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

Deuteronomy - Introduction

Deuteronomy represents a major strand of Judean theology of the seventh to fifth centuries BCE. Its anonymous authors develop pivotal ideas such as the uniqueness of YHWH, the human ‘love’ and ‘fear’ of God ( 6:4–5, 24 ), and the excellence and accessibility of Israel's law ( 4:5–8; 30:11–14 ). The book contains a version of the Decalogue and relates all other laws to these basic commandments (ch. 5 ). It gives expression to the ideas of a ‘covenant’ between YHWH and Israel and of Israel's ‘election’ through YHWH ( 5:2; 7:6; 26:16–19 ). Deuteronomy focuses narrowly on Israel's land, while at the same time viewing it from a perspective of expectation ( 6:10–12, 17–18; 30:20 ). Its concern for the exclusiveness and purity of the worship of YHWH results in drastic admonitions about the conquest of the land ( 7:1–2; 12:1–4, 29–31 ) and harsh regulations concerning apostasy ( 13:1–18; 17:2–7 ). Originally the document of a religious movement, the oldest parts of the book functioned as a law to enforce the centralization of the sacrificial cult at the temple in Jerusalem (ch. 12 ) and as a law to promote social solidarity in Judah (ch. 15 ). The spirit of Deuteronomy in regard to cultic matters may be grasped from the law on religious vows in 23:21–3 (MT 22–4), and in regard to ethical matters from the law on just measures in 25:13–16 . Deuteronomy reflects a tendency towards rationalization within the Israelite religious tradition. However, as the book developed over a long period, there are many tensions within it.

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