Deuteronomy 21 International Children’s Bible (ICB)
A Person Found Murdered
21 Someone might be found murdered. He might be lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you to own. And no one knows who killed him. 2 Your elders and judges should go to where he was found. And they should measure how far it is to the nearby cities. 3 The elders of the city nearest the body are responsible. They must take a young cow that has never worked or worn a yoke. 4 And they must lead her down to a valley. It must never have been plowed or planted. It must have a stream flowing through it. There they must break the young cow’s neck. 5 The priests should come forward. They are the sons of Levi. They have been chosen by the Lord your God. They are to serve and give blessings in the Lord’s name. And they are to decide cases of quarreling and attacks. 6 Then all the elders of the city nearest the murdered man should wash their hands. They should do it over the young cow whose neck was broken in the valley. 7 They should declare: “We did not kill this man. And we did not see it happen. 8 Lord, remove this sin of your people Israel. You have saved them. Don’t blame your people, the Israelites, for this innocent man’s murder.” And so the murder will be paid for. 9 Then you will have removed from yourselves the guilt of murdering an innocent person. You will be doing what the Lord says is right.
Captive Women as Wives
10 You will go to war against your enemies. The Lord will help you defeat them. You will take them captive. 11 You might see a beautiful woman among the captives. And you might be attracted to her. You may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home. She must shave her head and cut her nails. 13 She must change out of the clothes she was wearing when you captured her. And she must live in your house and cry for her parents for a month. After that, you may marry her. You will be her husband, and she will be your wife. 14 But you might not be pleased with her. Then let her go anywhere she wants. You must not sell her for money. You must not make her a slave. You have taken away her honor.
The Oldest Son
15 A man may have two wives. He might love one wife but not the other. Both wives might have sons by him. But the older son might be the son of the wife he does not love. 16 Someday that man must will his property to his sons. But he must not give the son of the wife he loves what belongs to the older son. The older son is the son of the wife the man does not love. 17 He must agree to give the older son two shares of everything he owns. The older son is from the wife he does not love. That son was the first to prove his father could have children. So he has the rights that belong to the older son.
Sons Who Refuse to Obey
18 A man might have a son who is stubborn. The son turns against his father and mother and doesn’t obey them. He will not listen when they correct him. 19 His parents must take him to the elders at the city gate. 20 They will say to the leaders, “Our son is stubborn and turns against us. He will not obey us. He eats too much. And he is always drunk.” 21 Then all the men in his town must throw stones at him until he dies. Get rid of the evil among you. All the people of Israel will hear about this and be afraid.
22 A man might be guilty of a sin worthy of death. He must be put to death and his body displayed on a tree. 23 But don’t leave his body hanging on the tree overnight. Be sure to bury him that same day. Anyone whose body is displayed on a tree is cursed by God. You must not ruin the land the Lord your God is giving you to own.
Deuteronomy 21 New International Version (NIV)
Atonement for an Unsolved Murder
21 If someone is found slain, lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you to possess, and it is not known who the killer was, 2 your elders and judges shall go out and measure the distance from the body to the neighboring towns. 3 Then the elders of the town nearest the body shall take a heifer that has never been worked and has never worn a yoke 4 and lead it down to a valley that has not been plowed or planted and where there is a flowing stream. There in the valley they are to break the heifer’s neck. 5 The Levitical priests shall step forward, for the Lord your God has chosen them to minister and to pronounce blessings in the name of the Lord and to decide all cases of dispute and assault. 6 Then all the elders of the town nearest the body shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley, 7 and they shall declare: “Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it done. 8 Accept this atonement for your people Israel, whom you have redeemed, Lord, and do not hold your people guilty of the blood of an innocent person.” Then the bloodshed will be atoned for, 9 and you will have purged from yourselves the guilt of shedding innocent blood, since you have done what is right in the eyes of the Lord.
Marrying a Captive Woman
10 When you go to war against your enemies and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take captives, 11 if you notice among the captives a beautiful woman and are attracted to her, you may take her as your wife. 12 Bring her into your home and have her shave her head, trim her nails 13 and put aside the clothes she was wearing when captured. After she has lived in your house and mourned her father and mother for a full month, then you may go to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 If you are not pleased with her, let her go wherever she wishes. You must not sell her or treat her as a slave, since you have dishonored her.
The Right of the Firstborn
15 If a man has two wives, and he loves one but not the other, and both bear him sons but the firstborn is the son of the wife he does not love, 16 when he wills his property to his sons, he must not give the rights of the firstborn to the son of the wife he loves in preference to his actual firstborn, the son of the wife he does not love. 17 He must acknowledge the son of his unloved wife as the firstborn by giving him a double share of all he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. The right of the firstborn belongs to him.
A Rebellious Son
18 If someone has a stubborn and rebellious son who does not obey his father and mother and will not listen to them when they discipline him, 19 his father and mother shall take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20 They shall say to the elders, “This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious. He will not obey us. He is a glutton and a drunkard.” 21 Then all the men of his town are to stone him to death. You must purge the evil from among you. All Israel will hear of it and be afraid.
22 If someone guilty of a capital offense is put to death and their body is exposed on a pole, 23 you must not leave the body hanging on the pole overnight. Be sure to bury it that same day, because anyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not desecrate the land the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance.