Deuteronomy 20

Laws of Warfare

1When you go out to battle against your enemies and see a  horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, b  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 near and speak to the people. 3He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. c  Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, 4for the  Lord your God d  is the one who goes 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 and has not e  dedicated it? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. 6Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not
Lit treat(ed) it as common
begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man
Lit treat(ed) it as common
would begin to use its fruit.
7h  And who is the man that is engaged to a woman and has not
Lit taken
married her? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man
Lit take
would marry her.’
8Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘ k  Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that
So with Gr and other ancient versions
he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.’
9When the officers have finished speaking to the people, they shall appoint commanders of armies at the head of the people.

10When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall
Lit call to it for peace
offer it terms of peace.
11If it
Lit answers peace
agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your o  forced labor and shall serve you.
12However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13“When the  Lord your God gives it into your hand, p  you shall strike all the
Lit males
men in it with the edge of the sword.
14Only the women and the children and r  the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall
Lit eat
use the spoil of your enemies which the  Lord your God has given you.
15Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations
Lit here
16 u  Only in the cities of these peoples that the  Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. 17“But you shall
Or put them under the ban
utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the  Lord your God has commanded you,
18so that they may not teach you to do w  according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would x  sin against the  Lord your God.

19When you besiege a city 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, and you shall not cut them down.
Read as interrogative with ancient versions
For is the tree of the field a man, that it should
Lit come before you in the siege
be besieged by you?
20Only the trees which you know
Lit they are not trees for food
are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.
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