Expiation of a Crime
21 “If someone is found slain, lying in the field, in the land which the Lord your God gives you to possess, and it is not known who has killed him, 2 then your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distance to the cities which are around the dead person. 3 It shall be that the elders of the city which is nearest to the dead man shall take a heifer of the herd, one which has not been worked and which has not pulled in a yoke; 4 and the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a [river] valley with running water, which has not been plowed or planted, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5 Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall approach, for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the Name (Presence) of the Lord; and every dispute and every assault (violent crime) shall be settled by them. 6 All the elders of that city nearest to the dead man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley; 7 and they shall respond, and say, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it. 8 Forgive Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O Lord, and do not put the guilt of innocent blood among Your people Israel.’ And the guilt of blood shall be forgiven them. 9 So shall you remove the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when you do what is right in the sight of the Lord.
10 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God hands them over to you and you lead them away captive, 11 and you see a beautiful woman among the captives, and desire her and would take her as your wife, 12 then you shall bring her [home] to your house, and she shall shave her head and trim her nails [in preparation for mourning]. 13 She shall take off the clothes of her captivity and remain in your house, and weep (mourn) for her father and her mother a full month. After that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 But it shall be that if you have no delight and take no pleasure in her, then you shall let her go [a]wherever she wishes. You certainly shall not sell her for money; you shall not deal with her as a slave or mistreat her, because you have humbled her [by forced marriage].
15 “If a man has two wives, one loved and the other [b]unloved, and both the loved and the unloved have born him sons, and the firstborn son belongs to the unloved wife, 16 then on the day when he wills his possessions to his sons, he cannot treat the son of his loved wife as firstborn in place of the son of the unloved wife—the [actual] firstborn. 17 Instead he shall acknowledge the son of the unloved as the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he was the beginning of his strength (generative power); to him belongs the right of the firstborn.
18 “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or of his mother, and when they reprimand and discipline him, he will not listen to them, 19 then his father and mother shall take hold of him, and bring him out to the elders of his city at the gateway of his hometown. 20 They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’(A) 21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from among you, and all Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
22 “And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death, and he is put to death and [[c]afterward] you hang him on a tree [as a public example],(B) 23 his body shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall most certainly bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is cursed by God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.(C)
- Deuteronomy 21:14 Lit to her soul.
- Deuteronomy 21:15 Lit hated, the Hebrew word does not seem always to indicate a hostile attitude, but sometimes more of a sense of rejection.
- Deuteronomy 21:22 In the time of the Roman Empire, the rabbis insisted that the Jews were more humane than the Romans because Jews did not use crucifixion as a means of execution. They maintained that only the corpse was hanged.