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Rules for war (20:1-20)
God’s people were to have confidence in the wars that lay before them, knowing that God was on their side. That did not mean they could be half-hearted or inefficient in the way they planned and fought. All had to give themselves fully to the task before them. Nevertheless, the law temporarily excused some people from military service, such as those who had recently committed themselves to something that could be ruined if they were suddenly called away to the battlefield (20:1-7). If people were cowardly or too afraid to fight, they were to be sent home (8-9).
Israel was not to act with the brutality that characterized other nations. Though they were to destroy the people of Canaan and their cities (for this was God’s judgment on the wicked Canaanites), Israel’s soldiers were not to destroy non-Canaanite cities unless the people refused Israel’s terms of peace. They were to attack only when all else failed; but even then they were to attack only the soldiers, not the women and children (10-18). Also they were to be careful in choosing which trees to cut down for building siegeworks, to avoid destroying the orchards and forests (19-20).
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Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 20". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/
the Sixth Week after Easter