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To beguile a person is to persuade him to believe that something false, or wrong, or illogical, is true, or right, or logical. The method of enlisting the allegiance of the beguiled person may be so artful in its cunning and charm that he is unaware of the fraud perpetrated upon him until a third party exposes it.

Eve knew something was wrong when she disobeyed God, but the beguilement was so successful that not until God’s question and subsequent judgment were voiced did she discern the deceitful intention of Satan and her sinful compliance (Gen 3:13). Similar situations are found where the Midianites beguile the Israelites into false worship and immorality (Num 25:18), and where Joshua is taken in by the Gibeonites posing as distant travelers (Josh 9:22). In this latter passage, the RSV focuses attention on the deceit of the action and labels it accordingly, rather than using the term “beguile,” as the KJV does, which stresses the unawareness of the deceit until others with more knowledge enlighten Joshua (Josh 9:16).

Writers of the NT warn against false teachers who may beguile with fair and flattering words (Rom 16:18; Col 2:18; 2 Pet 2:14; Rev 2:20), false reports (2 Thess 2:3), or with specious reasoning (Col 2:4). Twice this warning is reinforced by reference to Eve’s enticement (2 Cor 11:3; 1 Tim 2:14).

International Standard Bible Encyclopedia (1915)

See Deceit; Delusion.

Jacob W. Kapp