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the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 18

Dummelow's Commentary on the BibleDummelow on the Bible

Verses 1-22

The Priestly Dues. Character and Work of the True Prophet

1-8. The Priestly dues: see on Numbers 18.

4. This is the only place where the priests are said to receive the first of the fleece: cp. Numbers 18:12.

9-14. Condemnation of superstitious and magical practices.

10. Pass through the fire] The context here seems to imply that this was a method of divining or obtaining an oracle from a god: cp. on Leviticus 18:21. Useth divination] a general term, but applied specially to the casting of lots: see e.g. Ezekiel 21:21. Observer of times] RV ’One that practises augury’: the meaning of the word is uncertain. An enchanter] one who observes omens, watches for signs in the sky or in the flight of birds. Witch] RV ’sorcerer,’ one who practises magic by means of drugs and spells: cp. on Exodus 22:18.

11. Charmer] one who ties knots, weaves magic spells and curses. Consuiter with familiar spirits, or a wizard] lit. ’one who consults a ghost or familiar spirit,’ probably a ventriloquist who professes to hold communication with subterranean spirits. Necromancer] one who inquires of the dead: cp. Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:27.

15. This is closely connected with what precedes. Israel has no need to employ such arts of divination as other nations use. Jehovah Himself will communicate His will to them through the prophets whom He raises up and instructs. See Isaiah 8:19. The singular number here, a Prophet, does not refer to a particular individual, but to a succession of prophets. Israel will never want a prophet to communicate to them God’s will. This prophecy found its ultimate fulfilment in Christ, the perfect revealer of God’s grace and truth and the new law-giver, and is applied to Him by St. Peter and St. Stephen: see Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37.

18. This v. contains the definition of a prophet. He is one who speaks the word of God and interprets to men the divine will: see on Numbers 11:25, and cp. the words of our Lord in John 14:10.

20. That prophet shall die] For an instance see Jeremiah 28:15-17.

22, 21. At no time is it easy to distinguish the true from the false prophet. Different prophets in Israel not unfrequently contradieted each other. One test of the true prophet, but not the only one, is proposed here, viz. the fulfilment of prediction. Manifestly this test could only be applied to predictions of the immediate future. But the prophet sometimes prophesied of things that were afar off (Ezekiel 12:22-27) so that his words could not be verified by those to whom they were addressed. The ultimate criterion of the true prophet is the moral character of his utterance. Conscience is the true judge. Our Lord reproached His generation because they insisted on seeing signs and wonders before they would believe.

Bibliographical Information
Dummelow, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 18". "Dummelow's Commentary on the Bible". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/dcb/deuteronomy-18.html. 1909.
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