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 (4:44 – 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)
Deuteronomy 24 prescribes a variety of laws to encourage the Israelites to practice righteousness in dealing with one another and to respect the dignity of each person, regardless of his or her socioeconomic status. The first seven verses constitute a section flavored with exposition on the eighth commandment (You shall not steal). This section begins in Deuteronomy 23:19 and ends in 24:7.
This section discusses one possible practice of divorce in Israel and the issue of newly married men not going to war for one full year (vv. 1-5). Moses also warns Israel against taking a handmill or an upper millstone in pledge (v. 6), and forbids kidnapping one’s countryman (v. 7),
Verses 8 – 22 contain sections generally flavored with laws that concern the ninth commandment (You shall not bear false witness against your neighbor—Deuteronomy 5:20). It includes the instructions of the Levitical priests regarding the matter of leprosy (vv. 8-9) The rest of the chapter shows the author’s concerns for the needy—the alien, the orphan, and the widow—as he asks each Israelite to show compassion to them to receive the blessings of the Suzerain (Ruler) God (vv. 10-22). The chapter is outlined as follows:
Deuteronomy 24 can be outlined as follows: