Deuteronomy shares many affinities with literature from the ancient Near East. The most evident is tis relationship to the various collections of legal sayings that have been recovered. These collections have come from as early as 2000 BC and before – eg., Sumerian Laws of Ur-Nammu (2064-2046 BC), the Laws Eshnunna (c 1850 BC), and the Code of Hammurapi king of Babylon (1792-1750 BC). The OT contains both similarities with and difference from these collections in subcategories of types of laws, such as case law, apodictic law, laws, involving curses, motive clauses, etc.

Deuteronomy also displays a from/structure similar to ancient Near Eastern suzerian-vassal treaties. Israel’s laws shared both in the literary tradition of the laws, treaties and covenants in the ancient Near East, and, to a lesser but still notable extent, in its content and legal presentations.

There are many other types of parallels in Deuteronomy that set it squarely within its ancient Near Eastern cultural context. Oaths were a common feature of ancient Near Eastern covenantal documents (cf Dt 29:19). The poetry of Dt 32-33 reflects poetic features, style and theological themes found in the literature of Ugarit (Ras Shamra) near the Mediterranean coast. Curses and blessings similar to those found in Deuteronomy show up in other ancient Near Eastern literature reaching back to the third millennium BC.

The centrality of love for the suzerain and among the Great Kings of the Near East, expressed in religious ritual and covenantal and literary documents, reflects the supreme commandment of love for the Lord and for one’s fellow human being in Deuteronomy.

Deuteronomy celebrates covenant renewal, specifically the renewal of the covenant at Sinai (read Exodus and Leviticus). If Israel is to claim and retain the land promised to them, they must maintain this covenant. The covenant is renewed again in Jos 24. In each case, the call to worship and to commitment is paramount; in each case the from and content of the covenantal renewals reflect ancient Near Eastern suzerain-vassal treaty/covenant patterns with necessary changes made to fit special circumstances.

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