You will find an introduction and outline to Deuteronomy, here.
A prayer to use before reading:
God of mercy, you promised never to break your covenant with us. Amid all the changing words of our generation, speak your eternal Word that does not change. Then may we respond to your gracious promises with faithful obedient lives; through our Lord Jesus Christ. Amen. (from the Book of Common Worship)
I. Deuteronomy 1:1-2:29 Introduction to Israel’s Story
II. Deuteronomy 4:1-11:32 The Commandments of God
III. Deuteronomy 12:1-26:19 The Deuteronomic Law Code
IV Deuteronomy 27:1-30:20 Epilogue
V. Deuteronomy 31:1-34:12 Appendix
A. 31:1-29 Preparations for Life Under the Law of Moses
B. 31:30-32:52 The Song of Moses: The style of Moses’ song is quite different than the rest of Deuteronomy. But even with it’s poetic style it still warns Israel against disobedience and concludes with a message of hope. The form of the song are reminiscent of a lawsuit. There is an indictment against Israel. Jeshurun (v15) means the upright one, Israel. In verse 32:28 there is change, where the author speaks divinely to accuse the nations of misunderstanding. In 32:39-43 there is a verdict against the nations and then a call for the gods of the nations to praise the God of Israel. God is both judge and plaintiff and the nations and Israel are accused. Commentators think this song was composed in the post exilic time even though is it addressed, in Deuteronomy, to Israel just before they enter the promised land. Verses 44-52 describes what happens after Moses finished this song and describes what Moses should do and why he cannot enter the promised land.
C. 33:1-29 The Blessing of Moses:Verses 2-5 and 26-29 praise God and the verses in between contains a message for each tribe. The reference to the king in verse 5 probably means God as king over Israel. Notice that this blessing ends with the assurance that God will take care of Israel. Verses 6-25: If you check this list of names against other lists you will find Simeon is missing and Joseph is divided into two tribes, Ephraim and Manasseh so the number 12 is preserved.
D. 34:1-12 The Death of Moses: Moses sees but does not enter the promised land. Joshua is again named as Moses’ successor. Moses is recalled as a unique prophet and leader.
We are at the end of Torah. What did you think? What was surprising or unexpected? Has reading Torah deepened or enriched you understanding of the New Testament?
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The following are several good general reference works to aid your reading of the Torah.
Anderson, Bernhard W. “Leviticus” in The New Oxford Annotated Bible with the Apocryphal/Deuterocanonical Books Metzger, Bruce M., Roland E. Murphy, eds.(New York: Oxford University Press) 1994.
Anderson, Bernhard W., Katheryn Pfister Darr, Understanding the Old Testament Abridged fourth Edition. (Upper Saddle River,New Jersey: Prentice Hall) 1998.
Clements, Ronald E. “The Book of Deuteronomy”, in The New Interpreter’s Bible, Volume 2 Keck, Leander E., ed. (Nashville”Abingdon Press) 1994.
Hallo, William W. “Deuteronomy and Ancient Near Eastern Literature” in The Torah: A Modern Commentary Plaut, W. Gunther, ed. (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations) 1981.
Nelson, Richard D. “Deuteronomy” in HarperCollins Bible Commentary Mays, James L. ed.(San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco) 2000.
Plaut, W. Gunther “Deuteronomy” in The Torah: A Modern Commentary Plaut, W. Gunther, ed. (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations) 1981.
“Weinberg, Dudley, Gunther Plaut, “Introducing Deuteronomy” in The Torah: A Modern Commentary Plaut, W. Gunther, ed. (New York: Union of American Hebrew Congregations) 1981.