In this Week's Parsha: False Prophets

Professor Gerald Aranoff,

Judaism Prof. G. Aranoff
Prof. G. Aranoff

For the Lord your G-d is testing you to see whether you really love the Lord your G-d with all your heart and soul

False prophets try to lure us to false gods with portents and threats.

Babylon and the Roman Empire with their false prophets are no longer.

This week’s parsha says:

Be careful to observe only that which I enjoin upon you: neither add to it nor take away from it. If there appears among you a prophet or a dream-diviner and he gives you a sign or a portent, saying, “Let us follow and worship another god”—whom you have not experienced —even if the sign or portent that he named to you comes true, do not heed the words of that prophet or that dream-diviner. For the Lord your God is testing you to see whether you really love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul” (Deuteronomy 13:1-4).


Hammurabi ordered the extensive writings on the large stone slabs exhibited today in the British Museum ( and the Louvre Museum ( to establish himself as appointed by the gods to rule and to make laws in ancient Babylonia.  The British museum exhibits stone slabs with layer upon layer of idols, starting from the sun, moon, and stars on top to birds, animals in the middle to snakes and scorpions on the bottom. In the prologue and the epilogue, Hammurabi tells, of the gods, detailing their names and praises, calling Hammurabi by name and appointing Hammurabi ruler to enforce justice and prosperity and with blessings to those that obey and curses to those that disobey.  I present here the entire prologue and the beginning of the epilogue. I made editorial changes working largely with the Hebrew  with explanatory notes from Shalom Yonah Tcherna's1923 book on Hammurabi's Code which has substantial differences from the English of


“When Anu [the Sun god], the high and lofty, King Anunaki [god of stars of the lower world-southern hemisphere], and Bel, the lord [of earth] of heaven and earth, who in his hand lies the fate of countries, who gave dominion over earthly man to the hands of Marduk , the first-born son of Ea-ea [god of the seas], and made him great among the Igigi [god of stars of the upper world—northern hemisphere], they called Babylon by his illustrious name, made it enormous from all parts of the earth, and established therein a kingdom that will be perpetuated as the heaven and earth.  At that time; Anu and Bel called me by name success of the people.  They called me, to Hammurabi, the sublime ruler who fears the gods , to establish righteousness in the land, to destroy the wicked and the evil-doers; so that the strong should not harm those weaker; that I acquire citizenship to black-headed [nickname for mankind] like Shamash, and bring light to the country.

“I, Hammurabi,  the shepherd, chosen of Bel, influencing riches and honor. I am he that did all in my power in behalf of Nippur [place of idols] and Dur-ilu [place of idols] who clusters the heavens and earth. I struck with all my strength E-kur [place of idols]. The wise king [Hammurabi], he built Eridu [place of rituals for Ea-ea] and purified the temple of E-apsu [place of rituals for Ea-ea]; He [Hammurabi] increased the name of Babylon [place of worshipping Marduk], He [Hammurabi] rejoiced the heart of Marduk, his lord who daily pays his devotions in Saggil [place of worshipping Marduk]. He [Hammurabi]; the scion of kings, a creature of Sin [a god]. He [Hammurabi] enriched the city Ur [the place of the temple of Sin]. He [Hammurabi] who prays in low spirit and who brings abundance to Gish-shir-gal [the place of the temple of Sin]. The wise king [Hammurabi], the faithful servant to Shemesh, the man of might  [Hammurabi], who strengthened the foundations of Sippara [the place of the temple of Shemesh] which is the foundation of heaven. The man of might [Hammurabi] did kindness to Elsar [ended Elsar's rule but saved his city] and renewed E- babbar to honor Shemesh, the helper of him [Hammurabi]. The lord [Shemesh] who supported Uruk [place of idol worshipping ], who raised the heads of E-anna [place of idol worshipping], and who influenced abundant wealth to Anu and Nana [places of idol worshipping].

“King of kings [Hammurabi] brother to Zamama [god of war], strengthened the foundation of Kish [place of temple of Zamama] decorated with grand splendor E-me-te-ursag [place of temple of Zamama], who supported the great temples E-nana [goddess of war], which supervised the temple of Harsag-kalama [part of city of Kish]; a dike against the enemy.  Which Oorah [Nergal god of death] his  friend who fulfilled his [Hammurabi] wishes which was to strengthen the city of Cuthah and to destroy the boundary of Mishlam [the temple of Nergal, god of death].

“The powerful ram, who gores his enemies; beloved of Nebo [a god], who gladdens Borsippa [temple of Nebo], who works without stopping for the good of E-zida [temple of Nebo], God  of kings, who know understanding  who broadened the boundaries of Dilbat [a temple of Urash], who stored up abundant harvests for Urash [a god]; the Mighty, the lord who has a seeming scepter and crown, which the goddess Ma-ma, who makes wise, gave him. Who fixed the boundaries of Kesh [for temple of Nin-tu], who fertilizes the altar of pure sacrifices of Nin-tu ; who overcomes his enemies, and gladdens the heart of Ashtar, the pure ruler, that Raman, the mighty of Karkar [temple in service of the ram], listens to his [Hammurabi] prayers  that he [Hammurabi] sacrifices mules in E-ud-gal-gal [temple of the ram], lord of kings [Hammurabi], fighter [Hammurabi] that no one could stand to him, that determined pure sacrifices to Ea and Dam-gal-nun-na [a temple for the ram], who increased his [Hammurabi], the ruler of kings that subjected all the countries of the Euphrates  by force of Dagon, his [Hammurabi] Creator.  The ruler [Hammurabi] sublime that helped his citizens in time of trouble, that established his success in Babylon, shepherd of the people whose deeds find favor in the eyes of Ashtar; who established a firm temple to Ashtar in Bulmas in Accad, the free city.

“Who [Hammurabi] makes shine laws and rules, that judges for nations, that returned to his [Hammurabi] god of saving the city of Ashur [the capital of ancient Ashur was subject to Hammurabi at that time].  The sublime king [Hammurabi] who prays to great gods, great grandson and grandson to Sumulael [who founded Hammurabi's dynasty], mighty inheritor of Sin – Mubalit [Hammurabi's father], the powerful ruler [Hammurabi], the god Shemesh of Babylon, that brought light to the lan Shinar and Accadia, that subjected to his discipline the four corners of the world, the beloved to Anninah, am I [Hammurabi].

“When Marduk sent me to rule over my citizens and to teach them ways of peace in the land, I gave laws and rules in the language of the country and brought a blessing to the people.  At that time I commanded saying:


“These are the Laws of justice which Hammurabi, the wise king, established to bring upon to his land true peace. I, Hammurabi, the excellent king. Never have I stopped to worry for the black heads, whom Bel gave to me, whom Marduk commanded me to shepherd…”


In last week’s parsha:

"Should you say to yourselves, 'these nations are more numerous than we: how can we dispossess them?' You need have no fear of them.  You have but to bear in mind what the Lord your God did to Pharaoh and all the Egyptians: the wondrous acts that you saw with your own eyes, the signs and the portents, the mighty hand, and the outstretched arm by which the Lord your God liberated you.  Thus will the Lord your God do to all the peoples you now fear" (Deuteronomy 7:17-19).

The Malbim explains here:

"'You need have no fear of them.  You have but to bear in mind' Already wrote Rabbi Isaac Abarbanel [Portuges Rabbi 1437-1508] not to fail the command that a person not fear and not be afraid. Verily, fear does not operate from free choice but only from a person's estimate that he is weak and facing his enemies more numerous and stronger than he.  Fear and fright will not leave a person's heart by admonishing and warning him not to fear.  For this reason, the warning not to fear is always accompanied by the call to 'to bear in mind.'  That is to say, to 'bear in mind' that many and mighty warriors or a great King of much power stands to your right to help you, whose power is greater than the power of the enemy.  In this way, fear will leave your heart.   Thus in this admonishment 'You need have no fear of them,' he [Moses] says the advice to banish fear by bearing in mind and remembering what God, your God, did to Pharaoh and all of Egypt who were also many peoples and a hard king at their head, but God defeated them before you."


God is testing us to see if we “really love the Lord your God with all your heart and soul.”


When the Christian faith started, the false prophets then claimed that G-d cancelled the commandments of keeping the Sabbath, performing circumcision, studying Torah etc.  These false prophets performed signs and portents.  The Caesar in Rome praised these false prophets and had military successes much like Hammurabi.  The Caesar ordered the Christian faith throughout the world with threats of death to those who follow other faiths.

This was a test if we “really love the Lord your G-d with all your heart and soul.”

This was a test, like the “Some time afterward, G-d put Abraham to the test. He said to him, “Abraham,” and he answered, ‘Here I am.’” (Genesis 22:1).

Our “love of G—d with all our heart and soul” means that we love doing G-d’s commandments, keeping the Sabbath, performing circumcision, studying Torah etc.  We become distraught and reject false prophets with their signs and portents.  These false prophets persuade nations that they must believe and swear allegiance to Jesus or to Allah and they will get the rewards of Heaven.   They generally threaten severe punishments to non-believers.

No other religion has a love of doing G-d’s commandments and a love of studying Torah as Judaism.  Signs and portents of false prophets will never persuade us to forsake G-d’s commandments and studying Torah.  Surely Hammurabi and Caesar did amazing military feats and did signs and portents that persuaded the whole world to follow them out of fear.  Hammuabi claimed the gods spoke to him.  Who challenged Hammurabi?  Abraham, our forefather.  The Roman Empire conquered Jerusalem. The Babylonia and Roman empires disappeared and are no longer.

Our main enemy today, the Ayatollah of Iran, is calling for our destruction and even for death to America. President Obama, out of weakness and fear, wants to release to Iran over $150 billion. We must remember that G-d, whom we love with all our heart and soul, did miracles and saved us from our wicked enemies throughout history.  We pray for G-d’s miracles today as He did for our forefathers.