The LORD said unto me…

Deuteronomy is one of my two favorite books of the Bible; the other is Jeremiah. There are many reasons that Deuteronomy is a favorite of mine, not the least of which is a detail I want to point out in this blog post.

Traditionally, the entire Torah, Genesis through Deuteronomy, is believed to be the work of Moses. Scholars, both ancient and modern have challenged this, largely based upon theories outside the scope of this note. One of the principle reasons for suggesting that Moses did not write the whole Torah is the common use of the third person throughout much of the Torah. In other words, almost without exception, we read the phrase, “and the LORD said unto Moses” [1] when one would expect to read, “and the LORD said unto me,” if Moses were writing the account. The use of the third person led scholars to propose that such language was evidence for a later editor’s involvement in the Torah as it has come to us.

One of the interesting things about Deuteronomy, is that it is the only book of the Torah that contains sections of texts that are written in the first person. In ten separate texts, Deuteronomy contains the phrase, “And the LORD said unto me,” with Moses presented as the speaker.[2]

My investigation of the Hebrew phrase led me to realize that there are only 32 texts in the entire Hebrew Bible where the prophet employs the first person, “And the LORD said unto me.” In the Torah it is only found in Deuteronomy. The other occurrences of the phrase occur as follows: Isaiah uses it twice,[3] Jeremiah uses it thirteen times,[4] Ezekiel once,[5] Hosea once,[6] Amos twice,[7] Zechariah twice.[8]

What one makes of this observation is left to the reader. It is simply one interesting point that sets Deuteronomy apart from the rest of the Torah. These are the words!

References

[1] Examples are throughout, but a few will suffice. See for instance (Leviticus 4:1; 5:14, 19: 6:1, 12, 17) where the English says, “And the LORD spoke unto Moses.”

[2] Deuteronomy 1:42; 2:2, 9, 31: 3:2, 26; 5:28; 9:12, 13; 10:11; 18:17; cf. 2:17 where the first person is also used, but with a different verb.

[3] 8:1, 3

[4] 1:7, 9, 12, 14; 3:6, 11; 11:6, 9; 13:6; 14:11, 14; 15:1; 24:3

[5] 23:26

[6] 3:1

[7] 7:8; 8:2

[8] 11:13, 15

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