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Home -- Content: Series 7 (Laws) -- Translation: English -- Book: 1 (Tora) -- Part: 1 (Positive) -- Command: 186 -- Text
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The Sharia of Moses in the TORA
Part 1 - The 248 Positive Commandments of the Tora

186 - THE LAW OF THE APOSTATE CITY


Deuteronomy 13:17 -- “So none of the accursed things shall remain in your hand, that the LORD may turn from the fierceness of His anger and show you mercy, have compassion on you and multiply you, just as He swore to your fathers.”

By this injunction, it is commanded to slay all the people of an apostate city and burn the city with all that is in it.

The many stringent conditions which governed the application of the Law of an Apostate City made it almost impossible ever to invoke it. When the appearance of idolatry in any city in Israel was reported, the Great Sanhedrin in Jerusalem dispatched two sages whose mission was to induce the population to repent. War was then waged against the city; if its inhabitants, adhered to their perverseness, the city was conquered, a court was set up and a detailed examination undertaken. If two witnesses appeared to testify against an individual, proving that he had been duly warned and had worshipped idols in disregard of the warning, he was put on one side. If a minority of the population was involved, the accused were tried as individuals, and the city as a whole was spared. If a majority was affected, the accused were taken to the Great Court in Jerusalem for trial, those condemned were put to the sword, and the city was completely burned, never again to be rebuilt.*

* Mishneh Torah, Mada, Hilchoth Abodath Kochabim V, 6

This law could not be invoked against Jerusalem, or against any border city, or against any three neighboring cities at one and the same time. According to Maimonides, cities of refuge were similarly exempt from the application of this law.* Moreover, the population as a whole had first to be approached and converted en masse by the seducers.**

* ibid., IV, 4
** ibid., 5

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