Deuteronomy 13:3
You shall not listen to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God proves you, to know whether you love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.
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13:1-5 Moses had cautioned against the peril that might arise from the Canaanites. Here he cautions against the rise of idolatry among themselves. It is needful for us to be well acquainted with the truths and precepts of the Bible; for we may expect to be proved by temptations of evil under the appearance of good, of error in the guise of truth; nor can any thing rightly oppose such temptations, but the plain, express testimony of God's word to the contrary. And it would be a proof of sincere affection for God, that, notwithstanding specious pretences, they should not be wrought upon the forsake God, and follow other gods to serve them.The Lord had said, "Thou shalt have none other gods but Me." A prophet is here supposed who invites the people "to go after other gods." To such a one no credit is under any circumstances to be given, even should he show signs and wonders to authenticate his doctrine. The standing rule of faith and practice had been laid down once for all - that the people were to hold fast. The prophet who propounded another rule could only be an impostor.

A different case is considered in Deuteronomy 18:18, etc.


De 13:1-5. Enticers to Idolatry to Be Put to Death.

1. If there arise among you a prophet—The special counsels which follow arose out of the general precept contained in De 12:32; and the purport of them is, that every attempt to seduce others from the course of duty which that divine standard of faith and worship prescribes must not only be strenuously resisted, but the seducer punished by the law of the land. This is exemplified in three cases of enticement to idolatry.

a prophet—that is, some notable person laying claim to the character and authority of the prophetic office (Nu 12:6; 1Sa 10:6), performing feats of dexterity or power in support of his pretensions, or even predicting events which occurred as he foretold; as, for instance, an eclipse which a knowledge of natural science might enable him to anticipate (or, as Caiaphas, Joh 18:14). Should the aim of such a one be to seduce the people from the worship of the true God, he is an impostor and must be put to death. No prodigy, however wonderful, no human authority, however great, should be allowed to shake their belief in the divine character and truth of a religion so solemnly taught and so awfully attested (compare Ga 1:8). The modern Jews appeal to this passage as justifying their rejection of Jesus Christ. But He possessed all the characteristics of a true prophet, and He was so far from alienating the people from God and His worship that the grand object of His ministry was to lead to a purer, more spiritual and perfect observance of the law.

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet; not receive his doctrine, though the sign come to pass. For although when such a sign or wonder foretold did not follow or come to pass, it was a sign of a false prophet, as is said, Deu 18:22, yet when it did come to pass, it was no sufficient or infallible sign of a true one, especially in such a case when he brings in new gods. The reason of the difference is, because many causes must concur to make a thing good and true, but any one failure is sufficient to make a thing bad or false. And particularly there are many signs, yea, such as men may think to be wonders, which may be wrought by evil spirits, God so permitting it for divers wise and just reasons, not only for the trial of the good, as it here follows, but also for the punishment of ungodly men, who would not receive Divine truths, though attested by many evident and unquestionable miracles, and therefore are most justly exposed to these temptations to believe lies.

Proveth you, i.e. trieth your faith, and love, and obedience, examineth your sincerity by your constancy. See Matthew 24:24 2 Thessalonians 2:11 Revelation 13:14. See Poole on "Genesis 21:1"; See Poole on "Deu 8:2,7".

To know; that he may know it, to wit, judicially, or in a public manner, so as both you and others may know and see it, that so the justice of his judgments upon you may be more evident and glorious. Thou shall not hearken to the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams,.... Even though he does give the sign, and work the wonder; for it might be reasonably concluded there must be fallacy in him, and that neither he nor his miraculous sign could come from God, who would never send a person to enable him to do signs and wonders, to persuade men to believe and act contrary to a former declaration of his mind and will; to break a plain law of his, as in Deuteronomy 5:7, this would be to contradict and deny himself; whatever therefore is contrary to a known law or established doctrine, either of law or Gospel, let it come from whom it will, or pretend to be confirmed by miracles, is not to be received; see Galatians 1:8,

for the Lord your God proveth you, whether you love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul; for should they be prevailed upon by such a prophet to hearken to his doctrine, and embrace it, and act according to it, it would be a plain case that they did not cordially love the Lord, since they could so easily, and by such pretences, be drawn aside from the true worship of him, and serve other gods; on the other hand, it would be a proof of their sincere affection for God, and of their close and strict attachment to him, that notwithstanding such specious pretences made, and such miracles wrought, yet abode by him and his worship, and could not be wrought upon to forsake him and follow other gods and serve them; see 1 Corinthians 11:19.

Thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams: for the LORD your God {c} proveth you, to know whether ye love the LORD your God with all your heart and with all your soul.

(c) God ordains all these things that his may be known.

The closing admonition is a further expansion of Deuteronomy 12:25 (see at Deuteronomy 11:21). - In Deuteronomy 12:29-31, the exhortation goes back to the beginning again, viz., to a warning against the Canaanitish idolatry (cf. Deuteronomy 12:2.). When the Lord had cut off the nations of Canaan from before the Israelites, they were to take heed that they did not get into the snare behind them, i.e., into the sin of idolatry, which had plunged the Canaanites into destruction (cf. Deuteronomy 7:16, Deuteronomy 7:25). The clause "after they be destroyed from before thee" is not mere tautology, but serves to depict the danger of the snare most vividly before their eyes. The second clause, "that thou inquire not after them" (their gods), etc., explains more fully to the Israelites the danger which threatened them. This danger was so far a pressing one, that the whole of the heathen world was animated with the conviction, that to neglect the gods of a land would be sure to bring misfortune (cf. 2 Kings 17:26).
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