The Book of Deuteronomy

Arend Remmers

34 chapters

  1. Author and Time of Writing
  2. Purpose of Writing
  3. Peculiarities
  4. Overview of Contents

1. Author and Time of Writing

Deuteronomy is the last book of the Pentateuch (Greek for "Fivebook") or of the Thora (Hebrew word for "law"). The unity of the Pentateuch and the fact that Moses is the author of it have often been denied since the 19th century. Criticism has especially focused on the book of Deuteronomy as it is said to have been written only at the time of Josiah, or even later.

Starting from 2 Timothy 3:16: "All scripture is given by inspiration of God" we can see in the Old as well as in the New Testament that Moses is considered to be the author of Deuteronomy and therefore the time of writing is confirmed. In Deuteronomy 31:9 and 24-26 it is testified that Moses wrote the book and that he gave it to the Levites to keep it. In Joshua 8:32-35 explicit reference is made to Deuteronomy 27:8-12 as "all that Moses the servant of the Lord had commanded before". While mentioning the law of Moses (Thora) in 2 Chron. 34:14 and Neh. 8:1 the book of Deuteronomy is included as well.

The Pharisees in the New Testament in Mat. 19:7 refer to Deuteronomy 24:1 with the words "Why did Moses then command...?" The Lord Jesus Himself confirms in the following verse that the command had been given by Moses. The following references of the NT mention Moses as author of Deuteronomy:

  • Mat. 22:24 (Deut. 25:5);
  • Acts 3:22; 7:37 (Deut. 18:15-16);
  • Heb. 12:21 (Deut. 9:19).

Sometimes the question is being raised as to who was the author of Deuteronomy 34 where we find the death and burial of Moses. It probably was Joshua, the friend and successor of Moses (Deuteronomy 34:9) who under the guidance and inspiration of the Holy Spirit added this short appendix to the whole work of his predecessor.

The events of Deuteronomy happen during the time of the first day of the eleventh month in the 40th year after the exodus out of Egypt (Deut. 1:3). The place of these events are the "plains of Moab" on the east side of Jordan.

2. Purpose of Writing

The name "Deuteronomy" for the fifth book of Moses means "second law". But the book is more than a simple repetition of the laws contained in Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers, which God had given the people of Israel at Mount Sina