A D'varim Primer

...And it came to pass that man who sold shirts was smitten by hard times. Neither did any of his merchandise move nor did he prosper. And he prayed and said, "Lord, why has thou left me to suffer thus? All mine enemies sell their goods except I. And it's the height of the season. My shirts are good shirts. Take a look at this rayon. I got button-downs, flare collars, nothing sells. Yet I have kept thy commandments. Why can I not earn a living when mine younger brother cleans up in children's ready-to-wear?"

And the Lord heard the man and said, "About thy shirts..."

"Yes, Lord," the man said, falling to his knees.

"Put an alligator over the pocket."

"Pardon me, Lord?"

"Just do what I'm telling you. You won't be sorry."

And the man dewed on to all his shirts a small alligator symbol and lo and behold, suddenly his merchandise moved like gangbusters, and there was much rejoicing while amongst his enemies there was wailing and gnashing of teeth, and one said, "The Lord is merciful. He maketh me to lie down in green pastures. The problem is, I can't get up."

Without Feathers, Woody Allen

Cheat Sheet

  • The core of Deuteronomy from the 7th century BCE, with some earlier traditions woven in.
  • Rabbinic literature refers to Deuteronomy as mishneh torah, meaning a repetition of the Torah. Accordingly, Deuteronimon in Greek means second law. The problem is that Deuteronomy has a lot of unique content that exists nowhere else in the Torah.
  • The Deuteronomist reflects a die hard monotheism and rejects monolatry.
  • Other Deuteronomist material found in Joshua, Judges, Samuel, Kings, Jeremiah
Google Maps as a metaphor for Leviticus & Deuteronomy
  • Google Maps gives you a map + written directions
  • Map = Leviticus
    • Draws a picture with words
    • Leviticus is like a Magic Eye picture
  • Written Directions = Deuteronomy

Tamara Eskenazi

(ה) שֶׂ֥ה תָמִ֛ים זָכָ֥ר בֶּן־שָׁנָ֖ה יִהְיֶ֣ה לָכֶ֑ם מִן־הַכְּבָשִׂ֥ים וּמִן־הָעִזִּ֖ים תִּקָּֽחוּ׃
(5) Your lamb shall be without blemish, a yearling male; you may take it from the sheep or from the goats.
(ב) וְזָבַ֥חְתָּ פֶּ֛סַח לַיהוָ֥ה אֱלֹהֶ֖יךָ צֹ֣אן וּבָקָ֑ר בַּמָּקוֹם֙ אֲשֶׁר־יִבְחַ֣ר יְהוָ֔ה לְשַׁכֵּ֥ן שְׁמ֖וֹ שָֽׁם׃

(2) You shall slaughter the passover sacrifice for Adonai your God, from the flock and the herd, in the place where Adonai will choose to establish His name.

(ז) וְכִֽי־יִמְכֹּ֥ר אִ֛ישׁ אֶת־בִּתּ֖וֹ לְאָמָ֑ה לֹ֥א תֵצֵ֖א כְּצֵ֥את הָעֲבָדִֽים׃
(7) When a man sells his daughter as a slave, she shall not be freed as male slaves are.
(יב) כִּֽי־יִמָּכֵ֨ר לְךָ֜ אָחִ֣יךָ הָֽעִבְרִ֗י א֚וֹ הָֽעִבְרִיָּ֔ה וַעֲבָֽדְךָ֖ שֵׁ֣שׁ שָׁנִ֑ים וּבַשָּׁנָה֙ הַשְּׁבִיעִ֔ת תְּשַׁלְּחֶ֥נּוּ חָפְשִׁ֖י מֵעִמָּֽךְ׃
(12) If a fellow Hebrew, man or woman, is sold to you, he shall serve you six years, and in the seventh year you shall set him free.
(יא) מִֽי־כָמֹ֤כָה בָּֽאֵלִם֙ יְהוָ֔ה מִ֥י כָּמֹ֖כָה נֶאְדָּ֣ר בַּקֹּ֑דֶשׁ נוֹרָ֥א תְהִלֹּ֖ת עֹ֥שֵׂה פֶֽלֶא׃

(11) Who is like You, Adonai, among the celestials; Who is like You, majestic in holiness, Awesome in splendor, working wonders!

(ז) יוֹצֵ֥ר אוֹר֙ וּבוֹרֵ֣א חֹ֔שֶׁךְ עֹשֶׂ֥ה שָׁל֖וֹם וּב֣וֹרֵא רָ֑ע אֲנִ֥י יְהוָ֖ה עֹשֶׂ֥ה כָל־אֵֽלֶּה׃ (ס)

From Deutero-Isaiah

(7) I form light and create darkness, I make weal and create woe— I, Adonai, do all these things.

[The Deuteronomist] appears to be closely connected to the world of wisdom. Wisdom was an international pursuit in the ancient Near East, carried on by sages in different countries. Indeed, wisdom was something like scientific research nowadays, and like scientists, wisdom writers had their own characteristic vocabulary and themes. The word "wise" itself was almost a code word (and certainly more specific than "wise" sounds in English); like "scientist," "wise" meant someone who pursued a certain way of knowledge.

Many of these wisdom elements have been found to be present in Deuteronomy. Thus, God's commandments, statutes, and ordinances, as well as "this book of law[or Torah]," are spoken of in Deuteronomy in much the same way that wisdom is spoken of in the biblical book of Proverbs and other wisdom texts: people are urged to "cling" to the Torah, to "guard" it, to "bind it as a sign," and so forth. Those who administer the laws - judges and other officials - ought themselves to be "wise" (16:19), and the country's leaders should likewise be "individuals who are wise, discerning, and reputable" (1:13). Similarly important is the central theme of reward and punishment to its adherence to God's laws. All these elements seem to whisper: "wisdom." Indeed, at one point Deuteronomy suggests that its laws are themselves the equivalent of collections of wise sayings elsewhere:

How to Read the Bible, James L. Kugel

(ו) וּשְׁמַרְתֶּם֮ וַעֲשִׂיתֶם֒ כִּ֣י הִ֤וא חָכְמַתְכֶם֙ וּבִ֣ינַתְכֶ֔ם לְעֵינֵ֖י הָעַמִּ֑ים אֲשֶׁ֣ר יִשְׁמְע֗וּן אֵ֚ת כָּל־הַחֻקִּ֣ים הָאֵ֔לֶּה וְאָמְר֗וּ רַ֚ק עַם־חָכָ֣ם וְנָב֔וֹן הַגּ֥וֹי הַגָּד֖וֹל הַזֶּֽה׃

(6) Observe them faithfully, for that will be proof of your wisdom and discernment to other peoples, who on hearing of all these laws will say, “Surely, that great nation is a wise and discerning people.”