A False Prophet: “Let’s Go After Other Gods!”

Posted by on Aug 30, 2023

It is the object of this work to touch upon well-known passages in the Hebrew Scripture that much have been avoided in the traditional Christian commentaries: the enticer who says, “Let us go after other Gods”. In this endeavor in which we will seek to find out who those “Gods” are, we are fully aware that we cannot remove all the difficulties that have been in the minds of the people for centuries, but it is worth trying. We are also aware that what we intend to say in the following poses significant challenges for the careful reader. We do not ask the reader to substitute our judgment for his/her own but to consider what we will say in this work.

The Torah gives answers to all questions sought earnestly. It points to them for those who desire to learn on a deeper level of understanding.

The Torah gives answers to all questions sought earnestly. It points to them for those who desire to learn on a deeper level of understanding.

The first book Bereishit (Genesis) is a narration by the Messenger of YHVH to Mosheh, for he could not have possibly known how the world had been created. Shemot (Exodus), Vayikra (Leviticus), and Bamidbar (Numbers) are personal revelation of the Most High and His direct words to His servant Mosheh, who put them in writing, and we received the Written Torah. Thus, Mosheh became a pure vessel for the Word of YHVH.

Devarim (Words aka Deuteronomy), however, is Mosheh’s book, his work. Devarim is not mere conclusion of Torah, nor its repetition, but also personal expression of the first four books of the Word of the Creator, hence Devarim. Instead of speaking through Mosheh’s mouth, in Devarim YHVH spoke to Mosheh’s heart. As a result, Devarim possesses the Ruach of Elohim in the words of Mosheh ratified as the final stroke of revelation.

Mosheh’s last words speak much

In his last address to the nation, Mosheh warned saying that prophets or dreamers (literally, “blind”) of dreams would come and make signs and wonders. And if these signs and wonders will come true, then the false prophets will say,

Let us go after Gods of the others (which you have not known) and serve them”. Do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer of dreams, for Yehovah your Elohim is testing you to know whether you love Yehovah your Elohim with all your heart and with all your soul. (Deu 13:1-3)

Two things strike the mind. A false prophet can do as many miracles as he wants. But what identifies him as a false prophet is that he will teach Gods which were unknown to the fathers. The false prophet will entice the people to accept “other Gods” (literally, “Gods of the others”), i.e., the Gods of the nations. The other moment, which is perplexing is that the false prophet will be used by YHVH to test the people whether they will keep the faith or will allowed to be deceived by men.

The word “prophet” in the context above implies that such a person has an established reputation of a respected teacher. But if he teaches the laymen (having left the decision up to them and to their interpretation of the signs and miracles) against the Torah or entices them to abandon it and follow “Gods” their fathers did not know, nor had they ever heard such “Gods” at Sinai, he is a false prophet, a fraud.

Mosheh bade us not to listen to him, much less to follow him, for such a “prophet”, who performs signs and great wonders (“proving” that God had communicated with him) and seeks to deny the Torah, has been sent by the Lord to test us. Such a “prophet” is not to be trusted, for his miracles could not override His commandments. When such a prophet or teacher comes to lead the people astray, then we know with certainty that these signs are frauds, and this miracle worker is a fraud, for he teaches against the Torah. Anyone arguing that the Torah or any commandment of it should be annulled is a false prophet, and he must not be followed.

Signs and miracles: the false prophet’s tools

“We believe in miracles, but we may not rely on them”. (Jewish saying)

The so-called “prophet” uses signs and miracles to entice the people to leave the Torah they have observed. Mosheh warns them that they are not to be impressed by such miracles, for he had not done miracles forty years that they might believe in him. Mishneh Torah, Foundations of the Torah 8:1 states the following,

The people of Israel did not believe in Mosheh because of the miracles he performed. Indeed, one who believes because of miracles retains a measure of doubt in his heart, since a “miracle” can be done by trickery or sorcery. Rather, all the miracles he performed in the desert were by necessity, not to prove his prophecy. It was necessary to drown the Egyptians, so he split the sea and submerged them in it. They needed food, so he brought down the manna. They thirsted, so he split the rock. …

Nachmanides explains the words “sign” and “wonder” as follows. He says “sign” is an advance notice of an otherwise unexpected future event, like the signs Mosheh did to announce the plagues to Pharaoh beforehand. Also, a sign describes an event he had foretold. The word “wonder” or “miracle” on the other hand, describes a totally new phenomenon, such as “I will perform miracles in the sky and on earth”. In Egypt, Elohim performed both signs and miracles. The Torah demands that such signs and miracles must occur as foretold in order to be accepted as genuine and their performer, Mosheh, as a true prophet.

YHVH however said to Mosheh that a prophet who presumes to speak in His Name, which He has not commanded him to speak, or even worse speaks in the name of “Gods” of the others, that prophet shall surely die. Mosheh warns that the false prophet can be a close relative or friend, who nevertheless will make the effort to entice them secretly, saying,

“Let us go and serve other Gods” which you have not known, neither you nor your fathers, … (Deu 13:6)

The sages explain that the choice of the word “saying” in Hebrew makes it clear that the enticer does not openly use words such as “let us commit idolatry” but obliquely invites the people to merely consider the Gods of the other nations (verse 7). He craftily says, “let us go and serve” thus including himself in such a way that the people would think that he is one of them and they all will have the same experience. This makes his victims think that this would be their own desire rather than the enticer’s, and this would make them more susceptible to the deceit to go after Gods their father had never known.

But if we will ask why YHVH has empowered such a person to perform false signs and miracles, Mosheh answers very explicitly: Elohim is testing your faith in Him by doing so, whether you love Him with all your heart and with all your soul,

Listen up, Israel! Yehovah our Elohim, Yehovah is one! And you shall love Yehovah your Elohim with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your extreme*. (Deu 6:4-5) *Literal translation.

To love and to serve Him with all our heart and with all our soul to the extreme means to guard His commands do His laws which Mosheh commanded us at Sinai for our good (see Deu 10:12-13).

How to expose a false prophet

“A little light dispels a lot of darkness”. (Hasidic saying)

Everyone has the responsibility to examine the words of the teachers against the Word of YHVH, the Torah (this author is included). For instance, there is a basic rule of interpretation of the Scripture. When there are clear and obscure passages in the Scripture, and they seem to contradict each other, the clear passage always explains the obscure one, not the other way around. This will serve as an example. Paul says, “you can eat whatever you find on the market”. This is unclear passage; it does not define what food is; i.e., is pork considered food? The clear passage in Leviticus 11 however comes to explain it. Likewise, Torah throws light and explains the Prophets and Writings (the Tanach), and the Tanach comes to explain the Apostolic Writings, not the other way around.

The Lord Himself warns us that such a “prophet”, who speaks presumptuously in His Name, is deceived by Him to test us. The Lord gives no answer to the false prophet,

And if the prophet is deceived and shall speak a word, I Yehovah have deceived that prophet. (Eze 14:9)

Furthermore, YHVH says that He shall bring such an imposter to justice to bear his crookedness, and the people who ask him for guidance with him, for the crookedness of the prophet is the same as the crookedness of the inquirer (see Eze 14:9-10). A prophet who allows himself to be deceived is not a prophet, but one who really thinks that he is a prophet of God. And the words he has spoken are not prophecy but his own invention, a false prophecy.

The most natural question that comes to mind is how to distinguish between a true prophet and a false prophet. And this question is indeed asked in the Torah, “How do we know the word which YHVH has not spoken?” Is this not the most obvious question to ask, especially when we suspect that someone speaks presumptuously? Mosheh answers plainly: “When the prophet speaks in the Name of Yehovah and the word does not come to pass, that is the word which Yehovah has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously” (Deu 18:20-22). What does it mean?

If a single sign or miracle of what the claimant foretold has not materialized as promised, it is certain that he is not a prophet. The prophet has spoken his own words, and he is not to be afraid of, not to be listen to. The sages teach that this refers only to positive predictions the prophet has made. From the positive statement you may derive the negative.

The sages also teach that when a prophet foretells negative predictions such as disasters, calamities, etc., would come upon the people, which do not occur, he may not be a false prophet, because the people to whom the prophecy was meant might have repented, as it was the case with the people of Nineveh, when Yonah warned them of the coming punishment. The sages are correct in this for indeed the whole purpose of the prophet’s mission is to cause people to repent, for the Lord does not take pleasure in punishing the wrong.

“Gods of the others”; Who are they?

At this point in the discussion, it is necessary to understand the expression “Gods of the others, which you have not known”. In the ancient world, these were the idols of the nations made of stone, wood, or gold to which they bowed down. Today, the false idols made of stone, wood, or gold are easily identifiable as such and hard to sell to the masses. But how about the idols in the mind?

The words of YHVH spoken to Hoshea the prophet say,

For I am El, and not man, the Set-apart One in your midst, and I shall not come in enmity. (Hos 11:9)

This was said simply to be understood simply. YHVH the Eternal is not a man, He is Elohim (Hebrew for “Supernal”). The question whether or not He can become a man to dwell among the people is not the question to ask, because the Omnipresent One dwells everywhere. The question to ask is: Would He manifest Himself as a man? The answer is: If He wills so. But did He will it? That psalmist says that YHVH has done whatever pleased Him, in the heavens and in earth (Psa 135:6). If becoming a man would have pleased Him, He would have done it. But has such a thing ever pleased Him? Has He ever spoken it? God becoming a man works for the ancient mythologies and religions but contradicts His words. And from where is this matter derived about which it has been claimed that God has become a man?

When we keep these considerations in mind, we will also understand the reason what Shemuel the prophet speaks of,

Moreover, the Eminence of Israel does not lie nor relent. For He is not a man, that He should relent. (1Sa 15:29)

This is what the prophet means when he speaks of “For He is not a man”. Change cannot occur outside space and time. By definition time is continuum of experience in which events pass from the past through the present to the future; light was called to exist, and there was evening and morning, that is, change of time since then.

But the Creator is beyond space and time, and therefore neither He can change. While man exists in space and time and so he is subject to change. Man’s regrets arise from his unstable nature, from the uncertainty of his desires and actions. It will be clear to the reader that this is never the case with YHVH, for He is the Unchangeable Elohim in whom man can trust, because His desires and actions are unchangeable. What He has said and done is unchangeable, and He does not reverse it.

As in Hos 11:9, a contrast is drawn in Hos 13:4 between the idolatry of worshipping the gods of the gentiles and the self-attestation of YHVH that He, and He alone, is the Elohim who is in their midst. From Egypt Israel has known no other El than YHVH. The nation has no other El to be a helper and savior. In the desert at Sinai, He knew his people and adopted them in love in an attestation of His care for them. We read thus,

Moreover, I am Yehovah your Elohim since the land of Egypt, and you know no Elohim but Me, for there is no Savior besides Me. (Hos 13:4)

What the Elohim of Israel is saying here is this: “Only I, the Eternal, has been your Elohim ever since Egypt. You have never known any Mighty One except Me. You have never had a helper and savior other than Me”. Mosheh, the only human being who had ever spoken with Elohim face to face and mouth to mouth, wrote down duly the words of YHVH for us to know them,

See now that I, I am He, and there is no Elohim besides Me. I put to death, and I make alive. I have wounded, and I heal. And from My hand no one delivers! (Deu 32:39)

Aside of Mosheh, Yeshayahu (Isaiah) was an unparalleled prophet whom YHVH chose to reveal the Messianic age. But He also chose the Messianic prophet through whom the following messages were given. The answer to our questions has been spelled out in these verses. And let this not be a cause of wonder to us, for it is written,

And to whom would you liken Elohim? And what likeness would you compare to Him? (Isa 40:18) And to whom then do you liken Me, or to whom am I compared? (Isa 40:25) I am the First and I am the Last, besides Me there is no Elohim. And who is like Me? Let him call and declare it, and lay it before Me, … You are My witnesses. Is there an Eloah besides Me? There is no other Rock, I know not one. (Isa 44:6-8) I am Yehovah, and there is none else. There is no Elohim besides Me. I gird you, though you have not known Me, so that they know from the rising of the sun to its setting that there is none but Me. I am Yehovah, and there is none else. I form light and create darkness. I make peace and create evil. I, Yehovah, do all these. (Isa 45:5-7) I am Yehovah, and there is none else. (Isa 45:18) And there is no Elohim besides Me, a righteous El and a Savior, there is none besides Me. Turn to Me and be saved, all you ends of the earth! For I am El, and there is none else. (Isa 45:21-22) … I am El, and there is none else. I am Elohim, and there is no one like Me. (Isa 46:9) I am He; I am the First, I am also the Last. (Isa 48:12)

For the Christian theologians, it does not seem to matter what the Most High says about Himself. The claim that God can become a man, or that there are three Gods in one is absurd and unacceptable for this is not implied, not even suggested, in the words above. Scripture does not come to make things obscure but to explain. What exactly is being described here? Understand this according to what it literally implies: the Creator is Elohim exclusively, there is no one else besides Him. Keep this in mind whenever a false prophet says, “Let us go after the Gods of the others”. No Scriptural verse can lose its literal meaning. What problem is there in interpreting these words according to their plain sense and meaning? These words of YHVH had not been spoken in secret, nor in a mysterious way we cannot understand. In order to make this clear to the reader, the prophet goes on to write,

… Come near to Me, hear this: I have not spoken in secret from the beginning; from the time that it was, I was there. … (Isa 48:13-16) … Since the beginning of the world, they have not heard, nor perceived by the ear, nor has the eye seen any Elohim besides You (Isa 64:4)

This is not difficult to perceive. Let us read again the words of YHVH spoken to Hoshea,

For I am El, and not man, the Set-apart One in your midst, … (Hos 11:9)

And back to Yeshayahu, whose name means “YHVH saves”,

You are My witnesses, declares YHVH, and My servant whom I have chosen, so that you know and believe Me, and understand that I am He. Before Me there was no El formed, nor after Me there is none. I, I am YHVH, and besides Me there is no savior. (Isa 43:10-11)

“I am He” is the most sublime expression of the unity of YHVH; every created being is different from Him. He is said to be Himself, to be always the same, unchangeable: “Understand that I am He … I, I am Yehovah, and besides Me there is no savior”, i.e., “I am He, Supernal exclusively, and Supernal forever. I have no beginning and no end. I, and no other, am the absolute existence and salvation. Besides Me there is no other savior”. This means what it literally implies.

Avraham ben Meir ibn Ezra, better known simply as Ibn Ezra, was a medieval Spanish Torah commentator, poet, philosopher, and grammarian. Ibn Ezra commented on Isa 43:10,

“Before me, there was no God, neither shall any be after Me”, means God is without beginning and end. The literal meaning of the words cannot be put aside: “No God was before me, and none will be after Me”, because God is the first and last. The expression “formed” is applied here to the word God, in order to imply that a god besides Him can only be one formed by man. The true meaning therefore of the verse is that there is no any God besides Him, not even God formed by Him.

Not even God formed by Him! The correctness of this view is placed beyond all doubt by the contents of Isaiah. Ibn Ezra is correct that the expression “Not even God formed by Him” implies that He did not create another God equal to power and authority along with Him, because there was no one else before the world was created; this is what the expression “Before Me there was no El formed” means. And the expression “nor after Me there is none” can be applied to a god that can only be formed by man, because man had already been created. Sadly, men, who are created in the image of God, created a God in their own image.

“Trinity of Gods” as a test

After all of the above, it remains for us to explain how the Gods of the nations came into the faith.

The angels, who are created beings, are called in the Hebrew Scripture elohim, meaning “mighty ones”, for they are indeed mighty in their work they are assigned to do. So are the judges called elohim, on account of being vested with special authority and rights to judge. But here in Isaiah 43, a different form of Elohim is employed to exclude the possibility of the existence of such created beings. Moreover, the choice of word here is deliberate. This word is used in a singular El to exclude the existence of another God (singular) besides Him, saying, “there is no other El formed. I, I am YHVH, the Everlasting One. There is no other”.

So, who are “Gods of the others, which you have not known”? Today, these gods are not gods made of stone, wood, or gold, but Gods made of words, concepts, and theologies embedded in the minds of the people to which they willingly bow down; these are triad of the Gods, which the fathers had not known, nor did they serve them. The fathers did not receive the Torah from such “Gods”, but from YHVH, the only Sovereign of the universe, who gave us His Covenant, saying explicitly,

You shall have no Gods of the others upon My face. (Exo 20:3)

As explained in the series The Oneness of the Creator, it means, “Do not put masks of Gods of the nations upon My face and say, ‘We are doing it for Him'”. No such “Gods” had ever spoken to any of the true prophets and to the prophet of all prophets Mosheh, otherwise they would have told us so. For the prophet has said it plainly, For the Lord Yehovah will do nothing unless He reveals His secret to His servants the prophets” (Amo 3:7). Who was the prophet to whom the true Lord had revealed a triad of Gods?

Back to the prophets Hoshea and Yeshayahu. If God came in flesh and became a man to dwell in our midst, how does Hos 11:9 and Isa 43:10-11 work for the religion? What more does the Hebrew Scripture need to say to satisfy the trinitarians that the doctrine of the trinity is idolatry? For it seems that the script has been confused. “Trinity” is in the Nicene Creed, not in the Hebrew Scripture.

So how did such Gods come into the religion? Rome. Faith did not change Rome; Rome changed the faith.

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May we merit seeing the coming of our Mashiach speedily in our days!


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