Apologetics: Deuteronomy 13.6-9

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Text

If your brother, your mother's son, or your son or daughter, or the wife you cherish, or your friend who is as your own soul, entice you secretly, saying, 'Let us go and serve other gods' (whom neither you nor your fathers have known, of the gods of the peoples who are around you, near you or far from you, from one end of the earth to the other end), you shall not yield to him or listen to him; and your eye shall not pity him, nor shall you spare or conceal him. But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterwards the hand of all the people. (Deuteronomy 13:6-9)

Deuteronomy 13.6-9, NASB

Deuteronomy 17.2-5 is similar.

Problem

God shows He is overly harsh and commands His followers to be also.

Resolution

God did condone the execution of people who try to lead others astray. However, there were still many limitations:

  1. "One witness is not enough to convict a man accused of any crime or offense he may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses. If a malicious witness takes the stand to accuse a man of a crime, the two men involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judges who are in office at the time. The judges must make a thorough investigation, and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against his brother, then do to him as he intended to do to his brother. You must purge the evil from among you." Deuteronomy 19.15-19.
  2. "These are the decrees and laws you must be careful to follow in the land that the LORD, the God of your fathers, has given you to possess—as long as you live in the land." Deuteronomy 12.1. While not in Israel, the laws do not hold. (As implied in the verses above because there must judges to investigate.)
  3. While the Jews interpreted this law, they wanted to be very careful not to convict anyone unless they had no choice, that is, if there was any way the life could be spared, they would. So they specified that the person must be told what the punishment would be and had to verbally confirm they knew the punishment. With that interpretation, very few executions were made. One execution within a seventy year period was considered a lot. Most scholars consider purpose of the verses is the threat, not the execution itself.
  4. "Cursed is anyone who does not affirm the terms of this law by obeying them." Deuteronomy 27.26. One of the greatest purposes of the Old Testament was to show that Sin brings Death and this passage is one prime example of that. The Torah was meant to be harsh - it shadowed the fact that any sin causes eternal Death. "You search the Torah because you believe it gives you eternal life. But the Torah points to me." John 5.39 Jesus revealed the the Torah was not to give eternal Life but to teach of Himself who gives eternal Life. "The Torah was our tutor to bring us to Christ, that we might be justified by faith. But after faith has come, we are no longer under a tutor." Galatians 3.24-25. With Jesus, obedience to the Torah has been anulled, replacing it with obedience to Himself.


Israel was special. It was to be a contrast to other nations, "a light to the Gentiles," but this could not happen if Israelites abandoned God. Unlike an ordinary nation, Israel was not meant for anyone, only those who choose to enter it and follow Jehovah.




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