew Elifaz, Tiberian Hebrew ʾĔlîp̄az / ʾĔlîp̄āz) was the first-born son of Esau by his wife Adah. He had six sons, from which Omar was the firstborn, and the others were Teman, Zepho, Gatam, Kenaz and finally Amalek, who was born to his concubine Timna. The people of Amalek was the ancestral enemy of the Israelite people (Book of Exodus Ex 17:16 ; Book of Deuteronomy Deut 25:19).

The Midrash relates that when Jacob escaped from Esau and fled to his uncle Laban in Haran, Esau sent Eliphaz to pursue and kill Jacob, his uncle, who was his Rabbi also. When they met, Jacob implored Eliphaz not to kill him, but Eliphaz challenged that he had his father's instructions to fulfill. Jacob gave everything he had with him to Eliphaz and said, ”Take what I have, for a poor man is counted as dead." Eliphaz was satisfied and left his uncle and rabbi poor, but still alive: (Rashi to Book of Genesis Gen 29:11)

According to Louis Ginzburg's Legends of the Jews: Eliphaz was a prophet

Gathering of Israel

The Gathering of Israel (Hebrew: קיבוץ גלויות, Kibbutz Galuyot (Biblical: Qibbuṣ Galuyoth), lit. Ingathering of the Exiles, also known as Ingathering of the Jewish diaspora) is the biblical promise of Deuteronomy 30:1-5 given by Moses to the people of Israel prior to their entrance into the Land of Israel (Eretz Yisrael).

During the days of the Babylonian exile, writings of the prophets Isaiah and Ezekiel encouraged the people of Israel with a promise of a future gathering of the exiles to the land of Israel. The continual hope for a return of the Israelite exiles to the land has been in the hearts of Jews ever since the destruction of the Second Temple. Maimonides connected its materialization with the coming of the Messiah.

The gathering of the exiles in the land of Israel, became the core idea of the Zionist Movement and the core idea of Israel's Scroll of Independence (Megilat Ha'atzmaut), embodied by the idea of going up, Aliyah, since the Holy Land is considered to be spiritually higher than all other land. The immigration of Jews to the land and the State of Israel, the "mass" wave of Aliyot (plural form), has been likened to the Exodus from Egypt.


Gedaliah, Gedalia, Gedallah or Gedalya(h) ( or ; Hebrew: גְּדַלְיָּה Gdalyyâh or גְּדַלְיָהוּ Gdalyyâhû, meaning "Jah has become Great") was, according to the narratives in the Hebrew Bible's Book of Jeremiah and Second Book of Kings, appointed by Nebuchadnezzar II of Babylon as governor of Yehud province, which was formed after the defeat of the Kingdom of Judah and the destruction of Jerusalem, in a part of the territory that previously formed the kingdom. He was supported by a Chaldean guard stationed at Mizpah. On hearing of the appointment, the Jews that had taken refuge in surrounding countries returned to Judah.Gedaliah was the son of Ahikam (who saved the life of the prophet Jeremiah) and the grandson of Shaphan (who is mentioned in relation to the discovery of the scroll of Teaching that some scholars identify as the core of the book of Deuteronomy, a matter of some controversy among scholars).He zealously began to encourage the people to cultivate the fields and vineyards, and thus lay the foundation of security. Many who had fled to neighboring lands during the war of destruction were attracted by the news of the revival of the community. They came to Gedaliah in Mizpah and were warmly welcomed by him.

Ishmael son of Nethaniah, and the ten men who were with him, murdered Gedaliah, together with most of the Jews who had joined him and many Babylonians whom Nebuchadnezzar had left with Gedaliah (Jeremiah 41:2-3). The remaining Judeans feared the vengeance of Nebuchadnezzar and fled to Egypt. Although the dates are not clear from the Bible, this probably happened about 582/1 BCE, some four to five years and three months after the destruction of Jerusalem and the First Temple in 586 BCE.

Great Commandment

The Great Commandment (or Greatest Commandment) is a name used in the New Testament to describe the first of two commandments cited by Jesus in Matthew 22:35–40, Mark 12:28–34, and Luke 10:27a.

In Mark, when asked "which is the great commandment in the law?", the Greek New Testament reports that Jesus answered, "Hear, O Israel! The Lord Our God, The Lord is One; Thou shalt love thy Lord, thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind", before also referring to a second commandment, "Thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself." Most Christian denominations consider these two commandments to be the core of correct Christian lifestyle.

Mekhilta le-Sefer Devarim

The Mekhilta le-Sefer Devarim (Hebrew: מכילתא לספר דברים) is a halakhic midrash to Deuteronomy from the school of Rabbi Ishmael which is no longer extant. No midrash by this name is mentioned in Talmudic literature, nor do the medieval authors refer to such a work. Although Maimonides says, "R. Ishmael explained from 've-eleh shemot' to the conclusion of the Torah, that is, the Mekhilta," he did not see this midrash, which also includes Deuteronomy, since he does not quote any Mekhilta passages to that book of the Pentateuch in his Sefer ha-Mitzvot, although he draws upon the halakhic midrashim in discussing most of the commandments. Maimonides probably knew, therefore, merely through an old tradition which he had heard that such a midrash by R. Ishmael existed.


Moses () was a prophet according to the teachings of the Abrahamic religions. Scholarly consensus sees Moses as a legendary figure and not a historical person, while retaining the possibility that a Moses-like figure existed.According to the Hebrew Bible, he was adopted by an Egyptian princess, and later in life became the leader of the Israelites and lawgiver, to whom the authorship of the Torah, or acquisition of the Torah from Heaven, is traditionally attributed. Also called Moshe Rabbenu in Hebrew (מֹשֶׁה רַבֵּנוּ, lit. "Moses our Teacher"), he is the most important prophet in Judaism. He is also an important prophet in Christianity, Islam, the Bahá'í Faith, and a number of other Abrahamic religions.

According to the Book of Exodus, Moses was born in a time when his people, the Israelites, an enslaved minority, were increasing in numbers and the Egyptian Pharaoh was worried that they might ally themselves with Egypt's enemies. Moses' Hebrew mother, Jochebed, secretly hid him when the Pharaoh ordered all newborn Hebrew boys to be killed in order to reduce the population of the Israelites. Through the Pharaoh's daughter (identified as Queen Bithia in the Midrash), the child was adopted as a foundling from the Nile river and grew up with the Egyptian royal family. After killing an Egyptian slavemaster (because the slavemaster was smiting a Hebrew), Moses fled across the Red Sea to Midian, where he encountered The Angel of the Lord, speaking to him from within a burning bush on Mount Horeb (which he regarded as the Mountain of God).

God sent Moses back to Egypt to demand the release of the Israelites from slavery. Moses said that he could not speak eloquently, so God allowed Aaron, his brother, to become his spokesperson. After the Ten Plagues, Moses led the Exodus of the Israelites out of Egypt and across the Red Sea, after which they based themselves at Mount Sinai, where Moses received the Ten Commandments. After 40 years of wandering in the desert, Moses died within sight of the Promised Land on Mount Nebo.

Jerome gives 1592 BCE, and James Ussher 1571 BCE as Moses' birth year. In the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses was called "the man of God".

Mount Horeb

Mount Horeb, Hebrew: חֹרֵב, Greek in the Septuagint: χωρηβ, Latin in the Vulgate: Horeb, is the mountain at which the Book of Deuteronomy in the Hebrew Bible states that the Ten Commandments were given to Moses by God. It is described in two places (Book of Exodus Exodus 3:1, Books of Kings 1 Kings 19:8) as הַר הָאֱלֹהִים the "Mountain of God". The mountain is also called the Mountain of YHWH.In other biblical passages, these events are described as having transpired at Mount Sinai. Although most scholars consider Sinai and Horeb to have been different names for the same place, there is a minority body of opinion that they may have been different locations.The Protestant reformer John Calvin took the view that Sinai and Horeb were the same mountain, with the eastern side of the mountain being called Sinai and the western side being called Horeb. Abraham Ibn Ezra suggested that there was one mountain, "only it had two tops, which bore these different names".

Mount Pisgah (Bible)

Some translators of the biblical book of Deuteronomy translate Pisgah (פִּסְגָּה) as a name of a mountain, usually referring to Mount Nebo. The region lies directly east of the Jordan River and just northeast of the Dead Sea. Mount Nebo (31°45.9'N 35°43.1'E) is the highest among a handful of Pisgah summits; an arid cluster of hilltops on the western edge of the Trans-Jordanian Plateau. Arabic names for Pisgah include: Fasga (Phasga), Jabal Siyāgha (transliterated also as Siaghah/Siâghah/Siyagha/Siyāgha, etc.), Rās as-Siyāgha and Rujm Siyāgha.

Mount Seir

Mount Seir (Hebrew: הַר-שֵׂעִיר‎; Har Se'ir), today known in Arabic as Jibāl ash-Sharāh, is the ancient, as well as biblical, name for a mountainous region stretching between the Dead Sea and the Gulf of Aqaba, demarcating the southeastern border of Edom with Judah. It may also have marked the older historical limit of Ancient Egypt in Canaan. A place called "Seir, in the land of Shasu" (ta-Shasu se`er, t3-sh3sw s`r), thought to be near Petra, Jordan, is listed in the temple of Amenhotep III at Soleb (ca. 1380 BC).


Peor can mean:

The name of a mountain peak, mentioned in Numbers 23:28, to which Balak, king of Moab led Balaam in his fourth and final attempt to induce Balaam to pronounce a curse upon the Israelites threatening to occupy hise land. The tribes of Israel were described as being visible from the peak, but Balaam refused to curse them, and continued to offer blessings (24:1-9).

A reference to a divinity who was worshipped at that mountain peak, and, biblically, was the subject of the heresy of Peor. The divinity, worshipped by the Moabites, is biblically referred to as Baal-peor (Num. 25:3,5, 18, Deuteronomy 3:29), literally meaning the Baal of Peor (The Lord of the House of Horus). An ancient Aramaic inscription found at Dier Alla, identifies Balaam as a prophet of Shamash, a semitic sun-god, and consequently, it could well be the case that the unidentified Baal of Peor is Shamash.

In John Milton's "Paradise Lost", Peor is said to be the other name of the fallen angel Chemos, who "entic'd/Israel in Sittim on thir march from Nile/To do him wanton rites, which cost them woe." (Paradise Lost, I.412-14) His deeds are described in the first book of the epic, as Milton describes Satan's followers who were banished from Heaven, and have pledged themselves as followers of the underworld. This article incorporates text from a publication now in the public domain: Easton, Matthew George (1897). "article name needed". Easton's Bible Dictionary (New and revised ed.). T. Nelson and Sons.

Shema Yisrael

Shema Yisrael (or Sh'ma Yisrael; Hebrew: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל; "Hear, [O] Israel") is a Jewish prayer, and is also the first two words of a section of the Torah, and is the title (better known as The Shema) of a prayer that serves as a centerpiece of the morning and evening Jewish prayer services. The first verse encapsulates the monotheistic essence of Judaism: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one" (Hebrew: שְׁמַע יִשְׂרָאֵל יְהוָה אֱלֹהֵינוּ יְהוָה אֶחָֽד׃), found in Deuteronomy 6:4. Observant Jews consider the Shema to be the most important part of the prayer service in Judaism, and its twice-daily recitation as a mitzvah (religious commandment). Also, it is traditional for Jews to say the Shema as their last words, and for parents to teach their children to say it before they go to sleep at night.The verse is sometimes alternatively translated as "The LORD is our God; the LORD is one" or "The LORD is our God, the LORD alone." (Biblical Hebrew rarely used a copula in the present tense, so it has to be inferred; in the Shema, the syntax behind this inference is ambiguous.) The word used for "the LORD" is the tetragrammaton YHWH.

The term "Shema" is used by extension to refer to the whole part of the daily prayers that commences with Shema Yisrael and comprises Deuteronomy 6:4–9, 11:13–21, and Numbers 15:37–41. These sections of the Torah are read in the weekly Torah portions Va'etchanan, Eikev, and Shlach, respectively.


Sifre (Hebrew: סִפְרֵי; siphrēy, Sifre, Sifrei, also, Sifre debe Rab or Sifre Rabbah) refers to either of two works of Midrash halakha, or classical Jewish legal biblical exegesis, based on the biblical books of Numbers and Deuteronomy.

Song of Moses

The Song of Moses is the name sometimes given to the poem which appears in Deuteronomy 32:1–43 of the Hebrew Bible, which according to the Bible was delivered just prior to Moses' death on Mount Nebo. Sometimes the Song is referred to as Deuteronomy 32, despite the fact that strictly speaking Deuteronomy chapter 32 contains nine verses (44-52) which are not part of the Song.Most scholars hold that it was composed between the tenth and eighth centuries BCE, although dates as early as the twelfth century or as late as the fifth have been proposed.

Books of the Bible
See also


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