Appendix-III

 

It is stated by the Lord in the book of Deuteronomy of the Old Testament of the Bible that ‘I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words into his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.’ The passage from which these words have been noted is given below:

The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee [the Israelites] a prophet from the midst of thee, of thy Brethren, like unto me [Moses]; unto him ye shall hearken; According to all that thou desiredst of the Lord thy God in Horeb in the day of the assembly, saying, Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, that I die not. And the Lord said unto me, They have well spoken that which they have spoken. I will raise them up a prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words into his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him. And it shall come to pass, that whosoever will not hearken unto my words which he shall speak in my name, I will require[1] it of him.[2]

A study of the main themes of this prophecy shall be undertaken point by point in the following lines:

 

From the midst[3]of thee

‘From the midst of thee’ would (if it be a genuine phrase having not been interpolated by some later redactor of the Bible, which it seems to be), in this context, obviously mean that the promised prophet shall be a descendant of your main and joint ancestor, Abraham. It is, however, noticeable that this prophecy has been noted at some other places of the New and Old Testaments of the Bible as well[4], but this phrase does not appear there. It makes the genuineness of this phrase doubtful. Some versions of the Bible take it in the sense of some place. A Jewish Commentary explains:

from the midst of thee. This implies that the endowment of prophecy can only be exercised in the holy land (N).[5]

There are some versions of the Bible that have dropped this phrase from verse 15 of the passage. The New Oxford Annotated B, in addition to dropping the phrase, has changed the word ‘brethren’ into ‘people’, and has translated it as:

(…) will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own people; you shall heed such a prophet.[6]

NIV, dropping the phrase from v. 15, translates it as:

 (…) will raise up for you a prophet like me from among your own brothers. You must listen to him.[7]

Good News B and Today’s English V, both, have also dropped the phrase, but have changed the word ‘brethren’ into ‘people’:

(…), he will send you a prophet like me from among your own people, and you are to obey him.[8]

The NJB hastranslated it as:

Yahweh your God will raise up a prophet like me; you will listen to him.[9]

It can thus be seen that it has not only dropped the phrase under study, but has dropped the phrase ‘of thy brethren’ as well. But the phrase ‘from their own brothers’ exists there in v.18.

The Revised Berkeley Version has also dropped the phrase ‘from the midst of thee’ from its translation of v. 15. It writes:

He will raise up for you a prophet like me, one of your own brothers, and you shall listen to him.[10]

The same is the case with so many other Versions (e.g. Contemporary English V, 1995, p. 219, The Reader’s Digest B, 1983, p. 97, The New American B, p. 176, etc.). It looks to be sufficient to establish that many of the Bible authorities themselves do not feel comfortable with keeping the phrase as a genuine part of the passage in their works and take it to be an interpolation by some later redactor of the book.

It may also be noted here that the Hebrew Bible has preserved it, which shows that it should not be rejected outright. An objective lexical study should, therefore, be undertaken to thrash out the real condition.

The Hebrew word for ‘midst’ is ‘קרב’ (Qareb) According to Strong’s Dic., it means ‘near’, as explained in the beginning of this section. The Hebrew Lexicon has explained it as:

(…); the basic meaning of the Semitic root is to be near, approach; to bring near. (….). (Jean-H. Dictionnaire 265; Hoftijzer-Jongeling Dic. 1031, qrb IX: a relative rather than a cousin); (…); in Babylonian it also means a relative.[11]

It can thus be appreciated that ‘midst’ is not a suitable translation of the original Hebrew word. The suitable translation would have been ‘from among the near relatives’. Obviously they can be none other than the Ishmaelite Arabs.

All the above discussion makes it quite probable that the phrase ‘from the midst of thee’ is a later addition by someone and is not a genuine part of the passage. Even if it be a genuine phrase of the Bible, it signifies that the prophet shall not be a stranger to you. He would be a kinsman of yours, from the progeny of your own forefather Abraham (pbAh).

 

‘of thy brethren’

To ascertain the meaning of the phrase ‘of thy brethren’, there is a clue in the beginning of this very chapter 18 of the book of Deuteronomy. Verse 2 reads:

Therefore shall they[i.e. ‘The priests, the Levites’, as recorded in v. 1 of this ch.] have no inheritance among their brethren; the Lord is their inheritance.[12]

Obviously the word ‘brethren’ here means ‘the other tribes from the line of their main ancestor, Jacob, and not the brothers related to their own tribe, the Levites, because they have been denied any inheritance.’ Because the addressees here are the Levites, their ‘brethren’ would mean none other than their brethren (cousins) from the other tribes of the line of Jacob and not the members of their own tribe. There are other examples in the Bible for this theme as well, e.g. Judges 20:13 (NKJV)notes:

But the children of Benjamin would not listen to the voice of their brethren, the children of Israel. [Here the children of Benjamin have been named as the ‘brethren’ of their cousins who are the children of the other sons of Israel, who were actually the brothers of their forefather ‘Benjamin’]

Numbers 8:26 (NKJV) asserts:

They [the Levites] may minister with their brethren [the descendants of the brothers of Levi from his father Israel (Jacob)] in the tabernacleof meeting, to attend to needs, but they themselves shall do no work.

1Kings 12:24 (NKJV):

You [Rehoboam son of Solomon and the tribe of Judah and Benjamin] shall not go up nor fight against your brethren the children of Israel.

It is, however, to be noted that the word brethren is a general term and implies the real brothers, first cousins, the remotest cousins, or anyone else. It is a form of the original Hebrew word ‘אח’(awkh or akh). Strong’s Dic. Explains:

A brother (used in the widest sense of literal relationship and metaphorical affinity or resemblance):— another, brother (-ly), kindred, like, other.[13]

The Bible has also used this word in the same broad sense. In the context of the lengthy instructions being delivered to the Israelites, God orders regarding the Edomites, who are the descendants of Jacob’s elder brother Esau:

 Thou shalt not abhor an edomite; for he is thy brother;[14]

The word ‘brethren’ has also been used in the Bible for even the Ishma‘elites as the brethren of the Israelites. It is recorded in the book of Genesis of the Bible as follows:

And the angel of the Lord said unto her [Hagar], I will multiply thy seed exceedingly, that it shall not be numbered for multitude. And the angel of the Lord said unto her, Behold, thou art with child, and shalt bear a son, and shalt call his name Ishmael; because the Lord hath heard thy affliction. And he will be a wild man; his hand will be against every man, and every man’s hand against him; and he shall dwell in the presence of all his brethren [stress added].[15]

The word ‘brethren’ has once again been used in the Bible in the same sense. In the context, none other than Ishma‘el’s step-brothers, Abraham’s sons from Sarah and Keturah, can be implied:

These are the sons of Ishmael, and these are their names, by their towns, and by their castles; twelve princes according to their nations. And these are the years of the life of Ishmael, an hundred and thirty and seven years; and he gave up the ghost and died; and was gathered unto his people. And they dwelt from Havilah unto Shur that is before Egypt, as thou goest toward Assyria; and he died in the presence of all his brethren [stress added].[16]

From the above presentations, it can be safely concluded that the phrase ‘of thy brethren’ refers to the Ishma‘elites as the brothers (cousins) of Israelites etc. In clause ‘Therefore shall they [i.e. the Levites’] have no inheritance among their brethren,’ of this very chapter 18 of Deut. (v. 2), the word ‘brethren’ signifies the Jewish tribes other than the Levites, and the Levites stand plainly excluded from this ‘brethren’. In the same way the Israelites stand excluded from this phrase. So the phrase ‘of thy brethren’ can only mean ‘of the Ishma‘elites’, and the ‘a prophet’ would obviously refer to the only prophet from the line of Ishma‘el, i.e. ‘Muhammad’ (pbAh).

Here is an interesting observation. It is said that alterations, additions, deletions, and interpolations have been freely exercised in the Bible. No reasonable scholar of the Bible denies this fact. An example to illustrate that this practice has not only been exercised in the past, but that it is being exercised till today without any hesitation, is afforded here. ‘The Living Bible’ seems to be a modern translation of the Bible. It is ‘Copyright © 1971 by Tyndale House Publishers, Wheaton, Illinois 60187. All rights reserved.’ It was first printed in July 1972 under the name of ‘The Way’, whereafter its sixteenth printing was published in March, 1976, claiming, ‘3,760,000 copies in print’. The writer of the present article has got this 16th printing. It translates the v. 15 as:

Instead, he will raise up for you a Prophet like me, an Israeli [stress added], a man to whom you must listen and whom you must obey.[17]

Its revision was accomplished in 1996 by a group of ‘ninety evangelical scholars from various theological backgrounds and denominations (…) commissioned in 1989 to begin revising The Living Bible.’ It revised this translation as:

The LORD your God will raise up from you a prophet like me from among your fellow Israelites, [stress added] and you must listen to that prophet.[18]

How can one explain where the words ‘an Israeli’ or the ‘fellow Israelites’ have jumped in from?

 The New English Bible (and it was prepared and approved by the Joint Committee of almost all the important churches of the Christian world) has dropped the most important phrase ‘from among your brothers’ from its translation of v. 15, which is a further example of such alterations. It writes:

(…) will raise up a prophet from among you like myself, and you shall listen to him.[19]

Some other translators have also dropped this phrase of ‘your brothers’ from the translation of v.15. We wonder through what literary sorcery such translators have got the phrase ‘from among your brothers’ disappeared from the scene of the passage before the open eyes of the world of letters. Of course, this dexterity of the translators must be ‘appreciated’.

It is also to be noted that if the promised prophet was to come from among the Israelites, the wording of the prophecy should have been:

I will raise them up a prophet from among themselves [stress added], like unto thee, and will put my words into his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.

It was essential to rule out all sorts of ambiguity, misunderstandings, and confusions. The word ‘brethren’ as already explained with reference to the Strong’s Dic., is a multi-meaning word and is certainly liable to create ambiguity and confusions and the Lord is not supposed to create confusion Himself. He should have been clear-cut, pertinent, precise, scrupulous, fastidious, to the point, and exact. But the actual words of the Bible are not compatible with the claim of the Jews and the Christians that ‘the promised prophet shall be from among the Israelites themselves’. The actual words of the Bible read:

I will raise them up a prophet from among theirbrethren[stress added], like unto thee, and will put my words into his mouth; and he shall speak unto them all that I shall command him.[20]

In fact the Lord has not used these words thoughtlessly and unmindfully. He has used these words intentionally and decisively. These words rule out every possibility of the claim of the Jews and the Christians that ‘the promised prophet shall be from among the Israelites themselves’.

There is another point with regard to ‘from among their brethren’. Like the earlier prophets, Jesus has also warned the Israelites:

Therefore I say unto you, the kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation [stress added. Please note the ‘singular form a nation and not the plural the nations’.] bringing forth the fruits thereof.[21]

It clearly shows that the kingdom of God or the prophethood is now to be taken away from the progeny of Israel and is to be transferred to their brethren. The context of this verse makes it quite clear that it relates none other than the ‘brethren of the Israelites’. Jesus has also explained it at another place in the same Gospel:

Hear another parable: There was a certain householder, which planted a vineyard, and hedged it round about, (…), and let it out to husbandmen, and went into a far country: And when the time of the fruit drew near, he sent his servants to the husbandmen, that they might receive the fruits of it. And the husbandmen took his servants, and beat one, and killed another, and stoned another[22]. Again, he sent other servants more than the first: and they did unto them likewise. But last of all he sent unto them his son[23], saying, They will reverence my son. But when the husbandmen saw the son, they said among themselves, This is the heir; come, let us kill him, and let us seize on his inheritance. And they caught him, and cast him out of the vineyard, and slew him.[24] When the lord therefore of the vineyard cometh, what will he do unto those husbandmen?[25]

The answer to this question is so simple and natural, that ‘they’ (the audience), like anybody else who happens to hear it, shall spontaneously ‘Say unto him,’:

He will miserably destroy those wicked men[26], and will let out his vineyard unto other[27] husbandmen[28], which shall render him the fruits in their season. Jesus saith unto them, Did ye never read in the scriptures, The stone which the builders rejected[29], the same is become the head of the corner: this is the Lord’s doing, and it is marvellous in our eyes?[30] Therefore say I unto you, The kingdom of God shall be taken from you, and given to a nation [stress added] bringing forth the fruits thereof. [31]

The words of Jesus are so clear and unequivocal that they need no comments at all. But if someone has already decided to favour some pre-assumed interpretation, what can anybody do!

 

a prophet

‘a prophet’ is another important feature to be cautiously noted to ascertain the exact application of the prophecy. Moses does not say that God will raise up ‘prophets’, he rather says, ‘a prophet’. The forthcoming person will be ‘aprophet’ after Moses (pbAh). Now there have been so many prophets after Moses (pbAh) in the line of Israel. The important point is that the promised prophet should be only ‘aprophet which means a ‘single’ and ‘singular’ prophet (who is, moreover, required to be ‘from among their brethren’ and ‘like unto Moses’). ‘Singleness’ and ‘singularity’ from among the brethren of the Jews can only be claimed for Prophet Muh~ammad (pbAh), who is from among the brethren of Israelites, i.e. the Ishma‘elite. As regards the Israelite prophets, ‘Singleness’ and ‘singularity’ cannot be claimed for any of them, because there had been almost scores of them in the line of Israel. ‘Singleness’ and ‘singularity’ demand that he should be distinguished from all the other prophets after Moses, all of whom belonged to the lineage of Israel amongst the descendants of Abraham (pbAh). And it is only Prophet Muh~ammad (pbAh), amongst the descendants of Abraham, who came after Moses and who came from amongst the brethren of the Israelites.

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