Deuteronomy 21-23 Easy-to-Read Version (ERV)
If Someone Is Found Murdered
21 “In the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you might find a dead body in a field, but no one knows who killed that person. 2 Your leaders and judges must come out and measure the distance to the towns around the dead body. 3 When you learn which town is nearest to the dead body, the leaders of that town must take a cow from their herds. It must be a cow that never had a calf and that has never been used for work. 4 The leaders of that town must then bring the cow down to a valley with running water. It must be a valley that has never been plowed or had anything planted in it. Then the leaders must break the cow’s neck there in that valley. 5 The priests, the descendants of Levi, must also go there. (The Lord your God has chosen these priests to serve him and to bless people in the name of the Lord. The priests will decide who is right in every lawsuit and whenever someone is hurt.) 6 All the leaders of the town nearest the dead body must wash their hands over the cow that had its neck broken in the valley. 7 These leaders must say, ‘We did not kill this person, and we did not see it happen. 8 Lord, you saved your people Israel. Now make us pure. Don’t blame us for killing an innocent person.’ In this way these men will not be blamed for killing an innocent person. 9 In this way you will remove that guilt from your group by doing what the Lord said.
Women Captured in War
10 “You might fight against your enemies, and the Lord your God might let you defeat them and take them as captives. 11 You might see a beautiful woman among the captives who you want to be your wife. 12 You must then bring her into your house where she will shave her head and cut her nails. 13 She must change her clothes and take off the clothes she was wearing when she was captured in war. She will stay in your house and be sad about losing her father and her mother for a full month. After that you may go to her to be her husband, and she will be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her and choose to divorce her, set her free. You cannot sell her. You had sexual relations with her, so you must not treat her like a slave.
The Oldest Son
15 “A man might have two wives. He might love one wife more than the other. Both wives might have children for him, but the firstborn son might be from the wife he does not love. 16 When the man divides his property among his children, he cannot give the rights of the firstborn to the son of his favorite wife. 17 The man must accept the firstborn son from the wife he does not love. The man must give that son a double share of everything he owns because that son is his first child. The right of the firstborn belongs to that son.
Children Who Refuse to Obey
18 “A man might have a son who is stubborn and refuses to obey. This son does not obey his father or mother. They punish the son, but he still refuses to listen to them. 19 His father and mother must then take him to the leaders of the town at the town meeting place. 20 They must say to the leaders of the town: ‘Our son is stubborn and refuses to obey. He does not do anything we tell him to do. He eats and he drinks too much.’ 21 Then the men in the town must kill the son with stones. By doing this you will remove this evil from your group. Everyone in Israel will hear about this and be afraid.
Criminals Killed and Hanged on a Tree
22 “A man might be guilty of a sin that must be punished by death. People might kill him and hang his body on a tree. 23 You must not let that body stay on the tree overnight. You must be sure to bury this man on the same day, because the one who hangs on a tree is cursed by God, and you must not let the land that the Lord your God is giving you become unclean.
22 “If you see that your neighbor’s ox or sheep is loose, you must not ignore it. Be sure to take it back to its owner. 2 If the owner does not live near you or if you don’t know who it belongs to, take the ox or sheep to your house. Keep it there until the owner comes looking for it; then give it back. 3 You must do the same thing when you find anything that your neighbor might have lost. Don’t try selling it to your neighbor—you must give it back.
4 “If your neighbor’s donkey or ox has fallen down on the road, you must not ignore it. You must help your neighbor lift it up again.
5 “A woman must not wear men’s clothes, and a man must not wear women’s clothes. That is disgusting to the Lord your God.
6 “You might be walking along a path and find a bird’s nest in a tree or on the ground. If the mother bird is sitting with her baby birds or on the eggs, you must not take the mother bird with the babies. 7 You may take the babies for yourself, but you must let the mother go. If you obey these laws, things will go well for you, and you will live a long time.
8 “When you build a new house, you must build a wall around your roof.[a] Then you will not be guilty for the death of a person who falls from the house.
Things That Must Not Be Put Together
9 “You must not plant seeds of grain in the same fields as your grapevines. Why? Because then they become useless[b]—both the grapes and the grain produced by the seeds you planted.
10 “You must not plow with an ox and a donkey together.
11 “You must not wear clothes made by weaving together wool and linen.
12 “Tie several pieces of thread together. Then put these tassels[c] on the four corners of the robes you wear.
13 “A man might marry a woman and have sexual relations with her. Then he might decide that he does not like her. 14 He might accuse her of doing wrong and say, ‘I married this woman, but when we had sexual relations, I found she was not a virgin.’ By saying this against her, people might think bad things about her. 15 If this happens, the girl’s father and mother must bring the proof that the girl was a virgin to the town elders at the meeting place of the town. 16 The girl’s father must say to the leaders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to be his wife, but now he does not want her. 17 This man accused my daughter of doing wrong and said, “I did not find the proof that your daughter is a virgin.” But here is the proof that my daughter was a virgin.’ Then they should show the cloth[d] to the town leaders. 18 Then the leaders of that town must take that man and punish him. 19 They must fine him 40 ounces of silver.[e] They will give the money to the girl’s father because her husband brought shame to an Israelite girl. And the girl will continue to be the man’s wife. He cannot divorce her for the rest of his life.
20 “But what the husband said about his wife might be true. The wife’s parents might not have the proof that she was a virgin. If this happens, 21 the town leaders must bring the girl to the door of her father’s house. Then the men of the town must kill her with stones, because she has done a shameful thing in Israel. She has acted like a prostitute in her father’s house. You must remove this evil from your group.
22 “If a man is found having sexual relations with another man’s wife, both of them must die—the woman and the man who had sexual relations with her. You must remove this evil from Israel.
23 “A man might meet a virgin girl engaged to another man. He might have sexual relations with her. If this happens in the city, 24 you must bring them both out to the public place near the gate of that city, and you must kill them with stones. You must kill the man, because he used another man’s wife for sexual sin. And you must kill the girl, because she was in the city but did not call for help. You must remove this evil from your people.
25 “But if a man finds an engaged girl out in the field and forces her to have sexual relations with him, only the man must die. 26 You must do nothing to the girl. She did nothing that deserves the punishment of death. This is like someone attacking their neighbor and killing them. 27 The man found the engaged girl out in the field and attacked her. Maybe she called for help, but there was no one to help her.
28 “A man might find a virgin girl who is not engaged and force her to have sexual relations with him. If other people see this happen, 29 he must pay the girl’s father 20 ounces of silver.[f] And the girl will become the man’s wife, because he used her for sexual sin. He cannot divorce her all his life.
30 “A man must not bring shame to his father by marrying his father’s wife.
People Who Cannot Join in Worship
23 “A man with a crushed testicle or part of his sex organ cut off may not join with the men of Israel to worship the Lord. 2 If a man’s parents were not legally married, that man may not join with the men of Israel to worship the Lord. And none of his descendants to the tenth generation—may join in that group.
3 “An Ammonite or Moabite may not join with the men of Israel when they gather to worship the Lord. And none of their descendants, to the tenth generation, may join in the worship of the Lord. 4 The Ammonites and Moabites refused to give you bread and water on your trip at the time you came from Egypt. They also tried to hire Balaam, the son of Beor from the Mesopotamian city of Pethor, to curse you. 5 But the Lord your God refused to do what Balaam asked. Instead, the Lord changed the curse into a blessing for you, because the Lord your God loves you. 6 You must never try to make peace with the Ammonites or Moabites. As long as you live, don’t be friendly to them.
People the Israelites Must Accept
7 “You must not hate Edomites, because they are your relatives. You must not hate Egyptians, because you were a stranger in their land. 8 The children of the third generation born to the Edomites and Egyptians may join with the people of Israel to worship the Lord.
Keeping the Army Camp Clean
9 “When your army goes to fight against your enemies, stay away from everything that would make you unclean. 10 If there is any man who is unclean because he had a flow of semen during the night, he must go out of the camp. He must stay away from the camp. 11 Then, when evening comes, the man must bathe himself in water. And when the sun goes down, he may come into the camp again.
12 “You also must have a place outside the camp where people can go to relieve themselves. 13 Among your weapons, you must also carry a stick to dig with. Then, when you relieve yourself, you must dig a hole and cover it up. 14 This is because the Lord your God is there with you in your camp to save you and to help you defeat your enemies. So the camp must be holy. Then he will not see something disgusting and leave you.
15 “If slaves run away and come to you, don’t force them to go back to their masters. 16 Runaway slaves may live with you wherever they like in whatever city they choose. You must not trouble them.
17 “An Israelite man or woman must never become a temple prostitute. 18 The money earned by a prostitute, either a male or female, must not be brought to the special house of the Lord your God. That money cannot be used to pay for a gift that was promised to the Lord your God, because that kind of sin is disgusting to him.
19 “When you loan something to another Israelite, you must not charge interest. Don’t charge interest on money, on food or on anything that may earn interest. 20 You may charge interest to a foreigner. But you must not charge interest to another Israelite. If you follow these rules, the Lord your God will bless you in everything you do in the land where you are going to live.
21 “When you make a promise to the Lord your God, don’t be slow to pay everything you promised. The Lord your God will demand that you pay it. You will sin if you don’t pay what you promised. 22 If you don’t make a promise, you are not sinning. 23 But you must do what you say you will do. If you choose to make a promise to the Lord your God, you must do what you promised.
24 “When you go through another person’s vineyard, you may eat as many grapes as you want. But you cannot put any of the grapes in your basket. 25 When you go through another person’s field of grain, you may eat all the grain you can pick with your hands. But you cannot use a sickle to cut that person’s grain and take it with you.