Purpose. To lead Israel to obedience and to warn them against disobedience. The spirit and aim of the law is explained in such a way as to present both encouragement and warning.
Contents. It consists of three addresses of Moses, given on the plains of Moab at the close of the wilderness wanderings of Israel, in which he gives large sections of the law formerly given, together with additions necessary to meet the new conditions. There is also the appointment of Joshua as Moses’ successor and the farewell song of blessing of Moses and the record of his death.
Style. The style is warmer and more oratorical than that of former books. Its tone is more spiritual and ethical and its appeal is “to know God,” “love God” and “obey God.”
Occasion and Necessity of the Book. (1) A crisis had come in the life of Israel. The life of the people was to be changed from that of wandering in the wilderness to that of residence in cities and villages and from dependence upon heavenly manna to the cultivation of the fields. Peace and righteousness would depend upon a strict observance of the laws. (2) A new religion of Canaan against which they must be put on guard. The most seductive forms of idolatry would be met everywhere and there would be great danger of yielding to it.
The Key-Word. “Thou shalt,” so often repeated as, “thou shall,” and “shalt not.” The key-verses are 11:26-28.
I. Review of the Journeys, Chs. 1-4.
1. Place of their camp, 1:1-5.
2. Their history since leaving Egypt, 1:6-3 end.
3. Exhortation to obedience, 4:1-40.
4. Three cities of refuge on this side of Jordan. 4:41-49.
II. Review of the Law, Chs. 3-26.
1. Historical and hortatory section, Chs. 5-11.
2. Laws of religion. 12:1-16:17.
3. Laws of political life. 16:18-20 end.
4. Laws of society and domestic relations, Chs. 21-26.
III. Future of Israel Foretold, Chs. 27-30.
1. Memorial tablets of stone. Ch. 27.
2. Blessing and cursing, Ch. 28.
3. Renewed covenant and Israel’s future foretold. Chs. 29-30.
IV. Moses’ Last Days, Chs. 31-34.
1. Charge to Joshua, Ch. 31.
2. Song of Moses, Ch. 32.
3. Blessing of Moses, Ch. 33.
4. Death of Moses, Ch. 34.
For Study and Discussion. (1) Make a list of the principal their past history of which Moses reminds Israel in Chapters 1-4, and find where in the previous books each incident is recorded. (2) From Chapter 11 make a list of reasons for obedience, the rewards of obedience and the importance of the study of God’s law. (3) The laws of blessing and cursing (Ch. 28), make a list of the curses, the sin and the penalty, the blessings, indicating the blessing and that for which it is promised. (4) Make a list of the different countries or peoples concerning whom Israel was given commandment or warning. (5) Moses’ farewell blessing on the several tribes (Ch. 33). Make a list of what shall come to each tribe. (6) The names, location and purpose of the cities of refuge and the lessons for today to be drawn from them and their use. (7) The inflexibility of God’s law.