Who are the “brethren” from whom a prophet will come?

[article by Mr.P]

Concerning “The LORD your God will raise up for you a Prophet like me from your midst, from your brethren. Him you shall hear,” (Deuteronomy 18:15), does “of/from your brethren” only include Jews or could it also include the Arabs? Below are all the references to “of your brethren/brothers” and “from your brethren/brothers” in the Old Testament. NKJV There are the following Old Testament references to “of your brothers/brethren”.

Genesis 42:19 Joseph, as governor of Egypt, was speaking to his family (42:7) “If ye be true men, let one of your brethren be bound in the house of your prison: go ye, carry corn for the famine of your houses:” Repeated in Genesis 42:33.

Genesis 50:17 “Thus you shall say to Joseph: “I beg you, please forgive the trespass of your brothers and their sin; for they did evil to you.”‘ Now, please, forgive the trespass of the servants of the God of your father.” And Joseph wept when they spoke to him.” Genesis 50:7-16 shows that it was Joseph’s own family or brothers who were speaking after they had buried Jacob.

Leviticus 25:1-2, 25 “And the LORD spoke to Moses on Mount Sinai, saying, “Speak to the children of Israel, … If one of your brethren becomes poor, and has sold some of his possession, and if his redeeming relative comes to redeem it, then he may redeem what his brother sold.”” This is speaking to Israelites which also applies in 25:35, 39 and 47.

Deuteronomy 15:7 “If there is among you a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land which the LORD your God is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your poor brother,” Ishmael’s children lived in Saudi Arabia. ‘Havilah: (2) A district in Arabia-Felix. It is uncertain whether the tribe gave its name to this region or derived its name from it, … Genesis 25:17a-18 {“… Ishmael …: (They dwelt from Havilah as far as Shur, which is east of Egypt as you go toward Assyria.)”} It is the opinion of Kalisch, however, that Havilah “in both instances designates the same country, extending at least from the Persian to the Arabian Gulf, and on account of its vast extent easily divided into two distinct parts.” …’ (Easton’s Bible Dictionary). Esau’s children lived in the land of Edom (Gen 36:9 “And these are the generations of Esau the father of the Edomites in mount Seir: 36:21 “…the children of Seir in the land of Edom.) The Deuteronomy 15:7 description is: “a poor man of your brethren, within any of the gates in your land” and so “your brethren” can only refer to the Israelites. The same applies to Deuteronomy 24:14.

Judges 14:3 “Then his father and mother said to him, “Is there no woman among the daughters of your brethren, or among all my people, that you must go and get a wife from the uncircumcised Philistines?” And Samson said to his father, “Get her for me, for she pleases me well.”” “Of your brethren, or among all my people” would mean one of two things. Either, and most likely, of your close relations in the clan or among the tribe of Dan, or, of the tribe of Dan or among all Israel.

Deuteronomy 24:14 “And Moses called all Israel, and said to them: (Deut 5:1) …”You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether one of your brethren or one of the aliens who is in your land within your gates.” This refers to the Israelites.

2Chonicles 35:3, 5 “Then he (Josiah v1) said to the Levites …And stand in the holy place according to the divisions of the fathers’ houses of your brethren the lay people, and according to the division of the father’s house of the Levites.” This therefore applies to one part of the Israelites.

When God wants us to realise that “of your brethren/brothers” is not referring to Israelites He has said so in one reference: Deuteronomy 2:4 “And command the people, saying, “You [are about to] pass through the territory of your brethren, the descendants of Esau, who live in Seir; and they will be afraid of you. Therefore watch yourselves carefully.”

from your brethren

2Chron 19:8-10 “… Jehoshaphat appointed some of the Levites and priests, and some of the chief fathers of Israel, … And he commanded them, saying, “Thus you shall act in the fear of the LORD, faithfully and with a loyal heart: “Whatever case comes to you from your brethrenwho dwell in their cities, whether of bloodshed or offenses against law or commandment, against statutes or ordinances, you shall warn them, lest they trespass against the LORD and wrath come upon you and your brethren. Do this, and you will not be guilty.” So “from your brethren” must refer to the Jews.

2Chronicles 28:5, 9, 11 “Then he (Ahaz reigning over Judah in Jerusalem 28:1) was also delivered into the hand of the king of Israel, who defeated him with a great slaughter. … But a prophet of the LORD was there, whose name was Oded; and he went out before the army that came to Samaria, and said to them: … “Now hear me, therefore, and return the captives, whom you have taken captive from your brethren, for the fierce wrath of the LORD is upon you.” So this “from your brethren” refers to the Israelites in Judah.

Therefore from the other uses in the Bible we conclude that “of/from your brethren/brothers” shows that the prophet of Deuteronomy 18:15-18 must be a Jew.

The New Testament references to “of/from your brethren” would not be relevant because when any person anywhere in the world trusts in Christ as their Saviour they become part of the spiritual family of God, see 1John 3:1, “Behold what manner of love the Father has bestowed on us, that we should be called children of God! Therefore the world does not know us, because it did not know Him. Beloved, now we are children of God; and it has not yet been revealed what we shall be, but we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is.”

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