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Provision for Priests and Levites

1“The Levitical priests, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They shall eat the Lord's food offerings11Or the offerings by fire to the Lord as their22Hebrew his inheritance. 2They shall have no inheritance among their brothers; the Lord is their inheritance, as he promised them. 3And this shall be the priests' due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. 4The firstfruits of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the first fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. 5For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes to stand and minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons for all time.

6“And if a Levite comes from any of your towns out of all Israel, where he lives—and he may come when he desires33Or lives—if he comes enthusiastically—to the place that the Lord will choose, 7and ministers in the name of the Lord his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand to minister there before the Lord, 8then he may have equal portions to eat, besides what he receives from the sale of his patrimony.44The meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain

Abominable Practices

9“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. 10There shall not be found among you anyone who burns his son or his daughter as an offering,55Hebrew makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire anyone who practices divination or tells fortunes or interprets omens, or a sorcerer 11or a charmer or a medium or a necromancer or one who inquires of the dead, 12for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord. And because of these abominations the Lord your God is driving them out before you. 13You shall be blameless before the Lord your God, 14for these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to fortune-tellers and to diviners. But as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do this.

A New Prophet like Moses

15“The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brothers—it is to him you shall listen— 16just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, ‘Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God or see this great fire any more, lest I die.’ 17And the Lord said to me, ‘They are right in what they have spoken. 18I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers. And I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19And whoever will not listen to my words that he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 20But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name that I have not commanded him to speak, or66Or and who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.’ 21And if you say in your heart, ‘How may we know the word that the Lord has not spoken?’— 22when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word that the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously. You need not be afraid of him.


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De 18:1-8. The Lord Is the Priests' and the Levites' Inheritance.

1. The priests the Levites … shall eat the offerings—As the tribe of Levi had no inheritance allotted them like the other tribes but were wholly consecrated to the priestly office, their maintenance was to arise from tithes, first-fruits, and certain portions of the oblations presented on the altar, which God having by express appointment reserved to Himself made over, after being offered, to His ministers.

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

6-8. if a Levite … come with all the desire of his mind—It appears that the Levites served in rotation from the earliest times; but, from their great numbers, it was only at infrequent intervals they could be called into actual service. Should any Levite, however, under the influence of eminent piety, resolve to devote himself wholly and continually to the sacred duties of the sanctuary, he was allowed to realize his ardent wishes; and as he was admitted to a share of the work, so also to a share of the remuneration. Though he might have private property, that was to form no ground for withholding or even diminishing his claim to maintenance like the other ministering priests. The reason or principle of the enactment is obvious (1Co 9:13). At the same time, while every facility was afforded for the admission of such a zealous and self-denying officer, this admission was to be in an orderly manner: he was to minister "as all his brethren"—that is, a Gershonite with Gershonites; a Merarite with Merarites; so that there might be no derangement of the established courses.

De 18:9-14. The Abominations of the Nations Are to Be Avoided.

9-14. thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations—(See on Le 18:21; Le 19:26; Le 19:31; Le 20:4). In spite of this express command, the people of Canaan, especially the Philistines, were a constant snare and stumbling block to the Israelites, on account of their divinations and superstitious practices.

De 18:15-19. Christ the Prophet Is to Be Heard.

15-19. The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a prophet—The insertion of this promise, in connection with the preceding prohibition, might warrant the application (which some make of it) to that order of true prophets whom God commissioned in unbroken succession to instruct, to direct, and warn His people; and in this view the purport of it is, "There is no need to consult with diviners and soothsayers, as I shall afford you the benefit of divinely appointed prophets, for judging of whose credentials a sure criterion is given" (De 18:20-22). But the prophet here promised was pre-eminently the Messiah, for He alone was "like unto Moses" (see on De 34:10) "in His mediatorial character; in the peculiar excellence of His ministry; in the number, variety, and magnitude of His miracles; in His close and familiar communion with God; and in His being the author of a new dispensation of religion." This prediction was fulfilled fifteen hundred years afterwards and was expressly applied to Jesus Christ by Peter (Ac 3:22, 23), and by Stephen (Ac 7:37).

19. whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him—The direful consequences of unbelief in Christ, and disregard of His mission, the Jewish people have been experiencing during eighteen hundred years.




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