Deuteronomy 21

A Person Found Murdered

21 Suppose someone is found murdered, lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own, and no one knows who killed the person. 2 Your elders and judges should go to where the body was found, and they should measure how far it is to the nearby cities. 3 The elders of the city nearest the body must take a young cow that has never worked or worn a yoke, 4 and they must lead her down to a valley that has never been plowed or planted, with a stream flowing through it. There they must break the young cow’s neck. 5 The priests, the sons of Levi, should come forward, because they have been chosen by the Lord your God to serve him and to give blessings in the Lord’s name. They are the ones who decide cases of quarreling and attacks. 6 Then all the elders of the city nearest the murdered person should wash their hands over the young cow whose neck was broken in the valley. 7 They should declare: “We did not kill this person, and we did not see it happen. 8 Lord, remove this sin from your people Israel, whom you have saved. Don’t blame your people, the Israelites, for the murder of this innocent person.” And so the murder will be paid for. 9 Then you will have removed from yourselves the guilt of murdering an innocent person, because you will be doing what the Lord says is right.

Captive Women as Wives

10 When you go to war against your enemies, the Lord will help you defeat them so that you will take them captive. 11 If you see a beautiful woman among the captives and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home, where she must shave her head and cut her nails 13 and change the clothes she was wearing when you captured her. After she has lived in your house and cried for her parents for a month, you may marry her. You will be her husband, and she will be your wife. 14 But if you are not pleased with her, you must let her go anywhere she wants. You must not sell her for money or make her a slave, because you have taken away her honor.

The Oldest Son

15 A man might have two wives, one he loves and one he doesn’t. Both wives might have sons by him. If the older son belongs to the wife he does not love, 16 when that man wills his property to his sons he must not give the son of the wife he loves what belongs to the older son, the son of the wife he does not love. 17 He must agree to give the older son two shares of everything he owns, even though the older son is from the wife he does not love. That son was the first to prove his father could have children, so he has the rights that belong to the older son.

Sons Who Refuse to Obey

18 If someone has a son who is stubborn, who turns against his father and mother and doesn’t obey them or listen when they correct him, 19 his parents must take him to the elders at the city gate. 20 They will say to the elders, “Our son is stubborn and turns against us. He will not obey us. He eats too much, and he is always drunk.” 21 Then all the men in his town must throw stones at him until he dies. Get rid of the evil among you, because then all the people of Israel will hear about this and be afraid.

Other Laws

22 If someone is guilty of a sin worthy of death, he must be put to death and his body displayed on a tree. 23 But don’t leave his body hanging on the tree overnight; be sure to bury him that same day, because anyone whose body is displayed on a tree is cursed by God. You must not ruin the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own.

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