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Deuteronomy 16-19 Common English Bible (CEB)

Passover celebration

16 Wait for the month of Abib,[a] at which time you must perform the Passover for the Lord your God, because the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt at nighttime during the month of Abib. Offer a Passover sacrifice from the flock or herd to the Lord your God at the location the Lord selects for his name to reside. You must not eat anything containing yeast along with it.[b] Instead, for seven days you must eat unleavened bread, bread symbolizing misery, along with it because you fled Egypt in a great hurry. Do this so you remember the day you fled Egypt for as long as you live. No dough with yeast should appear in any of your territory for seven days. Furthermore, none of the meat that you sacrificed on the first night should remain until morning. You are not permitted to offer the Passover sacrifice in any of the cities that the Lord your God is giving you. Instead, you must offer the Passover sacrifice at the location the Lord your God selects for his name to reside, at evening time, when the sun sets, which was the time you fled Egypt. Cook it and eat it in the location that the Lord your God selects. The next morning you can return to your tents. For six days you will eat unleavened bread. The seventh day will be a celebration for the Lord your God. Don’t do any work.

Festival of Weeks

Count out seven weeks, starting the count from the beginning of the grain harvest. 10 At that point, perform the Festival of Weeks for the Lord your God. Offer a spontaneous gift in precise measure with the blessing the Lord your God gives you. 11 Then celebrate in the presence of the Lord your God—you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites who live in your cities, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows who are among you—in the location the Lord your God selects for his name to reside. 12 Remember how each of you was a slave in Egypt, so follow these regulations most carefully.

Festival of Booths

13 Once you have collected the food and drink you need, perform the Festival of Booths for seven days. 14 Celebrate your festival: you, your sons, your daughters, your male and female servants, the Levites, the immigrants, the orphans, and the widows who live in your cities. 15 Seven days you must perform the festival for the Lord your God in the location the Lord selects because the Lord your God will bless you in all you do and in all your work. You will be overjoyed.

16 Three times a year every male among you must appear before the presence of the Lord your God in the location he will select: at the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Weeks, and the Festival of Booths. They must not appear before the Lord’s presence empty-handed. 17 Each one should have his gift in hand, in precise measure with the blessing the Lord your God gives you.

Judges and officials

18 Appoint judges and officials for each of your tribes in every city that the Lord your God gives you. They must judge the people fairly. 19 Don’t delay justice; don’t show favoritism. Don’t take bribes because bribery blinds the vision of the wise and twists the words of the righteous. 20 Righteousness! Pursue righteousness so that you live long and take possession of the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

Rules for worship

21 Don’t plant any tree to serve as a sacred pole[c] next to the altar you make for the Lord your God. 22 Don’t set up any sacred stone either, because the Lord your God hates such things.

17 Don’t sacrifice to the Lord your God any oxen or sheep that have defects of any kind, because that is detestable to the Lord your God.

Capital punishment

If someone, whether male or female, is found in your community—in one of the cities the Lord your God is giving you—who does evil in the Lord your God’s eyes, by breaking God’s covenant, by following and serving other gods, and by bowing down to them, to the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly bodies that I haven’t permitted— and you hear news about it, then you must look into this situation very carefully. And if it’s definitely true that this detestable thing was done in Israel, then you must bring out the man or woman who has done this evil thing to the gates of the city. Stone that person until he or she is dead.

Capital punishment must be decided by two or three witnesses. No one may be executed on the basis of only one testimony. In the execution, the hands of the witnesses must be against the guilty person from the start; the hand of all the people will be involved at the end. Remove[d] such evil from your community!

Legal disputes

If some legal dispute in your cities is too difficult for you to decide—say, between different kinds of bloodshed, different kinds of legal ruling, or different kinds of injury—then take it to the location the Lord your God selects. Go to the levitical priests and to the head judge in office at that time and look into things there. They will announce to you the correct ruling. 10 You must then act according to the ruling they announced to you from that location, the one the Lord selects. You must follow very carefully everything they instruct you to do. 11 Act precisely according to the instruction they give you and the ruling they announce to you. Don’t deviate even a bit from the word they announce. 12 And whoever acts rashly by not listening to the priest who is in office serving the Lord your God or to the head judge will die. Remove[e] such evil from Israel! 13 All the people will hear about this and be afraid. They won’t act arrogantly anymore.

Law of the king

14 Once you have entered the land the Lord your God is giving you and you have taken possession of it and settled down in it, you might say: “Let’s appoint a king over us, as all our neighboring nations have done.” 15 You can indeed appoint over you a king that the Lord your God selects. You can appoint over you a king who is one of your fellow Israelites. You are not allowed to appoint over you a foreigner who is not one of your fellow Israelites. 16 That granted, the king must not acquire too many horses, and he must not return the people to Egypt in order to acquire more horses, because the Lord told you: “You will never go back by that road again.” 17 The king must not take numerous wives so that his heart doesn’t go astray. Nor can the king acquire too much silver and gold. 18 Instead, when he sits on his royal throne, he himself must write a copy of this Instruction on a scroll in the presence of the levitical priests. 19 That Instruction must remain with him, and he must read in it every day of his life so that he learns to revere the Lord his God by keeping all the words of this Instruction and these regulations, by doing them, 20 by not being overbearing toward his fellow Israelites, and by not deviating even a bit from the commandment. If the king does all that, he will ensure lasting rule in Israel for himself and for his successors.

Priests and Levites

18 Neither the levitical priests nor any Levite tribe member will have a designated inheritance in Israel. They can eat the sacrifices offered to the Lord, which are the Lord’s portion,[f] but they won’t share an inheritance with their fellow Israelites. The Lord alone is the Levites’ inheritance—just as God promised them.

Now this is what the priests may keep from the people’s sacrifices of oxen or sheep: They must give the priest the shoulder, the jaws, and the stomach. You must also give the priest the first portions of your grain, wine, and oil, and the first of your sheep’s shearing because the Lord your God selected Levi from all of your tribes to stand and minister in the Lord’s name—both him and his descendants for all time.

Now if a Levite leaves one of your cities or departs from any location in Israel where he’s been living and, because he wants to, comes to the location the Lord selects and ministers in the Lord his God’s name, just like his relatives—the other Levites serving there in the Lord’s presence— he is allowed to eat equal portions, despite the finances he has from his family.[g]

Communicating with God

Once you enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you, don’t try to imitate the detestable things those nations do. 10 There must not be anyone among you who passes his son or daughter through fire; who practices divination, is a sign reader, fortune-teller, sorcerer, 11 or spell caster; who converses with ghosts or spirits or communicates with the dead. 12 All who do these things are detestable to the Lord! It is on account of these detestable practices that the Lord your God is driving these nations[h] out before you.

13 Instead, you must be perfect before the Lord your God. 14 These nations you are displacing listened to sign readers and diviners, but the Lord your God doesn’t permit you to do the same! 15 The Lord your God will raise up a prophet like me from your community, from your fellow Israelites. He’s the one you must listen to. 16 That’s exactly what you requested from the Lord your God at Horeb, on the day of the assembly, when you said, “I can’t listen to the Lord my God’s voice anymore or look at this great fire any longer. I don’t want to die!”

17 The Lord said to me: What they’ve said is right. 18 I’ll raise up a prophet for them from among their fellow Israelites—one just like you. I’ll put my words in his mouth, and he will tell them everything I command him. 19 I myself will hold accountable anyone who doesn’t listen to my words, which that prophet will speak in my name. 20 However, any prophet who arrogantly speaks a word in my name that I haven’t commanded him to speak, or who speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet must die.

21 Now, you might be wondering, How will we know which word God hasn’t spoken? 22 Here’s the answer: The prophet who speaks in the Lord’s name and the thing doesn’t happen or come about—that’s the word the Lord hasn’t spoken. That prophet spoke arrogantly. Don’t be afraid of him.[i]

Cities of refuge

19 Once the Lord your God has eliminated those nations—whose land the Lord your God is giving you—and you displace them, settling into their cities and their houses, you must designate three cities for your use in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess. Mark out the roads to them[j] and divide the regions of the land the Lord your God is apportioning to you into three parts. These cities are the places to which a person who has killed can escape. Here is the rule concerning a person who killed someone and is permitted to escape to one of these cities and live:

If it is someone who killed his neighbor accidentally, without having hated that person previously; or if someone goes into the forest with a neighbor to chop some wood, and while swinging an ax to cut down the tree, the axhead flies off its handle and hits the neighbor, who subsequently dies—these kinds of killers may escape to one of these cities and live. Otherwise, the blood avenger will chase after the killer out of rage and—especially if the distance to one of these cities[k] is too far—might catch and kill him, even though a death sentence was not in order because the killer didn’t have prior malice toward the other. This is why I am commanding you as follows: Designate three cities for your use.

Now if the Lord your God enlarges your territory, as he swore to your ancestors—and he will give you all the land he swore to give to them as long as you keep all this commandment that I am giving you right now by doing it, by loving the Lord your God, and by always walking in his ways—you can add three more cities for your use along with the first three. 10 Innocent blood must not be spilled in the land the Lord your God is giving to you as an inheritance, or it will be bloodshed that will be required of you.

11 But if someone does hate a neighbor and ambushes him, rising up against him and attacking him so he dies, and then escapes to one of these cities, 12 elders from the killer’s hometown will send word, and the killer will be sent back from there. They will then hand him over to the blood avenger, and he will be executed. 13 Show no mercy to such killers. Remove[l] innocent bloodshed from Israel so that things go well for you.

Property laws

14 Now in the land the Lord your God is giving you, in your allotted property that you will receive there, you must not tamper with your neighbor’s property line, which has been previously established.

Rules for testimony

15 A solitary witness against someone in any crime, wrongdoing, or in any sort of misdeed that might be done is not sufficient. The decision must stand by two or three witnesses. 16 Now if a spiteful witness comes forward against someone, so as to testify against them falsely, 17 the two persons who have a legal suit must stand before the Lord, before the priests, and before the judges that are in office at that time. 18 The judges will look into the situation very carefully. If it turns out that the witness is a liar—that the witness has given false testimony against his fellow Israelite— 19 then you must do to him what he had planned to do to his fellow Israelite. Remove[m] such evil from your community! 20 The rest of the people will hear about this and be afraid. They won’t do that sort of evil thing among you again. 21 Show no mercy on this point: life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.


  1. Deuteronomy 16:1 March–April; called Nisan in post-exilic period
  2. Deuteronomy 16:3 It, the Passover sacrifice
  3. Deuteronomy 16:21 Heb asherah, perhaps an object devoted to the goddess Asherah
  4. Deuteronomy 17:7 Or burn
  5. Deuteronomy 17:12 Or burn
  6. Deuteronomy 18:1 Heb uncertain
  7. Deuteronomy 18:8 Heb uncertain
  8. Deuteronomy 18:12 Or them
  9. Deuteronomy 18:22 Or bothered by it (the prophecy)
  10. Deuteronomy 19:3 Heb uncertain and lacks to them.
  11. Deuteronomy 19:6 Heb lacks to one of these cities.
  12. Deuteronomy 19:13 Or burn
  13. Deuteronomy 19:19 Or burn
Common English Bible (CEB)

Copyright © 2011 by Common English Bible


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