Traps and Snares
Moses now describes a number of circumstances in which he warns the people not to be led astray. First, he warns the people not to fall prey to a deceitful prophet. Even if the signs a prophet sets come true, if he preaches against following God’s word, he is not to be believed. Instead, he must be put to death. The next warning is against a close family member who tries to entice one to serve idols. He or she, too, must be put to death by stoning; even though it might be hard to kill a loved one, the targeted relative must throw the first stone. Finally, Moses warns of the entire city that has turned away from God to serve idols. If an investigation proves the matter to be true, the inhabitants must be killed by the sword and the city itself destroyed.
In the course of his warnings, Moses tells the people that instead of betraying God, they should cleave to him. Since it is impossible to cleave to a non-corporeal being, the Israel Bible relates, the Sages instead understood the verse to mean we must emulate His ways. Just as God is compassionate, so must we be. We learn to bury the dead (Deuteronomy 33:6) and visit the sick (Genesis 18:1) from His example.
Virtual Classroom Discussion
Why do you think the relative whose relation tries to tempt him into idolatry must be the first to participate in his family member’s execution?