Christ Notes > Bible Commentary > Wesley’s Explanatory Notes > Deuteronomy > Deuteronomy 20
 And it shall be, when ye are come nigh unto the battle, that the priest shall approach and speak unto the people,
Speak unto the people — Probably to one regiment of the army after another.
 And the officers shall speak unto the people, saying, What man is there that hath built a new house, and hath not dedicated it? let him go and return to his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man dedicate it.
What man — This and the following exceptions are to be understood only of a war allowed by God, not in a war commanded by God, not in the approaching war with the Canaanites, from which even the bridegroom was not exempted, as the Jewish writers note.
 And what man is he that hath planted a vineyard, and hath not yet eaten of it? let him also go and return unto his house, lest he die in the battle, and another man eat of it.
A vineyard — This and the former dispensation were generally convenient, but more necessary in the beginning of their settlement in Canaan, for the encouragement of those who should build houses or plant vineyards, which was chargeable to them, and beneficial to the common-wealth.
Eaten of it — Heb. made it common, namely, for the use of himself and family and friends, which it was not, 'till the fifth year.
 And it shall be, when the officers have made an end of speaking unto the people, that they shall make captains of the armies to lead the people.
Make captains — Or rather, as the Hebrew hath it, they shall set or place the captains of the armies in the head or front of the people under their charge, that they may conduct them, and by their example encourage their soldiers. It is not likely they had their captains to make when they were just going to battle.
 But of the cities of these people, which the LORD thy God doth give thee for an inheritance, thou shalt save alive nothing that breatheth:
Nothing — No man. For the beasts, some few excepted, were given them for a prey.
 When thou shalt besiege a city a long time, in making war against it to take it, thou shalt not destroy the trees thereof by forcing an axe against them: for thou mayest eat of them, and thou shalt not cut them down (for the tree of the field is man's life) to employ them in the siege:
Thou shalt not destroy — Which is to be understood of a general destruction of them, not of the cutting down some few of them, as the conveniency of the siege might require.
Man's life — The sustenance or support of his life.