Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 13:4 - 13:4

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Keil and Delitzsch Commentary - Deuteronomy 13:4 - 13:4

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God permitted false prophets to rise up with such wonders, to try the Israelites, whether they loved Him, the Lord their God, with all their heart. (נִסָּה as in Gen 22:1.) אֹהֲבִים הֲיִשְׁכֶם, whether ye are loving, i.e., faithfully maintain your love to the Lord. It is evident from this, “that however great the importance attached to signs and wonders, they were not to be regarded among the Israelites, either as the highest test, or as absolutely decisive, but that there was a certainty in Israel, which was so much the more certain and firm than any proof from miracles could be, that it might be most decidedly opposed to it” (Baumgarten). This certainty, however, was not “the knowledge of Jehovah,” as B. supposes; but as Luther correctly observes, “the word of God, which had already been received, and confirmed by its own signs,” and which the Israelites were to preserve and hold fast, without adding or subtracting anything. “In opposition to such a word, no prophets were to be received, although they rained signs and wonders; not even an angel from heaven, as Paul says in Gal 1:8.” The command to hearken to the prophets whom the Lord would send at a future time (Deu 18:18.), is not at variance with this: for even their announcements were to be judged according to the standard of the fixed word of God that had been already given; and so far as they proclaimed anything new, the fact that what they announced did not occur was to be the criterion that they had not spoken in the name of the Lord, but in that of other gods (Deu 18:21-22), so that even there the signs and wonders of the prophets are not made the criteria of their divine mission.