Reading Plan 
Daily Bible Reading (daily) February 21
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Deuteronomy 17:1--19:21

Context
17:1 You must not sacrifice to him 1  a bull or sheep that has a blemish or any other defect, because that is considered offensive 2  to the Lord your God. 17:2 Suppose a man or woman is discovered among you – in one of your villages 3  that the Lord your God is giving you – who sins before the Lord your God 4  and breaks his covenant 17:3 by serving other gods and worshiping them – the sun, 5  moon, or any other heavenly bodies which I have not permitted you to worship. 6  17:4 When it is reported to you and you hear about it, you must investigate carefully. If it is indeed true that such a disgraceful thing 7  is being done in Israel, 17:5 you must bring to your city gates 8  that man or woman who has done this wicked thing – that very man or woman – and you must stone that person to death. 9  17:6 At the testimony of two or three witnesses they must be executed. They cannot be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 17:7 The witnesses 10  must be first to begin the execution, and then all the people 11  are to join in afterward. In this way you will purge evil from among you.

Appeal to a Higher Court

17:8 If a matter is too difficult for you to judge – bloodshed, 12  legal claim, 13  or assault 14  – matters of controversy in your villages 15  – you must leave there and go up to the place the Lord your God chooses. 16  17:9 You will go to the Levitical priests and the judge in office in those days and seek a solution; they will render a verdict. 17:10 You must then do as they have determined at that place the Lord chooses. Be careful to do just as you are taught. 17:11 You 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. 17:12 The person who pays no attention 17  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. 17:13 Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and not be so presumptuous again.

Provision for Kingship

17:14 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,” 17:15 you must select without fail 18  a king whom the Lord your God chooses. From among your fellow citizens 19  you must appoint a king – you may not designate a foreigner who is not one of your fellow Israelites. 20  17:16 Moreover, he must not accumulate horses for himself or allow the people to return to Egypt to do so, 21  for the Lord has said you must never again return that way. 17:17 Furthermore, he must not marry many 22  wives lest his affections turn aside, and he must not accumulate much silver and gold. 17:18 When he sits on his royal throne he must make a copy of this law 23  on a scroll 24  given to him by the Levitical priests. 17:19 It 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. 17:20 Then 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 25  in Israel.

Provision for Priests and Levites

18:1 The Levitical priests 26  – indeed, the entire tribe of Levi – will have no allotment or inheritance with Israel; they may eat the burnt offerings of the Lord and of his inheritance. 27  18:2 They 28  will have no inheritance in the midst of their fellow Israelites; 29  the Lord alone is their inheritance, just as he had told them. 18:3 This shall be the priests’ fair allotment 30  from the people who offer sacrifices, whether bull or sheep – they must give to the priest the shoulder, the jowls, and the stomach. 18:4 You must give them the best of your 31  grain, new wine, and olive oil, as well as the best of your wool when you shear your flocks. 18:5 For the Lord your God has chosen them and their sons from all your tribes to stand 32  and serve in his name 33  permanently. 18:6 Suppose a Levite comes by his own free will 34  from one of your villages, from any part of Israel where he is living, 35  to the place the Lord chooses 18:7 and serves in the name of the Lord his God like his fellow Levites who stand there before the Lord. 18:8 He must eat the same share they do, despite any profits he may gain from the sale of his family’s inheritance. 36 

Provision for Prophetism

18:9 When you enter the land the Lord your God is giving you, you must not learn the abhorrent practices of those nations. 18:10 There must never be found among you anyone who sacrifices his son or daughter in the fire, 37  anyone who practices divination, 38  an omen reader, 39  a soothsayer, 40  a sorcerer, 41  18:11 one who casts spells, 42  one who conjures up spirits, 43  a practitioner of the occult, 44  or a necromancer. 45  18:12 Whoever does these things is abhorrent to the Lord and because of these detestable things 46  the Lord your God is about to drive them out 47  from before you. 18:13 You must be blameless before the Lord your God. 18:14 Those nations that you are about to dispossess listen to omen readers and diviners, but the Lord your God has not given you permission to do such things.

18:15 The Lord your God will raise up for you a prophet like me from among you – from your fellow Israelites; 48  you must listen to him. 18:16 This accords with what happened at Horeb in the day of the assembly. You asked the Lord your God: “Please do not make us hear the voice of the Lord our 49  God any more or see this great fire any more lest we die.” 18:17 The Lord then said to me, “What they have said is good. 18:18 I will raise up a prophet like you for them from among their fellow Israelites. I will put my words in his mouth and he will speak to them whatever I command. 18:19 I will personally hold responsible 50  anyone who then pays no attention to the words that prophet 51  speaks in my name.

18:20 “But if any prophet presumes to speak anything in my name that I have not authorized 52  him to speak, or speaks in the name of other gods, that prophet must die. 18:21 Now if you say to yourselves, 53  ‘How can we tell that a message is not from the Lord?’ 54 18:22 whenever a prophet speaks in my 55  name and the prediction 56  is not fulfilled, 57  then I have 58  not spoken it; 59  the prophet has presumed to speak it, so you need not fear him.”

Laws Concerning Manslaughter

19:1 When the Lord your God destroys the nations whose land he 60  is about to give you and you dispossess them and settle in their cities and houses, 19:2 you must set apart for yourselves three cities 61  in the middle of your land that the Lord your God is giving you as a possession. 19:3 You shall build a roadway and divide into thirds the whole extent 62  of your land that the Lord your God is providing as your inheritance; anyone who kills another person should flee to the closest of these cities. 19:4 Now this is the law pertaining to one who flees there in order to live, 63  if he has accidentally killed another 64  without hating him at the time of the accident. 65  19:5 Suppose he goes with someone else 66  to the forest to cut wood and when he raises the ax 67  to cut the tree, the ax head flies loose 68  from the handle and strikes 69  his fellow worker 70  so hard that he dies. The person responsible 71  may then flee to one of these cities to save himself. 72  19:6 Otherwise the blood avenger will chase after the killer in the heat of his anger, eventually overtake him, 73  and kill him, 74  though this is not a capital case 75  since he did not hate him at the time of the accident. 19:7 Therefore, I am commanding you to set apart for yourselves three cities. 19:8 If the Lord your God enlarges your borders as he promised your ancestors 76  and gives you all the land he pledged to them, 77  19:9 and then you are careful to observe all these commandments 78  I am giving 79  you today (namely, to love the Lord your God and to always walk in his ways), then you must add three more cities 80  to these three. 19:10 You must not shed innocent blood 81  in your land that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, for that would make you guilty. 82  19:11 However, suppose a person hates someone else 83  and stalks him, attacks him, kills him, 84  and then flees to one of these cities. 19:12 The elders of his own city must send for him and remove him from there to deliver him over to the blood avenger 85  to die. 19:13 You must not pity him, but purge out the blood of the innocent 86  from Israel, so that it may go well with you.

Laws Concerning Witnesses

19:14 You must not encroach on your neighbor’s property, 87  which will have been defined 88  in the inheritance you will obtain in the land the Lord your God is giving you. 89 

19:15 A single witness may not testify 90  against another person for any trespass or sin that he commits. A matter may be legally established 91  only on the testimony of two or three witnesses. 19:16 If a false 92  witness testifies against another person and accuses him of a crime, 93  19:17 then both parties to the controversy must stand before the Lord, that is, before the priests and judges 94  who will be in office in those days. 19:18 The judges will thoroughly investigate the matter, and if the witness should prove to be false and to have given false testimony against the accused, 95  19:19 you must do to him what he had intended to do to the accused. In this way you will purge 96  evil from among you. 19:20 The rest of the people will hear and become afraid to keep doing such evil among you. 19:21 You must not show pity; the principle will be a life for a life, an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, and a foot for a foot. 97 

1 tn Heb “to the Lord your God.” See note on “he” in 16:1.

2 tn 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.

3 tn Heb “gates.”

4 tn Heb “does the evil in the eyes of the Lord your God.”

5 tc 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.

6 tn Heb “which I have not commanded you.” The words “to worship” are supplied in the translation for clarification.

7 tn Heb “an abomination” (תּוֹעֵבָה); see note on the word “offensive” in v. 1.

8 tn Heb “gates.”

9 tn Heb “stone them with stones so that they die” (KJV similar); NCV “throw stones at that person until he dies.”

10 tn Heb “the hand of the witnesses.” This means the two or three witnesses are to throw the first stones (cf. NCV, TEV, CEV, NLT).

11 tn Heb “the hand of all the people.”

12 tn Heb “between blood and blood.”

13 tn Heb “between claim and claim.”

14 tn Heb “between blow and blow.”

15 tn Heb “gates.”

16 tc 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.

17 tn Heb “who acts presumptuously not to listen” (cf. NASB).

18 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, indicated in the translation by the words “without fail.”

19 tn 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.

20 tn Heb “your brothers.” See the preceding note on “fellow citizens.”

21 tn Heb “in order to multiply horses.” The translation uses “do so” in place of “multiply horses” to avoid redundancy (cf. NAB, NIV).

22 tn Heb “must not multiply” (cf. KJV, NASB); NLT “must not take many.”

23 tn 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.

24 tn 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.

25 tc 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.

26 tn The MT places the terms “priests” and “Levites” in apposition, thus creating an epexegetical construction in which the second term qualifies the first, i.e., “Levitical priests.” This is a way of asserting their legitimacy as true priests. The Syriac renders “to the priest and to the Levite,” making a distinction between the two, but one that is out of place here.

27 sn Of his inheritance. This is a figurative way of speaking of the produce of the land the Lord will give to his people. It is the Lord’s inheritance, but the Levites are allowed to eat it since they themselves have no inheritance among the other tribes of Israel.

28 tn Heb “he” (and throughout the verse).

29 tn Heb “brothers,” but not referring to actual siblings. Cf. NASB “their countrymen”; NRSV “the other members of the community.”

30 tn Heb “judgment”; KJV, NASB, NRSV “the priest’s due.”

31 tn Heb “the firstfruits of your…” (so NIV).

32 tc Smr and some Greek texts add “before the Lord your God” to bring the language into line with a formula found elsewhere (Deut 10:8; 2 Chr 29:11). This reading is not likely to be original, however.

33 tn Heb “the name of the Lord.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

34 tn Heb “according to all the desire of his soul.”

35 tn Or “sojourning.” The verb used here refers to living temporarily in a place, not settling down.

36 tn Presumably this would not refer to a land inheritance, since that was forbidden to the descendants of Levi (v. 1). More likely it referred to some family possessions (cf. NIV, NCV, NRSV, CEV) or other private property (cf. NLT “a private source of income”), or even support sent by relatives (cf. TEV “whatever his family sends him”).

37 tn Heb “who passes his son or his daughter through the fire.” The expression “pass…through the fire” is probably a euphemism for human sacrifice (cf. NAB, NIV, TEV, NLT). See also Deut 12:31.

38 tn Heb “a diviner of divination” (קֹסֵם קְסָמִים, qosem qÿsamim). This was a means employed to determine the future or the outcome of events by observation of various omens and signs (cf. Num 22:7; 23:23; Josh 13:22; 1 Sam 6:2; 15:23; 28:8; etc.). See M. Horsnell, NIDOTTE 3:945-51.

39 tn Heb “one who causes to appear” (מְעוֹנֵן, mÿonen). Such a practitioner was thought to be able to conjure up spirits or apparitions (cf. Lev 19:26; Judg 9:37; 2 Kgs 21:6; Isa 2:6; 57:3; Jer 27:9; Mic 5:11).

40 tn Heb “a seeker of omens” (מְנַחֵשׁ, mÿnakhesh). This is a subset of divination, one illustrated by the use of a “divining cup” in the story of Joseph (Gen 44:5).

41 tn Heb “a doer of sorcery” (מְכַשֵּׁף, mikhashef). This has to do with magic or the casting of spells in order to manipulate the gods or the powers of nature (cf. Lev 19:26-31; 2 Kgs 17:15b-17; 21:1-7; Isa 57:3, 5; etc.). See M. Horsnell, NIDOTTE 2:735-38.

42 tn Heb “a binder of binding” (חֹבֵר חָבֶר, khover khaver). The connotation is that of immobilizing (“binding”) someone or something by the use of magical words (cf. Ps 58:6; Isa 47:9, 12).

43 tn Heb “asker of a [dead] spirit” (שֹׁאֵל אוֹב, shoelov). This is a form of necromancy (cf. Lev 19:31; 20:6; 1 Sam 28:8, 9; Isa 8:19; 19:3; 29:4).

44 tn Heb “a knowing [or “familiar”] [spirit]” (יִדְּעֹנִי, yiddÿoniy), i.e., one who is expert in mantic arts (cf. Lev 19:31; 20:6, 27; 1 Sam 28:3, 9; 2 Kgs 21:6; Isa 8:19; 19:3).

45 tn Heb “a seeker of the dead.” This is much the same as “one who conjures up spirits” (cf. 1 Sam 28:6-7).

46 tn Heb “these abhorrent things.” The repetition is emphatic. For stylistic reasons, to avoid redundancy, the same term used earlier in the verse has been translated “detestable” here.

47 tn The translation understands the Hebrew participial form as having an imminent future sense here.

48 tc The MT expands here on the usual formula by adding “from among you” (cf. Deut 17:15; 18:18; Smr; a number of Greek texts). The expansion seems to be for the purpose of emphasis, i.e., the prophet to come must be not just from Israel but an Israelite by blood.

tn “from your brothers,” but not referring to actual siblings. Cf. NAB “from among your own kinsmen”; NASB “from your countrymen”; NRSV “from among your own people.” A similar phrase occurs in v. 17.

49 tn The Hebrew text uses the collective singular in this verse: “my God…lest I die.”

50 tn Heb “will seek from him”; NAB “I myself will make him answer for it”; NRSV “will hold accountable.”

51 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the prophet mentioned in v. 18) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

52 tn Or “commanded” (so KJV, NAB, NIV, NRSV).

53 tn Heb “in your heart.”

54 tn Heb “know the word which the Lord has not spoken.” The issue here is not understanding the meaning of the message, but distinguishing a genuine prophetic word from a false one.

55 tn Heb “the Lord’s.” See note on the word “his” in v. 5.

56 tn Heb “the word,” but a predictive word is in view here. Cf. NAB “his oracle.”

57 tn Heb “does not happen or come to pass.”

58 tn Heb “the Lord has.” See note on the word “his” in v. 5.

59 tn Heb “that is the word which the Lord has not spoken.”

60 tn Heb “the Lord your God.” The pronoun has been used in the translation for stylistic reasons to avoid redundancy.

61 sn These three cities, later designated by Joshua, were Kedesh of Galilee, Shechem, and Hebron (Josh 20:7-9).

62 tn Heb “border.”

63 tn Heb “and this is the word pertaining to the one who kills who flees there and lives.”

64 tn Heb “who strikes his neighbor without knowledge.”

65 tn Heb “yesterday and a third (day)” (likewise in v. 6). The point is that there was no animosity between the two parties at the time of the accident and therefore no motive for the killing. Cf. NAB “had previously borne no malice”; NRSV “had not been at enmity before.”

66 tn Heb “his neighbor” (so NAB, NIV); NASB “his friend.”

67 tn Heb “and he raises his hand with the iron.”

68 tn Heb “the iron slips off.”

69 tn Heb “finds.”

70 tn Heb “his neighbor.”

71 tn Heb “he”; the referent (the person responsible for his friend’s death) has been specified in the translation for clarity.

72 tn Heb “and live.”

73 tn Heb “and overtake him, for the road is long.”

74 tn Heb “smite with respect to life,” that is, fatally.

75 tn Heb “no judgment of death.”

76 tn Heb “fathers.”

77 tn Heb “he said to give to your ancestors.” The pronoun has been used in the translation instead for stylistic reasons.

78 tn Heb “all this commandment.” This refers here to the entire covenant agreement of the Book of Deuteronomy as encapsulated in the Shema (Deut 6:4-5).

79 tn Heb “commanding”; NAB “which I enjoin on you today.”

80 sn You will add three more cities. Since these are alluded to nowhere else and thus were probably never added, this must be a provision for other cities of refuge should they be needed (cf. v. 8). See P. C. Craigie, Deuteronomy (NICOT), 267.

81 tn Heb “innocent blood must not be shed.” The Hebrew phrase דָּם נָקִי (dam naqiy) means the blood of a person to whom no culpability or responsibility adheres because what he did was without malice aforethought (HALOT 224 s.v דָּם 4.b).

82 tn Heb “and blood will be upon you” (cf. KJV, ASV); NRSV “thereby bringing bloodguilt upon you.”

83 tn Heb “his neighbor.”

84 tn Heb “rises against him and strikes him fatally.”

85 tn The גֹאֵל הַדָּם (goel haddam, “avenger of blood”) would ordinarily be a member of the victim’s family who, after due process of law, was invited to initiate the process of execution (cf. Num 35:16-28). See R. Hubbard, NIDOTTE 1:789-94.

86 sn Purge out the blood of the innocent. Because of the corporate nature of Israel’s community life, the whole community shared in the guilt of unavenged murder unless and until vengeance occurred. Only this would restore spiritual and moral equilibrium (Num 35:33).

87 tn Heb “border.” Cf. NRSV “You must not move your neighbor’s boundary marker.”

88 tn Heb “which they set off from the beginning.”

89 tn The Hebrew text includes “to possess it.” This phrase has been left untranslated to avoid redundancy.

90 tn Heb “rise up” (likewise in v. 16).

91 tn Heb “may stand.”

92 tn Heb “violent” (חָמָס, khamas). This is a witness whose motivation from the beginning is to do harm to the accused and who, therefore, resorts to calumny and deceit. See I. Swart and C. VanDam, NIDOTTE 2:177-80.

93 tn Or “rebellion.” Rebellion against God’s law is in view (cf. NAB “of a defection from the law”).

94 tn The appositional construction (“before the Lord, that is, before the priests and judges”) indicates that these human agents represented the Lord himself, that is, they stood in his place (cf. Deut 16:18-20; 17:8-9).

95 tn Heb “his brother” (also in the following verse).

96 tn Heb “you will burn out” (בִּעַרְתָּ, biarta). Like a cancer, unavenged sin would infect the whole community. It must, therefore, be excised by the purging out of its perpetrators who, presumably, remained unrepentant (cf. Deut 13:6; 17:7, 12; 21:21; 22:21-22, 24; 24:7).

97 sn This kind of justice is commonly called lex talionis or “measure for measure” (cf. Exod 21:23-25; Lev 24:19-20). It is likely that it is the principle that is important and not always a strict application. That is, the punishment should fit the crime and it may do so by the payment of fines or other suitable and equitable compensation (cf. Exod 22:21; Num 35:31). See T. S. Frymer-Kensky, “Tit for Tat: The Principle of Equal Retribution in Near Eastern and Biblical Law,” BA 43 (1980): 230-34.



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