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Deuteronomy 19-21 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 19

Cities of Refuge. When the Lord, your God, cuts down the nations whose land the Lord, your God, is giving you, and you have dispossessed them and settled in their cities and houses, you shall set apart three cities[a] in the land the Lord, your God, is giving you to possess. You shall measure the distances and divide into three regions the land of which the Lord, your God, is giving you possession, so that every homicide will be able to find a refuge.

This is the case of a homicide who may take refuge there and live: when someone strikes down a neighbor unintentionally and not out of previous hatred. For example, if someone goes with a neighbor to a forest to cut wood, wielding an ax to cut down a tree, and its head flies off the handle and hits the neighbor a mortal blow, such a person may take refuge in one of these cities and live. Should the distance be too great, the avenger of blood[b] might in hot anger pursue, overtake, and strike the killer dead, even though that one does not deserve the death penalty since there had been no previous hatred; for this reason I command you: Set apart three cities.

But if the Lord, your God, enlarges your territory, as he swore to your ancestors, and gives you all the land he promised your ancestors he would give, because you carefully observe this whole commandment which I give you today, loving the Lord, your God, and ever walking in his ways, then add three more cities to these three. 10 Thus, in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you as a heritage, innocent blood will not be shed and you will not become guilty of bloodshed.

11 However, if someone, hating a neighbor, lies in wait, attacks, and strikes the neighbor dead, and then flees to one of these cities, 12 the elders of the killer’s own city shall send and have the killer taken from there, to be handed over to the avenger of blood and slain. 13 Do not show pity, but purge from Israel the innocent blood, so that it may go well with you.

Removal of Landmarks. 14 You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary markers[c] erected by your forebears in the heritage that will be allotted to you in the land the Lord, your God, is giving you to possess.

False Witnesses. 15 One witness alone shall not stand against someone in regard to any crime or any offense that may have been committed; a charge shall stand only on the testimony of two or three witnesses.

16 If a hostile witness rises against someone to accuse that person of wrongdoing, 17 the two parties in the dispute shall appear in the presence of the Lord, in the presence of the priests and judges in office at that time, 18 and the judges must investigate it thoroughly. If the witness is a false witness and has falsely accused the other, 19 you shall do to the false witness just as that false witness planned to do to the other. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. 20 The rest shall hear and be afraid, and never again do such an evil thing as this in your midst. 21 Do not show pity. Life for life,[d] eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot!

Chapter 20

Courage in War. When you go out to war against your enemies and you see horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, you shall not be afraid of them, for the Lord, your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, will be with you.

When you are drawing near to battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the army, and say to them, “Hear, O Israel! Today you are drawing near for battle against your enemies. Do not be weakhearted or afraid, alarmed or frightened by them. For it is the Lord, your God, who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and give you victory.”

Then the officials shall speak to the army: “Is there anyone who has built a new house and not yet dedicated it? Let him return home, lest he die in battle and another dedicate it. Is there anyone who has planted a vineyard and not yet plucked its fruit? Let him return home, lest he die in battle and another pluck its fruit. Is there anyone who has betrothed a woman and not yet married her? Let him return home, lest he die in battle and another marry her.” The officials shall continue to speak to the army: “Is there anyone who is afraid and weakhearted? Let him return home, or else he might make the hearts of his fellows melt as his does.”

When the officials have finished speaking to the army, military commanders shall be appointed over them.

Cities of the Enemy. 10 When you draw near a city to attack it, offer it terms of peace. 11 If it agrees to your terms of peace and lets you in, all the people to be found in it shall serve you in forced labor. 12 But if it refuses to make peace with you and instead joins battle with you, lay siege to it, 13 and when the Lord, your God, delivers it into your power, put every male in it to the sword; 14 but the women and children and livestock and anything else in the city—all its spoil—you may take as plunder for yourselves, and you may enjoy this spoil of your enemies, which the Lord, your God, has given you.

15 [e]That is how you shall deal with any city at a considerable distance from you, which does not belong to these nations here. 16 But in the cities of these peoples that the Lord, your God, is giving you as a heritage, you shall not leave a single soul alive. 17 You must put them all under the ban—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites—just as the Lord, your God, has commanded you, 18 so that they do not teach you to do all the abominations that they do for their gods, and you thus sin against the Lord, your God.

Trees of a Besieged City. 19 When you are at war with a city and have to lay siege to it for a long time before you capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are the trees of the field human beings, that they should be included in your siege? 20 However, those trees which you know are not fruit trees you may destroy. You may cut them down to build siegeworks against the city that is waging war with you, until it falls.

Chapter 21

Absolution of Untraced Murder.[f] If the corpse of someone who has been slain is found lying in the open, in the land the Lord, your God, is giving you to possess, and it is not known who killed the person, your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distances to the cities that are in the neighborhood of the corpse. When it is established which city is nearest the corpse, the elders of that city shall take a heifer that has never been put to work or worn a yoke; the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a wadi with an everflowing stream at a place that has not been plowed or sown, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the wadi. The priests, the descendants of Levi, shall come forward, for the Lord, your God, has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the Lord, and every case of dispute or assault shall be for them to decide. Then all the elders of that city nearest the corpse shall wash their hands[g] over the heifer whose neck was broken in the wadi, and shall declare, “Our hands did not shed this blood,[h] and our eyes did not see the deed. Absolve, O Lord, your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not let the guilt of shedding innocent blood remain in the midst of your people Israel.” Thus they shall be absolved from the guilt of bloodshed, and you shall purge the innocent blood from your midst, and do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

Marriage with a Female Captive. 10 When you go out to war against your enemies and the Lord, your God, delivers them into your power, so that you take captives, 11 if you see a beautiful woman among the captives and become so enamored of her that you wish to have her as a wife, 12 and so you take her home to your house, she must shave her head,[i] cut her nails, 13 lay aside her captive’s garb, and stay in your house, mourning her father and mother for a full month. After that, you may come to her, and you shall be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If later on you lose your liking for her, you shall give her her freedom, if she wishes it; you must not sell her for money. Do not enslave her, since you have violated her.

Rights of the Firstborn. 15 If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, and if both the loved and the unloved bear him sons, but the firstborn is the son of the unloved wife: 16 when he comes to bequeath his property to his sons he may not consider as his firstborn the son of the wife he loves, in preference to the son of the wife he does not love, the firstborn. 17 On the contrary, he shall recognize as his firstborn the son of the unloved wife, giving him a double share of whatever he happens to own, since he is the first fruits of his manhood, and to him belong the rights of the firstborn.

The Stubborn and Rebellious Son. 18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not listen to his father or mother, and will not listen to them even though they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders at the gate[j] of his home city, 20 where they shall say to the elders of the city, “This son of ours is a stubborn and rebellious fellow who will not listen to us; he is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all his fellow citizens shall stone him to death. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear and be afraid.

Corpse of a Criminal. 22 If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree,[k] 23 his corpse shall not remain on the tree overnight. You must bury it the same day; anyone who is hanged is a curse of God.[l] You shall not defile the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you as a heritage.

Footnotes:

  1. 19:2 Set apart three cities: the Israelites were to have at least six cities of refuge, three in the land east of the Jordan and three in the land of Canaan west of the Jordan (Nm 35:9–34); but since the three cities east of the Jordan had now been appointed (Dt 4:41–43), reference is made here only to the three west of the Jordan. The execution of this command is narrated in Jos 20.
  2. 19:6 The avenger of blood: see note on Nm 35:12.
  3. 19:14 Move your neighbor’s boundary markers: a prohibition against furtively extending one’s property by moving a neighbor’s boundary stone.
  4. 19:21 Life for life…: this phrasing of the lex talionis may seem exaggerated, but the law itself is meant to ensure equity and proportional punishment; cf. note on Ex 21:22–25.
  5. 20:15 Deuteronomy makes a distinction between treatment of nations far away and those close at hand whose abhorrent religious practices might, or did, influence Israel’s worship. This harsh policy was to make sure the nations nearby did not pass their practices on to Israel (cf. chap. 7).
  6. 21:1–9 This law has to do with absolving the community of bloodguilt that accrues to it and to the land when a homicide occurs and the murderer cannot be identified and punished.
  7. 21:6 Wash their hands: a symbolic gesture in protestation of one’s own innocence when human blood is unjustly shed; cf. Mt 27:24.
  8. 21:7 This blood: the blood of the slain, or the bloodguilt effected by the killing.
  9. 21:12–13 Shave her head…: these symbolic actions probably signified the transition or change of status of the woman or perhaps the end of her period of mourning for her previous husband or family.
  10. 21:19 The gate: in the city walls. This open space served as the forum for the administration of justice. Cf. 22:15; 25:7; Ru 4:1, 2, 11; Is 29:21; Am 5:10, 12, 15.
  11. 21:22 You hang him on a tree: some understand, “impaled on a stake.” In any case the hanging or impaling was not the means used to execute the criminal; he was first put to death by the ordinary means, stoning, and his corpse was then exposed on high as a warning for others. Cf. Jos 8:29; 10:26; 1 Sm 31:10; 2 Sm 21:9.
  12. 21:23 Gal 3:13 applies these words to the crucifixion of Jesus, who “redeemed us from the curse of the law, becoming a curse for us.”
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Psalm 97 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Psalm 97[a]

The Divine Ruler of All

I

The Lord is king; let the earth rejoice;
    let the many islands be glad.
Cloud and darkness surround him;
    justice and right are the foundation of his throne.
Fire goes before him,
    consuming his foes on every side.
His lightening illumines the world;
    the earth sees and trembles.
The mountains melt like wax before the Lord,
    before the Lord of all the earth.
The heavens proclaim his justice;
    all peoples see his glory.

II

All who serve idols are put to shame,
    who glory in worthless things;
    all gods[b] bow down before him.
Zion hears and is glad,
    and the daughters of Judah rejoice
    because of your judgments, O Lord.
For you, Lord, are the Most High over all the earth,
    exalted far above all gods.
10 You who love the Lord, hate evil,
    he protects the souls of the faithful,
    rescues them from the hand of the wicked.
11 Light dawns for the just,
    and gladness for the honest of heart.
12 Rejoice in the Lord, you just,
    and give thanks at the remembrance of his holiness.

Footnotes:

  1. Psalm 97 The hymn begins with God appearing in a storm, a traditional picture of some ancient Near Eastern gods (Ps 97:1–6); cf. Ps 18:8–16; Mi 1:3–4; Hb 3:3–15. Israel rejoices in the overthrowing of idol worshipers and their gods (Ps 97:7–9) and the rewarding of the faithful righteous (Ps 97:10–12).
  2. 97:7 All gods: divine beings thoroughly subordinate to Israel’s God. The Greek translates “angels,” an interpretation adopted by Hb 1:6.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

Acts 25 New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Chapter 25

Appeal to Caesar. Three days after his arrival in the province, Festus went up from Caesarea to Jerusalem where the chief priests and Jewish leaders presented him their formal charges against Paul.[a] They asked him as a favor to have him sent to Jerusalem, for they were plotting to kill him along the way. Festus replied that Paul was being held in custody in Caesarea and that he himself would be returning there shortly. He said, “Let your authorities come down with me, and if this man has done something improper, let them accuse him.”

After spending no more than eight or ten days with them, he went down to Caesarea, and on the following day took his seat on the tribunal and ordered that Paul be brought in. When he appeared, the Jews who had come down from Jerusalem surrounded him and brought many serious charges against him, which they were unable to prove. In defending himself Paul said, “I have committed no crime either against the Jewish law or against the temple or against Caesar.” [b]Then Festus, wishing to ingratiate himself with the Jews, said to Paul in reply, “Are you willing to go up to Jerusalem and there stand trial before me on these charges?” 10 Paul answered, “I am standing before the tribunal of Caesar; this is where I should be tried. I have committed no crime against the Jews, as you very well know. 11 If I have committed a crime or done anything deserving death, I do not seek to escape the death penalty; but if there is no substance to the charges they are bringing against me, then no one has the right to hand me over to them. I appeal to Caesar.” 12 Then Festus, after conferring with his council, replied, “You have appealed to Caesar. To Caesar you will go.”

Paul Before King Agrippa. 13 When a few days had passed, King Agrippa and Bernice[c] arrived in Caesarea on a visit to Festus. 14 Since they spent several days there, Festus referred Paul’s case to the king, saying, “There is a man here left in custody by Felix. 15 When I was in Jerusalem the chief priests and the elders of the Jews brought charges against him and demanded his condemnation. 16 I answered them that it was not Roman practice to hand over an accused person before he has faced his accusers and had the opportunity to defend himself against their charge. 17 So when [they] came together here, I made no delay; the next day I took my seat on the tribunal and ordered the man to be brought in. 18 His accusers stood around him, but did not charge him with any of the crimes I suspected. 19 Instead they had some issues with him about their own religion and about a certain Jesus who had died but who Paul claimed was alive. 20 Since I was at a loss how to investigate this controversy, I asked if he were willing to go to Jerusalem and there stand trial on these charges. 21 And when Paul appealed that he be held in custody for the Emperor’s decision, I ordered him held until I could send him to Caesar.” 22 Agrippa said to Festus, “I too should like to hear this man.” He replied, “Tomorrow you will hear him.”

23 The next day Agrippa and Bernice came with great ceremony and entered the audience hall in the company of cohort commanders and the prominent men of the city and, by command of Festus, Paul was brought in. 24 And Festus said, “King Agrippa and all you here present with us, look at this man about whom the whole Jewish populace petitioned me here and in Jerusalem, clamoring that he should live no longer. 25 I found, however, that he had done nothing deserving death, and so when he appealed to the Emperor, I decided to send him. 26 But I have nothing definite to write about him to our sovereign; therefore I have brought him before all of you, and particularly before you, King Agrippa, so that I may have something to write as a result of this investigation. 27 For it seems senseless to me to send up a prisoner without indicating the charges against him.”

Footnotes:

  1. 25:2 Even after two years the animosity toward Paul in Jerusalem had not subsided (see Acts 24:27).
  2. 25:9–12 Paul refuses to acknowledge that the Sanhedrin in Jerusalem has any jurisdiction over him now (Acts 25:11). Paul uses his right as a Roman citizen to appeal his case to the jurisdiction of the Emperor (Nero, ca. A.D. 60) (Acts 25:12). This move broke the deadlock between Roman protective custody of Paul and the plan of his enemies to kill him (25:3).
  3. 25:13 King Agrippa and Bernice: brother and sister, children of Herod Agrippa I whose activities against the Jerusalem community are mentioned in Acts 12:1–19. Agrippa II was a petty ruler over small areas in northern Palestine and some villages in Perea. His influence on the Jewish population of Palestine was insignificant.
New American Bible (Revised Edition) (NABRE)

Scripture texts, prefaces, introductions, footnotes and cross references used in this work are taken from the New American Bible, revised edition © 2010, 1991, 1986, 1970 Confraternity of Christian Doctrine, Inc., Washington, DC All Rights Reserved. No part of this work may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, or by any information storage and retrieval system, without permission in writing from the copyright owner.

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