Deuteronomy 19-21 Amplified Bible (AMP)
Cities of Refuge
19 “When the Lord your God cuts off (destroys) the nations whose land He is giving you, and you dispossess them and live in their cities and in their houses, 2 you shall designate three cities for yourself in the central area of the land, which the Lord your God is giving you to possess. 3 You shall prepare and maintain for yourself the roads [to these cities], and divide the territory of your land into three parts, so that anyone who kills another unintentionally may escape there [for asylum].
4 “Now this is the case of the offender (manslayer) who may escape there and live [protected from vengeance]: when he kills his neighbor unintentionally, not having hated him previously— 5 as [for example] when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down the tree, but the iron head slips off the wooden handle and hits his companion and he dies—the offender may escape to one of these cities and live; 6 otherwise the [a]avenger of blood might pursue the offender in the heat of anger, and overtake him, because it is a long way, and take his life, even though he did not deserve to die, since he did not hate his neighbor beforehand. 7 Therefore, I command you, saying, ‘You shall set aside three cities [of refuge] for yourself.’
8 “If the Lord your God enlarges your border, as He has sworn to your fathers to do, and gives you all the land which He promised to give to your fathers— 9 if you keep and carefully observe all these commandments which I am commanding you today, to love the Lord your God, and to walk [that is, to live each and every day] always in His ways—then you shall add three more cities [of refuge] for yourself, besides these three, 10 so that innocent blood will not be shed [by blood avengers] in your land which the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, and blood guilt will not be on you [for the death of an innocent man].
11 “But if there is a man who hates his neighbor and lies in wait and ambush for him and attacks him and strikes him down so that he dies, and the assailant escapes to one of these cities, 12 then the elders of his own city shall send for him and have him taken back from there and turn him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may be put to death. 13 You shall not pity him [the guilty one], but you shall purge the blood of the innocent from Israel, so that it may go well with you.
Laws of Landmark and Testimony
14 “You shall not move your neighbor’s boundary mark, which the forefathers [who first divided the territory] have set, in the land which you will inherit in the land which the Lord your God is giving you to possess.
15 “A single witness shall not appear in a trial against a man for any wrong or any sin which he has committed; [only] [b]on the testimony or evidence of two or three witnesses shall a charge be confirmed. 16 If a malicious witness rises up against a man to [falsely] accuse him of wrongdoing, 17 then both parties to the controversy shall stand before the Lord, before the priests and the judges who will be in office at that time. 18 The judges shall investigate thoroughly, and if the witness is a false witness, and he has accused his brother falsely, 19 then you shall do to him just as he had intended to do to his brother. So you shall remove the evil from among you. 20 Those who remain will hear and be afraid, and will never again do such an evil thing among you. 21 You shall not show pity [to the guilty one]: it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.
Laws of Warfare
20 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. 2 When you approach the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people, 3 and shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel: you are advancing today to battle against your enemies. Do not lack courage. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble [in terror] before them, 4 for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ 5 The officers shall also speak to the [c]soldiers, saying, ‘What man is there who has built a new house and has not yet [d]dedicated it? [e]Let him go and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. 6 What man has planted a vineyard and has not put it to use [harvesting its fruit]? Let him go and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would begin to use its fruit. 7 And who is the man who is engaged (legally promised) to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would marry her.’ 8 Then the officers shall speak further to the soldiers and say, ‘Who is the man who is afraid and lacks courage? Let him go and return to his house, so that he does not cause his brothers’ courage to fail like his own.’ 9 And it shall be when the officers have finished speaking to the soldiers, they shall appoint commanders of armies over them.
10 “When you advance to a city to fight against it, you shall [first] offer it terms of peace. 11 If that city accepts your terms of peace and opens its gates to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. 12 However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall lay siege to it. 13 When the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike down all the men in it with the edge of the sword. 14 Only the women and the children and the animals and everything that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as plunder for yourself; and you shall use the spoil of your enemies which the Lord your God has given you. 15 That is what you shall do to all the cities that are very far away from you, which are not among the cities of these nations nearby [which you are to dispossess]. 16 Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 But you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you, 18 so that they will not teach you to act in accordance with all the detestable practices which they have done [in worship and service] for their gods, and in this way cause you to sin against the Lord your God.
19 “When you besiege a city for [f]a long time, making war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its [fruit-bearing] trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged (destroyed) by you? 20 Only the trees which you know are not [g]fruit trees shall you destroy and cut down, so that you may build [h]siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.
Expiation of a Crime
21 “If someone is found slain, lying in the field, in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess, and it is not known who has killed him, 2 then your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distance to the cities which are around the dead person. 3 It shall be that the elders of the city which is nearest to the dead man shall take a heifer of the herd, one which has not been worked and which has not pulled in a yoke; 4 and the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a [river] valley with running water, which has not been plowed or planted, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall approach, for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the Name (Presence) of the Lord; and every dispute and every assault (violent crime) shall be settled by them. 6 All the elders of that city nearest to the dead man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley; 7 and they shall respond, and say, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it. 8 Forgive Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O Lord, and do not put the guilt of innocent blood among Your people Israel.’ And the guilt of blood shall be forgiven them. 9 So shall you remove the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.
10 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God hands them over to you and you lead them away captive, 11 and you see a beautiful woman among the captives, and desire her and would take her as your wife, 12 then you shall bring her [home] to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails [in preparation for mourning]. 13 She shall take off the clothes of her captivity and remain in your house, and weep (mourn) for her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 But it shall be that if you have no delight and take no pleasure in her, then you shall let her go [i]wherever she wishes. You certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not deal with her as a slave or mistreat her, because you have humbled her [by forced marriage].
15 “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other [j]unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have born him sons, and the firstborn son belongs to the unloved wife, 16 then on the day when he wills his possessions to his sons, he cannot treat the son of his loved wife as firstborn in place of the son of the unloved wife—the [actual] firstborn. 17 Instead he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved as the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he was the beginning of his strength (generative power); to him belongs the right of the firstborn.
18 “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or of his mother, and when they reprimand and discipline him, he will not listen to them, 19 then his father and mother shall take hold of him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. 20 They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from among you, and all Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
22 “And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death and [[k]afterward] you hang him on a tree [as a public example], 23 his body shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall most certainly bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is cursed by God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.
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