Deuteronomy 20
New American Standard Bible►► 

Laws of Warfare

1“When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. 2When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the people. 3He shall say to them, ‘Hear, Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or be terrified by them, 4for the LORD your God is the One who is going with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ 5The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Who is the man that has built a new house but has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. 6And who is the man that has planted a vineyard but has not [a]put it to use? Let him go and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man [b]would put it to use. 7And who is the man that is [c]betrothed to a woman and has not [d]married her? Let him go and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would [e]marry her.’ 8Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, so that [f]he does not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart!’ 9And when the officers have finished speaking to the people, they shall appoint commanders of armies at the head of the people.

10“When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall [g]offer it terms of peace. 11And if it [h]agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and serve you. 12However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13When the LORD your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the [i]men in it with the edge of the sword. 14However, the women, the children, the animals, and everything that is in the city, all of its spoils, you shall take as plunder for yourself; and you shall [j]use the spoils of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you. 15This is what you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations [k]nearby. 16Only in the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave anything that breathes alive. 17Instead, you shall [l]utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the LORD your God has commanded you, 18so that they will not teach you to do [m]all the same detestable practices of theirs which they have done for their gods, [n]by which you would sin against the LORD your God.

19“When you besiege a city for a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, so you shall not cut them down. For [o]is the tree of the field a human, that it should [p]be besieged by you? 20Only the trees that you know [q]are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, so that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war against you until it falls.

[a] 6 Lit treat(ed) it as common
[b] 6 Lit treat(ed) it as common
[c] 7 A betrothed couple was considered legally married, but did not yet live together
[d] 7 Lit taken
[e] 7 Lit take
[f] 8 As in LXX and other ancient versions; MT his brothers’ hearts do not melt like
[g] 10 Lit call to it for peace
[h] 11 Lit answers peace to you
[i] 13 Lit males
[j] 14 Lit eat
[k] 15 Lit here
[l] 17 Or put them under the ban
[m] 18 Lit according to all the detestable
[n] 18 Lit and you would
[o] 19 Read as interrogative with ancient versions; MT the tree of the field is man
[p] 19 Lit come before you in the siege
[q] 20 Lit that it is not a tree of food

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