Deuteronomy 17-20 Revised Standard Version

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17 "You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep in which is a blemish, any defect whatever; for that is an abomination to the Lord your God. 2  "If there is found among you, within any of your towns which the Lord your God gives you, a man or woman who does what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God, in transgressing his covenant, 3  and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, which I have forbidden, 4  and it is told you and you hear of it; then you shall inquire diligently, and if it is true and certain that such an abominable thing has been done in Israel, 5  then you shall bring forth to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and you shall stone that man or woman to death with stones. 6  On the evidence of two witnesses or of three witnesses he that is to die shall be put to death; a person shall not be put to death on the evidence of one witness. 7  The hand of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.

8  "If any case arises requiring decision between one kind of homicide and another, one kind of legal right and another, or one kind of assault and another, any case within your towns which is too difficult for you, then you shall arise and go up to the place which the Lord your God will choose, 9  and coming to the Levitical priests, and to the judge who is in office in those days, you shall consult them, and they shall declare to you the decision. 10  Then you shall do according to what they declare to you from that place which the Lord will choose; and you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you; 11  according to the instructions which they give you, and according to the decision which they pronounce to you, you shall do; you shall not turn aside from the verdict which they declare to you, either to the right hand or to the left. 12  The man who acts presumptuously, by not obeying the priest who stands to minister there before the Lord your God, or the judge, that man shall die; so you shall purge the evil from Israel. 13  And all the people shall hear, and fear, and not act presumptuously again.

Instructions concerning a King

14  "When you come to the land which the Lord your God gives you, and you possess it and dwell in it, and then say, 'I will set a king over me, like all the nations that are round about me'; 15  you may indeed set as king over you him whom the Lord your God will choose. One from among your brethren you shall set as king over you; you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16  Only he must not multiply horses for himself, or cause the people to return to Egypt in order to multiply horses, since the Lord has said to you, 'You shall never return that way again.' 17  And he shall not multiply wives for himself, lest his heart turn away; nor shall he greatly multiply for himself silver and gold. 18  "And when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself in a book a copy of this law, from that which is in the charge of the Levitical priests; 19  and it shall be with him, and he shall read in it all the days of his life, that he may learn to fear the Lord his God, by keeping all the words of this law and these statutes, and doing them; 20  that his heart may not be lifted up above his brethren, and that he may not turn aside from the commandment, either to the right hand or to the left; so that he may continue long in his kingdom, he and his children, in Israel.

The Portions of the Levites

18 "The Levitical priests, that is, all the tribe of Levi, shall have no portion or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the offerings by fire to the Lord, and his rightful dues. 2  They shall have no inheritance among their brethren; the Lord is their inheritance, as he promised them. 3  And this shall be the priests' due from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, whether it be ox or sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. 4  The first fruits of your grain, of your wine and of your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep, you shall give him. 5  For the Lord your God has chosen him out of all your tribes, to stand and minister in the name of the Lord, him and his sons for ever. 6  "And if a Levite comes from any of your towns out of all Israel, where he lives--and he may come when he desires--to the place which the Lord will choose, 7  then he may minister in the name of the Lord his God, like all his fellow-Levites who stand to minister there before the Lord. 8  They shall have equal portions to eat, besides what he receives from the sale of his patrimony.

Warning against Heathen Practices

9  "When you come into the land which the Lord your God gives you, you shall not learn to follow the abominable practices of those nations. 10  There shall not be found among you any one who burns his son or his daughter as an offering, any one who practices divination, a soothsayer, or an augur, or a sorcerer, 11  or a charmer, or a medium, or a wizard, or a necromancer. 12  For whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord; and because of these abominable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you. 13  You shall be blameless before the Lord your God. 14  For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, give heed to soothsayers and to diviners; but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you so to do.

God Promises a Prophet like Moses

15  "The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your brethren--him you shall heed-- 16  just as you desired of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, 'Let me not hear again the voice of the Lord my God, or see this great fire any more, lest I die.' 17  And the Lord said to me, 'They have rightly said all that they have spoken. 18  I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their brethren; and I will put my words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. 19  And whoever will not give heed to my words which he shall speak in my name, I myself will require it of him. 20  But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in my name which I have not commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods, that same prophet shall die.' 21  And if you say in your heart, 'How may we know the word which the Lord has not spoken?' -- 22  when a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord, if the word does not come to pass or come true, that is a word which the Lord has not spoken; the prophet has spoken it presumptuously, you need not be afraid of him.

The Cities of Refuge

19 "When the Lord your God cuts off the nations whose land the Lord your God gives you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses, 2  you shall set apart three cities for you in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess. 3  You shall prepare the roads, and divide into three parts the area of the land which the Lord your God gives you as a possession, so that any manslayer can flee to them. 4  "This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If any one kills his neighbor unintentionally without having been at enmity with him in time past-- 5  as when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies--he may flee to one of these cities and save his life; 6  lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and wound him mortally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he was not at enmity with his neighbor in time past. 7  Therefore I command you, You shall set apart three cities. 8  And if the Lord your God enlarges your border, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land which he promised to give to your fathers-- 9  provided you are careful to keep all this commandment, which I command you this day, by loving the Lord your God and by walking ever in his ways--then you shall add three other cities to these three, 10  lest innocent blood be shed in your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you. 11  "But if any man hates his neighbor, and lies in wait for him, and attacks him, and wounds him mortally so that he dies, and the man flees into one of these cities, 12  then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die. 13  Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you.

14  "In the inheritance which you will hold in the land that the Lord your God gives you to possess, you shall not remove your neighbor's landmark, which the men of old have set.

The Law concerning Witnesses

15  "A single witness shall not prevail against a man for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed; only on the evidence of two witnesses, or of three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained. 16  If a malicious witness rises against any man to accuse him of wrongdoing, 17  then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days; 18  the judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely, 19  then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you. 20  And the rest shall hear, and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you. 21  Your eye shall not pity; it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

The Laws concerning War

20 "When you go forth to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 2  And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people, 3  and shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel, you draw near this day to battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint; do not fear, or tremble, or be in dread of them; 4  for the Lord your God is he that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.' 5  Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying, 'What man is there that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. 6  And what man is there that has planted a vineyard and has not enjoyed its fruit? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man enjoy its fruit. 7  And what man is there that has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.' 8  And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, 'What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest the heart of his fellows melt as his heart.' 9  And when the officers have made an end of speaking to the people, then commanders shall be appointed at the head of the people.

10  "When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it. 11  And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you. 12  But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it; 13  and when the Lord your God gives it into your hand you shall put all its males to the sword, 14  but the women and the little ones, the cattle, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourselves; and you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the Lord your God has given you. 15  Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here. 16  But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17  but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Per'izzites, the Hivites and the Jeb'usites, as the Lord your God has commanded; 18  that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices which they have done in the service of their gods, and so to sin against the Lord your God. 19  "When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them; for you may eat of them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field men that they should be besieged by you? 20  Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.

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