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21 “If someone slain is found in the land that Yahweh your God is giving to you to take possession of it and is lying in the field, and it is not known who killed him,[a] then your elders and your judges shall go out and shall measure the distance to the cities that are around the slain one. And then[b] the nearest city to the slain one, the elders of that city shall take a heifer of the herd that has not been worked with in the field, that has not pulled a yoke, and the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a wadi that flows with water all year[c] and that has not been plowed and has not been sown; then there they shall break the neck of the heifer in the wadi.[d] Then the priests, the descendants[e] of Levi, shall come near, for Yahweh your God has chosen them to bless in the name of Yahweh, and every legal dispute and every case of assault will be subject to their ruling.[f] And all of the elders of that city nearest to the slain person shall wash their hands over the heifer with the broken neck in the wadi.[g] And they shall declare, and they shall say, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, and our eyes did not see what was done. Forgive your people, Israel, whom you redeemed, Yahweh, and do not allow[h] the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel, and let them be forgiven with regard to blood.’ And so you shall purge the innocent blood from your midst, because you must do the right thing in the eyes of Yahweh.

10 “When you go out for battle against your enemies, and Yahweh your God gives them into your hand, and you lead the captives[i] away, 11 and you see among the captives[j] a woman beautiful in appearance, and you become attached to her and you want to take her as a wife, 12 then you shall bring her into your household, and she shall shave her head, and she shall trim her nails. 13 And she shall remove the clothing of her captivity from her, and she shall remain in your house, and she shall mourn her father and her mother a full month,[k] and after this you may have sex with her,[l] and you may marry her, and she may become your wife.[m] 14 And then if you do not take delight in her, then you shall let her go to do whatever she wants,[n] but you shall not treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored[o] her.

15 “If a man has two wives, and the one is loved and the other one is disliked and the one loved and the one that is disliked have borne for him sons, if it happens that the firstborn son belongs to the one that is disliked,[p] 16 nevertheless it will be the case that[q] on the day of bestowing his inheritance upon his sons, he will not be allowed to treat as the firstborn son the son of the beloved wife in preference to[r] the son of the disliked wife, who is the firstborn son. 17 But he shall acknowledge the firstborn son of the disliked wife by giving[s] him a double portion of all that he has,[t] for he is the firstfruit of his vigor;[u] to him is the legal claim of the birthright.[v]

18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son[w] who does not listen to[x] the voice of his father and to the voice of his mother, and they discipline him, and he does not obey[y] them, 19 then his father and his mother shall take hold of him, and they shall bring him out to the elders of his city and to the gate of his town,[z] 20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This our son is stubborn and rebellious; he does not obey us,[aa] and he is a glutton and a drunkard.’ 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him with stones and let him die; and so you shall purge the evil from your midst, and all of Israel will hear, and they will fear.

22 “And if a man commits a sin punishable by death,[ab] and so he is put to death and you hang him on a tree, 23 his dead body shall not hang on the tree, but certainly you shall bury him on that day, for cursed by God is one that is being hung; so you shall not defile your land[ac] that Yahweh your God is giving to you as an inheritance.”


  1. Deuteronomy 21:1 Literally “struck/smote him”
  2. Deuteronomy 21:3 Literally “And it will happen”
  3. Deuteronomy 21:4 Literally “an ever-flowing wadi”
  4. Deuteronomy 21:4 Literally “they shall break there the neck with respect to the heifer in the ever-flowing wadi”; the Hebrew verb carries the meaning “to break the neck of”
  5. Deuteronomy 21:5 Or “sons”
  6. Deuteronomy 21:5 Literally “on their mouth”
  7. Deuteronomy 21:6 A valley that is dry most of the year, but contains a stream during the rainy season
  8. Deuteronomy 21:8 Literally “place/put”
  9. Deuteronomy 21:10 Hebrew “his captive” but singular pronoun refers to the many captives taken with plural sense
  10. Deuteronomy 21:11 Hebrew “captive”
  11. Deuteronomy 21:13 Literally “a month of days”
  12. Deuteronomy 21:13 Literally “you may go into her”
  13. Deuteronomy 21:13 Literally “become for you as wife”
  14. Deuteronomy 21:14 Literally “according to her desire/soul”
  15. Deuteronomy 21:14 Or “humbled”
  16. Deuteronomy 21:15 Literally “is to the wife who is hated”
  17. Deuteronomy 21:16 Literally “it will happen”
  18. Deuteronomy 21:16 Literally “over the faces of”
  19. Deuteronomy 21:17 Literally “to give”
  20. Deuteronomy 21:17 Literally “all that is found for him”
  21. Deuteronomy 21:17 Or “the beginning of his strength”
  22. Deuteronomy 21:17 Or “the just claim of the firstborn”
  23. Deuteronomy 21:18 Literally “If shall be for a man, a son stubborn and rebellious”
  24. Deuteronomy 21:18 Literally “and there is no listening/obedience”
  25. Deuteronomy 21:18 Or “listen to”
  26. Deuteronomy 21:19 Literally “place”
  27. Deuteronomy 21:20 Literally “there is no listening to our voice”
  28. Deuteronomy 21:22 Literally “when shall be against a man a sin of judgment of death”
  29. Deuteronomy 21:23 Or “ground”