The Book of Deuteronomy
The name Deuteronomy comes from a Greek word meaning ‘second law’. Those who prepared the Greek version of the Old Testament, the Septuagint, thought the ‘copy of God’s law’ in Deuteronomy 17:18 was a ‘second law’. However, Deuteronomy is not to be understood as a ‘second law’. Rather, it is a retelling or renewal of the collection of laws God gave Moses on Mount Sinai. The Hebrew title of the book, ‘These are the words that Moses spoke’, more correctly sums up what Deuteronomy is all about. The words are a series of speeches that Moses made to the people of Israel just before his death while the people were encamped just across the Jordan River the Promised Land of Canaan.
Deuteronomy is presented as Moses’ last words to the generation of Israelites who are ready to enter the Promised Land. Although Moses has traditionally been seen as the book’s author, the final form of the book also applies the traditions of Moses and the Law to the religious and political situations of a later time. This is done in two ways. First, Israel can use the message of Deuteronomy to judge its national successes and failures: Obeying the terms of God’s agreement with Israel will result in his blessings; disobedience will bring the curse of death and destruction. Second, Deuteronomy repeats this key point throughout the book: God has chosen Israel out of love, so Israel should respond to this love by loving God in return and by remaining faithful to the terms of God’s agreement with Israel.
For more information refer to the Introduction to the Pentateuch.