“You shall not plant for yourself an [a]Asherah of any kind of tree or wood beside the altar of the Lord your God, which you shall make. You shall not set up for yourself a sacred pillar which the Lord your God hates.
- Deuteronomy 16:21 I.e. a wooden symbol of a female deity which seems to have been wrongfully (and sinfully) linked with God.
Administration of Justice
“You shall not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or sheep with a blemish or any defect, for that is a detestable thing to the Lord your God.
“If there is discovered among you, within any of your cities, which the Lord your God is giving you, a man or a woman who does evil in the sight of the Lord your God, by transgressing (violating) His covenant, and has gone and served other gods and worshiped them, or the sun or the moon or any of the heavenly host, [doing these things] which I have commanded not to do, and if it is told to you and you hear about it, then you shall investigate thoroughly [all the charges]. If it is confirmed [a]beyond doubt that this detestable thing has been done in Israel, then you shall bring that man or that woman who has done this evil thing to the gates [of your city] and you shall stone the man or the woman to death. [b]On the evidence of two or three witnesses, he who is to die shall be put to death; he shall not be put to death on the evidence of [only] one witness. The hand of the witnesses shall be the first against him to put him to death, and afterward the hand of all the people. So you shall remove the evil from among you.
“If any case is too difficult for you to judge—between one kind of homicide and another, between one kind of lawsuit and another, between one kind of assault and another, [c]being controversial issues in your [d]courts—then you shall arise and go to the place which the Lord your God chooses. So you shall come to the Levitical priests or to the judge who is in office at that time, and you shall consult them and they will declare to you the [e]verdict in the case. You shall act in accordance with the terms of the verdict which they declare to you from that place which the Lord chooses. You shall be careful to act in accordance with all of their instructions. You shall act in accordance with the law which they teach you and the judgment which they tell you. You shall not turn aside from their verdict, to the right or to the left. The man who acts presumptuously and insolently by not listening to the priest who stands there to serve the Lord your God, nor to the judge, that man shall die; so you shall remove the evil from Israel. Then all the people will hear and be afraid, and will not act presumptuously again.
“When you enter the land which the Lord your God is giving you, and you take possession of it and live there, and you say, ‘I will set a king over me like all the nations who are around me,’ you shall most certainly set a king over you whom the Lord your God chooses. You shall set a king over you from among your countrymen (brothers); you may not choose a foreigner [to rule] over you who is not your countryman. Further, he shall not [f]acquire many [war] horses for himself, nor make the people return to Egypt in order to acquire horses [to expand his military power], since the Lord said to you, ‘You shall never return that way again.’ He shall not acquire multiple wives for himself, or else his heart will turn away [from God]; nor [for the same reason] shall he acquire great amounts of silver and gold.
“Now it shall come about when he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he shall write for himself a copy of this law on a scroll in the presence of the Levitical priests. And it shall be with him and he shall read it all the days of his life, so that he may learn to fear [and worship] the Lord his God [with awe-filled reverence and profound respect], by carefully obeying (keeping foremost in his thoughts and actively doing) all the words of this law and these statutes, so that his heart will not be lifted up above his countrymen [by a false sense of self-importance and self-reliance] and that he will not turn away (deviate) from the commandment, to the right or to the left, so that he and his sons may continue [to reign] for a long time in his kingdom in Israel.
- Deuteronomy 17:4 Lit the word is certain.
- Deuteronomy 17:6 Lit By the mouth of.
- Deuteronomy 17:8 Lit any words of judgment.
- Deuteronomy 17:8 Lit gates.
- Deuteronomy 17:9 Lit the word of judgment.
- Deuteronomy 17:16 Lit multiply for himself and so throughout.
Portion of the Levites
“The Levitical priests, the entire tribe of Levi, shall own [privately] no portion [of land] or inheritance with Israel; they shall eat the Lord’s offerings by fire and His portion. They shall have no inheritance [of land] among their countrymen (brothers, brethren); the Lord is their [a]inheritance, as He promised them.
“Now this shall be the priests’ portion from the people, from those offering a sacrifice, either an ox or a sheep: they shall give to the priest the shoulder and the two cheeks and the stomach. You shall also give him the first fruits of your grain, your new wine [the first of the season], and your [olive] oil, and the first sheared fleece of your sheep. For the Lord your God has chosen him, him and his sons from all your tribes, to stand and serve in the name of the Lord forever.
“Now if a Levite comes from any of your cities throughout Israel where he resides, and comes whenever [b]he wishes to [the sanctuary] the place which the Lord chooses; then he shall serve in the name of the Lord his God, like all his fellow Levites who [c]stand there before the Lord. They shall have [d]equal portions to eat, except what they receive from the sale of their fathers’ estates.
“When you enter the land which the Lord your God is giving you, you shall not learn to imitate the detestable (repulsive) practices of those nations. There shall not be found among you anyone who makes his son or daughter pass through the fire [as a sacrifice], one who uses divination and fortune-telling, one who practices witchcraft, or one who interprets omens, or a sorcerer, or one who casts a charm or spell, or a medium, or a spiritist, or a necromancer [who seeks the dead]. For everyone who does these things is utterly repulsive to the Lord; and because of these detestable practices the Lord your God is driving them out before you. You shall be blameless (complete, perfect) before the Lord your God. For these nations which you shall dispossess listen to those who practice witchcraft and to diviners and fortune-tellers, but as for you, the Lord your God has not allowed you to do so.
“The Lord your God will raise up for you a [e]prophet like me [Moses] from among you, from your countrymen (brothers, brethren). You shall listen to him. This is according to all that you asked of the Lord your God at Horeb (Mount Sinai) on the day of the assembly, saying, ‘Let me not hear the voice of the Lord my God again, nor see this great fire anymore, so that I will not die.’ The Lord said to me, ‘They have spoken well. I will raise up a prophet from among their countrymen like you, and I will put My words in his mouth, and he shall speak to them all that I command him. It shall come about that whoever will not listen to My words which he shall speak in My name, I Myself will require it of him [and there will be consequences]. But the prophet who presumes to speak a word in My name which I have not commanded him to speak, or which he speaks in the name of other gods—that prophet shall die.’ If you say in your heart, ‘How will we know and recognize the word which the Lord has not spoken?’ When a prophet speaks in the name of the Lord and the thing does not happen or come true, that is the thing which the Lord has not spoken. The prophet has spoken it presumptuously; you shall not be afraid of him.
- Deuteronomy 18:2 Certain towns and grazing lands were designated for the Levites’ use, as well as portions of the tithes and sacrifices of the people.
- Deuteronomy 18:6 Lit it pleases his soul.
- Deuteronomy 18:7 The literal Hebrew here is “stand before the face of,” and in this context it implies “stand ready to serve.”
- Deuteronomy 18:8 They were to share equally in the benefits of the priesthood.
- Deuteronomy 18:15 Or Prophet, if this is a prophetic reference to Jesus.