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Deu 17:1 You must not sacrifice to Yahweh your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish or anything imperfect, for that is an abomination to Yahweh your God-

Like Paul in his time of dying, Moses in Deuteronomy saw the importance of obedience, the harder side of God; yet he also saw in real depth the surpassing love of God, and the grace that was to come, beyond Law. This appreciation reflected Moses' mature grasp of the Name / characteristics of God. He uses the name "Yahweh" in Deuteronomy over 530 times, often with some possessive adjective, e.g. "Yahweh thy God" [AV- i.e. you singular], or "Yahweh our God". He saw the personal relationship between a man and his God. Jacob reached a like realization at his peak.

Deu 17:2 If there is found in the midst of you, within any of your gates which Yahweh your God gives you, a man or woman who does that which is evil in the sight of Yahweh your God in transgressing His covenant,
Deu 17:3 and has gone and served other gods and worshipped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the army of the sky, which I have not commanded,
Deu 17:4 and it is told you and you have heard of it, then you must inquire diligently. Behold, if it is true and certain that such abomination is done in Israel,
Deu 17:5 then you must bring forth that man or that woman who has done this evil thing to your gates, even the man or the woman, and you shall stone them to death with stones.
Deu 17:6 At the mouth of two or three witnesses shall he who is to die be put to death. At the mouth of one witness he must not be put to death-

Insisting on more than one witness before accepting the truth of an allegation meant that gossip and slander were limited; and Jesus applies this principle to dealing with disputes within His church (Mt. 18:16). Those who served other gods had to die on the testimony of two or three witnesses. This idea is twice alluded to in the New Testament in the context of making the decision to cease fellowship with someone (Mt. 18:16; 2 Cor. 13:1). The implication is that death under the Old Covenant pointed forward to first century church discipline under the New Covenant. But we must note that the reason for this was serving other gods and wilful departing from covenant relationship with the Lord- not minor reasons.

Deu 17:7 The hand of the witnesses must be first on him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall put away the evil from the midst of you.

Deu 17:8 If there arises a matter too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between plea and plea and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within your gates, then go up to the place which Yahweh your God shall choose-
Judging between "blood and blood" (Dt. 17:8) may refer to judging whether between murder and manslaughter.

Deu 17:9 and come to the priests the Levites and to the judge who shall be in those days and ask. They shall show you the sentence of judgment-
David and Solomon appear to have concentrated all judgment in themselves, setting themselves up effectively as both king and priest, for the "judge" was to be a priest. Jehoshaphat reformed this by placing the power of judgment in the hands of a group of Levites, priests and heads of families as the higher court in Jerusalem (2 Chron. 19:5-8). But still Jehoshaphat didn't appoint a singular senior judge, as required in Dt. 17:9. We note from Dt. 19:17 that this singular priestly supreme judge is called "Yahweh", because he was to be Yahweh's supreme representative when it came to judgment. But it seems even the best kings of Judah preferred to keep that office in their own power.

Deu 17:10 You must do according to the sentence which they shall show you from that place which Yahweh shall choose, and you must observe to do according to all that they shall teach you;
Deu 17:11 according to the law which they shall teach you and according to the judgment which they shall tell you, that you shall do. You must not turn aside from the sentence which they shall show you, to the right hand or to the left-

The wall of water on their right hand and left when they crossed the Red Sea is twice emphasized (Ex. 14:22,29). It is alluded to later, when they are urged to not depart from God's way, not to the right hand nor left (Dt. 5:32; 17:11,20; 28:14). We passed through the Red Sea when we were baptized (1 Cor. 10:1,2). We were set upon a path which is walled up to keep us within it. And we are to remain in that path upon which we were set. To turn aside from it would be as foolish as Israel turning away from their path and trying to walk into the walls of water.

Deu 17:12 The man who does presumptuously in not listening to the priest who stands to minister there before Yahweh your God, or to the judge, that man shall die, and you must put away the evil from Israel.
Deu 17:13 All the people shall hear and fear and do no more presumptuously.

Deu 17:14 When you have come to the land which Yahweh your God gives you and shall possess it, and dwell therein and say, I will set a king over me like all the nations that are around me-
Moses often reminds them that he knows they will turn away from the Covenant he had given them (e.g. Dt. 30:1; 31:29). Here he shows that he knew that one day they would want a king, even though God was their king. He had such sensitivity to their weakness and likely failures, and in some areas he makes concessions to them.

"Drive out" is s.w. "possess". We must note the difference between the  Canaanite peoples and their kings being "struck" and their land "taken" by Joshua-Jesus; and the people of Israel permanently taking possession. This is the difference between the Lord's victory on the cross, and our taking possession of the Kingdom. Even though that possession has been "given" to us. The word used for "possession" is literally 'an inheritance'. The allusion is to the people, like us, being the seed of Abraham. The Kingdom was and is our possession, our inheritance- if we walk in the steps of Abraham. But it is one thing to be the seed of Abraham, another to take possession of the inheritance; and Israel generally did not take possession of all the land (Josh. 11:23 13:1; 16:10; 18:3; 23:4). The language of inheritance / possession is applied to us in the New Testament (Eph. 1:11,14; Col. 3:24; Acts 20:32; 26:18; 1 Pet. 1:4 etc.). Israel were promised: "You shall possess it" (Dt. 30:5; 33:23). This was more of a command than a prophecy, for sadly they were "given" the land but did not "possess" it. They were constantly encouraged in the wilderness that they were on the path to possessing the land (Dt. 30:16,18; 31:3,13; 32:47), but when they got there they didn't possess it fully.

Deu 17:15 you must surely set him king over yourselves whom Yahweh your God shall choose; one from among your brothers you shall set king over you. You may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother-

It was God's wish that Israel would not have a human king; hence His sorrow when they did (1 Sam. 10:19-21). Yet in the Law, God foresaw that they would want a human king, and so He gave commandments concerning how he should behave (Dt. 17:14,15). These passages speak of how Israel would choose to set a King over themselves, and would do so. Yet God worked through this system of human kings; hence the Queen of Sheba speaks of how God had set Solomon over Israel as King, and how he was king on God's behalf (2 Chron. 9:8). Israel set a king over themselves; but God worked with this, so that in a sense He set the King over them.

Deu 17:16 Only he must not multiply horses to himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, so that he may multiply horses, because Yahweh has said to you, You shall not go back that way again-
See on Dt. 16:21. Moses commands any future king not to send God's people to Egypt to buy horses because he could see that this would tempt them to go back to Egypt permanently. There are many other example of this kind of thing (Dt. 14:24; 15:18; 17:17-19; 18:9; 20:7,8). The point is that Moses had thought long and hard about the ways in which Israel would be tempted to sin, and his words and innermost desire were devoted to helping them overcome. Glorious ditto for the Lord Jesus whom he typified (Dt. 18:18). Note that the king was warned not to get horses for himself from Egypt because the very act of sending Israelites back into Egypt might tempt them to return there; we are to be sensitive to the spiritual effect our actions may have upon others.

The degree to which God wanted Israel to conceive of Him in terms of Angels is shown by carefully considering the command for Israel not to have chariots (Dt. 17:16 cp. Is. 2:7). As this form of transport became increasingly popular, it must have seemed as crazy as Christians being told not to possess motor cars. There must have therefore been a highly significant teaching behind it. Was the purpose of it to make Israel look to the Angel-cherubim chariots of God? The word for 'cherubim' carries the idea of a chariot; the notion of horsemen corresponds with the Angel horseriders of Zechariah and Revelation.

Ex. 14:13 could appear to be prophecy: “The Egyptians… you shall see them again no more for ever”. But it is understood as a command not to return to Egypt in Dt. 17:16- and because of Israel turning back to Egypt in their hearts, they would be taken there again (Dt. 28:68). So we must be prepared to accept that what may appear to be prophecy is in fact commandment, which we have the freewill to obey or disobey.  Ez. 43:7 likewise is more command than prediction: “The house of Israel shall no more defile my holy name” (RV). It isn’t saying ‘this is a prophecy that they will not do this’- for they did. Rather is it a plea, a command, that they are not to do this any more.  

Moses adds a whole series of apparently 'minor' commands which were designed to make obedience easier to the others already given. Thus he tells them in Deuteronomy not to plant a grove of trees near the altar of God - because he knew this would provoke the possibility of mixing Yahweh worship with that of the surrounding world (Dt. 16:21). Likewise he commands any future king not to send God's people to Egypt to buy horses because he could see that this would tempt them to go back to Egypt permanently (Dt. 17:16). There are many other example of this kind of thing (Dt. 14:24; 15:18; 17:17-19; 18:9; 20:7,8). The point is that Moses had thought long and hard about the ways in which Israel would be tempted to sin, and his words and innermost desire were devoted to helping them overcome. Glorious ditto for the Lord Jesus.  


Deu 17:17 Neither shall he multiply wives to himself, so that his heart will not turn away; neither shall he greatly multiply to himself silver and gold-
See on Dt. 20:14. This has strong relevance to Solomon. He did multiply silver, gold, horses and wives; his heart was turned away (:16,17= 2 Chron. 9:20).  Yet this passage says that if he studied the Law all his life, this would not happen, and also his heart would not be "lifted up above his brethren" (:20). Solomon's whipping of the people and sense of spiritual and material superiority (2 Chron. 10:11; Ecc. 1:16;  2:7,9) shows how his heart was lifted up. Yet Solomon knew the Law, despite his explicit disobedience to the commands concerning wives, horses etc. But his knowledge of the word didn't bring forth the true humility which it was intended to. Solomon assumed he wasn't proud; he assumed God’s word was having its intended effect upon him, when it wasn’t. Such spiritual assumption is a temptation for every child of God. God’s intention that the king of Israel should personally copy out all the commandments of the Law was “to the end that his heart will not be raised up above his brothers”- i.e. reflecting upon the many requirements of the Law would’ve convicted the King of his own failure to have been fully obedient, and therefore his heart would be humbled. And soon after this statement, we are hearing Moses reminding Israel that Messiah, the prophet like unto Moses, was to be raised up (Dt. 18:18). Human failure, and recognition of it, prepares us to accept Christ.

Deu 17:18 When he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he must write for himself a copy of this law in a book, out of that which is before the priests, the Levites.
Deu 17:19 It shall be with him and he must read from it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear Yahweh his God, to keep all the words of this law and these statutes, to do them.
Deu 17:20 Thus his heart will not be raised up above his brothers, and he will not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand or to the left, so that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel.