Lesson 69: Deuteronomy 14–19
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“Lesson 69: Deuteronomy 14–19,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual (2014)

“Lesson 69,” Old Testament Seminary Teacher Manual

Lesson 69

Deuteronomy 14–19


Moses reminded the children of Israel that they were to be a “peculiar” and “holy” people (Deuteronomy 14:2). They could do so by observing the Lord’s laws and feasts, refraining from evil, and caring for the poor. Moses also warned the Israelites about the consequences for worshipping false gods and instructed them regarding how their future kings should be chosen and how they should rule. He prophesied about the coming of Jesus Christ and set forth judicial procedures for those who had committed murder or manslaughter.

Suggestions for Teaching

Deuteronomy 14–16

The Lord commands His people to be holy, to care for the poor, and to remember His blessings

Mormonad-Be Youself

Show students a few objects that are all the same except one. (For example, you might display a bouquet of the same type of flowers with one different type of flower in the middle. Alternatively, you could display or draw on the board a picture of several identical objects and one different object, such as the example shown in the accompanying Mormonad.)


Ask students to ponder a time when they either felt approval and joy or felt alone, uncomfortable, or embarrassed because their beliefs made them different from others. Invite a few students who feel comfortable doing so to tell about a time when they felt this way. You might also consider sharing an experience.

  • Why do you think it might be a good thing to stand out because of your beliefs?

Explain that the book of Deuteronomy contains a number of reminders for the Israelites before they entered the promised land. Invite students to look for doctrines and principles as they study Deuteronomy 14–19 that can help them have the courage to live what they believe so they can distinguish themselves as members of a holy people.

Invite a student to read Deuteronomy 14:1–2 aloud. Ask the class to follow along and look for words or phrases that explain who the Israelites were and why they should stand out from other nations.

  • What words or phrases describe the Lord’s people? (Remind students that in this context the term peculiar means “exclusive, or special” and can refer to a special possession or property [see Bible Dictionary, “Peculiar”]. Holy means sacred and devoted to God.)

  • Which Old Testament scripture mastery passage does verse 2 sound like? (You may want to invite students to recite Exodus 19:5–6 from memory, if possible, or read the verses aloud in unison.)

  • Why do you think Moses would repeat this message to Israel?

Summarize Deuteronomy 14:3–29 by explaining that Moses reminded the Israelites of what they had been commanded to eat and not eat. He also taught them about tithing. These practices would separate the Lord’s people from other nations. Point out that Deuteronomy 14:26 mentions the use of strong drink, such as wine or other alcoholic drinks. In ancient times, the Lord allowed the use of these drinks in moderation and in ceremonial rituals.

Invite a student to read Deuteronomy 14:28–29 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for some of the reasons the Israelites were to pay tithing.

  • What were some of the reasons the Israelites were to pay tithing? (To care for the Levite priests, strangers, the fatherless, and widows. Tithing also allowed the Lord to bless the tithe payer’s life.)

  • According to verse 29, what blessing was promised to those who paid tithing? (The Lord would bless the Israelites “in all the work” of their lives.)

  • How can obeying the law of tithing help us stand out from the world?

Explain that Deuteronomy 15 describes another way in which the Israelites were to care for the needy among them. Ask students to read Deuteronomy 15:1–2 silently, looking for what the Israelites were to do every seven years. Invite students to look at verse 1, footnote b, to discover what the term release means (the “pardoning or cancellation of debts”).

  • What were the Israelites to do every seven years?

  • What do you think of this arrangement? What kind of attitude would the Israelites need to develop in order to live this commandment?

Invite a student to read Deuteronomy 15:4–6 aloud. (You might also ask him or her to read aloud verse 4, footnote a.) Ask students to follow along, with half of the class looking for the reason Israelite creditors were to forgive debts every seven years. Ask the other half of the class to look for the ways in which the Lord would bless the Israelites if they would obey this and the other commandments.

  • What was the purpose of forgiving debts every seven years? In what ways would the Lord bless the Israelites as they obeyed this commandment?

Invite a student to come to the front of the classroom to represent an ancient Israelite. Give him or her some food or money. (You could give the student some fake money or ask students to imagine these items.) Write Year 1 on the board. Ask another student to represent someone in need during the first year of a seven-year cycle. Invite the second student to ask the first student to lend him or her some food or money. Ask the class:

  • What would you do if you were in this Israelite’s position and someone asked you for a loan?

Invite a student to read Deuteronomy 15:7–8 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for how the Lord wants His people to treat the poor.

  • What words or phrases in these verses describe how we should provide for those in need?

Invite the student with the food or money to demonstrate the actions and attitudes that students identified as he or she gives food or money to the second student.

Write Year 7 on the board. Invite a third student to represent another Israelite in need during the seventh year and ask the first student for help.

  • How is this scenario different from the first?

  • Why might it have been harder for an Israelite to lend to a neighbor in the seventh year?

Invite a student to read Deuteronomy 15:9–11 aloud. Ask students to follow along and look for Moses’s warning and counsel for lending in the seventh year.

  • What was Moses’s warning in this situation? What can we learn from verse 9 about refusing to help the poor? (Students may identify a variety of principles, including the following: We sin by refusing to help others in need when we are able to give.)

Collect the objects used in the scenario, and ask the participating students to return to their seats.

  • Why do you think it is a sin to refuse to help those in need?

  • What are some reasons why it is sometimes hard for us to help those in need? (You may need to explain that even if we are not always able to meet others’ needs, we should be able to say in our hearts that we would help if we could [see Mosiah 4:24–25].)

  • What did Moses say we should do with our hands when we give to the poor? What should our attitude about giving to the poor be?

  • According to verse 10, what will we experience if we willingly help those in need? (Students may use different words, but they should identify the following principle: If we willingly help those in need, then we will be blessed in all our works.)

  • What kinds of opportunities has the Lord given us to help provide for those in need?

Ask students to share a time when they have felt blessed after helping someone in need.

Encourage students to write in their class notebooks or scripture study journals what they will do in the coming week to help someone in need. You may want to testify of the importance of helping others in need. Remind students that helping those in need is a way to show that we are the Lord’s “peculiar people” (Deuteronomy 14:2).

Summarize the remainder of Deuteronomy 15 by explaining that the Lord commanded the Israelites to release Hebrew servants in their seventh year of service. He also emphasized the sanctity of the firstlings of the Israelites’ herds and flocks.

Explain that Deuteronomy 16 contains the Lord’s instructions pertaining to the Passover and two other annual feasts: the Feast of Weeks and the Feast of Tabernacles (see Bible Dictionary, “Feasts”). These feasts would remind the Israelites of the blessings they had received and would receive from the Lord.

Deuteronomy 17–19

The Lord instructs His people regarding His commandments and explains the consequences for disobedience

Summarize Deuteronomy 17:1–13 by explaining that this passage describes the consequences for Israelites who chose to worship false gods.

Invite a student to come to the front of the class and sit in a chair. Place a crown (which could be made out of paper) on his or her head and then ask:

  • If you were the king or queen of a nation, what would you choose to do with your time?

Invite students to consider, or list, kings or queens from history or from the scriptures who became prideful and failed to follow the commandments of God.

Explain to the class that Moses, knowing that Israel at a future time would demand a king in order to be like neighboring nations, instructed Israel regarding what a good king should do. Invite the student wearing the crown to read Deuteronomy 17:14–20 aloud. Ask the class to follow along, looking for the Lord’s instructions concerning the king. You may want to suggest that students mark what they find.

  • What warnings and counsel did the Lord give concerning Israel’s future king?

  • According to Deuteronomy 17:18–19, what was Israel’s king to do when sitting on the throne? How might the king be blessed by studying the laws of God daily?

  • What principle can we learn from this instruction about studying the scriptures daily? (Students may use different words, but make sure they identify the following principle: If we study the scriptures daily, they will help us to be humble and live according to God’s commandments. Consider writing this principle on the board.)

Invite the student wearing the crown to return to his or her seat. Consider asking students how their study of the Old Testament has influenced their lives so far this year. Encourage them to continue to study the scriptures daily. You may want to remind them that studying the scriptures is one more way they can be distinct from the world.

Summarize Deuteronomy 18–19 by explaining that Moses reviewed how to sustain the Levite priests and warned the Israelites to stay away from sorcery. He prophesied of the coming of Jesus Christ and described the legal processes for those who had killed another person, either accidentally or intentionally.

You may want to conclude by testifying of one or more of the truths identified today.

Commentary and Background Information

Deuteronomy 14:26. The Lord allowed the ancient Israelites to use strong drink

“The use of wine and other fermented fluids called ‘strong drink’ may surprise latter-day worshippers who are not to use them, but they were permitted in ceremonial exercises in ancient Israel; only excessive or improper use was forbidden (TG, “Drunkenness”; “Temperance”; “Word of Wisdom”). Fermented drinks were not to be used by the priests in service and not by Nazarites at all (Deut. 14:26; Lev. 10:9–11; Num. 6:2–4)” (Ellis T. Rasmussen, A Latter-day Saint Commentary on the Old Testament [1993], 179).

Deuteronomy 16:1–17. What was the purpose of feasts and festivals?

“Christmas and Easter celebrations aid the followers of Jesus Christ to remember certain great events in Christian history. The festivals which the Lord commanded Israel to keep served a similar purpose. Moses once again reminded his people of the solemn need to observe these festivals in just the way and at just the time the Lord had commanded.

“‘From very early times the Jewish year was punctuated by the great festivals—the “feasts of the Lord”. Some were timed to coincide with the changing seasons, reminding the people of God’s constant provision for them, and providing an opportunity to return to God some token of all that he had given. Others commemorated the great events of Israel’s history, the occasions when in an unmistakable way God had stepped in to deliver his people. All were occasions of wholehearted delight and enjoyment of God’s good gifts, and at the same time sober gatherings to seek his forgiveness and cleansing’ [Philip Budd, “Feasts and Festivals,” Eerdmans’ Handbook to the Bible, ed. David Alexander and Pat Alexander [1973], 180]” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 221–22).

Deuteronomy 18:15–19. Who is the “Prophet … like unto [Moses]”?

“At least four other scriptures refer to the prophet like unto Moses (see Acts 3:22–23; 1 Nephi 22:21; 3 Nephi 20:23; JS—H 1:40). In each instance these scriptures make it clear that the prophet like unto Moses was the Savior, Jesus Christ. When Jesus visited the Nephites, as recorded in the Book of Mormon, He identified Himself in this way:

“‘Behold, I am he of whom Moses spake, saying: A prophet shall the Lord your God raise up unto you of your brethren, like unto me; him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you. And it shall come to pass that every soul who will not hear that prophet shall be cut off from among the people.’ (3 Nephi 20:23.)” (Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel, 3rd ed. [Church Educational System manual, 2003], 226).