Deuteronomy 13

Worshiping Other Gods

1 If a prophet, or one who foretells by dreams, appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder,
2 and if the sign or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods” (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,”
3 you must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. The LORD your God is testing you to find out whether you love him with all your heart and with all your soul.
4 It is the LORD your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.
5 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for inciting rebellion against the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn you from the way the LORD your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil from among you.
6 If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known,
7 gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other),
8 do not yield to them or listen to them. Show them no pity. Do not spare them or shield them.
9 You must certainly put them to death. Your hand must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people.
10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away from the LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery.
11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid, and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.
12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the LORD your God is giving you to live in
13 that troublemakers have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known),
14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you,
15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely,[a] both its people and its livestock.
16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the LORD your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt,
17 and none of the condemned things[b] are to be found in your hands. Then the LORD will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors—
18 because you obey the LORD your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his 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!

Cross References 36

  • 1. Matthew 24:24; Mark 13:22; 2 Thessalonians 2:9
  • 2. S Genesis 20:3; Jeremiah 23:25; Jeremiah 27:9; Jeremiah 29:8
  • 3. Deuteronomy 18:22; 1 Samuel 2:34; 1 Samuel 10:9; 2 Kings 19:29; 2 Kings 20:9; Isaiah 7:11
  • 4. ver 6,13; S Deuteronomy 11:28
  • 5. 2 Peter 2:1
  • 6. 1 Samuel 28:6,15
  • 7. S Genesis 22:1; 1 Kings 13:18; 1 Kings 22:22-23; Jeremiah 29:31; Jeremiah 43:2; Ezekiel 13:9; 1 Corinthians 11:19; Deuteronomy 8:2,16
  • 8. Deuteronomy 6:5
  • 9. 2 Kings 23:3; 2 Chronicles 34:31; 2 John 1:6
  • 10. S Deuteronomy 6:13; S Psalms 5:7
  • 11. S Deuteronomy 10:20
  • 12. S Exodus 21:12; S Exodus 22:20
  • 13. ver 10; Deuteronomy 4:19
  • 14. Deuteronomy 17:7,12; Deuteronomy 19:19; Deuteronomy 24:7; Judges 20:13; S 1 Corinthians 5:13
  • 15. Deuteronomy 17:2-7; Deuteronomy 29:18
  • 16. S Deuteronomy 11:28
  • 17. Proverbs 1:10
  • 18. S Deuteronomy 7:2
  • 19. ver 5; Deuteronomy 17:5,7
  • 20. S Leviticus 24:14
  • 21. S Exodus 20:3
  • 22. Deuteronomy 17:13; Deuteronomy 19:20; Deuteronomy 21:21; 1 Timothy 5:20
  • 23. ver 2,6; Judges 19:22; Judges 20:13; 1 Samuel 2:12; 1 Samuel 10:27; 1 Samuel 11:12; 1 Samuel 25:17; 1 Kings 21:10; 1 John 2:19
  • 24. Judges 20:12
  • 25. Deuteronomy 17:4
  • 26. Isaiah 24:6; Isaiah 34:5; Isaiah 43:28; Isaiah 47:6; Lamentations 2:6; Daniel 9:11; Zechariah 8:13; Malachi 4:6
  • 27. Exodus 22:20
  • 28. 2 Kings 25:9; Jeremiah 39:8; Jeremiah 52:13; Ezekiel 16:41
  • 29. Deuteronomy 7:25,26; Joshua 6:24
  • 30. Joshua 8:28; Isaiah 7:16; Isaiah 17:1; Isaiah 24:10; Isaiah 25:2; Isaiah 27:10; Isaiah 32:14,19; Isaiah 37:26; Jeremiah 49:2; Micah 1:6
  • 31. Exodus 32:12; Numbers 25:4
  • 32. S Genesis 43:14
  • 33. Deuteronomy 30:3
  • 34. S Deuteronomy 7:13
  • 35. S Genesis 12:2; S Genesis 13:14; S Genesis 26:24; Genesis 22:17; Genesis 26:4,24; Genesis 28:14
  • 36. S Deuteronomy 12:25; Deuteronomy 12:25,28

Footnotes 2

  • [a]. The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.
  • [b]. The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

Chapter Summary


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