Deuteronomy 16:18-21:9 Tree of Life Version (TLV)
18 “Judges and officers you are to appoint within all your gates that Adonai your God is giving you, according to your tribes; and they are to judge the people with righteous judgment. 19 You are not to twist justice—you must not show partiality or take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise and distorts the words of the righteous. 20 Justice, justice you must pursue, so that you may live and possess the land that Adonai your God is giving you. 21 You are not to plant for yourself an Asherah pole of any kind of wood beside the altar of Adonai your God that you make for yourself. 22 Nor are you to set up a pillar for yourself—Adonai your God hates this.
Investigations and Witnesses
17 “You are not to sacrifice to Adonai your God a bull or a sheep that has a defect or anything bad—for that would be an abomination to Adonai your God. 2 Suppose there is found in your midst—within one of your gates that Adonai your God is giving you—a man or woman who does what is evil in the eyes of Adonai your God by transgressing His covenant. 3 This person goes and serves other gods and worships them—the sun or moon or any of the heavenly host, which I have not commanded. 4 It is told to you and you have heard about it, and you investigate thoroughly and indeed it is true and the thing certain—this abomination has been done in Israel. 5 Then you are to bring out to your gates that man or woman who has done this evil thing, and stone that man or woman with stones to death. 6 By the word of two or three witnesses,[a] the one who is to die is to be put to death. No one is to be put to death by the word of one witness. 7 The hand of the witnesses is to be first to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you are to purge the evil from your midst.
8 “Suppose a matter arises that is too hard for you to judge—over bloodshed, legal claims or assault—matters of controversy within your gates. Then you should go up to the place Adonai your God chooses, 9 and come to the Levitical kohanim and the judge in charge at that time. And you will inquire, and they will tell you the sentence of judgment. 10 You are to act according to the sentence they tell you from that place Adonai chooses, and take care to do all that they instruct you. 11 You are to act according to the instruction they teach you and the judgment they tell you—you must not turn aside from the sentence they tell you, to the right or to the left. 12 The man who acts presumptuously by not listening to the kohen who stands to serve there before Adonai your God, or to the judge, that man must die. So you are to purge the evil from Israel. 13 Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and not act presumptuously again.
Torah for Kings
14 “When you come to the land that Adonai your God is giving you, possess it and dwell in it, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me, like all the nations around me,’ 15 you will indeed set over yourselves a king, whom Adonai your God chooses. One from among your brothers will be appointed as king over you—you may not put a foreigner over you, who is not your brother. 16 Only he should not multiply horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to multiply horses, because Adonai has said to you, “You must never go back that way again.” 17 Nor should he multiply wives for himself, so that his heart does not turn aside, nor multiply much silver and gold for himself.
18 “Now when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself a copy of this Torah on a scroll, from what is before the Levitical kohanim. 19 It will remain with him, and he will read in it all the days of his life, in order to learn to fear Adonai his God and keep all the words of this Torah and these statutes. 20 Then his heart will not be exalted above his brothers, and he will not turn from the commandment to the right or to the left—so that he may prolong his days in his kingship, he and his sons, in the midst of Israel.
18 “The Levitical kohanim, all the tribe of Levi, are to have no portion or inheritance with Israel. They are to eat the offerings made to Adonai by fire as His inheritance. [b] 2 They will have no inheritance among their brothers—Adonai is their inheritance, just as He promised them. 3 So this will be the share due to the kohanim from the people—from those who offer a sacrifice, whether a bull or sheep, they are to give the kohen the shoulder, two cheeks, and the stomach. 4 The firstfruits of your grain, of your new wine, of your oil, and the first fleece of your sheep, you are to give him. 5 For Adonai your God has chosen him from all your tribes to stand and serve in the Name of Adonai—him and his sons forever.
6 “Suppose a Levite comes from one of your towns, wherever he is living in all of Israel, and he comes whenever his soul desires to the place Adonai chooses, 7 and serves in the Name of Adonai his God like all his fellow Levites who stand there before Adonai. 8 They are to eat equal portions, regardless of their fathers’ goods.
Occultism Loathsome to Adonai
9 When you enter the land Adonai your God is giving you, you are not to learn to do the abominations of those nations. 10 There must not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire, or a fortune-teller, soothsayer, omen reader, or sorcerer, 11 or one who casts spells, or a medium, a spiritist, or one who calls up the dead. 12 For whoever does these things is an abomination to Adonai, and because of these abominations Adonai your God is driving them out from before you. 13 You are to be blameless before Adonai your God.
14 “For these nations, which you are about to dispossess, listen to soothsayers and fortune-tellers, but as for you, Adonai your God will not allow you to do so.
A Prophet is Promised
15 “Adonai your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from your midst—from your brothers. To him you must listen. [c] 16 This is just what you asked of Adonai your God in Horeb on the day of the assembly when saying, ‘I cannot continue to hear the voice of Adonai my God or see this great fire any more, or I will die.’
17 “Adonai said to me, ‘They have done well in what they have spoken. 18 I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their brothers. I will put My words in his mouth, and he will speak to them all that I command him. [d] 19 Now whoever does not listen to My words that this prophet speaks in My Name, I Myself will call him to account. [e] 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 prophet will die.’
21 “Now should you say in your heart, ‘How would we recognize the word that Adonai has not spoken?’ 22 When a prophet speaks in Adonai’s Name and the word does not happen or come true, that is a word that Adonai has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously—do not be afraid of him.
Cities of Refuge
19 “When Adonai your God cuts off the nations whose land Adonai your God is giving you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and houses, 2 you are to set apart three cities for yourself within the land He is giving you to possess. 3 You are to prepare the way for yourself and divide into three parts the borders of your land that Adonai your God enables you to inherit, so that anyone who kills may flee there. 4 Now this is the case of the one who kills, who may flee there and live—whoever kills his neighbor unintentionally and did not hate him in the past— 5 as when someone goes into the forest with his neighbor to chop wood, and his hand takes a swing with the axe to cut down the tree, and the iron flies off the wood and hits his neighbor so that he dies. He may flee to one of these cities and live. 6 Otherwise if the way is long, the avenger of the blood, while his heart is hot, may chase the manslayer, catch up to him and strike him dead. Yet no death sentence is on him, since he did not hate him in the past. 7 Therefore I am commanding you—set apart three cities for yourself.
8 “Suppose Adonai your God enlarges your territory, as He has sworn to your fathers, and He gives you all the land that He promised to give to your fathers— 9 when you take care to do all this mitzvah that I am commanding you today, to love Adonai your God and to always walk in His ways. Then you are to add three more cities for yourself, besides these three. 10 Then innocent blood will not be shed within your land that Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance, and there would be blood upon you.
11 “But suppose someone hates his neighbor, waits in hiding for him, rises up against him, strikes him dead, then flees to one of these cities. 12 Then the elders of his hometown should send and take him from there and hand him over to the avenger of blood, to die. 13 Your eye should not pity him, but you must purge the innocent blood from Israel, so that it may go well with you.
14 “You must not move your neighbor’s boundary marker that the first generations marked out, in the inheritance you will receive in the land Adonai your God is giving you to possess.
15 A single witness shall not rise up against a person for any offense or sin that he commits. By the word of two or three witnesses is a case to be established. [f] 16 Suppose a hostile witness rises up against someone to accuse him of wrongdoing. 17 Then both people who have the dispute will stand before Adonai, before the kohanim and judges in charge at that time. 18 The judges are to investigate thoroughly, and if indeed the witness is a false witness and has testified falsely against his brother, 19 then you are to do to him just as he had plotted to do to his brother. So you will purge the evil from your midst. 20 Those who remain will hear and be afraid, and they will no longer do such an evil thing as this in your midst. 21 Your eye must not show pity—life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
Confidence in Battle
20 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horse and chariot—a people more numerous than you—do not be afraid of them. For Adonai your God, the One who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. 2 When you draw near to the battle, the kohen will come forward and speak to the people. 3 He will say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are drawing near today to the battle against your enemies. Don’t be fainthearted! Don’t fear or panic or tremble because of them. 4 For Adonai your God is the One who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies to save you.’
5 “The officers are to speak to the troops saying, ‘What man has built a new house but has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house—otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. 6 What man has planted a vineyard but has not put it to use? Let him go back to his house—otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use it. 7 What man has become engaged to a woman but has not married her? Let him go back to his house—otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would marry her.’ 8 The officers will speak further to the troops and say, ‘What man is afraid and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house—so he does not weaken his brothers’ heart like his own.’ 9 Then when the officers have finished speaking to the troops, they should appoint army commanders at the head of the troops.
10 “When you go near a city to fight against it, call out shalom to it. 11 Now if it answers you shalom and opens up to you, then all the people found in it will serve you as forced laborers. 12 If it does not make peace with you but makes war against you, then lay siege against that city. 13 When Adonai your God hands it over to you, you are to strike all its males with the sword. 14 Only the women, children, livestock and all that is in the city—all its spoil—may you take as plunder for yourself. So you may consume your enemies’ spoil, which Adonai your God has given you. 15 Thus you will do to all the cities that are very distant from you, which are not among the towns of these nations nearby. 16 However, only from the cities of these peoples, which Adonai your God is giving you as an inheritance, you must not let anything that breathes live. 17 You must utterly destroy them—the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—just as Adonai your God has commanded you. 18 You are to do this so they will not teach you to do all the abominations as they have done for their gods, and so you would sin against Adonai your God.
19 “When you lay siege to a city for a long time, making war against it to capture it, you are not to destroy its trees by swinging an axe at them. For from them you may eat, so you shall not chop them down. For is the tree of the field human, that it should enter the siege before you? 20 You may destroy and chop down only the trees that you know are not trees for food, so that you may build siege equipment against the city that is making war with you until its downfall.
Purging Innocent Blood
21 “Suppose a slain person is found fallen in a field, on the land Adonai your God is giving you to possess—who struck him is unknown. 2 Then your elders and judges must come out and measure the distance to the towns that are around the slain one. 3 Now the town nearest to the slain one—the elders of that city are to take from the herd a heifer that has not been used for work or pulled a yoke. 4 Then the elders of that city are to bring the heifer down to a flowing wadi that has not been plowed or sown, and break the heifer’s neck there in the wadi. 5 The kohanim, the sons of Levi, will come forward—for Adonai your God has chosen them to serve Him and pronounce blessings in His Name, and by their mouth every dispute and assault is to be settled. 6 All the elders of that city nearest to the slain one will wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the wadi. 7 Then they will answer and say, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see. 8 Grant atonement for Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, Adonai, and do not put innocent blood on Your people Israel.’ Then atonement will be granted to them for the blood. 9 So you will purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in Adonai’s sight.