Deuteronomy 18:15-22

Deuteronomy 18:15-22
A Women’s Lectionary – Fourth Sunday of Easter


15 The LordA your GodB will raise upC for you a prophetD like me

Notes on verse 15a

A “Lord” = YHVH. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (to come to pass, become, be). This is the name of the God of Israel, the self-existent and eternal one, the tetragrammaton. This pronunciation has been lost to time so “Lord” is generally used in its place.
B “God” = Elohim.
C “raise up” = qum. To arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide. This is rising as in rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action. It can also be standing in a figurative sense.
D “prophet” = nabi. This is prophet, prophecy, speaker, or someone inspired.

from amongE your own people;F you shall heedG such a prophet. 

Notes on verse 15b

E “among” = qereb. Perhaps from qarab (to come near or approach). This is among, in the midst, before, the center It is the inward part, whether literal or figurative. It can also be used for the heart, the site of thoughts and feelings. This word is also used as a technical term for the entrails of the animals who are sacrificed.
F “people” = ach. This is brother, kindred, another, other, like. It is literally brother, but it can also be someone who is similar, resembling, or related to.
G “heed” = shama. This is to hear, call, consent, or consider. It implies listening intelligently, giving attention, and, because of these two factors, obedience and action are often implied.

16 This is whatH you requestedI of the Lord your God at HorebJ on the dayK of the assemblyL when you said:

Notes on verse 16a

H “what” = kol + asher. Literally, “according to all.” Kol is from kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
I “requested” = shaal. This is to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request. It can also mean to demand.
J “Horeb” = Choreb. 17x in OT. From chareb (to devastate, desolate, or be waste). Horeb means waste or desolate.
K “day” = yom. Root may mean being hot. This is the day in a literal or figurative sense. It can also mean birth, age, daylight, continually or other references to time.
L “assembly” = qahal. This is an assembly, congregation, or multitude.

“If I hearM the voiceN of the Lord my God any more,O or ever again seeP this greatQ fire,R I will die.”S 

Notes on verse 16b

M “hear” = shama. Same as “heed” in v15. See note G above.
N “voice” = qol. This is a sound, used often for human voices. Also used when God speaks or angels, animals or instruments. It can be a cry or a noise, thunder or earthquakes and so on.
O “any more” = yasaph. This is to add, increase, continue, exceed.
P “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
Q “great” = gadol. From gadal (to grow up, become great, become wealthy – to advance. The root meaning may be to twist in the sense of the process of growing). This is great, high, bigger, noble, old, marvelous. It can also refer to someone who is powerful or distinguished.
R “fire” = esh. This is fire, burning, flaming, hot. It is fire in a literal or figurative sense.
S “die” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.

17 Then the Lord replied to me: “They are rightT in what they have said.U 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people; I will putV my wordsW in the mouthX of the prophet,  who shall speakY to them everythingZ that I command.AA 

Notes on verses 17-18

T “are right” = yatab. This is to be good or pleasing, joyful. It can also mean doing good in an ethical sense or be beautiful, happy, successful, or right.
U “said” = dabar. This is generally to speak, answer, declare, or command. It might mean to arrange and so to speak in a figurative sense as arranging words.
V “put” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
W “words” = dabar. Related to “said” in v17. From dabar (see note U above).
X “mouth” = peh. This is mouth in a literal or figurative sense. So, more literally, it can be beak or jaws. More figuratively, it refers to speech, commands, or promises.
Y “speak” = dabar. Same as “said” in v17. See note U above.
Z “everything” = kol. Same as “what” in v16. See note H above.
AA “command” = tsavah. This is to charge, command, order, appoint, or enjoin. This is the root that the Hebrew word for “commandment” comes from (mitsvah).

19 BBAnyoneCC who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name,DD I myself will hold accountable.EE 

Notes on verse 19

BB {untranslated} = hayah. Related to “Lord” in v15. See note A above.
CC “anyone” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
DD “name” = shem. May be from sum (to put, place, set). This is name, fame, renown. A name was thought to indicate something essential about a person – something about their individuality. So, this word can also mean honor, authority, or character.
EE “hold accountable” = darash. This is seek, ask, inquire, care for. Generally it means following in pursuit or following as part of a search, which implies seeking or asking. Also used specially to mean worship.

20 But any prophet who speaks in the name of otherFF gods,GG or who presumesHH to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak—that prophet shall die.” 

21 You may say to yourself,II “How can we recognizeJJ a word that the Lord has not spoken?” 

Notes on verses 20-21

FF “other” = acher. From achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue). This is following, next, strange, other.
GG “gods” = elohim. Same as “God” in v15. See note B above.
HH “presumes” = zud. 10x in OT. This is to cook, boil up, or seethe. Figuratively, it can mean to act with arrogance or insolence, to be rebellious.
II “to yourself” = lebab. Literally, “in your heart.” May be related to labab (to encourage; properly, to be encased as with fat; used in a good sense, this means to transport someone with love; used in a bad sense, it can mean to dull one’s senses). This is the heart, courage, one’s inner self, the mind, or the will. Heart is only used in a figurative sense in the Old and New Testaments.
JJ “recognize” = yada. This is to know, acknowledge, advise, answer, be aware, be acquainted with. Properly, this is to figure something out by seeing. It includes ideas of observation, recognition, and care about something. It can be used causatively for instruction, designation, and punishment.

22 If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thingKK does not take placeLL or prove true,MM it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously;NN do not be frightenedOO by it.

Notes on verse 22

KK “thing” = dabar. Same as “words” in v18. See note W above.
LL “take place” = hayah. Same as {untranslated} in v19. See note BB above.
MM “prove true” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
NN “presumptuously” = zadon. Related to “presumes” in v20. 11x in OT. From zud (see note HH above). This is arrogance, pride, person who is proud.
OO “be frightened” = gur. Properly, this is the act of turning off the road for any reason. So, it means sojourning, becoming a guest. It can mean being fearful since one is outside of home territory. It can also mean dwelling, living, or inhabiting if one has turned off the root to encamp for a longer duration. This word is where the Hebrew “ger” comes from, which is the word translated “stranger” or “resident alien.”

Image credit: “Moses and the Commandments” by Thayer Grimes, ca. 1935-1943.

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