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G5. Testing God's Promises and Warnings.    [Make a Comment]

We are not to test God's promises and warnings.

This precept is derived from His Word (blessed be He):

Key Scriptures

Exodus 17:3-7
However, the people were thirsty for water there and grumbled against Moshe, "For what did you bring us up from Egypt? To kill us, our children and our livestock with thirst?" Moshe cried out to ADONAI, "What am I to do with these people? They're ready to stone me!" ADONAI answered Moshe, "Go on ahead of the people, and bring with you the leaders of Isra'el. Take your staff in your hand, the one you used to strike the river; and go. I will stand in front of you there on the rock in Horev. You are to strike the rock, and water will come out of it, so the people can drink." Moshe did this in the sight of the leaders of Isra'el. The place was named Massah [testing] and M'rivah [quarreling] because of the quarreling of the people of Isra'el and because they tested ADONAI by asking, "Is ADONAI with us or not?"

Deuteronomy 6:16 (Maimonides RN64; Chinuch C424)
Do not put ADONAI your God to the test, as you tested him at Massah.

Matthew 4:5-7 (see also Luke 4:9-12)
Then the Adversary took him to the holy city and set him on the highest point of the Temple. "If you are the Son of God," he said, "jump! For the Tanakh says, 'He will order his angels to be responsible for you ... They will support you with their hands, so that you will not hurt your feet on the stones.'" Yeshua replied to him, "But it also says, 'Do not put ADONAI your God to the test.'"

Supportive Scriptures

Judges 6:36-40
Gid'on said to God, "If you are going to save Isra'el through me, as you said you would, then, here: I will lay a wool fleece on the threshing-floor; if there is dew on the fleece only, while all the ground stays dry, I will be convinced that you will save Isra'el through me, as you said you would." And it happened! He got up early in the morning, pressed the fleece together and wrung dew out of it, a bowlful of water. But Gid'on said to God, "Don't be angry with me because I am asking one more thing, let me make one more test, please: this time let it be dry only on the fleece, with dew all over the ground." And that is what God did that night- it was dry only on the fleece, even though there was dew all over the ground.

Malachi 3:10
"Bring the whole tenth into the storehouse, so that there will be food in my house, and put me to the test," says ADONAI-Tzva'ot. "See if I won't open for you the floodgates of heaven and pour out for you a blessing far beyond your needs.


We are commanded by Deuteronomy 6:16 not to put God to the test. What this means is that we must believe God in that whatever He says He will do, and not intentionally act in such a way as to force His hand and provoke Him to prove it. The bottom line is that we must trust and not doubt God's warnings and promises. In Matthew 4:5-7, we read how Yeshua Himself demonstrated the principle by refusing to jump from the Temple in order to prove His identity by forcing His Father to save Him supernaturally.

There are two instances in Scripture where God seems to be saying the opposite. One of them is in Judges 6:36-40, where Gid'on asks God for supernatural signs of His Word. But Gid'on was not testing God; he believed God. On the contrary, he was doubting the accuracy with which he was hearing God, and was testing himself. The other instance is in Malachi 3:10, in which God says, in part: "Bring the whole tenth into the storehouse, so that there will be food in my house, and put me to the test ..." This is not a contradiction of the Deuteronomy 6:16 commandment either, because here God is not asking doubters or unbelievers to put Him to test Him in order to prove His truthfulness. He is lovingly beseeching Israelite believers to follow His instructions so that they can have and enjoy His promised blessings.

Classical Commentators

Maimonides does not command against testing the promises and warnings contained in Scripture, but rather against those voiced by God's prophets. HaChinuch interprets Deuteronomy 6:16 somewhat differently by saying that we should not test true prophets excessively. Meir does not have a mitzvah on this subject at all.


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