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Deuteronomy Chapter 13
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Worshiping God with Idolatrous Practices
13:1 [It is enough that you] carefully observe everything that I am prescribing to you. Do not add to it and do not subtract from it.

The Idolatrous Prophet
13:2 [This is what you must do] when a prophet or a person who has visions in a dream arises among you. He may present you with a sign or miracle,
13:3 and on the basis of that sign or miracle, say to you, 'Let us try out a different god. Let us serve it and have a new spiritual experience.'
13:4 Do not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer. God your Lord is testing you to see if you are truly able to love God your Lord with all your heart and all your soul.
13:5 Follow God your Lord, remain in awe of Him, keep His commandments, obey Him and serve Him, and you will then be able to have a true spiritual experience through Him.
13:6 That prophet or dreamer must be put to death for having spoken rebelliously against God your Lord, who brought you out of Egypt and liberated you from the place of slavery. He was trying to make you leave the path that God your Lord commanded you to walk, and you must destroy such evil from your midst.

Idolatrous Missionaries
13:7 [This is what you must do] if your blood brother, your son, your daughter, your bosom wife, or your closest friend secretly tries to act as a missionary among you, and says, 'Let us go worship a new god. Let us have a spiritual experience previously unknown by you or your fathers.'
13:8 [He may be enticing you with] the gods of the nations around you, far or near, or those that are found at one end of the world or another.
13:9 Do not agree with him, and do not listen to him. Do not let your eyes pity him, do not show him any mercy, and do not try to cover up for him,
13:10 since you must be the one to put him to death. Your hand must be the first against him to kill him, followed by the hands of the other people.
13:11 Pelt him to death with stones, since he has tried to make you abandon God your Lord, who brought you out of the slave house that was Egypt.
13:12 When all Israel hears about it, they will be afraid, and they will never again do such an evil thing among you.

The Apostate City
13:13 [This is what you must do] if, with regard to one of your cities that God your Lord is giving you as a place to live, you hear a report, stating that
13:14 irresponsible men among you have been successful in leading the city's inhabitants astray by saying, 'Let us worship another god and have a novel spiritual experience.'
13:15 You must investigate and probe, making careful inquiry. If it is established to be true, and such a revolting thing has occurred in your midst,
13:16 then you must kill all the inhabitants of the city by the sword. Destroy it and everything in it as taboo, and [kill] all its animals by the sword.
13:17 Gather all [the city's] goods to its central square, and burn the city along with all its goods, [almost] like a sacrifice to God your Lord. [The city] shall then remain an eternal ruin, never again to be rebuilt.
13:18 Let nothing that has been declared taboo there remain in your hands.

God will then have mercy on you, and reverse any display of anger that might have existed. In His mercy, He will make you flourish, just as He promised your fathers.

13:19 You will have obeyed God your Lord, keeping all the commandments that I prescribe to you today, and doing what is morally right in the eyes of God your Lord.



Commentary:

Do not add...
  This is a commandment not to add or subtract from any observance prescribed by the Torah (Rashi; Sifri; Sefer HaMitzvoth, Negative 313). There is also a commandment not to try to increase or diminish the number of commandments (Deuteronomy 4:2; Adereth Eliahu; HaKethav VeHaKabbalah). In simplest terms, the Torah here is saying that we should not try to 'improve' the Torah by borrowing gentile practices.

present you
  (cf. Ramban). Literally, 'give.' Or, 'predict' (Rashbam).

sign
  A prediction of the future (Ramban; Adereth Eliahu). Such a sign is usually required of a prophet; Deuteronomy 18:21 (see Yad, Yesodey HaTorah 10:1).

on the basis of
  (Ramban). Literally, 'the sign or miracle comes.' Or, 'If the [predicted] sign or miracle comes true' (Saadia; Rashbam).

new spiritual experience
  See Deuteronomy 11:28.

with all your heart...
  Here we see the extent of the desire for new spiritual experiences (cf. Yoma 69b).

have a true spiritual experience...
  (Bachya). Literally, 'cling to' or 'attach yourself to Him;' see Deuteronomy 10:20.

rebelliously
  (Ibn Janach; Bachya). Sarah in Hebrew, from the root sur; see Deuteronomy 19:16, Isaiah 59:13, Jeremiah 28:16, 29:32. Or, 'falsely' (Saadia; Rashi; Hirsch); 'perversely' (Targum), 'to lead you astray' (Ibn Ezra; Radak, Sherashim; Septuagint) or, 'deistically' (HaKethav VeHaKabbalah).

blood brother
  Literally, 'your brother, son of your mother.'

closest friend
  Literally, 'your friend, who is like yourself.'

to act as a missionary
  (Radak, Sherashim; Sifri, from 1 Samuel 26:19). Sith in Hebrew, and one who does it is called a mesith. Or, 'try to convince' (Targum; Ibn Janach; Septuagint), 'try to mislead' (Targum Yonathan; Sifri), or, 'give bad advice' (Rashbam).

Let us have a spiritual experience
  See note on Deuteronomy 11:28.

those that are found
  (Ralbag; Adereth Eliahu).

agree with
  (Targum Yonathan; Septuagint). Abhah in Hebrew. Or, 'accept' (Ramban), or, 'be tempted by' (Rashi; Radak, Sherashim).

irresponsible
  Or, 'undisciplined,' that is, 'without a yoke' (Sanhedrin 111b; Sifri; Rashi). Beli ya'al in Hebrew. Or, 'worthless' (beli ya'al; Radak, Sherashim; Hirsch); 'wicked' (Targum; Septuagint); 'non-believers' (Saadia), 'wicked scholars' (Targum Yonathan).

novel spirital experience
  See note on Deuteronomy 11:28. It is understood that they were successful in convincing the majority of the city (Sanhedrin 111b; Yad, Avodath Kokhavim 4:2).

making careful inquiry
  Of witnesses (Sanhedrin 40a).

almost like a sacrifice
  (cf. Sanhedrin 111b).





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