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Audio Bible, The: Deuteronomy: The Old Testament

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The Book of Deuteronomy begins in the final, fortieth year of Israel’s wandering in the desert. Stationed east of the Jordan River, Moses addresses the new generation of Israelites in preparation for entering the promised land. He summarizes the events of the past four decades and encourages the young Israelites to remember God’s miracles and covenant with Israel. He forbids the worship of other gods or idols in the new land and repeats the Ten Commandments given by God at Mount Sinai. Most importantly, Moses gives explicit instructions to the Israelites to destroy all the native inhabitants of the promised land so that the Canaanites do not interfere with Israel’s worship of God. Moses restates many of the social laws and rules of conduct outlined in Leviticus, adding a few new laws, such as the requirement for the Israelites to cancel debts every seven years.

Moses stresses God’s love for Israel, describing God as someone who protects orphans, widows, and oppressed people. Israel is to love God intensely in return, with absolute devotion. The words of God’s laws are very important. Moses instructs the Israelites to meditate on these words and to write the laws on their bodies and on the doorframes of their homes. Moses argues that the love of God and a commitment to his laws will be considered goodness for Israel (6:25). While Moses predicts that Israel will eventually grow disobedient, he notes that God will welcome Israel back with abundance and prosperity whenever Israel returns to obedience.

At God’s direction, Moses composes a song that recounts Israel’s history of unfaithfulness and extols God’s everlasting compassion. Moses says the song will be a reminder to future Israelites of their covenant with God. He writes the song in the Book of the Laws and places the book with the Ark of the Covenant. Afterward, Moses ascends a mountain where God shows him a vision of the promised land. Moses dies and is buried by God. The author praises him as the only prophet in Israel’s history who performed such impressive miracles and who knew God “face to face” (34:10).

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