Deuteronomy 21

1“In the land that the Lord your God is giving you, a man might be found murdered in a field. But no one knows who killed him. 2Then your leaders and judges must come out and measure the distance to the towns around the person that was killed. 3When you learn which town is nearest to the dead man, the leaders of that town must take a cow from their herds. It must be a cow that never had a calf. And it must be a cow that has never been used for work. 4The leaders of that town must then bring the cow down to a valley with running water. It must be a valley that has never been plowed or had anything planted in it. Then the leaders must break the cow’s neck there in that valley. 5The priests, the descendants of Levi, must also go there. (The Lord your God has chosen these priests to serve him and to bless people in his name. The priests will decide who is right in every argument where a person is hurt.) 6All the leaders of the town nearest the murdered man must wash their hands over the cow that had its neck broken in the valley. 7These leaders must say, 'We did not kill this man. And we did not see it happen. 8Lord, you saved Israel. We are your people. Now make us pure. Don’t blame us for killing an innocent man.’ In this way, those men will not be blamed for killing an innocent man. 9In this way, you will do the right thing. And you will remove that guilt from your group. 10“You might fight against your enemies, and the Lord your God might let you defeat them. You might carry your enemies away as captives. 11You might see a beautiful woman among the captives that you want to be your wife. 12You must then bring her into your house. She must shave her head and cut her nails. 13She must take off the clothes she was wearing that showed she was taken in war. She must stay in your house and be sad about losing her father and her mother for a full month. After that, you may go to her and become her husband. She will be your wife. 14If you are not pleased with her, then you must divorce her and let her go free. You cannot sell her. You must not treat her like a slave. Why? Because you had sexual relations with her. 15“A man might have two wives. And he might love one wife more than the other. Both wives might have children for him. And the first child might be the child of the wife he does not love. 16When the man divides his property among his children, he can’t give the son of the wife he loves the things that belong to the firstborn child. 17The man must accept the first child, the son of the wife he doesn’t love. The man must give the first son a double share of all his things. Why? Because that child is his first child. The right of the firstborn child belongs to that child. 18“A man might have a son who is stubborn and refuses to obey. This son doesn’t obey his father or mother. They punish the son, but he still refuses to listen to them. 19His father and mother must then take him to the leaders of the town at the town meeting place. 20They must say to the leaders of the town: 'Our son is stubborn and refuses to obey. He doesn’t do anything we tell him to do. He eats and he drinks too much.’ 21Then the men in the town must kill the son with stones. By doing this you will remove this evil from yourselves. All the people of Israel will hear about this and be afraid. 22“A person might be guilty of a sin that must be punished by death. After he is killed, people might hang his body on a tree. 23You must not let that body stay on the tree all night. You must be sure to bury this man on the same day. Why? Because the person that hangs on a tree is cursed by God. You must not ruin the land that the Lord your God is giving you.

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