The Central Sanctuary
12:1 These are the statutes and ordinances you must be careful to obey as long as you live in the land the Lord, the God of your ancestors, 1 has given you to possess. 2 12:2 You must by all means destroy 3 all the places where the nations you are about to dispossess worship their gods – on the high mountains and hills and under every leafy tree. 4 12:3 You must tear down their altars, shatter their sacred pillars, 5 burn up their sacred Asherah poles, 6 and cut down the images of their gods; you must eliminate their very memory from that place. 12:4 You must not worship the Lord your God the way they worship. 12:5 But you must seek only the place he 7 chooses from all your tribes to establish his name as his place of residence, 8 and you must go there. 12:6 And there you must take your burnt offerings, your sacrifices, your tithes, the personal offerings you have prepared, 9 your votive offerings, your freewill offerings, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks. 12:7 Both you and your families 10 must feast there before the Lord your God and rejoice in all the output of your labor with which he 11 has blessed you. 12:8 You must not do like we are doing here today, with everyone 12 doing what seems best to him, 12:9 for you have not yet come to the final stop 13 and inheritance the Lord your God is giving you. 12:10 When you do go across the Jordan River 14 and settle in the land he 15 is granting you as an inheritance and you find relief from all the enemies who surround you, you will live in safety. 16 12:11 Then you must come to the place the Lord your God chooses for his name to reside, bringing 17 everything I am commanding you – your burnt offerings, sacrifices, tithes, the personal offerings you have prepared, 18 and all your choice votive offerings which you devote to him. 19 12:12 You shall rejoice in the presence of the Lord your God, along with your sons, daughters, male and female servants, and the Levites in your villages 20 (since they have no allotment or inheritance with you). 21 12:13 Make sure you do not offer burnt offerings in any place you wish, 12:14 for you may do so 22 only in the place the Lord chooses in one of your tribal areas – there you may do everything I am commanding you. 23
Regulations for Profane Slaughter
12:15 On the other hand, you may slaughter and eat meat as you please when the Lord your God blesses you 24 in all your villages. 25 Both the ritually pure and impure may eat it, whether it is a gazelle or an ibex. 12:16 However, you must not eat blood – pour it out on the ground like water. 12:17 You will not be allowed to eat in your villages your tithe of grain, new wine, olive oil, the firstborn of your herd and flock, any votive offerings you have vowed, or your freewill and personal offerings. 12:18 Only in the presence of the Lord your God may you eat these, in the place he 26 chooses. This applies to you, your son, your daughter, your male and female servants, and the Levites 27 in your villages. In that place you will rejoice before the Lord your God in all the output of your labor. 28 12:19 Be careful not to overlook the Levites as long as you live in the land.
The Sanctity of Blood
12:20 When the Lord your God extends your borders as he said he would do and you say, “I want to eat meat just as I please,” 29 you may do so as you wish. 30 12:21 If the place he 31 chooses to locate his name is too far for you, you may slaughter any of your herd and flock he 32 has given you just as I have stipulated; you may eat them in your villages 33 just as you wish. 12:22 Like you eat the gazelle or ibex, so you may eat these; the ritually impure and pure alike may eat them. 12:23 However, by no means eat the blood, for the blood is life itself 34 – you must not eat the life with the meat! 12:24 You must not eat it! You must pour it out on the ground like water. 12:25 You must not eat it so that it may go well with you and your children after you; you will be doing what is right in the Lord’s sight. 35 12:26 Only the holy things and votive offerings that belong to you, you must pick up and take to the place the Lord will choose. 36 12:27 You must offer your burnt offerings, both meat and blood, on the altar of the Lord your God; the blood of your other sacrifices 37 you must pour out on his 38 altar while you eat the meat. 12:28 Pay careful attention to all these things I am commanding you so that it may always go well with you and your children after you when you do what is good and right in the sight of the Lord your God.
The Abomination of Pagan Gods
12:29 When the Lord your God eliminates the nations from the place where you are headed and you dispossess them, you will settle down in their land. 39 12:30 After they have been destroyed from your presence, be careful not to be ensnared like they are; do not pursue their gods and say, “How do these nations serve their gods? I will do the same.” 12:31 You must not worship the Lord your God the way they do! 40 For everything that is abhorrent 41 to him, 42 everything he hates, they have done when worshiping their gods. They even burn up their sons and daughters before their gods!
Idolatry and False Prophets
12:32 43 You 44 must be careful to do everything I am commanding you. Do not add to it or subtract from it! 45 13:1 Suppose a prophet or one who foretells by dreams 46 should appear among you and show you a sign or wonder, 47 13:2 and the sign or wonder should come to pass concerning what he said to you, namely, “Let us follow other gods” – gods whom you have not previously known – “and let us serve them.” 13:3 You must not listen to the words of that prophet or dreamer, 48 for the Lord your God will be testing you to see if you love him 49 with all your mind and being. 50 13:4 You must follow the Lord your God and revere only him; and you must observe his commandments, obey him, serve him, and remain loyal to him. 13:5 As for that prophet or dreamer, 51 he must be executed because he encouraged rebellion against the Lord your God who brought you from the land of Egypt, redeeming you from that place of slavery, and because he has tried to entice you from the way the Lord your God has commanded you to go. In this way you must purge out evil from within. 52
False Prophets in the Family
13:6 Suppose your own full brother, 53 your son, your daughter, your beloved wife, or your closest friend should seduce you secretly and encourage you to go and serve other gods 54 that neither you nor your ancestors 55 have previously known, 56 13:7 the gods of the surrounding people (whether near you or far from you, from one end of the earth 57 to the other). 13:8 You must not give in to him or even listen to him; do not feel sympathy for him or spare him or cover up for him. 13:9 Instead, you must kill him without fail! 58 Your own hand must be the first to strike him, 59 and then the hands of the whole community. 13:10 You must stone him to death 60 because he tried to entice you away from the Lord your God, who delivered you from the land of Egypt, that place of slavery. 13:11 Thus all Israel will hear and be afraid; no longer will they continue to do evil like this among you. 61
Punishment of Community Idolatry
13:12 Suppose you should hear in one of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you as a place to live, that 13:13 some evil people 62 have departed from among you to entice the inhabitants of their cities, 63 saying, “Let’s go and serve other gods” (whom you have not known before). 64 13:14 You must investigate thoroughly and inquire carefully. If it is indeed true that such a disgraceful thing is being done among you, 65 13:15 you must by all means 66 slaughter the inhabitants of that city with the sword; annihilate 67 with the sword everyone in it, as well as the livestock. 13:16 You must gather all of its plunder into the middle of the plaza 68 and burn the city and all its plunder as a whole burnt offering to the Lord your God. It will be an abandoned ruin 69 forever – it must never be rebuilt again. 13:17 You must not take for yourself anything that has been placed under judgment. 70 Then the Lord will relent from his intense anger, show you compassion, have mercy on you, and multiply you as he promised your ancestors. 13:18 Thus you must obey the Lord your God, keeping all his commandments that I am giving 71 you today and doing what is right 72 before him. 73
The Holy and the Profane
14:1 You are children 74 of the Lord your God. Do not cut yourselves or shave your forehead bald 75 for the sake of the dead. 14:2 For you are a people holy 76 to the Lord your God. He 77 has chosen you to be his people, prized 78 above all others on the face of the earth. 14:3 You must not eat any forbidden 79 thing. 14:4 These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 14:5 the ibex, 80 the gazelle, 81 the deer, 82 the wild goat, the antelope, 83 the wild oryx, 84 and the mountain sheep. 85 14:6 You may eat any animal that has hooves divided into two parts and that chews the cud. 86 14:7 However, you may not eat the following animals among those that chew the cud or those that have divided hooves: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger. 87 (Although they chew the cud, they do not have divided hooves and are therefore ritually impure to you). 14:8 Also the pig is ritually impure to you; though it has divided hooves, 88 it does not chew the cud. You may not eat their meat or even touch their remains. 14:9 These you may eat from among water creatures: anything with fins and scales you may eat, 14:10 but whatever does not have fins and scales you may not eat; it is ritually impure to you. 14:11 All ritually clean birds you may eat. 14:12 These are the ones you may not eat: the eagle, 89 the vulture, 90 the black vulture, 91 14:13 the kite, the black kite, the dayyah 92 after its species, 14:14 every raven after its species, 14:15 the ostrich, 93 the owl, 94 the seagull, the falcon 95 after its species, 14:16 the little owl, the long-eared owl, the white owl, 96 14:17 the jackdaw, 97 the carrion vulture, the cormorant, 14:18 the stork, the heron after its species, the hoopoe, the bat, 14:19 and any winged thing on the ground are impure to you – they may not be eaten. 98 14:20 You may eat any clean bird. 14:21 You may not eat any corpse, though you may give it to the resident foreigner who is living in your villages 99 and he may eat it, or you may sell it to a foreigner. You are a people holy to the Lord your God. Do not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk. 100
The Offering of Tribute
14:22 You must be certain to tithe 101 all the produce of your seed that comes from the field year after year. 14:23 In the presence of the Lord your God you must eat from the tithe of your grain, your new wine, 102 your olive oil, and the firstborn of your herds and flocks in the place he chooses to locate his name, so that you may learn to revere the Lord your God always. 14:24 When he 103 blesses you, if the 104 place where he chooses to locate his name is distant, 14:25 you may convert the tithe into money, secure the money, 105 and travel to the place the Lord your God chooses for himself. 14:26 Then you may spend the money however you wish for cattle, sheep, wine, beer, or whatever you desire. You and your household may eat there in the presence of the Lord your God and enjoy it. 14:27 As for the Levites in your villages, you must not ignore them, for they have no allotment or inheritance along with you. 14:28 At the end of every three years you must bring all the tithe of your produce, in that very year, and you must store it up in your villages. 14:29 Then the Levites (because they have no allotment or inheritance with you), the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows of your villages may come and eat their fill so that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work you do.
Release for Debt Slaves
15:1 At the end of every seven years you must declare a cancellation 106 of debts. 15:2 This is the nature of the cancellation: Every creditor must remit what he has loaned to another person; 107 he must not force payment from his fellow Israelite, 108 for it is to be recognized as “the Lord’s cancellation of debts.” 15:3 You may exact payment from a foreigner, but whatever your fellow Israelite 109 owes you, you must remit. 15:4 However, there should not be any poor among you, for the Lord 110 will surely bless 111 you in the land that he 112 is giving you as an inheritance, 113 15:5 if you carefully obey 114 him 115 by keeping 116 all these commandments that I am giving 117 you today. 15:6 For the Lord your God will bless you just as he has promised; you will lend to many nations but will not borrow from any, and you will rule over many nations but they will not rule over you.
The Spirit of Liberality
15:7 If a fellow Israelite 118 from one of your villages 119 in the land that the Lord your God is giving you should be poor, you must not harden your heart or be insensitive 120 to his impoverished condition. 121 15:8 Instead, you must be sure to open your hand to him and generously lend 122 him whatever he needs. 123 15:9 Be careful lest you entertain the wicked thought that the seventh year, the year of cancellation of debts, has almost arrived, and your attitude 124 be wrong toward your impoverished fellow Israelite 125 and you do not lend 126 him anything; he will cry out to the Lord against you and you will be regarded as having sinned. 127 15:10 You must by all means lend 128 to him and not be upset by doing it, 129 for because of this the Lord your God will bless you in all your work and in everything you attempt. 15:11 There will never cease to be some poor people in the land; therefore, I am commanding you to make sure you open 130 your hand to your fellow Israelites 131 who are needy and poor in your land.
Release of Debt Slaves
15:12 If your fellow Hebrew 132 – whether male or female 133 – is sold to you and serves you for six years, then in the seventh year you must let that servant 134 go free. 135 15:13 If you set them free, you must not send them away empty-handed. 15:14 You must supply them generously 136 from your flock, your threshing floor, and your winepress – as the Lord your God has blessed you, you must give to them. 15:15 Remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt and the Lord your God redeemed you; therefore, I am commanding you to do this thing today. 15:16 However, if the servant 137 says to you, “I do not want to leave 138 you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 15:17 you shall take an awl and pierce a hole through his ear to the door. 139 Then he will become your servant permanently (this applies to your female servant as well). 15:18 You should not consider it difficult to let him go free, for he will have served you for six years, twice 140 the time of a hired worker; the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
Giving God the Best
15:19 You must set apart 141 for the Lord your God every firstborn male born to your herds and flocks. You must not work the firstborn of your bulls or shear the firstborn of your flocks. 15:20 You and your household must eat them annually before the Lord your God in the place he 142 chooses. 15:21 If they have any kind of blemish – lameness, blindness, or anything else 143 – you may not offer them as a sacrifice to the Lord your God. 15:22 You may eat it in your villages, 144 whether you are ritually impure or clean, 145 just as you would eat a gazelle or an ibex. 15:23 However, you must not eat its blood; you must pour it out on the ground like water.
The Passover-Unleavened Bread Festival
16:1 Observe the month Abib 146 and keep the Passover to the Lord your God, for in that month 147 he 148 brought you out of Egypt by night. 16:2 You must sacrifice the Passover animal 149 (from the flock or the herd) to the Lord your God in the place where he 150 chooses to locate his name. 16:3 You must not eat any yeast with it; for seven days you must eat bread made without yeast, symbolic of affliction, for you came out of Egypt hurriedly. You must do this so you will remember for the rest of your life the day you came out of the land of Egypt. 16:4 There must not be a scrap of yeast within your land 151 for seven days, nor can any of the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day remain until the next morning. 152 16:5 You may not sacrifice the Passover in just any of your villages 153 that the Lord your God is giving you, 16:6 but you must sacrifice it 154 in the evening in 155 the place where he 156 chooses to locate his name, at sunset, the time of day you came out of Egypt. 16:7 You must cook 157 and eat it in the place the Lord your God chooses; you may return the next morning to your tents. 16:8 You must eat bread made without yeast for six days. The seventh day you are to hold an assembly for the Lord your God; you must not do any work on that day. 158
The Festival of Weeks
16:9 You must count seven weeks; you must begin to count them 159 from the time you begin to harvest the standing grain. 16:10 Then you are to celebrate the Festival of Weeks 160 before the Lord your God with the voluntary offering 161 that you will bring, in proportion to how he 162 has blessed you. 16:11 You shall rejoice before him 163 – you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites in your villages, 164 the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows among you – in the place where the Lord chooses to locate his name. 16:12 Furthermore, remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and so be careful to observe these statutes.
The Festival of Temporary Shelters
16:13 You must celebrate the Festival of Temporary Shelters 165 for seven days, at the time of the grain and grape harvest. 166 16:14 You are to rejoice in your festival, you, your son, your daughter, your male and female slaves, the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows who are in your villages. 167 16:15 You are to celebrate the festival seven days before the Lord your God in the place he 168 chooses, for he 169 will bless you in all your productivity and in whatever you do; 170 so you will indeed rejoice! 16:16 Three times a year all your males must appear before the Lord your God in the place he chooses for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Temporary Shelters; and they must not appear before him 171 empty-handed. 16:17 Every one of you must give as you are able, 172 according to the blessing of the Lord your God that he has given you.
Provision for Justice
16:18 You must appoint judges and civil servants 173 for each tribe in all your villages 174 that the Lord your God is giving you, and they must judge the people fairly. 175 16:19 You must not pervert justice or show favor. Do not take a bribe, for bribes blind the eyes of the wise and distort 176 the words of the righteous. 177 16:20 You must pursue justice alone 178 so that you may live and inherit the land the Lord your God is giving you.
Examples of Legal Cases
16:21 You must not plant any kind of tree as a sacred Asherah pole 179 near the altar of the Lord your God which you build for yourself. 16:22 You must not erect a sacred pillar, 180 a thing the Lord your God detests. 17:1 You must not sacrifice to him 181 a bull or sheep that has a blemish or any other defect, because that is considered offensive 182 to the Lord your God. 17:2 Suppose a man or woman is discovered among you – in one of your villages 183 that the Lord your God is giving you – who sins before the Lord your God 184 and breaks his covenant 17:3 by serving other gods and worshiping them – the sun, 185 moon, or any other heavenly bodies which I have not permitted you to worship. 186 17:4 When it is reported to you and you hear about it, you must investigate carefully. If it is indeed true that such a disgraceful thing 187 is being done in Israel, 17:5 you must bring to your city gates 188 that man or woman who has done this wicked thing – that very man or woman – and you must stone that person to death. 189 17:6 At the testimony of two or three witnesses they must be executed. They cannot be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 17:7 The witnesses 190 must be first to begin the execution, and then all the people 191 are to join in afterward. In this way you will purge evil from among you.
Appeal to a Higher Court
17:8 If a matter is too difficult for you to judge – bloodshed, 192 legal claim, 193 or assault 194 – matters of controversy in your villages 195 – you must leave there and go up to the place the Lord your God chooses. 196 17:9 You will go to the Levitical priests and the judge in office in those days and seek a solution; they will render a verdict. 17:10 You must then do as they have determined at that place the Lord chooses. Be careful to do just as you are taught. 17:11 You must do what you are instructed, and the verdict they pronounce to you, without fail. Do not deviate right or left from what they tell you. 17:12 The person who pays no attention 197 to the priest currently serving the Lord your God there, or to the verdict – that person must die, so that you may purge evil from Israel. 17:13 Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and not be so presumptuous again.
Provision for Kingship
17:14 When you come to the land the Lord your God is giving you and take it over and live in it and then say, “I will select a king like all the nations surrounding me,” 17:15 you must select without fail 198 a king whom the Lord your God chooses. From among your fellow citizens 199 you must appoint a king – you may not designate a foreigner who is not one of your fellow Israelites. 200 17:16 Moreover, he must not accumulate horses for himself or allow the people to return to Egypt to do so, 201 for the Lord has said you must never again return that way. 17:17 Furthermore, he must not marry many 202 wives lest his affections turn aside, and he must not accumulate much silver and gold. 17:18 When he sits on his royal throne he must make a copy of this law 203 on a scroll 204 given to him by the Levitical priests. 17:19 It must be with him constantly and he must read it as long as he lives, so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and observe all the words of this law and these statutes and carry them out. 17:20 Then he will not exalt himself above his fellow citizens or turn from the commandments to the right or left, and he and his descendants will enjoy many years ruling over his kingdom 205 in Israel.
Provision for Priests and Levites
18:1 The Levitical priests 206 – indeed, the entire tribe of Levi – will have no allotment or inheritance with Israel; they may eat the burnt offerings of the Lord and of his inheritance. 207 18:2 They 208 will have no inheritance in the midst of their fellow Israelites; 209 the Lord alone is their inheritance, just as he had told them. 18:3 This shall be the priests’ fair allotment 210 from the people who offer sacrifices, whether bull or sheep – they must give to the priest the shoulder, the jowls, and the stomach. 18:4 You must give them the best of your 211 grain, new wine, and olive oil, as well as the best of your wool when you shear your flocks. 18:5 For the Lord your God has chosen them and their sons from all your tribes to stand 212 and serve in his name 213 permanently. 18:6 Suppose a Levite comes by his own free will 214 from one of your villages, from any part of Israel where he is living, 215 to the place the Lord chooses 18:7 and serves in the name of the Lord his God like his fellow Levites who stand there before the Lord. 18:8 He must eat the same share they do, despite any profits he may gain from the sale of his family’s inheritance. 216
Provision for Prophetism
18:9 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, you must not learn the abhorrent practices of those nations. 18:10 There must never be found among you anyone who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, 217 anyone who practices divination, 218 an omen reader, 219 a soothsayer, 220 a sorcerer, 221 18:11 one who casts spells, 222 one who conjures up spirits, 223 a practitioner of the occult, 224 or a necromancer. 225 18:12 Whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord and because of these detestable things 226 the Lord your God is about to drive them out 227 from before you. 18:13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God. 18:14 Those nations that you are about to dispossess listen to omen readers and diviners, but the Lord your God has not given you permission to do such things.
18:15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you – from your fellow Israelites; 228 you must listen to him. 18:16 This accords with what happened at Horeb in the day of the assembly. You asked the Lord your God: “Please do not make us hear the voice of the Lord our 229 God any more or see this great fire any more lest we die.” 18:17 The Lord then said to me, “What they have said is good. 18:18 I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command. 18:19 I will personally hold responsible 230 anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet 231 speaks in my name.
18:20 “But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized 232 him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. 18:21 Now if you say to yourselves, 233 ‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord?’ 234 – 18:22 whenever a prophet speaks in my 235 name and the prediction 236 is not fulfilled, 237 then I have 238 not spoken it; 239 the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.”
Laws Concerning Manslaughter
19:1 When the Lord your God destroys the nations whose land he 240 is about to give you and you dispossess them and settle in their cities and houses, 19:2 you must set apart for yourselves three cities 241 in the middle of your land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession. 19:3 You shall build a roadway and divide into thirds the whole extent 242 of your land that the Lord your God is providing as your inheritance; anyone who kills another person should flee to the closest of these cities. 19:4 Now this is the law pertaining to one who flees there in order to live, 243 if he has accidentally killed another 244 without hating him at the time of the accident. 245 19:5 Suppose he goes with someone else 246 to the forest to cut wood and when he raises the ax 247 to cut the tree, the ax head flies loose 248 from the handle and strikes 249 his fellow worker 250 so hard that he dies. The person responsible 251 may then flee to one of these cities to save himself. 252 19:6 Otherwise the blood avenger will chase after the killer in the heat of his anger, eventually overtake him, 253 and kill him, 254 though this is not a capital case 255 since he did not hate him at the time of the accident. 19:7 Therefore, I am commanding you to set apart for yourselves three cities. 19:8 If the Lord your God enlarges your borders as he promised your ancestors 256 and gives you all the land he pledged to them, 257 19:9 and then you are careful to observe all these commandments 258 I am giving 259 you today (namely, to love the Lord your God and to always walk in his ways), then you must add three more cities 260 to these three. 19:10 You must not shed innocent blood 261 in your land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, for that would make you guilty. 262 19:11 However, suppose a person hates someone else 263 and stalks him, attacks him, kills him, 264 and then flees to one of these cities. 19:12 The elders of his own city must send for him and remove him from there to deliver him over to the blood avenger 265 to die. 19:13 You must not pity him, but purge out the blood of the innocent 266 from Israel, so that it may go well with you.
Laws Concerning Witnesses
19:14 You must not encroach on your neighbor’s property, 267 which will have been defined 268 in the inheritance you will obtain in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 269
19:15 A single witness may not testify 270 against another person for any trespass or sin that he commits. A matter may be legally established 271 only on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 19:16 If a false 272 witness testifies against another person and accuses him of a crime, 273 19:17 then both parties to the controversy must stand before the Lord, that is, before the priests and judges 274 who will be in office in those days. 19:18 The judges will thoroughly investigate the matter, and if the witness should prove to be false and to have given false testimony against the accused, 275 19:19 you must do to him what he had intended to do to the accused. In this way you will purge 276 evil from among you. 19:20 The rest of the people will hear and become afraid to keep doing such evil among you. 19:21 You must not show pity; the principle will be a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot. 277
Laws Concerning War with Distant Enemies
20:1 When you go to war against your enemies and see chariotry 278 and troops 279 who outnumber you, do not be afraid of them, for the Lord your God, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt, is with you. 20:2 As you move forward for battle, the priest 280 will approach and say to the soldiers, 281 20:3 “Listen, Israel! Today you are moving forward to do battle with your enemies. Do not be fainthearted. Do not fear and tremble or be terrified because of them, 20:4 for the Lord your God goes with you to fight on your behalf against your enemies to give you victory.” 282 20:5 Moreover, the officers are to say to the troops, 283 “Who among you 284 has built a new house and not dedicated 285 it? He may go home, lest he die in battle and someone else 286 dedicate it. 20:6 Or who among you has planted a vineyard and not benefited from it? He may go home, lest he die in battle and someone else benefit from it. 20:7 Or who among you 287 has become engaged to a woman but has not married her? He may go home, lest he die in battle and someone else marry her.” 20:8 In addition, the officers are to say to the troops, “Who among you is afraid and fainthearted? He may go home so that he will not make his fellow soldier’s 288 heart as fearful 289 as his own.” 20:9 Then, when the officers have finished speaking, 290 they must appoint unit commanders 291 to lead the troops.
20:10 When you approach a city to wage war against it, offer it terms of peace. 20:11 If it accepts your terms 292 and submits to you, all the people found in it will become your slaves. 293 20:12 If it does not accept terms of peace but makes war with you, then you are to lay siege to it. 20:13 The Lord your God will deliver it over to you 294 and you must kill every single male by the sword. 20:14 However, the women, little children, cattle, and anything else in the city – all its plunder – you may take for yourselves as spoil. You may take from your enemies the plunder that the Lord your God has given you. 20:15 This is how you are to deal with all those cities located far from you, those that do not belong to these nearby nations.
Laws Concerning War with Canaanite Nations
20:16 As for the cities of these peoples that 295 the Lord your God is going to give you as an inheritance, you must not allow a single living thing 296 to survive. 20:17 Instead you must utterly annihilate them 297 – the Hittites, 298 Amorites, 299 Canaanites, 300 Perizzites, 301 Hivites, 302 and Jebusites 303 – just as the Lord your God has commanded you, 20:18 so that they cannot teach you all the abhorrent ways they worship 304 their gods, causing you to sin against the Lord your God. 20:19 If you besiege a city for a long time while attempting to capture it, 305 you must not chop down its trees, 306 for you may eat fruit 307 from them and should not cut them down. A tree in the field is not human that you should besiege it! 308 20:20 However, you may chop down any tree you know is not suitable for food, 309 and you may use it to build siege works 310 against the city that is making war with you until that city falls.
Laws Concerning Unsolved Murder
21:1 If a homicide victim 311 should be found lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you, 312 and no one knows who killed 313 him, 21:2 your elders and judges must go out and measure how far it is to the cities in the vicinity of the corpse. 314 21:3 Then the elders of the city nearest to the corpse 315 must take from the herd a heifer that has not been worked – that has never pulled with the yoke – 21:4 and bring the heifer down to a wadi with flowing water, 316 to a valley that is neither plowed nor sown. 317 There at the wadi they are to break the heifer’s neck. 21:5 Then the Levitical priests 318 will approach (for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve him and to pronounce blessings in his name, 319 and to decide 320 every judicial verdict 321 ) 21:6 and all the elders of that city nearest the corpse 322 must wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley. 323 21:7 Then they must proclaim, “Our hands have not spilled this blood, nor have we 324 witnessed the crime. 325 21:8 Do not blame 326 your people Israel whom you redeemed, O Lord, and do not hold them accountable for the bloodshed of an innocent person.” 327 Then atonement will be made for the bloodshed. 21:9 In this manner you will purge out the guilt of innocent blood from among you, for you must do what is right before 328 the Lord.
Laws Concerning Wives
21:10 When you go out to do battle with your enemies and the Lord your God allows you to prevail 329 and you take prisoners, 21:11 if you should see among them 330 an attractive woman whom you wish to take as a wife, 21:12 you may bring her back to your house. She must shave her head, 331 trim her nails, 21:13 discard the clothing she was wearing when captured, 332 and stay 333 in your house, lamenting for her father and mother for a full month. After that you may have sexual relations 334 with her and become her husband and she your wife. 21:14 If you are not pleased with her, then you must let her go 335 where she pleases. You cannot in any case sell 336 her; 337 you must not take advantage of 338 her, since you have already humiliated 339 her.
Laws Concerning Children
21:15 Suppose a man has two wives, one whom he loves more than the other, 340 and they both 341 bear him sons, with the firstborn being the child of the less loved wife. 21:16 In the day he divides his inheritance 342 he must not appoint as firstborn the son of the favorite wife in place of the other 343 wife’s son who is actually the firstborn. 21:17 Rather, he must acknowledge the son of the less loved 344 wife as firstborn and give him the double portion 345 of all he has, for that son is the beginning of his father’s procreative power 346 – to him should go the right of the firstborn.
21:18 If a person has a stubborn, rebellious son who pays no attention to his father or mother, and they discipline him to no avail, 347 21:19 his father and mother must seize him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his city. 21:20 They must declare to the elders 348 of his city, “Our son is stubborn and rebellious and pays no attention to what we say – he is a glutton and drunkard.” 21:21 Then all the men of his city must stone him to death. In this way you will purge out 349 wickedness from among you, and all Israel 350 will hear about it and be afraid.
Disposition of a Criminal’s Remains
21:22 If a person commits a sin punishable by death and is executed, and you hang the corpse 351 on a tree, 21:23 his body must not remain all night on the tree; instead you must make certain you bury 352 him that same day, for the one who is left exposed 353 on a tree is cursed by God. 354 You must not defile your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
Laws Concerning Preservation of Life
22:1 When you see 355 your neighbor’s 356 ox or sheep going astray, do not ignore it; 357 you must return it without fail 358 to your neighbor. 22:2 If the owner 359 does not live 360 near you or you do not know who the owner is, 361 then you must corral the animal 362 at your house and let it stay with you until the owner looks for it; then you must return it to him. 22:3 You shall do the same to his donkey, his clothes, or anything else your neighbor 363 has lost and you have found; you must not refuse to get involved. 364 22:4 When you see 365 your neighbor’s donkey or ox fallen along the road, do not ignore it; 366 instead, you must be sure 367 to help him get the animal on its feet again. 368
22:5 A woman must not wear men’s clothing, 369 nor should a man dress up in women’s clothing, for anyone who does this is offensive 370 to the Lord your God.
22:6 If you happen to notice a bird’s nest along the road, whether in a tree or on the ground, and there are chicks or eggs with the mother bird sitting on them, 371 you must not take the mother from the young. 372 22:7 You must be sure 373 to let the mother go, but you may take the young for yourself. Do this so that it may go well with you and you may have a long life.
22:8 If you build a new house, you must construct a guard rail 374 around your roof to avoid being culpable 375 in the event someone should fall from it.
Illustrations of the Principle of Purity
22:9 You must not plant your vineyard with two kinds of seed; otherwise the entire yield, both of the seed you plant and the produce of the vineyard, will be defiled. 376 22:10 You must not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed together. 22:11 You must not wear clothing made with wool and linen meshed together. 377 22:12 You shall make yourselves tassels 378 for the four corners of the clothing you wear.
Purity in the Marriage Relationship
22:13 Suppose a man marries a woman, has sexual relations with her, 379 and then rejects 380 her, 22:14 accusing her of impropriety 381 and defaming her reputation 382 by saying, “I married this woman but when I had sexual relations 383 with her I discovered she was not a virgin!” 22:15 Then the father and mother of the young woman must produce the evidence of virginity 384 for the elders of the city at the gate. 22:16 The young woman’s father must say to the elders, “I gave my daughter to this man and he has rejected 385 her. 22:17 Moreover, he has raised accusations of impropriety by saying, ‘I discovered your daughter was not a virgin,’ but this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity!” The cloth must then be spread out 386 before the city’s elders. 22:18 The elders of that city must then seize the man and punish 387 him. 22:19 They will fine him one hundred shekels of silver and give them to the young woman’s father, for the man who made the accusation 388 ruined the reputation 389 of an Israelite virgin. She will then become his wife and he may never divorce her as long as he lives.
22:20 But if the accusation is true and the young woman was not a virgin, 22:21 the men of her city must bring the young woman to the door of her father’s house and stone her to death, for she has done a disgraceful thing 390 in Israel by behaving like a prostitute while living in her father’s house. In this way you will purge 391 evil from among you.
22:22 If a man is caught having sexual relations with 392 a married woman 393 both the man who had relations with the woman and the woman herself must die; in this way you will purge 394 evil from Israel.
22:23 If a virgin is engaged to a man and another man meets 395 her in the city and has sexual relations with 396 her, 22:24 you must bring the two of them to the gate of that city and stone them to death, the young woman because she did not cry out though in the city and the man because he violated 397 his neighbor’s fiancée; 398 in this way you will purge 399 evil from among you. 22:25 But if the man came across 400 the engaged woman in the field and overpowered her and raped 401 her, then only the rapist 402 must die. 22:26 You must not do anything to the young woman – she has done nothing deserving of death. This case is the same as when someone attacks another person 403 and murders him, 22:27 for the man 404 met her in the field and the engaged woman cried out, but there was no one to rescue her.
22:28 Suppose a man comes across a virgin who is not engaged and overpowers and rapes 405 her and they are discovered. 22:29 The man who has raped her must pay her father fifty shekels of silver and she must become his wife because he has violated her; he may never divorce her as long as he lives.
22:30 406 A man may not marry 407 his father’s former 408 wife and in this way dishonor his father. 409
Purity in Public Worship
23:1 A man with crushed 410 or severed genitals 411 may not enter the assembly of the Lord. 412 23:2 A person of illegitimate birth 413 may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation no one related to him may do so. 414
23:3 An Ammonite or Moabite 415 may not enter the assembly of the Lord; to the tenth generation none of their descendants shall ever 416 do so, 417 23:4 for they did not meet you with food and water on the way as you came from Egypt, and furthermore, they hired 418 Balaam son of Beor of Pethor in Aram Naharaim to curse you. 23:5 But the Lord your God refused to listen to Balaam and changed 419 the curse to a blessing, for the Lord your God loves 420 you. 23:6 You must not seek peace and prosperity for them through all the ages to come. 23:7 You must not hate an Edomite, for he is your relative; 421 you must not hate an Egyptian, for you lived as a foreigner 422 in his land. 23:8 Children of the third generation born to them 423 may enter the assembly of the Lord.
Purity in Personal Hygiene
23:9 When you go out as an army against your enemies, guard yourselves against anything impure. 424 23:10 If there is someone among you who is impure because of some nocturnal emission, 425 he must leave the camp; he may not reenter it immediately. 23:11 When evening arrives he must wash himself with water and then at sunset he may reenter the camp.
23:12 You are to have a place outside the camp to serve as a latrine. 426 23:13 You must have a spade among your other equipment and when you relieve yourself 427 outside you must dig a hole with the spade 428 and then turn and cover your excrement. 429 23:14 For the Lord your God walks about in the middle of your camp to deliver you and defeat 430 your enemies for you. Therefore your camp should be holy, so that he does not see anything indecent 431 among you and turn away from you.
Purity in the Treatment of the Nonprivileged
23:15 You must not return an escaped slave to his master when he has run away to you. 432 23:16 Indeed, he may live among you in any place he chooses, in whichever of your villages 433 he prefers; you must not oppress him.
Purity in Cultic Personnel
23:17 There must never be a sacred prostitute 434 among the young women 435 of Israel nor a sacred male prostitute 436 among the young men 437 of Israel. 23:18 You must never bring the pay of a female prostitute 438 or the wage of a male prostitute 439 into the temple of the Lord your God in fulfillment of any vow, for both of these are abhorrent to the Lord your God.
Respect for Others’ Property
23:19 You must not charge interest on a loan to your fellow Israelite, 440 whether on money, food, or anything else that has been loaned with interest. 23:20 You may lend with interest to a foreigner, but not to your fellow Israelite; if you keep this command the Lord your God will bless you in all you undertake in the land you are about to enter to possess. 23:21 When you make a vow to the Lord your God you must not delay in fulfilling it, for otherwise he 441 will surely 442 hold you accountable as a sinner. 443 23:22 If you refrain from making a vow, it will not be sinful. 23:23 Whatever you vow, you must be careful to do what you have promised, such as what you have vowed to the Lord your God as a freewill offering. 23:24 When you enter the vineyard of your neighbor you may eat as many grapes as you please, 444 but you must not take away any in a container. 445 23:25 When you go into the ripe grain fields of your neighbor you may pluck off the kernels with your hand, 446 but you must not use a sickle on your neighbor’s ripe grain.
24:1 If a man marries a woman and she does not please him because he has found something offensive 447 in her, then he may draw up a divorce document, give it to her, and evict her from his house. 24:2 When she has left him 448 she may go and become someone else’s wife. 24:3 If the second husband rejects 449 her and then divorces her, 450 gives her the papers, and evicts her from his house, or if the second husband who married her dies, 24:4 her first husband who divorced her is not permitted to remarry 451 her after she has become ritually impure, for that is offensive to the Lord. 452 You must not bring guilt on the land 453 which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.
24:5 When a man is newly married, he need not go into 454 the army nor be obligated in any way; he must be free to stay at home for a full year and bring joy to 455 the wife he has married.
24:6 One must not take either lower or upper millstones as security on a loan, for that is like taking a life itself as security. 456
24:7 If a man is found kidnapping a person from among his fellow Israelites, 457 and regards him as mere property 458 and sells him, that kidnapper 459 must die. In this way you will purge 460 evil from among you.
Respect for Human Dignity
24:8 Be careful during an outbreak of leprosy to follow precisely 461 all that the Levitical priests instruct you; as I have commanded them, so you should do. 24:9 Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam 462 along the way after you left Egypt.
24:10 When you make any kind of loan to your neighbor, you may not go into his house to claim what he is offering as security. 463 24:11 You must stand outside and the person to whom you are making the loan will bring out to you what he is offering as security. 464 24:12 If the person is poor you may not use what he gives you as security for a covering. 465 24:13 You must by all means 466 return to him at sunset the item he gave you as security so that he may sleep in his outer garment and bless you for it; it will be considered a just 467 deed by the Lord your God.
24:14 You must not oppress a lowly and poor servant, whether one from among your fellow Israelites 468 or from the resident foreigners who are living in your land and villages. 469 24:15 You must pay his wage that very day before the sun sets, for he is poor and his life depends on it. Otherwise he will cry out to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin.
24:16 Fathers must not be put to death for what their children 470 do, nor children for what their fathers do; each must be put to death for his own sin.
24:17 You must not pervert justice due a resident foreigner or an orphan, or take a widow’s garment as security for a loan. 24:18 Remember that you were slaves in Egypt and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do all this. 24:19 Whenever you reap your harvest in your field and leave some unraked grain there, 471 you must not return to get it; it should go to the resident foreigner, orphan, and widow so that the Lord your God may bless all the work you do. 472 24:20 When you beat your olive tree you must not repeat the procedure; 473 the remaining olives belong to the resident foreigner, orphan, and widow. 24:21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard you must not do so a second time; 474 they should go to the resident foreigner, orphan, and widow. 24:22 Remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt; therefore, I am commanding you to do all this.
25:1 If controversy arises between people, 475 they should go to court for judgment. When the judges 476 hear the case, they shall exonerate 477 the innocent but condemn 478 the guilty. 25:2 Then, 479 if the guilty person is sentenced to a beating, 480 the judge shall force him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of blows his wicked behavior deserves. 481 25:3 The judge 482 may sentence him to forty blows, 483 but no more. If he is struck with more than these, you might view your fellow Israelite 484 with contempt.
25:4 You must not muzzle your 485 ox when it is treading grain.
Respect for the Sanctity of Others
25:5 If brothers live together and one of them dies without having a son, the dead man’s wife must not remarry someone outside the family. Instead, her late husband’s brother must go to her, marry her, 486 and perform the duty of a brother-in-law. 487 25:6 Then 488 the first son 489 she bears will continue the name of the dead brother, thus preventing his name from being blotted out of Israel. 25:7 But if the man does not want to marry his brother’s widow, then she 490 must go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to preserve his brother’s name in Israel; he is unwilling to perform the duty of a brother-in-law to me!” 25:8 Then the elders of his city must summon him and speak to him. If he persists, saying, “I don’t want to marry her,” 25:9 then his sister-in-law must approach him in view of the elders, remove his sandal from his foot, and spit in his face. 491 She will then respond, “Thus may it be done to any man who does not maintain his brother’s family line!” 492 25:10 His family name will be referred to 493 in Israel as “the family 494 of the one whose sandal was removed.” 495
25:11 If two men 496 get into a hand-to-hand fight, and the wife of one of them gets involved to help her husband against his attacker, and she reaches out her hand and grabs his genitals, 497 25:12 then you must cut off her hand – do not pity her.
25:13 You must not have in your bag different stone weights, 498 a heavy and a light one. 499 25:14 You must not have in your house different measuring containers, 500 a large and a small one. 25:15 You must have an accurate and correct 501 stone weight and an accurate and correct measuring container, so that your life may be extended in the land the Lord your God is about to give you. 25:16 For anyone who acts dishonestly in these ways is abhorrent 502 to the Lord your God.
Treatment of the Amalekites
25:17 Remember what the Amalekites 503 did to you on your way from Egypt, 25:18 how they met you along the way and cut off all your stragglers in the rear of the march when you were exhausted and tired; they were unafraid of God. 504 25:19 So when the Lord your God gives you relief from all the enemies who surround you in the land he 505 is giving you as an inheritance, 506 you must wipe out the memory of the Amalekites from under heaven 507 – do not forget! 508
Presentation of the First Fruits
26:1 When 509 you enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and you occupy it and live in it, 26:2 you must take the first of all the ground’s produce you harvest from the land the Lord your God is giving you, place it in a basket, and go to the place where he 510 chooses to locate his name. 511 26:3 You must go to the priest in office at that time and say to him, “I declare today to the Lord your 512 God that I have come into the land that the Lord 513 promised 514 to our ancestors 515 to give us.” 26:4 The priest will then take the basket from you 516 and set it before the altar of the Lord your God. 26:5 Then you must affirm before the Lord your God, “A wandering 517 Aramean 518 was my ancestor, 519 and he went down to Egypt and lived there as a foreigner with a household few in number, 520 but there he became a great, powerful, and numerous people. 26:6 But the Egyptians mistreated and oppressed us, forcing us to do burdensome labor. 26:7 So we cried out to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and he 521 heard us and saw our humiliation, toil, and oppression. 26:8 Therefore the Lord brought us out of Egypt with tremendous strength and power, 522 as well as with great awe-inspiring signs and wonders. 26:9 Then he brought us to this place and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 26:10 So now, look! I have brought the first of the ground’s produce that you, Lord, have given me.” Then you must set it down before the Lord your God and worship before him. 523 26:11 You will celebrate all the good things that the Lord your God has given you and your family, 524 along with the Levites and the resident foreigners among you.
Presentation of the Third-year Tithe
26:12 When you finish tithing all 525 your income in the third year (the year of tithing), you must give it to the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows 526 so that they may eat to their satisfaction in your villages. 527 26:13 Then you shall say before the Lord your God, “I have removed the sacred offering 528 from my house and given it to the Levites, the resident foreigners, the orphans, and the widows just as you have commanded me. 529 I have not violated or forgotten your commandments. 26:14 I have not eaten anything when I was in mourning, or removed any of it while ceremonially unclean, or offered any of it to the dead; 530 I have obeyed you 531 and have done everything you have commanded me. 26:15 Look down from your holy dwelling place in heaven and bless your people Israel and the land you have given us, just as you promised our ancestors – a land flowing with milk and honey.”
26:16 Today the Lord your God is commanding you to keep these statutes and ordinances, something you must do with all your heart and soul. 532 26:17 Today you have declared the Lord to be your God, and that you will walk in his ways, keep his statutes, commandments, and ordinances, and obey him. 26:18 And today the Lord has declared you to be his special people (as he already promised you) so you may keep all his commandments. 26:19 Then 533 he will elevate you above all the nations he has made and you will receive praise, fame, and honor. 534 You will 535 be a people holy to the Lord your God, as he has said.