Deuteronomy Chapter 18-20 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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Supporting the Priests and Levites

18 “The family group of Levi will not get any share of land in Israel. Those people will serve as priests. They will live by eating the sacrifices that are cooked on the fire and offered to the Lord. That is the share for the people from the Levi family group. 2Those Levites* will not get any share of land like the other family groups. The Levites’ share is the Lord himself, just like the Lord said to them. 3“When you kill a cow or a sheep for a sacrifice, you must give the priests these parts: the shoulder, both cheeks, and the stomach. 4You must give the priests the first part of your harvest. You must give them the first part of your grain, your new wine, and your oil. You must give the Levites* the first wool cut from your sheep. 5Why? Because the Lord your God looked at all your family groups and chose Levi and his descendants* to serve him as priests forever. 6“{Every Levite* man has a special time to work at the temple. But if he wants to work there some other time too, then he may work anytime he wants.} Any Levite living in any town anywhere in Israel may leave his home and come to the Lord’s special place. He may do this any time he wants. 7And this Levite may serve in the name of the Lord his God, the same as all his brother Levites that are on duty before the Lord. 8And that Levite will get an equal share with the other Levites, in addition to the share his family normally gets.

Israel Must Not Live Like Other Nations

9“When you come into the land that the Lord your God is giving you, don’t learn to do the terrible things the people of the other nations there do. 10Don’t sacrifice your sons or daughters in the fires on your altars.* Don’t try to learn what will happen in the future by talking to a fortune teller or by going to a magician, a witch or a sorcerer. 11Don’t let anyone try to put magic spells on other people. Don’t let any of your people become a medium* or a wizard.* And no person should try to talk with someone that has died. 12The Lord your God hates people doing those things. That is why he is forcing those other nations out of this country for you. 13You must be faithful to the Lord your God.

The Lord’s Special Prophet

14“You must force those other nations out of your land. The people of those nations listen to people who use magic and try to tell the future. But the Lord your God will not let you do those things. 15The Lord your God will send to you a prophet.* This prophet will come from among your own people. He will be like me. You must listen to this prophet. 16God will send you this prophet because that is what you asked him to do. When you were gathered together at Mount Horeb (Sinai), {you were afraid of God’s voice and the great fire you saw on the mountain. So} you said, ‘Don’t let us hear the voice of the Lord our God again! Don’t let us see that great fire or we will die!’ 17“The Lord said to me, ‘The thing they ask for is good. 18I will send them a prophet* like you. This prophet will be one of their own people. I will tell him the things he must say. And he will tell the people everything I command. 19This prophet will speak for me. And when he speaks, if any person refuses to listen to my commands, then I will punish that person.’

How to Know False Prophets

20“But a prophet* might say something that I did not tell him to say. And he might tell people that he is speaking for me. If this happens, then that prophet must be killed. Also, a prophet might come that speaks for other gods. That prophet must also be killed. 21You might be thinking, ‘How can we know if something a prophet says is not from the Lord?’ 22If a prophet says he is speaking for the Lord, but the thing does not happen, then you will know that the Lord did not say it. You will know that this prophet was speaking his own ideas. You don’t need to be afraid of him.

Levites People from the tribe of Levi. They helped the priests in the temple and worked for the civil government. descendants A person’s children and their future families. altar(s) A table or raised area used for offering sacrifices. medium A person that tries to talk with the spirits of dead people. wizard A person that tries to use evil spirits to do magic. prophet A person called by God to be a special servant. God used dreams and visions to show them things to teach to the people.

Cities of Safety

19 “The Lord your God is giving you land that belongs to other nations. The Lord will destroy those nations. You will live where those people lived. You will take their cities and their houses. When that happens, 2–3you must divide the land into three parts. Then in each part you must choose a city close to everyone in that area. And you must prepare roads to those cities. Then any person that kills another person may run to that city for safety. 4“This is the rule for the person that kills someone and runs away to one of those three cities to be safe: It must be a person that killed the other person accidentally. It must be a person that did not hate the person he killed. 5Here is an example: A man goes into the forest with another person to cut wood. The man swings his axe to cut down a tree, but the head of the axe separates from the handle. The axe head hits the other person and kills him. The man who swung the axe may then run to one of those three cities and be safe. 6But if the city is too far away, he might not be able to run there fast enough. A close relative* of the person he killed might run after him and catch him before he reaches the city. The close relative might be very angry and kill the man. But the man did not deserve death. He did not hate the person he killed. 7{The cities must be close to everyone.} That is why I command you to choose three special cities. 8“The Lord your God promised your fathers that he would make your land larger. He will give you all the land that he promised to give to your ancestors.* 9He will do this if you completely obey his commands that I give you today—if you love the Lord your God and always live the way he wants. Then, when the Lord makes your land larger, you should choose three more cities for safety. They should be added to the first three cities. 10Then innocent people will not be killed in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. And you will not be guilty for any deaths. 11“But a man might hate another person. That man might hide, waiting to kill the person he hates. He might kill that person and run away into one of those cities of safety. 12If that happens, then the elders (leaders) in that man’s home town must send someone to get him and take him away from the city of safety. Those leaders must give that man to the close relative.* The murderer must die. 13You must not feel sorry for him. He was guilty of killing an innocent person. You must remove that guilt from Israel. Then everything will go well for you.

Property Lines

14“You must not move the stones that mark your neighbor’s property. People put those stones there in the past to mark each person’s property. Those stones mark the land that the Lord your God gave you.


15“If a person is accused of doing something against the law, one witness is not enough to prove that the person is guilty. There must be two or three witnesses to prove that the person really did wrong. 16“A witness might try to hurt another person by lying and saying that this person did wrong. 17If that happens, then both of those people must go to the Lord’s special house and be judged by the priests and judges that are on duty at that time. 18The judges must ask careful questions. They might find that the witness lied against the other person. If the witness lied, 19then you must punish him. You must do to him the same thing he wanted to do to the other person. In this way, you will remove that evil from your group. 20Other people will hear about this and be afraid. And those people will not do evil things like that again. 21{“Punishment must be as severe as the crime.} Don’t feel sorry about punishing a person that does wrong. If a person takes a life, then he must pay with his own life. The rule is: an eye for an eye, a tooth for a tooth, a hand for a hand, a foot for a foot.

close relative Literally, “avenger of blood.” When a person was killed, his relative had to be sure the killer was punished. ancestors Literally, “fathers,” meaning a person’s parents, grandparents, and all the people they are descended from. 

Rules for War

20 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and you see horses, chariots,* and many more people than you have, you must not be afraid of them. Why? Because the Lord your God is with you—and the Lord brought you out of Egypt. 2“When you go to the battle, the priest must go to the soldiers and speak to them. 3The priest will say, ‘Men of Israel, listen to me! Today you are going against your enemies in battle. Don’t lose your courage! Don’t be troubled or upset! Don’t be afraid of the enemy! 4Why? Because the Lord your God is going with you. He will help you fight against your enemies. The Lord your God will help you win!’ 5“Those {Levite} officers will say to the soldiers, ‘Is there any man here that has built a new house, but has not yet dedicated it? That man should go back home. He might be killed in the battle. And then another person will dedicate that man’s house. 6Is there any man here that has planted a field of grapes, but has not yet gathered any of the grapes? That man should go back home. If that man dies in the battle, then another person will enjoy the fruit from his field. 7Is there any man here that is engaged to be married? That man should go back home. If he dies in the battle, then another man will marry the woman he is engaged to.’ 8“Those {Levite} officers must also say to the people, ‘Is there any man here that has lost his courage and is afraid? He should go back home. Then he will not cause the other soldiers to lose their courage too.’ 9Then, after the officers have finished speaking to the army, they must choose captains to lead the soldiers. 10“When you go to attack a city, you must first offer peace to the people there. 11If they accept your offer and open their gates, then all the people in that city will become your slaves and be forced to work for you. 12But if the city refuses to make peace with you and fights against you, then you should surround the city. 13And when the Lord your God lets you take the city, you must kill all the men in it. 14But you may take for yourselves the women, the children, the cows, and everything else in the city. You may use all these things. The Lord your God has given these things to you. 15That is what you must do to all the cities that are very far from you—the cities that are not in the land where you will live. 16“But when you take cities in the land that the Lord your God is giving you, you must kill everyone. 17You must completely destroy all the people—the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites. The Lord your God has commanded you to do this. 18Why? Because then they won’t be able teach you to sin against the Lord your God. They will not be able to teach you to do any of the terrible things they do when they worship their gods. 19“When you are making war against a city, you might surround that city for a long time. You must not cut down the fruit trees around that city. You may eat the fruit from these trees, but you must not cut them down. These trees are not the enemy, so don’t make war against them! 20But you may cut down the trees that you know are not fruit trees. You may use these trees to build weapons for making war against that city. You may use them until the city falls.

chariot(s) A small wagon used in war.

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