What to Do When You Don’t Know Who Killed Someone
1Suppose you find someone who has been killed. The body is lying in a field in the land the Lord your God is giving you as your own. But no one knows who the killer was. 2Then your elders and judges will go out to the field. They will measure the distance from the body to the nearby towns. 3The elders from the town that is nearest to the body will get a young cow. It must never have been used for work. It must never have pulled a load. 4The elders must lead it down into a valley. The valley must not have been farmed. There must be a stream flowing through it. There in the valley the elders must break the cow’s neck. 5The priests, who are sons of Levi, will step forward. The Lord your God has chosen them to serve him. He wants them to bless the people in his name. He wants them to decide all cases that have to do with people arguing and attacking others. 6Then all the elders from the town that is nearest to the body will wash their hands. They will wash them over the young cow whose neck they broke in the valley. 7They’ll say to the Lord, “We didn’t kill that person. We didn’t see it happen. 8Accept this payment for the sin of your people Israel. Lord, you have set your people free. Don’t hold them guilty for spilling the blood of someone who hasn’t done anything wrong.” That will pay for the death of that person. 9So you will get rid of the guilt of killing someone who didn’t do anything wrong. That’s because you have done what is right in the Lord’s eyes.
Marrying a Woman Who Is Your Prisoner
10Suppose you go to war against your enemies. And the Lord your God hands them over to you and you take them as prisoners. 11Then you notice a beautiful woman among them. If you like her, you may marry her. 12Bring her home. Have her shave her head and cut her nails. 13Have her throw away the clothes she was wearing when she was captured. Let her live in your house and mourn the loss of her parents for a full month. Then you can go to her and be her husband. And she will be your wife. 14But suppose you aren’t pleased with her. Then let her go where she wants to. You must not sell her. You must not treat her as a slave. You have already brought shame on her.
The Rights of the Oldest Son
15Suppose a man has two wives. He loves one but not the other. And both of them have sons by him. But the oldest son is the son of the wife the man doesn’t love. 16Someday he’ll leave his property to his sons. When he does, he must not give the rights of the oldest son to the son of the wife he loves. He must give those rights to his oldest son. He must do it even though his oldest son is the son of the wife he doesn’t love. 17He must recognize the full rights of the oldest son. He must do it, even though that son is the son of the wife he doesn’t love. He must give that son a double share of everything he has. That son is the first sign of his father’s strength. So the rights of the oldest son belong to him.
A Stubborn Son
18Suppose someone has a very stubborn son. He doesn’t obey his father and mother. And he won’t listen to them when they try to correct him. 19Then his parents will take hold of him and bring him to the elders at the gate of his town. 20They will say to the elders, “This son of ours is very stubborn. He won’t obey us. He eats too much. He’s always getting drunk.” 21Then all the people in his town will put him to death by throwing stones at him. Get rid of that evil person. All the Israelites will hear about it. And they will be afraid to disobey their parents.
Several Other Laws
22Suppose someone is put to death for a crime worthy of death. And a pole is stuck through their body and set up where people can see it. 23Then you must not leave the body on the pole all night. Make sure you bury it that same day. Everyone who is hung on a pole is under God’s curse. You must not make the land “unclean.” The Lord your God is giving it to you as your own.