Deuteronomy Chapter 21-22 : Easy-to-Read Version  | SearchSearch | Next Version | Previous Page | Next Page |

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If a Person Is Found Murdered

21 “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.

Women Captured in War

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.

The Oldest Son

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.

Children Who Refuse to Obey

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.

Criminals Killed and Hung on a Tree

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.

descendants A person’s children and their future families. make … pure Or, “make atonement.” The Hebrew word means “to cover,” “to hide,” or “to erase sins.” firstborn The first born child. The firstborn son was very important in ancient times.

Other Laws

22 “If you see that your neighbor’s cow or sheep is loose, you must not ignore it. You must be sure to take it back to its owner. 2If the owner does not live near you or if you don’t know who it belongs to, then you may take the cow or sheep to your house. And you may keep it with you until the owner comes looking for it. Then you must give it back to him. 3You must do the same thing when you find your neighbor’s donkey, your neighbor’s clothes or anything else your neighbor loses. You must help your neighbor. 4“If your neighbor’s donkey or cow has fallen down on the road, you must not ignore it. You must help him lift it up again. 5“A woman must not wear men’s clothes. And a man must not wear women’s clothes. That is very disgusting to the Lord your God. 6“You might be walking along a path and find a bird’s nest in a tree or on the ground. If the mother bird is sitting with her baby birds or on the eggs, then you must not take the mother bird with the babies. 7You may take the babies for yourself. But you must let the mother go. If you obey these laws, then things will go well for you, and you will live a long time. 8“When you build a new house, you must build a wall around your roof.* Then you will not be guilty for the death of a person that falls from the house.

Things That Must Not Be Put Together

9“You must not plant seeds of grain in the same fields as your grapevines. Why? Because then they become useless,* and you can’t use either the grapes or the grain that grows from the seeds you planted. 10“You must not plow with a cow and a donkey together. 11“You must not wear cloth made by weaving together wool and linen. 12“Tie several pieces of thread together. Then put these tassels* on the four corners of the robes you wear.

Marriage Laws

13“A man might marry a girl and have sexual relations with her. Then he might decide that he does not like her. 14He might lie and say, ‘I married this woman, but when we had sexual relations, I found she was not a virgin.* ’ By saying this against her, people might think bad things about her. 15If this happens, the girl’s father and mother must bring the proof that the girl was a virgin to the town elders (leaders) at the meeting place of the town. 16The girl’s father must say to the leaders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man to be his wife, but now he does not want her. 17This man has told lies against my daughter. He said, “I did not find the proof that your daughter is a virgin.’ But here is the proof that my daughter was a virgin.”’ Then they should show the cloth* to the town leaders. 18Then the leaders of that town must take that man and punish him. 19They must fine him 40 ounces of silver.* They must give the money to the girl’s father because her husband brought shame to an Israelite girl. And the girl must continue to be the man’s wife. He can’t divorce her all his life. 20“But the things that the husband said about his wife might be true. The wife’s parents might not have the proof that she was a virgin.* If this happens, 21then the town leaders must bring the girl to the door of her father’s house. Then the men of the town must kill her with stones. Why? Because she has done a shameful thing in Israel. She has acted like a prostitute* in her father’s house. You must remove that evil from your people.

Sexual Sins

22“If a man is found having sexual relations with another man’s wife, then both of them must die—the woman and the man that had sexual relations with her. You must remove that evil from Israel. 23“A man might meet a virgin* girl engaged to another man. He might have sexual relations with her. If this happens in the city, 24then you must bring them both out to the public place near the gate of that city, and you must kill them with stones. You must kill the man, because he used another man’s wife for sexual sin. And you must kill the girl, because she was in the city but did not call for help. You must remove that evil from your people. 25“But if a man finds an engaged girl out in the field and forces her to have sexual relations with him, then only the man must die. 26You must do nothing to the girl. She did nothing that deserves the punishment of death. This is like a person attacking his neighbor and killing him. 27The man found the engaged girl out in the field. He attacked her. And maybe she called for help, but there was no one to help her. {So she must not be punished.} 28“A man might find a virgin* girl that is not engaged and force her to have sexual relations with him. If other people see this happen, 29then he must pay the girl’s father 20 ounces of silver.* And the girl will become the man’s wife. Why? Because he used her for sexual sin. He can’t divorce her all his life.30“A man must not bring shame to his father by having sexual relations with his father’s wife.”

wall around your roof In ancient Israel the roofs of houses were flat, and people used them like an extra room. This law made the roof a safer place. they become useless Literally, “they become holy.” This means these things belonged only to God, so they couldn’t be used by the people. tassels These pieces of string were made from different materials, so they became holy. This helped the people remember God and his commands. virgin A woman who has not had sexual relations with anyone. cloth The blood-stained bed cover that the bride kept from her wedding night to prove she was a virgin when she married. 40 ounces of silver This is probably twice the amount of money that a man usually paid the father of the bride to seal the marriage agreement. See Deut. 22:29. prostitute A woman paid by men for sexual sin. 20 ounces of silver This money became the dowry, the money a man paid to a woman’s father to seal the marriage agreement. Often the father saved this money to take care of the woman if something happened to her husband.

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