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How Israel Is to Deal with False Prophets

13 [a]One of your people, claiming to be a prophet or to have prophetic dreams, may predict a miraculous sign or an amazing thing. What he predicts may even take place. But don’t listen to that prophet or dreamer[b] if he says, “Let’s worship and serve other gods.” (Those gods may be gods you’ve never heard of.) The Lord your God is testing you to find out if you really love him with all your heart and with all your soul. Worship the Lord your God, fear him, obey his commands, listen to what he says, serve him, and be loyal to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and freed you from slavery. He was trying to lead you away from following the directions the Lord your God gave you. You must get rid of this evil.

Your own brother, son, or daughter, the wife you love, or your best friend may secretly tempt you, saying, “Let’s go worship other gods.” (Those gods may be gods that you and your ancestors never knew. They may be the gods of the people around you, who live near or far, from one end of the land to the other.) Don’t be influenced by any of these people or listen to them. Have no pity on them. Don’t feel sorry for them or protect them. You must put them to death. You must start the execution. Then all the other people will join you in putting them to death. 10 Stone them to death because they were trying to lead you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of slavery in Egypt. 11 All Israel will hear about it and be afraid. Then no one among you will ever do such a wicked thing again.

12 You may hear that the residents in one of the cities which the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 have been led away from the Lord your God by worthless people. You may hear that these people have been saying, “Let’s worship other gods.” (Those gods may be gods you’ve never heard of.) 14 Then make a thorough investigation. If it is true, and you can prove that this disgusting thing has been done among you, 15 you must kill the residents of that city with swords and destroy that city and everyone in it, including the animals, because they are claimed by God. 16 Gather their goods into the middle of the city square. Then burn their city and all their goods as a burnt offering to the Lord your God. It must remain a mound of ruins and never be rebuilt. 17 Don’t ever take any of the things claimed for destruction. Then the Lord will stop being angry and will show you mercy. In his mercy he will make your population increase, as he swore to your ancestors. 18 The Lord your God will do this if you listen to him, obey all the commands that I’m giving you today, and do what he considers right.

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 13:1 Deuteronomy 13:1–18 in English Bibles is Deuteronomy 13:2–19 in the Hebrew Bible.
  2. Deuteronomy 13:2 The first part of verse 3 (in Hebrew) has been placed in verse 2 to express the complex Hebrew paragraph structure more clearly in English.

Worshiping Other Gods

13 [a]If a prophet,(A) or one who foretells by dreams,(B) appears among you and announces to you a sign or wonder, and if the sign(C) or wonder spoken of takes place, and the prophet says, “Let us follow other gods”(D) (gods you have not known) “and let us worship them,” you must not listen to the words of that prophet(E) or dreamer.(F) The Lord your God is testing(G) you to find out whether you love(H) him with all your heart and with all your soul. It is the Lord your God you must follow,(I) and him you must revere.(J) Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast(K) to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death(L) for inciting rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and redeemed you from the land of slavery. That prophet or dreamer tried to turn(M) you from the way the Lord your God commanded you to follow. You must purge the evil(N) from among you.

If your very own brother, or your son or daughter, or the wife you love, or your closest friend secretly entices(O) you, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods”(P) (gods that neither you nor your ancestors have known, gods of the peoples around you, whether near or far, from one end of the land to the other), do not yield(Q) to them or listen to them. Show them no pity.(R) Do not spare them or shield them. You must certainly put them to death.(S) Your hand(T) must be the first in putting them to death, and then the hands of all the people. 10 Stone them to death, because they tried to turn you away(U) from the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt, out of the land of slavery. 11 Then all Israel will hear and be afraid,(V) and no one among you will do such an evil thing again.

12 If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 that troublemakers(W) have arisen among you and have led the people of their town astray, saying, “Let us go and worship other gods” (gods you have not known), 14 then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly.(X) And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you,(Y) 15 you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely,[b](Z) both its people and its livestock.(AA) 16 You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town(AB) and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God.(AC) That town is to remain a ruin(AD) forever, never to be rebuilt, 17 and none of the condemned things[c] are to be found in your hands. Then the Lord will turn from his fierce anger,(AE) will show you mercy,(AF) and will have compassion(AG) on you. He will increase your numbers,(AH) as he promised(AI) on oath to your ancestors— 18 because you obey the Lord your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right(AJ) in his eyes.

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 13:1 In Hebrew texts 13:1-18 is numbered 13:2-19.
  2. Deuteronomy 13:15 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.
  3. Deuteronomy 13:17 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.

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