The book of Deuteronomy records the great speech Moses gives just before his death. He addresses the generation of Israelites who grew up in the wilderness just as they are preparing to enter the land of Canaan. God wants this promised land to show what renewed life under God’s blessing looks like. The book presents the covenant in a form commonly used by rulers of the time to make treaties with those they ruled over. The standard form of these treaties included five elements:
: The great ruler is identified by name and title.
: The history and mighty acts of the great ruler are told.
: The allegiance and specific duties expected of the ruler’s servants are spelled out.
: Blessings for keeping the treaty and curses for breaking it are listed.
: Provisions for continuing the covenant with future generations are laid out.
Deuteronomy follows this pattern very closely. Moses is identified as the representative of the Great King – the God of Israel – whose mighty acts for his people are recalled. Moses reminds them to give exclusive allegiance to their king and lists their duties. He then calls on the people to join in a sacred oath to ratify the covenant. After naming a successor and climbing a mountain to look out over the land, Moses dies. The people of Israel stand on the edge of their inheritance, the promise of a new creation before them.