Deuteronomy 21-22

Sunday Evening Bible Study

December 6, 1998

Introduction

The name Deuteronomy means "second law". It is Mosesí final address to the people. It covers the last 1 Ĺ months of Mosesí life. Heís 120 years old. Itís Godís "review" for the people to make sure they understand His ways before they go into the land.

Deuteronomy 21

:1-9 Keeping land pure from innocent blood

:1 If one be found slain in the land

A murder has been committed.

:2 Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that is slain:

The city closest to the body will be the one responsible for the following ritual.

:4 which is neither eared nor sown,

(Deu 21:4 NLT) They must lead it to a valley that is neither plowed nor planted with a stream running through it. There they must break the cow's neck.

The Jews didnít take this to mean a valley that had never been plowed before, but that it would be a valley that would never be plowed again. In fact, they were to take a plot of land that was currently being used for farmland and once the ritual was performed, the land was to never be used again. The rabbis taught that this was to help encourage the people to pay closer attention to goings on so that there would be no murderers running loose. If another unsolved murder took place, more land would have to be lost from usability.

:4 strike off the heifer's neck there in the valley:

The heifer gave its life in a demonstration that something worthy of death had occurred.

:6 wash their hands over the heifer

washing hands Ė a demonstration of their innocence in the matter.

:9 So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you

I tend to think that we as a nation have no concept of this.

For some reason, when a murder occurs, thereís a group of people who are trying to protect the murderer.

Thereís a sense as with Abelís blood, that the blood cries out for justice:

(Gen 4:8-10 KJV) And Cain talked with Abel his brother: and it came to pass, when they were in the field, that Cain rose up against Abel his brother, and slew him. {9} And the LORD said unto Cain, Where is Abel thy brother? And he said, I know not: Am I my brother's keeper? {10} And he said, What hast thou done? the voice of thy brother's blood crieth unto me from the ground.

:10-14 Taking a wife from the spoils of war

:11 And seest among the captives a beautiful woman

This could not be a gal from one of the cities of Canaan, it would have to be one of the cities that were far away. It was against the Law for an Israelite to marry an Canaanite (Deut.7:1-4).

This was contrary to standard accepted practice for soldiers. Usually a soldier would pillage and rape. The Israelites were commanded to marry.

:12 she shall shave her head, and pare her nails;

Ladies, arenít you glad you didnít have to prepare for your wedding like this?

Actually, the cutting of hair, nails, etc. was a way of her cutting herself from her old way of life, preparing her to become an Israelite.

:13 bewail her father and her mother a full month

A guy had to wait a month to marry her. Especially if her hair had been cut off, it would help him think twice to make sure he wasnít just marrying her for her good looks.

:14 then thou shalt let her go whither she will

The assumption is that they would divorce.

This again would be a little different from what other cultures of the day would do. Other cultures wouldnít think twice of selling the woman into slavery. In Israel, she was to be a freed woman.

:15- Multiple wives/children problems

:15 If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated

The problem of "two wives". Be careful that you donít think that the Bible is condoning the practice of having multiple wives. Some people in the Bible practiced polygamy, but God doesnít advocate it.

In fact, when Jesus was addressing the problem of divorce, He made it clear that the pattern had always been for there to be one man and one woman:

(Mat 19:3-6 KJV) The Pharisees also came unto him, tempting him, and saying unto him, Is it lawful for a man to put away his wife for every cause? {4} And he answered and said unto them, Have ye not read, that he which made them at the beginning made them male and female, {5} And said, For this cause shall a man leave father and mother, and shall cleave to his wife: and they twain shall be one flesh? {6} Wherefore they are no more twain, but one flesh. What therefore God hath joined together, let not man put asunder.

God didnít give Adam two wives, He gave him one.

Now what God is going to deal with here is not the problem of having multiple wives, but a related problem of dealing with the children of these multiple wives.

Just because people arenít following Godís design for them doesnít mean that they donít have issues that need to be addressed.

In a way, what we read here could probably be applied in some extent to what we call "blended families", where a husband and wife have been divorced, remarried, and there are children from the various marriages all living together.

:16 before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn:

You werenít supposed to play favorites with the kids according to who their mother was.

Jacob got into a lot of trouble in his family because this is what he had done.

(Gen 37:3-4 KJV) Now Israel loved Joseph more than all his children, because he was the son of his old age: and he made him a coat of many colours. {4} And when his brethren saw that their father loved him more than all his brethren, they hated him, and could not speak peaceably unto him.

Though he had twelve sons, he had also had four wives and only two of the sons were the offspring of his "beloved" wife, Rachel. The eldest, Joseph, was treated differently than his older brothers. And as a result, he was also hated by his older brothers. It was this hatred of Joseph that led to them selling Joseph into slavery into Egypt.

Lesson

Be careful about playing favorites with the kids.

I know that we can get a little carried away with this. There are times when one child will complain that we only spent $5.55 on them while we spent $5.95 on another child. I think that a good way to handle this is to explain to your children that sometimes life is going to be unfair. Period.

But when one child is constantly being favored over another, thereís going to be major problems in the family. One of todayís typical setups for disaster is that of the "blended family", where you are living with stepkids and your own kids. The tendency Iíve seen is that your own kids can tend to be the favorites. It doesnít have to be that way.

Illustration

The Little Lady Who Changed My Life

She was four years old when I first met her. She was carrying a bowl of soup. She had very, very fine golden hair and a little pink shawl around her shoulders. I was 29 at the time and suffering from the flu. Little did I realize that this little lady was going to change my life.

Her mom and I had been friends for many years. Eventually that friendship grew into care, from care into love, to marriage, and marriage brought the three of us together as a family. At first I was awkward because in the back of my mind, I thought I would be stuck with the dreaded label of "stepfather." And stepfathers were somehow mythically, or in a real sense, ogres as well as an emotional wedge in the special relationship between the child and the biological father.

Early on I tried hard to make a natural transition from bachelorhood to fatherhood. A year and a half before we married, I took an apartment a few blocks away from their home. When it became evident that we would marry, I tried to spend time to enable a smooth changeover from friend to father figure. I tried not to become a wall between my future daughter and her natural father. Still I longed to be something special in her life.

Over the years, my appreciation for her grew. Her honesty, sincerity and directness were mature beyond her years. I knew that within this child lived a very giving and compassionate adult. Still, I lived in the fear that some day, when I had to step in and be a disciplinarian, I might have it thrown in my face that I wasnít her "real" father. If I wasnít real, why would she have to listen to me? My actions became measured. I was probably more lenient than I wanted to be. I acted in that way in order to be liked, all the time living out a role I felt I had to live - thinking I wasnít good enough or worthy enough on my own terms.

During the turbulent teenage years, we seemed to drift apart emotionally. I seemed to lose control (or at least the parental illusion of control). She was searching for her identity and so was I. I found it increasingly hard to communicate with her. I felt a sense of loss and sadness because I was getting further from the feeling of oneness we had shared so easily in the beginning.

Because she went to a parochial school, there was an annual retreat for all seniors. Evidently the students thought that going on retreat was like a week at Club Med. They boarded the bus with their guitars and racquetball gear. Little did they realize that this was going to be an emotional encounter that could have a lasting impression on them. As parents of the participants, we were asked to individually write a letter to our child, being open and honest and to write only positive things about our relationship. I wrote a letter about the little golden-haired girl who had brought me a bowl of soup when I needed care. During the course of the week, the students delved deeper into their real beings. They had an opportunity to read the letters we parents had prepared for them.

The parents also got together one night during that week to think about and send good thoughts to our children. While she was away, I noticed something come out of me that I knew was there all along, but which I hadnít faced. It was that in order to be fully appreciated I had to plainly be me. I didnít have to act like anyone else. I wouldnít be overlooked if I was true to myself. I just had to be the best me I could be. It may not sound like much to anyone else, but it was one of the biggest revelations of my life.

The night arrived when they came home from their retreat experience. The parents and friends who had come to pick them up were asked to arrive early, and then invited into a large room where the lights were turned down low. Only the lights in the front of the room were shining brightly.

The students marched joyously in, all dirty-faced as though they had just come back from summer camp. They filed in arm-in-arm, singing a song they had designated as their theme for the week. Through their smudgy faces, they radiated a new sense of belonging and love and self-confidence.

When the lights were turned on, the kids realized that their parents and friends, who had come to collect them and share their joy, were also in the room. The students were allowed to make a few statements about their perceptions of the prior week. At first they reluctantly got up and said things like, "It was cool," and "Awesome week," but after a few moments you could begin to see a real vitality in the studentsí eyes. They began to reveal things that underscored the importance of this rite of passage. Soon they were straining to get to the microphone. I noticed my daughter was anxious to say something. I was equally anxious to hear what she had to say.

I could see my daughter determinedly inching her way up to the microphone. Finally she got to the front of the line. She said something like, "I had a great time and I learned a lot about myself." She continued, "I want to say there are people and things we sometimes take for granted that we shouldnít, and I just want to say...I love you, Tony."

At that moment my knees got weak. I had no expectations, no anticipation she would say anything so heartfelt. Immediately people around me started hugging me, and patting me on the back as though they also understood the depth of that remarkable statement. For a teenage girl to say openly in front of a room full of people, "I love you," took a great deal of courage. If there were something greater than being overwhelmed, I was experiencing it.

Since then the magnitude of our relationship has increased. I have come to understand and appreciate that I didnít need to have any fear about being a stepfather. I only have to concern myself with being the real person who can exchange honest love with the same little girl I met so many years before - carrying a bowl full of what turned out to be kindness.

By Tony Luna
from A 2nd Helping of Chicken Soup for the Soul
Copyright 1995 by Jack Canfield and Mark Victor Hansen

:17 But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn

It was the commonly accepted thing in those days that the firstborn would receive a double portion of the inheritance. Rather than break that understood custom because the son was a child of a "hated" wife, you were to follow through with what was proper in that culture.

Lesson

Kids shouldnít have to pay for the sins of the parents.

Some of you are in situations where your spouse has children from a previous marriage. You need to be careful to value those children as much as if they were your own. Itís not the kidís fault who his parents are. God has given you a portion of the responsibility of raising that child. Give them all youíve got.

:18-21 Rebellious children

:18 when they have chastened him,

This isnít a situation where the parents havenít learned how to discipline their children. This was in a situation where the parents have been applying discipline, but the child was still rebellious.

:19 bring him out unto the elders of his city

The parents werenít supposed to make the final decisions about this child, they were to leave it in the hands of the elders.

:21 And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die:

Jewish tradition has it that this punishment was never actually carried out. I guess the threat of it was enough. I wonder if this is why there is a commandment with a promise:

(Exo 20:12 KJV) Honour thy father and thy mother: that thy days may be long upon the land which the LORD thy God giveth thee.

Lesson

Parents, take control.

I know that since my children arenít teenagers yet, that some of you might be thinking, "Just wait Ďtil his kids are teenagers!"

But there are too many parents who are letting their children call the shots. God has entrusted THEM to YOU. You are to be the one in charge.

They may have learned how to manipulate you, berate you, calling you names, making you feel insecure, but YOU are still THEIR parent.

For those of you with younger children, respect for parents is nothing to take lightly. I know that itís hard to be the one disciplining your children when theyíve called you a name or yelled at you. You feel selfish. You feel like a jerk. But itís far worse to let your child go through life thinking that itís okay to rebel against authority and to mock it. Itís far better for your child to learn NOW that they need to respect authority, rather than have to face harder consequences later.

:22-23 Hanging

:22 thou hang him on a tree:

This was not the mode of punishment, as in death by hanging. This was after the criminal was put to death, the body was to be hung on a tree as a way of making a public statement that this was what would happen to those who committed a similar crime.

:23 (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;)

Paul uses this verse:

(Gal 3:13 KJV) Christ hath redeemed us from the curse of the law, being made a curse for us: for it is written, Cursed is every one that hangeth on a tree:

 

Deuteronomy 22

:1-4 Returning lost property

(Deu 22 KJV) Thou shalt not see thy brother's ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them:

:1 thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother

In Godís law, there is no such thing as "finders-keepers". If you find something that belongs to someone else, you are to return it to them or else keep it until you see them again.

. {2} And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again. {3} In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother's, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself. {4} Thou shalt not see thy brother's ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.

:5 Cross dressing

:5 neither shall a man put on a woman's garment

God doesnít want anyone confused about your sexuality.

Does this mean that a gal canít wear pants?

The issue isnít what specific clothes you wear, itís about whether people will confuse you for a guy or a gal.

We might think that itís difficult in our modern times because guys and gals wear so much similar clothing. But it was just as hard in those days, to be able to tell a manís robe apart from a womanís robe.

:5 for all that do so are abomination unto the LORD thy God

abomination Ė tow`ebah Ė a disgusting thing, abomination, abominable

:6-7 Kindness to birds

:7 But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go

If you were out for a walk and come across a mother bird and her chicks, you were not allowed to take and eat the entire family, but only the chicks.

Why?

Some have suggested that it was a way of teaching kindness to the Israelites. Instead of wiping out the entire family, they at least spared the mom.

Others have suggested that it was more a practical thing, of protecting a food source. If you take only the young birds but leave the mother bird, then the mother bird can live on to produce more offspring, more food.

:8 Building concerns

:8 thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof

A battlement was a parapet. For a flat roof, a parapet is a small wall around the outside of the roof, a way to keep people from falling off your roof.

Here we have the beginning of building safety regulations!

:9-11 Sending Mixed Signals

:9 Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds

Why werenít they to mix stuff?

They may have had a symbolic function in teaching the Israelites something about the created order. Or the mixtures mentioned in these verses may reflect certain pagan cultic practices.

It is said that idolatrous priests wore garments of this mixture, thinking it to be magical.

Do any of your kids ever try to mix up new kinds of foods like mine do? Perhaps I should think about using these verses!

:12 Fringes

:12 Thou shalt make thee fringes

This comes from Numbers 15:37-41, where God commanded the Israelites to sow fringed borders on their garments. These fringes were to be a way of reminding them to obey the Law of the Lord.

(Num 15:39 KJV) And it shall be unto you for a fringe, that ye may look upon it, and remember all the commandments of the LORD, and do them; and that ye seek not after your own heart and your own eyes, after which ye use to go a whoring:

When the woman grabbed the hem of Jesusí robe, it was probably the fringe on His robe.

:13-21 Wrongful divorce

:14 when I came to her, I found her not a maid:

The manís complaint and reason to divorce his wife was that when they got married she was not a virgin.

Virginity is something that ought to be looked at as a treasure.

:15 the tokens of the damsel's virginity

On a coupleís wedding night, a particular portion of a galís anatomy that is often broken during a coupleís initial intercourse was wrapped up in a piece of cloth and kept by the galís father as proof that she was a virgin on the night of her wedding.

:18 shall take that man and chastise him;

In other words, whipping him, probably with 40 lashes.

:19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver

He is fined 100 shekels, about 48 oz. of silver. This is twice the normal price paid a father to marry his daughter.

:19 and give them unto the father of the damsel

The father of the gal kept the silver.

:19 because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel

Virginity was like a treasure.

:19 and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.

No getting out of this marriage!

:21 the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die

If the gal was found to have not been a virgin, then she was put to death.

:22-30 Sexual sins

:22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband

The penalty for an adulterous relationship was death. In Mesopotamia, an adulterous couple were tied together and thrown into a river to drown. In Israel, the death sentence was originally done through stoning, later they changed to strangulation. (I imagine the manís wife probably did it Ö just kidding)

:23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband

Engagement was just as serious as being married.

:24 because she cried not, being in the city

The implication is that if she had been raped against her will, she would have been heard by others and a woman wasnít punished because she was raped. She was only punished if she was a willing participant.

:27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her

There would be no way of proving whether or not she did it willingly or not. Only the man was put to death.

:29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife

Fifty shekels Ė the normal amount a man would pay his father in law to marry his daughter.

If the gal was not engaged or married, then a man who had intercourse with her was going to get to marry her.

There should be no such thing as "one night stands".

Godís design for sex is that it be done within the bounds of marriage.

:30 A man shall not take his father's wife

A form of incest. Not necessarily your own mother, but perhaps a different wife of your father.

:30 nor discover his father's skirt.

This doesnít mean that you shouldnít look for your fatherís hidden skirt. It refers again to having intercourse with your mom or stepmom, to "discover" or better, "uncover" the skirt was a polite way of talking about sex, specifically with something that properly belonged to your father.