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Deuteronomy 20Amplified Bible (AMP)

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. When you approach the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people, 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, for the Lord your God is He who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ The officers shall also speak to the [a]soldiers, saying, ‘What man is there who has built a new house and has not yet [b]dedicated it? [c]Let him go and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. 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. 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.’ 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.’ 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 [d]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 [e]fruit trees shall you destroy and cut down, so that you may build [f]siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 20:5 Lit people and so throughout.
  2. Deuteronomy 20:5 I.e. to the temple. The rabbis said that ownership of a house was required for dedication. Here, dedication seems to have established ownership when the original owner died.
  3. Deuteronomy 20:5 The point of the admonitions in vv 5-8 is that with the Lord’s help, Israel would have no need of a large military force, and the officers could afford to dismiss anyone who was not completely prepared for battle.
  4. Deuteronomy 20:19 Lit many days.
  5. Deuteronomy 20:20 Lit trees for eating.
  6. Deuteronomy 20:20 I.e. battering rams, ladders, towers, etc.
Amplified Bible (AMP)

Copyright © 2015 by The Lockman Foundation, La Habra, CA 90631. All rights reserved.

Deuteronomy 20New International Version (NIV)

Going to War

20 When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than yours, do not be afraid of them, because the Lord your God, who brought you up out of Egypt, will be with you. When you are about to go into battle, the priest shall come forward and address the army. He shall say: “Hear, Israel: Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Do not be fainthearted or afraid; do not panic or be terrified by them. For the Lord your God is the one who goes with you to fight for you against your enemies to give you victory.

The officers shall say to the army: “Has anyone built a new house and not yet begun to live in it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else may begin to live in it. Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else enjoy it. Has anyone become pledged to a woman and not married her? Let him go home, or he may die in battle and someone else marry her. Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.” When the officers have finished speaking to the army, they shall appoint commanders over it.

10 When you march up to attack a city, make its people an offer of peace. 11 If they accept and open their gates, all the people in it shall be subject to forced labor and shall work for you. 12 If they refuse to make peace and they engage you in battle, lay siege to that city. 13 When the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, put to the sword all the men in it. 14 As for the women, the children, the livestock and everything else in the city, you may take these as plunder for yourselves. And you may use the plunder the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 This is how you are to treat all the cities that are at a distance from you and do not belong to the nations nearby.

16 However, in the cities of the nations the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, do not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 Completely destroy[a] them—the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you to follow all the detestable things they do in worshiping their gods, and you will sin against the Lord your God.

19 When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?[b] 20 However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

Footnotes:

  1. Deuteronomy 20:17 The Hebrew term refers to the irrevocable giving over of things or persons to the Lord, often by totally destroying them.
  2. Deuteronomy 20:19 Or down to use in the siege, for the fruit trees are for the benefit of people.
New International Version (NIV)

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