Deuteronomy 13

CHAPTER XIII

Of false prophets and their lying signs, 1-6.

Of those who endeavour to entice and seduce people to idolatry,

7-8.

The punishment of such, 9-11.

Of cities perverted from the pure worship of God, 12-14.

How that city is to be treated, 15.

All the spoil of it to be destroyed, 16.

Promises to them who obey these directions, 17, 18.

NOTES ON CHAP. XIII

Verse 1. If there arise among you a prophet] Any pretending

to have a Divine influence, so as to be able perfectly to direct

others in the way of salvation; or a dreamer of dreams-one who

pretends that some deity has spoken to him in the night-season;

and giveth thee a sign, oth, what appears to be a miraculous

proof of his mission; or a wonder, mopheth, some type or

representation of what he wishes to bring you over to: as some

have pretended to have received a consecrated image from heaven;

hence the origin of the Palladium, Numa's Shields, and many of the

deities among the Hindoos. But here the word seems to mean some

portentous sign, such as an eclipse, which he who knew when it

would take place might predict to the people who knew nothing of

the matter, and thereby accredit his pretensions.

Verse 3. The Lord your God proveth you] God permits such

impostors to arise to try the faith of his followers, and to put

their religious experience to the test; for he who experimentally

knows God cannot be drawn away after idols. He who has no

experimental knowledge of God, may believe any thing. Experience

of the truths contained in the word of God can alone preserve any

man from Deism, or a false religion. They who have not this are a

prey to the pretended prophet, and to the dreamer of dreams.

Verse 6. If thy brother-or thy son] The teacher of idolatry

was to be put to death; and so strict was this order that a man

must neither spare nor conceal his brother, son, daughter, wife,

nor friend, because this was the highest offence that could be

committed against God, and the most destructive to society; hence

the severest laws were enacted against it.

Verse 13. Children of Belial] , from bal, not,

and yaal, profit;-Sept. ανδρεςπαρανομοι, lawless

men;-persons good for nothing to themselves or others, and capable

of nothing but mischief.

Verse 15. Thou shalt surely smite the inhabitants] If one city

were permitted to practise idolatry, the evil would soon spread,

therefore the contagion must be destroyed in its birth.

Verse 17. And there shall cleave naught of the cursed thing]

As God did not permit them to take the spoils of these idolatrous

cities, they could be under no temptation to make war upon them.

It could only be done through a merely religious motive, in

obedience to the command of God, as they could have no profit by

the subversion of such places. How few religious wars would there

ever have been in the world had they been regulated by this

principle: "Thou shalt neither extend thy territory, nor take any

spoils!"

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