1st Reading – Deuteronomy 4:1-2, 6-8
Moses said to the people:
“Now, Israel, hear the statutes and decrees
which I am teaching you to observe,
that you may live, and may enter in and take possession of the land
which the LORD, the God of your fathers, is giving you.
In your observance of the commandments of the LORD, your God,
which I enjoin upon you,
you shall not add to what I command you nor subtract from it.
Observe them carefully,
for thus will you give evidence
of your wisdom and intelligence to the nations,
who will hear of all these statutes and say,
‘This great nation is truly a wise and intelligent people.’
For what great nation is there
that has gods so close to it as the LORD, our God, is to us
whenever we call upon him?
Or what great nation has statutes and decrees
that are as just as this whole law
which I am setting before you today?”
Just before his death, God charged Moses to again proclaim the Law he received at Mount Sinai to the Israelites before they crossed the Jordan River to enter the Promised Land. This re-proclamation constitutes the book of Deuteronomy, the fifth and last book of the Pentateuch. The name is derived from the Greek word deuteronomion, or second law – not to indicate a new law, but a second telling of the Law.
Moses’ audience is the new generation of Israelites: all those who would have been age 20 or younger when the great exodus began 40 years earlier. In having the Law restated, Yahweh is reminding them that his covenant with Israel is made with all generations (29:13), both present and future: it is an everlasting covenant.