Deuteronomy 17

1You must not sacrifice to him
Heb “to the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1.
a bull or sheep that has a blemish or any other defect, because that is considered offensive
The Hebrew word תּוֹעֵבָה (toevah, “an abomination”; cf. NAB) describes persons, things, or practices offensive to ritual or moral order. See M. Grisanti, NIDOTTE 4:314–18; see also the note on the word “abhorrent” in Deut 7:25.
to the Lord your God.
2Suppose a man or woman is discovered among you – in one of your villages
Heb “gates.”
that the Lord your God is giving you – who sins before the Lord your God
Heb “does the evil in the eyes of the Lord your God.”
and breaks his covenant
3by serving other gods and worshiping them – the sun,
The MT reads “and to the sun,” thus including the sun, the moon, and other heavenly spheres among the gods. However, Theodotion and Lucian read “or to the sun,” suggesting perhaps that the sun and the other heavenly bodies are not in the category of actual deities.
moon, or any other heavenly bodies which I have not permitted you to worship.
Heb “which I have not commanded you.” The words “to worship” are supplied in the translation for clarification.
4When it is reported to you and you hear about it, you must investigate carefully. If it is indeed true that such a disgraceful thing
Heb “an abomination” (תּוֹעֵבָה); see note on the word “offensive” in v. 1.
is being done in Israel,
5you must bring to your city gates
Heb “gates.”
that man or woman who has done this wicked thing – that very man or woman – and you must stone that person to death.
Heb “stone them with stones so that they die” (KJV similar); NCV “throw stones at that person until he dies.”
6At the testimony of two or three witnesses they must be executed. They cannot be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7The witnesses
Heb “the hand of the witnesses.” This means the two or three witnesses are to throw the first stones (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).
must be first to begin the execution, and then all the people
Heb “the hand of all the people.”
are to join in afterward. In this way you will purge evil from among you.

Appeal to a Higher Court

8 If a matter is too difficult for you to judge – bloodshed,
Heb “between blood and blood.”
legal claim,
Heb “between claim and claim.”
or assault
Heb “between blow and blow.”
– matters of controversy in your villages
Heb “gates.”
– you must leave there and go up to the place the Lord your God chooses.
Several Greek recensions add “to place his name there,” thus completing the usual formula to describe the central sanctuary (cf. Deut 12:5, 11, 14, 18; 16:6). However, the context suggests that the local Levitical towns, and not the central sanctuary, are in mind.
9You will go to the Levitical priests and the judge in office in those days and seek a solution; they will render a verdict. 10You must then do as they have determined at that place the Lord chooses. Be careful to do just as you are taught. 11You must do what you are instructed, and the verdict they pronounce to you, without fail. Do not deviate right or left from what they tell you. 12The person who pays no attention
Heb “who acts presumptuously not to listen” (cf. NASB).
to the priest currently serving the Lord your God there, or to the verdict – that person must die, so that you may purge evil from Israel.
13Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and not be so presumptuous again.

Provision for Kingship

14 When you come to the land the Lord your God is giving you and take it over and live in it and then say, “I will select a king like all the nations surrounding me,” 15you must select without fail
The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, indicated in the translation by the words “without fail.”
a king whom the Lord your God chooses. From among your fellow citizens
Heb “your brothers,” but not referring to siblings (cf. NIV “your brother Israelites”; NLT “a fellow Israelite”). The same phrase also occurs in v. 20.
you must appoint a king – you may not designate a foreigner who is not one of your fellow Israelites.
Heb “your brothers.” See the preceding note on “fellow citizens.”
16Moreover, he must not accumulate horses for himself or allow the people to return to Egypt to do so,
Heb “in order to multiply horses.” The translation uses “do so” in place of “multiply horses” to avoid redundancy (cf. NAB, NIV).
for the Lord has said you must never again return that way.
17Furthermore, he must not marry many
Heb “must not multiply” (cf. KJV, NASB); NLT “must not take many.”
wives lest his affections turn aside, and he must not accumulate much silver and gold.
18When he sits on his royal throne he must make a copy of this law
Or “instruction.” The LXX reads here τὸ δευτερονόμιον τοῦτο (to deuteronomion touto, “this second law”). From this Greek phrase the present name of the book, “Deuteronomy” or “second law” (i.e., the second giving of the law), is derived. However, the MT’s expression מִשְׁנֶה הַתּוֹרָה הַזֹּאת (mishneh hattorah hazzot) is better rendered “copy of this law.” Here the term תּוֹרָה (torah) probably refers only to the book of Deuteronomy and not to the whole Pentateuch.
on a scroll
The Hebrew term סֵפֶר (sefer) means a “writing” or “document” and could be translated “book” (so KJV, ASV, TEV). However, since “book” carries the connotation of a modern bound book with pages (an obvious anachronism) it is preferable to render the Hebrew term “scroll” here and elsewhere.
given to him by the Levitical priests.
19It must be with him constantly and he must read it as long as he lives, so that he may learn to revere the Lord his God and observe all the words of this law and these statutes and carry them out. 20Then he will not exalt himself above his fellow citizens or turn from the commandments to the right or left, and he and his descendants will enjoy many years ruling over his kingdom
Heb “upon his kingship.” Smr supplies כִּסֵא (kise’, “throne”) so as to read “upon the throne of his kingship.” This overliteralizes what is a clearly understood figure of speech.
in Israel.

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