The Bible in Its Traditions

Deuteronomy 20:1–20

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When thou goest forth to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, thou shalt not be afraid of them; for YHWH thy God is with thee, who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.

“If you go out to battle against your enemies, and you see horsemen and chariots, and that the multitude of your adversary’s army is greater than your own, you shall not fear them. For the Lord your God, who led you away from the land of Egypt, is with you.

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And it shall be, when ye draw nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,

Then, as the battle now draws near, the priest shall stand before the front ranks, and he shall speak to the people in this manner

And when you come near to the battle, the priest shall approach and speak to the people,

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and shall say unto them: 'Hear, O Israel, ye draw nigh this day unto battle against your enemies; let not your heart faint; fear not, nor be alarmed, neither be ye affrighted at them;

Hear, O Israel; ye are going this day to battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint, fear not, neither be confounded, neither turn aside from their face.

‘Listen, O Israel! Today you engage in a battle against your enemies. Do not let your heart be overwhelmed with fear. Do not be apprehensive. Do not yield. You should have no dread of them.

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for YHWH your God is He that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.'

For the Lord your God is in your midst, and he will contend against your enemies on your behalf, so that he may rescue you from peril.’

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And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying: 'What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.

Likewise, the officers shall proclaim, throughout every company, in the hearing of the soldiers: ‘What man is there who has built a new house, and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest perhaps he may die in the battle, and another man may dedicate it.

And what man is there that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not used the fruit thereof? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man use the fruit thereof.

What man is there who has planted a vineyard, and has not yet caused it to be common, so that all may eat from it? Let him go, and return to his house, lest perhaps he may die in the battle, and another man may carry out his office.

And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.'

What man is there, who has betrothed a wife, and has not taken her? Let him go, and return to his house, lest perhaps he may die in battle, and another man may take her.’

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And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say: 'What man is there that is fearful and faint-hearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart melt as his heart.'

And the scribes shall speak further to the people, and say, What man is he that fears and is cowardly in his heart? Let him go and return to his house, lest he make the heart of his brother fail, as his own.

After these things have been declared, they shall add the remainder, and shall say to the people: ‘What man is there who is overwhelmed by fear and is fainthearted? Let him go, and return to his house, lest he cause the hearts of his brothers to fear, just as he himself has been thoroughly stricken with fear.’

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And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that captains of hosts shall be appointed at the head of the people.

And when the officers of the army have become silent, and have completed their speech, each one shall prepare his unit to wage war.

And when the scribes have made an end of speaking to the people, the commanders of the army shall stand at the head of the people.

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10  When thou drawest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.

10  And if thou shalt draw nigh to a city to overcome them by war, then call them out peaceably.

10  When, at any time, you approach a city to fight against it, you shall first offer peace to it.

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11  And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that are found therein shall become tributary unto thee, and shall serve thee.

11  If then they should answer peaceably to thee, and open to thee, it shall be that all the people found in it shall be tributary and subject to thee.

11  And if the city give you answer of peace, and it open to you, then all the people who are found in it shall be servants and tributaries to you, and they shall serve you.

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12  And if it will make no peace with thee, but will make war against thee, then thou shalt besiege it.

12  But if they are not willing to enter into an agreement, and they begin to act against you in warfare, then you shall besiege it.

12  But if it will not surrender to you, but will make war with you, then you shall besiege it;

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13  And when YHWH thy God delivereth it into thy hand, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword;

13  until the Lord thy God shall deliver it into thy hands, and thou shalt smite every male of it with the edge of the sword

13  And when the Lord your God will have delivered it into your hands, you shall strike down anyone who is in it, of the male gender, with the edge of the sword,

14  but the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take for a prey unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which YHWH thy God hath given thee.

14  except the women and the stuff: and all the cattle, and whatsoever shall be in the city, and all the plunder thou shalt take as spoil for thyself, and shalt eat all the plunder of thine enemies whom the Lord thy God gives thee.

14  but not the women and young children, nor the cattle and the other things that are within the city. And you shall divide all the plunder to the soldiers, and you shall eat the spoils from your enemies, which the Lord your God will give to you.

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15  Thus shalt thou do unto all the cities which are very far off from thee, which are not of the cities of these nations.

15  Thus shalt thou do to all the cities that are very far off from thee, not being of the cities of these nations which the Lord thy God gives thee to inherit their land.

15  So shall you do to all the cities which are at a great distance from you, those which are not among the cities that you shall receive as a possession.

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16  Howbeit of the cities of these peoples, that YHWH thy God giveth thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth,

16  Of these ye shall not take any thing alive;

16  But among those cities which shall be given to you, you shall not permit anyone at all to live.

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17  but thou shalt utterly destroy them: the Hittite, and the Amorite, the Canaanite, and the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite; as YHWH thy God hath commanded thee;

17  Instead, you shall put them to death with the edge of the sword, specifically: the Hittite and the Amorite and the Canaanite, the Perizzite and the Hivite and the Jebusite, just as the Lord your God has commanded you.

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18  that they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods, and so ye sin against YHWH your God.

18  Otherwise, they may teach you to do all the abominations which they have committed for their own gods. And then you would sin against the Lord your God.

18  That they may not teach you to do after all their abominations, which they have done in worshipping their gods; so you should sin in the sight of the LORD your God.

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19  When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, but thou shalt not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee?

19  When you will have besieged a city for a long time, and you will have encircled it with fortifications, so that you may fight against it, you shall not cut down trees from which one is able to eat, neither shall you cause devastation with axes to the surrounding region. For it is a tree, and not a man. It is not able to increase the number of those who are fighting against you.

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20  Only the trees of which thou knowest that they are not trees for food, them thou mayest destroy and cut down, that thou mayest build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it fall.

20  But the tree which thou knowest to be not fruit-bearing, this thou shalt destroy and cut down; and thou shalt construct a mound against the city, which makes war against thee, until it be delivered up.