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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 13

Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New TestamentsSutcliffe's Commentary

Verses 1-18

Deuteronomy 13:6 . If the son of thy mother entice thee. Brother and brethren being often vague words, in this case of spiritual wickedness, the culprit must be identified. Seduction to idolatry was a sin of total ruin.

Deuteronomy 13:7 . One end of the earth, should be translated, one end of the land.

Deuteronomy 13:13 . Children of Belial. Benii Belijahal, most wicked men, who know not the Lord. Νους παρανομων , children of the transgressors of the law; and elsewhere, “children of the devil.”

Deuteronomy 13:16 . Burn with fire the city. Oh Rome! Oh Rome! Here is thy sentence also, while worshipping a wafer god. “The kings shall burn thy flesh with fire.” Revelation 17:16. Let the protestant also beware of the latent idols in his heart.


Having in the preseding chapter prohibited every altar, except the one consecrated by the holy fire, Moses proceeds now to pass sentence of death on any man who should dare to seduce their friends or their country to idolatry. And surely he deserved to die, who should induce Israel to forfeit their covenant, and incur the most signal vengeance of heaven.

The first and most dangerous character in the church of God is the false and fanatical prophet. Israel having received a new edition of the patriarchal or old religion from heaven, would hardly be induced to follow another without some pretended revelation. This character, despising reason, for visions from heaven and superior illumination, whom no reason or argument could reclaim, was to be tried at the bar of reason, and his own predictions admitted in evidence against him; a most impartial mode of trial. Of this test the true prophets were not afraid; for they never assumed that high office till compelled by a divine impetus. In the present age, the true religion has not less cause of fear from visionary prophets than in the age of Moses. If we cautiously review the conduct and consequences of the German, the French, and British prophets, we shall cordially subscribe to what is here asserted. Yet we must not limit the Most High, or diminish the riches of spiritual gifts at any time shed down on holy men. None can deny but the Holy Spirit, or our guardian angel may, on many occasions, suggest a thought, or inspire a dream for a man’s safety; yet we may safely affirm that our prophets, so called, are more or less afflicted with religious melancholy. Pride prompts them to pry into futurity; and a heated imagination takes its own reveries for converse with angels, and visions from on high. Yea, Satan himself, taking advantage of their affliction, is not wanting to exalt their fame, and delude the weak and wondering crowd. And what are the consequences? When all their predictions prove untrue, the affrighted populace become indignant, the infidels triumph, and real faith in God’s word is derided as credulity. But what is most distressing is, a multitude of singular people in every age, who instead of seeking purity of heart and righteousness of life, suffer themselves to be led away with empty visions and lying wonders. And as arguments have no effect in reclaiming the infatuated, all the world being either blind or accursed but themselves, let us neither hear them speak, nor read their books.

Sentence is next denounced against the near kinsman or bosom friend, who should attempt to seduce an Israelite from his God. Brother must not conceal the sin of brother, nor must any treason against God and his covenant be concealed in Israel. The crime must be immediately communicated to the magistrate. God is nearer to us than father or mother, brother or sister. Whoever tempts us to wickedness, attempts to murder our soul by alienating it from God. Let us expose the designs of that man to our friends, that by mutual counsel and comfort we may reject the temptation with indignation.

The city also which should suffer itself to be seduced to idolatry by the lawless sons of Belial was to be accursed, and treated as Jericho. But before the armed tribes inflicted the tremendous vengeance, the rabbins say that two elders were sent to expostulate with them, and draw them if possible to repentance. Is our country crowded with the sons of Belial, who blaspheme the name of God, who despise marriage, and indulge in every crime? Are we in danger like Israel, in these sad cases, of forfeiting the covenant of God’s protecting mercy by supineness towards the delinquents because of their number, or of becoming partakers of their sin by a base connivance? Then without delay, those alehouses should be regulated, and the haunts of infamy made desolate as houses accursed of God and man. Then would our country have confidence towards heaven, and claim all the promises of divine protection.

Bibliographical Information
Sutcliffe, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13". Sutcliffe's Commentary on the Old and New Testaments. https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/jsc/deuteronomy-13.html. 1835.
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