Passage: Deuteronomy 19, 20, 21 (RSV)

Deuteronomy 19

1"When the LORD your God cuts off the nations whose land the LORD your God gives you, and you dispossess them and dwell in their cities and in their houses,
2you shall set apart three cities for you in the land which the LORD your God gives you to possess.
3You shall prepare the roads, and divide into three parts the area of the land which the LORD your God gives you as a possession, so that any manslayer can flee to them.
4"This is the provision for the manslayer, who by fleeing there may save his life. If any one kills his neighbor unintentionally without having been at enmity with him in time past --
5as when a man goes into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and his hand swings the axe to cut down a tree, and the head slips from the handle and strikes his neighbor so that he dies -- he may flee to one of these cities and save his life;
6lest the avenger of blood in hot anger pursue the manslayer and overtake him, because the way is long, and wound him mortally, though the man did not deserve to die, since he was not at enmity with his neighbor in time past.
7Therefore I command you, You shall set apart three cities.
8And if the LORD your God enlarges your border, as he has sworn to your fathers, and gives you all the land which he promised to give to your fathers --
9provided you are careful to keep all this commandment, which I command you this day, by loving the LORD your God and by walking ever in his ways -- then you shall add three other cities to these three,
10lest innocent blood be shed in your land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, and so the guilt of bloodshed be upon you.
11"But if any man hates his neighbor, and lies in wait for him, and attacks him, and wounds him mortally so that he dies, and the man flees into one of these cities,
12then the elders of his city shall send and fetch him from there, and hand him over to the avenger of blood, so that he may die.
13Your eye shall not pity him, but you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so that it may be well with you.
14"In the inheritance which you will hold in the land that the LORD your God gives you to possess, you shall not remove your neighbor's landmark, which the men of old have set.
15"A single witness shall not prevail against a man for any crime or for any wrong in connection with any offense that he has committed; only on the evidence of two witnesses, or of three witnesses, shall a charge be sustained.
16If a malicious witness rises against any man to accuse him of wrongdoing,
17then both parties to the dispute shall appear before the LORD, before the priests and the judges who are in office in those days;
18the judges shall inquire diligently, and if the witness is a false witness and has accused his brother falsely,
19then you shall do to him as he had meant to do to his brother; so you shall purge the evil from the midst of you.
20And the rest shall hear, and fear, and shall never again commit any such evil among you.
21Your eye shall not pity; it shall be life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.

Deuteronomy 20

1"When you go forth to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots and an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
2And when you draw near to the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people,
3and shall say to them, `Hear, O Israel, you draw near this day to battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint; do not fear, or tremble, or be in dread of them;
4for the LORD your God is he that goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you the victory.'
5Then the officers shall speak to the people, saying, `What man is there that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it.
6And what man is there that has planted a vineyard and has not enjoyed its fruit? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man enjoy its fruit.
7And what man is there that has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him go back to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.'
8And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, 'What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest the heart of his fellows melt as his heart.'
9And when the officers have made an end of speaking to the people, then commanders shall be appointed at the head of the people.
10"When you draw near to a city to fight against it, offer terms of peace to it.
11And if its answer to you is peace and it opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall do forced labor for you and shall serve you.
12But if it makes no peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it;
13and when the LORD your God gives it into your hand you shall put all its males to the sword,
14but the women and the little ones, the cattle, and everything else in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourselves; and you shall enjoy the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you.
15Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far from you, which are not cities of the nations here.
16But in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes,
17but you shall utterly destroy them, the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Per'izzites, the Hivites and the Jeb'usites, as the LORD your God has commanded;
18that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominable practices which they have done in the service of their gods, and so to sin against the LORD your God.
19"When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them; for you may eat of them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field men that they should be besieged by you?
20Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.

Deuteronomy 21

1"If in the land which the LORD your God gives you to possess, any one is found slain, lying in the open country, and it is not known who killed him,
2then your elders and your judges shall come forth, and they shall measure the distance to the cities which are around him that is slain;
3and the elders of the city which is nearest to the slain man shall take a heifer which has never been worked and which has not pulled in the yoke.
4And the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which is neither plowed nor sown, and shall break the heifer's neck there in the valley.
5And the priests the sons of Levi shall come forward, for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the LORD, and by their word every dispute and every assault shall be settled.
6And all the elders of that city nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley;
7and they shall testify, `Our hands did not shed this blood, neither did our eyes see it shed.
8Forgive, O LORD, thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and set not the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of thy people Israel; but let the guilt of blood be forgiven them.'
9So you shall purge the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the sight of the LORD.
10"When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God gives them into your hands, and you take them captive,
11and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and you have desire for her and would take her for yourself as wife,
12then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and pare her nails.
13And she shall put off her captive's garb, and shall remain in your house and bewail 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.
14Then, if you have no delight in her, you shall let her go where she will; but you shall not sell her for money, you shall not treat her as a slave, since you have humiliated her.
15"If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other disliked, and they have borne him children, both the loved and the disliked, and if the first-born son is hers that is disliked,
16then on the day when he assigns his possessions as an inheritance to his sons, he may not treat the son of the loved as the first-born in preference to the son of the disliked, who is the first-born,
17but he shall acknowledge the first-born, the son of the disliked, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the first issue of his strength; the right of the first-born is his.
18"If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son, who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and, though they chastise him, will not give heed to them,
19then his father and his mother shall take hold of him and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gate of the place where he lives,
20and they shall say to the elders of his city, `This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton and a drunkard.'
21Then all the men of the city shall stone him to death with stones; so you shall purge the evil from your midst; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.
22"And if a man has committed a crime punishable by death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree,
23his body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall bury him the same day, for a hanged man is accursed by God; you shall not defile your land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance.

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