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Deuteronomy 13:5-15

Context
13:5 As for that prophet or dreamer, 1  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. 2 

False Prophets in the Family

13:6 Suppose your own full brother, 3  your son, your daughter, your beloved wife, or your closest friend should seduce you secretly and encourage you to go and serve other gods 4  that neither you nor your ancestors 5  have previously known, 6  13:7 the gods of the surrounding people (whether near you or far from you, from one end of the earth 7  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! 8  Your own hand must be the first to strike him, 9  and then the hands of the whole community. 13:10 You must stone him to death 10  because he tried to entice you away from the Lord your God, who delivered you from the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. 13:11 Thus all Israel will hear and be afraid; no longer will they continue to do evil like this among you. 11 

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 12  have departed from among you to entice the inhabitants of their cities, 13  saying, “Let’s go and serve other gods” (whom you have not known before). 14  13:14 You must investigate thoroughly and inquire carefully. If it is indeed true that such a disgraceful thing is being done among you, 15  13:15 you must by all means 16  slaughter the inhabitants of that city with the sword; annihilate 17  with the sword everyone in it, as well as the livestock.

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

2 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).

3 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.

4 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.’”

5 tn Heb “fathers” (also in v. 17).

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

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

8 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”).

9 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.

10 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).

11 sn Some see in this statement an argument for the deterrent effect of capital punishment (Deut 17:13; 19:20; 21:21).

12 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.”

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

14 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.

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

16 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.”

17 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.



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