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Online Text for Deuteronomy

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Information on Deuteronomy

Samuel Sandmel writes: "The signs of the postexilic period are unmistakable. Israel is spoken of not as usual as an 'am, a nation, a people, but rather as a qahal, a congregation. The entity is a reduced community, no longer extending from Dan in the north to Beer Sheba in the south. Ammonite and Moabite may not join it, but Edomites and Egyptians may; we are past the time of the first missionary movement. The religious purity of the congregation is to be maintained; over and over again there occurs the formula, 'You shall cleanse the evil from the midst of your people.' Evil things, 'abominations,' are not to be tolerated; indeed, to abominate (Hebrew ta'ab) takes on the meaning, 'to exclude from the congregation.' The attitude towards heathens is most severe, and the worst of all transgressions is apostasy from Yahve. Yet on the other hand, an extensive humanitarianism is to be found in many of the laws and much of the exhortation." (The Hebrew Scriptures, pp. 414-415)

Richard D. Nelson writes: "The original book of Deuteronomy seems to have consisted of the reform-oriented law code proper (chaps. 12-26), framed by an introductory exhortation (chaps. 5-11) and some concluding chapters that directed the law at the readers of the book (chaps. 27-30). There is no agreement whether an even earlier and shorter form of the book once existed. A puzzle feature of Deuteronomy is its alteration between second-person singular and plural address. The plural portions often seem to be somewhat later than the singular portions, but there is no completely satisfactory explanation for this phenomenon." (Harper's Bible Commentary, p. 209)

Jay G. Williams writes: "It is this emphasis [on one central shrine], in particular, which has led scholars to identify Deuteronomy as the scroll of the law found in the Temple during the reign of King Josiah in the seventh century. According to II Kings 22-23 this scroll led Josiah to initiate a reform of the religion of Judah which, in particular, involved the destruction of all places of sacrifice except the Temple in Jerusalem. Since only Deuteronomy, of all the books of the Torah, calls for such a reform and since it is inconceivable that such an important book of the law would have been lost after Josiah's time, it is likely that the identification of Deuteronomy as the discovered scroll is correct. The fact that Deuteronomy often reflects both the language and the thought of the eighth century prophets helps to confirm this identification." (Understanding the Old Testament, p. 137)

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