Created Monday, Oct. 31, 2005 -  completed  Jan. 6, 2007

Lessons From the Law
Commentary on Deuteronomy


Sub-headings:

Deuteronomy: Chapter(s): 

1, 5, 6, 7
13-17

21-23
24-25

Summary


Related Articles



Deuteronomy 1, 5, 6, 7
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[{Moses addresses all Israel in Deuteronomy, giving them a reminder of what had been required of them in God's law, with both the possible blessings and possible cursings, depending on whether they obeyed or not as the years went by after this final address by Moses just before his death.}]

Deuteronomy 1:
13 Give wise and understanding men, and those known to your tribes, and I will appoint them rulers over you.
14 And you answered me and said, The thing which you have spoken is good to do.
15 And I took the chiefs of your tribes, wise and noted men, and I appointed them rulers over you, commanders over thousands, and commanders over hundreds and commanders over fifties, and commanders over tens, and officers, for your tribes.
16 And I commanded your judges at that time, saying, Hear between your brothers; and judge with righteousness between a man and his brother, and his alien.
17 You shall not respect persons in judgment; you shall hear the small as well as the great; you shall not be afraid because of the face of a man, for the judgment is God's; and the thing too hard for you, you shall bring near to me, and I shall hear it.
18 And at that time I commanded you all the things which you were to do.

[{God, through Moses, organizes Israel and sets up an administration with rulers and judges and all that would go with it. I doubt this was the first time, either. I have no doubt that God had Noah organize every detail of building the ark and gathering animals, possibly even contracting people of the time to carry out certain business deals related to the ship building or animal gathering. God is orderly and so are His servants who are to reflect His image and way of doing things.

Judges and commanders were appointed over a mere 50 men. This is so they would be well acquainted with who was being charged and what they were like or the situation they were involved in.}]

Deuteronomy 5:
31 But as for you, you stand here by Me, and I will speak to you all the commandments and the statutes and the ordinances which you shall teach them, that they may do them in the land which I am giving to them, to possess it.
32 And you shall be careful to do as Jehovah your God has commanded you; you shall not turn aside to the right or left.
33 You shall walk in all the ways which Jehovah your God has commanded you, so that you may live, and that good may be to you, and you may prolong your days in the land which you will possess.

Deuteronomy 6:
1 And this is the commandment, the statute and the judgments which Jehovah your God commanded to teach you, to do them in the land to which you are crossing over, to possess it,
2 that you might fear Jehovah your God, to keep all His statutes and His commandments which I command you; you, and your son, and your sons' son, all the days of your life; and that your days may be prolonged.
3 Hear, then, O Israel, and take heed to do it, that it may be well with you, that you may increase mightily, as Jehovah the God of your fathers has promised you, in the land flowing with milk and honey.
4 Hear, O Israel, Jehovah our God is one Jehovah.
5 And you shall love Jehovah your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your might.

[{These 8 verses split between chapters 5 and 6 stress something big. Can you tell what it is? We must obey God, totally, thoroughly, completely, absolutely, comprehensively, with all our power, soul, might, strength, zeal, and heart; yes, everything we have, to our very limits.

This is not a game for the weak, the lazy, the careless. God was everything we have. He does not want anything left over or left out. If we do not extend ourselves to our very limits, we have not done the job right. Our devotion requires a lot, not just a token symbol. Put another way, if you can't take the heat, get out of the kitchen. If you can't hack it, get out, don't bother.}]

Deuteronomy 6:
6 And these words which I am commanding you today shall be on your heart.
7 And you shall teach them to your sons, and shall speak of them as you sit in your house, and as you walk in the way, and as you are lying down, and as you are rising up.
8 And you shall bind them for a sign on your hand; and they shall be for frontlets between your eyes.
9 And you shall write them on the doorposts of your house, and on your gates.

[{I am continually amazed and entertained by how literally some take these verses. Most miss the symbolism intended by God here and elsewhere. We are to speak of the things of God, all the time, everywhere, whenever a chance presents itself. Teaching means when things go through your head, you open your mouth and let your children know about it. They can not read your mind. Point out what you observe and what you think about it.

It would be or should be as if you had bound the words of God on your hand and your forehead and had written them on your doorposts, your gates, everywhere, all over the place. You know, sort of like what we do today in advertising, spreading the message in newspapers, magazines, posters, radio, TV, so that no mater where you turn, you see and hear the messages of advertising. Do this with God's word and law. Saturate your environment with it.

True, kids will not always listen, but due to hearing it all the time, they won't be able to erase it from their heads, much like a catchy advertising tune or slogan. Besides, even when trying, we all tend to miss some things the first time. Ever read a book and then go back and read some of it again, sometime, especially like the Bible? Sometimes it takes 2 or 3 times, even with the best of us. But if you say it &endash; play it &endash; all the time like an overplayed hit song on the radio or a TV commercial that is on all the time, eventually it will sink in even if they do not want it to. They will never forget how dad used to say this or that all the time.}]

Deuteronomy 6:24 And Jehovah commanded us to do all these statutes, to fear Jehovah our God for our good forever, to keep us alive, as today. 25 And it shall be righteousness for us when we take heed to do all this commandment before Jehovah our God, as He has commanded us.

[{Our lives, both the present one and the eternal one, depend on doing what God tells us, every last word and letter. Pay careful attention to the next subject. This is the one I mentioned earlier as coming up.}]

Deuteronomy 7:
1 When Jehovah your God shall bring you into the land to which you are going, to possess it, and He casts out many nations from before you, the Hittites, and the Girgashites, and the Amorites, and the Canaanites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites, seven nations larger and mightier than you;
2 And when Jehovah your God shall give them up before you, and you strike them, then you shall utterly destroy them; you shall not cut a covenant with them, nor show mercy to them;
3 nor shall you intermarry with them; you shall not give your daughter to his son, nor shall you take his daughter to your son.
4 For he will turn your son away from following Me, that they may serve other gods; and the anger of Jehovah will glow against you, and He will destroy you quickly.
5 But you shall deal with them in this way: you shall break down their altars, and dash in pieces the cult-stones; and you shall cut down their pillars; and you will burn their carved images with fire.

[{When it comes to obedience and worship, God is not "tolerant." It is His or the highway. Of course, though not explicitly stated, this is assuming that the nations are unwilling to worship God and obey Him. If they were willing, then they would be allowed to live among Israel, being fully subjected to the laws of God. And though they would be allowed to live with Israel, many laws of God only protected Israel and not foreigners. I will deal with that more at the end of this chapter 7 discussion.

Also note that Israel was not to marry the foreigners as God had deemed them as incompatible and a threat to maintaining true worship and loyalty to Jehovah. In fact, the inhabitants were to be killed off, with no excpetions unless God personally made an exception which He did on an occassion or two. Israel was to take full complete control of this land and retain that control.

But Israel was only alloted a land with set boundaries. Tehy could not go out and conquer the whole world as do the same with it as they were to do with God's land grant, "Israel." If it were God's will to expand the nation's boundaries, He could do so. But Israel of their own accord, cound not do so. They had to respect national boundaries. If Jehovah did not give it, then it was not theirs.}]

Deuteronomy 7:
6 For you are a holy people to Jehovah your God. Jehovah your God has chosen you to be His own treasure out of all the people on the face of the earth.
7 Jehovah did not set His love on you or choose you because you were more in number than any people, for you were the fewest of all peoples.
8 But because Jehovah loved you, and because He kept the oath which He swore to your fathers, Jehovah has caused you to go out with a strong hand, and redeemed you from the house of slaves, from the hand of Pharaoh king of Egypt.
9 Because of this, know that Jehovah your God, He is God, the faithful God, keeping the covenant and mercy to those who love Him, and to those who keep His commands, to a thousand generations;
10 and repaying to his face those that hate Him, to destroy him; He will not delay, He will repay him who hates Him to His face.
11 And you shall keep the commandments, and the statutes, and the ordinances which I am commanding you today, to do them.
12 And it shall be, because you hear judgments, and keep and do them, even Jehovah your God will keep with you the covenant and the mercy which He swore to your fathers.

[{Israel was selected out of all the peoples and nations. They were not selected because of their own merit, not because they were good. They were picked because God made a promise to Abraham and Israel was the seed of Abraham. God proved faithful to Abraham in selecting Israel. God does not tolerate nations and peoples that hate Him. Nobody gets in His way.

Meanwhile, Israel must obey God's rules and keep them. If they keep their end of the bargain, God will keep His. They have a deal, a contract, a covenant. God created a specially chosen nation for a reason. He had a formalized form of worship He wanted carried out, and He wanted a full-time bureaucracy that would keep many records, most particularly those of the law and prophets of God, which would eventually form our Bible.

To record, preserve, and protect the Bible, God and Israel needed to protect the bureaucratic priesthood and the nation as a whole, upon which the priesthood depended for its survival. I might point out that all industrial nations have specialized labor forces that produce things and keep records and process things. They also depend on someone to pay taxes and grow food to support the labor forces needed to produce industrial goods and information.

God set out rules and obligations Israel was to obey to maintain this national system that would keep the Bible and promote God's worship. It was a small nation but God did not need a big one. Other nations had to respect this who wanted to obey God. These nations were not a part of this promise and agreement.

But don't worry, God was not about to leave other nations out. As soon as God's promised Messiah was sacrificed, then all nations and peoples, both those who come after Jesus, and those who came before, could join and share in the blessings that God had intended for all mankind from the start.

But first certain things had to be established and accomplished which required a certain set-up with a small nation to bring it all about. Other nations could not be allowed to interfere. Until the Messiah would come, they would have to remain somewhat subordinate and powerless in comparison to Israel.

So it is not that God discriminates against people or races who love Him and want to worship Him. It is just that He has to accomplish certain things in a certain way before all can be allowed to participate and worship with common equal status in the eyes of God. Since Jesus was sacrificed for all, the special privileges or distinctions once enjoyed by Israel have now been abolished. Now it is as Paul states:}]

Acts 10:34 And Peter opened his mouth and said: "Truly I perceive that God shows no partiality, 35 but in every nation any one who fears him and does what is right is acceptable to him.

[{Back to the Law}]



Deuteronomy 13-17
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Deuteronomy 13:
6 If your brother, your mother's son, or your son, or your daughter, or the wife of your bosom, or your friend who is as your own soul, shall entice you secretly, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known, you and your fathers, 7 of the gods of the people around you, those near you or far off from you, from one end of the earth even to the other end of the earth,
8 you shall not consent to him, nor listen to him, nor shall your eye have pity on him, nor shall you spare nor hide him. 9 But you shall surely kill him; your hand shall be first upon him to put him to death, and the hand of all the people last. 10 And you shall stone him with stones, and he shall die, for he has sought to drive you away from Jehovah your God, who brought you out of the land of Egypt, out of the house of slaves.
11 And all Israel shall hear and fear, and shall not again do any such wicked thing as this among you.

[{It is natural for us to love those close to us and care about them. We want to protect them and do not want anything bad to happen to them. This is natural. In doing this, we often stick up for them, even when they are wrong or have done something bad. It is a natural instinct. However . . . it is an instinct which God commands we must resist and overcome. We must place God and His rules over and above those we love. We must love God more than our family or friends.

And if one of our family were to try to get us to stop worshipping God (Jehovah) and worship another god, well, we definitely would not do it. In Israel, they were to stone and kill any friend or relative who would suggest following another God.

But it is not just about not listening to our relatives. If one of them should commit a crime that is wicked in the eyes of God, do we cover up for them? Not if it means lying or perverting justice and the righteousness of God! Can we claim to love God and then spit on justice? Defraud righteousness? I think not!!! We must value and treasure and protect what God loves, values, treasures, and protects.

If we do not, then people will think Christians are just like everyone else. Remember that commandment not to take up God's name (reputation) in a worthless way? This is what that means. We do not take it up and call ourselves His worshippers while behaving badly or allowing another Christian to do so. We must try to be like God and honor His name and reputation.

Think if all Christians were to live up to the expectations of God. People would find it hard to find that much fault with us. They would be very impressed by how seriously we took our beliefs and behavior. God would be honored because of us. God will punish those who make Him look bad. So beware!

And any threat to Jehovah's worship and obedience of His people was as serious a sin as there was. It was to be punished by swift death. God has a right to set something and have it obeyed or else. Today, the equivalent today would be to speak against the Constitution of the USA and encourage us to accept something else. But the constitution was never said to be infallible, or from God. In fact, it was to be a work in continual progress, being that men are far from perfect in wisdom and that things certainly did change with industrialization. But I would certainly suggest that God's laws are far superior to those of the Consitution.}]

Deuteronomy 13:
12 If, in one of your cities which Jehovah your God is giving you to live in, you hear one saying,
13 Certain men, sons of Belial, have gone out from among you and have drawn away those who live in their city, saying, Let us go and serve other gods, which you have not known;
14 then you shall inquire and make search, and ask carefully; and, behold, if the thing is truly established, that this abominable thing has been done among you,
15 you shall surely strike those who live in that city by the mouth of the sword, destroying it completely, and all that is in it, and its livestock, with the mouth of the sword.

[{2 things here. Second, any city of Israel/God that goes to, follows, or worships other gods is to be destroyed completely. But first and foremost, one must first inquire, search, ask carefully, make real sure that it is true. In all we do, we need to take great care, take time, be thorough in our search and questioning before arriving at a conclusion, whether that inquiry is about whether a wrong was truly committed or whether something is correct or not, or what decision we should make, etc.

We do not want to rush to judgement or be careless with anything we do. Carelessness, wherever it is applied, is always bad. Christians always care and care a lot. Care means exerting effort, lots of it. Lazy people do not bother but Christians always bother and make whatever effort is required. Justice is of the utmost importance.}]

Deuteronomy 13:
16 And you shall gather all its spoil into the middle of its open place, and shall burn the city with fire, and all its spoil, completely, before Jehovah your God. And it shall be a heap forever; it shall not be built any more.
17 And not any of the cursed thing shall cleave to your hand, so that Jehovah shall turn from the fierceness of His anger, and shall give mercies to you, and shall love you, and shall multiply you, as He has sworn to your fathers,
18 when you listen to the voice of Jehovah your God, to keep all His commandments which I am commanding you today, to do that which is right in the eyes of Jehovah your God.

[{There are 2 interesting things here. First, all the belongings of the city who went after other gods is to be gathered and destroyed, wiping out all memory of them and making an example of them which will scare others and act as a deterrent to others doing the same.

But I see anther thing in that. What if a city was a fairly wealthy and prosperous one and someone makes an accusation. Rather than carefully investigate, what if they took the accusation for granted and quickly attacked the city in hopes of getting a lot of that wealth.

God forbid the taking of anything. Everything was to be destroyed. I believe this could also be to discourage anyone from acting presumptuously in hopes of gaining valuables from the city. By wiping out the profit advantage, it would help to make sure that money did not corrupt such actions, using heresy as a pretense for attack.

Some say attacks on Middle East regions are motivated by false pretenses such as oil profits. Whether this is so or not, it is an example of why certain actions should not b allowed to profit anyone.

Witch hunts of the middle ages in Europe were often carried out to make lots of money and gain property from supposed witches. God forbids that anyone make profit from a criminal except the victim. A good upright state, by law, should never be allowed to profit from the enforcement of law and justice. Sadly, this is seldom the case today in the USA where fines and confiscations help fill the tax coffers and add to the revenue of the governments. God's law seems far more righteous and desirable to me.}]

Deuteronomy 14:
4 These are the animals which you shall eat: the ox, the flocked sheep, and the flocked goat,
5 the hart and gazelle, and roe deer, and wild goat, and antelope, and oryx, and moufflon.
6 And you may eat every animal that divides the hoof, and divides two hoofs wholly, and chews the cud among the animals.
7 But you shall not eat of those that only chew the cud, or those only dividing the cloven hoof: the camel, and the hare, and the rock badger; for they chew the cud but do not divide the hoof. They shall be unclean to you.
8 And the swine, because it divides the hoof, but does not chew the cud; it is unclean to you. You shall not eat of their flesh, nor touch their dead body.

[{The ox, sheep, and goat were used in a specific sacrifice. The others mentioned in verse 5 were not. Israelites could not eat the fat of the first 3 in verse 4 but could of the others in verse 5, since they were not used in sacrifice and were without any symbolism or representation.

2nd century writers claim these dietary restrictions on animals of various sorts all had a more symbolic meaning, with their behaviors representing things we either want to avoid imitating or that present no harm. Justin's work on the law "Against Trypho" is interesting in this regard and is perhaps the best in my mind. Just go to the law page under heresies.}]

Deuteronomy 14:21 . . . You shall not simmer a kid in its mother's milk.

[{This scripture also appears in Exodus 34:26 where I comment on it.}]

Deuteronomy 15:
1 At the end of every seven years you shall make a release.
2 And this is the manner of the release: Everyone who has a loan to his neighbor shall release it; he shall not exact it of his neighbor and his brother, because a release has been proclaimed for Jehovah.
3 You may exact it from a foreigner, but your hand shall release whatever is yours with your brother,
4 only that there shall be no one in need among you. For Jehovah will greatly bless you in the land that Jehovah your God is giving you for an inheritance, to possess it,
5 only if hearing you listen to the voice of Jehovah your God, to take heed to do all this command which I am commanding you today.
6 For Jehovah your God will bless you as He promised you. And you shall lend to many nations, but you shall not borrow. And you shall rule over many nations, but they shall not rule over you.

[{I previously pointed out how this sort of balanced things economically and prevented things from getting too far out of balance. God wanted kindness and mercy to abound in His people. He did not want stinginess, miserliness, penny-pinching, tight-wad, selfish behavior that showed no concern for others. Generosity and love were what He required. It was the law to be that way.

Foreigners could still be charged. But not brothers! What a contrast this would paint for foreigners who might have observed the kindness mandated by God toward ones own. It might have or should have impressed them if it had been carried out that way.

In addition, foreigners could look forward to a time when all the nations could enjoy these laws and protections, where love and caring would abound, since these were foretold in the Bible Old Testament. Meanwhile, the protections would keep Israel and its priesthood in tact until the Messiah should arrive. Moses repeats this from an earlier book and promises God's blessings if they obey, and curses if they do not, as we shall see as it goes on.}]

Deuteronomy 15:
7 If there is a poor man among you, one of your brothers inside any of your gates in your land which Jehovah your God is giving to you, you shall not harden your heart, nor shut your hand from your needy brother.
8 But you shall surely open your hand to him, and shall surely lend him enough for his need in that which he lacks.
9 Beware that there is no evil thought in your heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of release draws near; and your eye be evil against your needy brother, and you give him nothing, and he cry to Jehovah against you and it be sin to you.
10 You shall surely give to him, and your heart shall not be grieved when you give to him, because Jehovah your God will bless you for this thing, in all your work, and in all that you put your hand to.
11 For the poor will never cease from the midst of the land. On account of this I command you, saying, You shall surely open your hand to your poor and needy brother in your land.
12 If your brother, a Hebrew man, or a Hebrew woman, is sold to you and serves you six years, then in the seventh year you shall let him go free from you.
13 And when you send him out free from you, you shall not let him go away empty.
14 You shall richly bestow on him from your flock, and from your threshing floor, and from your winepress, with that which Jehovah your God has blessed you, you shall give to him.
15 And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt, and Jehovah your God redeemed you. On account of this I command you this thing today.
16 And it shall be, if he says to you, I will not go out from you because he loves you and your house, because it was good for him with you;
17 then you shall take an awl, and shall put it through his ear, and through the door, and he shall be your slave forever. And you shall do so to your slave-girl also.
18 It shall not seem hard in your eyes when you send him away free from you. For to the double of the hire of a hireling he has served you six years. And Jehovah your God will bless you in all that you do.

[{Oh, just one more comment. The last verse, 18, says that it should not seem hard in your eyes to send someone away free. That was my point just above. Out hearts should be overflowing with love and kindness. That was the point of these laws. We were not to have an attitude that would begrudge doing this, or even worse, not do it. To avoid love is a huge sin in the eyes of God. Be warned!}]

Deuteronomy 16:
18 You shall appoint judges and officers for yourself in all your gates which Jehovah your God gives you, tribe by tribe. And they shall judge the people with righteous judgment.
19 You shall not pervert judgment. You shall not regard faces, nor shall you take a bribe; for a bribe blinds the eyes of the wise, and perverts the words of the righteous.
20 You shall follow perfect justice, that you may live and possess the land which Jehovah your God is giving you.

[{Again, emphasizing the attitude toward law and justice. Though applied to law and justice, it really should apply to all things in our lives. Incidentally, these laws also apply quite well to science and are what the scientific method is supposed to be all about. Science is not pursued with regard to status or reputation of certain ones professing or supporting particular ideas; nor influenced by money, grants, or funding; one should follow perfect justice, perfect sound reasoning that is carefully explained and witnessed. Academic "judges and officers" could be appointed to keep records and do research which would be reported and kept on file.

Academic and scientific research, like news reporting and many other things, should be done with all the time, care, effort, and freedom from bias and prejudice, just as they would with law and justice. No one should deliberately pervert those things. Christians should apply great care, concern, and effort in all things they do. They must try to be prefect even as their heavenly Father is perfect.}]

Deuteronomy 17:
8 If a matter is too hard for you in judgment, between blood and blood, between cause and cause, or between stroke and stroke, matters of strife within your gates, then you shall rise and go up to the place which Jehovah your God shall choose.
9 And you shall come in to the priest, of the Levites, and to the judge who is in those days, and shall inquire. And they shall declare the sentence of judgment to you.
10 And you shall do according to the word which they declare to you from that place which Jehovah shall choose. And you shall be careful to do according to all that they direct you.
11 You shall do according to the mouth of the law which they direct you, and according to the judgment which they deliver to you. You shall not turn aside from the word which they declare to you, right or left.
12 And the man who acts with pride so as not to listen to the priest who is standing to serve Jehovah your God there, or to the judge, even that man shall die; and you shall put away evil from Israel.
13 And all the people shall hear, and fear, and shall not presume any more.

[{A town torn in two can be a big problem. It can happen. Should a trial or case become too difficult, either due to not being quite sure of the law and what it directs, or because of bitter feelings and emotions making it hard to find an unbiased judgement, then God provided a higher court, you might say. This would be the priests of the temple and the head judge in particular there.

But God warned that this judge must be listened to and obeyed, no matter what. Anyone refusing to obey this high court was to be executed. Order will be maintained at all costs. God and His system are not to be taken lightly or defiantly.}]



Deuteronomy 21-23
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Deuteronomy 21:
18 If a man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not listen to his father's voice, or his mother's voice; even though they discipline him, he will not listen to them;
19 then his father and his mother shall lay hold on him and bring him out to the elders of his city, and to the gate of his place;
20 and they shall say to the elders of his city, This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious; he will not listen to our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard.
21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, and he shall die. So you shall put away the evil from among you, that all Israel shall hear, and fear.

[{This is a fascinating account for so many reasons. First, we let kids get away with murder today. Parents have almost no authority or control at all. 2nd, the action taken against a son who will not obey would be considered quite severe by many today. But there are some things to consider.

For one, unlike our cruel careless system of today, a son was provided with an inheritance, which included some land and a dowry for a wife. Everything essential was provided for him. He did not have to earn it in the way we do, today.

To ignore and disrespect one's parents was to show a complete lack of regard for everything they were to inherit, everything that had been provided for them, ultimately by their creator, Jehovah.

2nd, order was important and we see today how out of control kids can get in their "tweens," teens, and early adulthood. Order and respect for all of God's arrangement is vital if the system is to last and thrive. Threaten that system and you are picking a fight with God. I would not advise that!

I also notice the solution for drunkenness and gluttony. Again, the death penalty! I think addicted drug use would also fall under that, too. We make excuses for poor decisions today and allow weakness and do not supply the proper motivation to kick a habit or addiction. In God's rule book, there are no excuses. Do it or die! It works if applied.

But consider this as a precedent for other cases as well. For instance, a slave is to be treated with kindness and respect. Well, isn't a child also to receive such treatment? But when things go wrong with a son, what happens? He dies! If a son is to be punished like this, what of a slave who will not work or do as he is told and becomes a bum and a drunkard. I would think the precedent would call for his execution, even as it would for one's own son.

The thing with the law is that God expects us to be able to think and reason and make cross-application of laws and precedents. In our law today, we do not give credit for anyone being able to think and often do not allow cross-application of principles and laws. Instead, we prefer loopholes and allow ridiculous arguments and technicalities to be offered, that often make a mockery of our laws. Well, we made our bed, we will have to sleep in it. But God's law allows for no loopholes, technicalities or just plain poor excuses. No non-sense allowed!}]

Deuteronomy 22:
1 You shall not see your brother's ox or his sheep driven away, and hide yourself from them. You shall surely turn them back to your brother.

2 And if your brother is not near you, and you do not know him, then you shall surely bring it home to your house; and it shall be with you until your brother inquires of it; and you shall restore it to him.
3 And so you shall do with his ass, and so you will do with his clothing, and so you shall do with everything lost of your brother's, which he has lost and you have found; you may not hide it.
4 You shall not see your brother's ass or his ox fallen down in the highway, and hide yourself from them. You shall surely help him lift up.

[{We are not allowed to look the other way when misfortune is happening to our brother. Of course, this was mentioned earlier in another book. It is repeated to let Israel know God means business.}]

Deuteronomy 22:5 There shall not be the thing of a man on a woman, nor shall a man put on a woman's garment. For whoever does these things is an abomination to Jehovah your God.

[{Here is one we do not observe today. It is a prohibition against men wearing women's clothes or ornaments or a woman wearing a man's things. Men and women were not to imitate or act like each other. There were proper boundaries for each sex, with each sex having their own unique and clear identities and behaviors. People could become confused and boundaries could get blurred that could lead to same-sex sexual unions which are absolutely forbidden by God. So one should not even begin to lean that way by say, dressing the part or acting it, even if they do not have what we would call, gay sex.

There are lots of boundaries that have to be strictly maintained with clearly established lines drawn in the sand and carefully guarded. Let those lines blur and trouble begins. This is just one such example. I think too many times Christians have been too careless or relaxed, not paying attention to precise boundaries, perhaps not even having established a clear and precise boundary to protect. Encroachment, therefore, becomes easy and before you know it, the boundary has been destroyed or forgotten. Draw a line in the sand and take a stand.}]

Deuteronomy 22:6 If a bird's nest happens to be before you in the way in any tree, or on the ground, with young ones, or eggs; and the mother is sitting on the young, or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young. 7 But in every case you shall let the mother go, and take the young for yourself, so that it may be well with you, and you may prolong your days.

[{Some laws like these are just sort of common sense laws. If one takes the mother bird and her young, reproduction will not be possible. If you leave the mother, she can go on to make more for you to harvest later, as well as some to keep the species going. Same with the next verse, 28}]

Deuteronomy 22:8 When you build a new house, then you shall make a guard rail for your roof, so that you do not put blood on your house if someone falls from it.

[{You might say these were the first building codes in effect. Certain conditions represented a real danger and therefore, if not built to prevent that danger, then blood guilt could be incurred or assumed. Build safe is God's rule! There are actually many safety codes and laws in effect today and that is good. I can only say that many times in our past and in many places even today outside of us, there are many unsafe or harmful conditions that exist, many of which we profit from. Something to consider. There is always room for improvement.}]

Deuteronomy 22:9 You shall not sow your vineyard with different kinds of seeds, that the fruit of your seed which you have sown and the fruit of your vineyard not be defiled.

[{I see this as possibly being a lot like the following Proverbs 5 illustration. But if not, then I guess a vineyard was considered defiled if sown with different kinds of seeds. There are similar commands not to mix wool and flax and other such mixings. God likes separation and distinction, not mixing and confusion. I don't think there is harm in mixing, in and of itself, but the next scripture after the Proverbs account below (Deuteronomy 22:10) may reinforce this idea a little.

Mixing represented many things considered bad and separation was a way of demonstrating distinction, something we should always be doing with many things. So God ordained it as part of Israelite culture what they could do with seeds, and cloth, and other things, as might have been a common practice in other nations, even as we do today with cotton/polyester material, etc. God wanted Israel to stand out and to think about why God was having them do certain things. It might also make other nations curious as well.}]

Proverbs 5:
15 Drink waters out of your own cistern, and running waters out of your own well.
16 Should your overflowing springs be scattered outside, like rivers of waters in the streets?
17 Let them be only your own, and not to strangers with you;
18 let your fountains be blessed, and rejoice with the wife of your youth;
19 she is a loving deer, a graceful doe; let her breasts satisfy you every time, and always be ravished in her love.
20 And my son, why will you be ravished with a strange woman, and embrace a foreigner's bosom?

[{I see "seed" in Deuteronomy 22:9 as possibly referring to the same thing that cistern, waters, rivers, and fountains seem to symbolize in Proverbs. But I could be wrong.}]

Deuteronomy 22:10 You shall not plow with an ox and an ass together.

[{More mixing. Here it seems more clear to me. An ox and an ass are not much alike in size or strength. One or the other is not going to be very happy. There will be friction and tension trying to fit a yoke to the both of them and plow. How much more unreasonable would it be to pair up two people who are different from each other? It should not be done. The precedent is set with a lower species to make it even more obvious for the higher species. Good technique on the part of God, wouldn't you say?}]

Deuteronomy 23:
17 There shall be no prostitute among the daughters of Israel, nor shall there be a homosexual among the sons of Israel.
18 You shall not bring the hire of a prostitute, or the price of a dog, into the house of Jehovah your God for any vow; for even both of these are an abomination to Jehovah your God.

[{No prostitution allowed in God's house! In addition, the money that might be made in secret from prostitution or the selling of an unclean animal such as a dog, which tended to have some religious significance in some parts of Canaan, was not allowed to be used as a temple donation or a vow. To me, this signifies that the ends or result does not justify the means of getting it. Even if we are to use it for good, if we use bad means to get or earn it, then it can not be used for Godly things. God does not want to profit from the misery or sin of others. Neither should we want to do that.

That said, our world is so full of corruption that I dare say it is not possible to even live without hurting someone, at least in a very remote way, such as when we buy things made by 3rd world sweatshop labor. We avoid any directly associated profits such as might be the case if we acted as a pimp and made our income from women prostituting themselves. That is quite direct and would violate God's laws, quite obviously.}]

Deuteronomy 23:19 You shall not lend at interest to your brother; interest of silver, interest of food, interest of anything loaned at interest. 20 You may lend to a stranger at interest, but you shall not lend at interest to your brother, so that Jehovah your God may bless you in all that you put your hand to, in the land where you go to possess it.

[{Loans are assumed to be out of need. One can not profit from another's misery or desperation if he is a brother. It is just plain wrong. A stranger may be charged interest but not a brother. Again, Israel was allowed to profit at the expense of another nation and become stronger than them, but only until the Messiah was to arrive.}]

Deuteronomy 23:24 When you come into your neighbor's vineyard, then you may eat grapes to your fill, at your pleasure. But you shall not put any in your vessel. 25 When you come into your neighbor's standing grain, then you may pluck heads with your hand; but you shall not move a sickle into your neighbor's standing grain.

[{How about this? You are allowed to enjoy a meal in your neighbor's vineyard. The vineyard is assumed to be a significant size and the neighbor is not going to hurt for a meal. There should be very many meals worth in a vineyard. And he could do the same to your vineyard, too. The idea was not to be selfish or miserly. There were no fast food joints around back then. If you traveled "around town," so to speak, you could grab a meal wherever you were. God likely made this law so that everyone could be a little more mobile and free.

On the other hand, you could not start to harvest from your neighbor's vineyard or field. This was beyond reason and was stealing. It was greedy and unreasonable, too. In traveling or visiting around, you might end up in another man's field and need a bite to eat and it seemed reasonable in God's eyes to have a meal while away from home.

Hospitality was such in Israel that you could have dropped in to a house and ask for a meal, anyway, so why not allow some snacking in the field, right? On the other hand, what right would you have to venture out into a neighbor's field to harvest when you have fields and crops of your own. Harvest them and leave your neighbor's things alone.

Today, we have fast food and other sorts of eating places as well as plenty of supermarkets. They did not have these conveniences many ages ago. So it was to be understood by all Israelites that God was ordering that anyone should be able to modestly help themselves to another's fields and fruits as long as it was just for a meal along the way and not anything more than that. They were to be generous, warm, loving, hospitable neighbors to each other and not selfish antagonistic isolated unfriendly jerks.}]



Deuteronomy 24-25
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Deuteronomy 24:
1 When a man has taken a wife and married her, and it happens that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found a thing of uncleanness in her, and he writes her a bill of divorce and puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house;
2 and if she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man's wife,
3 and the latter husband hates her, and writes her a bill of divorce, and puts it in her hand, and sends her out of his house or if the latter husband who took her to be his wife dies;
4 her former husband who sent her away is not to take her again to be his wife, after she is defiled. For it is a hateful thing before Jehovah, and you shall not cause the land to sin which Jehovah your God is giving to you as an inheritance.

[{I see 2 things here. First, you get rid of a wife because you say you hate her, oh, perhaps because for something she did that was unclean, though maybe not what we would call sex or adultery. Something supposedly makes him mad, anyway. So then another guy takes her and then divorces her and the 1st guy decided he wants her back. I thought he was mad, hurt, even outraged and didn't want her back? If he changed his mind, then it could not have been that bad. But God was not going to allow a change of mind and heart once another man had gotten her. Why?

As I see it, God takes it as practically being wife swapping or prostitution and will not allow that. Just think of the games that could be played as well. Two married men could get together and agree to divorce their wives and take each other's wives in place. They could enjoy them for a time and then divorce again and switch back, right? If one could remarry a former wife, it could be done and no one could legally say a thing about it unless they knew of the insincere plot to begin with.

So God has headed off the games and technicalities by forbidding to remarry a wife a 2nd time once she has married another. Pretty clever, no?!}]

Deuteronomy 24:5 When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, and he shall not be given any duty. He shall be free at his own house for one year, and shall gladden his wife whom he has taken.

[{I like this law. It has a spirit of decency and kindness to it as well as some practicality. A man deserves a little time to live it up with his wife. Of course, marriage meant something back then and divorce was not supposed to be taken lightly as it is today. But even during a war, a man had a right to a year with his new wife before serving. This had a practical benefit in that a year gave a man a good chance to possibly impregnate and generate an offspring to carry on his name and lineage, an important part of God's arrangement and obligation of every Israelite male.

In addition, most men married fairly young so that by the time they were old enough to serve in the army. Today, we delay marriage to such ridiculous lengths that most are not married by time they can serve in the army. So if God's clause was in effect, a lot of men would get out of the draft simply by getting married. Our laws and customs are all screwed up today as I see it.}]

Deuteronomy 24:
10 When you lend your neighbor any kind of loan, you shall not go into his house to get his pledge.
11 You shall stand outside, and the man to whom you lend shall bring the security outside to you.
12 And if the man is poor, you shall not sleep with his pledge.
13 You shall certainly give back to him the pledge at sundown; and he shall lie down in his own clothing, and shall bless you. And it shall be righteousness to you before Jehovah your God.

[{Notice the gentle tolerant attitude/spirit they were supposed to have in giving loans and pledges. You would not just arrogantly come into his house. You wait outside and let him bring it out to you. It is the spirit behind that attitude that is important. It is not miserly but generous and patient. If the man is poor, you can not take what little he has, namely the clothes off his back that he sleeps with. You let him sleep with it.

The attitude God demands toward the poor is just such a contrast to the indifferent "I could care less - who gives a damn about the poor &endash; let them eat cake" &endash; attitude that exists in our day. As God puts it, he shall bless you &endash; for your obvious mercy &endash; "and it shall be righteousness to you before Jehovah your God."

And it is not small thing to be righteous and merciful before God. There is a lot of mercy and grace that comes from God when you show mercy. We build and store treasures in heaven when we show mercy. Treasure in heaven is a very good thing. No one can take that away from us ever.}]

Deuteronomy 24:14 You shall not oppress a poor and needy hired servant, of your brothers or of your aliens who are in your land, within your gates. 15 In the same day you shall give him his hire; do not let the sun go down on it. For he is poor, and has lifted up his heart on it; that he not cry against you to Jehovah, and it be sin against you.

[{For those who might think God unfair to foreigners and immigrants, notice that God demands decent humane treatment of all peoples living under His laws in Israel. None were to be oppressed. And notice that all had a right to complain to Jehovah and their complaint would be remembered. Foreign nations would not forever be inferior to Israel. Someday the nations would have equal status and privileges. All mistreatment would punished on Judgement Day.}]

Deuteronomy 24:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for sons, and sons are not to be put to death for fathers; they each shall be put to death for his own sin.

[{No one should have to suffer for the deeds of another, even if that other were a close relative. Each man should and shall be judge on his own merit. And we should not take out our anger or resentment against someone just because they are the son or father of someone who did us wrong.

Just think of all the famous nasty feuds that have gone on in USA history because everyone held grudges against entire families because of the sins of one man. I am sure it has happened in other countries and time periods as well. It can get real out of hand. Punish only the man who commits a sin and not his whole household.}]

Deuteronomy 24:17 You shall not pervert judgment of an alien, or of an orphan; and you shall not take a widow's garment as pledge.

[{Aliens, orphans, and widow are often of little means or wealth. Without money, they have little influence or power. Thee may not belong to a powerful or wealthy extended family, either. Certainly an alien is apt to be or little political or financial power and influence. It is often quite easy to take advantage of such ones or oppress such ones because of the lack they bear. God sternly warns all not to pervert the judgement of such weak ones. God's wrath is sure to follow as other scriptures make clear.}]

Deuteronomy 24:
19 When you cut down your harvest in your field, and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not turn back to take it. It shall be for the alien, for the orphan. and for the widow; so that Jehovah your God shall bless you in all the work of your hand.
20 When you beat your olive tree, you shall not search the branch behind you. It shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.
21 When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not glean it afterward. It shall be for the alien, for the orphan, and for the widow.
22 And you shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt. On account of this I am commanding you to do this thing.

[{Well, there is that sympathy and generosity thing again. In every action that an Israelite takes, he needs to be considerate, not just of himself, but of the poor of Israel, too. We have already seen this in many of the laws. This yet one more to the pile. We would not be miserly or greedy, making every effort to harvest every single last sheaf, and olive, and grape, or whatever. We leave a modest amount so that those in need maybe also receive a little help and kindness to survive.

God, while leaving the aliens with less rights than Israel, did not abandon them or let them be oppressed or mistreated. In fact, as we see here, Israelites had to look out for the aliens who lived by God's laws and see they are even allowed some mercy and help, along with the orphan and the widow.

There is a certain attitude that is needed in order to leave a few fruits of the harvest on the trees and in the ground. It is an attitude of caring and generosity, even compassion. At the very least, a devotion and obedience to God. We would hope that obedience to God would lead to the right heart condition, which also is obedience to God in our conforming our heart to what God wants in it.}]

(RSV) Deuteronomy 25:1 "If there is a dispute between men, and they come into court, and the judges decide between them, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty, 2 then if the guilty man deserves to be beaten, the judge shall cause him to lie down and be beaten in his presence with a number of stripes in proportion to his offense.3 Forty stripes may be given him, but not more; lest, if one should go on to beat him with more stripes than these, your brother be degraded in your sight.

[{There were few if any laws that actually prescribe "stripes" as a punishment. I can't recall any. But there are several places where the judges can prescribe what they think is reasonable punishment. I believe this scripture addresses those sorts of what we might call lesser crimes, crimes not involving death. We know that in many crimes, it is eye for eye, tooth for tooth, etc. In these areas where the discretion of the judges is called for, then strokes can be used by this account, but never more than 40 strokes/stripes. God does not allow excessive cruelty.}]

Deuteronomy 25:4 You shall not muzzle an ox when it treads out the grain.

[{Paul explained this one in 1 Corinthians 9:9 and 1 Timothy 5:18. God really did not make this command so much for an ox. The spirit is to be applied to people more so. Ever seen people work around food at restaurants? The Bible says do not "muzzle" them. How about working at an amusement park? Think of the possibilities!

But what is important is to understand the compassion of God to make such laws. This type of law is clearly absent in our culture and country. But God demands the utmost consideration of a human when they are giving of their labor. When they are picking fruit from trees or wherever, they should be entitled to eat some while picking. The brutal corporations of today would never allow such a thing. Whose laws and rule are better? God's or your local corporate employer? Guess where my vote goes?!}]

Deuteronomy 25:11 When men fight with one another, and the wife of the one draws near to rescue her husband from the hand of him who is beating him, and puts out her hand and seizes him by the private parts, 12 then you shall cut off her hand; your eye shall have no pity.

[{This is interesting as there is no "off-limits" areas of anyone's bodies today. But while this woman might have been OK slamming a club over the guy's head to help her husband, she is not allowed to hurt his genitals, an unusually sensitive and vulnerable area. I assume that God does not allow the exploitation of such a vulnerable area. This would have a lot of implications for many other things when it comes to exploitation of vulnerabilities.

And I also assume that what applies to a woman not being able to exploit this area also applies to another man exploiting it, of course. But God has clearly laid out limits as to the sorts of actions one can take to subdue someone or defend against them. Use a knife, a club, a spear, a gun but stay away from their genitals. Really, there are lots of options left without resorting to that. So God is not unreasonable, really.

And if we all paid more attention to avoiding exploiting particularly vulnerable circumstances and places, we would all be better off. As I see it, there is no sacred ground today. We exploit anyone, anything, any place, any time. Nothing is sacred to us anymore. But with God, there are always sacred things to be observed with respect and compassion.}]

Deuteronomy 25:13 "You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. 15 A full and just weight you shall have, a full and just measure you shall have; that your days may be prolonged in the land which the LORD your God gives you. 16 For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the LORD your God.

[{This is the end of scriptures from the law so I am going back to regular text}] without brackets or color, OK?!

God hates 2 sets of laws, 2 sets of scales, weights, measures, etc. It is just one set of laws, weights, and scales for all. What is good for the goose is also good for the gander. Life is not a one way street. What applies one way also applies the other. Above all, God loves and demands consistency! Anything else is cheating and dishonesty and should not be tolerated among those who call themselves Christians.

It also means that we need to carefully look at ourselves to see if we are always consistent in our thinking and reasoning and not just automatically trying to justify ourselves and what we believe and think. It takes courage to be willing to look deep within ourselves and examine our every thought and deed carefully to see it we are being consistent or not. To me, this is one of the most important aspects of our worship and obedience to God. We need to be consistent even as God is. Further, is we apply ourselves to consistency so that we achieve a fair amount of consistency, those around us will have to be impressed with us. Not to mention, consistency is the key to wisdom. Consistency will help you to achieve wisdom for wisdom is always consistent even as justice is and God is.



Summary
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There are a few more observations I have about the law. It should be noted that I avoided some laws as I cover them in detail in other articles dealing more specifically with certain topics such as sex crimes or something like that. We are a great age discriminating society. Lots of age rules, etc. There are no laws in regards to age limits or boundaries except the following:

Age of accountability as in evidence of those who died while wandering in the desert versus those who did not because there were not of the age of 20 yet. Those numbered had to be age 20 and older. Levites could not serve in the temple in any capacity until age 20 and not as a priest until 30. That is it!

There were no sex crimes due to age difference. Age difference in regards to sex was irrelevant. Love and sex do not know any such limits or boundaries in the eyes of God. We make up such ridiculous limits because we have fallen into the idea that sex is something horrible, awful, evil, unwanted, and wicked and that no one in their right mind should want to do it, ever!

This is not God's view. He invented love and sex. And He set no boundaries either. We might want to give that a little more consideration in regards to our current laws in this country. Making criminals out of innocent people in the eyes of God is truly wicked.

There are no rules or limits of age as to accountability. The laws apply to all, whether they know or understand those laws or not. If you love your kids and want to keep them out of trouble, make sure they understand the law. The law does not allow poor excuses. Most of God's laws are common sense and should be what we might call "self-evident." Break them and you pay, no excuses!

It is also clear to me that with all the emphasis on democracy and individual rights, it is noteworthy how God's laws are often concerned with how individual rights balance out with group rights and community rights and reasonableness. God takes into consideration not just a man's property rights, but also of those who live around him and seem to have a reasonable amount of access to his property and what grows on it. This would pretty much disallow any fences or barriers around property as well. How's that for a comparison with our laws today.

Further, it seems that mercy is everywhere and abundant in the law. No where is this more obvious than in financial laws where debts are written off and land goes back to those whose rights to it last forever, every 7 years. What a contrast with our laws today!

God provides the ultimate role model for us to obey. Everywhere, we are required to avoid bitterness, grudges, spitefulness, rivalry, and undue revenge. Everywhere we are required to pursue mercy, kindness, generosity, compassion, concern, and caring. We are too always put care and effort into everything we do, giving lots of thought to our words, deeds, and actions.

True, the law, especially the ceremonial law, is no longer binding upon God's people, who by providence, according to Acts, became known as Christians. Dietary laws are also no longer necessary except the one on blood and things strangled. And since the Israel of God is no longer an earthly nation with God's authority and support, neither are His legal laws and precedents binding upon us as we are under the rules and enforcement of the nations.

However, and it is a big however, the value of the laws and precedents is still there. And we would judge our own members by those laws and precedents. We have limits as to how we punish. Jesus gave instructions and limits as to how much and what manner we punish. Beyond that, we are obligated to hand someone over to Caesar, or our local governmental authorities to do as they see fit for such crimes.

But we can certainly gain a lot of wisdom and guidance from God's most excellent laws of behavior and judicial precedents. And while there is no ceremonial law or judicial law to be upheld, the behavioral laws are still binding in most cases. For example, all types of fornication are still wrong and reinforced by Jesus and the Apostles. Blood and idolatry are still wrong. Having sex with close relatives is still wrong. Having hate or meanness in our hearts is still wrong. Having no compassion or mercy is still wrong. Showing lots of love and compassion is still a requirement in the New Testament.

So while we were freed from the law or the impossibility of being able to live up to the law and coming under its judgment, we are absolutely still under the spirit of the law, which has always been love and compassion, even if that was not always recognized in previous times. And we can still learn and great deal from the law as it was applied in Israel. It can show us how well our own laws of today match up with God's law and judgment.

I believe a lot of wisdom in seeing through the nations and their games came to me because of noticing the great contrast between God's law and man's. As you go through your life watching the news, reading the papers, or listening to people talk, think how different things are today from what God requires. Ask yourself why they are so different. Ask God why they are so different. And then answer why they are so different. Seek and you shall find, ask and you shall receive, knock and it will be opened to you.

Part of wisdom is asking questions. The other part is demanding answers and never stopping until you get them. So persistence, patience, and determination are also important. If you give it lots of thought and lots of effort, I do not have a shred of doubt that you will be richly rewarded. I guarantee it!!!


Related Articles

Why We Don't Observe the Law!
The Foundation for Our Faith And of the Church
God's Institution - The Nation of Israel
How to Interpret the Bible
Spiritual Israel

Lessons From the Law series:
Commentary on Exodus
Commentary on Leviticus
Commentary on Numbers
Commentary on Deuteronomy
Blood, Fat, Atonement



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