“Unit 14: Day 2, Deuteronomy 1–13,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 14: Day 2,” Old Testament Study Guide
Approximately 40 years after the Lord brought the Israelites out of Egypt, Moses spoke to them on the plains of Moab, east of the Jordan River and the promised land. Moses prepared the Israelites to enter the promised land by teaching them the importance of remembering and obeying the Lord. He also repeated the instructions to remove from the promised land the Canaanites and all items associated with their worship of false gods.
Although events concerning the Israelites’ exodus from Egypt and their experiences while being led to the promised land were recorded in the books of Exodus and Numbers, they are also mentioned multiple times in the book of Deuteronomy. The word deuteronomy means “repetition of the law.”
If you were Moses, what experiences might you ask the Israelites to remember? Why?
Search Deuteronomy 6:12–15; 8:2–3, 11–18; 9:7–8, looking for reasons why Moses repeatedly mentioned events concerning the exodus and being led in the wilderness as he taught the Israelites. You may want to mark what you find.
Read Deuteronomy 4:9, looking for what the Israelites needed to do so they would not forget the Lord’s influence in their lives.
To “take heed to thyself, and keep thy soul diligently” (Deuteronomy 4:9) means to be careful and diligent. One principle we learn from this verse is that if we are not diligent, then we may forget times when we have seen the Lord’s influence in our lives.
- Complete the following activities in your scripture study journal:
Answer the following question: What are the dangers of forgetting the influence of the Lord that we have seen in our lives?
Reflect on experiences that show the Lord’s influence in your life or in the lives of people you know. Write one or two sentences describing two of these experiences.
Have you ever felt or been told that the Lord’s commandments and standards limit your freedom or your ability to have fun? As you continue to study Deuteronomy, look for reasons the Lord has given us commandments and standards.
In Deuteronomy 5, Moses repeated the Ten Commandments to the children of Israel. Read Deuteronomy 6:3–5, looking for another commandment Moses declared to the Israelites. Jesus Christ referred to this as “the first and great commandment” (Matthew 22:38).
According to verse 3, what would be the result if the Israelites obeyed this commandment? (You may want to mark what you find.)
As you read Deuteronomy 6:6–9, notice what Moses taught the Israelites to do with the commandments.
How do you think following these instructions would have helped the Israelites be careful and diligent to not forget the Lord’s commandments?
Based on Moses’s instructions in verses 8–9, the Jews developed customs involving the Shema, the mezuzah, and tefillin (or phylacteries). The word shema is taken from a Hebrew word meaning “hear,” which comes from the beginning of Moses’s instruction recorded in Deuteronomy 6:4: “Hear, O Israel.” In its entirety, the Shema consists of Deuteronomy 6:4–9; Deuteronomy 11:13–21; and Numbers 15:37–41, in that order. It is recited daily by devout Jews as an evening and a morning prayer. Many Jews write these same references on a piece of parchment and place it in a small container called a mezuzah (the Hebrew word for doorpost), which is then placed on the right side of the door frame of their homes. Tefillin, also called phylacteries, are small leather boxes worn over the forehead and on the inside of the biceps of the nondominant arm, with the box pointed toward the heart. Pieces of parchment with some of the same scriptures from the Shema are placed in these boxes. In the days of Jesus Christ, the misuse of this tradition led people to become prideful when they would “make broad their phylacteries” (Matthew 23:5).
From these verses we learn that the commandments God gives us are always for our good.
- Think about one of the commandments that someone might think limits our freedom or ability to have fun. In your scripture study journal, write an explanation of how the commandment you chose is for our good. You may also want to record your testimony of how you know that the commandments God gives us are always for our good.
A snare is a trap intended to catch an animal that steps into it. How is the bait in a snare like temptations we experience?
In Deuteronomy 7, Moses taught the Israelites what they must do to overcome the snares that existed in the promised land in the form of wicked practices that could become enticing or tempting to the Israelites. The people who were already living in the promised land participated in terrible wickedness and idolatry, and they even sacrificed their innocent children to their false gods (see Deuteronomy 12:30–31). As you study Deuteronomy 7, look for truths that can help you overcome the temptations you face.
Read Deuteronomy 7:1–6, 16, 25–26, looking for what the Lord commanded the Israelites to do with the people in the land of Canaan and the items associated with their worship of false gods.
If the Israelites failed to obey these commandments, they would be turned away from their covenant to serve only the Lord. They would then lose the Lord’s power and protection and would be destroyed.
Deuteronomy 7:2 is better understood with earlier passages of scripture. The Lord had commanded the Israelites to be respectful of strangers and foreigners and not to oppress them (see Exodus 22:21; Leviticus 19:33–34) unless they practiced idolatry, sacrificed to other gods, followed other related wicked actions that would corrupt the Lord’s covenant people, or if they refused the Israelites’ offer of peace (see Deuteronomy 20:10–17). If they were thoroughly wicked, such as the people of Sodom and Gomorrah had been, then their destruction was the only alternative to protect future generations and the children of Israel (see 1 Nephi 17:32–37).
In Deuteronomy 7:6, Moses reminded the Israelites that they were “an holy people unto the Lord God.” Holy means to be set aside for sacred purposes. The term holy people refers to those who are set aside or chosen to serve God in accomplishing His purposes for the salvation of His children.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: How might Moses’s words in Deuteronomy 7:6 have helped the Israelites understand the importance of removing all the evil influences from the promised land?
A truth we learn from Deuteronomy 7:6 is that to be the Lord’s people, we must remove and avoid influences in our immediate surroundings that can lead us to sin. Although we may not be able to remove every source of temptation from our lives, the Lord will bless us as we seek to remove whatever evil we can from our immediate surroundings and develop the self-discipline to avoid other influences that can lead us to sin.
The following list describes several spiritual snares that, if left in our lives, can lead us to being trapped in sin. Add two additional snares that you can think of:
A movie with immoral content in your home or on a handheld device.
Friends who encourage behaviors that require disobeying the Lord.
Access to drugs and alcohol.
- Answer the following question in your scripture study journal: To be the Lord’s people, why is it important that we remove or avoid the influence of the snares listed above?
If you have any influences in your immediate surroundings that can lead you to sin, apply this principle by removing what can be removed and avoiding what cannot.
In Deuteronomy 8–13 we read how Moses continued to remind the Israelites about their experiences in the wilderness, repeating the importance of obeying God’s commandments. He warned them again about the consequences they would experience if they did not completely drive out the other nations from the promised land and destroy the items associated with their worship of false gods.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Deuteronomy 1–13 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: