Deuteronomy 14-16 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
Israel, God’s Special People
14 “You are the children of the Lord your God. When someone dies, you must not cut yourselves or shave your heads[a] to show your sadness. 2 This is because you are different from other people. You belong to the Lord your God. From all the people in the world, the Lord chose you to be his own special people.
Food the Israelites Are Allowed to Eat
3 “Don’t eat anything that the Lord hates. 4 You may eat these animals: cattle, sheep, goats, 5 deer, gazelles, roe deer, wild sheep, wild goats, antelopes, and mountain sheep. 6 You may eat any animal that has hooves divided into two parts and that chews the cud. 7 But don’t eat camels, rabbits, or rock badgers. These animals chew the cud, but they don’t have split hooves. So these animals are not a clean food for you. 8 And you must not eat pigs. Their hooves are divided, but they don’t chew the cud. So pigs are not a clean food for you. Don’t eat any meat from pigs. Don’t even touch a pig’s dead body.
9 “You may eat any kind of fish that has fins and scales. 10 But don’t eat anything living in the water that does not have fins and scales. It is not a clean food for you.
11 “You may eat any clean bird. 12 But don’t eat any of these birds: eagles, vultures, buzzards, 13 red kites, falcons, any kind of kite, 14 any kind of raven, 15 horned owls, screech owls, sea gulls, any kind of hawk, 16 little owls, great owls, white owls, 17 desert owls, ospreys, cormorants, 18 storks, any kind of heron, hoopoes, or bats.
19 “All insects with wings are unclean, so don’t eat them. 20 But you may eat any clean bird.
21 “Don’t eat any animal that has died by itself. You may give the dead animal to the foreigner in your town, and he can eat it. Or you may sell the dead animal to a foreigner. But you yourselves must not eat the dead animal, because you belong to the Lord your God. You are his special people.
“Don’t cook a baby goat in its mother’s milk.
22 “Every year you must be sure to save one-tenth of all the crops that grow in your fields. 23 Then you must go to the place the Lord chooses to be the home for his name. You will go there to be with the Lord your God. At that place you will eat the tenth of your crops—one-tenth of your grain, your new wine, your oil, and the first animals born in your herds and flocks. In this way you will always remember to respect the Lord your God. 24 But that place might be too far for you to travel to. Maybe you will not be able to carry one-tenth of all the crops that the Lord has blessed you with. If that happens, 25 sell that part of your crops and take the money with you to the special place the Lord has chosen. 26 Use the money to buy anything you want—cattle, sheep, wine or beer or any other food. Then you and your family should eat and enjoy yourselves there in that place with the Lord your God. 27 But don’t forget the Levites living in your town. Share your food with them because they don’t have a share of the land like you have.
28 “At the end of every three years, you must gather one-tenth of your harvest for that year. Store this food in your towns. 29 Keep this food for the Levites, because they don’t have any land of their own. Also keep this food for the foreigners, orphans, and widows who live in your towns. This will provide enough for them to come and eat all they want. If you do this, the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
The Special Year of Canceling Debts
15 “At the end of every seven years, you must cancel debts. 2 This is the way you must do this: Everyone who has lent money to another Israelite must cancel the debt. He should not ask a fellow Israelite to repay the debt, because the Lord said to cancel debts during that year. 3 You may require a foreigner to repay you, but you must cancel any debt another Israelite owes you. 4 There should not be any poor people in your country, because the Lord your God is giving you this land. And the Lord will greatly bless you. 5 But this will happen only if you obey the Lord your God. You must be careful to obey every command that I have told you today. 6 Then the Lord your God will bless you, as he promised. And you will have enough money to make loans to many nations. But you will not need to borrow from anyone. You will rule over many nations. But none of these nations will rule over you.
7 “When you are living in the land the Lord your God is giving you, there might be some poor people living among you. You must not be selfish. You must not refuse to give help to them. 8 You must be willing to share with them. You must lend them whatever they need.
9 “Don’t ever refuse to help someone simply because the seventh year, the year for canceling debts, is near. Don’t let an evil thought like that enter your mind. You must never have bad thoughts about someone who needs help. You must not refuse to help them. If you don’t help the poor, they might complain to the Lord, and he will judge you guilty of sin.
10 “So be sure to give to the poor. Don’t hesitate to give to them, because the Lord your God will bless you for doing this good thing. He will bless you in all your work and in everything you do. 11 There will always be poor people in the land. That is why I command you to be ready to help your brother or sister. Give to the poor in your land who need help.
Letting Slaves Go Free
12 “You might buy a Hebrew man or woman to serve you as a slave. You may keep that person as a slave for six years. But in the seventh year, you must let that person go free. 13 But when you let your slave go free, don’t send him away with nothing. 14 You must give him some of your animals, grain, and wine. The Lord your God blessed you and gave you plenty of good things. In the same way you must give plenty of good things to your slave. 15 Remember, you were slaves in Egypt. And the Lord your God set you free. So that is why I am giving you this command today.
16 “But one of your slaves might say to you, ‘I will not leave you.’ He might say this because he loves you and your family and because he has a good life with you. 17 Make this servant put his ear against your door and use a sharp tool to make a hole in his ear. This will show that he is your slave forever. You must do this even to the women slaves who want to stay with you.
18 “Don’t regret letting your slave go free. Remember, he served you six years for half of what you would have paid a hired worker.[b] The Lord your God will bless you in everything you do.
Rules About Firstborn Animals
19 “All the first male animals born in your herd and flock are special. You must give them to the Lord. Don’t use any of these animals for your work and don’t cut wool from any of these sheep. 20 Every year you must take these animals to the place the Lord your God will choose. There with the Lord, you and your family will eat these animals.
21 “But if an animal has something wrong with it—if it is crippled or blind or has something else wrong with it—then you must not sacrifice that animal to the Lord your God. 22 But you may eat the meat from that animal at home. Anyone may eat it—people who are clean and people who are unclean. The rules for eating this meat are the same as the rules for eating gazelles and deer. 23 But you must not eat the blood from the animal. You must pour the blood out on the ground like water.
16 “Remember, in the month of Abib you must celebrate Passover to honor the Lord your God. It was that night in Abib when the Lord your God brought you out of Egypt. 2 You must go to the place the Lord your God will choose to be the home for his name. There you must offer the Passover sacrifice to honor the Lord. You must offer the cattle and goats. 3 Don’t eat bread that has yeast in it with this sacrifice. You must eat unleavened bread for seven days. This bread is called ‘Bread of Trouble.’ It will help you remember the troubles you had in Egypt. Remember how quickly you had to leave that country. You must remember that day as long as you live. 4 There must be no yeast in anyone’s house anywhere in the country for seven days. And all the meat you sacrifice on the evening of the first day must be eaten before morning.
5 “You must not sacrifice the Passover animal in any of the towns that the Lord your God gives you. 6 You must sacrifice the Passover animal only at the place that the Lord your God will choose to be the home for his name. There you must sacrifice the Passover animal in the evening when the sun goes down. This is the festival when you remember that God brought you out of Egypt. 7 You must cook the meal and eat it at the place the Lord your God will choose. The next morning you may go back home. 8 You must eat unleavened bread six days. On the seventh day you must not do any work. On this day the people will come together for a special meeting to honor the Lord your God.
Festival of Harvest
9 “You must count seven weeks from the time you begin to harvest the grain. 10 Then celebrate the Festival of Harvest for the Lord your God. Do this by bringing him some special gift you want to bring. Decide how much to give by thinking about how much the Lord your God has blessed you. 11 Go to the place the Lord will choose to be the home for his name. You and your people should enjoy yourselves together there with the Lord your God. Take all your people with you—your sons, your daughters, and all your servants. And take the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows living in your towns. 12 Remember, you were slaves in Egypt. So be sure to obey these laws.
Festival of Shelters
13 “Seven days after you have gathered your harvest in from your threshing floor and from your winepress, you should celebrate the Festival of Shelters. 14 Enjoy yourselves at this festival—you, your sons, your daughters, all your servants, and the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows living in your towns. 15 Celebrate this festival for seven days at the special place the Lord will choose. Do this to honor the Lord your God. The Lord your God blessed your harvest and all the work you did, so be very happy!
16 “Three times a year all your men must come to meet with the Lord your God at the special place he will choose. They must come for the Festival of Unleavened Bread, the Festival of Harvest, and the Festival of Shelters. Everyone who comes to meet with the Lord must bring a gift. 17 Each man should give as much as he can. He should decide how much to give by thinking about how much the Lord has given him.
Judges and Officers for the People
18 “Choose men to be judges and officers in every town that the Lord your God gives you. Every tribe must do this. And these men must be fair in judging the people. 19 You must always be fair. You must not favor some people over other people. You must not take money to change your mind in judgment. Money blinds the eyes of wise people and changes what a good person will say. 20 Goodness and Fairness! You must try very hard to be good and fair all the time. Then you will live and keep the land that the Lord your God is giving you.
God Hates Idols
21 “When you set up an altar for the Lord your God, you must not place beside the altar any of the wooden poles that honor the goddess Asherah. 22 You must not set up special stones for worshiping false gods. The Lord your God hates them.