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Bible Commentaries

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible
Deuteronomy 18

 

 

Verse 1

Better, “there shall not be to the priests, the Levites, yea the whole tribe of Levi, any inheritance, etc.”

And his inheritance - i. e., God‘s inheritance, that which in making a grant to His people of the promised land with its earthly blessings He had reserved for Himself; more particularly the sacrifices and the holy gifts, such as tithes and first-fruits. These were God‘s portion of the substance of Israel; and as the Levites were His portion of the persons of Israel, it was fitting that the Levites should be sustained from these. On the principle here laid down, compare 1 Corinthians 9:13-14.


Verse 3

For “maw” read stomach, which was regarded as one of the richest and choicest parts. As the animal slain may be considered to consist of three principal parts, head, feet, and body, a portion of each is by the regulation in question to be given to the priest, thus representing the consecration of the whole; or, as some ancient commentators think, the dedication of the words, acts, and appetites of the worshipper to God.

The text probably refers to peace-offerings, and animals killed for the sacrificial meals held in connection with the peace-offerings.


Verses 6-8

These verses presuppose that part of the Levites only will be in residence and officiating at the place of the sanctuary, the others of course dwelling at their own homes in the Levitical cities, or “sojourning” elsewhere; compare the marginal references. But if any Levite out of love for the service of the sanctuary chose to resort to it when he might reside in his own home, he was to have his share in the maintenance which was provided for those ministering in the order of their course.

Deuteronomy 18:8

Beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony - The Levites had indeed “no part nor inheritance with Israel,” but they might individually possess property, and in fact often did so (compare 1 Kings 2:26; Jeremiah 32:7; Acts 4:36). The Levite who desired to settle at the place of the sanctuary would probably sell his patrimony when quitting his former home. The text directs that he should, notwithstanding any such private resources, duly enjoy his share of the perquisites provided for the ministers at the sanctuary, and as he was “waiting at the altar” should be “partaker with the altar” 1 Corinthians 9:13.


Verse 10

To pass through the fire - i. e., to Moloch; compare the Leviticus 20:2 note.

That useth divination - Compare Numbers 23:23 note.

Observer of times … enchanter - Compare Leviticus 19:26 note.

Witch - Rather “sorcerer,” compare the Exodus 7:11 note.


Verse 11

A charmer - i. e., one who fascinates and subdues noxious animals or men, such as the famous serpent-charmers of the East Psalm 58:4-5.

A consulter with familiar spirits … a wizard - Compare Leviticus 19:31 note.

Recromancer - literally, “one who interrogates the dead.” The purpose of the text is obviously to group together all the known words belonging to the practices in question. Compare 2 Chronicles 33:6.


Verse 13

Perfect - As in Genesis 17:1; Job 1:1; Matthew 5:48. The sense is that Israel was to keep the worship of the true God wholly uncontaminated by idolatrous pollutions.


Verses 15-19

The ancient fathers of the Church and the generality of modern commentators have regarded our Lord as the prophet promised in these verses. It is evident from the New Testament alone that the Messianic was the accredited interpretation among the Jews at the beginning of the Christian era (compare the marginal references, and John 4:25); nor can our Lord Himself, when He declares that Moses “wrote of Him” John 5:45-47, be supposed to have any other words more directly in view than these, the only words in which Moses, speaking in his own person, gives any prediction of the kind. But the verses seem to have a further, no less evident if subsidiary, reference to a prophetical order which should stand from time to time, as Moses had done, between God and the people; which should make known God‘s will to the latter; which should by its presence render it unnecessary either that God should address the people directly, as at Sinai (Deuteronomy 18:16; compare Deuteronomy 5:25 ff), or that the people themselves in lack of counsel should resort to the superstitions of the pagan.

In fact, in the words before us, Moses gives promise both of a prophetic order, and of the Messiah in particular as its chief; of a line of prophets culminating in one eminent individual. And in proportion as we see in our Lord the characteristics of the prophet most perfectly exhibited, so must we regard the promise of Moses as in Him most completely accomplished.


Verse 20

Compare the marginal references.


Verse 21

And if thou say in thine heart, How … - The passage evidently assumes such an occasion for consulting the prophet as was usual among the pagan, e. g., an impending battle or other such crisis (compare 1 Kings 22:11), in which his veracity would soon be put to the test. Failure of a prediction is set forth as a sure note of its being “presumptuous.” But from Deuteronomy 13:2 ff we see that the fulfillment of a prediction would not decisively accredit him who uttered it: for the prophet or dreamer of dreams who endeavoured on the strength of miracles to seduce to idolatry was to be rejected and punished. Nothing therefore contrary to the revealed truth of God was to be accepted under any circumstances.

 


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Bibliography Information
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 18:4". "Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/deuteronomy-18.html. 1870.

Lectionary Calendar
Friday, November 15th, 2019
the Week of Proper 27 / Ordinary 32
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