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eBook The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: The Book of Deuteronomy
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Publisher:  Varda Books
Original Publisher:  The Syndics of the Cambridge University Press
Published:  2002
Language:  English
Pages:   520

Prepared to work interactively with JPS Hebrew-English Tanakh (Scholar PDF edition), which can be purchased separately.

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ISBN: 1-59045-186-4

About the Book -- The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: The Book of Deuteronomy

From Introduction

Like other books of the Pentateuch, this, the fifth, owes its present name of Deuteronomy to the Septuagint. The Greek translators misrendered this by the words ‘this second law-giving,’ and gave the title Deuteronomium, to the whole Book; while some later Jewish writings refer to it as ‘Mishneh Torah.’ Though thus born in error, the name Deuteronomy is so far appropriate that the Book contains the second codification of the Law of Israel, the first being that which is found in the Prophetical Narrative of the Pentateuch.

As some of its names imply, Deuteronomy is the record and contents of a Second Legislation or Covenant of Law delivered through Moses to Israel—second, that is, to the Legislation or Covenant of Horeb—which he proclaimed and expounded to all the people at the close of their wanderings between Egypt and the Promised Land, when they were encamped in one of the gorges that break downwards from the north-west edge of the plateau of Moab into the valley of Jordan, over against Jericho. The Laws proper assigned to this occasion form the central bulk of the Book. They are introduced by long discourses, with Moses as the speaker, in form both historical and hortatory, and in purpose expository of the facts and principles on which they are based; and they are followed by other discourses from Moses enforcing them on the obedience of the people. The Book—and with it the Pentateuch—closes upon further chapters of exhortation and narrative which carry events up to the death of Moses and prepare for the succession of Joshua.

The force and individuality of the Book; its consistency and distinctiveness from the other documents of the Pentateuch as well as its differences from much of the custom and practice both in early and later Israel, are all obvious. Not only in its Cardinal Law of the One Altar, with all the consequences of this, and in other laws peculiar to itself such as those of the King and Prophet, and in its expansions and modifications of earlier law, both written and consuetudinary, but also in its religious temper and general spirit of humanity, Deuteronomy evidently occupies a particular stage in the development of the religion of Israel. Can we mark any point in Israel’s history, at which both the style and characteristic doctrines of the Book appeared as operative on the life and literature of the people? We are fortunate in having evidence in the Old Testament which enables us to fix that point with exactness...

About the Book



§ 1. Names

§ 2. General Content, Structure, and Style

§ 3. Standpoint, Doctrine and Spirit

§ 4. Deuteronomy and the Law Book of Josiah

§ 5. Questions of Unity

§ 6. The Relations of the Main Divisions—The Code and the Discourses

§ 7. The Cross-Divisions

§ 8. The Forms of Address—Singular and Plural

§ 9. Editorial Factors

§ 10. Conclusions as to Unity

§ 11. The Ages of the Book and of its Contents

§ 12. Resulting Questions and their Answers




An Excerpt from the Book -- The Cambridge Bible for Schools and Colleges: The Book of Deuteronomy


With no title this discourse is clearly a continuation of ch. xxvi., but whether through xxvii. 9 f. or not is uncertain.

The contents are the blessings and curses which shall follow respectively on Israel’s observance and neglect of the Law; already announced in xi. 26—28, xxvii. 12 f. Parallel conclusions are found to the Codes of E and H; Ex. xxiii. 20—33, Lev. xxvi. 3—45.

Driver justly remarks that ch. xxviii. shows ‘no appreciable literary dependence’ on the former of these; and ‘though the thought in Lev. xxvi. is in several instances parallel to that in Deut. xxviii., and here and there one of the two chapters even appears to contain a verbal reminiscence of the other (cp. Deut. xxviii. 22, 23, 53, 65 b with Lev. xxvi. 16, 19, 29, 16 respectively), the treatment in the two cases is different, and the phraseology, in so far as it is characteristic, is almost entirely distinct, Lev. xxvi. representing affinities with Ezekiel, Deut. xxviii. with Jeremiah; in fact the two chapters represent two independent elaborations of the same theme.’

And it shall come to pass, if thou shalt hearken diligently unto the voice of the LORD thy God, to observe to

It is not easy to account for the structure of ch. xxviii. The Blessings in vv. 1—14 find their antitheses within the first section on the Curses, vv. 15—46, but these are elaborated to a far greater degree than the Blessings, and are further developed in two additional sections, vv. 47—57 and 58—68, clearly separate in form from what precedes them and from each other. For the grounds of this analysis and for signs within some of the sections of smaller expansions see the notes below.

Most striking is the way in which the Discourse after predicting Israel’s ultimate exile swings back to describe calamities to the people while still on their own land. The captivity in v. 32 is only partial, and Israel itself is still at home lamenting it. But after the exile of the nation and the king is foretold in vv. 36 f., vv. 38 ff. return to the aggravation of the evil conditions inflicted on the people in its own land till it be destroyed (among them once more, v. 41 as in v. 32, the captivity of its sons and daughters). Vv. 47—57 are a gruesome description of the siege of Israel’s cities by a foreign invader; but 58—62 repeat the curses of plague, already threatened, which shall continue till thou be destroyed. Then with a change to the Pl. address comes another prediction of banishment (63) and, with a return to the Sg., a poignant description of sufferings in exile (64—67), rising at last to the climax (the most terrible thing D could threaten) of a return to Egypt, the house of bondmen, where however Israelites shall now not be worth purchase as slaves (68).

That there are some later intrusions or displacements can hardly be denied; e.g. vv. 35 and 41. That the curses are far more elaborated than the blessings, and that, if within 15—46, vv. 26—37 be removed, the parallel with the blessings in 1—14 becomes much closer, might be reasonably held as proofs of later expansions which also include 48—57 and 58—68. But this must remain more or less uncertain in view of the discursive style of D which so often returns on itself, as well as in view of the predominance of threat over promise in pre-exilic prophecy.

The curses which affect the land and the people while in possession of it can hardly be so late as the Exile. But also, in the opinion of the present writer, there is not in the threats of invasion, nor even in those of exile, anything that conflicts with a pre-exilic date. These threats have all sufficient foundation in previous experiences of Israel. And it may be fairly argued that had vv. 58—68 been written after the Exile it could hardly have contained the threat of the flight of the people by ships to Egypt to sell themselves there. Nor is there in the Discourse any such promise of restoration to the exiled people, being penitent, as is found in iv. 29—40 and is taken there as a proof of an exilic date. In D’s own absolute manner the exile of Israel is regarded as final. The whole Discourse therefore may well be pre-exilic.

The style throughout is that of D, though as we should expect from the subject, there are terms and phrases not used elsewhere by D nor indeed in the O.T.

Finally, it is clear from 2 Kgs xxii. 13 and Jer. xi. 3 that some such terrible curses were appended to the Book of the Law discovered in the Temple in 621; which as we have seen was at least the Code of D.

Therefore certainly in part, and possibly in whole, this Discourse belongs to D. Cp. Kuenen, Hex. §7, 21 (2), ‘not to any appreciable extent interpolated.’ On the other side Staerk and Steuernagel find the ch. a compilation from many sources, some of them late; and so to a smaller extent Bertholet.

The designations of Israel’s God are interesting: 27 times Jehovah only and almost always when some action (mostly of judgement) is attributed to Him; 13 times the deuteron. Jehovah thy God and this almost always in connection with the people’s duty to His Law and Service or with His gift of the land to them. The distinction is on the whole logical.

do all his commandments which I command thee this day, that the LORD thy God will set thee on high above all the nations of the earth: and all these blessings shall come upon thee, and overtake thee, if thou shalt hearken unto the voice of the LORD thy God. Blessed shalt thou be in the city, and blessed shalt thou be in the field. Blessed shall be the fruit of thy body, and the fruit of thy ground, and the fruit of thy cattle, the increase of thy kine, and the young of thy flock. Blessed shall be thy basket and thy kneadingtrough. Blessed shalt thou be when thou comest in, and blessed shalt thou be when thou goest out. The LORD shall cause thine enemies that rise up against thee to be smitten before thee: they shall come out against thee one way, and shall flee before thee seven ways. The LORD shall command the blessing upon thee in thy barns, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto; and he shall bless thee in the land which ...

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