New International Reader's Version

Deuteronomy 17

1Suppose an ox or sheep has anything at all wrong with it. Then don’t sacrifice it to the Lord your God. He hates it.

Someone living among you might do what is evil in the sight of the Lord your God. It might happen in one of the towns the Lord is giving you. That person is breaking the Lord’s covenant. The person might have worshiped or bowed down to other gods. That person might have bowed down to the sun or moon or stars in the sky. I have commanded you not to do these things. When you hear that people have done something like that, check the matter out carefully. If it’s true, an evil thing has been done in Israel. The Lord hates that. So take the person who has done that evil thing to your city gate. Put that person to death by throwing stones at them. Two or three witnesses are required to put someone to death. No one can be put to death because of what only one witness says. Two or three witnesses are required. The witnesses must throw the first stones. Then the rest of the people must also throw stones. Get rid of that evil person.

Law Courts

People will bring their cases to your courts. But some cases will be too hard for you to judge. They might be about murders, attacks or other crimes. Then take those hard cases to the place the Lord your God will choose. Go to a priest, who is a Levite. And go to the judge who is in office at that time. Ask them for their decision. They will give it to you. 10 They’ll hand down their decisions at the place the Lord will choose. You must do what they decide. Be careful to do everything they tell you to do. 11 Act according to whatever they teach you. Accept the decisions they give you. Don’t turn away from what they tell you. Don’t turn to the right or the left. 12 Someone might show that they don’t respect the judge. Or they will show that they don’t respect the priest. The priest will serve the Lord your God at the place God will choose. If anyone doesn’t show respect for these people, that person must be put to death. Remove that evil person from Israel. 13 All the Israelites will hear about it. And they will be afraid to disrespect a judge or priest again.

Appoint the King the Lord Chooses

14 You will enter the land the Lord your God is giving you. You will take it as your own. You will make your homes in it. When you do, you will say, “Let’s appoint a king over us, just like all the nations around us.” 15 When that happens, make sure you appoint over yourselves a king the Lord your God chooses. He must be from among your own people. Don’t appoint over yourselves someone from another country. Don’t choose anyone who isn’t from one of the tribes of Israel. 16 The king must not get large numbers of horses for himself. He must not make the people return to Egypt to get more horses. The Lord has told you, “You must not go back there again.” 17 The king must not have many wives. If he does, they will lead him astray. He must not store up large amounts of silver and gold.

18 When he sits on the throne of his kingdom, he must make for himself a copy of the law. He must write on a scroll the law that I am teaching you. He must copy it from the scroll of a priest, who is a Levite. 19 The king must keep the scroll close to him at all times. He must read it all the days of his life. Then he can learn to have respect for the Lord his God. He can carefully obey all the words of this law and these rules. 20 He won’t think of himself as being better than his people are. He won’t turn away from the law. He won’t turn to the right or the left. Then he and his sons after him will rule over his kingdom in Israel for a long time.