Deuteronomy 17

Worshiping Other Gods

1 Do not sacrifice to the LORD your God an ox or a sheep that has any defect or flaw in it, for that would be detestable to him.
2 If a man or woman living among you in one of the towns the LORD gives you is found doing evil in the eyes of the LORD your God in violation of his covenant,
3 and contrary to my command has worshiped other gods, bowing down to them or to the sun or the moon or the stars in the sky,
4 and this has been brought to your attention, then you must investigate it thoroughly. If it is true and it has been proved that this detestable thing has been done in Israel,
5 take the man or woman who has done this evil deed to your city gate and stone that person to death.
6 On the testimony of two or three witnesses a person is to be put to death, but no one is to be put to death on the testimony of only one witness.
7 The hands of the witnesses must be the first in putting that person to death, and then the hands of all the people. You must purge the evil from among you.

Law Courts

8 If cases come before your courts that are too difficult for you to judge—whether bloodshed, lawsuits or assaults—take them to the place the LORD your God will choose.
9 Go to the Levitical priests and to the judge who is in office at that time. Inquire of them and they will give you the verdict.
10 You must act according to the decisions they give you at the place the LORD will choose. Be careful to do everything they instruct you to do.
11 Act according to whatever they teach you and the decisions they give you. Do not turn aside from what they tell you, to the right or to the left.
12 Anyone who shows contempt for the judge or for the priest who stands ministering there to the LORD your God is to be put to death. You must purge the evil from Israel.
13 All the people will hear and be afraid, and will not be contemptuous again.

The King

14 When you enter the land the LORD your God is giving you and have taken possession of it and settled in it, and you say, “Let us set a king over us like all the nations around us,”
15 be sure to appoint over you a king the LORD your God chooses. He must be from among your fellow Israelites. Do not place a foreigner over you, one who is not an Israelite.
16 The king, moreover, must not acquire great numbers of horses for himself or make the people return to Egypt to get more of them, for the LORD has told you, “You are not to go back that way again.”
17 He must not take many wives, or his heart will be led astray. He must not accumulate large amounts of silver and gold.
18 When he takes the throne of his kingdom, he is to write for himself on a scroll a copy of this law, taken from that of the Levitical priests.
19 It is to be with him, and he is to read it all the days of his life so that he may learn to revere the LORD his God and follow carefully all the words of this law and these decrees
20 and not consider himself better than his fellow Israelites and turn from the law to the right or to the left. Then he and his descendants will reign a long time over his kingdom in Israel.

Deuteronomy 17 Commentary

Chapter 17

All sacrifices to be perfect, Idolaters must be slain. (1-7) Difficult controversies. (8-13) The choice of a king, His duties. (14-20)

Verses 1-7 No creature which had any blemish was to be offered in sacrifice to God. We are thus called to remember the perfect, pure, and spotless sacrifice of Christ, and reminded to serve God with the best of our abilities, time, and possession, or our pretended obedience will be hateful to him. So great a punishment as death, so remarkable a death as stoning, must be inflicted on the Jewish idolater. Let all who in our day set up idols in their hearts, remember how God punished this crime in Israel.

Verses 8-13 Courts of judgment were to be set up in every city. Though their judgment had not the Divine authority of an oracle, it was the judgment of wise, prudent, experienced men, and had the advantage of a Divine promise.

Verses 14-20 God himself was in a particular manner Israel's King; and if they set another over them, it was necessary that he should choose the person. Accordingly, when the people desired a king, they applied to Samuel, a prophet of the Lord. In all cases, God's choice, if we can but know it, should direct, determine, and overrule ours. Laws are given for the prince that should be elected. He must carefully avoid every thing that would turn him from God and religion. Riches, honours, and pleasures, are three great hinderances of godliness, (the lusts of the flesh, the lusts of the eye, and the pride of life,) especially to those in high stations; against these the king is here warned. The king must carefully study the law of God, and make that his rule; and having a copy of the Scriptures of his own writing, must read therein all the days of his life. It is not enough to have Bibles, but we must use them, use them daily, as long as we live. Christ's scholars never learn above their Bibles, but will have constant occasion for them, till they come to that world where knowledge and love will be made perfect. The king's writing and reading were as nothing, if he did not practise what he wrote and read. And those who fear God and keep his commandments, will fare the better for it even in this world.

Cross References 49

  • 1. S Exodus 12:5; S Leviticus 22:20; Malachi 1:8,13
  • 2. Deuteronomy 7:25
  • 3. S Deuteronomy 15:21
  • 4. Deuteronomy 13:6-11
  • 5. Jeremiah 7:31; Jeremiah 7:22-23
  • 6. Exodus 22:20
  • 7. S Genesis 1:16; Job 31:26
  • 8. S Genesis 2:1; S Genesis 37:9
  • 9. Deuteronomy 22:20
  • 10. Deuteronomy 13:12-14
  • 11. S Leviticus 24:14
  • 12. Numbers 35:30; Deuteronomy 19:15; Joshua 7:25; S Matthew 18:16; John 8:17; 2 Corinthians 13:1; 1 Timothy 5:19; Hebrews 10:28
  • 13. John 8:7
  • 14. S Leviticus 24:14; Acts 7:58
  • 15. S Deuteronomy 13:5; 1 Corinthians 5:13*; Deuteronomy 13:5,9
  • 16. Exodus 21:6
  • 17. 2 Chronicles 19:10
  • 18. Deuteronomy 12:5; Psalms 122:3-5; Haggai 2:11
  • 19. Deuteronomy 24:8; Deuteronomy 27:9
  • 20. S Exodus 21:6
  • 21. S Genesis 25:22; Deuteronomy 19:17; Ezekiel 44:24; Haggai 2:11
  • 22. S Leviticus 10:11; S Deuteronomy 5:32; Deuteronomy 25:1
  • 23. Numbers 15:30
  • 24. S Numbers 16:9
  • 25. ver 13; S Genesis 17:14; Deuteronomy 13:11; Deuteronomy 18:20; Deuteronomy 19:20; 1 Kings 18:40; Jeremiah 14:14; Hosea 4:4; Zechariah 13:3
  • 26. S Deuteronomy 13:5
  • 27. S ver 12; Deuteronomy 13:11; Deuteronomy 19:20
  • 28. S Numbers 33:53
  • 29. Joshua 21:43
  • 30. Deuteronomy 11:31; 1Sa 8:5,19-20; 1 Samuel 10:19
  • 31. 1 Samuel 16:3; 2 Samuel 5:3
  • 32. Jeremiah 30:21
  • 33. Isaiah 2:7; Isaiah 30:16
  • 34. 1 Samuel 8:11; 1 Kings 4:26; 1 Kings 9:19; 1 Kings 10:26; 2 Chronicles 1:14; Psalms 20:7
  • 35. 1 Kings 10:29; Isaiah 31:1; Jeremiah 42:14; Hosea 11:5
  • 36. 1 Kings 10:28; Isaiah 31:1; Ezekiel 17:15
  • 37. S Exodus 13:17
  • 38. S Exodus 34:16; 2 Samuel 5:13; 2 Samuel 12:11; 1 Kings 11:3; 2 Chronicles 11:21
  • 39. 1 Kings 11:2; Proverbs 31:3
  • 40. 1 Kings 10:27
  • 41. 2 Chronicles 1:11; Isaiah 2:7
  • 42. 1 Kings 1:46; 1 Chronicles 29:23
  • 43. Deuteronomy 31:22,24; Joshua 24:26; 1 Samuel 10:25
  • 44. 2 Chronicles 23:11
  • 45. Deuteronomy 4:9-10; Joshua 1:8
  • 46. Deuteronomy 11:13; 1 Kings 3:3; 1 Kings 11:38; 2 Kings 22:2
  • 47. Joshua 23:6; Job 23:12; Psalms 119:102; 1 Kings 15:5
  • 48. S Deuteronomy 5:32; S 1 Kings 9:4
  • 49. 1 Samuel 8:5; 1 Samuel 10:25; 1 Kings 2:3; 1 Chronicles 28:8

Chapter Summary


This chapter begins with a caution not to sacrifice anything to the Lord that is blemished or ill favoured, De 17:1, an order is given to put to death men or women guilty of idolatry, where it is clearly proved upon them, De 17:2-7 and it is directed that when cases are too hard for inferior judges to determine, they should be brought to Jerusalem to the priests, Levites, and judges, which formed the great consistory there, whose sentence was to be adhered unto on pain of death, De 17:8-13, and rules are given about the choice of a king, and he is informed what he must not do, and what he should do, De 17:14-20.

Deuteronomy 17 Commentaries

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