Deuteronomy 13

False prophets and false gods

1 Now if a prophet or a dream interpreter appears among you and performs a sign or wonder for you,
2 and the sign or wonder that was spoken actually occurs; if he says: "Come on! We should follow other gods"—ones you haven't experienced—"and we should worship them,"
3 you must not listen to that prophet's or dream interpreter's words, because the LORD your God is testing you to see if you love the LORD your God with all your mind and all your being.
4 You must follow the LORD your God alone! Revere him! Follow his commandments! Obey his voice! Worship him! Cling to him—no other!
5 That prophet or dream interpreter must be executed because he encouraged you to turn away from the LORD your God who brought you out of Egypt, who redeemed you from the house of slavery; they tried to lead you away from the path the LORD your God commanded you to take. Remove such evil from your community!
6 Similarly, if one of your relatives—even one of your own siblings—or your own son or daughter or your dear spouse or best friend entices you secretly, if someone like that says: "Come on! We should follow and worship other gods"—ones that neither you nor your ancestors have experienced,
7 gods from all the neighboring peoples, whether nearby or far away, from one end of the earth to the other—
8 don't give in to them! Don't obey them! Don't have any mercy on them! Don't have compassion on them and don't protect them!
9 Instead, you must execute them. Your own hand must be against them from the beginning of the execution; the hand of all the people will be involved at the end.
10 Stone them until they are dead because they desired to lead you away from the LORD your God, the one who brought you out of Egypt, out of the house of slavery.
11 All Israel will hear about this and be afraid. They won't do that sort of evil thing among you again.
12 Or if you hear about one of your towns the LORD your God is giving you to inhabit, that
13 certain wicked people have gone out from your community and they've led the citizens of their town astray by saying: "Come on! We should follow and worship other gods"—ones you haven't experienced before;
14 at that point you must look into this situation very carefully to see if it's true. And if it's definitely true that this detestable thing was done in your community,
15 you must completely strike down the inhabitants of that city with the sword. Place it and all that is in it under the ban. Put its animals to the sword.
16 Gather all the plunder into the middle of the town's square. Then burn the city and all of its plunder as an entirely burned offering to the LORD your God. It must remain a heap of rubble forever. It must not be rebuilt.
17 Don't hold on to any of the banned items—this will ensure that the LORD turns from his great anger and is compassionate to you, showing you mercy and multiplying you just like he swore to your ancestors.
18 You must definitely obey the LORD your God's voice, keeping all his commandments that I am giving you right now, by doing what is right in the LORD your God's eyes!

Deuteronomy 13 Commentary

Chapter 13

Enticers to idolatry to be put to death. (1-5) Relations who entice to idolatry not to be spared. (6-11) Idolatrous cities not to be spared. (12-18)

Verses 1-5 Moses had cautioned against the peril that might arise from the Canaanites. Here he cautions against the rise of idolatry among themselves. It is needful for us to be well acquainted with the truths and precepts of the Bible; for we may expect to be proved by temptations of evil under the appearance of good, of error in the guise of truth; nor can any thing rightly oppose such temptations, but the plain, express testimony of God's word to the contrary. And it would be a proof of sincere affection for God, that, notwithstanding specious pretences, they should not be wrought upon the forsake God, and follow other gods to serve them.

Verses 6-11 It is the policy of Satan to try to lead us to evil by those whom we love, whom we least suspect of any ill design, and whom we are desirous to please, and apt to conform to. The enticement here is supposed to come from a brother or child, who are near by nature; from a wife or friend, who are near by choice, and are to us as our souls. But it is our duty to prefer God and religion, before the nearest and dearest friends we have in the world. We must not, to please our friends, break God's law. Thou shalt not consent to him, nor go with him, not for company, or curiosity, not to gain his affections. It is a general rule, If sinners entice thee, consent thou not, Pr. 1:10 . And we must not hinder the course of God's justice.

Verses 12-18 Here is the case of a city revolting from the God of Israel, and serving other gods. The crime is supposed to be committed by one of the cities of Israel. Even when they were ordered to preserve their religion by force, yet they were not allowed to bring others to it by fire and sword. Spiritual judgments under the Christian dispensation are more terrible than the execution of criminals; we have not less cause than the Israelites had, to fear the Divine wrath. Let us then fear the spiritual idolatry of covetousness, and the love of worldly pleasure; and be careful not to countenance them in our families, by our example or by the education of our children. May the Lord write his law and truth in our hearts, there set up his throne, and shed abroad his love!

Footnotes 3

Chapter Summary

INTRODUCTION TO DEUTERONOMY 13

In this chapter the Israelites are taught how to discern a false prophet, shun and punish him, De 13:1-5, what to do with enticers to idolatry, not only not to consent to them, but, without favour and affection to them, endeavour to bring them to just punishment, and be the first that should inflict it on them, De 13:6-11 and how to behave towards a city drawn into idolatry, as to inquire the truth of it; then make war against it; destroy all in it, men, women, children, and cattle; and burn the spoil of it, and suffer not anything at all belonging to it to cleave unto them, De 13:12-18.

Deuteronomy 13 Commentaries