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We know that the Book of Deuteronomy is Moses' recounting of the Torah, yet in some places Moses is referred to in the third person, such as Parsha Ki Tavo in Deuteronomy 29:1

Why are there instances where Moses is referred to in the third person if he is writing it himself? I am specifically referring to the Book of Deuteronomy alone.

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Deuteronomy consists of a number of Moses’ speeches, but is still narrated in the third person.

Thus the structure of the book is:

  • Introduction: The following is what Moses said to the people in Transjordan (Deut 1:1-5)
  • Moses’ first speech, quoted directly (Deut 1:6-4:40)
  • Moses designated the cities of refuge and then gave the following speech (Deut 4:41-49)
  • Moses’ second speech, quoted directly (Deut 5:1-26:19)
  • Moses and the Elders instruct the people regarding the day of the crossing of the Jordan (Deut 27:1-8)
  • Moses and the priests give a short speech to the people (Deut 27:9-10)
  • Moses’ third speech outlining the covenant, quoted directly (Deut 27:11-28:68)
  • Reiteration that the above was the covenant (Deut 28:69)
  • Moses’ fourth speech, quoted directly (Deut 29:1-30:20)
  • Conclusion of the book, describing Moses’ last day (Deut 31:1-34:12)

Thus, in the verses which are not a direct quote of one of Moses’ speeches, we should not be surprised to see him referred to in the third person.

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