Chapter III



§ 10. The Promise of a Prophet after Moses, arid
like him.

THE future mediator of salvation appears later on as king, who as the chosen of Yahweh reigns over Israel, and from Israel over the nations. The prophecy of Shiloh is like the frame, which the later image of the Messiah fills out. But before we meet with a proper Messianic prophecy, there is given because of a special occasion, without connection with the expectation of an ideal king, the promise of a prophet like Moses. As the people at the giving of the Sinaitic law could not bear to hear the voice of Yahweh, on account of its dreadful nearness, and accordingly Moses must act as mediator (Deut. v. 23-28; cf. Ex. xx. 19), Yahweh promised the people for the future a prophet, who should be raised from their midst like Moses, and demanded for him in advance unconditional obedience (Deut. xviii. 15-19). [This is] an appendix to the history of the legislation, which is to be inserted after Deut. v. 28, which is connected with the command not to make use of idolatrous means of witchcraft (Deut. xviii. 9-14), and which is completed in the indication of the signs through which a true is to be distinguished from a false prophet (Deut. xviii. 20 ff.).

In order that we may not be led to take a position against the individual and personal interpretation of the prophet who is promised, through the connection in which the prophecy concerning the prophet like Moses stands, we have to consider: (1) Moses is, according to the view of the Torah, the incomparable prophet. The true character of his personality in redemptive history proceeds from his prophetic calling, from which the legislative is never specially distinguished. Hence the unique character of the intimate relation of God with this His servant (Num. xii. 6—8) is compared with God's usual relations with the prophets, and he is called, as the one who is incomparable, by his proper official name (Deut. xxxiv. 10; cf. Hos. xii. 14). (2) Moses is, according to the history as it is given us in the Torah, not the only prophet of his time. His sister also bears the designation of prophetess, (Ex. xv. 20).

Miriam and Aaron are conscious that God also speaks through them as well as through Moses (Num. xii. 2). The seventy elders, whom Moses appoints as his assist

ts, have a part of the Spirit of God which rests on ud begin to prophesy, and the prophetic ecstasy hers also among the people (Num. xi. 24, 29), ^re also prophets at that time besides Moses, and the Torah presupposes that there always have been, and always will be prophets (Deut. xiii. 1 ff.). When, therefore, looking through forty years back to the first year it is promised (Deut. xviii. 15): "Yahweh thy God will raise out of the midst of thy brethren a prophet like me 0?o3); unto him shall ye hearken," and ver. 18: "a prophet will I raise up to you out of the midst of thy brethren, like thee (1103)," the point of the prediction lies in the '303 and lio3. The sense is not that God will always raise up a prophet to the people (Eosenmiiller: semper per futura tempora), who, like Moses, will be His organ. It is exactly the emphasis on the continuation which is lacking. The imperfect D'p' is not an

adequate expression for "always." Moreover, N'3J cannot be understood as a plural, for the singular is retained throughout, without being exchanged with the plural. The prophecy indicates a definite prophet, it indicates a single person; and the history of the following period confirms the [view], that the characteristic marks of the one in contradistinction to the many, which the concluding section (Deut. xviii. 20 ff.) presupposes, are involved in the ^b3 and 1^03. For all the prophets who followed Moses are not mediators of such a revelation as the Sinaitic; but the divine revelation which is like the Sinaitic lies for all in the domain of the future, and their duty consists in representing the spirit of the Sinaitic divine revelation, and thus preparing the way for a future divine revelation, whose mediator is to be the predicted prophet like Moses! Only so understood is Deut. xviii. 15-19 justified as a part of the prophetic words which are to be discussed by us in historical succession. If the prediction only referred to the continuance of prophetic mediation in general, it would be without any Christological significance, for it would not contain any indication that the prophetic office after Moses would culminate in One, who would be greater than all the preceding. But the use of the singular, as has been pointed out, shows that not a succession of prophets is intended, but one prophet, who stands before the spirit of the speaker; and as the expressions ■ob3 and lio3 demand, such an One, who is not only a continuation, but also an antitype of the mediatorship of Moses. That the future will not be without prophets is presupposed in the Torah, and not only especially promised, but it is promised that among these prophets there will be another Moses. It remains undetermined whether this other Moses is to be hoped for in the nearer or more remote future. The prediction brings that which is separated near together, and flies away over that which lies between the now and the coming time, which is separated perhaps by a gulf of more than a thousand years.

Remark 1.—Our interpretation of this passage gives again the impression which it makes on us, but we are not so daring as to attribute to the grounds of probability in its favour a compulsory power of proof. The impression which it makes on interpreters like Havernick, Hofmann, Gustav Baur, Eduard Konig, von Orelli, Dillmann, and others is just the opposite. These interpreters contend against the reference to a single definite prophet, and find only one thought expressed, that God will raise up a mediator for His people, such as it now has in Moses, as often as it needs a mediator of a divine revelation. By the expression "^taa we are not to understand a prophet who stands on the same plane with Moses; it indicates only one who is to be an organ of God like him, since here Moses and the other prophets are not compared as in Deut. xxxiv. 10, but Moses and the prophets like him as organs of God are compared with the heathen sorcerers. Hofmann says,1 the singular is indeed not a collective, but is used with relation to the single case where the people need a mediator of the divine revelation. He also understands 'A? (lios) in connection with TTMp If^D (ornnN sngp), which stands by it, as meaning a prophet who like Moses is one of the people, which has this in its favour, since the warning against heathen sorcerers precedes. Among Jewish interpreters the reference to prophets after the time of Moses in a general sense predominates. But Aben Ezra is doubtful, and considers it possible that Joshua is intended. That was also the view of a part of the Samaritans.2 The passage is used in the same way in the Assumptio Mosis, i. 5—7. In Jalkut the view is also maintained, that Jeremiah may be the One promised.

Remark 2.—It is a weighty reason against the single personal and eschatological interpretation of that we never find in the canonical Scriptures

1 Schriftbeweis, vol. ii. part 1, pp. 138-142.

2 See the citations from Photius in Lightfoot on John iv. 19.

of the Old Testament an echo of this promise. On the other hand, if in the pre-Christian and apostolic age this interpretation was adopted to a considerable extent, it must yet have had a tradition for it reaching back we do not know how far. Among the Samaritans, whose canon consists exclusively of the five books of Moses, Deut. xviii. 15, 18 was regarded as the only proper Messianic prophecy. The word of the Samaritan woman, John iv. 25: "I know that Messiah \ comes: when He shall come He will declare unto us all things," shows that the Messiah was represented as a mediator of salvation. A Samaritan, whose name was Dositheus,1 who claimed to be the Messiah, maintained that he was therefore the prophet who was promised in Deut. xviii. But also in the New Testament Scriptures this passage is,considered as a locus illustris of eschatological meaning, as a prophecy which has come to its realization in Jesus Christ. In the address of Peter, which was made in the porch of Solomon, the prophet who is predicted by Moses is compared with the prophets who have prepared the way for his coming since Samuel (Acts iii. 22-24). And Stephen, presupposing the meaning of the passage as referring to Christ, emphasizes Deut. xviii. 15 as one of the most significant words of Moses (Acts vii. 37). When Philip says to Nathanael (John i. 45): "We have found Him of whom Moses in the law did write," there is nothing fitter there, as well as in John v. 46, than to think of this prophecy of the future prophet. We are led with probability to conclude that this interpretation of the passage was not isolated, since

1 Uhlhorn in Herzog and Plitt's Real-Encyhlopddie fiir protestantische Theologie und Kirche, Leipzig 1878, vol. iii. p. 683.

also the expectation of the people in the time of Christ was directed to a great prophet who was absolutely called 6 Tt/so^t??? (John vi. 14). But how this prophet was related to the Messiah was not clear. The people distinguished both (John i. 19-21, vii. 40-42), although in the face of Jesus Christ the perception of the oneness of the prophet and of the Messiah disappeared (Matt. xxi. 9—11).

§11. The Prophecy of Balaam concerning the Star and the Sceptre out of Israel.

It is related in the grandiloquent parasha (section) of Balak, in Numbers (xxii. 2 and elsewhere), that Balak, king of the Moabites, when the kingdoms of Sihon and Og became subject to the military prowess of Israel, summoned the celebrated Balaam of Pethor, north-east of Aleppo, in order that he might utter a curse against the people who were pressing forward so victoriously; but that, overcome by the Spirit of Yahweh, in spite of all Balak's efforts, he blessed Israel and prophesied their glorious future. This is an event which also, outside of that parasha, is celebrated as an integral part of the miracles of the Exodus (Deut. xxiii. 5 f.; Josh, xxi v. 9 f.; Micah vi. 5 ; Neb., xiii. 2).

We admit that the narrative, as it lies before us, is combined out of several sources that may be clearly distinguished, and that the historical element, as it survived in the "sage," has been reproduced, not without literary co-operation, but without doubting the fact that the heathen sorcerer, contrary to his natural


disposition, became a prophet of Yahweh, and that he received an insight into the future of Israel, whose significance only has its counterpart in the second part of the Book of Zechariah and the Book of Daniel.

As Balaam reached Moab, especially the district above the Arnon, which Sihon, who was now conquered by Israel, had snatched from the Moabites, Balak shows him three times a place from which he has a view of Israel (Num. xxii. 41, xxiii. 14, 28). He brings great offerings in order, if possible, to secure the compliance of Yahweh; but Balaam must, in spite of these, bless instead of curse. This takes place in three predictive utterances, which are joined on to the three[fold] setting up [of altars] (Num. xxiii. 7—10, 1824, xxiv. 3-9). Finally, giving up signs, he submits to the will of God, which he now recognises as unchangeable, and unveils to the king, as he departs from him, the future in four great predictive utterances: concerning the great king out of Israel (xxiv. 15—19), destruction of Amalek (ver. 20), captivity of the Kenites through Asshur (ver. 21 f.), destruction of the world power out of the west (ver. 33 f., cf. on D'n3 Tp Q«t, 1 Macc. i. 1, viii. 5; Dan. xi. 30). It is characteristic in connection with the political element of the older announcement of the Messiah that we receive the first prophecy of this kind within the course of Old Testament history from the mouth of a heathen seer. The fourth of the seven Dyj-'D of Balaam, introduced through ver. 14—"And now, behold I go unto my people: come, permit thyself to be reminded of what this people shall do to thy people in the course of the days "—is as follows :—

15 Utterance of Balaam the son of Beor,

And utterance of the man with punctured1 eyes. 1G Utterance of the perceiver of divine words,

And of the knower of the knowledge of the Most High,

Who sees visions of the Almighty,

Sunk down and with eyes unveiled. 17 I see him, though not yet;

I behold him, though not near.

There comes forth a star out of Jacob,

And rises a sceptre out of Israel,

And dashes in pieces the flanks of Moab,

And tears to the ground all the sons of Sheth ;2

And Edom shall be a conquest,

Yea Seir, his enemy, shall be a conquest,

And Israel retains the victory. 19 And he rules from Jacob,

And destroys those who have escaped from [hostile] cities." 3

1 [German: Aufgestochenen Auges, Latin of the ed. of 1880, perforatus oculo.]—C.

2 Thus we translate with the Septuagint and Jerome, but without understanding who or what is meant by Sheth (riB*)- Jerxlviii. 45 transforms fitJ' iJS into pj<t** 'J3, "sons of the tumult of war ;" perhaps he understands riE> in the sense of nNt5>, Lam.

iii. 47, from nSCS to roar, to make a desolate noise. We might also choose the reading r\& = T)it,W, elevation, pride, which gives an admirable meaning; for a characteristic trait of Moab is pride, as that of Edom the hatred of heirs, so that Zunz translates: "All the sons of boasting." The Pilpel ipip, according to post-biblical literature (see Levy, Neuhebriiisches Worterbuch,

iv. p. 391), certainly signifies to rend, to tear down, and this can also be said of persons in an objective way, just as much as -qfin,

Prov. xii. 7, and Din. Ex. xv. 7; Ps. xxviii. 5 ; Jer. xlii. 10.

8 As in Num. xxiv. 96, Gen. xxvii. 29 is repeated, and in Num. xxiii. 24, xxiv. 9a, Gen. xlix. 9, so here 196 reminds us of Gen. xxii. 17b.

Here first the object of the Old Testament hope is personified, for star and sceptre are images of a ruler who, like a star, appears out of Israel, a ruler of earthly extraction and heavenly splendour. Before the eye of the seer there stands in the distant future a king who is to be expected, who subjugates Moab and Edom, and makes Israel a victorious, powerful people. That which the last three predictions express concerning Amalek, Kain (the Kenites), and the world powers of the East (Asshur) and of the West (ships from the coast of Kittim), has no connection with this king. It is not said that the downfall of these peoples and kingdoms will be mediated through him. Since only the subjugation of the Moabites and Edomites is expressly imputed to him, that which is predicted does not rise beyond that which was accomplished by Saul (1 Sam. xiv. 47), and more permanently by David * (2 Sam. viii.). Nevertheless the subjugation through David was only a temporary one; hence Jeremiah, in chaps. xlviii., xlix., again takes up Balaam's prophetic words concerning Moab and Edom, and places them in the future. And that which is said in ver. 19 is indefinite, and is understood in the Messianic echoes of Ps. lxxii. 8, Zech. ix. 10, in an absolute sense. But in order to understand this prophecy as one which is to have a New Testament fulfilment, we must remove its kernel, which consists in this, that the Messiah will subjugate the world through the power of the Spirit, and, scourging, will subdue those who oppose Him ;—thus understood, the ultimate fulfilment of that

which is prophesied yet belongs to the future. But in every case where an empire like the old Eoman world empire gives up its national gods, and acknowledges the God who has revealed Himself in Christ, Christianity celebrates a victory over the world; and when this shall once lie at the feet of the Lord and of the Christ who is enthroned at His right hand, then the dominion of the Messiah out of Jacob, and the completion of His punishment on those who contend against Him, will be ultimately fulfilled spiritually, but not only inwardly, also externally, but not in a military way.

Remark.—Also in the New Testament the star is a Messianic emblem and attribute. The Oriental magi say (Matt. ii. 2): "We have seen His star; " and He calls himself, Eev. xxii. 16, the radiant morning star." Babbi Akiba called that Simeon who placed himself at the head of the national rising under Hadrian, with reference to Num. xxiv. 17, as the King Messiah, the son of the star (N33D "o). On the contrary, that which is said in Eev. xii. 5 concerning the Messiah, who is born out of Israel, with the iron sceptre, does not refer immediately to Num. xxiv. 17, but to Ps. ii. 8 f.

§ 12. Course and Goal of the History of Salvation, after Moses' great Memorial Song.

The two pentateuchal songs, Ex. xv. and Deut. xxxii., each stand in its way in a closer relation to the further development of the proclamation of redemption. When Balaam, before his spiritual eyes discern the ideal human king of Israel, celebrates God Himself as the king of this people (Num. xxiii. 21b, xxiv. 7 J), this takes place because of the theocratic relation which dates from the Sinaitic legislation, for their Yahweh was king in Jeshurun, as is said in Deut. xxxiii. 5, from the standpoint of the forty years of the exodus; and the hymn which rung out in the year of the exodus, after the deliverance through the Eed Sea, closes with the words, which are to be regarded as a fundamental part of the song, which was enlarged in the mouths of the post-Mosaic congregation (Ex. xv. 58), "Yahweh shall be king for ever and ever." This kingdom of Yahweh is the presupposition of the Messianic kingdom, the basis of the kingdom of the promise. And Moses' testamentary song, although it speaks only concerning the God of salvation, and not the mediator of salvation, is nevertheless like a chart of the ways of God, an outline of the stations of the history of redemption, into which later disclosures concerning the human mediation of the redemption are to be introduced. Summoning heaven and earth as witnesses of his proclamation, the poet takes his stand in the midst of the time, when Israel, borne by Yahweh his Creator on eagle's wings through the wilderness to the land overflowing with milk and honey, and there blessed with the richest abundance of temporal benefits, in fleshly arrogance and contemptuous unthankfulness rewards his God and Father with apostasy to the idols of the heathen. At this time this song proclaims to them the word of God. The word 5 (" and he said") introduces the divine discourse, to which the mouth of testimony is to be opened. Israel, because of his apostasy, is to be brought through God's judgments to the brink of destruction. But now, in the midst of the threatened punishment, there is the budding comfort, that the honour of Yahweh in respect to Israel's enemies does not suffer the punishment to proceed to complete overthrow. He makes use of the heathen as instruments of punishment against His people; but after He has shown Himself against them as a strict judge, and after He has destroyed the apostate mass, He manifests Himself as a pitier and avenger of His servants, and the result of Israel's history is finally this, that God's people, sifted and expiated, again inhabit their native land, and that all peoples unite in praising God who has revealed Himself in judgment and grace.

The shout, totf D?iJ U'pn, admits of two explanations: "Break forth in rejoicing, peoples, his people," which is an asyndeton, as there immediately follows in isy inony a similar, although less hard, expression, —or, "ye peoples cause his people to rejoice." In the latter case pnn has an objective accusative, like EH (Ps. li. 16, lix. 17).1 The thought remains the same, for the rejoicing in both cases has reference to God, who in the history of Israel shows Himself to be the living and holy One, who, after He has punished

1 The Targum also wavers: Onkelos and the first Jerusalem consider lj^in as transitive; the second Jerusalem—where we are to read {ODDJ? fllfflp lD^p, not KDJf—consider ley, like as in the vocative.

His apostate people, does not proceed to extremes, but again has compassion on those who finally serve Him, and avenges the blood of His servants. It is, in reality, the same conclusion as that which is reached in chaps. x. and xi. of the Epistle to the Romans: "God hath shut up all under unbelief, that He might have mercy upon all." The apostle, too, shows there how the history of redemption in intricate ways reaches a glorious result, and concludes with a song of praise to the all-compassionate God (Eom. xi. 32 ff.). Modern criticism, indeed, denies that the great song, Deut. xxxii., was composed by Moses; but it contains nothing which betrays a post-Mosaic origin, for on'xSK (ver. 26a) does not refer to an exiling, but to an annulling; and an abundance of evident connections with the Book of the Covenant (Ex. xix.—xxiv.), with the blessing of Moses (Deut. xxxiii.), and with the Tefilla Moses (Ps. xc), prevent us from holding that the testimony of Deut. xxxi. 22 is self-deception, or deception for a purpose (tendentiose Tauschung); and it can be more easily conceived that the legislation is not indicated in it with a single word—for WMta'. (ver. 105) does not signify erudivit eum—when the legislator is the speaker, whose poetic gift is attested through such highly poetical words as Ex. xvii. 16, Num. x. 35 f., than when a later poet who has put himself in the spirit of Moses is the speaker.1

1 See concerning the Song of Moses my Pentateuch-hritischen Studien, x. Vie Entstehung des Deuteronorniums, Zeitschriftfiir Kirchliche Wissenschaft und Kirchliches Leben, Leipzig 1880, pp. 505-508.

Remark 1.—In harmony with its high antiquity, the song does not exhibit any strophical form. In four pictures it describes the history of Israel until its completion: first, Israel's creation and gracious preferment, vers. 1—14; then Israel's unthankfulness and apostasy, vers. 15—19; then God's punitive judgments, vers. 20-34; and, finally, when Israel's foot totters, and he is near the brink, the revenge and retribution against his enemies and those of his God, vers. 35-43. It is significant here that the people which experiences this vengeance, new life, and healing, is called vers. 36a, 43a. In its apostasy it is

called Dpio V33 to, "not his children, a shame to themselves" (5a, cf. Prov. ix. 7); the turning from wrath to mercy has reference to the people who are brought again from their apostasy, and who no longer serve strange gods, but the God whom they had forgotten (vers. 15—18).

Remark 2.—It is indicated that Israel will draw the heathen to a common worship of their God in the benedictions of Moses concerning the heathen territory bordering on the northern tribes of Zebulon and Issachar, when it is said (Deut. xxxiii. 18 f.): "They will call peoples to the mountain [the place where Yahweh is worshipped]; there they will sacrifice sacrifices of righteousness." The word &w is not to be understood here as in ver. 3 of the tribes of Israel; and in probably does not have another meaning than in Ex. xv. 17.