Deuteronomy 18

Deuteronomy 18


“The LeviticalI priests,II the wholeIII tribeIV of Levi,V

Notes on verse 1a

I “Levitical” = Leviyyi. From Levi (Levi; perhaps meaning “attached”; Jacob’s son, his tribe, and descendants); perhaps from lavah (to join, twine, unite, remain, borrow, lend). This is Levite or levitical.
II “priests” = kohen. This is literally the one who officiates i.e. the priest. This is where the Jewish last name “Cohen” (and its variants) comes from.
III “whole” = kol. From kalal (to complete). This is all or every.
IV “tribe” = shebet. This is a rod, staff, club, scepter, dart, or tribe. Literally a stick that can be used for punishing, writing, fighting, walking, ruling; thus, used figuratively for a clan.
V “Levi” = Levi. Related to “Levitical” in v1. See note I above.

shall haveVI no allotmentVII or inheritanceVIII within Israel.IX

Notes on verse 1b

VI “have” = hayah. This is to be or become, to happen.
VII “allotment” = cheleq. From chalaq (to be smooth in a figurative sense; can refer to the stones that were part of casting lots – hence, apportion, share, distribute; figuratively, it can also mean to flatter). This is a division, lot, inheritance, legacy, or portion. It can also refer to a smooth tongue.
VIII “inheritance” = nachalah. Related to nachal (to inherit, occupy, distribute, take as heritage). This is properly something that was inherited. It can mean occupancy generally or, more particularly, an heirloom or an estate. This can be an inheritance, gift, possession, or portion.
IX “Israel” = Yisrael. From sarah (to persist, exert oneself, contend, persevere, wrestle, prevail) + El (God or god). This is Israel, meaning God strives or one who strives with God; new name for Jacob and for his offspring. This refers to the people and to the land.

They may eatX the offerings by fireXI that are the Lord’sXII portion,XIII 

Notes on verse 1c

X “eat” = akal. This is to eat, devour, burn up, or otherwise consume. It can be eating in a literal or figurative sense.
XI “offerings by fire” = ishsheh. From eshshah (a fire); from esh (fire, burning, flaming, hot; fire in a literal or figurative sense). This is an offering by fire or a burnt offering. More broadly, it can refer to any kind of sacrifice.
XII “Lord’s” = YHVH. Related to “have” in v1. From havah (to be, become) or hayah (see note VI above). 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.
XIII “portion” = nachalah. Same as “inheritance” in v1. See note VIII above.

but they shall have no inheritance amongXIV the other members of the community;XV the Lord is their inheritance, as he promisedXVI them.

Notes on verse 2

XIV “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.
XV “members of the community” = 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.
XVI “promised” = 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.

“This shall beXVII the priests’ dueXVIII from the people,XIX

Notes on verse 3a

XVII “be” = hayah. Same as “have” in v1. See note VI above.
XVIII “due” = mishpat. From shaphat (to judge, defend, pronounce judgment, condemn, govern). This is a verdict or formal sentence whether from humans or from God. It includes the act of judging as well as the place that judging takes place, the suit itself, and the penalty. Abstractly, this is justice, which includes the rights of the participants.
XIX “people” = am. From amam (to darken, hide, associate; creating shadows by huddling together). This is people or nation. It can be used specifically for a tribe, collectively of troops or armies, or figuratively to refer to a flock of animals.

from those offeringXX a sacrifice,XXI whether an oxXXII or a sheep:XXIII

Notes on verse 3b

XX “offering” = zabach. This is slaughtering an animal, generally for the purpose of sacrifice. It can mean kill or offer.
XXI “sacrifice” = zebach. Related to “offering” in v3. From zabach (see note XX above). This is a slaughter – literally of an animal. So, it implies the act or the animals used in sacrifice. Further, it can mean offering.
XXII “ox” = shor. Perhaps from shur (to travel, turn, journey; travelling like a prostitute or a merchant). This is bull, ox, head of cattle, cow.
XXIII “sheep” = seh. Perhaps from sha’ah (to make a loud noise or crash, devastate, rush). This is a lamb, sheep, or goat – a part of a flock.

they shall giveXXIV to the priest the shoulder,XXV the two jowls,XXVI and the stomach.XXVII 

Notes on verse 3c

XXIV “give” = natan. This is to give, put, set, offer. It is to give literally or figuratively.
XXV “shoulder” = zeroa. Perhaps from zara (to sow, scatter seed, conceive). This is the arm, shoulder, or foreleg of an animal. It is figuratively used for power, force, might, or help.
XXVI “jowls” = lechi. Root may refer to softness. This may be jaw bone or cheek.
XXVII “stomach” = qebah. 1x in OT. Perhaps from qabab (to scoop out – to curse or blaspheme). This is stomach, belly, or body.

The first fruitsXXVIII of your grain,XXIX your wine,XXX

Notes on verse 4a

XXVIII “first fruits” = reshit. From rosh (head, captain, or chief; excellent or the forefront; first in position or in statue or in time). This is beginning, first place, highest rank, chief thing.
XXIX “grain” = dagan. Perhaps from dagah (to multiply, move quickly, breed greatly, grow). This is grain or other cereal.
XXX “wine” = tirosh. From yarash (inheriting or dispossessing; refers to occupying or colonizing – taking territory by driving out the previous inhabitants and living there instead of them; by implication, to seize or rob, to expel, ruin, or impoverish).  This is new wine or sweet wine – wine that is freshly squeezed. Sometimes used for fermented wine.

and your oil,XXXI as well as the firstXXXII of the fleeceXXXIII of your sheep,XXXIV you shall give him. For the Lord your GodXXXV has chosenXXXVI Levi out of allXXXVII your tribes

Notes on verses 4b-5a

XXXI “oil” = yitshar. From tsahar (to press oil or glisten). This is fresh oil, anointed. It is oil as that which is burned to make light; used figuratively to talk about anointing.
XXXII “first” = reshit. Same as “first fruits” in v4. See note XXVIII above.
XXXIII “fleece” = gez. 4x in OT. From gazaz (to cut off, shave, shear sheep; figuratively, conquer an enemy). This is shearing, mowing, mown grace, or fleece.
XXXIV “sheep” = tson. This is a flock of sheep and goats.
XXXV “God” = Elohim. Related to “Israel” in v1. See note IX above.
XXXVI “chosen” = bachar. This is to choose, appoint, try, excellent.
XXXVII “all” = kol. Same as “whole” in v1. See note III above.

to standXXXVIII and ministerXXXIX in the nameXL of the Lord, him and his sonsXLI for all time.XLII

Notes on verse 5b

XXXVIII “stand” = amad. This is to stand up in a literal or figurative sense. So it can be establish, continue, endure, take a stand, act, be a servant, stand still, remain, stand against an enemy.
XXXIX “minister” = sharat. This is ministering, serving, or waiting on. It can refer to one offering service as a worshipper or one serving as a servant.
XL “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.
XLI “sons” = ben. From banah (to build or obtain children). This is son, age, child. It is son in a literal or figurative sense.
XLII “time” = yom. Literally, “all of the days.” 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.

“If a Levite leavesXLIII anyXLIV of your towns,XLV from whereverXLVI he has been residingXLVII in Israel,

Notes on verse 6a

XLIII “leaves” = bo. This is to enter, come in, advance, fulfill, bring offerings, enter to worship, attack. It can also have a sexual connotation.
XLIV “any” = echad. Perhaps from achad (to unify, continue on a path; figuratively, to gather one’s thoughts). This is the number one, first, united. It can also be alone, altogether, a certain, a few.
XLV “towns” = shaar. May be related to sha’ar (to calculate or reckon; may come from a root that means to open up or split). This is a gate, door, or other opening like a port.
XLVI “wherever” = kol. Same as “whole” in v1. See note III above.
XLVII “residing” = 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.”

and comes to the placeXLVIII that the Lord will choose (and he may comeXLIX wheneverL heLI wishes),LII 

Notes on verse 6b

XLVIII “place” = maqom. From qum(to arise, stand, accomplish, establish, abide; rising against, getting up after being sick or asleep, arising from one state to another, becoming powerful, or rising for action; standing in a figurative sense). This is a standing, which is to say a spot or space a place. It can also refer to a locality or a physical/mental condition. HaMaqom is also a Jewish name for God – the place, i.e. the Omnipresent One.
XLIX “come” = bo. Same as “leaves” in v6. See note XLIII above.
L “whenever” = kol. Same as “whole” in v1. See note III above.
LI “he” = nephesh. Related to naphash (to refresh or be refreshed). This is soul, self, person, emotion. It is a breathing creature. Can also refer to appetites and desires.
LII “wishes” = avvah. 7x in OT. From the same as avah (to desire, crave, wish for). This is desire, pleasure, or longing.

then he may minister in the name of the Lord his God, like all his fellowLIII-Levites who stand to minister there beforeLIV the Lord. They shall have equal portionsLV to eat, even thoughLVI they have income from the saleLVII of family possessions.LVIII

Notes on verses 7-8

LIII “fellow” = ach. Same as “members of the community” in v2. See note XV above.
LIV “before” = paneh. From panah (to turn, face, appear). This is face in a literal or figurative sense. It could be face, presence, anger, respect. It can also be used of God to indicate divine favor or presence.
LV “equal portions” = cheleq + cheleq. Same as “allotment” in v1. See note VII above.
LVI “even though” = bad. From badad (to divide or be separated; alone, solitary, lonely, isolated, straggler). This is apart, alone, separation, body part, tree branch, except. It can also be a city’s chief.
LVII “sale” = mimkar. 10x in OT. From makar (to sell – could be commerce/trade, a daughter to be married, someone into slavery; figuratively, to surrender). This is sale, merchandise, or selling.
LVIII “family possessions” = ab. This is father, chief, or ancestor. It is father in a literal or figurative sense.

“When you come into the landLIX that the Lord your God is giving you, you must not learnLX to imitateLXI the abhorrent practicesLXII of those nations.LXIII 

Notes on verse 9

LIX “land” = erets. Root may mean to be firm. This is earth, ground, field land, or country.
LX “learn” = lamad. Properly, this refers to goading (using a pointed stick to guide or prod one’s flock). By implication, it means teaching or instructing.
LXI “imitate” = asah. This is to make, do, act, appoint, e in many senses.
LXII “abhorrent practices” = toebah. Perhaps from ta’ab (to abhor or morally detest). This is something that instills one with moral contempt or disgust. It can mean abhorrence and is often in reference to idolatry or idols.
LXIII “nations” = goy. From the same root as gevah (the back, person, or body); related to gev (among); related to gaah (to rise up). This is nation or people. Often used to refer to Gentiles or foreign nations. It can also be used figuratively for a group of animals. This is where the Yiddish “goy” comes from.

10 No one shall be foundLXIV among you who makes a son or daughterLXV pass throughLXVI fire,LXVII

Notes on verse 10a

LXIV “found” = matsa. This is to find, catch or acquire. It can also mean to come forth or appear. Figuratively, this can mean to meet or be together with.
LXV “daughter” = bat. Related to “sons” in v5. From ben (see note XLI above). This is daughter in a literal or figurative sense.
LXVI “pass through” = abar. This is to pass over or cross over. It is used for transitions, whether literal or figurative. It can also mean to escape, alienate, or fail. This is the root verb from which “Hebrew” is drawn.
LXVII “fire” = esh. Related to “offerings by fire” in v1. See note XI above.

or who practicesLXVIII divination,LXIX or is a soothsayer,LXX or an augur,LXXI or a sorcerer,LXXII 

Notes on verse 10b

LXVIII “practices” = qesem. 11x in OT. Perhaps from qasam (to conjure, divine, be a soothsayer; to determine something using lots or magical scrolls). This is a lot, oracle, divination, witchcraft, or a divine decision.
LXIX “divination” = qasam. Related to “practices” in v10. See note LXVIII above.
LXX “soothsayer” = anan. 11x in OT. This is cover, cloud over. Figuratively, it is acting in a secret way, practicing magic or soothsaying.
LXXI “augur” = nachash. 11x in OT. This is to practice divination, learn by experience, to use an enchantment. It can also mean to hiss as in whispering a spell.
LXXII “sorcerer” = kashaph. 6x in OT. From kesheph (sorcery, magic). This is doing sorcery, using magic, reciting a spell.

11 or one who castsLXXIII spells,LXXIV or who consultsLXXV ghostsLXXVI

Notes on verse 11a

LXXIII “casts” = chabar. This is to unite, ally, attach, touch. It is to join in a literal or figurative sense. Also, specially, using magic knots or spells to fascinate or connect.
LXXIV “spells” = cheber. Related to “casts” in v11. 7x in OT. From chabar (see note LXXIII above). This is spell, enchantment, charmer, association.
LXXV “consults” = shaal. This is to ask, inquire, beg, borrow, desire, request. It can also mean to demand.
LXXVI “ghosts” = ob. Related to “family possessions” in v8. 17x in OT. Perhaps from the same as ab (see note LVIII above). This is literally a bottle made from hide. One could mumble into this bottle and make a hollow sound. So, it refers to mediums, ventriloquists, or necromancers. It can also refer to a familiar spirit.

or spirits,LXXVII or who seeksLXXVIII oracles from the dead.LXXIX 12 For whoeverLXXX doesLXXXI these things is abhorrent to the Lord;

Notes on verses 11b-12a

LXXVII “spirits” = yiddeoni. 11x in OT. From yada (to know, be aware, see and so understand – includes observation, care, recognition; can also be used as a euphemism). This is one who knows, a conjurer or wizard. It can also refer to a ghost or spirit.
LXXVIII “seeks” = 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.
LXXIX “dead” = mut. This is to die in a literal or figurative sense. It can also refer to being a dead body.
LXXX “whoever” = kol. Same as “whole” in v1. See note III above.
LXXXI “does” = asah. Same as “imitate” in v9. See note LXI above.

it is becauseLXXXII of such abhorrent practices that the Lord your God is driving them outLXXXIII beforeLXXXIV you. 13 You must remainLXXXV completely loyalLXXXVI to the Lord your God. 

Notes on verses 12b-13

LXXXII “because” = galal. 10x in OT. Perhaps from galal (to roll in a literal or figurative sense). This is an account or because.
LXXXIII “driving…out” = yarash. Related to “wine” in v4. See note XXX above.
LXXXIV “before” = paneh. Same as “before” in v7. See note LIV above.
LXXXV “remain” = hayah. Same as “have” in v1. See note VI above.
LXXXVI “completely loyal” = tamim. From tamam (to finish or accomplish; to make perfect, demonstrate that you are upright; consume; to complete in a literal or figurative sense). This is entire in a literal or figurative sense. So, it could be complete, full, intact, or without defect. Alternately, it could refer to being sound, having integrity, being sincere or perfect.

14 Although these nations that you are about to dispossessLXXXVII do give heedLXXXVIII to soothsayers and diviners,LXXXIX as for you, the Lord your God does not permitXC you to do so.XCI

Notes on verse 14

LXXXVII “dispossess” = yarash. Same as “driving…out” in v12. See note LXXXIII above.
LXXXVIII “give 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.
LXXXIX “diviners” = qasam. Same as “divination” in v10. See note LXIX above.
XC “permit” = natan. Same as “give” in v3. See note XXIV above.
XCI “so” = ken. Perhaps from kun (properly, in a perpendicular position; literally, to establish, fix, fasten, prepare; figuratively, it is certainty, to be firm, faithfulness, render sure or prosperous). This is to set upright. Generally used figuratively to mean thus, so, afterwards, rightly so.

15 “The Lord your God will raise upXCII for you a prophetXCIII like me from among your own people;XCIV you shall heed such a prophet.XCV 16 This is whatXCVI you requestedXCVII of the Lord your God at HorebXCVIII

Notes on verses 15-16a

XCII “raise up” = qum. Related to “place” in v6. See note XLVIII above.
XCIII “prophet” = nabi. This is prophet, prophecy, speaker, or someone inspired.
XCIV “people” = ach. Same as “members of the community” in v2. See note XV above.
XCV “heed such a prophet” = el + shama. Literally, “to him you shall listen.” Shama is the same as “give heed” in v14. See note LXXXVIII above.
XCVI “what” = kol. Literally, “according to all.” Same as “whole” in v1. See note III above.
XCVII “requested” = shaal. Same as “consults” in v11. See note LXXV above.
XCVIII “Horeb” = Choreb. 17x in OT. From chareb (to devastate, desolate, or be waste). Horeb means waste or desolate.

on the dayXCIX of the assemblyC when you said,CI ‘Let me not hearCII againCIII

Notes on verse 16b

XCIX “day” = yom. Same as “time” in v5. See note XLII above.
C “assembly” = qahal. This is an assembly, congregation, or multitude.
CI “said” = amar. This is to speak, say, answer, command, promise, report.
CII “hear” = shama. Same as “give heed” in v14. See note LXXXVIII above.
CIII “again” = yasaph. This is to add, increase, continue, exceed.

the voiceCIV of the Lord my God or seeCV this greatCVI fire any more,CVII lest I die.’ 

Notes on verse 16c

CIV “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.
CV “see” = raah. This is to see in a literal or figurative sense so stare, advise, think, view.
CVI “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.
CVII “any more” = od. From ud (to admonish, repeat, duplicate, testify, restore, record, relieve). This is still, yet, again, more.

17 Then the Lord repliedCVIII to me, ‘They are rightCIX in what they have said.CX 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their own people;CXI

Notes on verses 17-18a

CVIII “replied” = amar. Same as “said” in v16. See note CI above.
CIX “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.
CX “said” = dabar. Same as “promised” in v2. See note XVI above.
CXI “people” = ach. Same as “members of the community” in v2. See note XV above.

I will putCXII my wordsCXIII in the mouthCXIV of the prophet, who shall speakCXV to them everythingCXVI that I command.CXVII 

Notes on verse 18b

CXII “put” = natan. Same as “give” in v3. See note XXIV above.
CXIII “words” = dabar. Related to “promised” in v2. From dabar (see note XVI above). This is speech, a word, a matter, an affair, charge, command, message, promise, purpose, report, request. It is a word, which implies things that are spoken of in a wide sense.
CXIV “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.
CXV “speak” = dabar. Same as “promised” in v2. See note XVI above.
CXVI “everything” = kol. Same as “whole” in v1. See note III above.
CXVII “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 CXVIIIAnyoneCXIX who does not heed the words that the prophet shall speak in my name, I myself will hold accountable.CXX 20 ButCXXI any prophet who presumesCXXII to speak in my name a word that I have not commanded the prophet to speak or who speaks in the name of otherCXXIII gods,CXXIV that prophet shall die.’ 

Notes on verses 19-20

CXVIII {untranslated} = hayah. Same as “have” in v1. See note VI above.
CXIX “anyone” = ish. Perhaps from enosh (human, humankind, mortal); from anash (to be weak, sick, or frail). This is man, husband, another, or humankind.
CXX “hold accountable” = darash. Same as “seeks” in v11. See note LXXVIII above.
CXXI “but” = ak. Related to “so” in v14. Related to aken (surely, truly, nevertheless); from kun (see note XCI above). This is a positive statement – surely, also, certainly, alone, only.
CXXII “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.
CXXIII “other” = acher. From achar (to be behind, delay, be late, procrastinate, continue). This is following, next, strange, other.
CXXIV “gods” = elohim. Same as “God” in v5. See note XXXV above.

21 You may sayCXXV to yourself,CXXVI ‘How can we recognizeCXXVII a word that the Lord has not spoken?’ 

Notes on verse 21

CXXV “say” = amar. Same as “said” in v16. See note CI above.
CXXVI “yourself” = lebab. 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.
CXXVII “recognize” = yada. Related to “spirits” in v11. See note LXXVII above.

22 If a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the thingCXXVIII does not take placeCXXIX or prove true,CXXX it is a word that the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously;CXXXI do not be frightenedCXXXII by it.

Notes on verse 22

CXXVIII “thing” = dabar. Same as “words” in v18. See note CXIII above.
CXXIX “take place” = hayah. Same as “have” in v1. See note VI above.
CXXX “prove true” = bo. Same as “leaves” in v6. See note XLIII above.
CXXXI “presumptuously” = zadon. Related to “presumes” in v20. 11x in OT. From zud (see note CXXII above).  This is arrogance, presumptuousness, a proud person.
CXXXII “be frightened” = gur. Same as “residing” in v6. See note XLVII above.

Image Credit: “Fire” by Brenna Cade, 2009.

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