Deuteronomy 17:18

18 "And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, 1he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, 2approved by[a] the Levitical priests.

Deuteronomy 17:18 Meaning and Commentary

Deuteronomy 17:18

And it shall be, when he sitteth upon the throne of his
When he is settled on it, and is even amidst all the pomp and glory of it: that he shall write him a copy of this law in a book; which copy the Septuagint and Vulgate Latin versions interpret of this book of Deuteronomy, which is a summary abstract and repetition of the various laws of God to the people of Israel; though the Jewish writers commonly understand it of the whole Pentateuch, the five books of Moses; which perhaps may be enlarging it too much, as it would be reducing it to too little to restrain it to this law concerning kings, as the Targum of Jonathan. The word "Mishneh", rendered "copy", signifies "double"; hence some take it to mean a double exemplar or copy of the law he was obliged to write out, whereby it would be the more imprinted on his mind, and he would be furnished with it for his use at home and abroad, as the Jewish writers observe; so Jarchi by the copy understands two books of the law, one to be left in his treasury, the other to go out and in with him. The same is said in the Talmud F13, and with which Maimonides F14 agrees, whose words are,

``at the time a king sits on the throne of his kingdom, he writes for himself a book of the law, besides what his fathers left him; and he copies it out of the book of the court by the order of the sanhedrim of seventy one; if his fathers have left him none, or it is lost, he writes two books of the law, one he leaves in the house of his treasures, which he is commanded, as everyone of Israel is, and the second never departs from him;''

but one may seem sufficient on all occasions, and for all purposes; and this was to be wrote out of that which is before the priests and Levites; the original copy of it, which was deposited in the side of the ark; see ( Deuteronomy 31:26 ) ( 2 Kings 22:8 ) .


F13 T. Bab. Sanhedrn, fol. 21. 2.
F14 Ut supra (Maimon. Hilchot Sanhedrin, c. 2.), sect. 1.

Deuteronomy 17:18 In-Context

16 Only he must not acquire many horses for himself or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to acquire many horses, since the LORD has said to you, 'You shall never return that way again.'
17 And he shall not acquire many wives for himself, lest his heart turn away, nor shall he acquire for himself excessive silver and gold.
18 "And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, approved by the Levitical priests.
19 And it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the LORD his God by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them,
20 that his heart may not be lifted up above his brothers, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left, so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

Cross References 2

  • 1. [2 Kings 11:12]
  • 2. Deuteronomy 31:9, 26; 2 Kings 22:8; 2 Chronicles 34:14

Footnotes 1

The English Standard Version is published with the permission of Good News Publishers.