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Deuteronomy 20

Statutes About Warfare

“If you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for Yahweh your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you.
2 Now it will be, when you are drawing near to the battle, the priest shall approach and speak to the people. 3 And he shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are drawing near to the battle against your enemies today. Do not let your heart be faint. Do not be afraid, nor be alarmed, nor be in dread before them, 4 for Yahweh your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ 5 The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Who is the man that 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. 6 Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not begun to use its fruit? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man begin to use its fruit. 7 And who is the man that is engaged to a woman and has not married her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man marry her.’ 8 Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and whose heart is faint? Let him go and return to his house, so that he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.’ 9 Now it will be that when the officers have finished speaking to the people, they shall appoint commanders of armies at the head of the people. 10 “If you come near a city to fight against it, you shall call for terms of peace. 11 Now it will be that if it agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. 12 However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 And Yahweh your God shall give it into your hand, and you shall strike all the males in it with the edge of the sword. 14 Only the women and the little ones and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall plunder for yourself; and you shall consume the spoil of your enemies which Yahweh your God has given you. 15 Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations nearby. 16 Only in the cities of these peoples that Yahweh your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 But you shall devote them to destruction, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as Yahweh your God has commanded you, 18 so that they may not teach you to do according to all their abominations which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against Yahweh your God. 19 “If you besiege a city for many days, 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. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you? 20 Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you shall destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.