Deuteronomy 20:20
Verse (Click for Chapter)
New International Version
However, you may cut down trees that you know are not fruit trees and use them to build siege works until the city at war with you falls.

New Living Translation
You may only cut down trees that you know are not valuable for food. Use them to make the equipment you need to attack the enemy town until it falls.

English Standard Version
Only the trees that you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, that you may build siegeworks against the city that makes war with you, until it falls.

New American Standard Bible
"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.

King James Bible
Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it be subdued.

Holman Christian Standard Bible
But you may destroy the trees that you know do not produce food. You may cut them down to build siege works against the city that is waging war against you, until it falls."

International Standard Version
However, you may cut down the trees whose fruit you know isn't edible, in order to build siege works against the city that waged war with you, until it falls."

NET Bible
However, you may chop down any tree you know is not suitable for food, and you may use it to build siege works against the city that is making war with you until that city falls.

New Heart English Bible
Only the trees of which you know that they are not trees for food, you shall destroy and cut them down; and you shall build siege works against the city that makes war with you, until it fall.

GOD'S WORD® Translation
You may destroy trees that you know are not fruit trees. You may cut them down and use them in your blockade until you capture the city.

JPS Tanakh 1917
Only the trees of which thou knowest that they are not trees for food, them thou mayest destroy and cut down, that thou mayest build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it fall.

New American Standard 1977
“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.

Jubilee Bible 2000
Only the trees which thou knowest that they are not trees for food, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that makes war with thee, until it is subdued.

King James 2000 Bible
Only the trees which you know will not be trees for food, you shall destroy and cut them down; and you shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until it is subdued.

American King James Version
Only the trees which you know that they be not trees for meat, you shall destroy and cut them down; and you shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until it be subdued.

American Standard Version
Only the trees of which thou knowest that they are not trees for food, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it fall.

Douay-Rheims Bible
But if there be any trees that are not fruitful, but wild, and fit for other uses, cut them down, and make engines, until thou take the city, which fighteth against thee.

Darby Bible Translation
Only the trees which thou knowest are not trees for meat, thou mayest destroy and cut them down, and build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it fall.

English Revised Version
Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it fall.

Webster's Bible Translation
Only the trees which thou knowest that they are not trees for food, thou shalt destroy and cut them down; and thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee, until it shall be subdued.

World English Bible
Only the trees of which you know that they are not trees for food, you shall destroy and cut them down; and you shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until it fall.

Young's Literal Translation
Only, the tree, which thou knowest that it is not a fruit-tree, it thou dost destroy, and hast cut down, and hast built a bulwark against the city which is making with thee war till thou hast subdued it.
Study Bible
Laws of Warfare
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 20:19
"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?

Deuteronomy 21:1
"If a slain person is found lying in the open country in the land which the LORD your God gives you to possess, and it is not known who has struck him,

Ecclesiastes 9:14
There was a small city with few men in it and a great king came to it, surrounded it and constructed large siegeworks against it.

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

Only the trees which you know that they be not trees for meat, you shall destroy and cut them down; and you shall build bulwarks against the city that makes war with you, until it be subdued.

thou shalt build

Deuteronomy 1:28 Where shall we go up? our brothers have discouraged our heart, saying, …

2 Chronicles 26:15 And he made in Jerusalem engines, invented by cunning men, to be …

Ecclesiastes 9:14 There was a little city, and few men within it; and there came a …

Isaiah 37:33 Therefore thus said the LORD concerning the king of Assyria, He shall …

Jeremiah 6:6 For thus has the LORD of hosts said, Hew you down trees, and cast …

Jeremiah 33:4 For thus said the LORD, the God of Israel, concerning the houses …

Ezekiel 17:17 Neither shall Pharaoh with his mighty army and great company make …

be subdued [heb] come down

Verse 20. - And thou shalt build bulwarks against the city... until it be subdued; literally, That thou mayest build a siege - he, an instrument for besieging, a rampart, or bulwark - against the city, till it come down (cf. Deuteronomy 28:52).



Only the trees which thou knowest that they be not trees for meat,.... Which might be known not only by their not having fruit upon them, but by other tokens, and even at a time of year when there was no fruit on any, which might be sometimes the season of a siege:

thou shalt destroy and cut them down; if so to do was of any disservice to the enemy, or of any service to them, as follows; they had a liberty to destroy them if they would:

and thou shall build bulwarks against the city that maketh war, until it be subdued; build bulwarks of the trees cut down, and raise batteries with them, or make machines and engines of the wood of them, to cast stones into the city to annoy the inhabitants of it, in order to make them surrender, and until they do it. All this may be an emblem of the axe being to be laid to fruitless trees in a moral and spiritual sense; and of trees of righteousness, laden with the fruits of righteousness, the planting of the Lord, being preserved and never to be cut down or rooted up; see Matthew 3:10. 20. thou shalt build bulwarks against the city that maketh war with thee—It is evident that some sort of military engines were intended; and accordingly we know, that in Egypt, where the Israelites learned their military tactics, the method of conducting a siege was by throwing up banks, and making advances with movable towers, or with the testudo [Wilkinson]. 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.
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