King James Bible
with Catholic Commentary by George Leo Haydock

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Deuteronomy 18

A provision respecting Levites. (1-8) The abominations of the Canaanites to be avoided. (9-14) Christ the great Prophet. (15-22)

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A provision respecting Levites

1 The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel: they shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and his inheritance.

2 Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them.

3 And this shall be the priest’s due from the people, from them that offer a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep; and they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.

4 The firstfruit also of thy corn, of thy wine, and of thine oil, and the first of the fleece of thy sheep, shalt thou give him.

5 For the LORD thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the LORD, him and his sons for ever.

6 And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where he sojourned, and come with all the desire of his mind unto the place which the LORD shall choose;

7 Then he shall minister in the name of the LORD his God, as all his brethren the Levites do, which stand there before the LORD.

8 They shall have like portions to eat, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.

The abominations of the Canaanites to be avoided

9 When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

10 There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter to pass through the fire, or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch.

11 Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.

12 For all that do these things are an abomination unto the LORD: and because of these abominations the LORD thy God doth drive them out from before thee.

13 Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.

14 For these nations, which thou shalt possess, hearkened unto observers of times, and unto diviners: but as for thee, the LORD thy God hath not suffered thee so to do.

Christ the great Prophet

15 The LORD thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee, of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken;

16 According to all that thou desiredst of the LORD thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the LORD my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not.

17 And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.

18 I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

19 And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him.

20 But the prophet, which shall presume to speak a word in my name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that shall speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet shall die.

21 And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?

22 When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.

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G Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

Ver. 1. Oblations. Heb. “they shall eat the holocausts of the Lord and his inheritances.” The priests shall have the parts of the sacrifices for peace allotted to them, &c. tithes shall be given to support the Levites. (H.) These parts are what God claims from the people, as their Sovereign, (C.) and these he assigns to his ministers. Sept. “The fruits of the Lord are their inheritance, they shall eat them.” H.

Ver. 3. Due, (judicium.) Moses only mentions a part, having explained the rest. Ex. xxix. 27. Lev. vii. 32. — Breast, (ventriculum.) In the other places pectusculum occurs. Heb. “the shoulder, the two cheeks, and the maw, or caul,” called in Latin omasum, being the last and fattest of the four ventricles, and highly esteemed by the ancients. The cheeks or chaps are specified no where else; so that some think Moses here supplies what he had left imperfect, assigning to the priests the cheeks and tongue. Jansenius supposes that this is only a part of the breast, which appears to have two cheeks when the shoulders are cut off. But Moses here probably speaks not of the peace-offerings, but of the beasts which were killed by the Israelites at home for their own uses, &c. (Clerc) as Philo explains it, (de præm.) and Josephus (iv. 4.) only specifies the right shoulder and the breast, which were given to the priests on these occasions. C. — Sept. “the shoulder, the cheeks, and the last ventricle.” The victims were not, therefore, of a sacred nature; as they were only sacrificed, inasmuch as the blood was to be offered to the Lord. H. See Gen. xliii. 16.

Ver. 4. Corn, besides those which were offered to the Lord at the feast of Pentecost. Each landholder was bound to give between the 40th and the 60th part of his produce. S. Jer. See Ex. xxii. 29.

Ver. 5. Stand. This was the usual posture of the priests ministering in the temple, as well as of people praying. — Minister. Sam. and Sept. add, “and to bless in,” &c.

Ver. 6. Levite. In the days of Moses, all the Levites probably assisted in the service of the tabernacle, when they thought proper. But, after they should be dispersed, he encourages them to come willingly. David afterwards divided the priests and the Levites into classes, which were obliged to serve in their turns, 1 Par. xxiii. &c. Though he derogated from the words of the law, he followed the spirit of the injunction, which was intended to promote the great glory and decency of religion; and even after this regulation, (C.) those who desired, like Samuel, (M.) to consecrate their labours to the Lord for life, or for a long time, were in all probability entitled to the privileges here granted. C.

Ver. 8. Portion. Whence this was taken, whether from the tithes in general, or from the treasury of the temple, or from the revenue of the high priest, &c. does not appear. C. — Fathers. The Levites might possess houses, suburbs, and cattle. M. — Heb. “besides that which ariseth from the sale of his patrimony.” H.

Ver. 10. Fire. This impiety is not punished with death, (Lev. xviii. 21,) as the burning of children was. Lev. xx. 2. Grotius. — It was done in imitation of the latter, and became more common, as it was less cruel; the person who was thus expiated, being to pass between or to jump over fire. The council of Trullo (c. 65,) was forced to condemn this remnant of an abominable superstition. But the other inhuman worship of Moloc, and of other pagan divinities, was certainly very common, and chiefly brought down destruction upon the people of Chanaan. See Jer. xix. 5. Ezec. xxiii. 37. Ps. cv. 37. 4 K. xvii. 31. Ennius says, Pæni sunt soliti suos sacrificare puellos. See S. Aug. C. D. vii. 17. S. Jer. in Jer. vii. 31. C. — Soothsayers. The original term may also signify, “that useth divination.” Both those who set up for diviners, and those who consult them, are condemned. H. — Hiscuni explains it of a superstitious practice, by which a person measured a stick with his finger, saying first I will go; and then I will not; and if, when he came to the end of the stick, he had to say I will go, he determined to begin his journey. See Ezec. xxi. 21. — Dreams. Heb. mehonen, (Lev. xix. 26,) may denote one who judges from the sight of the clouds, or feigns revelations. — Wizard. Heb. “witch.” Sept. “poisoner,” or one who gives things to do harm. Rabbins.

Ver. 11. Charmer of serpents. Ps. lvii. 6. One who makes a compact with the devil. — Spirits. Python was the name of the serpent which Apollo slew. It might be derived from the Heb. patah, “to seduce,” because a serpent seduced Eve, and dealers with the devil generally deceived those who consult them. Sept. “a belly talker,” as these impostors muttered some sounds, imitating that a spirit gave answers from their belly, See Isai. xxix. 4. — Tellers. Heb. “wise men.” H. — Those who promise great knowledge from the secrets of the caballa, or magic. — Dead. Necromancy was already very common. Thus the witch of Endor made the ghost of Samuel appear to Saul, 1 K. xxviii. 7. The Rabbins say that the person took a bone, or the skull of the dead, when he intended to enquire into futurity. Drusius.

Ver. 13. And without spot. This is by way of explication of the word perfect. Any mixture of superstition in the worship of God is hateful to him; and that man who acknowledges any other spirit capable of foretelling what will come to pass, freely (H.) denies the Lord. C.

Ver. 14. God, who has already informed thee how to proceed in difficult emergencies, (C. xvii. 8,) by having recourse to the council of priests, and will also, after any death, send in due time a succession of true prophets. Heb. “God hath not suffered thee” to imitate those nations; (H.) or those prophets, whom the Lord thy God will give thee, shall not resemble these (C.) soothsayers (or observers of times) and diviners. H. — They shall be filled with my spirit. C.

Ver. 15. Prophet. This passage plainly proves, that the Scripture may have many literal senses: for the context insinuates that God would supply the wants of his people, so that they should not need to go far in order to consult diviners, since they should have leaders and prophets, after the death of Moses, who might explain to them God’s will, as they had desired; but, at the same time, it clearly refers to the Messias, as it is explained by S. Peter, (Acts iii. 22. W.) and by S. Stephen, Acts vii. 37. The Jews, at that time, were convinced of the truth of this application: but they only denied that Christ was the Messias. They have since gone a step farther, and deny that it regards the Messias, some referring it to Josue, others to Jeremias, &c. Ap. Munster & Fag. But surely what other prophet could be compared with Moses? C. xxxiv. 10. What other man reunited in his person the qualifications of lawgiver, chief of God’s people, mediator, &c. or who was like him? Hence prophet is written in the singular, to denote his eminent dignity. S. Aug. c. Faust. — S. Philip recognized the claim of Jesus, as did the people after the multiplication of bread, Jo. i. 45. and vi. 14. God the Father seems to allude to this passage, according to the remark of Tertullian, (c. Mar. iv. 22,) when he says hear ye him, (Lu. ix. 35,) as S. Cyprian believes our Saviour does also, Jo. v. 46. S. Athanasius (c. Arianos 2,) condemns the error of the Jews, who would apply this passage to any other prophet but to the Messias. If they could be excused for denying him this latter claim, they surely cannot in calling in question that Jesus was a true prophet, since he has all the marks of one; (Grotius) and if they would once acknowledge this, they must soon confess that he is also the Messias, and the Son of God, as these truths are so necessarily connected. C. — The miracles of Moses were far exceeded by those of Jesus Christ, and the latter conversed more intimately with this eternal Father, &c. M.

Ver. 16. Die. This promise is not recorded, Ex. xx. 19. God will send you a mediator, who shall hide the splendour of his divinity C. under the form of a servant. Phil. ii. 7. H.

Ver. 18. Mouth. So Christ says, The words that I speak to you, I speak not of myself. Jo. xiv. 10.

Ver. 19. Revenger. S. Peter (Acts iii. 23,) reads, And it shall be that every soul which will not hear that prophet; (instead of Heb. “my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require it of him,”) or he shall be destroyed from among the people. Tert. c. Mar. iv. 22. H. — God now chastises the faithless Jews. D.

Ver. 20. To say. These denote heretics, as the following point out apostates. W.

Ver. 22. Fear him. Sept. “you shall not spare him,” but cut him off by death. H. — Though the completion of what has been foretold be not a sure sign of a true prophecy, (C. xiii. 2,) yet when the thing does not come to pass which the prophet had spoken unconditionally, he must undoubtedly be rejected; as also when he speaks in the name of false gods. No miracles can then establish his credit. The prophecy of Jonas, and many of the other prophecies, were conditional. C.