Deuteronomy 20:8

8 Then the officers shall add, “Is anyone afraid or fainthearted? Let him go home so that his fellow soldiers will not become disheartened too.”

Read Deuteronomy 20:8 Using Other Translations

And the officers shall speak further unto the people, and they shall say, What man is there that is fearful and fainthearted? let him go and return unto his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as well as his heart.
And the officers shall speak further to the people, and say, 'Is there any man who is fearful and fainthearted? Let him go back to his house, lest he make the heart of his fellows melt like his own.'
“Then the officers will also say, ‘Is anyone here afraid or worried? If you are, you may go home before you frighten anyone else.’

What does Deuteronomy 20:8 mean?

John Gill's Exposition of the Bible
Deuteronomy 20:8

And the officers shall speak further unto the people
According to Maimonides F14, the priest the anointed of war spoke to the end of ( Deuteronomy 20:7 ) and which the officers repeated after him to the people aloud, as before observed; and then after that an officer speaks of himself, or in his own words, and not in those of the priest, as follows;

what man that is fearful
and then another officer causes all the people to hear it:

and they shall say, what man is there that is fearful and
fainthearted?
that has not courage to face his enemies, to whom the terrors of war, and especially of death, are dreadful; the Targum of Jonathan adds,

``because of his sin;''

whose sins stare him in the face, and lie heavy on his conscience; so that he is afraid he shall die in battle, and in his sins, and suffer divine vengeance; both these senses are observed in the Misnah F25. According to R. Akiba, a fearful and fainthearted man is one

``that cannot stand in battle array, or behold a drawn sword; but R. Jose the Galilean says, he is one that is afraid of the transgressions he has committed; and therefore the law joins to this all those things for which a man may return;''

as having built a new house, planted a vineyard, and betrothed a wife; that so it might be thought it was on account of one or other of these that he returned, and not through faintheartedness, either because of the terrors of war, or of his own conscience for his sins:

let him go and return to his house, lest his brethren's heart faint as
well as his heart;
lest, by his pale looks and trembling joints, his fainting fits and swoons, he discourage the rest in the same company with him, and by his example make them unfit for war also.


FOOTNOTES:

F14 Ut supra. (Hilchot Melachim, c. 7. sect. 3.)
F25 Misn. Sotah, c. 8. sect. 5.
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