In the event that Israel was allowed to keep the booty (most cases) was there any restriction on what booty could be kept? Or was every up for grabs?

“But all the livestock and the spoil of the cities we took as booty for ourselves.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭3:7‬ ‭

For instance if someone found a solid gold teraphim could they keep the gold? But maybe have to break up the image.

Considering certain things were not permissible to be brought before the Lord as offerings

“You shall not bring the wages of a harlot or the price of a dog to the house of the LORD your God for any vowed offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.” ‭‭Deuteronomy‬ ‭23:18‬ ‭

What if of the spoils plundered in the enemy camp there were wages of a harlot (where it was obvious they were plundering a brothel house, such that ignorance could not be claimed) or the price of a dog? Could that be kept or was it supposed to be purified (sanctified) in some form? Or simply couldn’t be brought to offer as a vow offering?


According to Deuteronomy 7:25, it was forbidden to take the gold and silver from idols of the enemies' spoils.

The images of their gods you shall burn with fire. Do not covet the silver or the gold that is on them and take it for yourself, because you could be ensnared by it; for it is abhorrent to the Lord your God. (NRSV)

The wages of a harlot and the price of a dog are forbidden to be brought to the Temple as sacrifices, as the verse states (23:18), but not forbidden to be owned, so presumably there's no objection to taking them as spoils. Whether or not they retain their status after having been taken as spoils isn't specified here.

There is also the case of when the army voluntarily promises to dedicate the spoils of war to God (e.g. Numbers 21:2, Joshua 7:1), in which case taking any spoils is forbidden.

  • I think that’s pretty cut and dry and to the point. Don’t see what else could be added. Thank you Jan 2 '20 at 23:14
  • Deuteronomy 7 seems to directly speak of the seven nations spoken of in Deu. 7:1-5, strictly speaking. It might also be worth comparing this to the 'purification' of the possessions of the Midianites in Number 31.
    – user21676
    Jan 4 '20 at 8:45
  • @user21676 Interesting point, but Numbers 31 is about purifying ordinary vessels gained in war, not idols
    – b a
    Jan 4 '20 at 16:23

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