The New International Encyclopædia/Deuteronomy

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The New International Encyclopædia
Deuteronomy
Edition of 1905. Written by Morris JastrowSee also Book of Deuteronomy on Wikipedia, and the disclaimer.

DEUTERONOMY. The name of the fifth book of the Pentateuch, derived from the Greek translation of the two Hebrew words in Deuteronomy xvii. 18, which signify ‘repetition of the law.’ Deuteronomy contains the last injunctions of Moses to his people, delivered in the land of Moab. With the exception of chapters xxvii.-xxviii., xxxiv., and a few verses elsewhere, the book is in the form of an address. There are, however, in reality, three distinct speeches: (a) chapters i.-iv.; (b) chapters v.-xxvi.; (c) chapters xxix.-xxxi.; together with two poems, chapters xxxii. and xxxiii. The book closes with an account of the death of Moses (chapter xxxiv.). It was already recognized by some of the Church fathers, e.g. Chrysostom and Jerome, that Deuteronomy is the book referred to in II. Kings xxii. as having been found in the eighteenth year of Josiah (B.C. 622) by the High Priest Hilkiah. (See Josiah.) But while critics are now unanimous in dating the beginning of Deuteronomy from this period, it does not follow that the book, as we have it, was composed in the days of Josiah. In the first place, the law book brought to the King could not have been as extensive as the present book of Deuteronomy. The two poems are clearly additions, and the same may be said of the short prophetic discourse in chapters xxix.-xxxi. and of the blessings and curses, chapter xxvii. There remain the two speeches, (1) chapters v.-xvi., to which chapter iv. 45-49 forms the introduction, and (2) chapters i.-iv. Since the former discourse contains no reference to the latter, the two are independent of one another; other evidence can also be brought forward. Between the two the choice is not difficult. Since Hilkiah speaks of a ‘book,’ a document of some bulk is evidently intended, and the references to specific laws in the narrative of II. Kings confirm the view adopted by most critics that chapters v.-xxvi. represent the law-book of Hilkiah, which may have been composed in the earlier years of Josiah's reign, or possibly under Manasseh or Hezekiah. This discourse may be again divided into two sections: (a) chapters v.-xi.; (b) chapters xii.-xxvi. The former is an historical narrative put into the mouth of Moses; the latter an exposition of the law. The two divisions, however, formed an organic whole, and everything points to a single origin for them. The historical narrative forms the justification, as it were, for the authority claimed for the law. Naturally, even in this original portion of Deuteronomy, insertions and anplifications have been introduced by those who in the course of time enlarged the book by adding to it the other discourses, the blessings and the curses, and the poems; and who inclosed the whole in an historical frame and attached it to the four preceding books, and to the four following ones, Joshua, Judges, Samuel, and Kings, in order to form one great historical compilation in which the legal code of Deuteronomy and the earlier and later legal codes imbedded in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers have been worked in. (See Exodus; Leviticus; Numbers; Hexateuch.) In these codes three distinct strata are recognized: (a) Exodus xxi.-xxiii., called the Book of the Covenant; (b) Leviticus xvii.-xxvi., the Law of Holiness; (c) the Priestly Law, including the rest of the laws in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers. Hence a question arises as to the position to be accorded to the original Deuteronomic code. As a result of the investigations of modern scholars — notably Kuenen, Graf, Wellhausen, and Stade — it may now be regarded as definitely established: (1) that Deuteronomy is older than (b) and (c), but younger than (a): and (2) that the Deuteronomic code is based upon the Book of the Covenant, enlarged and adapted to new conditions and introducing as an entirely new feature the recognition of Jerusalem as the only legitimate centre of Yahweh worship. Everything points to Jerusalem as the place where the original Deuteronomy was written, and there is nothing strange in the supposition that, as a result of prophetic agitation for the purification of Yahweh worship, an attempt should have been made, particularly after the profound impression made in Judea by the catastrophe to the northern Kingdom, to formulate an ideal code which should carry out the views of the Yahweh purists; and since the prophets pointed to the days of the wanderings in the wilderness as the period when the people showed the greatest fidelity to Yahweh, it was also natural that the tradition should arise and gather strength which ascribed the Deuteronomic code, as subsequently the other codes, to the great leader of the past — Moses. It is this tradition which, shaping the subsequent history of Israel, gave to the codes their authority in the eyes of the people. How long after this the second discourse, chapters i.-iv., was added has not yet been ascertained by the investigations of scholars, though it probably dates from the exilic period. The same may be said of chapter xxix., while chapter xxviii. appears originally to have been the conclusion to the enlarged book. Chapter xxvii. is an independent composition, which again impresses one as the natural conclusion of a book, and is therefore a ‘doublet’ to chapter xxviii. It may be admitted that the problems involved in the relationship of these two chapters (xxvii.-xxviii.) to the rest of the book have not yet been satisfactorily solved, and further investigations are needed. Of the poetic supplements, (a) the Song of Moses and (b) the Blessing of Moses, the former is now regarded as an exilic or even post-exilic composition, while the latter is considerably older, and reflects political conditions as they existed in the days of Jeroboam II. (B.C. 782-743), before the disappearance of the northern kingdom.

Bibliography. See besides the commentaries of Dillmann, Driver, Keil. Oettli, Montet, Steuernagel, etc., Stark, Das Deuteronomium (Leipzig, 1894); Steuernagel, Der Rahmen des Deuteronomiums (Halle, 1894); Addis, Documents of the Hexateuch, vol. ii. (London, 1898).