Deuteronomy 17-20 Bible in Basic English

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17 1  No ox or sheep which has a mark on it or is damaged in any way may be offered to the Lord your God: for that is disgusting to the Lord your God. 2  If there is any man or woman among you, in any of the towns which the Lord your God gives you, who does evil in the eyes of the Lord your God, sinning against his agreement, 3  By becoming a servant of other gods and worshipping them or the sun or the moon or all the stars of heaven, against my orders; 4  If word of this comes to your ears, then let this thing be looked into with care, and if there is no doubt that it is true, and such evil has been done in Israel; 5  Then you are to take the man or woman who has done the evil to the public place of your town, and they are to be stoned with stones till they are dead. 6  On the word of two or three witnesses, a man may be given the punishment of death; but he is not to be put to death on the word of one witness. 7  The hands of the witnesses will be the first to put him to death, and after them the hands of all the people. So you are to put away the evil from among you.

8  If you are not able to give a decision as to who is responsible for a death, or who is right in a cause, or who gave the first blow in a fight, and there is a division of opinion about it in your town: then go to the place marked out by the Lord your God; 9  And come before the priests, the Levites, or before him who is judge at the time: and they will go into the question and give you a decision: 10  And you are to be guided by the decision they give in the place named by the Lord, and do whatever they say: 11  Acting in agreement with their teaching and the decision they give: not turning to one side or the other from the word they have given you. 12  And any man who, in his pride, will not give ear to the priest whose place is there before the Lord your God, or to the judge, is to be put to death: you are to put away the evil from Israel. 13  And all the people, hearing of it, will be full of fear and put away their pride.

Instructions concerning a King

14  When you have come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and have taken it for a heritage and are living in it, if it is your desire to have a king over you, like the other nations round about you; 15  Then see that you take as your king the man named by the Lord your God: let your king be one of your countrymen, not a man of another nation who is not one of yourselves. 16  And he is not to get together a great army of horses for himself, or make the people go back to Egypt to get horses for him: because the Lord has said, You will never again go back that way. 17  And he is not to have a great number of wives, for fear that his heart may be turned away; or great wealth of silver and gold. 18  And when he has taken his place on the seat of his kingdom, he is to make in a book a copy of this law, from that which the priests, the Levites, have in their care: 19  And it is to be with him for his reading all the days of his life, so that he may be trained in the fear of the Lord his God to keep and do all the words of this teaching and these laws: 20  So that his heart may not be lifted up over his countrymen, and he may not be turned away from the orders, to one side or the other: but that his life and the lives of his children may be long in his kingdom in Israel.

The Portions of the Levites

18 1  The priests, the Levites, that is, all the tribe of Levi, will have no part or heritage with Israel: their food and their heritage will be the offerings of the Lord made by fire. 2  And they will have no heritage among their countrymen: the Lord is their heritage, as he has said to them. 3  And this is to be the priests' right: those who make an offering of a sheep or an ox are to give to the priest the top part of the leg and the two sides of the head and the stomach. 4  And in addition you are to give him the first of your grain and wine and oil, and the first wool cut from your sheep. 5  For he, and his sons after him for ever, have been marked out by the Lord your God from all your tribes, to do the work of priests in the name of the Lord. 6  And if a Levite, moved by a strong desire, comes from any town in all Israel where he is living to the place marked out by the Lord; 7  Then he will do the work of a priest in the name of the Lord his God, with all his brothers the Levites who are there before the Lord. 8  His food will be the same as theirs, in addition to what has come to him as the price of his property.

Warning against Heathen Practices

9  When you have come into the land which the Lord your God is giving you, do not take as your example the disgusting ways of those nations. 10  Let there not be seen among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter go through the fire, or anyone using secret arts, or a maker of strange sounds, or a reader of signs, or any wonder-worker, 11  Or anyone using secret force on people, or putting questions to a spirit, or having secret knowledge, or going to the dead for directions. 12  For all who do such things are disgusting to the Lord; and because of these disgusting things the Lord your God is driving them out before you. 13  You are to be upright in heart before the Lord your God. 14  For these nations, whose land you are taking, give attention to readers of signs and to those using secret arts: but the Lord your God will not let you do so.

God Promises a Prophet like Moses

15  The Lord your God will give you a prophet from among your people, like me; you will give ear to him; 16  In answer to the request you made to the Lord your God in Horeb on the day of the great meeting, when you said, Let not the voice of the Lord my God come to my ears again, and let me not see this great fire any more, or death will overtake me. 17  Then the Lord said to me, What they have said is well said. 18  I will give them a prophet from among themselves, like you, and I will put my words in his mouth, and he will say to them whatever I give him orders to say. 19  And whoever does not give ear to my words which he will say in my name, will be responsible to me. 20  But the prophet who takes it on himself to say words in my name which I have not given him orders to say, or who says anything in the name of other gods, will come to his death. 21  And if you say in your hearts, How are we to be certain that the word does not come from the Lord? 22  When a prophet makes a statement in the name of the Lord, if what he says does not take place and his words do not come true, then his word is not the word of the Lord: the words of the prophet were said in the pride of his heart, and you are to have no fear of him.

The Cities of Refuge

19 1  When the nations, whose land the Lord your God is giving you, have been cut off by him, and you have taken their place and are living in their towns and in their houses; 2  You are to have three towns marked out in the land which the Lord your God is giving you for your heritage. 3  You are to make ready a way, and see that the land which the Lord your God is giving you for your heritage, is marked out into three parts, to which any taker of life may go in flight. 4  This is to be the rule for anyone who goes in flight there, after causing the death of his neighbour in error and not through hate; 5  For example, if a man goes into the woods with his neighbour for the purpose of cutting down trees, and when he takes his axe to give a blow to the tree, the head of the axe comes off, and falling on to his neighbour gives him a wound causing his death; then the man may go in flight to one of these towns and be safe: 6  For if not, he who has the right of punishment may go running after the taker of life in the heat of his wrath, and overtake him because the way is long, and give him a death-blow; though it is not right for him to be put to death because he was not moved by hate. 7  And so I am ordering you to see that three towns are marked out for this purpose. 8  And if the Lord your God makes wide the limits of your land, as he said in his oath to your fathers, and gives you all the land which he undertook to give to your fathers; 9  If you keep and do all these orders which I give you today, loving the Lord your God and walking ever in his ways; then let three more towns, in addition to these three, be marked out for you: 10  So that in all your land, which the Lord your God is giving you for your heritage, no man may be wrongly put to death, for which you will be responsible. 11  But if any man has hate for his neighbour, and waiting for him secretly makes an attack on him and gives him a blow causing his death, and then goes in flight to one of these towns; 12  The responsible men of his town are to send and take him, and give him up to the one who has the right of punishment to be put to death. 13  Have no pity on him, so that Israel may be clear from the crime of putting a man to death without cause, and it will be well for you.

14  Your neighbour's landmark, which was put in its place by the men of old times, is not to be moved or taken away in the land of your heritage which the Lord your God is giving you.

The Law concerning Witnesses

15  One witness may not make a statement against a man in relation to any sin or wrongdoing which he has done: on the word of two or three witnesses a question is to be judged. 16  If a false witness makes a statement against a man, saying that he has done wrong, 17  Then the two men, between whom the argument has taken place, are to come before the Lord, before the priests and judges who are then in power; 18  And the judges will have the question looked into with care: and if the witness is seen to be false and to have made a false statement against his brother, 19  Then do to him what it was his purpose to do to his brother: and so put away the evil from among you. 20  And the rest of the people, hearing of it, will be full of fear, and never again do such evil among you. 21  Have no pity; let life be given for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

The Laws concerning War

20 1  When you go out to war against other nations, and come face to face with horses and war-carriages and armies greater in number than yourselves, have no fear of them: for the Lord your God is with you, who took you up out of the land of Egypt. 2  And when you are on the point of attacking, let the priest come forward and say to the people, 3  Give ear, O Israel: today you are going forward to the fight; let your heart be strong; do not let uncontrolled fear overcome you because of those who are against you; 4  For the Lord your God goes with you, fighting for you to give you salvation from those who are against you. 5  And let the overseers say to the people, If there is any man who has made for himself a new house and has not gone into it, let him go back to his house, so that in the event of his death in the fight, another may not take his house for himself. 6  Or if any man has made a vine-garden without taking the first-fruits of it, let him go back to his house, so that in the event of his death in the fight, another may not be the first to make use of the fruit. 7  Or if any man is newly married and has had no sex relations with his wife, let him go back to his house, so that in the event of his death in the fight, another man may not take her. 8  And let the overseers go on to say to the people, If there is any man whose heart is feeble with fear, let him go back to his house before he makes the hearts of his countrymen feeble. 9  Then, after saying these words to the people, let the overseers put captains over the army.

10  When you come to a town, before attacking it, make an offer of peace. 11  And if it gives you back an answer of peace, opening its doors to you, then all the people in it may be put to forced work as your servants. 12  If however it will not make peace with you, but war, then let it be shut in on all sides: 13  And when the Lord your God has given it into your hands, let every male in it be put to death without mercy. 14  But the women and the children and the cattle and everything in the town and all its wealth, you may take for yourselves: the wealth of your haters, which the Lord your God has given you, will be your food. 15  So you are to do to all the towns far away, which are not the towns of these nations. 16  But in the towns of these peoples whose land the Lord your God is giving you for your heritage, let no living thing be kept from death: 17  Give them up to the curse; the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has given you orders: 18  So that you may not take them as your example and do all the disgusting things which they do in the worship of their gods, so sinning against the Lord your God. 19  If in war a town is shut in by your armies for a long time, do not let its trees be cut down and made waste; for their fruit will be your food; are the trees of the countryside men for you to take up arms against them? 20  Only those trees which you are certain are not used for food may be cut down and put to destruction: and you are to make walls of attack against the town till it is taken.

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