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 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 tell them, ‘Hear, Israel, you draw near this day to battle against your enemies; do not let your heart faint; do not be afraid, nor tremble, neither be scared of them,
  4for Yahweh your God is he who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’

5The 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 used its fruit? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man use its fruit.
  7What man is there who has pledged to be married 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 will speak further to the people, and they will say, ‘What man is there who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest his brother’s heart melt like his heart has.’
  9When the officers have made an end of speaking to the people, they will appoint captains of armies at the head of the people.

10“When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace to it.
  11If it gives you an answer of peace and opens its gates to you, then all the people who are found in it will become tributary to you and will serve you.
  12If it will make no peace with you, but will make war against you, then you are to besiege it,
  13and when Yahweh your God gives it into your hand you must strike every male of it with the mouth of the sword;
  14but the women and the little ones and the livestock and all that is in the city, even all its spoil, you may take for a prey to yourself, and you may eat 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.
  16But of the cities of these peoples that Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance, you must save alive nothing that breathes,
  17but you must completely destroy them: the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as Yahweh your God has commanded you,
  18that they not teach you to do after all their abominations that they have done to their gods; so would you sin against Yahweh your God.

19“When you will besiege a city a long time in making war against it to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them, for you may eat of them, and you must not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of you?
  20Only the trees of which you know that they are not trees for food you may destroy and cut them down; and you may build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you until it fall.”

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