YHWH and “His” Exclusive Cult: Israel in Deuteronomy

Julio Ramillo A. Mercurio
Graduate Student, St. Alphonsus School of Theology
Instructor, Department of Languages, Literature, and Humanities, College of Arts and Sciences, Southern Luzon State University


Many people perceive the Book of Deuteronomy as “the second law,” following its etymology. It has been misunderstood because of the mistaken rendering of the Septuagint as “this second law” (see Original Text [OT] 1); should have been correctly translated as “a copy of this law,” however. This may also be precisely the reason of our indifferent feeling towards Deuteronomy as somewhat a “collection” of dry ordinances and testimonies that have little relation to the life of the spirit, justification by faith and perfection of freedom. This paper presents, in a qualitative manner, the inseparability and indissolubility of the theologico–historico–sociological dimension of Israel as a nation and as a believer – on how the faith-struggle of the people of Israel, during and after their entry into the Promised Land, is intertwined in their history and recollection of the past. Briefly, yet substantially, this paper will show the central theme of the Book – the call towards an interpersonal relationship between God and Israel. Situating Deuteronomy in its proper setting and actual form in history, defining the unique character of Israel as “God’s chosen people,” it also aims to magnify the impact of the message of Deuteronomy in contemporary times – that our faith (generically, “belief in the Divine”) cannot be divorced from our common life. Our perception of such a relationship should transcend “duty” and legalistic understanding.

Keywords: Israel, Systematic Theology, sociology, Deuteronomic history, dogma

Full Text: PDF
Philippine Copyright 2016

Sacred Scriptures

The Catholic Prayer Bible (New Revised Standard Version): Lectio Divina Edition.

The New American Bible: The New Catholic Translation

Published Works

Achtemeier, E. (1978). Deuteronomy. In F. McCurley (Ed.), Proclamation commentaries: The Old Testament witnesses for preaching. Philadelphia: Fortress Press.

Anderson, B. (1975). Understanding the Old Testament. New Jersey: Prentice Hall.

Auzou, G. (1963). The formation of the Bible: A history of the sacred writings of the people of God. London: B. Herder and Co.

Bright, J. (1972). A history of Israel (2nd ed.). Philadelphia: The West Minster Press.

Catoir, J. (1993). World religions: Belief behind today’s headline. Makati City: St. Paul’s Publishing.

(1984). Deuteronomy. In R. Fuller (Ed.), A new Catholic commentary on Holy Scripture. Hong Kong: Thomas Nelson.

Freitheim, T. (1983). Deuteronomic History. Nashville: Abingdon Press.

Miller, P. (1969). The gift of God: The Deuteronomic history of the land. Cambridge: Harvard University Press.

Rofé, Alexander (2002). Deuteronomy: Issues and Interpretation. London: A&C Black.

Wright, E. (1953). Introduction and Exegesis of Deuteronomy. In The Interpreter’s Bible (Vol. II). Nashville: Abingdon Press.