How to explain this verse in Deuteronomy 13


If you hear it said about one of the towns the Lord your God is giving you to live in that troublemakers 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), then you must inquire, probe and investigate it thoroughly. And if it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done among you, you must certainly put to the sword all who live in that town. You must destroy it completely, both its people and its livestock. You are to gather all the plunder of the town into the middle of the public square and completely burn the town and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town is to remain a ruin forever, never to be rebuilt, and none of the condemned things are to be found in your hands. Then the Lord will turn from his fierce anger, will show you mercy, and will have compassion on you. He will increase your numbers, as he promised on oath to your ancestors—because you obey the Lord your God by keeping all his commands that I am giving you today and doing what is right in his eyes.

1-Is this verse referring to (A) the towns in Caanan where people worshiped false gods, or is it referring to Israelites living in their towns(B)?
2-If B, was it a literal command, or just a command to emphasize how seriously God viewed idol worship? While God commanded various kings, like Asa and others, to destroy the idols people in Israel built, I dont remember any of those kings wiping out towns where idol worship took place in.
3-If the command God gave to Israel was a literal command, was it just for the Israelites to wipe out the inhabitants of an entire town because some people in the town were idol worshippers?


This is Haydock’s commentary on Deuteronomy 13:12

[FONT=Tahoma]Ver. 12. Cities. If the inhabitants agreed, in general, to introduce the worship of idols, they were to be first admonished,
(C.) and if incorrigible, to be utterly destroyed.
H. — The obligation of seeing that this was executed was left to the magistrates. D.[/FONT]

You might like also like the suggestions for Bible commentaries in this earlier thread:


The “Troublemakers” are demons. The trouble they make are evil thoughts and desires. The “Town” is what the demons do to us as they build themselves up in our hearts and minds

We are to “rise early” and destroy the young. These are the evil thoughts caused by the demonic troublemakers and we are to rebuke them with curses and the name of Jesus as soon as they start to build, as soon as any evil desire enters our heart or evil thought enters out mind.

The “land which the Lord has given us” is our lives. We are to utterly destroy the demonic troublemakers and the towns which they build in our lives with the sword of the Holy Name.


:ouch: Where are you getting this stuff? No, this isn’t at all what’s being said here!

In the Greek of the Septuagint, we have “ἐὰν δὲ ἀναστῇ ἐν σοὶ προφήτης ἢ ἐνυπνιαζόμενος.” That is, “but when prophets or dreamers arise among you.” In other words, we’re not talking about demons, but about Jews living among their countrymen. These people predict a future event, and then claim that they’re receiving prophecies from God, either through dreams or direct revelation. The problem here is that these Jews are claiming that God is telling them that they should worship idols. That’s the issue in play here – that people are asserting that idol worship is something God wants. No demons. No evil thoughts and desires. No building up of demons in our hearts and minds. Instead, Deuteronomy 13 is instructing Jews what to do when their countrymen assert something against God’s commandments… and they assert that God is the one who is asking for this abomination.


Umm… that’s an interesting spiritualization of this passage, but no, that’s not the sense that’s intended in the context of Deuteronomy. Here, Moses is telling the people what the punishment shall be for an Jewish town that allows the worship of idols.

It speaks to Jews (not pagan Canaanites). It’s literal. It asserts that, if a town allows idol worship there, then not only are the idol worshippers guilty, but so are all who allowed this abomination in Israel.

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