Deuteronomy 18

Provision for Priests and Levites

1The Levitical priests
The MT places the terms “priests” and “Levites” in apposition, thus creating an epexegetical construction in which the second term qualifies the first, i.e., “Levitical priests.” This is a way of asserting their legitimacy as true priests. The Syriac renders “to the priest and to the Levite,” making a distinction between the two, but one that is out of place here.
– indeed, the entire tribe of Levi – will have no allotment or inheritance with Israel; they may eat the burnt offerings of the Lord and of his inheritance.
Of his inheritance. This is a figurative way of speaking of the produce of the land the Lord will give to his people. It is the Lord’s inheritance, but the Levites are allowed to eat it since they themselves have no inheritance among the other tribes of Israel.
Heb “he” (and throughout the verse).
will have no inheritance in the midst of their fellow Israelites;
Heb “brothers,” but not referring to actual siblings. Cf. NASB “their countrymen”; NRSV “the other members of the community.”
the Lord alone is their inheritance, just as he had told them.
3This shall be the priests’ fair allotment
Heb “judgment”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “the priest’s due.”
from the people who offer sacrifices, whether bull or sheep – they must give to the priest the shoulder, the jowls, and the stomach.
4You must give them the best of your
Heb “the firstfruits of your…” (so NIV).
grain, new wine, and olive oil, as well as the best of your wool when you shear your flocks.
5For the Lord your God has chosen them and their sons from all your tribes to stand
Smr and some Greek texts add “before the Lord your God” to bring the language into line with a formula found elsewhere (Deut 10:8; 2 Chr 29:11). This reading is not likely to be original, however.
and serve in his name
Heb “the name of the Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
6Suppose a Levite comes by his own free will
Heb “according to all the desire of his soul.”
from one of your villages, from any part of Israel where he is living,
Or “sojourning.” The verb used here refers to living temporarily in a place, not settling down.
to the place the Lord chooses
7and serves in the name of the Lord his God like his fellow Levites who stand there before the Lord. 8He must eat the same share they do, despite any profits he may gain from the sale of his family’s inheritance.
Presumably this would not refer to a land inheritance, since that was forbidden to the descendants of Levi (v. 1). More likely it referred to some family possessions (cf. NIV, NCV, NRSV, CEV) or other private property (cf. NLT “a private source of income”), or even support sent by relatives (cf. TEV “whatever his family sends him”).

Provision for Prophetism

9 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, you must not learn the abhorrent practices of those nations. 10There must never be found among you anyone who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire,
Heb “who passes his son or his daughter through the fire.” The expression “pass…through the fire” is probably a euphemism for human sacrifice (cf. NAB, NIV, TEV, NLT). See also Deut 12:31.
anyone who practices divination,
Heb “a diviner of divination” (קֹסֵם קְסָמִים, qosem qesamim). This was a means employed to determine the future or the outcome of events by observation of various omens and signs (cf. Num 22:7; 23:23; Josh 13:22; 1 Sam 6:2; 15:23; 28:8; etc.). See M. Horsnell, NIDOTTE 3:945–51.
an omen reader,
Heb “one who causes to appear” (מְעוֹנֵן, meonen). Such a practitioner was thought to be able to conjure up spirits or apparitions (cf. Lev 19:26; Judg 9:37; 2 Kgs 21:6; Isa 2:6; 57:3; Jer 27:9; Mic 5:11).
a soothsayer,
Heb “a seeker of omens” (מְנַחֵשׁ, menakhesh). This is a subset of divination, one illustrated by the use of a “divining cup” in the story of Joseph (Gen 44:5).
a sorcerer,
Heb “a doer of sorcery” (מְכַשֵּׁף, mikhashef). This has to do with magic or the casting of spells in order to manipulate the gods or the powers of nature (cf. Lev 19:26–31; 2 Kgs 17:15b–17; 21:1–7; Isa 57:3, 5; etc.). See M. Horsnell, NIDOTTE 2:735–38.
11one who casts spells,
Heb “a binder of binding” (חֹבֵר חָבֶר, khover khaver). The connotation is that of immobilizing (“binding”) someone or something by the use of magical words (cf. Ps 58:6; Isa 47:9, 12).
one who conjures up spirits,
Heb “asker of a [dead] spirit” (שֹׁאֵל אוֹב, shoel ov). This is a form of necromancy (cf. Lev 19:31; 20:6; 1 Sam 28:8, 9; Isa 8:19; 19:3; 29:4).
a practitioner of the occult,
Heb “a knowing [or “familiar”] [spirit]” (יִדְּעֹנִי, yiddeoniy), i.e., one who is expert in mantic arts (cf. Lev 19:31; 20:6, 27; 1 Sam 28:3, 9; 2 Kgs 21:6; Isa 8:19; 19:3).
or a necromancer.
Heb “a seeker of the dead.” This is much the same as “one who conjures up spirits” (cf. 1 Sam 28:6–7).
12Whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord and because of these detestable things
Heb “these abhorrent things.” The repetition is emphatic. For stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy, the same term used earlier in the verse has been translated “detestable” here.
the Lord your God is about to drive them out
The translation understands the Hebrew participial form as having an imminent future sense here.
from before you.
13You must be blameless before the Lord your God. 14Those nations that you are about to dispossess listen to omen readers and diviners, but the Lord your God has not given you permission to do such things.

15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you – from your fellow Israelites;
The MT expands here on the usual formula by adding “from among you” (cf. Deut 17:15; 18:18; Smr; a number of Greek texts). The expansion seems to be for the purpose of emphasis, i.e., the prophet to come must be not just from Israel but an Israelite by blood.
“from your brothers,” but not referring to actual siblings. Cf. NAB “from among your own kinsmen”; NASB “from your countrymen”; NRSV “from among your own people.” A similar phrase occurs in v. 17.
you must listen to him.
16This accords with what happened at Horeb in the day of the assembly. You asked the Lord your God: “Please do not make us hear the voice of the Lord our
The Hebrew text uses the collective singular in this verse: “my God…lest I die.”
God any more or see this great fire any more lest we die.”
17The Lord then said to me, “What they have said is good. 18I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command. 19I will personally hold responsible
Heb “will seek from him”; NAB “I myself will make him answer for it”; NRSV “will hold accountable.”
anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet
Heb “he”; the referent (the prophet mentioned in v. 18) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
speaks in my name.

20 “But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized
Or “commanded” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV).
him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die.
21Now if you say to yourselves,
Heb “in your heart.”
‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord?’
Heb “know the word which the Lord has not spoken.” The issue here is not understanding the meaning of the message, but distinguishing a genuine prophetic word from a false one.
22whenever a prophet speaks in my
Heb “the Lord’s.” See note on the word “his” in v. 5.
name and the prediction
Heb “the word,” but a predictive word is in view here. Cf. NAB “his oracle.”
is not fulfilled,
Heb “does not happen or come to pass.”
then I have
Heb “the Lord has.” See note on the word “his” in v. 5.
not spoken it;
Heb “that is the word which the Lord has not spoken.”
the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.”

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