Wednesday, November 10, 2021

Chapter by Chapter Summary of the Book of Deuteronomy


The Book of Deuteronomy was spoken by Moses. Knowing he was about to die, this is a speech in which Moses looks back on his leadership of the Israelite nation and warns them to obey God’s commands once they go into the Land of Canaan.



Deuteronomy Chapter 1

After the Exodus, God sent the Israelites to take the land of Canaan.


At that time, Moses appointed judges over the people.


When they came to the border of Canaan, Moses encouraged them to go in and take it, but the people wanted to send in scouts first. When the scouts came back and said the people living in Canaan were taller and stronger than the Israelites, the Israelites were afraid and refused to try to conquer the land. God swore that not one of the men who were alive at that time would enter Canaan except Joshua and Caleb, the two scouts who said they could take the land.


Moses was also told he wouldn’t enter the land because he had angered God.


The people tried to go fight the Canaanites after God told them they wouldn’t take the land, and they were defeated.



Deuteronomy 2

The Israelites turned back toward Seir, where the descendants of Esau (Jacob’s brother) lived. God told the Israelites He would not give them Esau’s territory, so they needed to be careful not to provoke those people to war. God said the same about the territory of the Moabites and the Ammonites, the descendants of Lot (Abraham’s nephew).


God provided for the Israelites throughout their time in the wilderness until that entire generation of men died. 


Then God told the Israelites to attack the Amorites and take their land, so they defeated King Sihon of Heshbon.



Deuteronomy 3

God sent them next to defeat King Og of Bashan. They were also Amorites.


Moses gave the territory of the Amorites to the Israelite tribes of Reuben and Gad and half of the tribe of Manasseh. Their women and children and livestock were allowed to stay in that territory, but the men had to continue on with the rest of the Israelites to help them fight the other Canaanites and take their land.


At the Jordan River, Moses asked God to let him go in and see the land of Canaan.


“That is enough,” the Lord said. “Do not speak to me anymore about this matter.

Go up to the top of Pisgah and look west and north and south and east.

Look at the land with your own eyes, since you are not going to cross this Jordan.

But commission Joshua, and encourage and strengthen him,

for he will lead this people across and will cause them to inherit the land that you will see.”

- Deuteronomy 3:26-28



Deuteronomy 4

Then Moses encouraged the people to keep God’s commands so that they could go in and take the land and so that God would not punish them once they settled there. Moses said…


“Do not add to what I command you and do not subtract from it…”

- Deuteronomy 4:2


“Observe them carefully, for this will show your wisdom and understanding to the nations,

who will hear about all these decrees and say,

“Surely this great nation is a wise and understanding people.”

What other nation is so great as to have their gods near them

the way the Lord our God is near us whenever we pray to him?

And what other nation is so great as to have such righteous decrees and laws

as this body of laws I am setting before you today?

- Deuteronomy 4:6-8


Moses encouraged the people to tell their children about all the things God had done for them. He reminded them about the commitment they made to obey God.


God did not show any form to represent Himself to the Israelites so that they wouldn’t make idols of Him. They were not to make idols of anything. Moses said…


“Be careful not to forget the covenant of the Lord your God that he made with you;

do not make for yourselves an idol in the form of anything the Lord your God has forbidden.

For the Lord your God is a consuming fire, a jealous God.

- Deuteronomy 4:23-24


Moses warned the people that if they turned to idols after they settled in the land, God would send nations to take them back out of the land as captives. In other countries, they would serve foreign gods.


“But if from there you seek the Lord your God,

you will find him if you seek him with all your heart and with all your soul.

When you are in distress and all these things have happened to you,

then in later days you will return to the Lord your God and obey him.

For the Lord your God is a merciful God;

he will not abandon or destroy you or forget the covenant with your ancestors,

which he confirmed to them by oath.”

- Deuteronomy 4:29-31


God did something unique for Israel in bringing them out of Egypt, revealing Himself to them, and making His covenant with them. God repeatedly showed the Israelites His power to prove to them that He is the only God and to convince them to obey Him.


Moses then chose three cities east of the Jordan River to be cities of refuge. These cities had belonged to the Amorites before the Israelites defeated them.



Deuteronomy 5

Moses then repeated the Ten Commandments (Exodus 20). When the Israelites head them originally, they vowed to obey the Lord but were afraid to approach Him. They sent Moses back up the mountain to receive the rest of God’s commands.


In response, God said…


“Oh, that their hearts would be inclined to fear me

and keep all my commands always,

so that it might go well with them and their children forever!”

- Deuteronomy 5:29



Deuteronomy 6

“Hear, O Israel: The Lord our God, the Lord is one.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.

These commandments that I give you today are to be on your hearts.

Impress them on your children.

Talk about them when you sit at home and when you walk along the road,

when you lie down and when you get up.

Tie them as symbols on your hands and bind them on your foreheads.

Write them on the doorframes of your houses and on your gates.

- Deuteronomy 6:4-8


The Israelites were not to forget the Lord when they went in and were prosperous in the land. They were to obey Him, not serving other gods, taking their oaths in God’s name. If they obeyed God, He would bless them. If they didn’t obey Him, He would destroy them. They were to tell their children what God did for them in bringing them out of Egypt and into Canaan as the reason for obeying Him.



Deuteronomy 7

The Israelites were to completely destroy the inhabitants of Canaan, making no treaty with them and not intermarrying with them. If they allowed the inhabitants to live, those peoples would tempt the Israelites to follow other gods, and then God would be angry with the Israelites. They were to rid the land completely of all evidence of idol-worship.


If the people obeyed God, He would bless them in bountiful harvests and fruitful livestock. He also promised…


“You will be blessed more than any other people;

none of your men or women will be childless,

nor will any of your livestock be without young.

The Lord will keep you free from every disease.

He will not inflict on you the horrible diseases you knew in Egypt,

but he will inflict them on all who hate you.”

- Deuteronomy 7:14-15


The Israelites were not to fear the other nations, even if those people groups were stronger, because God would help them, just as He helped them against Egypt.


“The Lord your God will drive out those nations before you, little by little.

You will not be allowed to eliminate them all at once,

or the wild animals will multiply around you.”

- Deuteronomy 7:22


The Israelites were not to strip off the gold or silver on idols. Everything about an idol was to be considered defiled and devoted to destruction.



Deuteronomy 8

The Israelites were to remember how God took care of them in the desert for the past 40 years and not forget Him when they went into the land of Canaan. Moses said…


“You may say to yourself, “My power and the strength of my hands

have produced this wealth for me.”

But remember the Lord your God,

for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth,

and so confirms his covenant, which he swore to your ancestors, as it is today.

- Deuteronomy 8:17-18


If the Israelites did not obey God, He would destroy them just as He was about to destroy the inhabitants of Canaan.



Deuteronomy 9

The Lord would destroy the people living in Canaan, so the Israelites didn’t need to be afraid of them. Moses said…


“After the Lord your God has driven them out before you,

do not say to yourself, ‘The Lord has brought me here

to take possession of this land because of my righteousness.’

No, it is on account of the wickedness of these nations

that the Lord is going to drive them out before you.

It is not because of your righteousness or your integrity

that you are going in to take possession of their land;

but on account of the wickedness of these nations,

the Lord your God will drive them out before you,

to accomplish what he swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob.

Understand, then, that it is not because of your righteousness

that the Lord your God is giving you this good land to possess,

for you are a stiff-necked people.”

- Deuteronomy 9:4-6


After Moses had spent 40 days and 40 nights on Mount Horeb receiving the Ten Commandments and the Law, he went down and found the people worshiping a golden calf. He was so angry, he threw down the two tablets God had written the Ten Commandments on.


God was angry and was about to destroy the people, but Moses burned the calf in the fire and ground it up. Then he prayed for the people and asked God to uphold His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob. Moses didn’t want the other nations to think God had destroyed the Israelites because He wasn’t’ able to take them into the land.


The Israelites also angered God by complaining against Him and by not trusting Him when He first sent them to take the land.



Deuteronomy 10

God told Moses to come back up the mountain with two more stone tablets, and God wrote on them again.


Aaron died, and Eleazar his son succeeded him as priest.


God chose the Levites to care for the Ark of the Covenant. The Levites don’t have an inheritance among the other tribes because their needs are taken care of as a reward for their service to the Lord.


“And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you

but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him,

to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

and to observe the Lord’s commands and decrees

that I am giving you today for your own good?

To the Lord your God belong the heavens,

even the highest heavens, the earth and everything in it.

Yet the Lord set his affection on your ancestors and loved them,

and he chose you, their descendants, above all the nations—as it is today.

Circumcise your hearts, therefore, and do not be stiff-necked any longer.

For the Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords,

the great God, mighty and awesome, who shows no partiality and accepts no bribes.

He defends the cause of the fatherless and the widow,

and loves the foreigner residing among you, giving them food and clothing.

- Deuteronomy 10:12-18



Deuteronomy 11

Moses reminded the people of all they had seen the Lord do, so they should obey Him. If they did, God would give them the strength to take the land and live there a long time. God would bless the land and make it fruitful.


The people were to be careful not to follow other gods but to remind themselves of God’s commands.



Deuteronomy 12

The Israelites were to destroy all evidence of idol worship and not worship the Lord in the same ways people worshiped false gods. Instead, they were to worship God at the place He chose for them to bring their sacrifices.


The Israelites were to slaughter and eat their dedicated sacrifices only at the Place, but they could slaughter regular animals and eat meat in any of their towns, as long as they did not eat blood.



Deuteronomy 13

The Israelites were not to listen to a prophet if they encouraged following other gods, even if that prophet’s predictions came true. God might give a true message to a false prophet to test the people if they would obey Him. Any prophet that advocated other gods was to be put to death.


Anyone who advocated other gods was to be put to death. They were to be stoned. If an entire town turned against the Lord by following other gods, everyone in that town – and even their animals – was to be killed. Everything in the town was to be burnt, and the town was never to be rebuilt.



Deuteronomy 14

The Israelites were the children of God. They were not to cut themselves or shave the front of their heads for the dead. They were to be holy to God.


They were not to eat unclean animals or insects or anything they found dead. They were not to cook a young goat in its mother’s milk.


The Israelites were to give a tenth of everything the land produced to God at the Place. If the Place was too far away to carry their tithe, they could sell it and bring the money to the Place. They could use some of that money to buy food near the Place and so eat and celebrate at the Place.


Every three years, the tenth of the produce was to be stored in the Israelite towns and used to feed the Levites, foreigners, fatherless children, and widows.  



Deuteronomy 15

At the end of every seven years, the Israelites were to cancel all debts against other Israelites. God would bless the Israelites so that no one would be poor. Israel would be able to lend other nations but not need to borrow from any. The Israelites were to be generous toward each other.


At the end of seven years, when the people released their Israelite slaves, they were to send them away with payment. A slave, however, could choose to stay with their master if they wanted to. In that case, the master was to pierce their ear and mark the slave as theirs for life.


Every firstborn male animal was to be sacrificed to God.



Deuteronomy 16

The Israelites were to observe the Passover, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Booths.


The people were to appoint judges in each of their towns to judge the people fairly.


The Israelites were not to set up Asherah poles or erect sacred stones as used in idol worship.



Deuteronomy 17

The Israelites were not to sacrifice animals with defects to God.


If a person worships other gods, they are to be tried, and if found guilty, stoned at the entrance of their town. A person could only be found guilty on the testimony or two or more witnesses. The witnesses were to be the first to throw the stones.


If a law case was too difficult for the local judges to decide, the parties were to go to the Place and have the Levitical priests decide the matter. If anyone showed contempt for the judge or for the priest, they were to be put to death. This was to set an example for others not to show contempt.


The Israelites were to appoint a king over them that God chose. The king was to be an Israelite.


“The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself

or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them,

for the Lord has told you, ‘You are not to go back that way again.’

He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray.

He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.

When he takes the throne of his kingdom,

he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law,

taken from that of the Levitical priests.

It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life

so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God

and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees

and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites

and turn from the law to the right or to the left.

Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.”

- Deuteronomy 17:16-20



Deuteronomy 18

The Levites were not to have an inheritance but were to live off the sacrifices and offerings made to the Lord.


The Israelites were not to sacrifice their children or engage in any kind of witchcraft or divination. They were to listen to prophets. God would give His prophets messages to tell the people. If a prophet gave a false message or spoke in the name of other gods, they were to be put to death. The Israelites would know a false prophet if what they say doesn’t come true.



Deuteronomy 19

The Israelites were to choose cities of refuge distanced equally apart. Anyone who killed someone accidentally could go to a city of refuge and escape the avenger of blood. If someone killed another purposefully, the elders were to bring the person back from the city of refuge and put them to death.


The Israelites were not to move property lines to try to enlarge their individual territory.


People were to be convicted only on the testimony of two or more witnesses. If someone gives false testimony, they are to be punished with the same sentence the person accused of the crime would have been.



Deuteronomy 20

The Israelite soldiers were not to fear stronger armies. The priests were to go remind them that God would fight for them against their enemies.


Any Israelite soldier was excused from the fighting if he:

  • Hadn’t had the opportunity to live in a new house he had built
  • Hadn’t harvested from his new vineyard
  • Hadn’t married the woman he was pledged to
  • Was afraid

Excusing men who were afraid would keep them affecting the morale of the others.


When the Israelites besieged a faraway city that didn’t belong to one of the nearby nations, they were to offer their enemies peace. If the enemy surrendered, the Israelites were to take them as slaves. If the enemy did not surrender, the Israelites were to kill all the men in the city but take the women, children, and goods for themselves.


For enemies nearby, the Israelites were to destroy them completely to keep them from tempting the Israelites to worship their gods.


When the Israelites besieged a city, they were not to cut down the surrounding fruit trees. They could use non-fruit trees to build siegeworks.



Deuteronomy 21

If a dead body was found outside of town, the elders of the closest town, under the supervision of the priests, were to take a heifer that had never been used to work down to a stream and break its neck. The elders were to wash their hands in the stream and vow they didn’t know who killed the person outside of their town. This would atone for the bloodshed.


If an Israelite took a woman captive in war, he was to let her mourn for a month, then consummate his marriage to her. If he didn’t like her for some reason, he could send her away but not keep her as a slave.


If an Israelite man had multiple wives, he was to give his actual firstborn son the rights of the firstborn, even if his firstborn was not from his favorite wife. Firstborn sons were to receive twice as much inheritance as other sons.


If a son made a habit of not obeying his parents, his parents were to take him to the entrance of their town and tell the elders he would not obey them. The men of the town were then to stone the son to death.


If someone was put to death, and their body was erected on a pole, the people were not to leave the body on the pole overnight. They were to bury it the same day…


…because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse.

- Deuteronomy 21:23



Deuteronomy 22

The Israelites were to help return anything they found lost.


They were to help their fellow Israelites’ animals that fell down.


Women were not to wear men’s clothes, or men women’s clothes.


They were not to take a bird and the bird’s eggs at the same time.


They were to build a parapet around their roof to prevent someone from falling off.


They were not to plant two kinds of seed in the same vineyard.


They were not to plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together.


They were not to wear clothes with wool and linen mixed together.


They were to put tassels on the four corners of their cloaks.


If a man claimed the woman he married wasn’t a virgin and so slandered her, her parents could present proof of her virginity to the town elders. If she was, in fact, a virgin, the elders were to punish the man. The man was not to divorce the woman. If she wasn’t a virgin, the men of the town were to stone her to death in front of her father’s house.


If a man had sex with another man’s wife, both the man and the woman were to be put to death. The same applies to a woman pledged to be married to another man.


If a man had sex with a woman pledged to be married outside of town, only the man was to put to death because the woman could have called for help and no one would have been able to hear her.


If a man had sex with a woman who wasn’t married or pledged to be married, he was to pay the bride price and marry her.


A man was not to marry his father’s wife.



Deuteronomy 23

No one could enter the Holy Place who:

  • Had been emasculated
  • Was a descendant of a forbidden marriage, down to 10 generations
  • Was an Ammonite or Moabite – because they did not help the Israelites when they came out of Egypt

Edomites (descendants of Esau) were to be allowed in the third generation. The same went for Egyptians, because the Israelites had lived in Egypt as foreigners.


The Israelites were to go to the bathroom outside the camp and dig a hole and cover their excrement.


“For the Lord your God moves about in your camp

to protect you and to deliver your enemies to you.

Your camp must be holy, so that he will not see among you

anything indecent and turn away from you.”

- Deuteronomy 23:14


The Israelites were to allow runaway slaves to stay in their towns and not hand them over to their master.


The Israelites were not to become shrine prostitutes or offer God the earrings of a shrine prostitute.


They were not to charge other Israelites interest. They could charge foreigners interest.


They were compelled to make vows to God, but if they did, they were to fulfill their vows quickly.


They were allowed to eat someone else’s produce as they passed through their land, but they were not to take any with them.



Deuteronomy 24

A man who divorced a woman was not to remarry the woman after a second man divorced her.


A man was not to be sent to war for at least a year after he got married.


Israelites were not to take millstones as security for a debt because that would take away someone’s livelihood.


Kidnappers were to be put to death.


Those who a defiling skin disease were to follow the priests’ orders.


Creditors were not to enter someone’s house to take their security. They were also to give back the security every evening, such as in the case of a piece of clothing.


Workers were to be paid their wages every day.


“Parents are not to be put to death for their children,

nor children put to death for their parents; each will die for their own sin.”

- Deuteronomy 24:16


The Israelites were not to back over their fields harvesting a second time. They were to leave what they missed the first time for foreigners, fatherless, and widows to collect.



Deuteronomy 25

A judge could not order someone to be punished with more than 40 lashes, because then the Israelite being beaten would have been degraded in the eyes of their fellow Israelites.


The Israelites were not to muzzle an ox while it was working in the field.


If a married man died without having children, his brother was to marry the widow and have a child for his dead brother. If the brother refused to have offspring for his dead brother, the widow was to spit in his face and take off one of his sandals in the presence of the town elders.


A woman who tries to hurt a man by grabbing his private parts was to have her hand cut off.


The Israelites were to use fair weights and measures when dealing with others.


The Israelites were to completely destroy the Amalekites because they attacked the Israelites when they were weak after coming up out of Egypt.  



Deuteronomy 26

When the Israelites collect the produce of Canaan, they were to take some of the firstfruits to the Place and put the produce down in front of the altar and praise God for bringing them up out of Egypt and into a good land.


Every third year, they were to give a tenth of the produce that grew to the Levites, foreigners, fatherless, and widows.



Deuteronomy 27

When the Israelites crossed the Jordan River into Canaan, they were to set up an altar of stones and write the words of the Law on the stone. Then they were to sacrifice burnt offerings on the altar. They were also sacrifice fellowship offerings and eat them as they celebrated what God had done for them.


When they crossed the Jordan, half of the tribes were to stand on Mount Gerizim and half on Mount Ebal. The Levites were to stand in the middle and recite the Law.



Deuteronomy 28

The Levites were to recite God’s promised blessings for obedience and His promised punishments for disobedience.



Deuteronomy 29

Moses then reminded the people of all God had done for them in bringing them out of Egypt and taking care of them in the desert. God was about to confirm His covenant with Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob by bringing the Israelites into the land of Canaan.


The Israelites were to ensure that they all remained faithful to God throughout the generations, or else God would punish them.


“The secret things belong to the Lord our God,

but the things revealed belong to us and to our children forever,

that we may follow all the words of this law.”

- Deuteronomy 29:29



Deuteronomy 30

If, after God has punished Israel, they turn back to Him, He will reverse the punishments and bless them again.


“The Lord your God will circumcise your hearts

and the hearts of your descendants,

so that you may love him with all your heart and with all your soul, and live.”

- Deuteronomy 30:6



Deuteronomy 31

Moses was 120 years old and knew he would die before the Israelites crossed the Jordan River. Moses assured the people God would cross the Jordan with them, and he appointed Joshua to be their leader.


“The Lord himself goes before you and will be with you;

he will never leave you nor forsake you.

Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.”

- Deuteronomy 31:8


Moses wrote down the Law and gave it to the priests. He told them to read it aloud to the people every seven years at the Place during the Festival of Booths.


God then met with Moses and Joshua and told them Moses was about to die. He also told them the Israelites would rebel against Him, and Moses was to write a song for them to sing as a witness for God against them.



Deuteronomy 32

The song retold the history of God’s dealing with Israel and their ancestors, pointing out Israel’s rebellion despite God’s faithfulness. It also promised God’s forgiveness and blessing after due punishment.


“See now that I myself am he!
    There is no god besides me.
I put to death and I bring to life,
    I have wounded and I will heal,
    and no one can deliver out of my hand.”

- Deuteronomy 32:39


That same day, God told Moses to climb Mount Nebo and view Canaan. That was where he would die.



Deuteronomy 33

Moses then blessed each of the tribes of Israel, as well as the nation as a whole, with prosperity and strength in the new land they were entering.


“The eternal God is your refuge,
    and underneath are the everlasting arms.”

- Deuteronomy 33:27



Deuteronomy 34

Then Moses died on Mount Nebo, and God buried him. No one knows where his grave is.


The Israelites mourned for Moses 30 days, the customary time.





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