What does the phrase "A Prophet like Moses" mean?

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    A Prophet like Moses?

    Deuteronomy 18:18-19

    “I will raise them up a Prophet from among their brethren, like unto thee, and will put my words in 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 it of him.”


    This is a key passage in the Moslem claims for Muhammad, whom they claim is the prophet like Moses predicted in this passage. They support their claim by producing an impressive list of ways in which Muhammad was like Moses and in which Jesus was not like Moses. This list includes the following:

    Moses Jesus Muhammed
    Rejected by his people and then accepted Yes No Yes
    Became a national leader Yes No Yes
    Miraculous birth No Yes No
    Encountered enemies in battle Yes No Yes
    Family – married with children Yes No Yes

    To answer an argument like this takes some thought, and this may not be available when being pressed by a Moslem in discussion.

    1. There are a number of ways in which Moses was like Jesus, but unlike Muhammad:
      1. Moses had no known tomb, but died on Mount Nebo (Deut. 34:6).
      2. Moses came out of Egypt at the Exodus, and Jesus went to Egypt as a baby and returned.
      3. Moses was brought up by his mother as a nurse in Pharaoh’s household, and Jesus was brought up by Mary, but Muhammad was an orphan. Moses was saved as a baby in the rushes; Jesus was saved when God told Joseph to take him to Egypt.
      4. Moses was transfigured on Mt. Sinai (Exodus 34:29) and Jesus was transfigured in Matthew 17:1-6.
      5. Moses offered to take the sins of Israel on himself in Exodus 32:30-32; Jesus was sacrificed for the sins of mankind.

      Even at this level of argument there are more points of similarity between Jesus and Moses than there are between Muhammad and Moses. Not only that, but some of the points where Jesus seems to be different from Moses only appear because the Moslems have not considered the whole of the life of Jesus. For example, Jesus was rejected by his people and has not been accepted by them yet. But the time will come when they will look on him whom they have pierced (Zech. 12:10) and God will cleanse them (Ezek. 36:26-31). Similarly, Jesus will become a national leader and will encounter his enemies in battle (Zech. 14:3).

    2. In Deuteronomy 18:18 God tells Moses to inform Israel that the prophet was to be from among their brethren, which means that he would have to be an Israelite. Moslems who dispute this assert that, as the Arabs are the brothers of the Jews, this refers to an Arab. However, there is no scriptural evidence to support this. The Arabs are never called the brethren of the Jews in the Bible. There are a few verses where Edom is described as the brother (singular) of Israel (e.g. Num. 20:14; Deut. 23:7; Amos 1:11), but the word brethren (plural) is never used. In any case, Muhammad is not a descendent of Edom (who joined the Jews in the second century BC), but of Ishmael, who is never referred to as the brother of Israel. The passage can only mean that the prophet like unto Moses was to be an Israelite.
    3. To list the similarities and differences between Jesus, Muhammad and Moses is a rather inconclusive and man-made way of looking at Deuteronomy 18. Rather than humans making lists of ways that Muhammad is, or is not, like Moses, it is better to let the passage itself say in what way the prophet will be like Moses. This is given us in the next two verses:
      “And if thou say in thine heart, How shall we know the word which the LORD hath not spoken? When a prophet speaketh in the name of the LORD, if the thing follow not, nor come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD hath not spoken, but the prophet hath spoken it presumptuously: thou shalt not be afraid of him.” (Deut. 18:21-22)
      The prophet would validate his message by some sign, either a miracle or a prediction of the future which he would predict or announce and which would then be fulfilled. There is no doubt that Jesus worked miracles; even the Qur’an admits this (e.g. Q 5:115). However, Muhammad never performed a miracle and the set of predictions claimed for him is singularly unimpressive (he is said to have predicted that his followers would win the battle of Badr – probably a method of encouraging them to fight more fiercely, and self fulfilling as one would never of heard of the prediction if the battle had been lost). The lack of signs from Muhammad is also commented upon in the Qur’an with words like: “They say: Why not a sign sent down to him from his Lord?” (Q 10:20; see also Q 6:109; Q 13:7; Q 17:59; Q 21:5,6). There is only one reason that the Qur’an would record passages like these, and that is because Muhammad never gave a prophecy or performed a miracle.
    4. Moslems cannot have things both ways. Either the passage in Deuteronomy 18 is from God, in which case they must believe it and reject Muhammad because he does not fulfill scripture, or it is not from God, in which case they cannot claim it as a prediction of Muhammad.
    5. Deuteronomy 18:18 is cited in Acts 3:22. Here the apostle Peter, speaking words from God through the Holy Spirit, identifies the prophet like Moses as being Jesus Christ and not Muhammad.
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