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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 13

Poole's English Annotations on the Holy BiblePoole's Annotations



Enticers to idolatry, being permitted by God to try Israel, were to be stoned to death., Deuteronomy 13:1-5, though near of kin, Deuteronomy 13:6-11.

A city found guilty of idolatry to be burnt and utterly destroyed, Deuteronomy 13:12-16.

They were not to take any of its cursed things, but to obey God’s command, that his mercy might be upon them, Deuteronomy 13:17,Deuteronomy 13:18.

Verse 1

Among you, i.e. one of your nation, for such might be both seduced and afterwards seducers.

A dreamer of dreams; one that pretends himself to be one to whom God hath revealed himself, either by visions or dreams. See Numbers 12:6.

Giveth thee a sign or a wonder, i.e. shall foretell some strange and wonderful thing to come, as appears from Deuteronomy 13:2, as the true prophets used to do, as 1 Samuel 10:0.

Verse 2

And the sign or the wonder come to pass; which God may suffer for the reason after mentioned.

Saying: this word is to be joined with the beginning of Deuteronomy 13:1,

If there arise among you a prophet, or dreamer of dreams, saying, what there follows,

and giveth thee a sign, & c., to confirm his doctrine; such transpositions are frequent.

Verse 3

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet; not receive his doctrine, though the sign come to pass. For although when such a sign or wonder foretold did not follow or come to pass, it was a sign of a false prophet, as is said, Deuteronomy 18:22, yet when it did come to pass, it was no sufficient or infallible sign of a true one, especially in such a case when he brings in new gods. The reason of the difference is, because many causes must concur to make a thing good and true, but any one failure is sufficient to make a thing bad or false. And particularly there are many signs, yea, such as men may think to be wonders, which may be wrought by evil spirits, God so permitting it for divers wise and just reasons, not only for the trial of the good, as it here follows, but also for the punishment of ungodly men, who would not receive Divine truths, though attested by many evident and unquestionable miracles, and therefore are most justly exposed to these temptations to believe lies.

Proveth you, i.e. trieth your faith, and love, and obedience, examineth your sincerity by your constancy. See Matthew 24:24; 2 Thessalonians 2:11; Revelation 13:14. See Poole on "Genesis 21:1"; See Poole on "Deuteronomy 8:2,Deuteronomy 8:7".

To know; that he may know it, to wit, judicially, or in a public manner, so as both you and others may know and see it, that so the justice of his judgments upon you may be more evident and glorious.

Verse 4

Ye shall serve him, to wit, only, as appears from the opposition. Compare Deuteronomy 6:13, with Matthew 4:10.

Verse 5

He hath spoken, i.e. taught or persuaded you.

To turn you away from the Lord; to forsake God and his worship. He shows that the chiefest and most certain character of a true prophet, is to be taken from his doctrine rather than from his miracles.

To thrust thee out of the way: this phrase denotes the great force and power of seducers to corrupt men’s minds. Compare Deuteronomy 4:19; 2 Kings 17:21; Matthew 24:2,Matthew 24:14.

The evil; either

1. That evil thing, that wicked doctrine and practice. Or,

2. That wicked and scandalous man, that idolater and seducer.

Verse 6

The son of thy mother: this is added to restrain the signification of the word brother, which is oft used generally for one near akin, and to express the nearness of the relation, the mother’s side being the surest, and usually the ground of the truest and most fervent affection. See Genesis 20:12.

Or thy daughter; thy piety must overcome both thy affection to thy nearest relation, and thy compassion to the weaker sex.

The wife of thy bosom; either,

1. That is near to thy heart, that hath thy dearest love. Or rather,

2. That lieth in thy bosom, as it is expressed, Micah 7:5. Compare Genesis 16:5; Proverbs 5:20; Deuteronomy 28:54. So we read of the husband of her bosom, Deuteronomy 28:56.

As thine own soul; as dear to thee as thyself. The father and mother are here omitted, not, as some fancy, because children might not in this nor in any case accuse their parents, for certainly they owe more reverence and duty to God, who is injured in this case, than to their parents, and Levi is commended for neglecting

his father and mother in this case; but because they are sufficiently contained in the former examples; for since men’s love doth usually descend more strongly than it ascends, and thee relation of a with is and ought to be nearer and dearer than of a parent, that favour which is denied to wives and children cannot be thought fit to be allowed to parents.

Entice thee, though it be without success, because the very attempt of such all abominable crime deserved death, as it is judged in case of treason.

Other gods; unknown and obscure and new gods; which greatly aggravates the crime, to forsake a God whom thou and thy fathers have long known, and had great and good experience of, for such upstarts.

Verse 7

He arms against the preference of the universality of this idol worship, wherewith they were like to be oft assaulted.

Verse 8

i.e. Smother his fault, hide or protect his person, but shalt accuse him to the magistrate, and demand justice upon him, which was not to be done in most other criminal causes; and no wonder, this crime being of a far higher nature than others.

Verse 9

Thou shalt surely kill him; not privately, which pretence would have opened the door to innumerable murders, but by procuring his death by the sentence of the magistrate; and thou shalt cast the first stone at him, as the witness was to do. See Deuteronomy 17:7; Acts 7:58.

Verse 13

The children of Belial; a title oft used in Scripture, as Judges 19:22; 1 Samuel 1:16; 1 Samuel 25:25; 2 Samuel 16:7. It signifies properly persons without yoke, vile and wretched miscreants, lawless and rebellious, that will suffer no restraint, that neither fear God nor reverence man.

From among you, i.e. from your church and religion. It notes a separation or departure from them, not in place, (as appears by their partnership with their fellow citizens both in the sin and punishment, as it here follows,) but in heart, doctrine, and worship, as the same phrase is used, 1 John 2:19.

Verse 14

Then shalt thou inquire: this is meant of the magistrate, to whose office this properly belongs, and of whom he continues to speak in the same manner, thou, Deuteronomy 13:15,Deuteronomy 13:16.

Verse 15

The inhabitants of that city, to wit, all that are guilty, not the innocent part, such as disowned this apostacy, who doubtless by choice and interest, at least upon warning, would come out of so wicked and cursed a place.

Destroying it utterly; the very same punishment which was inflicted upon the cities of the cursed Canaanites, to whom having made themselves equal in sin, it is but fit and just that God should equal them in punishment.

Verse 16

For the Lord thy God, i.e. for the satisfaction of God’s justice, the maintenance of his honour and authority and laws, and the pacification of his offended majesty.

It shall be an heap for ever; it shall be an eternal monument of God’s justice, and terror to after-ages, who may be tempted to like practices.

Verse 17

Of the cursed thing, i.e. of the goods of that accursed city.

And multiply thee; so thou shalt have no loss of thy numbers by cutting off so many people.

Bibliographical Information
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13". Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/mpc/deuteronomy-13.html. 1685.
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