|Matthew Henry's Concise Commentary|
13:1-5 Moses had cautioned against the peril that might arise from the Canaanites. Here he cautions against the rise of idolatry among themselves. It is needful for us to be well acquainted with the truths and precepts of the Bible; for we may expect to be proved by temptations of evil under the appearance of good, of error in the guise of truth; nor can any thing rightly oppose such temptations, but the plain, express testimony of God's word to the contrary. And it would be a proof of sincere affection for God, that, notwithstanding specious pretences, they should not be wrought upon the forsake God, and follow other gods to serve them.
Verse 1. - A prophet (nabhi, נבָיִא); one who speaks from God, an interpreter to men of what God reveals or suggests to him (cf. for the meaning of the word, Exodus 7:1 with Exodus 4:16; also Jeremiah 15:19). Dreamer of dreams. Not by visions or immediate suggestion only, but also by means of dreams, did God communicate with men (cf. Numbers 12:6). The case supposed here, then, is that of one pretending to have had revelations from God through those media by which God was pleased to convey his will to men (cf. Hem., 'Iliad,' h 62 - 'Ἀλλ ἄγε δή τινα μάντιν ἐρείομεν....
η} καὶ ὀνειροπόλον καὶ γάρ τ᾿ ὄναρ ἔκ Διός ἐστιν Sign or a wonder. A sign was some event foretold by the prophet, and the occurrence of which was a token that something else which he announced would happen or should be done (cf. 1 Samuel 2:34; 1 Samuel 10:7-9; 2 Kings 19:29; Isaiah 7:11-14; Isaiah 38:7; Mark 13:4, etc.). A wonder was a miracle, the performance of which gave proof of a Divine commission (cf. Deuteronomy 4:24). These signs, it is assumed, should come to pass; nevertheless, the people were not to listen to the man who gave them to go after other gods. The mere fact that he sought to persuade them to forsake the worship of Jehovah was sufficient to prove him an impostor; for how could one who sought to seduce the people from God be sent by God? The sign which was given to authenticate such a message could only be one of those "lying signs and wonders after the working of Satan," by which his emissaries try to deceive and mislead; and was permitted by God only that their fidelity to him might be tested and proved. They had already received God's message; they had his word; and no teaching which contravened that, however apparently authenticated, could be from him, or was to he accepted by them (cf. Jeremiah 29:8; Galatians 1:8, 9; 1 John 3:1, etc.). Come what might, they were to walk after Jehovah their God, and keep his commandments, and obey his voice, and serve him; and cleave unto him. The false prophet, as a public enemy and a suborner of treason against the King of Israel, was to be put to death; and so the evil would be put away from among them.
Gill's Exposition of the Entire 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.
Jamieson-Fausset-Brown Bible Commentary
De 13:1-5. Enticers to Idolatry to Be Put to Death.
1. If there arise among you a prophet—The special counsels which follow arose out of the general precept contained in De 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 (Nu 12:6; 1Sa 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, Joh 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 Ga 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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