This portion marks the beginning of the final book of the Torah. After leading the Children of Israel valiantly through the desert for forty years, Moses prepares to part from the people. What follows in the book of Deuteronomy is his farewell speech, delivered over the final six weeks of his life.
As the Israel Bible points out, Moses’s speech touches on a variety of topics he feels are important to review before the nation enters the Promised Land. There is something in this book for everyone – young and old, rich and poor, priest and layman – demonstrating that everyone has a place in the Land of Israel.
The portion of Devarim focuses on a number of incidents which took place during Moses’s tenure. It deals with the division of leadership responsibility first mentioned in Exodus 18; the sin of the spies which took place in Numbers 13-14; a number of battles and interactions with foreign states; and the inheritance of the tribes of Reuben, Gad and half of Manasseh, on the east bank of the Jordan River, which we first learned about last week, in Numbers 32.
Topic 1: Journey in Review: Leaving Mount SinaiMoses speaks to the people of Israel in the final weeks of their sojourn in the desert. He reminds them of God’s promise to their forefathers, Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, to give the land to their descendants. He then begins with a review of the leadership structure put in place during his father-in-law Jethro’s… Read More »
Topic 2: The Spies RevisitedMoses now turns to discuss the reason the Israelites are still in the wilderness. Moses reminds them that 38 years earlier the people had approached him asking to send spies to check out the land they were about to inherit, ostensibly to form a battle plan. Moses had selected 12 leaders from among them for… Read More »
Topic 3: New Neighbors and EnemiesMoses notes for the people a number of nations with whom the Israelites had various interactions over the years. First he speaks of the descendants of Esau and of Moab, whom the Children of Israel encountered early in their journey. God, at the time, instructed the Israelites not to wage war against either nation, as… Read More »