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Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 18

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



The Lord is the priests’ and Levites’ inheritance. Deuteronomy 18:1,Deuteronomy 18:2.

Their due from the people, Deuteronomy 18:3-5.

A Levite’s portion that came to serve voluntarily, Deuteronomy 18:6-8.

All unlawful arts prohibited, Deuteronomy 18:9-14.

Christ is promised, whom they must hearken to, Deuteronomy 18:15-19.

False prophets threatened, Deuteronomy 18:20.

The mark of a false prophet, Deuteronomy 18:21,Deuteronomy 18:22.

Verse 1

The offerings of the Lord made by fire; by which phrase we here manifestly see that he means not burnt-offerings, which were wholly consumed by fire, and no part of them eaten by the priests; but other sacrifices, whereof part was offered to the Lord by fire, and part was allotted to the priests for their food. His inheritance, i.e. the Lord’s portion or inheritance, which God had reserved to himself, as tithes and first-fruits, and other oblations distinct from those which were made by fire; and so these two branches make up the whole of that which belonged to God, and was by him given to the Levites.

Verse 2

i.e. The Lord’s part and right, as was now said.

Verse 3

A sacrifice, to wit, a sacrifice of thanksgiving, or a peace-offering, as appears from Leviticus 7:31,Leviticus 7:33, which is ofttimes called simply a sacrifice, as Exodus 18:12; Leviticus 17:5,Leviticus 17:8; Numbers 15:3; Deuteronomy 12:27.

The shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.

Quest. How doth this agree with other texts, in which the shoulder and the breast, and those parts only, are the priest’s due, not the cheeks and maw?


1. Who shall tie God’s hands? what if he now makes an addition, and enlargeth the priest’s commons? Nothing more usual than for one scripture to supply what is lacking in another, and for a latter law of God to add to a former.

2. The breast may be here omitted, because it is comprehended under the shoulder, to which it is commonly joined, and with which it was waved before the Lord.

3. The Hebrew word here rendered maw or stomach, which was reckoned among dainties by the ancients, is not to my remembrance used elsewhere, and therefore it may have another signification, and some render it the breast, others take it for the uppermost part of the stomach, which lies under the breast.

Verse 5

To minister in the name of the Lord, i.e. either by authority and commission from him, or for his honour, worship, or service.

Verse 6

Either for any private occasions, or to sojourn there for a season, or rather with full purpose to fix his abode, and to spend his whole time and strength in the service of God, as appears by the sale of his patrimony, mentioned Deuteronomy 18:8. It seems probable that the several priests were to come from their cities to the temple by turns before David’s time, and it is certain they did so after it. But if any of them were not contented with this seldom attendance upon God in his tabernacle or temple, and desired more entirely and constantly to devote himself to God’s service there, he was permitted so to do, because this was an eminent act of piety joined with self-denial to part with those great conveniencies which he could and did enjoy in the city of his possession, and to oblige himself to more constant and laborious work about the sacrifices, &c.

Verse 8

Like portions, to wit, with their brethren who were in actual ministration; as they share with them in the work, so shall they also in the encouragements.

Beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony; though he have an estate whereby he may subsist raised by the sale of his house in his city, and his cattle, and other movables, yet you shall not upon this ground either deny or diminish their part of your maintenance. The reason of this law was, partly because he that waited on the altar ought to live by the altar; and partly because it was fit he should keep his money, wherewith he might redeem what he sold, if afterwards he saw occasion for it. Heb. besides his sales by the fathers, i.e. of that which came to him by his fathers, or, according to his fathers, or, his father’s house; and these words may be joined not with the word immediately foregoing, but with the former part of the verse, the next word coming in by a kind of parenthesis, in this manner and order,

Besides that which cometh by the sale of their goods, they shall have like portions to eat to what their brethren have, each of them eating according to his father’s house, i.e. a Gershonite shall eat with his brethren the Gershonites who are then ministering, and a Merarite with the Merarites, &c., and so there shall be no disturbance nor change in the appointed courses by their accession to the number.

Verse 10

To pass through the fire; either by a superstitious lustration or purgation, or by a cruel sacrificing of them. See Leviticus 18:21; 2 Kings 17:31; 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; Psalms 106:37; Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 19:5; Ezekiel 16:20,Ezekiel 16:21; Ezekiel 23:37-39.

That useth divination, i.e. foretelleth things secret or to come, Micah 3:11, by unlawful arts and practices.

An observer of times; superstitiously pronouncing some days good and lucky, and others unlucky, for such or such actions. Or,

an observer of the clouds or heavens, i.e. one that divineth by the motions of the clouds, by the stars, or by the flying or chattering of birds, all which heathens used to observe.

An enchanter, or, a conjecturer, that discovers hidden things by a superstitious use of words or ceremonies, by observation of water or smoke, or any contingencies, as the meeting of a hare, &c. See Poole "Leviticus 19:26".

A witch; one that is in covenant with the devil, and by his help deludes their senses, or hurts their persons. See Exodus 7:11; Exodus 22:18.

Verse 11

A charmer; one that charmeth serpents or other cattle, Psalms 58:5; or, a

fortune-teller, that foretelleth the events of men’s lives by the conjunctions of the stars, &c. See Poole "Leviticus 19:31"; See Poole "Leviticus 20:6".

A consulter with familiar spirits, whom they call upon by certain words or rites to engage them in evil designs.

A wizard, Heb. a knowing or cunning man, who by any superstitious or forbidden ways undertakes the revelation of secret things:

A necromancer; one that calleth up and inquireth of the dead, 1 Samuel 28:8; Isaiah 8:19.

Verse 12

The people of the land which thou art going to possess, mentioned above, Deuteronomy 18:9.

Verse 13

Sincerely and wholly his, seeking him and cleaving to him and to his word alone, and therefore abhorring all commerce and conversations with devils or their agents, such as were now mentioned.

Verse 14

Hath not suffered thee to follow thy own vain mind, and these superstitions and diabolical practices, as he hath suffered other nations to do, Acts 14:16, but hath instructed thee better by his word and Spirit, and thereby kept thee from such courses, and will more fully instruct thee by a great Prophet, &c. Or, hath not given to thee, to wit, such persons to consult with, but hath given thee prophets to instruct thee, and will in due time give thee an eminent Prophet, as it here follows.

Verse 15

Will raise up, i.e. will produce and send into the world in due time.

A Prophet: those words may be understood secondarily concerning the succession of prophets which God would raise for the instruction of his church, both because this is alleged as an argument why they need not consult with diviners, &c., because they should have prophets at hand whensoever it was needful to advise them, and because this Prophet is opposed to the false prophet; and a general rule is hereupon given for the discovery of all succeeding prophets, whether they be true or false, Deuteronomy 18:20-22; but they are chiefly to be understood of Christ, as the following words show, which do not truly and fully agree to any other; particularly where he is said to be

like unto Moses, which is simply denied concerning all other prophets, Deuteronomy 34:10, and therefore it is not probable that it should be simply affirmed concerning all true prophets succeeding him. But Christ was truly, and in all commendable parts, like him, in being both a Prophet and a King, and a Priest and Mediator, as Moses was, in the excellency of his ministry and work, in the glory of his miracles, in his familiar and intimate converse with God, &c. And this place is expounded of Christ alone by God himself in the New Testament, Acts 3:22; Acts 7:37. See also John 1:45; John 6:14.

Verse 16

In the day of the assembly, to wit, of that great and general congregation of all the people together.

Verse 18

Will put my words in his mouth; will instruct him what to say, reveal myself and my will to him.

He shall speak unto them all that I shall command him; he will faithfully execute the office and trust I commit him.

Verse 19

i.e. I will punish him severely for it, as this phrase is taken, Genesis 9:5; Genesis 42:22. The sad effect of this threatening the Jews have felt for above sixteen hundred years together.

Verse 22

If the thing follow not; which he gives as a sign of the truth of his prophecy. He means the prediction of some strange and wonderful event, as appears by comparing this with Deuteronomy 13:1,Deuteronomy 13:2.

The Lord hath not spoken: the falsehood of his prediction shows him to be a false prophet, though the truth and accomplishment of his prediction had not proved him to be a true prophet, as is evident from Deuteronomy 13:2,Deuteronomy 13:3.

Presumptuously; impudently ascribing his own vain and lying fancies to the God of truth.

Thou shalt not be afraid of him, i.e. of his predictions or threatenings, so as to be scared from doing thy duty in bringing him to deserved punishment.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 18". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/deuteronomy-18.html. 1685.
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