The Fifth Book of Moses, Called Deuteronomy

Chapter 21

The expiation of an uncertain murder, 1-9. The usage of a captive taken for a wife, 10-14. The first-born is not to be disinherited upon private affection, 15-17. A rebellious son is to be stoned to death, 18-21. The malefactor must not hang all night on a tree, 22, 23.

1 "If someone is found slain in the land which the LORD your God gives you to possess it, lying in the field, and it is unknown who has slain him, 2 Then your elders and your judges shall come forth, and they shall measure to the cities which are around him who is slain. 3 And it shall be that the city which is next to the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take a heifer which has not been worked, and which has not drawn in the yoke, 4 And the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a rough valley, which is neither tilled nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer's neck there in the valley. 5 And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near (for the LORD your God has chosen them to minister to him and to bless in the name of the LORD) and by their word every controversy and every stroke shall be tried. 6 And all the elders of that city who are next to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley. 7 And they shall answer and say, 'Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. 8 Be merciful, O LORD, to your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, and do not lay innocent blood to the charge of your people Israel.' And the blood shall be forgiven. 9 Thus you shall remove the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when you do that which is right in the sight of the LORD.

10 "When you go forth to war against your enemies, and the LORD your God has delivered them into your hands, and you have taken them captive, 11 And you see among the captives a beautiful woman and have a desire for her, that you would have her for your wife, 12 Then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and pare her nails. 13 And she shall take off from her the clothing of her captivity, and shall remain in your house and bewail her father and her mother a full month. And after that, you shall go in to her and be her husband, and she shall be your wife. 14 And it shall be, if you have no delight in her, then you shall let her go where she wishes. But you shall not sell her at all for money and you shall not make merchandise of her, because you have humbled her.

15 "If a man has two wives, one beloved and another hated, and they have borne him children, both the beloved and the hated, and if the first-born son is hers who was hated, 16 Then it shall be, when he makes his sons inherit that which he has, that he may not prefer the son of the beloved first-born before the son of the hated, which is indeed the first-born, 17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the first-born by giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning of his strength. The right of the first-born is his.

18 "If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey the voice of his father or the voice of his mother, and who, when they have chastened him, will not listen to them, 19 Then his father and his mother shall lay hold upon him and bring him out to the elders of his city and to the gate of his place. 20 And they shall say to the elders of his city, 'This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey our voice. He is a glutton and a drunkard.' 21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, so that he may die. Thus you shall remove evil from among you, and all Israel shall hear and fear.

22 "And if a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he must be put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day (for he who is hanged is accursed of God), so that your land may not be defiled, which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance."


Matthew Henry Commentary - Deuteronomy, Chapter 21[➚]


[v.23] - Quoted in Galatians 3:13. The Apostle Paul references this passage in Deuteronomy when describing why Christ had become a curse to redeem His people from the curse of the law. See, Galatians 3:10-14.