12 “When you begin living in the towns the Lord your God is giving you, you may hear13 that scoundrels among you are leading their fellow citizens astray by saying, ‘Let us go worship other gods’—gods you have not known before.14 In such cases, you must examine the facts carefully. If you find that the report is true and such a detestable act has been committed among you,15 you must attack that town and completely destroy[a] all its inhabitants, as well as all the livestock.16 Then you must pile all the plunder in the middle of the open square and burn it. Burn the entire town as a burnt offering to the Lord your God. That town must remain a ruin forever; it may never be rebuilt.17 Keep none of the plunder that has been set apart for destruction. Then the Lord will turn from his fierce anger and be merciful to you. He will have compassion on you and make you a large nation, just as he swore to your ancestors.
18 “The Lord your God will be merciful only if you listen to his voice and keep all his commands that I am giving you today, doing what pleases him.
13:15The Hebrew term used here refers to the complete consecration of things or people to the Lord, either by destroying them or by giving them as an offering; similarly in 13:17.
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