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The Law of
(14) When thou art come unto the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, and shalt possess it, and shalt dwell therein, and shalt say, I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me; (15) thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, whom the LORD thy God shall choose: one from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee: thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.
(16) But he shall not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses:
forasmuch as the LORD hath said unto
Verses 14–20. THE LAW OF THE KINGDOM. they had proposed to make a captain to return thither ; (14) When thou art come unto the land.
whom we know not, but very possibly an Egyptian. The These are not the words of a legislator who is already
chief thing dreaded by Moses was a return to Egypt, as in the land. Those who say that this law dates from
appears by the next verse. later times must be prepared to assert that this clause
(16, 17) He shall not multiply horses is expressly framed to suit the lips of Moses, and is thus
wives ... neither shall he greatly multiply far a deliberate forgery.
silver and gold. It is not a little remarkAnd shalt possess it, and dwell therein
ablo that these are the very things which Solomon did i.e., shalt complete the conquest and settle. It is not
multiply; and that under him the monarchy attained contemplated that the king would be desired imme- its greatest glory. But the prophecy avenged itself by diately after the conquest.
its literal fulfilment: “When Solomon was old I will set a king over me, like as all the
his wives turned away his heart” (1 Kings xi. 4). Yet nations.—There is an evident allusion to this phrase in
it is easier to read the words as prophecy than as later 1 Sam. viii. 20, “That we also may be like all the
history. What Israelite could have written this sentence nations.” It is noticeable that Moses in this place says
after the time of Solomon without some passing allusion nothing in disapproval of the design. In fact his words to the glories of his reign ? Compare the recorded allumight easily have been cited by the people in support of
sion in Neh. xiii. 26: "Did not Solomon, king of Israel, their proposal. Moses said we should need a king; why
sin by these things ! yet among many nations was there should we not ask for one ? Looked at this way, the
no king like him, who was beloved of his God, and God citation of the words of Deuteronomy in Samuel is per
made him king over all Israel; nevertheless even him fectly natural. The people confirm their request by pre
did outlandish women cause to sin," senting it in the very words of Moses. But if we
The question, how Solomon came to transgress these suppose (with some modern writers) that the passage in
orders, may easily be met by another-How came David Deuteronomy was constructed from that in Samuel, there to attempt the removal of the ark of God in a cart? are several difficulties–(1) Why is there no disapproval
The wealth which Solomon had is represented as the here of the plan, which Samuel so strongly disapproved? special gift of Jehovah. His many marriages may be (2) How does the writer in Deuteronomy contrive to be
partly accounted for by the fact that only one son is menso wholly unconscious either of the royal tribe, or of the
tioned, and he was born before his father became king. royal family? Precisely the same unconsciousness of
The question, “ Who knoweth whether he shall be a wise the locality of the place which Jehovah should choose
man or a fool ?” is singularly applicable to this individual. in Palestine appears in every reference to it in this
And one of the Psalms, which is by its title ascribed to book. In Moses this is perfectly natural. But that
Solomon, pursues a similar line of thought (Ps. cxxvii). any later writer should be so totally regardless of the
The caution against multiplying horses marks the claims of Judah, David, and Jerusalem, and say nothing
profound wisdom of the writer. The Israelitish in. either for or against them, is inconceivable. Samuel fantry was Israel's strength. The conquest of Canaan could hardly have written about the king without be
was entirely effected by infantry. There are not many traying disapproval of Israel's desire for him. No later
battle-fields in Canaan suited for chariots and cavalry. writer could have avoided some allusion to the choice of
An army of infantry can choose its own ground. David's family, and the promises to David's son.
(18) He shall write him a copy of this law.(15) Whom the Lord thy God shall choose . .
This phrase is the source of the Greek title of the book, from among thy brethren.- This precept seems
Deuteronomion, or in English, Deuteronomy. The word almost needless from the standpoint of later history.
appears also in Josh. viii. 32. The English conveys the As years passed by, the Israelites were less and less
right sense of the word, which primarily denotes repetempted to accept the supremacy of foreign princes.*
tition. In Hebrew it is Mishneh, the name afterwards But Moses can never have forgotten that for two-thirds
given to the "text” of the Talmud, of which the idea is of his own lifetime the Israelites had been subject
to repeat the law ; though it is a somewhat peculiar reto the kings of Egypt; and that even since the exodus petition, in which minutiæ are chiefly dealt with, and
weightier matters left out.
There are traces of this direction (1) in the corona. • But see note on chap. xxxi. 11 for an incident that illustrates the feelings
tion of Joash (2 Chron. xxiii. 11, “they gave him the
The l'ortions of the Priests,
and of the Levites.
a Num. 18. 20; ch.
to do them : (20) that his heart be not
and they shall give unto the priest the lifted up above his brethren, and that
shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the he turn not aside from the command
(4) The firstfruit also of thy corn, ment, to the right hand, or to the left:
of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the to the end that he may prolong his days
first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt in his kingdom, he, and his children,
thou give him. (5) For the LORD thy in the midst of Israel.
God hath chosen him out of all thy
tribes, to stand to minister in the name CHAPTER XVIII.—(1) The priests
of the LORD, him and his sons for ever. the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi,
(6) And if a Levite come from any of e shall have no part nor inheritance with o 1 Cor. 9. 13. thy gates out of all Israel, where he Israel: they shall eat the offerings of
sojourned, and come with all the desire the LORD made by fire, and his inherit
of his mind unto the place which the ance. (2) Therefore shall they have no
LORD shall choose; (7) then he shall inheritance among their brethren: the
minister in the name of the LORD his LORD is their inheritance, as he hath ehe paine sales God, as all his brethren the Levites do, said unto them.
which stand there before the LORD. (3) And this shall be the priest's due
(8) They shall have like portions to eat, from the people, from them that offer
beside i that which cometh of the sale a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep;
of his patrimony.
testimony; ”(2) in the reign of Jehoshaphat, who had the The shoulder is assigned to them in Lev. vii. 32, 33 Book of the Law taught to his people (2 Chron. xvii. 9); (comp. Num. xviii. 18). The “two cheeks and the and (3) in the delivery of the book when discovered in are not mentioned elsewhere, and the latter the Temple to Josiah (2 Chron. xxxiv. 18), and in the word is found in this place only. They are not a effect of the perusal of it upon that king. But it is valuable part of the sacrifice. An absurd reason for singular that we do not hear of the Book of the Law in the gift is assigned by Rashi. We know that in the time connection with David and Solomon. Possibly, as of Eli, the priests varied their requirements at pleaDavid was a prophet himself, and not only a king, it sure, and in the face of the law (see 1 Sam. ii. 13). The may be thought unnecessary to make special mention of “priests' due” here, and “the priests' custom” there, his study of the law. In many things he acted upon are the same word in Hebrew, which we have elsewhere the direct commands of God to himself or to his seers. translated "requirement."
We must not forget that the true king of Israel is He (4) The firstfruit also of thy corn.-See Num. whose special mission it was "to fulfil the law and the xviii. 12. The first of the wool is mentioned here only. prophets.” “Lo, I come, in the volume of the book it is The quantity in all these cases has been defined by the written of me, I delight to do thy will, O my God: Rabbis, on grounds somewhat arbitrary. yea, thy law is within my heart.”
(5) To stand to minister in the name of the (20) To the end that he may prolong his days Lord.—This is the office of the priests. The Levites in his kingdom, he, and his children.-Shows are said, " to stand before the congregation to minister that the kingdom in Israel would be hereditary only so unto them” (Num. xvi. 9). If the writer of Deutefar as Jehovah willed it to be so. Again we may say ronomy knew no distinction between priest and Levite, it that the striking fact that no dynasty except that of is difficult to see how the Jews could have derived the disDavid ever continued for more than five generations, tinctive privileges of the priests from these enactments. and only two dynasties for more than two generations,
(6–8) And if a Levite come.-The Levites with while David's dynasty was perpetual by promise, could the priests were to receive forty-eight cities in Israel, hardly have escaped notice, if known to the writer of with the suburbs (Num. xxxv. 7). There was as yet no this book.
provision made by which all could serve in turn at the
tabernacle. When David divided them all into courses, XVIII.
priests, Levites, singers (and porters ?) alike, there was Verses 1-5. THE PRIESTS' DUE.
no longer any need for this provision. The institu.
tions of David prove its antiquity. The only case in (1) The priests the Levites, (and) all the tribe history that illustrates it is that of the child Samuel. of Levi.-The fact that there is no “and ” here in the His father, Elkanah, was a descendant of Korah. He original, and the look of the sentence in English, might dwelt in Mount Ephraim, and came up to Shiloh year dispose a superficial reader to find some ground here by year. But Samuel was dedicated by his mother to for the theory that priest and Levite are not dis- perpetual service there, and as long as the tabernacle tinguished in Deuteronomy. No such idea occurred to continued in Shiloh, the child Samuel “ministered to Rashi. He says, “ all the tribe of Levi, not only those the Lord before Eli the priest”—not as a priest, but that are perfect (who can serve), but those who have a as a Levite in attendance upon the priests. blemish (and cannot).” The distinction between priest (8) They shall have like portions to eat, and Levite has already been sufficiently noted on chap. beside that. - The Levite thus dedicated was to xi. 6, and xvii. 9. The passage is evidently on the have the same allowance from tithes as the rest who same lines with Num. xviii. 18–21, which see.
served at the tabernacle, beside the proceeds of the (3) The shoulder, and the two cheeks, and patrimony which he would have had in his own the maw.-This would be from the peace offering. Levitical city.
Wizards &c. Condemned.
A Prophet Promised.
b Lev. 20. 27.
C1 Sam. 28. 7.
(9) When thou art come into the land a Lev. 18. 21. LORD thy God hath not suffered thee which the LORD thy God giveth thee,
so to do. thou shalt not learn to do after the
(15) The Lord thy God will raise up abominations of those nations. (10) There
unto thee a Prophet from the midst shall not be found among you any one
of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; that maketh his son or his daughter
shall hearken; (16) a to pass through the fire, or that useth
cording to all that thou desiredst of divination, or an observer of times, or
the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day an enchanter, or a witch, (11) o or a ser creceright, or of the assembly, saying, "Let me not charmer, or a consulter with familiar
hear again the voice of the Lord my spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.
God, neither let me see this great fire (12) For all that do these things are an
any more, that I die not.
(17) And the abomination unto the LORD: and be
LORD said unto me, They have well cause of these abominations the LORD
John 1.45: Act» spoken that which they have spoken. thy God doth drive them out from
(18) / I will raise them up a Prophet before thee. (13) Thou shalt be perfect
from among their brethren, like unto with the LORD thy God. (14) For these
thee, and will put my words in his nations, which thou shalt 2 possess,
mouth; and he shall speak unto them hearkened unto observers of times, and
all that I shall command him. (19) And unto diviners : but as for thee, the song:19: Acts it shall come to pass, that whosoever
2 Or, inherit.
2. 22 & 7. 37.
€ Ex. 20. 19.
(9—14) Certain forms of idolatry to be avoided, given Shechinah to rest upon the prophets, and Urim especially unlawful means of communication with the and Thummim.” unseen world.
Verses 15—20. THE ONE MEDIATOR. (10) To pass through the fire.-See Lev. xviii.
The connection between these verses and the preced21.
ing is well illustrated by Isaiah's question (chap. viii. Useth divination-(Num. xxii. 7), possibly by
And when they shall say unto you, Seek unto sacrifices.
them that have familiar spirits, and unto wizards that Observer of times.-This is the Rabbinical ex- peep, and that mutter : should not a people seek unto planation of the word. In Hebrew the idea of “time'
their God? for the living to the dead ? ” Or, as the is not so clear. It seems to mean practising hidden
angels turned the phrase on Easter morning, Why arts. (See Lev. xix. 26.)
seek ye Him that liveth among the dead?” Enchanter.- Whisperer, or serpent charmer. (See (15) The Lord thy God will raise up unto Gen. xliv. 5.)
thee a Prophet.-Namely, Him of whom St. Peter Witch.-One who uses charms or spells (Ex. spoke in Acts iii. 22–26. “Unto you first God, having vii. 11).
raised up His son Jesus, sent Him to bless you.” It (11) Charmer.-Literally one who ties knots, used must not be forgotten that the prophetic office is still here for the first time in Old Testament.
continued to our risen Lord. He still “ speaketh from Consulter with familiar spirits.-Literally, heaven.” But He descended first into the lower one who consulteth ób (see Lev. xix. 31).
parts of the earth.” He has “the keys of hell and of A Wizard.--One who knows or pretends to know
and knows all their secrets. They who can the secrets of the unseen world. (See Lev. xix. 31.) draw near to Him have no need to look downward, to
Necromancer.-One who inquires of the dead. consult dead relatives, or seek knowledge from spirits Four of the above practices are ascribed to king whose character, even if they are accessible, is beyond Manasseh in 2 Chron. xxxiii. 6. It is hardly possible our discernment. The Holy Spirit, our Comforter and that all of them were mere imposture and deceit. Advocate on earth, and the Prophet, our Advocate that
(13) Thou shalt be perfect with the Lord thy speaketh from heaven, are enough for all human need. God.-Rashi's note on this is worth preserving: What we cannot learn from them, or from the light they “Thou shalt walk with Him in sincerity, and wait for give us, it is better not to know. Him. And thou shalt not pry into the future. But (16) According to all that thou desiredst . whatsoever cometh upon thee, take it with simplicity, in Horeb.-It should never be forgotten that the and then thou shalt be with Him, and be His portion. Prophet like to Moses was promised on “ the day of the
(14) The Lord thy God hath not suffered assembly.” The Holy Spirit, who is Christ in us, was thee so to do.-More literally, As for thee, not so promised on the day of the delivery of the “letter hath Jehovah thy God given unto thee. A prophet that killeth. (See also on chap. v. 28.) from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me, (18) He shall speak unto them all that I shall will Jehovah thy God raise up unto thee. Him shall command him.--" The words that I speak unto you ye hear. The contrast between the miserable resources I speak not of myself” (our Lord, in John xiv. 10). "He of idolatrous nations in their anxiety, and the light and shall not speak of Himself. He shall receive of mine, comfort promised to Israel and to us, in the One and shall show it unto you” (the Holy Spirit, John xvi. Mediator, is very marked here. Even Israel was better 13, 14). off than the heathen. As Rashi says upon the words (19) Whosoever will not hearken I will "not so,” &c., “ He hath not left thee to hearken to require it of him.—“For if they escaped not who observers of times and enchanters; for behold He hath refused Him that spake on earth, much more shall not
Cities of Refuge.
a ch. 12. 29.
1 Hch., inheritest,
• Ex. 21. 13: Num.
3. 10; Josh. 20.2.
3 Heb., iron.
will not hearken unto my words which
land, which the LORD thy God giveth he shall speak in my name, I will require
thee to inherit, into three parts, that it of him.
every slayer may flee thither. (20) But the prophet, which shall pre-ot, possessest. (4) And this is the case of the slayer, sume to speak a word in my name,
which shall flee thither, that he may which I have not commanded him to
live: Whoso killeth his neighbour ignospeak, or that shall speak in the name
rantly, whom he hated not ? in time of other gods, even that prophet shall
(5) as when a man goeth into the die. (21) And if thou say in thine heart,
wood with his neighbour to hew wood, How shall we know the word which the theory from where and his hand fetcheth a stroke with the LORD hath not spoken?
(22) When a
ax to cut down the tree, and the 3 head prophet speaketh in the name of the
slippeth from the 4 helve, and 5 lighteth LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come
upon his neighbour, that he die; he to pass, that is the thing which the
shall flee unto one of those cities, and LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet
live : (6) lest the avenger of the blood hath spoken it presumptuously : thou 1 Heb., wood. pursue the slayer, while his heart is shalt not be afraid of him.
hot, and overtake him, because the way
is long, and slay him ; whereas he was CHAPTER XIX.-(1) When the LORD 5 Hcb., findeth. not worthy of death, inasmuch as he thy God « hath cut off the nations,
hated him not in time past. whose land the LORD thy God giveth
(7) Wherefore I command thee, saying, thee, and thou succeedest them, and
Thou shalt separate three cities for thee. dwellest in their cities, and in their
(8) And if the LORD thy God enlarge houses; (2) thou shalt separate three
thy coast, as he hath sworn unto thy cities for thee in the midst of thy land, terday the third fathers, and give thee all the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee to
which he promised to give unto thy (3) Thou shalt prepare thee
fathers; (9) if thou shalt keep all these a way, and divide the coasts of thy le ch. 12. 20. commandments to do them, which I
6 Heb., smite him
7 Heb., from yes
we escape, if we turn away from Him that speaketh (5) As when a man goeth into the wood.from heaven : whose voice then shook the earth.” An obvious instance. (Heb. xii. 22, 56.)
(6) The avenger of the b d.--Literally, the (20) That prophet shall die.-Rashi illustrates redeemer of the blood. The Hebrew, goël, stands for all this by the case of Hananiah (Jer. xxviii.) who pro- the three words, “ redeemer," " avenger,” “kinsman.' phesied that Jeconiah, and all that went with him to (8,3) If the Lord thy God enlarge thy coast Babylon, should return within two years. He was sen. thou shalt add three cities-i.e., thou shalt tenced by Jeremiah to die that year; and he died add three to the six, making nine in all. There is no accordingly, within two months,
trace of this ever having been done in the history of Israel. (22) If the thing follow not, nor como to The comments of Jewish writers show that nothing is pass.- This is one form of our Lord's test for all pro. known of the fact in their literature. Some of them phets, “ By their fruits (i.e., the results,' of their point out that only seven nations were assigned to the teaching, not its first impressions) ye shall know them.” host of Joshua, and that the land occupied by these
seven could not have needed more than the six cities. XIX.
They lay stress upon the words “ If He give thee all Here a fresh section of the laws begins. See Intro- the land which He promised to give thy fathers” (not duction for a full analysis.
merely the seven nations promised to thee). They refer Verses 1–13. THE CITIES OF REFUGE.
to the Kenites and the Kenizzites and the Kadmonites (See for more on this subject, Num. xxxv. 9, &c.; in particular, as three nations promised to Abraham. Josh. xx.)
It would have been more to the purpose if they had (1) When the Lord thy God hath cut off the referred to the Hittites. The cities of this people, as nations.-We find that the three cities of refuge on recently discovered, from Kedesh on the Orontes to the west of Jordan were appointed by Joshua after the Carchemish, lie to the north of the known territory of conquest (Josh. xx.). The first three on the east of Israel. If “all the land of the Hittites” (Josh i. 4) Jordan, namely, Bezer, Ramoth-Gilead, and Golan, had had been conquered, the three additional cities might already been selected by Moses (Dent. iv. 41, &c), but have been required. But though this land seems Joshua assigned them to their Levitical possessors. to have been tributary to Solomon, it was not so
(3) Thou shalt prepare thee a way.-Upon occupied by Israel as to necessitate the appoint. this phrase Rashi remarks (from the Talmud) that ment of three additional cities of refuge. And “Miklot! Miklot (* Refuge! Refuge !') was written Solomon's empire lasted only for his own reign. But up at the parting of the ways."
without going back to these details, they also take Divide the coasts of thy land
into the promise as prophetical; holding that when the Lord three parts. So that no part of the country might
has * circumcised their heart” (Deut. xxx. 6), “ to love be too far from any of the cities of refuge.
the Lord,”and given them “one heart and one way to fear Murderers not to be Received
in the Cities of Refuge.
a Josh. 30. 7.
13. 1; Heb. 10.28.
command thee this day, to love the
mouth of three witnesses, shall the Lord thy God, and to walk ever in his
matter be established. (16) If a false ways; a then shalt thou add three cities
witness rise up against any man to more for thee, beside these three: (10) that
testify against him that which is wrong; innocent blood be not shed in thy land,
(17) then both the men, between whom which the LORD thy God giveth thee 1 Heb., in life. the controversy is, shall stand before for an inheritance, and so blood be upon
the Lord, before the priests and the thee.
judges, which shall be in those days; (11) But if any man hate his neighbour,
(18) and the judges shall make diligent and lie in wait for him, and rise up
inquisition : and, behold, if the witness against him, and smite him ? mortally o Num. 2.»: el
be a false witness, and hath testified that he die, and fleeth into one of these Fun Mar 2*** falsely against his brother; (19) e then cities : (12) then the elders of his city
do unto him, as he had thought shall send and fetch him thence, and
to have done unto his brother : so shalt deliver him into the hand of the avenger
thou put the evil away from among of blood, that he may die. (13) Thine
(20) And those which remain shall eye shall not pity him, but thou shalt
hear, and fear, and shall henceforth put away the guilt of innocent blood 2 05.falling away. commit no more any such evil among from Israel, that it may go well with
(21) And thine eye shall not pity; thee.
but d life shall go for life, eye for eye, (14) Thou shalt not remove thy neigh
tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot bour's landmark, which they of old time
for foot. have set in thine inheritance, which c Prov. 19. 5, 9; thou shalt inherit in the land that the
CHAPTER XX.-(1) When thou goest Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it.
out to battle against thine enemies, and (15) 6 One witness shall not rise up
seest horses, and chariots, and a people against a man for any iniquity, or for
more than thou, be not afraid of them : any sin, in any sin that he sinneth : at
for the LORD thy God is with thee, the mouth of two witnesses, or at the Mati. Es which brought thee up out of the land
Dan. 6. 24.
Him for ever, and shall make an everlasting covenant with caution the people to avoid a most certain incentive to
Verses 15–21. FALSE TESTIMONY.
The law of retaliation is sternly laid down here; but What later writer would have thought of adding it ?
it must be administered by the judges, not by men (10) That innocent blood be not shed-i.e.,
acting on their own behalf. the blood of the manslayer who can find no refuge, and (17) Both the men ... shall stand before the yet is no murderer.
Lord, before the priests and the judges. This (11) But if any man hate his neighbour, appears to mean that all cases of suspected false testi. and lie in wait for him.-Rashi's comment upon mony were to go before the supreme court (see chap. this is in the spirit of St. John: “By way of hatred he xvii. 9); that the matter was not to be lightly decided. comes to lying in wait: and hence it has been said, (21) Eye for eye, tooth for tooth.- This is to when a man has transgressed a light commandment, be effected by the award of the judges, not as a matter that he will end by transgressing a greater. Therefore of private revenge. But manifestly it rests with the when he has broken the commandment, Thou shalt not injured party to press the case. hate, he will end by coming to bloodshed.” What is this but “ He that hateth his brother is a murderer” ?
XX. (12) Deliver him into the hand of the aven
LAWS OF WARFARE. ger of blood.—There is as yet no idea of a public trial and execution, which belongs to a more advanced (1) When thou goest out to battle-i.e., genestage of civilisation than this.
rally; not only in the immediate conquest of Canaan. (13) Shalt put away.-Literally, consume, or, as it Yet it may be observed that in the writings of Moses it were, burn out.
is foreseen that the completion of the conquest will be (14) Thou shalt not remove thy neighbour's gradual, and that Israel will have to go to battle many landmark.-Another law manifestly appropriate here, times before all enemies are overcome. where it appears for the first time, like the field ” in Horses and chariots.—The Israelitish army was the tenth commandment (chap. v. 21). But the imme. chiefly, or rather entirely, composed of infantry, in most diate connection is not obvious. Perhaps the idea is to of the great victories won by them.