Book of the Week 5: Deuteronomy

Hebrew Name: Eleh Ha-Devarim 

Author: Moses (Chapters 1-33), Unknown (chapter 34)       

OT or NT: Old Testament                           

Number of Chapters: 34

Basic Facts

  1. Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Bible.
  2. Deuteronomy is part of the “Pentateuch”: the first five books of the Bible including Genesis, Exodus, Leviticus, Numbers, and Deuteronomy.
  3. The Pentateuch is also referred to as the “Torah,” meaning “to guide or teach.”
  4. The book of Deuteronomy is named after two Greek terms: deuteros, meaning “second,” and nomos, meaning “law.”
  5. The Hebrew name for the book of Deuteronomy is Eleh Ha-Devarim, which means “a copy of this law.”

Story of the Book

The book of Deuteronomy is about God giving the law to Israel through Moses for the second time. The story of Deuteronomy begins with an address by Moses. First, he reminds the people of Israel of all the things God had done for them. Second, Moses communicates the law a second time. The law includes the following: 

  • The ten commandments
  • A commandment to love God (known as the Shema)
  • Laws concerning worship
  • Laws for governing the nation
  • Laws for interpersonal relationships
  • Promises of blessing for obedience and warnings of punishment for disobedience

Third, Moses reminds the people of their commitment to God and renews their covenant commitment to the Lord. Fourth, Moses appoints Joshua to succeed him and to lead the people of Israel into the promised land. The book ends with a short addendum to the book which describes the death of Moses, along with a summary of the uniqueness of Moses’ ministry.

Jesus Foreshadowed in Deuteronomy

In Deuteronomy 18:18-19, God promises to raise up a prophet like Moses from among the people of Israel. God warned Israel to listen to this prophet, saying, “I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him.”

Later, in Acts 7:35-59, Stephen testifies before the Jewish leaders in the temple that this “prophet like Moses” is Jesus. When Stephen testified that Jesus is the prophet like Moses that God promised to send to Israel, the crown dragged Stephen outside the city of Jerusalem and stoned him to death. That day, Stephen became the first Christian martyr. Stephen died for his faith in Jesus, but not before confirming that this ancient prophecy in Deuteronomy was fulfilled in the person of Christ. Jesus Christ is the prophet like Moses who was to come.

There are many parallels between the life and ministry of Moses in the Pentateuch and the life and ministry of Jesus in the Gospels, each of which further cement the identity of Jesus as the prophet like Moses who was to come.