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17 Moses: Don’t sacrifice an ox or a sheep to the Eternal your God if it has any defect or problem. He would be deeply offended by such an offering!

What if, in one of the towns the Eternal your God is giving you, a man or a woman does what He considers wrong and breaks His covenant by going and worshiping other gods, bowing down to them or the sun or moon or stars (which I’ve never commanded you to do)? If you discover this, if someone tells you about it, or if you hear about it; then conduct a careful investigation. If you establish conclusively that the report is true, that such a horrible thing has been done within Israel, then bring the man or woman who has done this evil thing out to the gates of your town, and stone that man or woman to death. But for someone to be executed on a charge such as this, there must be testimony from at least two or three witnesses. No one is to be executed on the testimony of just one witness. The witnesses must throw the first deadly stones, and then everyone else must join in. Expel the wicked from your own community.[a]

If one person in your town brings a complaint against another to be judged at the city gate, and it’s just too difficult for you to decide what a fair resolution would be—if you can’t determine whether a killing was premeditated, or if you can’t decide who in a dispute makes the best argument, or if you can’t tell whether someone was injured accidentally or intentionally—then adjourn your proceedings and go to the place the Eternal your God will choose. Bring your case to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is serving at the time, and they will give you a verdict. 10 You must carry out their verdict exactly as they stated it because it was delivered in the place the Eternal chose, and it has His authority behind it. 11 Follow each word of the law as they interpret it for you; do everything they’ve told you to do, as they’ve explained it, without deviating from it at all. 12 If anyone is so arrogant that he won’t listen to the priest who serves right there in the presence of the Eternal your God or to the judge of the tribunal, that person must be executed to expel this kind of wickedness from Israel. 13 Everyone will hear about it, and no one will dare to be so arrogant, for they will be afraid.

Having a king is part of God’s plan for Israel. This king is supposed to be someone who depends faithfully on the Lord, not on wealth or power, and who would study God’s laws and follow them. A king like that will be a blessing to everyone in the country. But when the people ask for this king around 1000 b.c., their motives are wrong. They want to depend on this king instead of on God (1 Samuel 8:7). In the years that follow, many ungodly kings bring trouble to the nation and oppress the people. Their political maneuvering and policies of appeasement even lead them to set up altars to foreign gods. The people are ultimately punished for deserting the Lord by being taken into exile away from the promised land.

Moses: 14 Once you’ve gotten into the land the Eternal your God is giving you, and you’ve conquered it and settled there, you may say to yourselves, “Let’s appoint a king to rule our country, just as all the nations around us have!” 15 If you do have a king, remember you must enthrone the king He chooses. It must be a fellow Israelite whom you enthrone; you must not enthrone a foreigner who is not a fellow Israelite. 16 Although an Israelite, he must not try to build a strong army by collecting large herds of horses for his cavalry troops and a chariot corps. The king must certainly not send people back to Egypt to get large herds of horses, because the Lord has commanded you, “Don’t ever go back that way again!” 17 This king must not have many wives. If he takes foreign wives in marriage alliances, they could turn his heart away from the Lord and lead him to worship foreign gods. And the king must not accumulate great quantities of silver and gold for himself.

18 As soon as this king takes the royal throne, he must write out a copy of this law for himself on a scroll with the Levitical priests looking on. 19 He must keep this copy with him and read it every day, so that he will learn to fear the Eternal his God and to obey everything in the law and remember all these regulations very carefully in order to do them. 20 That way he won’t think he’s privileged and oppress and exploit his fellow Israelites. He won’t deviate at all from what the Eternal has commanded, and he and his descendants will rule over Israel in a long dynasty.

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