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Expiation of a Crime

21 “If someone is found slain, lying in the field, in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess, and it is not known who has killed him, then your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distance to the cities which are around the dead person. It shall be that the elders of the city which is nearest to the dead man shall take a heifer of the herd, one which has not been worked and which has not pulled in a yoke; and the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a [river] valley with running water, which has not been plowed or planted, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall approach, for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the Name (Presence) of the Lord; and every dispute and every assault (violent crime) shall be settled by them. All the elders of that city nearest to the dead man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley; and they shall respond, and say, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it. Forgive Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O Lord, and do not put the guilt of innocent blood among Your people Israel.’ And the guilt of blood shall be forgiven them. So shall you remove the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.

Domestic Relations

10 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God hands them over to you and you lead them away captive, 11 and you see a beautiful woman among the captives, and desire her and would take her as your wife, 12 then you shall bring her [home] to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails [in preparation for mourning]. 13 She shall take off the clothes of her captivity and remain in your house, and weep (mourn) for her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 But it shall be that if you have no delight and take no pleasure in her, then you shall let her go [a]wherever she wishes. You certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not deal with her as a slave or mistreat her, because you have humbled her [by forced marriage].

15 “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other [b]unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have born him sons, and the firstborn son belongs to the unloved wife, 16 then on the day when he wills his possessions to his sons, he cannot treat the son of his loved wife as firstborn in place of the son of the unloved wife—the [actual] firstborn. 17 Instead he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved as the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he was the beginning of his strength (generative power); to him belongs the right of the firstborn.

18 “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or of his mother, and when they reprimand and discipline him, he will not listen to them, 19 then his father and mother shall take hold of him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. 20 They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’(A) 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from among you, and all Israel will hear of it and be afraid.

22 “And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death and [[c]afterward] you hang him on a tree [as a public example],(B) 23 his body shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall most certainly bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is cursed by God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.(C)

Various Laws

22 “You shall not see your countryman’s ox or his sheep straying away or being stolen, and [d]ignore [your duty to help] them; you shall certainly take them back to him.(D) If your countryman is not nearby or you do not know him, you shall bring the animal to your house, and it shall stay with you until he searches for it; then you shall return it to him. You shall do this with his donkey or with his garment or with anything that your countryman has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to ignore [your duty to help] them. You shall not see your countryman’s donkey or his ox fall down along the road, and ignore [your duty to help] them; you shall certainly help him lift it up.

“A woman shall not wear a man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is utterly repulsive to the Lord your God.

“If you happen to come upon a bird’s nest along the road, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother [bird] is sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. You shall certainly let the mother go, but you may take the young for yourself, so that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.

“When you build a new house, you shall make a railing (parapet) around your [flat] roof, so that you do not bring the guilt of [innocent] blood on your house if someone falls from it.

“You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or everything produced by the seed which you have sown and the yield of the vineyard will become defiled [and banned for use].

10 “You shall not plow with an ox [a clean animal] and a donkey [an unclean animal] [e]together.(E)

11 “You shall not wear a fabric made of wool and linen blended together [a fabric pagans believed to be magical].(F)

12 “You shall make tassels for yourself on the four corners of your outer garment with which you cover yourself.(G)

Laws on Morality

13 “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then scorns and hates her, 14 and charges her [without cause] with shameful behavior and [f]publicly defames her, and says, ‘I took this woman, but when I approached her, I did not find in her evidence of virginity,’ 15 then the young woman’s father and her mother shall get and bring out the evidence of her virginity to the elders of the city at the gate [where court is held]. 16 The father of the young woman shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man as a wife, but he hates her and has turned against her; 17 and behold, he has made baseless charges against her, saying, “I did not find in your daughter the evidence of her virginity.” But this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread out the [g]garment before the elders of the city. 18 Then the elders of that city shall take the man and reprimand him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the father of the young woman, because he [h]publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he is not allowed to divorce her as long as he lives.

20 “But if this charge is true that the evidence of virginity was not found in the young woman, 21 then they shall bring her out to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her to death because she has committed a deliberate sin in Israel by playing the prostitute in her father’s house. So you shall remove the evil from among you.

22 “If a man is [i]intimate with a woman who is another man’s wife, they shall both be put to death, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman. So you shall remove the evil from Israel.

23 “If a young woman who is a virgin is engaged (legally betrothed) to a man, and another man finds her in the city and is intimate with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and stone them to death—the young woman because she did not cry out for help [though she was] in the city, and the man because he has violated his neighbor’s [promised] wife. So you shall remove the evil from among you.

25 “However, if the man finds the girl who is engaged (legally betrothed) in the [open] field, and seizes her and is intimate with her [by force], then only the man who lies with her shall be put to death. 26 But you shall do nothing to the young woman; she has committed no sin worthy of death, for this is the same as when a man attacks his neighbor and murders [j]him. 27 When he found her in the [open] field, the engaged girl [may have] cried out for help, but there was no one to [hear and] save her.

28 “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and is intimate with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who was intimate with her shall give fifty shekels of silver to the girl’s father, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he can [k]never divorce her.

30 [l]A man shall not take his father’s [former] wife, so that he will not [m]expose his father’s wife.

Persons Excluded from the Assembly

23 “He who has been castrated by having his testicles crushed or his male organ cut off shall not enter the congregation of the Lord. A person of [n]illegitimate birth shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation. An Ammonite or [o]Moabite shall not enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord, because they did not meet you with bread (food) and water on the road as you came out of Egypt, and because they hired [to act] against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. Nevertheless, the Lord your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God has loved you. You shall never seek their peace nor their prosperity all your days.

“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother [Esau’s descendant]. You shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were a stranger (resident alien, foreigner) in his land. Their children of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.

“When you go out as an army [to fight] against your enemies, you shall keep yourselves from every evil [thing].

10 “If there is any man among you who is [ceremonially] unclean because of nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he shall not come back to the camp. 11 But when evening comes, he shall bathe in water, and at sundown he may return to the camp.

12 “You shall also have a place outside the camp to which you may go, 13 and you shall have a spade among your tools, and when you [prepare to] sit down outside [to relieve yourself], you shall dig a hole with it and shall turn and cover up your waste. 14 Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to rescue you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy (undefiled); and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.

15 “You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16 He shall live among you, in the place he chooses in one of your cities where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat or oppress him.

17 “There shall be no cult prostitute among the daughters of Israel, nor shall there be a cult prostitute (a sodomite) among the sons of Israel. 18 You shall not bring the wages of a prostitute or the price of a dog [that is, a male prostitute] into the house of the Lord your God as payment for any vow, for both of these [the gift and the giver] are utterly repulsive to the Lord your God.

19 “You shall not charge interest to your fellow Israelite—interest on money, food or anything that may be loaned for interest. 20 You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your fellow Israelite you shall not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in [p]all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

21 “When you make a [q]vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for He will most certainly require it of you, and a delay would cause you to sin. 22 But if you refrain from making a vow, that would not be [counted as] sin in you. 23 You shall be careful to perform that [vow] which passes your lips, just as you have made a voluntary vow to the Lord your God, just as you have promised with your own words (mouth).

24 “When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, [r]as many as you please, but you shall not put any in your basket [to take with you].

25 “When you come into the standing grain of your neighbor, you may [s]pluck the ears of grain with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain [to harvest it].

Footnotes

  1. Deuteronomy 21:14 Lit to her soul.
  2. Deuteronomy 21:15 Lit hated, the Hebrew word does not seem always to indicate a hostile attitude, but sometimes more of a sense of rejection.
  3. Deuteronomy 21:22 In the time of the Roman Empire, the rabbis insisted that the Jews were more humane than the Romans because Jews did not use crucifixion as a means of execution. They maintained that only the corpse was hanged.
  4. Deuteronomy 22:1 Lit hide yourself from them, and so throughout the chapter.
  5. Deuteronomy 22:10 As a practical matter, the two different species would not work well together, particularly pulling a plow, wagon, etc.
  6. Deuteronomy 22:14 Lit brings upon her an evil name.
  7. Deuteronomy 22:17 I.e. a blood-stained bed sheet or item of clothing from the wedding night.
  8. Deuteronomy 22:19 Lit brought an evil name upon.
  9. Deuteronomy 22:22 Lit found lying, and so throughout.
  10. Deuteronomy 22:26 Lit his soul.
  11. Deuteronomy 22:29 Lit all his days.
  12. Deuteronomy 22:30 In Hebrew this is 23:1, changing the versification throughout the following chapter.
  13. Deuteronomy 22:30 Lit uncover his father’s skirt.
  14. Deuteronomy 23:2 That is, one who was born from incest, an adulterous relationship, or a mixed marriage (a Jew or a Jewess and a Gentile).
  15. Deuteronomy 23:3 Ruth, one of the ancestors of Jesus, was a Moabitess, but she essentially became an Israelite (Ruth 1:16) and married an Israelite (Boaz). Moreover, the rabbis taught that Deut 23:3 applied only to Ammonite and Moabite men. This teaching was summarized by what became a common saying: “An Ammonite [is forbidden], but not an Ammonitess; a Moabite, but not a Moabitess!” (as quoted from the Talmud).
  16. Deuteronomy 23:20 Lit all to which your hand is put.
  17. Deuteronomy 23:21 The abuse of vows was a practice for which Jesus sternly rebuked the Pharisees. There were at least two kinds of abuse for which they were rightly held responsible: 1) their approval of vows which should have been overruled and rejected because they violated even more important commandments (see Matt 15:3-6); and 2) inappropriate or hair-splitting criteria for determining the validity of a vow (Matt 23:16-22).
  18. Deuteronomy 23:24 Lit according to your soul.
  19. Deuteronomy 23:25 When Jesus and His disciples picked some grain in this manner, they were not charged with theft by the Pharisees, but of doing work on the Sabbath, which was clearly not the case (Matt 12:1-6).

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