Deuteronomy 17

Animals for sacrifice

1 When you offer an animal as a sacrifice to the Lord your God, it must be perfect. Do not bring any sheep or bull that has something wrong with it. The Lord hates any gift like that.


2 The Lord your God will give you towns to live in. You may hear that a man or a woman who lives in one of your towns has done a bad thing. He has done a sin that is against the covenant of the Lord your God. 3 He may have started to worship false gods that I have commanded you not to worship. Perhaps he worships the sun, the moon or the stars. 4 If you hear news like that, you must check the report carefully. If it is true that a wicked thing like that has happened in Israel, 5 you must punish that person. Take the man or woman who has done that wicked thing to the gate of the town. Then you must throw stones at that person to kill them. 6 But two or three people must agree about what the person has done. You must never kill anyone because of the words of only one person. 7 The people who saw the wicked act must throw the first stones to kill the person. Then everyone else must also throw stones. In that way, you must remove evil acts from among you.

8 It may be difficult for the judges in your towns to decide what is true. This may happen when one person has attacked or killed another person. It may happen when people cannot agree about some land. It may be anything that people in your towns are arguing about. If you do not know who is right, you must take those people to the place that the Lord your God will choose. 9 You must go to the Levite priests and to the judge who has authority at that time. Ask them to decide what is right and true. 10 When they decide, you must do what they tell you to do. 11 Accept their teaching. Agree with what they have decided is right. Obey their words completely. Do not try to do anything that is different. 12 Someone might be too proud to obey the priest who has authority as the Lord's servant. He may not agree with what the judge says is right. You must punish any proud person like that with death. In that way you will remove evil things from Israel. 13 Then all the people will hear what has happened. They will be afraid. They will no longer be too proud to obey the judge.

Rules for a king

14 You are going into the land that the Lord your God is giving to you. You will take it for yourselves to be your home. Then you may say, ‘The other nations around us have kings. We must also have a king to rule us.’ 15 If that happens, you must only accept a king that the Lord your God chooses. Choose a king from among your own people. Do not choose anyone who is not an Israelite.

16 A king must not get a lot of horses for himself. He must not send his people back to Egypt to buy more horses. The Lord has said to you, ‘Never return to Egypt for any reason!’

17 A king must not marry many wives. They may turn his thoughts away from the Lord. He must not store a lot of silver and gold for himself.

18 When anyone starts to rule as king, he must copy this Law of God on a scroll. The scroll will be a copy of the one that belongs to the Levite priests. 19 He must keep this scroll with him all the time. He must continue to read it every day of his life. If he does that, he will learn to respect the Lord his God. He will learn to obey all the rules and commands of this Law. 20 If he does that, he will not become proud. He will not think that he is better than other Israelites. He will continue to obey the Lord's commands. Then he and his descendants will rule Israel as kings for many years.