Deuteronomy chapter 20

When going into battle. Offer peace or annihilation.

 


 

WHEN GOING INTO BATTLE

 

VERSE 1. When you go out to battle against your enemies, and see horses, chariots, and a people more numerous than you, you shall not be afraid of them; for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt.

When. Not if, but when.

The LORD God is indeed going to bring them into the Promised Land.

 

VERSE 2. It shall be, when you draw near to the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people,

 

VERSE 3. and shall tell them, “Hear, Israel, you draw near today to battle against your enemies. Don’t let your heart faint! Don’t be afraid, nor tremble, neither be scared of them;

Don’t let your heart faint. This verse speaks of not being afraid.

Fear is a natural human emotion. We cannot make it go away. And we believe this verse is not telling us to suppress our emotions. Rather, it is telling us to act, to do, even if we are afraid.

 

VERSE 4. for the LORD your God is he who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.”

the LORD your God is he who goes with you. Their own strength was not equal to the strength of their enemies. And their enemies would do everything possible to destroy them.

Their only hope was that the LORD God will fight for them. The LORD God will grant them the victory.

 

VERSE 5. The officers shall speak to the people, saying, “What man is there who has built a new house, and has not dedicated it? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.

The officers shall speak to the people. Before the battle begins, the officers need to make sure the soldiers are committed.

They cannot afford to have soldiers who are distracted or unenthusiastic.

built a new house. This is a situation that is more important than battle. A man in this situation is excused from war.

There are three situations that are more important than battle:

 

VERSE 6. What man is there who has planted a vineyard, and has not used its fruit? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man use its fruit.

planted a vineyard. This is a situation that is more important than battle. A man in this situation is excused from war.

There are three situations that are more important than battle:

 

VERSE 7. What man is there who has pledged to be married to a wife, and has not taken her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.”

pledged to be married. This is a situation that is more important than battle. A man in this situation is excused from war.

There are three situations that are more important than battle:

has not taken her. They are engaged, but he hasn’t “taken” her yet. The act of “taking” is the act which causes them to become married. They become married after he has “taken” her.

 

VERSE 8. The officers shall speak further to the people, and they shall say, “What man is there who is fearful and faint-hearted? Let him go and return to his house, lest his brother’s heart melt as his heart.”

 

VERSE 9. It shall be, when the officers have finished speaking to the people, that they shall appoint captains of armies at the head of the people.

 

OFFER PEACE OR ANNIHILATION

 

VERSE 10. When you draw near to a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace to it.

proclaim peace to it. Their first encounter with the enemy is to extend an offer of peace. The hope is for peace, not violence and bloodshed.

 

VERSE 11. It shall be, if it gives you answer of peace and opens to you, then it shall be that all the people who are found therein shall become forced laborers to you, and shall serve you.

 

VERSE 12. If it will make no peace with you, but will make war against you, then you shall besiege it.

 

VERSE 13. When the LORD your God delivers it into your hand, you shall strike every male of it with the edge of the sword;

 

VERSE 14. but the women, the little ones, the livestock, and all that is in the city, even all its plunder, you shall take for plunder for yourself. You may use the plunder of your enemies, which the LORD your God has given you.

 

VERSE 15. Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very far off from you, which are not of the cities of these nations.

 

VERSE 16. But of the cities of these peoples that the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes;

 

VERSE 17. but you shall utterly destroy them: the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite, and the Jebusite, as the LORD your God has commanded you;

you shall utterly destroy them. This can also be translated as “you must doom them.”

 

VERSE 18. that they not teach you to follow all their abominations, which they have done for their gods; so would you sin against the LORD your God.

 

VERSE 19. When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them; for you may eat of them. You shall not cut them down, for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged by you?

 

VERSE 20. Only the trees that you know are not trees for food, you shall destroy and cut them down. You shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.

 


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DEUTERONOMY

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