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Notes on the Bible, by Albert Barnes, [1834], at

Deuteronomy Chapter 18

Deuteronomy 18:1

deu 18:1

Better, "there shall not be to the priests, the Levites, yea the whole tribe of Levi, any inheritance, etc."

And his inheritance - i. e., God's inheritance, that which in making a grant to His people of the promised land with its earthly blessings He had reserved for Himself; more particularly the sacrifices and the holy gifts, such as tithes and first-fruits. 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. On the principle here laid down, compare Co1 9:13-14.

Deuteronomy 18:3

deu 18:3

For "maw" read stomach, which was regarded as one of the richest and choicest parts. As the animal slain may be considered to consist of three principal parts, head, feet, and body, a portion of each is by the regulation in question to be given to the priest, thus representing the consecration of the whole; or, as some ancient commentators think, the dedication of the words, acts, and appetites of the worshipper to God.

The text probably refers to peace-offerings, and animals killed for the sacrificial meals held in connection with the peace-offerings.

Deuteronomy 18:6

deu 18:6

These verses presuppose that part of the Levites only will be in residence and officiating at the place of the sanctuary, the others of course dwelling at their own homes in the Levitical cities, or "sojourning" elsewhere; compare the marginal references. But if any Levite out of love for the service of the sanctuary chose to resort to it when he might reside in his own home, he was to have his share in the maintenance which was provided for those ministering in the order of their course.

Deu 18:8

Beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony - The Levites had indeed "no part nor inheritance with Israel," but they might individually possess property, and in fact often did so (compare Kg1 2:26; Jer 32:7; Act 4:36). The Levite who desired to settle at the place of the sanctuary would probably sell his patrimony when quitting his former home. The text directs that he should, notwithstanding any such private resources, duly enjoy his share of the perquisites provided for the ministers at the sanctuary, and as he was "waiting at the altar" should be "partaker with the altar" Co1 9:13.

Deuteronomy 18:10

deu 18:10

To pass through the fire - i. e., to Moloch; compare the Lev 20:2 note.

That useth divination - Compare Num 23:23 note.

Observer of times ... enchanter - Compare Lev 19:26 note.

Witch - Rather "sorcerer," compare the Exo 7:11 note.

Deuteronomy 18:11

deu 18:11

A charmer - i. e., one who fascinates and subdues noxious animals or men, such as the famous serpent-charmers of the East Psa 58:4-5.

A consulter with familiar spirits ... a wizard - Compare Lev 19:31 note.

Recromancer - literally, "one who interrogates the dead." The purpose of the text is obviously to group together all the known words belonging to the practices in question. Compare Ch2 33:6.

Deuteronomy 18:13

deu 18:13

Perfect - As in Gen 17:1; Job 1:1; Mat 5:48. The sense is that Israel was to keep the worship of the true God wholly uncontaminated by idolatrous pollutions.

Deuteronomy 18:15

deu 18:15

The ancient fathers of the Church and the generality of modern commentators have regarded our Lord as the prophet promised in these verses. It is evident from the New Testament alone that the Messianic was the accredited interpretation among the Jews at the beginning of the Christian era (compare the marginal references, and Joh 4:25); nor can our Lord Himself, when He declares that Moses "wrote of Him" Joh 5:45-47, be supposed to have any other words more directly in view than these, the only words in which Moses, speaking in his own person, gives any prediction of the kind. But the verses seem to have a further, no less evident if subsidiary, reference to a prophetical order which should stand from time to time, as Moses had done, between God and the people; which should make known God's will to the latter; which should by its presence render it unnecessary either that God should address the people directly, as at Sinai (Deu 18:16; compare Deu 5:25 ff), or that the people themselves in lack of counsel should resort to the superstitions of the pagan.

In fact, in the words before us, Moses gives promise both of a prophetic order, and of the Messiah in particular as its chief; of a line of prophets culminating in one eminent individual. And in proportion as we see in our Lord the characteristics of the prophet most perfectly exhibited, so must we regard the promise of Moses as in Him most completely accomplished.

Deuteronomy 18:20

deu 18:20

Compare the marginal references.

Deuteronomy 18:21

deu 18:21

And if thou say in thine heart, How ... - The passage evidently assumes such an occasion for consulting the prophet as was usual among the pagan, e. g., an impending battle or other such crisis (compare Kg1 22:11), in which his veracity would soon be put to the test. Failure of a prediction is set forth as a sure note of its being "presumptuous." But from Deu 13:2 ff we see that the fulfillment of a prediction would not decisively accredit him who uttered it: for the prophet or dreamer of dreams who endeavoured on the strength of miracles to seduce to idolatry was to be rejected and punished. Nothing therefore contrary to the revealed truth of God was to be accepted under any circumstances.

Next: Deuteronomy Chapter 19