Lange Commentary on the Holy Scriptures













VIEWED in its position as “the fifth book of Moses,” which is its usual name in the German, Deuteronomy appears as the end, the completion of the Pentateuch.1

Although the Pentateuch is strictly speaking no “Mosaid,” still the appearance of Moses, his life, his works and sufferings, constitute beyond question the personal thread which runs through the one five-divided whole from the second book onwards. As the conduct and fortune of the Israel of the Pentateuch centres originally in its pilgrim fathers, the patriarchs, so now for its growth and its wider history as a people, it centres in Moses. For this reason the Pentateuch was referred to under the brief name, “Moses” (comp. Heb. 11:23 sq., with 5:8 sq.; Isa. 63:11; Ps. 103:7; Luke 16:29–31; 24:27). In this point of view, Genesis is the noblest prologue, which could only have been conceived by one so highly distinguished by God (Ex. 33:8–11; Num. 12:7, 8: Deut. 34:10–12), a person who could not only summon the heavens and earth to hear the words of his mouth (Deut. 32:1), but through the work with which he was entrusted has attained a significance more imperishable than the heavens and earth (Matt. 5:18; Luke 16:17). So that Moses in his work not only for Israel but for humanity, could compare himself with the Mediator of a new-covenant (Deut. 18:15), as indeed he is expressly recognized in his resemblance to him in the new covenant itself (John 1:17; Matt. 24:35). At all events Genesis closes precisely as we should have expected such a prologue to close, viz. with the children of Israel in Egypt, after the burial of Jacob, and after Joseph also was dead, with the most significant glance into the future (Gen. 50:24, 25). It completes the narrative down to the point at which the peculiar act begins, of which Moses was to be the great actor and bearer. The second book of Moses proceeds at once with the exposition, since it records the calling of Moses, with all the circumstances necessary to its understanding. If the following narrative, extending into the fourth book, carries on the development, through the disobedience and obstinacy of the people increasing to its utmost limit, so in the transition to this point, the revolt of his own brother and sister against Moses, and the two-fold declaration concerning him personally (Num. 12:3, 7, 8) claim special notice, and the catastrophe (Num. 13–14) has still a wider sweep than the exclusion of Israel from the promised land in the way described in Num. 14:29. Moses himself (comp. Deut. 1:37) falls under the divine judgment upon Israel (Num. 20:12). He is already omitted in Num. 14:24, 30, 38. He is told of God indeed that he would make a new nation from him (5:12); but it was so much the more incumbent upon him to sanctify God before all Israel, since he had been accepted by God for all Israel. But as Israel in the interval between the sentence and the completed judgment—Num. 15:32, is a mere transient emotion of obedience—continues in its obstinacy, this old nature of the people finally exerts such an influence upon Moses himself, that it obscures in him the faith in Jehovah. (It is in the highest degree significant that the act (Num. 20) occurs in the same region as that recorded (Num. 13:21, 26); and to this local connection corresponds the verbal connection in the address of Moses to the people, and not to the rock as he was commanded (Num. 20:8); corresponds also the reference to Israel’s rebellion, which was so much more criminal, as it called in question the faithfulness of God, as formerly Moses had fully recognized the faithfulness of God (Num. 14:13 sq.) over against the faithlessness of Israel). With the unbelief of Moses the development first reaches its end; this is the last step; now follows (Deut 27:13) the announcement of his death, but the announcement only, while in the case of Aaron (Deut 20:24 sq), his death also is immediately recorded. Thus another kind of departure from the scene, is prepared and in prospect for Moses, than that which occurs with Aaron. Neither the Pentateuch in its Mosaic character, nor a Moses in his personality, to which Genesis serves as a prologue, can have its fitting end and completion in a closing sentence like that in Num. 36:13. Corresponding to the prologue of Genesis, there must follow an epilogue, which in fact Deuteronomy is, which completes as well the Mosaic character of the Pentateuch with respect to its construction, as it is fitted to the marked peculiar position and personality of Moses.

If Moses is personally the head of Israel, so the law is actually the great thing for Israel. The “fifth book of Moses” is “the fifth fifth-part of the law,” as “Thorah” (ὁ νόμος) or “the five fifth-parts of the law” is the title of the Pentateuch as a whole. But the law, thus the law of Israel, has as Israel itself also, a significance beyond Israel as a peculiar people. It is truly “introduced by the way” (Rom. 5:20), or “added thereto” (Gal. 3:19), still not against the promise of God (Gal. 3:21), but the end of the law, i. e. its fulfilment and its goal, is Christ (Rom. 10:4). According to this explanation of the Apostle to the heathen, at the same time the great interpreter of the Old Testament, especially as one taught at the feet of Gamaliel according to the perfect manner of the law of the fathers (Acts 22:3), it is perfectly clear, that Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, the central books of the Pentateuch, are enclosed by Genesis and Deuteronomy. The striking peculiarities of the last two (comp. Deut. 33 with Gen. 49), show their parallel significance. This parallel significance for the Thorah lies in this, that as Genesis lays historically the all-embracing foundation, so Deuteronomy makes intelligible prophetically the all-embracing goal or completion. Israel is from the very first, like the heavens and earth, a pure creation of God (Gen. 18:10–14; 17:16, 17, 19). Its Thorah, in which Israel’s historical individuality comes to its expression, as also fully in the Messiah, has according to Genesis, its foundation in the creation of the world and man. As therefore in its race-father even, in Abraham (Gen. 12:3), “all nations of the earth” come into view, are included in the scope of the promise, thus confirming from the first the universal aspect and significance of Israel, so also the Pentateuch can only reach its completion, if it reaches a true completion at all, in a conclusion, like its beginning. This necessity for “the fifth fifth-part of the law” is the point of view, from which we can understand the title, Deuteronomy, (Δευτερονόμιον according to the Septuagint, Deuteronomium according to the Vulgate), i.e., “the second law.” When, among the Jews, it was called “Misch’neh Thorah” (abbreviated into Misch’neh) with reference to Deut. 17:18, the verbal expression indeed appears in that passage, as also in Josh. 8:32, but Deuteronomy is not therefore a repetition in the sense of a transcript. That would be a mere copy (a very significant remembrance!) which the second two tables of the law were, which Moses must hew (Ex. 34:1) written truly by God Himself, as Were also the first (Ex. 32:16), but in other respects the work of Moses, while the first were entirely “the work of God.” It is rather a second law, as the command of love (John 13:34; 1 John 2:7, 8; 2 John 5), is a new command; as this by Christ, so that by Moses. The law even down to Deuteronomy is said to be commanded (Num. 36:13), or given (Lev. 26:46) by Moses, but the precise expression is “by the hand of Moses” (בּיר־משׁה); the mouth was Jehovah’s. “These are the statutes and the judgments and the laws which the Lord made (gave) between Him and the children of Israel in Mount Sinai by,” sq. (Lev. 26:46). “These are the commandments and the judgments which the Lord commanded by,” sq. (Num. 36:13). The Lord commanded Moses for the children of Israel, Lev. 27:34, comp. Deut. 1:3; 4:5; Deuteronomy on the other hand begins at once, Deut 1:1, “These are the words” (whence its title “Ellch Haddebarim” or briefly “Haddebarim” in the Hebrew Bible) “which Moses spake to all Israel,” etc.; as also John 13:34, “a new commandment give I unto you.” With Deuteronomy the mouth of Moses comes into special prominence in connection with his hand, and in order to make the distinction from the previous law more clear and definite, the object, the purpose which Moses had is also expressly given (Deut. 1:5), namely, “to declare”—explain “this law,” thus: to trace back the given letters to the spirit, and then to express the spirit in new, different letters. The parallel from John 13, is striking as to the whole distinction. The whole method by which Moses in his own person, has originally opened the way for the prophetic order in Israel comes into view here.2 It belongs indeed generally to Deuteronomy to provide for the time when the death of Moses already announced (Num. 27:13) should take place, and the people, so greatly needing and desiring a mediation, in opposition to the fearful, immediate direct presence of God (Deut. 18:16; Ex. 20:16; Deut. 5:5, 20 sq.), should be deprived of the Mosaic mediation. The organism of the post-Mosaic Israel was defined in the most careful way. It is on this account, especially, that Deuteronomy is a practical hand-book and vade-mecum for the later prophecy3—used by Christ Himself, immediately after His entrance upon His prophetic office, all three times, in His temptation (comp. Matt. 4:4, 7, 10, with Deut. 8:3; 6:16, 13). Deuteronomy breathes throughout the freshness of the word of God, issuing forth ever new, by virtue of which the prophets could prevent a mere dead tradition of the law, could declare the demands of the divine will on one hand indeed, according to the necessities of the time, but on the other with reference to the future of Israel, to the end of the way of God with him. The necessities of the time to which Deuteronomy has reference, appear both in the new generation to whom Moses spake (Num. 26:64, 65), and in the early settlement in Canaan (e. g. Deut. 6:1). There was no necessity for a new independent law-giving in addition to the earlier, nor that the law given from God by Moses should be corrected or revised. The nature of the old people now, as it stands over against Canaan, plainly grown to its utmost and fatal limit (Num. 14) requires a human mediation of the law of God, a full consideration of the subjective state, at least in the reception and in the retaining of the objective divine will, a practical exhortation to the people which is peculiar to Deuteronomy throughout, but this neither makes it as some of the Rabbins hold, a “Sepher tochahoth,” book of punishments, nor a law for the people generally, in distinction from one for the Priests and Levites. The reference to the future of Israel, to the end of the way of God with him, is taken already in the more particular prominence of Canaan (Deut 1:8, 21, 36, 38, 39, etc.), for the position of Canaan among the lands of the earth, proclaims geographically the same thing which the promise as to Israel, in its race or stem-father, utters; the universal import of the people of God. But the prophetic character of Deuteronomy, as it is stamped with it by Moses, will reveal itself much more in the laws, if it is according to its title, “the second law.” And this is actually the case, not barely in the form of expression, which is more rhetorical and emphatic (Deut 4:5–8; 2:25), but throughout in its very nature: whatever avails for every man, not every one in Israel only, but every man, that which is generally availing and important in the widest extent, the universal ideas of the law, are purposely repeated, and set in the clearest light. This inward character of the Thorah in its deuteronomic reproduction and application (Deut 5:29; 10:16), must be held to be the interpreting word; meanwhile attention is here called to the citations from Deuteronomy in the New Testament, e.g. Heb. 12:29, from Deut. 4:24; 1 Cor. 8:4, from Deut. 4:38, 39; Mark 12:29 sq.; Matt. 22:37 sq.; Luke 10:27 sq., from Deut. 6:4, 5, etc., etc. The renewing of the Covenant, Deut 28:29, 69, in this tendency and character of the “second law,” is the true culminating point of Deuteronomy; for communion with God, upon the ground of the communion of God with men (Deut 4:7),—is the true religion,—is the universal goal and hope of humanity. In this, as also already in the first making of the covenant (Lev. 26 sq.), the future of Israel was so far foreseen (Deut. 28 sq.), as is scarcely predicted anywhere by the prophets after Moses (comp. Deut. 30:6, with Jer. 31:31 sq.; 32:37 sq.). And with this agree perfectly the very significant position of the Mosaic and Messianic prophetic institutions, over against each other, which is peculiar to Deuteronomy (chap, 18:15, 18), by which the position is assigned to the succeeding prophetic order in Israel, from Moses to Christ (Deut. 34:10: Num. 12:6 sq.). In its prophetic form and attitude, Deuteronomy has, like Genesis, both with respect to Israel and the law, its universal character; the closing book of the Pentateuch is like its beginning, and therefore its true completion.

(Compare LANGE’S passing remarks upon Deuteronomy in the General Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 34, and the Introduction to Genesis, p. 86–94).


The delineation of Deuteronomy according to its position and titles has presented it to us, with respect to Moses, as an epilogue; with respect to the Thorah of Israel, as the universal completion of the Pentateuch.

As to its own utterances attention is usually called to Deut 31:9, 24; 17:18 sq.; 27:1 sq.; 28:58, 61; 29:19, 20, 26; 30:10. But for the understanding of these very passages, Deuteronomy must first be questioned and heard upon the idea—“this law,” which is of deciding weight here.

The expression meets us first in Deut 1:5. With Deut 1:3 in view, this (Thorah) law which Moses, Deut 1:5 begins to declare or explain, cannot be the explanation itself, cannot without something further constitute Deuteronomy, but must be the Thorah (in the literal sense of the demonstrative particle), to which Moses calls the attention of his hearers in the words which follow, which was beyond question in the mind of the writer of these lines since he had already declared, Deut 1:3, “that Moses spake unto the children of Israel according unto all that Jehovah had given him in commandment unto them.” After a preparatory introduction (Deut 4:5 sq., 13 sq., 23 sq.) extending to Deut 4:43; after the theme had been resumed Deut 1:44, in every form (“and this is the Thorah, law, which Moses set before the children of Israel: these are the testimonies and the statutes and the judgments which Moses spake unto the children of Israel,” etc.), follows now the intended explanation of the earlier given law (Deut 5 sq.). “This law” is thus from the very first the decalogue, as the kernel and centre of all the remaining revelation from Sinai and in the plains of Moab, connected with it. The supposition under which alone Deuteronomy is what it is, a repetition of the law, is in entire accordance with this. But as Moses repeats the law of God in Deuteronomy, so this deuteronomic repetition of the law is always regarded as a second giving of the law, at least as a new exhibition of it (Deut 4:8, 44; 11:32). “This law” appears therefore correctly in Deuteronomy, among the usual titles of the earlier law-giving as “the statutes and the judgments” (Deut 4:1), “the commands” (4:2), “his statutes and his commandments” (4:40), “all the commandments and the statutes and the judgments” (Deut 5:31), and the like (Deut 4:45; 6:1, 2, 17). Thus the term “this law,” designates originally the earlier lawgiving connected with the decalogue, in the progressive explanation of the deuteronomic discourses, the more so the more fully it is regarded in its deuteronomic apprehension, explanation and practical use, unless it appears from the connection that, besides the deuteronomic renewal, the original text is especially intended. The titles: “These words which I command thee this day” (Deut 6:6; 12:28), and especially “all the words of this law”—since “the words,” according to Deut 1:1, form the title of the book—may be viewed as a standing expression for the deuteronomic Thorah (Deut 17:19; 27:3, 26; 28:58; 29:28; 31:12, 24; 32:46). Deut 17:19, where the expression: “all the words of this law,” first occurs, appears to furnish the transition to the use of this phrase.

In Deut. 31:9, “this law,” which Moses wrote, can hardly be the direction for reading the law at the feast of tabernacles; but the same as “this law,” Deut. 31:11, which should be read, which Moses wrote that it might be read, the same as “all the words of this law,” for Deut. 31:12 reveals the objects for which the law was to be read. The words, Deut. 31:9: “And Moses wrote,” very clearly answer to and complete the frequently recurring words: “And Moses spake,” (comp. Deut 31:1), so that we cannot think here of any other words than the law discourses before given in Deuteronomy. Leaving out of view the force of the words: “all the words of this law,” probably a precise formula for the deuteronomic Thorah, the fact of the reading is in favor of so understanding the words: “and Moses wrote,” not so much because the whole Pentateuch is of too great an extent for public reading, as because in this case of the, in some measure, mere arbitrariness of the choice as to what would be read, which must be left to the wisdom of their spiritual officers, the whole tendency and character of the deuteronomic law fit it well, and it alone, for the public reading before the people (so well that HENGSTENBERG allows that the larger parts were chosen from Deuteronomy). The Jewish traditions in regard to the feast of tabernacles may be left undecided. It was in the highest degree fitting that the occurrences of Deuteronomy—the second lawgiving—should be repeated in a liturgical manner every seven years. But the expression used in Deut. 31:12 points farther to Deut. 31:24, where Moses, after he “had made an end” (comp. with this Deut 1:5, where it is said Moses began, etc.) “of writing the words of this law in a book until they were finished,” Deut. 31: 25 sq., commanded to put “this book of the law” in the side of the ark of the Covenant. There is an unquestionable connection between the writing of Deut. 31: 24, with that of Deut. 31: 9. In this second passage also of Deut 31 the deuteronomic law is intended, viz. the finished book form, and the final safe depositing of all that Moses had spoken and written from Deut 1 down to this point. The now completed book could be given from the hand, and forever laid away in the fit place, in which truly there is at the same time a pointing on to that which is beyond Deuteronomy. There is the same distinction between the giving of the book, Deut. 31: 24 sq., and the giving of Deut. 31: 9, as between the complete destination and end of the whole book in the side of the ark, and the special destination and end of the deuteronomic law, for the public reading before the people every seven years; as between the mere command: “take and put it,” and the formal solemn official command and investiture of the priests and elders of the people—an investiture whose significance the event recorded (2 Kings 22:8 sq.; 2 Chron. 34:14 sq.) places in the clearest light, if we may regard the deuteronomic law as there intended; as between the testimony of this law-book, which was intimated (Deut 4:45), but which is expressly introduced (Deut 31:19, 21), (as on account of this character of the book as a testimony, the song which follows immediately upon Deut. 31: 28 is appended), and the other point of this law as it is presented in Deut 31:12-13; as finally between the direct divine completion in Deut 31:14–23 of this closing chapter, and the Mosaic completion in Deut 31:1–8, which latter, however, takes up the particular elements or stages in the same succession, thus Moses, Israel, Joshua.

The conclusion from Deut 31 is that, according to its own utterances, Deuteronomy, from Deut 1:1 to Deut 32:43, contains not only what was spoken by Moses, but was at the same time drawn up by Moses in its written form.

The agreement as to the whole spirit and character, the tone and language, with what precedes, not merely in chap, 31, but in Deut 32, bears decidedly against fixing any earlier limit than chap, 32:43. But what is true for the song of Moses does not avail for the closing historical narrative. The marked differences from the foregoing portions, which appear already in Deut 32:44–52, and still more clearly in the following chapters, are decidedly in favor of fixing the terminus ad quern at Deut 32:43. As the Mosaic origin is expressly attested down to Deut 32:43, so it stands beyond any doubt, that another hand than that of Moses has had a part in Deuteronomy as it lies before us. Whose hand has written the 33 and 34 chapters of Deuteronomy, and at the same time put the finishing stroke to the whole Pentateuch? If Deut 31:19 includes Joshua with Moses in the writing of the song, this can scarcely have been from “the need of learning for the multiplication of the writing,” since equally trusty and finished hands could certainly have been found among the priests and judges (1:15; 29:9; 31:28). But as the successor of Moses, Joshua must also have a share in the writing, if not with respect to a sacred literature of Israel, yet still for the necessary arranging of the records (as Josh. 24:26). Without this explanation of Deut 31:19, without this merely incidental hint as to his share in writing the law,4 especially in a man in whom the law was so deeply engraved (comp. Deut. 4:2; 13:1, with Josh. 1:8), it would not be easy to comprehend how he should have deposited in writing, in the book of the law of God, the arranged records referred to in Josh, 24:26. But if the activity of Joshua is generally supplementary, which requires no proof, nothing lies nearer than the supposition, that he whose name alone occurs in connection with that of Moses should have added the supplement in question (Deut 33 and 34) to Deuteronomy. The two passages, Deut. 31:19 and Josh. 24:26, mutually reflect light upon each other. The passing remark in Deuteronomy makes the narrative in Joshua intelligible, and this again in turn lends to that a not inconsiderable space for application. Whether, on the other hand, Josh. 24:26 does not limit the literary, if we may so speak, participation of Joshua in Deuteronomy, and especially in reference to the whole Pentateuch, namely, to the simple supplement, and in connection with this, to the recorded contemporary relation of the matter, while for other and later hands there is a possibility and probability of a redaction,5 remains an open question. We will listen to the utterances of Deuteronomy upon this point also.

Deut. 17:18–20, connects itself in many points of view with Deut 31. The future king in Israel must write him “a copy of this law in a book from that which is before the Priests,” which implies a written original. Is not that the one which should be written (Deut 31:9)? as that was written (Deut 31:24) “in a book?” If “all the words of this law” is a standing formula to express the Deuteronomic law, then Deut. 17:19 contains an express reference to it. In Deut. 17:20 the king is mentioned together with the people, “that his heart be not lifted up above his brethren.” There is a clear reference here to the deuteronomic apprehension of the law, for it is peculiarly adapted to the people. Deut 31:12, 13 is further, in entire unison with the 19th verse here. The phrase, Deut. 17:12, “that they may hear,” for the law was to be publicly read, is followed immediately, as we read here, “and that they may learn, and fear, and observe.” Comp. also Deut. 17:13: “All the days” with “all the days,” chapter 17:19. The speaker in Deut 17 might allude to Deuteronomy, since these words must soon come to a close (certainly in the mind of the writer, Deut 31:24); as to the matter of the kingdom the deuteronomic law might be assumed by the hearers, to be even then completed. The limiting clause, Deut. 17:18 (“from before the priests, the Levites”) may be referred to Deut 31:9, since the priests there, as the sons of Levi, bear the ark of the covenant; and to 31:25, 26, since the Levites themselves, as the bearers of the ark, were to put the book of the law in the side of the ark. As the entire levitical service essentially completes itself before the ark of the Covenant of Jehovah, so the ark itself, on the other hand, and with it the book of the law deposited in its side, is “before the levitical Priests.” Thus “the copy of this law in a book” may, literally, be taken from “before them,” as Deut 17:18 requires. But מִלִּפְנֵי may denote, not what is yet first to occur, but rather what is already the case; i. e., it may denote that the law from which the king should make a copy, and which was already in great part “before,” or with the priests, is “from before,” that is, from that (exemplar, original) which is in safe keeping with the priests. They would very naturally be represented at the time as the custodians of the law, to whom, not only whatever in the moment of its utterance or of its written composition was already under their hands, but also the deuteronomic discourses of the law, (and hence the intimation, Deut. 17:19, is to these more than to others, since they were even then flowing into their hands) must also be given. From this presupposition of Deut 31 in Deut 17, the instructions given to the priests in Deut 31:10, in reference to the feast of tabernacles every seven years, may be explained; the designation of the priests, Deut. 17:9, must be connected with Deut. 17:25 sq., preparing the way for what is there to be narrated; but Deut. 17: 25 sq., at the very close of Deuteronomy—for this is the closing part and act of the whole—should simply place in its final form in the ark of the Covenant as its locality, the already for a long time existing deposit with the priests; whence it was commanded simply to the Levites, without any express mention of the priests, that they should “take and put it in the side of the ark.” Comp. 33:10. The special mention of the deuteronomic words of the law (Deut 17:19) does not exclude the previously given law from its meaning, which, marked distinctly by the inscriptions (Lev. 26:46; 27:34; Num. 36:13) into finished parts, was already at the beginning of Deuteronomy laid up in the custody of the priests. The existence of this law is constantly presupposed in Deuteronomy. It is said here expressly since the occasion offered, that the priests had it already in their custody. And with all these points of agreement between Deut 31:12, 13, and Deut 17:19, the definite design for the king is still to be distinguished in Deut. 17: 19, not only “it shall be with him,” but also “all the words of this law and these statutes to do them;” and again Deut. 17: 20, “and that he turn not aside from this commandment to the right hand or to the left,” etc. The peculiar additions which in the precise definite expression point to the earlier law-giving, and arise from the peculiarities of the royal position, may be explained from the fact that they are designed for the king. In fact, should the king, as is essentially the case in Deut 12, be regarded by himself, it will not correspond perfectly with the understanding of his distinct position from the people, his position not barely as one above the people, but as one in addition to all the other officers, dignities and institutions in Israel (“upon the throne of his kingdom,” Deut. 17: 18), if he has barely in his hands daily the so-to-speak popular edition of the law in Deuteronomy. “These statutes,” Deut. 17: 19, cannot be limited to the obligations and duties spoken of in Deut. 17:16, 17, which are special peculiar prohibitions, while in Deut. 17: 20 the king is bound universally to the commandment, i. e., to all that God has commanded, generally to that which is the commandment for Israel. The law of the king in this pair of verses cannot possibly be the required copy of the law. The immediate connection with what precedes suggests more than this, more even than the deuteronomic law. In Deut. 17: 8–13 the priests are spoken of especially as knowing the law, i. e., those who know and who are the teachers of the law. It lies in the nature of the case, and the reference to Lev. 10:11, expressly confirms it, that “all the statutes which Jehovah spake by the hand of Moses” are intended here. The deuteronomic law is itself an exposition; it could thus render assistance to the official interpreters of the law, but it could not supply them with the sacred text. Moreover the cases introduced, Deut. 17: 8, presuppose undoubtedly the knowledge of the legal determinations concerning them, as they are treated in Ex. 21:23. In such connection come at last the words concerning the king over Israel. In Deut 16:18–20, judges and officers, Deut 17:8–13, priests and judges, Deut. 17:14–20, the king! a succession in which each embraces something more than the preceding in its legal relations, so that the king at last must be viewed as entrusted with all, what is law in Israel. Thus “the copy of the law” which the king has to make, must embrace the whole law,—at the moment the words were spoken, the whole law, so far as transcribed it lay in the possession of the priests, the natural depositaries of the law, in the mind of the writer of Deut 17, the whole law, so far as it stood before him as one whole, and when the case supposed here should actually occur, and there should be a king, surely it would be understood as containing the earlier given law. Compare what is said to Joshua (Jos. 1:8) who held provisionally the place of the king, with the literal fulfilment as it is related 2 Kings 11:12. As it is proper to include the king with the people from whom he is taken, and still to view him also in his peculiar characteristics by himself, so the reference to the earlier law, in connection with the mention of the deuteronomic, corresponds to this actual practical relation; and Deut 17, in the midst of the discourses, which should complete the whole law, was the proper place for both.

The result from Deut. 17 is: 1), the supposition of the earlier law as written (in some sense completed) and extant with the priests; 2) the intimation of the deuteronomic law as one belonging to the whole; and, 3), the introduction of copies of this, as we must think, Mosaic whole, which were made by the kings with their own hand, under the direction of the priests, or indeed were entirely written by the priests themselves. If the first is true with regard to the deuteronomic law, and at the same time the other related parts of the Pentateuch, so the view already attained, as to certain altogether natural, and indeed priestly redactions, is confirmed by the last.

The direction, Deut. 27:1 sq., that Israel should “write” the law, presupposes just as the “copies” of Deut 17, the law, as written, or as one which will be written. Then, to inscribe “all the words” in the sense of every particular word of the law in question, or even every word in the sense of every sentence or declaration with a legal sanction, is forbidden in the nature of the case. If we will not evaporate the expression used into a mere vague generality, it behooves us to explain “all the words of this law—by all the discourses upon this law” (Deut 1:1, 5). “The whole commandment which I command you this day,” is indeed nothing else than the command for the erecting, cementing, and inscription of the stones, in their whole extent; in this sense “this day” of Deut. 27: 1, and “the day when” of Deut. 27: 2, correspond with each other. It may be inferred, even from Deut. 27: 10, that in the following formula of imprecation, as it appears Deut. 27: 11 sq., (and afterward in its fuller exhibition in chap, 28:1, in reference to the blessings, and in Deut. 27: 15, in reference to the curses) the deuteronomic manner of the law is the characteristic feature, as indeed in the summary, Deut. 27: 26, the deuteronomic law comes into clear relief. But that we are here to think of this last, is demanded as well by the parallel passages, Deut 31:9 sq. (there the public reading, here the recording), and the actual execution of what this parallel passage required (Josh. 8:34), as by the fact that the whole Pentateuch was too large, and the mere curses and blessings, or the simple decalogue too small for “the great stones” in their indefinite number, while on the contrary the deuteronomic discourses of the law are of the proper extent, as they also constitute the ground upon which the renewing of the covenant in Deuteronomy proceeds, chaps, 27–30. Here it is the words of Moses, as in Ex. 24:3, 4, 7, 8, “All the words of Jehovah.” But in these are included the historical reminiscences, warnings, etc., as well as the “peculiar precepts.” To suppose the reverse would run counter to the whole practice of Deuteronomy especially, as indeed it would to the peculiar method of the Pentateuch; the decalogue itself from the beginning of the first command, embraces the history. According, indeed, to the very nerve and force of every section of these discourses, the special purpose of the speaker, the peculiar finished style, the strictly defining word, these must have been written upon the stones. Josh, 8:32. Compare with this, Josh, 8:34 and 35, in which the distinction between what was read and what was written is clearly marked. The result here is the same with that from Deut. 31.

In the remaining passages (chap, 28:58, 61; 29:19, 20, 26; 30:10) the declaration of a written publication, and the intimation of a book, is common to all, either preparatory to chap, 31, or because the written publication went before the oral report, as Ex. 24:4, 7 (Deut. 31:22), or because throughout, the writing, although later, was chiefly regarded, and not so much the speaking. In all cases it is the deuteronomic law which is intended, but as the unmistakable reference to Lev. 26 shows, not without embracing the earlier law giving, in addition to which Moses wrote this, his law, before the children of Israel (Josh. 8:31, 32; comp. Deut 1:7, 8), the whole called “the book of the law of God,” Josh. 24:26 (comp. Neh. 8:18; 2 Chron. 17:9; 34:14), in distinction from the “law of Moses” (Josh. 8:31, 32; 23:6; 1 Kings 2:3; 2 Kings 14:6; 23:25).6 The various declarations as to the written record of the deuteronomic law, may be explained from the very design of Deuteronomy as the closing part of the Pentateuch. Nothing is more befitting the completion than that it should repeatedly testify, namely, that all these spoken words have their fixed form for the people through writing. The stronger this is accented, as to the deuteronomic law, the more certainly it must be understood of the sacred text of the deuteronomic discourses, and must therefore be held above any doubt, although there is occasionally, in the earlier law-giving, an allusion to a written composition, as Ex. 17:14; 24:4, 7; 34:27; Num. 33:2. And if the various passages in Deuteronomy point to its book form, this includes as a matter of course its particular, well-grounded, comprehensive supposition as to the earlier law-giving, that this also was collected in particular books.7 “And it is altogether probable,” says BLEEK, “that the division into five books is as old as the last redaction of the law through which it has its present form and extent.” It is to him “not improbable” that the declarations of Deuteronomy are “intended to apply to our entire Pentateuch,” at all events truly to the deuteronomic law-giving. “For when in the discourses of Moses a law book is spoken of in such a manner, it cannot be a writing first published after Moses which is intended.” “Without doubt,” KNOBEL remarks, “the book is held by the author of Deuteronomy as a work of Moses, so far as it relates to the time before the death of Moses. That the law book was present to him as one whole, may be inferred from the description of it, and from the direction that the king himself should take a copy of the law, that he might constantly read it.”

Whatever “assistants” we may assume in connection with Moses “for the external form and writing, for the explanation of the diversities in style and expression” (KURTZ), he will ever be regarded as the peculiar author of the whole. With the utterances of Deuteronomy which we have considered, we pass beyond the stand-point, e. g., which HOBBES in his Leviathan occupies, that the Pentateuch is a work about Moses, and in this sense Deuteronomy may be regarded “as the fifth book of Moses.”8 In all cases the peculiar declarations of Deuteronomy bear witness to its Mosaic origin, and indeed as to what concerns its form as well as in reference to its contents, that it is thus a Mosaic writing, down to Deut 32:43. This no way forbids the hypothesis both of the supplement by Joshua, and of later redactions of the Pentateuch (separations amounting perhaps to independent works, e. g. Josh. 24:26; 1 Saml. 10:25, but also, supplements, explanations, applications, and the like); the occasion and number of the latter being designated definitely enough in Deuteronomy, “by the copies for the king.” Holding firmly the Mosaic authorship of Deuteronomy and of the Pentateuch generally, with the hypothesis of later redactions, even in the times of the kings, as at last in the time of Ezra, we are still perfectly free to oppose the criticism, when it seeks to ascribe it to another period than the Mosaic. [If a revision by Ezra is conceded, it in no way affects the question of the Mosaic authorship. A very slight revision would account for all the words and passages which seem to be of a later date than Moses, and upon which the main arguments of those who oppose the Mosaic authorship rest. The supposition of such a revision is, as Prof. BARTLET has well said (SMITH’S Bib. Dic., Am. Ed., Art. Pentateuch), perfectly natural “in view of the lapse of time, and the effects of the exile. The SS. render the supposition probable, by these notices of Ezra.” See Neh. 8:4; Ezra 7:6, 10, 11; 8:1–5, 18. “Now let Ezra but have done for the Scriptures permanently, and in view of the permanent necessity, that which he did orally and transiently on this occasion,” and we have all that the supposition requires. The Jewish tradition favors this supposition, and when we bear in mind that it has been a very prevalent opinion in the Christian Church, that Ezra was divinely called to this work and directed in it, we may well accept this way of explaining those words and portions which seem of later date.—A. G.]


1. J. S. VATER (1805). That Deuteronomy to a large extent, existed in writing since the time of Solomon or David; the closing portion of the whole about the time of the Babylonian captivity.

2. W. M. L. DE WETTE (1806–1852, 7 Edt. of his Lehrbuch), in continual change. “It is most probable, that according to the redaction of the Jehovist, the Elohistic, essential portions of the five books of Moses, and perhaps Deut. 31:14–22, close the fourth book. The author of Deuteronomy later interpolates his Mosaic hortatory discourses, the new law-giving, and the obligations with respect to the law, and places the closing part of the fourth book at the end. Its origin, in the time of Josiah. The passages 4:27; 28:25, 36, 49, 64; 29:27 sq.; 32:5–33, were written in the most unfortunate time of the State, in the Assyrian period, and with reference to the exile of the Ten tribes.”

3. P. v. BOHLEN, VATKE and J. F. L. GEORGE (1835): The Pentateuch is not before the Babylonian exile, at the earliest Deuteronomy has its origin under Josiah.

4. J. J. STAEHELIN (1843): The author of the whole of Deuteronomy is also the elaborator of the original Elohim writing, in the four first books, as also in the book of Joshua: the Pentateuch is the work of this Jehovistic, and at the same time deuteronomistic redaction in the time of Saul.

5. C. v. LENGERKE (1844): The present Deuteronomy, excepting Deut 31:14–23, and perhaps also Deut 33, which is from the completer, the Jehovist under Hezekiah, is from the author of Deuteronomy, who at the same time published the book of Joshua in its present form, under Josiah.

6. H. EWALD (1864) (3d Ed. of the History of the People of Israel): “As also the Southern Kingdom, after the death of the good King Hezekiah, fell into the greatest danger of lawlessness and anarchy, it is an attempt of some dependent of this kingdom living abroad, to commend the old law,-altered and rejuvenated for the times, strengthened and emphasized by prophetic discourses, with a Mosaic method and coloring indeed, but with the freest use of his material,-to the king of his day as the only salvation, as he wished him to become the necessary reformer, under the delineation of Joshua.” The main portion of Deut. 1–30, is an entirely independent writing, and from thence onward the original history lies at the foundation, as it was given in the work of the “fifth narrator,” and runs down to the death of Joshua, which corresponds to the object of the author of Deuteronomy. The great Song, Deut 32 taken from an otherwise unknown poet, by the author of Deuteronomy, instead of another song which originally occupied this place, since it appeared more suitable to him. Formed besides, from many sources, both narrative and legal in their subject, now entirely lost. (The age very learned, etc.). Perhaps during the second half of the reign of Manasseh, and written indeed in Egypt, in the seventh century through a peculiar event, it bccame for the public a book lying at the source of the reformation of the Kingdom under King Josiah. Deut 33, probably written under Josiah, not interpolated by the author of Deuteronomy, but written by this true, latest collector and publisher of our present Pentateuch, who connected Deuteronomy with the work of the fifth narrator, before the end of the 7th century, or still surely before the destruction of Jerusalem.

7. F. BLEEK (1860, Introduction): With the conviction that very important sections are found in the Pentateuch written by Moses and in his time, Deuteronomy belongs to a writer, different from the Jehovistic reviser and enlarger of the Elohistic fundamental writing, and to a still later period. The time of its composition, between Hezekiah and Josiah, under the idolatrous Manasseh. Its more universal spread first occurs after the law-book with the Deuteronomic law-giving had been found in the temple under Josiah; Deut 32:1–43, from a poet under Ahaz or Hezekiah, Deut 33, perhaps by the same, at the time of Uzziah.

8. A. KNOBEL (1861): Into the Elohistic and Jehovistic work, which reaches from Gen. 1 to Num. 36, as the Jehovist has completed it through the supplements to the old fundamental writing, from the books of Jasher,9 and of the wars, Num. 21:14; Josh. 10:13, (which also lies at the basis of the following books of Judges, Ruth, Samuel, 1st Kings 11), the writer of Deuteronomy has inserted between Num. 36 and Deut. 31:14, his discourses, and with them a number of determinations, and two accounts, which the Jehovist had taken from the book of Jasher, and attached to Num. 36. We discover his hand also after Deut. 31:14, down to Josh. 24. Through him the Pentateuch has received its present form.

From this outline of these hypotheses there is a manifest progress of the criticism, from that now, as good as abandoned “Fragmentary hypothesis,” and the earlier “documentary hypothesis,” to the “supplementary hypothesis”—(DE WETTE, § 157, a.).

It is true likewise that the greater number unite, as BLEEK says, in holding that it is decidedly a false view when VATER, V. BOHLEN, VATKE, GEORGE, hold that Deuteronomy is older than the books before it, with their law-giving.

As to the author of Deuteronomy, STAEHELIN, identifying the Jehovist with the author of Deuteronomy, occupies a distinct position, similar to that of EWALD, who advocates a still later peculiar author of the Pentateuch. It may indeed be held as the prevailing view, “that from the beginning on Deuteronomy was written as a revision and enlargement of the older historical work in the form which it has received through the Jehovistic elaborator of the first four books, and that the author of Deuteronomy is at the same time the last reviser of the entire Pentateuch, through whom the work receives the present compass and connection, in which we have it.” BLEEK.

As this criticism agrees in denying that Moses wrote Deuteronomy, so it has come to an agreement, that the post-Mosaic composition of the work which they receive in general, occurs during the period down to Josiah.


1. Generally KNOBEL asserts: “that as Christ calls His gospel into life without writing, so Moses gave his law, upon the whole, through oral communications and direct practical introduction, and left it to his successors to give it its more finished form, and reduce it to writing.” The comparison with Christ falls to the ground with the essential distinction between Moses and Christ, upon which rests the distinction between the law given by Moses and the grace and truth which came by Jesus Christ. “His gospel” is the gospel of His person, while Moses testifies his faithfulness in all his house, even in this, that he has fixed and made sure in writing, the law entrusted to him for Israel. VAIHINGER (HERZOG’S Encycl. XI., p. 302 sq.) calls the assertion, “with reference to Christ,” that Moses also wrote not even a letter, “as exaggerated and groundless as the opposite assertion, that he has himself written all the words of the Pentateuch,” and recognizes the results of HENGSTENBERG’S (Auth. I., p. 415 sq.) investigations, that “not only Moses, who was learned in all the wisdom of the Egyptians (Acts 7:22), but other Israelites also, could have used with ease (Lev.19:28; Num. 5:23; 11:26; 17:17) the art of writing spread even among the Canaanites” (Josh. 15:15, 16; Judg. 1:11, 12; a book city!). It is from the first more than probable that Moses wrote many things which, in the variety of the laws and the rigidness with which their observance was enjoined and was expected from every Israelite, were indispensably necessary.” “In and by itself it is not improbable that Moses should have written the whole Pentateuch; the art of writing among the Arabians had its beginning with the Koreischites, and indeed in the time just prior to Mohammed, and still the comprehensive Koran was at once put into a written form.”

2. But VAIHINGER brings to bear against the Mosaic authorship, as to the historical portions, and therefore as to the Pentateuch generally, in the form in which it comes to us, the anonymous character of the greater number of the historical books; “and this rule is certainly so to be carried over and applied to the Pentateuch, and hence we may conclude that its author must be unknown.” By no means, for this “fifth book” has its peculiar fundamental significance, connects its fitness as a revelation with the person of Moses, and with no other. It requires no proof how truly the author of the Pentateuch was known throughout the Old Testament, since indeed the criticism, even of VAIHINGER, allows the author of Deuteronomy to have issued his work under the name of Moses.

3. BLEEK remarks especially, that by the representation in Deuteronomy, these discourses were all held upon one day; on the contrary, that by their extent and contents, the brief time before the death of Moses is insufficient for recording them. Should we even not translate 1:5 that Moses at that time (1:3) began, etc., so that the date is to be understood simply of the terminus of the beginning, there is not wanting in the following parts every kind of pause, which sufficiently obviates the appearance upon which BLEEK remarks. Thus 4:41 sq.; 4:44 sq.; 5:1. If Moses died upon the 1st or 7th of the twelfth month, there was still time enough, the entire eleventh month, especially if the deuteronomic discourses had been prepared long beforehand.

[The objection is one of little weight in any case. But there were ten days between the beginning of these discourses and the closing events of the life of Moses. There was time enough, either on the supposition that the discourses had been prepared beforehand, or on the supposition that they were spoken out of a heart full with his theme, and then recorded. A man gifted like Moses, standing in his relation to the people, knowing that he was about to leave them, and aware what interests hung upon his words, could easily crowd those discourses and events into a much less space of time.—A. G.]

4. The deviation in language, style, ideas, and the course of thought from those usual in the Pentateuch, as it appears already, Lev. 26:3–46, is, according to VAIHINGER, still more striking and decided in Deuteronomy. “Such a ‘second law’ could scarcely have been necessary during the life of Moses;” Moses is not the author “of this second law giving, often in opposition to his own.” One would think that in such “deviations from the usage of the Pentateuch, some careful and practised student of the Hebrew language, and of the various modes of expression of the Israelitish writers to which VAIHINGER refers, would have observed it very early, and the entire Jewish tradition, and the Christian Church with it, would not have ascribed Deuteronomy to Moses. VAIHINGER indeed urges the Jewish title of the book against its Mosaic composition! Comp. § 1 for the mode in which this title “second law” agrees precisely and only with a personality like that of Moses, the prophetic law-giver. Every later writer would have had undoubtedly to authenticate his legitimate claim to it. The necessity or propriety of this new apprehension and arrangement of the law, rests certainly only in part upon “the approaching residence in Canaan,” more completely upon the requirements of the new generation to whom Moses, himself a dying man (Ps. 90:1), here speaks, from the solemn experiences with that earlier generation dead in the desert; and still more upon the fact that the earlier law-giving, according to its whole nature with respect to the universal future of Israel, demanded that—if authentic—a path should be opened out of the law itself, and also through Moses personally, to the prophetic institution in Israel, which is done in Deuteronomy. Finally KEIL and SCHULTZ refer correctly to the remark of BERTHEAU: “It appears to me very hazardous to suppose oppositions in the laws, and from these to infer a different age of the opposing passages, because whoever made the additions must have known that to which they were added, and either perceived no contradictions, or would have expunged them from the writing before him.”

[WORDSWORTH says with great force: “The writer of Deuteronomy, whoever he may be, was a Hebrew writer of great natural endowments and intellectual acquirements, and being well skilled in the language, he would at least be as much conversant with the writings of Moses as his critics who live 3,000 years after him. Such a writer, wishing to palm Deuteronomy on the nation, would have been especially careful not to excite suspicions of the fraud by deviations from the facts of history or from the style of these other writings. These seeming variations in his general statements and the acknowledged difference of style between it and the other parts, so far from being proofs of spuriousness, are in fact strong evidence in favor of its Mosaic authorship.”—A. G.]

5. “First of all, the form of the three great popular discourses strikes us just as if we stood in the midst of the time of the later prophets.” That “is scarcely” to be expected “from Moses;” on the contrary, “the three detailed discourses” are called to mind which introduce “the gnomic poetry of Solomon about the time of Manasseh, and which impress in a more agreeable and complete form what was earlier concisely and briefly said.” VAIHINGER. What different can we expect from Moses, unless simply a repetition of the earlier lawgiving with a second Sinai, etc.; unless that he should give an entirely unfitting and disappointing copy from the original! The text lay before him, what more likely than a sermon upon the text? Ought Moses to have catechized Israel in a Socratic way, or to have arranged a pastoral dialogue with the people, or to have celebrated liturgical devotions upon the decalogue, or to have opposed a talmudic commentary? The gnomic sentences (Deut 1–9) referred to, especially in their essential dependence upon the law, may be explained just as well, if not from the import of the deuteronomic law for the Israelitish national life, yet still much better as imitations of a deuteronomic model than as contemporary parallels. This explanation must be accepted in any case for the later prophetic institution or order (§ 1).

6. Recently the “stammering tongue” of Moses, in relation to the discourses in Deuteronomy, has been urged against his being their author. HENGSTENBERG replying in regard to Ex. 4:11, 12, refers to the similar case with Jeremiah, to Demosthenes, and to the occurrences in the ecstatic state. At the same time he emphasizes the fact, that the hesitation of Moses, Ex. 4, arose in view of “bold free speech before the overawing presence of Pharaoh,” which is wanting in Deuteronomy, where “he reads merely in the presence of the people, what he had before drawn up in writing” (comp. § 2).

7. “The tone of urgent, often-repeated exhortation is,” according to VAIHINGER, “in broad contrast with the stern nature of Moses, as we come to know him in the three central books.” The despised “Apologetics,” on the other hand, and in favor of its correct conjecture, “that now first in Deuteronomy we come to learn the other side of the nature of Moses,” refers to Ex. 32:32; 33:12 sq.; Num. 12:3; 14:17 sq.; thus to passages directly from “the three central books.” In regard to this HENGSTENBERG says: “In the first four books the personality of Moses is kept in the background, the method of statement is predominantly objective. In the last book the revered form of Moses comes forward, and whoever has any sense for the personality and individuality cannot fail to recognize that he here presents himself to us as he is. He speaks in entire fitness with his position as a departing father to his children. The style is earnest, animated, impressive.”

8. But it is precisely the language which VAIHINGER urges against Moses, to whom “the three central books belong;” not only “from an unusual easy and flowing style which we never observe in the earlier time,” but also “from a breadth and smoothness which remind us strongly of the modes of speech and rhetoric at the time of Ezekiel and Jeremiah, as any scholar may easily see” But KNOBEL, who has himself entered with the fullest detail into the different kinds of style of the various writers in the Pentateuch accepted by him, asserts of “the fundamental writing,” which must be “the oldest law-book of Israel,” according to him belonging to “the time of Saul,” in part at least, what VAIHINGER, what already DE WETTE, indeed what he himself asserts of Deuteronomy. Thus DE WETTE remarks: “a broad redundant use of words;” thus KNOBEL declares: “in general he writes with an affluence of words, and moreover continually repeats himself,” etc. And thus precisely he remarks upon the original writing: “the statement in these works is rich in repetitions wherein the author surpasses all others, often also broad and full;” “the author has at command great fulness of expression.” If KNOBEL allows that the author of Deuteronomy often coincides with Jeremiah and other writers since the exile, he gives also the ground for it when he says: “The patriots sought to prevent the coming ruin by leading the people back to the law.” DE WETTE, on the other hand, asserts (as he thinks) “too much as to this relationship.” The time of Jeremiah, and especially of Ezekiel, is confessedly the time of the decline of the Hebrew language. On the contrary Deuteronomy has not only similar traits of antiquity with the earlier books, but also many peculiarities of language in common with them (KEIL, Introduction, 2, p. 100). There remains thus nothing but the method of statement, which generally includes great breadth or fulness among the Semitics, but especially in Deuteronomy from the rhetorical treatment of the subject, as KNOBEL himself says: “rhetorical, and therefore affluent in words and full.” In reference to the style VAIHINGER concedes “even in the same man wide variances and diversities according to age, circumstances and dispositions.” Does he then regard the “breadth and liquidness” of the deuteronomic language as the signs of the loquaciousness and prolixity of age? Moses was one hundred and twenty years old when he died. Was his natural force not abated (Deut. 34:7), and is this to be understood intellectually also? So EWALD indeed recognizes “certain passages,” e. g. the impressive close of Deut. 30, in which “the author attains a thoughtful conciseness and energy, a severe and easy style.”

9. According to Deut. 1:9, the idea of appointing judges originated with Moses, while in Ex. 18. Jethro gives the advice.” (VAIHINGER). It is not the idea, and therefore not the counsel of Jethro, but what Moses did, which is spoken of here in entire harmony with Ex. 18:25.

10. So also “in Deut. 1:22, the proposition to send the spies came from the people, while in Num. 13. God gives the command to do this.” (VAIHINGER). The assumed contradiction is rather an important completion, and indeed by Moses himself, since there could be no object to any other writer, why he should run the risk of an apparent contradiction to Num. 13. Any other writer would indeed have avoided this with the utmost care, if he wished to be regarded as Moses. Moses thus explains that the weak faith of the people preceded their fully developed unbelief, to which God condescended, to prevent perhaps that very unbelief. For the rest, Deut. 1:22, agrees literally with Num. 13:26. [“There is no real discrepancy between these passages. The plan of sending the spies originated with the people; and as in itself a reasonable one, it approved itself to Moses: was submitted to God, and sanctioned by Him, and carried out under special divine direction. The orator’s purpose in this chapter is to bring before the people, emphatically their own responsibilities and behaviour. It is therefore important to remind them that the sending of the spies which led immediately to the murmuring and rebellion, was their own suggestion.” SPEAK. Com. This purpose of the orator throws light also upon the apparent diversity as to the appointment of the Judges, and the omission here of Jethro’s counsel.—A. G.]

11. “Moses repeatedly transfers the entire guilt of his exclusion from Canaan to the people, Deut. 1:37; 3:26; 4:21; while in Num. 20:12, it is the result of his defective faith, and in Num. 27:14, of his own personal disobedience.” (VAIHINGER). If there is a contradiction here, then Deuteronomy contradicts itself, since Deut. 32:51, is similar to Num. 20:12; 27:14. The fault was that of Moses; the occasion for it existed in the people. Thus the people were guilty in the offence of Moses. See further the exposition of the particular passages.

12. “The phrase, ‘on that side of Jordan,’ Deut. 1:1, 5, was evidently written by one on this side of Jordan, and therefore after the death of Moses,” etc. (BLEEK.) HENGSTENBERG remarks forcibly upon this objection against Moses: “The author, who evidently wishes to be held as Moses, will here at the very entrance be upon his guard, and not upon the very threshold betray himself in this simple and reckless manner.” The term is obviously a standing title designating the region eastward of the Jordan, as BLEEK himself concedes, although he asserts incorrectly that it came into use “first after the possession of Canaan by the Israelites.” As this standing designation could have been used by the Canaanites, the original inhabitants of the land, and through them have been easily adopted by the Patriarchs, so the Patriarchs must first have correctly received it from the stand-point of faith in the promise of God, since they would speak as if they were already in Canaan. But Deuteronomy places itself precisely upon this ideal and objective stand-point. Moses, Deut. 3:20, 25; 11:30, uses this phrase in a different sense, in a purely personal relation, and with good reasons for so doing. (See the Exposition.)

13. “The remark, as Israel did unto the land of his possession which Jehovah gave unto them, (Deut. 2:12), presupposes clearly a time when the Israelites, already in possession of the land, had expelled the people who had dwelt in it before, and thus a time after Moses.” (BLEEK). If it was spoken only of Canaan, then the preterite, “as Israel did,” must be understood in some manner as a prophetic, whether used by Moses, or by a later writer under his name. As the word of God, even as the word of Moses, it is an energetic and stirring expression of encouragement for the people. A later writer would have avoided a misunderstanding like that of BLEEK. If this misunderstanding were the true understanding, then the very point and design of the encouragement would fall to the ground, and the phrase could only spring from the connection. For how could it encourage Israel to enter Canaan, that he had already done this? We must then accept the gloss of a later revision, which is, however, superfluous. There is, moreover, the less ground for supposing that “the land of his possession” refers exclusively to Canaan, since 5:9, and 5:12 use the words possess, and possession, in reference to Moab and Esau. Here also, therefore, the east-Jordan land is intended, which Israel already possessed in the well-known two and a half tribes, as is expressly declared in the third chap., comp. especially Deu 3:18, 20, 21. The words “had given to them,” are there explained, as well as “what Israel did,” by the phrase “what Jehovah your God hath done.” Deu 3:10–12, is moreover, as also Deu 3:20–23, and Deu 3:9–11, evidently a Mosaic [post-Mosaic? A. G.] insertion. [There are plausible reasons for supposing that these passages are glosses contributed by Ezra, and not intended to be passed off as a part of the text. SPEAK. Com. adopts this view. But the reasons urged that these passages are parenthetical and interrupt the narrative, that the phrase as Israel did, sq., refers naturally to the conquest of Canaan as past, that there was no necessity for these antiquarian details in the case of Moses and his contemporaries, are all negative, and seem to overlook the orator’s purpose in this introductory discourse, both to humble and encourage Israel. The details are of the utmost moment to those who are about to attempt the conquest of Canaan; and it does not seem at all unsuitable, or unlike the manner of Moses to interrupt his statement of the divine communications to him, and give these historical notices which bear with such force upon the very object of his discourse. A. G.]

14. “Moses surely some months before his death would not have spoken of the coffin (bedstead?) of this king, (Deut. 3:11), as of some relic of antiquity long preserved.” (BLEEK). Were it not otherwise possible indeed, we should have here a very “plastic” gloss, of a revision. But as nothing is said of “antiquity,” on the contrary there is simply a reference to what was well known to his contemporaries, in the same way as 11:30; 2 Sam. 12:26 sq.; Jer. 49:2, the matter requires no further thought.

15. The words “unto this day,” especially in Deut. 3:14, imply also, according to BLEEK, a longer time than is reconcilable with the Mosaic authorship. If the whole verse were regarded as a gloss, it would have no importance or weight as against the Mosaic authorship. But it is here, as with the bedstead or coffin of Og. Here also there is an element of encouragement for his contemporaries. A gloss could scarcely have had any other than an archeological motive. But Moses speaks; listen only, ask merely; now the former kingdom of Og in Bashan is still “Havoth-Jair,”—“The life of Jair.”

16. The law of the king, Deut. 17—1. “There is very little probability that Moses would have given a law in reference to a later time.” 2. “The kingdom had no foundation in the entire original plan of the theocratic State of the Israelites.” Hence 3, as “something foreign, and against the will of Jehovah,” under Samuel, which he would not otherwise “have so long resisted;” further also, something which the Israelites would have already attained during the period of the Judges if it had been Mosaic; finally, in the “law of the kingdom,” as laid down by Samuel, “there is not the slightest reference to Deuteronomy.” (BLEEK). We have already called attention to the prophetic spirit which pervades Deuteronomy. The reference to Israel’s future is a prevailing one throughout. The first and nearest thing in this future was the substitute for Moses. The subjective character of Deuteronomy, not only as to the form of the discourse, but as to its very nature is closely connected with this. But the substitute for Moses is not fully provided for, or supplied by the appointment of Joshua. What must enter in the place of Moses when he retires must be institutions, or offices. But these demand a legal determination, or bounding, if it is no more than an outline. Hence Deuteronomy is full of these legislative provisions for the future; otherwise even this negative criticism would never have supposed that it found so many traces of a later time. Indeed the more closely the Deuteronomic representation confines itself to the condition of things at that time, the more naturally it makes clear its claim to be a Mosaic composition. But if the nearest future after Moses, leaving entirely out of view the universal import of the future of Israel, requires legislative provisions, and hence even the necessity of Deuteronomy as an appendix to the first four books may be apprehended, then the Deuteronomic law of the King is not only “probable,” but appears equally necessary, as the law with respect to the prophets, Deut. 18. The revelation of God (Num. 12), and magisterial authority are united indeed in Moses in their original potency. As after his departure, the one aspect has its legal continuance in the prophetic order like Moses, so the other in the order of the kings. This order is thus already founded personally in Moses, and there is no opposition in this reference to the theocracy of Israel. Still less is there such an opposition, if the theocracy of Israel has its original foundation in the patriarchal religion of promise, since, as to Abraham, so also to Israel, Kings were expressly promised as their descendants, Gen. 17:6, 16; 35:11, (49:20). This parallelism of Deuteronomy with Genesis, has already met us, (§ 1). The deuteronomic law of the king is a new feature or step in this relation. What Genesis lays the foundation for, that Deuteronomy places legally as the necessary goal of the development of the people from Abraham and Israel. The example of surrounding nations who all had kings, especially of Edom (Gen. 36:31), must have hastened the development. Could that indeed which was evident to a Balaam, Num. 24:7, 17, have remained concealed from Moses? And if we look at the universal future of Israel, the most perfect bloom of the people as in every relation, so also in what relates to the King Messiah, is connected with the Davidic Kingdom. Gen. 49:10. But while the Messianic point of view comes out clearly in the deuteronomic order of prophets (Deut 18), it remains concealed throughout in the kings of Deuteronomy, in entire accordance with the Mosaic situation. In Moses himself the prophetic element overbalanced his royal power; and for the purpose of bringing the people together, to the point of entrance into Canaan, and the conquest of the land, the existing political authority, the heads of the tribes, was amply sufficient. The deuteronomic law of the King, instead of entering in opposition to the Israelitish theocracy, connects itself with it in the simplest and most natural manner. In Deut 17:8–13, it is the priesthood (the High-Priest), which is spoken of; the reference to the kings follows immediately upon this, Deut 17:14 sq.

It is thus in entire agreement with the assumption of the Pentateuch throughout, according to which the priesthood has no political, but only a religious position. The priests are spoken of in connection with the judges, as the expounders of the law. The transition to the kings is formed by the judicial office, Deut 16:18 sq., especially by the Judge (Deut 17:9, 12), an entirely natural transition. Comp. Judg. 8:22, 23. Moreover, this kingdom was not commanded or recommended in Deuteronomy; but the event of its establishment is simply foreseen and supposed, Deut 17:14, 15. And in this event the genuine theocratic commission of such a king, one chosen of God, was alone demanded. And this king was confessedly in the most emphatic manner placed in connection with the law of God and entrusted with it, Deut. 16: 18 sq. There remains only the examination of the deuteronomic law of the king in the light of 1 Sam. 8. Two opposite facts retarded the transition foreseen in Deuteronomy as it would naturally take place from the judicial office to the kingly. At the very beginning the external unity of the people, the dictatorship of Joshua (Joshua performed what was the duty of a king) and that inward unity under the princes of the tribes still prevailed after his death; and then later the distinction of the tribes and the temporary extraordinary assistance and deliverance by the hand of God. Nevertheless the desire for the kingdom finds vent in the period of the Judges. The forsaken people itself urges this, as it were, wild branch to assume this office, Judg. 8. Gideon declines the dominion for himself and his descendants because the other and most important factor was wanting: “whom the Lord thy God shall choose” He cannot recognize himself as such, but only as for the time an extraordinary instrument in the hand of the Lord: “Jehovah shall rule over you.” He had not as yet chosen any standing representative of his dominion. The narrative of Judg. 9 justifies the way in which Gideon acted. The distinction between this case, and that of 1 Sam. 8 is manifest. There the elders of Israel are at the very point which was wanting in Gideon, hence they ask from Samuel: “Now make us a king.” And thus verbally they legitimate their demand from Deut. 17. Those who utter the wish of the people in Judg. 8 are wanting in a reference to the law; it is simply “rule over us.” The law is truly apprehended by the elders of Israel, 1 Sam. 8. The real essential references to the deuteronomic law of the king are more important even than the verbal. Thus in that they asked the king from Samuel; which Samuel, with a correct understanding of it, expresses: “See ye him whom Jehovah hath chosen,” etc., Deut 10:24 (Deut. 17:15). Thus also since they in their request recognize that in Deuteronomy designated transition from the judge: “Now make us a king who may judge us.” If the kingdom, 1 Sam. 8, appears “as something strange,” this would not only be in opposition with Deuteronomy, but with the first book of Samuel itself. How could Hannah, the mother of Samuel, pray (Deut 2:10) “that Jehovah would give strength to his king, and exalt the horn of his anointed?” And how speaks the man of God (Deut 2:35) of the “faithful priest?” Should he not walk before the anointed of the Lord? Samuel’s displeasure at the request of the elders (1 Samuel 8:6) cannot possibly be with regard to the kingdom; but at the way in which it was sought, as if it was to come in the place of his judicial activity in his own life-time, and demanded therefore as it were his dismissal. And thus it is in fact even literally, 1 Samuel 8:6: “And the thing displeased Samuel, when they said, Give us a king to judge us,” as if Samuel had fallen “with his sons” (1 Samuel 8:3). Therefore also (chap, 12) he submits his official conduct to the testimony of all Israel. But in the answer of God to the prayer of Samuel (1 Samuel 8: 7 seq.) the kingdom is not in any way viewed “as something occurring in opposition to the will of Jehovah” Jehovah indeed wills, and expresses His will repeatedly (1 Samuel 8: 9), that Samuel “should hearken to the voice of the people in all,” etc. For the question is not one concerning his own person, but in reference to God, since He “was king over them;” and as this is explained through the parallel clause: “and served other gods” (1 Samuel 8: 8), so the request of the elders in the passage is illuminated by their words: “like all the nations,” over which Samuel’s displeasure, 1 Samuel 8: 6, passes in silence, an illumination which throws its rays at the same time upon Deut. 17:14. The deuteronomic law of the king, as it foresaw the natural development of the kingdom, alludes to it with the additional clause: “like as all the nations about me,” because although the kingdom would serve the universal future of Israel, it would also make Israel like all the other nations. That the point of time for this development had now arrived was recognized by God, 1 Samuel 8:7, 9, in entire unison with Deut. 17, and hence the necessary steps were arranged. This was so much more clearly the case as the heads of families and tribes, “all the elders of Israel,” desired the king, 1 Samuel 8: 4. The ingratitude and unbelief which had driven them from the theocracy under which they had been hitherto, to the way of the nations (heathen), were disclosed to the children of Israel in Deut 10:18, 19 (comp. 8:19, 20; 12:12). But here also where sin abounded, there grace much more abounded. The Theocracy preserves its visible representation in the kingdom, as it was promised by God to the fathers with respect to the universal future of Israel. We may thus say: The kingdom is opposed to the Theocracy in its previous form, i. e., as it appeared in its regular manner through the princes of the tribes, and in its extraordinary manner through Moses, Joshua, the Judges, and at last Samuel. But we cannot say: The kingdom was generally opposed to the Theocracy (Comp. LANGE, General Introduction to the Old Testament, p. 18). For it had not existed hitherto without human mediation. It enters only a more popular, and for its effect upon the world, more enduring, because standing human mediation. That this also might be untheocratic, even might have opposed the Theocracy, is shown by the example of Abimelech during the period of the Judges. That it might not occur at the time of Samuel, God took the development into His own hands (1 Samuel 8:19, 20), as was foreseen in Deut. 17:15. As to “the manner (prerogatives) of the kingdom” (1 Sam. 10:25), the assertion of BLEEK, “that one like this existed already in the Mosaic law,” is simply a misunderstanding of Deut. 17. The deuteronomic law of the king contains essentially only duties, obligations, very peculiar prohibitions and commands, Deut. 17:16 seq. But the “manner of the king,” which Samuel (Deut 8:9 seq.) must declare for the purpose of deterring the people, is that of kings such as other people have, of a king according to a heathen model, upon which indeed their desires were fixed (comp. 2:13). Thus there cannot be here a reference to Deuteronomy; there must be rather an opposition. But when God takes into His own hand the prescribing of the rules, then the “manner of the king” could only refer back to Deuteronomy for the fundamental obligations of those who should wear the crown.

17. “Deut. 19:14 and 20:5, 6 pre-suppose later relations than the actual without further limitation.” BLEEK. In the first of these two passages there is no room for “anything further,” since it speaks there expressly of thy neighbor’s landmark, “which they of old have set in thine inheritance, which thou shalt inherit in the land which Jehovah thy God giveth thee (gives thee in idea and purpose) to possess it (because thou shalt possess it).” The stand-point of Deuteronomy, that Israel, certain of the possession, is viewed as dwelling in the land of promise, is well known (comp. 12 above and Deut. 12:1). From this stand-point, which also undoubtedly distinguishes 20:5, 6, Moses can so much the more be regarded as speaking, as throughout it is not enemies “in the general, as if it were directly applicable without some further limitation” (BLEEK), which are spoken of, but “thy enemy.” 20:1 is more closely defined by 20:15: “Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.” Thus not Canaanitish enemies, for the Canaanites (20:16 seq.) were expressly excepted.

18. “Thus also the song, Deut. 32, both in its reference to the divine providence (Deut. 32:12), and to the ingratitude of the people (Deut. 32: 15 seq.), points to something as already past” (BLEEK). The “value of prophetic prediction” is thus denied (LANGE, Introd. p. 7). Upon this passage, HENGSTENBERG says: “That the prophets bear these names—seers and beholders—not without cause, since wrapt in spirit into the future, the energy of the knowledge represents itself in this, that what is actually in the future appears to them as present. Grammar itself has long since recognized this fact, since it speaks of a prophetic preterite. Faith does not conjecture what may happen; it sees things which are not as though they were, e. g. Isa. 1:5–9. Analogies exist in our spiritual lyric poetry, and may be adduced even Deut. 32 gives rise to no hesitation or doubt, neither does the contents. The foreknowledge of Moses rises upon the foundation of 31:27 and the ten commandments, of which none now ventures to deny that Moses is the author. Thus the continuance of the people in the land which the Lord their God gave them would depend upon the vigor and bloom of their piety, which they had already so seriously injured in their conduct towards Moses, the servant of God.”

19. “Deut. 14:22–29 differs throughout from Num. 18:22–32” (BLEEK). According to VAIHINGER the change appears already Deut. 12:6, “where the tithes are to be paid directly to the priests.” But Deut 12:6, 11 simply says that among the offerings generally “your tithes” also must be brought to the place of the sanctuary. If it is Levitical tithes, especially the tithes of the priests, which are spoken of, this is in perfect correspondence with the fundamental idea of the tithe, since it is Jehovah to whom it is brought (Lev. 27:30 sq.; Num. 18), from whom—and not so much from the person giving the tithe—the Levites and priests received the tithes; the Levitical mediation, however (as also Heb. 7:5), not being excluded. That “the Levites should themselves collect the tithes” (VAIHINGER), cannot be shown from Num. 18. Comp. Lev. 27:30 sq. “Generally Moses wished to make the tithes as little burdensome as possible to the conscience and freedom of the people; he left the giving and computation of the tithes to the conscience, without a judicial and priestly visitation, however without forbidding the Levites from examining whether they received what was rightfully their own” (MICHAELIS, Laws of Moses, IV., §102). This author even concedes too much to the view of those who look upon the tithes-rather as the revenue of the priests and Levites, than as the yielding of the people to Jehovah the proprietor of all its possessions.

There is no ground whatever for the appeal to Judg. 17:7, 8; 19:18, which SCHULTZ makes with respect to the homelessness of the Levites, that they “must devote a large part of their time, especially summer time, to the ingathering of the tithes as their means of subsistence.” The general nature of the expression Deut. 12 allows us to understand also the Levitical and Priestly tithes. (KEIL). But the special allusion to meals, at the place of the sanctuary directly after (Deut. 12:7), and the express limitation (Deut. 12:17) to corn, wine and oil, show clearly that something else than Levitical double tithes was intended, and indeed an existing custom, an established usage in Israel. If generally the second tithe was here first instituted, still more, if a previous custom was here given a new form, Deut. 12:17 would not simply say: “Thou mayest not within thy gates eat the tithe.” This presupposes an eating of the tithes already existing, and only prescribes that the unlimited free method which had prevailed should cease in Canaan, thus precisely as Deut. 12:8, 9 are connected with Deut. 12:6, 7, and are thus explained. It does not appear whether this tenth was to be taken with the Levitical, thus asking from the people altogether the fifth, or after the deduction of the Levitical tenth was to be taken from the remaining nine parts, or whether after the analogy of the priestly tenth, a tenth of the tenth, or was merely a larger measure which was freely yielded, on the occasion of bringing the tithes. As Gen. 28:22, and especially the proportion in Egypt, Gen. 47, give a support for a peculiar second tenth, so the eating from or with the tenth, on the part of the tithe-bringer, was so natural that it would even by itself have been cultivated and handed down as a familiar usage. Even the first tithe, Lev. 27:30, is declared as a well-known matter, without any explanation. The express limitation, Lev. 27:17, to corn, wine, and oil, shows moreover that this is no mere “alteration.” This second tithe is entirely vegetable, while the first, included (Lev. 27:32), both herds and flocks. That would be a very peculiar alteration which should erase precisely that which was most irrepealable and of greatest worth! On the contrary the tithe of the land, (Lev. 27:30, 31), which might be redeemed by the addition of a fifth to its value, affords a point of union for the tithe to be eaten. The doubling of the verb, Deut. 14:22, appears to point formally to a second tithe, and indeed expressly a vegetable. The tithing, Deut 12, happened with reference to the meals appointed at the sanctuary. Even 14, 28 treats only of these fruit tithes. From the first-born of the herds and flocks, which were already also mentioned with the tithe, Deut. 12:6, 7, VAIHINGER raises a new objection against Moses, since according to Num. 18 “all the first-born belonged to the Priests for their support.” The flesh of the first-born certainly (Num. 18:18) belongs to the priests, as also the wave breast and the right shoulder of the sin and trespass offerings. The analogy of these offerings defines the eating of this flesh as a sacrificial meal, (Num. 18:11). It is clear therefore that the eating of the firstborn, Deut. 12:17, is to be understood only of the eating by the Priests, or still as an eating with them, and of what belonged to them. The connection involves’ no difficulty; he is speaking of the sacred meals generally, so that whichever may be especially concerned the individual features of the case remain untouched. All Israel are addressed (comp. 1:1) thus without any exclusion of the Priests,—they are indeed included by preference, in Deuteronomy, with the Levites. It is probably said (Deut. 12:7) expressly to prevent any misunderstanding, that all Israel should rejoice in these sacred meals, “in all that ye put your hand unto,” i. e., whatever they are at liberty to take, , Deut. 12:18. And even the “vows,” and “freewill offerings” which are mentioned, , Deut. 12:6-7, with the tithes and first-born, relate merely to definite individual cases. This plain individualizing, unless we attach no importance to the change from “you” (Deut. 12:6, 11) to “thou” (Deut. 12:13, 17sq.), is especially marked through the prominence of “the Levites” (Deut. 12:12, 18, 19). There was no occasion for the mention of the Priests in the sacred feasts, since in reference to these generally, and especially through the first-born, they were provided for. This view of the Priests is not opposed by Deut. 14:22 sq., for Deut. 14:24 speaks merely of vegetable tithes, in reference to which alone the term “carry” could be used, and which they were free to turn into money. But the peculiar treatment after this of the first-born, Deut 15, points so much the more to something which must be distinguished from the tithe eating. After the very brief statement of Deut 12, the 14th chap. alone names the first-born in connection with the second tithe (Deut. 14:23), because the “year by year” (comp. 14:22 with 15:20) is common to both. Still however Deut 14 speaks merely of the tithes. It must therefore be somewhat different with the first-born, Deut 15, than with the tithes: Why else the designedly different introduction, 15:19, 20, to the analogous usage with 14:22? The yearly bringing was common to both, the difference grows out of their different natures, since the first-born was a sacrifice, the tithe was not, a difference which was expressly hinted at, in that allowed exchange of the tithe for money (Deut 14:24 sq.). Thus the distinction avails especially with regard to Deut 15 partly in reference to what precedes the bringing of the first-born (Deut. 15:19) and partly in what followed, which latter was the enjoyment on the part of the Priests and their families (Deut. 15:20 sq.) and which, as easily understood, was not brought into any further prominence. Comp. Mal. 1:8, 13, 14. The Jewish tradition, JOSEPHUS, the Book of Tobia i. 7, recognizes the two tithes, but not two different kinds of first-born. Still we know from the Talmud that it was a disputed question, variously answered, whether a Priest might permit an Israelite to eat with him of the first-born, and indeed one marred with some defect. If, then, with reference to Deut. 15 we extend the eating of the first-born beyond the Priests and their families, we must then hold that a usage here obtains its formal legal ground, which could very naturally have connected itself with the second tithes and their presentation. If there is no support for it in antiquity, as for the second tithe, still the first-born appears from the beginning as a sacrifice with which the sacrificial meal was connected Ex. 13:15. Comp. Deut. 15:21, for the expression, and for the ceremonial, Num. 18. At all events the Priest with the qualified members of his house, held a sacrificial feast, upon the flesh belonging to him. Nothing forbade him to admit the similarly qualified bringer of the first born to participate in the feast. Indeed how naturally would the invitation to do so grow out of the entire relations and circumstances. In purchases and sales, as at the payment of dues, the payment of interest by the debtor or the tenant, is it proposed to eat and drink, this surely is far more natural and comprehensible in tithes, perquisites, and fees. The official receiver in this way introduces, pleasantly, the giver into higher relations. But in all such things, as here with the feasts upon the tithes and the first-born, which are taken, from the customs and life of the people, up into the law-giving, or come before the Judge’s Seat for determination, we must perceive clearly the case supposed and the circumstances in which the people were living, and of which, on the other hand, we are scarcely able to form a full and perfect view, whether more remote or recent, through mere conjectures, inferences, and analogies. We might present in this connection all the toilsome labor in the Talmud, and in the Rabbinical commentaries. There has recently been issued a judicial sentence upon the impropriety of “wedding gifts.” But who can be clear from the sentence itself, as to the merits of the case, unless he knew the custom from his own surroundings which is presupposed in the case? The perfect ease and freedom of the supposition should come into view as a reason in favor of the Mosaic authorship. That a deuteronomic writer later than Moses should have arranged or wished to arrange something entirely different from the “original Mosaic work,” that he has moreover according to BLEEK’S own apprehension retained nevertheless, Num. 18, in his revision of the Pentateuch, is hardly to be received. In any case the fundamental destination of the Israelitish theocracy was grasped and fixed with the first born. Looking away now from the strange character of the meal, if the previous levitical tithes, and the first-born belonging to the Priests must be eaten yearly, at the same time, at the sanctuary, what kind of a participation “in the voluntary act of kindness,” would there be “in this way,” while the Levite “without possession,” should like “any other needy one,” or beggar, be literally supplied with food. “The distressed condition as to his support, of the Levite” (VAIHINGER), whom the author of Deuteronomy keeps vividly before his mind, is connected with the sad, mournful tone which is peculiar to the fifth book of Moses, as it is to the gospel of John, and has its ground in the foresight, based upon the forty years bitter experience that the disobedience and apostacy would continue to their final and fatal issue.

[There is no real discrepancy between the legislation in the earlier books and in Deuteronomy with respect to tithes. The apparent difference may be explained either upon the theory stated in the SPEAK. Com. that the deuteronomic legislation refers in all cases to the second and additional tithes taken on the increase of the field only, and for the celebration of the sacred meals, at the sanctuary on each first and second year, and on the third year at home; or upon the theory that Deuteronomy, according to its popular character, recognizes customs which had long existed among the people, and gives them a formal legal basis and regulation. In any case there is nothing in these differences, admitting that they cannot be fully explained, to justify the assumption of a later date and another author than Moses. Even DAVIDSON concedes, after dwelling upon these differences at great length, that “it is possible to conceive of Moses as making these modifications.” Then, too, upon the supposition of another author than Moses, and of glaring inconsistencies in the statements, the difficulty meets us which is insuperable, how could such an author expect his work to be received as Mosaic while he allows such discrepancies to remain between his own teaching and that of the earlier books. A credulity which accepts this need not be staggered at anything else.—A. G.].

20. “According to Ex. 29:27, 28; Lev. 7:28–34, the breast and the right shoulder of all the thank-offerings belonged to the Priest, while in Deut. 18:3, he is assigned only the shoulder, the two cheeks, and the maw of the animal, an alteration for which there was no occasion in the law-giver Moses.” (VAIHINGER). Since Deut. 18:1, 2, formally refers to Num. 18, an “alteration” could only properly be spoken of, when one is substituted in the place of the other. But as there is nothing of this in the passage, we may as well, indeed much better, suppose an enlargement or completion, an additional designation of parts in Deut. 18:3, and also in the fourth verse. Such an enlargement indeed was to be expected, since the slaughter of animals beyond the precincts of the sanctuary, allowed in the altered relations in Canaan (Deut. 12:15, comp. Lev. 17:3 sq.), seemed to be an infringement upon the revenues of the priests, which these killings performed in the method of the sacrifices represent. The compensation consisted in three parts of the animal, the head, maw and feet. As to the “impossibility of rendering these dues to the priests, since the most places were far removed from priestly cities” (VAIHINGER), KEIL has allowed it to have too much weight with him, since the exchange for money appointed with respect to the second tithes, and which he finds applicable to the first tithes, admits far more easily of an application to these dues, since in 12:21, in regard to such killings the local distance is expressly mentioned, in connection with which the commutation into money was appointed, 14:24 sq. Philo, Josephus, the Talmud and the Rabbins do not understand 5:3 to speak of sacrifices. But even if sacrifices are referred to, still the dues mentioned, (“the shoulder, cheeks and maw of the animal”), refer only to the offering for the permanent sacrificial feast (5:3, “from the people, from whom, etc.” sq.), while on the other hand they have no connection with the wave breast and right shoulder, the portion of the sacrifices belonging to the priests. For these are numbered among the things offered by fire unto Jehovah, which are reserved (5:1) for the priests, and appear here with direct and literal reference to Lev. 7:30, the last passage quoted by VAIHINGER, as in opposition to Deut. 18.

21. “In Num. 35 certain cities are appropriated to the Levites, with the fields belonging to them, for the pasturage of their herds; and in Josh. 21 are assigned to them by lot; but nothing of this appears in Deuteronomy, which represents the Levites as homeless and scattered among the Israelites.” (BLEEK). There is the same propriety and justice in quoting Num. 35 against Num. 18:20, 28 sq.; 26:62. For as to the Levites, the verbal literal cause of their position is found in Num. 18, comp. the passages 12:12; 14:27, 29, cited by BLEEK. BLEEK ought to have been the last person to have arrayed Josh. 24 against Deuteronomy, since upon his own hypothesis as to the writer of Deuteronomy, Joshua has edited the book and brought it into its present form. He thus comes into conflict with himself. Levi has no part or inheritance with his brethren. Jehovah is his inheritance, as He said to him, Deut. 10:9. The homelessness of the Levites was externally a relative one, i. e., in comparison with his brethren. Absolute homelessness externally would have sundered his relations as one of the brethren, the membership of the body of Israel, his connection with the people of promise, to whom the land of promise belonged. Absolutely, his homelessness was internal. Jehovah was spiritually his inheritance (Gen. 15:1), for an example to his brethren. Hence we may explain the repeated designation, “the Levite who is in your (thy) gate,” which refers to Ex. 20:10, and which represents him as a guest in a still higher sense than the stranger generally, (comp. Ex. 12:48; Ps. 5:4, 5, etc.), as is clearly the case in Deut 12:12, 18, where the Levite receives his position in the family and household, while Deut 14:29; 16:11, 14; 26:11–13 may refer more especially to the stranger in a strict and literal sense. (Who doubts that heaven and earth belong to him who prays at his table, Come Lord Jesus, and be our guest!) Should we bring into view “the cities of the Levites,” which were distributed through all Israel, as we may well do in Deut 18:6, “the Levites would appear to be living in their different cities, scattered among the other Israelites. The connection of the Levites with the strangers, orphans and widow (14:29; 16:11, 14; 26:11 sq.), arises from the fact that they were under the special care of Jehovah. Comp. Ex. 22:21 sq.; Lev. 19:34; Deut. 10:18 sq.; 24:17; 27:19, etc. The frequent exhortation “not to neglect the Levite,” 12:19; 14:27, as on the one hand it presupposes a foresight of the fact that their future was identified with that of Jehovah among His people, (to use BAHR’S expression), so on the other hand it should be viewed as a genuine Mosaic, since it shows also a special care of Moses for his successors.

22. “In the earlier books, the Levites as servants in the temple always appear in a sharply drawn distinction from the Priests the sons of Aaron. In Deuteronomy the Levites perform priestly functions, and the priests are the “Sons of Levi,” or “the priests the Levites,” a phrase which occurs elsewhere, only in later writings.” (BLEEK). There is certainly a prevailing individualizing of the tribe of Levi peculiar to Deuteronomy, and one so much more observable, since the distinction between priests and Levites was sufficiently clear in the earlier books. It would be very natural also, if Moses at some one time before his departure, in a peculiar interest for his family, should present the tribe of Levi to the people as a united whole. Such an effort was not only genealogically but even theocratically and morally justified. See Ex. 32; comp. Deut. 10. Although the family of Aaron was destined to the priesthood, the sin of that family was counteracted by the unselfish zeal of the sons of Levi against their own flesh and blood, and for the honor of Jehovah, and thus the priestly dignity and honor was preserved to the house of Levi; Deut. 10:8. The Levites had done as Phinehas did afterwards, Num. 25. The blessing pronounced upon them at that time, as it is also uttered in Deut. 33:8 sq., which lifted from them the heavy curse (Gen. 49:7), was the priestly character of the tribe of Levi in general, which the priestly office and acts of the sons of Aaron only carried out in particular. Thus this priestly calling of the family of Aaron rests especially upon the general priestly character of Levi. For Levi is consecrated to Jehovah, instead of the first-born. Are the Levites in this respect, as all the first-born, given for the use of the special Aaronic priesthood, although truly indeed to Jehovah (Num. 3:9; 8:19; 18:6), and have they such a sacrificial signification; so on the other hand, a general priestly substitution for the people is proper to them, while the general priesthood was not yet in existence, Num. 8:19; 18:22; 1:53. The distinction between the priests and Levites is sharply drawn, Num. 16, but Num. 16:9 and Num. 16:10 just as decidedly assure to them their general priestly character. It is evident from this statement in the “other books,” that the method of expression used in Deuteronomy is perfectly legitimate, since the distinction between priests and Levites is well known and recognized here also, Numbers 10:6; 18:1. Numbers 18:3 comp. with Numbers 18:6 sq.

The Levite, not the levitical priests, appears in Deut 12:12; 18:19, etc. Deut. 11:6 reminds us of Num. 16. If the priests appear to have the business of the Levites, 31:9, comp. with 31:25, the connection shows clearly in what sense it is meant, viz., that they in a principal sense “bear the ark of the covenant,” (comp. Jos. 3:3, 6, 8; 4:9; 6:6, 12; 8:33; 1 Kings 8:3, 6) for in Deut. 11:9 they appear as the custodians of the law, in Deut. 11:25 as those who should deposit it in the side of the ark of the covenant, while they must deliver this veiled, to be born by the Levites who were not priests, Num. 4:4, 5, 15 sq. If the levitical service is described in similar terms with the priestly, the terms used are sufficiently general, and the purpose sufficiently clear to guard against any misapprehension, particularly as to the distinction presupposed according to the earlier books. The priest is said “to stand and minister in the name of Jehovah,” Deut 18:5. The Levite also is said in Deut 18:7 “to minister in the name of Jehovah,” with the addition, “as all his brethren, the Levites, which stand there before Jehovah.” In this connection, and where his brethren are spoken of, we can hardly understand that the priest and Levite connected with him are here alluded to, so that on account of the priest only are they said to stand before the Lord, but always also in reference to the Levite. But the comparison with Deut 21:5 shows clearly the distinction in the “serving in the name of Jehovah” with reference to the priests and Levites, although applied to both; and hence we may hold that the “standing before the Lord” may be used in regard to every service, even the most subordinate, of the sanctuary, since indeed this same expression was used in a much wider sense, e. g., 1 Kings 17:1; 18:15, (Deut. 1:38). Comp. however 17:12. The advance from Aaron is purely historical, the personal relation and the particular family determined by him as its head (Ex. 28:29; Lev. 8:9, 10; Num. 18) is to be regarded as vanishing with his person, and hence the expressions, “sons,” “brothers of Aaron,” and the like, growing out of this personal relation, and used in the earlier books, are to be viewed as falling into disuse at the time of Deuteronomy. The reference to Genesis, and connection with it, in the parallelism between the first and fifth book of Moses, frequently noticed, was not only suited to the time, but after the priestly institution was established through the earlier giving of the law, which is presupposed and recognized by Deuteronomy throughout, since it alone particularizes the Levites for the liberality of Israel, is also genuinely deuteronomic, as Deuteronomy from the very beginning views Israel as a whole, and hence has nothing to do with the family, but only with the tribes of the people. More deeply or widely viewed, this is appropriate to the prophetic character of Deuteronomy, since a family like that of Aaron could not so well represent the priestly future of all Israel among the nations, and of the spiritual Israel in the world generally, as a priestly tribe like that of Levi, which appears as its typical bearer. It is only when this peculiar element in Deuteronomy is overlooked that any one can regard the places cited by BLEEK, as Jer. 33:18, 21; Ezek. 43:19; 44:15; Isa. 66:21 (Isa. 61:6) as opposed to Moses; on the contrary they bear an important testimony in his favor. The deuteronomic designation of the priesthood as levitical, and first truly as “sons of Levi,” cannot be ambiguous, Deut 18:1, where however the distinction immediately follows; it says simply that even the priests are Levites, and hence “the Levites” can be used to denote the priests, particularly in cases where the context, or the thing itself, leaves no doubt, e. g., Deut. 31:25; 27:14; comp. Jos. 8:33. The passages from the books of Chronicles cited by BLEEK, plainly rest upon Deuteronomy. Comp. 2 Chron. 23:18. That the deuteronomic designation does not ignore or miss the distinction between the priests and Levites may be so clearly shown, even from the book of Joshua, that it should have satisfied the criticism. Comp. 3:3; 8:33; Deut 21. [The character of Deuteronomy as a series of popular discourses must be borne in mind here. It would not be in accordance with his purpose here to draw minutely the character and privileges of the priests, or sharply to distinguish between them and the Levites, as he had done before. Now speaking to the people, he puts them in their fixed relations to the other tribes, and hence as the Priests the Levites. WORDSWORTH calls attention not only to the fact that thirty-eight years had elapsed between Exodus, Leviticus, and the first part of Numbers, and the last part of Numbers and Deuteronomy, during which a difference in usage might have arisen; but also to the “rebellion of Korah and the Levites associated with him against Aaron the Priest, and its awful judgment,” by which the distinction between the priests and the Levites was forever settled. There was no necessity therefore for dwelling upon it now, “and what better could he do,” and what more suitable to his purpose and approaching departure, than “to exhort them to live in harmony. And what title could be better adapted to produce this result than the one chosen—the Priests the Levites?”—A. G.]

23. “The seat of the sanctuary is not viewed in the central books, as fixed, and limited to one definite locality, and generally they do not assert with emphasis that sacrifices could be offered only in one place. On the other hand, in Deut. 12 it is expressly required, as it is also implied in other passages, that the sanctuary should have one fixed place in the land, chosen by Jehovah, and at which the whole cultus must be observed. The transgressions of this law by the people are comprehensible, although it was Mosaic, but not by those who were more “devotedly pious, as was the case long after the erection of the temple” (BLEEK). The very first rule of the legal cultus, Ex. 20:24 sq., points to an altar of sacrifice which should be built of earth or unhewn stone, and then it follows: “in all places where I record my name I will come unto thee, and I will bless thee.” A very general ordinance availing as well in extraordinary cases as in the ordinary service. With respect to the latter, Lev. 17:3 sq. asserts already the oneness of the tabernacle, as far as the altar of sacrifice is concerned, with the most extreme consequences indeed for the killing of any sacrificial animals elsewhere. What more than this is done in Deuteronomy? It rather relaxes the strictness of the law, since it permits, 12:15, 16; 20–24, the killing in other places where the legal directions (Lev. 17) were clearly in view. When BLEEK pronounces this “as genuinely Mosaic,” especially because “it is only in the time of Moses that the whole community can be viewed as gathered into one camp, and each person was not far from the tabernacle;” so it might be thought that the deuteronomic variations and permissions make scarcely a less valid claim, since they indeed bear an entirely simple and natural stamp, suited to the relations (“when the people were scattered through the land”), which Deuteronomy would regard. But these very altered relations, when the dispersion of Israel in Canaan, placed difficulties in the way of the oneness as to the locality of the tabernacle, growing out of the unity of Jehovah, made it more necessary that this should be emphasized in Deuteronomy with respect to the ordinary cultus. Who is there finally who will deny that the localizing of the people in the land of promise is a main point of view in this book? But all the acts giving locality to objects, e. g. of the book of the law (§ 2), but especially of the permanent position of the tabernacle (Deut. 12:9, 10, 11), are inseparably connected with this. The fixing of the sanctuary “at one definite place,” according to the direction Ex. 20, is thus only Deuteronomic, and so much the more Mosaic, as it omits entirely any localizing of the place. Deuteronomy brings the wandering tabernacle at once to rest in Canaan, still without this rest restraining the historical development. For the designation of the place as that “which the Lord should choose out of all their tribes to put his name there, for his dwelling,” applies as well to Shiloh, as Jeremiah literally testifies 7:12, as to Jerusalem, and hence therefore, as the temple is not spoken of already, so neither is the tabernacle itself. The expression “house of Jehovah,” Deut. 23:19, can only be emphatic in Deuteronomy in connection with its tendency to the settlement of Israel and his God in Canaan, if it appeared frequently, and had not been used already Ex. 23:19; 34:26, if the word “house” had not the general sense of dwelling, and if the heathen idol temples were not floating before the mind in Deut. 23:19. VAIHINGER most erroneously sees in this an expression of a “later time” (comp. the original passage, Gen. 28:16 sq.). Even the very object of Moses (Lev. 17) “in this way to restrain the people from any service of idols” (BLEEK, Einleitung, p. 190), appears prominently again in Deut. 12, since it brings into view on one side Deut. 12:2, the numerous places of worship corresponding to the numerous idols of the heathen, and on the other Deut. 12:4, 8, 13, the self-chosen service of God (will-worship) so easily springing up upon the limits of the worship of the one true God. We must carefully distinguish from this, however, what is provided for in the general rule of worship, Ex. 20, as to extraordinary cases. The God of Israel is at the same time the Lord of heaven and earth, and is so represented from the very beginning in Genesis. To suppose that He was confined to any one place would be in contradiction to His essential character. Hence there are beyond and by the side of the tabernacle, altars of the Lord. Their original is still therefore the altar of burnt-offering in the court of the tabernacle; the one returns in all, and in this sense the passage Ex. 20 (against SHULTZ) “speaks of one.” It results indeed from this not merely that there should be altars of the Lord erected, but that they should be erected at His command, or as the expression of His revelation. Such freedom corresponds truly with the free movements of the tabernacle, which were intimated by the leading of Israel, just as the freedom of the altars was determined by the revelation of Jehovah. In Ex. 3:12, 18 (comp. ver. 1 sq.); Ex. 5:1, 3, 8, etc.; 24:4, we meet already with exceptions to the rule. The rigid application of the rule would have assured a dead temple righteousness, a mere fleshly value of the privileges of the sanctuary (comp. Jer. 7:4); as it would also have condemned the whole ante-legal worship of God by the fathers, who left behind them so many sacred places to the people in Canaan, and would have condemned every possible transition to the worship John 4:21 sq. Comp. Jer. 3:16. Hence even in Deuteronomy itself, Deut 27:4 sq., and indeed with a clear reference to the passage Ex. 20, Moses himself, in his own person, institutes an exception to the rule upon Mount Ebal, so that we may well, for the present, cease from any wider justification of “the more pious.”


From Ezra 9:11 (Lev. 18:24 sq.)—a prayer which, in its humble boldness and earnestness, J. J. HESS urges against SPINOZA’S conjecture that Ezra wrote Deuteronomy—VAIHINGER draws the inference that the Pentateuch is “the work of several of the prophets.” As if 2 Kings 17:13; 21:10; Dan. 9:10 sq., were not entirely similar passages; as if indeed Ezra 7:9 and the corresponding prayer in Nehemiah, Deut 9:13, did not make all clear! The general superintendent, J. CHRISTOPH. NACHTIGALL, already at the close of the eighteenth century, designated Jeremiah as the composer of the Pentateuch. The time of this prophet is the time of the reformation under the King Josiah, pious from his youth upwards (the last third of the 7th cent., A. C.), at which time the book of the law was found in the temple—an event which has become of the greatest importance in the criticism of Deuteronomy.

The introductory passage (2 Kings 20:2; 2 Chron. 34:2) is in its very terms Deuteronomic. Comp. especially Deut. 17:20; 5:29; 28:14.

From this narrative, which, according to BUNSEN, quoted by VAIHINGER, “is so simple and artless, that the thought of any concealed forging of the book must be rejected,” two things are clear:

1. That book of the law (2 Kings 22:8; 2 Chron. 34:15) was the whole Pentateuch, not merely Deuteronomy, as even DE WETTE expresses it in his concise style: “the finding of the book of the law in the temple under Josiah (2 Kings 22) is the first certain trace of the pre-existence of the present Pentateuch.” The book of the law (2 Chron. 34:15) is according to 5:14 expressly the book of the law of Jehovah by the hand of Moses (“b’jad Mosheh,” Lev. 26:46; Num. 36:13; comp. § 1). Whether it was the very copy written by the hand of Moses, or only the copy laid up in the archives of the temple (comp. HAEVERNICK, Einleit. I. 1, p. 17 sq.), and which may have been a later copy, may be left undecided. GROTIUS is in favor of the former supposition. The designation as the “book of the covenant,” 2 Kings 23:2, 21; 2 Chron. 34:30, cannot refer to Ex. 24:7 in such a sense that the mere contents of Ex. 20:2 sq. and Deut 21–23 could be meant; but inasmuch as that book of the Covenant contained as it were the law in a brief form, so the whole could be more fitly described by such a part, since with the covenant, upon the lifting up of the law, the reformation of King Josiah was carried to its highest point (2 Kings 23:3; 2 Chron. 34:31 sq.). Comp. moreover Deut. 28:69; 29:11 sq. In 2 Chron. 35:12 the title “book of Moses” occurs, and 2 Kings 23:25 speaks of the conversion of Josiah to Jehovah as “according to all the law of Moses.”

2. It is clear, in the second place, that although the book found was the whole Pentateuch, still Deuteronomy, as was proper, was especially brought before the king. Shaphan, the scribe, “read it,” or “read therein,” before the king. But immediately with this, “the words of the law,” i. e. the deuteronomic discourses come prominently into view. In the more precise description of Huldah the prophetess, the curses of Deut. 28:15 sq.; 29:2 sq. come before us; 2 Kings 22:17, and 2 Chron. 34:25, are taken literally from Deut. 31:29 (comp. 2 Kings 23:19). The “performing all the words of this covenant, 2 Kings 23:3, brings up afresh Deut. 27, especially the 26th verse (comp. 2 Kings 23:24). As Deuteronomy truly “pre-supposes the earlier books” (DE WETTE), and particularly in what concerns the passover feast of Josiah (2 Kings 23:21; comp. with 2 Chron. 35:6, 13), so it was pre-eminently fitted to produce the impression here spoken of upon king, court and people, from its peculiarities alluded to in § 1. As to this comp. 2 Kings 22:19; 2 Chron. 34:27. It presents us with a forcible example of what the reading of the law prescribed in Deuteronomy (comp. § 2) could and ought to effect, when it was read as directed.

With the apostasy of the people at the time (2 Kings 22:13; 2 Chron. 34:21; comp. Deut. 29:26 sq.), the prophetic order certainly stands out in the clear light. According to the narrative 2 Kings 22:14; 2 Chron. 34:22, the high-priest consulted (not the Urim and Thummim officially granted to him, as was constantly done at the time of David), but the prophetess Huldah. In the spreading decline of the priesthood, whose duty it was to guard and preserve the law, the concealment and disappearance of the book of the law in the temple is no incomprehensible occurrence, and we need not once think of a court preacher of godless kings. In the schools of the prophets, as is so often intimated, there were found abstracts of the law such as should have been in the hands of the kings; the prophets must do, what was the office of the priest, to whom belonged the reading of the law every seventh year—preserve the people in the knowledge of the law (comp. for the kingdom of Israel, 2 Kings 4:23, 42; for that of Judah, 2 Chron. 15:3). Under Josiah, moreover, it is simply the copy in the temple which is concerned.10 The law is not an unknown book to Hilkiah since (ver. 8) he describes it by name to the king’s scribe. But abstracts of the law were rare already under Jehoshaphat, and can scarcely be assumed beyond Jerusalem. Comp. 2 Chron. 17:9. Under the succeeding reigns down to Hezekiah, the only copy which appears is that given to Joash when he was crowned in the temple, 2 Kings 11:12. We may conceive of fragmentary collections of those Mosaic ordinances which relate to civil life, for the use of the different courts; perhaps also of oracles in usum Delphini, with their connected explanations both with respect to the legal and the historical portions. “Under Manasseh and Amon there were at most those Mosaic legal ordinances which had no reference to religion; whatever bore such a reference was so disregarded by the court that a perfect copy of the book of religion and law could scarcely be found, even upon a diligent inquiry. We are to remember that under such a king the inquiry would be dangerous, although the tradition that Manasseh had erased the name of Jehovah from all these books, is groundless” (HESS). The prophetic circles were, however, no mere nurseries for such Torsos of the Mosaic law, and least of all authors of the Pentateuch, etc. Since VAIHINGER holds, that “the law-giving portions of the Pentateuch were already in existence in a written form at the separation of the kingdom, and in general force among the entire people,” derives these portions indeed “from the hand of Moses,” to which “as to the recognized ground and source of the Israelitish faith and worship, the prophets could refer from the very beginning onward,” he must concede also, that in the historical parts there is “not unfrequently an almost verbal agreement;” so that these also must have a like Mosaic origin, and thus presents the case precisely as it lies in the Pentateuch, in which the historical portions form the frame-work and explanation of the law-giving.

The importance of the discovery of the law at the time of Josiah lies in this, that the reformation under that king, which had gone up to this point upon traditional grounds, is shown through the authority of this book of the law in its authentic perfect copy, so significative for this purpose, in a higher and almost wonderful way, to be legitimate; the law of God in Deuteronomy celebrates a victory in Israel. But neither the time of Jeremiah, nor the prophet himself, as he is seen in his prophecies, can come into view here with reference to the origin of Deuteronomy. How does the general and like prominence of the blessing and the curse, Deut. 11:28; 30:15, agree with this time? In the sharpest distinction from the time of the second generation under Moses and Joshua, Jeremiah does not speak of the blessing and the curse, but Israel has chosen the curse, the curse will come upon it. Jeremiah preaches constantly unconditional overthrow. How significant that the reformer-king falls in battle with Pharaoh-Necho, 2 Kings 23:28 sq.; 2 Chron. 35:20 sq. The distinction between the preaching of repentance, and the preaching of the law, is that which holds between Jeremiah and Deuteronomy. Comp. upon this the genial words of LANGE upon the idea of personal repentance, 1, p. 41. ORIGEN admirably describes the work of Jeremiah in his homilies upon that prophet “as an ever new call to repentance, sounding forth continually, until at last the judgment itself became the loudest call.” The preaching of Jeremiah, like all preaching of repentance, has a peculiar tendency or aim, now against idolatry, and now against the righteousness of works, sins which had scarcely taken shape at the time of Moses, but already were the prominent features of Pharisaism at the time of Jeremiah, while the subjective character of Deuteronomy, intelligible in itself, and merely set forth without any special design, is of the essence of the law of God. The fitting tendency of Deuteronomy is to awaken the fear of the Lord, which is the beginning of wisdom, the source of all true obedience to the commandments of God, the sister of love to God, without which there is no worship in spirit and in truth, and to which the earlier books of the pentateuch and the history offer occasional hints. But how can the author of Deuteronomy, freely and powerfully controlling the situation, be the mournful Jeremiah, thrown into the midst of the contentions of his time? Jer. 20:10 sq. “His continually wearisome, diffuse style of writing, full of repetitions and of standing thoughts and modes of expression” (DE WETTE) harmonizes well with what he says of himself, Lam. 2:11. HENGSTENBERG describes his style as “like the hairy garment and leathern girdle of Elijah.”

VAIHINGER moreover decides, with reference to Deuteronomy, in favor of the reign of Hezekiah, to which the deuteronomic law-giving, with its renewed covenant (Deut. 28:69; comp. 2 Chron. 29:11 sq.) generally, especially the law, Deut. 12, (comp. 2 Kings 18:4–6), and the still elsewhere often recurring injunction, 14:23 sq.; 15:20; 16:2, 6, 7, 11, 15; 17:8, 10, 15; 23:17; 31:11, all point.

The renewing of the covenant under Josiah, bears no specific marks of the time of Hezekiah; although prefigured in Deuteronomy it arose out of the very nature of religion, especially of this people, and was the altogether fitting, positive, and theocratic close of that more perfect or more comprehensive reformation in Israel. Comp. also Josh. 24.

The law “with respect to the local oneness of the place of sacrifice and worship of God,” if one chooses to write history, points at least to the time of David, if not to that of Joshua; but BLEEK also says, “We find that until Hezekiah the pious kings even worshipped at the high places, brought sacrifices to Jehovah upon other altars than that of the temple, which they would not have endured or demanded in the way they did, if that direct peculiar deuteronomic law-giving with reference to this point had been known to them.”

With regard to the deuteronomic law-giving as to this point, comp. § 4 (I. 23). It left room for Moses to appoint an altar of sacrifice upon the heights of Ebal. When BLEEK refers to Josh. 24:1, 26, he overlooks how the pious practices in Israel cherished a connection with the sacred memories of the people, the points of new quickening in the path of the fathers. Comp. Gen. 35. He did not offer sacrifice under that oak. In this sense sanctuaries were not truly in opposition to the law, especially when they were consecrated through the earlier revelations of God. Comp. Gen. 12. If we cannot urge Gen. 31:49 in favor of this consecration of Mizpah, so neither can it be proved that any one “offered sacrifices there.” Judg. 11:11; 20:1, 5, 8. At Bethel, indeed, sacrifices were offered (Judg. 20:18, 26; 21:2, 4), but it was before the ark of the covenant temporarily brought thither (Judg. 20:27) from its usual residence at Shiloh, Judg. 21:19; 18:31. The altar of sacrifice at Bochim, Judg. 2:5; the altar of witness (Josh. 22:10 sq; Ex. 17:15) at Ophra have the same legal occasion and authority as Josh. 8:30 sq.; Judg. 6:24. (Judg. 2:2 contains a verbal reference to Ex. 34:13; Deut. 7:5; and also to Deut. 12:3). But extraordinary times, like that of the Judges, and the yet unsettled relations in Canaan, must always have the appearance of illegality. This is true in the highest sense of the time of Samuel, when at the beginning the ark of the covenant was carried away by the Philistines, and thence down to David, when the actual declaration of God makes it evident that it should not dwell longer at Shiloh. It was thus “natural that the sacred places should be held in high esteem, that indeed sacrifices should be presented at them” (HENGSTENBERG). Moreover we must consider the separation of the ark of he covenant and the tabernacle. Comp. 1 Chr. 13:3. As to the time of David and Solomon before the building of the temple, 1 Kings 3:2 (2 Sam. 7:6) is rich with express reference to Deuteronomy. We have therefore for the time extraordinary places of sacrifice of two kinds authorized through revelation, indeed by the command of God, and that without reference to the ordinance, since God Himself, had not yet fixed historically the ordinance of the one place of the temple as an unalterable law. But when after the building of the temple “kings who are usually praised for their piety and adherence to the law” (BLEEK) simply strive as reformers against the heathen high-places, it does not follow that they offered sacrifices upon the other or Jehovistic high-places. This is inserted by BLEEK into the passages cited in favor of his assertion, 1 Kings 15:14; 22:44; 2 Kings 12:4; 14:4; 15:4, 35. The very contrary indeed is evident from the history, e. g., that of Asa, 2 Chron. 15:8, 10, 11. At least the cited passages only say, “the high-places were not taken away,” “the people sacrificed and burnt incense still upon the high-places.” (We should notice the distinction 2 Kings 15:35 between king and people). The pious kings after Solomon, in this respect are distinguished from Solomon, of whom it is expressly said, 1 Kings 3:3, that he sacrificed upon the high-places. But even if this were not the case, such indulgence in this worship upon the high-places could be explained as provisional, and treated with a sparing hand, as bearing against the heathen high-places, and a counterpoise to them. There is therefore in this just as little evidence against the preëxistence of Deuteronomy as in the Lutheran reformation, especially at its beginning, against the preëxistence of the Bible, although images, crucifixes, and similar things, still remained in the churches, and indeed after Luther’s death the Spaniards found the public worship so celebrated at Wittenberg that they thought they were celebrating their own mass. After Jeroboam and his successors subordinated the worship of Jehovah (1 Kings 12:29) to the Calf-worship, with the purpose perhaps of reconciling Jehovah and the strange gods (2 Kings 17:7 sq.), in the kingdom of Judah, where under Solomon there was already a remarkably “large-hearted,” religious, and philosophical universalism, the distinction was again sharply proclaimed, and the distinctive heathen cultus of the high-places was suppressed. Even this, however, was not thoroughly accomplished. As the reformers before Hezekiah in Judah suffered the altars upon the Jehovistic high-places to remain, so the zeal of Elijah renewed again the altar of Jehovah, at Carmel, in the kingdom of Israel, 1 Kings 18:30 sq.; 19:10, 14—when the question was whether Jehovah or Baal is God. Hezekiah, roused perhaps by the manifest heathenism in connection with the brazen serpent, 2 Kings 18:4, proceeds against the Jehovistic high-places,—as the destruction of the kingdom of Israel at this time, afforded an opportunity of centralizing the worship for the remnant which was left. His efforts however, and those of Josiah when the reformation was first completed, were for the most part directed against the heathen cultus. It is simply said of Hezekiah, 2 Kings 18:6, “that he clave to Jehovah, and departed not from following Him, but kept His commandments, which Jehovah commanded Moses.” It may be understood with reference to the centralizing of the worship of God, (2 Kings 18:22) and with reference to Deuteronomy; but in order that Deuteronomy should have its origin under Hezekiah, something more definite must be said, so much at least as we read of Josiah, e. g., 2 Kings 23:25; without including the finding of the law at the time of Josiah. Still the removal of the high-places is now of great moment to these critics, and since it occurred already under Hezekiah, all the arguments which doubtless would have been urged as unquestionable in favor of the time of Josiah must be neglected. We should rather grant that the failure to execute a law is no evidence against its preëxistence; for if it were, then the middle ages and modern times afford proof abundant against the preëxistence and knowledge of the sacred Scriptures. It overlooks the essence of sin, which is a transgression of law.

With regard to the “men of Hezekiah,” to whom VAIHINGER especially points for the authorship of Deuteronomy, Hezekiah thus renewed the Divine service of song, 2 Chron. 29:30, and his men, according to Prov. 25:1, made “a collection of Solomonian proverbs in addition to the existing book of Proverbs” of the king, as the editor of DRECHSLER’S Isaiah correctly decides. It is a wide step to take, from this to the collecting of the Pentateuch and the origin of Deuteronomy. With constant changes, as e. g., “one should think that the collecting and unifying of the law book must be attributed to Hezekiah,” etc., etc.; VAIHINGER proves nothing.11 BLEEK moreover urges against “the idea of the deuteronomic law-giving in its present form” at the time of Josiah, and so also at the time of Hezekiah, “that it is not truly probable,” that it is indeed “improbable,” that just “then in the threatening of the Divine curse against the transgressors of the law, the king would be referred to especially, as is done in Deut. 28:36. It is much more credible that this lawgiving in its present form was published under Hezekiah’s successor, the idolatrous Manasseh.”

VAIHINGER, on the contrary, rejects the time of Manasseh, since there is not in Deuteronomy “any reference to him or to his abominations.” And when EWALD and RIEHM place the authorship of Deuteronomy under Manasseh, BLEEK himself asserts that the reasons urged by them “are in part untenable.” As to the more precise determination of EWALD that the author was a dependent of the kingdom of Judah, living in Egypt, both BLEEK and VAIHINGER agree “that there is no sufficient occasion for it.” According to DE WETTE “it is difficult” to place the origin “of the Jehovistic portions” in the time of Hezekiah, and indeed after his reformation, because of the remarkable narrative, Num. 21:4–9, of the brazen serpent which was then destroyed as an “idol.” But if the brazen serpent lifted up by Moses was a symbol of victory, and a memorial of the overcoming of the serpents and their fatal bite, then with this reason for the Jehovistic portions, Num. 21, may be urged with like if not greater force, Deut. 8:14, 15, as a reason against placing Deuteronomy down as low as the reformation under Hezekiah, for there the people are warned not to forget the Lord, and then follows an express allusion to the serpents. A writer with a purpose to accomplish, as the author of Deuteronomy has with the critics, would not have expressed himself so incautiously under Hezekiah, certainly would neither have arranged for the altar of the high-place upon Ebal (Deut 27), nor have mentioned the serpents.

EWALD, who explains the origin of Deuteronomy, “out of a long continued literary activity in connection with the primitive history,” thus gives it a purely literary character, still regards this author as writing in the interest of the reformation. Thus also BLEEK regards the deuteronomic law-giving as springing out of the efforts and zeal of the party of the reformers. We have here the nerve and sinew of all the hypotheses as to the origin of Deuteronomy, which waver between the time of Hezekiah and Josiah.

Since now a reformation presupposes a decline—a deformation—thus a form from which there has been a decline, and to which there must be a return, and since the form of life and faith from which Israel had fallen away lies, for the defender of the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch, with all the authority and force of the highest antiquity, in the Mosaic law, the criticism is under the necessity in every such

later writing to compensate for the defective qualifications through “peculiar events,” such as the discovery of Deuteronomy in the temple under Josiah. Instead of the usual “upon this whole region higher ruling necessities,” it rests upon what is purely external and fortuitous. Instead of that which plainly facilitated the development of the time of the writer, who “viewed the consecrated ground of history as the pure material of prophetic and legal or statutory aims,” is substituted the modern learned phantasmagoria. What VAIHINGER recognizes was the idolatry “of the sound human understanding, the spirit of the age.”12 Against such a suddenly emerging Deuteronomy at such a time, how would the opposition have broken forth, if not from the midst of an idolatrous people, yet still from the apostate Priests and Levites, whose gain, as BLEEK concedes, was so closely connected with the cultus of the high-places, and also from the lying prophets, surely with much greater force than it did against Hezekiah from heathen lips, 2 Kings 18:22; 2 Chron. 32:12; Isa. 36:7. VAIHINGER regards the allusions to Deuteronomy in Hosea and Amos rather as “preparations for this work, which introduce the revolution completed by the fifth book of Moses in its appearance and re-discovery.” But Deuteronomy has peculiarities which clearly distinguish it from the literature of this reformation period, the writings of the prophets. These are concerned with the secret falling away from Jehovah in its outward manifestations, the early form of the later Pharisaism, an opposition which is not recognized in the internal character of Deuteronomy, which rather, as SCHULTZ correctly says, “simply places by the side of one external work another satisfied with a more deep and perfect impression of the thought.” How different, e.g., is the internal character of Deuteronomy, from the prophetic spirituality of a Jeremiah in reference to the very point of a central sanctuary, made of so much moment by the critics, Jer. 3:16. If Deuteronomy had been written in the interest of reform at the time between Hezekiah and Josiah, to bring one thing into prominence, how differently would the Sabbath command be alluded to than it is in Deut. 5:12–15? Comp. Isa. 56:2; 58:13 sq.; Jer. 17:21 sq.; Ezek. 20:12 sq.; 22:8, etc. The Holy Scripture in the reformation of the 16th century held the same position as Deuteronomy in the time of the reformation in Israel. The Bible was translated at Luther’s time, but no biblical book could be made. The impression of the temple copy found under Josiah is in no respect such as if it had entered anew, as one entirely unknown, into the life of Israel, at one time. Thus Luther was truly astonished when in the university library at Erfurt, as Mathesius discourses, he found the complete Latin Bible, which he had never seen before, and yet it had been in existence through the whole of the middle ages indeed, in Hebrew and Greek. The threatenings of the curses which point back to Lev. 26 and Ex. 23, read out of Deuteronomy to the king, although the reformation of Josiah afterward connected itself with this event, constitutes the kernel of the recorded impression, and indeed in its agreement with the standing theme of the prophets, which so forcibly confirmed the long-closed mouth of Moses, as also in connection with the fact that about this time—although we do not view the irruption of the Scythians into Palestine, recorded by HERODOTUS, as of so great importance as EWALD—about the thirteenth to the eighteenth year of the reign of Josiah, Nabopolassar raised the sword of the Chaldean world power against Assyria, and according to Micah 4:10; Isa. 39:6, 7, matured their fulfilment. As it is very clear that the reformation under Josiah grouped itself around the newly discovered law-book with increasing zeal, so it is certain on the other hand that the king had already commenced the reformation before that event. If one doubts as to the deuteronomic character of this pre-reformation in reference to the high-places, still the deuteronomic reformation under Hezekiah nearly one hundred years before Josiah is beyond question. The origin of Deuteronomy at the time of Manasseh would be an anachronism. Josiah might easily connect himself with his great predecessor Hezekiah. The traditional religion and the existence of the temple, regarded even in a political point of view as the national central point of Israel, gives a sufficient basis for the reformation under these kings. But in connection with this there is not merely traditional piety in Israel, but lest this should be tried beyond measure in the corruption of the human heart, and the violent assaults of the worldly spirit upon the elect among the people, the law-giver must take care for the written record of his law, and indeed, besides the more priestly character of the earlier law-giving, in a form like that which distinguishes the more popular Deuteronomy, which, in its preparatory relation to the prophetic order, should afford a point of union for the further revelation of God in Israel, in its legal and prophetic method even, should place and legalize from the earlier times downwards as in their home, the prophets, who are indeed the very soul of the pious circle in Israel. If Moses was no mere theorizer, no mere idealist, if he, as a true practical law-giver includes in his view the consequences of fallen human nature, if we do not deny to him the natural, rational results of his daily experience with two generations of his own people, and, leaving out of view now the inspired vision of the prophet, leaving out of view indeed the natural foresight of genius; if we do not deny to him the present thought of the influence upon Israel, of the most diverse, mighty, and attractive forms of heathenism, we cannot but recognize that he would make provision that the given support of his people, in all its possible or probable wanderings, should not be taken away. But the simplest provision in this regard was a written record of his law under his own eye, by himself, which indeed is done and emphasized in Deuteronomy (§ 2). The profound view of the human heart held by Moses (e. g., Gen. 6:5; 8:21), and the knowledge of the religion of Israel certainly not to be denied to him, should prevent any one from refusing that recognition.13

If KNOBEL views “the oral law-giving, even among the Hebrews, as older than the written,” so the Mosaic law presupposes the jurisprudence, morals, religious consciousness, as these existed among the people in Egypt; the fruit of its fathers whose faith and lives are contained in Genesis. But the collecting, embodying and completion of the Noachian and Abrahamic preformations was first mediated through Moses, and introduced as a law of the people and State, the inheritance for the remotest children, and has so far definitely moulded the historical development of Israel, that its historical features and characteristics among the nations are those of the Mosaic law, whose end is the Messiah. Moses could not breathe out “receive ye the Holy Ghost,” and could even so little promise generally “the Holy Spirit whom the Father shall send in my name, He shall teach you all things, and bring all things to your remembrance, whatsoever I have said unto you.” The comparison between Moses and Christ by KNOBEL, makes the necessity for a written record for Moses still more clear (§ 4, 1, 1). We cannot refer to Joshua as the “successor” to Moses, “for the extension and recording” of the law, nor can we think of Samuel any more than of the prophets in this connection. Their activity is not for a law, but refers back to the law. They do not form the law, but strive to form the people according to the law. “However full of gradual development, the Old Testament is ever striving towards the New, the law itself is not developed, but lies at the basis of the development, urges it onward, defines it. The development fulfils itself upon the ground and limits of the law, but strives instead of completing it, towards another and higher, to wit, that of grace and to the gospel. It is only in this knowledge of the way, in which the law should once attain its real value, as it especially finds its complete fulfilment in Him whose whole being goes out in obedience to it, as through this obedience transgressions meet an atonement, and the destination of Israel reaches its goal, it is only in this prophetic knowledge, desire and confidence, that development and progress find any place. The only duty binding upon those under the Old Testament with regard to the law, was just that which is binding upon us with reference to the gospel, viz., instead of giving it perfection, to appropriate it more and more fully.” (SHULTZ). If any one truly regard the history of Israel as a mere “natural history,” he must, according to the method of the well known Ape theory as to the origin of man, reject the law and Deuteronomy, especially Moses and the Mosaic period. Neither the internal nature of the Mosaic law-giving, nor the external character carried out to the utmost particularity can be understood from this point of view. KNOBEL allows “the oldest law-book of Israel,” the so-called “fundamental writing” to have been written by some Priest at the time of Saul, “in order to guard the Mosaic theocracy against the earthly kingdom” (1 Sam. 13:13 sq.; 15:10 sq.) Was the danger of “injury to the heavenly kingdom,” then, less at the time of the Judges (Judg. 9) than when there was a Samuel to resist it? Did not the time when Israel first entered Canaan and was scattered among its native inhabitants much rather demand the most definite law, which “arranged the ceremonial and political with the same divine necessity as the religious and moral, so that the one cannot be separated from the other?” (ZIEGLER). This demand avails, especially in reference to all the particular features of the definite religion of Egypt, whence the people had just come! And now, as KNOBEL confesses, “the fundamental writing has not reached its public introduction and efficiency,” and in the same manner it fares with the remaining revisions of the law which he accepts, until its “deuteronomic enlargement” by the high-priest Hilkiah under Josiah. Thus in truth, we have only a mere fruitless literature of the law, a purely indefinite deposit of temporary “theocratic uprisings” or the “favor of circumstances,” and’ the like. And with this some will construe the history of the sacred eternal law of God in Israel, and the apostacy and reformation, ever repeating itself, and have thus understood, the sense of guilt, and generally all the characteristic features of this people, to be explained! As sin, which is not our nature, with the fall presupposes the divine image in all its reality down even to the dominion over the creatures upon earth, so the times of apostacy as those of reformation in Israel, demand the written and perfect reality of the Mosaic law.14 Upon this supposition alone could the people of Israel, which, as an Adam among the nations, is the creation of God, be thus the product of his law. Moreover if this criticism must concede a Moses at the head of the historical development of the Israelitish people, so the recording of his law by himself belongs to him, from the very historical relations under which he enters and works, since the people were accustomed to see the book, referred to even upon the every-day concerns of life, and brought with them from Egypt not merely the knowledge of writing among the priests and the peculiar class of scribes, but throughout the people rather a fondness for writing than a mere facility for it.


The historical unfitness of the pretended authorship of Deuteronomy is evident from the previous section. But this much still. If a pseudo-Mosaic Deuteronomy must be attempted, is it credible, after what we know of the prophets, that these holy men of God who spake as they were moved by the Holy Ghost, should have used and promoted an attempt of this kind, as a sacred primitive record? It is as profane as it is unhistorical to assign to them such a position of “an unduly excited literary culture and inclination to speak in a prophetic and legislative way” (EWALD).

But that the author of Deuteronomy “shows himself in perfect honesty before the eyes of his readers,” as VAIHINGER expresses himself; that his “Moses” is simply “a form of clothing” (BUNSEN), as in the Proverbs and in the Preacher of Solomon, under which he enriches the decided poetic literature of the Hebrews with a legal writing also, is truly a supposition unique and by itself. But the very singularity of the case from the stand-point of this literature makes it generally suspicious. But there is still a peculiar distinction between proverbial poetry and the giving of the law, as even between Solomon and Moses. The former, in the midst of his apostasy from Jehovah, is surrounded with a certain poetic ideality (1 Kings 5), on account of his wisdom, personal and indeed become proverbial, so that as a literary matter it was easy and natural to personify him. To regard the latter, on the other hand, whose one only divine legitimate position of a servant in the house of God, as the one through whom the law should be given for all time, remains the same in the whole composition of the Bible, from the earliest post-Mosaic section (Deut. 33:4; 34:10 sq.) down (comp. § 2) to the New Testament; to regard Moses as a poetic fiction covering a second post-Mosaic law-giving, is a literary impossibility, at least upon the region of the sacred Scripture. Finally the so-confident emphatic reference to Prov. 1:1–9, 18, to Ecclesiastes, to the Book of Job, is not at all in place here. It is not “generally agreed” (VAIHINGER) to doubt whether Solomon is the author “of this first part of the Proverbs.” The author of Ecclesiastes never names himself Solomon, but much more describes himself as one who lived after Solomon’s death (1:12). And the book of Job makes no particular claim, as to its author, which Deuteronomy does with all earnestness, 1:3, 9 sq.; 2:17, 31; 5:1; 8:1; 11:26, etc.

If now we examine the pretended deuteronomic authorship in a moral point of view, RIEHM asserts, “that in and for itself this literary fiction is nothing blameworthy,” but has an eye to the distinction between “the purely poetic fiction” of the author of Ecclesiastes, and that of the Deuteronomist, who “in his fiction has the purpose to procure by it a recognition for the new law-book;” which purpose “makes the case somewhat different, gives an appearance of insincerity” to his procedure, although one cannot accuse him “of a conscious acting upon the Jesuitical maxim, that the end justifies the means, and of a conscious purpose to deceive.” How large a share of consciousness we may ascribe to him, such passages of Deuteronomy themselves as these, 4:2; 13:1; (7:32); 33:4; 34:10 sq.; and 18:20, clearly show. With what freedom and knowledge, even of the actual Moses, he speaks, e. g. with regard to his prayer, 3:23 sq.! If he draws “from entirely lost sources,” which he in good faith held to be genuinely Mosaic, whence his appropriate accurate acquaintance with the Mosaic and pre-Mosaic time generally, and with its special features in particular, arose, still there is no moral explanation for the method of statement intentionally left uncolored by the time in which he actually wrote. How very different already the author of the book of Judges represents the similar facts, Judg. 2:3; comp. Deut. 7:22! Whoever has power “so artfully to transplant himself into the situation of Moses, that the whole synagogue, and the entire Christian Church, with all its high spiritual functionaries and keen-sighted heads, have held him to be Moses” (HENGSTENBERG), cannot escape the reproach that he has labored with great earnestness, and is not barely a self-deceiver, but “a very artful deceiver” of others. We settle the case as it lies, if we issue to the deuteromist, nothing beyond an appeal “to the law and the testimony.” For it claims to be the supplementary, completing Mosaic law-giving. And this remains the case—only that there figures in the collection of the “pentateuch writings,” besides the Deuteronomist, a “pre-elohist,” and an “Elohist,” and a “Jehovist,”—although VAIHINGER still speaks solemnly of his “harmonist,” of one indeed who “as a prophet and moved by the Holy Ghost,” brings the entire pious farrago “into the harmony before us.” This sounds comical truly when this “spirit of external and internal historical criticism” first separates this work of the Holy Spirit into its certainly very human origin. How “the word of God can remain in its eternal strength and purity” (!!!), while it concerns itself only about “its dress,” is difficult to perceive. It is written in the decalogue for every Israelite, and much more for the pious in Israel, one of whom the deuteronomist as well as the harmonist must have been: Thou shalt not lift up the name of Jehovah thy God to a vain thing, the lie and deceit.

[KLEINERT: Das Deuteronomim und der Deuteronomiker, Leip., 1872, discusses in a very clear, able, but in some respects unsatisfactory, way the questions: What is the chief portion of Deuteronomy? In what relation the language in Deuteronomy stands to the central books of the Pentateuch? Whether the deuteronomic law-giving could have arisen in the time of Josiah, Manasseh, Hezekiah? Whether the deuteronomic law in its present form was composed by Moses? In what time we are to place the codification of the deuteronomic laws? And whether the parts of Deuteronomy which precede and follow the Mosaic part, or the law, take their origin in another time than the law itself?

He holds, in distinction from nearly all others, that the author of Deuteronomy never claims that it was composed by Moses in its present form, but simply that he wrote “this law” (extract in a book-form); and that this law, found in Deut 5–26, more exactly the main part of the book, to which the author refers in both the preceding and following chapters. The author, whoever he may be, recognizes this kernel or central portion as essentially the law-giving codified and left by Moses in the land of Moab. Comparing the characteristic features of Deuteronomy with those of the foregoing books, we may say briefly, that as the latter are theocratic and symbolical, so the former bears a human, or rather a religious and ethical stamp: in those the ruling principle is the holiness of God; in this His patience and grace. There it is the cultus and priesthood which are prominent; here the divinely chosen organization of the national life. Chronologically this part of Deuteronomy occupies a middle position between what seems the earlier, fundamental portion of the central books, Ex. 20–23:34; Lev. 18:20, and the remaining parts, to which KLEINERT assigns no date, as beyond his purpose in this inquiry. In this respect Deuteronomy holds a three-fold relation to the central books: first, as it embraces legal enactments taken in idea and form from the earlier law, but arranged and presented according to its own ruling principle; second, as it enlarges and completes legal enactments found in the earlier law; and third, as it gives in a simpler form a whole circle of legal enactments, which are afterwards amplified and extended in Leviticus and Numbers.

Having thus determined its relative position, he proceeds to discuss the question as to the time of its origin. The external occasion upon which the idea with the critics of a late origin rests, is found in the discovery of the law-book under Josiah, 2 Kings 22; 2 Chron. 34. Whether it was Deuteronomy, or the whole Pentateuch, which was so discovered, it is certain that Deuteronomy was an essential portion of it. If it arose at the time of Josiah, then surely we should expect that it would be carefully adjusted to the relations at that time. But we find, on the contrary, that it bears clear testimony to its own earlier existence, as e. g. in the command for the destruction of the Canaanites, which was appropriate to the earlier periods, but was entirely out of place at a time when the Israelites were struggling for their very existence with the mighty world powers; in the command to destroy the Amalekites, who were a dangerous foe at the time of Moses and the Judges, but whose power was broken in the wars with Saul and David, who were so feeble that a force of five hundred men, 1 Chron. 4:43, completely destroyed them at the time of Hezekiah, and in regard to whom therefore a command of this nature issued one hundred years after their destruction would be most inappropriate; in the direction as to the oneness of the sanctuary which would have been both useless and unsuitable at the time of Josiah, since Hezekiah had already destroyed every vestige of the high-places, which might draw the people away from Jerusalem; in the marked Egyptian coloring in the deuteronomic legislation, which would have been natural at an earlier time, but not at the time of Josiah,—so that EWALD was forced to the strange conjecture that Deuteronomy was composed by a Jewish exile in Egypt—and in other like references. This testimony drawn from the book itself is confirmed by the plain, unquestionable references to Deuteronomy both by historical and prophetic writers, as Hosea and Amos, long before the time of Josiah; by the fact that all the conditions, both historical and moral, for the origin of a new law-giving in the name of Moses, are wanting in the time of Josiah; while there is really no satisfactory reason in favor of so late a date. The same reasons, in the main, lie against the supposition of its origin either under Manasseh or Hezekiah.

Was it then in its present form composed by Moses? Or, in what time are we to place the codifying of the deuteronomic law? KLEINERT gives a separate discussion to each of these questions. But they are really one. He thinks it clear, that while Mosaic laws lay at the basis of Deuteronomy, it is itself in its present form the work of another. All the conditions as to time, and the character of the book itself, point to the period of the Judges as the only one in which Deuteronomy could have received its present form. After a full and learned discussion of these points, and of the further question, whether the parts of Deuteronomy preceding and following this central portion are to be attributed to the same time and author, which he answers, on the whole, in the affirmative, KLEINERT closes his essays with a recapitulation of the results attained, as he believes, viz., that Deuteronomy consists of a central part or kernel left by Moses in its fundamental form written down, but explained, enlarged and enforced by oral discourses (4:45–26:15); that to this central part there is added the book of the Covenant, embracing the blessings and the curses mainly found from 26:16–30:20; and to this still a cluster of sayings in circulation among the tribes as Mosaic, and entitled the blessing of Moses, 33 to the end; the whole preceded by an historical and hortatory introduction, 1:4, 44. This four-fold book, discourses, law, covenant and blessings, is the work of one writer; and this writer he identifies with Samuel.

Upon this work of KLEINERT the following observations may be in place:

1). That the discussion is carried on with a very free spirit indeed, but still with an evident and hearty reverence for the word of God. His position is peculiar to himself. He regards himself as, on the whole, occupying a position against the modern “critics,” although cheerfully recognizing the valuable results of their labors, and in many minor points coinciding with them. He presents his work as a solution of the difficulties which the critics have raised, but does not seem aware that his very solution opens new difficulties which remain to be solved.

2). It is satisfactory to those who hold the Mosaic authorship, that after starting with the strange denial of that which even the critics freely concede, viz., that Deuteronomy as a whole claims to be from Moses, he reaches as the result of his inquiries a conviction that it is from one author,—who presents himself indeed, and his work, to us in different aspects, in different parts of it,—but in all as one who must have been near to Moses, who must have shared largely in his views and spirit; and who seeks the very ends with respect to Israel, which Moses had so much at heart. His argument that Deuteronomy could not have originated under Josiah, or indeed after the division of the kingdom, or under Solomon or David, is masterly and complete, and his statement of his own position is indeed very clear and fair.

3). But he walks with the same entire confidence in his own methods and results, which mark the whole modern German criticism. Whatever may be true in regard to the theories of others, there is no question as to his own. He treads everywhere upon solid ground. The results which others have reached, whether in favor of the Mosaic Authorship or against it, are dismissed with an ex-cathedra air and tone which, to say the least, seems illy suited to investigations like these.

4). The arguments which KLEINERT uses so well against the later origin under Josiah, etc., might, to a great extent, be fairly urged against his own view, were it not that he includes in his hypothesis the Mosaic Authorship essentially, of the central part or second discourse of Deuteronomy. He himself admits, after the full and elaborate discussion of the Critical hypotheses, that nothing has yet occurred which would exclude the composition of Deuteronomy in the time of Moses: that there are several things indeed which, with a great appearance of truth, could be urged in its favor, things which plainly harmonize with the time of Moses, as, e. g., the position of Israel to the neighboring nations, the Egyptian coloring in some legal enactments, and yet the strong position in opposition to Egypt; the statement as to the ceremonial life of Israel before crossing the Jordan, (Deut. 12:8), the appointment of the cities of refuge, etc., etc. It seems clear that these and the like points are not only consistent with the supposition of the Mosaic Authorship, but that they harmonize better with the time of Moses than with any other. The same thing is true surely with respect to the command for the destruction of the Canaanites, and with the peculiar character and design of the laws of war, Deut. 20. The fact that in Deuteronomy there is a greater fulness and detail in regard to the household and family relations; that the people are warned against removing their neighbor’s landmarks; and especially that there is a marked change in the terms used to describe the judicial officers and functions, does not necessarily imply that the people were already established in the promised land, when Deuteronomy was written, and that we must therefore trace it, at least as to its present form, to another author than Moses. Changes like these, if they could not have grown up in the lapse of the thirty-eight years, between the earlier commands and institutions and the deuteronomic discourses, may yet be satisfactorily explained from the different position of Moses, when these discourses were spoken, and the obviously different ends in view. He is no longer here providing for passing emergencies, for the necessities of the people in their needs and wanderings, when the division into thousands, hundreds, etc., was so exactly suited to their case, but giving directions which should cover the whole future, providing institutions which should be adapted to the settled permanent state. It is natural therefore that here he should use terms like “the elders of the cities,” instead of “elders of the people,” the very instances upon which KLEINERT lays such stress, which seem to carry in themselves a reference to this permanent position in the land.

It is just the change which a wise law-giver like Moses would make in the terms he chooses; just the freedom which we should expect to find on the supposition that both books came from one hand, but which we should not expect on the supposition that Deuteronomy was written by another person than Moses.

5). But in questions of this kind the external evidence ought not to be utterly ignored. It constitutes a presumption surely in favor of the Mosaic Authorship, that this book, in its present form, was held by the Church in all ages to be the work of Moses, until very recent times. The Jews so received it. See the references to Philo, Josephus, and the Talmud, in SMITH’S Bib. Dict., Art. Pentateuch. The Apostle Paul, quoting from Deuteronomy 32:21, ascribes it to Moses. “Moses saith I will provoke you to jealousy by them that are no people, and by a foolish nation I will anger you.” The Apostle Peter, filled with the Holy Ghost, said: “Moses said unto your fathers, A Prophet, etc.,” referring here indeed to one of those passages in Deuteronomy which have been urged as proofs of its later origin. For a fuller list of the N. T. passages which refer to Deuteronomy, see below, §7. It is remarkable that our Lord Himself, in His sore conflict with the tempter, should draw His weapons in every case from the book of Deuteronomy, from which He quotes as it was received in His day, i. e., as the undisputed work of Moses. Surely He was not imposed upon, nor can we conceive of it as possible that He would lend the weight of His authority to an assumption not grounded in truth. It needs something more than mere diversities of style, seeming anachronisms and glosses, apparent differences of statement,—which yet in nearly all cases are satisfactorily explained,—to shake our confidence resting upon such a basis. Especially as the whole tone and character of the book go to show that it came from Moses. Its solemn monitory and yet tender and cheering tone, the deep sympathy between the speaker and those whom he addresses, everywhere apparent; the readiness with which he includes himself with them, even in their errors and punishments; the ease and naturalness with which past events in their history are used to illustrate and enforce his admonitions, the obvious appropriateness in these discourses in all their provisions and details to the relations in which Moses and the people were now placed, all tend to confirm the Mosaic Authorship of this book. Even the admitted difficulties themselves may be fairly urged in favor of its antiquity. He who turned away from the glittering honors of the Egyptian court, and chose affliction with the people of God, who had brought that people so near to the promised land as their inheritance, who yet carried with him, in the very recollection of his own experience of their unbelief and obstinacy, a full and painful sense of the dangers which lay before them, pours out here his tender solicitude for them. It is the father’s advice to his children; the wise law-giver’s provision for their future necessities; the inspired prophet’s counsels and admonitions. No unprejudiced reader would rise from its perusal with any other conviction than that it came from Moses, and the whole result of recent discussions, and of the assaults of the “Modern Scientific Criticism,” is to confirm rather than shake this conviction.—A. G.].


Apologetics finds itself in the favorable position, that it can, not only disprove or explain the appearances urged as against Moses, although it may not fully answer every question of that nature, but believes the Mosaic origin of Deuteronomy to be supported through a multitude of peculiarities. HENGSTENBERG abridges thus: “There never occurs a single expression which is not suited to the condition of Moses at that time; the point of view is the same throughout the book; the situation is ever the time at the borders of the land of promise. There is no single reference, overstepping the limits of history, to what in later time was the central point in the life of the people, to Jerusalem and its temple, and the Davidic kingdom. The near approaching possession of the land is presupposed in general, but the special features in the relation of the Israelites to the conquered land are not described. The principal foe is, throughout, the Canaanites, who from the beginning of the period of the Judges retire into the background, and after Judg. 5 never play an important part. There is a sufficiently accurate knowledge of the primitive historical relations of the nations, who came into notice at the time of Moses. Comp. Deut 2 in reference to the geography of the region at the last period of the march; Deut 1:1 sq. Above all the constant reference to Egypt; in the reasons for kindness towards servants, drawn from thence, 5:15; 15:15; 16:12; 24:18; in the threatenings of the peculiar sicknesses of Egypt, 28:27, 35; in the promises of deliverance from them, 7:15; 28:60; in the description of Canaan by comparison with Egypt, 11:10, in which occurs a very striking representation of the old Egyptian agriculture, to which the monuments afford full confirmation. If Deuteronomy was not written by Moses, then there is here an instance of the most refined literary deception, and that in an age which did not possess the art required in such a supposition.” DELITZSCH: “Deuteronomy claims to be Mosaic, and notwithstanding HUPFELD’s objections, must be regarded as such; and this may the more readily be done, since the truth of its own testimony, the results of which are not fully felt before investigation, is confirmed by a surprising conjunction of internal and external testimonies. It is rich in Egyptian references, which could only be looked for in a book written by the hand of Moses, and indeed upon the borders of Egypt and Palestine. Without laying too great importance upon the rigid, comprehensive prohibition of all image worship, 4:15–18, upon the command to wear the law as an amulet upon the hand and brow, 6:8 sq.; 11:18–20, comp. Ex. 13:16, upon the command to engrave it upon the chalk-plastered stones, 27:1–8, having Egyptian usages as co-working factors in their origin, the book is elsewhere full of Egyptian references; 20:5 to the business of the scribe in the representation of the Egyptian mode of warfare; 25:2, to the Egyptian bastinado; 11:10, to the Egyptian mode of irrigating the land; 22:5, (the prohibition of disguises) to the customs of the Egyptian priests in holding solemn processions in the disguise of gods; 8:9, to the Egyptian mining. Moreover it comes to view among the curses, 7:15; 28:60, that according to 28:68 Egypt represents to the author all the future oppressors of Israel; 29:11 points to Egyptians serving among Israel; the thought ‘thou wast a servant in Egypt,’ runs as a motive to kindness, through Deuteronomy 5:15; 24:18, 22; above all there meet us references to the residence in Egypt, 6:21 sq.; 7:8, 18; 11:3, and at times in the laws themselves,—while such a reference in the time of Manasseh would have been extremely rare,—as in the law of the king, 17:16; finally the like antiquity of the language with that of the other books. To the antiquity and genuine Mosaic peculiarities of Deuteronomy belong also his love of figures of speech, 29:17; 28:13, 44; 29:18; and of comparisons, 1:31, 44; 8:5; 28:49. The most surprising results will appear if one should compare Deuteronomy, the book of the covenant, the decalogue, Ex. 19:24, and the 90th Psalm with one another: e. g., Ex. 24:17 with Deut. 4:24; 9:3; Ex. 19:4 with Deut. 32:11; Ps. 90 with Deut. 32; Ps. 90:17 runs through the whole of Deuteronomy 2:7; 14:29; 16:15; 24:19; 28:12; 30:9. [See also here SMITH’S Bible Dict., Art. Pentateuch.—A. G.]. The authorship of Deuteronomy by Moses is as certain as the authenticity of any book of Scripture.” SCHULTZ remarks “that Moses in an entirely natural way speaks of the mountain of the Amorites, 1:7, 19, 20, while in the book of Joshua the current name already is the mountains of Judah (11:16, 21),” and still further that the defining the boundaries “from Gilead,” 3:16, indicates “the personal stand-point of Moses,” that the impression of the strong cities of Bashan, 3:4, 5, is the fruit of “his very lively sympathy,” just as “the accurate knowledge of localities, 10:6–8”, is not merely to be admired, but cleaves still to him, “fresh in his soul” as the effect of water in the desert. “While the contest with the Canaanites, which he places, e. g., Deut 7 so prominently before us, entirely vanishes, a more decided hostility manifests itself against the Edomites, Moabites, and Ammonites, since the time of David and Solomon. Even the prophets speak directly against Edom, Amos 9:12; then Isa. 11:14, and Isa. 34 and Isa 63, etc., etc. Deut. 2:4 sq.; 9 sq.; 18 sq., enjoins the very contrary course.” (BLEEK indeed appeals in reference to this to 23:8 sq., but proves only that “these deuteronomic discourses were not first conceived after the destruction of Jerusalem”). “Not only are these particular statistics here in place, which would have been entirely superfluous in a later time, e.g., the rigid command against the Canaanites, Deut 7, the destination of the cities of refuge, 19:1 sq., the writing of the law upon the stones upon Ebal, 11:29 sq.; 27:2 sq., the blotting out of the remembrance of the Amalekites, 25:17 sq.; but still further, and what is more important, a great part of the discourse on the law has a tone and emphasis which is only natural at the time of Moses, but would have been entirely pointless at the time of Manasseh or Josiah. In chaps. 66–11, among the most beautiful and glorious parts of the book, the warning is against worldliness as a consequence of the possession of the land with its abundant pleasures, against a false tolerance toward the Canaanites, against pride on account of riches, or of self-righteousness on account of victory.” “The opposition against the worship of idols is not so direct as in every later author. He cautions first against the consequences of worldly pride and false tolerance; he presupposes in this regard, a pure state of the community, such as did not exist in the best times in Israel before the exile; he warns at most barely against the roots of apostacy, trusts the community itself with the executive power against it, 17:3 sq., fixes punishments to it, Deut 13, which would have been purely impossible at the time of Manasseh,” etc., etc.


With the Mosaic Authorship of Deuteronomy, which even the criticism must allow in its own way, since the pretended Deuteronomists appear under a Mosaic title, the importance of this book, especially for the Old Testament, is manifestly declared.

Regarding the peculiar person of the law-giver, it was his testament, upon which he had impressed, as never elsewhere, his personality, for the lasting remembrance among his beloved people, Ex. 32:32.

Regarding the law-giving, it forms its perfect completion, and that in a form not only popular, but so impressive and affecting that it could not possibly fail to make an impression upon the life of Israel, especially upon the elect among the people.

From this last point of view it appears very unsatisfactory when DELITZSCH supposes that after “a man like Eleazer” (Num. 26:1; 31:21) had written the Pentateuch in whole and in part, “another like Joshua (Deut. 32:44; Josh. 24:26), or one of the elders upon whom rested the spirit of Moses (Num. 11:25), and some of whom outlived Joshua (Josh. 24:31), supplemented this work,” and leaves to such a one the incorporation of Deuteronomy into the Thorah. Against this “peculiar codification,” first, “soon after the possession of Canaan,” KURTZ raises these questions: “Is it not plain that in the present collection of the Pentateuch, the history serves the purpose of a support and introduction to the law-giving? And does there not lie in the great deeds of God in the Exodus and the conclusion of the covenant at Sinai a sufficient reason and demand for the recording of these deeds and their historical preparations and surroundings for the remembrance of the future generations (comp. e. g. Ex. 12:26 sq.; 13:8)? And does not the year’s residence at Sinai offer the fittest time and leisure to begin such a work?” and finally holds it as more probable that “the author of the earlier and primitive history is identical with the recorder of these groups of laws (a priestly man, Aaron himself, or one of his sons), who carries on his work during the march from Sinai down to time then present, and hence keeps it in advance step by step with the advancing history.” But KURTZ also removes the supplementing of this fundamental writing, and the present formation of the Pentateuch, to a “prophetic author” of the time of Moses; at all events, one who could not have lived “beyond the last days of Joshua, and the first years of the period of the judges.” In SCHULTZ’S view, “this completer is no other than Moses himself, the author of Deuteronomy, but the so-called fundamental writing, the tradition which welled up in the primitive times, now gradually poured itself into a more definite form.” Moses, “who, according to Ex. 18, was overburdened, had handed over the recording of the deeds, the laws, to Aaron his prophet, or even to Joshua, his companion, who must have rendered to him certainly a service similar to that which in later times Baruch rendered to Jeremiah.” But whoever it may have been, he naturally wrote in the style which was then usual, and which had been used throughout the traditional sacred history. A new style made itself efficient first in the new creating Spirit in Moses. While the older history, especially the more remote it lies, gave occasion to greater supplements, there was little in the law to complete or revise. But indeed in the inspection and collection of this gradually growing work, there arose a necessity for a more hortatory and impressive heart-affecting completion, which, well-arranged, and as a summary, at the same time points back to the earlier laws, and more expressly forwards to the near entrance upon the possession of Canaan. And thus he might have nearly completed for himself in writing that part of Deuteronomy which relates to the laws before he came to utter it orally.”

If we recognize in Deuteronomy the closing part of the whole, which falls of itself into five books without any artificial division, as DELITZSCH asserts, so that BERTHOLD holds the five-fold division to be as old as the book itself, the Mosaic origin of Deuteronomy favors strongly the Mosaic origin of the Pentateuch in general. This is the peculiar importance of Deuteronomy with reference to the Pentateuch.

The thirty-eight years’ punitive wandering in the desert, whose chasm in the Pentateuch the critics feel so painfully, gave Moses full time to collect the established laws, written certainly soon after their publication, if not before; to trace their causes in the history and connect them with them, and to codify Exodus, Leviticus and Numbers. We may concede to him also all possible aids. For all depends upon the Spirit. Perceiving from his daily experience the importance—indeed the necessity—of an exposition of the law for the people, he projects the plan of Deuteronomy; for which, looking backwards, he yields himself up to the idea of a work throughout parallel to that of Genesis. The revolt of the company of Korah (Num. 16–18) in connection with the confirmation of the Aaronic priesthood in its rights, occasioned by it, occurring at this time (comp. 18:2 sq., 21 sq.), may help us to explain what is peculiar to Deuteronomy, as it introduces the matter in a truly human way; namely, the setting forth prominently the general levitical character of the priests and of that connected priestly character of the Levites. Comp. Num. 16:8–11. The laws also given during that same punitive period, as they are given with reference to Canaan (Num. 15:2, 18) to supplement and perfect the earlier prescribed sacrificial rites, appear as the first germs of that work which has similar supplements and completions for its definite aim. Comp. also Deut. 22:12 with Num. 15:37 sq., especially the entirely deuteronomic omission of the direction in Num. 15:39–41.

“It may easily be shown,” remarks EWALD, “that no writing could have exercised a stronger influence either upon the life of the people, or upon the mass of its writings.” “The importance of this writing of the more recent and more complete prophetic view of the law, is for the Old Testament in many respects the same with that of the Gospel of John for the New Testament.”

The importance of the Thorah, and especially of Deuteronomy, has been presented to advantage by DELITZSCH after HENGSTENBERG in a convincing form from the post-Mosaic literature. The entire historical writings from the book of Joshua on pre-suppose the Thorah of Moses as a book. To regard these references as anachronistic adornments of the ancient history is shown by the whole remaining situation as a base falsehood. How is it possible that Deuteronomy should first see the light under Josiah, when already a century earlier the prophecy rests upon Deuteronomy in preference to the other books of the Thorah? How well acquainted Amos is with Deuteronomy is evident from Deut 2:9; 4:11; 9:7. Hosea, richer in primitive historical recollections, runs through the whole Thorah (6:7; 12:4 sq.; 13:9, 10), not excluding Deuteronomy (11:8; comp. with Deut. 29:2215), whose primitive words, although mingled in the glowing stream of bold prophetic speech, we may detect in many passages (4:13; comp. Deut. 12:2; 8:13 with Deut. 28:68; 11:3 with Deut. 1:31; 13:6 with Deut. 8:11–14). Isaiah begins his prophecies with words from the mouth of Moses, Deut. 32:1. The tone of Deuteronomy, once struck, sounds through the whole discourse, Deut. 32:2–4, as a Mosaic from Deut. 32 and Deut 31; Deut. 32:5–9 rest almost throughout upon Lev. 26 and Deut. 28; Deut. 32:10–14 contain the strong language of the laws for sacrifices and feasts from Exodus to Deuteronomy, and even in Deut. 32:15–31 we may recall many passages in the Pentateuch, and especially in Deuteronomy (CASPARI Beitrage). The same thing is true of the discourse of Micah 6–7:13, a companion piece to Isai. 1, especially of the 6th chapter. All the other chief references of the book of Micah to the Pentateuch converge here, the historical (2:12 sq.; 7:15–17), the legal (2:8), and the threatening (2:4, 10: 3:4; 3:4; 7:13). In Deut. 32:1, comp. 31:28; 30:19, and 4:26, Moses had cited the heavens and the earth to hear his words, that they might bear witness against the entrance of apostacy in Israel. This testimony Micah demands from the mountains and hills, Deut 6:1 sq., as the firm foundations of the earth. What the Lord utters in His judicial controversy, 6:3–5, is the compend of the historical portions of the Pentateuch from Exodus onwards (especially Num. 22–24); the expression: “house of bondmen” from Egypt, is taken from Deut. 7:8; 13:5. In the answer which the people make to the Lord (6:6 sq.), it presents precisely what he had appointed as the means of atonement in the law. In 6:8 the prophet points clearly to a passage in Deuteronomy, and cites it almost literally (Deut. 10:12 sq.).

The closing punitive threatening in the controversy (6:13–16) appears in Lev. 26; Deut. 28 sq., etc. While DELITZSCH examines the literature of the time of Solomon merely with reference to Genesis (Comm. upon Genesis, 2d Ed., p. 13 sq.), the following passages referring to Deuteronomy may be adduced in proof. The “wisdom which marks this time more than others,” the “popular, general, human direction and tendency” corresponds pre-eminently with Deuteronomy (§ 1) as with Genesis. If Genesis offers to the author of the book of Job the relations of the primitive time, still he does not color his discourses merely from this source. In Deut 1:10 the genuine Mosaic designation of human activity appears, which is usual in Deut., Deut 2:7; 16:15; the image used in 5:14; 12:25 is altogether Deuteronomic; see 28:29; comp. also Job 20:16 with Deut. 32:33. As the mode of expression in particular cases is derived from Deuteronomy (comp. Job. 5:18; 10:7 with Deut. 32:39; Job 6:4; 34:6 with Deut. 32:23; Job 7:4 with Deut. 28:67; Job 8:8 with Deut. 4:32; 32:7), so the description generally uses Deuteronomic motives; comp. Job 15:20 sq. with Deut. 28:65 sq.; Job 15:27 with Deut. 32:15; Job 17:6; 30:9 with Deut. 28:37; Job 31:10 with Deut. 28:30; Job 42:10 with Deut.30:3. The problem with whose solution the book of Job is concerned presupposes so profound a view of the justice of Him who only is holy towards His creatures (6:10; 21:14; 22; 23:12), especially towards sinful man (4:18; 15:15; 14:4), and over against this of their injustice towards him, which only the knowledge of the internal character of the law at the hand of Deuteronomy could give, since further, according to his whole tendency, he lingers or dwells in the patriarchal state, the author chooses the precise deuteronomic terms and definitions; e. g. 24:2 sq.; 6:27; comp. Deut. 19:14; 27:17, 19; Job 22:6 sq.; comp. with Deut. 24:6, 10 sq.; Job 31:26 sq. with Deut. 4:19; 17:3. In the well-known character of the proverbial poetry, the references to Deuteronomy from the beginning onwards are entirely natural, and are to be expected. In the very first chapter of Proverbs, e. g. to Deut. 6:6 sq.; 11:18 sq. As to the Psalms, DELITZSCH says well: “The whole fifth book of the Psalter is the answer of the church to the words of Jehovah in the fifth book of the Thorah;” as HENGSTENBERG has well called “Deut. 32 the Magna Charta of the prophecy,” and then closes: “We might go still further back to the times of the Judges. To a certain extent admitted, this song of victory of Deborah is manifestly formed upon original passages from Deut. 33, as from Gen. 49, or freely reproduces them. In short all the history, prophecy, proverbs and poesy of Israel is grounded upon the laws of Moses, and exists in them.”

The importance of Deuteronomy for the special prophetic institution is already manifoldly apparent, e. g. § 1, and the same is clearly intimated in the significant use which Christ makes of Deuteronomy in His personal history. Comp. Matt. 4:4, 7, 10 with Deut. 8:3; 6:16, 13. We must recall also the citations already alluded to, as Heb. 12:29 from Deut. 4:24; 9:3; 1 Cor. 8:4 from Deut. 4:35, 39; Mark 12:29 sq.; Matt. 22:37 sq.; Luke 10:27 sq. from Deut. 6:4, 5. But this brings us to the wider New Testament import of Deuteronomy.

“The first and greatest commandment,” remarks HENGSTENBERG, “is contained only in the fifth book of Moses, 6:5; 10:12.” Still further, Christ says to the Jews, John 5:46: Had ye believed Moses, ye would have believed me, for he wrote of me. Without regarding now the reference of this verse to Deut. 31:26 sq., if it does not refer to Gen. 3:15; 49:10, it is certainly spoken with reference to Deut. 18. As He thus takes the first and greatest commandment from Deuteronomy, so in like manner He confirms His own exalted being from the authority of Moses, as the writer of Deuteronomy. Comp. Luke 24:27.

Among other citations of Deuteronomy in the New Testament (comp. the Sept.) are the following: John 7:24; James 2:1 (Deut. 1:16, 17; 16:19); Rev. 22:18, 19; Matt. 5:18 sq. (Deut. 4:2; 13:1); James 4:8 (Deut. 4:7); Heb. 11:6; 13:5 (Deut. 4:29, 31; 31:6); Gal. 3:19 (Deut. 5:5); 1 John 4:10 (Deut. 7:8); Acts 7:51 (Deut. 9:7, 24; 10:16); Heb. 12:18, 21 (Deut. 9:15, 19); 1 Tim. 6:15 (Deut. 10:17); Acts 10:34 (Deut. 10:17); 2 Cor. 6:15 (Deut. 13:13); 1 Peter 2:9 (Deut. 14:2; 26:19; 28:9); Matt. 26:11; John 12:8 (Deut. 15:11); 1 Tim. 6:11 (Deut. 16:20); Matt. 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Cor. 13:1; Heb. 10:28 (Deut. 17:6 sq.; 19:15); Acts 3:22; 7:37; John 1:21, 45; 6:14; Matt. 17:5 (Deut. 18:15); Heb. 12:19 sq. (Deut. 18:16; 5:24 sq.); John 12:49 (Deut. 18:18); Acts 3:23; John 12:48; Luke 10:16 (Deut. 18:19); 1 Cor. 5:13 (Deut. 19:19; 17:7); Matt. 5:38 (Deut. 19:21); Matt. 27:24 (Deut. 21:6 sq.); Gal. 3:13 (Deut. 21:23); John 8:4 sq. (Deut. 22:22); Matt. 12:1 sq. (Deut. 23:26); Matt. 5:31 sq.; 19:3 sq. (Deut. 24:1); James 5:4 (Deut. 24:14 sq.); 2 Cor. 11:24 (Deut. 25:3); 1 Cor. 9:9; 1 Tim. 5:18 (Deut. 25:4); Matt. 22:24 sq. (Deut. 25:5); Gal. 3:10 (Deut. 27:26); Rom. 11:8 (Deut. 29:4); Heb. 12:15 (Deut 29:18): Rom. 2:29 (Deut. 30:6, 10, 16); Rom. 10:6–8 (Deut. 30:11 sq.); Rom. 3:19 sq. (Deut. 31:26); Acts 2:40 (Deut. 32:5); Rom. 10:19 (Deut. 32:21); Rom. 12:19; Heb. 10:30 (Deut. 32:35); Rom. 15:10; Rev. 19:2 (Deut. 32:43).

Finally the importance of Deuteronomy for us, after the position which Christ and His Apostles held with reference to it cannot be merely of an antiquarian nature. In Deuteronomy we come to the more profound and perfect view of the Mosaic law, as in the fragmentary civil portions, the moral idea is dominant, and the complete ceremonial portions bear the stamp of religious ideas, so the moral portion has throughout a religious and ethical nature or theocratic character. Hence the spiritual character of the law which Paul ascribes to it, Rom. 7:14, 12, is fully justified. Thus we cannot, especially in the light of Deuteronomy, look into the soul of the law of Moses, and into the interior life of Israel defined and shaped by this law, namely, its typical forms, as Moses, Joshua, Samuel, Elijah, viewed as forerunners of the obedience of faith of Christ, without having this historical look complete itself at once also doctrinally and morally. For the law, and pre-eminently the fifth book, is “Thorah,” i. e., doctrine, instruction. The doctrinal importance of Deuteronomy for us is surely at first an historical importance, in so far as we regard,—and indeed from the two chief parts in Deuteronomy, distinguished the one by commandments, and the other by “the prophets,” a distinction which we meet again upon the lips of the Redeemer,—the dogma of sacred history, as a divine training and preparing of humanity in Israel for Christ. (“In possession of a land favoring in its physical conditions their independent existence in a simple, moderate prosperity, and yet demanding continual culture, the people, true to its constitution, in the fear and love of God, in this faithfulness alone being strong and certain of all blessing and victory, in the consciousness of its destination far surpassing all worldly policy and splendor, the bearer and preserver of the divine salvation for the world, of the blessing for the entire race, entering into converse with God for its own enjoyment, and as representing the rest of the world (Micah 4:1 sq.; Isa. 66:18 sq.), must be a priestly people, free from the lust of political conquest, and entangling worldly alliances, lying as a lion in its lair, (Ezek. 19:2) never seeking foreign aid or salvation, but rather recognizing, abhorring, and rejecting their manifold corruptions under every disguise, and yet with all its moral strictness, bound even to strangers and enemies by the duties of humanity, and thus a people free, strong, and happy in quiet contentment with its own divine prerogatives, existing among the revolutions and luxurious growths and developments of the God-forgetting nations, as a strictly separated sanctuary of God, a people to whom belongs not the present, but the certain future, etc., Deut. 8:1 sq.; 28:1 sq. But the whole external structure and form within which this divine binding together of the practical righteousness and prosperity under the legal constitution is contained, does not appear as a mere shell, existing in and for itself, but as a frame and form holding a spiritual internal life, destined for future development, and in its very structure bearing intimations and promise of this; an internal life which in this external framework first sinks itself into the elements of the (ordinary, natural, worldly) life, then breaks through these external ligaments and bands, as a power exalted above the worldly life, by prophecy, in which the promise strewn hitherto as scattered seed-corn now wins a firm organic position, and progressive culture and influence, in the economies both of the outward and inward life; the scattered sparks are gathered into one light, which illuminates the dark wastes to the clear light of a perfect day, when, and as it brings with itself the independent bearer of light, 2 Peter 1:19, etc.” (BECK, Chr. Lehrwissensch. I.) But since the law, especially in its deuteronomic exposition, which indeed introduces the Christian—the sermon on the mount in which Christ takes up His prophetic office, is the fulfilling and completing parallel to Deuteronomy in which Moses closes his prophetic office—has an eternal significance (Matt. 5:18 sq.), the doctrinal importance of Deuteronomy cannot be merely historical, but rather the dogma of sacred history is also the dogma of the ordo salutis, the way of God in humanity is at the same time the way of eternal salvation for individuals. As LUTHER says: “But this explanation of the fifth book contains peculiarly nothing else than faith in God and love to our neighbor, for therein lies all the law of God,” and the Heidelberg Catechism teaches man to recognize his misery from this. For “this is the design of Moses that he should reveal sin through the law, and put to shame all the pride of human power, when he teaches that we should fear, trust, believe, love God, and neither cherish nor endure any evil passion or hatred toward our neighbor. When nature hears that this is right and requisite, it is confounded, and sinks in terror; for it finds neither trust nor faith, neither fear nor love, towards God, and neither love nor innocence toward our neighbor, but vain unbelief, suspicion, disregard and hatred toward God, and vain ill will and lust towards our neighbor; thus death stares such sinners in the face, feeds upon them here, and consumes them in hell; so that they must be brought to recognize their obstinate blindness, to feel their inability to all good and helplessness, and thus through the law become conscious of their need, and constrained to seek something farther than the law and their own strength, i. e., the grace of God promised in the future Christ. Thus Moses himself has intimated that his office and instruction should endure until Christ, and then cease, when he says, Deut. 18:15: A prophet, etc. This is the noblest word, and indeed the very kernel in all Moses, which also the Apostles place conspicuously, and use to confirm the Gospel and to lay aside the law.” LUTHER (Vorr über d. A. T.). The doctrinal importance of the deuteronomic law, in a moral point of view, should not less be treasured and guarded, as to what concerns the Church and the State, than what belongs to the family and the individual life. Comp. LANGE, Intro. to the O. T., §§ 9 and 12. The exposition and application of the book to individuals, will perhaps point out also the homiletical importance of Deuteronomy. “For,” (LUTHER says) “there are many who think of themselves as if they were masters herein, who place a low estimate upon Moses and the whole Old Testament, as if the Gospel was sufficient for them, etc. But it is certain that, as the worldly-wise say, Homer is the father of all poets, a fountain, indeed a sea of all skill, wisdom, and eloquence, thus our Moses is also the true fountain and father of all the prophets and books of Holy Scripture, i. e., of all heavenly wisdom and eloquence.”


After KURTZ, DELITZSCH has shown in a striking way the tenfold division of Genesis. SCHULTZ points out the same “ruling force of the significant number ten” in Deuteronomy through its “arrangement upon the decalogue.” (LUTHER: “Thou wilt give to this little book the right name if thou shalt call it a very ample and clear extension and revelation of the Ten Commandments”).

Deut 1:1–5: Introductory narrative, title of the whole work. Speaker, auditory, place and time.

I. Deut 1:6–4:40: The first discourse, introductory discourse, retrospect to the departure from Sinai, explanations, exhortations, warnings.

Deut 4:41–43: Pause of the first discourse; separation of the cities of refuge.

Deut 4:44–49: Title for an introduction to the second discourse.

II. Deut 5:1–26:19: Second discourse; the peculiar essential part of the book.

Deut 5:1–6:3: The text of this discourse is the decalogue as the kernel of the law, the foundation of the covenant, and the fundamental condition of all salvation.

Deut 6:4–11:32: An exhortation—under the exposition of the first two commandments, with a repeated emphasizing of the exodus from Egypt, with a recalling to mind of the march through the desert, with a special use and application of the residence at Sinai—to fear and love God, to obedience to the law.

Deut 12–22: Exposition of the commandments, from the third to the tenth, with the appropriate supplements.

Deut 23:1–26:19: The perfection of Israel.

Deut 27:1–8: Pause after the second discourse; the arrangement of the monumental stones.

Deut 27:9–26: Transition to the last, third discourse.

III. Deut 28–30: Blessings and curses, and the renewing of the covenant. Closing discourse.

Deut 31: Pause or rest of the third discouse: the surrender of office and work.

Deut 32–34: Supplements: Song, blessings, and death of Moses. (Comp. J. P. KINDLER, bibl. Tabellen, 1 Liefr., Sulzbach, 1841.)


For the more or less comprehensive Bible-works, as well as for the Theological and Homiletical literature, generally, comp. LANGE, Introduction to the Old Testament, Am. Ed., Vol. I., pp. 2, 62 sq., 101, 116 sq.

Partly from this list, and partly supplementing it, we here name: LUTHER: Expositions of the Fifth Book of Moses (WALCH, III. p. 2017 sq.). CALVIN: Commentary upon the four last books of Moses in the form of a harmony. P. TOSSANI: Deutsches Bibelwerk. POOL: Synopsis, I. p. 694 sq. J. PISCATOR: Questions upon the Pentateuch, 1624, p. 393 sq. BERLENBURGER BIBEL: I. p. 685 sq. The English Biblework of TELLER, II. p. 659 sq. J. D. MICHAELIS: Deutsche Uebersetzung des A. T. mit Anm. für Ungelehrte, IV. 2. CORN. A. LAPIDE (Catholic): Comm. on the Pentateuch, 1616, p. 953 sq. BONFRERIUS (Catholic): Pent. Comm. Illustr., 1625, p. 903 sq. The Biblia Hebraica, by J. H. MICHAELIS. CALMET (Catholic): Comm. lit. in V. T., 1789, II. 524 sq. J. A. OSIANDER: Comm in Pent. J. CLERICUS: Comm. in Pent. J. GERHARD: Comm in Deut. ROSENMUELLER: Scholia in V. T., II. p. 325. DATHE: Pentateuchus, p. 601. The DERESERSCHE (Catholic) Bibelwerk. RICHTER: Erkl. Hausbibel, I. BAUMGARTEN: Theol. Commentar zum Pent., II. p. 417. SCHULTZ: Das Deuteronomium, Berlin, 1859. KNOBEL: Die B. B. Numeri, etc., Leipsic, 1861. KEIL: Biblical Commentary upon the books of Moses, Leipsic, 1862. [CLARK’S translation by James Martin, Edinb., 1865.] The Jewish translations of the Bible, with annotations by JOHLSON, Frankfort, 1831; and HERXHEIMER, 2d Ed., Bernburg, 1854.—Upon special parts: HENGSTENBERG: The most important and difficult passages in the Pentateuch, I. p. 221; also the third volume of the Beitrage, and the Christology, 2d Ed., I. p. 110. KURTZ: History of the Old Covenant, II. (BRAEM: Israel’s Wanderings, 1859.) VOELTER: Das hei. Land, 1855. HESS: Geschich. Moses. MAYER: Die Rechte der Israel., Athener und Rom., I., II. P. CASSEL: in the weltgesch. Vorträgen, I.; Der Midrasch und die Gesetzes Ende. JER. RISLER: History of the Exodus.—Homiletical: G. D. KRUMMACHER: Die Wanderungen Isr., 3d Ed.; Auszüg aus des sel. Ordinarii der Evang. Brüderkirche Reden (ZINZENDORF) über bibl. Texte, III. 1317 sq.—Upon the Song, Deut 32: W. A. TELLER: translation of the Blessings of Jacob, etc., Halle and Helmstadt, 1766. HORRER: The National Songs of the Israelites, Leipsic., 1780. HERDER: Spirit of the Hebrew Poetry, I. 1. JUSTI: The National Songs of the Hebrews, Marburg, 1803–18. EWALD: Year-book of Biblical Science, VIII. G. VOLCK: Mosis canticum cygneum dissertatio, Nordlingæ, 1861. KAMPHAUSEN: The Song of Moses, Leipsic, 1862. SACK: Die Lieder u. s. w., Barmen, 1864, p. 64 sq. Upon the Blessings of Moses, Deut 33.: HERDER: Letters upon the Study of Theology, I., The Sixth Letter. GRAF: The Blessings of Moses, Leipsic, 1857. L. BODENHEIMER: The Blessings of Moses. Crefeld, 1860.

[Additional Literature.—HAEVERNICK’S Introduction, I., p. 473. KEIL: Introd. to the Old Testament. KLEINERT: Das Deuteronomium und der Deuteronomiker, Bielfeld and Leipsic, 1872.—In England and America: MACDONALD: on the Pentateuch, 1861. WORDSWORTH: The Holy Bible, with Notes, Vol. I., 2d Ed., London, 1865. A work of much patristic learning, sometimes admirable in its replies to the objections of the critics, but valuable mainly for its happy use of the Sept. in its relations to the New Testament. GRAVES’ Lectures on the Last Four Books of the Pentateuch. RAWLINSON: on the Pentateuch, in Aids to Faith, Essay VI., 1862. COLENSO: The Pentateuch and Book of Joshua Critically Examined. DAVIDSON: Introduction to the Old Testament. Both of these latter writers reproduce more or less fully the theories of BLEEK, VAIHINGER, EWALD, and the other German critics of that class. Prof. J. I. S. PEROWNE: SMITH’S Dictionary of the Bible, Art. Pentateuch, with Prof. BARTLETT’S valuable additions in the American Edition. The Bible Commentary, Vol. I., Part II., London, republished in New York. This most recent contribution to the English literature on the Pentateuch is a sound and scholarly work; and while not holding fully with SCHROEDER and others as to the arrangement of Deuteronomy, it favors essentially the same plan. ROBERT JAMIESON, A. R. FAUSSET, and DAVID BROWN, Critical and Explanatory Commentary. BUSH: Commentary on the Five Books of Moses. MOSES STUART: Critical History and Defence of the O. T. Canon. GREEN: The Pentateuch Vindicated. Prof. BARTLETT’S Articles on the Mosaic authorship of the Pentateuch in the Bibliotheca Sacra. April and July, 1863, and July and October, 1864. The Commentaries of SCOTT and HENRY are too well known to need any special reference here, and have not been used in this work although rich in practical suggestions, because they are found in most libraries.—A. G.]


1The supposition by some—who include the book of Joshua in the Pentateuch—of a six-fold division has its truth, indeed, viz. the truth of an historical connection between the Thorah and the earlier prophets, but it is entirely arbitrary to fix the limit at the book of Joshua; we might even assign the two books of Kings to the Pentateuch. As to the book of Joshua, in its present form, its supplementary independence may be shown among other ways by a reference to its manifold verbal peculiarities, which is of the more importance here, since from its necessary dependence upon the Pentateuch, there must be a general and prevailing similarity.

2“While the peculiar prophecy presupposes the law as one completed whole, it (Deuteronomy) labors still upon it; While that yields subjection to it, this moves over it freely and full of power, in order to enlarge, indeed to modify, as no prophet in Israel ever ventured to do; it takes up and carries on indeed chiefly only what lies before it in the earlier laws, in a germ-like way, or as suppositions, but carries on the same, as if in possession of the same creative strength which had formed the earlier books, enlarging, enriching, and glorifying them.”—SCHULTZ. “Moses is lawgiver and prophet at the same time. As mediator of the Old Covenant, he stands at the very summit of the whole theocratic prophecy. Hence the peculiarity of his prophetic activity, which is, that he not only treats of the law in its subjective application, but carries on, develops and completes the law itself. Hence there is in him an interpenetration of the legal and prophetic elements, such as is found in no one else. But this mutual interpenetration is so real and inward, that the prophetic element bears at least a partially legal coloring, and this legal element in turn wears the shade of prophecy.”—HAEVERNICK.

3“If Deuteronomy appears to us as a circle of discourses, and indeed of farewell discourses, of the lawgiver about to separate from his people, the first expectation which such a definition justifies, is, that of a peculiar prominence of the subjectivity of the speaker, which in this very way distinguishes itself from the strong objective form of the law, which he has hitherto made known. The book has a prophetic coloring; that which we have already seen coming forward at the close of Leviticus, in the germ, has here greater compass and more decided significance. The book is the model of prophetic exposition, and in this character we can easily explain how a later prophecy (Jeremiah and Ezekiel) joins itself to this model. This character is one of which the author is clearly conscious. Moses himself appears here as a prophet (Deut. 18:15 sq.), and the following order of the prophets may be viewed as the continuation of his work, an institution having the closest inward connection with him.”—HAEVERNICK.

4How very closely the song is connected with the law is apparent from the declared significance of the two: it must be in the mouth of Israel what the book of the law was in the side of the ark.

5[MURPHY uses this as an English word, and there seems to be a necessity for it in the discussion of these questions. The meaning is clear enough; but it is not synonymous with our words, edition or re-arrangement.—A. G.]

6The Nehemiah 8 is very instructive upon this distinction between the deuteronomic law, and the law generally. Nehemiah 8:1 may be read indefinitely, if it is not Deuteronomy simply which is meant. Probably the desires of the people terminated at first upon this (according to Deut. 31:11 sq.), which was so natural, although it was not the Sabbath-year. But in Nehemiah 8:8 it becomes clear that Ezra brought the whole law before the congregation (Nehemiah 8:2 sq.), which is confirmed, as well by the use of the well-known expression as to the earlier law-giving (“b’jad Moseheh”), as from the reference to Lev. 23. and still more expressly from the 18th verse.

7“Besides it is incredible that Moses should have ordered to be gathered merely his own discourses upon the law, his practical appendix to it, and not the law itself, which sprang directly from God, and according to Ex. 17:14; 24:4, 7; Num. 33:1, was already existing in a written form, as if to place a sanctuary within a sanctuary. Indeed we cannot well think that he should have taken care for the written composition of his own discourses on the law, but not for the law itself, which still in any case claimed the first place in his view.” SCHULTZ.

8“Moses, according to the declarations of Deuteronomy, was busy with the writing of the law, down to the latest moments of his life, so much as he had at last even to speak and to regulate; when the end was immediately impending, then first he gave the work out of his hands. From this it appears that it had been an altogether peculiar desire of his heart to make the work as perfect as possible, and it is at least probable that to the same degree also he would take care for the perfect elaboration and completeness of the earlier parts.”—SCHULTZ.

9[Of Jurisprudence, or rather of the upright.—A. G.].

10“It is not improbable that a prophet or priest may have brought it to a place not easily discovered for security” (HESS).

11 VAIHINGER in the article “Pentateuch,” which p. 318 demands for Deuteronomy, “a time and a man like Jeremiah, then one hundred years back to the men of Hezekiah as the collectors, enlargers, and editors of the Pentateuch, through the addition of Deuteronomy (pp. 327, 328), concludes, finally, p. 360, that Deuteronomy was still separated from the four remaining books of the law at the time of Josiah, and had most probably Jeremiah to collect and harmonize it.”

12“Special parts or sections went around among the people under the name of Moses, thus there was an interest existing for the same; arbitrary multiplication of them could not well be avoided, especially in the nature of the law itself, which neither flatters the people nor their officers, the priests, but rather bears its testimony against them. One would rather deny the Pentateuch than have it put together in this form, so open to accusation and assault. History shows clearly enough how they endeavored to avoid the law, or go round it.” HAEVERNICK.

13HELD (Jesus, the Christ, 1865): “Israel’s ideal is not self-born, sprung from the Jewish national peculiarities. It is given from above and beyond, a law against its nature, a thorn in the flesh. In its own impulses and nature this people would not differ from others. It would live as they lived, and like them worship the great overwhelming forces of nature. The invisible holy God, Jehovah, is not the God of its own heart and choice. Down to the exile it is perpetually yielding to the inclination to heathenism. It is only by the mighty deeds of the prophets that it is raised for a time from the depths of heathenism and held above it. This activity of the prophets, with its apparently small results even, would have been impossible if there had been nothing but an unwritten law and oral tradition in Israel. It is only because there was a written law, a firm letter, a law-book, which might be buried and forgotten, and lie for a long time in the dust, but could be brought to light again, and constrain the people again and again to its recognition; only on this supposition, that Israel had such a law-book, to which it must ever ascribe Divine authority, even against its will, can the prophetic activity be explained. Israel’s ideal is the will of God, who will not have this people, like others, a mere natural people, which has its own will, and its own natural history, but that Israel should be a people which, in all its members, and in all its life movements, should be obedient to His sacred will.”

14As Zion presupposes Sinai (Ps. 68:17) so the entire post-Mosaic history of Israel, the Sinaitic law-giving; in its light aspect since the consecrated people of Israel, with its cultus and institutions, in which the elements of politics and religion, of monarchy and democracy, of the spiritual and natural, of history and morals are inseparably blended, with its unchangeable Davidic kingdom, and its prophetic order resting upon the solid rock foundation, as well as with all the intellectual fruits of its literature, points back to one ground to which its roots cleave; in its dark aspect, since Israel in its natural character as a people, ever inclined to heathenism, but was never lost in it, gives a proof that a supernatural power of invincible energy forms the true living ground (foundation) of this people. What other power could this be than the power of the Thorah, whose divine record as an inextinguishable, mene, tekel, upharsin (Dan. 5:5 sq.), in the heart of the people, ever again breaks through, and whose existence, even when without any confessors, always announces itself through this, that Israel experiences the fatal power of the letter in the destined curses which fall upon it? From this constant struggle in which the Jehovah elements of Israel are involved with its natural elements, we may see that this Thorah had a very ancient objective existence, already before the time of the Judges, since the interchange of punitive judgments and deliverances which the book of Judges describes, has its ground in Israel’s changing position to the law of Moses, Judg. 3:4. It is clear that the law must have been written in order to have escaped the capriciousness of the popular character of Israel, ever inclining to heathenism. Deuteronomy itself thus assigns the cause for the written record of the Thorah, Deut. 31:27. Since Israel’s character as a people was not spirit, the law from the beginning onwards must be letter: it must enter over against the natural character of the people until it stands in its peculiar, individual, objective character.” DELITZSCH.

15Hosea 5:15; comp. Deut. 4:29.

Lange, John Peter - Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical

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