Deuteronomy 20: Rules of War


If you are getting ready for battle. Be not afraid. However, the follow men are excused from having to fight:
Someone who has just built a house but not yet dedicated it.
Someone who has planted a vineyard but not yet eaten of it.
Someone who is to be married but not yet taken his wife.
You can then proclaim war. If people make peace. Accept it. If they don’t. Destroy them, but don’t kill the women and little ones or the cattle – because those are your spoils. Don’t destroy the cities where you are planning to live – those are your inheritance. If you have to lay siege to a city, don’t cut down the trees, as you are going to need them to eat from them.  You can only cut down trees that don’t bear fruit.  Finally, utterly destroy the Hittites, the Amorites, the Canaanites, the Perizzites, the Hivites and the Jebusites, otherwise they will lead you astray.

In other words:

Everyone has to fight, unless you have a good excuse.

Favorite bit:

That you can be excused from fighting (Deuteronomy 20: 5-7)

Other favorite bit:

(Deuteronmy 20:19-20) Don’t cut down the trees during a siege – you will need this.  (Note: Doesn't that mean that every time Israeli settlers cut down olive trees that belong to Palestinians they are disobeying their god?)

Moral Lesson Learned:

Don’t fight unless you have to (Deuteronomy 20:11)