When thou goest out to battle against thine enemies, and seest horses, and chariots, and a people more than thou, be not afraid of them: for the LORD thy God is with thee, which brought thee up out of the land of Egypt.
And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
And shall say unto them, Hear, O Israel, ye approach this day unto battle against your enemies: let not your hearts faint, fear not, and do not tremble, neither be ye terrified because of them;
Heb. be tender. tremble. Heb. make haste.
be ye terrified
For the LORD your God is he that goeth with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.
And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
eaten of it
Heb. made it common.
lest he die
And what man is there that hath betrothed a wife, and hath not taken her? let him go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man take her.
betrothed a wife
It was customary among the Jews to contract matrimony, espouse, or betroth, and for a considerable time to leave the parties in the houses of the respective parents; and when the bridegroom had made proper preparations, then the bride was brought home to his house, and the marriage consummated. The provisions in this verse refer to a case of this kind; though the Jews extend it to him who had newly consummated his marriage, and even to him who had married his brother's wife. It was deemed a peculiar hardship for a person to be obliged to go to battle, who had left a house unfinished, newly purchased land half tilled, or a wife with whom he had just contracted marriage.
lest he die
And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.
lest his brethren's
And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.
to lead the people
Heb. to be in the head of the people.
When thou comest nigh unto a city to fight against it, then proclaim peace unto it.
And it shall be, if it make thee answer of peace, and open unto thee, then it shall be, that all the people that is found therein shall be tributaries unto thee, and they shall serve thee.
And when the LORD thy God hath delivered it into thine hands, thou shalt smite every male thereof with the edge of the sword:
thou shalt smite
But the women, and the little ones, and the cattle, and all that is in the city, even all the spoil thereof, shalt thou take unto thyself; and thou shalt eat the spoil of thine enemies, which the LORD thy God hath given thee.
take unto thyself
Heb. spoil. thou shalt eat.
But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:
But thou shalt utterly destroy them; namely, the Hittites, and the Amorites, the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, the Hivites, and the Jebusites; as the LORD thy God hath commanded thee:
That they teach you not to do after all their abominations, which they have done unto their gods; so should ye sin against the LORD your God.
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:
thou shalt not
for the tree, etc
or, for, O man, the tree of the field is to be employed in the siege. The original is exceedingly difficult. The LXX. has it, "Is the tree in the field a man, to enter the trench before thee?" The Latin Vulgate: "For it is a tree, and not a man, neither can it increase the number of those who war against thee;" Onkelos, "For the tree of the field is not as a man, that it should come against thee in the siege;" and to the same purpose the Arabic, Philo, and Josephus who say, "If trees could speak, they would cry out, that it is unjust that they, who were no cause of the war, should suffer the miseries of it." However rendered, the sense is sufficiently clear: and it is a merciful provision to spare all the fruit trees for the support of both the besieged and besiegers.
to employ, etc
Heb. to go from before thee.
Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.
thou shalt build
Heb. come down.