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Deuteronomy 1:1-5 – Introduction to Deuteronomy


Several key themes of Deuteronomy are presented here.


Different streams of tradition have been combined in these opening verses to provide an introduction to the content of the book. Several important themes are announced:

  • Moses is God's mediator (vv. 1, 3).
  • Moses addresses the torah to "all Israel"--not just to various tribes, or the later northern kingdom, or Judah, or even the Israelites present on the verge of the Jordan, but all Israel down through the ages. The frequent use of "today" in the ensuing narrative also testifies to this contemporizing aspect of the message.
  • At the heart of the text, we read that God had commanded Moses to engage in all these activities (v. 3b).
  • The jarring juxtaposition of an eleven-day journey (v. 2) that took forty years (v. 3) would remind readers/hearers of Israel's apostasy and the prolongation of the wilderness wanderings that ensued.
  • Moses is also the one whom God has chosen to expound the torah, to teach and to educate the people in the ways of the covenant.

Deuteronomy 1:1-5


Events at Horeb Recalled

1These are the words that Moses spoke to all Israel beyond the Jordan—in the wilderness, on the plain opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, and Di-zahab. 2(By the way of Mount Seir it takes eleven days to reach Kadesh-barnea from Horeb.) 3In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses spoke to the Israelites just as the Lord had commanded him to speak to them. 4This was after he had defeated King Sihon of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and King Og of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth and* in Edrei. 5Beyond the Jordan in the land of Moab, Moses undertook to expound this law as follows:

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