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Bible Commentaries

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

Deuteronomy 13

THE PUNISHMENT OF THOSE WHO ENTICED THE PEOPLE TO IDOLATRY. Moses, foreseeing the great peril that is before the Israelites of being led away from the worship of Jehovah, announces certain directions for the punishment of those who should lead the people into idolatry. Three cases are mentioned: 1. Where the enticement to idolatry is from a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams. The guilty seducer is to be put to death. 2. Where the enticement comes from a brother, or son, or daughter, or dearest friend. Here no affection is to shield the offender. He is to be put to death. 3. Where designing men lead away a whole community. Here there is to be most careful investigation, and if, after official examination, the guilt is clear, the punishment was to be inflicted with terrible severity.

Verse 1

1. A prophet, or a dreamer Two methods of divine revelation are here mentioned. Comp. Numbers 12:6: “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” It is taken for granted that what this prophet announced comes to pass, or that prodigies have been performed, but they are like the signs and lying wonders of 2 Thessalonians 2:6. If such a prophet taught the people to depart from Jehovah he was not to be heard. This is in agreement with what Paul, in Galatians 1:8, says: “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”

Verse 3

3. The Lord your God proveth you These false prophets with their lying wonders would test the sincerity of the obedience of the people. Comp. Deuteronomy 8:2.

Verse 5

5. That prophet, or that dreamer… shall be put to death The endeavour to turn the people from the worship of Jehovah, in the condition the nation then was, constituted one of the greatest of crimes. The very existence of the nation depended upon their fidelity to the God who had led them out of Egypt and through the wilderness. Idolatry was treason.

Verse 6

6. If thy brother, etc. Should the enticement to idolatry come from the bosom of the family, the head of the household was to see that the law was administered. The seeming severity of the code is tempered when we consider the debasing influences of the heathenism of the nations that were in possession of the land. The great lawgiver guarded zealously the true interests of his people.

Verse 13

13. Children of Belial Literally, Sons of worthlessness or wickedness, equivalent to wicked men. As in Psalms 18:4, where our version renders “floods of ungodly men,” the same word Belial is used. Also in Psalms 101:3, “I will set no wicked thing before mine eyes.”

Verse 16

16. Every whit, for the Lord thy God כליל , here in our version rendered every whit, is in other places translated a holocaust, or “whole burnt offering.” Better rendered, a whole burnt offering to Jehovah thy God; that is, the city and the spoil were to be as utterly consumed as a whole burnt offering.

Verse 17

17. There shall cleave naught… to thine hand How the violation of this command brought the anger of Jehovah upon the whole people is seen in the case of Achan. Joshua 7:0.

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Bibliographical Information
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https://studylight.org/commentaries/eng/whe/deuteronomy-13.html. 1874-1909.