17 And don’t sacrifice to God, your God, an ox or sheep that is defective or has anything at all wrong with it. That’s an abomination, an insult to God, your God.
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2-5 If you find anyone within the towns that God, your God, is giving you doing what is wrong in God’s eyes, breaking his covenant by going off to worship other gods, bowing down to them—the sun, say, or the moon, or any rebel sky-gods—look at the evidence and investigate carefully. If you find that it is true, that, in fact, an abomination has been committed in Israel, then you are to take the man or woman who did this evil thing outside your city gates and stone the man or the woman. Hurl stones at the person until dead.
6-7 But only on the testimony of two or three witnesses may a person be put to death. No one may be put to death on the testimony of one witness. The witnesses must throw the first stones in the execution, then the rest of the community joins in. You have to purge the evil from your community.
8-9 When matters of justice come up that are too much for you—hard cases regarding homicides, legal disputes, fights—take them up to the central place of worship that God, your God, has designated. Bring them to the Levitical priests and the judge who is in office at the time. Consult them and they will hand down the decision for you.
10-13 Then carry out their verdict at the place designated by God, your God. Do what they tell you, in exactly the way they tell you. Follow their instructions precisely: Don’t leave out anything; don’t add anything. Anyone who presumes to override or twist the decision handed down by the priest or judge who was acting in the Presence of God, your God, is as good as dead—root him out, rid Israel of the evil. Everyone will take notice and be impressed. That will put an end to presumptuous behavior.
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14-17 When you enter the land that God, your God, is giving you and take it over and settle down, and then say, “I’m going to get me a king, a king like all the nations around me,” make sure you get yourself a king whom God, your God, chooses. Choose your king from among your kinsmen; don’t take a foreigner—only a kinsman. And make sure he doesn’t build up a war machine, amassing military horses and chariots. He must not send people to Egypt to get more horses, because God told you, “You’ll never go back there again!” And make sure he doesn’t build up a harem, collecting wives who will divert him from the straight and narrow. And make sure he doesn’t pile up a lot of silver and gold.
18-20 This is what must be done: When he sits down on the throne of his kingdom, the first thing he must do is make himself a copy of this Revelation on a scroll, copied under the supervision of the Levitical priests. That scroll is to remain at his side at all times; he is to study it every day so that he may learn what it means to fear his God, living in reverent obedience before these rules and regulations by following them. He must not become proud and arrogant, changing the commands at whim to suit himself or making up his own versions. If he reads and learns, he will have a long reign as king in Israel, he and his sons.
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18 1-2 The Levitical priests—that’s the entire tribe of Levi—don’t get any land-inheritance with the rest of Israel. They get the Fire-Gift-Offerings of God—they will live on that inheritance. But they don’t get land-inheritance like the rest of their kinsmen. God is their inheritance.
3-5 This is what the priests get from the people from any offering of an ox or a sheep: the shoulder, the two cheeks, and the stomach. You must also give them the firstfruits of your grain, wine, and oil and the first fleece of your sheep, because God, your God, has chosen only them and their children out of all your tribes to be present and serve always in the name of God, your God.
6-8 If a Levite moves from any town in Israel—and he is quite free to move wherever he desires—and comes to the place God designates for worship, he may serve there in the name of God along with all his brother Levites who are present and serving in the Presence of God. And he will get an equal share to eat, even though he has money from the sale of his parents’ possessions.
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9-12 When you enter the land that God, your God, is giving you, don’t take on the abominable ways of life of the nations there. Don’t you dare sacrifice your son or daughter in the fire. Don’t practice divination, sorcery, fortunetelling, witchery, casting spells, holding séances, or channeling with the dead. People who do these things are an abomination to God. It’s because of just such abominable practices that God, your God, is driving these nations out before you.
13-14 Be completely loyal to God, your God. These nations that you’re about to run out of the country consort with sorcerers and witches. But not you. God, your God, forbids it.
15-16 God, your God, is going to raise up a prophet for you. God will raise him up from among your kinsmen, a prophet like me. Listen obediently to him. This is what you asked God, your God, for at Horeb on the day you were all gathered at the mountain and said, “We can’t hear any more from God, our God; we can’t stand seeing any more fire. We’ll die!”
17-19 And God said to me, “They’re right; they’ve spoken the truth. I’ll raise up for them a prophet like you from their kinsmen. I’ll tell him what to say and he will pass on to them everything I command him. And anyone who won’t listen to my words spoken by him, I will personally hold responsible.
20 “But any prophet who fakes it, who claims to speak in my name something I haven’t commanded him to say, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die.”
21-22 You may be wondering among yourselves, “How can we tell the difference, whether it was God who spoke or not?” Here’s how: If what the prophet spoke in God’s name doesn’t happen, then obviously God wasn’t behind it; the prophet made it up. Forget about him.
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19 1-3 When God, your God, throws the nations out of the country that God, your God, is giving you and you settle down in their cities and houses, you are to set aside three easily accessible cities in the land that God, your God, is giving you as your very own. Divide your land into thirds, this land that God, your God, is giving you to possess, and build roads to the towns so that anyone who accidentally kills another can flee there.
4-7 This is the guideline for the murderer who flees there to take refuge: He has to have killed his neighbor without premeditation and with no history of bad blood between them. For instance, a man goes with his neighbor into the woods to cut a tree; he swings the ax, the head slips off the handle and hits his neighbor, killing him. He may then flee to one of these cities and save his life. If the city is too far away, the avenger of blood racing in hot-blooded pursuit might catch him since it’s such a long distance, and kill him even though he didn’t deserve it. It wasn’t his fault. There was no history of hatred between them. Therefore I command you: Set aside the three cities for yourselves.
8-10 When God, your God, enlarges your land, extending its borders as he solemnly promised your ancestors, by giving you the whole land he promised them because you are diligently living the way I’m commanding you today, namely, to love God, your God, and do what he tells you all your life; and when that happens, then add three more to these three cities so that there is no chance of innocent blood being spilled in your land. God, your God, is giving you this land as an inheritance—you don’t want to pollute it with innocent blood and bring guilt upon yourselves.
11-13 On the other hand, if a man with a history of hatred toward his neighbor waits in ambush, then jumps him, mauls and kills him, and then runs to one of these cities, that’s a different story. The elders of his own city are to send for him and have him brought back. They are to hand him over to the avenger of blood for execution. Don’t feel sorry for him. Clean out the pollution of wrongful murder from Israel so that you’ll be able to live well and breathe clean air.
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14 Don’t move your neighbor’s boundary markers, the longstanding landmarks set up by your pioneer ancestors defining their property.
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15 You cannot convict anyone of a crime or sin on the word of one witness. You need two or three witnesses to make a case.
16-21 If a hostile witness stands to accuse someone of a wrong, then both parties involved in the quarrel must stand in the Presence of God before the priests and judges who are in office at that time. The judges must conduct a careful investigation; if the witness turns out to be a false witness and has lied against his fellow Israelite, give him the same medicine he intended for the other party. Clean the polluting evil from your company. People will hear of what you’ve done and be impressed; that will put a stop to this kind of evil among you. Don’t feel sorry for the person: It’s life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
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20 1-4 When you go to war against your enemy and see horses and chariots and soldiers far outnumbering you, do not recoil in fear of them; God, your God, who brought you up out of Egypt is with you. When the battle is about to begin, let the priest come forward and speak to the troops. He’ll say, “Attention, Israel. In a few minutes you’re going to do battle with your enemies. Don’t waver in resolve. Don’t fear. Don’t hesitate. Don’t panic. God, your God, is right there with you, fighting with you against your enemies, fighting to win.”
5-7 Then let the officers step up and speak to the troops: “Is there a man here who has built a new house but hasn’t yet dedicated it? Let him go home right now lest he die in battle and another man dedicate it. And is there a man here who has planted a vineyard but hasn’t yet enjoyed the grapes? Let him go home right now lest he die in battle and another man enjoy the grapes. Is there a man here engaged to marry who hasn’t yet taken his wife? Let him go home right now lest he die in battle and another man take her.”
8 The officers will then continue, “And is there a man here who is wavering in resolve and afraid? Let him go home right now so that he doesn’t infect his fellows with his timidity and cowardly spirit.”
9 When the officers have finished speaking to the troops, let them appoint commanders of the troops who shall muster them by units.
10-15 When you come up against a city to attack it, call out, “Peace?” If they answer, “Yes, peace!” and open the city to you, then everyone found there will be conscripted as forced laborers and work for you. But if they don’t settle for peace and insist on war, then go ahead and attack. God, your God, will give them to you. Kill all the men with your swords. But don’t kill the women and children and animals. Everything inside the town you can take as plunder for you to use and eat—God, your God, gives it to you. This is the way you deal with the distant towns, the towns that don’t belong to the nations at hand.
16-18 But with the towns of the people that God, your God, is giving you as an inheritance, it’s different: don’t leave anyone alive. Consign them to holy destruction: the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites, and Jebusites, obeying the command of God, your God. This is so there won’t be any of them left to teach you to practice the abominations that they engage in with their gods and you end up sinning against God, your God.
19-20 When you mount an attack on a town and the siege goes on a long time, don’t start cutting down the trees, swinging your axes against them. Those trees are your future food; don’t cut them down. Are trees soldiers who come against you with weapons? The exception can be those trees which don’t produce food; you can chop them down and use the timbers to build siege engines against the town that is resisting you until it falls.
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