Deuteronomy 23-24

Sunday Evening Bible Study

December 13, 1998


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 23

:1 He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

wounded in the stones Ė a eunuch.

It is thought that this was referring to some pagan practices in castrating their priesthood.

:7 Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother

Edom was the land of Esau, who was the brother of Jacob or Israel.

:2-8 Ö shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD

This all sounds pretty grim and harsh. But thereís a balance to it all:

Ruth, a Moabite, married into the tribe of Judah. Her descendants included David and Jesus.


(Isa 56:3-8 NLT) "And my blessings are for Gentiles, too, when they commit themselves to the LORD. Do not let them think that I consider them second-class citizens. And my blessings are also for the eunuchs. They are as much mine as anyone else. {4} For I say this to the eunuchs who keep my Sabbath days holy, who choose to do what pleases me and commit their lives to me: {5} I will give them--in my house, within my walls--a memorial and a name far greater than the honor they would have received by having sons and daughters. For the name I give them is an everlasting one. It will never disappear! {6} "I will also bless the Gentiles who commit themselves to the LORD and serve him and love his name, who worship him and do not desecrate the Sabbath day of rest, and who have accepted his covenant. {7} I will bring them also to my holy mountain of Jerusalem and will fill them with joy in my house of prayer. I will accept their burnt offerings and sacrifices, because my Temple will be called a house of prayer for all nations. {8} For the Sovereign LORD, who brings back the outcasts of Israel, says: I will bring others, too, besides my people Israel."

:13 And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon

Learn to clean up your messes. Flush the toilet.

:14 For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp

God is acquainted with our most intimate ways.

:15 Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:

Israel was to go against the custom of the nations around them. Instead of returning a runaway slave to its master, they were to find refuge in Israel.

I wonder how those in the south during the Civil War handled verses like this.

:17 There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.

whore Ö sodomite Ė female and male prostitutes

:18 Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

dog Ė another term for a male prostitute.

:19 Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:

Donít charge interest to other Israelites when you loan to them.

:20 Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

You can charge interest to those who were not Israelites.

:21 When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.

Donít make promises to God that you donít keep.

:22 But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.

But itís okay not to be making promises to God.

:25 When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn.

This was called "gleaning". You were allowed to go into a field and pluck grapes or grain to keep you from starving. You were not allowed to take advantage of the "gleaning laws" by going in and outright harvesting your neighborís field.

Deuteronomy 24

:1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.

uncleanness Ė `erva Ė nakedness, nudity, shame, indecency, improper behaviour

This section has been the subject of much controversy over the ages. Just what is the definition of "uncleanness"? What is allowable in divorce?

For some people, this is talking about marrying a woman who is not a virgin. They claim that the only allowable reason for divorce is when the other person was previously involved in premarital sex.

In Jesusí day, things had deteriorated to the point where "uncleanness" could be just about anything. Burning the toast. Bad breath. You name it.

:2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man's wife.

In other words Ö remarry.

:3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;


:4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the LORD: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the LORD thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

The point is to not start wife swapping.

If youíve been divorced, remarried, and then divorced again, you were not to go back to the original spouse. God calls it an abomination.

Jesus was questioned about these verses because of the strange opinions on divorce in His day:

(Mat 19:1-12 NLT) After Jesus had finished saying these things, he left Galilee and went southward to the region of Judea and into the area east of the Jordan River. {2} Vast crowds followed him there, and he healed their sick. {3} Some Pharisees came and tried to trap him with this question: "Should a man be allowed to divorce his wife for any reason?" {4} "Haven't you read the Scriptures?" Jesus replied. "They record that from the beginning 'God made them male and female.' {5} And he said, 'This explains why a man leaves his father and mother and is joined to his wife, and the two are united into one.' {6} Since they are no longer two but one, let no one separate them, for God has joined them together." {7} "Then why did Moses say a man could merely write an official letter of divorce and send her away?" they asked. {8} Jesus replied, "Moses permitted divorce as a concession to your hard-hearted wickedness, but it was not what God had originally intended. {9} And I tell you this, a man who divorces his wife and marries another commits adultery--unless his wife has been unfaithful." {10} Jesus' disciples then said to him, "Then it is better not to marry!" {11} "Not everyone can accept this statement," Jesus said. "Only those whom God helps. {12} Some are born as eunuchs, some have been made that way by others, and some choose not to marry for the sake of the Kingdom of Heaven. Let anyone who can, accept this statement."

(Mat 19:1-12 KJV) And it came to pass, that when Jesus had finished these sayings, he departed from Galilee, and came into the coasts of Judaea beyond Jordan; {2} And great multitudes followed him; and he healed them there. {3} 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. {7} They say unto him, Why did Moses then command to give a writing of divorcement, and to put her away? {8} He saith unto them, Moses because of the hardness of your hearts suffered you to put away your wives: but from the beginning it was not so. {9} And I say unto you, Whosoever shall put away his wife, except it be for fornication, and shall marry another, committeth adultery: and whoso marrieth her which is put away doth commit adultery. {10} His disciples say unto him, If the case of the man be so with his wife, it is not good to marry. {11} But he said unto them, All men cannot receive this saying, save they to whom it is given. {12} For there are some eunuchs, which were so born from their mother's womb: and there are some eunuchs, which were made eunuchs of men: and there be eunuchs, which have made themselves eunuchs for the kingdom of heaven's sake. He that is able to receive it, let him receive it.

:6 What therefore God hath joined together ...

Jesus' argument is based on Genesis 2, and He quotes from there in verse 5.

Genesis 2:22-AV And the rib, which the LORD God had taken from man, made he a woman, and brought her unto the man. 23And Adam said, This [is] now bone of my bones, and flesh of my flesh: she shall be called Woman, because she was taken out of Man. 24 Therefore shall a man leave his father and his mother, and shall cleave unto his wife: and they shall be one flesh. 25 And they were both naked, the man and his wife, and were not ashamed.

Note: It was God that brought the woman to Adam. It was God that put them together.

Jesus is saying that the model marriage is found in the first marriage, the one that God created.

In the first marriage, God made one man and one woman.

They were married when they cleaved together and became "one flesh"

If God has joined two people together into one flesh, then no human should be trying to split up what God has made.

In other words, Jesus is saying, "No divorce".


God wants permanence in marriage.

:7 Why did Moses then command ...

The Pharisees are responding to Jesus.

If Jesus is saying there should be no divorce, then how come Moses gave permission for it?

They are referring to our passage in Deut. 24.

:8 because of the hardness of your hearts

It was by way of concession that God, through Moses, allowed man a way out of a marriage.

But originally, God intended man and woman to stay married.

Even today, God's best is still for husband and wife to stay married.

Even when there's been unfaithfulness in a marriage, God would rather have the offending party confess and repent, and the offended party to forgive, rather than for divorce.

God Himself, as shown in the life and writings of the prophet Hosea, has put up with all our unfaithfulness, and He still takes us back.

Hosea was told by the Lord to marry a prostitute.

After they got married, she went back to work.

Hosea had to buy his own wife, he had to pay for her like her other customers.

God said that His relationship with Israel was a lot like that.

But if a person just can't handle the unfaithfulness, God allows for divorce.

(Prov 6:32-35 KJV) But whoso committeth adultery with a woman lacketh understanding: he that doeth it destroyeth his own soul. {33} A wound and dishonour shall he get; and his reproach shall not be wiped away. {34} For jealousy is the rage of a man: therefore he will not spare in the day of vengeance. {35} He will not regard any ransom; neither will he rest content, though thou givest many gifts.

God understands when a person gets to the point where they can't get over the hurt.

:9 except it be for fornication

Biblical reasons for divorce and remarriage:

(Note: You could divorce your spouse for the wrong reasons, and if neither of you remarry or become intimate with another person, you are not guilty of adultery)

1. Immorality

Here is the reason Jesus gives for divorce

porneia defined as:

1) illicit sexual intercourse 1a) adultery, fornication, homosexuality, lesbianism, intercourse with animals etc. 1b) sexual intercourse with close relatives; Lev. 18 1c) sexual intercourse with a divorced man or woman; Mk. 10:11,12

It's kind of a little broader term than just moixeia, which is strictly sex with a married person.

What I believe Jesus is doing here, is defining what should be meant as "uncleanness" in Deut.24:1.

He defines it as sexual immorality.

2. Abandonment

We do believe there is one other possible justification for divorce and remarriage, and that is abandonment:

(1 Cor 7:15 KJV) But if the unbelieving depart, let him depart. A brother or a sister is not under bondage in such cases: but God hath called us to peace.

Some would put a strict interpretation on this, where the person leaving has to be an unbeliever.

Some see even a believing spouse that leaves as acting as though they were an unbeliever, and hence applicable.

The important point when it comes to whether or not you could be remarried is whether or not your spouse wants the marriage or not.

:9 whosoever shall put away his wife, except ...

So what do I do if I've been divorced and remarried, and it wasn't for Biblical reasons?

1. Confess your sin to God.

Admit to God that you've blown it.

Ask God to forgive you!

(1 John 1:9 KJV) If we confess our sins, he is faithful and just to forgive us our sins, and to cleanse us from all unrighteousness.

2. Stay with your current spouse!

According to Deut.24:1-4, it would be an abomination for you to go back to your former spouse now.

Stay in the condition you're in when God calls you!

(1 Cor 7:20 KJV) Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called.

(1 Cor 7:27 KJV) Art thou bound unto a wife? seek not to be loosed. Art thou loosed from a wife? seek not a wife.

Why can't I just divorce my spouse, get remarried, confess my sin, and go on like everyone else?

God doesn't want you to commit sin.

When you commit sin, it's like pounding a nail into a piece of wood.

When you ask for forgiveness, God pulls out the nail.

But the hole is still there.

There are always consequences to sin.

God would much rather you stay with your old battle-axe, learn to love him/her like you should, and avoid the much greater pain of divorce.

Also, you'll most likely find the same problems in your next marriage, because you're still in the picture!

Changing spouses is no guarantee of happiness, but it is a guarantee of a lot of pain.

What if I'm separated from my spouse, or divorced, but neither of us are remarried?

Hold out for your marriage until:

Either the other spouse remarries

Or it is clear they've abandoned you and have no plans to come back.

:5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.

Again, I donít think this means to stop your ministry at the church. But you should stop the kinds of things that might kill you.

:6 No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man's life to pledge.

If a guy defaults on his loan to you, you donít take away his means of making a living.

:7 If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.

No kidnapping.

:8 Take heed in the plague of leprosy

Watch out for that leprosy stuff.

:16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

Each person is responsible for their own sin.


Donít blame your parents.

Itís too easy today to blame our sins on our parents.

They will be judged for their sins. You will be judged for yours.

:20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.

Donít take every last little olive. Leave the leftovers for the poor of the land. Let them glean.

:22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

Donít forget where youíve come from.