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Deuteronomy: Chapter 20

The priest's exhortation to encourage the people to battle, 1-4. The officers' proclamation of who are to be dismissed from the war, 5-9. How to use the cities that accept or refuse the proclamation of peace, 10-15. What cities must be devoted, 16-18. Trees that are food for man must not be destroyed in the siege, 19, 20.

1 "When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses, chariots, and a people more than you, do not be afraid of them, for the LORD your God is with you, who brought you out of the land of Egypt. 2 And it shall be when you come near the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak to the people, 3 And shall say to them, 'Hear, O Israel, you approach this day to battle against your enemies. Do not let your hearts faint, do not fear, and do not tremble, neither be terrified because of them, 4 For the LORD your God is he who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.' 5 And 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 should die in the battle and another man should dedicate it. 6 And what man is he who has planted a vineyard and has not yet eaten of it? Let him also go and return to his house, lest he should die in the battle and another man should eat of it. 7 And what man is there who has betrothed a wife and has not taken her? Let him go and return to his house, lest he should die in battle and another man should take her.' 8 And 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 brothers' hearts should faint as well as his heart.' 9 And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking to the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.

10 "When you come near to a city to fight against it, proclaim peace to it. 11 And it shall be, if it makes you an answer of peace and opens to you, then it shall be, that all the people who are found therein shall be tributaries to you and they shall serve you. 12 And if it will make no peace with you, but will make war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 And when the LORD your God has delivered it into your hands, you shall smite every male of it with the edge of the sword, 14 But the women, the little ones, the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all its spoil, you shall take for yourself. And you shall eat the spoil of your enemies which the LORD your God has given you. 15 Thus you shall do to all the cities which are very distant from you, which are not of the cities of these nations. 16 But of the cities of these people which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance, you shall save alive nothing that breathes, 17 But you shall utterly destroy them, namely, the Hittites, the Amorites, Canaanites, the Perizzites, Hivites, and the Jebusites, as the LORD your God has commanded you, 18 So that they may not teach you to do after all their abominations which they have done to their gods, so you would sin against the LORD your God.

19 "When you besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by forcing an ax against them. You may eat of them, but you shall not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege. 20 Only the trees which you know that are not trees for food you shall destroy and cut down. And you shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you until it is subdued."