20 When you go to war against your enemies, you might see horses and chariots. Their army might be bigger than yours. But don’t be afraid of them. The Lord your God will be with you. He brought you out of Egypt. 2 The priest must come and speak to the army before you go into battle. 3 He should say, “Listen, Israel! Today you are going into battle against your enemies. Don’t lose your courage or be afraid. Don’t panic or be frightened. 4 The Lord your God goes with you. He will fight for you against your enemies. And he will save you.”
5 The officers should say to the army, “Has anyone built a new house but not given it to God? He may go home. He might die in battle. Then someone else would get to give his house to God. 6 Has anyone planted a vineyard and not begun to enjoy it? He may go home. He might die in battle. Then someone else would enjoy his vineyard. 7 Is any man engaged to a woman and not yet married to her? He may go home. He might die in battle. Then someone else would marry her.” 8 Then the officers should also say, “Is anyone here afraid? Has anyone lost his courage? He may go home. Then he will not cause others to lose their courage, too.” 9 When the officers finish speaking to the army, they should appoint commanders to lead it.
10 You will march up to attack a city. First, make them an offer of peace. 11 They might accept your offer and open their gates to you. If that happens, all the people of that city will become your slaves. They will work for you. 12 But they might not make peace with you. They might fight you in battle. Then you should surround that city. 13 The Lord your God will give you the city. Then kill all the men with your swords. 14 You may take everything else in the city for yourselves. Take the women and children and animals. And you may use these things the Lord your God gives you from your enemies. 15 Do this to all the cities that are far away. They do not belong to the nations nearby.
16 But leave nothing alive in the cities of the land. This is the land the Lord your God is giving you. 17 Completely destroy these people: the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. The Lord your God has commanded you to do this. 18 Otherwise, they will teach you what they do for their gods. And if you do these terrible things, you will sin against the Lord your God.
19 You might surround and attack a city for a long time, trying to capture it. But do not destroy its trees with an ax. You can eat the fruit from the trees. Do not cut them down. These trees are not the enemy. So don’t make war against them. 20 But you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees. You may use them to build devices to attack the city walls. You may do this until the city is captured.
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