Deuteronomy 17:1–19:21

17 Do not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep that has any defecte or flaw in it, for that would be detestablef to him.g

If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the Lord gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the Lord your God in violation of his covenant,h and contrary to my commandi has worshiped other gods,j bowing down to them or to the sunk or the moon or the stars in the sky,l and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is truem and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel,n take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.o On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.p The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death,q and then the hands of all the people.r You must purge the evils from among you.

Law Courts

If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judget—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaultsu—take them to the place the Lord your God will choose.v Go to the Leviticalw priests and to the judgex who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict.y 10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the Lord will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do. 11 Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left.z 12 Anyone who shows contempta for the judge or for the priest who stands ministeringb there to the Lord your God is to be put to death.c You must purge the evil from Israel.d 13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.e

The King

14 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you and have taken possessionf of it and settled in it,g and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,”h 15 be sure to appointi over you a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites.j Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite. 16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horsesk for himselfl or make the people return to Egyptm to get more of them,n for the Lord has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”o 17 He must not take many wives,p or his heart will be led astray.q He must not accumulater large amounts of silver and gold.s

18 When he takes the thronet of his kingdom, he is to writeu for himself on a scroll a copyv of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests. 19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his lifew so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decreesx 20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the lawy to the right or to the left.z Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.a

Offerings for Priests and Levites

18 The Leviticalb priests—indeed, the whole tribe of Levi—are to have no allotment or inheritance with Israel. They shall live on the food offeringsc presented to the Lord, for that is their inheritance.d They shall have no inheritance among their fellow Israelites; the Lord is their inheritance,e as he promised them.f

This is the share due the priestsg from the people who sacrifice a bullh or a sheep: the shoulder, the internal organs and the meat from the head.i You are to give them the firstfruits of your grain, new wine and olive oil, and the first wool from the shearing of your sheep,j for the Lord your God has chosen themk and their descendants out of all your tribes to stand and ministerl in the Lord’s name always.m

If a Levite moves from one of your towns anywhere in Israel where he is living, and comes in all earnestness to the place the Lord will choose,n he may minister in the nameo of the Lord his God like all his fellow Levites who serve there in the presence of the Lord. He is to share equally in their benefits, even though he has received money from the sale of family possessions.p

Occult Practices

When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, do not learn to imitateq the detestable waysr of the nations there. 10 Let no one be found among you who sacrifices their son or daughter in the fire,s who practices divinationt or sorcery,u interprets omens, engages in witchcraft,v 11 or casts spells,w or who is a medium or spiritistx or who consults the dead. 12 Anyone who does these things is detestable to the Lord; because of these same detestable practices the Lord your God will drive out those nations before you.y 13 You must be blamelessz before the Lord your God.a

The Prophet

14 The nations you will dispossess listen to those who practice sorcery or divination.b But as for you, the Lord your God has not permitted you to do so. 15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you, from your fellow Israelites.c You must listen to him. 16 For this is what you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb on the day of the assembly when you said, “Let us not hear the voice of the Lord our God nor see this great fire anymore, or we will die.”d

17 The Lord said to me: “What they say is good. 18 I will raise up for them a prophete like you from among their fellow Israelites, and I will put my wordsf in his mouth.g He will tell them everything I command him.h 19 I myself will call to accounti anyone who does not listenj to my words that the prophet speaks in my name.k 20 But a prophet who presumes to speak in my name anything I have not commanded, or a prophet who speaks in the name of other gods,l is to be put to death.”m

21 You may say to yourselves, “How can we know when a message has not been spoken by the Lord?” 22 If what a prophet proclaims in the name of the Lord does not take place or come true,n that is a message the Lord has not spoken.o That prophet has spoken presumptuously,p so do not be alarmed.

Cities of Refuge

19:1–14Ref—Nu 35:6–34; Dt 4:41–43; Jos 20:1–9

19 When the Lord your God has destroyed the nations whose land he is giving you, and when you have driven them out and settled in their towns and houses,q then set aside for yourselves three cities in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess. Determine the distances involved and divide into three parts the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, so that a person who kills someone may flee for refuge to one of these cities.

This is the rule concerning anyone who kills a person and flees there for safety—anyone who kills a neighbor unintentionally, without malice aforethought. For instance, a man may go into the forest with his neighbor to cut wood, and as he swings his ax to fell a tree, the head may fly off and hit his neighbor and kill him. That man may flee to one of these cities and save his life. Otherwise, the avenger of bloodr might pursue him in a rage, overtake him if the distance is too great, and kill him even though he is not deserving of death, since he did it to his neighbor without malice aforethought. This is why I command you to set aside for yourselves three cities.

If the Lord your God enlarges your territory,s as he promisedt on oath to your ancestors, and gives you the whole land he promised them, because you carefully follow all these laws I command you today—to love the Lord your God and to walk always in obedience to himu—then you are to set aside three more cities. 10 Do this so that innocent bloodv will not be shed in your land, which the Lord your God is giving you as your inheritance, and so that you will not be guilty of bloodshed.w

11 But if out of hate someone lies in wait, assaults and kills a neighbor,x and then flees to one of these cities, 12 the killer shall be sent for by the town elders, be brought back from the city, and be handed over to the avenger of blood to die. 13 Show no pity.y You must purge from Israel the guilt of shedding innocent blood,z so that it may go well with you.

14 Do not move your neighbor’s boundary stone set up by your predecessors in the inheritance you receive in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess.a


15 One witness is not enough to convict anyone accused of any crime or offense they may have committed. A matter must be established by the testimony of two or three witnesses.b

16 If a malicious witnessc takes the stand to accuse someone of a crime, 17 the two people involved in the dispute must stand in the presence of the Lord before the priests and the judgesd who are in office at the time. 18 The judges must make a thorough investigation,e and if the witness proves to be a liar, giving false testimony against a fellow Israelite, 19 then do to the false witness as that witness intended to do to the other party.f You must purge the evil from among you. 20 The rest of the people will hear of this and be afraid,g and never again will such an evil thing be done among you. 21 Show no pity:h life for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.i

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