Deuteronomy 17: Rules for stoning and rules for kings


We are given rules for stoning. Basically – if someone transgresses, they are to be stoned, but only if there are 2 or 3 witnesses. You can’t stone anyone with only one witness. The witness is the person to cast the first stone. If there is a problem you all can’t figure out on your own, go to the priests and the judges and let them sort it out. Anyone who doesn’t abide by the rule of the Levites and the judges shall die.  As for kings. God will set one of your brethren up as king (you will never have a non-brethren put up as king and any king who suggests going back to Egypt isn’t a real king. Anyway, a king may not hold property or multiply horses or gold or silver. A king’s job is to sit on the thrown and write a copy of the laws in a book. That is all.

In other word:

Don’t go stoning people to death without evidence and kings shouldn’t do anything but write religious books.

Favorite bit:

That the king’s only job is to write the laws. He’s not to make himself rich or lift his heart above his brethren. His job is to focus on the law and to enact it and rule on it. That is all. I like that a) it will keep the kings busy and b) it’s designed to help ensure that they don’t get rich at the expense of the people. Of course, it didn’t work, but it was a good effort at reigning in kingly power. (Deuteronomy 17: 14-20)

Mixed feelings:

(Deuteronomy 17: 6) Some attempt is made to make sure that people can’t just go accusing their neighbors. There have to be other witnesses. It’s a good attempt to try and prevent mob rule, but because it’s super easy to get people to “witness” and gaslight people, it’s ineffective.

Moral Lesson Learned:

  • Don’t piss off your neighbors (Deuteronomy 17:6)
  • Leaders should never wield power for themselves, but instead focus on what is just (Deuteronomy 17:20)