“Do not be terrified; do not be afraid of them. The Lord your God, who is going before you, will fight for you, as he did for you in Egypt, before your very eyes, and in the wilderness. There you saw how the Lord your God carried you, as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place.”

Deuteronomy is a retelling of the story of the Exodus - but it is a retelling in a very different way.

It is Moses’s autobiography, in which he erases himself from history. It tells of how Moses the prince of Egypt, who would have expected mummification and a pyramid grave, with his children inheriting his power, dies leaving no body, no grave and no dynasty. In the words of Micah Goodman, it tells of taking the Jews out of Egypt, but also tells of taking Egypt out of the Jews. It tells of a people moving from the security of slavery to the uncertainty of liberty. It tells of a people being asked to trust and serve only the Lord God. 

 

Deuteronomy is composed of three speeches of Moses made into one, followed by a song and and ending with a blessing. In these Moses tells the people eight times that it was God who brought you out of Egypt. It was God who led you through the desert, God who provided water, manna and quail. It was not me.

 

Central in the book of Deuteronomy is the idea that if you violate God’s word, if you violate the covenant, you will be devastated and exile will follow. A graphic description of this is found in chapter 28 where the devastation the Israelites are threatened with for turning away from God includes boils, plague, darkness and locusts, reminiscent of four of the plagues visited on the Egyptians. The Israelites who have left Egypt and are about to enter the promised land are warned against the danger of becoming Egypt. And so it is a preparation for the book of Joshua where the people of Israel are asked who they will serve. Moses in Deuteronomy is preparing the way so that they can all say, with Joshua, ‘as for me and my house we will serve the Lord’.