When Israelites go to court
Defective sacrifices1You’re not allowed to sacrifice defective livestock to the LORD your God. That’s not worship. That’s despicable.
Execute idol worshipers2When you settle in the land the LORD your God is giving you, suppose there’s a man or a woman who breaks the agreement you have with God. The person does something evil. 3Perhaps the person worships one of the local gods. Or maybe it’s the sun, or the moon, or other lights in the sky. I’ve told everyone not to do this. 4If you hear that one of your fellow Israelites is doing something this detestable, launch a thorough investigation. If you can verify that the charges are true, 5bring that person to the entrance gates just outside the city walls. Then stone that man or woman to death for doing something so evil. 6But don’t execute someone on the testimony of just one person. You need at least two or three witnesses. 7When it comes time to execute the offender, witnesses should strike the first blows. You have to get rid of evil people living with you.
Hard court cases8Let’s say you’re grappling with a tough court case and you’re not sure what to do. Maybe you can’t decide if what happened was a murder or an accident, a crime or a misunderstanding, an assault or something else. Take the case to the worship center at the place where the LORD your God will choose. 9Tell the Levite priests about the case. Or tell it to a judge who is serving at the location. These people will give you the verdict. 10Whatever decision they make at the place the LORD selects as a worship center, carry it out. 11Do exactly what the judge says. Don’t do anything more, and don’t do anything less. 12This judge or priest is acting on behalf of the LORD your God. Anyone who refuses to do what the judge says is evil. That person should be executed. 13When news about this execution gets out, people will start to realize they have to treat these judges with respect.
A king’s “don’t do” list14When you settle into the land the LORD your God is giving you, there might come a time you say, “Other nations have kings. We need a king, too.” 15When you crown a king, crown the person the LORD your God chooses for you. Don’t pick someone who came from another country. The king needs to be one of your own Israelites. 16Whoever the king is, he shouldn’t own a lot of horses. And he shouldn’t send buyers back to Egypt to purchase their horses. The LORD said, “You can’t go back there again.” 17The king shouldn’t grow a huge harem of wives. If he does, they might lure him into worshiping idols. And he shouldn’t obsess over building assets of silver and gold.
King’s personal copy of the law18When a man becomes king, he needs to write a copy of the laws I’m giving you now. He should do that with Levite priests watching him. 19Then he needs to keep this law with him and read it every day. This will help him follow the law and develop a deeper respect for the LORD his God. 20This will also keep him from getting a big head and from thinking he’s better than everyone else in the country. If he follows the law, he and his descendants will live to see his long reign in Israel.
Horses represented wealth. In Bible times, people seemed to use horses mainly in warfare, to carry cavalry soldiers and to pull chariots.
It was customary for kings to seal an alliance with another king by marrying someone from the other king’s family. That’s how King Solomon built his harem of 700 wives of royal birth and 300 concubines. And that’s how he was lured into worshiping other gods during the last years of his life (1 Kings 11:3-5).
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