“Unit 14: Day 3, Deuteronomy 14–19,” Old Testament Study Guide for Home-Study Seminary Students (2014)
“Unit 14: Day 3,” Old Testament Study Guide
Moses continued his second sermon to the children of Israel by reminding them that they were to be a “peculiar” and “holy” people (Deuteronomy 14:2), which they could become by observing the Lord’s laws and feasts, refraining from evil, and caring for the poor. Moses also instructed the Israelites about their future kings and warned of the consequences of sin. He prophesied about the coming of Jesus Christ and set forth judicial procedures for those who had committed murder or manslaughter.
Have you ever felt alone, uncomfortable, or embarrassed because your beliefs made you stand out from others?
Why do you think it might be a good thing to stand out because of your beliefs?
The book of Deuteronomy contains a number of reminders for the Israelites before they entered the promised land. As you study Deuteronomy 14–19, look for doctrines and principles that can help you have the courage to live according to your beliefs so you can distinguish yourself as a member of a holy people and stand out from the world.
Read Deuteronomy 14:1–2, and identify words or phrases that explain who the Israelites were and why they should stand out from other nations. You may want to mark what you find. The instruction to not “make any baldness between your eyes for the dead” in verse 1 refers to a Canaanite mourning practice. The Lord commanded the Israelites to separate themselves from the customs and practices of the Canaanites.
Remember that the term peculiar means exclusive and can refer to a special possession or property [see Bible Dictionary, “Peculiar”] and that holy means to be set aside for sacred purposes. Do these words and phrases remind you of a scripture mastery passage? Take a moment to see if you can recite Exodus 19:5–6 from memory, or spend a few minutes memorizing a portion of it.
Think about possible reasons why Moses would repeat the message to Israel that is recorded in Exodus 19:5–6.
Deuteronomy 14:3–29 records 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.
Deuteronomy 14:26 mentions the use of strong drink, such as wine or other alcoholic drinks. The Lord allowed the use of these drinks in moderation and in ceremonial rituals. “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 , 179).
Read Deuteronomy 14:28–29, looking for some of the reasons the Israelites were to pay tithing. Consider marking what you find. Notice the blessing listed at the end of verse 29 that is given to those who pay tithing.
How do you think obeying the law of tithing can help separate us from worldly influences?
Deuteronomy 15 includes another way in which the Israelites were to care for the needy among them. Read Deuteronomy 15:1–2, looking for what the Israelites were to do every seven years. (Notice that verse 1, footnote b, explains that the term release means the “pardoning or cancellation of debts.”)
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What are your thoughts about this seven-year arrangement to pardon debts?
How would the Lord bless the Israelites if they obeyed this and the other commandments?
Imagine that you are an ancient Israelite. It is the first year of a seven-year cycle, and someone in need has asked you for a loan. What will you do?
Read Deuteronomy 15:7–8, looking for how the Lord wants His people to treat the poor. You may want to mark what you find. Using your hand, demonstrate how the passage suggests you give to the poor.
Now imagine that it is the seventh year and another needy Israelite has come to you for a loan. How is this scenario different from the first? Why might it be harder to lend to a neighbor during the seventh year?
Read Deuteronomy 15:9–11, looking for Moses’s warning and counsel for lending during the seventh year. Consider marking what you find.
What can we learn from verse 9 about refusing to help the poor?
Why do you think it is a sin to refuse to help those in need?
Think about reasons why it might sometimes be hard for us to help those in need. 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 hand when we give to the poor?
Using what you learned in Deuteronomy 15:10, complete the following principle: If we willingly help those in need, then .
As you read the following statement by President Henry B. Eyring of the First Presidency, mark words and phrases that show the Lord’s love for the poor and those who help them:
“[The Lord] loves His children in need and also those who want to help. And He has created ways to bless both those who need help and those who will give it.
“Our Heavenly Father hears the prayers of His children across the earth pleading for food to eat, for clothes to cover their bodies, and for the dignity that would come from being able to provide for themselves. Those pleas have reached Him since He placed men and women on the earth. …
“Because the Lord hears their cries and feels your deep compassion for them, He has from the beginning of time provided ways for His disciples to help. He has invited His children to consecrate their time, their means, and themselves to join with Him in serving others” (“Opportunities to Do Good,” Ensign or Liahona, May 2011, 22).
- In your scripture study journal, write about a time when you have felt blessed after helping someone in need. You might also write a goal about what you will do in the upcoming week to help someone in need.
The remainder of Deuteronomy 15 explains 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. Deuteronomy 16 contains the Lord’s instructions pertaining to the Passover and three other annual feasts. These feasts would remind the Israelites of the blessings they had received from the Lord.
If you were the king or queen of a nation, what would you choose to do with your time? List a few ideas:
Can you think of kings or queens from history or from the scriptures who became prideful and failed to follow the commandments of God?
Read Deuteronomy 17:14–20, looking for the Lord’s instructions concerning the king. You may want to mark what you find.
In your own words, describe what Israel’s king was to do when sitting on the throne:
How might the king be blessed by studying the laws of God daily?
- Answer the following questions in your scripture study journal:
What principle can we learn from this instruction about studying the scriptures daily?
How has your study of the Old Testament affected your life so far this year?
If you have not been studying the scriptures daily, consider the blessings that you might receive if you increased your efforts. As you make an effort to study the scriptures daily, the Lord will help you to be humble and live His commandments. Studying the scriptures is also one more way to help us avoid evil influences in the world. The spirit we can receive from studying the scriptures can influence us to want to do good and to obey our Heavenly Father.
Deuteronomy 18–19 contains instructions for supporting the Levite priests and warned the Israelites to stay away from sorcery. Moses prophesied of the coming of Jesus Christ and described the legal process for those who had killed someone.
Deuteronomy 18:15 contains Moses’s prophecy that God would “raise up” unto the children of Israel a prophet “like unto me.” In other words, Moses served as a type or example of this prophet to whom Israel should hearken. The significance of this prophecy is shown by its being repeated throughout the scriptures (see Acts 3:22–23; 1 Nephi 22:20–21; 3 Nephi 20:23; Joseph Smith—History 1:40). In each of these scriptures, it is clear that the prophet like unto Moses was the Savior, Jesus Christ.
- Write the following at the bottom of today’s assignments in your scripture study journal:
I have studied Deuteronomy 14–19 and completed this lesson on (date).
Additional questions, thoughts, and insights I would like to share with my teacher: