A Christian friend recently asked me if it’s true that Muhammad was predicted in Deuteronomy 18:18 as Muslims claim. Several Christian apologists like John Gilchrist, Sam Shamoun etc. have done a good job in refuting the “Muhammad in the Bible” fantasies. This is one of the claims that illustrate the shallow and inconsistent arguments Muslims resort to in a bid to “prove” that Muhammad is a prophet of God.
On one hand, they tell us that the Bible is “corrupt” and false, but when they are cornered with evidence against Muhammad, they start to appeal to the authority and credibility of the Bible to validate their guru. It’s a cognitive dissonance that is quite amusing and at the same time, sad.
In Deut. 18:18, God says to Moses, “I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brothers; I will put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him.”
Because this promised Prophet would be like Moses, some Muslims have tried to link Muhammad with Moses by pointing at some “similarities” – none of which confers any prophetic identity. The Bible indicates 3 unique features that distinguish Moses as Israel’s first prophet:
1. He was the mediator of a covenant. When God manifested Himself to the children of Israel, He promised to send them a prophet like Moses “as you desired of the LORD your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly” (Dt. 18:16).
Moses mediated the old covenant between God and the Israelites. Through him, God gave the Israelites His law and requirements. As a token of this covenant, Moses sprinkled blood of calves on the people (Heb. 9:20). But Muhammad was no mediator of any covenant.
2. Moses knew God face-to-face. He had such a unique relationship with God that for 40 years, God manifested and frequently spoke directly to him in a way that He didn’t do with others (Exo. 33:11). The Quran confirms this in Sura 4:164 “And to Moses Allah spoke directly.” Allah didn’t speak to Muhammad face-to-face.
3. Moses performed great signs and wonders. God used him to bring plagues on Egypt, divide the Red Sea, bring manna from heaven and water from a rock. On the other hand, Muhammad had no miracle or sign. Even when his critics demanded for some, he admitted he couldn’t work any miracle. Certainly, Muhammad wasn’t the promised prophet.
Like a drowning man – whether by hook or by crook – Muslims latch on to the phrase “from among your brothers” in Deut. 18:18 arguing that Arabs are the brothers of Israelites, so the promised prophet must be an Arab and was Muhammad. This claim doesn’t hold water.
Looking at the whole of Deuteronomy we see that the term “among their brothers” was exclusively used for only the tribes of Israel. In Dt. 18:2, it was used for the Levites and other tribes in Israel. In each instance the term “their brothers” occurs in the Old Testament, it always refers to the tribes of Israelites, not to non-Israelites:
“… The LORD your God has given you this land to take possession of it. But all your able-bodied men, armed for battle, must cross ahead of your BROTHER Israelites” (Dt. 3:18)
“If there is a poor man AMONG YOUR BROTHERS in any of the towns of the land that the LORD your God is giving you, do not be hardhearted… (Dt. 15:7)
“Be sure to appoint over you the king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from AMONG YOUR BROTHERS. Do not place a foreigner over you, one WHO IS NOT A BROTHER Israelite” (Dt. 17:15)
“Do not take advantage of a hired man who is poor and needy, whether he is A BROTHER ISRAELITE or an alien living in one of your towns” (Dt. 24:14)
Some may argue that Isaac and Ishmael were half-brothers. But no valid connection exists between Ishmael and Muhammad or even the southern Arabs. In fact, no prophet was to be expected from the lineage of Ishmael because God’s covenant was with Isaac. Even the Quran agrees that prophethood was to come from the Israelites:
“And We gave to Him Isaac and Jacob and placed in his descendants prophethood and scripture…” (29:27).
Therefore, the promised Prophet was to come out of Israel and He is Jesus Christ. He is the “Prophet” (Mt. 13:57) and “the Son of the God” (Jn. 10:36). Like Moses:
1. He is the Mediator of a covenant. Through Him, God instituted a new covenant replacing that of Moses (Jer. 31:31-34). Under this new covenant, His laws would be written on His people’s hearts. This covenant was effected through blood (1 Cor. 11:25).
2. Jesus knew God face-to-face. He declared this in John 7:29 and 6:46.
3. Jesus performed great miracles. Like Moses, He also exercised power over the sea (Mk. 4:39).
Muhammad deceived his followers to believe that he was mentioned as God’s prophet in the Bible. This is why today Muslims are forced to jump through different hoops to “find” him within its pages. Let’s examine these two claims in the Quran:
“Those who follow the Apostle, the unlettered Prophet whom they (Israelites) will find mentioned in their own (Scriptures) – in the Law and the Gospel – for he commands them what is just and forbids them what is evil … He releases them from their heavy burdens and from the yokes that are upon them…” (Q 7:157)
This statement was attributed to Moses. One, there’s no way the Israelites could have known of any prophecy of an apostle of Allah to come within the pages of the Gospel when the Gospel had not yet been revealed in their time. The gospel was penned by Jesus’ apostles – and the Judaists didn’t believe the gospel – so how could Allah be telling them of a book that didn’t exist until 1,500 years later? Two, if Muhammad was unlettered or illiterate (as Muslims claim) how could he have certainly known that his coming was predicted in the Law and Gospel?
Three, Moses says the coming prophet would uphold justice, fairness and free the Jews from their yokes, but Muhammad was a great enemy to the Jews. He hated them; cursed them; enslaved them, assaulted them and unjustly murdered hundreds of them in one single day. Ibn Umar reported Muhammad as saying:
“You will fight against the Jews and you will kill them until even a stone would say ‘Muslim, there is a Jew (hiding himself behind me), kill him’.” (Muslim 7:41:6981)
Are we to believe that God who called Israel “the apple of [His] eye” (Zech. 2:8) and loved them “with an everlasting love” (Jer. 31:3) would then send them an apostle “like Moses” to rape, oppress, banish and slaughter them? Far from it!
In the second claim, Jesus allegedly says:
“O children of Israel! I am the Messenger of Allah unto you, confirming the Taurat (Torah) which came before me, and giving glad tidings of a Messenger to come after me, whose name shall be Ahmad. they said: this is obvious sorcery!” (Q 61:6).
This statement lacks an eye witness account and like many fictional speeches Muhammad imputed onto Bible characters, it is invalid. Here was a man who lived for 40 years as a good ol’ pagan, going on caravan journeys, sitting around night fires with Jewish, Christian and Sabean traders listening to their stories and … boom, he wakes up one day to realize that his name is “Ahmad” announced as Jesus’ successor in the Gospels! Megalomania much?
Maybe, Muhammad forgot he had earlier recited that prophethood was reserved for the Israelites: “And We [Allah] did certainly give the Children of Israel the Scripture and judgement and prophethood, and We provided them with good things…” (Q 45:16)
The textual validity of Sura 61:6 is also questionable. The manuscript of Ubayy Ibn Ka’ab (one of the 4 earliest memorisers of the Quran), though destroyed by Uthman, survives in quotations and it reads differently from the common version:
“O Children of Israel! I am the messenger of God to you And I announce to you a prophet (nabiy) whose community (umma) will be the last community and by which God will put a seal on prophets (nabiyun) and messengers (rusul), they said: this is obvious sorcery!”
The part appearing in bold says nothing about an “Ahmad” promised by Jesus. It was obviously a later interpolation. Both variants may have been smuggled into the text to support an agenda. Irrespective of the cheap labours of Muslim apologists to legitimise Muhammad from the Bible, in the light of evidence, they have no ground to stand on.