21 1If a dead body is found on the ground, this ground that God, your God, has given you, lying out in the open, and no one knows who killed him, 2your leaders and judges are to go out and measure the distance from the body to the nearest cities. 3The leaders and judges of the city that is nearest the corpse will then take a heifer that has never been used for work, never had a yoke on it. 4The leaders will take the heifer to a valley with a stream, a valley that has never been plowed or planted, and there break the neck of the heifer. 5The Levitical priests will then step up. God has chosen them to serve him in these matters by settling legal disputes and violent crimes and by pronouncing blessings in God’s name. 6Finally, all the leaders of that town that is nearest the body will wash their hands over the heifer that had its neck broken at the stream 7and say, “We didn’t kill this man and we didn’t see who did it. 8Purify your people Israel whom you redeemed, O God. Clear your people Israel from any guilt in this murder.” That will clear them from any responsibility in the murder. 9By following these procedures you will have absolved yourselves of any part in the murder because you will have done what is right in God’s sight. 10When you go to war against your enemies and God, your God, gives you victory and you take prisoners, 11and then you notice among the prisoners of war a good–looking woman whom you find attractive and would like to marry, 12this is what you do: Take her home; have her trim her hair, cut her nails, 13and discard the clothes she was wearing when captured. She is then to stay in your home for a full month, mourning her father and mother. Then you may go to bed with her as husband and wife. 14If it turns out you don’t like her, you must let her go and live wherever she wishes. But you can’t sell her or use her as a slave since you’ve humiliated her. 15When a man has two wives, one loved and the other hated, and they both give him sons, but the firstborn is from the hated wife, 16at the time he divides the inheritance with his sons he must not treat the son of the loved wife as the firstborn, cutting out the son of the hated wife, who is the actual firstborn. 17No, he must acknowledge the inheritance rights of the real firstborn, the son of the hated wife, by giving him a double share of the inheritance: that son is the first proof of his virility; the rights of the firstborn belong to him. 18When a man has a stubborn son, a real rebel who won’t do a thing his mother and father tell him, and even though they discipline him he still won’t obey, 19his father and mother shall forcibly bring him before the leaders at the city gate 20and say to the city fathers, “This son of ours is a stubborn rebel; he won’t listen to a thing we say. He’s a glutton and a drunk.” 21Then all the men of the town are to throw rocks at him until he’s dead. You will have purged the evil pollution from among you. All Israel will hear what’s happened and be in awe. 22When a man has committed a capital crime, been given the death sentence, executed and hung from a tree, 23don’t leave his dead body hanging overnight from the tree. Give him a decent burial that same day so that you don’t desecrate your God–given land—a hanged man is an insult to God.
The Message® / © 2002 Eugene H. Peterson About