Deuteronomy Chapter 20  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Commentary on Deut 20
Laws Concerning Warfare

1“When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses, chariots and a people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them, for Yahweh your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.
  2When you draw near to the battle, the priest is to approach and speak to the people
  3and is to say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are drawing near this day to battle against your enemies; do not let your heart faint; do not be afraid, nor panic, nor be terrified of them,
  4for Yahweh your God is he who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’

5Then the officers are to speak to the people, saying, ‘What man is there who has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it.
  6What man is there who has planted a vineyard and has not yet put it to use? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man make use of it..
  7And what man is there who has pledged to be married to a wife, and has not taken her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.’
  8The officers are to continue to speak to the people, and they are to say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, so that he does not make the heart of his fellows melt like his heart.’
  9And when the officers have finished speaking to the people, they are to appoint commanders of armies to be at the head of the people.

10“When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then call out terms of peace to it.
  11And if it gives you an answer of peace and opens its gates to you, then all the people who are found in it will become your forced laborers and will serve you.
  12But if it will not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you are to besiege it,
  13and when Yahweh your God gives it into your hand you must strike down all its males with the mouth of the sword;
  14but the women and the little ones and the livestock and everything that is in the city, all its spoil, you may take as plunder for yourself, and you may use the spoil of your enemies that Yahweh your God has given to you.
  15Thus you are to do to all the cities that are very far off from you that are not of the cities of these nations nearby.
  16But of the cities of these nearby peoples that Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance, you are not to save alive anything that breathes,
  17but you must devote them to destruction, yes, destruction: the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as Yahweh your God has commanded you,
  18so that they do not teach you to do all the same abominations that they have done for their gods, and by which you would sin against Yahweh your God.

19“When you will besiege a city a long time, making war against it to take it, you must not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them because you can eat from them, so you must not cut them down; for is the tree of the field a man, that you should come against them in a siege?
  20Only the trees of which you know that they are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down so that you can build siege works against the city that is making war with you until its downfall.”

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