Deuteronomy 18:15 (NKJV)

" The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear

1) According to this passage, in what ways was the Prophet supposed to "be like" or be "similar" to Moses in order to help the Jews to accurately identify him? What similarities did Moses have in mind?

2) What are the key events, qualities and aspects of Moses as a man and as a prophet that must exist in the life of the Prophet that was to come.

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I recently did a paper on this subject.

There are a few points to discern first: The biggest of which is the decision regarding single or multiple referents. Was their only one person who was the fulfillment of the prophecy or multiple people who fulfilled the prophecy with one ultimate fulfillment. I come down on the side of only one referent--that the Messiah and only the Messiah would be the fulfillment.

Since this is a hermeneutics site the other issue is how does one find the links. Many writers have suggested numerous similarities between the two in sometimes long lists of similarities. That is the method the medieval Jewish commentators used to show Jesus was not the fulfillment of the Deuteronomy prophecy.

What is helpful is the four explicit statements found in the Deuteronomy passage (with verse 18-19 being a summary restatement):

  1. He was to be a prophet (V.15)

  2. He was to be an Israelite -- a son of Isaac and Jacob (V. 15)

  3. He will be a lawgiver that is like Moses. The "unto him shall ye hearken" of the KJV. The Hebrew verb word certainly carries the primary idea of listening. It also carries the idea of obeying in some of its other uses within the book of Deuteronomy. Yoo-Hee Kim wrote an excellent dissertation called "Deut 18:15-22 reexamined within the context of the Pentateuch and in light of the final shape of the TaNaK," in which she argues that this verb, as it is used in Deuteronomy, suggests that the prophet will be speaking with an authority equal with YHWH. The Later prophets spoke on behalf of God so they would not have fulfilled this aspect. Whereas Jesus spoke as equal with God thereby fulfilling this aspect.

  4. The language of verses 16-17 points back to Deut 5 and the events at Horeb (which is another name for Sinai). The people of Israel had been afraid of a direct face to face encounter with God and since Moses has survived they asked God if he could be their mediator. In Deut. 18 the idea is that the person who fulfills the prophecy would be a mediator between God and man. This too excludes the other Old Testament prophets since they were only speaking on behalf of God and not acting as a mediator. Jesus was the first person to act as a mediator between God and man, following Moses.

In Deut. 33-34 there is one additional idea that is explicitly stated. The prophet would speak face to face with God, which implies He would do so and live. Also depending on the date of authorship one holds, this might suggest that it was written much later in Israel's history thereby also excluding the other prophets (Deut. 34:10).

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  • Ken banks I don't know what to say. This is a brilliant answer you've given. Can you give me a link to your paper on this subject? – user20490 Dec 21 '17 at 20:41
  • I was running very late in submitting it and so I didn't do the normal edits one would do before turning it in. It has a lot of grammar mistakes and I would want to fix all of those before I put it out for public consumption. I only needed a 75 out of a 100 to get an A in the class so I didn't bother cleaning it up. Maybe over the weekend so I can post it to Academia.com where I have posted a couple of my PhD papers. – Ken Banks Dec 21 '17 at 21:19
  • Ok. Whenever it's ready let me know. I hope you won't forget. – user20490 Dec 21 '17 at 23:21
  • Did you ever post your paper? – diego b Feb 7 '18 at 4:08
  • I just posted it on Academia.edu -- the title is A Greater Moses Deuteronomy 18:15-20. The link is academia.edu/35862083/A_Greater_Moses_Deuteronomy_18_15-20 – Ken Banks Feb 7 '18 at 19:26

How about a Prophet that:

  • was a descendant of Jacob
  • was hunted by a king at birth (thx @user20490)
  • was a son of a king (in Moses' case, adopted: Exodus 2:10)
  • sojourned in Egypt (and was called out of Egypt Hosea 11:1)
  • was rejected by Israel (as Moses was rejected Exodus 2:14)
  • orchestrated the Passover
  • leads out of slavery
  • was 'baptized' (as Moses was passing through a red sea)
  • spent 40 in the wilderness
  • authority was challenged by jealous (high) priests Numbers 12:1-2
  • mediates a covenant between God and man
  • was a law giver
  • performed miracles (like none including Joshua Deuteronomy 34:10-12)
  • intimate relationship with God (Exodus 33:11)
  • interceded between God and Israel - to the point of sacrificing his life
  • body's location is unknown (Deuterinomy 34:6)

That ought to be a compelling list of similarities.

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  • Was also hunted by a king at birth. +1 – user20490 Dec 21 '17 at 10:40

Deut. 18:18 - I will raise them up(6965) a Prophet(5030) from among(4480), (7130) their brethren,(251) like unto thee,(3644) and will put(5414) my words(1697) in his mouth;(6310) and he shall speak(1696) unto(413) them (853) all(3605) that(834) I shall command(6680) him.

The coming prophet was first a minister (disciple?) of Moses:

Exo. 24:13 - And Moses(4872) rose up,(6965) and his minister(8334) Joshua:(3091) and Moses(4872) went up(5927) into(413) the mount(2022) of God.(430)

Josh. 3:7 - And the LORD(3068) said(559) unto(413) Joshua,(3091) This(2088) day(3117) will I begin(2490) to magnify(1431) thee in the sight(5869) of all(3605) Israel,(3478) that(834) they may know(3045) that,(3588) as(834) I was(1961) with(5973) Moses,(4872) I will be(1961) with(5973) thee.

Similarities of Moses and Joshua:

  1. Both were from Jacob's house. Moses was a Levite, and Joshua from Joseph's tribe, Ephraim, which was adopted by Jacob as his own.

Exo. 2:1 - And there went(1980) a man(376) of the house(4480), (1004) of Levi,(3878) and took(3947) a (853) daughter(1323) of Levi.(3878)

Exo. 2:2 - And the woman(802) conceived,(2029) and bore(3205) a son [Moses]:(1121) and when she saw(7200) him that(3588) he(1931) goodly(2896) , she hid(6845) him three(7969) months.(3391)

Num. 13:8 - Of the tribe(4294) of Ephraim,(669) Oshea [eusho-Hosea](1954) the son(1121) of Nun.(5126)

  1. Joshua was made holy like Moses when Moses put his hands upon Joshua per Yahweh's instruction.

Num. 27:18 - And the LORD(3068) said(559) unto(413) Moses,(4872) Take(3947) thee (853) Joshua(3091) the son(1121) of Nun,(5126) a man(376) in whom(834) the spirit,(7307) and lay(5564) (853) thine hand(3027) upon(5921) him;

  1. Like Moses, Joshua will lead the Israelites.

Num. 27:20 - And thou [Moses] shalt put(5414) of thine honor(4480), (1935) upon(5921) him [Joshua], that(4616) all(3605) the congregation(5712) of the children(1121) of Israel(3478) may be obedient.(8085)

  1. Like Moses, the Lord fights for Joshua.

Deut. 3:21 - And I commanded(6680) Joshua(3091) at that(1931) time,(6256) saying,(559) Thine eyes(5869) have seen(7200) (853) all(3605) that(834) the LORD(3068) your God(430) hath done(6213) unto these(428) two(8147) kings:(4428) so(3651) shall the LORD(3068) do(6213) unto all(3605) the kingdoms(4467) whither(834), (8033) thou(859) passest.(5674)

Deut. 3:22 - Ye shall not(3808) fear(3372) them: for(3588) the LORD(3068) your God(430) he(1931) shall fight(3898) for you.

  1. The protections of Yahweh to Moses, became also true for Joshua.

Deut. 3:28 - But charge(6680) (853) Joshua,(3091) and encourage(2388) him, and strengthen(553) him: for(3588) he(1931) shall go over(5674) before(6440) this(2088) people,(5971) and he(1931) shall cause them to inherit(5157) (853) the land(776) which(834) thou shalt see.(7200)

Deut. 31:7 - And Moses(4872) called(7121) unto Joshua,(3091) and said(559) unto(413) him in the sight(5869) of all(3605) Israel,(3478) Be strong(2388) and of a good courage:(553) for(3588) thou(859) must go(935) with(854) this(2088) people(5971) unto(413) the land(776) which(834) the LORD(3068) hath sworn(7650) unto their fathers(1) to give(5414) them; and thou(859) shalt cause them to inherit(5157) it.

Deut. 31:8 - And the LORD,(3068) he(1931) that doth go(1980) before(6440) thee; he(1931) will be(1961) with thee,(5973) he will not(3808) fail(7503) thee, neither(3808) forsake(5800) thee: fear(3372) not,(3808) neither(3808) be dismayed.(2865)

Josh. 3:7 - And the LORD(3068) said(559) unto(413) Joshua,(3091) This(2088) day(3117) will I begin(2490) to magnify(1431) thee in the sight(5869) of all(3605) Israel,(3478) that(834) they may know(3045) that,(3588) as(834) I was(1961) with(5973) Moses,(4872) I will be(1961) with(5973) thee.

  1. A stark difference between Moses and Joshua, to me, is:

Deut. 34:10 - And there arose(6965) not(3808) a prophet(5030) since(5750) in Israel(3478) like unto Moses,(4872) whom(834) the LORD(3068) knew(3045) face(6440) to(413) face,(6440)

-- Other verses make it sound like Joshua was with Moses when Moses was speaking f2f with Yahweh; however, perhaps Joshua was only a witness.

Exo. 24:13 - And Moses(4872) rose up,(6965) and his minister(8334) Joshua:(3091) and Moses(4872) went up(5927) into(413) the mount(2022) of God.(430)

Exo. 24:14 - And he said(559) unto(413) the elders,(2205) Tarry(3427) ye here(2088) for us, until(5704), (834) we come again(7725) unto(413) you: and, behold,(2009) Aaron(175) and Hur(2354) with(5973) you: if any(4310) man(1167) have any matters(1697) to do, let him come(5066) unto(413) them.

Exo. 33:8 - And it came to pass,(1961) when Moses(4872) went out(3318) unto(413) the tabernacle,(168) all(3605) the people(5971) rose up,(6965) and stood(5324) every man(376) his tent(168) door,(6607) and looked(5027) after(310) Moses,(4872) until(5704) he was gone(935) into the tabernacle.(168)

Exo. 33:9 - And it came to pass,(1961) as Moses(4872) entered into(935) the tabernacle,(168) the cloudy(6051) pillar(5982) descended,(3381) and stood(5975) the door(6607) of the tabernacle,(168) and talked(1696) with(5973) Moses.(4872)

Exo. 33:10 - And all(3605) the people(5971) saw(7200) (853) the cloudy(6051) pillar(5982) stand(5975) the tabernacle(168) door:(6607) and all(3605) the people(5971) rose up(6965) and worshiped,(7812) every man(376) his tent(168) door.(6607)

Exo. 33:11 - And the LORD(3068) spoke(1696) unto(413) Moses(4872) face(6440) to(413) face,(6440) as(834) a man(376) speaketh(1696) unto(413) his friend.(7453) And he turned again(7725) into(413) the camp:(4264) but his servant(8334) Joshua,(3091) the son(1121) of Nun,(5126) a young man,(5288) **departed(4185) not(3808) out of(4480), (8432) the tabernacle.(168)

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  • Thanks tblue. +1. But this answer needs a lot of editing. Put your scripture quotations in quote blocks and remove those numbers beside the texts. Not useful. – user20490 Dec 22 '17 at 1:31
  • @user20490 Thanks for the suggestion; it is better. Will keep the #s - kinda like, "How is Joshua like Moses? Let me count the ways...." <s> – tblue Dec 22 '17 at 2:06

There seems to be no clear answer from the verse itself, or even the surrounding context.

Rashi skirts the problem by saying that "like me" modifies "from your midst" and "from your brethren". That is, God will raise you up a prophet from your brethren in your midst in the same way that I, Moses, am one of your brethren in your midst.

The Ramban continues that "from your brethren" and "from your midst" means not a foreigner and not even a son of Jacob resident of the diaspora.

Rabenu B'Chayeh continues this logic and says that "like me", "from your brethren" means a son of Jacob rather than a son of Esau or Ishamel, who are also called "brethren" (e.g. Numbers 20:14).

The Ibn Ezra and the Rashbam says that "like me" means that the prophet is a prophet of God, YHVH, and follows in the way of Moses regarding adherence to the commandments, and not a prophet of some other god or religion.

The Ramban says, based on Exodus 15:30-31, that the prophet must work some signs (although not necessarily miracles in the modern understanding of the term), as did Moses and Aaron.

We have a working example, as to what Moses intended, appointed by Moses himself, in the person of Joshua.

The distinguishing features of Moses, Joshua, the Judges and Samuel, is that they were all recognized and accepted national leaders in their lifetimes and not voices crying in the wilderness, or leaders of some fringe movement.1 None of them were anointed, and none of them were priests.

1. Not that their leadership of any of these prophet leaders was unchallenged, but it was never outright rejected by the nation. They were never deposed, sent into exile, or even killed in battle or murdered.

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    Thanks. But since Moses was persecuted several times by the murmurings and grumblings of the congregation, doesn't it indicate that this leader would himself be persecuted. They tried to stone Moses and Aaron at different times. At times they rejected the divine appointment of Moses as their leader. I brought this up because of the second to the last paragraph in your answer. +1 – user20490 Dec 20 '17 at 14:32
  • Even Samuel, the Judges and other prophets felt rejected by the community. So I believe that a challenge with Jewish acceptance should also be included in your answer. – user20490 Dec 20 '17 at 14:35
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    @user20490 From the time of Moses until Saul the only mashiah is the chief priest who was anointed with olive oil. Saul was the first king who was mashiah, anointed. Second temple chief priests were also mashiah, anointed, but with persimmon oil. It is only late in the first century that mashiah son of David becomes Mashiah and then MASHIAH. Historically, the concept underwent a transformation and inflation, first in Judaism and consequently in Christianity. So the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15 is a figure like Moses, Joshua or Samuel, a non-anointed leader who does his work then passes on. – Abu Munir Ibn Ibrahim Dec 20 '17 at 16:26
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    @user20490 As Abu Minir wrote, the traditional Jewish understanding of Deuteronomy 18:15 is that there will be future prophets that will guide the Jewish people and convey to them the word of G-d like Moses did. It does not mean that their life story or character will be similar to Moses. The context which contrasts the Israelites listening to prophets with the Canaanites listening to necromancers and describes the false prophet, indicate that these verses are not referring to a particular prophet of the future but future prophets generally. – conceptualinertia Dec 21 '17 at 16:46
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    @user20490 I do not see how that discourse proves anything about Deut 18:15. Even if there are prophets and the Prophet, Deutoronomy 18:15 is referring to prophets. It is describing all of the future genuine prophets that would guide Israel in the coming generations. Maybe there was a tradition of a the Prophet at the time of John the Baptist, or maybe it is mistranslation or mistaken transmission where it was originally a prophet, and became the Prophet. – conceptualinertia Dec 28 '17 at 17:41

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