Bible: Deut 12-26

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 priestsfair 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.

18:20But 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 fiancĂ©e; 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.”

Narrative Interlude

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.

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