Deuteronomy 13:13
Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known;
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(13) Children of Belial.—The very same expression is used in Judges 20:13 : “Deliver us the men, the children of Belial, that are among you.” This is the first place where the expression “sons of Belial” occurs, and Judges 19:22 is the second. It is generally explained by modern scholars as “worthlessness.” Rashi curiously makes it “destroyers of the yoke” (of Jehovah).

Deuteronomy 13:13. Certain men, children of Belial — So the most profligate and worthless are called in Scripture. The expression properly signifies persons without yoke, lawless, and rebellious, that will suffer no restraint, that neither fear God nor reverence man. Are gone out from you — Have separated themselves from you in point of religion, and carry themselves stubbornly and presumptuously herein.13:12-18 Here is the case of a city revolting from the God of Israel, and serving other gods. The crime is supposed to be committed by one of the cities of Israel. Even when they were ordered to preserve their religion by force, yet they were not allowed to bring others to it by fire and sword. Spiritual judgments under the Christian dispensation are more terrible than the execution of criminals; we have not less cause than the Israelites had, to fear the Divine wrath. Let us then fear the spiritual idolatry of covetousness, and the love of worldly pleasure; and be careful not to countenance them in our families, by our example or by the education of our children. May the Lord write his law and truth in our hearts, there set up his throne, and shed abroad his love!In Deuteronomy 15:9 and in Nahum 1:11 the word "Belial" is rendered in our translation by the adjective "wicked." The word means "worthlessness."

(from Barnes' Notes)

12-18. Certain men, the children of Belial—lawless, designing demagogues (Jud 19:22; 1Sa 1:16; 25:25), who abused their influence to withdraw the inhabitants of the city to idol-worship. The children of Belial; a title oft used in Scripture, as Judges 19:22 1 Samuel 1:16 25:25 2 Samuel 16:7. It signifies properly persons without yoke, vile and wretched miscreants, lawless and rebellious, that will suffer no restraint, that neither fear God nor reverence man.

From among you, i.e. from your church and religion. It notes a separation or departure from them, not in place, (as appears by their partnership with their fellow citizens both in the sin and punishment, as it here follows,) but in heart, doctrine, and worship, as the same phrase is used, 1Jo 2:19. Certain men, the children of Belial,.... Which signify either persons without a yoke, who have thrown off the yoke of God's law, and will not submit to it, or unprofitable ones, as wicked men be, both to God, themselves, and others:

are gone out from among you; not locally, but with respect to their religious sentiments and practices, having separated themselves from the people of God, and from the service of the sanctuary, the true worship of God, and a profession of it, and given into the worship of idols:

and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city; withdrawn them by the force of persuasion from the worship of the true God, and drawn them into idolatry:

saying, let us go and serve other gods; unite as one man in the worship of the gods of the Gentiles:

which ye have not known; this was not said by the children of Belial, but is added by the Lord by way of explanation, showing what gods they were that these men advised them to serve, and confirms the observation made on Deuteronomy 13:6.

Certain men, the children of Belial, are gone out from among you, and have withdrawn the inhabitants of their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which ye have not known;
Verse 13. - Men, the children of Belial; the sons of worthlessness, utterly worthless persons. Beli ya'al (a compound of בְלִי, not, and עָל, to ascend, to have worth, to profit) means primarily that which is low, hence worthlessness, naughtiness, wickedness. In Deuteronomy 15:9, Belial is rendered in the Authorized Version as an adjective, "wicked," and also in Nehemiah 1:11. In Psalm 18:4, it is rendered by "ungodly men." Most commonly it is treated as a proper name. But in all places the proper meaning of the word might be retained. The Hebrews described an object, of which any quality was predominantly characteristic, as the son of that quality. Are gone out from among you; have gone forth from the midst of you, i.e. have risen up among yourselves. Withdraw. The verb here is the same as that rendered by "thrust," in vers. 5 and 10. It conveys the idea of drawing away with some degree of force, not mere easy seduction, but impulsion by strong persuasion. The second case was when the temptation to idolatry proceeded from the nearest blood-relations and friends. The clause, "son of thy mother," is not intended to describe the brother as a step-brother, but simply to bring out the closeness of the fraternal relation; like the description of the wife as the wife of thy bosom, who lies in thy bosom, rests upon thy breast (as in Deuteronomy 28:54; Micah 7:5), and of the friend as "thy friend which is as thine own soul," i.e., whom thou lovest as much as thy life (cf. 1 Samuel 18:1, 1 Samuel 18:3). בּסּתר belongs to יסית: if the temptation occurred in secret, and therefore the fact might be hidden from others. The power of love and relationship, which flesh and blood find it hard to resist, is placed here in contrast with the supposed higher or divine authority of the seducers. As the persuasion was already very seductive, from the fact that it proceeded from the nearest blood-relations and most intimate friends, and was offered in secret, it might become still more so from the fact that it recommended the worship of a deity that had nothing in common with the forbidden idols of Canaan, and the worship of which, therefore, might appear of less consequence, or commend itself by the charm of peculiarity and novelty. To prevent this deceptive influence of sin, it is expressly added in Deuteronomy 13:8 (7), "of the gods nigh unto thee or far off from thee, from the one end of the earth even unto the other end of the earth," i.e., whatever gods there might be upon the whole circuit of the earth.
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