20:16 As for the cities of these peoples that 1 the Lord your God is going to give you as an inheritance, you must not allow a single living thing 2 to survive. 20:17 Instead you must utterly annihilate them 3 – the Hittites, 4 Amorites, 5 Canaanites, 6 Perizzites, 7 Hivites, 8 and Jebusites 9 – just as the Lord your God has commanded you, 20:18 so that they cannot teach you all the abhorrent ways they worship 10 their gods, causing you to sin against the Lord your God. 20:19 If you besiege a city for a long time while attempting to capture it, 11 you must not chop down its trees, 12 for you may eat fruit 13 from them and should not cut them down. A tree in the field is not human that you should besiege it! 14 20:20 However, you may chop down any tree you know is not suitable for food, 15 and you may use it to build siege works 16 against the city that is making war with you until that city falls.
1 tn The antecedent of the relative pronoun is “cities.”
2 tn Heb “any breath.”
3 tn The Hebrew text uses the infinitive absolute for emphasis, which the translation seeks to reflect with “utterly.” Cf. CEV “completely wipe out.”
sn The Hebrew verb refers to placing persons or things so evil and/or impure as to be irredeemable under God’s judgment, usually to the extent of their complete destruction. See also the note on the phrase “the divine judgment” in Deut 2:34.
4 sn Hittite. The center of Hittite power was in Anatolia (central modern Turkey). In the Late Bronze Age (1550-1200
5 sn Amorite. Originally from the upper Euphrates region (Amurru), the Amorites appear to have migrated into Canaan beginning in 2200
6 sn Canaanite. These were the indigenous peoples of the land of Palestine, going back to the beginning of recorded history (ca. 3000
8 sn Hivite. These are usually thought to be the same as the Hurrians, a people well-known in ancient Near Eastern texts. They are likely identical to the Horites (see note on “Horites” in Deut 2:12).
10 tn Heb “to do according to all their abominations which they do for their gods.”
11 tn Heb “to fight against it to capture it.”
12 tn Heb “you must not destroy its trees by chopping them with an iron” (i.e., an ax).
13 tn Heb “you may eat from them.” The direct object is not expressed; the word “fruit” is supplied in the translation for clarity.
14 tn Heb “to go before you in siege.”
15 tn Heb “however, a tree which you know is not a tree for food you may destroy and cut down.”
16 tn Heb “[an] enclosure.” The term מָצוֹר (matsor) may refer to encircling ditches or to surrounding stagings. See R. de Vaux, Ancient Israel, 238.