Deuteronomy 1


The five books of Moses were collectively called the Pentateuch, a word of Greek origin meaning ‘the five-fold book.’ The Jews called them the Torah, i.e., ‘the law.’ It’s probable that the division of the Torah into five books proceeded from the Greek translators of the Old Testament.

The names by which these several books are generally known are Greek. Genesis through to Deuteronomy is known as the Torah which means Law. In Greek, the word Pentateuch is ‘Pente’ which means five and ‘uch’ which means Law.


In the Book of Deuteronomy, we read about God’s plan of redemption not only for His people but also for all of mankind. It points to the ultimate Redeemer of the world, Jesus, the Messiah.

We read about principles concerning how the nation of Israel should live and the ultimate fulfilment of those principles being set forth by Jesus Himself.

The name ‘Deuteronomy’ means ‘second law’, but it wasn’t a new law for Israel, but a repetition of the laws that were given at Mount Sinai. However, in the repetition of the law, Moses explains and amplifies various portions of the laws that were given about 40 years before.

We know this is an important book because it is quoted 85 times within the New Testament. Only six books within the New Testament don’t have any quotes from Deuteronomy. Many scholars believe that the key verse within the book is Deuteronomy 6:5 ‘Love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength.’


Moses writes, “Thirty-eight years passed from the time we left Kadesh Barnea until we crossed the Zered Valley. By then, that entire generation of fighting men had perished from the camp, as the LORD had sworn to them. The LORD’s hand was against them until he had completely eliminated them from the camp.” Deuteronomy 2:14-15.

The crossing of the brook Zered brought Israel to the borders of Ammon. It too marked the separation of the unfaithful Israelites who faltered at the first visit to Kadesh.

Note that Moses marks a 38-year time frame in which Israel left Kadesh-Barnea to the coming over the brook Zered that the rebellious generation is done away with.

In Deuteronomy 1:3 Moses marks the eleventh month of the 40th year as the time from leaving Egypt to their current place in Moab. They had spent three months getting to Sinai from Egypt, Exodus 12:2 to Exodus 19:1. Israel spends approximately twelve months at Sinai receiving the law, Numbers 10:11-13. Thirty-eight years later Israel finds themselves in the plains of Moab, Numbers 33:38 / Deuteronomy 2:14, yet to have entered Canaan.

Deuteronomy opens in the 40th year and eleventh month. Smith and Fields date the book of Deuteronomy to the year 1407 B.C. “Old Testament History”. The message of Moses to the people lasted about 30 days, Deuteronomy 1:3 / Deuteronomy 34:8 / Joshua 2:22 / Joshua 4:19.


We know that Moses wrote the book as his farewell speech to Israel, Deuteronomy 1:1 / Deuteronomy 1:5 / Deuteronomy 4:44-45 / Deuteronomy 31:24-26.

Jesus Himself, on many occasions, quotes from the book and accredits the writing to Moses, Matthew 4:4 / Matthew 4:7 / Matthew 4:10 / Matthew 5:21 / Matthew 5:27 / Matthew 5:31 / Matthew 5:38 / Matthew 15:4 / Matthew 18:16 / Matthew 19:7 / Matthew 22:24 / Matthew 22:37 / Mark 7:10 / Mark 10:4 / Mark 12:19 / Mark 12:29-30 / Luke 4:4 / Luke 4:8 / Luke 4:12 / Luke 10:27 / Luke 18:20 / Luke 20:28.


A summary of Israel’s journey from Egypt. Deuteronomy 1-3
A Summary of Israel’s relationship with God. Deuteronomy 4-10
How to love God and keep His commandments. Deuteronomy 11-26
Blessings, curses, and restoration. Deuteronomy 27-30
The death of Moses. Deuteronomy 31-34


First sermon, Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43
Second sermon, Deuteronomy 4:44-11:32
Third sermon, Deuteronomy 12:1-33:29

‘These are the words Moses spoke to all Israel in the wilderness east of the Jordan—that is, in the Arabah—opposite Suph, between Paran and Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth and Dizahab. (It takes eleven days to go from Horeb to Kadesh Barnea by the Mount Seir road.) In the fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, Moses proclaimed to the Israelites all that the LORD had commanded him concerning them. This was after he had defeated Sihon king of the Amorites, who reigned in Heshbon, and at Edrei had defeated Og king of Bashan, who reigned in Ashtaroth. East of the Jordan in the territory of Moab, Moses began to expound this law, saying.’ Deuteronomy 1:1-5

The Command To Leave Horeb

First Sermon, Deuteronomy 1:1-4:43

The book begins by telling us that Moses spoke these words to Israel ‘in the wilderness east of the Jordan’. Although we can’t be sure, the wilderness may possibly be referring to any area from Mount Sinai to the valley just east of the Jordan before Israel crossed over into Canaan. Moses does refer to the wilderness of Arabah as ‘the valley near Beth Peor’, Deuteronomy 4:46.

No one really knows the exact location of ‘Suph, Numbers 21:4, Paran, Tophel, Laban, Hazeroth, Numbers 12:1-15, and Dizahab, but we do know that Moses was in the land of Moab.

Notice, that if Israel had walked from Horeb, that is Mount Sinai, to Kadesh it would have taken just eleven days, however, because they initially refused to take the land as God commanded, they ended up wandering around for thirty-eight years in the wilderness, Hebrews 11:1-11.

Thirty-eight years later Israel finds themselves in the plains of Moab, Numbers 33:38 / Deuteronomy 2:14, yet to have entered Canaan.

The fortieth year, on the first day of the eleventh month, represented the time from leaving Egypt to their current place in Moab. They had spent three months getting to Sinai from Egypt, Exodus 12:2-19:1. This means that Israel spent approximately twelve months at Sinai receiving the law, Numbers 10:11-13.

Before Moses dies and the children of Israel enter Canaan, he has some final words for the people. Moses begins the first of three sermons, after having defeated the Amorites and those of Bashan.

He tells us that great victories had been won by Israel over the Amorites and Bashan. When Israel had an opportunity the take the Promised Land, they were afraid of the power of the Canaanites, but this new generation of Israelites, trust God and so, God gave them the victory over these two pagan kings, Sihon and Og.

It’s at this point when Moses now expounds the law, that is ‘Torah’. The word is used here to refer to the total law of God which came through Moses, and or it can refer to some specific teachings, Proverbs 1:8.

Over a period of several years, the name ‘Torah’ became the name that was given by the Jews to the first five books of the Bible, known as the Pentateuch, Ezra 7:6.

‘The LORD our God said to us at Horeb, “You have stayed long enough at this mountain. Break camp and advance into the hill country of the Amorites; go to all the neighbouring peoples in the Arabah, in the mountains, in the western foothills, in the Negev and along the coast, to the land of the Canaanites and to Lebanon, as far as the great river, the Euphrates. See, I have given you this land. Go in and take possession of the land the LORD swore he would give to your fathers—to Abraham, Isaac and Jacob—and to their descendants after them.” Deuteronomy 1:6-8

The background to these verses is found in Exodus 18:18-26. God told Israel they have stayed long enough, at Sinai, the ‘long enough’ time at Sinai was a twelve-month period of time in which Israel received the law of God. Moses reminds the people of the day that they are told to leave Sinai for the Promised Land of Canaan.

The Amorites were a great nation of people who came into the area of Canaan from the north and settled primarily on the eastern side of the Jordan. Because they were seen as a great nation, when Israel conquered them, it gave them even more confidence to conquer any of the tribes of the Canaanites.

Canaan was the land promised to Abraham as God’s gift that Israel may grow into a mighty nation, Genesis 12:1-9. The Canaanites were living in the land at the time of the arrival of Israel and had been there since the days of Abraham.

It was God who gave them the land as a gift, and all Israel had to do was take it by faith, Hebrews 11:1. The land already had inhabitants, that is, the Canaanites, but God’s gift of the land was conditioned upon the people going in and ‘possessing’ it.

The ‘possessing’ of Canaan is where Israel found their trouble. It would have been nice to simply walk into Canaan without any resistance, Israel, however, needed to learn to trust in God and His protection.

The Appointment Of Leaders

‘At that time I said to you, “You are too heavy a burden for me to carry alone. The LORD your God has increased your numbers so that today you are as numerous as the stars in the sky. May the LORD, the God of your ancestors, increase you a thousand times and bless you as he has promised! But how can I bear your problems and your burdens and your disputes all by myself? Choose some wise, understanding and respected men from each of your tribes, and I will set them over you.” You answered me, “What you propose to do is good.” So I took the leading men of your tribes, wise and respected men, and appointed them to have authority over you—as commanders of thousands, of hundreds, of fifties and of tens and as tribal officials. And I charged your judges at that time, “Hear the disputes between your people and judge fairly, whether the case is between two Israelites or between an Israelite and a foreigner residing among you. Do not show partiality in judging; hear both small and great alike. Do not be afraid of anyone, for judgment belongs to God. Bring me any case too hard for you, and I will hear it.” And at that time I told you everything you were to do.’ Deuteronomy 1:9-18

Some believe the background to these verses is found in Exodus 18:13-26, where we find Moses sitting from morning till evening judging the people and so, his father-in-law Jethro tells him that the task is too much for one person, he needs to appoint judges, which he did, Acts 6:1-6.

Others believe the background to these verses is found in Numbers 11:16-17, where God instructs Moses to appoint elders to share the burden of responsibility.

Israel had grown numerically by the time they stood east of the Jordan but eventually, they would grow numerically as the stars in the heavens. This was the fulfilment of God’s promise to Abraham that He would make of his seed a great nation, Genesis 15:5.

Moses gives sound advice to the wise men who would serve as judges, first of all, they should respect persons in judgment. In other words, to judge in favour of a rich man or friend was to pervert judgment. These judges were to examine the facts of each case and make a judgment based on the facts given.

Secondly, the judges were to give careful attention to the rich, poor, high ranking officials, and lowly citizens. No man is to be preferred above others. Let the facts be that which the judge is interested in.

And finally, there would be times when the judge was threatened to give a favourable judgment to the perverted. These threats may come in the form of verbal threats or hard looks. Moses commands the judges not to be afraid but to make the right judgments in the courts for this is God’s will.

The main qualification of a leader is to be fair in all judgments. Bribes distort justice, and so, disqualify one from being a leader. For this reason, those who are greedy for money can never be leaders for God for their judgments are tainted with the love of money.

Spies Sent Out

‘Then, as the LORD our God commanded us, we set out from Horeb and went toward the hill country of the Amorites through all that vast and dreadful wilderness that you have seen, and so we reached Kadesh Barnea. Then I said to you, “You have reached the hill country of the Amorites, which the LORD our God is giving us. See, the LORD your God has given you the land. Go up and take possession of it as the LORD, the God of your ancestors, told you. Do not be afraid; do not be discouraged.” Then all of you came to me and said, “Let us send men ahead to spy out the land for us and bring back a report about the route we are to take and the towns we will come to.” The idea seemed good to me; so I selected twelve of you, one man from each tribe. They left and went up into the hill country and came to the Valley of Eshkol and explored it. Taking with them some of the fruit of the land, they brought it down to us and reported, “It is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us.” Deuteronomy 1:19-25

The background to these verses is found in Numbers 13-14. Moses reminds the people of the hard journey through the wilderness to reach Canaan from Kadesh, where God fed them with manna from heaven and gave them water to drink, Exodus 15:22-16:36.

Notice that the journey was made ‘as the Lord our God commanded us’. In other words, the journey wasn’t only commanded by God but the taking possession of the land was also commanded by God, Numbers 32:23.

Because God had led them through the vast and terrible wilderness, that is, the land of the Amorites, Moses was now prepared to lead Israel into Canaan.

As Moses stood at Kadesh-Barnea the people had at long last come to the moment of their deepest desire, a land of their own given to them by God. He encouraged them not to be afraid, and not to be discouraged. The land was there and all they had to do was take it by faith.

God had commanded them to take the journey from Sinai to Kadesh-Barnea, possess the land that God has given them, and don’t be afraid or discouraged.

Israel did the first command, yet when they saw that difficulties were involved in completing the second, they became fearful and were dismayed. Israel thereby failed to complete the second and third commands of God regarding taking Canaan.

Notice it was the Israelites who come up with the plan to send men to spy out the land, this wasn’t part of God’s plan. It appears that Moses expected that they go up against the Canaanites without any report from spies, but the plan seemed good to him and so he goes along with it.

When the spies came back they said, ‘it is a good land that the LORD our God is giving us’. It appears that Moses only considers Joshua and Caleb’s words, Numbers 13:27, even though the other ten spies brought back an ‘evil report’, Numbers 13:28-29, which caused all the congregation to murmur, Numbers 13:30-14:1.

Rebellion Against The LORD

‘But you were unwilling to go up; you rebelled against the command of the LORD your God. You grumbled in your tents and said, “The LORD hates us; so he brought us out of Egypt to deliver us into the hands of the Amorites to destroy us. Where can we go? Our brothers have made our hearts melt in fear. They say, ‘The people are stronger and taller than we are; the cities are large, with walls up to the sky. We even saw the Anakites there.’” Then I said to you, “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.” Despite this, you did not trust in the LORD your God, who went ahead of you on your journey, in fire by night and in a cloud by day, to search out places for you to camp and to show you the way you should go.’ Deuteronomy 1:26-33

The background to these verses is found in Numbers 13:1-14:45. They rebelled against God’s command when they didn’t enter the land because of their lack of faith in God. Their lack of faith to trust in God, that He would be with them in their confrontation with the Canaanites was considered rebellion.

With the events at Egypt, Sinai, and the provisional care of God through the wilderness fresh upon their minds the people, had at that time disobeyed God’s commands regarding not fearing the enemy, Deuteronomy 1:21.

They said the people were stronger and taller than they were, this report of the spies was correct, Numbers 13:28. However, the fact that the Canaanites were stronger and taller would have been the opportunity for God to prove that He was with His people when they conquered them, which they eventually did 38 years later.

Numbers 14:6-19 record only Joshua and Caleb pleading for the people’s faithful obedience yet here we find that Moses too did so. Moses tells the people to not fear for ‘He will fight for you’. All Israel had to do is believe based on what they had experienced in Egypt.

They were to believe based upon God ‘as a father carries his son, all the way you went until you reached this place’, Exodus 19:4. Israel’s faith was to be founded on the evidence of God’s care that had taken place in their lives. They were to remember God’s guidance by fire in the night and a cloud during the day, Numbers 14:14.

Despite encouraging Israel to think back on the things God had done for them in the past, they still didn’t believe the LORD, they still didn’t trust Him.

This is the very reason why the Israelites were disciplined for thirty-eight years in the wilderness. However, regardless of their lack of faith, God treated the people as a father who would carry his son. He carried them across the wilderness, choosing where they would camp throughout their thirty-eight years of wilderness living.

‘When the LORD heard what you said, he was angry and solemnly swore: “No one from this evil generation shall see the good land I swore to give your ancestors, except Caleb son of Jephunneh. He will see it, and I will give him and his descendants the land he set his feet on, because he followed the LORD wholeheartedly.” Because of you the LORD became angry with me also and said, “You shall not enter it, either. But your assistant, Joshua son of Nun, will enter it. Encourage him, because he will lead Israel to inherit it. And the little ones that you said would be taken captive, your children who do not yet know good from bad—they will enter the land. I will give it to them and they will take possession of it. But as for you, turn around and set out toward the desert along the route to the Red Sea.” Then you replied, “We have sinned against the LORD. We will go up and fight, as the LORD our God commanded us.” So every one of you put on his weapons, thinking it easy to go up into the hill country. But the LORD said to me, “Tell them, ‘Do not go up and fight, because I will not be with you. You will be defeated by your enemies.’” So I told you, but you would not listen. You rebelled against the LORD’s command and in your arrogance you marched up into the hill country. The Amorites who lived in those hills came out against you; they chased you like a swarm of bees and beat you down from Seir all the way to Hormah. You came back and wept before the LORD, but he paid no attention to your weeping and turned a deaf ear to you. And so you stayed in Kadesh many days—all the time you spent there.’ Deuteronomy 1:34-46

When Israel rejected, through a spirit of rebellion, these commands, God didn’t allow that evil generation to have His gift of Canaan, Psalm 95:11. The only exceptions were Caleb and Joshua who were the only faithful spies, out of the twelve, who came back with a good report concerning the Promised Land, Numbers 14:6-10.

Caleb eventually received the portion that he had surveyed as one of the spies, Joshua 14:9-12, and Joshua was given the privilege of leading the Israelites into Canaan in the place of Moses.

The other exceptions were the younger ones, the next generation of Israelites, who would be permitted to enter the land. Even Moses himself wouldn’t enter the Promised Land, Numbers 20:10-12 / Psalm 106:32-33.

The generation that came out of Egypt disinherited themselves because they didn’t obey the command to go up and take the land. They had experienced the great wonders of God, the plagues of Egypt, and the crossing of the Red Sea, but yet they still didn’t trust God, 1 Corinthians 10:11.

God said that the reason Israel didn’t believe was because they were unwilling to follow His commands, which were simply to go and take the land. The people were too lazy, afraid and hard-hearted to follow through with God’s commandments, Exodus 9:34 / Exodus 10:3.

When the Israelites realised that they were prohibited from entering the land, they again rebelled against God, Hebrews 3:8-4:8. They decided to enter the land on their own strength, for God said He wouldn’t be with them.

They paid the price for their disobedience by the loss of many lives, for the Amorites chased them as if they were bees chasing after them. The names ‘Amorites’ and ‘Canaanites’ are sometimes used interchangeably, Numbers 14:45.

When Israel cried out to God in a state of rebellious disbelief, ‘the Lord turned a deaf ear to them,’ Psalm 34:15-16 / 66:18 / Psalm 109:7 / Proverbs 15:29 / Proverbs 28:9 / Isaiah 1:11-15 / John 9:31 / John 16:23-27 / 1 John. 3:21-22.

Their weeping was more about remorse over their loss than true repentance, 2 Corinthians 7:10. They wept over their own failures, not over the fact that the Lord was not with them.

Go To Deuteronomy 2


"In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God."