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Deuteronomy - Chapter 20

Deuteronomy Chapters

1 'When you go to war against your enemies and see horses and chariots and an army greater than your own, you must not be afraid of them; Yahweh your God is with you, he who brought you out of Egypt.

2 When you are about to join battle, the priest must come forward and address the people.

3 He must say to them, "Listen, Israel: today you are about to join battle with your enemies. Do not be faint hearted. Let there be no fear or trembling or alarm as you face them.

4 Yahweh your God is marching with you, to fight your enemies for you and make you victorious."

5 'The scribes will then address the people, as follows: "Has anyone built a new house and not yet dedicated it? Let him go home, in case he dies in battle and someone else performs the dedication.

6 "Has anyone planted a vineyard and not yet enjoyed its fruit? Let him go home, in case he dies in battle and someone else enjoys its fruit.

7 "Has anyone contracted to marry a girl and not yet married her? Let him go home, in case he dies in battle and someone else marries her."

8 'Finally, the scribes will say to the people: "Is anyone frightened or faint hearted? Let him go home, in case he makes his brothers faint hearted too!"

9 'Then, when the scribes have finished speaking to the people, commanders will be appointed to lead them.

10 'When you advance on a town to attack it, first offer it peace-terms.

11 If it accepts these and opens its gates to you, all the people inside will owe you forced labour and work for you.

12 But if it refuses peace and gives battle, you must besiege it.

13 Yahweh your God having handed it over to you, you will put the whole male population to the sword.

14 But the women, children, livestock and whatever the town contains by way of spoil, you may take for yourselves as booty. You will feed on the spoils of the enemies whom Yahweh your God has handed over to you.

15 'That is how you will treat towns far away and not belonging to the nations near you.

16 But as regards the towns of those peoples whom Yahweh your God is giving you as your heritage, you must not spare the life of any living thing.

17 Instead, you must lay them under the curse of destruction: Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites, as Yahweh your God has commanded,

18 so that they may not teach you to do all the detestable things which they do to honour their gods: in doing these, you would sin against Yahweh your God.

19 'If, when attacking a town, you have to besiege it for a long time before you capture it, you must not destroy its trees by taking the axe to them: eat their fruit but do not cut them down. Is the tree in the fields human, that you should besiege it too?

20 Any trees, however, which you know are not fruit trees, you may destroy and cut down and use to build siege-works against the hostile town until it falls.'


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