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The Prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:18

Ramazan Muhammad Musa Zuberi


May 3, 2000 / 29 , 1421

I want to begin by thanking Allah () for giving me the opportunity to write about the
prophecy in Deuteronomy 18:18. Insha-Allah (), the facts that will be provided here
will help solve a major puzzle for Christians and Muslims alike.

There have been many debates between Jews, Christians, and Muslims over this very
important prophecy, all providing their evidence, fact, logic, reasoning, and
understanding to prove their points as to who this prophecy is referring, whether it is
Jesus () or Muhammad ().

It eventually occurred to me that all evidence brought forth were from different versions
of the Bible, Bible dictionaries, commentaries, etc., some being study Bibles in which
footnotes and references are contained.

With respect to all arguments from the three faiths, I ask you to take into consideration
that the versions of the Bibles used were in the English language. These were
interpretations from other English versions, restricting you from the original text and
therefore, restricting you from its true meaning. This encouraged and motivated me to
further my studies and research on Deuteronomy 18:18 more in depth and accurately
from the Aramaic scriptures directly.

As many would agree, I was more interested in reading this passage from the original
Aramaic text as I naturally like to analyze every word, expression, and sentence structure
in general. Please note that a literal translation is not necessarily an interpretation and
therefore, one has to be extra careful on this subject matter. Yes, you can provide a literal
translation, however, that does not necessarily mean that you are providing its meaning or
interpretation. One good example of this is the expression Dont cry over spilled milk.
This can be translated into any language, but it will be translated as just that. We know
that there is a meaning behind this expression. This is the difference between literal
translation and interpretation.

Aramaic, like Arabic, goes very deep into the choices of words and expressions used.
One word can be translated in many different ways. The Bible contains many
expressions and terms that were in later times translated and interpreted literally, for
The Prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:18 Page 1 of 6
example, using the term Son of God. In the Aramaic and Hebrew languages, this is an
expression used regularly meaning, Godly Person. Its good to keep this in mind when
studying Biblical or religious speech in general.

In regards to the Torah, there are two main versions in Aramaic: 1) Targum, which is an
Aramaic translation of the Hebrew, also known as Onkelos, and 2) the Peshitta which is a
Bible containing the Aramaic language closest to that of Jesus (). I would sooner trust
the Peshitta only because it is not a translation from another language, but is known to
have been written in Aramaic itself.

In Deuteronomy 18:18, the word Brethren is used. In some versions, the word
Brothers is used as well. From the English perspective, it is difficult to determine what
the word brethren is truly referring to in this passage. Could it mean biological
brethren from the same lineage? Or perhaps could it mean brethren of the same faith
regardless of family relations?

In the English language, brethren can have five definitions:

1. Brother of same parents
2. Half-brother (same father) [which in the case of Ishmael and Isaac]
3. Relative, kinship, same tribe
4. Each to the other (reciprocal relationship)
5. (fig.) of resemblance

The Aramaic plays a very important role here because the only way to know exactly what
this word means is by reading the passage from the original text. Although there are
different words used in the English Bibles, there is only one and the same word used in
the Aramaic. Proper examination will produce a true and clear understanding as to whom
the prophecy is referring.

In Genesis, we see that Abraham () had two wives
1
, Sarah and Hagar, and between
them brought forth two sons who were destined to be prophets, Ishmael and Isaac, of
course, Ishmael being the firstborn son who gains the right of inheritance according to
Jewish law.
2
Therefore, there were to be two lineages out of Abraham (), both
destined to be great nations. From Isaac ultimately arose Jesus (), the Israeli lineage,
and from Ishmael, ultimately arose Muhammad (), the Arab lineage.

The argument here is really between the Christians and the Muslims because according to
the Jews, the Prophet which Deuteronomy 18:18 is referring to has not yet arrived. Is it
referring to Jesus () or Muhammad ()? Let me first put forth the logic and
understanding behind this. Yes, the reference does use the English word Brethren
which could mean the relationship between the descendants of Isaac and Ishmael. Or it
could mean the relationship amongst the descendants of Isaac only.


1
Genesis 16:3
2
Deuteronomy 21:15-17
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We will find this reference in the New Testament as well. In John 1:20-21 John, without
hesitation, admits that he is not the Christ. Then he also admits that he is not Elias. What
should interest you most is his next statement. He admits that he is not that Prophet.
The exact quote is as follows:

John 1:20-21 And he confessed, and denied not; but confessed, I am not
the Christ. And they asked him, What then? Art thou Elias?
3
And he
saith, I am not. Art thou that prophet? And he answered, No.
4

You cannot help but notice that there are three entities mentioned in this passage 1) the
Christ (Jesus), 2) Elias, and 3) That Prophet. Therefore, the ultimate question is, Who is
that Prophet?

Argument One

According to Christian scholars such as C.I. Scofield, in his study bible, you will find a
reference note by the words that Prophet referring back to Deuteronomy 18:18.
Therefore, if Deuteronomy 18:18 was referring to Jesus (), then it would have made
sense to insert the reference note by the word Christ instead. If this being the case,
then Deuteronomy 18:18 could not have been referring to Jesus () but instead to
another Prophet.

Argument Two

The passage also says, like you meaning that this Prophet will be like Moses (), not
by lineage or race, but by character, life, leadership, religion, etc.. If we compare the life
between Moses () and Muhammad (), we find many similarities. However, if we
compare the life of Jesus () and Moses (), we find major differences. For example
a) Jesus was raised by his parents, b) his ministry did not last long, c) he was born
without male intervention, d) his people went against him, e) he has not come with new
laws and regulations for mankind, but instead was sent only for the lost sheep of the
house of Israel
5
, f) he did not die a natural death, g) he never married and/or begot
children, etc.. Whereas, Moses () and Muhammad () both a) were not raised by their
parents, b) both had many years of ministry, c) both were born naturally, d) their people
eventually accepted them as prophets and kings, e) both were sent with new laws,
regulations, attitudes, manners, etc., and f) they both died a natural death at old age, g)
both married and begot children.

There are many arguments that one can make when it comes to this topic, however, I
dont wish to extend this much longer as there are already many great publications on this
topic. Therefore, I will make it very brief.


3
Sometimes Elijah. In the Aramaic, the proper name is ba (Ileeya).
4
Emphasis is my own.
5
Matthew 5:17 & Matthew 15:24
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Argument Three

Presented below is Deuteronomy 18:18 in Aramaic from the Peshitta.

u a bj ya a N i a Z
a b N
This reads:

Nabiya aqeem lahoon min gaw akhyahoon akwatak, wa tal fatgamay
bfoomeh: wa nimar lahoon kull-medem dapuqdayawhee.

Meaning:

The Prophet will I raise for them from among their (fraternal) brethren
(who will be) like you, and I will put my oracles (fatgamay) in his mouth
and he will say to them all that I command him.
6

The word that is to be examined in this passage is ya (akhyahoon) meaning their
(fraternal) brethren. It is derived from bya (akhaya) which means: Fraternal brother
not of the same race or lineage.
7
The Arabic equivalent would be (akhawee)
which means: Brotherly, fraternal.
8

If we go back just 3 verses to Deuteronomy 18:15:

The Lord thy God will raise up unto thee a Prophet from the midst of thee,
of thy brethren, like unto me; unto him ye shall hearken.

Here, Moses () is speaking to them directly and says: of thy brethren, and in
Aramaic we find: .. ,.

, (min akhyak). This is the same word found in verse 18. The
only difference is grammatical in verse 15, it states of THY brethren whereas in verse
18 it states among THEIR brethren. However, they both come from the same word
i..



(akhaya) which means Fraternal Brother.

According to Websters New Twentieth Century Dictionary Unabridged Second Edition,
Fraternal means:


6
Translation is my own according to the Aramaic.
7
: Qamoos Siryanee _ Arabiyya : Syriac Arabic Dictionary
8
Al-Mawrid: A Modern ArabicEnglish Dictionary, Dr. Rohi Baalbaki
The Prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:18 Page 4 of 6
Of or characteristic of a brother, or brothers, brotherly; a society, often
secret, of members banded together for mutual benefit or for work toward
a common goal.

The Targum contains the same Aramaic word to describe who these Brethren are. In
Hebrew we read: (akheyhem) and in Targumic Aramaic we read
(akheyhon). It is interesting to note that according to the Targum, it means: Brothers to
the degraded woman. We know that Hagar was a degraded woman in the Bible, and it
was her lineage that this brethren is referring to. At that time, there could not have
been any other brethren other than that between Ishmael and Isaac.

To see a good example of Brethren from the same race or lineage, we can refer to the
following reference:

Genesis 16:12 And he (Ishmael) 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.

When we read all his brethren in this case it refers to his own race and lineage, and
in this verse we read: .. -:

(dkulhoon akhawhee). The letter (Yud) is not


present in word ..

(akhawhee) in this verse. In Targumic Aramaic of this verse, we


read, - (kal-akhohee) meaning all his brethren with the elimination of the
letter (Yod).

Im stressing on the word -.. (akhyahoon) because its quite different from the
ordinary word that would be used for their brethren in Aramaic. If this prophet was to
be raised from amongst themselves, the same race (Israeli lineage), then it would have
specified so in the translation, but it did not. Also, we would have found the Aramaic
word to be -. (akhahoon) instead which means their brethren of the same race or
lineage. We can see that this English word Brethren has caused some difficulty for
scholars such as George Lamsa in his book New Testament Light, p. 160, he says:

The term of your brethren is somewhat difficult to explain. Some
people wonder why Moses did not say, from among you.

The only difference in the two words above is that the first word contains the letter
(Yud) which is the smallest letter in the Aramaic alphabet. Although a very small
difference, it is great in meaning. In fact, Jesus () makes a reference about this in
Matthew:

Matthew 5:18 one jot or one tittle shall in no wise pass from the law, till
all be fulfilled.

The Prophecy of Deuteronomy 18:18 Page 5 of 6
The words he uses are: b y a ay (Yud Hda aw Had serta) which means:
one Yud or one Serta Yud being the letter, and Serta meaning: trait, tittle, a line,
dash, scratch, or the very point of a letter.
9

The logic and reasoning behind this was to show how serious offense it was to make even
the slightest change to the Law (Torah). This is because to make such a slight change is
not only forbidden, but can result to a great deal of corruption in the text. Therefore, the
difference between ya (akhyahoon) and ya (akhahoon) is indeed great in
meaning. To recap, the different words used for easier understanding, see the list below:

ya (akhyahoon) Their (Fraternal) brethren (plural)
10
bya (akhaya) Fraternal brother (singular)
11
(akhawee) Brotherly, fraternal (general)

Fraternal: Of or characteristic of a brother, or brothers, brotherly; a society,
often secret, of members banded together for mutual benefit or for
work toward a common goal.
ya (akhawhee) Their brethren (plural, of the same race or lineage)
(Jacobs Sons: Genesis 35:23)

Aramaic is a very unique language. Like Arabic, it is very specific when dealing with
males, females, objects (as opposed to humans), family, tribe, race, etc I will always
encourage to study and examine the original scriptures because when it boils down to it,
you will never understand your religion until you first understand it in its original form.

I would also encourage further research on this subject. This article is very brief because
I wanted to get right to the point. When we compare the similarities between Moses and
Muhammad (pbut), we will find many more than whats specified in this article.

The original text shows that the word ya (akhyahoon) clearly refers to the lineage
of Ishmael and not that of Isaac.

9
: Qamoos Siryanee _ Arabiyya : Syriac Arabic Dictionary
10
This is the word found in the original Aramaic
11
: Qamoos Siryanee _ Arabiyya : Syriac Arabic Dictionary, Page 5
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