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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 18

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - UnabridgedCommentary Critical Unabridged

Verse 1

The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and his inheritance.

The priests and the Levites ... shall eat the offerings. Since the tribe of Levi had no inheritance allotted them like the other tribes (see the note at Numbers 18:20), but were wholly consecrated to the priestly office, their maintenance was to arise from tithes, first-fruits, and certain portions of the oblations presented on the altar, which God having by express appointment reserved to Himself, made over after being offered to His ministers (Numbers 18:8).

Verse 2

Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verse 3

And this shall be the priest's due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.

This shall be the priest's due from the people. All who offered sacrifices of thanksgiving or peace offerings (Leviticus 7:31-33) were ordered to give the breast and shoulder as perequisites to the priests. Here "the two cheeks," or head, and dainty, are specified. But whether this is a new injunction, or a repetition of the old, with the supplement of more details, it is not easy to determine.

Verses 4-5

The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verses 6-8

And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he sojourned, and come with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the LORD shall choose;

If a Levite come ... with all the desire of his mind. It appears that the Levites served in rotation from the earliest times; but, from their great numbers, it was only at distant intervals they could be called into actual service. Should any Levite, however, under the influence of eminent piety, resolve to devote himself wholly and continually to the sacred duties of the sanctuary, he was allowed to realize his ardent wishes; and as he was admitted to a share of the work, so also to a share of the remuneration. Though he might have a private property, that was to form no ground for withholding or even diminishing his claim to maintenance like the other ministering priests.

The reason or principle of the enactment is obvious (1 Corinthians 9:13). At the same time, while every facility was afforded for the admission of such a zealous and self-denying officer, this admission was to be in an orderly manner. He was to minister "as all his brethren" - i:e., a Gershonite with Gershonites, a Merarite with Merarites-so that there might be no derangement of the established courses.

Verse 9

When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

Thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations - [see the note at Leviticus 18:21, where the Septuagint renders, 'Let not any of thy seed pass through ... to Molech,' kai apo tou spermatos sou ou dooseis latreuein archonti; whereas in the passage before us it renders the same words, perikathairoon ton huion autou

... en puri.]

Verse 10

There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch,

That useth divination, [ qoceem (H7081) qªcaamiym (H7080); Septuagint, manteuomenos manteian]. [ qaacam (H7080), denotes primarily to divide, and thence to determine by lot or divination, particularly the three favourite methods of divining specified by Ezekiel (Ezekiel 21:21). The verb is applied to soothsayers (Joshua 13:22; 1 Samuel 6:2), to necromancers (1 Samuel 28:8), and to false prophets among the Hebrews (Micah 3:6-7; Micah 3:11). The phrase appears to be used here, not to describe any particular branch of divination, but to serve as a general introduction to the various arts about to be enumerated (see Rosenmuller in hoe loco, Havernick's Historico-Critical Introduction to the Old Testament').]

An observer of times, [ mª`owneen (H6049), participle of a verb signifying to cloud or gather clouds; and hence, some interpret the word here, 'an observer of clouds;' while others, tracing its derivation to `ayin (H5869), an eye, render it 'a fascinator with the evil eye.']

It is uncertain what kind of divination is referred to. [The Septuagint has here kleedonizomenos, as if the art consisted in some peculiarity of voice or sound, whereas it uses elsewhere ornithoskopeesesthe, inspect birds (see the note at Leviticus 19:26).]

Or an enchanter, [ uwmnacheesh (H5172)] - or an observer of serpents [one who practiced ofiomanteia, and uttered a low hissing sound, in imitation of those reptiles (Bochart, 'Hierozoicon:' see the note at Leviticus 19:26). The Septuagint has: oioonizomenos.]

Or a witch, [ uwmkasheep (H3784), participle, Piel] - a practitioner in magic, a sorcerer (Exodus 7:11; Daniel 2:2; Malachi 3:5); used in the feminine form, Exodus 22:18. [Septuagint, farmakos.]

Verse 11

Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

Or a charmer, [ wªchober (H2266) chaaber (H2267)] - a binder with magic knots or spells (cf. Psalms 58:5). [Septuagint, kepaeidoon epaoideen, singing charms.]

Or a consulter with familiar spirits, [ wªsho'eel (H7592) 'owb (H178)] - or a consulter of an oracle (Gesenius). But 'owb signifies the belly; and the phrase is commonly taken to describe a ventriloquist. [Septuagint, ergastirmuthos.] (See the note at Leviticus 19:31.)

Or a wizard, [ wªyid`oniy (H3049)] - a knowing one, a wise man. [Septuagint, teratoskopos, an observer of prodigies. See the note at Leviticus 19:31, where the Septuagint renders the original by epaoidoi.]

Or a necromancer, [ wªdoreesh (H1875) 'el (H413) hameetiym (H4191)] - one who makes inquiry of the dead. [Septuagint, eperootoon tous nekrous.]

All these impostures, which were subsidiary to idolatry, were to be put down and utterly abolished. It was on account of these diabolical arts, and the infamous vices to which they led, that the native tribes were to be expelled from Canaan. In spite of this express command, the people of that land, especially the Philistines, were a constant snare and stumblingblock to the Israelites, on account of their divinations and superstitious practices.

Verses 12-14

For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 15

The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet, [ naabiy' (H5030)] - (see the notes at Genesis 20:7; Exodus 7:1; Numbers 12:6, etc.) The insertion of this promise, in connection with the preceding prohibition, might warrant the application which some make of it to that order of true prophets whom God commissioned, in unbroken succession, to instruct, to direct, and warn His people; and in this view the purport of it is, 'There is no need to consult with diviners and soothsayers, as I shall afford you the benefit of divinely-appointed prophets, for judging of whose credentials a sure criterion is given (Deuteronomy 18:20-22).'

That God took, as a Father, a vigilant care in all the most common, even the most trivial affairs of life, was from the days of the patriarchs the firm belief of the Hebrew people (Genesis 24:12; Genesis 30:22; Genesis 31:42; 1 Samuel 1:11); and hence, looking upon a prophet as a messenger of God, they expected that he would be able to give them information on every object of interest or anxiety to their minds (1 Samuel 9:6-10).

To suit this prevalent mind, God was pleased-in the opinion of many eminent writers, both Jewish and Christian-to make special provision in His law; and accordingly, when prohibiting the Israelites to harbour diviners or to consult with familiar spirits, He promised to give them a Prophet who would reveal His will. This promise was fulfilled, to a certain extent, first in Joshua (Deuteronomy 1:17); then in the collective body of the prophets and rulers in Israel (Joshua 9:14; Jeremiah 21:2; Jeremiah 37:17; Ezekiel 14:1-7); but fully realized in one individual, preeminent in character and qualifications. Havernick thinks that the language of Moses implies that God would raise up a prophet such as is described whenever the national exigencies should demand it. Hengstenberg ('Christology,' 1:, pp. 3, 95-107) thinks it comprehends the prophetic order as an ideal unity in which, however, there should be a real Christ-the Messiah. Kurtz ('History of the Old Covenant,' vol. 3:, pp. 474-489) and Baumgarten (1:, 2, p. 483) maintain an exclusive reference to a definite person. All concur in rejecting the opinions of the rationalists, in supporting the Messianic interpretation, and in showing that this was the view most probably held both by the Jewish and Samaritan contemporaries of our Lord (John 4:25; John 6:14; John 6:45-47). Maimonides ('Fundam. Legis.,' cap. 10:, sec. 9) lays it down as a rule, 'that a prophet of whom another prophet has testified is to be presumed a prophet, and need not be examined. But Christ, the further His claims are investigated, appears the more clearly a prophet; because not only was the name given Him (Matthew 14:5; Matthew 21:26; Mark 6:15; Mark 11:32; Luke 7:16; Luke 20:6; 21:46 ), but multitudes concluded that He was "that prophet that should come" John 1:21; John 6:14).

The Messiah alone was like unto Moses (see the note at Deuteronomy 34:10) - in His mediatorial character, in the special excellence of His ministry, in the number, variety, and magnitude of His miracles, in His close and direct communion with God, in His inaugurating a new dispensation, in His legislative capacity, and in many other points of resemblance, the full enumeration of which would extend our comment to an undue length.

It is, however, to be observed, that while Moses introduced the Old dispensation, Christ brought in the New, of which the former was a type as it is written. "When that which is perfect is come, that which is in part shall be done away." Thus, Christ completed the revelation of the divine will which Moses had left imperfect; and none shall now come of whom it can be said that he is a prophet like Christ. He is still performing His prophetic office in the Church. He did so after His ascension, by sending the promised Spirit upon His apostles to guide them into all truth, and to qualify them for proclaiming and confirming the Gospel to the world (Acts 2:32-33; Acts 4:20; Acts 4:31; Romans 15:19); and it is as a prophet that He is represented as opening the sealed book, and disclosing what was to befall His Church and its enemies unto the end of time (Revelation 5:1-14).

Though revelation has been long completed, and the whole counsel of God committed to writing, yet Christ still continues to exercise His prophetic office by the Spirit, giving gifts unto men for the work of the ministry and the edification of His body; opening the understanding of men, that they may understand the Scriptures, as well as perceive the truth and excellence of what is revealed in them; and so making the Gospel come to them, not in word only, but in power and in the Holy Spirit, and in much assurance (Luke 24:45; Ephesians 4:8-12; 1 Thessalonians 1:5).

Thus, this prediction, then, which was fulfilled 1,500 years after it was uttered, is expressly applied by Peter (Acts 3:22-23) and by Stephen (Acts 7:37) to Jesus Christ, as fully answering the description given of Him.

Verses 16-17

According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.

No JFB commentary on these verses.

Verse 18

I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

And will put my words in his mouth. It was necessary that one who was to sustain the character of a prophet like unto Moses should be inspired, and receive an unmistakeable commission to that office. Christ laid claim both to inspiration and a divine legation (Psalms 61:1; Luke 4:18-19; John 8:28; John 12:49; John 14:24).

Verse 19

And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

Whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

Peter repeats it in a slightly altered form - "Him shall ye hear in all things whatsoever he shall say unto you" (Acts 3:22). A similar command in the scene of the transfiguration, when, on the appearance of Christ in the world, Moses gave attestation to Him, was issued from the excellent glory, "Hear him" (Matthew 17:5).

The direful consequences of unbelief in Christ and disregard of His mission the Jewish people have been experiencing during 1,800 years. The doom denounced by Moses against those who should refuse to hearken to this Prophet was most severely executed on that wicked generation which crucified our Saviour. What they themselves said - "His blood be on us, and on our children" - was verified in the most awful manner.

The record which Josephus has given of the siege of Jerusalem affords abundant evidence that God required of that guilty race the blood of His Son, which had been so cruelly and ignominiously shed by them. "I will require it of him," Peter expresses it, "He shall be destroyed from among the people" (Acts 3:23: cf. Romans 11:20; 1 Thessalonians 2:15-16).

Verse 20

But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

No JFB commentary on this verse.

Verses 21-22

And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?

If thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? - (see the notes at Deuteronomy 13:1-5)

Bibliographical Information
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 18". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jfu/deuteronomy-18.html. 1871-8.
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