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Provision for Priests and Levites

18 The Levitical priests[a]—indeed, the entire tribe of Levi—will have no allotment or inheritance with Israel; they may eat the burnt offerings of the Lord and of his inheritance.[b] They[c] will have no inheritance in the midst of their fellow Israelites;[d] the Lord alone is their inheritance, just as he had told them. This shall be the priests’ fair allotment[e] from the people who offer sacrifices, whether bull or sheep—they must give to the priest the shoulder, the jowls, and the stomach. You must give them the best of your[f] grain, new wine, and olive oil, as well as the best of your wool when you shear your flocks. For the Lord your God has chosen them and their sons from all your tribes to stand[g] and serve in his name[h] permanently. Suppose a Levite comes by his own free will[i] from one of your villages, from any part of Israel where he is living,[j] to the place the Lord chooses and serves in the name of the Lord his God like his fellow Levites who stand there before the Lord. He must eat the same share they do, despite any profits he may gain from the sale of his family’s inheritance.[k]

Prohibited Occult Practices

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, you must not learn the abhorrent practices of those nations. 10 There must never be found among you anyone who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire,[l] anyone who practices divination,[m] an omen reader,[n] a soothsayer,[o] a sorcerer,[p] 11 one who casts spells,[q] one who conjures up spirits,[r] a practitioner of the occult,[s] or a necromancer.[t] 12 Whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord, and because of these detestable things[u] the Lord your God is about to drive them out[v] from before you. 13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God. 14 Those nations that you are about to dispossess listen to omen readers and diviners, but the Lord your God has not given you permission to do such things.

15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you—from your fellow Israelites;[w] you must listen to him. 16 This accords with what happened at Horeb in the day of the assembly. You asked the Lord your God: “Please do not make us hear the voice of the Lord our[x] God anymore or see this great fire anymore lest we die.” 17 The Lord then said to me, “What they have said is good. 18 I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command. 19 I will personally hold responsible[y] anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet[z] speaks in my name.

20 “But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized[aa] him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. 21 Now if you say to yourselves,[ab] ‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord?’[ac] 22 whenever a prophet speaks in my[ad] name and the prediction[ae] is not fulfilled,[af] then I have[ag] not spoken it;[ah] the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.”


  1. Deuteronomy 18:1 tn The MT places the terms “priests” and “Levites” in apposition, thus creating an epexegetical construction in which the second term qualifies the first, i.e., “Levitical priests.” This is a way of asserting their legitimacy as true priests. The Syriac renders “to the priest and to the Levite,” making a distinction between the two, but one that is out of place here.
  2. Deuteronomy 18:1 sn Of his inheritance. This is a figurative way of speaking of the produce of the land the Lord will give to his people. It is the Lord’s inheritance, but the Levites are allowed to eat it since they themselves have no inheritance among the other tribes of Israel.
  3. Deuteronomy 18:2 tn Heb “he” (and throughout the verse).
  4. Deuteronomy 18:2 tn Heb “brothers,” but not referring to actual siblings. Cf. NASB “their countrymen”; NRSV “the other members of the community.”
  5. Deuteronomy 18:3 tn Heb “judgment”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “the priest’s due.”
  6. Deuteronomy 18:4 tn Heb “the firstfruits of your…” (so NIV).
  7. Deuteronomy 18:5 tc Smr and some Greek texts add “before the Lord your God” to bring the language into line with a formula found elsewhere (Deut 10:8; 2 Chr 29:11). This reading is not likely to be original, however.
  8. Deuteronomy 18:5 tn Heb “the name of the Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.
  9. Deuteronomy 18:6 tn Heb “according to all the desire of his soul.”
  10. Deuteronomy 18:6 tn Or “sojourning.” The verb used here refers to living temporarily in a place, not settling down.
  11. Deuteronomy 18:8 tn Presumably this would not refer to a land inheritance, since that was forbidden to the descendants of Levi (v. 1). More likely it referred to some family possessions (cf. NIV, NCV, NRSV, CEV) or other private property (cf. NLT “a private source of income”), or even support sent by relatives (cf. TEV “whatever his family sends him”).
  12. Deuteronomy 18:10 tn Heb “who passes his son or his daughter through the fire.” The expression “pass…through the fire” is probably a euphemism for human sacrifice (cf. NAB, NIV, TEV, NLT). See also Deut 12:31.
  13. Deuteronomy 18:10 tn Heb “a diviner of divination” (קֹסֵם קְסָמִים, qosem qesamim). This was a means employed to determine the future or the outcome of events by observation of various omens and signs (cf. Num 22:7; 23:23; Josh 13:22; 1 Sam 6:2; 15:23; 28:8; etc.). See M. Horsnell, NIDOTTE 3:945-51.
  14. Deuteronomy 18:10 tn Heb “one who causes to appear” (מְעוֹנֵן, meʿonen). Such a practitioner was thought to be able to conjure up spirits or apparitions (cf. Lev 19:26; Judg 9:37; 2 Kgs 21:6; Isa 2:6; 57:3; Jer 27:9; Mic 5:11).
  15. Deuteronomy 18:10 tn Heb “a seeker of omens” (מְנַחֵשׁ, menakhesh). This is a subset of divination, one illustrated by the use of a “divining cup” in the story of Joseph (Gen 44:5).
  16. Deuteronomy 18:10 tn Heb “a doer of sorcery” (מְכַשֵּׁף, mekhashef). This has to do with magic or the casting of spells in order to manipulate the gods or the powers of nature (cf. Lev 19:26-31; 2 Kgs 17:15b-17; 21:1-7; Isa 57:3, 5; etc.). See M. Horsnell, NIDOTTE 2:735-38.
  17. Deuteronomy 18:11 tn Heb “a binder of binding” (חֹבֵר חָבֶר, khover khaver). The connotation is that of immobilizing (“binding”) someone or something by the use of magical words (cf. Ps 58:6; Isa 47:9, 12).
  18. Deuteronomy 18:11 tn Heb “asker of a [dead] spirit” (שֹׁאֵל אוֹב, shoʾel ʾov). This is a form of necromancy (cf. Lev 19:31; 20:6; 1 Sam 28:8, 9; Isa 8:19; 19:3; 29:4).
  19. Deuteronomy 18:11 tn Heb “a knowing [or “familiar”] [spirit]” (יִדְּעֹנִי, yiddeʿoniy), i.e., one who is expert in mantic arts (cf. Lev 19:31; 20:6, 27; 1 Sam 28:3, 9; 2 Kgs 21:6; Isa 8:19; 19:3).
  20. Deuteronomy 18:11 tn Heb “a seeker of the dead.” This is much the same as “one who conjures up spirits” (cf. 1 Sam 28:6-7).
  21. Deuteronomy 18:12 tn Heb “these abhorrent things.” The repetition is emphatic. For stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy, the same term used earlier in the verse has been translated “detestable” here.
  22. Deuteronomy 18:12 tn The translation understands the Hebrew participial form as having an imminent future sense here.
  23. Deuteronomy 18:15 tc The MT expands here on the usual formula by adding “from among you” (cf. Deut 17:15; 18:18; Smr; a number of Greek texts). The expansion seems to be for the purpose of emphasis, i.e., the prophet to come must be not just from Israel but an Israelite by “from your brothers,” but not referring to actual siblings. Cf. NAB “from among your own kinsmen”; NASB “from your countrymen”; NRSV “from among your own people.” A similar phrase occurs in v. 17.
  24. Deuteronomy 18:16 tn The Hebrew text uses the collective singular in this verse: “my God…lest I die.”
  25. Deuteronomy 18:19 tn Heb “will seek from him”; NAB “I myself will make him answer for it”; NRSV “will hold accountable.”
  26. Deuteronomy 18:19 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the prophet mentioned in v. 18) has been specified in the translation for clarity.
  27. Deuteronomy 18:20 tn Or “commanded” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV).
  28. Deuteronomy 18:21 tn Heb “in your heart.”
  29. Deuteronomy 18:21 tn Heb “know the word which the Lord has not spoken.” The issue here is not understanding the meaning of the message, but distinguishing a genuine prophetic word from a false one.
  30. Deuteronomy 18:22 tn Heb “the Lord’s.” See note on the word “his” in v. 5.
  31. Deuteronomy 18:22 tn Heb “the word,” but a predictive word is in view here. Cf. NAB “his oracle.”
  32. Deuteronomy 18:22 tn Heb “does not happen or come to pass.”
  33. Deuteronomy 18:22 tn Heb “the Lord has.” See note on the word “his” in v. 5.
  34. Deuteronomy 18:22 tn Heb “that is the word which the Lord has not spoken.”