1You shall not sacrifice to the LORD, your God, an ox or a sheep with any serious defect;a that would be an abomination to the LORD, your God.
2b If there is found in your midst, in any one of the communities which the LORD, your God, gives you, a man or a woman who does evil in the sight of the LORD, your God, and transgresses his covenant,c 3by going to serve other gods, by bowing down to them, to the sun or the moon or any of the host of heaven, contrary to my command;d 4and if you are told or hear of it, you must investigate it thoroughly. If the truth of the matter is established that this abomination has been committed in Israel, 5you shall bring the man or the woman who has done this evil deed out to your gates* and stone the man or the woman to death. 6Only on the testimony of two or three witnesses shall a person be put to death;e no one shall be put to death on the testimony of only one witness. 7The hands of the witnesses shall be the first raised to put the person to death, and afterward the hands of all the people.f Thus shall you purge the evil from your midst.
Judges. 8g If there is a case for judgment which proves too baffling for you to decide, in a matter of bloodshed or of law or of injury, matters of dispute within your gates, you shall then go up to the place which the LORD, your God, will choose, 9to the levitical priests or to the judge who is in office at that time. They shall investigate the case and then announce to you the decision.h 10You shall act according to the decision they announce to you in the place which the LORD will choose, carefully observing everything as they instruct you. 11You shall carry out the instruction they give you and the judgment they pronounce, without turning aside either to the right or left from the decision they announce to you. 12Anyone who acts presumptuously and does not obey the priest* who officiates there in the ministry of the LORD, your God, or the judge, shall die. Thus shall you purge the evil from Israel. 13And all the people, on hearing of it, shall fear, and will never again act presumptuously.i
The King. 14j When you have come into the land which the LORD, your God, is giving you, and have taken possession of it and settled in it, should you then decide, “I will set a king over me, like all the surrounding nations,”k 15you may indeed set over you a king whom the LORD, your God, will choose.l Someone from among your own kindred you may set over you as king; you may not set over you a foreigner, who is no kin of yours. 16* But he shall not have a great number of horses; nor shall he make his people go back again to Egypt to acquire many horses, for the LORD said to you, Do not go back that way again.m 17Neither shall he have a great number of wives, lest his heart turn away,n nor shall he accumulate a vast amount of silver and gold. 18When he is sitting upon his royal throne, he shall write a copy of this law* upon a scroll from the one that is in the custody of the levitical priests.o 19* p It shall remain with him and he shall read it as long as he lives, so that he may learn to fear the LORD, his God, and to observe carefully all the words of this law and these statutes, 20so that he does not exalt himself over his kindred or turn aside from this commandment to the right or to the left, and so that he and his descendants may reign long in Israel.
* [17:12] The priest: the high priest; the judge: a layman. The court system here, involving lay and priestly officials, resembles the one whose establishment is attributed to King Jehoshaphat in 2 Chr 19:8–11 (cf. Ex 18:17–23 and Dt 1:17).
* [17:16–17] This restriction on royal acquisitions may have in mind the excesses of Solomon’s reign mentioned in 1 Kgs 10:1–11:6. Horses: chariotry for war. Egypt engaged in horse trading, and the danger envisioned here is that some king might make Israel a vassal of Egypt for military aid.
* [17:18] A copy of this law: the source of the name Deuteronomy, which in Hebrew is literally “double” or “copy”; in the Septuagint translated as deuteronomion, literally “a second law.” In Jerome’s Latin Vulgate as deuteronium.
* [17:19] The only positive requirement imposed upon the king is strict adherence to the Mosaic or Deuteronomic law. In that respect, the king’s primary task was to be a model Israelite.