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Sunday, June 23rd, 2024
the Week of Proper 7 / Ordinary 12
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 16

Lange's Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal and HomileticalLange's Commentary

Verses 1-17

The Fourth Command

Deuteronomy 15:1 to Deuteronomy 16:17

Deuteronomy 15:1-23

1, 2 At the end of every seven years thou shalt make a release. And this is the manner [word] of the release [what is said therein]: Every creditor that lendeth aught unto his neighbour1 shall release it; he shall not exact [press his, sq.] it of his neighbour, or of his brother; because it is called [for called is] the Lord’s release. 3Of a foreigner thou mayest exact [urge, press] it again: but that which Isaiah 4:0 thine with thy brother thine hand shall release: Save when [Only that]2 there shall be no poor among you; for the Lord shall greatly bless thee in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance to possess it: 5Only if thou carefully hearken unto the voice of the Lord thy God, to observe to do all these commandments [this commandment] which I command thee this day. 6For the Lord thy God blesseth thee, as he promised thee: and thou shalt lend unto many nations, but thou shalt not borrow; and thou shalt reign over many nations, but they shall not reign over thee. 7If there be among you a poor man of one of thy brethren within any [one] of thy gates in thy land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not harden thy heart, nor shut thine hand from thy poor brother. 8But thou shalt open thine hand wide [cheerfully]3 unto him, and shalt surely [richly] lend him sufficient for his need, in that which he wanteth. 9Beware that there be not a thought in thy wicked heart [a word in thy heart, worthlessness] saying, The seventh year, the year of release, is at hand; and thine eye be evil against thy poor brother, and thou givest him nought; and he cry unto the Lord against [over concerning] thee, and it be sin unto thee. 10Thou shalt surely4 give him, and thine heart shall not be grieved [and not evil shall thine heart be] when thou givest unto him: because that for this thing the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thy works, and in all that thou puttest thine hand unto [the reaching forth of thine hand]. 11For the poor shall never cease out of the land: therefore I command thee, saying, Thou shalt open thine hand wide [ever again] unto 12thy brother, to thy poor [bowed, distressed] and to thy needy, in thy land. And if thy brother, an Hebrew man, or an Hebrew woman, be sold unto thee, and serve thee six years; then in the seventh year thou shalt let him go free from thee. 13And when thou sendest him out free from thee, thou shalt not let him go away empty: 14Thou shalt furnish him liberally [Thou shalt load him, lay upon his neck richly] out of thy flock, and out of thy floor, and out of thy wine-press: of that wherewith the Lord thy God hath blessed thee thou shalt give unto him. 15And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bond-man in the land of Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee: therefore I command thee this thing [word] to-day. 16And it shall be, if he say unto thee, I will not go away from thee; because he loveth thee and thine house, because he is well with thee: 17Then thou shalt take an awl and thrust [give, it in] it through his ear unto the door, and he shall be thy servant forever. And also unto thy maid-servant thou shalt do likewise. 18It shall not seem hard unto thee, when thou sendest him away free from thee: for he hath been worth a double hired servant to thee [double of the wages of the hireling has he served thee six years], in serving thee six years: and the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all that thou doest. 19All the firstling males that come [are born] of thy herd and of thy flock thou shalt sanctify unto the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work with the firstling of thy bullock, nor shear the firstling of thy sheep. 20Thou shalt eat it before the Lord thy God year by year in the place which the Lord shall choose, thou and thy household. 21And if there be any blemish therein, as if it be lame, or blind, or have any ill blemish, thou shalt not sacrifice it unto the Lord thy God. 22Thou shalt eat it within thy gates: the unclean and the clean person shall eat it alike, as the roebuck, and as the hart. 23Only thou shalt not eat the blood thereof; thou shalt pour it upon the ground as water.

Deuteronomy 16:1 to Deuteronomy 17:1 Observe [Keep] the month of Abib, and keep [make, celebrate] the passover unto the Lord thy God: for in the month of Abib the Lord thy God brought thee forth out of Egypt by night. 2Thou shalt therefore sacrifice [kill] the passover unto the Lord thy God, of the flock and the herd, in the place which the Lord shall choose to place [cause his name to dwell] his name there. 3Thou shalt eat no leavened bread with it; seven days shalt thou eat unleavened bread therewith, even the bread of affliction; (for thou earnest forth out of the land of Egypt in haste): that thou mayest remember the day when thou earnest forth out of the land of Egypt, all the days of thy life. 4And there shall be no leavened bread seen with thee in all thy coasts seven days; neither shall there any thing of the flesh, which thou sacrificedst [didst kill] the first day at even, remain all night until the morning. 5Thou mayest not sacrifice [kill, as margin] the passover within 6any of thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee: But at [to] the place which the Lord thy God shall choose to place his name in, there thou shalt sacrifice [kill] the passover at even, at the going down of the sun, at the season [time] that thou earnest forth out of Egypt. 7And thou shalt roast [cook] and eat it in the place which the Lord thy God shall choose: and thou shalt turn in the morning, and go unto thy tents. 8Six days thou shalt eat unleavened bread;5 and on the seventh day shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord thy God: thou shalt do no work therein. 9Seven weeks shalt thou number unto thee: begin to number the seven weeks from such time as thou beginnest to put the sickle to the corn. 10And thou shalt keep [make] the feast of weeks unto the Lord thy God with a tribute [measure] of a free-will-offering of thine hand, which thou shalt give unto the LORD thy God,6 according as the Lord thy God hath blessed thee: 11And thou shalt rejoice before the Lord thy God, thou, and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite that is within thy gates, and the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are among you, in the place which the Lord thy God hath chosen to place his name. 12And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bond-man in Egypt: and 13thou shalt observe and do these statutes. Thou shalt observe [make to thee] the feast of tabernacles seven days, after that thou hast gathered in thy corn, and thy wine.7 14And thou shalt rejoice in thy feast, thou and thy son, and thy daughter, and thy man-servant, and thy maid-servant, and the Levite, the stranger, and the fatherless, and the widow, that are within thy gates: 15Seven days shalt thou keep a solemn feast unto the Lord thy God in the place which the Lord shall choose: because [for] the Lord thy God shall bless thee in all thine increase [inbringing, produce] and in all the works of thine hands, therefore thou shalt surely rejoice. 16Three times in a year shall all thy males appear [be seen] before the Lord thy God in the place which he shall choose; in the feast of unleavened bread, and in the feast of weeks, and in the feast of tabernacles; and they 17shall not appear before the Lord empty: Every man shall give as he is able [according to the gift of his hand] according to the blessing of the Lord thy God which he hath given thee.


1. As the third command closes with the number three, Deuteronomy 14:28, so the fourth command, defined through the sacred number seven, has its commencement numerically with that number. Theologically this chapter connects itself with that which precedes, in this way, that as in the tithes the whole fulness of the earthly goods was recognized as Jehovah’s, as His blessing, belonging to Him, and for which He is to be praised; so with the seven days the whole period of life generally was regarded as sanctified to Jehovah, because He will complete it in His holy and blessed rest. Ethically and practically the transition is from the tithe of the poor at the close of the 14th chap., to 1) the poor debtor, Deuteronomy 15:1-11; Deuteronomy 2:0) the Hebrew slaves, male and female, 12–18.

2.Deuteronomy 15:1-11.Deuteronomy 15:1. At the end, sq., i.e. at the expiration of the septennate; thus in general the Sabbatical year. With the presupposition of this institution from Exodus 23:10 sq.; Leviticus 25:2 sq. (comp. upon these passages, and the article in Herzog’sEncykl. XIII. 205; Bræm., Wanderings of Israel, p. 381; [also article on Sabbatical Year in SmithBib. Dict.—A. G.], there is a completion, but at the same time a genuine exposition and application of the Sabbath-law, according to Mark 2:27. As שְׁמִטָּה תַּעֲשֶׂה (Deuteronomy 15:1) refers to שָׁמַט, Exodus 23:11, to leave, let lie, then the land, and indeed with reference to the poor; here with a like reference to the poor, to whom a loan has been made—the loan. The connection also of שָׁמוֹט, Deuteronomy 15:2, with יָדוֹ, that every creditor should permit his hand to rest with reference to that which he had lent, brings out the same thing; only that with every such interpretation as to the sowing and the harvest (Exodus 23:10), there must be a regard also to Leviticus 25:4-5. Reference to the latter passage is the more in place here; for the debtor relation lies, in the highest measure, at the foundation of the statement, Leviticus 25:0 Jehovah there gives Israel the land, as here the בַּעַל מַשֵּׁה is either: the master of the lending, having the object in the relative clause: which he will lend or: the idea of the master is defined from the connection, and מַשֵּׁה is the object—lends the loan to his neighbor. Canaan is a good loaned. Jehovah is the only proprietor and creditor in the land; this is especially the supposition for the sabbatical year, Leviticus 25:2. But if all are debtors to Jehovah, the relation of debtor between man and man can only be relative, and must be carried out according to Matthew 6:12. Thus passing over from the tithe to the Sabbath idea, the sabbatical year (שַׁבַּת שַׁבָּתוֹן), the rest of the divine loan, namely of the land, a שבת ליהוה (Leviticus 25:4; Leviticus 25:2), becomes in Deuteronomy a release also of every human loan. All Israelites are moreover brethren, which is insisted upon, Deuteronomy 15:2-3, etc. Israel pays no tithe to Jehovah from his loan during the sabbatical year. Jehovah Himself cares for the personæ miserabiles in His enlarged blessing upon the seventh year (Leviticus 25:6 sq.), through which the master appears as placed alike with his servants, thus—although there is no express mention of the widow, fatherless, poor, comp. however Deuteronomy 24:14—fed upon divine alms, as they are usually through the blessing of God upon their toil. It agrees well with this detailed explanation to understand שְׁמִּטָּה, Deuteronomy 15:1, as the leaving the debtor in rest for the seventh year, as the clause: thou shalt not exact (press), more fully describes, and one who is also אָחִיו. The usual Jewish interpretation is that there should be an entire release of the debt, Luke 6:34-35. [The clear reference to the land-rest or release, which was for the year, and the force of the Hebrew word rendered exact, more correctly urge or press, and the whole spirit of the Mosaic law, which was not to destroy obligations of this kind, but to guard the poor and unfortunate against undue severity or oppression, are all in favor of the interpretation which regards the release as for the year. This interpretation is now almost universally accepted. The Bib. Com. adds also: “it seems further clear that the release had reference only to loans, and to loans lent because of poverty, not to debts contracted in the purchase of goods.” A. G.]—Called, sq.; an official proclamation, although not precisely as Leviticus 25:9-10 (Deuteronomy 23:2; Deuteronomy 23:4). Probably at the beginning in the seventh month (10. Tisri) at the day of atonement. לַיהוֹה, as Leviticus 25:2 (Exodus 20:10). This reference to the Sabbath Year gives the reasons for the release of the debtor. Deuteronomy 15:3. Comp. Deuteronomy 14:21 (Deuteronomy 23:21). The foreigner was not in the condition of those who had no harvest this year, and therefore could not pay.—Which is thine, what thou hast of thine in thy brother’s hand as a loan. The hand, because it must rest, keep festal time, in reference to the field, etc., would perhaps be busy with reference to the debtor. But we cannot serve God and mammon. Deuteronomy 15:4. Only(will I say to you still) that, sq., equivalent to but, nevertheless (in the promised rich and sure blessing of God), there shall be no אֶבְיוֹן (literally straitened, wretched) in Israel, to whom one shall have to lend. Not that Israel should be charged to take care that there be no poor (Schultz, Keil), but to hold before him the idea of his blessed national condition as willed by God (Deuteronomy 15:6). In every possible mercy or kindness of Israel, Jehovah has thus been before him. Comp. further Deuteronomy 4:21; Deuteronomy 4:38. From this ideal stand-point the earnest exhortation (Deuteronomy 15:5) introduces the transition to the relations, not as they should be, but as they are and will be. Deuteronomy 15:6. בֵּרַכְךָ. The blessing is a complete, spoken, established thing. As it is here explained, so it must be understood in Deuteronomy 15:4 (against Keil and Schultz). עַכַט in Hiph.: to take from any one a pledge for security, to oblige one, thus to lend upon security; in Kal.: to bind one’s self by a pledge; hence, to borrow from one. Such independence is surely a dominion in the world. Deuteronomy 15:7. The actual relations at first hypothetically stated. Comp. Deuteronomy 2:30. אָמֵץ, Piel: to draw together, hence make firm, spoken against such an unnatural state, which truly the closed hand follows in a natural way, as a door which is shut before the needy brother. Deuteronomy 15:8. Obliges them to do much more than to leave the hardened, closed heart.—For his need.—דֵּי is the construct st. of דַי (דָיָה), abundance, sufficient, enough to cover what was wanting to him. Deuteronomy 15:9. The application to the Sabbatical Year. Comp. Deuteronomy 8:5; Deuteronomy 13:14. It would be shameful to represent to himself the obligation of the seventh year, and anticipate it with an evil eye with respect to his needy brother. Since the year is one proclaimed as ליהוה, Deuteronomy 15:2, the loud or mute cry of the poor becomes intelligible (James 2:15 sq.; 1 John 3:17; James 4:17). Deuteronomy 15:10. According to the connection, it concerns especially the loan which he asks (2 Corinthians 9:5 sq.). Comp. further Deuteronomy 12:7. Finally Deuteronomy 15:11 presents the entire sad and actual condition (Matthew 26:11), as on account of sin, as its consequence, guilt, punishment, which condition, however, must be met with brotherly kindness and mercy (1 Peter 4:8). The whole arrangement of the seventh year rests upon the supposition of this never-ceasing relation of the subjective inward (עני) and objective outward wretchedness. [It is questionable whether the statement: the poor shall never cease, sq., is to be regarded as a penalty for sin. There is nothing in the passage which would lead us to suppose this; and there is no necessity for the supposition in order to reconcile these words with Deuteronomy 15:4 : there shall be no poor among you. There was the same necessity then as now for these diversities in human condition. Each class needed the other for their mutual good. The promise in Deuteronomy 15:4 is not absolute, nor merely conditional, as suspended upon Israel’s obedience or disobedience. The promise was that there should be no abject poor, no crushed, wretched ones. There should be poor, those needing aid; but they should be relieved. This whole provision of the year of release, and laws similar in spirit and tendency respecting inheritance are to guard against the total ruin of the unfortunate and needy; to prevent the poor from sinking into hopeless poverty.—A. G.].

3.Deuteronomy 15:12-18. There is no reference here to the Sabbatical year; but the Sabbatical principle and number are still retained. The connection with the tithe for the poor in the previous chapter is still in force, but not so “that the poverty which makes it necessary that the Hebrew should sell himself for a slave, forms the transition to the following provisions” (Keil), for there is a different way in regard to servitude, Exodus 21:2. The generosity towards the enfranchised, which is commanded in Deuteronomy, gives much more the point of union with the foregoing precepts. Further it is the fundamental idea of the fourth command, the Sabbath idea, which as it was made availing in the year of release before, so now, and still more essentially, in the seven years of servitude. Israel is a servant, ליהוה; hence also whatever has part in the covenant-relation (the number seven) consequently the Israelitish slave: thus his time must be sanctified to Jehovah. This is brought into distinct consciousness in the seven years’ service, and indeed is conformed through the injunction, thou shalt not let him go away empty, to the blessing which God placed upon the Sabbath, Exodus 20:11. In this sense the Sabbath Year forms the transition from the foregoing to what follows. Deuteronomy 15:12. Be sold unto thee, or sell himself to thee.—Thy brother points him—the one sold—out as an Israelite. עִבְרִי designates either: one from the other side with respect to the land, the other side of the Euphrates, or: עֵבֶר, the stem-father (Genesis 10:21), the drawing together, union, people, and indeed the people simply, so that the adjective here is equivalent to one of the grand nation, as the French love to call themselves, a landsman, in distinction from a foreign slave.—Or an Hebrew woman, an addition to Exodus 21:0. What is there evident in the case itself is here expressed, comp. Deuteronomy 15:17, on account of the special case, Exodus 21:7 sq., because in what follows it is the relation of servant generally which is spoken of. Comp. on those passages.—In the seventh year, thus commonly, as in an extraordinary manner in the fiftieth or jubilee year, Leviticus 25:39. Since Israel is redeemed out of the house of bondage (Exodus 20:2), and is the servant of the Lord forever (Leviticus 25:42; Leviticus 25:55), there is no prolonged human bondage here. Deuteronomy 15:13. Comp. Genesis 31:42 (Luke 1:53). Deuteronomy 15:14. Repeated servitude through poverty or want should be prevented. No mere empty freedom! So much as he can take, carry with him, perhaps, also, pressed upon him. Comp. further Deuteronomy 15:6; Deuteronomy 12:7. Not send him away empty, but give him; it reaches to this, especially where they had received such blessings to give. A genuine Deuteronomic supplement. Deuteronomy 15:15. Comp. Deuteronomy 5:15; Deuteronomy 7:8; Deuteronomy 13:6. Deuteronomy 15:16. Comp. upon Exodus 21:5 sq. The public announcement and declaration of the servant pre-supposes the legal proceedings. In Deuteronomy, and according to the connection here, it is the private domestic act only which comes into view.—Andthine house includes the wife and the children of the servant, who, according to Exodus 21:4, would remain in the house.—Well with thee. The Hebrew servant was generally no slave (Leviticus 25:43). See the excellent article by Oehler in Herzog’sEncyclop. XIV. 464 sq. Deuteronomy 15:17. The symbol of that cleaving to the body (probably the right ear), thus of constant obedience (Psalms 40:6 does not belong here) and of ever-enduring bondage to the house.—[“Bored ears were made a badge of slavery, and so became ignominious,” Bib. Com.; and thus show that the Hebrew servant was in many respects regarded as a slave, although his condition was greatly modified by the beneficent regulations here laid down.—A. G.]. Enduring servitude has thus its disgrace in whatever moral motives it has its origin; it is not merely a resolution which has to do with it. עוֹלָם, according to the Jewish tradition, reaches only to the Year of Jubilee, or until the death of the master.—Also unto thy maid-servant, scarcely as Deuteronomy 15:14, according to the Jewish tradition, but as is said above of the servant. It related to the elder women, to whom the direction in Exodus 21:7 could have no application. Deuteronomy 15:18 explains why this prominent precept again recurs. As the presumed public procedure excludes any gross violence, so Deuteronomy 15:18 meets and opposes the more subtle, by persuasion; the servant may and ought actually to be free. Moses meets the apparent hardness (Jeremiah 34:8 sq.), practically for the calculating selfishness, with the consideration, that the service of the servant in question was worth double that of a hired servant, if one had labored in his room; for him there was barely support, not even wages nor account; the servant had saved twice the cost, was also at every time ready for service. Isaiah 16:14 belongs as little here as Isaiah 21:16; at most only so far as with hired servants, there must be an exact reckoning. For the rest comp. Deuteronomy 15:6; as much as to say: thou wilt never be the loser, for the blessing of God is with thee.

4.Deuteronomy 15:19-23. Comp. Introd. § 4, i. 19. Although the first-born have been named already, Deuteronomy 12:6; Deuteronomy 12:17; Deuteronomy 14:23, with the tithe, partly in the summary statement, and partly on account of what was common to all, still it is now first preeminently the subject of discourse. The reason is because the first-born belong to the exposition of the fourth command. While the tithe is the acknowledgment of Jehovah, as peculiarly the proprietor of the land, so with respect to the first-born, since birth leads into life, and over against the dead first-born of Egypt (Exodus 13:15) the first-born of Israel were kept alive (Numbers 3:13; Numbers 8:17), it symbolizes naturally and historically the sanctification of the whole life to Jehovah (Keil, Arch. I. 340). But that is the idea of the Sabbath. As to the peculiar institution in Israel with respect to the first-born, comp. upon Exodus 13:0; Numbers 18:0. In reference to the Sabbath, it is said, Deuteronomy 15:19 : thou shalt sanctify to Jehovah, Deuteronomy 5:12, Hence also עבד as in the fourth command. They are neither to profit by their labor, nor through the usual natural usufruct, i.e. they are treated as a sacrifice. Deuteronomy 15:20. Comp. Deuteronomy 14:23.—Eat, namely with the priests, to whom the first-born belonged, Numbers 18:18. (Hengstenberg: The eating of the first-born was granted to the offerer as such (Exodus 13:15), because the first-born belonged to the שְׁלָמִים.—Authen. II. 406 sq. Others: the discourse treats of the female first-born. Others: of a second first-born (!). Others: of the young animal, the best, the youngest.)—[The apparent inconsistency between this passage, which not only allows, but directs, that the offerers should partake of the victims, and that in Numbers 18:18, which assigns the firstling to the priests, is discussed in the introduction. If the firstlings were only partly given to the priests, then of course there would be no inconsistency, since the offerer would have the remaining portions. But if, as the words in Numbers 18:18 seem to imply, the whole was assigned to the priests, then the right here given to the offerer is grounded in the force of a custom which was originally provided for in the ritual of the sacrifice, especially of the passover sacrifice, which had gradually grown up to become a law, and which now receives the sanction of the law-giver. The right here bestowed may not have been alluded to in Numbers, just because it was well understood, but was here expressed in accordance with the very nature of Deuteronomy, in which the popular rights are fixed and guarded for all the future. If we keep in view the different circumstances, both of the law-giver and the people, in which these directions were given, it seems clear that the one is the natural and historical complement of the other, that what was needless, and therefore not expressly stated in the earlier, finds its appropriate place in the later legislation.—A. G.]

Deuteronomy 15:21 is explained from the sacrificial character of the first-born (comp. Leviticus 22:19-20); hence also: thou shalt not sacrifice (kill) to Jehovah, on account of the sacred meals, that they might not be profaned with them. Deuteronomy 15:22. Comp. Deuteronomy 12:15; Deuteronomy 12:21-22. Upon Deuteronomy 15:23 comp. Deuteronomy 12:16; Deuteronomy 12:23-24.

5. Chap. 16, Deuteronomy 16:1-17. The reference to one sanctuary is generally deuteronomic; the special ground for what follows appears rather in the fourth command, hence this passage treats simply of “the feasts which are for the most part sabbatical.” Schultz. 1). The passover-feast, 1–8, with which, as already through the previous first-born institution (comp. also Deuteronomy 5:15), the Sabbath-idea now gains more expressly its greater depth in the redemption first begun truly (out of Egypt), but pointing onward typically and far more widely. Deuteronomy 16:1. Comp. Deuteronomy 5:12.—חֹדֶש, literally the breaking dawn, the first day, upon which the moon is again visible, hence month, which began with the new moon. But by no means the new moon of Abib (Hitzig) in opposition to Exodus 12:6; Leviticus 23:5; Numbers 9:2 sq., which are all here supposed as well known. אָבִיב (the ear, green ears) is not a proper name, as indeed all the months were designated in the Pentateuch by numbers (Herzog’sReal Encyl.), but appellative (Exodus 9:31; Leviticus 2:14). The designation ear-month connects itself always with the exodus from Egypt, as also the required feast-observance is here grounded in it (Hengst., Authen. II. 361). The later name is Nisan, our April. פֶסַח, from the passing by or over, sparing, comp. Exodus 12:13; Exodus 12:23; Exodus 12:27. May it be with reference to the “breaking through,” the new shooting forth in spring, as the redemption in nature, at which time it was observed, similarly as our Easter? The passover-feast observance commanded, is emphasized here through the verifying לָיְלָה, historically as the eating of the well-known passover lamb, comp. upon Exodus 12:8; Leviticus 23:5; as the passover meal pre-supposes the slaying of the lamb as completed, the direction, Deuteronomy 16:2, is either to be understood in reference to the place where the remaining sacrifices should be brought, including also the passover-sacrifice (Leviticus 23:8; Numbers 28:19-26), Hengstenberg, or to make prominent the end of the wider meals, marking them all with this character of the passover, the offering of all kinds, slain and thank (Exodus 23:15; Leviticus 23:38) as one passover-feast (Hertzog XI., p. 145; Schultz, Keil). The connection favors the latter view. This is the accepted view. The Jews not only desiguated the whole service as the passover, but the word is used in the New Testament, John 18:28, in this wide sense. The seven days make it clear that it is so used here. “The passover-lamb was to be consumed on the first evening, and that with which they were to eat unleavened bread was the passover in the wider sense. The direction here therefore is no variation of the ordinary name, Exodus 12:5. The rite of the paschal lamb is pre-supposed throughout, and the command of the present passage relates to the paschal offerings.” Bib. Com.—A. G.]—Thus to the tone of joyful festivity impressed upon it (by the sacrificial meals) follows now, Deuteronomy 16:3, the other feature equally prominent and in itself predominantly earnest, solemn character of the passover-feast. Thus the eating, עָלָיו, if in the first case it may be referred to the passover-lamb, it cannot certainly in the second case—since it was continued seven days, and must therefore be generally with respect to the passover-feast or upon it. Some refer it to the offerings of the flock and the herd, Deuteronomy 16:2. The careful impressive negation of leavened bread must be understood, as the immediately following position of מַצּוֹת (fundamentally, to extend, thus flat, dried, extended, not previously cooked), intimates, with reference to the historical and not symbolical motive; for in haste, anxious haste—(חָפַז, to concentrate, in anxiety, in order to flee, Exodus 12:11 sq.) as the arrangement foreseen and prescribed by God, Exodus 12:8; Exodus 12:15 sq., was entirely completed under the pressure of the circumstances at the time, Exodus 12:33-34; Exodus 12:39 (Hengst., Auth. II. 367). What was symbolized by the leaven, beyond this signification of the historical relations (that thou mayest remember), comp. Kurtz, Hist. II. 127, does not come into view here. The מַצּוֹת is explained by לֶחֶם עֹנִי, and would certainly call to mind the oppression, affliction and poverty (Kurtz).

But the prominence of the number seven is to be observed with reference to the Sabbath-idea, which rules in this section: seven days shalt thou, sq., and the life-long remembrance is manifestly a sanctification of the whole life. On account of the grave, earnest recollections connected with the passover, to which the other aspect evidently serves as a relief, Moses has before, Deuteronomy 16:2, so expressly mentioned the other meals, in order to elevate the feast into the character of the Sabbath-feast, as a feast of a redemption which should come to its rest, as also the name of the Lord, in Canaan. (Deuteronomy 16:2. Comp. Deuteronomy 12:11.) Deuteronomy 16:4 repudiates again any existence of שְׂאר, i.e. leaven (the שָׂאַר, causes to boil up), during the seven days, and indeed in the most comprehensive way. Comp. Exodus 12:15; Exodus 12:19; Exodus 13:7. לְךָ, belonging to thee. That nothing of the flesh of the passover-lamb should be left until the morning, but in that case should be burned with fire, rests upon Exodus 12:10. The historical feature of haste also clings to the feast, and thus the passover was a night-meal, with whose food the succeeding morning had nothing to do. בָּעֶרֶב (not in the transition sense, not the twilight, but from עָבַר, to fold together; in the turning, sinking of day to night), at the 14th of Nisan. According to Exodus 12:6 : between, הָעַרְבָּיִם, dual, i.e. the double turning before and after sunset; comp. below, Deuteronomy 16:6. Thus the slaying of the passover would be between the fifth and seventh hour.—The first day, equivalent to the day before, i.e. before that, with the 15th of Nisan beginning seven days’ feast of unleavened bread. Deuteronomy 16:5-6. A modification of Exodus 12:7; Exodus 12:46, with respect to Canaan and out of the sacrificial nature of the passover. Comp. Numbers 9:7; Numbers 9:13; Exodus 12:17; Exodus 34:18; Exodus 34:24. Thus at the sanctuary. Comp. however Kurtz II., p. 342. In any case the distinction in the expression: in the place, with reference to the cooking and the eating, from that in Deuteronomy 12:7; Deuteronomy 12:18, is worthy of notice; this could occur at the dwelling, the night-quarters of each one in the place of the sanctuary. [The modification as to the one place from Exodus 12:7; Exodus 12:46, is certainly a modification contemplated and provided for in the original institution, is alluded to in Exodus 34:24, and finds express utterance here naturally and in full accordance with the spirit of Deuteronomy.—A. G.]—To thy tents is thus, after the conclusion of the whole feast, to their respective homes (John 7:53; John 7:37).—Roast, cook, with reference to the passover-lamb, not in water, but over the fire, 2 Chronicles 35:13.—[Our version is here rather an interpretation than a translation. But every Jew would understand at once how it was to be cooked.—A. G.]

Deuteronomy 16:7 bears throughout a very general character, as of the sacrificial meals, which still find a place here according to Deuteronomy 16:2, with which also the closing direction, to go to their homes, spoken with respect to the pilgrimages to the sanctuary, which Schultz, Keil, understand of a return to their booths or lodges, well agrees. Deuteronomy 16:8 involves no difficulty; on the contrary it explains the return to their homes as occurring first after the seven days, since as upon the 15th, so also upon the 21st Nisan (Exodus 12:16), there was to be abstinence from the leavened bread and from every kind of business (Exodus 16:29); comp. Deuteronomy 5:13. Thus a Sabbath! עֲצֶרֶת from עָצַר, either: to restrain, thus to cease from ordinary labor, hence a sabbatical assembly, or to hold fast, firm; thence a closed society, feast-assembly, or to close; and thence the close of the feast.—2) The feast of weeks, Deuteronomy 16:9-12.Deuteronomy 16:9. Seven weeks, sq.—The number seven makes the Sabbath-idea prominent at once.—From the beginning of the sickle (Leviticus 23:15 sq.) is the same as from the second day of the passover, when with the presentation of the sheaf of the first-fruits, the grain-harvest began (16 Nisan). קָמָה, that which rises up, ascends, stalk, more definitely, wheat.—Seven sevens, and in Deuteronomy 16:10 the feast of the sevens.—For the harvest-feast (Exodus 23:16) is the ethical side of the destination to Jehovah with true free will and bountifulness, and without a special precept. מִסַּת, const. of מִסָּה (from מָסַם, to separate, divide, measure), only used here, related to מִדָּה, measure. Sept: καθότι, καθώς. But the blessing of God should also make joyful, Deuteronomy 16:11; comp. Deuteronomy 12:7; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 12:18; Deuteronomy 14:29. It is said of God Himself in regard to the Sabbath, Exodus 31:17 (Deuteronomy 23:12). Deuteronomy 16:12, as (Deuteronomy 15:15.—3.) The feast of tabernacles, Deuteronomy 16:13-17. It fell upon the seventh month, and lasted seven days. Deuteronomy 16:13. Comp. Leviticus 23:33 sq. סַכָּה, from סָכַךְ (סךְ) to make a covering, to cover, to screen; generally: shelter (Keil, Arch. I. 412 sq.). The side of this feast which relates to the leading through the wilderness is thus sufficiently intimated and supposed, and the other side, the predominant side with respect to Canaan, and at the same time so directly inciting to thankful joy, the ingathering of the threshing-floor and wine-press into granary and cellar, as truly deuteronomic as it is suited to the connection, can alone be presented. Observe the progress: the rescuing of life (Passover)—the customary support of life by means of bread (feast of weeks)—out of threshing-floor and wine-press, the full, joyful enjoyment of life (feast of tabernacles). אסף, summarily used of the fruit; oil and wine harvest. But in all, sanctification to the Lord, the Sabbath-idea of life. Deuteronomy 16:14, as Deuteronomy 16:11.—In (it) thy feast, a phrase through which the destination even of the Sabbath to be for man comes out more clearly than through the ־לךְ Deuteronomy 16:9, or the לךָ, Deuteronomy 16:13. The blessing of God in every way in the increase and toil, Deuteronomy 16:15, will provide for the completion of the joy. אךְ, not as, therefore, but wholly, throughout, perfectly (John 16:24). To the closing feast of the year, there is appropriately added, Deuteronomy 16:16-17, the three yearly feasts collectively, at the same time closing the exposition of the Sabbath-command as a final notice from Exodus 23:17; Exodus 23:15; Exodus 34:23, with the express reference to Jehovah (אֶת־פני), before whom what is both subjectively and objectively accomplished, Deuteronomy 16:17, is of more avail than לֹא רֵיקָם, Deuteronomy 15:13.—[The view of those who hold that the thread of this part of the discourse is rather the oneness of the sanctuary than the Sabbath-idea, which Schroeder so ingeniously carries out, is thus stated in the Bib. Com: “The cardinal point here is the concentration of the religious services of the people round one common sanctuary. The prohibition against observing these great feasts at home and in private is reiterated in Deuteronomy 16:2; Deuteronomy 16:6-7; Deuteronomy 16:11; Deuteronomy 16:15-16. Hence it is easy to see why nothing is here said of the other holy days. No doubt the great day of atonement (Leviticus 23:26 sq.) and the feast of trumpets (Leviticus 23:23 sq.) are as positively enjoined by Moses as are the three feasts mentioned here; but it was no part of either of these observances that all the males should “appear before the Lord.” Those days might be observed by the faithful without going to the central sanctuary for the purpose.” But it does not appear that the topic of a national and visible unity in faith and worship holds such a leading place in Deuteronomy as this view supposes. It is clearly one object aimed at; but it gives too narrow a view of the scope and end of Moses in this book to assign it this leading and controlling place. Having once established it, as it came up in the natural progress of his discourse, it is assumed, rather than inculcated over and over, as he passes on to other topics.—A. G.]


1. The unfolding of the Sabbath-thought, according to its ascending stages, is the nerve of the section. Keil correctly designates “the rest or suspension of every business” only as “a means” of the sanctification of the Sabbath, as “the condition without which it could not be truly sanctified to the Lord,” and therewith meets us, Deuteronomy 15:1-11, the first characteristic feature from which all the rest proceeds. The sanctification of the Sabbath, since it is to Jehovah, represents the covenant which God has with Israel, through which it should appear free from servitude in toil or care of this life, and this is the second characteristic or stage, Deuteronomy 15:12-18. The third, Deuteronomy 15:19-23, is, that with the consecration of days, months, years—thus ever of definite periods of time—the consecration of the whole life generally, is in truth symbolized and exemplified. As now the rest upon the Sabbath is based upon the rest of God after the creation of the world, so the freedom of Israel for such rest, was grounded in the redemption out of the Egyptian bondage, which fact through the passover feast has an everlasting celebration; a fourth stage (Deuteronomy 16:1-8) intimating at the same time how the Sabbath solemnity would have its completion. (Matthew 26:2; Matthew 26:18-19; Matthew 26:26 sq.; Luke 22:15 sq.; Hebrews 4:9). But this completion is the perfection of the creation, fallen with the humanity, as through God so in God; the good pleasure of God again in His work, becomes the blessedness of men; hence the joy, the fifth sabbatical characteristic, Deuteronomy 16:9-12. Finally this joy becomes only joy, i.e., as entirely perfected, set before us in the last feast of the year. “That which is prophetic,” remarks Schultz, “in the Sabbath solemnity, lies especially near here. He who has willed this completion in the lapse of the year, must will it also in the lapse of greater periods of time, at the end indeed of all time. Zechariah 14:16 sq.” The sixth stage of the Sabbath thought, Deuteronomy 16:13-17, shows the redemption (through which the Sabbath comes to its completion) as one again in the Sabbath first having its final perfection. Thus time in its widest development is limited and bounded by the Sabbath; thus generally the world time of humanity closes in a Sabbath. Comp. upon the pilgrimages to the three feasts, even in Canaan still, the beautiful explanation of Keil, Arch., I. 417, as also Psalms 84:0.

2. It is peculiarly deuteronomic to bring out clearly the ideality of the people of God, without forgetting its real relations, e.g., Deuteronomy 2:25; Deuteronomy 4:30. Baumgarten well says: “Just as no sickness cleaves to the people of Jehovah, (Exodus 15:26; Exodus 23:25; Deuteronomy 7:15) so Israel cannot be struggling with any want, but lives in abundance and wealth (Deuteronomy 8:9). Jehovah has prepared the land from the beginning for His people, Deuteronomy 11:10-12. This is the cutting severity in the poverty of an Israelite, that in it the disobedience of Israel and the wrath of Jehovah are revealed. In the necessities of its individual members, therefore, Israel should learn to see its own naked actual condition and truth, according to which it is tainted with its natural stiff-neckedness and disobedience against the law of its God,” etc.


Deuteronomy 15:1-2. Richter: “The year of release was a figure of the gospel, in which the acceptable year of the Lord was proclaimed.” Deuteronomy 15:3. Berl. Bib.: “So also Galatians 6:10; but 2 Peter 1:7, the universal love appears as the highest round, as also Christ praises love towards an enemy, and thus towards all men, as perfection, Matthew 5:43-48.” Deuteronomy 15:4. Richter: “Observe the distinction between beggars and the poor generally. Liberality to these, and careful laws, should prevent begging, which fearfully corrupts the poor. Comp. Psalms 37:21.” Deuteronomy 15:5-6. J. Gerhardt: “These earthly riches are a type of the spiritual in the N. T., since no gracious gift shall be wanting to the pious, (1 Corinthians 1:7) since indeed they should impart to others, and thus spiritually lend, and also should have dominion over Satan, sin, death, and hell.” Berl. Bib.: “Usually men seek the smallest coin in order to give to the poor, and give even that unwillingly.” Deuteronomy 15:7-11. Baumgarten: “What a sensitive inward character prevails here.” Schultz: “That one should inflict violence upon his heart, as it were, shows how censurable hard-heartedness is, while the mere natural kindness has no moral worth.” Osiander: “Although the poor should not revile the rich, yet their cries against the unmercifulness of the rich come up before God.” [Deuteronomy 15:11. Wordsworth: “Our Lord adds the reason that ye may do them good, and thus exercise the divine grace of love, and so promote your own salvation and theirs. God will judge you according to your treatment of them, Matthew 25:40. Thy poor brother is his brother.”—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 15:15. Baumgarten: “This is not merely a recollection of the past, but in every Israelitish servant, the servitude of Israel should be recognized as still enduring, since it points to the redemption as not yet perfected.” Deuteronomy 15:16-17. The image of our eternal bondage to the Lord; condition under which; the manner and method how. Deuteronomy 1:0 : A free, clear acknowledgment to the Lord, grounded in love to him and his house, having its deepest ground in the blessed condition, flowing out of the love of God to us; 2. pain, shame, obedience (absolute dependence) but also eternally belonging to him. Deuteronomy 16:1-2. Berl. Bib: “The Spirit of God truly demands from us that with the remembrance of the death of Christ, who is our passover Lamb, we should offer our spiritual sacrifices, and should ourselves be such, (Romans 8:36); but all our service which we offer, presupposes the sacrifice of the Lamb, and has its virtue and strength from the sacrifice of Christ.” Deuteronomy 15:3. Richter: “We also, as redeemed, should remember our wretched state before our redemption, especially at the holy supper.” 1 Corinthians 5:6 sq. Starke: “It is not sufficient to know when the great feasts occur, but we must celebrate them in a manner well-pleasing to God.” Deuteronomy 15:4. Friedlib: “Christ should be dearer to-day, than to be enjoyed on the morrow.” Deuteronomy 15:11. There is a joy before the Lord, which the world willingly refuses, the true joy of communion with Him.—Calvin: “God will do more for us than we have for Him. The world laughs, but will at last wail and gnash its teeth.” Deuteronomy 15:13. Luther: “We observe every day the feast of tabernacles, if we learn and perceive that we are strangers in the world, until our tabernacles are laid aside. Thus we rejoice also in the unleavened bread of sincerity and truth, i.e., in the food of the pure gospel, and in the life of the Spirit, without toys and ornaments, etc.” Schultz: “The feasts in the N. T. refer to that which is completed, and need only to be appreciated; they are not sabbatical, but Sunday feasts. Your highest (?—most joyful) feast is not at the end, but lies at the beginning; the incarnation is the greatest joy-feast.” Parallel feasts: Passover and Easter, Feast of Weeks and Pentecost, Tabernacles and Christmas. Deuteronomy 15:16. Calvin: “He spares the tender women, and the children under twenty. The father of the family includes wife and children. According to an old custom no one could appear before the king without a present. Thus God wills a mark of subjection from every one.


[1][Deuteronomy 15:2. Schroeder, lit., every master lending his hand, which he will lend to his neighbor. See Exegetical Note.—A. G.].

[2][Deuteronomy 15:4. Margin, to the end that there may be, etc. Bib. Com. renders no poor with thee in the transaction. But the rendering which is allowable seems liable to the objection that the idea so expressed is forced into the text.—A. G.].

[3][Deuteronomy 15:8. Opening thou shalt open—both widely and cheerfully.—A. G.].

[4][Deuteronomy 15:10. Cheerfully, richly. See above on Deuteronomy 15:8.—A. G.].

[5][Deuteronomy 15:8. Restraint, as if from labor, although etymologically possible, does not meet the case here. Schroeder transfers the Hebrew word to the text. But our version is here preferable.—A. G.].

[6][Deuteronomy 15:10. The italic words are needless.—A. G.].

[7][Deuteronomy 15:13. Lit., In thy gathering from thy floor and thy wine-press.—A. G.].

Verses 18-22

The Fifth Command

Deuteronomy 16:18 to Deuteronomy 18:22

Deuteronomy 16:18-22

18Judges and officers shalt thou make [give] thee in all thy gates, which the Lord thy God giveth thee, throughout thy tribes: and they shall judge the people with just judgment. 19Thou shalt not wrest [bend, turn aside] judgment; thou shalt not respect persons [the face] neither take a gift: for a gift doth blind the eyes of the wise, and pervert the words of the righteous. 20That which is altogether just, [Justice, justice] shalt thou follow, that thou mayest live, and inherit the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee. 21Thou shalt not plant thee a grove [as a tree-pillar]* of any trees near unto the altar of the Lord thy God, which thou shalt make thee. 22Neither shalt thou set thee up any image [image, pillar, statue]; which the Lord thy God hateth.

Deuteronomy 17:1.Thou shalt not sacrifice unto the Lord thy God any bullock, or sheep [and goat] wherein is blemish, or any evil favouredness [evil thing]1; for that is an abomination unto the Lord thy God. 2If there be found among you, within any of thy gates which the Lord thy God giveth thee, man or woman that hath wrought wickedness in the sight of the Lord thy God, in transgressing his covenant, 3And hath gone and served other gods, and worshipped them, either [and, indeed, to wit,] the sun, or moon, or any of the host [or the whole host] of heaven, which I have not commanded; 4And it be told thee, and thou hast heard of it, and inquired diligently, and behold it be true, [truth (is it)] and the thing [the word] certain, that such abomination is wrought in Israel: 5Then shalt thou bring forth that man or that woman, which have committed that wicked thing, unto thy gates, even that man or that woman, and shalt stone them with stones, till they die.2 6At the mouth of two witnesses, or three witnesses, shall he that is worthy of death [to be put to death] be put to death; but at the mouth of one witness he shall not be put to death. 7The hands of the witnesses shall be first upon him to put him to death, and afterward the hands of all the people. So thou shalt put the evil away from among you. 8If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea [cause and cause] and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy [contested cases] within thy gates: then shalt thou arise, and get thee up into the place which the Lord thy God shall choose; 9And thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and unto the judge that shall be in those days, and inquire; and they shall shew thee the sentence [word, what is right, sentence] of judgment: 10And thou shalt do according to the sentence [the sound, purport of the word]3 which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee: 11According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do: thou shalt not decline from the sentence [word] which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left. 12And the man that will do presumptuously, and will not [not to] hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die: and thou shalt put away the evil from Israel. 13And all the people [the whole people] shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously. 14When thou art come unto the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; 15Thou shalt in any wise [So shalt thou only set him]4 set him king over thee whom the Lord thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a 16stranger over thee [give over thee a stranger] which is not thy brother. But [Only] he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses: forasmuch [since]5 as the Lord hath said unto you, Ye shall henceforth return no more that way. 17Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that his heart turn not away: neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold. 18And it shall be when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of that which Isaiah 19:0 before the priests the Levites. And it [the law] shall be with him, and he shall read therein [in the book] all the days of his life: that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them: 20That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he turn not aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left: to the end that he may prolong 21his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

Deuteronomy 18:1-22.The priests the Levites, and all the tribe [the whole 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. 2Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the Lord is their inheritance, as he hath said unto [promised] them. 3And this shall be the priest’s due [right] from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto 4the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw. The first-fruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him. 5For the Lord thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons for eDeut Deuteronomy 16:6 And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he sojourned [where he was lodging, stranger] and come with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the 7Lord shall choose; Then [And] he shall minister in the name of the Lord his God, as all his brethren the Levites do, which stand there before the Lord. 8They shall have like portions to eat [part as part shall they eat] beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.6 9When 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. 10There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth [practiseth]7 divination, or an observer of times [a seer] or an enchanter, or a witch, 11Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12For 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. 13Thou shalt be perfect [whole, entire] with the Lord thy God. 14For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the Lord thy God hath not suffered thee [given to thee] so to do. 15The 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. 16According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again [not will I hear further, continue to hear] the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. 17And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put [give] my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. 19And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I 20will require it of him. But [Only] the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or [and] that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die. 21And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the Lord hath not spoken? 22When a prophet speaketh in the name of the Lord, if the thing [word] follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing [word] which the Lord hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously [arrogantly]: thou shalt not be afraid of him.


1.Deuteronomy 16:18; Deuteronomy 16:18 to Deuteronomy 17:8 . If Moses will now explain and apply the fifth command in the same manner he has hitherto used, comprehending the whole people, thus according to the end of Deuteronomy, and at the same time out of its fundamental purpose, which as its author he ever follows, he has an appropriate transition to it in the demands which he has made already, Deuteronomy 4:9-10, still more, Deuteronomy 6:7; Deuteronomy 6:20 sq.; Deuteronomy 11:19, upon parents, and the elder class generally, as the nearest objects of the fifth command. The doctrine of the law for the home life, is the practice of the law for the popular life in reference to justice and injustice. The thought, therefore, “of presenting it as a sacred people of Jehovah even in its political relations,” (Keil), does not introduce the transition to what follows, although it is true that “the civil order rests upon the conscientious fostering of justice, by virtue of judiciously arranged courts, and an impartial administration of justice.” Schultz, in the derivation from the same idea, refers better to “the leader and instructor who, armed with peculiar power, knowledge of the law, or revelation, puts rightly Israel’s departures over against his piety, and lays claim to his docility.” [Moses as the inspired leader and guide with his subordinate judges, met all the necessities of the people, but now, when he was about to leave them, and they were to enter upon entirely different circumstances, he provides for the new exigencies. The whole section accords with the spirit and design of Deuteronomy.—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 16:18. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 1:15-16; Deuteronomy 1:13, and the Doct. and Eth. remark 2. Now, judges in all the cities, on account of the altered relations in Canaan. But even now the institution proceeds from the people—only confidence, as is natural, can establish a position even similar to the parental. Thus the Israel addressed, judges itself best, by means of those chosen from and out of itself. Deuteronomy 16:19 gives three negative instructions for the administration of the judicial office, “each one reaching more widely to that which might lead to what was previously forbidden,” Schultz. Comp. Exodus 23:6; Deuteronomy 27:19; Deuteronomy 1:17; Deuteronomy 10:17; Deuteronomy 27:25; Exodus 23:8. The reason “brings into view first the power of judgment, then the word of judgment.” From the righteous judges, what they should be, we pass in Deuteronomy 16:20, to the positive qualities of righteousness, made more emphatic through the repetition (1 Timothy 6:11; Philippians 3:12; Philippians 3:14). The promise is similar to that of the fifth command. The examples now following the judicial section, according to the connection, preserve the inward thread of the first table, which the fifth command closes. Deuteronomy 16:21-22. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 7:5; Deuteronomy 12:31

Deuteronomy 17:1. Comp. Deuteronomy 15:21. כל דבר רע excludes any and every evil, defects of any kind whatever. Deuteronomy 17:2 generalizes concisely the three cases. Comp. Deuteronomy 13:13; Deuteronomy 4:25; Deuteronomy 4:13; Deuteronomy 4:23.Deuteronomy 17:3. As Deuteronomy 4:19, (Deuteronomy 13:7; Deuteronomy 13:14) אשר לא־ which service, sq. Israel is not set right through prohibition alone. Deuteronomy 17:4. Comp. Deuteronomy 13:15, Deuteronomy 13:16, 19, sq., here the judicial investigation, the proceeding of the court. Deuteronomy 17:5. That man or, sq. There is no sparing even of the weaker sex in such a case. Hence it is emphatically repeated. את חדבר which was announced to thee. Unto thy gates, out before the city, as hitherto before the camp, Leviticus 24:14; Numbers 15:35 sq.; (Acts 7:58; Hebrews 13:12). Symbolizing the removing of the evil out of the midst of Israel. Comp. further Deuteronomy 13:11.Deuteronomy 17:6. Numbers 35:30 (Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1; Hebrews 10:28). הַמֵּת the dying (Genesis 20:3) thus beyond rescue, because he was in a certain sense already dead, (Numbers 19:11). על־פי, the mouth condemns the man. Job 15:6; Luke 19:22.Deuteronomy 17:7; Deuteronomy 17:7 is as Deuteronomy 13:10; Deuteronomy 13:6. Does this at the same time express the entire certainty of the witnesses (Knobel), their conviction of the guilt (Schultz)? In any case it symbolized the individual and general readiness to eradicate the evil from the midst of Israel. [“It was calculated to ensure their sincerity and truthfulness, and to deter from false witness.”—A. G.].

2.Deuteronomy 17:8-13. A supplementary carrying out of Deuteronomy 1:17 (Exodus 18:26; Exodus 18:19) with reference to Canaan, and because Moses was not to be there. Deuteronomy 17:8. If there arise a matter too hard for thee. The people is represented as judging itself through the local courts, Deuteronomy 16:18 Too hard—one which the judge in the case could not or would not decide. He particularizes: blood and blood, as to the killing, whether wilful or unintentional, and hence what is right in the case and what not; (דִּין is the judgment); “according to what law it must be decided; (Herxheimer, in money matters”). נֶגַע is the injury resulting from a blow, thus here of bodily wounds (Exodus 21:18 sq.), and not of leprosy. Matters of controversy—not, as Keil, Schultz, cases of quarrels, but as Knobel, legal cases, about which there may be controversy, as to whose decision different opinions may be given. עלה, if it means to ascend, is explained from the great importance, not from the position, and hence not from the location of Jerusalem. (Acts 15:2). According to Meier the word signifies primarily to press in, draw near. Comp. Genesis 46:31; Genesis 46:29. Deuteronomy 17:9. The priests the Levites—See Intro., § 4, I. 22. [Great stress is laid upon this phrase in contrast with that used in the earlier books, “the priests, the sons of Aaron,” by those who oppose the Mosaic authorship. The lapse of time, and the events which had occurred between the earlier books and Deuteronomy, afford an easy and natural explanation of the difference. The position of the priests was now established. No Levite would question the fact that the priesthood attached to the family of Aaron. It was more important now, and more in accordance with the popular character of Deuteronomy, to bring out their popular tribal relations. The Levites, too, were in a sense a priestly tribe. They had in important respects a priestly position, and had priestly functions. They stood between the people and God. There may have been, too, a design on the part of Moses in selecting this phrase, as Wordsworth suggests, to appease any jealousies between the priests and the Levites; to remind the priests that the Levites were their brethren, and to remind the Levites that they shared in the honor and dignities of the priests. In any case, however, the explanation of this diversity is much easier upon the supposition that Moses wrote Deuteronomy, than upon that of a later writer, who still assumed to write as Moses. For it is incredible that any one who may have wished to palm off his work as that of Moses, should either have been ignorant of the terms of the earlier books, or should have carelessly neglected them, and thus have drawn attention to his imposture.—A. G.]. The phrase is general, and includes the high-priests. ואל ,אל co-ordinating those who declare the law, the teacher, (Deuteronomy 17:11, Leviticus 10:11), and the literal actual “judge.” The former precedes here, because in difficult cases like these in Deuteronomy 17:8, their activity is first laid under requisition. But the latter receives not “the second” place (Knobel), but his official position. Comp. Deuteronomy 19:17; Deuteronomy 26:3. The passage 2 Chronicles 19:8-11, connects itself with this only in the most general way. Whoever has this later supreme court before his mind will not be so unprejudiced, nor distinguish so naturally from the personal position of Moses, the simple outlines of a superior competent court. He speaks freely for the future, but not from a more definite and precise present. The “judge” holds nearly the position of Moses over against the priesthood. That he probably, as a superior judge, as the president of the wider circle of judges (Deuteronomy 19:17), acted with the priests as a bench or college, upon the questions, the suits, from the local city courts, may be inferred from the words, and they shall show thee, sq.—נָגַד Hiph. to bring near, to point out, to inform. Deuteronomy 17:10. Not the litigating Israelite (Knobel, Schultz) since it is the execution of the sentence obtained, which is here treated of, but the lower court, which should see that it was done. (Keil). This injunction was truly in place, where there was a natural feeling of relative independence in the local courts, and to enforce upon every Israelite a more exemplary obedience to the supreme court appointed by God. The place which. Comp. Deuteronomy 19:17, which gives the relief and explanation. “If the judgment of any judge is to be regarded (Deuteronomy 1:17) as of God, so pre-eminently that before the Lord.” (Schultz). The mouth (sound) of the word, is the judicial sentence, which announces the instruction in the case in question, which must be retained as final. Deuteronomy 17:11. The sentence is particularized at first as the sound (mouth) of the law with reference to the priestly teacher of the law, because all depends upon the law of God, and then first as judgment with reference to the judge, upon whom rests the obligation of saying what is right, of pronouncing judgment. Observe the הַתּוֹרָה the earlier law, e.g., Exodus 21:0; not as Deuteronomy 17:18, התורה הזאת the deuteronomic. (Intro., § 2). (Matthew 23:2 sq.). Comp. further Deuteronomy 5:29. Deuteronomy 17:12 closes with the application to every man. The malicious disposition can scarcely be treated otherwise. Comp. Deuteronomy 1:43. There also they would not hear. (1 Peter 5:5). It is not men whom they would not hear, but God. Therefore: the priest, which is to be understood not of the High-priest only, if even especially of him (Hebrews 8:1), since it is only the official character of the priest generally which is here spoken of, and which presents the disobedience as against Jehovah. The same thing is self-evident from the judge, since he in the place of God speaks in the name of God (Deuteronomy 1:17). That standeth, sq.—Intro., § 4, I. 22. אֶת־ יְהוָֹה said, as Keil correctly remarks upon the distinction of the priests from the Levites, somewhat more specifically than לִפְנֵי יהוח. Comp. Genesis 5:22; Genesis 5:24; Genesis 6:9; 1 Samuel 2:11; 1 Samuel 3:1; Malachi 2:6, to wit, for the more intimate, more confidential converse, their nearness in society, (Gesenius). The priests served in the holy place, and through the High-priest their representative and head in the most holy. The rest here, as in Deuteronomy 17:7. Upon Deuteronomy 17:13 comp. Deuteronomy 13:12. (1 Timothy 5:20). [There is little room under the theocracy for the distinction between ecclesiastical and civil causes. The priests were no doubt the expounders and judges of the law, but the lay judges were not added to the court, to be judges of the facts in distinction from the law in the case, but in part out of existing and long-continued usage, probably reaching back to the patriarchal times, and partly, as a recognition of the right of the people as such, to be represented in the administration of justice. We do not know how the choice was made. There were probably different methods in use at different times. But the judge seems to have been a representative of the people.—A. G.].

3.Deuteronomy 17:14-20. The transition is natural from the judge to the kingdom (1 Samuel 8:5; 2 Samuel 15:4 sq.). Intro., § 4, I. 16. Deuteronomy 17:14. Two things are presupposed in this case, settled relations after the entrance into Canaan, and its occupation, then the self-determination of the people, and thus its inward development to the kingdom. As all the nations (heathen).—Not precisely an aberration, but still neither a mere thoughtless conformity. Comp. Deuteronomy 6:14; Deuteronomy 13:8, where the same expression occurs. (Intro., § 4, I. 16). After such a permission in the case, Deuteronomy 17:15 emphasizes the command (שום תשים), omnino non alium, quam quem, sq. (H. Michaelis) in order to prevent any possible clashing with the sovereignty of Jehovah. How the people should set the king over them is left open. Perhaps through their elders. How the divine choice should be manifested, whether by Urim, or the prophets, or by some clear fundamental leading is also undetermined. From among, sq., states what must be true under all circumstances, and is therefore once more negatively repeated. A stranger would never be the choice of Jehovah. The earlier restriction respects him who is above, the latter those below. (The historical criticism might with this go down even to John 19:15! 2 Kings 15:19 sq.; Deuteronomy 16:7, do not indeed belong here (Knobel). As the last repeated determination with a certain sacred simplicity, sounds strangely, so also the first direction for the king in Israel. Deuteronomy 17:16. He shall have no fondness for horses, and that indeed not so much from any opposition to a warlike lust of conquest (which was not the case even, 1 Kings 10:28 sq., where it occurs with reference to a royal pageant) as in opposition to the pride relying upon horses. Psalms 20:7; Psalms 33:16 sq.; Psalms 147:10. (Isaiah 31:1). But this opposition restores in a genuinely Mosaic way the well-remembered historical event, Exodus 14:15; Exodus 19:21. It is the opposition between Israel and Egypt, expressed in a form which is intelligible only at the time of Moses, when “the people on the slightest occasion expressed its desire for Egypt, its purpose to return thither (Exodus 14:11; Numbers 11:5 sq., 20; Deuteronomy 21:5), a reunion of the just sundered bands did not seem impossible.” Hengstenberg. Comp. Oehler in Herzog’sEncycl. The forbidden return to Egypt is thus placed as the very end of the multiplication of horses. “Moses feared that the king would seek the Egyptian lowlands (Deuteronomy 11:10-11) which were so much better fitted for the rearing of horses, instead of the mountainous Palestine. They must remain externally far off, that they may preserve the internal separation entire (Leviticus 18:3).” Schultz. Comp. Joshua 11:6; Joshua 11:9; Judges 5:10; 2 Samuel 8:4. Solomon, even on account of the Mosaic relations, which he only considered, might have regarded the direction as antiquated. [And yet Solomon’s experience shows that the multiplication of horses could not be secured without intercourse with the Egyptians, which Moses saw it was important to prevent.—A. G.]. Nothing is said here “against the continual going to and from Egypt, as e.g., Jeremiah 2:18; Jeremiah 2:36.” Knobel.—As the Lord hath said (Deuteronomy 28:68), does not occur literally in the pentateuch, but Moses appeals to what was said, although not written, since this is so understood in the very leading out of Israel especially into Canaan. [“Egypt was the principal source whence the nations of Western Asia drew their supply of horses. It stands also everywhere in Scripture as the antithesis to the theocratic covenant and kingdom on earth. To cause the people to return to Egypt, which the multiplication of horses would naturally do, would be to reverse the great and beneficent work of God, which inaugurated the Mosaic covenant, the deliverance from the bondage of Egypt. Hence the prohibition.” Bib. Com.—A. G.]. The second direction (Deuteronomy 17:17) lies against another strong passion of oriental rulers. As the passion for horses would lead back to Egypt, so the multiplication of wives would draw them away from the Lord; the lust itself, indeed, much more if the wives were from the heathen (1 Kings 11:3 sq.) Comp. Deuteronomy 11:16. [The restriction however does not forbid polygamy absolutely, but the excessive polygamy, such as was found in Solomon.—A. G.]. “The third prohibition concerns excessive luxury. (1 Kings 10:14; 1 Kings 10:27). Great wealth begets effeminacy and luxury, as well as pride and oppression.” J. H. Michaelis. Deuteronomy 17:18 gives the counter-means and way to good against all lust of the eye, lust of the flesh, and pride. Upon the throne. On the summit of human greatness, where all is wont to move according to his will, then he must have the will of the Most High for his aim and standard. He shall write him, if not with his own hand, yet cause to be written, Intro., § 2.Deuteronomy 17:19. עמּוֹ (his vade mecum) in his possession, in his mind, thought, and will. Comp. Intro., § 2; Deuteronomy 4:10; Deuteronomy 5:26; Deuteronomy 6:2; Deuteronomy 14:23.Deuteronomy 17:20. Comp. Deuteronomy 8:14; Deuteronomy 5:29. An hereditary kingdom. [While permission is given to the chosen people to be like the other nations in this respect, still their king is not to be like other kings. He must be approved by God, from among his brethren, restricted in all indulgences, and bound by the laws and institutions of the nation. The monarchy was allowed but guarded in the most careful way. A copy of this law. Sept. and Vulg., “he shall write for himself the Deuteronomy.” But “this law” includes the whole pentateuch, or rather its legal portions. See Deuteronomy 31:9; Deuteronomy 31:11; Deuteronomy 31:26. This passage which has been urged so strenuously as a proof of the later origin of Deuteronomy, contains really a strong proof of its Mosaic authorship. For it is not only conceivable that Moses should have provided for the contingency of the kingdom, such as he saw everywhere around him, and to which allusions had been made in the earlier books, Genesis 17:16; Genesis 36:31; but is entirely natural. The request of the people when they came to Samuel for a king, is couched in terms like these used here. Comp. 1 Samuel 8:5, with Deuteronomy 17:14. Samuel also evidently has this passage in his mind. 1Sa 10:24; 1 Samuel 12:14. Samuel does not reprove the people simply because they desired a king, but because their desire originated in wrong motives, and was pressed under circumstances which should have prevented it, and in the face of the remonstrances of the prophet. It was sinful because in the circumstances it indicated a sinful alienation of heart on the part of the people, from Jehovah, and the institutions He had established. A careful study of the passage 1 Samuel 8-12, will show in what respects the people sinned, and that there is no opposition between that passage and Deuteronomy 17:14-20. But the passage may not only be vindicated from objections which have been urged against it. It bears upon its face the marks of its Mosaic origin. The direction that the king should be taken from among thy brethren would have been out of place after the establishment of the kingdom in the line of David; the reference to Egypt and the return thither, are, as above remarked, intelligible only upon the assumption of the Mosaic authorship; the restrictions under which the king was placed are in full agreement with the whole spirit and tone of the Mosaic legislation, so much so that their absence would have been noticeable as a great omission; the direction as to the copy of this law, carries with it the implication that Moses is speaking, who was then expounding the law, and could not well have been inserted at a later time; in short every feature of the passage is in favor of its Mosaic origin. See also Hengstenberg, Authen., Keil, Introd., Havernick, Einleit., Bib. Com.—A. G.].

4.Deuteronomy 18:1-8. After the transition from the supreme court, especially from the judge to the king, the priests the Levites come into view; at first, indeed, generally, then the priests particularly, and lastly the Levites. Deuteronomy 18:1. The addition, all the tribe of Levi, shows that the Levitical priests were not the whole of Levi, that besides these there were Levites simply, and thus that there was a distinction between the two from the beginning. Comp. Numbers 18:20; Numbers 18:23 sq.; Deuteronomy 14:27; Deuteronomy 14:29; Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 10:9. אִשֵּׁי יְהוָֹה (Leviticus 1:9), i.e., all that was sacrificed upon the altar by fire; as Leviticus 24:9 of the show bread, so here of the priest’s portion of the sacrifice.—And his inheritance, whatever beside belonged to Jehovah, and through Him to the tribe of Levi, priests and Levites, as the tithes, firstborn, first fruits. (Leviticus 7:4; Numbers 18:0) [“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.” Bib. Com.—A. G.]. The prominent thought that Jehovah is his inheritance, expressly stated in Deuteronomy 18:2, (Deuteronomy 10:9) leads to the detailed supplementary statement in Deuteronomy 18:3, which thus presupposes what in general belongs to Levi, on the part of Jehovah, and now details what on the part of the people is the particular due or right of the priests, (Deuteronomy 4:1; 1 Samuel 8:9 sq.; 1 Samuel 10:25) which must be conceded to them by every judge or ruler. Intro., § 4, I. 20. A new assignment, not precisely to those, offering the sacrifies (Numbers 18:18; Exodus 29:27; Leviticus 7:34) but to the priests in general. זבח as Deuteronomy 12:15; Deuteronomy 12:21, to which kind of slaying the article הַזֶּבַח may indicate. Knobel understands it of sacrificial victims (comp. 1 Samuel 2:13 sq.) in which case there would be required from the people in this class of sacrifices not only the wave-breast and heave-leg, (shoulder) but also the foreleg (Numbers 6:19) the two cheeks, and the maw (the so-called fourth stomach of the ruminants). Something good from each of the three chief parts of the animal (Keil regards the slaying as connected with the sacrificial feasts in the wider sense, and not as any of the three kinds of expiatory sacrifices). [The portions here assigned to the priests are in addition to those given to them in Leviticus. It seems to be a provision to meet the altered circumstances when the people were located in Canaan, and all the animals could no longer be slain at the door of the tabernacle. It is a “more generous rather than a scantier provision.”—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 18:4 contains also, with reference to the first-fruits, on the part of the people, a supplementary direction, beside that well-known in (Numbers 18:12 sq.) even the first of the fleece which as resulting from the care and nurture of men is the proper gift of the people. Deuteronomy 18:5 gives the ground or reason for this direction, altogether in the style of the time of Moses, for him, the priest, hath God chosen, him as Aaron and his sons (Leviticus 7:34); to minister in the name of Jehovah, a more general expression than in Deuteronomy 17:12 (comp. Deuteronomy 5:7) but the special distinction appears clearly in Deuteronomy 21:5. The priest in the strict sense, hence it is said he officiates in charge, stands to minister, in the name of the Lord, at all events in the full power of that mediatorial position assigned him by God. Deuteronomy 18:6. Allusion is now made peculiarly to the Levites. In itself the clause here as Deuteronomy 27:14; Deuteronomy 31:25, might be understood of the priests, but both the expression and the whole statement of the case and the connection, lie against this view of Baumgarten. Intro., § 4, I. 22. The situation implied is that of Deuteronomy 12:12; Deuteronomy 14:27. Intro., § 4, I. 21. Herxheimer: “Where he has officiated as judge, or from one of the Levitical cities.” [The Levite would naturally be called in his official duties to other cities than those assigned him.—A. G.]. With all the desire, sq. (Deuteronomy 12:15) because he so wishes, and has liberty to do so, and shows such piety, since no other interest impels him, than to share in the services at the sanctuary. [Wordsworth: “Not from love of change, or from a restless passion for excitement, or from an ambitious craving for self-display and popular applause in a great and populous city.”—A. G.]. The place of Jehovah is his peculiar home, and all desires for this are a spiritual homesickness. The Levitical service is, also, in the name of the Lord, and although in a subordinate sense, still not less truly nor with any less right Comp. Intro., § 4, I. 22. In the charge of the Lord, in any case in the position assigned by Him (Numbers 1:53; Numbers 3:7; Numbers 8:9-19; chap. 18), they represent the whole people, minister the service of Israel. The expression is the general one for the servant of Jehovah, including both the higher and the lower. With this agrees the purpose in the exposition of the fifth command, to give the Levites a parental character, in accordance with the condensed statement, Deuteronomy 18:1-2, (as Deuteronomy 10:8-9) and this all the more since they were commended to the same love, to guard, preserve the priestly dignity of their tribe. As all his brethren. By itself this (even more than Deuteronomy 18:6) might include the priests as Levites, and allude to the whole service at the place of the Sanctuary, but the connection favors the limitation to the Levites simply. There were, as it appears, Levites settled at the sanctuary, or for the time engaged there, placed over against the Levite drawn from his city, perhaps at one of the three feasts, to the sanctuary. Comp. still further Intro., § 4, I. 22. The conclusion, as already prepared for in Deuteronomy 18:6-7, now follows in Deuteronomy 18:8. With a similarity in service and dignity, there must be also a like enjoyment. The portions (they had no other חֵלֵק Deuteronomy 18:1), which were then given them to eat belonged equally to the one coming from afar, as to those found there. Keil understands the living from the incoming of the tithes, the portions of the sacrifices, the free-will gifts prescribed by the earlier law, which were not exclusively assigned to the priests.” Schultz more in accordance with the connection, and more reasonably, places it as parallel with Deuteronomy 18:3 sq., and regards it as referring “to the tithe, firstborn, and other sacrificial meals arranged at the place of the sanctuary” (Deuteronomy 12:6 sq.; 17 sq.; Deuteronomy 14:22 sq.; Deuteronomy 15:19) and the enjoined invitation of the Levites to them. What follows is difficult. Not so much the text; for it comes essentially to the same thing, whether we read with Knobelלְבַד מִן and point, ממְּכָרָיו (מֶכֶר perhaps the required sale) or take לְכַד for לְכַד מִן and point: מִמְכָּרָיו from מִמְכָּר (מָכַר) the sale, that sold, or to be sold. The difficulty lies in the sense of the words: עַל־הָאָבוֹת. The most obvious sense is by or upon the fathers, i.e., whatever was saleable of his, or belonged to him, (the removed Levite) was laid upon the family fathers at home, to ascertain and offer for sale. In any case, it is not private or personal property which is here regarded. Keil, Knobel, take הָאָכוֹת for אָכוֹת בֵּיח (Exodus 6:25; Numbers 2:34) and understand the clause of the private income as a member of the family, through the sale of his family possessions or the profits of them, thus; beside his sales, the net proceeds of them according to the house of the fathers, i.e., determined according to the degree of his genealogy, or his relationship. Not as Schultz and the Sept.: πλὴν τῆς πράσεως αὐτοῦ τῆς κατὰ πατριάν. Comp. Leviticus 25:33 sq. The Levite could sell his house, or could draw the rent for it. [The text is difficult, but the sense is perfectly clear. The Levite who came from a distance to the sanctuary to engage in its service, whatever might be his resources from other quarters, was not to be deprived of his equal share with those who were in attendance at the sanctuary. Part as part they shall eat.—A. G.].

5.Deuteronomy 18:9-22. Finally, as a conclusion, partly supplementary to the previous official personages and arrangements, partly controlling them, at the same time completing the compensation for the departing Moses, is the prophetic institution, and indeed growing out of the necessity for an authentic revelation of God, against the varied heathen superstitions and apostasy. Deuteronomy 18:9. Comp. Deuteronomy 17:14. Thou shalt not learn—(Deuteronomy 5:1; Deuteronomy 14:23; Deuteronomy 17:19). There will be teachers enough of the falsehood (Deuteronomy 13:0). “The abominations are set over against the holy service.” Herxheimer. Comp. Deuteronomy 12:30 sq.; Deuteronomy 7:25.Deuteronomy 18:10; Deuteronomy 18:10 refers at once to the Moloch-worship, (Leviticus 18:21; Leviticus 20:2 sq.), as Schultz remarks, “because all the following individual dark arts arise out of the demonized cultus which represents the destructive potencies of nature through Moloch, as witchcraft goes hand in hand with the devil among the old Germans.” Knobel holds that the Moloch-worship is “placed here at the very beginning of this enumeration as the worst kind of idolatry, out of which these dark arts are born.” The descriptive term chosen, עָבַר Hiph., reminds us significantly of the venerable national name “Hebrews,” (Deuteronomy 15:12) and may at the outset call attention to the opposition between all such conduct and the national consciousness. The act was purificatory (a consecration). See Art. Moloch, Herz.Enc., IX., p. 717. [But also Smith’sBib. Dict., Art. Moloch, in which the expiatory nature of the rite is defended.—A. G.]. Comp. Keil upon Leviticus 18:21. The general designation for soothsayer is קָֹסַם, to divide, decide, give an oracle; a pun upon כֹּזֵב liar, Ezekiel 13:6. Comp. Joshua 13:22. Observer—according to Meierענן to cover, hence of secret discourses; the whispering magician. According to others (Schultz) from עָנַן thick cloud: cloud interpreter, or from עַיִן (eye) either one who fascinates through an evil eye, or one who observes signs, an Augur (Leviticus 19:26) Enchanter—נָחַשׁ agrees well with serpent, as significant of its movements. The serpent is נָחַש from its thrusting, piercing bite, according to the primitive signification of the verb, which is not as Keil, to hiss, but to press, to seize, and hence inwardly to forebode, conceive, to understand by signs, Genesis 44:5; Numbers 24:1; Numbers 23:23. Hence well used here for sign interpreter. Comp. Hengst.Balaam, p. 122 sq. Witch—כָשׁף to divide, unveil, (Meier), the adjurer. Deuteronomy 18:11. Charmer—binding or making fast through magic, without, however, thinking of magic knots (Keil); as fascinare, κατάδησμος. אֹוב is the spirit ghost, not as turning back, but as drawing back, returning, shade (Sept.: Ventriloquist from the hollow tone [“bottle”]). One who possesses a kind of power over spirits, so that he needs only to ask or inquire. Leviticus 19:31; Leviticus 20:6; Leviticus 20:27; 1 Samuel 28:7 sq. Wizard, a prudent, cunning man (as the wise woman). Lastly, one who seeks from the dead, i.e., cites, adjures them. Deuteronomy 18:12. Comp. Leviticus 18:24 sq.; Leviticus 20:23. A resumption of Deuteronomy 18:9. Deuteronomy 18:13. As the abomination from תָעַב to retire, withdraw, so תָּמִים from תָּמַם to shut up, bring together; thus as opposed to each other. God must withdraw Himself from that, and Israel should cleave together with Jehovah. The perfect, entire dependence upon Him distinguishes the people of God from the heathen. Deuteronomy 18:14; Deuteronomy 9:1. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 18:10. Not so does Israel hearken, should it hearken, or need to hearken. Upon the “gift” rests the duty; that granted, this is conceded. Deuteronomy 18:15 carries out perfectly that already given, through that which is now first to be given, and indeed in a parallel manner (Deuteronomy 18:18) with the king, Deuteronomy 17:15 : from the midst of thee, by which also in opposition to Deuteronomy 18:9 it is said, that Israel would have no occasion to stray into heathenism, and would not need any Balaam. For נָבִיאComp. Doct. and Eth., Deuteronomy 13:1. As in Deuteronomy 17:14 the discourse is of the kingdom, so here of the prophetic order as it ever and always through a prophet (not one only) corresponds to the necessity made so clear at Sinai, and to the desire of the people. Of thy brethren, connected with thee in the closest manner; thy duty his, and thy sorrow his sorrow, etc. Like unto me. This is not explained by from the midst of thee, scarcely to fix the limits towards the heathen divination, but becomes clear through what follows, from which it is clear also, that the comparison is not as to the peculiar personality of Moses in the individuality of his revelation, (Deuteronomy 34:10), but only as to what he had done and had been at Sinai at the request of Israel (As I am one such), Lange, Pos. Dog., p. 609. It is the promise “of a line of prophets, which is embraced in the prophet, who is the counterpart of Moses.” Typical and Messianic, John 1:45; John 6:14; John 4:25; John 5:44 sq.; Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37; Luke 24:19. See Doctrinal and Ethical.—Will raise up, with reference to Deuteronomy 13:2. Also: Unto him ye shall hearken, in allusion to Deuteronomy 13:4 and Deuteronomy 18:14 (Matthew 17:5). Deuteronomy 18:16. God through this promise granted the desire of the people, which, after the departure of Moses, would become a necessity. Comp. upon Deuteronomy 5:20 sq.; Deuteronomy 9:10; Deuteronomy 10:4.Deuteronomy 18:17. Comp. Deuteronomy 5:25.Deuteronomy 18:18. Moses already at that time received the promise, but announces it here first, because, in its personal reference to Moses (Introd. § 4, I. 16), the right point of time was now first reached with his approaching departure, and thus in Deuteronomy. The import of the as me, Deuteronomy 18:15, gives now the explanation of as thee, 1) the mediated word of God, as through Moses, God no longer speaking directly to the people: thus far the preparation (the divine inspiration, Numbers 23:5); 2) the unconditional certainty of the word: thus now the legitimation, the official character. To the office so legitimated a corresponding conduct is due on the part of Israel, Deuteronomy 18:19, which indeed follows already from the fact that Israel had asked such a mediation at Sinai (Deuteronomy 18:16). Moses thus shows how the true prophet will speak the words of Jehovah given into his mouth, namely, simply give them again, not perhaps to conceal the threatening by the promise, but speak all that is given him by the Lord. דָרַשׁ, literally, to reclaim, as out of the hand of the doer (Genesis 9:5), thus here מֵעִמּו, de chez-lui. With regard to the prophetic order promised, something is given over to Israel, and indeed to every individual, which he has with him, of which he is conscious, and as to which Jehovah demands the proper use, the fitting honor or obedience, but in case this fails, then calls to account, demands restitution and satisfaction through punishment, and in this way reclaims that which was given from the disobedient.—[See Acts 3:23, in which the apostle brings out more fully than even the Sept.: I will take vengeance, the full meaning of these words. It is equivalent to the “highest theocratical punishment, that of excision from the chosen people.” See Alexanderin loco.—A. G.]—But still the prophet must be legitimated according to Deuteronomy 18:18, and hence the resumption, Deuteronomy 18:20, of the words in question, and (Deuteronomy 17:12-13) the declared penalty on account of the flagrant offence in two cases. Finally we have the criterion of the false prophet in the first case. Deuteronomy 18:21-22. In a prophet of false gods, the thing announced (Deuteronomy 13:3) may happen; in the false prophet of Jehovah, the first case, Deuteronomy 5:20, tho non-occurrence gives the criterion. Fear, horror, hence forbearance, were possible on account of the name of Jehovah, in which the prophet spake.


1. Comp. Doct. and Esther 2:0, upon Deuteronomy 1:6 to Deuteronomy 4:40.

2. “The necessity for a king is the necessity for a head, who embracing the entire external, natural and civil community in his person, might be able to defend and regulate. As soon as Israel, from its beginnings fixed by God, had grown into an actual nation, it so developed itself, that it must have a natural head, and thus preserve its perfectly free organic form (Genesis 17:6; Genesis 17:16; Genesis 35:11; Genesis 36:31; Numbers 23:21; Numbers 24:7; Numbers 24:17). The king is the natural manifestation of the perfectly free and independent man. Is there a true king in Israel, then Israel must be perfectly free and independent; for it lies in the very nature of the king that his perfection is not for himself; he must permit his whole fulness to flow out over his people. Hence the true king is the completion of the freedom, and generally of the history of Israel.” Baumgarten.

3. The kingdom and the prophetic order are parallel developments of the future in Israel, as they appear also in this section. They represent the two extreme points of the Israelitish national life, the most external and inward sides of that life, which have their reconciliation in the high-priesthood. The distinction between the kingly and prophetic order, growing into an opposition, is a tragic element in the future history of Israel. It must be so that the Scripture may be fulfilled, although first of all the bare variance of the offices which circumscribe the nationality of Israel, kindles the ever-burning desire after that which should unite them all and the whole Israelitish nationality in itself.
4. “The prophetic order is not made superfluous or unnecessary through the revelation of the law; but the path for it is thus opened.” Schullz. “Moses foresaw that Israel through disobedience, thus through the great deep of dissolution, would break through all the strength of the ordinances established by the law.” Baumgarten. For the insufficiency of the “judges and king, the priests and Levites,” Schultz appeals to “that transition to more settled relations now in prospect,” according to Deuteronomy 17:14, to the “elders of the people” (Deuteronomy 4:25), to the approaching “error and apostacy (chap. 31),” the threatened “seducing through the false prophets (Deuteronomy 13:2; Deuteronomy 18:20),” “the restoration according to Deuteronomy 4:29; Deuteronomy 30:1 sq. It becomes the pure, fundamental spiritual power of the word” (Baumgarten), and indeed of the authentic word, “which the Lord speaks,” to lead over, preserve, and help, and heal. But to these representatives of God, who keep the revelation of God continually present and living, for the special necessities of the time, and indeed in intelligible words, who thus literally deserve the name of parental teachers, a fitting, natural reverence shown through obedience, is due, which is no more to be rendered upon the mere authority derived from the revelation of the law, but upon the original force of the continuously efficient word” (Schultz).

5. “As nature preserves its consecration to the divine service and its sacred functions for the existence of the divine kingdom in the cultus, so history in the promise” (Beck, Christl. Lehrn. I. 398). The “gradually unfolding and organically united promises” marking the secret advance of the history of salvation which should come from the Jews, down to its consummation, are the building-stones of the temple in which humanity shall worship the Father, as they, the promises, form the mystical body of the Messiah before the Word was made flesh. Comp. Lange’s Pos. Dogm., the thoughtful, § 67, and upon Gen., p. 247 sq. The promise of salvation in the progress of the centuries from its general, human, real character, arrives in Abraham and Isaac at the cradle of the people, advances to the popular national character of its organs in Jacob from whom the tribes spring, to its tribal distinction in Moses, the prophet-prince, representing the whole economy of God, in whom thus centres, not as in the seed of Eve the simple idea of the human race, nor as in the patriarchs the idea of the people, nor as in Judah the idea of the tribe, but the idea of the divine civil officer (Hebrews 3:5), appears here in the divine civil service, centralizing itself in the personality of Moses as the bearer of the future salvation.” Beck.

6. As to the Messianic character of the passage, Deuteronomy 18:15; Deuteronomy 18:18, as “the promise of God is mediated and introduced through the condition and character of men, it is the fore-announcement of the future as it is contained in the germ of the present” (Lange). The “constellation of the present” does not proclaim the necessity for a second Moses. For without regarding the general historical law, according to which so comprehensive a genius does not soon repeat itself, only an Elisha follows an Elijah, the stand-point of the law rules still in Deuteronomy, fixes the institution, determines the arrangement, ordains the officers (Intro. 4, I. 16), for the peculiar historical, national development of Israel in Canaan, in which individual personalities must first form and mould themselves. Joshua is the personal deputy of Moses truly, but in limited, specific labors. For the present there was no need for the individual further, but for the condition in which the essential mediation of Moses, the prophetic, might be sown by God as a fruitful seed which should ever put forth personalities until the last, whom they all together typify, and who fulfils them perfectly in himself (1 Peter 1:11). With this agrees the singular form of the promise here, and the express comparison with Moses as it is actually and historically explained, Deuteronomy 18:16 sq. The latter explanation especially, which must give the limitation to the “as I,” “as thee,” opposes every exposition which emphasizes the peculiar method of Moses in a wider (Havernick8) (Hofmann9), or a narrower sense (Kurtz,10 Auberlen, Tholuck. The typico-Messianic interpretation agrees best, both with the letter, and with the development of the Old Testament promise of the Messiah generally, and with the Mosaic time especially. In the latter reference Lange calls attention “to the completion of the prophecy of Moses through that of Balaam.” as Melchisedec appears by the side of Abraham. Balaam (Numbers 24:17) predicts the glory and the power of the kingdom out of Jacob—Israel. Thus the earlier (3) hinted distinction between the kingdom and the prophetic order is characteristically personified in the two prophets. The typical priesthood, as it is contained in the priestly royal Israel (Exodus 19:6) comes first into view, Deuteronomy 33:0. A direct reference to the Messiah must moreover lead beyond the likeness to Moses, indeed to an opposition with him, into which even Kurtz and Schultz fall (Isaiah 42, 49, 50, 61). [See also and with reference to these same passages, Alexander on Isa., Vol. II., Introduction. While it is true that the promise runs parallel with the history in its progress, and is more or less determined by the condition and circumstances of men, this does not lie against the direct Messianic interpretation of this passage. It is not Messianic only in its germ-like character, unfolding itself through the long line of prophets until it reaches perfection in him who is the prophet. It has evidently from the connection in which it stands, on the one hand, opposed to the magic arts which the people were to shun, and on the other to the false prophets; and from the necessities of the people of God, after the departure of Moses, a distinct reference to that line of prophets, who were all like unto Moses so far as this, that God “put his words into their mouth.” But its main reference is to Christ. The New Testament constantly so represents it, Acts 3:22-23; Acts 7:37; John 1:19; John 4:25; Luke 11:50-51; Matthew 17:5. The earlier Jewish expositors all applied the passage to the Messiah, and the great body of Christian commentators so explain it; only they do not make this its exclusive meaning. The question whether Moses understood his prophecy as thus pointing out the person of the Messiah has nothing to do with its interpretation. The prophets sometimes uttered what they did not fully understand, and they were often perhaps more distinctly conscious of the scope and meaning of the prophecies than we are disposed to admit. But it is clear that this question, whatever view may be held in regard to it, has no real bearing upon the exegesis. That must be settled upon other grounds. Nor is it of any weight against the direct Messianic interpretation, that Christ is in so many respects unlike Moses, greater than Moses, or even provided he is like unto him in this, that as a prophet he stands between men and God, and speaks the words of God, John 8:28. But if there is nothing in the person who speaks this prophecy, nor in the time at which it was uttered, nor in the immediate connection in which it stands, nor in its general relation to the whole progressive unfolding of the promise of salvation, inconsistent with the direct reference to the Messiah, if all these are much more in favor of that reference, as might be shown, then the passages in the New Testament which expressly apply it to Christ would seem to leave no room to doubt that this is the correct view.—A. G.]


Deuteronomy 16:18 sq. Luther: “Thou seest here that God Himself administers His own law, ordains judges, etc. Thou seest also what a disposition a judge must have, viz. that he must overcome all lusts and the enticements of fear, love, favor, compassion, of avarice, expectation, reputation, life and death, and prefer simply the simplest truth and righteous judgment. How will he look to God alone, if the heart has not been made strong by faith? A very difficult, rare and exalted thing, is a single and righteous eye in a judge, and men without avarice are rare birds, rarer than a black swan.” [Still they are found. Luther’s experience led him to a severe judgment. But it is sad to think that there is so much ground for the severity.—A. G.]

Deuteronomy 17:1. Starke: “In collections we should give good and not uncurrent coin.” Deuteronomy 17:2. Luther: “He well says: wickedness in the sight of the Lord, for nothing is fairer, better, more sacred in the sight of men, than idolatry, godlessness, dissimulation, and a careful appearance of reverence.” Deuteronomy 17:4. Berl. Bib.: “No connivance, but also no reception of every accusation as true, without investigation.” Deuteronomy 17:12. Richter: “How strictly God requires obedience to rulers and overseers.” Deuteronomy 17:15. Piscator: “The great virtues of a Christian ruler: he must be a brother, care for the common good, have a compassionate heart, and thus not cause the severe punishments and service of a foreign ruler; he must not hold too splendid a court, nor use too great expense, not rely upon his power, strength, wealth, etc., and thus without the utmost need, from pride and haughtiness cause war; he must not be hindered in his administration by pleasure, idleness, and the like; he must not from avarice burden his subjects, and occasion sin in the magistrates: above all he must diligently read the word of God for himself, that he may not be led away from the light by unchristian theologians, study humility as a man among men, direct his whole administration by the will of God.” Baumgarten: “It was the last stubborn act of the Egyptian king, that he with his chariots pursued the defenceless Israel (Exodus 14:6 sq.; 23), but even in this his pride, with his chariots and riders, sank in the depths of the sea (Exodus 14:25 sq.; Deuteronomy 15:2; Deuteronomy 15:4; Deuteronomy 15:18) and thus completed the separation between Israel and Egypt.” Starke: “Kings and lords are for the people, not the reverse.” Deuteronomy 17:16. Wurth. Bib.: “Great lords have also their laws.” Starke: “He is the richest king who has the richest subjects.” The Bible the best glass for rulers—Judgment and dominion have their roots in righteousness (Deuteronomy 16:12) and faithfulness (Deuteronomy 17:16 sq.).

Deuteronomy 18:1 sq. Baumgarten: “Not merely in the arrangement of the camp, but in the abode in the promised land, Levi appears as the innermost and spiritual Israel, since Levi has no inheritance in the land, but as if a quickening spirit is scattered through all the tribes in his cities.” Schultz: “As they lose their position they gain in the Lord ideally the possession of the whole.” Starke: “Christians, for the sake of Christ, must cheerfully forego all temporal things lying against their eternal inheritance in heaven.” Piscator: “The servants of the church and school should not be burdened with care for their support.” [Wordsworth: “A memento for the priesthood in every age of the Church, that they be not entangled with the affairs of this life.”—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 18:6. Piscator: “The way should not be barred to any one, but whoever desired to serve the Lord, to study the law, and learn the will of God, should be permitted to do so, should be helped on his way, and be provided with everything necessary.” Deuteronomy 18:9. Starke: “A Christian at a godless place should not follow the people there in wickedness, 1 Peter 4:1 sq.” Deuteronomy 18:10-14. Berl. Bib.: “The believer should seek after the wisdom which is from above. James 3:17. (Colossians 2:8).” Baumgarten: “In the general uncertainty and perplexity of life, and the shortsightedness of men, even the heathen desires a divine word. Thus they turn in various ways to the spirits of nature, but which make themselves known as the gods of the dead, and are an abomination in the eyes of the living and good God.” [The intense desire to know what is future or unseen leads men now to resort to these modes of divination. Wordsw.: “These abominable sins have even found an entrance, and a welcome, into the saloons of the cities of Christendom, comp. Revelation 21:8.”—A. G.]. Deuteronomy 18:15. Luther: “This is the most renowned passage of this book, and Moses introduces it here in the most fitting way when he was speaking of the priesthood, the authorities, and of all the servants of God.” Baumgarten: “Israel was to receive the divine word in extraordinary cases in a purely human and historical way. The mediation of Moses, the type of the prophets of Israel, to whom he attributes the same originality. Even the dead synagogue had such an idea of the originality and independence of the prophetic word, that it is a sentence of the Talmud,” (Maimonides on the Mischna). “In all that the prophet says to thee you should hearken to him, even if he oversteps the law, the service of idols excepted.” Piscator: “A glorious testimony by Moses to Christ, the chief of all the prophets.” Rissler: “Moses a type of Christ in the circumstance of his life, and his pre-eminence in his office. Moses at his birth in great danger of being destroyed, as the other children, at the command of the king; the child Jesus was to be killed soon after His birth, with the other children, at the command of Herod. Moses through his foster-mother kept in life; Jesus rescued from the danger of death through His foster-father. When Moses came to the help of his oppressed brethren they thrust him from them (Acts 7:25); Jesus came to His own, but they received Him not, John 1:11. Moses was, notwithstanding, the redeemer of his people; Jesus has redeemed men from the service of Satan and sin, and brought His spiritual Israel into the liberty of the children of God. Hebrews 2:14 sq.; John 8:36. Moses was the mediator of the Old Covenant, Jesus of the New Testament. Hebrews 8:5 sq.; Deuteronomy 9:15 sq. Moses with his zeal, placed himself in the breach for his people. Exodus 32:22 sq.; Jesus was actually cut off from the land of the living. Isaiah 53:8. Moses is the only person who united in himself, as long as he lived, the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices; Jesus is the only teacher, high-priest, and King of His Church eternally. Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant; Jesus as a Son over His own house. Even the contrast between the office of the two is emphasized in 2 Corinthians 3:0.” [Wordsworth abounds in similar analogies,—A. G.]. Berl. Bib.: “As in the first four books there are four glorious types of the priestly office and work of Christ; Isaac, the passover lamb, the goat on the day of atonement, and the brazen serpent; so now of his prophetic office.” Piscator: “The distinction between Moses and Christ: 1) In person: Moses a poor sinful man; Christ a true man without sin. 2) In doctrine: Moses taught the law which no man can bear; Christ preaches the Gospel to troubled hearts. John 1:18. John 1:3) In their benefits: Moses an earthly ruler could not destroy sin and death; Christ is the true Mediator. 1 Timothy 2:5.” [See also Henry, Scott, Calvin, for further practical hints.—A. G.].


*[Deuteronomy 16:21. Lit., Thou shalt not plant thee as an Asherah any tree. The Asherah was an image of Astarte.—A. G.].

[1][Deuteronomy 17:1. מוּם,—Sept. μῶμος—Christ is ἄμωμος, 1 Peter 1:19. Wordsworth.—A. G.].

[2][Deuteronomy 17:5. Lit., And they shall die.—A. G.].

[3][Deuteronomy 17:10. Lit., The mouth of the word which they shall declare to thee from that place, etc.—A. G.].

[4][Deuteronomy 17:15. Lit., Setting thou shalt set over thee a king of whom Jehovah thy God shall choose him.—A. G.]

[5][Deuteronomy 17:16. Lit., And Jehovah.—A. G.].

[6][Deuteronomy 18:8. Schroeder: As the margin, his sales (i.e., his saleable or sold possession) by the fathers.—A. G.].

[7][Deuteronomy 18:10. The Kosem. The word is connected with the idea of cutting, and probably means an astrologer. The Meonen, one who uses hidden arts. The Menachesh, a serpent charmer. The Mecashaphim, from a root to reveal, and thus a fortune-teller—a revealer of secrets. The Chober, one who binds, fascinates, and thus a charmer. The Shoel-Ob, probably ventriloquists, who used these arts in the pretended conversations with their familiars. See further on the significance of these names, Farrar, in Smith’s Bib. Dict. art Divination. Thomson, Land and Book, I., pp. 214, 215. —A. G.].

[8]Theol. of the O. T., p. Deu 130: “The essential identity of the contents of prophecy and the law.”

[9]Schrift. II. 1 ff. Deu 139: “The human mediation of the revelation of God in opposition to the overwhelming manifestation of God Himself.”

[10]Gesh. des A. B. II., p. Deu 522: “One entrusted with the whole house of Jehovah, conversing with God face to face.” Numbers 12:6 sq.; Deuteronomy 34:10; Hebrews 3:0.

Bibliographical Information
Lange, Johann Peter. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 16". "Commentary on the Holy Scriptures: Critical, Doctrinal, and Homiletical". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/lcc/deuteronomy-16.html. 1857-84.
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