Click here to join the effort!
Divinations are forbidden, a prophet is promised, whom they are enjoined to obey: they are commanded to put false prophets to death, and a sign is given whereby to discern them.
Before Christ 1451.
Ver. 1. They shall eat the offerings of the Lord made by fire— Not the burnt-offerings, for these were wholly consumed upon the altar; but all other offerings, of which a share was appointed for the priests. See Numbers 9:10; Numbers 9:23.
Ver. 3. From them that offer a sacrifice— These words may be rendered, This shall be the priest's due from those who slay an animal: for the original word signifies no more than to kill an animal. Genesis 43:16. See Calmet and Ainsworth. Philo, Josephus, and many others, understand this of beasts slain for food in their several towns, not for sacrifice; for as to animals offered in sacrifice, only the breast and the right shoulder are to be given to the priests, but not a word is said of the two cheeks and the maw, by which is thought to be meant the stomach, particularly the lower stomach. According to naturalists, animals which chew the cud have four ducts through which the aliments are conveyed into the intestines, whereof the fourth and lowest, which is called in Greek, η νευστρον eneustron, and in Latin, omasum, is the fattest, and accounted by the ancients a great dainty.
Ver. 5. To stand to minister— An expression which indicates the posture in which the priests were to officiate, and their assiduity in the discharge of their functions. The expression, in the name of the Lord, signifies, by his appointment, and for his service. See Outram de Sacrif. lib. i. c. 6.
Ver. 6-8. And if a Levite— i.e. One of the tribe of Levi, whether priest or Levite: Shall come with all the desire of his mind; i.e. with a sincere desire to consecrate himself entirely to the service of the sanctuary, and to fix his abode in the same place with the sanctuary; then he shall minister in the name of the Lord, ver. 7 or, he shall minister to the name of the Lord, as in the LXX; i.e. he shall continually attend at the altar, to perform the service of the sanctuary, as the other priests do in their courses. This was the case with Samuel. And they shall have like portions to eat, ver. 8 that is, the rest of the priests who wait at the altar shall allow such person the same portion which they themselves have in the sacrifices. Willing to engage the ministers of religion to consecrate themselves entirely to the functions of the ministry, Moses here determines, upon the whole, that all those who hereafter should come to fix themselves entirely at the house of the Lord, should be treated absolutely upon the same footing with their colleagues, associated with them in their functions and emoluments. Beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony means, beside what personal estate he had gotten himself, or was left him by his relations, and which was to be sold for his use; for, though the priests had no share in the land of Canaan given them at the division of that country, yet they might purchase houses, goods, and cattle, and sometimes land too; as we read that Abiathar had fields of his own at Anathoth; 1Ki 2:26 and the prophet Jeremiah, who was also a priest, purchased a field of his uncle's son. Jeremiah 32:7-8.
REFLECTIONS.—Provision is made for the support of a godly ministry. 1. They were to have no inheritance among their brethren, nor any worldly care to draw them off from attending to the duties of their function. God was to be their portion; and they who have his love in time, and the hope of his glory in eternity, need not wish a greater. Note; A worldly-minded priest is a scandal to his profession, and a living lie. Not that they should want a competency, though they were debarred from getting gain by agriculture or commerce. As servants at God's altar, they had a part of every sacrifice for their maintenance; and the first-fruits of the corn and wine and the fleece of the sheep were given them, that they might have both food and raiment sufficient for them. Note; He that loves God's altar, will never grudge a liberal contribution to support those who are chosen of God to minister before him. Whom God honours, we must honour. 2. If a Levite, from a holy zeal for God's service, desired out of his course to go up and serve at the altar, he might, and share the work and wages with his brethren there: for, in settling a certain number alway, to minister, no exclusion was put on those who voluntarily offered themselves. Note; Besides the generally established service, a zealous minister will delight to be employed for God, out of common seasons, as well as in season; and, though his colder brethren may count this step irregular, God will regard it as highly commendable.
Ver. 10. Or that useth divination— The Hebrew is קסמים קסם kesem kesamim, divining divinations; which may signify, either divination by lots, after the manner of the sortes Praenestinae, sortes Dodoneae, and others among the Greeks and Romans, or divination by arrows, the ancient βελομαντεια, of which see Ezekiel 21:22. The manner of it was, by inscribing upon several arrows the names of the cities which they were to attack, and, after mixing of the arrows together, one was drawn at a venture, which presented the name of the city to be attacked first. Something of this kind of divination still prevails among the Mahometans. See Sale's Introduction to the Koran, D'Herbelot's Bibliotheque Orientale, under the word ACDATT, and Pococke in his notes upon Abulfarage, p. 327, 328. There was another horrible kind of divination among the heathens, formed upon the inspection of the entrails of human victims. . See Gensius de victim. human. c. 21 and Jeremiah 27:9-10.
An observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch— See Leviticus 19:26. An enchanter, מנחשׁ menachesh, is thought to signify one who uses divination by means of serpents; (נחשׁ nachash, in the Hebrew, signifying a serpent,) of which kind we have many instances in the heathen poets, particularly Homer and Virgil; see Bochart, Hieroz. lib. i. p. 1. c. 3. Though, as diviners by serpents are mentioned in the next verse, it is not improbable, that this word may allude to that sort of diviners who formed their auguries upon the flight of birds, the motion of clouds, the bowels of animals, &c. The verb נחשׁ nachesh, in the Hebrew, signifies to view, observe attentively, and so, to use auguries. The LXX renders it by οιωνιζομαι ; the Vulgate by augurari. See Parkhurst on the word. Respecting the word witch, see Exodus 7:11.
Ver. 11. Or a charmer— in the Hebrew חבר חבר chober chober, jungens junctionem. The word חבר chober, says Parkhurst, signifies to charm, or, by pretended incantations, to collect serpents, and other noxious animals together, without harm: thus Buxtorf, Psalms 58:5. A passage from the author of The conformity of the East Indians with the Jews, and other ancient nations, ch. 28: may throw some light on the subject: "Their enchantments, or at least such as I have had any knowledge of, have not very much in them, and extend no farther than to the taking of adders, and making them dance to the music of a flute. They have several kinds of adders, which they keep in baskets; these they carry about from house to house, and make them dance whenever any body will give them money. When any of these reptiles get into the houses or gardens, the people employ these Indians to drive them out; who have the art to bring them to their feet by the sound of their flutes, and by singing certain songs; after which they take them up by handfuls, without receiving the least hurt." To which he adds, from the Ceremonies and Religious Customs of all Nations, vol. 3: p. 268 the following note: "As to serpents, it is very probable, that they may be delighted with musical sounds, and that the whole enchantment of the Bramins may centre there. Baldeus, author of the Description of Coromandel in Dutch, relates, that he himself was an eye-witness to this conjuration with serpents.—The Psylli and Thessalians also, amongst the ancients, pretended to enchant serpents, and to handle them without receiving any hurt." Nor was the effect of music on serpents unknown to the Romans. Thus Virgil:
Frigidus in pratis cantando rumpitur anguis. The torpid snake by incantation bursts. ECOLOG. 8.
Silius Italicus, speaking of the Marmarides, a people of Africa, says,
Ad quorum cantus serpens oblita veneni, Ad quorum cantus mites jacuere cerastae.
Their song divests the serpent of his sting, The fell cerastes by their song's disarm'd.
The reader would do well to consult, on this curious subject, the learned Bochart, vol. 3: p. 385, & seq.
Or a consulter with familiar spirits,—or a necromancer— Familiar spirit; Hebrew ob, rendered the spirit of Pytho. Ob originally signifies a bottle, and thereupon is taken for that spirit which speaks out of the womb of the Pythoness. The woman is called esheth-baalath: and ob, is rendered by the LXX a woman that speaks out of her belly. Maimonides says, she who was initiated held in her hand a myrtle wand, and received suffumigations; and R. Ab. Ben-David, that these rites were usually performed at some dead man's tomb. This and the other divinations mentioned here were those in use among the Chaldeans, comprehended under the general name of Mecathphim. Houbigant renders this very properly, qui consulat Pythones, "one who consults Pythos;" concerning which, see Leviticus 19:31. A necromancer is rendered, very justly, by Dr. Waterland, one who consults the dead; a superstitious practice, which was performed by visiting the graves in the night, and there lying down, and muttering certain words with a low voice; by which means they pretended to have communion with the dead by dreams, or by the dead appearing to them. See Isaiah, chap. Deuteronomy 8:19 Deuteronomy 29:4. We have a remarkable instance of this in the witch of Endor, 1 Samuel 28:7. The emperor Julian is accused of practising this horrid superstition upon the bodies of young boys and girls whom he had killed to satisfy his impious curiosity, both for the consulting of their entrails, and the evoking of their souls. See Life of Julian, p. 220. These horrors were not only practised among the heathens in secret; but they had their public establishments in places consecrated to religion, where they used solemnly to evoke and consult the dead. See Herodot. lib. 5: cap. 7 and Plutarch's Life of Cimon. The Cabalists distinguish a threefold soul; one divine, and perfectly detached from the body, which they call nethama, the same as Virgil, aurai simplicis ignem: the second is the rational soul, which they call ruah; it participates of body and divinity, and unites them together: the third is wholly corporeal, a sort of image or shade, and as it were the slough of the body: this they say is sometimes visible, and wanders for a time about the sepulchre where the body is laid; and this, according to them, is what magicians and necromancers call forth by their spells. See Leonis Allat. Syntag. de Engastromytho, and Shuckford's Connection, vol. 2: p. 9.
Ver. 13. Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy God— The Hebrew word תמים tamim, which we render perfect, or entire, does especially denote here a perfection of sentiment, in respect to the point in hand. See Proverbs 28:18. It is as if Moses had said, "You shall be sincerely and unreservedly devoted to the Lord; not giving into those superstitions, which wholly obliterate the sentiments due to his majesty, and to him alone."
Ver. 15. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet, &c.— Plain as this prophecy is, it has been strangely perverted and misapplied: but it is conceived, that nothing will be wanting to the right understanding both of the prophecy and the completion, if we can shew, first, What prophet was here particularly intended. Secondly, That this prophet resembled Moses in more respects than any other person did. And, Thirdly, That the Israelites have been, and still are, severely punished for their infidelity and disobedience to this prophet.
I. Then, some have been of opinion, that Joshua was the person, from Sir 46:1 and Jos 1:17 or that Jeremiah is strongly alluded to in this prophecy; and Abarbanel, in the preface to his Commentary upon Jeremiah, reckons up fourteen particulars wherein they resemble each other; observing, that Jeremiah prophesied forty years, as did Moses. Others, more numerous, understand this of a succession of prophets; and they found their opinion upon the context: but all the favourers of these different sentiments generally agree, that the main end and ultimate scope of the prophecy was the Messiah. The passage in chap. Deu 34:10 plainly refers to this prediction, and entirely refutes the notion of Joshua's being a prophet like Moses; because it expressly asserts, that there arose not a prophet since in Israel, like unto Moses. If that passage was added after Moses's death, as it evidently was, and, as some imagine, by Joshua himself; then consequently the latter was not a prophet like unto Moses, in the general opinion. If the addition was made at some considerable distance of time after the death of Moses, as the words themselves imply; there arose not a prophet SINCE, &c. it will follow, that the Jewish church had no conception of a perpetual succession of prophets to be raised up like unto Moses; and, if the addition was made, as is commonly believed, by Ezra, after the Babylonish captivity, then it is evident, that neither Jeremiah, nor any of the ancient prophets, was esteemed like unto Moses. Besides, as Houbigant well observes, Joshua could not be meant, as he was then alive, whereas this prophet is spoken of in the future; I will raise. Nor was Joshua a lawgiver like unto Moses. The word is in the singular number, a prophet; and why then should we understand it of a succession of prophets, or depart from the literal construction, without any apparent necessity for it? and as the whole runs in the singular number, nobody, with the least knowledge of the Hebrew language, can imagine a succession of prophets to be meant. Other nations hearkened unto enchanters and diviners, ver. 14 but the Lord would not suffer them so to do: he had given them a better guide already, and would raise up unto them another prophet, superior to all the enchanters and diviners in the world, unto whom they should hearken. If we appeal to fact, we shall find that there never was any prophet, much less a succession of prophets, whom the Jews esteemed like unto Moses. The highest degree of inspiration is by them termed the Mosaical; and they enumerate four circumstances, in which he had the advantage of all other prophets. The claim of Jeremiah is given up by Abarbanel himself, who, in his preface to the lesser prophets, acknowledges him to be inferior to Isaiah, and in many things not to be compared to Ezekiel: but yet a prophet was to be raised up like unto Moses; and who ever resembled him in his characteristic superiority, but Jesus the Messiah? Abarbanel has a noble flight in his commentary on the lesser prophets, which limits the prophecy entirely to Christ. "He shall be exalted above Abraham, lifted up above Moses, and be higher than the angels;" and so he was, as we learn from his own words: before Abraham was, I am.
II. We are to shew how this prophet resembled Moses. Eusebius, and some modern writers, have marked out a variety of striking particulars wherein Moses and Christ resembled each other, and which are mentioned in the Reflections at the end of this chapter; but the similitude, which is the characteristic distinguishing Moses from all other prophets, must be founded in his legislative capacity; and in this quality none but Christ resembled him. It is in this sense that Eusebius explains the terms, like unto thee, when he says that they signify a second lawgiver like unto Moses; and the reason assigned in the text for sending this prophet evinces, not only that he was to be invested with this character, but that this was the great point of similitude between him and Moses. The people had requested that the divine laws might not be delivered to them in so terrible a manner: God approved their request, and promised to raise up to them a prophet like unto Moses: i.e. a lawgiver, who should deliver his commands to them in a familiar and gentle way. Now, none of the Jewish prophets were lawgivers, in all the intermediate space between Christ and Moses. I will put my words in his mouth, &c. plainly prove, says Houbigant, an extraordinary legislation, and one different from that of Moses; for, had it been ordinary, and similar to that of Moses, the people were not so much to have heard that prophet, as Moses himself. In consequence of this prophesy, there was a general expectation of some extraordinary prophet to arise, which prevailed particularly about the time of our Saviour. The Jews then, as well as since, applied this prophesy to the Messiah, the only prophet whom they will allow to be as great, or greater, than Moses. The five thousand fed by miracle in the wilderness confirm this truth. This is, of a truth, said they, that prophet which should come into the world; and St. Peter and St. Stephen directly apply this prophesy to Christ; Acts 3:22-23; Act 7:37 which they may very well be justified in doing, as he fully answers all the marks and characters given of the prophet like unto Moses. He was raised up from among their brethren; he had immediate communication with the Deity, as Moses had; he performed signs and wonders, though far greater than those of Moses; and, as we have just observed, he was a lawgiver, as well as Moses. I will raise them up a prophet, saith God;—and the people glorified God, saying, a great prophet is risen up amongst us. Luke 7:16. I will put my words in his mouth, saith God (or give my words, as it is in the Hebrew); and our Saviour says, I have given unto them the words which thou gavest me. John 17:8. Ye shall speak unto them all that I shall command, says God: and our Saviour says, I have not spoken of myself, &c. John 12:49-50.; see also ver. 46. But for more on this head, we refer to the Reflections at the end of the chapter.
III. We are to shew, that the Israelites have been, and still are, punished for their disobedience to this prophet. There is, indeed, no want of many words to prove this: it is visible to all the world: the prophesy is clear and express: unto him ye shall hearken; ver. 19 and whosoever will not hearken—I will require it of him; i.e. according to the LXX, I will severely punish him for it; the antecedent being put for the consequent. Judges first inquired, then punished. This prophesy, as we have proved above, evidently relates to Jesus Christ. God himself, in a manner, applies it to him; for when he was transfigured, Mat 17:5 the voice said, hear ye him, alluding plainly to these words of Moses, unto him shall ye hearken, and so pointing him out for the prophet like unto Moses. It shall come to pass, says St. Peter, in quoting this prophesy, that every soul which will not hear that prophet, shall be destroyed from among the people: a terrible denunciation! which we know to have been fully executed upon the Jews; and for more concerning which, we refer, as before, to the Reflections. We are principally indebted for this note to Bishop Newton's Dissert. 6: vol. 1: where the reader desirous to see more upon the subject will be satisfied; no less than by consulting Bishop Sherlock on the Use and Intent of Prophesy, Discourse 6: Bishop Chandler's Defence, chap. 6: sect. 2 and Sykes's Essay on the Christian Religion. We will just add, that there is no need to be very solicitous respecting the connection of these words. The sense of the discourse is finished and complete at the 14th verse. Moses there exhorts the Israelites to avoid the superstitions of their pagan neighbours, from a reflection on the care of God for them in every particular. Upon which occasion, recollecting the promise which God had made to the Hebrews, of a future and superlatively excellent prophet hereafter to arise and instruct them, he sets down that promise; and the affinity of the subject leads him to speak of the grand and principal rule whereby they might distinguish true prophets from false. This is all the connection which need be sought for at the end of this chapter; from an attention to which we see, that the arguments which pretend to prove from what follows this important prophesy, that not one prophet, but a succession of prophets, is meant, have no foundation at all. But those who would enter more fully into this inquiry, we refer to Dr. L. Twells's Sermons, preached at Boyle's Lecture, Serm. 10: and 11: We would only observe, that the testimony given by God to Moses, Numbers 12:0 is posterior more than a year to the promise of a prophet like unto himself.
Ver. 21, 22. If thou say in thine heart, &c.— It should be observed, that this is to be understood absolutely of an Israelitish prophet. If such a prophet spoke in the name of any other god than the God of Israel, they needed no farther mark to discover him to be an impostor, see chap. Deu 13:2 but if he came to them pretending to a commission from Jehovah, it was necessary that they should have some certain criterion, whereby to know whether his pretensions were true or false; and this is laid down in the next words; if the thing follow not, that is, the thing which the Lord hath not spoken: for though the mere fulfilling of a sign, or working of an apparent miracle, is not enough of itself to establish the belief of a false and wicked doctrine; yet, on the other hand, to pretend to miracles and predictions, and not to be able to accomplish them, is an absolute mark of an impostor. Let us observe further, that this has nothing to do with conditional predictions, especially of a menacing kind, from the Lord. See Jeremiah 18:7-9. The true meaning, therefore, seems to be, that if a prophet appealed to some miracle or future event as an absolute sign of his being sent from God, and the miracle failed, or the thing foretold did not come to pass, he was to be looked upon as an impostor. For example, when Moses, in attestation of his divine mission, threw his rod upon the ground, and said it should become a serpent; if it had not been transformed to a serpent, he would have been abundantly convicted of falsity. When it is said, be not afraid of him, the meaning is, as Maimonides has well expressed it, "be not terrified or intimidated by his former character for integrity, piety, or learning, from endeavouring to have him put to death, since he had the arrogant presumption to assert such things to be revealed by God, as he was conscious God had not revealed."
Reflections on the similarity between Christ and Moses.
Eusebius, treating of the prophesies concerning Christ, first produces this of Moses, and then asks, Which of the prophets after Moses,—Isaiah for instance, or Jeremiah, or Ezekiel, or Daniel, or any other of the twelve,—was a lawgiver, and performed things like unto Moses? Moses first rescued the Jewish nation from Egyptian superstition and idolatry, and taught them the true theology: Jesus Christ, in like manner, was the first teacher of true religion, holiness, and virtue to the Gentiles. Moses confirmed his religion by miracles; so likewise did Christ. Moses delivered the Jewish nation from Egyptian servitude; and Jesus Christ all mankind from the power of evil demons, and all that believe, from the servitude of their own evil passions. Moses promised a Holy Land, and therein a happy life, to those who kept the law; and Jesus Christ a better country, that is, a heavenly, to all righteous souls. Moses fasted forty days; so likewise did Christ. Moses supplied the people with bread in the wilderness; and our Saviour fed five thousand at one time, and four thousand at another, with a few loaves. Moses went himself, and led the people through the midst of the sea; and Jesus Christ walked on the sea, and enabled Peter to walk likewise. Moses stretched out his hand over the sea, and the Lord caused the sea to go backward; and our Saviour rebuked the wind and the sea, and there was as a great calm. Moses's face shone when he descended from the mount; and our Saviour's did shine as the sun in his transfiguration. Moses, by his prayers, cured Miriam of her leprosy; and Christ, with greater power, by a word, healed several lepers. Moses performed wonders by the finger of God; and Jesus Christ, by the finger of God, did cast out devils. Moses changed Oshea's name to Joshua; and our Saviour changed Simon's to Peter. Moses constituted seventy rulers over the people; and our Saviour appointed seventy disciples. Moses sent forth twelve men to spy out the land; and our Saviour twelve apostles to visit the nations. Moses gave several excellent moral precepts; and our Saviour carried them to the highest perfection.
Dr. Jortin, in his Remarks on Ecclesiastical History, vol. 1: p. 203, &c. has enlarged upon these hints of Eusebius, and made several improvements and additions to them: observing, that "Moses, in his infancy, was wonderfully preserved from the destruction of all the male children; so was Christ. Moses fled from his country to escape the hands of the king; so did Christ, when his parents carried him into Egypt. Afterwards, the Lord said to Moses in Midian, Go, return into Egypt; for all the men are dead which sought thy life; Exo 4:19 so the angel of the Lord said unto Joseph, in almost the same words, Arise, and take the young child, and go into the land of Israel, for they are dead which sought the young child's life, Mat 2:20 pointing him out, as it were, for that prophet who should arise like unto Moses. Moses refused to be called the son of Pharaoh's daughter, choosing rather to suffer affliction; Christ refused to be made king, choosing rather to suffer affliction. Moses, says St. Stephen, was learned, επαιδευθη, in all the wisdom of the Egyptians; and Josephus (Antiq. lib. ii. c. 9.) says, that he was a very forward and accomplished youth, and had wisdom and knowledge beyond his years: St. Luke observes of Christ, that he increased (betimes) in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man; and his discourses in the temple with the doctors, when he was twelve years old, were a proof of it. Moses contended with the magicians, who were forced to acknowledge the divine power by which he was assisted; Christ ejected evil spirits, and received the same acknowledgments from them. Moses was not only a lawgiver, a prophet, and a worker of miracles, but a king and a priest: in all these offices the resemblance between Moses and Christ was singular. Moses brought darkness over the land; the sun withdrew his light at Christ's crucifixion: and, as the darkness which was spread over Egypt was followed by the destruction of their first-born, and of Pharaoh and his host; so the darkness at Christ's death was the forerunner of the destruction of the Jews. Moses foretold the calamities which would befal the nation for their disobedience; so did Christ. The spirit which was in Moses was conferred, in some degree, upon the seventy elders, and they prophesied; Christ conferred miraculous powers upon his seventy disciples. Moses was victorious over powerful kings, and great nations; so was Christ, by the effects of his religion, and by the fall of those who persecuted his church. Moses conquered Amalek by holding up both his hands; Christ overcame his and our enemies when his hands were fastened to the cross. Moses interceded for transgressors, caused an atonement to be made for them, and stopped the wrath of God; so did Christ. Moses ratified a covenant between God and the people, by sprinkling them with blood; Christ, with his own blood. Moses desired to die for the people, and prayed that God would forgive them or blot him out of his book; Christ did more, he died for sinners. Moses instituted the passover, when a lamb was sacrificed, none of whose bones were to be broken, and whose blood protected the people from destruction; Christ was that paschal lamb. Moses lifted up the serpent, that they who looked upon it might be healed of their mortal wounds; Christ was that healing serpent. All Moses's affection towards the people, all his cares and toils on their account, were repaid by them with ingratitude, murmuring, and rebellion; the same returns did the Jews make to Christ for all his benefits. Moses was ill used by his own family; his brother and sister rebelled against him: there was a time when Christ's own brethren believed not in him. Moses had a very wicked and perverse generation committed to his care and conduct; to enable him to rule them, miraculous powers were given to him, and he used his utmost endeavour to make the people obedient to God, and to save them from ruin, but in vain; in the space of forty years they all fell in the wilderness, except two: Christ also was given to a generation not less wicked and perverse; his instructions and his miracles were lost upon them, and in about the same space of time after they had rejected him they were destroyed. Moses was meek above all men that were on the face of the earth; so was Christ. The people could not enter into the land of promise till Moses was dead; by the death of Christ the kingdom of heaven was opened to believers. In the death of Moses and Christ, there is also a resemblance in some circumstances: Moses died, in one sense, for the iniquities of the people; it was their rebellion which was the occasion of it, and drew down the displeasure of God upon them and upon him. Moses went up, in the sight of the people, to the top of mount Nebo, and there he died, when he was in perfect vigour, when his eye was not dim, nor his natural force abated; Christ suffered for the sins of men, and was led up, in the presence of the people, to mount Calvary, where he died in the flower of his age. Neither Moses nor Christ, so far as we may collect from Sacred History, were ever sick, or felt any bodily decay or infirmity, which could render them unfit for the toils they underwent; their sufferings were of another kind. Moses was buried, and no man knew where his body lay; nor could the Jews find the body of Christ. Lastly, as Moses, a little before his death, promised another prophet, so Christ another comforter."
A fruitful imagination may find out a likeness where there is none: but, as the same excellent writer concludes, "Is this similitude and correspondence in so many things between Moses and Christ the effect of mere chance? Let us search all the records of universal history, and see if we can find a man who was so like to Moses as Christ was, and so like to Christ as Moses was. If we cannot find such a one, then have we found Him, of whom Moses in the law and the prophets did write, Jesus of Nazareth, the son of God."
To corroborate this part of the prophesy, we see also the denunciation in it upon the rejecters of the Messiah remarkably fulfilled. The Jews hearkened not unto him; and have they not been eminently punished? The complete excision of that incredulous nation, soon after he had finished his ministry among them, and after his apostles had likewise preached in vain, is a remarkable completion of the threatening upon them for not hearkening to him. We may be the more certain of this application, as our Saviour himself not only denounced the same destruction, but also foretold the signs, the manner, and the circumstances of it, with a particularity and exactness that will amaze us, as we shall see in a proper place: and those of the Jews who believed in his name, by remembering the caution and following the advice which he had given them, escaped from the general ruin of their country, like firebrands plucked out of the fire. The main body of the nation either perished in their infidelity, or were carried captive into all nations; and have they not ever since, persisting in the same infidelity, been obnoxious to the same punishment, and been a vagabond, distressed, and miserable people in the earth? The hand of God was scarcely ever more visible in any of his dispensations: we must be blind not to see it; and seeing, we cannot but admire and adore it. What other probable account can they themselves give of their long captivity, dispersion, and misery? Their former captivity, for the punishment of all their wickedness and idolatry, lasted only seventy years; but they have lived in their present dispersion, even though they have been no idolaters, now these seventeen hundred years, and yet without any immediate prospect of their restoration. What enormous crime could have drawn down, and, unrepented of, doth still continue to draw down, these heavy judgments upon them? We say, that they were cut off for their infidelity, and that when they shall turn to the faith they will be grafted in again. One would think it would be worth their while to try the experiment. Sure we are, that they have long been monuments of God's justice: we believe, that upon their faith and repentance they will again become objects of his mercy, and, in the mean time, with St. Paul, (Romans 10:1.). Our heart's desire and priest to God for Israel is, that they may be saved. See Bishop Newton on the Prophecies, Dissert. 6.
These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.
Coke, Thomas. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 18". Coke's Commentary on the Holy Bible. https://www.studylight.org/
the Third Week after Epiphany