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The Oxford Bible Commentary Line-by-line commentary for the New Revised Standard Version Bible.

Place within the Canon.

1.

Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the Pentateuch. Its last chapter reports the death of Moses and thus, on the plane of narrative, concludes the story of the Exodus which began with the oppression of the Israelites and the call of Moses in Exodus. With its numerous references to the patriarchs it also relates to the patriarchal stories in Genesis. Above all, Deuteronomy indicates the end of the era of divine legislation for Israel. All of the laws which Moses delivers to the people were revealed to him at Mount Horeb (which is called Mount Sinai in Exodus and Numbers). According to Deuteronomy, however, they were only promulgated by Moses towards the end of his life in the ‘land of Moab’ (except for the Decalogue). This concept allowed later redactors of the Pentateuch to co-ordinate competing laws which claimed Mosaic authority by making Deuteronomy a sequel to the so-called Priestly Document.

2.

Deuteronomy is the first book of a historical work which consists of Deuteronomy plus the Former Prophets (Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings). Thus, it is the opening of what is known as the Deuteronomistic History and leads directly on to the book of Joshua (Noth 1991; McKenzie 1994 ). In many instances, Deuteronomic laws function as criteria for the representation of Israel's history in the land during the period from the crossing of the river Jordan to the fall of Jerusalem. The process of the formation of the Pentateuch loosened the literary link between Deuteronomy and its continuation.

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