Special rules for war
1 Do not be afraid when you go out to fight against your enemies. You may meet larger armies with more horses and chariots than you have. Do not be afraid! The LORD your God, who brought you out of Egypt, will be with you. 2 Just before you begin to fight, the priest must come to the front of the army. 3 He must say, ‘Israelites, listen to me! Today you are going to fight your enemies. Do not be troubled or afraid. Be brave! Do not run away from your enemies because you are frightened. 4 The LORD your God is going with you. He will fight for you and you will win.’
5 Then the officers will say to the soldiers, ‘Has anyone built a new house but has not yet made it ready for God? He must go home. If he does not, he may die in the fight. And someone else may make his house ready. 6 Has anyone planted a field with grapes but has not yet enjoyed the fruit? He must go home. If he does not, he may die in the fight. And someone else will enjoy the fruit. 7 Has anyone promised to marry a woman? If he has not married her yet, he must go home. He may die in the fight and then another man will marry her.’
8 Then the officers must also say, ‘Is anyone afraid? Does anyone not feel brave? He must go home. If he does not, he will make other men afraid too.’
9 When the officers have finished speaking to the army, they must choose leaders for it.
10 Before you attack a city, you must do this: Offer peace to the people who live there. Tell them what you want them to do. 11 Perhaps they will open the gates and let you come in. If they do that, you must cause all the people to work hard for you, like slaves. 12 But they may refuse to listen to you. They may even begin to fight you. If they do that, you must fight against that city. 13 When the LORD your God gives it to you, you must kill all the men there. 14 But you can take for yourselves the women, the children, the animals and everything else in the city. You can use all these things that God gives you from your enemies. 15 You must do this to all the cities that are far from you.
16 You will take cities in the country that God is giving you. Then you must kill everything that is alive, people and animals. 17 You must kill completely all the Hittites, Amorites, Canaanites, Perizzites, Hivites and Jebusites. The LORD your God has told you to do this.
18 If you do that, they cannot teach you their bad practices. They cannot teach you to pray as they pray to their gods. If you did that, you would be sinning against the LORD your God.
20:18Verses 16-18 God had promised to give the whole country called Canaan to the Israelites. They must kill all other people who were living in that country. Israelites must not mix with them by marriage and they must not pray to their gods.
19 Perhaps you are preparing to take a city. You must not cut down its fruit-trees, but you can eat the fruit. These trees are not your enemies; so do not cut them down. 20 But you can cut down the other trees to use. You can make things from them that will help you to attack the city. You can do this until the city's people open its gates to you.