With Moses' days coming to an end, his focus turns to a number of issues and institutions, which will be necessary for the maintenance of law and order, once the Israelites possess the Promised Land.
Judges need to be appointed and they should exhibit a high degree of impartiality; they must resist bribes under all circumstances. Difficult cases are to be referred to higher authorities.
Idolatry is punishable by death by stoning - but only after a thorough investigation and upon testimony by at least two witnesses.
Provisions are made to permit a monarchy to develop. However, the king must remain devoted to the Torah; he must write his own personal copy to be kept in his possession at all times and he must study from it regularly. Several restrictions are placed on the king to prevent abuse of power and the amassing of wealth.
God will provide true prophets to guide the people; there is, therefore, no need to resort to magic and superstition. False prophets - those whose predictions do not come to pass or who attempt to lead the people astray into idolatry - are to be executed.
Willful murderers are to be turned over to their victims' families. Unsolved murder cases render the inhabitants of the town in which the victim was found culpable. The town's leaders must perform a ritual of atonement and expiation. Boundary markers may not be moved or removed; it is an act of theft. Witnesses who give false testimony are to be subject to the punishment the defendant would have received had s/he been convicted.
Rules of warfare and siege are promulgated. Certain individuals are exempted from military service. The Israelites must sue for peace prior to resorting to war. A scorched-earth siege policy is prohibited.
Last Friday Evening