Date Written: c. 1450 BC - 517 BC
Deuteronomy is the heartbeat of the Old Testament. It had tremendous influence on the writings of the prophets and on the New Testament. The word "deuteronomy" means "second law," which comes from a phrase in Deut 17:18. Indeed, Deuteronomy is a repetition and summation of the Law presented in the previous books of the Pentateuch.
The setting is the plains of
At first, Moses retells the story of the people of
The Law of Moses is the covenant terms of God's relationship with his people. While obedience leads to life, blessing, fertility and happiness in the land, breaking the commandments leads to death, curses, barrenness and exile. In order to encourage their hearts to obey the Lord, Moses instructs the people that when they enter the promised land, half the people should go up on
Several scholars have noted that Deuteronomy's form is very similar to other Near Eastern covenant and treaty documents. In that sense, Deuteronomy is essentially a covenant document. God inaugurates a covenant relationship with his people out of his infinite love. Deuteronomy establishes the fact of God's love for his people and outlines how they can respond to him. The Law is not just a legal contract requiring obedience. It is an invitation to know God and to love him.
Though the Law of Moses is fulfilled by the Law of the Gospel (CCC 1968), the Ten Commandments are still obligatory for us (CCC 2072). In Deuteronomy, God invites us to obey him and so that we may gain the life which he offers us in Christ.
By Mark Giszczak