Deuteronomy 21
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Atonement for an Unsolved Murder

1“When there will have been found in the land, which the Lord your God will give to you, the corpse of a man who has been killed, and it is not known who is guilty of the murder, 2your judges and those greater by birth shall go out and measure, from the place of the corpse, the distance to each of the surrounding cities. 3And in whichever one they perceive to be closer than the others, the elders shall take a calf from the herd, one which has not pulled with a yoke, nor tilled with a plow. 4And they shall lead it into a rough and stony valley, one which has never been tilled or sown. And in that place, they shall cut the neck of the calf. 5And the priests the sons of Levi shall approach, those whom the Lord your God has chosen to minister to him, and to bless in his name, and to decide every controversy by their word, and to judge which things are clean and which are unclean. 6And those greater by birth of that city, nearest to the one who was slain, shall go and shall wash their hands over the calf that was killed in the valley. 7And they shall say: ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it. 8Be merciful to your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, O Lord, and do not charge them with innocent blood in the midst of your people Israel.’ And so the guilt of the blood will be taken away from them. 9Then you will be free from the blood that was shed against the innocent, when you will have done as the Lord has instructed you.

Marrying a Captive Woman

10If you have gone out to fight against your enemies, and the Lord your God has delivered them into your hand, and if, as you are leading away the captives, 11you see among the number of the captives a beautiful woman, and you love her, and you are willing to have her as a wife: 12then you shall lead her into your house. And she shall shave off her hair, and cut her nails short, 13and remove the garment in which she was captured. And she shall sit in your house and weep for her father and mother, for one month. And after that, you shall enter to her and sleep with her, and she shall be your wife. 14But if afterwards she does not sit well in your mind, you shall set her free. You cannot sell her for money, nor can you oppress her by force. For you have humiliated her.

Inheritance Rights of the Firstborn

15If a man has two wives, one beloved and the other hated, and they have produced children by him, and if the son of the hated wife is the firstborn, 16and if he wishes to divide his substance among his sons: he cannot make the son of the beloved wife the firstborn, and so prefer him before the son of the hated wife. 17Instead, he shall acknowledge the son of the hated wife as the firstborn, and he shall give to him a double portion of all that he has. For he is the first among his children, and the rights of the firstborn are owed to him.

A Rebellious Son
(Luke 15:11–32)

18If a man produces a disobedient and reckless son, who will not listen to the orders of his father or mother, and, having been corrected, shows contempt for obedience: 19they shall take him and lead him to the elders of the city and to the gate of judgment. 20And they shall say to them: ‘This our son is reckless and disobedient. He shows contempt when listening to our admonitions. He occupies himself with carousing, and self-indulgence, and feasting.’ 21Then the people of the city shall stone him to death. And he shall die, so that you may take away the evil from your midst. And so may all of Israel, upon hearing it, be very afraid.

Cursed Is Anyone Hung on a Tree

22When a man will have sinned in a matter which is punished by death, and, having been judged unto death, he has been hanged on a gallows: 23his corpse shall not remain on the tree. Instead, he shall be buried on the same day. For he who hangs from a tree has been cursed by God, and you shall not defile your land, which the Lord your God will give to you as a possession.”

Catholic Public Domain Version

Section Headings Courtesy Berean Bible

Deuteronomy 20
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