And don't sacrifice to God, your God, an ox or sheep that is defective or has anything at all wrong with it. That's an abomination, an insult to God, your God.
If you find anyone within the towns that God, your God, is giving you doing what is wrong in God's eyes, breaking his covenant
by going off to worship other gods, bowing down to them - the sun, say, or the moon, or any rebel sky-gods -
look at the evidence and investigate carefully. If you find that it is true, that, in fact, an abomination has been committed in Israel,
then you are to take the man or woman who did this evil thing outside your city gates and stone the man or the woman. Hurl stones at the person until dead.
But only on the testimony of two or three witnesses may a person be put to death. No one may be put to death on the testimony of one witness.
The witnesses must throw the first stones in the execution, then the rest of the community joins in. You have to purge the evil from your community.
When matters of justice come up that are too much for you - hard cases regarding homicides, legal disputes, fights - take them up to the central place of worship that God, your God, has designated.
Bring them to the Levitical priests and the judge who is in office at the time. Consult them and they will hand down the decision for you.
Then carry out their verdict at the place designated by God, your God. Do what they tell you, in exactly the way they tell you.
Follow their instructions precisely: Don't leave out anything; don't add anything.
Anyone who presumes to override or twist the decision handed down by the priest or judge who was acting in the Presence of God, your God, is as good as dead - root him out, rid Israel of the evil.
Everyone will take notice and be impressed. That will put an end to presumptuous behavior.
When you enter the land that God, your God, is giving you and take it over and settle down, and then say, "I'm going to get me a king, a king like all the nations around me,"
make sure you get yourself a king whom God, your God, chooses. Choose your king from among your kinsmen; don't take a foreigner - only a kinsman.
And make sure he doesn't build up a war machine, amassing military horses and chariots. He must not send people to Egypt to get more horses, because God told you, "You'll never go back there again!"
And make sure he doesn't build up a harem, collecting wives who will divert him from the straight and narrow. And make sure he doesn't pile up a lot of silver and gold.
This is what must be done: When he sits down on the throne of his kingdom, the first thing he must do is make himself a copy of this Revelation on a scroll, copied under the supervision of the Levitical priests.
That scroll is to remain at his side at all times; he is to study it every day so that he may learn what it means to fear his God, living in reverent obedience before these rules and regulations by following them.
He must not become proud and arrogant, changing the commands at whim to suit himself or making up his own versions. If he reads and learns, he will have a long reign as king in Israel, he and his sons.
Published by permission. Originally published by NavPress in English as THE MESSAGE: The Bible in Contemporary Language copyright 2002 by Eugene Peterson. All rights reserved. (The Message Bible Online)