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Deuteronomy 13:1-10

Context
13:1 Suppose a prophet or one who foretells by dreams 1  should appear among you and show you a sign or wonder, 2  13:2 and the sign or wonder should come to pass concerning what he said to you, namely, “Let us follow other gods” – gods whom you have not previously known – “and let us serve them.” 13:3 You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer, 3  for the Lord your God will be testing you to see if you love him 4  with all your mind and being. 5  13:4 You must follow the Lord your God and revere only him; and you must observe his commandments, obey him, serve him, and remain loyal to him. 13:5 As for that prophet or dreamer, 6  he must be executed because he encouraged rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt, redeeming you from that place of slavery, and because he has tried to entice you from the way the Lord your God has commanded you to go. In this way you must purge out evil from within. 7 

False Prophets in the Family

13:6 Suppose your own full brother, 8  your son, your daughter, your beloved wife, or your closest friend should seduce you secretly and encourage you to go and serve other gods 9  that neither you nor your ancestors 10  have previously known, 11  13:7 the gods of the surrounding people (whether near you or far from you, from one end of the earth 12  to the other). 13:8 You must not give in to him or even listen to him; do not feel sympathy for him or spare him or cover up for him. 13:9 Instead, you must kill him without fail! 13  Your own hand must be the first to strike him, 14  and then the hands of the whole community. 13:10 You must stone him to death 15  because he tried to entice you away from the Lord your God, who delivered you from the land of Egypt, that place of slavery.

1 tn Heb “or a dreamer of dreams” (so KJV, ASV, NASB). The difference between a prophet (נָבִיא, navi’) and one who foretells by dreams (חֹלֵם אוֹ, ’o kholem) was not so much one of office – for both received revelation by dreams (cf. Num 12:6) – as it was of function or emphasis. The prophet was more a proclaimer and interpreter of revelation whereas the one who foretold by dreams was a receiver of revelation. In later times the role of the one who foretold by dreams was abused and thus denigrated as compared to that of the prophet (cf. Jer 23:28).

2 tn The expression אוֹת אוֹ מוֹפֵת (’oto mofet) became a formulaic way of speaking of ways of authenticating prophetic messages or other works of God (cf. Deut 28:46; Isa 20:3). The NT equivalent is the Greek term σημεῖον (shmeion), a sign performed (used frequently in the Gospel of John, cf. 2:11, 18; 20:30-31). They could, however, be counterfeited or (as here) permitted to false prophets by the Lord as a means of testing his people.

3 tn Heb “or dreamer of dreams.” See note on this expression in v. 1.

4 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

5 tn Heb “all your heart and soul” (so NRSV, CEV, NLT); or “heart and being” (NCV “your whole being”). See note on the word “being” in Deut 6:5.

6 tn Heb “or dreamer of dreams.” See note on this expression in v. 1.

7 tn Heb “your midst” (so NAB, NRSV). The severity of the judgment here (i.e., capital punishment) is because of the severity of the sin, namely, high treason against the Great King. Idolatry is a violation of the first two commandments (Deut 5:6-10) as well as the spirit and intent of the Shema (Deut 6:4-5).

8 tn Heb “your brother, the son of your mother.” In a polygamous society it was not rare to have half brothers and sisters by way of a common father and different mothers.

9 tn In the Hebrew text these words are in the form of a brief quotation: “entice you secretly saying, ‘Let us go and serve other gods.’”

10 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 17).

11 tn Heb “which you have not known, you or your fathers.” (cf. KJV, ASV; on “fathers” cf. v. 18).

12 tn Or “land” (so NIV, NCV); the same Hebrew word can be translated “land” or “earth.”

13 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation indicates with the words “without fail” (cf. NIV “you must certainly put him to death”).

14 tn Heb “to put him to death,” but this is misleading in English for such an action would leave nothing for the others to do.

15 sn Execution by means of pelting the offender with stones afforded a mechanism whereby the whole community could share in it. In a very real sense it could be done not only in the name of the community and on its behalf but by its members (cf. Lev 24:14; Num 15:35; Deut 21:21; Josh 7:25).



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