“I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kin,
and will put my words into his mouth; he shall tell them all that I command him.” ~Deuteronomy 18
Dear Parishioners and Friends,
Have you ever wondered about the origin of the book of Deuteronomy? It is the fifth book found in the Christian Biblical Old Testament. It also referred to as one of the five books of the Hebrew “Torah.”
The word "Deuteronomy" comes from the Greek word “Deuternomian” meaning the “second law.” But the original Hebrew title comes from the phrase “Eleh ha-devarim”. It means “These are the words..."
The word “Torah” can be interpreted to mean “the law.” But it is better understood as an arrow or finger pointing the way. This “law” or “arrow” or “finger” is God’s word that speaks and points the direction we need to live.
A famous passage from Deuteronomy 6:4, is in reference to the Shema Yisrael, the definitive statement of Jewish identity: "Hear, O Israel: the LORD our God, the LORD is one."
The book of Deuteronomy contains the exhortations of Moses to the ancient Israelites on the plains of Moab to remain faithful to the law of God, and that the possession of the Promised Land depends on their faithfulness. Moses reminds them that even if they lose the land because of their lack of faithfulness, hope is not lost because God is merciful. Even in spite of future unfaithfulness, all can be restored.
In the final chapters we learn of the Song of Moses, and the Blessing Moses gives in passing his leadership to Joshua. Moses never enters the Promised Land himself but does view it from a mountain. He then passes away and is buried in a nearby valley.
Jesus was obviously familiar with the book of Deuteronomy because in the Gospel of Mark he quotes from it in chapter 12.:28-31 “One of the scribes came near and heard them disputing with one another, and seeing that he answered them well, he asked him, “Which commandment is the first of all?” Jesus answered, “The first is, ‘Hear, O Israel: the Lord our God, the Lord is one; you shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your mind, and with all your strength.’ The second is this, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself.’ There is no other commandment greater than these.”
The early Christian writers of the Gospel of Luke 1–2, and Acts 2–5, saw Jesus as the fulfillment of hopes and dreams expressed by Moses in the book of Deuteronomy. That is why the Gospel Vision description of Jesus’ Transfiguration on Mount Tabor with Moses and Elijah was so significant. Jesus is the definitive Son of God. He is God-incarnate, God-made-flesh, and came not only for the fulfillment of the hopes and dreams of these great and significant prophets but also for the people of the whole world, including people from the past, present and the future . . . and us too!
A bit of Deuteronomy to ponder!
May God bless you!