Deuteronomy Chapter 17  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Deuteronomy 17
Deu 17:1(top)
Deu 17:2(top)
Deu 17:3

“bowed down.” The common biblical way of bowing down before people or God was to fall to one’s knees and bow the upper body to the earth. It is the same Hebrew word as “worship.” [For more on bowing down, see commentary on 1 Chron. 29:20].

“the sun or the moon or any of the army of heaven.” In this context, the “army of heaven” refers to the stars and planets (also thought of as “stars”) which appeared organized and thus were referred to as an “army.”

Deu 17:4(top)
Deu 17:5

“to your gates.” The gate of the city was the most public place in the city. That the offender was taken to the gate of the city to be stoned showed that this was to be a public execution, and everyone could see what would happen to a person who bowed down to other gods and thus worshiped them. Thus the stoning of the offender was more than an execution, it was a very graphic illustration and instruction to everyone else that God was very serious about following Him and not false gods. It seems very likely that in most cases a person in the Old Testament times who turned away from Yahweh to the worship of pagan gods would not only lose their life here and now, but would forfeit their everlasting life as well, so turning from God to pagan gods was very serious indeed. Sadly, given the fallen nature of humankind and the often corrupt political systems on earth, this system of stoning was rarely used of actual offenders and sometimes used for political purposes (cp.Naboth, 1 Kings 21:7-13).

Deu 17:6(top)
Deu 17:7(top)
Deu 17:8

“between blood and blood.” Blood feuds become very entangled and difficult to sort out, and they are complicated by emotion and the concept of honor and who is gaining or losing honor by the way something is done or decided. Blood feuds have been known to go on for centuries in the ancient Near East, and even today they can be a problem. The problem of blood feuds was exacerbated in biblical times because there was no police force, so if someone killed another person, it was the job of the family or relatives of the dead person to avenge the death of their family member by killing the killer. The one who kills the killer is referred to in the Bible as “the avenger of blood” and regulations governing how that vengeance is to be carried out are in Numbers 35:9-29 and Deuteronomy 19:1-13.

Deu 17:9

“the Levitical priests.” The Masoretic Hebrew text reads, “the priests the Levites,” and this phrase is correct since every priest was also a Levite, but it can be confusing so many versions and commentaries read “Levitical priests,” as does the REV. [For more on the Levitical priests, see commentary on 2 Chron. 30:27].

Deu 17:10

“that place that Yahweh will choose.” ‚ÄčIn Deuteronomy God heavily introduces that in the future people will have to come to where He is to worship, and “that place that Yahweh will choose” is the place where God says he is present (i.e., the Tabernacle, then the Temple). The High Priest and other priests were serving there, and they would give the word of Yahweh to the people (see commentary on Deut. 12:5). The High Priest was the ultimate “Supreme Court” of Israel, and he would be where the ark of the covenant was, representing God. His decision was final.

Deu 17:11(top)
Deu 17:12

“the priest.” In this context, “the priest” would generally be the High Priest.

Deu 17:13(top)
Deu 17:14

“set a king over me.” Here God speaks about Israel putting a king in place over them to rule them instead of being ruled by an invisible God and His laws. God knew the people would eventually want a king and gave Israel commands about how the king was to behave and obey God even though it would be over 400 years before Israel finally decided to have a king. God spoke again about the king in Deut. 28:36.

Deu 17:15

“set, yes, set.” Deciding to have a human king instead of God directly ruling over the people through elders, which had been the way things had been done since the Exodus, was a huge move to make, and God emphasized that they were to use His choice for a king, not theirs, and He emphasized that with the figure of speech polyptoton, repeating the same verb twice in a row but in different cases (for more on polyptoton, see commentary on Gen. 2:16).

“you are not to put a foreigner over you.” A non-Israelite king would not have the interest in the success of Israel as a nation and the care of the Israelite people in the same way that an Israelite king would have. God was interested and invested in the continuance of Israel.

Deu 17:16

“acquire many horses.” A king would acquire many horses out of pride and in order to have a strong chariot force as part of the army, but God wants His people to rely on Him, not on the weapons of the flesh. Besides, a strong army does not guarantee victory, as history and the Bible show over and over (cp. Deut. 20:1; Ps. 33:17; Prov. 21:31).

Deu 17:17

“silver and gold.” The king was not to accumulate large amounts of silver and gold. It is a temptation to do that out of pride and because it could be used to hire mercenaries if the kingdom was ever attacked, and for other reasons as well. The king was supposed to put his efforts into making the kingdom strong and prosperous by doing things that helped ensure the people obeyed Yahweh and had what they needed to be individually prosperous. Those things would include things like better roads for travel and commerce, especially roads to Jerusalem so people could obey God and attend the Feasts, more strongly fortified cities to discourage foreign attack, especially on the borders of Israel, and such things as that. The king was not just to build a central treasury with a lot of valuables and consider himself rich.

Deu 17:18

“write for himself a copy of this law.” It was vital for the prosperity of the kingdom (and the everlasting life of the king personally) that he obey the Law of Moses and that he was instructed from the Law in what his people were to do so that they obeyed God. Having his own personal copy of the Law in his own handwriting ensured that he had the Law handy to read and review at all times. Of course handwriting a copy the Law of Moses would take months, but it was that important to God that the king know the Law. Sadly, there is no record that any king of Israel ever did that, and many things the kings did can be seen to be in ignorance of, or disobedience to, the Law. Christians today are not commanded to write a personal copy of the Bible to have for themselves, but Christians would be much better off if they read the Bible every day, learned what it said, and made a diligent effort to obey it.

“the Levitical priests.” The Masoretic Hebrew text reads, “the priests the Levites.” Every priest was also a Levite. [For more on the Levitical priests, see commentary on 2 Chron. 30:27].

Deu 17:19(top)
Deu 17:20

“he and his sons." If the king diligently obeys the Law of God, and does his best to ensure the people of his kingdom do too, he will prolong his days in the kingdom and his dynasty, the reign of his sons after him, will be prolonged also.


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