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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 18

Clarke's CommentaryClarke Commentary

Verse 1


The priests and Levites to have no inheritance, 1, 2.

What is the priest's due, 3-5.

Of the Levites that come from any of the other cities, 6-8.

The Israelites must not copy the abominations of the former

inhabitants, 9.

None to cause his son or daughter to pass through the fire, or

use any kind of divination or enchantment, as the former

inhabitants did, 10-14.

The great prophet which God promised to raise up, 15-19.

Of false prophets, 20;

and how to discern them, 21, 22.


Verse Deuteronomy 18:1. The priests the Levites - shall have no part — That is, says Rab. Maimon, they shall have no part in the spoils taken from an enemy.

Verse 2

Verse Deuteronomy 18:2. The Lord is their inheritance — He is the portion of their souls; and as to their bodies, they shall live by the offerings of the Lord made by fire, i. e., the meat-offering, the sin-offering, and the trespass-offering; and whatever was the Lord's right, in these or other offerings, he gave to the priests.

Verse 3

Verse Deuteronomy 18:3. Offer a sacrifice — זבחי הזבח zobechey hazzebach. The word זבח zebach is used to signify, not only an animal sacrificed to the Lord, but also one killed for common use. See Genesis 46:1; Proverbs 17:1; Ezekiel 39:17. And in this latter sense it probably should be understood here; and, consequently, the command in this verse relates to what the people were to allow the priests and Levites from the animals slain for common use. The parts to be given to the priests were,

1. The shoulder, probably cut off from the beast with the skin on; so Maimonides.

2. The two cheeks, which may include the whole head.

3. The maw - the whole of those intestines which are commonly used for food.

Verse 4

Verse Deuteronomy 18:4. The first-fruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, &c. — All these firstfruits and firstlings were the Lord's portion, and these he gave to the priests.

Verse 8

Verse Deuteronomy 18:8. The sale of his patrimony. — So we find that, though the Levites might have no part of the land by lot, yet they were permitted to make purchases of houses, goods, and cattle, yea, of fields also. See the case of Abiathar, 1 Kings 2:26, and of Jeremiah, Jeremiah 32:7-8.

Verse 10

Verse Deuteronomy 18:10. To pass through the fire — Probably in the way of consecration to Molech, or some other deity. It is not likely that their being burnt to death is here intended. Leviticus 18:21.

Divination — קסם קסמים kosem kesamim, one who endeavours to find out futurity by auguries, using lots, c.

Observer of times — מעונן meonen, one who pretends to foretell future events by present occurrences, and who predicts great political or physical changes from the aspects of the planets, eclipses, motion of the clouds, &c., &c. Genesis 41:8.

Enchanter — מנחש menachesh, from נחש nichesh, to view attentively one who inspected the entrails of beasts, observed the flight of birds, &c., &c., and drew auguries thence. Some think divination by serpents is meant, which was common among the heathen.

A witch — מחשף mechashsheph, probably those who by means of drugs, herbs, perfumes, &c., pretended to bring certain celestial influences to their aid. See the note on "Leviticus 19:26".

Verse 11

Verse Deuteronomy 18:11. A charmer — חבר חבר chober chaber, one who uses spells; a peculiar conjunction, as the term implies, of words, or things, tying knots, c., for the purposes of divination. This was a custom among the heathen, as we learn from the following verses: -

Necte TRIBUS NODIS ternos, Amarylli, colores:

Necte, Amarylli, modo et Veneris, dic, vincula necto.

Virg. Ecl. viii., ver. 77.

"Knit with three KNOTS the fillets, knit them straight;

Then say, these KNOTS to love I consecrate."


A consulter with familiar spirits — שאל אוב shoel ob, a Pythoness, one who inquires by the means of one spirit to get oracular answers from another of a superior order. Leviticus 19:31.

A wizard — ידעני yiddeoni, a wise one, a knowing one. Wizard was formerly considered as the masculine of witch, both practising divination by similar means. Exodus 22:13, and Leviticus 19:31.

Or a necromancer. — דרש אל המתים doresh el hammethim, one who seeks from or inquires of the dead. Such as the witch at Endor, who professed to evoke the dead, in order to get them to disclose the secrets of the spiritual world.

Verse 15

Verse Deuteronomy 18:15. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet — Instead of diviners, observers of times, c., God here promises to give them an infallible guide, who should tell them all things that make for their peace, so that his declarations should completely answer the end of all the knowledge that was pretended to be gained by the persons already specified.

Like unto me — Viz., a prophet, a legislator, a king, a mediator, and the head or chief of the people of God. This was the very person of whom Moses was the type, and who should accomplish all the great purposes of the Divine Being. Such a prophet as had never before appeared, and who should have no equal till the consummation of the world.

This prophet is the Lord Jesus, who was in the bosom of the Father, and who came to declare him to mankind. Every word spoken by him is a living infallible oracle from God himself and must be received and obeyed as such, on pain of the eternal displeasure of the Almighty. See Deuteronomy 18:19, and Acts 3:22-23; and see the conclusion of this chapter. Deuteronomy 18:22; Deuteronomy 18:22.

Verse 22

Verse Deuteronomy 18:22. If the thing follow not — It is worthy of remark that the prophets in general predicted those things which were shortly to come to pass, that the people might have the fullest proof of their Divine mission, and of the existence of God's providence in the administration of the affairs of men.

THE promise contained in the Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:15 and Deuteronomy 18:18; Deuteronomy 18:18 verses of this chapter has long been considered of the first importance in the controversies between the Christians and Jews. "Christ," says Ainsworth, "was to be a man, and of the stock of the Jews, by promise, because the people could not endure to hear the voice of GOD, Deuteronomy 18:16. And as in respect of his prophecy, so of the priesthood: for every high priest is taken from among men, Hebrews 5:1; and also of his kingdom, as in Deuteronomy 17:15: From among thy brethren shalt thou set a king over thee like unto me.

"1. Christ alone was like unto Moses as a PROPHET; for it is written, There arose not a prophet in Israel like unto Moses, whom the Lord knew face to face, in all the signs and wonders which the Lord sent him to do, Deuteronomy 34:10-12. This therefore cannot be understood of the ordinary prophets which were raised up in Israel, but of Christ only, as the apostles expound it Acts 2:22-26.

2. Christ was like unto Moses in respect to his office of mediation between God and his people, Deuteronomy 5:5; 1 Timothy 2:5; but greater than Moses as being the mediator of a better covenant, (or testament,) which was established upon better promises, Hebrews 8:6.

3. Christ was like unto Moses in excellency; for as Moses excelled all the prophets in speaking to God mouth to mouth, Numbers 12:6-8, so Christ excelled him and all men in that being in the bosom of the Father, he hath come down from heaven and declared God unto us, John 1:18; John 3:13.

4. Christ was like to Moses in faithfulness, but therein also excelling; for Moses was faithful in God's house as a servant, but Christ as the son over his own house, Hebrews 3:2; Hebrews 3:5-6.

5. Christ was like to Moses in signs and wonders, wherein he also excelled Moses, as the history of the Gospel shows; for he was a prophet mighty in deed and word before God and all the people, Luke 24:19. A man approved of God among them, by miracles, signs, and wonders, which God did by him in the midst of them, Acts 2:22. For he did among them the works which no other man did, John 15:24. Unto him, that is, not unto the diviners, wizards, or any such like, but unto him, and him only; as Him thou shalt serve, Deuteronomy 6:13, is expounded, Him only, Matthew 4:10. And though this is principally meant of Christ in person, of whom God said, Hear him, Matthew 17:5; yet it implies also his ministers, as himself said, He that heareth you heareth me, Luke 10:16." To these may be added,

6. As Moses was king among his people, in this respect Christ is like to him, but infinitely greater; for he is King of kings and Lord of lords, Revelation 19:16; 1 Timothy 6:15. And,

7. He was like to Moses as a legislator. Moses gave laws to Israel by the authority and commandment of God, which the Jews have ever acknowledged as coming from the immediate inspiration of the Almighty: these are contained in the Pentateuch. Christ gave a new law, the Gospel contained in the four Evangelists and Acts of the Apostles, on which the Christian Church is founded, and by which all genuine Christians are governed both in heart and life. To all which may be added,

8. That God never commissioned any human beings to give laws to mankind but Moses and Christ; and therefore, as a lawgiver, Christ alone resembles Moses; for to the present hour none but themselves have given laws in the name of God, which he has ratified and confirmed by the most indubitable and infallible signs, proofs, and miracles.

Dr. Jortin, in his Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, has drawn a parallel between Moses and Christ in a great number of particulars, which he concludes thus: "Let us search all the records of universal history, and see if we can find a man who was so like to Moses as Christ was, and so like to Christ as Moses was. If we cannot find such a one, then have we found HIM of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write to be Jesus of Nazareth, the Son of God." On this subject see Ainsworth, Calmet, and Dodd, who have all marked this striking correspondence between Moses and Christ.

Bibliographical Information
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 18". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/acc/deuteronomy-18.html. 1832.
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