The combatants prepare for war (Deut 20:1-20:9)

“When you go out to war against your enemies, and see horses and chariots, an army larger than your own, you shall not be afraid of them. Yahweh your God is with you. He brought you up from the land of Egypt. Before you engage in battle, the priest shall come forward and speak to the troops. He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel! Today you are drawing near to do battle against your enemies. Do not your lose heart, or be afraid, or panic, or be in dread of them. Yahweh your God goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to give you victory.’’’

There is something similar in Exodus, chapters 33 and 34, about the holy war for Yahweh. Do not be afraid of your strong enemies. The priest has a famous prayer, ‘Hear, O Israel!’ that reminds the warriors that Yahweh is with them to give them victory.

“Then the officers shall address the troops, saying, ‘Has anyone built a new house but not dedicated it? He should go back to his house, for he might die in the battle and another dedicate it. Has anyone planted a vineyard but not yet enjoyed its fruit? He should go back to his house, for he might die in the battle and another be the first to enjoy its fruit. Has anyone become engaged to a woman but not yet married her? He should go back to his house, for he might die in the battle and another person marry her.’ The officers shall continue to address the troops, saying, ‘Is anyone afraid or disheartened? He should go back to his house, for he might cause the heart of his comrades to melt like his own.’ When the officers have finished addressing the troops, then the commanders shall take charge of them.”

There is no room for cowards when the battle is about to start. The officers should address the troops. If anyone is worried about their new house, their new vineyard, or their new wife, go on back home. If you are afraid, go home so that your fear may not spread to others.

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