Moses as Prophet in Deuteronomy

Cover of "The Prophets (Perennial Classic...

Cover of The Prophets (Perennial Classics)

A quick assessment of Moses in Deuteronomy:

Throughout the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses is the single mouthpiece for God, admonishing, correcting, and forecasting Israel’s future. If we look at the book over all, we start with Moses, giving the Children of Israel confirmation of their birthright, blessings, government and the Law. He also gives them the heno/monotheistic creed of the Jewish peoples. In this, Moses assumes the role of the coming King’s resource, the Judge’s Law Book, God’s mouthpiece, and the beginning of the Commandment of God. Unlike the rest of the Torah, which we have to wait a considerable amount of time before coming to Moses’ place in history, this book begins immediately with Moses and his standing to speak over the Children of Israel. As a matter of fact, unlike the rest of the Torah, only Deuteronomy is given the purpose of relating Moses’ words.

Moses serves as well as the diviner of Justice (8.11-17) wherein Moses, like the Prophets, rebukes Israel’s hardened heart, a heart due to wealth and forgetting God. Further, he interprets God’s will for the children of Israel and acts and intercessor between God and Israel (9.11-29). During his discourse on the Law, he is in effect, calling Israel back to God, to remember the Law which God had given them to set them apart from the other nations. Further, he promotes the destruction of the pagan shrines (12), as prophets were apt to do. In chapter 13, we should be able to draw from the Text, which is about the anti-prophets, the ideal of Moses.

In 13.1-5, we find the possibility that signs and wonders may be in fact be proven true. Other prophets may arise wherein they give a good oracle or cause a rod to turn into a snake, but even if all of their powers are true, and all their oracles come true, if they still attempt to lead the Children of Israel after another God, they are to be killed. In 13.18, Moses places himself (or the author places Moses in the place) of YHWH’s prophet. Only the words spoke of by Moses where to be followed, regardless if the signs and wonders of Moses could no longer be performed. Here I note that both passages relate that the words of YHWH are what is the standard of measurement for any future prophet, and those words came from Moses. This plays, of course, a part in understanding of Deuteronomy 18 where we see Moses speaking of a future Prophet (Jeremiah?) which will come and speak the words of Moses. This prophet is to be ‘like Moses’ and I assume, call the people back to God and perhaps given them a new Law (cf Jeremiah 31).

At the close of the book, we find the authors relating a simple, history fact: that at no time since had a prophet ‘like Moses’ arisen in all of Israel. While this may be a post-script of post-exilic times, the scope of this statement stood, and still stands in the minds of many, as an ongoing condemnation of all other false prophets, and places all other writings as subject to the writings of Moses. Moses was not merely the generational leader needed to bring Israel through the Wilderness, but a leader which, across generations, was used to tie the Jews back to YHWH. No matter how poetic the Isaiah’s are, or how right their oracles are; no matter the justice of Amos; no matter the prophecies of Daniel – Moses towers above them all, making it difficult to continue the tradition of prophets even into modern times. No doubt, then, that the time of silence is so deafening. The words of the Deuteronomic Moses forces all others who seek to speak in the name of God to measure up, something none could do. (Christians, of course, disagree).

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Post By Joel L. Watts (10,125 Posts)

Joel L. Watts holds a Masters of Arts from United Theological Seminary with a focus in literary and rhetorical criticism of the New Testament. He is currently a Ph.D. student at the University of the Free State, analyzing Paul’s model of atonement in Galatians. He is the author of Mimetic Criticism of the Gospel of Mark: Introduction and Commentary (Wipf and Stock, 2013), a co-editor and contributor to From Fear to Faith: Stories of Hitting Spiritual Walls (Energion, 2013), and Praying in God's Theater, Meditations on the Book of Revelation (Wipf and Stock, 2014).

Website: → Unsettled Christianity

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17 thoughts on “Moses as Prophet in Deuteronomy

  1. I’m astounded that you could write this and conclude with anything but Jesus. How could you wax eloquent about the shadow without subsequently turning attention to the One whose shadow Moses was?

  2. Obviously, you haven’t kept up with the blog, Mike. This was for classwork for my Deuteronomy Class. It was about Moses as Prophet, and as I note, Moses in Deuteronomy. Further, I ended the short work noting that Christians disagree with the assumption that the ending of Deuteronomy remaining unexamined.

    Jesus was not in Deuteronomy until the New Testament. If we are to be honest with the text – and indeed, with our classwork, then we should let the text speak for itself first, and then, when we are in our theologizing mode, we can draw Jesus from the Text.

      • Not long after Jesus’ resurrection, Peter was preaching in the temple area of Jerusalem. As he quoted Deuteronomy and Moses’ reference to a coming prophet that must be heeded, a Pharisee and a Sadducee were standing next to each other in the observering crowd. The Pharisee turns to the Sadducee and says, “This Galilean doesn’t deserve an audience, for he should be letting Deuteronomy speak for itself. Indeed, the spiritual sense must emerge from the literal sense. If he wants to talk about this Jesus he should wait until the proper time and place. You and I know far better than an uneducated fisherman and his itinerant rabbi what Moses was all about.”

        • So we can now make up lies? Come on, Mike, surely you understand the need for the literal sense, right? You have read the Epistle to the Hebrews, correct? You do know what actually studying the Text means, right? You do understand the role of classwork, right?

          Come now, Mike, surely you wouldn’t have me to believe that you have no issue with destroying Judaism and the Old Testament to prop yourself up with a simplistic theology, right? You do realize that real biblical interpretation is first honest with the text and then, for Christians, applies to it our hermeneutic which sees Christ, but in such cases where the assignment is to focus on the literal sense, then one must be honest to the text, right?

          Come now, Mike, surely you don’t have to make up slanderous stories and have us think that you are trying to teach us some great spiritual lesson when your authority has already been loosed to the point of nothingness because you insist that you know better, right?

    • Hahahhahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahahaha oh my….Mike you sure full of yourself, ain’t you? Or, you are purposely ignoring the concept of this article. Shame on you.

    • What I am saying, mike, is that you are being dishonest to the assignment, and fail to grasp the need for accurate scholarship. As this was a class assignment based on studying Moses in this one book, and not about developing theology, I was honest to the assignment. You are not,m and further, if you cannot separate reading the text as is, and then reading the text under later theological development and understanding via Christ, then you will continue to be dishonest to the Text. I would suggest you read John Chrysostom a bit on how to read any text and then to develop theological meanings. Further, I would suggest that you learn to separate scholarship, studies, and the such from theology. Let’s be honest with the first meaning of the text and then, after we have a secure foundation, build our theology upon that.

  3. Is theology something that once developed is put on a shelf to be pulled down as needed and left there otherwise…or is a new set of eyes through which we view all of life from that point forward?

    • Mike, what part of ‘this was a class assignment focused on understanding Moses as prophet in th book of Deuteronomy’ don’t you get? Sorry, Mike, but I regret that you have missed the point so wide that it is impossible to understand just how far off the mark you really are. What this shows is that you lack serious skills in taking even a blog post and seeking to understand it in the setting which it was first offered. I suggest that before you write anything else against me, you repent and seek to understand the nature of the blog and not to be so presumptuous the next time you seek to engage me. else you in fact appear more foolish than you do now.

  4. Joel, I have written nothing against you, but only for Christ. I wish you only the best. If I have anything to repent of, it is only of being a poor spokesman for Him. I understand and take your point about the class assignment; I only wish you could have embraced my point of celebrating Him at every opportunity.

    I’ll now retire on this subject as we each seem to be repeating ourselves and you seem to be getting upset. I’ll let whatever you now say be the last word and I won’t respond to it.

    Thanks for interacting with me.

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