December 29, 2015.
Daily Reading: Deuteronomy 23-25.
Background: Deuteronomy 20-22.
Concepts and Connections.
Exclusions, Uncleanness and Miscellaneous laws: This chapter is dedicated to various laws concerning those who were excluded from the assembly of the Lord, laws about uncleanness and other various laws that pertained to the lives of the children of Israel. Those who were excluded from the assembly included men with deformed (with the implication of something that happened post birth) genitals, anyone who was born of a forbidden union (see Leviticus 18) or any Ammonite or Moabite because of the way they treated the children of Israel when they asked to pass through their land after they were brought out of the land of Egypt and because of their attempt to hire a prophet against them (see Deuteronomy 2 and Numbers 22-24, respectively). Interestingly, the children of Israel are told not to hate the Edomite (because they were relatives, decedents of Esau, Israel’s brother) or the Egyptian (since they were sojourners in their land). These two groups of people were indeed allowed to enter the assembly.
The next section deals with uncleanness in the camp, mainly dealing with bodily excretions during battle against an enemy. Men who had nocturnal emissions during in this camp were to be unclean until the evening, remaining outside the camp. They were also to have a place dedicated outside the camp to relieve themselves and cover up their excrement. This is a fascinating insight showing a health benefit of the law.
The latter section of the chapter is dedicated to miscellaneous laws concerning social interactions. Interestingly, the children of Israel are told not to return an escaped slave to his master. Cult prostitution is condemned, both the act and the participating in the act, along with charging interest to fellow brethren. The children of Israel were allowed to charge interest to foreigners, but not their brethren. If they made a vow, they were to be sure to pay it quickly, lest the wrath of the Lord be upon them. There is a hint of advise to not vow unless it was necessary, for if they didn’t vow, they would be doing no wrong. Vowing was a voluntary act. Finally, the last set of concepts is about providing for the poor of the land, allowing the children of Israel to eat of the vineyards and fields of anyone, but not take any in their bags or harvest any of their grain. They could take what they could eat if they were hungry, but they were not to harvest. A similar line of laws can be found at the end of the next chapter.
Laws concerning divorce and other various concepts: The first part of this chapter deals with a specific law concerning divorce, saying that a woman who had been divorced by a first husband and subsequently by a second husband could not be taken again by the first husband, for this was an abomination. This could have been to combat some of the stubbornness of their hearts, at least causing the men to think twice before divorcing their wives (see Matthew 19:1-9). The remainder of the chapter contains miscellaneous laws covering different topics. They include: a year of exemption from the army or other public duty for a newly married man, not taking a vow on your life, the penalty of death for stealing a brother as a slave, the reminder to follow the laws concerning leprosy (see Leviticus 13-14), the respect of people when collecting pledges and the timeliness of repaying them to a poor brother, against oppression of hired workers, the separation of fathers’ and sons’ sins, counting each one’s sin as his own alone, establishing justice and providing for the poor by leaving the olive trees, forgotten sheaves and vineyards with something left over for the poor of the land to utilize.
More miscellaneous laws: Continuing on in the style of the previous chapters, this chapter gives more miscellaneous laws concerning different topics. First, the limit of 40 lashes is given to someone who was tried and convicted guilty of a crime that was punishable by beating. Then the law of the duty of a man who’s brother had died without a son. The man was to take his brother’s wife and perform his duty by bearing a son in the name of his brother, so that his brother’s name would be perpetuated in Israel and not lost. This was a very serious law, as any who refused would be publicly humiliated, he personally and his family by name. Names and inheritances given by the Lord were very important in Israel. Other miscellaneous laws include: what to do if a wife takes the private parts of another man during a fight, the condemnation of cheating through using two different weights and measures, and the call to destroy the people of Amalek for what they did to the children of Israel in the wilderness (see Exodus 17:8-16).
Tomorrow’s Reading: Nehemiah 5-9.
Stand strong in the Lord.