Study Guide

Book of Deuteronomy Foreignness and the Other

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Foreignness and the Other

Deuteronomy wants to have its cake and eat it too—be nice to strangers, massacre your enemies, and go home happy. This tension between local law and political rhetoric drives the whole book, but we notice it most when Moses & Co. run into other groups. Some of their travel meet-ups are with allies, but sometimes they're enemies who need wiping out. Bottom line, if you're not an Israelite, you haven't been chosen by God. And that puts you squarely in the outsiders club.

Questions About Foreignness and the Other

  1. How can we reconcile Deuteronomy's orders to be kind to strangers and its commands to destroy other nations in war? What's with all the contradictions?
  2. Who are the "others" in Deuteronomy? Why are the Israelites so special?
  3. What did the Israelites learn from their time in Egypt as foreigners and slaves? Are they applying that knowledge now?
  4. Is Moses still a "stranger in a strange land" (Exodus 2:22) in Deuteronomy? How about the Israelites?

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