Deuteronomy – An Overview:

This Book is Moses’ last discourse to all the people of Israel. He delivered this message on the eve of them entering into the Promised Land – the Land that he would not enter. The year was about 1260 BC on the plains of Moab. Its name from the Greek means “second law-giving,” but much of it was a restatement of the Sinai Covenant. It contains a rather detailed account of behavior that causes curses and behavior that brings blessings in Chapters 27 and 28.

Joshua and Caleb are singled out to lead the taking of the land. Moses had delegated authority throughout the tribes, so they were ready to go. Many conquests were attributed to God putting dread and fear of the Israelis into the heathen tribes. They were not to intermarry at this point in human history because it would cause the them to turn away from God (this is what ultimately happened to Solomon). One interesting passage is found in 17:17 – “Neither shall he (a king) multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly increase silver and gold for himself.” Of course, they all did these things, including David and Solomon, and it caused tremendous trouble for years. As the Israelis conquered areas of land from the heathen populations, they were to destroy all objects devoted to the worship of false gods, even the altars that supported them. God wanted them all to start with a clean slate, so He could bless them, their land, and ultimately, other nations.

God promises to keep them healthy if they obey His rules. One intriguing example is found in 23:12-13 which instructs them on how to have a bowel movement. They were to go outside the camp, dig a hole, then cover up the excrement. Now this is a no-brainer for us today due to knowledge of pathogenic germs. This knowledge, however, was not known until 1876 A.D. by the German scientist Robert Koch. His knowledge was limited, however, to anthrax only, but at least he demonstrated that bacteria can cause disease. Germs were first seen in 1676 A.D. by a Dutch microscope maker named Antoni van Leeuwenhoek. Later, Louis Pasteur showed that microbes do not arise from non-living matter. So for any human making a statement like found in these verses in the year 1260 BC is quite extraordinary. I believe Moses had supernatural help on those instructions (and it wasn’t aliens). I’ve often wondered what the people thought of that new “going-to-the-bathroom” regiment way back then. Today scientists should respect the Holy Bible a lot more than they generally do. Who knows what greater discoveries would come if they did?

The Book of Deuteronomy ends with the death of Moses at age 120, although his physical health was that of a young man. God buried him so no one would know the burial place. My only guess about this is that God knew that people would worship the grave site until Christ came to earth a second time! In the New Testament Book of Jude in verse 9, we find out there was an argument between Michael the archangel and Satan regarding the body of Moses. Although the Scriptures do not give us the details of that contention, I think it had to do with the issue of worshiping something that should not be worshiped. God won the argument whatever it was about. The torch was now passed on officially to Joshua.