Judges and Officers
16:18. You will appoint Judges and officers for yourself in all your gates which the LORD* your God gives you throughout your tribes, and they will judge the people with just judgment. 19. You will not twist judgment. You will not respect persons or take a gift, for a gift blinds the eyes of the wise and perverts the words of the righteous. 20. You will follow that which is altogether just so you can live and inherit the land which the LORD* your God gives you.
16:21. “You will not plant for yourself a grove of any trees near the altar of the LORD* your God, which you will make for yourself.
16:22. “Neither will you set up for yourself any pillar, which the LORD* your God hates.”
17.1. “You will not sacrifice to the LORD* your God any ox or sheep in which there is a blemish or any bad thing, for that is an abomination to the LORD* your God.
17:2. “If there is found in your midst, within any of your gates which the LORD* your God gives you, man or woman who has done bad things in the sight of the LORD* your God, in trespassing His covenant, 3. and has gone and served other gods and worshipped them, either the sun, moon, or any of the host of heaven, which I have not commanded, 4. and it is told to you and you have heard of it and inquired diligently and, behold, it is true and the thing is certain that such an abomination is done in Israel, 5. then you will bring forth that man or that woman who has committed this wicked thing to your gates, that man or that woman, and will stone them with stones, until they die.”
17:6. “On the testimony of two witnesses or three witnesses, will he that is worthy of death be put to death, but on the testimony of one witness he will not be put to death. (2 Cor. 13:1, 1 Tim. 5:19) 7. The hands of the witnesses will be first upon him to put him to death and afterward the hands of all the people. So you will put the badness away from your midst.”
17:8. “If a matter too hard for you in judgment arises, between blood and blood, between plea and plea, and between stroke and stroke, being matters of controversy within your gates, then you will rise and go up to the place which the LORD* your God will choose, 9. and you will come to the priests, the Levites, and to the judge that will be in those days and inquire, and they will tell you the sentence of judgment. 10. And you will do according to the sentence, which they of that place which the LORD* will choose, will tell you, and you will observe to do according to all that they inform you, 11. according to the sentence of the instruction which they will teach you and according to the judgment which they will tell you, you will do. You will not decline from the sentence which they will tell you, to the right hand or to the left. 12. And the man who will do presumptuously and will not heed the priest who stands to minister there before the LORD* your God or to the judge, even that man will die, and you will put away bad things from Israel. 13. And all the people will hear and revere, and no longer act presumptuously.”
Rules for a King
17:14. “When you have come to the land which the LORD* your God gives you and possess it and live there and say, ‘I shall set a king over me, like all the nations that are around me,’ 15. and you in any way set a king over you, whom the LORD* your God will choose from among your brothers you will set a king over you. You may not set a stranger over you, who is not your brother. 16. But he will not multiply horses for himself, nor cause the people to return to Egypt, to the end that he should multiply horses since the LORD* has said to you, You will from here on not return that way. 17. Neither will he multiply wives to himself, so his heart will not turn away, nor will he greatly multiply silver and gold for himself. 18. And it will be when he sits on the throne of his kingdom that he will write for himself a copy of this Torah in a scroll out of that which is before the priests, the Levites. 19. And it will be with him and he will read from it all the days of his life, so he can learn to revere the LORD* his God, to keep all the words of this Torah and these statutes, to do them 20. so his heart will not be lifted up above his brothers and so he does not turn aside from the commandment to the right hand, or to the left: to the end that he may prolong his days in his kingdom, he and his children, in the midst of Israel.”
Provision for Priests
18.1. “The Levites, priests and all the tribe of Levi, will have no part or inheritance with Israel: they will eat the offerings of the LORD* made by fire, and his inheritance. 2. Therefore they will have no inheritance among their brothers: the LORD* is their inheritance, as He has said to them.
18:3. “And this will be the priest’s due from the people, from those who offer a sacrifice, whether it is an ox or sheep, and they will give the shoulder, the two cheeks, and the stomach to the priest. 4. You will also give him the First Fruit of your grain, of your wine, of your oil, and the first of the fleece of your sheep. 5. For the LORD* your God has chosen him out of all your tribes, to stand to minister in the name of the LORD*, he and his sons forever.
18:6. “And if a Levite comes from any of your gates out of all Israel where he settled, and comes with all the desire of his mind to the place which the LORD* will choose, 7. then he will minister in the name of the LORD* his God, as all his brothers the Levites do, who stand there before the LORD*. 8. They will have like portions to eat, besides that which comes of his due for service of patrimony.”
Do Not Act Like the Nations
18:9. “When you have come into the land which the LORD* your God gives you, you will not learn to do after the abominations of those nations. 10. There will not be found among you anyone who makes his son or his daughter pass through the fire, who uses divination, is a soothsayer, an enchanter, a sorcerer, 11. a charmer, a consulter with familiar spirits, a wizard, or a necromancer. 12. For all who do these things are an abomination to the LORD*, and it is because of these abominations that the LORD* your God drives them out from before you. 13. You will be innocent with the LORD* your God. 14. For these nations which you will dispossess hearkened to soothsayers and to diviners, but as for you, the LORD* your God has not allowed you to do so. 15. The LORD* your God will raise up for you a prophet (Y’shua) like me from among you, of your brothers. You will listen to Him 16. according to all that you desired of the LORD* your God in Horeb in the day of the assembly saying, ‘Let me not again hear the voice of the LORD* my God, neither let me see this great fire any more, so I do not die.’
18:17. “And the LORD* said to me, ‘They have well spoken that which they have spoken. 18. I shall raise up a prophet like you for them from among their brothers and will put My words in His mouth and He will speak to them all that I command Him. (Acts 3:22) 19. And it will be, whoever will not hearken to My words which He will speak in My name, I shall require it of him. (Acts 3:23) 20. But the prophet who will presume to speak a word in My name, which I have not commanded him to speak, or that will speak in the name of other gods, even that prophet will die. 21. And if you say in your heart, How will we know the word which the LORD* has not spoken? 22. When a prophet speaks in the name of the LORD*, if the thing does not happen or come to pass, that is the thing which the LORD* has not spoken, but the prophet has spoken it presumptuously: you will not be afraid of him.’”
Cities of Refuge
19.1. “When the LORD* your God has cut off the nations whose land the LORD* your God gives you, and you dispossess them and live in their cities and in their houses, 2. you will separate three cities for yourself in the midst of your land, which the LORD* your God is giving to you to possess. 3. You will prepare the way for yourself and divide the border of your land, which the LORD* your God gives you to inherit, into three parts, so every slayer can flee there. 4. And this is the case of the slayer who will flee there, so he may live, ‘Whoever kills his neighbor ignorantly, whom he did not hate in time past, 5. as when a man goes into the woods with his neighbor to cut wood and his hand makes a stroke with the axe to cut down the tree and the head slips from the handle and hits his neighbor, so he dies, he will flee to one of those cities and live, 6. lest the avenger of the blood pursue the slayer, while his heart is hot, and overtakes him because the way is long and slays him; whereas he was not worthy of death, since he did not hate him in time past. 7. Therefore I command you saying, You will separate three cities for yourselves.’
19:8. “And if the LORD* your God enlarges your border, as He has sworn to your fathers and gives you all the land which He promised to give to your fathers, 9. if you will keep all these commandments to do them, which I command you this day, to love the LORD* your God and to always walk in His Ways, then you will add three cities more for yourself, besides these three, 10. so innocent blood is not shed in your land which the LORD* your God gives you for an inheritance, and so blood would not be upon you. 11. But if any man hates his neighbor and lies in wait for him and rises up against him and strikes him mortally so he dies, and flees to one of these cities 12. then the elders of his city will send and get him there and deliver him into the hand of the avenger of blood, so he may die. 13. Your eye will not pity him, but you will put away the guilt of innocent blood from Israel, so it may go well with you.
19:14. “You will not remove your neighbor’s landmark, which those of old time have set in your inheritance, which you will inherit in the land that the LORD* your God gives you to possess it.
19:15. “One witness will not rise up against a man for any iniquity or for any sin, in any sin that he sins. At the testimony of two witnesses or at the testimony of three witnesses, the matter will be established. (Matt. 18:16, 2 Cor. 13:1, 1 Tim. 5:19) 16. If a false witness rises up against any man to testify against him that which is wrong, 17. then both the men, between whom the controversy is, will stand before the LORD*, before the priests and the judges, who will be in those days, 18. and the judges will make diligent inquiry and, behold, if the witness is a false witness and has testified falsely against his brother, 19. then you will do to him as he had thought to have done to his brother. So you will put the badness away from your midst. (1Cor. 5:13) 20. And those who remain will hear and revere, and will from here on commit no more any such evil in your midst. 21. And your eye will not pity, life will go for life, eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot.”
Do not be in Awe of Enemies!
20.1. “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots, a people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them! For the LORD* your God is with you, Who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 2. And it will be, when you have come near to the battle, the priest will approach and speak to the people 3. and will say to them, ‘Listen! Obey! O Israel, you approach this day to battle against your enemies: Do not be faint hearted! Do not be in awe! Do not tremble! Do not be terrified before them! 4. The LORD* your God is He Who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ 5. And the officers will speak to the people saying, ‘What man 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. And what man is he who has planted a vineyard and has not made use of it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man make use of it. 7. And what man has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her.’ 8. And the officers will speak further to the people, and they will say,’What man is awe-struck and faint hearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest his brothers’ heart faint as well as his heart.’ 9. And it will be, when the officers have made an end of speaking to the people, that they will make captains of armies at the head of the people.
20:10. “When you come near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace to it. 11. And it will be if it gives you an answer of peace and opens to you, then it will be that all the people that are found in it will pay tribute to you and will serve you. 12. And if it will not make peace with you, but will make war against you, then you will besiege it, 13. and when the LORD* your God has delivered it into your hands, you will strike every male of it with the edge of the sword, 14. but the women, the little ones, the cattle, and all that is in the city, all the spoil of it, you will take for yourselves and you will eat the spoil of your enemies, which the LORD* your God has given you. 15. Thus you will do to all the cities which are very far off from you, which are not of the cities of these nations. 16. But of the cities of these people, which the LORD* your God gives you for an inheritance, you will save alive nothing that breathes, 17. but you will utterly destroy them, the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, as the LORD* your God has commanded you, 18. so they do not teach you to do after all their abominations, which they have done to their gods, so you would not sin against the LORD* your God.
20:19. “When you besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you will not destroy its trees by forcing an axe against them, for you may eat from them, and you will not cut them down to use in the siege, for the tree of the field is man’s life. 20. Only the trees which you know that are not trees for food, you will destroy and cut them down; and you will build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until it is subdued.”
Justice for Murder
21.1. “If one is found slain in the land which the LORD* your God is giving you to possess, lying in the field, and it is not known who has slain him, 2. then your elders and your judges will come out and they will measure to the cities which are around him who was slain, 3. and it will be that the city which is next to the slain man, even the elders of that city will take a heifer which has not been worked with and which has not drawn in a yoke, 4. and the elders of that city will bring down the heifer to a rough valley, which is neither tilled nor sown and will break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. 5. And the priests, the sons of Levi, will come near, for the LORD* your God has chosen them to minister to Him and to bless in the name of the LORD*, and by their word every controversy and every stroke will be tried: 6. and all the elders of that city, that are next to the slain man, will wash their hands over the heifer with the broken neck in the valley, 7. and they will answer and say, ‘Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. 8. Forgive, LORD*, Your people Israel, whom You have redeemed. Do not lay innocent blood to Your people Israel!’ And the blood will be forgiven them. 9. So will you put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when you will do what is right in the sight of the LORD*.”
Next week’s Torah readings: Ki-Tetse