Deuteronomy 13-15, Mark 12:28-44 (Easy-to-Read Version)
Don’t Serve Other Gods
13 “A prophet or someone who explains dreams might come to you and tell you that they will show you a sign or a miracle. 2 And the sign or miracle they told you about might come true. Then they might ask you to follow other gods (gods you don’t know) and say to you, ‘Let’s serve these gods!’ 3 Don’t listen to them, because the Lord your God is testing you. He wants to know if you love him with all your heart and all your soul. 4 You must follow the Lord your God. Respect him. Obey his commands and do what he tells you. Serve the Lord your God, and never leave him. 5 Also, you must kill that prophet or person who explains dreams, because they told you to turn against the Lord your God. And it was the Lord your God who brought you out of the land of Egypt, where you were slaves. They tried to pull you away from the life he commanded you to live, so you must kill them to remove this evil from your people.
6 “Someone close to you might secretly persuade you to worship other gods. It might be your own brother, your son, your daughter, the wife you love, or your closest friend. They might say, ‘Let’s go and serve other gods.’ (These are gods that you and your ancestors never knew. 7 They are the gods of the people who live in the other lands around you, some near and some far away.) 8 You must not agree with them. Don’t listen to them or feel sorry for them. Don’t let them go free or protect them. 9-10 No, you must kill them with stones. You be the first one to pick up stones and throw at them. Then everyone must throw stones to kill them, because they tried to pull you away from the Lord your God. And it was the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, where you were slaves. 11 Then all the Israelites will hear about it and be afraid. And they will not do those evil things any more.
12 “The Lord your God has given you cities to live in. Sometimes you might hear some bad news about one of these cities. You might hear that 13 some troublemakers from your own nation are persuading the people of their city to do bad things. They might say to the people of their city, ‘Let’s go and serve other gods.’ (These gods would be gods that you never knew before.) 14 If you hear this kind of news, you must do all you can to learn if it is true. If you learn that it is true, if you prove that such a terrible thing really did happen, 15 then you must kill all the people of that city and their animals too. You must destroy that city completely. 16 You must gather up everything of value and take it to the center of the city. Burn the whole city and everything in it as a burnt offering to the Lord your God. You must turn that city into an empty pile of rocks forever, and that city must never be rebuilt. 17 Everything in that city must be destroyed as an offering to God. So you must not keep any of the things for yourselves. If you follow this command, the Lord will stop being so angry with you. He will be kind to you. He will feel sorry for you. He will let your nation grow larger, as he promised your ancestors. 18 This will happen if you listen to the Lord your God—if you obey all his commands that I give you today. You must do what the Lord your God says is right.
Israel, God’s Special People
14 “You are the children of the Lord your God. When someone dies, you must not cut yourselves or shave your heads[a] to show your sadness. 2 This is because you are different from other people. You belong to the Lord your God. From all the people in the world, the Lord chose you to be his own special people.
Food the Israelites Are Allowed to Eat
3 “Don’t eat anything that the Lord hates. 4 You may eat these animals: cattle, sheep, goats, 5 deer, gazelles, roe deer, wild sheep, wild goats, antelopes, and mountain sheep. 6 You may eat any animal that has hooves divided into two parts and that chews the cud. 7 But don’t eat camels, rabbits, or rock badgers. These animals chew the cud, but they don’t have split hooves. So these animals are not a clean food for you. 8 And you must not eat pigs. Their hooves are divided, but they don’t chew the cud. So pigs are not a clean food for you. Don’t eat any meat from pigs. Don’t even touch a pig’s dead body.
9 “You may eat any kind of fish that has fins and scales. 10 But don’t eat anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales. It is not a clean food for you.
11 “You may eat any clean bird. 12 But don’t eat any of these birds: eagles, vultures, buzzards, 13 red kites, falcons, any kind of kite, 14 any kind of raven, 15 horned owls, screech owls, sea gulls, any kind of hawk, 16 little owls, great owls, white owls, 17 desert owls, ospreys, cormorants, 18 storks, any kind of heron, hoopoes, or bats.
19 “All insects with wings are unclean, so don’t eat them. 20 But you may eat any clean bird.
21 “Don’t eat any animal that has died by itself. You may give the dead animal to the foreigner in your town, and he can eat it. Or you may sell the dead animal to a foreigner. But you yourselves must not eat the dead animal, because you belong to the Lord your God. You are his special people.
“Don’t cook a baby goat in its mother’s milk.
22 “Every year you must be sure to save one-tenth of all the crops that grow in your fields. 23 Then you must go to the place the Lord chooses to be the home for his name. You will go there to be with the Lord your God. At that place you will eat the tenth of your crops—one-tenth of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the first animals born in your herds and flocks. In this way you will always remember to respect the Lord your God. 24 But that place might be too far for you to travel to. Maybe you will not be able to carry one-tenth of all the crops that the Lord has blessed you with. If that happens, 25 sell that part of your crops and take the money with you to the special place the Lord has chosen. 26 Use the money to buy anything you want—cattle, sheep, wine or beer or any other food. Then you and your family should eat and enjoy yourselves there in that place with the Lord your God. 27 But don’t forget the Levites living in your town. Share your food with them because they don’t have a share of the land like you have.
28 “At the end of every three years, you must gather one-tenth of your harvest for that year. Store this food in your towns. 29 Keep this food for the Levites, because they don’t have any land of their own. Also keep this food for the foreigners, orphans, and widows who live in your towns. This will provide enough for them to come and eat all they want. If you do this, the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
The Special Year of Canceling Debts
15 “At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts. 2 This is the way you must do this: Everyone who has lent money to another Israelite must cancel the debt. He should not ask a fellow Israelite to repay the debt, because the Lord said to cancel debts during that year. 3 You may require a foreigner to repay you, but you must cancel any debt another Israelite owes you. 4 There should not be any poor people in your country, because the Lord your God is giving you this land. And the Lord will greatly bless you. 5 But this will happen only if you obey the Lord your God. You must be careful to obey every command that I have told you today. 6 Then the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised. And you will have enough money to make loans to many nations. But you will not need to borrow from anyone. You will rule over many nations. But none of these nations will rule over you.
7 “When you are living in the land the Lord your God is giving you, there might be some poor people living among you. You must not be selfish. You must not refuse to give help to them. 8 You must be willing to share with them. You must lend them whatever they need.
9 “Don’t ever refuse to help someone simply because the seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near. Don’t let an evil thought like that enter your mind. You must never have bad thoughts about someone who needs help. You must not refuse to help them. If you don’t help the poor, they might complain to the Lord, and he will judge you guilty of sin.
10 “So be sure to give to the poor. Don’t hesitate to give to them, because the Lord your God will bless you for doing this good thing. He will bless you in all your work and in everything you do. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. That is why I command you to be ready to help your brother or sister. Give to the poor in your land who need help.
Letting Slaves Go Free
12 “You might buy a Hebrew man or woman to serve you as a slave. You may keep that person as a slave for six years. But in the seventh year, you must let that person go free. 13 But when you let your slave go free, don’t send him away with nothing. 14 You must give him some of your animals, grain, and wine. The Lord your God blessed you and gave you plenty of good things. In the same way you must give plenty of good things to your slave. 15 Remember, you were slaves in Egypt. And the Lord your God set you free. So that is why I am giving you this command today.
16 “But one of your slaves might say to you, ‘I will not leave you.’ He might say this because he loves you and your family and because he has a good life with you. 17 Make this servant put his ear against your door and use a sharp tool to make a hole in his ear. This will show that he is your slave forever. You must do this even to the women slaves who want to stay with you.
18 “Don’t regret letting your slave go free. Remember, he served you six years for half of what you would have paid a hired worker.[b] The Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
Rules About Firstborn Animals
19 “All the first male animals born in your herd and flock are special. You must give them to the Lord. Don’t use any of these animals for your work and don’t cut wool from any of these sheep. 20 Every year you must take these animals to the place the Lord your God will choose. There with the Lord, you and your family will eat these animals.
21 “But if an animal has something wrong with it—if it is crippled or blind or has something else wrong with it—then you must not sacrifice that animal to the Lord your God. 22 But you may eat the meat from that animal at home. Anyone may eat it—people who are clean and people who are unclean. The rules for eating this meat are the same as the rules for eating gazelles and deer. 23 But you must not eat the blood from the animal. You must pour the blood out on the ground like water.
Which Command Is the Most Important?
28 One of the teachers of the law came to Jesus. He heard Jesus arguing with the Sadducees and the Pharisees. He saw that Jesus gave good answers to their questions. So he asked him, “Which of the commands is the most important?”
29 Jesus answered, “The most important command is this: ‘People of Israel, listen! The Lord our God is the only Lord. 30 Love the Lord your God with all your heart, all your soul, all your mind, and all your strength.’[a] 31 The second most important command is this: ‘Love your neighbor[b] the same as you love yourself.’[c] These two commands are the most important.”
32 The man answered, “That was a good answer, Teacher. You are right in saying that God is the only Lord and that there is no other God. 33 And you must love God with all your heart, all your mind, and all your strength. And you must love others the same as you love yourself. These commands are more important than all the animals and sacrifices we offer to God.”
34 Jesus saw that the man answered him wisely. So he said to him, “You are close to God’s kingdom.” And after that time, no one was brave enough to ask Jesus any more questions.
Is the Messiah David’s Son or David’s Lord?
35 Jesus was teaching in the Temple area. He asked, “Why do the teachers of the law say that the Messiah is the son of David? 36 With the help of the Holy Spirit, David himself says,
‘The Lord God said to my Lord:
Sit by me at my right side,
and I will put your enemies under your control.[d]’
37 David himself calls the Messiah ‘Lord.’ So how can the Messiah be David’s son?” Many people listened to Jesus and were very pleased.
Jesus Criticizes the Teachers of the Law
38 Jesus continued teaching. He said, “Be careful of the teachers of the law. They like to walk around wearing clothes that look important. And they love for people to show respect to them in the marketplaces. 39 They love to have the most important seats in the synagogues and the places of honor at banquets. 40 But they cheat widows and take their homes. Then they try to make themselves look good by saying long prayers. God will punish them very much.”
41 Jesus sat near the Temple collection box[e] and watched as people put money into it. Many rich people put in a lot of money. 42 Then a poor widow came and put in two very small copper coins, worth less than a penny.
43 Jesus called his followers to him and said, “This poor widow put in only two small coins. But the truth is, she gave more than all those rich people. 44 They have plenty, and they gave only what they did not need. This woman is very poor, but she gave all she had. It was money she needed to live on.”
- Mark 12:30
Quote from Deut. 6:4-5.
- Mark 12:31 your neighbor Or “others.” Jesus’ teaching in Lk. 10:25-37 makes clear that this includes anyone in need.
- Mark 12:31
Quote from Lev. 19:18.
- Mark 12:36 control Literally, “feet.”
- Mark 12:41 collection box A special box in the Jewish place for worship where people put their gifts to God.