New American Bible (Revised Edition)
B. The Deuteronomic Code
One Center of Worship. 1 These are the statutes and ordinances which you must be careful to observe in the land which the Lord, the God of your ancestors, has given you to possess, throughout the time you live on its soil.(A) 2 (B)Destroy entirely all the places where the nations you are to dispossess serve their gods, on the high mountains, on the hills, and under every green tree.(C) 3 Tear down their altars, smash their sacred pillars, burn up their asherahs, and chop down the idols of their gods, that you may destroy the very name of them from that place.
4 That is not how you are to act toward the Lord, your God. 5 Instead,(D) you shall seek out the place which the Lord, your God, chooses out of all your tribes and designates as his dwelling to put his name there.[a](E) There you shall go, 6 bringing your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and personal contributions, your votive and voluntary offerings, and the firstlings of your herds and flocks.(F) 7 There, too, in the presence of the Lord, your God, you and your families shall eat and rejoice in all your undertakings, in which the Lord, your God, has blessed you.(G)
8 You shall not do as we are doing here today, everyone doing what is right in their own sight,(H) 9 since you have not yet reached your resting place, the heritage which the Lord, your God, is giving you. 10 But after you have crossed the Jordan and dwell in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you as a heritage, when he has given you rest from all your enemies round about and you live there in security,(I) 11 [b](J)then to the place which the Lord, your God, chooses as the dwelling place for his name you shall bring all that I command you: your burnt offerings and sacrifices, your tithes and personal contributions, and every special offering you have vowed to the Lord. 12 You shall rejoice in the presence of the Lord, your God, with your sons and daughters, your male and female slaves, as well as with the Levite within your gates, who has no hereditary portion with you.
13 (K)Be careful not to sacrifice your burnt offerings in any place you like, 14 but offer them in the place which the Lord chooses in one of your tribal territories; there you shall do what I command you.
Profane and Sacred Slaughter. 15 [c]However, in any of your communities you may slaughter and eat meat freely, according to the blessing that the Lord, your God, has given you; the unclean as well as the clean may eat it, as they do the gazelle or the deer.(L) 16 [d]Only, you shall not eat of the blood, but must pour it out on the ground like water.(M) 17 Moreover, you may not, in your own communities, partake of your tithe of grain or wine or oil, of the firstborn of your herd or flock, of any offering you have vowed, of your voluntary offerings, or of your personal contributions. 18 These you must eat in the presence of the Lord, your God, in the place that the Lord, your God, chooses, along with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, and the Levite within your gates; and there, in the presence of the Lord, you shall rejoice in all your undertakings. 19 Be careful, also, that you do not neglect the Levite as long as you live in your land.(N)
20 (O)After the Lord, your God, has enlarged your territory, as he promised you,(P) and you think, “I will eat meat,” as it is your desire to eat meat, you may eat it freely; 21 and if the place where the Lord, your God, chooses to put his name is too far, you may slaughter in the manner I have commanded you any of your herd or flock that the Lord has given you, and eat it freely in your own community. 22 You may eat it as you would the gazelle or the deer: the unclean and the clean eating it together. 23 (Q)But make sure that you do not eat of the blood; for blood is life; you shall not eat that life with the flesh. 24 Do not eat of the blood, therefore, but pour it out on the ground like water. 25 Do not eat of it, that you and your children after you may prosper for doing what is right in the sight of the Lord. 26 However, any sacred gifts or votive offerings that you may have, you shall bring with you to the place which the Lord chooses, 27 and there you must sacrifice your burnt offerings, both the flesh and the blood, on the altar of the Lord, your God; of your other sacrifices the blood indeed must be poured out against the altar of the Lord, your God,(R) but their flesh you may eat.
28 Be careful to heed all these words I command you today, that you and your descendants after you may forever prosper for doing what is good and right in the sight of the Lord, your God.(S)
Warning Against Abominable Practices. 29 (T)When the Lord, your God, cuts down from before you the nations you are going in to dispossess, and you have dispossessed them and are settled in their land, 30 be careful that you not be trapped into following them after they have been destroyed before you. Do not inquire regarding their gods, “How did these nations serve their gods, so I might do the same.” 31 You shall not worship the Lord, your God, that way, because they offered to their gods every abomination that the Lord detests, even burning their sons and daughters to their gods.(U)
Penalties for Enticing to Idolatry. 1 Every word that I command you, you shall be careful to observe, neither adding to it nor subtracting from it.
2 (V)If there arises in your midst a prophet or a dreamer[e] who promises you a sign or wonder, 3 saying, “Let us go after other gods,” whom you have not known, “and let us serve them,” and the sign or wonder foretold to you comes to pass, 4 do not listen to the words of that prophet or that dreamer; for the Lord, your God, is testing you to know whether you really love the Lord, your God, with all your heart and soul.(W) 5 The Lord, your God, shall you follow, and him shall you fear; his commandments shall you observe, and to his voice shall you listen; him you shall serve, and to him you shall hold fast.(X) 6 But that prophet or that dreamer shall be put to death, because, in order to lead you astray from the way which the Lord, your God, has commanded you to take, the prophet or dreamer has spoken apostasy against the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt and redeemed you from the house of slavery. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.(Y)
7 If your brother, your father’s child or your mother’s child, your son or daughter, your beloved spouse, or your intimate friend entices you secretly, saying, “Come, let us serve other gods,” whom you and your ancestors have not known, 8 any of the gods of the surrounding peoples, near to you or far away, from one end of the earth to the other: 9 do not yield or listen to any such person; show no pity or compassion and do not shield such a one,(Z) 10 (AA)but kill that person. Your hand shall be the first raised to put such a one to death; the hand of all the people shall follow. 11 You shall stone that person to death, for seeking to lead you astray from the Lord, your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slavery. 12 And all Israel shall hear of it and fear, and never again do such evil as this in your midst.(AB)
13 If you hear it said concerning one of the cities which the Lord, your God, gives you to dwell in, 14 that certain scoundrels have sprung up in your midst and have led astray the inhabitants of their city, saying, “Come, let us serve other gods,” whom you have not known, 15 you must inquire carefully into the matter and investigate it thoroughly. If you find that it is true and an established fact that this abomination has been committed in your midst,(AC) 16 (AD)you shall put the inhabitants of that city to the sword, placing the city and all that is in it, even its livestock, under the ban. 17 Having heaped up all its spoils in the middle of its square, you shall burn the city with all its spoils as a whole burnt offering to the Lord, your God. Let it be a heap of ruins forever, never to be rebuilt. 18 You shall not hold on to anything that is under the ban; then the Lord will turn from his burning anger and show you mercy, and in showing you mercy multiply you as he swore to your ancestors, 19 because you have listened to the voice of the Lord, your God, keeping all his commandments, which I give you today, doing what is right in the sight of the Lord, your God.
Improper Mourning Rites. 1 You are children of the Lord, your God. You shall not gash yourselves nor shave the hair above your foreheads for the dead.(AE) 2 For you are a people holy to the Lord, your God; the Lord, your God, has chosen you from all the peoples on the face of the earth to be a people specially his own.(AF)
Clean and Unclean Animals. 3 You shall not eat any abominable thing.(AG) 4 (AH)These are the animals you may eat: the ox, the sheep, the goat, 5 the deer, the gazelle, the roebuck, the wild goat, the ibex, the antelope, and the mountain sheep. 6 Any among the animals that has divided hooves, with the foot cloven in two, and that chews the cud you may eat. 7 But you shall not eat any of the following that chew the cud or have cloven hooves: the camel, the hare, and the rock badger, which indeed chew the cud, but do not have divided hooves; they are unclean for you. 8 And the pig, which indeed has divided hooves, with cloven foot, but does not chew the cud, is unclean for you. Their flesh you shall not eat, and their dead bodies you shall not touch.
9 These you may eat, of all that live in the water: whatever has both fins and scales you may eat, 10 but all those that lack either fins or scales you shall not eat; they are unclean for you.
11 You may eat all clean birds. 12 [f]But you shall not eat any of the following: the griffon vulture, the bearded vulture, the black vulture, 13 the various kites and falcons, 14 all kinds of crows, 15 the eagle owl, the kestrel, the long-eared owl, all species of hawks, 16 the little owl, the screech owl, the barn owl, 17 the horned owl, the osprey, the cormorant, 18 the stork, any kind of heron, the hoopoe, and the bat. 19 [g]All winged insects are also unclean for you and shall not be eaten. 20 Any clean winged creatures you may eat.
21 You shall not eat the carcass of any animal that has died of itself; but you may give it to a resident alien within your gates to eat, or you may sell it to a foreigner. For you are a people holy to the Lord, your God.(AI)
You shall not boil a young goat in its mother’s milk.[h]
Tithes. 22 Each year you shall tithe all the produce of your seed that grows in the field;(AJ) 23 then in the place which the Lord, your God, chooses as the dwelling place of his name(AK) you shall eat in his presence the tithe of your grain, wine and oil, as well as the firstlings of your herd and flock, that you may learn always to fear the Lord, your God. 24 (AL)But if, when the Lord, your God, blesses you, the journey is too much for you and you are not able to bring your tithe, because the place which the Lord, your God, chooses to put his name is too far for you, 25 you may exchange the tithe for money, and with the money securely in hand, go to the place which the Lord, your God, chooses. 26 You may then exchange the money for whatever you desire, oxen or sheep, wine or beer, or anything else you want, and there in the presence of the Lord, your God, you shall consume it and rejoice, you and your household together.(AM) 27 But do not neglect the Levite within your gates, for he has no hereditary portion with you.(AN)
28 (AO)At the end of every third year you shall bring out all the tithes of your produce for that year and deposit them within your own communities, 29 that the Levite who has no hereditary portion with you, and also the resident alien, the orphan and the widow within your gates, may come and eat and be satisfied; so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all that you undertake.
Debts and the Poor. 1 At the end of every seven-year period[i] you shall have a remission of debts,(AP) 2 and this is the manner of the remission. Creditors shall remit all claims on loans made to a neighbor, not pressing the neighbor, one who is kin, because the Lord’s remission has been proclaimed. 3 You may press a foreigner, but you shall remit the claim on what your kin owes to you.(AQ) 4 (AR)However, since the Lord, your God, will bless you abundantly in the land the Lord, your God, will give you to possess as a heritage, there shall be no one of you in need 5 if you but listen to the voice of the Lord, your God, and carefully observe this entire commandment which I enjoin on you today. 6 Since the Lord, your God, will bless you as he promised, you will lend to many nations, and borrow from none;(AS) you will rule over many nations, and none will rule over you.
7 (AT)If one of your kindred is in need in any community in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall not harden your heart nor close your hand against your kin who is in need. 8 Instead, you shall freely open your hand and generously lend what suffices to meet that need.(AU) 9 Be careful not to entertain the mean thought, “The seventh year, the year of remission, is near,” so that you would begrudge your kin who is in need and give nothing, and your kin would cry to the Lord against you and you would be held guilty.(AV) 10 When you give, give generously and not with a stingy heart; for that, the Lord, your God, will bless you in all your works and undertakings. 11 The land will never lack for needy persons; that is why I command you: “Open your hand freely to your poor and to your needy kin in your land.”(AW)
Hebrew Slaves. 12 (AX)If your kin, a Hebrew man or woman, sells himself or herself to you, he or she is to serve you for six years, but in the seventh year you shall release him or her as a free person. 13 (AY)When you release a male from your service, as a free person, you shall not send him away empty-handed, 14 but shall weigh him down with gifts from your flock and threshing floor and wine press; as the Lord, your God, has blessed you, so you shall give to him. 15 For remember that you too were slaves in the land of Egypt, and the Lord, your God, redeemed you. That is why I am giving you this command today.(AZ) 16 (BA)But if he says to you, “I do not wish to leave you,” because he loves you and your household, since he is well off with you, 17 you shall take an awl and put it through his ear[j] into the door, and he shall be your slave forever. Your female slave, also, you shall treat in the same way. 18 Do not be reluctant when you let them go free, since the service they have given you for six years was worth twice a hired laborer’s salary; and the Lord, your God, will bless you in everything you do.
Firstlings. 19 (BB)You shall consecrate to the Lord, your God, every male firstling born in your herd and in your flock. You shall not work the firstlings of your cattle, nor shear the firstlings of your flock. 20 In the presence of the Lord, your God, you shall eat them year after year, you and your household, in the place that the Lord will choose.(BC) 21 (BD)But if a firstling has any defect, lameness or blindness, any such serious defect, you shall not sacrifice it to the Lord, your God, 22 but in your own communities you may eat it, the unclean and the clean eating it together, as you would a gazelle or a deer. 23 Only, you must not eat of its blood; you shall pour it out on the ground like water.
Feast of the Passover. 1 Observe the month of Abib[k] by keeping the Passover of the Lord, your God,(BE) since it was in the month of Abib that the Lord, your God, brought you out of Egypt by night. 2 You shall offer the Passover sacrifice from your flock and your herd to the Lord, your God, in the place the Lord will choose as the dwelling place of his name.(BF) 3 (BG)You shall not eat leavened bread with it. For seven days you shall eat with it only unleavened bread, the bread of affliction, so that you may remember as long as you live the day you left the land of Egypt; for in hurried flight you left the land of Egypt. 4 No leaven is to be found with you in all your territory for seven days, and none of the meat which you sacrificed on the evening of the first day shall be kept overnight for the next day.
5 You may not sacrifice the Passover in any of the communities which the Lord, your God, gives you; 6 only at the place which the Lord, your God, will choose as the dwelling place of his name, and in the evening at sunset, at the very time when you left Egypt, shall you sacrifice the Passover.(BH) 7 You shall cook and eat it at the place the Lord, your God, will choose; then in the morning you may return to your tents. 8 For six days you shall eat unleavened bread, and on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly for the Lord, your God; on that day you shall do no work.(BI)
Feast of Weeks. 9 (BJ)You shall count off seven weeks; begin to count the seven weeks from the day when the sickle is first put to the standing grain. 10 You shall then keep the feast of Weeks[l] for the Lord, your God, and the measure of your own voluntary offering which you will give shall be in proportion to the blessing the Lord, your God, has given you. 11 You shall rejoice in the presence of the Lord, your God, together with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, and the Levite within your gates, as well as the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow among you, in the place which the Lord, your God, will choose as the dwelling place of his name.(BK) 12 Remember that you too were slaves in Egypt, so carry out these statutes carefully.
Feast of Booths. 13 (BL)You shall celebrate the feast of Booths[m] for seven days, when you have gathered in the produce from your threshing floor and wine press. 14 You shall rejoice at your feast,(BM) together with your son and daughter, your male and female slave, and also the Levite, the resident alien, the orphan and the widow within your gates. 15 For seven days you shall celebrate this feast for the Lord, your God, in the place which the Lord will choose; since the Lord, your God, has blessed you in all your crops and in all your undertakings, you will be full of joy.
16 Three times a year,(BN) then, all your males shall appear before the Lord, your God, in the place which he will choose: at the feast of Unleavened Bread, at the feast of Weeks, and at the feast of Booths. They shall not appear before the Lord empty-handed, 17 but each with his own gift, in proportion to the blessing which the Lord, your God, has given to you.
Justice. 18 (BO)In all the communities which the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall appoint judges and officials throughout your tribes to administer true justice for the people. 19 You must not distort justice: you shall not show partiality;(BP) you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the eyes even of the wise and twists the words even of the just. 20 Justice, justice alone shall you pursue, so that you may live and possess the land the Lord, your God, is giving you.
Illicit Worship. 21 (BQ)You shall not plant an asherah[n] of any kind of wood next to the altar of the Lord, your God, which you will build;(BR) 22 nor shall you erect a sacred pillar, such as the Lord, your God, hates.
1 You shall not sacrifice to the Lord, your God, an ox or a sheep with any serious defect;(BS) that would be an abomination to the Lord, your God.
2 (BT)If there is found in your midst, in any one of the communities which the Lord, your God, gives you, a man or a woman who does evil in the sight of the Lord, your God, and transgresses his covenant,(BU) 3 by going to serve other gods, by bowing down to them, to the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, contrary to my command;(BV) 4 and if you are told or hear of it, you must investigate it thoroughly. If the truth of the matter is established that this abomination has been committed in Israel, 5 you shall bring the man or the woman who has done this evil deed out to your gates[o] and stone the man or the woman to death. 6 Only on the testimony of two or three witnesses shall a person be put to death;(BW) no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7 The hands of the witnesses shall be the first raised to put the person to death, and afterward the hands of all the people.(BX) Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.
Judges. 8 (BY)If there is a case for judgment which proves too baffling for you to decide, in a matter of bloodshed or of law or of injury, matters of dispute within your gates, you shall then go up to the place which the Lord, your God, will choose, 9 to the levitical priests or to the judge who is in office at that time. They shall investigate the case and then announce to you the decision.(BZ) 10 You shall act according to the decision they announce to you in the place which the Lord will choose, carefully observing everything as they instruct you. 11 You shall carry out the instruction they give you and the judgment they pronounce, without turning aside either to the right or left from the decision they announce to you. 12 Anyone who acts presumptuously and does not obey the priest[p] who officiates there in the ministry of the Lord, your God, or the judge, shall die. Thus shall you purge the evil from Israel. 13 And all the people, on hearing of it, shall fear, and will never again act presumptuously.(CA)
The King. 14 (CB)When you have come into the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you, and have taken possession of it and settled in it, should you then decide, “I will set a king over me, like all the surrounding nations,”(CC) 15 you may indeed set over you a king whom the Lord, your God, will choose.(CD) Someone from among your own kindred you may set over you as king; you may not set over you a foreigner, who is no kin of yours. 16 [q]But he shall not have a great number of horses; nor shall he make his people go back again to Egypt to acquire many horses, for the Lord said to you, Do not go back that way again.(CE) 17 Neither shall he have a great number of wives, lest his heart turn away,(CF) nor shall he accumulate a vast amount of silver and gold. 18 When he is sitting upon his royal throne, he shall write a copy of this law[r] upon a scroll from the one that is in the custody of the levitical priests.(CG) 19 [s](CH)It shall remain with him and he shall read it as long as he lives, so that he may learn to fear the Lord, his God, and to observe carefully all the words of this law and these statutes, 20 so that he does not exalt himself over his kindred or turn aside from this commandment to the right or to the left, and so that he and his descendants may reign long in Israel.
Priests. 1 The levitical priests, the whole tribe of Levi, shall have no hereditary portion with Israel; they shall eat the fire offerings of the Lord and the portions due to him.(CI) 2 They shall have no heritage among their kindred; the Lord himself is their heritage, as he has told them.(CJ) 3 This shall be the due of the priests from the people: those who are offering a sacrifice, whether an ox or a sheep, shall give the priest the shoulder, the jowls and the stomach. 4 The first fruits of your grain, your wine, and your oil,(CK) as well as the first shearing of your flock, you shall also give him. 5 For the Lord, your God, has chosen him out of all your tribes to be in attendance to minister in the name of the Lord, him and his descendants for all time.(CL)
6 When a Levite goes from one of your communities anywhere in Israel in which he has been residing, to visit, as his heart may desire, the place which the Lord will choose, 7 and ministers there in the name of the Lord, his God, like all his fellow Levites who stand before the Lord there, 8 he shall receive the same portions to eat, along with his stipends and patrimony.[t]
Prophets. 9 When you come into the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you, you shall not learn to imitate the abominations of the nations there.(CM) 10 (CN)Let there not be found among you anyone who causes their son or daughter to pass through the fire,[u] or practices divination, or is a soothsayer, augur, or sorcerer, 11 or who casts spells, consults ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead. 12 Anyone who does such things is an abomination to the Lord, and because of such abominations the Lord, your God, is dispossessing them before you.(CO) 13 You must be altogether sincere with the Lord, your God. 14 Although these nations whom you are about to dispossess listen to their soothsayers and diviners, the Lord, your God, will not permit you to do so.
15 A prophet like me[v] will the Lord, your God, raise up for you from among your own kindred; that is the one to whom you shall listen.(CP) 16 This is exactly what you requested of the Lord, your God, at Horeb on the day of the assembly, when you said, “Let me not again hear the voice of the Lord, my God, nor see this great fire any more, or I will die.”(CQ) 17 And the Lord said to me, What they have said is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophet like you from among their kindred, and will put my words into the mouth of the prophet; the prophet shall tell them all that I command.(CR) 19 Anyone who will not listen to my words which the prophet speaks in my name, I myself will hold accountable for it.(CS) 20 But if a prophet presumes to speak a word in my name(CT) that I have not commanded, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet shall die.
21 Should you say to yourselves, “How can we recognize that a word is one the Lord has not spoken?”, 22 if a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord but the word does not come true, it is a word the Lord did not speak. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; do not fear him.
Cities of Refuge. 1 (CU)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,(CV) 2 you shall set apart three cities[w] in the land the Lord, your God, is giving you to possess. 3 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.
4 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. 5 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. 6 Should the distance be too great, the avenger of blood[x] 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; 7 for this reason I command you: Set apart three cities.
8 (CW)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, 9 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.(CX)
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.(CY)
Removal of Landmarks. 14 You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary markers[y] 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.(CZ)
False Witnesses. 15 (DA)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.(DB)
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,(DC) 18 (DD)and the judges must investigate it thoroughly. If the witness is a false witness and has falsely accused the other,(DE) 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.(DF) 21 Do not show pity. Life for life,[z] eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, and foot for foot!(DG)
Courage in War. 1 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.
2 When you are drawing near to battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the army, 3 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. 4 For it is the Lord, your God, who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies and give you victory.”(DH)
5 Then the officials shall speak to the army:(DI) “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. 6 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. 7 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.”(DJ) 8 The officials shall continue to speak to the army: “Is there anyone who is afraid and weakhearted?(DK) Let him return home, or else he might make the hearts of his fellows melt as his does.”
9 When the officials have finished speaking to the army, military commanders shall be appointed over them.
Cities of the Enemy. 10 (DL)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 (DM)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 [aa]That is how you shall deal with any city at a considerable distance from you, which does not belong to these nations here. 16 (DN)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 (DO)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.
Absolution of Untraced Murder.[ab] 1 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, 2 your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distances to the cities that are in the neighborhood of the corpse. 3 (DP)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; 4 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. 5 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. 6 Then all the elders of that city nearest the corpse shall wash their hands[ac] over the heifer whose neck was broken in the wadi, 7 and shall declare, “Our hands did not shed this blood,[ad] and our eyes did not see the deed. 8 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, 9 and you shall purge the innocent blood from your midst, and do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.(DQ)
Marriage with a Female Captive. 10 (DR)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,[ae] 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.(DS)
Rights of the Firstborn. 15 (DT)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.(DU)
The Stubborn and Rebellious Son. 18 (DV)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,(DW) 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders at the gate[af] 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.”(DX) 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.(DY)
Corpse of a Criminal. 22 (DZ)If a man guilty of a capital offense is put to death and you hang him on a tree,[ag] 23 his corpse shall not remain on the tree overnight.(EA) You must bury it the same day; anyone who is hanged is a curse of God.[ah] You shall not defile the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you as a heritage.
Concern for the Neighbor. 1 (EB)You shall not see your neighbor’s ox or sheep going astray and ignore it; you must bring it back. 2 If this neighbor does not live near you, or you do not know who the owner may be, take it to your own house and keep it with you until your neighbor claims it; then return it. 3 You shall do the same with a donkey; you shall do the same with a garment; and you shall do the same with anything else which your neighbor loses and you happen to find. You may not ignore them.
4 You shall not see your neighbor’s donkey or ox fallen on the road and ignore it; you must help in lifting it up.
Various Precepts. 5 A woman shall not wear a man’s garment, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for anyone who does such things is an abomination to the Lord, your God.(EC)
6 (ED)If, while walking along, you come across a bird’s nest with young birds or eggs in it, in any tree or on the ground, and the mother bird is sitting on them, you shall not take away the mother bird along with her brood. 7 You must let the mother go, taking only her brood, in order that you shall prosper and have a long life.
8 When you build a new house, put a parapet around the roof, so that you do not bring bloodguilt upon your house if someone falls off.(EE)
9 [ai](EF)You shall not sow your vineyard with two different kinds of seed, or else its produce shall become forfeit, both the crop you have sown and the yield of the vineyard. 10 You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey harnessed together. 11 You shall not wear cloth made from wool and linen woven together.
12 You shall put tassels on the four corners of the cloak that you wrap around yourself.(EG)
Marriage Legislation. 13 If a man, after marrying a woman and having relations with her, comes to dislike her,(EH) 14 and accuses her of misconduct and slanders her by saying, “I married this woman, but when I approached her I did not find evidence of her virginity,” 15 the father and mother of the young woman shall take the evidence of her virginity[aj] and bring it to the elders at the city gate. 16 There the father of the young woman shall say to the elders, “I gave my daughter to this man in marriage, but he has come to dislike her, 17 and now accuses her of misconduct, saying: ‘I did not find evidence of your daughter’s virginity.’ But here is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity!” And they shall spread out the cloth before the elders of the city. 18 Then these city elders shall take the man and discipline him,[ak] 19 and fine him one hundred silver shekels, which they shall give to the young woman’s father, because the man slandered a virgin in Israel. She shall remain his wife, and he may not divorce her as long as he lives. 20 But if this charge is true, and evidence of the young woman’s virginity is not found, 21 they shall bring the young woman to the entrance of her father’s house and there the men of her town shall stone her to death, because she committed a shameful crime in Israel by prostituting herself in her father’s house. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.(EI)
22 If a man is discovered lying with a woman who is married to another, they both shall die, the man who was lying with the woman as well as the woman.(EJ) Thus shall you purge the evil from Israel.
23 If there is a young woman, a virgin who is betrothed,[al] and a man comes upon her in the city and lies with her, 24 you shall bring them both out to the gate of the city and there stone them to death: the young woman because she did not cry out though she was in the city, and the man because he violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst. 25 But if it is in the open fields that a man comes upon the betrothed young woman, seizes her and lies with her, only the man who lay with her shall die. 26 You shall do nothing to the young woman, since the young woman is not guilty of a capital offense. As when a man rises up against his neighbor and murders him, so in this case:[am](EK) 27 it was in the open fields that he came upon her, and though the betrothed young woman may have cried out, there was no one to save her.
28 (EL)If a man comes upon a young woman, a virgin who is not betrothed, seizes her and lies with her, and they are discovered, 29 the man who lay with her shall give the young woman’s father fifty silver shekels and she will be his wife, because he has violated her. He may not divorce her as long as he lives.
Membership in the Assembly. 2 [ao]No one whose testicles have been crushed or whose penis has been cut off may come into the assembly of the Lord.(EN) 3 No one born of an illicit union may come into the assembly of the Lord, nor any descendant of such even to the tenth generation may come into the assembly of the Lord.(EO) 4 (EP)No Ammonite or Moabite may ever come into the assembly of the Lord, nor may any of their descendants even to the tenth generation come into the assembly of the Lord, 5 because they would not come to meet you with food and water on your journey after you left Egypt, and because they hired Balaam, son of Beor, from Pethor in Aram Naharaim, to curse you. 6 The Lord, your God, would not listen to Balaam but turned his curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord, your God, loves you. 7 Never seek their welfare or prosperity as long as you live.(EQ) 8 (ER)Do not abhor the Edomite: he is your brother. Do not abhor the Egyptian: you were a resident alien in his country. 9 Children born to them may come into the assembly of the Lord in the third generation.
Cleanliness in Camp. 10 When in camp during an expedition against your enemies, you shall keep yourselves from anything bad. 11 (ES)If one of you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, he shall go outside the camp; he shall not come back into the camp. 12 Toward evening, he shall bathe in water; then, when the sun has set, he may come back into the camp. 13 Outside the camp you shall have a place set aside where you shall go. 14 You shall keep a trowel in your equipment and, when you go outside to relieve yourself, you shall dig a hole with it and then cover up your excrement. 15 Since the Lord, your God, journeys along in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to give your enemies over to you, your camp must be holy, so that he does not see anything indecent in your midst and turn away from you.(ET)
Various Precepts. 16 (EU)You shall not hand over to their master any slaves who have taken refuge with you from their master. 17 Let them live among you in any place they choose, in any one of your communities[ap] that seems good to them. Do not oppress them.
18 There shall be no temple prostitute[aq] among the Israelite women, nor a temple prostitute among the Israelite men.(EV) 19 You shall not offer a prostitute’s fee or a dog’s pay[ar] as any kind of votive offering in the house of the Lord, your God; both these things are an abomination to the Lord, your God.(EW)
20 (EX)You shall not demand interest from your kindred on a loan of money or of food or of anything else which is loaned. 21 From a foreigner you may demand interest, but you may not demand interest from your kindred, so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all your undertakings on the land you are to enter and possess.
22 (EY)When you make a vow to the Lord, your God, you shall not delay in fulfilling it; for the Lord, your God, will surely require it of you and you will be held guilty. 23 Should you refrain from making a vow, you will not be held guilty. 24 But whatever your tongue utters you must be careful to do, just as you freely vowed to the Lord, your God, with your own mouth.
25 When you go through your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat as many grapes as you wish, until you are satisfied, but do not put them in your basket. 26 When you go through your neighbor’s grainfield, you may pluck some of the ears with your hand, but do not put a sickle to your neighbor’s grain.
Marriage Legislation.[as] 1 (EZ)When a man, after marrying a woman, is later displeased with her because he finds in her something indecent, and he writes out a bill of divorce and hands it to her, thus dismissing her from his house, 2 if on leaving his house she goes and becomes the wife of another man, 3 and the second husband, too, comes to dislike her and he writes out a bill of divorce and hands it to her, thus dismissing her from his house, or if this second man who has married her dies, 4 then her former husband, who dismissed her, may not again take her as his wife after she has become defiled. That would be an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring such guilt upon the land the Lord, your God, is giving you as a heritage.(FA)
5 (FB)When a man is newly wed, he shall not go out on a military expedition, nor shall any duty be imposed on him. He shall be exempt for one year for the sake of his family, to bring joy to the wife he has married.
Pledges and Kidnappings. 6 [at]No one shall take a hand mill or even its upper stone as a pledge for debt, for that would be taking as a pledge the debtor’s life.
7 If anyone is caught kidnapping a fellow Israelite, enslaving or selling the victim, that kidnapper shall be put to death.(FC) Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.
Skin Diseases. 8 (FD)In an attack of scaly infection[au] you shall be careful to observe exactly and to carry out all the instructions the levitical priests give you, as I have commanded them: observe them carefully. 9 (FE)Remember what the Lord, your God, did to Miriam on the journey after you left Egypt.
Loans and Wages. 10 When you make a loan of any kind to your neighbor, you shall not enter the neighbor’s house to receive the pledge, 11 but shall wait outside until the person to whom you are making the loan brings the pledge outside to you. 12 If the person is poor, you shall not sleep in the pledged garment, 13 but shall definitely return it at sunset, so that your neighbor may sleep in the garment(FF) and bless you. That will be your justice before the Lord, your God.
14 (FG)You shall not exploit a poor and needy hired servant, whether one of your own kindred or one of the resident aliens who live in your land, within your gates.(FH) 15 On each day you shall pay the servant’s wages before the sun goes down, since the servant is poor and is counting on them. Otherwise the servant will cry to the Lord against you, and you will be held guilty.(FI)
Individual Responsibility. 16 Parents shall not be put to death for their children, nor shall children be put to death for their parents; only for one’s own crime shall a person be put to death.(FJ)
Rights of the Unprotected. 17 (FK)You shall not deprive the resident alien or the orphan of justice, nor take the clothing of a widow as pledge. 18 For, remember, you were slaves in Egypt, and the Lord, your God, redeemed you from there; that is why I command you to do this.
19 (FL)When you reap the harvest in your field and overlook a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; let it be for the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow, so that the Lord, your God, may bless you in all your undertakings. 20 When you knock down the fruit of your olive trees, you shall not go over the branches a second time; let what remains be for the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow. 21 When you pick your grapes, you shall not go over the vineyard a second time; let what remains be for the resident alien, the orphan, and the widow. 22 For remember that you were slaves in the land of Egypt; that is why I command you to do this.
Limits on Punishments. 1 When there is a dispute and the parties draw near for judgment, and a decision is given, declaring one party in the right and the other in the wrong, 2 if the one in the wrong deserves whipping, the judge shall have him lie down and in the presence of the judge receive the number of lashes the crime warrants. 3 Forty lashes[av] may be given, but no more;(FM) or else, if more lashes are added to these many blows, your brother will be degraded in your sight.
Levirate Marriage. 5 (FO)When brothers live together[ax] and one of them dies without a son, the widow of the deceased shall not marry anyone outside the family; but her husband’s brother shall come to her, marrying her and performing the duty of a brother-in-law.(FP) 6 The firstborn son she bears shall continue the name of the deceased brother, that his name may not be blotted out from Israel. 7 But if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go up to the elders at the gate and say, “My brother-in-law refuses to perpetuate his brother’s name in Israel and does not intend to perform his duty toward me.” 8 Thereupon the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” 9 [ay]his sister-in-law, in the presence of the elders, shall go up to him and strip his sandal from his foot and spit in his face, declaring, “This is how one should be treated who will not build up his brother’s family!” 10 And his name shall be called in Israel, “the house of the man stripped of his sandal.”
Various Precepts. 11 When two men are fighting and the wife of one intervenes to save her husband from the blows of his opponent, if she stretches out her hand and seizes the latter by his genitals, 12 you shall chop off her hand; show no pity.
13 (FQ)You shall not keep two differing weights in your bag, one heavy and the other light; 14 nor shall you keep two different ephahs[az] in your house, one large and the other small. 15 But use a full and just weight, a full and just ephah, so that you may have a long life on the land the Lord, your God, is giving you. 16 For everyone who does these things, everyone who does what is dishonest, is an abomination to the Lord, your God.(FR)
17 [ba](FS)Bear in mind what Amalek did to you on the journey after you left Egypt, 18 how he surprised you along the way, weak and weary as you were, and struck down at the rear all those who lagged behind; he did not fear God. 19 Therefore, when the Lord, your God, gives you rest from all your enemies round about in the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you to possess as a heritage, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under the heavens. Do not forget!
Thanksgiving for the Harvest. 1 (FT)When you have come into the land which the Lord, your God, is giving you as a heritage, and have taken possession and settled in it, 2 you shall take some first fruits(FU) of the various products of the soil which you harvest from the land the Lord, your God, is giving you; put them in a basket and go to the place which the Lord, your God, will choose as the dwelling place for his name. 3 There you shall go to the priest in office at that time and say to him, “Today I acknowledge to the Lord, my God, that I have indeed come into the land which the Lord swore to our ancestors to give us.”(FV) 4 The priest shall then take the basket from your hands and set it in front of the altar of the Lord, your God. 5 Then you shall declare in the presence of the Lord, your God, “My father was a refugee Aramean[bb] who went down to Egypt with a small household and lived there as a resident alien.(FW) But there he became a nation great, strong and numerous. 6 (FX)When the Egyptians maltreated and oppressed us, imposing harsh servitude upon us, 7 we cried to the Lord, the God of our ancestors, and the Lord heard our cry and saw our affliction, our toil and our oppression. 8 Then the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a strong hand and outstretched arm, with terrifying power, with signs and wonders,(FY) 9 and brought us to this place, and gave us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey.(FZ) 10 Now, therefore, I have brought the first fruits of the products of the soil which you, Lord, have given me.” You shall set them before the Lord, your God, and you shall bow down before the Lord, your God. 11 Then you and your household, together with the Levite and the resident aliens who live among you, shall celebrate with all these good things which the Lord, your God, has given you.(GA)
Declaration Concerning Tithes. 12 When you have finished setting aside all the tithes of your produce in the third year,(GB) the year of the tithes, and have given them to the Levite, the resident alien, the orphan and the widow, that they may eat and be satisfied in your own communities, 13 you shall declare before the Lord, your God, “I have purged my house of the sacred portion and I have given it to the Levite, the resident alien, the orphan and the widow, just as you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor forgotten any. 14 [bc]I have not eaten any of the tithe while in mourning; I have not brought any of it while unclean; I have not offered any of it to the dead. I have thus obeyed the voice of the Lord, my God, and done just as you have commanded me.(GC) 15 Look down, then, from heaven, your holy abode, and bless your people Israel and the fields you have given us, as you promised on oath to our ancestors, a land flowing with milk and honey.”(GD)
The Covenant. 16 (GE)This day the Lord, your God, is commanding you to observe these statutes and ordinances. Be careful, then, to observe them with your whole heart and with your whole being. 17 Today you have accepted the Lord’s agreement: he will be your God, and you will walk in his ways, observe his statutes, commandments, and ordinances, and obey his voice. 18 And today the Lord has accepted your agreement: you will be a people specially his own, as he promised you, you will keep all his commandments, 19 and he will set you high in praise and renown and glory above all nations he has made, and you will be a people holy to the Lord, your God, as he promised.
- 12:5 The place…to put his name there: Moses thus designates Jerusalem (Mt. Zion), in accordance with the Deuteronomic doctrine that the Lord “chooses” Zion, as the place where eventually the Temple will be built, as he chooses the house of David to reign over Israel; see 2 Sm 7; 1 Kgs 8; Ps 132. But the Lord’s presence in Jerusalem consists in putting his “name” there (12:11, 21; 14:23–24; 16:2, 6, 11; 26:2; 1 Kgs 8:44, 49; 9:3; 11:36; 14:21; 2 Kgs 17:34; 21:4, 7; 23:27). The Lord himself “cannot be contained” in an earthly dwelling (1 Kgs 8:27), but because he says of the Jerusalem Temple that “my name will be there” (1 Kgs 8:16, 29; 2 Kgs 23:27), he is present. This theology allows God in a way to dwell with Israel and at the same time preserves divine transcendence. See note on 1 Kgs 8:12–13.
- 12:11 Sacrifice is to be confined to the single place that the Lord has chosen; eventually this was Jerusalem.
- 12:15 At this point a distinction is being made between cultic sacrifice and slaughter of animals for food. In any of your communities: lit., “within your gates.”
- 12:16 The blood was understood to be the source or vehicle of life and so was not to be consumed. Cf. Gn 9:4.
- 13:2, 4, 6 Dreamer: a false prophet who pretended to have received revelations from God in a dream; cf. Jer 23:25–32; 27:9; Zec 10:2. But dreams could also be a means of true prophecy (Nm 12:6; Jl 3:1) and of genuine revelations (Gn 20:3, 6; 31:11, 24; 37:5, 9; Mt 1:20; 2:12, 13, 19; etc.).
- 14:12–18 The identification of several of the birds in these verses is uncertain.
- 14:19–20 Lv 11:20–23 suggests that the unclean winged insects are those that walk on the ground; the clean winged creatures are those that leap on the ground, such as certain species of locusts.
- 14:21 Boil a young goat in its mother’s milk: the meaning of this regulation is obscure but it may have a humane concern similar to the prohibitions against slaughtering an animal and its young on the same day (Lv 22:27–28) and capturing a mother bird along with her fledgling or eggs (Dt 22:6–7). See note on Ex 23:19.
- 15:1 At the end of every seven-year period: in every seventh, or sabbatical, year. Cf. 15:9; 31:10; and compare Jer 34:14 with Dt 15:12. A remission of debts: it is debated whether a full cancellation of debts is meant, or merely a suspension of payment on them or on their interest, but the former is more likely. Cf. Ex 23:11 where the same Hebrew root is used of a field that is “let lie fallow” in the sabbatical year.
- 15:17 His ear: cf. Ex 21:6 and note there.
- 16:1 Abib: “ear of grain, ripe grain,” the name of the month in which the barley harvest fell, corresponding to our March and April; at a later period this month received the Babylonian name of “Nisan.”
- 16:10 Feast of Weeks: a celebration of the grain harvest, later known as “Pentecost”; cf. Acts 2:1.
- 16:13 Feast of Booths: also called Tabernacles; a harvest festival at the end of the agricultural year. In later times, during the seven days of the feast the Israelites camped in booths made of branches erected on the roofs of their houses or in the streets in commemoration of their wanderings in the wilderness, where they dwelt in such temporary shelters.
- 16:21–22 Asherah…sacred pillar: see note on 7:5; Ex 34:13.
- 17:5 Out to your gates: outside the gates, so as not to defile the city; cf. Lv 24:14; Nm 15:36; Acts 7:58; Hb 13:12.
- 17:12 The priest: the high priest; the judge: a layman. The court system here, involving lay and priestly officials, resembles the one whose establishment is attributed to King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chr 19:8–11 (cf. Ex 18:17–23 and Dt 1:17).
- 17:16–17 This restriction on royal acquisitions may have in mind the excesses of Solomon’s reign mentioned in 1 Kgs 10:1–11:6. Horses: chariotry for war. Egypt engaged in horse trading, and the danger envisioned here is that some king might make Israel a vassal of Egypt for military aid.
- 17:18 A copy of this law: the source of the name Deuteronomy, which in Hebrew is literally “double” or “copy”; in the Septuagint translated as deuteronomion, literally “a second law.” In Jerome’s Latin Vulgate as deuteronium.
- 17:19 The only positive requirement imposed upon the king is strict adherence to the Mosaic or Deuteronomic law. In that respect, the king’s primary task was to be a model Israelite.
- 18:8 His stipends and patrimony: meaning of the Hebrew is uncertain.
- 18:10–11 Causes their son or daughter to pass through the fire: to Molech. See note on Lv 18:21. Such human sacrifices are classed here with various occult and magical practices because they were believed to possess powers for averting a calamity; cf. 2 Kgs 3:27. Three other categories of magic are listed here: divination of the future (by a soothsayer or augur); black magic (by a sorcerer or one who casts spells); and necromancy (by one who consults ghosts and spirits, or seeks oracles from the dead to divine the future).
- 18:15 A prophet like me: from the context (opposition to the practices described in vv. 10–11) it seems that Moses is referring in general to all the true prophets who were to succeed him. This passage came to be understood in a quasi-Messianic sense in the New Testament (Mt 17:5; Jn 6:14; 7:40; Acts 3:22; 7:37).
- 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.
- 19:6 The avenger of blood: see note on Nm 35:12.
- 19:14 Move your neighbor’s boundary markers: a prohibition against furtively extending one’s property by moving a neighbor’s boundary stone.
- 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.
- 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).
- 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.
- 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.
- 21:7 This blood: the blood of the slain, or the bloodguilt effected by the killing.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.”
- 22:9–11 Some understand these laws as serving to preserve distinctions set by God in the creation. Become forfeit: to the sanctuary; lit., “be holy”; cf. Lv 19:19; Jos 6:19.
- 22:15 The evidence of her virginity: the bridal garment or sheet stained with blood from the first nuptial relations.
- 22:18 Discipline him: whip him, as prescribed in 25:1–3.
- 22:23 A young woman, a virgin who is betrothed: a girl who is married but not yet brought to her husband’s home and whose marriage is therefore still unconsummated.
- 22:26 So in this case: in the absence of witnesses (“in the open field”), the presumption must be that the woman is the victim, and so guiltless.
- 23:1 Father’s wife: stepmother.
- 23:2 Exclusion of an emasculated male may have had to do with association of emasculation with the practices of other peoples, or it may have been rejection of someone with a significant blemish who was thus not suitable for participation in the sacral assembly.
- 23:17 In any one of your communities: from this it would seem that the slave in question is a fugitive from a foreign country.
- 23:18–19 Temple prostitute: Heb. qedesha, lit., “holy one,” a title of the goddess of fertility. The role or function of the qedesha is debated; some see this as simply a term for a prostitute (Heb. zona). Others see it as designating a cultic role but not necessarily one involving sexual activity. The evidence is insufficient to give a final answer.
- 23:19 Dog’s pay: “dog” is a derogatory term for a male temple prostitute.
- 24:1–4 This law is directly concerned only with forbidding a divorced man from remarrying his former wife, and indirectly with checking hasty divorces, by demanding sufficient cause and certain legal formalities. Divorce itself is taken for granted and tolerated as an existing custom whose potential evils this law seeks to lessen. Cf. 22:19, 29; Mal 2:14–16. Something indecent: a rather indefinite phrase, meaning perhaps “immodest conduct,” but possibly including any kind of objectionable conduct. By New Testament times Jewish opinion differed concerning what was sufficient ground for divorce; cf. Mt 19:3.
- 24:6 Since the Israelites ground their grain into flour only in sufficient quantity for their current need, to deprive a debtor of his hand mill was equivalent to condemning him to starvation.
- 24:8 Scaly infection: the Hebrew word seems to have to do with one or more skin diseases that produce scales, such as psoriasis. Its precise meaning is uncertain. See note on Lv 13:1–14:57.
- 25:3 Forty lashes: while the punishment is severe, the law seeks to limit it from being overly harsh and inhumane. Later Jewish practice limited the number to thirty-nine; cf. 2 Cor 11:24.
- 25:4 This is comparable in spirit to 22:6–7; Israelites are not to be grasping and calculating. St. Paul argues from this verse that laborers have the right to live on the fruits of their labor; cf. 1 Cor 9:9; 1 Tm 5:18.
- 25:5 When brothers live together: when relatives of the same clan, though married, hold their property in common. It was only in this case that the present law was to be observed, since one of its purposes was to keep the property of the deceased within the same clan. Such a marriage of a widow with her brother-in-law is known as a “levirate” marriage from the Latin word levir, meaning “a husband’s brother.”
- 25:9–10 The penalty decreed for a man who refuses to comply with this law of family loyalty is public disgrace; the widow is to spit in his face. Some commentators connect this symbolic act with the ceremony mentioned in Ru 4:7, 8.
- 25:14 Ephahs: see note on Is 5:10.
- 25:17–19 This attack on Israel by Amalek is not mentioned elsewhere in the Old Testament, although it probably was connected with the battle mentioned in Ex 17:8. A campaign against Amalek was carried out by Saul; cf. 1 Sm 15.
- 26:5 Aramean: probably in reference to the origin of the patriarchs from Aram Naharaim (cf. Gn 24:10; 25:20; 28:5; 31:20, 24).
- 26:14 These are allusions to foreign religious practices. To the dead: to feed the spirits of the dead, or perhaps to worship Baal.