Home / Commentary / Deuteronomy / Deuteronomy Chapter 16
The Israelites are commanded to celebrate the Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread at the central sanctuary. This celebration will serve to commemorate the LORD’s deliverance of Israel out of Egypt.
The Israelites were to celebrate the grain harvest in the Feast of Weeks to acknowledge the Giver of the harvest—the Suzerain (Ruler) LORD. This feast is to be accompanied by a freewill offering.
The Israelites were commanded to joyfully celebrate the Feast of Booths with all those who belong to them. This feast commemorated the journey from Egypt to the Promised Land by living in structures made of wood and foliage. They are to have that celebration at the central sanctuary.
The celebrations of the Feast of Unleavened Bread, the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Booths every year at the central sanctuary are summarized.
Here, the Israelites are commanded to appoint judges and officers for themselves in all their towns. These judges and officers are to administer justice with equity in the Promised Land.
The Israelites are prohibited from building an Asherah pole of any kind. They are to give exclusive worship to their Suzerain (Ruler) God.
The book of Deuteronomy is the fifth and last book of the Torah (“law”). It continues the story of the first 4 books and picks up exactly where the book of Numbers ends (with the people on the plain of Moab). Therefore, as we set the context for the book of Deuteronomy, it is important that we briefly summarize the theme of the previous books to see how the story of God unfolds.
Genesis describes God’s plan to bless the Israelites and the world through one man named Abraham (Gen. 12:1-3). Exodus focuses on God’s loving act by which He rescued the Israelites from Egypt in order to have a covenant relationship with them. Once the children of Israel are redeemed, Leviticus instructs them to live a holy life that reflects the life of their covenant redeemer (cf. Lev. 19). Since the first generation of the Israelites failed to obey God wholeheartedly, the book of Numbers displays a strong contrast between God’s faithfulness and the nation’s failure. That is why the book of Deuteronomy reiterates and expands on the covenant to a new generation of Israelites poised to enter and conquer the Promised Land. The message of the book is centered around two key terms: love and loyalty (Deut. 6:4-5).
Outline of Deuteronomy:
I. Introduction: Moses will explain the law (1:1 – 5)
II. Moses’ First Sermon – a Recounting of the LORD’s Faithfulness (1:6 – 4:43)
III. Introduction to Second Sermon on expositing the Law (4:43 – 49)
IV. Moses’ Second Sermon – an Exposition of the Law Given at Mt. Sinai (5:1 – 26:19)
V. Script for Covenant Renewal Ceremony Once they enter the land (27:1 – 29:1)
VI. Moses’ Third Sermon – a Call to Obedience (29:2 – 30:20)
VII. The Last Acts of Moses (31:1 – 34:12)
In this chapter, Moses focuses in how to observe the pilgrimage festivals.
This chapter consists of two sections. The first section (vv. 1-17) describes the three annual pilgrim festivals the Israelites are to celebrate in order to commemorate their redemption from Egypt and to thank God for the harvest grain. The second section (vv. 18-22) deals with the administration of social justice in the land of Canaan. The judges and officers are commanded to execute justice with equity in order to please the righteous God (vv. 18-20). The last section prohibits Israel from associating pagan objects of worship with the worship of the Suzerain LORD at the central sanctuary (vv. 21-22).
Chapter 16 can be outlined as follows:
-Celebration of Feasts (Deut. 16:1 – 17)
-Passover and the Feast of Unleavened Bread (Deut. 16:1 – 8)
-Feast of Weeks – Pentecost (Deut. 16:9 – 12)
-Feast of Tabernacles (Deut. 16:13 – 17)
-Respect for Authority (Deut. 16:18 – 22)
-The Appointment of Judges and Officials (Deut. 16:18 – 20)
-The Prohibition of Bringing Pagan Worship Objects to the Central Sanctuary (Deut. 16:21 – 22)