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Verse-by-Verse Bible Commentary

Deuteronomy 13:1

"If a prophet or a dreamer of dreams arises among you and gives you a sign or a wonder,

Adam Clarke Commentary

If there arise among you a prophet - Any pretending to have a Divine influence, so as to be able perfectly to direct others in the way of salvation; or a dreamer of dreams - one who pretends that some deity has spoken to him in the night-season; and giveth thee a sign, אות oth, what appears to be a miraculous proof of his mission; or a wonder, מופת mopheth, some type or representation of what he wishes to bring you over to: as some have pretended to have received a consecrated image from heaven; hence the origin of the Palladium, Numa's Shields, and many of the deities among the Hindoos. But here the word seems to mean some portentous sign, such as an eclipse, which he who knew when it would take place might predict to the people who knew nothing of the matter, and thereby accredit his pretensions.


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Bibliography
Clarke, Adam. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "The Adam Clarke Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/acc/deuteronomy-13.html. 1832.

Albert Barnes' Notes on the Whole Bible

A prophet, or a dreamer of dreams - Compare Numbers 12:6. The “prophet” received his revelations by vision or direct oral communication Numbers 24:16; 2 Samuel 7:4; 2 Corinthians 12:2; “the dreamer of dreams” through the medium of a dream 1 Kings 3:5; Matthew 2:13.


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These files are public domain.

Bibliography
Barnes, Albert. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "Barnes' Notes on the New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bnb/deuteronomy-13.html. 1870.

Coffman's Commentaries on the Bible

In this chapter three situations are discussed, in each of which, Israel was ordered to put to death the offender.

(1) First, there is the case of some alleged "prophet" soliciting the people to idolatry on the basis of some dream, portent, or wonder which he claimed as proof of his authority (Deuteronomy 13:1-5);

(2) there is the case of solicitation to idolatry by one's close kinsman (Deuteronomy 13:6-12),

(3) and then there is the case of a whole city that has fallen under the power of Satan (Deuteronomy 13:13-18).

In every instance, the commandment was to put to death the offenders, and in the case of a whole city, it was to be placed under the ban and utterly destroyed.

The critical schools once traced what they thought were multiple sources for the material in this chapter, Davies, for example, naming both "D" and "E" as having a part in it.[1] It is now known that ONE author, not many, gave us these instructions, and that a SINGLE purpose is evident throughout:

"In the ancient suzerainty treaties, it was required of the vassal that he must not connive at evil words spoken against the suzerain, whether they amounted to an affront or a conspiracy. The vassal must report the insult or the fomenting of a revolt. In case of an actual rebellion, he must undertake military operations against the offenders. Moreover, he must manifest fidelity to his lord in such cases no matter who the rebel might be, whether prince or nearest relative. All of this finds its counterpart in Deuteronomy. Stylistically, the chapter is cast in the casuistic form characteristic of ancient law codes."[2]

"If there arise in the midst of thee a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and he give thee a sign or a wonder and the sign or the wonder come to pass, whereof he spoke unto thee, saying, Let us go after other gods, which thou hast not known, and let us serve them; thou shalt not hearken unto the words of that prophet, or unto that dreamer of dreams: for Jehovah your God proveth you, to know whether ye love Jehovah your God with all your heart and with all your soul. Ye shall walk after Jehovah your God, and fear him, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and ye shall serve him, and cleave unto him. And that prophet, or that dreamer of dreams, shall be put to death, because he hath spoken rebellion against Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, and redeemed thee out of the house of bondage, to draw thee aside out of the way which Jehovah thy God commanded thee to walk in. So shalt thou put away the evil from the midst of thee."

The amazing thing here is that the question of whether or not the false prophet could actually perform such signs or wonders is treated as irrelevant! What if he did, or could? "What stamped the prophet false in this context is the doctrine!"[3] The possibility that evil men could indeed do wonders "through the power of Satan" is allowed in both Old Testament and New Testament. Paul spoke of the "lying miracles" which would be displayed by the apostate church (2 Thessalonians 2:9), and it surely is implied in this passage that God Himself would, on occasions, allow false prophets to display some signs of credibility in order to "test" the true loyalty of the people.

Adam Clarke gave as an example of how a lying "portent" might be given, the case of one who, through scientific calculations, knew when an eclipse would occur, "predicted it" for people who knew nothing of such matters, and, sure enough, it came to pass![4] The plausible nature of the deception practiced in this case was enhanced by the fact that dreams indeed were one of the manners in which God actually communicated to the prophets of old (Numbers 12:6). Also, "A false prophet's predictions are not always wrong. If they were, no one would believe him."[5] "God allows some of them their restricted sphere of power to test the loyalty of His people."[6] In the case of questionable "prophets" or "teachers," the real issue is not: "Did he perform a miracle? but is he furthering, promoting, and teaching the will of Christ?"[7] It is not necessary to suppose that all miracles claimed by false prophets and teachers are deceptions. Some of them, even many of them could be authentic, because as Christ said, "For there shall arise false christs and false prophets, and shall show great signs and wonders, so as to lead many astray, if possible, even the elect" (Matthew 24:24). As Keil said, "Such miracles are wrought in the power of Satan."[8]

Some might suppose that the penalty of death affixed to such offenses as the ones mentioned here was "very severe," but it should be remembered that, "The purpose of purging the land of all idolatries also required the removal of any Israelites who became infected with the same idolatry."[9] "It would have been a mockery of Divine justice, if Canaanite cities had been destroyed for their idolatry, and then the idolatrous cities of the Israelites were allowed to stand."[10]

"So shalt thou put away ..." (Deuteronomy 13:5). "Thou" here is plural, showing that the whole community "must clear itself of all complicity with the specified evil."[11]

The stern demand for the death penalty for all such false prophets and teachers "shows how absurd it is to treat Deuteronomy 5:17 as being in any sense an argument against capital punishment."[12] The context here as well as parallel passages in Deuteronomy 17:7 and Leviticus 20:2 indicate that in all such cases, "There was to be a formal judicial inquiry, and that the manner of execution was to be by stoning. This would make the whole community a participant in the execution, thus clearing them of all complicity in the condemned actions."[13]


Copyright Statement
James Burton Coffman Commentaries reproduced by permission of Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. All other rights reserved.

Bibliography
Coffman, James Burton. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "Coffman Commentaries on the Old and New Testament". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bcc/deuteronomy-13.html. Abilene Christian University Press, Abilene, Texas, USA. 1983-1999.

John Gill's Exposition of the Whole Bible

If there arise among you a prophet,.... A false prophet, a lying prophet, as the Targum of Jonathan; one that pretends to be a true prophet, and to be sent of God, and to come from him with a message from him, a new revelation or doctrine, or in his name, to foretell things to come; the former is chiefly meant. Such prophets did arise in Israel before the time of Christ, and have since arose under the Christian name; see 2 Peter 2:1,

or a dreamer of dreams; the same with the prophet, only to be distinguished by the different manner of their having the mind and will of God revealed to them, pretended to; either by vision or by dream, which were the two usual ways in which the Lord spake to the true prophets, Numbers 12:6 so that the prophet is one who pretended he had a vision from the Lord, and the dreamer one that had a dream from him, or something revealed to him in a dream; and dreams are sometimes used for false doctrines, vain, deceitful, and illusory; see Jeremiah 23:25. The Targum of Jonathan calls him"a dreamer of a dream of pride:'such persons are generally prompted by the pride of their own hearts to take such a method to make themselves famous and respected among men; and usually bring such doctrines with them which are agreeable to the pride and vanity of human nature:

and giving thee a sign or a wonder; for the confirmation of his mission and doctrine; such as Moses wrought before the children of Israel and before Pharaoh. Signs are expressions or representations of things to come to pass; wonders, such as either do, or seem to exceed the common course of nature, or be contrary to it.


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The New John Gill's Exposition of the Entire Bible Modernised and adapted for the computer by Larry Pierce of Online Bible. All Rightes Reserved, Larry Pierce, Winterbourne, Ontario.
A printed copy of this work can be ordered from: The Baptist Standard Bearer, 1 Iron Oaks Dr, Paris, AR, 72855

Bibliography
Gill, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "The New John Gill Exposition of the Entire Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/geb/deuteronomy-13.html. 1999.

Geneva Study Bible

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of a dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

(a) Who says that he has things revealed to him in dreams.

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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Beza, Theodore. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "The 1599 Geneva Study Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/gsb/deuteronomy-13.html. 1599-1645.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible

Deuteronomy 13:1-5. Enticers to idolatry to be put to death.

If there arise among you a prophet — The special counsels which follow arose out of the general precept contained in Deuteronomy 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 (Numbers 12:6; 1 Samuel 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, John 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 Galatians 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.


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These files are a derivative of an electronic edition prepared from text scanned by Woodside Bible Fellowship.
This expanded edition of the Jameison-Faussett-Brown Commentary is in the public domain and may be freely used and distributed.

Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfb/deuteronomy-13.html. 1871-8.

Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary

CONTENTS

This Chapter is a continuation of the same subject as the former. Particular and special precepts are contained in it to arm against the motives to idolatry; the persons tempting to it are to be stoned, and even the cities where this sin is committed, are to be razed to the earth.

Deuteronomy 13:1

To those who know not the deceitfulness of the human heart, or the melancholy state of blindness and ignorance to which we are fallen, the precept in this verse may appear strange. But Reader! danger of deception concerning true and false prophets was not peculiar to the Israelites. Observe what Paul saith of the last times concerning apostacy, and then pause over the subject, and pray for grace to resist every temptation of this kind. See 1 Timothy 4:1.


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These files are public domain.
Text Courtesy of BibleSupport.com. Used by Permission.

Bibliography
Hawker, Robert, D.D. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "Hawker's Poor Man's Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/pmc/deuteronomy-13.html. 1828.

Wesley's Explanatory Notes

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

A dreamer of dreams — One that pretends God hath revealed himself to him by visions or dreams.

Giveth a sign or wonder — That is, shall foretell some strange and wonderful thing.


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These files are public domain and are a derivative of an electronic edition that is available on the Christian Classics Ethereal Library Website.

Bibliography
Wesley, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "John Wesley's Explanatory Notes on the Whole Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/wen/deuteronomy-13.html. 1765.

Calvin's Commentary on the Bible

After having restrained the Israelites from the strange delusions of the Gentiles, Moses now forbids them from being too credulous if false teachers should arise from among themselves, and warns them diligently to beware of all novel inventions, and not to turn aside in the very least degree from the Law, at the instigation of any one. For there is peril to be apprehended, not only from professed and manifest enemies, or from foreign superstitions, but Satan plots also by means of intestine deceits, and abuses the holy name of God in order to betray us. Therefore it behoves that the faith of the godly should not only be externally fortified and protected by the ramparts of the word, lest corruption should creep in from without, but also that it should be garrisoned within by the same word, lest novel imaginations should secretly insinuate themselves and destroy the purity of doctrine. Moreover, we gather from this prohibition that there is such certainty in the divine doctrines as to prevent our faith from being undermined or shaken, provided it has put forth into them living roots, and is firmly grounded upon them. For it would be vain for God to warn us against giving admission to false teachers, unless He, at the same time, shewed the means by which they were to be guarded against. And assuredly nothing can be more improbable than that religion should be ambiguous; and since the rule and definition of it is faithfully prescribed and set forth in the Law, justly does God require of His people that they should not waver, but constantly persist in the truth delivered to them. For truly does Isaiah declare respecting the Law, that in it it has not been said in vain to the seed of Jacob, that they should seek God’s face. (297) (Isaiah 45:19.) But, in seeking God, it would not be sufficient to teach what is right, unless men’s minds are established in it; it is requisite, therefore, that religion should be sure and firm, or it will not be duly ordered. Nor is there any doubt that what Paul witnesses of the Gospel was true also of the Law, viz., that it armed its disciples against all the storms of temptation, that they “should be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men,” etc. (Ephesians 4:14.) But the words before us, when examined more closely and regularly, will shew, with greater clearness, the aim of the matter.

1.If there arise among you. We already perceive that the question is not respecting the falsities and errors which Satan had spread throughout the world, but respecting those which were to appear in the very bosom of the Church, as if it had been said that the Law was not only given in order to separate the Israelites from heathen nations, but to keep themselves in the purity and integrity of the faith; for just as now-a-days Christ betroths the Church to Himself by the preachers of the Gospel, (2 Corinthians 11:2,) that she may devote herself as a chaste virgin to His obedience, and not allow herself to be withdrawn from the simplicity of the faith by any seductions; so of old God espoused His ancient people to Himself, and bade them close their ears against impostors, who are, as it were, the seducers of Satan tempting them to violate that sacred and special bond of marriage whereby God would be united with His people. We shall speedily see wherefore God would have His Church exposed to this evil. Meanwhile it is useful to admonish believers of their danger, that they may be constantly watching against the snares of Satan; for this abomination did not only prevail in that particular age, but it will have its evil influence even to the end of the world. We must remember what Peter says, that “as there were false prophets among” the Jews of old, so also in the kingdom of Christ

“there shall be false teachers who privily shall bring in damnable heresies.” (2 Peter 2:1.)

Moses, however, does not merely speak of domestic enemies, but, of such as shall assume the title of Prophets in order that they may deceive with greater license and impunity. From hence we infer that it is not enough to have an honorable position, or a plausible name, whether pastor, or prophet, or priest, unless it be allied to sincerity in accordance with our calling; for who are the persons whom God here commands to be avoided and held in abomination? Just those who boasted themselves to be Prophets, but who, when carefully inquired into, were obliged to drop their mask, and driven to confusion. A particular appellation is subjoined to their general one, since the same individual is spoken of as “a dreamer of dreams,” because God of old time manifested Himself to the Prophets sometimes in visions and sometimes in dreams. Either of these, then, was an honorable pretext for conciliating favor. But the temptation which follows was still more dangerous, viz., if such an one should have commended himself by a successful prediction; for who would despise a prophecy authenticated by events, especially when Isaiah declares this to be the attribute of God alone? (Isaiah 45:21.) And the difficulty here is still increased, because in chap. 18, God appears to distinguish false Prophets from true ones by this very test. (298) Thus I resolve the difficulty, God’s claiming to Himself the glory of foretelling events does not prevent Him from occasionally conferring even on the ministers of Satan the power of prophecy respecting some particular point. Balaam was worse than any hireling crier, wishing as he did to frustrate the eternal decrees of God, and yet we know that his tongue was directed by the divine inspiration of the Spirit so as to be the proclaimer of that grace which he had been hired to quench. There is, therefore, no inconsistency in this, that a man should be a perfidious impostor, and still endowed at the same time with a particular gift of prophecy, not so as always to deliver true revelations, (as, for instance, Caiaphas, who prophesied correctly once, was not always veracious,) but in so far as by God’s permission it shall be given him to foreknow this or that, so that one example of truth-telling may be the cloak for many falsehoods. Fitly, then, and properly, in the other passage, does God, by Moses, reprove the vanity of those rash spirits who promise what is not fulfilled. For we must take into consideration His intention. Many are there who bring themselves into notice by clandestine acts, and at length boldly burst forth and boast themselves to be prophets, whilst the people are in doubt whether they ought so to consider them. But since it most frequently happens that the folly of such men is betrayed by marks of infamy and disgrace inflicted upon them from above, so that the world may see that they have spoken falsely, justly does God declare that the event of their predictions is to be regarded, lest the Israelites should promiscuously and unreflectingly receive whatever they may hear. The principle, therefore, is established, that those speak in God’s name who predict what really comes to pass; for they could not declare the truth respecting things unknown to man unless God Himself should dictate it to them. This is the tendency of the answer of Jeremiah to Hananiah, —

“The prophets that have been before me and before thee of old, prophesied both against many countries, and against great kingdoms, of war, and of evil, and of pestilence. The prophet which prophesieth of peace, when the word of the prophet shall come to pass, then shall the prophet be known, that the Lord hath truly sent him.” (Jeremiah 28:8.)

Hananiah promised that the war should end prosperously; but Jeremiah, knowing that he lied, brings him to an experimental proof of his falsehood, in case the facts should not correspond with what he had said. Thus far there is no inconsistency in our statement, that all true prophesies must proceed from God, and yet that the same Prophet who has predicted the truth may, in other points, be a deceiver And especiallylet us remark the admonition of Paul, that

“because they (the reprobate) receive not the love of the truth, that they may be saved; for this cause God sends them strong delusion, that they should believe a lie; that they all might be damned who believed not the truth, but had pleasure in unrighteousness.”
(
2 Thessalonians 2:10,)

Hence we are taught that not only are the reins of Satan loosed in order that he may do injury, but that he is armed with power effectively to drag on the reprobate to final tied struction. Moses here teaches the same thing, for there are no reasonable grounds for the differences between Hebrew commentators as to the word sign. (299) It is unquestionable that signs were sometimes used in order to obtain credit for prophesies, as when Isaiah walked naked, ( Isaiah 20:2,) and Jeremiah wore a yoke on his neck, ( Jeremiah 18:10;) it is also unquestionable that Satan often deceives by magical incantations; but I have no doubt that by the words signifying the sign and the wonder, Moses here means anything incredible and unexpected, for the purpose of vaticination. The Hebrews use the word מופתים , mophethim, to express miracles whereby God portends anything future, as if He spoke from heaven. The word אות , oth, is more general, and is sometimes used for a banner, or a watchword, or signal, (symbolum.) Both are here put for extraordinary signs which testify the power of God, as if it were present; in this sense, Christ warns His disciples to beware of signs and lying prodigies. ( Matthew 24:11.) But although Satan dazzles the eyes with his illusions, so as in his false rivalry to win to himself the glory of God, yet have we shewn from St. Paul, and Moses has before declared, that impostors in their working of miracles are the ministers of God’s vengeance, in order that the reprobate may be taken in their snares. Should any object that signs would be useless, which may be as well dangerous deceptions as confirmations of the truth, I reply, that such license has never been accorded to the devil, as that the light of God should not in the end shine forth from the midst of the darkness. It will happen, therefore, that the true power of God may be obscured for a time, (as we have seen before in the history of the magicians,) but that it will never be overwhelmed. Thus in the miracles, whereby the Law was ratified, the glory of God so shone forth that they might obtain credit without any hesitation from the godly. Such, without controversy, are the miracles which authenticate the Gospel, because they present evidences inscribed upon them by God by which all suspicion of deceit is fully removed. And, indeed, since men’s minds are involved in dull stupidity, and are blind even to the ordinary course of God’s dealings, so also they are almost always mistaken with respect to miracles, unless His word enlightens them to dispel the darkness. In order, therefore, that we may duly profit by signs, an inseparable connection must be established between them and doctrine; and Moses rightly teaches that they must be repudiated who shall endeavor to pervert piety under the pretext of signs, because they impiously and wickedly divide things which God has joined together, and improperly divert to a contrary use the signs which only serve as aids to righteous doctrine. But after the religion of the Jews had been sealed by sure and evident signs, it was wrong for them to attend to accidental signs, and not altogether without base ingratitude. We now arrive at the sum of this passage, viz., that they must persevere in the worship of the one God, so that not even prodigies should have any force to shake the people’s minds. The clause, therefore, “which thou hast not known,” must be observed; whereby Moses signifies that the glory of the God which they serve was so certainly testified that their levity in turning this way or that would be inexcusable; and thus the knowledge which ought to be firmly implanted in their hearts, and to abide therein, is opposed to all the artifices of the devil, which only affect unstable minds.


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Bibliography
Calvin, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "Calvin's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/cal/deuteronomy-13.html. 1840-57.

John Trapp Complete Commentary

Deuteronomy 13:1 If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

Ver. 1. If there arise among you a prophet.] A public deceiver, that shall boldly obtrude upon you his erroneous opinions for divine oracles, seeking to drag disciples after him, [Acts 20:29] such as of late times were Servetus, Socinus, Arminius, Vorstius, Pelargus the first Anabaptist, Istolius Agricola the first Antinomian; H. N., that is, Henry Nicolas of Leyden, the first Familist. Howbeit Gerson tells us of a woman, one Maria de Valentiana, that had lately, before his relation, written a book with incredible subtlety, concerning the prerogative and eminence of divine love, to the which whatever soul had attained, is, according to her, let loose from all the law of God’s commandments.


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Bibliography
Trapp, John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". John Trapp Complete Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jtc/deuteronomy-13.html. 1865-1868.

Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible

DEUTERONOMY CHAPTER 13

Enticers to idolatry, being permitted by God to try Israel, were to be stoned to death., Deuteronomy 13:1-5, though near of kin, Deuteronomy 13:6-11. A city found guilty of idolatry to be burnt and utterly destroyed, Deuteronomy 13:12-16. They were not to take any of its cursed things, but to obey God’s command, that his mercy might be upon them, Deuteronomy 13:17,18.

Among you, i.e. one of your nation, for such might be both seduced and afterwards seducers.

A dreamer of dreams; one that pretends himself to be one to whom God hath revealed himself, either by visions or dreams. See Numbers 12:6.

Giveth thee a sign or a wonder, i.e. shall foretell some strange and wonderful thing to come, as appears from Deuteronomy 13:2, as the true prophets used to do, as 1Sa 10.


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Bibliography
Poole, Matthew, "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". Matthew Poole's English Annotations on the Holy Bible. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/mpc/deuteronomy-13.html. 1685.

Whedon's Commentary on the Bible

1. A prophet, or a dreamer — Two methods of divine revelation are here mentioned. Comp. Numbers 12:6 : “If there be a prophet among you, I the Lord will make myself known unto him in a vision, and will speak unto him in a dream.” It is taken for granted that what this prophet announced comes to pass, or that prodigies have been performed, but they are like the signs and lying wonders of 2 Thessalonians 2:6. If such a prophet taught the people to depart from Jehovah he was not to be heard. This is in agreement with what Paul, in Galatians 1:8, says: “Though we, or an angel from heaven, preach any other gospel unto you than that we have preached unto you, let him be accursed.”


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Bibliography
Whedon, Daniel. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "Whedon's Commentary on the Bible". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/whe/deuteronomy-13.html. 1874-1909.

Joseph Benson's Commentary of the Old and New Testaments

Deuteronomy 13:1. Moses, foreseeing how liable the Israelites, in after ages, would be to be deluded by false prophets, who, under pretence of divine revelations, or communications of divine power, while indeed they were assisted by no other than wicked and infernal spirits, might foretel some future events, or work some wondrous and unaccountable things as demonstrations of their false doctrine, and thereby persuade others to join in their idolatrous worship, here proceeds to show how such false pretenders to divine inspiration might be known, and lays down a law, according to which they were to be dealt with. If there arise among you — One of your own nation, for such might both be seduced, and afterward become seducers of others; a prophet — That is, a false prophet, one who falsely pretends to have received a divine message. Or a dreamer of dreams — One that pretends some god has revealed himself to him in visions or dreams. And giveth thee a sign — Foretels some future and wonderful events as a sure sign thereof; as the prophets of Jehovah were wont to do, 1 Samuel 10:2-7; 1 Kings 13:3. It must be observed that sign and wonder here signify the same thing, and comprehend all miracles whatsoever, whether the foretelling of something that is out of the reach of human knowledge, or the performing some work that exceeds human power.


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Bibliography
Benson, Joseph. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". Joseph Benson's Commentary. https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/rbc/deuteronomy-13.html. 1857.

George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary

If....a prophet, or even an angel from heaven, as St. Paul (Galatians i. 8,) says on a similar occasion, (Calmet) should work a miracle, and afterwards adduce it in proof of a false religion, believe him not. The Jews and Christians had already received such convincing proofs from God, of the truth of what they had been taught, that they had reason to conclude either that the miracle was false, or that the person who would persuade them to embrace a different religion had fallen, after God had honoured him with miraculous powers: or, in fin, that if he were an impostor at the time when he exercised that power, like the magicians of Egypt, or Balaam, the miracle was either not wrought in confirmation of what he preached, or at least it was eclipsed by some greater miracle in favour of the truth. Whether God will ever suffer a real miracle which may seem to countenance error, or not, this appears to be unquestionable, that he will never deny himself, or, in a contest of miracles, permit falsehood to gain the victory. If the magicians performed wonderful works, they were forced at last to confess their inferiority, and yield to Moses, Exodus viii. 18, 19. Miracles are generally a proof of any doctrine; but when the doctrine is already established, as in this case of the unity of God, (ver. 2,) it may be adduced with propriety as a criterion of miracles. Truth can never be in contradiction to truth. The light of reason suffices to evince that there is but one God. The same truth had been repeatedly confirmed by miracles, particularly during the last forty years, during which God had manifested his power over all nature, in the sight of all the Hebrews, and had trampled on the idols of the Gentiles. If therefore any person should attempt, by his dreams or predictions, in invalidate this most fundamental and undeniable article, his testimony could not be received. (Haydock) --- The Jews, in vain, allege this passage against the religion of Jesus Christ. He did not subvert, but fulfilled the law; so far was he from endeavouring to persuade them to abandon the true God. (Calmet) --- If he had not come to act in this manner, the law would have contained in itself the seeds of dissolution, by falsely holding forth the expectation of a future Messias, who would bring all things to perfection, chap. xviii. 15., Genesis iii. 15., and xlix. 10, &c. Hence when he really appeared, the Jews desired him to prove his mission by a miracle, as he did repeatedly, Matthew xii. 38., John viii. 40., and x. 25. --- A dream, of a mysterious kind, like those of Joseph and of the prophets. (Haydock)


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Bibliography
Haydock, George Leo. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "George Haydock's Catholic Bible Commentary". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/hcc/deuteronomy-13.html. 1859.

E.W. Bullinger's Companion Bible Notes

If, &c. Beginning of Moses" fourth address. See note on Deuteronomy 1:1.


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Bibliography
Bullinger, Ethelbert William. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "E.W. Bullinger's Companion bible Notes". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/bul/deuteronomy-13.html. 1909-1922.

Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,

If there arise among you a prophet. The special counsels which follow arose out of the general precept contained in the last three verses of the preceding chapter; and the purport of them is, that every attempt to seduce others from the course of duty which the 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" [ naabiy' (Hebrew #5030)] (Genesis 20:7; Exodus 7:1; Exodus 15:20; Num. 40:2-9; Jdg. 4:41; 6:8; 1 Samuel 2:29 ) - i:e., some notable person laying claim to the character and authority of the prophetic office (Numbers 12:6; 1 Samuel 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, John 18:14). It is evident the sign or wonder supposed was not a true and genuine miracle, but some counterfeit appearance of supernatural power, which either human artifice or diabolical agency might suffice to produce. Should the aim of such an one be to seduce the people from the worship of the true God, he is an impostor, and must be put to death. This injunction to Israel was directed against the prophets of the Canaanite nations that might be left among them, or against Israelite prophets who might be desirous of seducing their countrymen to the service of strange gods in Syria, (see the note at Deuteronomy 18:13, etc.) And the course which the injunction prescribed was a very plain one-to judge of them by their fruits. The most demonstrative evidence that any prophet or dreamer of dreams should appear to produce was worthless, if the object for which it was exhibited was to entice the people into idolatry, and to turn them from the God who brought them out of Egypt.

The conduct pursued was an unmistakeable proof that the sign or wonder was not from God. No prodigy, however wonderful, no human authority, however great, should be allowed to shake their belief in the divine character, or in the truth of a religion so solemnly taught and so awfully attested (cf. Galatians 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 purer, more spiritual and perfect, observance of the law.


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Bibliography
Jamieson, Robert, D.D.; Fausset, A. R.; Brown, David. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "Commentary Critical and Explanatory on the Whole Bible - Unabridged". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/jfu/deuteronomy-13.html. 1871-8.

Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers


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Bibliography
Ellicott, Charles John. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "Ellicott's Commentary for English Readers". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/ebc/deuteronomy-13.html. 1905.

Treasury of Scripture Knowledge

If there arise among you a prophet, or a dreamer of dreams, and giveth thee a sign or a wonder,
a prophet
That is, one pretending to the divine inspiration and authority of the prophetic office, or a dreamer of dreams, one who pretends that some deity has spoken to him in the night season, and giveth thee a sign, oth, what appears to be a miraculous proof of his mission, or a wonder, mopheth, some portentous sign, such as an eclipse, which he, who knew when it would happen, might predict to the people, who knew nothing of the matter, and thereby accredit his pretensions. But no pretended miracles must be admitted as a proof that the people might violate the first and great commandment.
1 Kings 13:18; Isaiah 9:15; Jeremiah 6:13; 23:11; Ezekiel 13:2,3,23; Zechariah 13:4; Matthew 7:15; 24:11; Luke 6:26; 2 Peter 2:1; 1 John 4:1
a dreamer
Jeremiah 23:25-28; 27:9; 29:8,24; *marg:; Zechariah 10:2

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Bibliography
Torrey, R. A. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 13:1". "The Treasury of Scripture Knowledge". https:https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/tsk/deuteronomy-13.html.

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