Deuteronomy 18 The Voice (VOICE)
18 Moses: The Levitical priests and the whole tribe of Levi will not have any inherited property within Israel. They will be supported by the sacrifices and other offerings that are burnt and set aside for the Eternal. 2 They won’t have any share in the land, as the other Israelites do, but the Eternal Himself will be their share as He promised.
This is a special arrangement between God and the Levites; He’ll provide for them and give them their distinct identity so they can focus on serving Him instead of serving their families.
3 Whenever someone sacrifices an ox or a sheep, the priests are entitled to these portions: one shank (a thigh and shoulder), the cheeks (those tender delicacies), and the fourth compartment of the stomach so they can have rennet to make cheese curds. 4 You must also give the priests the first grain, wine, and olive oil you produce each year, and the first wool you shear from your sheep 5 because the Eternal your God chose Levi and his descendants, out of all of your tribes, to stand in His presence and to serve in His name at all times.
6 If a Levite who’s living in one of your cities anywhere in Israel decides he really wants to go and live in the place the Eternal will choose, 7 he must be allowed to serve in the name of the Eternal his God, like all of the other Levites who are already serving there in the Eternal’s presence. 8 He must be given an equal share of the contributions to eat, apart from anything he earns for performing priestly services.[a]
9 When you’ve settled in the land the Eternal your God is giving you, don’t imitate the horrible practices of the other nations. 10 Don’t ever burn any of your sons or daughters alive as a sacrifice! And don’t ever get involved in any divining, such as predicting fortunes, interpreting omens, sorcery, 11 casting spells, or trying to contact ghosts, spirits, or the dead. 12 The Eternal is horrified when anyone does these things. It’s because of these horrible practices that the Eternal your God is driving those nations out ahead of you. 13 You shall be complete in your obedience and devotion to Him.
The pagan nations around them share the belief that absolute immanent power comes from within creation. They engage in many activities designed to tap into that power so that they can gain knowledge of the future or have influence over others. “Drawing lots” is often done by writing possibilities on pottery shards, putting them in a bag, and then drawing out an answer. Other ways of trying to predict the future or choose the best course include watching the shapes of clouds or listening for natural omens such as bird cries. It is commonly believed that spirits and the dead can also provide guidance and special information. Whatever specific practices are being described here, however, the general principle is once again that the people should trust the Lord, transcendent above creation, as their source of guidance and protection.
Moses: 14 The nations you’re going to displace seek guidance from people who practice divination and predicting. But the Eternal your God doesn’t want you to do that. 15 He will raise up from among your own people a prophet who will be like me.[b] Listen to him. 16 This is just what you asked Him for on the day you gathered at Mount Horeb: “Don’t make me listen to the voice of the Eternal my God anymore! And don’t make me look at that blazing fire! I’ll die!”[c] 17 The Eternal told me, “They’re right. 18 I’ll send them another prophet like you from among their own people. I’ll put My words in the mouth of this prophet who will tell them everything I command him to say. 19 I, Myself, will punish whoever doesn’t listen to his words[d] when the prophet speaks in My name. 20 But a prophet who dares to say anything in My name that I haven’t commanded, or who says anything in the name of another god, will die.” 21 Now you may be wondering, “How will we recognize something He hasn’t commanded a prophet to say?” 22 If a prophet speaks in the Eternal One’s name, but the words turn out not to be true or the prediction doesn’t happen, then He wasn’t actually speaking. That prophet arrogantly spoke in the Lord’s name, but he didn’t really have a message from Him. And so you don’t need to be afraid of what the prophet said.
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