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CHAPTER 20 May 3 
Rules for War
When you go forth to battle against your enemies and see horses, chariots and a people more than you, you must not be afraid of them, for Yahweh your God is with you, who brought you up out of the land of Egypt. 2When you draw near to the battle, the priest shall approach and speak to the people 3and tell them, Hear, Israel, you draw near this day to battle against your enemies; don’t let your heart faint; don’t be afraid or tremble, neither be scared of them, 4for Yahweh your God goes with you to fight for you against your enemies, to save you. 5The officers must speak to the people saying, Any man who has built a new house and has not dedicated it, let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man dedicate it. 6Any man who has planted a vineyard and has not eaten its fruit, let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man eat its fruit. 7Any man who has pledged to be married to a wife and has not taken her, let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle and another man take her. 8The officers shall speak further to the people and say, Any man who is fearful and fainthearted, let him go and return to his house, lest his brother’s heart melt as his heart. 9When the officers have made an end of speaking to the people, they shall appoint captains of armies at the head of the people. 10When you draw near to a city to fight against it, proclaim peace to it. 11If it makes you an answer of peace and opens to you, then all the people who are found therein shall become tributary to you and shall serve you. 12If it will make no peace with you but wishes to make war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13When Yahweh your God delivers it into your hand, you must strike every male of it with the edge of the sword, 14but the women and the little ones, the livestock and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take for a prey to yourself, and you shall eat the spoil of your enemies, which Yahweh your God has given you. 15Thus you must do to all the cities which are very far off from you, which are not of the cities of nearby nations. 16But of the cities of these peoples that Yahweh your God gives you for an inheritance, you must save alive nothing that breathes; 17you must utterly destroy them: the Hittite, the Amorite, the Canaanite, the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as Yahweh your God has commanded you, 18so that they do not teach you to do after all their abominations, which they have done to their gods; so would you sin against Yahweh your God. 19When you besiege a city a long time in making war against it to take it, you must not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them, for you may eat of them, and you shall not cut them down. Is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you? 20Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you shall destroy; cut them down. And you shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you until it falls.


20:1-4 He foresaw how they would see horses and chariots and get frightened (Dt. 20:1-4).
20:14 The softness of Moses, the earnestness of his desire for their obedience, his eagerness to work with them in their humanity, is shown by the concessions to human weakness which he makes in Deuteronomy (with God's confirmation, of course). When they attacked a foreign city, OK, Moses says, you can take the women for yourselves- even though this is contrary to the spirit of earlier commands (see too 21:11). Likewise with the provisions for having a human king (17:17) and divorce (24:1-4). He knew the hardness of Israel's hearts, their likelihood to give way to temptation, and so he made concessions contrary to the principles behind other parts of the Law (Mt. 19:8). See on 16:2. The fact God makes concessions to us doesn’t mean we can eagerly use them in some spirit of minimalistic service; we should seek to serve God on the highest level we can. The fact there are these different levels- rather than a demand for unthinking submission to a meaningless law- encourages us to express our love for God. 
20:19 Here again we see God’s desire that we should be sensitive to the natural creation. See on 14:21.