Deuteronomy 17

1“You must not sacrifice to the Lord your God a cow or sheep if there is anything wrong with it. Why? Because the Lord your God hates it! 2“You might hear about an evil thing that happens in one of the cities that the Lord your God is giving you. You might hear that a man or woman in your group has sinned against the Lord. You might hear that they have broken the Agreement of the Lord— 3that they have worshiped other gods. Or maybe that they have worshiped the sun, the moon or the stars. That is against the Lord’s command that I gave you. 4If you hear bad news like this, then you must check it carefully. You must learn if it is true that this terrible thing has really happened in Israel. If you prove that it is true, 5then you must punish the person that did that evil thing. You must take that man or woman out to a public place near the city gates and kill them with stones. 6But a person should not be punished with death if only one witness says that person did the evil thing. But if two or three witnesses say it is true, then the person must be killed. 7The witnesses must throw the first stones to kill that person. Then the other people should throw stones to finish killing him. In this way, you will remove that evil from your group. 8“There might be some problems that are too hard for your courts to judge. It might be a murder case or an argument between two people. Or it might be a fight in which someone was hurt. When these cases are argued in your towns, your judges there might not be able to decide what is right. Then you must go to the special place that the Lord your God will choose. 9The priests are from the Levi family group. You must go to those priests and to the judge on duty at that time. Those men will decide what to do about that problem. 10There at the Lord’s special place they will tell you their decision. You must do whatever they say. Be sure to do all the things they tell you to do. 11You must accept their decision and follow their instructions exactly. You must do exactly what they tell you to do—don’t change anything! 12“You must punish any person that refuses to obey the judge or the priest that is there at that time serving the Lord your God. That person must die. You must remove that evil person from Israel. 13All the people will hear about this punishment and be afraid. And they will not be stubborn any more. 14“You will enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You will take that land and live in it. Then you will say, 'We will put a king over us, like all the nations around us.’ 15When that happens, then you must be sure to choose the king that the Lord chooses. The king over you must be one of your own people. You must not make a foreigner your king. 16The king must not get more and more horses for himself. And he must not send people to Egypt to get more horses. Why? Because the Lord has told you, 'You must never go back that way.’ 17Also, the king must not have too many wives. Why? Because that will make him turn away from the Lord. And the king must not make himself rich with silver and gold. 18“And when the king begins to rule, he must write a copy of the law for himself in a book. He must make that copy from the books that the priests and Levites keep. 19The king must keep that book with him. He must read from that book all his life. Why? Because the king must learn to respect the Lord his God. And the king must learn to completely obey everything the law commands. 20Then the king will not think that he is better than any of his own people. And he will not turn away from the law, but he will follow it exactly. Then that king and his descendants will rule the kingdom of Israel a long time.

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