Lesson 3 of 6
In Progress

Background of Deuteronomy

The material we know as Deuteronomy is the final product of a long process. There is little consensus as to its history, but a common description of this process indicates that an initial ordering of older traditions took place in the Northern Kingdom before 722 B.C.E. Following the fall of the north to Assyria in 722/721 B.C.E., Levitical priests brought the corpus to Jerusalem where it inspired the reforms of Hezekiah in 727/715-698/687 (the dates are uncertain). Its rediscovery during the repair of the temple (2 Kings 22:3-20) spurred the reforms instituted by Josiah in 622/621 (2 Kings 23). It received its final form in the exile where it introduces and forms the theological basis of the Deuteronomistic History, which addresses the questions of those who had experienced the fall of Jerusalem to Nebuchadnezzar II in 587/586 B.C.E., the destruction of the temple, the end of Davidic rule, and deportation to Babylon: Had God abandoned them? Why was Israel’s history a history of failure? Especially important in this regard was Deuteronomy’s explanation that both the fall of the north and the Babylonian exile were due to Israel and Judah’s covenantal violations.