Never offer an ox or a sheep that has a defect or anything seriously wrong with it as a sacrifice to the Lord your God. That would be disgusting to him.

In one of the cities the Lord your God is giving you, there may be a man or woman among you who is doing what the Lord considers evil. This person may be disregarding the conditions of the Lord’s promise [a] by worshiping and bowing down to other gods, the sun, the moon, or the whole army of heaven. I have forbidden this. When you are told about it, investigate it thoroughly. If it’s true and it can be proven that this disgusting thing has been done in Israel, then bring the man or woman who did this evil thing to the gates of your city, and stone that person to death. The person can only be sentenced to death on the testimony of two or three witnesses, but no one should ever be sentenced to death on the testimony of only one witness. The witnesses must start the execution, then all the other people will join them in putting the person to death. You must get rid of this evil.

There may be a case that is too hard for you to decide. It may involve murder, assault, or a dispute—any case which may be brought to court in your cities. Take this case to the place that the Lord your God will choose. Go to the Levitical priests and the judge who is serving at that time. Ask for their opinion, and they will give you their verdict 10 at the place that the Lord will choose. Do what they tell you. Follow all their instructions carefully, 11 and do what they tell you to do in their verdict. Do exactly what they tell you to do in their decision. 12 If anyone deliberately disobeys the priest (who serves the Lord your God) or the judge, that person must die. You must get rid of this evil in Israel. 13 When all the people hear about it, they will be afraid and will never defy ⌞God’s law⌟ again.

14 You will enter the land that the Lord your God is giving you. You will take possession of it and live there. You will say, “Let’s have our own king like all the other nations around us.” 15 Be sure to appoint the king the Lord your God will choose. He must be one of your own people. Never let a foreigner be king, because he’s not one of your own people.

16 The king must never own a large number of horses or make the people return to Egypt to get more horses. The Lord has told you, “You will never go back there again.” 17 The king must never have a large number of wives, or he will turn away ⌞from God⌟. And he must never own a lot of gold and silver.

18 When he becomes king, he should have the Levitical priests make him a copy of these teachings on a scroll. 19 He must keep it with him and read it his entire life. He will learn to fear the Lord his God and faithfully obey everything found in these teachings and laws. 20 Then he won’t think he’s better than the rest of his people, and he won’t disobey these commands in any way. So he and his sons will rule for a long time in Israel.


  1. 17:2 Or “covenant.”