Deuteronomy 18:9, 10: Unlawful Arts Prohibited, Part 1

Verse 9:  When thou art come into the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee, (Lev. 18:26, 27, 30; Deut. 12:29-31) thou shalt not learn to do after the abominations of those nations.

[When thou hast entered, etc.]  For then they learned from the Canaanites arts previously unknown to them.  Also, even before they had entered, etc., they were obliged to abstain from these (Gerhard).


Verse 10:  There shall not be found among you any one that maketh his son or his daughter (Lev. 18:21; Deut. 12:31) to pass through the fire, (Lev. 19:26, 31; 20:27; Is. 8:19) or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter, or a witch…

[Who would purify his son…leading him through the fire, מַעֲבִ֥יר בְּנֽוֹ־וּבִתּ֖וֹ בָּאֵ֑שׁ]  Causing his son to pass through the fire, or, in the fire [thus all interpreters], for the sake either of purification, of offering (Drusius).  In both ways the Israelites imitated the Canaanites (Fagius).  [But the Arabic has, scorching with fire.]  מַעֲבִיר, causing to pass, is an ambiguous word.  It signifies both killing, as it appears from Ezekiel 16:20, 21; 23:37-39, and passing through fire.  It appears from the places mentioned, and from Psalm 106:37 and Jeremiah 19:5, that the Canaanites (who were Phœnicians to the Greeks; see what things are on Matthew 15:22[1]) and their neighbors were accustomed to give to death their own children for the honor of their gods; the Sepharvaim, for the honor of Adrammelch and Anammelech, 2 Kings 17:31.  The Canaanites were especially worshipping Moloch, and, in imitation of them, not rarely the Hebrews.  This is shown in Amos 5:26, compared with Acts 7:43; Leviticus 18:21.  It is not to be doubted that Moloch is Saturn, whose star also is called by that name among the Hebrews.  The name was given to that star by a King, whose name was Ἶλ/ Il, who antonomastically[2] was called מוֹלֶךְ/Molech/king, whence מַלְכְּכֶם, your Moloch, in Amos 5:26.  It is related out of Sanchuniathon, the most ancient writer of Phœnician affairs,[3] by Philo Byblius,[4] his interpreter (and it is related out of both by Porphyry[5] in his Concerning Abstinence 2), that the Phœnicians in the greatest dangers and public calamities sacrificed to Saturn one of their most beloved.  This was the occasion:  They relate that the Kings of the people there were wont to deliver to death a son, whom they especially loved, to placate the anger of the gods.  That the Phœcian King, yielding to that custom, who after death was consecrated unto the star of Saturn by his own, offered his son.  In which passage of Philo Byblius it is written, Κρόνος, ὃν οἱ Φοίνικες Ἰσραὴλ προσαγορεύουσι, Cronos/Saturn, whom the Phœnicians called Israel, in which place some eminent men think that Ἰσραὴλ/Israel is named in the place of Abraham, and that the history of Isaac is indicated, but in a corrupt manner.[6]  But it appears more credible to me that the copyist of Eusebius, who recites the words of Philo Byblius, erred, who thought that, where Ἶλ/Il was written, it was shorthand for Ἰσραὴλ/Israel, which sort of thing often occurs in the manuscripts of Greek Christians.  For, that Ἶλ/Il was the name of that King, Philo relates in these word, Ἶλόν τε, καὶ Κρόνον, Il, thee, and Cronos.  From what the Hebrews call אֵל/El,[7] the Syrians call אִיל/Il, in Ezekiel 31:11[8] and 32:21,[9] whose Prophets inflect many things according to the Syrian dialect.  But, because that King was believed to have especially obliged the fatherland to the sacrificed son, therefore those who were in a similar danger afterwards sacrificed their own sons to that same King, under the name of that star, the name related to the gods.  That Barbarians sacrificed their children to Saturn, Sophocles testifies in Andromeda, Νόμος γάρ ἐστι τοῖσι βαρβάροις, Κρόνῳ Θυνπολεῖν βροτεῖον ἀρχῆθεν γένος, among the Barbarians it was a law from the beginning, that they sacrifice human victims.  This was a custom among the Tyrians (the principal men of the Phœnicians, or of the Canaanites), as Curtius testifies; and from these (that is, their founders) it spread to the Punic Carthaginians (that is, Φοίνικας, the Phœnicians, just as in Horace, both are Punic, Syro-Phœnica and Liby-Phœnicia).  Ennius[10] says concerning the Phœnicians, The Phœnicians were accustomed to sacrifice their children.[11]  Concerning the Carthaginians, to this testify Plato in his Minoe, Ἡμῖν μέν οὐ νόμος, etc., to us it was no law, etc.; Justinus[12] out Trogus’[13] Philippic Histories 18; Plutarch in his Moralia “Concerning Superstition”; Silius Italicus;[14] Lactantius in his Divine Institutions[15] 1:31; Minucius in his Octavius;[16] Augustine in his City of God 7:19; Tertullian[17] in his Antidote for the Scorpion’s Sting[18] and Apology.  And hence Saturn is said to have eaten his children; with the Greeks taking the אָכַל (which signifies both to eat, and to consume with fire) in its more common sense.  The same was done in Crete (where were a great many colonies of the Phœnicians), as testify Porphyry (out of Ister), and Athenagoras.[19]  That among the Blemmyes, who inhabited between the Arabian bay and the Nile, such sacred rites continued unto the times of Justinian,[20] Procopius is witness.[21]  Concerning the Dumateni in Arabia you have the same thing in Porphyry.  The Hebrews often imitated these, especially in Topheth,[22] 2 Kings 23:10; 2 Chronicles 28:3; Jeremiah 7:31; 19:5.  The manner of this sacrifice Diodorus Siculus thus explains.  He says that at Carthage there was a bronze statue of Saturn (that is, of which sort to Moloch the Jews affirm to have been among the Canaanites), which would have its palms turned upward over the earth, but under which fire would be set.  Statues of this sort all the Spaniards testify were found in those islands of America, which are over against Africa; and, as it is credible, thence they received inhabitants and rites:  which, if it be necessary, can be confirmed with other evidence also.  Now, that at other times or in other places children only were brought by their parents, there is yet a vestige and imitation of this most cruel custom.  Which sort of restraints, or σοφὰ φάρμακα, skillful remedies, a later age contrived.  Thus in Laodicea of Syria, in the place of the sacrifice of a virgin, Porphyry relates that a doe was substituted, in the book mentioned; in Cyprus, in the place of a man, an ox; in Egypt, wax fashioned into the likeness of a man.  Thus the Pelasgi according to an ancient oracle were formerly sacrificing a man, καὶ κεφαλὰς Κρονίδῃ, καὶ τῷ πατρὶ πέμπετε φῶτα, send ye both heads to the Son of Cronos,[23] and men to his father.  Afterwards men arose who said that they were able to be discharged, if they cast a torch.  This is mentioned by Ovid, Lactantius, and Macrobius, who also commemorates other similar emendations of the sacrifices, Saturnalia 1:7.  Thus, that, in the place of true men, straw-men were cast cast into the Tiber, you have in Ovid’s Festivals[24] 5.  Some such things happened also among the Phœnicians.  For, although the ancient oracle commanded הַעֲבִיר בָּאֵשׁ, to cause to pass in the fire, the children, for a long time taken in the sense of consuming, they interpreted it more kindly of passing through the fire.  That this custom appeared in the maritime mouth of Asiatic India, Ferdinandus Mendes Pinto, the Lusitanian,[25] relates.  By the Phœnicians this custom came into Sicily, thence unto Rome.  Varro,[26] in the Scholiast of Horace, The Parilia[27] are kept among the rustics, in which they leap over a great fire of stubble conjoined with hay; believing that they atone for themselves by the Parilia.  The same custom continued for a long time in Africa, as Leo Africanus[28] testifies:  and not from another place, as I think, did it pass into Brasil.  Whether the Christians received this from the Africans or from the Romans is able to be doubted:  but it is mentioned and condemned by Chrysostom, Theodoret on 2 Kings 16, and the Trullan Synod[29] 65.  Both customs, of burning, and of passing through fire, Maimonides acknowledges (more properly a wise man than other Jews) “Concerning Idolatry” 3:6,[30] and also Rabbi Simeon in Jalkut.[31]  And that both rites [Fagius asserts that they were among the Canaanites as well] were found on Chenaraga island of India, Benjamin[32] relates.  I take Leviticus 20:2 of burning, because the death penalty is there added, which it is not here, nor in Leviticus 18:21.  It is more correct that passing through is treated here, on account of those things which we have already said (Grotius).  Formerly the Canaanites were believing that those who in such a manner were superstitiously purified by fire were not going to die before their time (Maimonides in Fagius).

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; 23:37-39.

[Who would consult diviners, קֹסֵ֣ם קְסָמִ֔ים]  In this place are prohibited all kinds of superstitions and divinations, by whatever names they are able to be expressed (Munster).  [Concerning  קֹסֵםthey vary.]  1.  It is a general word, either, 1.  for all sorts of divinations (certain interpreters in Munster, Gerhard); or, 2.  for the three sorts that follow (Ibn Ezra in Drusius); or, 3.  for every work that they perform in order to know future things (Kimchi in Drusius), whether by a rod (which they call ῥαβδομαντείαν, divination by wand), or by other means (Drusius).  They translate it, divining divinations (Pagnine, Oleaster, Malvenda, Cajetan and the Septuagint in Drusius).  2.  They understand בֺּדֵק, an explorer, who by lots or stipulation investigates whether it be good to take a journey, or to begin any work (Munster).  3.  He who predicts future things.  Such was Balaam, Joshua 13:22;[33] such were also those in 1 Samuel 6:2.[34]  4.  It signifies, not so much one seeking divinations (as the Vulgate takes it), as one rendering divinations (Gerhard).

That useth divination, i.e. foretelleth things secret or to come, Micah 3:11, by unlawful arts and practices.

[Who would observe dreams, מְעוֹנֵן[35]A diviner (Pagnine); one observing days, or times (Samaritan Text, Ainsworth).  An observer, either of the clouds, or of the planets, or of the flight of birds.  קֹסֵם, a diviner, is concerned with internal motions; מְעוֹנֵן, a soothsayer, with external observations (Ainsworth).  [Concerning this word see what things are on Leviticus 19:26.[36]]

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.

[Portents, וּמְנַחֵשׁ[37]One practicing augury (Malvenda, Pagnine); an astrologer (Tigurinus).  One who observes the flight and chattering of birds (Gerundensis in Drusius, Hebrews in Munster).  To others נָחַשׁ is a sort of trial (certain interpreters in Munster); when someone establishes for himself a sign, if it happens to me thus, or thus, then I shall do, or not do (Gerhard).  One who observes fortunes, or signs of good or evil omens.  נִחֵשׁ is to learn by experience, Genesis 30:27[38] and 44:5[39] (Ainsworth).  I understand all superstitious divination of a future matter, which is grasped at by the vigilant, through stars, water, smoke, etc., as also all the usual superstitious things sought from various things, as from a meeting with an Ethiopian, with an hare, etc. (Gerhard)

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, etc.  See on Leviticus 19:26.

[Nor who would be a sorcerer, וּמְכַשֵּׁף[40]A deceiver (Pagnine, Malvenda); a magician (Ainsworth); a mixer of poisons (Tigurinus, Ainsworth); φαρμακὸς, a poisoner/sorcerer (Septuagint), which they render a mixer of poisons.  It also signifies maleficum, a sorcerer, one who malefacit, does harm, through poisons and incantations.  It does not signify an enchanter (as many think), because he was not punished:  For he performs no work, but only dazzles the eyes (Drusius).  (But מְכַשֵּׁף shall not live, Exodus 22:18.[41])  It signifies in general those practicing forbidden arts, and inflicting harm by them (Gerhard).  See concerning this word on Exodus 7:11[42] (Malvenda).

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.

[1] Compare with Mark 7:26.

[2] That is, a title or epithet is used instead of the proper name.

[3] Sanchuniathon is a Phœnician author, thought to have lived before the time of the Trojan War; his works survive only in fragments.

[4] Philo of Byblos (c. 64-141 AD) composed works of Greek grammar and lexicography.  Philo’s Phœnician History is frequently quoted by Eusebius.

[5] Porphyry (c. 232-c. 304) studied in Rome under Plotinus.  He endeavored to make the obscure Neoplatonism of Plotinus intelligible to the popular reader.

[6] See Genesis 22.

[7] אֵל/El is a common title for God, or it may refer to a strong one.

[8] Ezekiel 31:11a:  “I have therefore delivered him into the hand of the mighty one (אֵיל) of the heathen; he shall surely deal with him…”

[9] Ezekiel 32:21a:  “The strong (אֵלֵי) among the mighty shall speak to him out of the midst of hell with them that help him…”

[10] Ennius (237-167 BC) was a Roman heroic poet, perhaps the first.  His work survives only in fragments.

[11] Annales 7.

[12] Junianus Justinus was a Roman historian of the third century.

[13] Cnænus Pompeius Trogus (late first century BC-early first century AD) was a Roman historian.  Justinus’ Historiarum Philippicarum is an epitome of Trogus’.

[14] Tiberius Catius Asconius Silius Italicus (c. 25- 101) was a Latin epic poet.  He wrote Silius Italicus de Secundo Bello Punico, in quo ad Codicis Modiani Fidem versus Spurii Ejecti Sunt, ac Legitimi qui Desuerunt hactenus, Substituti.

[15] Lucius Cælius Firmianus Lactantius (c. 240-c. 320) was a trained rhetorician, who, upon his conversion to Christianity, employed his rhetorical gifts in the defense and explication of the Christian faith.  His Divinæ Institutiones is one of the early attempts at a systematic theology.

[16] Felix Marcus Minucius (third century) was perhaps the earliest Latin apologist.  His Octavius presents an apologetic encounter between Cæcilius Natalis, a pagan, and Octavius Januarius, a Christian.

[17] Tertullian was a Latin Father of the second century.  He labored as an apologist during times of persecution.

[18] Scorpiace.

[19] Exhortation to the Heathen 3.  Athenagoras of Athens (c. 133-190) was an early Christian apologist.

[20] Justinian the Great was the Byzantine Emperor from 527 to 565.

[21] Persian Wars 1:19:35, 36.

[22] A valley south of Jerusalem.

[23] That is, Zeus.

[24] Fasti.

[25] Fernão Mendes Pinto (c. 1509-1583) was a Portuguese explorer and author.

[26] Marcus Terentius Varro, or Varro Reatinus (116-27 BC), was a scholar, called “the most learned of the Romans.”

[27] This is a reference to the Parilia, an agricultural festival, observed yearly on April 21, for the cleansing of both sheep and shepherd.  This observance was in honor of the Roman deity Pales, the patron of shepherds and sheep.

[28] Joannes Leo Africanus (the Latin name of Hasan ibn Muhammed al-Wazzan al-Fasi) (c. 1488-c. 1554) was born in Granada, Spain, and was raised as a Muslim in Morocco.  He was converted to Christianity by Pope Leo X.  He was valued in Europe as an Arabic scholar.  His Description of Africa is record of his travels through west Africa.

[29] The Council in Trullo, or the Quinisext Council, was held in 692, in Constantinople, under Justinian II.  Neither the Fifth, nor the Sixth, Ecumenical Council drafted disciplinary canons, and so the Council was convened to meet the need.  It curtailed the celebration of many festivals, frequently because of their pagan origins.

[30] Mishneh Torah 1.

[31] Yalkut Shimoni is an aggadic compilation on the books of the Old Testament.  Its authorship is uncertain.

[32] Rabbi Benjamin of Tudela (d. 1173) was a Spanish Jew, who chronicled his travels through Europe and Asia, unto the very borders of China.

[33] Joshua 13:22:  “Balaam also the son of Beor, the soothsayer (הַקּוֹסֵם), did the children of Israel slay with the sword among them that were slain by them.”

[34] 1 Samuel 6:2:  “And the Philistines called for the priests and the diviners (וְלַקֹּסְמִים), saying, What shall we do to the ark of the Lord? tell us wherewith we shall send it to his place.”

[35] עָנַן, to practice soothsaying (in the Polel), appears to be related to עָנָן/cloud.

[36] Leviticus 19:26:  “Ye shall not eat any thing with the blood:  neither shall ye use enchantment (תְנַחֲשׁוּ), nor observe times (תְעוֹנֵנוּ).”

[37] Deuteronomy 18:10b:  “…or that useth divination, or an observer of times, or an enchanter (וּמְנַחֵשׁ), or a witch…”  נָחַשׁ, to practice divination, or to observe signs, is related to נָחָשׁ/serpent.

[38] Genesis 30:27:  “And Laban said unto him, I pray thee, if I have found favour in thine eyes, tarry:  for I have learned by experience (נִחַשְׁתִּי) that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake.”

[39] Genesis 44:5:  “Is not this it in which my lord drinketh, and whereby he certainly divineth (נַחֵ֥שׁ יְנַחֵ֖שׁ, or, he certainly learneth by experience)? ye have done evil in so doing.”

[40] כִּשֵּׁף signifies to practice sorcery.

[41] Exodus 22:18:  “Thou shalt not suffer a witch (מְכַשֵּׁפָה) to live.”

[42] Exodus 7:11:  “Then Pharaoh also called the wise men and the sorcerers (וְלַמְכַשְּׁפִים):  now the magicians of Egypt, they also did in like manner with their enchantments.”

2 Peter 1:19: Peter Urges the Prophetic Scriptures in Confirmation of the Second Coming, Part 1

Verse 19:  We have also a more sure word of prophecy; whereunto ye do well that ye take heed, as unto (Ps. 119:105; John 5:35) a light that shineth in a dark place, until the day dawn, and (Rev. 2:28; 22:16; see 2 Cor. 4:4, 6) the day star arise in your hearts…

[And (or, add that [Castalio]) we have a prophetic word[1]]  These things he says in the person of the faithful, to which he joins himself for the sake of modesty.  But, since the testimony of God the Father is most firm, and the reliability of the Apostles is not less than that of the Prophets, it is asked, How might the word of the Prophets be firmer than either of these (Estius)?  Responses:  1.  It is called and was firmer, not in itself, but only by circumstance (Gomar, similarly Gerhard); according to the opinion of the Jews to whom he writes (Gomar, similarly Estius, Menochius, Gerhard, Beza), to whom the authority of the Prophets, by the long duration of time and consent of ancestors, has already been established and confirmed; but the authority of the Apostles was yet new (Estius).  Thus it is explained by Augustine, Aquinas, Cajetan, Salmasius, etc. (Gerhard).  Consult John 5:47 (Gomar).  Hence the Apostles were confirming their doctrine from the Prophets of the Old Testament, Acts 17:11; etc.; and Christ prefers the word of the Prophets to miracles, Luke 16:29, 31.  Moreover, this word was consigned to books, and frequently confirmed by a succession of Prophets, while that word was heard only by the three Apostles, and it passed by (Gomar).  Now, it is to be observed that it is not here said to be firmer than the voice of the Father, which among the Jews had supreme authority; but the testimony of the Apostles, which immediately preceded (Estius).  2.  This might now be able to be called firmer even than itself, that is, because it was confirmed by the majesty of Christ and the testimony of the Father (Gomar).  That is to say, the Word of the Prophets always had authority among us indeed:  But now it has much greater authority, according to which we see that concerning the Messiah the event so beautifully agrees with the words.  Thus we have βεβαιοῦν, to make firm/sure, also in mark 16:20;[2] 1 Corinthians 1:6;[3] Hebrews 6:16;[4] and it answers to the Hebrew הקים/confirmation (Grotius).  But, if he had meant this, he would have said, firmer than previously (Estius).  3.  The comparative, firmer, is able to be taken here, either, 1.  for the Positive, firm (Erasmus, Vatablus, Gagnæus, etc. in Gerhard).  But of this no or few examples are given, as in Acts 17:21, καινότερον/newer is in the place of καινόν/new (Gerhard).  Or, 2.  for the Superlative, firmest (Gerhard, thus Beza, Piscator), as in Matthew 11:11; 22:13; 1 Corinthians 13:13;[5] 15:19.[6]  But it is preferable that the Comparative be taken properly, as said above (Gerhard).

Peter having proved the certainty of the evangelical doctrine, by their testimony that had seen Christ’s glory in his transfiguration, and heard the Father’s testimony of him, now proves the same by the testimony of the prophets under the Old Testament, and calls the word of prophecy a more sure word, comparing it either, 1.  With the voice from heaven, than which he calls the word of prophecy more firm or sure, not in respect of truth, (which was equal in both,) but in respect of the manner of its revelation; the voice from heaven being transient, and heard only by three apostles; whereas the word of prophecy was not only received by the prophets from God, but by his command committed to writing, confirmed by a succession of their fellow prophets in their several generations, and approved by Christ himself, and by him preferred before miracles themselves, Luke 16:29, 31.  Or, 2.  With the testimony of Peter and the other two apostles concerning that voice which came to Christ, than which testimony the word of prophecy is said to be more sure; not simply and in itself, but in respect of those to whom the apostle wrote; it was more firm in their minds who had received it; or, more sure as to them that were Jews, and had so fully entertained the writings of the prophets, and had them in so great veneration, being confirmed by the consent of so many ages; whereas the testimony of these apostles did not so fully appear to them to be Divine, as not being heretofore expressed in Scripture.

[Whereunto, etc., ᾧ καλῶς ποιεῖτε προσέχοντες]  It is a Trajection, of which sort is found in 1 Peter 3:21 (Piscator).  Whereunto is to be construed with taking heed (Estius).  Whereunto ye do well taking heed (Montanus, Vulgate), or, that ye take heed (Piscator).  That ye turn the books of the Prophets with a nocturnal and diurnal hand (Grotius, similarly Gerhard), and from these ye carefully search out the truth (Estius, Gerhard).  Προσέχειν, to take heed, denotes diligent and attentive study, as in Matthew 7:15;[7] 10:17[8] (Gerhard).  He commends their reverence for the Prophets (Cameron on verse 20, similarly Estius, Gerhard, Gomar), both, so that he might confirm the pious in their duty and love toward the Scripture of the Prophets; and, so that he might meet the calumnies of those that were traducing them as adversaries of the Prophets (Gomar).  He exhorts them to read the Prophetic writings.  Thus also Acts 17:11 (Estius).  And first he treats of the reading, then of the interpretation, of the Prophets (Gomar).

Whereunto ye do well that ye take heed; i.e. that ye search and study it, subject your consciences to the power of it, and order your conversations according to it.

[As unto a lamp (that is, a candle, torch, lantern lighted [Estius]) shining in a gloomy (or, dark/obscure [Erasmus, Pagnine, Castalio, Beza, etc.]:  Αὐχμηρὸς properly signifies squalid, for squalor cleaves to dark places [Gerhard]:  or, drynow, man, having not the gift of Prophecy, is a dry place; in Micah 4:8, עֹפֶל/stronghold/mound is translated αὐχμώδης, looking dry, squalid[9] [Grotius]) place[10]]  To this it is compared, either, 1.  because the whole time of this life is a night of error and ignorance, in which the Scripture shatters the darkness, and guides us (most interpreters in Estius).  Or, 2.  because the light of the Prophetic Scripture is slight and restricted (Estius out of Hassel., Adam., Lorinus, etc.).  It indicates a difference between the Old Testament and the New.  The former is after the likeness of a lamp shining in the darkness; the latter after the likeness of the sun fully illuminating all things with its brightness (Vorstius).

A light; or, lamp, to which the word is often compared, Psalm 119:105; Proverbs 6:23; because, as a lamp or candle lighted dispels the darkness, and gives light to those that are in the house or room where it is; so the word gives light to all that are in God’s house, as the church is called, 1 Timothy 3:15.  A dark place; or, dirty, squalid, because places that have no light are usually filthy; the dirt which is not seen is not removed.

[Until, etc., ἕως οὗ ἡμέρα διαυγάσῃ, καὶ φωσφόρος ἀνατείλῃ ἐν ταῖς καρδίαις ὑμῶν]  All the way until the day dawn (understanding, for you:  or, by Syllepsis,[11] from the following part, in your hearts [Estius]), and the day star (which is the morning star, hastening before the Sun, and, with its own light appearing suddenly with the Sun, it makes a certain beginning of the Day:  which the Gentiles call the star of Venus [Estius]:  Others:  the Sun [Syriac]; φωσφόρος/phosphoros also denotes the Sun, as Suidas testifies, since it belongs to it φῶς φορεῖν, to bear light, to illuminate and bring in the day [Gerhard]) arise in your hearts (Erasmus, Pagnine, Piscator, etc.).  By day, etc., and Phosphorus, etc., here he understands, either, 1.  the full day in the case of the Church triumphant (Gomar); or, the Future age (a great many interpreters in Estius, Augustine, Bede, and Cajetan in Gerhard, Calvin); when we shall see God face to face,[12] as in a clear light, when this supports shall no longer be necessary (certain interpreters in Estius).  To which it is objected, 1.  that to this agrees not at all the comparison to the Day Star, since in that Christ, coming in His own glory, shall surpass even all the splendor of the Sun (Estius, similarly Gerhard).  Neither is the solid knowledge of the Future life able to be called the beginning of the day (certain interpreters in Calvin).  Response:  He does not here compare the parts of the day to each other, but he opposes the whole day with its parts to darkness (Calvin).  2.  That at that time there shall be no more need of the Apostolic Scripture than of the Prophetic (Gerhard).  Or, 2.  the time of the advent of Christ to destroy the Jews, and to liberate the Christians, etc. (Hammond):  or, 3.  the progress and increase of faith (Estius); or, a clearer and more perfect knowledge of Christ and divine mysteries (Gerhard out of Estius), through the word of the Gospel and operation of the Holy Spirit [by degrees] arising in their hearts (Gerhard).  The sense:  until ye be illuminated by the light of faith in such a way that your souls be no longer troubled by any scruples of doubts.  For unto this perfection of faith many of the faithful Jews had not yet come, like those in Acts 17:11 (Estius).  But the word until hinders, by which the use of the Prophecies is restricted to a short time, as if, with the light of the Gospel seen, they would now be unnecessary (Calvin).  Responses:  1.  Until always includes the antecedent time, but it does not necessarily exclude the consequent time, as in Matthew 28:20 and elsewhere.  2.  The day has not yet fully dawned to the faithful, on account of the darkness yet remaining in this life, from which by degrees we are liberated by the illumination of the divine word and Spirit (Gomar).  [Others:  The sense:]  Until ye yourselves obtain the Prophetic gift from God.  Prophecy is also called a dripping, Micah 2:6;[13] Ezekiel 21:2;[14] and φωτισμὸς/illumination, as in Judges 13:8; Daniel 5:14; and the Day Star, Isaiah 9:2,[15] for נוֹגַהּ is properly the Day Star to the Hebrews.  He that does not yet have its light upon him, for the present must borrow it from another.  It is not necessary to carry firewood into the forest.  Philo, Προφήτῃ δὲ οὐδὲν ἄγνωστον, ἔχοντι νοητὸν ἥλιον ἐν ἑαυτῷ, but to the Prophet nothing is unknown, having a mental sun in himself[16] (Grotius).

Until the day dawn, and the day star arise in your hearts; either, 1.  The last day, called the day by way of excellency, because when it once begins it will never end, and will be all light without any darkness:  and then what is said of the word of prophecy is to be understood of the whole Scripture; and the sense is, that whereas the whole time of this life is but a kind of night of error and ignorance, God hath set up his candle, given us the light of the Scripture to guide us and lead us, till we come to the glorious light of the future life, in which we shall have no need of the light of the Scripture to direct us, but shall see God as he is, and face to face, 1 Corinthians 13:12.  According to this exposition, the dawning of the day, and the daystar arising, do not signify different parts of the same day, but rather the whole day, as opposed to that darkness which would totally overspread us, were it not for the light the word affords us:  our minds of themselves are dark, in them the light of the word shines, and dispels the darkness by degrees, according as the Spirit gives us more understanding of it; but yet the darkness will not be wholly removed, till the day of eternal life dawn upon us, and the daystar of the perfect knowledge of God in the beatifical vision arise in our hearts.  Or, 2.  By the day dawning, and the daystar arising, may be understood a more full, clear, and explicit knowledge of Christ, and the mysteries of the gospel; and then this relates particularly to the prophecies of The Old Testament; and, as Paul calls the times of the Old Testament a night, Romans 13:12, as being a time of darkness and shadows, in comparison of the light and knowledge of Christ under the New Testament; so Peter here compares the writings of the prophets to a candle, which gives some, but less light, and the preaching of the gospel to the dawning day, and daystar arising; and commends these Christian Jews to whom he wrote, for making use of and attending to even this lesser light, till they attained to greater degrees of illumination, and the daystar of a more full and clear knowledge of Christ, as revealed in the gospel, did arise in their hearts.  This exposition is favoured by Acts 17:11; they there, and so the Jewish converts here, did search the Scriptures, to see if the things spoken by the apostles did agree with what was before written by the prophets; and as they there, so these here, are commended for their diligence in so doing, and intimation given them, that they must attend to the light of the Old Testament prophecies, till they were thereby led into a greater knowledge and understanding of the gospel revelation.

[1] Greek:  καὶ ἔχομεν βεβαιότερον τὸν προφητικὸν λόγον.

[2] Mark 16:20:  “And they went forth, and preached every where, the Lord working with them, and confirming (βεβαιοῦντος) the word with signs following.  Amen.”

[3] 1 Corinthians 1:6:  “Even as the testimony of Christ was confirmed (ἐβεβαιώθη) in you…”

[4] Hebrews 6:16:  “For men verily swear by the greater:  and an oath for confirmation (εἰς βεβαίωσιν) is to them an end of all strife.”

[5] 1 Corinthians 13:13:  “And now abideth faith, hope, charity, these three; but the greatest (μείζων/greater) of these is charity.”

[6] 1 Corinthians 15:19:  “If in this life only we have hope in Christ, we are of all men most miserable (ἐλεεινότεροι, more miserable).”

[7] Matthew 7:15:  “Beware (προσέχετε) of false prophets, which come to you in sheep’s clothing, but inwardly they are ravening wolves.”

[8] Matthew 10:17:  “But beware (προσέχετε) of men:  for they will deliver you up to the councils, and they will scourge you in their synagogues…”

[9] Micah 4:8a:  “And thou, O tower of the flock, the strong hold (עֹפֶל; αὐχμώδης, in the Septuagint) of the daughter of Zion, unto thee shall it come, even the first dominion…”

[10] Greek:  ὡς λύχνῳ φαίνοντι ἐν αὐχμηρῷ τόπῳ.

[11] That is, a construction in which one word governs two or more others words, but agrees in gender, case, and number with only one of them.

[12] 1 Corinthians 13:12.

[13] Micah 2:6:  “Prophesy ye not, say they to them that prophesy (אַל־תַּטִּ֖פוּ יַטִּיפ֑וּן): they shall not prophesy (לֹֽא־יַטִּ֣פוּ) to them, that they shall not take shame.”  נָטַף signifies to drip or drop.

[14] Ezekiel 21:2:  “Son of man, set thy face toward Jerusalem, and drop (וְהַטֵּף) thy word toward the holy places, and prophesy (וְהִנָּבֵא) against the land of Israel…”

[15] Isaiah 9:2:  “The people that walked in darkness have seen a great light:  they that dwell in the land of the shadow of death, upon them hath the light shined (נָגַהּ).”

[16] Special Laws 4:36.

Deuteronomy 18:3-8: The Portion of the Levites, Part 2

Verse 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 (Lev. 7:30-34) they shall give unto the priest the shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.

[This shall be the judgment, מִשְׁפַּט[1]The right of the priests (Vatablus, Malvenda).  They shall receive these things by right (Vatablus).

[From the people]  Not likewise from the priests (Rabbi Salomon in Muis).  Neither from Levites:  but, if they receive from these, they are not obliged to requite, says Elias the easterner (Muis).

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; Numbers 15:3; Deuteronomy 12:27.

[The shoulder and the belly]  To these the Hebrew, Chaldean, and Septuagint add the jaw (Bonfrerius).  Elsewhere only two things are expressed, Exodus 29:27, to which a third things is here added by Moses (Gerhard’s Deuteronomy 1081).  The Hebrew:  the shoulder or arm, and the jaws or cheeks, and the belly[2] (Malvenda).  Question:  Why are these parts allotted to them?  Response:  From the three principal parts of a sheep something is to be given to them; from the legs the shoulder, from the head the jaw, from the body the stomach (Munster, Fagius).  The first things in all respects are to be given to the ministers of God.  Now, the jaws are the beginning of the body; the shoulder, the beginning of the members; the stomach, the beginning of the intestines, says The Guide to the Perplexed.  But Ezra is to be preferred, because these things are better than the remaining flesh (Muis).

[וְהַלְּחָיַיִם]  The jaws, with the tongue included, as they suppose (Munster, Fagius).  By jaws is understood synecdochically the whole head (Gerhard).  That under the name of jaws the lips are included is learned from Josephus, who translates it, χελύνιον/lip/jaw (which is the same as χελύνη/ lip/jaw) (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:45:506).  But what is the following קֵבָה?  Responses:  1.  The breast (Kimchi in Drusius).  2.  The stomach, or belly (Munster, Fagius, Ibn Ezra in Drusius).  Synecdochically, in the place of the tripe, which is a thicker and fatter part of the stomach, and which formerly was a delicacy, as Nonius[3] testifies (Malvenda).  The Greeks translate it, ἔνυστρον, or ἤνυστρον, which (while the stomach has three parts) either is the first and greatest part (as is maintained by Hesychius,[4] Suidas,[5] and the Scholiasts of Nicander[6]), or, the bottommost part (as is maintained by Aristotle in his History of Animals 2:17), from ἤνυσε, to complete, because there the digestion of food is completed.  Now, Aristophanes, in The Knights 1:3; 4:1, reckons the ἤνυστρον among the delicacies (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:45:505).  3.  Others maintain that it is the breast (certain interpreters in Lyra, Menochius).

The shoulder, and the two cheeks, and the maw.  Question.  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?  Answer 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.


Verse 4:  (Ex. 22:29; Num. 18:12, 24) 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.

[The first-fruits, רֵאשִׁית]  Elsewhere תְּרוּמָה/heave-offering, ἀφαίρεμα, that which is taken as the choice part, to the Greeks[7] (Grotius).

[Of the crop]  The Rabbis assessed the measure at a sixtieth part at minimum, which they say is commanded in Ezekiel 45:13.  Ye shall divide into six parts, that is, ye shall offer the sixth part, an Ephah of an Homer[8] (Drusius out of Rabbi Salomon, Munster, Fagius, Grotius).  At most, a fortieth (Lyra, Drusius).


Verse 5:  For (Ex. 28:1; Num. 3:10) the LORD thy God hath chosen him out of all thy tribes, (Deut. 10:8; 17:12) 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.

[He and his sons]  Who, while they were few, were ministering at the same time; when they became many, divisions and courses were wisely established by David, 1 Chronicles 24.  See what things are on Luke 1:5 (Grotius).


Verse 6:  And if a Levite come from any of thy gates out of all Israel, where (Num. 35:2, 3) he sojourned, and come with all the desire of his mind (Deut. 12:5) unto the place which the LORD shall choose…

[And he wish to come, desiring, etc., וּבָא֙ בְּכָל־אַוַּ֣ת נַפְשׁ֔וֹ]  And he come with his whole desire (Vatablus, Pagnine), that is, with great eagerness of spirit.  According to all the longing of his soul.  ב/in is put in the place of כ/as, εὐφωνίας ἕνεκα, for the sake of euphony (Piscator).  Others:  then he shall come according to the desire of his soul, that is, according to his pledge, or, as he wishes (Vatablus).  If he desired to consecrate himself to the ministry of the Temple forever or for a long time (Bonfrerius).

And come, etc.:  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 verse 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, etc.


Verse 7:  Then he shall minister in the name of the LORD his God, (2 Chron. 31:2) as all his brethren the Levites do, which stand there before the LORD.

[Who shall standTo stand, in the place of, to minister:  It indicates that there ought to be great attention and diligence in the Ministers of God (Vatablus).  Objection:  But in 1 Chronicles 23:6, the Levites are distributed into courses and orders (Gerhard).  So that some might not disturb the orders of others.  This tormented the Jews in a remarkable manner.  Responses:  1.  The Law is not reckoned as violated, if something concerning the lesser matters of the Law is changed by the grave counsel of Ministers and the Magistrate (Fagius).  2.  Although these courses were constituted, yet Levites of this sort were to be admitted both before and after the times of David (Gerhard).


Verse 8:  They shall have like (2 Chron. 31:4; Neh. 12:44, 47) portions to eat, beside that which cometh of the sale of his patrimony (Heb. his sales by the fathers[9]).

[The same portion of food, חֵ֥לֶק כְּחֵ֖לֶק]  A part as a part (or, according to a part [Oleaster]) they shall eat (Montanus, Pagnine, Vatablus, Ainsworth, Malvenda); a part equally (Junius and Tremellius); portions equally they shall eat (Samaritan Text, similarly the Syriac, Tigurinus, Castalio, Munster); a part they shall eat, just like the others (Chaldean), that is, just as much as the others ministering (Malvenda, Ainsworth, Gerhard).  But what is this part?  Response 1:  Sacrifices, a part of which was to be given to the Levites, as ministers ministering, as Moses explains (Oleaster).  This does not satisfy; for what sacrifices do they partake in?  Certainly not of the burnt-offerings, neither from the sin and trespass-offering, since the Priests alone ate of those, Leviticus 6; 7; Numbers 18:9, 10.  The same concerning the shoulder and the breast, etc., is evident from Leviticus 10:14, etc.  Of the remaining flesh of the peace-offerings they were able to partake, namely, if they were invited by the offerer unto the feast.  But we nowhere read that a certain part was assigned to them, as to the priests (Bonfrerius).  Response 2:  Maintenance was reserved for them out of the treasury of the Temple (Menochius, Bonfrerius out of Cajetan).  Response 3:  Out of a portion of the tithes reserved by the High Priest for those actively ministering (Menochius out of Bonfrerius).

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.

[With that excepted, etc., לְבַ֥ד מִמְכָּרָ֖יו עַל־הָאָבֽוֹת׃]  Beside their (or his [Montanus], a singular in the place of a plural [Gerhard]) sales upon (or with respect to [Pagnine], or in the presence of [Gerhard, Bonfrerius], or through [Fagius]) the fathers (Malvenda, Montanus, Oleaster), or, which he has from his fathers (Munster, Tigurinus).  Besides the sale which is according to the family (Septuagint).  Besides the price of those thing which any one of them might have sold according to their paternal families (Junius and Tremellius).  The passage is difficult.  They interpret it various (Fagius).  1.  Besides his sales by the fathers; that is, besides his right which was sold by his ancestors; or, unless by them it was sold and separated (Vatablus, Kimchi in Fagius).  2.  Unless he sold his house, which he received by inheritance from his fathers, as it is written in Leviticus 25:33.  And this is an exposition of that (by the fathers, or, upon the fathers).  He does not say to him, This is thine, thou shalt not eat a part as a part, or an equal part (Ibn Ezra in Fagius and in Vatablus).  [3.  Others otherwise.]  With the purchase of the fathers excepted (Syriac); besides that which was handed down to him by his ancestors (Samaritan Text); besides that which the fathers left behind as stable with respect to succession (Arabic).  The Chaldean thus:  besides that which through the exchanges of the Sabbath fell to him, just as the fathers established.  The sense of which appears to be that all portions of offerings ought to be common to the Levites equally, besides those which fell on Sabbaths:  for those ought only to belong to those that were ministering at that time:  which appears to have arisen from the ordinance of the fathers (Vatablus, Fagius).  4.  That, through the fathers, is able to be referred to the order of their service, and of portion; which (order) was instituted according to the fathers, Numbers 3:2 and 1 Chronicles 24:4 (Ainsworth).  They join upon the fathers, not with the immediately preceding clause, but with the one more remote.  A part equally shall they eat upon the fathers, that is, according to the paternal families, Gershonites with Gershonites, etc.; let them not disturb by their coming the distributed ministries (Malvenda out of Junius).  5.  By sales understand sellable possessions (Bonfrerius, Gerhard), by metonymy[10] (Gerhard); things possessed by sale from the fathers (Bonfrerius and Gerhard out of Pagnine).  The price of a thing sold (Ainsworth, Castalio, Drusius):  just as מִקְנֶה is put for the price of a thing bought, Leviticus 25[11] (Castalio).  Besides if he should sell anything hereditary to him (Castalio).  Besides those things which he sold, whether it be his house, or anything else (Drusius).  For they were able to have in the cities houses, suburbs, herds, etc. (Menochius), which things they were handing down to their posterity (Estius).  The Levites were also able to buy certain things for themselves, which things remained their own, and which things they were relinquishing to their children afterwards (Fagius, Vatablus).  Concerning which see on Leviticus 23.  They were able to provide for themselves some moveable goods in those cities, Numbers 35 (Fagius).  The suburban fields of those cities belonged to the entire Tribe, and were not alienable (Grotius).  Perhaps the Levites, staying in the place of the Tabernacle, were denying to him their part, because he had money with him, or the price of a thing (house of field) sold:  the law, therefore, established that, whether he had the price or not, he was going to have his own portion (Oleaster).  That is to say, Let him not be excluded from a suitable portion, because he has whence he is able to feed himself (Malvenda out of Junius, similarly the Dutch).  He properly enjoys that money, and additionally the portion owed to him because of ministry.  The reason for which is twofold.  1.  Because he who ministers in sacred things ought to live of sacred things[12] (not of paternal goods) (Castalio).  2.  Because he has a perpetual right to redeem the thing sold, Leviticus 25:32, but he could not redeem, if the price of the thing sold be squandered (Ainsworth, Malvenda, Junius).  The sense is that those Levites were able to participate equally of all portions that from the offerings fell to them; but they were not obliged to divide one with another those good which, as proper to them, they had from their ancestors (Fagius, Vatablus).

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.  Hebrew: 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, etc., and so there shall be no disturbance nor change in the appointed courses by their accession to the number.

[1] Deuteronomy 18:3a:  “And this shall be the priest’s due (מִשְׁפַּט) from the people…”  מִשְׁפָּט, judgment, right, or due, is derived from the verbal root שָׁפַט, to judge.

[2] Hebrew:  הַזְּרֹ֥עַ וְהַלְּחָיַ֖יִם וְהַקֵּבָֽה׃.

[3] Nonius Marcellus was a fourth century Latin grammarian and lexicographer.  In his De Compendiosa Doctrina, he deals with lexicography, grammar, and a host of special topics.

[4] Hesychius of Alexandria (fifth century AD) composed a Greek lexicon of almost fifty-one thousand entries, filled with explanations of rare and obscure words and phrases.

[5] Suidas was the compiler of the Suda, an encyclopedia containing more that thirty thousand entries concerning the ancient Mediterranean world.  It was probably composed in tenth-century Byzantium.

[6] Nicander was a second century BC Greek poet and physician.

[7] For example, Numbers  18:24a:  “But the tithes of the children of Israel, which they offer as an heave offering (תְּרוּמָה; ἀφαίρεμα, in the Septuagint) unto the Lord, I have given to the Levites to inherit…”

[8] An ephah is a little more than five dry gallons; an homer, fifty-five dry gallons.  However, some estimate that the ephah is a little more than nine dry gallons, which would make it approximately a sixth part of an homer.

[9] Hebrew:  מִמְכָּרָ֖יו עַל־הָאָבֽוֹת׃.

[10] Metonymy of adjunct is a rhetorical devise in which some adjunct, circumstance, or attribute is put in the place of the subject, or vice versa.

[11] For example, Leviticus 25:16:  “According to the multitude of years thou shalt increase the price thereof (מִקְנָתוֹ, or, the purchase thereof), and according to the fewness of years thou shalt diminish the price of it (מִקְנָתוֹ, or, the purchase thereof):  for according to the number of the years of the fruits doth he sell unto thee.”  It is here argued that, just as מִקְנֶה/purchase can signify the price of a thing purchased, so also מִמְכָּר/sale can signify the price of a thing sold.

[12] 1 Corinthians 9:13, 14.

Deuteronomy 18:1, 2: The Portion of the Levites, Part 1

Verse 1:  The priests the Levites, and all the tribe of Levi, (Num. 18:20; 26:62; Deut. 10:9) shall have no part nor inheritance with Israel:  they (Num. 18:8, 9; 1 Cor. 9:13) shall eat the offerings of the LORD made by fire, and his inheritance.

[No part]  Namely, in the spoils of their enemies (Hebrews in Ainsworth).  See Joshua 22:8 (Ainsworth).

[The sacrifices[1]]  Offerings, taken strictly, that were made in the Temple, were sustaining the Priests and Levites that were ministering in the Temple; taken broadly, namely, the tithes, and the rest (Menochius).

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.

[And oblations]  Hebrew:  and His inheritance,[2] that is, that which, as if by hereditary right, pertains to Him (Vatablus).

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.


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

The Lord is their inheritance, i.e. The Lord’s part and right, as was now said.

[1] Deuteronomy 18:1b:  “…they shall eat the fire-offerings (אִשֵּׁי; sacrificia, in the Vulgate) of the Lord, and his inheritance.”

[2] Hebrew:  וְנַחֲלָתוֹ.

Deuteronomy 18 Outline

The Lord is the priests’ and Levites’ inheritance, 1, 2.  Their due from the people, 3-5.  A Levite’s portion that came to serve voluntarily, 6-8.  All unlawful arts prohibited, 9-14.  Christ is promised, whom they must hearken to, 15-19.  False prophets threatened, 20.  The mark of a false prophet, 21, 22.

Deuteronomy 17:17-20: Duties of the Israelite King, Part 2

Verse 17:  Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, that (see 1 Kings 11:3, 4) his heart turn not away:  neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold.

[Many wives]  He is not forbidden to have multiple, but rather many (Lyra, Menochius, Montanus, Drusius).  And some degree of polygamy was lawful, say Drusius.  [Nevertheless, this is denied by Ainsworth and Gerhard.  But these things belong to another place.  See on Leviticus 18.]  The Hebrew lawyers permit eighteen wives to a King (Drusius, Grotius).  Not many:  as many Kings in the East subtracted many thousands of women, useless to themselves, from the honest use of others because of pride (Grotius).  The reason for the prohibition:  1.  Lest they render him effeminate (Menochius, Bonfrerius), and less fit to conduct business (Bonfrerius), and they turn him unto vice (Menochius); unto carnality, and thence unto idolatry (Lyra).  2.  Lest by his depraved example he harm the people (Menochius, Gerhard).  3.  Lest on account of the great crowd of wives and children he load the people with immoderate expenses (Bonfrerius).

[Which might lure, etc., יָסוּר[1]That it withdraw, fall away, understanding, from the Law of God (Vatablus), or, from God (Ainsworth).

Neither shall he multiply wives, as the manner of other kings was.  That his heart turn not away, to wit, from God and his law; either, 1.  To idolatry and superstition, to which women are ofttimes prone, and especially such women as he was likely to choose, even the daughters of neighbouring and idolatrous kings and princes, as Solomon did; or, 2.  To other manifold sins and violations of his duty to his people, either by neglect and contempt of his business, through effeminacy and sloth, or by oppressing his people, and perverting justice, to comply with the vast and exorbitant desires of his wives.

[Neither of silver, etc.]  The reason:  1.  Lest the King, as a result of the lust to have it, plunder his subjects (Bonfrerius, Menochius, Philo in Bonfrerius).  2.  Lest on account of wealth he wallow in pride and luxury (Menochius, Gerhard), and trust in riches (Gerhard).  Lest his heart be lifted up, as it here follows (Grotius).  3.  Lest he maintain a dangerous commerce with foreigners (Bonfrerius, Gerhard).  Thus Lycurgus[2] assigned to Kings a moderate portion of the land, lest the Kings have a tyrannical spirit, or the citizens have a hatred of authority.  In Judea, there were no treasure chambers, except those dedicated to God:  Josephus’ Antiquities of the Jews 12:12 (Grotius).  You will say, the riches of David, Jehoshaphat, etc., are celebrated.  Response:  This prohibition is not to be understood simply, but with qualification (Gerhard):  that is, unless he bears his own expenses (Rabbi Salomon in Drusius).  Lest he, therefore, impoverish his subjects, etc. (Gerhard).  Let the King have what things are consistent with royal magnificence, even as he might gather riches by lawful and honest means; that is to say, from the spoils of enemies, tributes, gifts, herds and flocks, it was prohibited by no law, especially if treasures were gathered for the worship of God or public works (Bonfrerius, Gerhard).  He was able to multiply, not for himself, but for the republic, both for defense against enemies, and for the relief of citizens (Malvenda).

Neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold, lest this should lift up his heart in confidence and pride, which God abhors, and beget in him a contempt of his people; and lest it should incline, or engage, or enable him to burden his people with immoderate exactions.  They are not simply forbidden to be rich, if God made them so either by the voluntary gifts of their subjects, or by the spoils of their enemies, which was the case of David, and Solomon, and Jehoshaphat, etc.; but they are forbidden either inordinately to desire, or irregularly to procure, great riches by grinding the faces of their poor people, or by other wicked arts and courses, as the manner of their neighbouring kings was.


Verse 18:  (2 Kings 11:12) And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his kingdom, that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book out of (Deut. 31:9, 26; see 2 Kings 22:8) that which is before the priests the Levites…

[After…he sits, כְשִׁבְתּוֹ וגו״]  According to to sit him, etc.,[3] that is, when he has begun to reign (Vatablus).

[He shall copy]  That is, he shall cause to be copied (Lyra, Drusius, Vatablus, thus the Arabic).  He shall copy with his own hand (Philo in Menochius, Fagius) (so that the Divine precepts might be more deeply implanted in his soul [Philo in Bonfrerius]); besides that which, as a private man, he was obliged to copy, according to Deuteronomy 31:19, copy ye this song for yourselves (Fagius).

[Deuteronomy, אֶת־מִשְׁנֵ֙ה הַתּוֹרָ֤ה[4]]  [They take it variously.]  1.  Deuteronomy (Vulgate, Septuagint, Menochius, Bonfrerius out of Pagnine, Vatablus, Malvenda, Grotius).  Literally a secondary (a second, double) of the law (Malvenda).  A repetition of the law.  Thus it is taken in Joshua 8:32, he wrote this law a second time[5] (Gerhard).  But why this book?  Response:  Because this book is a compendium of the Law (Menochius).  In the other books there are many things historical and ceremonial, the knowledge of which is not so necessary to a Prince (Bonfrerius).  2.  An exemplar (or, copy [Chaldean, Junius and Tremellius]) of the law (Munster out of the Chaldean, Grotius, the Rabbis in Bonfrerius, thus the Samaritan Text, Syriac, Munster, Tigurinus, Ainsworth).  For he is obliged to copy the entire Pentateuch, first, as an Israelite, then, a second time, as King; so that he might understand that both in private and in public business the Law is to be followed by him.  Thus also he was obliged to read it, both privately for himself, and in the Temple, with the people listening; so that the people might know that no one is exempt from the Law (Grotius).  3.  A double of the Law (Montanus, Hebrews); that is, a twofold exemplar of the Law:  one which he might carry with himself (wherever he might go [Fagius]); the other which he might keep in his archives (Malvenda, Drusius, Fagius, thus Oleaster).  The law duplicated (Oleaster).

He shall write; either with his own hand, as the Jews say; or, at least, by his command and procurement.

[The exemplar from the priests, מִלִּפְנֵ֥י הַכֹּהֲנִ֖ים]  From the faces (or, in the sight [Samaritan Text, Munster, Junius and Tremellius]) of the priests (Montanus, Malvenda); from the presence of the priests (Arabic); taken from a priest (Syriac); out of that which is before the priests (Arabic).  From a public copy, which was of primary authority (Fagius).  From the autograph which is kept by the priests, 2 Kings 22:8 (Gerhard).  From an uncorrupted exemplar (Bonfrerius, Menochius).  Priests, as men skilled in the Law, had the most emaculate codices (Malvenda).  Others:  before the priests (Tigurinus, Oleaster), so that they might be present for the coping, to the end that it might be most strictly copied (Malvenda).  Others:  through the priests (Chaldean).

Out of that which is before the priests the Levites, i.e. out of the original, which was carefully kept by the priests in the sanctuary, Deuteronomy 31:26; 2 Kings 22:8, partly that it might be a true and perfect copy, and partly that it might have the greater authority and influence upon him, coming to him as from the hand and presence of God.


Verse 19:  And (Josh. 1:8; Ps. 119:97, 98) it shall be with him, and he shall read therein all the days of his life:  that he may learn to fear the LORD his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them…

All the days of his life, i.e. diligently and constantly; neither the greatness of his place, nor the weight and multitude, of his business, shall excuse or hinder him.

[So that he might learn to fear]  For this is especially inculcated in Deuteronomy (Menochius).  The language of fear embraces both the internal reverence and the external worship of God, and all true religion.  Compare Isaiah 29:13 with Matthew 15:8 (Ainsworth).


Verse 20:  That his heart be not lifted up above his brethren, and that he (Deut. 5:32; 1 Kings 15:5) turn not aside from the commandment, to the right hand, or to the left:  to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he, and his children, in the midst of Israel.

That his heart be not lifted up; he intimates, that the Scriptures, diligently read and studied, are a powerful and probable means to keep him humble, because they show him that, though a king, he is subject to a higher Monarch, to whom he must give an account of all his administrations and actions, and receive from him his sentence and doom agreeable to their quality, which is sufficient to abate the pride of the haughtiest person in the world, if he duly consider it.

[Right or left]  That is, by excess or defect:  whether by an appearance of virtue, or manifest sin (Bonfrerius).

[For a long time]  Which happened to David, but not to Saul (Grotius).

[1] סוּר signifies to turn aside.

[2] Lycurgus was the seventh century BC lawgiver of Sparta.

[3] A woodenly literalistic rendering.

[4] Deuteronomy 17:18b:  “…that he shall write him a copy (אֶת־מִשְׁנֵה; Deuteronomium, in the Vulgate) of this law in a book…”  מִשְׁנֶה/double/copy is related to שֵׁנִי/second.

[5] Joshua 8:32a:  “And he wrote there upon the stones a copy of the law (מִשְׁנֵה֙ תּוֹרַ֣ת; Deuteronomium legis, in the Vulgate) of Moses…”

Deuteronomy 17:16: Duties of the Israelite King, Part 1

Verse 16:  But he shall not multiply (1 Kings 4:26; 10:26, 28; Ps. 20:7) horses to himself, nor cause the people (Is. 31:1; Ezek. 17:15) to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses:  forasmuch as (Ex. 13:17; Num. 14:3, 4) the LORD hath said unto you, (Deut. 28:68; Hos. 11:5; see Jer. 42:15) Ye shall henceforth return no more that way.

[He shall not multiply horses]  The reason for the law:  1.  Lest he be roused unto pride, and go about in great haughtiness and pomp (Menochius, Gerhard, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals out of Targum Jerusalem).  Not only is the horse an animal γαῦρον/haughty and full of τύφου/vanity, but it also infects its rider with a certain contagion.  Hence Plato, when he had been seated upon a horse, descended immediately, μὴ ἱπποτυφίᾳ ληφθῇ, that is, lest he be carried away with equestrian, or equine, hautiness:  Lærtius’ Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers[1] 3 (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).  2.  Lest he trust in cavalry (Ainsworth, Gerhard, Bonfrerius, Menochius, Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 1:2:9:173).  3.  Lest by his cavalry he be excessively oppressive to his subjects (Bochart’s Sacred
Catalogue of Animals
, Gerhard).  4.  Lest he, trusting in cavalry, should lead the Jews back into Egypt, that perhaps he might conquer her (Bonfrerius, Gerhard).  5.  So that he might cut off the commerce of the Jews with the Egyptians, and might avert the danger of a relapse into idolatry (Bonfrerius) (unto which no nation was more inclined than Egypt [Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals]).  In Egypt there were the most noble of horses (Bonfrerius).  And thence at that time horses were led away, as testify Rabbi Salomon, Rabbi Bechai, and Ibn Ezra.  Let not the King have in Egypt those of his servants, who, so that they might be present for purchasing, dwell in equestrian cities, as Solomon had, says Nahmanides.  And by this example others were able to return into Egypt, and to fall back into Egyptian customs (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).  This reason is in the Hebrew text, let him not lead back into Egypt so that he might multiply horses for himself (Bonfrerius); that is, let him not give occasion to them for desiring an Egyptian habitation, by the love of horses (Grotius).  For Egypt was fruitful with respect to horses, 1 Kings 10:28 (Grotius, Ainsworth).  See 2 Chronicles 1:16; 9:28; Isaiah 31:1 (Ainsworth).  In Judea there was an abundance of asses, a scarcity of horses.  And so even the Principal men were conveyed upon asses, Judges 10:4; 12:14; 1 Chronicles 27:30.  God forbids the King to fetch horses into his kingdom, that is, so that the people might not thereupon grow accustomed to horses (Grotius).  Hence horses captured are often read to have been hamstrung, Joshua 11:6, 9; 2 Samuel 8:4 (Bonfrerius, Malvenda).  On no occasion did the Israelites make use of horses in war (Bonfrerius).  Question:  Whether Solomon sinned against this law?  Responses:  1.  It appears so (Malvenda, a great many interpreters in Gerhard, Kimchi and Rabbi Salomon and Nahmanides in Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).  2.  Others deny it.  By a special privilege this was granted to him (Gerhard), so that he might excel in external splendor, both because God had so promised (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals, Gerhard), and so that we might have in him a clearer type of the Messiah (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).  Especially since so many horses appear to have been to him as it pleased God (Bonfrerius, Gerhard).  Not so much τὸ ῥητὸν, the statement, of the law, as the intention, is to be attended to:  against which one was not sinning, who was gathering many horses, but not so that he might abuse them unto pomp or tyranny, but either to carry necessities, or to repel the attacks of insurgent enemies (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals 175).

[Into Egypt, supported by the number of cavalry, לְמַ֖עַן הַרְבּ֣וֹת ס֑וּס]  In order to multiply horses (Montanus); so that he might multiply horses for himself (Samaritan Text).  [But the Syriac reads, although horses be multiplied to him; and the Arabic, on account of the multitude of goods.]

He shall not multiply horses to himself, to wit, excessively, beyond what the state and majesty of his place required.  Hereby God would prevent many sins and mischiefs, as, 1.  Pride of heart, and contempt of his people.  2.  Oppression and tyranny, and the imposition of unnecessary burdens upon his people.  3.  Carnal confidence, which by this means would be promoted.  See Psalm 33:17; Proverbs 21:31.  4.  Much commerce with Egypt, as it here follows, which was famous for horses, as appears from Exodus 14:23; 1 Kings 10:26, 28; 2 Chronicles 1:16; 9:28; Isaiah 31:1, 3; Ezekiel 17:15.  Nor cause the people to return to Egypt; either for habitation, or for trade.  This God forbade to prevent, 1.  Their unthankfulness for their deliverance out of Egypt.  2.  Their confederacies with the Egyptians, their trusting to them for aid, which they were very prone to, and their infection by the idolatry and other manifold wickednesses for which Egypt was infamous.  3.  Their multiplication of horses, as it here follows.

[Since the Lord hath commanded]  Where?  No where with the words expressed, but implicity in many places, where He is angry with those returning unto Egypt (Menochius out of Bonfrerius).  See Jeremiah 42-44 (Bochart’s Sacred Catalogue of Animals).  Now, for many reasons God did not wish the Israelites to establish a habitation in Egypt:  Exodus 14:13; Deuteronomy 28:68 (Grotius).  1.  Because the Hebrews were prone to the vices and customs of the Egyptians.  But the Egyptians were altogether devoted to idolatry.  2.  Lest they, seeing Egypt fertile from the inundation of the Nile, should think little of their liberation out of Egypt, and be impressed with a weariness of Palestine (Gerhard).  This is to be understood of that time in which it was permitted to them to dwell in the Promised Land; for, with them expelled from that place, it was lawful to seek a place of exile as much in Egypt as elsewhere, as many wise men by their example show that they understand it.  Therefore he adds, by the same way (Grotius); that is, by every way that leads into Egypt, and it is the same with the former reason of limitation (Gerhard).

The Lord hath said:  when or where?  Answer.  Either implicitly, when he showed his dislike of their return to Egypt, as Exodus 13:17; Numbers 14:3, 4; or expressly at this time, The Lord hath now said it to me, and I in his name, and by his command, declare it to you.  That way; in the way that leads to that place.

[1] Diogenes Lærtius was a biographer of Greek philosophers, writing his Lives and Opinions of Eminent Philosophers probably sometime during the third century AD.

Deuteronomy 17:14, 15: A King to be Chosen of the Israelites

Verse 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, (1 Sam. 8:5, 19, 20) I will set a king over me, like as all the nations that are about me…

[When thou art come into]  The Hebrews observe that there were three precepts for the Israelites, after they were come into the land; namely, that they would establish a King over them, that they would exterminate the seed of Amalek,[1] and that they would build the Temple[2] (Fagius).

I will set a king over me, etc.:  He only foresees and foretells what they would do, but doth not seem to approve of it, because when they did this thing for this very reason here alleged, he declares his utter dislike of it, 1 Samuel 8:7.


Verse 15:  Thou shalt in any wise set him king over thee, (see 1 Sam. 9:15; 10:24; 16:12; 1 Chron. 22:10) whom the LORD thy God shall choose:  one (Jer. 30:21) from among thy brethren shalt thou set king over thee:  thou mayest not set a stranger over thee, which is not thy brother.

[Thou shalt establish him, etc.]  Question:  Why is God angry with them in 1 Samuel 8, when here either He commands, or He makes a law for the establishment of a King (Fagius, Gerhard)?  Response:  1.  This is not a precept (nor a concession [Lyra]), but permission (Lyra, Clario), under certain conditions.  God indicates that, if they pertinaciously ask for a King (which nevertheless was displeasing to Him), He will permit it (Bonfrerius, Menochius, Lyra).  He permitted that a King might be made; He commanded that a brother be made:  Augustine’s Seven Books of Questions on the Heptateuch “Deuteronomy” 26 (Gataker).  This is a prophecy (certain Hebrews in Gerhard).  2.  The people sinned, not so much in the very election of a King, as in the manner of, and reason for, choosing, inasmuch as they asked, not by just and legitimate counsel, but tumultuously (certain interpreters in Malvenda and in Gerhard, similarly Ainsworth).  It was lawful for them to ask for a King, but not when they had an Interrex established by God.  And it was needful that a King be established before the place for the Temple be discovered, lest out of the contention of the Tribes a civil war should arise on account of it (Grotius).

Thou shalt set him, i.e. appoint, or install.  If you will choose a king, which I shall suffer you to do, I command you to mind this in your choice.

[Whom the Lord shall choose]  He shall approve through a Prophet.  Thus through Samuel Saul[3] and David[4] were anointed; through Nathan, Solomon,[5] and in him all his posterity:  for in him the kingdom was made a succession; previously it was personal[6] (Grotius).

Whom the Lord shall choose, approve of, or appoint.  So it was in Saul, and in David.  God reserved to himself the nomination both of the family and of the person.  See 1 Samuel 9:15; 10:24; 16:12; 1 Chronicles 28:4, 5.

[From the number of thy brethren]  It is the more widely received opinion of the Hebrews that he should be born out of a lawful marriage of a Hebrew mother (Grotius).

[Not of another nation]  1.  Lest he should lure them to another religion (Menochius out of Bonfrerius).  2.  So that he might rule for the good of his subjects (Bonfrerius, Gerhard).  Lest in heart he be lifted up above them.  3.  With respect had to Messiah (Gerhard).  The Zealots incorrectly drew this to that conclusion, as if it was not lawful to obey foreign Kings.  The Law treats of a voluntary election; not of that which necessity has appointed.  See Jeremiah 38:17; Ezekiel 17:12, etc.  See Concerning the Law of War and Peace[7] 2:4:14, and what things are on Matthew 22:17 (Grotius).

From among thy brethren; of the same nation and religion; partly because such a person was most likely to maintain true religion, and to rule with righteousness, gentleness, and kindness to his subjects; and partly that he might be a fit type of Christ, their supreme King, who was to be one of their brethren.  Mayest not set a stranger over thee, to wit, by thy own choice and consent; but if God by his providence and for their sins should set a stranger over them, they might submit to him, as appears from Jeremiah 38:17; Ezekiel 17:12; Matthew 22:17.

[1] See Exodus 17:14-16; Deuteronomy 25:17-19.

[2] See, for example, Deuteronomy 12.

[3] 1 Samuel 9:27-10:1.

[4] 1 Samuel 16:12, 13.

[5] 1 Kings 1:45.

[6] See 2 Samuel 7; Psalm 89.

[7] De Jure Belli ac Pacis.

Deuteronomy 17:8-13: Difficult Cases to be Referred to the Jerusalem Court

Verse 8:  (2 Chron. 19:10; Hag. 2:11; Mal. 2:7) If there arise a matter too hard for thee in judgment, (see Ex. 21:13, 20, 22, 28; 22:2; Num. 35:11, 16, 19; Deut. 19:4, 10, 11) between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within thy gates:  then shalt thou arise, (Deut. 12:5; 19:17; Ps. 122:5) and get thee up into the place which the LORD thy God shall choose…

[If difficult and doubtful, כִּ֣י יִפָּלֵא֩ מִמְּךָ֙[1]If it be hidden from thee (Pagnine, Vatablus, Syriac).  If it be concealed, or, covered, from thee, or, to thee (Oleaster, Targum Jerusalem, Arabic, Cajetan, Junius and Tremellius).  From פָּלָא/PALA, to separate, because hidden things are separated from the notice of men (Oleaster).  When it is marvelous, as in Deuteronomy 30:11.[2]  Or, a thing separated, from thine inquiry, or action and ability.  Thus it is taken in Genesis 18:14[3] and Jeremiah 32:17[4] (Gerhard).  If it be impossible (Septuagint).  Thus they often translate פּלא (Grotius).  If the cause be doubtful, and more difficult than that thou art able to pronounce concerning it (Vatablus, Fagius).  I understand this law to be of so great a necessity, that the union of all Israelites depends upon it, as Maimonides often observed.  The sense:  when a controversy is obscurer than might be made clear by all the Magistrates of a certain city.  He treats here concerning questions, not of fact, but of law.  What cases of obscurity human laws have, those the Divine laws expressed in the human manner do not avoid; partly, on account of words or expressions πολυσήμους, with many significations, which are many in all languages, a great many in the Hebrew language; partly, because, where laws speak in a general way, it is disputed what rarer sorts of deeds ought to be excepted; partly, because, where laws speak specifically, it is not always evident whether the law remains limited within that specific case, or ought to be extended unto those things which appear to be similar.  And there are many other reasons why the same words are not taken in the same way by all, by some coarser, by others subtler than is necessary (Grotius).

[The judgment, דבָ֜ר לַמִּשְׁפָּ֗ט]  A word (matter [Fagius, Junius and Tremellius], business [Arabic], anything [Pagnine]) for judgment (Oleaster, Malvenda), or, of judgment (Fagius, Munster).  As when one murder is compared with another with respect to degree, or quality.  The same thing obtains in the following two members (Gerhard).

Too hard for thee; he speaks to the inferior magistrates, who were erected in several cities, as appears by the opposition of these to them at Jerusalem.  If, saith he, thou hast not skill or confidence to determine so weighty and difficult a cause.

[Between blood and blood, בֵּֽין־דָּ֙ם׀ לְדָ֜ם]  Between blood unto blood.  It denotes a regard of one to another (Gerhard, Ainsworth).  [They take it variously.]  Between a relative and a relative.  Thus the Vulgate renders these words in 2 Chronicles 19:10; that is, between those who are either of diverse, or the same, family, between whom there are wont to be frequent lawsuits concerning possessions (Tirinus).  2.  They understand all blood in general, as menstrual, etc., and the blood of murder, etc. (Hebrews in Fagius).  Between blood clean (or, of the clean [Rabbi Salomon]) and impure (or, of the impure [Rabbi Salomon (Targum Jerusalem in Gerhard)]).  3.  They understand the blood, either, of one murdered, already shed, or, of the murderer, to be shed by the Magistrate.  These things are able to be conjoined most aptly (Gerhard).  Between the innocent and the one to be condemned of a capital crime (Fagius, Drusius), who for other reasons appears to thee to be innocent (Vatablus).  Whether the homicide was perpetrated voluntarily, or accidentally (Tirinus, Menochius, Ainsworth, Gerhard).  Whether murder of this or that sort merits the city of refuge, or not.  For in fault there are many degrees:  it is extensive, medium, minimal (Grotius).  By the name of blood are synecdochically denoted all criminal causes, the adjudication of which the Hebrews call the judgment of blood (Gerhard).

Between blood and blood, i.e. in capital causes in matter of bloodshed, whether it be wilful or casual murder, whether punishable or pardonable by those laws, Exodus 21:13, 20, 22, 28; 22:2; Numbers 35:11, 16, 19; Deuteronomy 19:4, 10.

[Between plea and plea, בֵּֽין־דִּ֣ין לְדִ֗ין]  Between judgment (or, cause, or sentence, judicial [Malvenda]) and judgment (Vatablus).  Whether the sentence pronounced was to be executed, or reviewed (certain interpreters in Gerhard).  Between the plea of the plaintiff, and the plea of the defendant (Vatablus).  They understand, either, 1.  Financial lawsuits (Fagius, Vatablus, Targum Jerusalem in Gerhard, Grotius), even those which are of lesser moment (Vatablus, Fagius); and injuries of words, the punishment of which was arbitrary, and the punishment to be inflicted in one and the same matter, because of ἀόριστον, that is, the indetermination, of the law, was able to be judged the greater on the one side, and the lesser on the other (Grotius).  Or, 2.  civil cases, just as blood contained criminal cases (Gerhard).  Concerning whatever other case or lawsuit, not criminal or capital (Tirinus, Bonfrerius).  A lawsuit over whatever matter (Menochius).  What is here דִּין/κρίσις/judgment is in Deuteronomy 25:1 רִיב/ἀντιλογία/controversy (Grotius).

Between plea and plea; in civil causes or suits between plaintiffs and defendants about words or estates.

[Leprosy and leprosy, וּבֵ֥ין נֶ֙גַע֙ לָנֶ֔גַע]  [They take it variously.]  1.  Between bruise and wound (Fagius), which one inflicted upon another (Ainsworth).  2.  Between stroke and stroke, that is, whoever is to be beaten, or, which is severer or more lenient (Oleaster, Eugubinus[5] in Bonfrerius).  נֶגַע signifies a stroke, injury, blow, 2 Samuel 7:14;[6] Isaiah 53:8[7] (Gerhard).  3.  Between leprosy and leprosy (Vulgate, Bonfrerius, Montanus, Tirinus, Gerhard, Grotius, thus Onkelos and Jonathan and Rabbi Salomon and Gerundensis in Gerhard).  נֶגַע signifies every more grevious ill.  The Greeks translate it, μάστιγα/scourges/plagues in the Old Testament,[8] and in the New Testament, Mark 3:10;[9] 5:29,[10] 34.[11]  But ἀντονομαστικῶς/antonomastically[12] it signifies leprosy, and it is taken in this sense fifty times in Leviticus 13 (Grotius).  In the case of leprosy there were able to be grievous difficulties.  See on Leviticus 13 and 14 (Ainsworth).  Often even the Physicians are in doubt whether leprosy, which has these or those marks, is not to be feared as a contagion (Grotius).  Between leprosy, etc., that is, whether it be true and contagious, or not (Tirinus, Menochius).  As cases criminal are understood by blood, and cases civil by lawsuits, so cases Ecclesiastical by leprosy (Gerhard).

Between stroke and stroke, i.e. either first in ceremonial causes, between plague and plague, between the true leprosy, which is ofttimes called the plague, and the seeming and counterfeit leprosy, which was ofttimes hard to determine.  And under this, as the most eminent of the kind, may seem to be contained all ceremonial uncleannesses.  But this seems not probable, 1.  Because the final determination of the matter of leprosy is manifestly left to any particular priest, Leviticus 13; 14.  2.  Because the person suspected of leprosy was not to be brought to Jerusalem, to be tried there, but was to be shut up in his own city and house, Leviticus 13:4, 5; and the judges at Jerusalem neither could nor would determine his case without once seeing the person.  3.  Because the case of leprosy was not hard or difficult, as those causes are said to be, but plain and evident, and so particularly and punctually described, that the priest needed only eyes to decide it.  Or rather, 2.  In criminal causes, concerning blows or wounds inflicted by one man upon another, and to be requited to him by the sentence of the magistrate according to that law, Exodus 21:23-25, wherein there might be many cases of great difficulty and doubt, about which see the annotations there.

[Thou mayest see that the words of the judges do vary (similarly the Chaldean), דִּבְרֵ֥י רִיבֹ֖ת]  Words, or matters, of contentions (Samaritan Text, Montanus, Grotius), or, of lawsuits (Oleaster, Malvenda, Ainsworth) (it is set down in apposition [Ainsworth]), or, of judgment (Septuagint); a legal process of dispute (Syriac).  And the words come into discord (Munster), among the Judges discordant in sentence; it is understood by way of apposition (Ainsworth).  Words of disputes, of lawsuits; that is, in controversial matters (Vatablus).  Others repeat ὰπὸ κοινοῦ, as common, וּבֵין, and between, and between whatever matters of disputes, that is, controversial:  thus the Latin Translator and the Chaldean paraphrasts (Gerhard).  Thus the Arabic:  between the sentence of a stroke, and contentious causes.  Others understand מִן/from, or ב/in; from, or in, matters of lawsuits, or of disputes, or controversial (Junius and Tremellius, Vatablus, Pagnine, Gerhard, similarly Tigurinus); that is, If the contention of the Judges proceeds to the point that the lesser part wishes to uphold its sentence against the greater part, and between the diverse opinions some fissure, about to tear apart that city and its neighbors, is able to emerge.  For this law was given to guard against schisms (Grotius).

[Within thy gates]  In the tribunals of individual cities, which were in the gates, after the custom of the Hebrews and their neighbors, Genesis 34:20; Ruth 4:1, 11 (Grotius).

Matters of controversy, i.e. such things or matters of blood and pleas and strokes being doubtful, and the magistrates divided in their opinions about it; for if it was a clear case, this was not to be done.  Some make this an additional clause to comprehend these and all other things, thus as if he had said, and in general, any words or matters of strifes or contentions.

[Unto the place]  At first, Shiloh;[13] afterwards, Jerusalem (Grotius).

Which the Lord shall choose, to wit, to set up his worship and tabernacle or temple there; because there was the abode, both of their sanhedrim, or chief council, which was constituted of priests and civil magistrates, who were most able to determine all controversies, and of the high priests, who were to consult God by Urim, Numbers 27:21, in great matters, which could not be decided otherwise.


Verse 9:  And (see Jer. 18:18) thou shalt come unto the priests the Levites, and (Deut. 19:17) unto the judge that shall be in those days, and enquire; (Ezek. 44:24) and they shall shew thee the sentence of judgment…

[And thou shalt come unto the priests of Levitical birth[14]]  Both the Priests and the Levites, who, because they have the quiet leisure, were diligently studying, not only all things of the Law, but also of Medicine and of other arts, as were also the Egyptian priests:  and, therefore, in those first ages the Senate of seventy men was wont especially to be gathered out of those, as the most erudite:  whence also here that Senate is to be understood for its better part.  The priests were ἐπόπται πάντων καὶ δικασταὶ τῶν ἀμφισβητουμένων, that is, inspectors of all and judges of controversial matters:  Josephus’ Against Apion 2.  Philo, in his Concerning the Life of Moses, Συνήδρευον οἱ ἱερεῖς, etc., the priests were holding the Sanhedrin:  in Concerning the Establishment of the Prince, Ὄταν οὖν ἀμαυρὰν ποιῆται τὴν ἀντίληψιν τῶν πραγμάτων ἀσάφεια, etc., therefore, as often as the obscurity of those matter renders comprehension difficult, let him refuse the office of Judge, and let him send the litigants to more acute Judges:  but who then are these, except the Priests and the High Priest?  Excessive wealth, and then luxury and sloth, caused it to be that often the more erudite men were afterwards in other tribes, and therefore, with the Priests and Levites passed over, indeed sometimes even with the High Priest passed over [see what things we have gathered on Deuteronomy 16:18], they were chosen unto the Senate from the Senators.  Thus Maimonides, in his יָד הֶחָזָקָה, Mishneh Torah “Concerning the Sanhedrin” 2.  But here the method of better times is held, when the Priests and the Levites were of what sort they ought to be.  Here, therefore, those differing were commanded to go to the Priests and Levites that were in the Senate, and were regarded to be the most erudite:  who, if they had satisfied them either by the weight of reasons, or by testimony of the matter determined in this or that manner in manners or matters concluded, very well:  but if nothing was such, the same learned men were referring the reasons of both parties to the Sanhedrin, and were answering according to its decree; which unto posterity was in the place of law.  Thus by Christians in weighty controversies a Roman Synod, consisting also of seventy Bishops, formerly the best, and most highly skilled in Divine things, was wont to be consulted (Grotius).

[And unto the judge, וְאֶל־הַשֹּׁפֵט]  Question:  Who is the Judge here?  Response 1:  The High Priest (Hebrews in Vatablus and Fagius, Tirinus, Menochius, Bonfrerius, Philo in Gerhard, Rambam[15] and Rabbi Moses in Bonfrerius).  It favors these, that such a Judge is treated who, 1.  was a Judge of leprosy:  2.  and was necessarily dwelling in the place were the Temple was; but not one of the Judges dwelt there except Eli:  3.  and was obliged to teach what was to be done according to the Law.  But these things agree with the Priest.  Objection:  How is it made credible that this one determined cases capital and civil?  Response 1:  The tribunal of the Jews was twofold, 1.  of the Priest, concerning religion; 2.  of Kings and secular Judges, concerning cases civil and criminal.  Response 2:  The lay tribunal depended upon the sacred tribunal (Bonfrerius).  [How soundly he asserts this, it does not belong to this place to determine.  Let the Polemicists be consulted.]  Response 2:  This Judge was political (Calvin, Grotius, Gerhard, Drusius).  It favors these, 1.  that in what precedes mention is made of cases criminal and civil:  2.  that in verse 12 a distinction is made between the priest and the judge (Bonfrerius).  ו/ and is put in the place of אוֹ/or (Grotius, Ainsworth, Gerhard).  Thus it is taken in Exodus 21:15, 17[16] (Grotius, Gerhard), compared with Matthew 15:4[17] (Gerhard); Numbers 30:5, 6;[18] Matthew 12:37 (Grotius).  Likewise compare Leviticus 6:3 with verse 5,[19] and 2 Samuel 2:19 with verse 21[20] (Gerhard).  Thus the Latins make use of and in the place of or, as Servius[21] shows on that statement of the Æneid, they command to cast down, and to burn with flames placed under; alleging also that saying, some roll the massive stone and the spokes of the wheels (Grotius).  And thus it is evident that it is to be taken in this place, 1.  from verse 12, or of the judge[22] (Ainsworth, Grotius, Gerhard):  2.  from the matter itself; for between Israelites twofold were the causes and controversies, 1.  concerning Religion, Law, etc.; 2.  concerning civil matters; and to that extent twofold was the tribunal, as it is evident from 2 Chronicles 19:4-11 and Jeremiah 26:8 (Gerhard).  Judges in the plural is rightly able to be understood, either, those of the urban tribunals, or, even the greatest senators, as in Deuteronomy 1:16; 16:18; 19:17, 18; 21:2.  But Judge in the singular is wont to signify an Interrex divinely constituted, of which sort were those in the Book of שֺׁפְטִים/Judges.  But those שֺׁפְטִים/Judges are clearly similar to Roman Interreges,[23] and afterwards to the Dictators;[24] they were not differing from Kings, except that they did not have an escort and royal pomp, and therefore they did not exact tribute.  And, just as Kings without the Sanhedrin had the right to put to death, 2 Samuel 1:15, so also these δικασταὶ/judges, Judges 8:16, 17; 12:6.  However, such δικασταὶ/judges, since they were given by God, and, on account of that, equipped with prophetic gifts (whence also Josephus calls them Prophets), were certainly able to be consulted without danger:  but, because there were not going to be such in all times (for this maintains what is added, who will be in that time, that is, if any of this sort shall be), God wills that in the place of the those the Sanhedrin be consulted, composed of the most erudite men, representing the whole people (Grotius).  3.  The Judge here is the Sanhedrin:  just as what is here priests is in verse 12 the priest; and in 1 Chronicles 4:42 many prefects are called a head.[25]  Just as among the Priests there was one principal man, so also among the Judges there was one principal man, 2 Chronicles 19:11 (Ainsworth).  The Priests and the Levites were chosen as Judges, if they were strong in wisdom and the fear of the Lord.  Then also Israelites, who were equal to the priests in the knowledge of the Law and religion.  You have this in Exodus 18:22; Numbers 11:24; Deuteronomy 1:13.  Just as also the consent of Hebrew antiquity confirms in the Book Sanhedrin (Fagius, Vatablus).  Not in any age ever were the priests and Levites alone the Judges (Fagius).

Unto the priests the Levites, i.e. unto the great council, which it is here denominated from, because it consisted chiefly of the priests and Levites, as being the best expositors of the laws of God, by which all those controversies mentioned verse 8 were to be decided.  And the high priest was commonly one of that number, and may seem to be understood here under the priests, whereof he was the chief.  Unto the judge:  this judge here is either, 1.  The supreme civil magistrate, who was made by God the keeper of both tables, and was by his office to take care of the right administration both of justice and of religion, who was to determine causes and suits by his own skill and authority in civil matters, and by the priests’ direction in spiritual or sacred causes.  But this seems obnoxious to some difficulties, because, 1.  This judge was obliged to dwell in the place of God’s worship, which the civil magistrate was not, and ofttimes did not.  2.  This judge was one whose office it was to expound and teach others the law of God, as it here follows, verse 11, therefore not the civil magistrate.  Or, 2.  The high priest, who was obliged to live in this place, to whom it belonged to determine some at least of those controversies mentioned verse 8, and to teach and expound the law of God.  And he may be distinctly named, though he be one of the priests, partly because of his eminency and superiority over the rest of them, as after all David’s enemies Saul is particularly mentioned, Psalm 18 title; and partly to show that amongst the priests he especially was to be consulted in such cases.  But this also seems liable to objections.  1.  That he seems to be included under that general expression of the priests and Levites.  2.  That the high priest is never in all the Scripture called simply the judge, but generally called the priest, or the high priest, or chief priest, or the like; and it is most probable if Moses had meant him here, he would have expressed him by some of his usual names and titles, and not by a strange title which was not likely to be understood.  3.  That divers controversies between blood and blood, plea and plea, stroke and stroke, were not to be determined by the high priest, but by other persons, as appears by Exodus 18:22; Deuteronomy 1:16, 17.  Or, 3.  The sanhedrim or supreme council, which, as was said before, consisted partly of priests, and partly of wise and learned persons of other tribes, as is confessed by all the Jewish and most other writers.  And so this is added by way of explication, partly to show that the priests and Levites here mentioned, as the persons to whom all hard controversies are to be referred, are not all the priests and Levites which should reside in Jerusalem, but only such of them as were or should be members of that great council by whom, together with their fellow-members of other tribes, these causes were to be decided; partly to intimate that that great council, which had the chief and final determination of all the above-said controversies, was a mixed assembly, consisting of wise and good men, some ecclesiastical, and some secular; as it was most meet it should be, because many of the causes which were brought unto them were mixed causes.  As for the conjunctive particle and, that may be taken either disjunctively for or, as it is Exodus 21:15, 17, compared with Matthew 15:4; and Numbers 30:5, 6, compared with Matthew 12:37; Leviticus 6:3, 5; 2 Samuel 2:19, 21; or exegetically, for that is, or to wit, as Judges 7:24; 1 Samuel 17:40; 28:3; 2 Chronicles 35:14; and so the sense may be, the priests, the Levites, or the judge, as it is Deuteronomy 17:12; or, the priests, the Levites, that is, the judge, or the judges appointed for this work.  And though the word judge be in the singular number, and may seem to denote one person, yet it is only an enallage, or change of the number, the singular for the plural, judges, which is most frequent, as Genesis 3:2, 7; 49:6; 1 Samuel 31:1; 1 Kings 10:22; 2 Kings 11:10, compared with 2 Chronicles 9:21; 23:9 and in the Hebrew, 1 Chronicles 4:42, where divers officers are called one head.  And so it is most probably here, 1.  Because the following words which belong to this run altogether in the plural number, they, they, they, etc., here and verses 10 and 11.  2.  Because here is the same enallage in the other branch, the same person or persons being called the priests here, and the priest verse 12.  3.  Because for the judge here is put the judges, Deuteronomy 19:17, where we have the same phrase used upon the same or a like occasion, the men between whom the controversy is shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges, which shall be in those days.  Nor is it strange, but very fit and reasonable, that so many persons being all united in one body, and to give judgment or sentence by the consent of all, or the greatest part, should be here called by the name of one judge, as indeed they were; and for that reason the priests are spoken of in the plural number, because they were many, as also the other members of that assembly were, and the judge in the singular number, because they all constituted but one judge.

[And thou shalt enquire, וְדָרַשְׁתָּ]  In the place of, so that thou mightest enquire:  for the ו/and is here used τελικῶς, with respect to the end in view (Gerhard).

[Who shall show to thee]  Either by a certain tradition known to them; or by the decree of the Sanhedrin, if the matter had not been previously decided (Grotius).

[The truth of the judgment, דְּבַ֥ר הַמִּשְׁפָּֽט׃]  The word of judgment (Munster, Oleaster, Malvenda, Montanus, Gerhard), that is, the matter just, or justly (Oleaster).  The very sentence, just as it is to be pronounced (Vatablus, Gerhard).  The state of the judgment, or cause (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  True judgment, so that thou mightest be able to extricate thyself (Munster).

The sentence of judgment, Heb. the word or matter of judgment, i.e. the true state and right of the cause, and what judgment or sentence ought to be given in it.


Verse 10:  And thou shalt do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD shall choose shall shew thee; and thou shalt observe to do according to all that they inform thee…

[Whatever they say]  Because the Sanhedrin was going to endure perpetually, but not those Interreges, therefore on those especially he fixes his speech (Grotius).

[עַל־פִּ֤י הַדָּבָר֙[26]According to (upon [Malvenda]) the mouth of the word (Oleaster, Malvenda, Grotius, Gerhard), that is, that speech (Grotius, Gerhard).

Thou shalt, i.e. thou shalt pass sentence; for he speaks to the inferior magistrates, as was before noted, who were to give sentence, and came hither to be advised about it.  Thou shalt observe to do.  It is very observable that this place doth not speak of all controversies of faith, as if they were to believe every thing which they should teach; but only of some particular matters of practice and strife between man and man, to which it is plainly limited, verse 8.  And they are not here commanded to believe, but only to do, which is thrice repeated.


Verse 11:  According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee, and according to the judgment which they shall tell thee, thou shalt do:  thou shalt not decline from the sentence which they shall shew thee, to the right hand, nor to the left.

[According to His law,  עַל־פִּ֙י הַתּוֹרָ֜ה]  Upon the mouth (according to the speech [Grotius, Pagnine]) of the law (Montanus).  Out of the determination, or prescription, of the law; that is, according to the law which they shall prescribe to thee (certain interpreters in Malvenda).  Question:  Whether these words restrict the precept?  Response 1:  The Rabbis answer in the negative.  The Hebrew Gloss says, If he should say to thee that right is left, or left is right, such a sentence is to be embraced (Lyra).  The Papists also answer in the negative.  They ought to esteem the judgment of the priests to be according to the law, Malachi 2:7 (Menochius, Estius).  It is to be taken assertively; that is to say, Subordinates ought to acquiesce, and to presuppose that their judgment is according to the law of God (Lapide).  [To which is able to be opposed what other authors of theirs say on this passage.]  The sentence of no man, of whatever authority, is to be held, if it manifestly contains falsehood or error, because it is said, and they teach thee according to the Law.  Therefore, if they manifestly decline from the Law, they are not to be heard (Lyra, similarly Tirinus and Lapide himself).  Understand (says he), unless manifestly the contrary is discerned, that is, that the Pope is perverting the Law; for then obedience shall be, not to him, but to the Law of God (Lapide).  [Behold the great power of the truth!]  Response 2:  Others answer in the affirmative.  The judgment of the Priests is restricted to the standard of the Divine Law (Ainsworth, Gerhard).  See Ezekiel 44:24 and Matthew 23:2, 3, compared with Matthew 15:1, etc.; 16:6, 12 (Ainsworth).  These words are to be taken, not assertively, but restrictly (Tostatus, Cajetan, Munster, Paulus Venetus[27] in Gerhard).  [Grotius here plays the part of a mediator.]  That according to the law (says he) does not limit the precept, as if individuals are only bound to obey the decree of the Sanhedrin, if the Sanhedrin responds with things consistent with the Law:  for that would be to submit interpretation to the judgment of every man, and hence to give occasion for disagreements, for the avoiding of which this law was given.  Thus the passage has it, according to the speech (that is, the interpretation) of the law…and according to the judgment which they shall speak unto thee (that is, the precept which in judging the Judges ought to follow), thou shalt do—The Law, therefore, does not permit to every man an interpretation of the Law, which he desires to follow, and to make a sect with some color of probability; but he established a necessary rule for preserving unity.  Was the Sanhedrin, therefore, able to err, either in witnessing to the ancient tradition, or in explaining the law, in their sentence?  It was certainly possible that it was able:  if, with the matter afterwards better known, suppose that, having been impressed upon by men very pious and erudite, the Elders see that they have erred from the true sense, it is the reason for the expiation in the law set forth in Leviticus 4:13.  But to individuals it was not commanded to believe all things which the Sanhedrin might say, but rather, it was commanded not to act against, not to teach against.  See Josephus on this place, and Maimonides in Guide to the Perplexed 3:41, and the Book of Manoim 50:4, and Moses de Kotzi’s Great Book of Commandments “Positive Precept” 46.  For some things were able to be called into controversy, of which sort were:  Whether a small bird was to be divided in two in this or that manner? what computation was to be entered upon for the Passover? whether a punishment somewhat greater or lesser was to be imposed upon this offense? and other things of this sort; in which matters it was not of so much importance which would be done, as it was to preserve the fabric of the Hebrew body without separation.  In matters of great moment, it was certainly not able to happen that the Sanhedrin, from the beginning composed of the best and most erudite men, and continued by an uninterrupted process of election by colleagues, might be able to be mistaken, except with a long passage of ages, and with discipline corrupted:  if this had happened, God, a lover of unity, was going to respond by admonishing and convicting them through the Urim and Thummim, or was going to stir up some Prophet renowned for true miracles, and finally was going to give the Messiah Himself, the one greater than Moses; with whom sent, the authority of the Sanhedrin vanished.  It is to be observed in addition that some ordinances of the Senate, composed for the interpretation or fortification of the Law, passed away, not only if the Senate changed before the sentence was received everywhere as a custom, but also if either from the beginning the people would not bear them, or if they passed into disuse (Grotius).

According to the sentence of the law which they shall teach thee:  these words are a manifest limitation of the foregoing assertion, that they were to do according to all that the judge or judges informed him.  And they seem to limit and regulate, 1.  The judges in their sentence, that they shall not, upon pretence of this supreme authority put into their hands, presume to teach or direct otherwise than the law prescribes.  2.  The people in their obedience; first they shall not simply obey them in all things, but so far forth as their sentence is according to the law and word of God, but not when their commands are evidently contrary to God’s laws, for then, say even popish commentators on this place, they must obey God rather than man.  And this cannot be denied by any man of sense, upon supposition that this place speaks of, and this power given to the priest or judge reacheth to, all controversies or questions of faith and manners, as the papists would extend it:  for put case these priests or judges should give a sentence directly contrary to the express words of God’s law, Thou shalt worship a graven image, as Aaron did in the case of the calf, thou shalt profane the sabbath, thou shalt dishonour thy father and mother, thou shalt murder, steal, commit adultery, etc., I ask, were the people in this case bound to do as the judge determined, or not?  If any say they were, such a bold and wicked assertion must need strike all sober Christians with horror; and if they say they were not, then this must needs be taken for a limitation.  But this place speaks only of particular suits between man and man, as is apparent from the notes on verse 8.  And in all such cases, although the judge be hereby confined and tied to his rule in giving the sentence, yet it seems but fit and reasonable that people should be bound simply to acquiesce in the sentence of their last and highest judge, or else there would have been no end of strife.

[To the right hand, etc., יָמִ֥ין וּשְׂמֹֽאל׃]  It is wanting the preposition עַל/upon, which is expressed in Genesis 24:49[28] (Gerhard).


Verse 12:  And (Num. 15:30; Ezra 10:8; Hos. 4:4) the man that will do presumptuously, and will not hearken (Heb. not to hearken[29]) unto the priest (Deut. 18:5, 7) that standeth to minister there before the LORD thy God, or unto the judge, even that man shall die:  and (Deut. 13:5) thou shalt put away the evil from Israel.

[Who would show pride, Hebrew:  who would act through pride, בְזָדוֹן[30]In pride (Septuagint, Montanus, similarly Junius and Tremellius).  Who would conduct himself arrogantly (Samaritan Text); who would act audaciously (Syriac).  Who would admit obstinacy, that is, through arrogance he is unwilling to obey the priest, etc. (Vatablus).  Who will practice stubbornness (Arabic), in malice (the Chaldean in Ainsworth).  It is opposed to ignorance and error, Exodus 21:13, 14 (Ainsworth).  זָדוֹן signifies temerity.  It is translated ἰταμία/temerity, not incorrectly, by the Greeks in Jeremiah 49:16.[31]  It certainly belong to temerity in matters open to debate to love their own opinions so tenaciously that, therefore, peace is broken, which humanly speaking cannot be retained except through some authority presiding over all.  Now, God rarely does miracles:  generally He preserves human affairs by methods agreeing with human nature.  Indeed, that description of pride does not apply to all, but to those only that assign to themselves the character of teacher, and divide the people.  Such an one, who is called in the Talmudic books זקן חמרא [perhaps it is to be read המרא[32]], an elder, that is, a teacher, contumacious.  They were not teachers unless they were above forty years of age (Grotius).

[Of the priest]  In verse 9, it is priests:  Therefore, the council was composed of a plurality of priests, but the authority and power of one was primary (Lyra).  Of the priest, who is going to designate what is received; or shall consult the Sanhedrin, and according to its decree shall respond (Grotius).

[Who ministers to the Lord, אֶת־יְהוָה[33]To the Lord (Samaritan Text, Junius and Tremellius); before the Lord (Chaldean, Syriac, Samaritan Text); in the name of the Lord (Septuagint).

[And of the judge]  That is, of the High Priest, as in verse 9 (Bonfrerius).  Of a political Judge (Ainsworth, Grotius).  [See what things are on verse 9.]

That will do presumptuously, i.e. that will proudly and obstinately oppose the sentence given against him.  This is opposite to ignorance and error, Exodus 21:13, 14.

[He shall die]  A grievous punishment, but to avoid the most grievous danger of all.  In the place of this is Excommunication in the Christian Church, says Augustine in his Seven Books of Questions on the Heptateuch[34] “Deuteronomy” 5:38 (Grotius).  The Hebrews refer this to a rebellious elder, or judge, namely, inferior:  And, when they maintain that their traditions are included in this law (see on verse 10), they except from this law and its punishment the Sadducees established in the opinions of their fathers, and also those Elders that only believe the contrary of the decree of the Sanhedrin, or teach others thus to believe, unless they do the contrary, or teach others thus to do, because it is said, who shall do, etc. (Ainsworth).

[The evil, הָרָע]  That is, either, the one doing the evil (Ainsworth out of the Chaldean and Septuagint); the pernicious man (Menochius); the refractory (Gerhard):  or, the evil thing, that is, the scandal (certain interpreters in Gerhard); thus thou shalt prevent schism, a monstrous evil.  For the same reason the examination of a false prophet was permitted to the Sanhedrin alone, and the punishment was signified by letters to all cities (Grotius).

The evil; either, 1.  The evil thing, that scandal, that pernicious example.  Or, 2.  That evil, refractory, pernicious person, whose practice herein tends to the dissolution of all government, and the ruin of the commonwealth of Israel.


Verse 13:  (Deut. 13:11; 19:20) And all the people shall hear, and fear, and do no more presumptuously.

[The people, hearing]  Hebrew:  the people shall hear[35] (Malvenda).  The construction is related to the sense (Gerhard).

[It shall fear]  He shall beware to make himself the author of doctrine disapproved by public authority, and hence the leader of factions (Grotius).  No prudent person punishes because there is sin, but lest there be sin.  Sins past are not able to be recalled; sins future are restrained:  Seneca’s Concerning Anger[36] 1:16; 2:23, and Plato’s Concerning Laws 11 (Gataker).  Hence the old custom obtained, as Maimonides testifies in a tractate concerning Rebels, that an opposer of this sort was not punished, except at the time of the three feasts, when all come together.  Therefore, they were hastening to kill Christ at the time of the feast of Passover (Fagius).

[1] פָּלָא, in the Niphal conjugation, signifies to be wonderful, or to be difficult.

[2] Deuteronomy 30:11:  “For this commandment which I command thee this day, it is not hidden (לֹא־נִפְלֵאת) from thee, neither is it far off.”

[3] Genesis 18:14a:  “Is any thing too hard for the Lord (היִפָּלֵ֥א מֵיְהוָ֖ה דָּבָ֑ר)?”

[4] Jeremiah 32:17:  “Ah Lord God! behold, thou hast made the heaven and the earth by thy great power and stretched out arm, and there is nothing too hard for thee (לֹֽא־יִפָּלֵ֥א מִמְּךָ֖ כָּל־דָּבָֽר׃)…”

[5] Eugubinus, or Agostino Steuco (1496-1549), was the bishop of Kisamos in Crete and prefect of the Vatican Library.  He brings his varied talents in languages and antiquities to bear upon exegesis.

[6] 2 Samuel 7:14b:  “If he commit iniquity, I will chasten him with the rod of men, and with the stripes (וּבְנִגְעֵי) of the children of men…”

[7] Isaiah 53:8b:  “…for he was cut off out of the land of the living:  for the transgression of my people the stroke (נֶגַע) was to him.”

[8] For example, Psalm 39:10:  “Remove thy stroke (נִגְעֶךָ; τὰς μάστιγάς σου, in the Septuagint) away from me:  I am consumed by the blow of thine hand.”

[9] Mark 3:10:  “For he had healed many; insomuch that they pressed upon him for to touch him, as many as had plagues (μάστιγας).”

[10] Mark 5:29:  “And straightway the fountain of her blood was dried up; and she felt in her body that she was healed of that plague (τῆς μάστιγος).”

[11] Mark 5:34:  “And he said unto her, Daughter, thy faith hath made thee whole; go in peace, and be whole of thy plague (τῆς μάστιγός σου).”

[12] That is, a title or epithet is used instead of the proper name.

[13] See Joshua 18:1.

[14] Hebrew:  וּבָאתָ֗ אֶל־הַכֹּהֲנִים֙ הַלְוִיִּ֔ם.

[15] That is, Maimonides.

[16] Exodus 21:15, 17:  “And he that smiteth his father, or his mother (וְאִמּוֹ, and his mother), shall be surely put to death….  And he that curseth his father, or his mother (וְאִמּוֹ, and his mother), shall surely be put to death.”

[17] Matthew 15:4b:  “…and, He that curseth father or (ἢ) mother, let him die the death.”

[18] Numbers 30:5, 6:  “But if her father disallow her in the day that he heareth; not any of her vows, or of her bonds (וֶאֱסָרֶיהָ, and of her bonds) wherewith she hath bound her soul, shall stand:  and the Lord shall forgive her, because her father disallowed her.  And if she had at all an husband, when she vowed, or (אוֹ) uttered ought out of her lips, wherewith she bound her soul…”

[19] Leviticus 6:3-5:  “Or have found that which was lost, and lieth concerning it, and sweareth (וְנִשְׁבַּע) falsely; in any of all these that a man doeth, sinning therein:  Then it shall be, because he hath sinned, and is guilty, that he shall restore that which he took violently away, or the thing which he hath deceitfully gotten, or that which was delivered him to keep, or the lost thing which he found, Or (אוֹ) all that about which he hath sworn falsely; he shall even restore it in the principal, and shall add the fifth part more thereto, and give it unto him to whom it appertaineth, in the day of his trespass offering. ”

[20] 2 Samuel 2:19, 21a:  “And Asahel pursued after Abner; and in going he turned not to the right hand nor to (וְעַל) the left from following Abner….  And Abner said to him, Turn thee aside to thy right hand or (אוֹ) to thy left, and lay thee hold on one of the young men, and take thee his armour.”

[21] Maurus Servius Honoratius was a fourth century Roman commentator on Virgil.

[22] Deuteronomy 17:12b:  “…and will not hearken unto the priest that standeth to minister there before the Lord thy God, or (אוֹ) unto the judge…”

[23] The Roman Interreges were short-term regents, governing between kings, during periods of the Roman Kingdom and of the Roman Republic.

[24] A Roman Dictator would be appointed during times of emergency or crisis; he was invested with plenary power for extraordinary acts of government.

[25] 1 Chronicles 4:42:  “And some of them, even of the sons of Simeon, five hundred men, went to mount Seir, having for their head (בְּרֹאשָׁם) Pelatiah, and Neariah, and Rephaiah, and Uzziel, the sons of Ishi.”

[26] Deuteronomy 17:10a:  “And thou shalt do according to the sentence (עַל־פִּ֤י הַדָּבָר֙), which they of that place which the Lord shall choose shall shew thee…”

[27] Paul of Venice (1368-1428) was of the Hermits of the Order of Saint Augustine, a Scholastic theologian, philosopher, and logician.

[28] Genesis 24:49:  “And now if ye will deal kindly and truly with my master, tell me:  and if not, tell me; that I may turn to the right hand, or to the left (עַל־יָמִ֖ין א֥וֹ עַל־שְׂמֹֽאל׃).”

[29] Hebrew:  לְבִלְתִּ֙י שְׁמֹ֤עַ.

[30] זָדוֹן, insolence or presumption, is derived from the verbal root זִיד, to seethe, or to act presumptuously.

[31] Jeremiah 49:16a:  “Thy terribleness hath deceived thee, and the pride (זְדוֹן; ἰταμία, in the Septuagint) of thine heart…”

[32] המראה signifies rebelliousness.

[33] Hebrew:  הָעֹמֵ֞ד לְשָׁ֤רֶת שָׁם֙ אֶת־יְהוָ֣ה אֱלֹהֶ֔יךָ.

[34] Quæstionum in Heptateuchum Libri Septem.

[35] Hebrew:  הָעָם יִשְׁמְעוּ.

[36] De Ira.

2 Peter 1:17, 18: Peter Urges His Eyewitness Testimony in Confirmation of the Second Coming, Part 2

Verse 17:  For he received from God the Father honour and glory, when there came such a voice to him from the excellent glory, (Matt. 3:17; 17:5; Mark 1:11; 9:7; Luke 3:22; 9:35) This is my beloved Son, in whom I am well pleased.

[Receiving, etc., understanding, was [Vatablus], λαβὼν γὰρ παρὰ Θεοῦ πατρὸς τιμὴν καὶ δόξαν]  Supply ἦν/was (Grotius), or ἐτύγχανε, happened to be (Beza, Piscator, Vorstius), that is, ἔλαβε/received.  An Hebraic Ellipsis (Piscator, similarly Beza, Grotius).  Or, λαβὼν[1] in the place of λαβόντες[2] (Beza, Hammond), after the Attic manner, as in Mark 9:20, ἰδὼν[3] in the place of ἴδοντες[4] (Beza).  A Genitive Absolute (Hammond).  For He had received (or, He is the one that received [Camerarius])…honor and glory (Beza, Piscator, etc.), that is, honor exceedingly glorious (Grotius), both from the splendor of His face (Menochius, similarly Estius), and from the vocal testimony of the Father (Estius); or, Royal honor bestowed upon Christ in that vision, Matthew 17:1, 2, so that Christ’s Kingdom and glorious coming for the destruction of the Jews might be adumbrated to Peter and John, etc. (Hammond).

[With a voice, etc., φωνῆς ἐνεχθείσης αὐτῷ τοιᾶσδε ὑπὸ τῆς μεγαλοπρεποῦς δόξης, Οὗτός ἐστιν ὁ υἱός μου ὁ ἀγαπητός, εἰς ὃν ἐγὼ εὐδόκησα]  With a voice of that sort brought down (or, brought [Gerhard]) to Him from the excellent glory, etc. (Beza, Piscator, etc.), that is, either, 1.  From the luminous cloud, in which God gloriously appeared (Estius, similarly Menochius).  Or, 2.  from the glorious place or throne of God, that is, from heaven (Vorstius).  Or, 3.  from God Himself (Grotius, thus Vorstius, Castalio, Gerhard), who is often called כָּבוֹד/glory by the Hebrews (Grotius); who demonstrated His own presence magnificently and glorious by that word (Gerhard).  These words are wont commonly to be referred to that word heard on a certain mount of Galilee, of which Peter was a witness with John and James.  Whose opinion we also were following when we wrote our notes on Matthew 17.  Now, not only does our opinion recently set forth concerning the Writer of this Epistle cause me to think otherwise, but also that the holy mountain among the Hebrews signifies no other mount than mount Moriah,[5] on which the Temple was (Grotius).  But this argument is weak, for also other places, in which God appeared, are called holy, Acts 7:33 (Hammond in the preface).  [But let us hear Grotius as he proceeds:]  I refer these words to John 12:28.  For a great number were present for this event; among whom we would not think it strange to find this Simeon, who by Eusebius is called αὐτόπτης καὶ αὐτήκοος τοῦ Κυρίου, an eye- and ear-witness of the Lord, who died, as Hegesippus[6] testifies, when he was one hundred and twenty years old.  Neither is this incredible, since this most eloquent writer relates to us that some that had seen Cæsar the Dictator[7] lived unto the age of Vespasian,[8] which writer, because of his manifold eloquence, is wont to be joined with Tacitus.[9]  Now, that word, mentioned by John, happened, as far as it is able to be gathered from the text, when Jesus was passing through the porch of the Gentiles, which is part of Mount Moriah.  One thing hinders, that John relates that voice in other words, namely, ἐδόξασα, καὶ πάλιν δοξάσω, I have both glorified it, and will glorify it again.  Whence the suspicion has occurred to me, that these words, τοιᾶσδε—Οὗτός ἐστιν, etc., of this sort…This is, etc., and certain others, were added by those that intended for it to be believed that this Epistle was entirely of the Apostle Peter.  Let also the more ancient exemplars be consulted here, if any are able to be found (Grotius).  But these are unfortunate conjectures supported by no Codex, and unworthy of such a man, etc. (Hammond in the preface).

Either honour and glory for glorious honour; or glory may relate to that lustre which appeared in the body of Christ at his transfiguration, Matthew 17:2, and honour to the voice which came to him from his Father, and the honourable testimony thereby given him.  From the excellent glory; either from heaven, or from the glorious God, the Father of Christ, who, by this voice, did in a special manner manifest his glorious presence.  This is my beloved Son; i.e. This is the Messiah so often promised, and therefore all that was spoken of the Messiah in the law and the prophets centres in him.  In whom I am well pleased:  this implies not only that Christ is peculiarly the Beloved of the Father, but that all they that are adopted to God by faith in Christ, are beloved, and graciously accepted, in and through him, Matthew 3:17; John 17:26; Ephesians 1:6.


Verse 18:  And this voice which came from heaven we heard, when we were with him in (see Ex. 3:5; Josh. 5:15; Matt. 17:6) the holy mount.

[We heard, etc.]  I, James, and John (Menochius, thus Estius, Gerhard).  Therefore, he makes use of the Plural (Gerhard).

We; I, and James, and John.  Heard:  the apostle avoucheth himself to have been an ear-witness, as well as eye-witness, of Christ’s glory, hereby intimating that there was as much certainty of the gospel, even in a human way, as could possibly be obtained of any thing that is done in the world, seeing men can be humanly certain of nothing more than of what they perceive by their senses:  compare 1 John 1:1, 3.  The holy mount; so called, not because of any inherent holiness in it, but because of the extraordinary manifestation of God’s presence there; in the same sense as the ground is called holy where God appeared to Moses and to Joshua, Exodus 3:5; Joshua 5:15.

[1] In the Nominative Case.

[2] In the Genitive Case.

[3] In the Nominative Case.  Mark 9:20:  “And they brought him unto him:  and when he saw him (Καὶ ἤνεγκαν αὐτὸν πρὸς αὐτόν·  καὶ ἰδὼν αὐτόν), straightway the spirit tare him; and he fell on the ground, and wallowed foaming.”

[4] In the Genitive Case.

[5] Genesis 22:2; 2 Chronicles 3:1.

[6] Hegesippus (d. 180) was a Jewish convert to Christianity.  He wrote an ecclesiastical history, which survives only in fragments, and De Bello Judaico et Urbis Hierosolymitanæ Excidio Libri Quique.

[7] Cæsar was Dictator from 48 to 44 BC.

[8] Vespasian reigned from 69 to 79 AD.

[9] Cornelius Tacitus (c. 56-c. 117) was a Roman historian.  The information that he preserves about his era and its emperors is invaluable.

Matthew Poole Has Moved

For New Posts, please visit the new website.