Deuteronomy Chapter 20 |
1When you take the field against your enemies, and see horses and chariots—forces larger than yours—have no fear of them, for the Lord your God, who brought you from the land of Egypt, is with you. 2Before you join battle, the priest shall come forward and address the troops. 3He shall say to them, “Hear, O Israel! You are about to join battle with your enemy. Let not your courage falter. Do not be in fear, or in panic, or in dread of them. 4For it is the Lord your God who marches with you to do battle for you against your enemy, to bring you victory.”
5Then the officials shall address the troops, as follows: “Is there anyone who has built a new house but has not dedicated it? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another dedicate it. 6Is there anyone who has planted a vineyard but has never harvested it? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another harvest it. 7Is there anyone who has paid the bride-price for a wife, but who has not yet married her? Let him go back to his home, lest he die in battle and another marry her.” 8The officials shall go on addressing the troops and say, “Is there anyone afraid and disheartened? Let him go back to his home, lest the courage of his comrades flag like his.” 9When the officials have finished addressing the troops, army commanders shall assume command of the troops.
10When you approach a town to attack it, you shall offer it terms of peace. 11If it responds peaceably and lets you in, all the people present there shall serve you at forced labor. 12If it does not surrender to you, but would join battle with you, you shall lay siege to it; 13and when the Lord your God delivers it into your hand, you shall put all its males to the sword. 14You may, however, take as your booty the women, the children, the livestock, and everything in the town—all its spoil—and enjoy the use of the spoil of your enemy, which the Lord your God gives you.
15Thus you shall deal with all towns that lie very far from you, towns that do not belong to nations hereabout. 16In the towns of the latter peoples, however, which the Lord your God is giving you as a heritage, you shall not let a soul remain alive. 17No, you must proscribe them—the Hittites and the Amorites, the Canaanites and the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites—as the Lord your God has commanded you, 18lest they lead you into doing all the abhorrent things that they have done for their gods and you stand guilty before the Lord your God.
19When in your war against a city you have to besiege it a long time in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees, wielding the ax against them. You may eat of them, but you must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human to withdraw before you into the besieged city? 20Only trees that you know do not yield food may be destroyed; you may cut them down for constructing siegeworks against the city that is waging war on you, until it has been reduced.