Deuteronomy 20:19
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it to capture it, do not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can eat their fruit. Do not cut them down. Are the trees people, that you should besiege them?

New Living Translation
"When you are attacking a town and the war drags on, you must not cut down the trees with your axes. You may eat the fruit, but do not cut down the trees. Are the trees your enemies, that you should attack them?

English Standard Version
“When you besiege a city for a long time, making war against it in order to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them. You may eat from them, but you shall not cut them down. Are the trees in the field human, that they should be besieged by you?

New American Standard Bible
"When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you?

King James Bible
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:

Holman Christian Standard Bible
When you lay siege to a city for a long time, fighting against it in order to capture it, you must not destroy its trees by putting an ax to them, because you can get food from them. You must not cut them down. Are trees of the field human, to come under siege by you?

International Standard Version
"When you attack a city and have to fight against it for many days, don't destroy its trees by cutting them down with an ax. You may eat from them, but you must not cut them down. Are the trees of the field human beings, that you would come and attack them?

NET Bible
If you besiege a city for a long time while attempting to capture it, you must not chop down its trees, for you may eat fruit from them and should not cut them down. A tree in the field is not human that you should besiege it!

New Heart English Bible
When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them; for you may eat of them, and you shall not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of you?

GOD'S WORD® Translation
This is what you must do whenever you blockade a city for a long time in order to capture it in war. Don't harm any of its fruit trees with an ax. You can eat the fruit. Never cut those trees down, because the trees of the field are not people you have come to blockade.

JPS Tanakh 1917
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, but thou shalt not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee?

New American Standard 1977
“When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you?

Jubilee Bible 2000
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them, for thou may eat of them; and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege.

King James 2000 Bible
When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an ax against them: for you may eat of them, and you shall not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:

American King James Version
When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an ax against them: for you may eat of them, and you shall not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:

American Standard Version
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee?

Douay-Rheims Bible
When thou hast besieged a city a long time, and hath compassed it with bulwarks to take it, thou shalt not cut down the trees that may be eaten of, neither shalt thou spoil the country round about with axes: for it is a tree, and not a man, neither can it increase the number of them that fight against thee.

Darby Bible Translation
When thou shalt besiege a city many days, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by lifting up an axe against them; for thou canst eat of them; and thou shalt not cut them down, for is the tree of the field a man that it should be besieged?

English Revised Version
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by wielding an axe against them; for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of thee?

Webster's Bible Translation
When thou shalt besiege a city a long time in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees of it by forcing an ax against them; for thou mayest eat of them: and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:

World English Bible
When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an axe against them; for you may eat of them, and you shall not cut them down; for is the tree of the field man, that it should be besieged of you?

Young's Literal Translation
When thou layest siege unto a city many days, to fight against it, to capture it, thou dost not destroy its trees to force an axe against them, for of them thou dost eat, and them thou dost not cut down -- for man's is the tree of the field -- to go in at thy presence in the siege.
Commentary
Matthew Henry Commentary
20:10-12 The Israelites are here directed about the nations on whom they made war. Let this show God's grace in dealing with sinners. He proclaims peace, and beseeches them to be reconciled. Let it also show us our duty in dealing with our brethren. Whoever are for war, we must be for peace. Of the cities given to Israel, none of their inhabitants must be left. Since it could not be expected that they should be cured of their idolatry, they would hurt Israel. These regulations are not the rules of our conduct, but Christ's law of love. The horrors of war must fill the feeling heart with anguish upon every recollection; and are proofs of the wickedness of man, the power of Satan, and the just vengeance of God, who thus scourges a guilty world. But how dreadful their case who are engaged in unequal conflict with their Maker, who will not submit to render him the easy tribute of worship and praise! Certain ruin awaits them. Let neither the number nor the power of the enemies of our souls dismay us; nor let even our own weakness cause us to tremble or to faint. The Lord will save us; but in this war let none engage whose hearts are fond of the world, or afraid of the cross and the conflict. Care is here taken that in besieging cities the fruit-trees should not be destroyed. God is a better friend to man than he is to himself; and God's law consults our interests and comforts; while our own appetites and passions, which we indulge, are enemies to our welfare. Many of the Divine precepts restrain us from destroying that which is for our life and food. The Jews understand this as forbidding all wilful waste upon any account whatsoever. Every creature of God is good; as nothing is to be refused, so nothing is to be abused. We may live to want what we carelessly waste.
Study Bible
Laws of Warfare
18so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God. 19"When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, that it should be besieged by you? 20"Only the trees which you know are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.…
Cross References
Deuteronomy 20:18
so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the LORD your God.

Deuteronomy 20:20
"Only the trees which you know are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.

Jeremiah 6:6
For thus says the LORD of hosts, "Cut down her trees And cast up a siege against Jerusalem. This is the city to be punished, In whose midst there is only oppression.
Treasury of Scripture

When you shall besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, you shall not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an ax against them: for you may eat of them, and you shall not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:

thou shalt not

Matthew 3:10 And now also the ax is laid to the root of the trees: therefore every …

Matthew 7:15-20 Beware of false prophets, which come to you in sheep's clothing, …

Matthew 21:19 And when he saw a fig tree in the way, he came to it, and found nothing …

Luke 13:7-9 Then said he to the dresser of his vineyard, Behold, these three …

John 15:2-8 Every branch in me that bears not fruit he takes away: and every …

for the tree, etc. or, for, O man, the tree of the field is to be employed in the siege. The original is exceedingly difficult. The LXX. has it, `Is the tree in the field a man, to enter the trench before thee?' The Latin Vulgate:`For it is a tree, and not a man, neither can it increase the number of those who war against thee;' Onkelos, `For the tree of the field is not as a man, that it should come against thee in the siege;' and to the same purpose the Arabic, Philo, and Josephus who say, `If trees could speak, they would cry out, that it is unjust that they, who were no cause of the war, should suffer the miseries of it.' However rendered, the sense is sufficiently clear: and it is a merciful provision to spare all the fruit trees for the support of both the besieged and besiegers.

Deuteronomy 26:6 And the Egyptians evil entreated us, and afflicted us, and laid on …

to employ, etc. [heb] to go from before thee

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