Matthew Poole's Commentary
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.The Lord is the priests’ and Levites’ inheritance. Deu 18:1,2. Their due from the people, Deu 18:3-5. A Levite’s portion that came to serve voluntarily, Deu 18:6-8. All unlawful arts prohibited, Deu 18:9-14. Christ is promised, whom they must hearken to, Deu 18:15-19. False prophets threatened, Deu 18:20. The mark of a false prophet, Deu 18:21,22.
The offerings of the Lord made by fire; by which phrase we here manifestly see that he means not burnt-offerings, which were wholly consumed by fire, and no part of them eaten by the priests; but other sacrifices, whereof part was offered to the Lord by fire, and part was allotted to the priests for their food. His inheritance, i.e. the Lord’s portion or inheritance, which God had reserved to himself, as tithes and first-fruits, and other oblations distinct from those which were made by fire; and so these two branches make up the whole of that which belonged to God, and was by him given to the Levites.
Therefore shall they have no inheritance among their brethren: the LORD is their inheritance, as he hath said unto them.i.e. The Lord’s part and right, as was now said.
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.A sacrifice, to wit, a sacrifice of thanksgiving, or a peace-offering, as appears from Leviticus 7:31,33, which is ofttimes called simply a sacrifice, as Exodus 18:12 Leviticus 17:5,8 Num 15:3 Deu 12:27.
The shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.
Quest. How doth this agree with other texts, in which the shoulder and the breast, and those parts only, are the priest’s due, not the cheeks and maw?
1. Who shall tie God’s hands? what if he now makes an addition, and enlargeth the priest’s commons? Nothing more usual than for one scripture to supply what is lacking in another, and for a latter law of God to add to a former.
2. The breast may be here omitted, because it is comprehended under the shoulder, to which it is commonly joined, and with which it was waved before the Lord.
3. The Hebrew word here rendered maw or stomach, which was reckoned among dainties by the ancients, is not to my remembrance used elsewhere, and therefore it may have another signification, and some render it the breast, others take it for the uppermost part of the stomach, which lies under the breast.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.To minister in the name of the Lord, i.e. either by authority and commission from him, or for his honour, worship, or service.
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;Either for any private occasions, or to sojourn there for a season, or rather with full purpose to fix his abode, and to spend his whole time and strength in the service of God, as appears by the sale of his patrimony, mentioned Deu 18:8. It seems probable that the several priests were to come from their cities to the temple by turns before David’s time, and it is certain they did so after it. But if any of them were not contented with this seldom attendance upon God in his tabernacle or temple, and desired more entirely and constantly to devote himself to God’s service there, he was permitted so to do, because this was an eminent act of piety joined with self-denial to part with those great conveniencies which he could and did enjoy in the city of his possession, and to oblige himself to more constant and laborious work about the sacrifices, &c.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
They shall have like portions to eat, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony.Like portions, to wit, with their brethren who were in actual ministration; as they share with them in the work, so shall they also in the encouragements.
Beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony; though he have an estate whereby he may subsist raised by the sale of his house in his city, and his cattle, and other movables, yet you shall not upon this ground either deny or diminish their part of your maintenance. The reason of this law was, partly because he that waited on the altar ought to live by the altar; and partly because it was fit he should keep his money, wherewith he might redeem what he sold, if afterwards he saw occasion for it. Heb. besides his sales by the fathers, i.e. of that which came to him by his fathers, or, according to his fathers, or, his father’s house; and these words may be joined not with the word immediately foregoing, but with the former part of the verse, the next word coming in by a kind of parenthesis, in this manner and order,
Besides that which cometh by the sale of their goods, they shall have like portions to eat to what their brethren have, each of them eating according to his father’s house, i.e. a Gershonite shall eat with his brethren the Gershonites who are then ministering, and a Merarite with the Merarites, &c., and so there shall be no disturbance nor change in the appointed courses by their accession to the number.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
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,To pass through the fire; either by a superstitious lustration or purgation, or by a cruel sacrificing of them. See Leviticus 18:21 2 Kings 17:31 23:10 2 Chronicles 28:3 Psalm 106:37 Jeremiah 7:31 19:5 Ezekiel 16:20,21 Eze 23:37-39.
That useth divination, i.e. foretelleth things secret or to come, Micah 3:11, by unlawful arts and practices.
An observer of times; superstitiously pronouncing some days good and lucky, and others unlucky, for such or such actions. Or,
an observer of the clouds or heavens, i.e. one that divineth by the motions of the clouds, by the stars, or by the flying or chattering of birds, all which heathens used to observe.
An enchanter, or, a conjecturer, that discovers hidden things by a superstitious use of words or ceremonies, by observation of water or smoke, or any contingencies, as the meeting of a hare, &c. See Poole "Leviticus 19:26".
A witch; one that is in covenant with the devil, and by his help deludes their senses, or hurts their persons. See Exodus 7:11 22:18.
Or a charmer, or a consulter with familiar spirits, or a wizard, or a necromancer.A charmer; one that charmeth serpents or other cattle, Psalm 58:5; or, a
fortune-teller, that foretelleth the events of men’s lives by the conjunctions of the stars, &c. See Poole "Leviticus 19:31"; See Poole "Leviticus 20:6".
A consulter with familiar spirits, whom they call upon by certain words or rites to engage them in evil designs.
A wizard, Heb. a knowing or cunning man, who by any superstitious or forbidden ways undertakes the revelation of secret things:
A necromancer; one that calleth up and inquireth of the dead, 1 Samuel 28:8 Isaiah 8:19.
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.The people of the land which thou art going to possess, mentioned above, Deu 18:9.
Thou shalt be perfect with the LORD thy God.Sincerely and wholly his, seeking him and cleaving to him and to his word alone, and therefore abhorring all commerce and conversations with devils or their agents, such as were now mentioned.
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.Hath not suffered thee to follow thy own vain mind, and these superstitions and diabolical practices, as he hath suffered other nations to do, Acts 14:16, but hath instructed thee better by his word and Spirit, and thereby kept thee from such courses, and will more fully instruct thee by a great Prophet, &c. Or, hath not given to thee, to wit, such persons to consult with, but hath given thee prophets to instruct thee, and will in due time give thee an eminent Prophet, as it here follows.
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;Will raise up, i.e. will produce and send into the world in due time.
A Prophet: those words may be understood secondarily concerning the succession of prophets which God would raise for the instruction of his church, both because this is alleged as an argument why they need not consult with diviners, &c., because they should have prophets at hand whensoever it was needful to advise them, and because this Prophet is opposed to the false prophet; and a general rule is hereupon given for the discovery of all succeeding prophets, whether they be true or false, Deu 18:20-22; but they are chiefly to be understood of Christ, as the following words show, which do not truly and fully agree to any other; particularly where he is said to be
like unto Moses, which is simply denied concerning all other prophets, Deu 34:10, and therefore it is not probable that it should be simply affirmed concerning all true prophets succeeding him. But Christ was truly, and in all commendable parts, like him, in being both a Prophet and a King, and a Priest and Mediator, as Moses was, in the excellency of his ministry and work, in the glory of his miracles, in his familiar and intimate converse with God, &c. And this place is expounded of Christ alone by God himself in the New Testament, Acts 3:22 7:37. See also John 1:45 6:14.
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.In the day of the assembly, to wit, of that great and general congregation of all the people together.
And the LORD said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken.No text from Poole on this verse.
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.Will put my words in his mouth; will instruct him what to say, reveal myself and my will to him.
He shall speak unto them all that I shall command him; he will faithfully execute the office and trust I commit him.
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.i.e. I will punish him severely for it, as this phrase is taken, Genesis 9:5 42:22. The sad effect of this threatening the Jews have felt for above sixteen hundred years together.
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.No text from Poole on this verse.
And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken?No text from Poole on this verse.
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.If the thing follow not; which he gives as a sign of the truth of his prophecy. He means the prediction of some strange and wonderful event, as appears by comparing this with Deu 13:1,2.
The Lord hath not spoken: the falsehood of his prediction shows him to be a false prophet, though the truth and accomplishment of his prediction had not proved him to be a true prophet, as is evident from Deu 13:2,3.
Presumptuously; impudently ascribing his own vain and lying fancies to the God of truth.
Thou shalt not be afraid of him, i.e. of his predictions or threatenings, so as to be scared from doing thy duty in bringing him to deserved punishment.