Deuteronomy, book of

Deuteronomy, book of
The fifth book in the Pentateuch. There is a dramatic account (2 Kgs. 22:8 ff.) of the discovery of a lawbook during restoration work in the Temple in 621 BCE. It prompted Josiah the king to expedite his religious and social reforms, which corresponded to the outlook of Deut. It has therefore been supposed that the book allegedly discovered was an early form of the book Deuteronomy, or part of it.
The book is part law and part prophecy. The aim of the book is to bring the whole of Israelite life under a sense of duty to God and thanksgiving for his great acts in the past history of the nation (Deut. 16:3). It was therefore not inappropriately ascribed to Moses, lawgiver (Exod. 24:12) and prophet [[➝ prophets]] (Deut. 34:10), but this traditional view should not be understood literally. Not only does the book describe Moses' death (34:1–12), but the contents reflect an editorial process of reinterpretation so that old traditions were made relevant for changed historical situations. It was an attempt to maintain the vitality of Hebrew worship (Deut. 6:13–15) and the prophets' demands for social justice (Deut. 15:1–18). The compilation has been dated in the 7th cent. BCE, but the account in the Deuteronomist book 2 Kgs. 25 of the release of Jehoiachin from prison suggests a date for its final publication to be soon after 561 BCE.
Deut. is often quoted in the NT, as it was by Jesus during the temptations (Matt. 4:1–10) and in his summary of the Law (Mark 12:30).

Dictionary of the Bible.

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