Edward Falzon has saved us all a lot of time here by doing his homework and discovering that it’s almost all repeated verses from previous chapters. The same old drivel – obey and life will be a bed or roses, disobey….. and this concludes the introductory portion of Moses’ second speech.
Chapters 12-26 constitute a new topic – the Deuteronomic Code of law. The first section of the code, chapters 12-15, deals with the laws of worship. In chapter 12 God lays out the rules (via Moses) for setting up the church on the west side of the Jordan River, beginning by directing that all existing places of worship be destroyed first. But Moses repeats himself a lot. Verses 15 and 16 are the same as 22 and 23. Fire the editor! It’s hard enough slogging through this without having to read some of it twice.
Deuteronomy 13 has to be one of the ugliest chapters in the whole bible (make sure to read the whole thing for all the nasty details). It can be summed up pretty quickly – if someone tries to persuade you to worship another god, “do not give in or listen. Have no pity, and do not spare or protect them. You must put them to death! Strike the first blow yourself, and then all the people must join in. Stone the guilty ones to death because they have tried to draw you away from the Lord your God” (v 8-10 NLT). Moreover, if an entire town is led astray, “you must attack that town and completely destroy all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock. Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the open square and burn it. Burn the entire town” (v 15-16).
But wait, there’s more! “Suppose there are prophets among you or those who dream dreams about the future, and they promise you signs or miracles, and the predicted signs or miracles occur. … The false prophets or visionaries who try to lead you astray must be put to death” (v 1-5). So, according to these verses, the Jews were right to crucify Jesus, no????