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Inheritance and Dominion: An Economic Commentary on Deuteronomy

Gary North
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The Pentateuch -- the five books of Moses -- sets forth laws which, when obeyed, make socialism impossible to establish. They also make the Keynesian "mixed economy" impossible to establish.

The Pentateuch is structured in terms of the five-point covenant model: transcendence (God the Creator), hierarchy (God the Liberator), ethics (God the Law-Giver), oath (God the Sanctions-Bringer), and succession (God the Deliverer).

Deuteronomy, like Exodus and Leviticus, is also structured by this five-point model.

Deuteronomy is the fifth book of the five books of Moses, which we call the Pentateuch. It is the book of inheritance. Moses read the law of God to the generation that would inherit the land of Canaan, the fourth generation of the Israelites' sojourn in Egypt, just as God had promised Abraham (Genesis 15:16). Then, under Joshua, the men of the fourth generation were circumcised, after they had come into the Promised Land (Joshua 5:7). On this judicial basis, they inherited the land.

Deuteronomy is the book of Israel's inheritance. Israel's covenantal succession from Abraham to Joshua was confirmed historically by God through the defeat of the Canaanites in the Book of Joshua. But Moses formally passed on this inheritance before he died.

Deuteronomy is Moses' recapitulation of the law. By means of their adherence to God's law, he said, the Israelites could maintain the kingdom grant established by God with Abraham. But they would lose their landed inheritance through disobedience, to be restored only after a period of captivity in a foreign land (Deut. 30:1-5).

Deuteronomy's message is clear: grace precedes law, but God's revealed law is the basis of maintaining the kingdom grant. Transgress this law, and the expansion of God's kingdom in history will suffer a setback for one or more generations. The kingdom inheritance is reduced by God's negative sanctions in history (Deut. 28:15-66). But this inheritance is never permanently lost. It compounds over time. The compounding process -- growth -- is the basis of the triumph of the kingdom in history.

My commentary is in four volumes. To access them, click here:

Volume 1
Volume 2
Volume 3
Volume 4



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