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Deuteronomy 13:12-18

Context
Punishment of Community Idolatry

13:12 Suppose you should hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you as a place to live, that 13:13 some evil people 1  have departed from among you to entice the inhabitants of their cities, 2  saying, “Let’s go and serve other gods” (whom you have not known before). 3  13:14 You must investigate thoroughly and inquire carefully. If it is indeed true that such a disgraceful thing is being done among you, 4  13:15 you must by all means 5  slaughter the inhabitants of that city with the sword; annihilate 6  with the sword everyone in it, as well as the livestock. 13:16 You must gather all of its plunder into the middle of the plaza 7  and burn the city and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It will be an abandoned ruin 8  forever – it must never be rebuilt again. 13:17 You must not take for yourself anything that has been placed under judgment. 9  Then the Lord will relent from his intense anger, show you compassion, have mercy on you, and multiply you as he promised your ancestors. 13:18 Thus you must obey the Lord your God, keeping all his commandments that I am giving 10  you today and doing what is right 11  before him. 12 

1 tn Heb “men, sons of Belial.” The Hebrew term בְּלִיַּעַל (bÿliyyaal) has the idea of worthlessness, without morals or scruples (HALOT 133-34 s.v.). Cf. NAB, NRSV “scoundrels”; TEV, CEV “worthless people”; NLT “worthless rabble.”

2 tc The LXX and Tg read “your” for the MT’s “their.”

3 tn The translation understands the relative clause as a statement by Moses, not as part of the quotation from the evildoers. See also v. 2.

4 tc Theodotian adds “in Israel,” perhaps to broaden the matter beyond the local village.

5 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, indicated in the translation by the words “by all means.” Cf. KJV, NASB “surely”; NIV “certainly.”

6 tn Or “put under divine judgment. The Hebrew word (חֵרֶם, kherem) refers to placing persons or things under God’s judgment, usually to the extent of their complete destruction.Though primarily applied against the heathen, this severe judgment could also fall upon unrepentant Israelites (cf. the story of Achan in Josh 7). See also the note on the phrase “divine judgment” in Deut 2:34.

7 tn Heb “street.”

8 tn Heb “mound”; NAB “a heap of ruins.” The Hebrew word תֵּל (tel) refers to this day to a ruin represented especially by a built-up mound of dirt or debris (cf. Tel Aviv, “mound of grain”).

9 tn Or “anything that has been put under the divine curse”; Heb “anything of the ban” (cf. NASB). See note on the phrase “divine judgment” in Deut 2:34.

10 tn Heb “commanding” (so NASB, NRSV).

11 tc The LXX and Smr add “and good” to bring the phrase in line with a familiar cliché (cf. Deut 6:18; Josh 9:25; 2 Kgs 10:3; 2 Chr 14:1; etc.). This is an unnecessary and improper attempt to force a text into a preconceived mold.

12 tn Heb “in the eyes of the Lord your God.” See note on the word “him” in v. 3.



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