How Israel Is to Deal with False Prophets

[a]One of your people, claiming to be a prophet or to have prophetic dreams, may predict a miraculous sign or an amazing thing. What he predicts may even take place. But don’t listen to that prophet or dreamer [b] if he says, “Let’s worship and serve other gods.” (Those gods may be gods you’ve never heard of.) The Lord your God is testing you to find out if you really love him with all your heart and with all your soul. Worship the Lord your God, fear him, obey his commands, listen to what he says, serve him, and be loyal to him. That prophet or dreamer must be put to death because he preached rebellion against the Lord your God, who brought you out of Egypt and freed you from slavery. He was trying to lead you away from following the directions the Lord your God gave you. You must get rid of this evil.

Your own brother, son, or daughter, the wife you love, or your best friend may secretly tempt you, saying, “Let’s go worship other gods.” (Those gods may be gods that you and your ancestors never knew. They may be the gods of the people around you, who live near or far, from one end of the land to the other.) Don’t be influenced by any of these people or listen to them. Have no pity on them. Don’t feel sorry for them or protect them. You must put them to death. You must start the execution. Then all the other people will join you in putting them to death. 10 Stone them to death because they were trying to lead you away from the Lord your God, who brought you out of slavery in Egypt. 11 All Israel will hear about it and be afraid. Then no one among you will ever do such a wicked thing again.

12 You may hear that the residents in one of the cities which the Lord your God is giving you to live in 13 have been led away from the Lord your God by worthless people. You may hear that these people have been saying, “Let’s worship other gods.” (Those gods may be gods you’ve never heard of.) 14 Then make a thorough investigation. If it is true, and you can prove that this disgusting thing has been done among you, 15 you must kill the residents of that city with swords and destroy that city and everyone in it, including the animals, because they are claimed by God. 16 Gather their goods into the middle of the city square. Then burn their city and all their goods as a burnt offering to the Lord your God. It must remain a mound of ruins and never be rebuilt. 17 Don’t ever take any of the things claimed for destruction. Then the Lord will stop being angry and will show you mercy. In his mercy he will make your population increase, as he swore to your ancestors. 18 The Lord your God will do this if you listen to him, obey all the commands that I’m giving you today, and do what he considers right.


  1. 13:1 Deuteronomy 13:1–18 in English Bibles is Deuteronomy 13:2–19 in the Hebrew Bible.
  2. 13:2 The first part of verse 3 (in Hebrew) has been placed in verse 2 to express the complex Hebrew paragraph structure more clearly in English.