Deuteronomy 20 (Battle Instructions and Siege Warfare)

Deuteronomy Chapter 20

Battle Instructions and Siege Warfare
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Pep talk

1 And if thou shouldest go forth to war against thine enemies, and shouldest see horse, and rider, and a people more numerous than thyself; thou shalt not be afraid of them, for the Lord thy God is with thee, who brought thee up out of the land of Egypt. 2 And it shall come to pass whenever thou shalt draw night to battle, that the priest shall draw nigh and speak to the people, and shall say to them, 3 Hear, O Israel; ye are going this day to battle against your enemies: let not your heart faint, fear not, neither be confounded, neither turn aside from their face. 4 For it is the Lord your God who advances with you, to fight with you against your enemies, and to save you.

Thinning the troops

5 And the scribes shall speak to the people, saying, What man is he that has built a new house, and has not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the war, and another man dedicate it. 6 And what man is he that has planted a vineyard, and not been made merry with it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man be made merry with it. 7 And what man is he that has betrothed 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. 8 And the scribes shall speak further to the people, and say, What man is he that fears and is cowardly in his heart? Let him go and return to his house, lest he make the heart of his brother fail, as his own. 9 And it shall come to pass when the scribes shall have ceased speaking to the people, that they shall appoint generals of the army to be leaders of the people.

Take no prisoners unless they surrender before the battle

10 And if thou shalt draw nigh to a city to overcome them by war, then call them out peaceably. 11 If then they should answer peaceably to thee, and open to thee, it shall be that all the people found in it shall be tributary and subject to thee. 12 But if they will not hearken to thee, but wage war against thee, thou shalt invest it; 13 until the Lord thy God shall deliver it into thy hands, and thou shalt smite every male of it with the edge of the sword: 14 except the women and the stuff: and all the cattle, and whatsoever shall be in the city, and all the plunder thou shalt take as spoil for thyself, and shalt eat all the plunder of thine enemies whom the Lord thy God gives thee. 15 Thus shalt thou do to all the cities that are very far off from thee, not being of the cities of these nations which the Lord thy God gives thee to inherit their land. 16 Of these ye shall not take anything alive; 17 but ye shall surely curse them, the Chettite, and the Amorite, and the Chananite, and the Pherizite, and the Evite, and the Jebusite, and the Gergesite; as the Lord thy God commanded thee: 18 that they may not teach you to do all their abominations, which they did to their gods, and so ye should sin before the Lord your God.

Siege warfare

19 And if thou shouldest besiege a city many days to prevail against it by war to take it, thou shalt not destroy its trees, by applying an iron tool to them, but thou shalt eat of it, and shalt not cut it down: Is the tree that is in the field a man, to enter before thee into the work of the siege? 20 But the tree which thou knowest to be not fruit-bearing, this thou shalt destroy and cut down; and thou shalt construct a mount against the city, which makes war against thee, until it be delivered up.

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