Deuteronomy 1–34

Old Testament Teacher Resource Manual, (2003), 102–106


Deuteronomy is a word formed from the Greek deutero, “second,” and nomos, “law,” meaning “the second law” or “the repetition of the law.” The Christian world adopted this descriptive title from the Septuagint (the first Greek translation of the Old Testament) rather than from the Jewish name for the book, Eileh Hadvareem, which are the first two words of the book in Hebrew, translated as “these be the words.”

The book of Deuteronomy is called the second law because it contains Moses’ summary of the Mosaic code (see Bible Dictionary, , p. 656).

As you study Deuteronomy, note any cross-references that refer to the other books of Moses where the previous accounts of these events are found. Comparing the accounts often provides new information and insights.

Some Important Gospel Principles to Look For

Suggestions for Teaching

video icon Old Testament Video presentation 16, “The House of Israel” (9:28), can be used in teaching Deuteronomy 1–34 (see Old Testament Video Guide for teaching suggestions).

Deuteronomy 1:1. We need to be reminded of our gospel covenants. (5–10 minutes)

Create a set of detailed instructions to read to the class that requires them to draw an object that is new to them. Your instructions should include enough details that, if read quickly, they become confusing. As a result, the students will need to ask you to repeat the instructions in order to fully understand what to do. It is not necessary to complete the project, but only to have them experience the need to have instructions repeated. Limit this part of the activity to two or three minutes.

After several students ask for clarification, discuss why they needed to hear the instructions again. Read the introductory information to the book of Deuteronomy in this manual and the entry for Deuteronomy in the Bible Dictionary. Ask:

  • How is Deuteronomy like the activity we just completed?

  • Why do you think Moses reminded his people of their history, the law, and the Lord’s promises to them?

Discuss questions like the following:

  • How often have we been counseled to be honest, to pray daily, or to love our neighbor?

  • Why do you think we are reminded of these things so frequently?

Encourage students to receive reminders with thankfulness rather than with irritation or boredom.

Deuteronomy 1–3. Facing death can help us remember the importance of our gospel covenants. (15–20 minutes)

After spending forty years leading them through the wilderness, Moses knew that he would soon leave the children of Israel. His feelings for them then must have been very tender. Deuteronomy 1 begins Moses’ last message to the Israelites. To help students understand how Moses might have felt, ask them to think about the following questions:

  • If you knew that you had only a short time to live, what would you want to say to your family?

  • What experiences have you had that helped to build your testimony of the gospel?

  • How would you like to be remembered when you leave this life?

Invite students to share their thoughts with the class.

Have students read Genesis 17:7–8 and list the covenants God made with Abraham. Divide Deuteronomy 1–3 into parts. Assign a group of students to study each part and find verses that show how God kept those covenants made with Abraham. Compare the covenants mentioned in Genesis 17:7–8 with their fulfillment in Deuteronomy 1–3. Ask students why they think Moses included this in his last message to the Israelites.

Read Deuteronomy 1:34–42 and ask students to identify the groups of Israelites who would and would not enter the promised land. Discuss why each group was allowed or not allowed to enter. Ask:

  • What are some covenants or commandments that we have been asked to keep that will help us qualify to enter the celestial kingdom?

  • Why do you think the Lord’s servants frequently remind us of these covenants and commandments?

Compare Moses’ farewell sermon with the last messages or farewell counsel of other prophets, such as Nephi (see 2 Nephi 33), Jacob (see Jacob 7:27), Enos (see Enos 1:25–27), King Benjamin (see Mosiah 2–6), and Moroni (see Moroni 10).

weekly icon Deuteronomy 1–34. Remembering the Lord is an important part of enduring to the end. (45–50 minutes)

Remembering the Lord is one of our baptismal covenants and is repeated in the sacrament prayers. One of the major themes in the book of Deuteronomy is the counsel Moses gave the Israelites to remember, or “forget not,” the Lord and His laws and commandments.

Ask a student to explain what the word deuteronomy means. (If no one knows, have students turn to Bible Dictionary, “Deuteronomy,” p. 656.) Have the class read Numbers 14:29–33 and look for one reason Moses needed to repeat the law to His people. (Most of the people Moses spoke to were not born when the law was given the first time at Sinai.) Invite students to consider what they learned about the Israelites in Exodus, Leviticus, and Numbers, and ask:

What do you think Moses would have wanted to emphasize to the generation of Israelites who grew up in the wilderness?

Ask a student to read the statement by Elder Spencer W. Kimball in the introduction to Deuteronomy 8 in the student study guide (p. 73). Ask students why they think he said remember may be the most important word in the dictionary. Include some of the following ideas in your discussion:

  • The word remember is important in both sacrament prayers (see Elder Jeffrey R. Holland’s address in Conference Report, Oct. 1995, 89; or Ensign, Nov. 1995, p. 68).

  • The Savior talked about remembering in Luke 22:19 and 3 Nephi 18:7, 11.

  • Murmuring and forgetting seem to go together. For example, the Lord parted the Red Sea for the Israelites and slew their enemies—then a short time later they complained they did not have enough food. The Lord miraculously gave them manna and quail—then they complained because there was not enough water. They seemed to quickly forget the miraculous things the Lord did for them.

Have students read the second paragraph of the title page of the Book of Mormon and look for the first stated purpose of the Book of Mormon. (“To show unto the remnant of the House of Israel [to remind them] what great things the Lord hath done for their fathers.”) Ask them how this purpose relates to the purpose of Deuteronomy.

Read Deuteronomy 8 and list with students what Moses told the people to “remember” or “forget not.” Have them suggest what might be on a “remember” list if the Lord spoke directly to them. Ask:

  • How can remembering important spiritual events in our lives help encourage us when we do not feel spiritual?

  • How would keeping a journal help us remember how the Lord blesses us daily?

Show a Young Women pendant or a CTR ring and ask students what the purpose is for such jewelry. (To help us remember to be faithful to gospel truths.) Show the picture of a young boy wearing a phylactery in Old Testament Student Manual: Genesis–2 Samuel (p. 218) and discuss how putting the law “between thine eyes” helped them remember it. Share with students, or invite them to share, ways we can always remember the Lord in our thoughts and actions.

Tell students that there are over six hundred points of the Mosaic law. Ask: Of all that could be remembered about the law, what did the Lord want the Israelites to remember most? (see Deuteronomy 6:4–5). Cross-reference Deuteronomy 6:4–5 to Matthew 22:34–38, where Jesus called this commandment the “first and great commandment.” Read President Ezra Taft Benson’s statement about this commandment in the “Understanding the Scriptures” section for Deuteronomy 6 in the student study guide (p. 73). You may want to copy the statement onto index cards so that the students could keep it with them or put it where they would see it often. You may also consider asking students to share what they decided to do for activity B for Deuteronomy 6 in their student study guides. Encourage students to remember the Lord more often in their daily lives. Have them read 3 Nephi 18:7, 11 and D&C 20:77, 79 and look for the promised blessings to those who remember the Lord in their lives.

Deuteronomy 1–11. The Lord caused Israel to wander in the wilderness for forty years to refine and purify them. (20–25 minutes)

Select a city or landmark that is approximately 250 miles (400 kilometers) from where your students live. (This is the approximate distance between Cairo and Jerusalem.) Ask:

  • How long do you think it would take you to walk that far?

  • How long did the Lord say it would be before the children of Israel got to the promised land?

Have students read Deuteronomy 1:1–8 and tell how much of that forty-year period the people had already spent in the wilderness and what the Lord wanted them to do at that time.

Much of Deuteronomy 1–4 is a review of the reasons Israel had to wander for forty years. Review selected portions of these chapters that focus on why Israel wandered in the wilderness.

Divide your class into four groups and assign each group one chapter from Deuteronomy 7; 8; 10; and 11. Have the groups search their chapter for what Moses told the new generation of Israelites they would have to do to be successful. Have each group report its findings to the class. Ask students:

  • How can the counsel Moses gave the children of Israel apply to us?

  • What must we do to have the Lord’s help in the challenges we face? (see D&C 82:10).

scripture mastery icon Deuteronomy 7:3–4 (Scripture Mastery). Marrying a worthy Latter-day Saint, one who shares our faith, can help us avoid much strife in our family. (15–25 minutes)

Have two students role-play one or both of the following situations:

  • One student is a member of the Church and the other, the spouse, is not and does not particularly care for religion. It is Sunday and the member wants to attend church with the children and the spouse wants to participate in some recreational activity as a family. Have the two students try to convince each other that what he or she wants is what the other should do.

  • One student is a member of the Church and the other, the spouse, is a member of another church. They have a new baby and must decide whether to have the baby blessed in the LDS Church or “baptized” in the other church. Have them try to convince each other that their way is best for the child.

When decisions are made in the role play or when the argument seems unsolvable, stop the role play and ask students to consider the following:

  • What consequences might result from the choices made?

  • Is there any way to satisfy the desires of both parties? How?

  • What could the member spouse do to help bring peace to such situations? (For example, love and support the nonmember spouse, show the goodness that comes from membership, and set an example.)

Read Deuteronomy 7:1–6 with your students and invite them to mark verses 3–4. Ask:

  • What does the Lord say is a consequence of marrying out of the covenant?

  • How do these verses relate to the role play we just did?

  • What other consequences might we experience if we marry out of the covenant? (see D&C 131:1–4; 132:7, 15–18).

  • What decisions are you making now that will determine whether you marry in the temple later?

Deuteronomy 13:1–10; 18:15–22. We should seek truth from God through His approved representatives, not from sources that would deceive us. (15–20 minutes)

There are many voices in the world that are trying to tell us what we should think, believe, and do (see D&C 46:7; 50:1–3). One of the great challenges of mortality is learning to discern between those who speak for God and those who do not.

If possible, play recordings of several people the students would recognize. One of them should be the prophet, others could include parents, Church teachers, bishops, missionaries, and so forth. If such recordings are not available, read some easily recognized celebrity statements and identify them. On the right side of the board write Those who teach the gospel of Jesus Christ and ask students to list those who do that. On the left side of the board write Those who teach the doctrines of men or the devil. Read Deuteronomy 13:6–10 and 18:10–12 and list those who sometimes teach their own philosophies instead of the Lord’s or who try to lead us away from the Lord.

Ask students to name some philosophies or practices taught in the world today that are contrary to the principles of the gospel. Have them read Deuteronomy 13:1–5 and 18:18–22 and look for how we can know which principles are true and which are not. Read Moroni 7:16–17 and 10:5–7 and discuss other ways to discern between truth and error.

Since we do not execute deceivers and false teachers today, discuss with your students ways we can protect ourselves against false doctrine (see D&C 21:4–6; 45:56–57; 46:7–9; Joseph Smith—Matthew 1:37). Share your testimony that we receive the Lord’s guidance through prophets, scripture, patriarchal blessings, and the Holy Ghost. Ask: How can the prophet help protect us from deception?

Consider concluding class by singing “We Thank Thee, O God, for a Prophet” (Hymns, no. 19) and inviting those students who desire, to share their testimonies of the living prophet.

Deuteronomy 14:22–29; 15:7–11; 26:12–15. The Lord expects us to share our blessings with the poor by giving tithes and offerings. (15–20 minutes)

Give students the following “True/False” quiz:

  • Why do you think Heavenly Father requires us to care for the poor? (see Matthew 25:31–40; Mosiah 4:16–23).

  • What Christlike qualities can we develop as we learn to share our blessings with others?

Deuteronomy 28–30. The scriptures often use “if” and “then” clauses to help us understand the consequences of our choices. (15–25 minutes)

Bring two sticks, each about one meter (three feet) long, to class. On a piece of paper write Sin and under it list some of the temptations young people face, such as drugs, alcohol, smoking, unchastity, dishonesty, immodesty, and violence. Attach the paper to the end of one of the sticks. On the other end of the same stick attach a paper with Consequences written on it and a list of some of the problems that result from committing those sins, such as faulty judgment, health problems, accidents, prison, and even death. The lasting consequences for all of those choices are sorrow, loss of the Spirit, and, if not repented of, loss of eternal life.

On one end of the other stick attach a paper with Righteousness and a list of righteous principles and actions written on it, such as paying tithing, reading scriptures, keeping the Sabbath day holy, and being chaste. On the other end of that stick attach a paper with Consequences and a list of some of the blessings that come from keeping the commandments written on it, such as happiness, peace of mind and heart, security, a productive life, and eternal life.

Invite a student to come to the front of the class and read only the “Sin” and “Righteousness” ends of the two sticks. Ask the student to pretend that he or she is not a member of the Church and does not know much about God, and ask: Which stick might you choose? Then have the student read the “Consequences” end of each stick, and ask: Would it have been easier to make a good choice if you had known in advance what the consequences were?

Explain that frequently people only see the choice and not the consequences of their choice. Some think that they can somehow change the consequences later, or they do not believe those who tell them about the consequences. Help students understand that when we choose one end of a stick—sin or righteousness—we automatically choose the other end, the consequences, also.

Explain that in Deuteronomy 28 there is a classic example of the choices and consequences placed before Israel in the form of “if” and “then” clauses. Ask the students to find the “if” clause in verse 1 and list what Israel needed to do to receive the blessings found in verses 2–14.

Have students find the “if” clause in verse 15. Ask: What were the consequences if Israel failed to “hearken unto the voice of the Lord”? Have them look through verses 16–47 and mark the curses that resulted from disobedience. Tell them that, sadly, ancient Israel frequently chose to disobey God rather than to obey Him.

Read Deuteronomy 29:1–13 with the students and ask:

  • What did Moses want his people to do, even though he knew they would not remain faithful? (Enter into a covenant with God.)

  • Why did he want them to do that? (So that they might prosper in all they did.)

  • What formal covenants have you made with the Lord? (The covenants of baptism.)

  • Does the promise in Deuteronomy 29:9 also apply to the covenants we make with God in our day? (see Mosiah 5:7–10; 18:8–10; D&C 97:8–9).

Ask students to write down how important their covenants are to them and list at least one way they will try harder to keep their covenants during the next week.

Deuteronomy 32. The song of the righteous is a prayer unto our Father in Heaven. (10–15 minutes)

Have students do activities A and B for Deuteronomy 31–32 in their student study guides (p. 77).

Deuteronomy 34:10. There were many similarities between the Savior’s and Moses’ life. (15–20 minutes)

Many events in Moses’ life give us a preview of the Savior’s life. Give each student a copy of the following chart, but with only the scripture references listed. Let them read the scriptures and fill in the similarities.



Jesus Christ

Exodus 1:16–2:10

Both were saved from the slaughter of the little children when kings tried to kill them.

Matthew 2:13–16

Exodus 18:13; Acts 7:35

Both were called a ruler, a deliverer, and a judge.

Isaiah 9:6; John 5:22; D&C 138:23

Exodus 34:28

Both fasted for forty days.

Matthew 4:2

Moses 1:12

Both were personally tempted by Satan.

Matthew 4:1–11

Exodus 16:4–15

With both, bread and meat were miraculously provided.

John 6:9–13

Exodus 17:6

Both provided water.

John 4:10–14

Exodus 7:20

Both changed the nature of water.

John 2:1–11

Exodus 14:21–22

Both exercised power over wind and water.

Matthew 8:27

D&C 138:41

Both were great lawgivers.

Isaiah 33:22

Exodus 2:11–14; Acts 7:22–37

Both were rejected the first time they tried to lead Israel.

John 19:13–15; Acts 3:13–15

Exodus 32:30–32

Both pled for and interceded for their people.

D&C 45:3–5

Deuteronomy 18:15–18

Christ was called a prophet “like unto” Moses.

Acts 3:22–26; 3 Nephi 20:23–26

Share your testimony that as we follow the Lord’s true prophets, we are also following the Lord Jesus Christ.