A Voice in the
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Return to EXODUS in the 'Walk-thru' series
01 - Introduction
02 - No other gods
03 - Meat, Fat & Blood
04 - Male Servants
05 - Female Slave Wives
06 - Marriage & Sexual Issues
07 - Personal Assault
08 - Animal Assault
09 - Theft and Loss
10 - Treating People
11 - Treating God
12 - False Testimony
13 - Odds and Ends
14 - Cleanliness
"Thus He declared to you His COVENANT which He commanded you to do, the
Ten Commandments; and He wrote them on two tablets of stone. And Jehovah
commanded me at that time to teach you STATUTES AND JUDGMENTS, for you
to do them in the land which you are crossing over to possess."
When OT people spoke of the Scriptures they were called the "Law and
Prophets" (Mt5:17, 7:12, Lk16:16, Ac13:15) Also included were the Psalms
(Lk24:44) If words were being kept to a minimum, it was, just, the
"Law". For them to say "Law" might have been the same as us saying
"Bible" or the "Word".
So, what is "law"? According to the dictionary, picking through the
definitions at random:
Rule of conduct; procedure established by custom, agreement or
authority; body of rules/principles governing the affairs of a
community; condition of social order and justice created by adherence to
such a system; civilized behavior. These are laws man establishes.
There are laws of nature: certain principles by which things function.
Gravity pulls objects towards the earth, such that when a person
stumbles they fall 'down', not up. Fire is hot and can hurt a person. If
a person stays in the sun too long, they will get a sunburn. If a person
were submerged under water and didn't come up for air, they would die.
If a person drives too fast around the curve of an icy road, the laws of
slipperiness (of ice), and of inertia (the tendency of an object to
continue moving in a straight line) will work to see the vehicle sliding
off the road, and depending on the surrounding terrain, the vehicle
might follow the laws of gravity and roll down the side of the mountain,
and if it starts spinning the laws of centrifugal force will splay the
doors wide open and the passengers will be thrown out, and they will be
injured or killed. Did the winter weather "cause" the people to be
killed? (Some news reporters blame fatalities on all sorts of things:
slippery roads, rain/sleet coming down, the wind blowing) All those
things are behaving according to their nature. They are not misbehaving.
They are doing exactly as would be expected of them. The "cause" of the
fatality was the careless driver. Even though the conditions for
-everybody- driving down that road were 'identical', not everybody was
killed going around the curve. Thus, the 'conditions' did not kill those
Thus...are laws "bad"? Are laws "good"? Laws, just, -are-. They exist.
As long as people comport themselves within the limits of those laws,
they can live happy, peaceful, safe lives. Just think what would be the
case if the law of gravity did not exist. A person would take the
slightest step, and the inertia of 'pushing' with the foot would send
them floating off into space, never to return. Thus, the 'confinement'
of gravity is a "good" thing. Without it we could not live on this
Now, when it comes to the Law of the Scriptures, the Law of God, there
are three basic categories of Law. There is
In the series "Covenants & Dispensations"
we learned that at various times throughout history God established
various (different) covenants with man. A "covenant" is an Agreement,
Bargain, Contract, Promise. The dictionary also includes: "in the Bible:
God's promise to the human race" In that series we learned how God
promised man -freedom- to live, with certain limited conditions which
man must adhere to. If man obeyed, he could live in peace and blessing.
If he disobeyed, there were promised consequences. Covenants regarding
not eating of the certain tree, not eating blood, not murdering,
circumcision, to be fruitful and multiply. To Abraham God promised a
certain land, and through his seed a Redeemer from sin for all mankind.
- Civil Law
And when we get to Moses, the most detailed of all history, the Ten
Commandments. The Covenant upon which all other laws are based. That
upon which is based the "work of the Law written in [the] hearts" of
mankind, through the "conscience". (Rom2:15) When God commanded about
murder and vengeance (Gen9:5-6), the conscience was already evident when
Cain killed his brother Abel. (Gen4) Before the Ten Commandments said
"You shall not commit adultery" (Ex20:14) the conscience already knew
that certain things "ought not to be done" (Ge34:7)
We've already looked at Covenant: the "Ten Commandments"
and expanded on some topics through Q/As and commentaries.
The Levitical Law the dictionary also calls "ecclesiastical". The world
and Babylon in their systems call it "liturgy". The form and substance
of -physical- 'activity' of worship. The conscience is in the heart.
When atonment was needed, David knew that forgiveness did not consist of
an animal sacrifice...
"For You do not desire sacrifice, or else I would give it; You do not
delight in burnt offering. The sacrifices of God are a broken spirit; a
broken and a contrite heart, O God, You will not despise." (Ps51:16-17)
"...it is not possible for the blood of bulls and goats to take away
Paul wrote that the physical rituals of the Law were not what mattered,
but the -heart-...
"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that
which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and
circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose
praise is not from men but from God." (Rom2:28-29)
The Covenant is the standard. When the heart of man was shown to be
sinful through evil deeds, the Covenant was added to show how far we
were from God's holy standard. The Levitical laws of animal sacrifices
were instituted for a physical/visually oriented humanity, of what Jesus
would be coming to accomplish...
"...till the Seed should come to whom the promise was made; and it was
appointed through angels by the hand of a mediator." (Ga3:19)
But as we have studied in Hebrews
Jesus gave Himself "once for all" (Heb7:27, 9:12,26, 10:10) and
"fulfilled" all those Levitical sacrificial types. (Mt5:17) So this
study series is not about the Levitical laws.
But how is man adjudged? Conduct...
"You shall therefore keep My statutes and My judgments, which if a man
does, he shall live by them: I am Jehovah." (Le18:5)
And typically people do not live like hermits and monks... isolated and
alone from any other human contact. People live together as "societies".
Thus, how do people know proper conduct? Civil Law. When Adam and Eve
ate the fruit, they did not sin against each other, they disobeyed God;
lusting after the serpent's enticement of "you shall be as God"
(Gen3:5); and breaking the very first of the Covenant Laws, "You shall
have no other gods before Me". But then, when Cain killed Abel, that was
a crime perpetrated by one person against another.
Civil Law: relating to citizens and their interrelations with one
another or with the state, ordinary community life, in accordance with
civilized society, befitting accepted social useages, not rude, etc.
That's what this series is about. When Jesus was asked, "what is the
greatest commandment" He replied...
"You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart, with all your
soul, and with all your mind. This is the first and great commandment.
And the second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On
these two commandments hang all the Law and the Prophets." (Mt22:37-40)
Notice Jesus said nothing about killing animals, lighting candles,
burning incense, putting hands together with fingers pointing upwards,
and such things. It is about God and Man. That's all it's ever been
about. God made this earth and "put man on it" (Is45:12) God made man
for fellowship, and for man to get along with each other.
Under the definitions for "law" (at the very top) it stated "rule of
conduct...established by...authority". Successful 'civil' authority; by
whose ultimate authority? God.
As this series is in the beginning stages of preparation, the world
today is seemingly on the precipice of 'blowing up'. Why? "As it was in
the days of Noah" (Mt24:37, Lk17:26) the earth was "filled with
violence" (Ge6:11) and "every imagination of the thoughts of his heart
was only evil all day long" (vs5) They did not have this Covenant Law
on the stone tablets. But their behavior showed that their hearts were
separated from God. That's what it is today. Those who worship gods
worship something besides the Most High, and for the most part all of
humanity has cast aside the Almighty. Even those nations that claim to
have been founded on "Judeo/Christian principles" have long ago tossed
out and rejected the Ten Commandments, God's Covenant. When a people
reject God and His Covenant, they also cease to be civil towards each
other. And so, by definition, today's societies are no longer "civil".
They think they are -merely- rejecting God; but in doing so, by
definition, they have also ceased to be civil. They try to conjure up a
mushy-sweet civility in hushed tones, and yoga and spirituality-induced
syrupy-sweet smiles; but when push comes to shove, their true hearts
come out in riots, murder, mayhem. They do not adhere to God's Civil
How does God's Covenant expand out from the Moral and Theoretical to the
Practical; where the rubber meets the road? What does "you shall not
commit adultery" mean? What does it mean to "not bear false witness"?
That's what this series is about. The "statutes and judgments"
No other gods
"You shall not make for yourselves, along with Me, gods of silver or
gods of gold" (20:23)
If God's Covenant is the only source for true civility, and a people is
forming a nation following God, calling themselves after God, these
statements might seem like no-brainers. If the definition of civility is
God's Covenant, then OF COURSE there is no other god.
"He who sacrifices to any god, except to Jehovah only, he shall be
utterly destroyed." (22:20)
"And in all that I have said to you, beware and make no mention of any
other gods by name, nor let it be heard from your mouth" (23:13)
"You shall not bow down to their gods, nor serve them, nor do according
to their works; but you shall tear them down to overthrow them, and
break and shatter their pillars" (23:24)
But in seeing Israel's history... well... right after giving these very Civil Laws (that we are about to study), and Israel's elders have feasted in God's presence (ch24), and then Moses goes up into the mountain to receive the Levitical laws, what did Israel do? They immediately made a "god of gold" (Ex32); there was "Idolatry in the Sanctuary" [link] and judgment. I say "immediately"... it was within a 40-day period. But considering an entire national history of hundreds of years, 40 days is like a "few seconds".
And so, throughout the OT God is continually chiding Israel about "other
gods", and about being faithful to Him, only. That's why, in these three
short chapters, God makes mention of idolatry four times. And in 22:20
He says an idolater "shall be utterly destroyed".
The rest of the Pentateuch expands on some of the things in these three
chapters, so let's begin that process now. What does "utterly destroy"
De13:1-5 If a false prophet gives a sign or wonder that comes to pass,
and uses that supernatural work to support his call to "go after other
gods", "that prophet or that dreamer of dreams shall be put to death"
But notice that judgment is not carried out on the word of one person.
Not merely on rumor, but a THOROUGH INVESTIGATION and a CERTITUDE of
KNOWLEDGE that the matter is true. Many legalists look at the Law and
like to conduct "witch hunts", and will condemn people on the slightest
provocation. Supposing a person simply 'disliked' another, their mind
could be clouded to the truth of what they thought they saw, by their
feelings. But when two or three are witnessing something, there is
greater perspective from "different angles". Perhaps what the individual
person saw was lacking contextual perspective?
De13:6-11 If a relative, whether brother, son, daughter or wife, should
"secretly entice" and say, "Let us go and serve other gods" there is to
be no consenting and no pity. That relative is to be put to death. As
the congregation is stoning him to death, the relative who reported it
is to be 'first' in throwing stones, followed by the congregation.
De13:12-18 Supposing a rumor is heard, that any given community has
whole-sale gone into idolatry, the rest of the nation is to investigate
to see if the rumor is true. If it is, the community is to be destroyed
with the edge of the sword; all the people and cattle. All the
belongings and possessions piled up in the middle and set on fire. And
the rubble heap to remain as a monument and warning to the rest.
De17:2-7 Supposing generically, somebody witnesses anybody going astray
into idolatry, investigation is to be made to ascertain the validity of
the witness. If there are two or three witnesses, the idolators are to
be brought out to the gates ("gates" were where leaders sat, and where
judgment was meted out) and stoned to death.
Like we observed some time ago about the church woman who is seen by
others in her church, hanging onto the arm of a man, all dolled up in
party attire, going into a nightclub. Oh, that terribly 'carnal' woman!
Going to the world's entertainment...and with a MAAAAN!!! Like we
observed: [link] Perhaps that "man"
she was seen with is her (unsaved) -husband-, for whose salvation she
has been praying; and perhaps she is all dolled up because she is being
pleasing to her husband; letting him enjoy her company by enjoying his
company? And in so-doing, she is following the exhortations of
1Pt3:1-6. She is being a good wife.
Why is God "not seen"? What happens when people see things which they
venerate? They make statues, images, pictures. When there are things
like fairs, carnivals, state parks, or sports team mascots; don't they
usually also produce little trinkets to wear as jewelry, bumper stickers
to put on their cars, and plaques to adorn their homes. If they win a
prize trophy they place it in a place of prominence to be adored by
themselves and their guests. God says to Israel...
"Take diligent heed to your souls, for you saw no form on the day
Jehovah spoke to you at Horeb out of the midst of the fire, that you not
act corruptly and make for yourselves a carved image in the form of any
statue: male or female figures, the figure of any beast on the earth or
the figure of any bird that flies in the heavens, the figure of anything
that creeps on the ground or the figure of any fish that is in the
waters beneath the earth. And take heed, when you lift up your eyes to
the heavens, and you see the sun, the moon, and the stars, all the host
of the heavens, that you not be driven to bow down to them and serve
them, which Jehovah your God has allotted to all the peoples under the
The church of Babylon has their eucharist to the sun. Islam has the
crescent moon. They venerate images of a woman and her male baby, make
the "sign of the" symbol of female fertility, adorn buildings and have
jewelry to that same symbol of fertility, dove, fish. They make little
images of some alleged 'saint' to put on the car dashes to 'protect'
them while driving.
Does God look like -any- of these things? Does -God- deal with His
children through any of these things?
If God said to be sexually pure, does He honor and bless fruitfulness,
and exhort His children to worship Him through prostitution?
"There shall be no female temple prostitute of the daughters of Israel,
nor a male temple prostitute of the sons of Israel. You shall not bring
the wages of prostitution or the price of a dog into the house of
Jehovah your God for any vow, for both of these are an abomination unto
Jehovah your God." (De23:17-18)
And if God is the -only- God, and there are no others...
"You shall not allow a sorceress to live" (22:18)
What is a sorceress? A witch, warlock, fortuneteller, witchdoctor, etc?
And for that matter: yoga, meditation, pilates or "spirit-filling"
worship? All of these things tap into the occult world. In some cases
it is out-n-out demon-worship. When people "pray to angels" they are
praying to demons. When a person empties themself and 'taps into the
universe' and the 'energies' out there, it is moving away from God into
the spirit realm of God's enemies. Worshiping the "created things more
than the Creator" (Rom1:25) A sorceress deliberately communicates with
the spirits. In some of the other things, they do so in ignorance;
nevertheless they are in the occult world. In so-doing they have invited
the demons to guide their lives, not God.
Why did Israel immerse itself in idolatry? After all, a full reading of
the OT indicates that it was Israel's idolatry, for which reason God
allowed them to be conquered and carried into captivity. Why don't we
read very much about people being stoned to death for idolatry? Some
were killed after Aaron's golden calf. But as Joshua is ready to die, he
chides Israel to
"put away the foreign gods which are among you, and incline your heart
unto Jehovah the God of Israel" and they respond "Jehovah our God we
will serve, and His voice we will obey!" (Josh24:23-24)
And yet not long after, there is the case where Micah has an idol, and
the tribe of Dan take up with Micah's idol.
And when it comes to the time of Elijah, and he has killed the prophets
of Baal; Israel's proclamation "Jehovah, He is God" (1Ki18:39) rings a
bit hollow, since their idolatrous queen Jezebel was allowed to live, as
she seeks, then, to kill Elijah. Elijah feels as though he is totally
alone, but God informs him that there are "seven thousand, all whose
knees have not bowed to Baal, and every mouth that has not kissed him."
(1Ki19:18) But out of all Israel's millions -only- "7000"? As we
observed, Moses continually chides Israel about how obstinate they are,
and will continue to be [link]
and by the time we come to Ezekiel, God commissions him...
"Son of man, I am sending you to the children of Israel, to a rebellious
nation that has rebelled against Me; they and their fathers have
transgressed against Me to this very day. For they are impudent and
hardhearted children. I am sending you to them, and you shall say to
them, Thus says the Lord Jehovah. As for them, whether they hear or
whether they forbear; for they are a rebellious house; yet they will
know that a prophet has been among them." (Ezk2:3-5)
How is idolatry to be punished when 'everybody' is doing it? Minus an
Elijah presiding, who is going to throw the stones? Israel was called
God's 'chosen' people, and yet Paul summarizes,
"For not all those of Israel are Israel" (Rom9:6b)
This, also, is why idolators are not summarily executed today. First of
all, Israel was a 'theocracy'. God was supposed to be their king.
Monotheism was the "law of the land". Idolatry would be like treason
against one's king; historically punishable by death. But like God says
to Samuel (who had been leading them for years) when they ask for a
"With most of them God was not well pleased" (1Co10:5)
"...for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected Me, for Me to
not reign over them" (1Sa8:7)
The punishing of idolatry is only 'appropriate' where an entire nation
is God-fearing. But when the "few" (Mt7:14) fear God, how do the few
punish the many? At the national level God had used Israel to displace
the pagans of that region -because- of their idolatry.
Today there are no Godly nations. The world of "Caesar" (Mt22:21) does
not revere the Most High. America is NOT a "christian nation". If it had
been at its inception, there would not have been something called
"freedom of religion". If it was truly -God- who was ruling, He would
not allow the pantheistic religions that exist. Today Islam is more
'Godlike' than Israel was. A Muslim nation today adheres to many of the
edicts we will be studying in this series. If somebody turns away from
Islam, they are killed. If somebody from another religion visits an Arab
country they are not allowed to 'openly' worship their deities.
Missionaries are not allowed to evangelize openly at the peril of
persecution or death. Even if somebody, in innocence, does something
like provide their school children with teddybears of "Mohammed", such a
teacher is condemned to whip lashes. Adultery? Stoning. Islam, to be
sure, does not do things the -way- God commanded Israel. Nevertheless
they -do- some of them. Many of the things we will study in this series,
Islam does, as it relates to -their- god Allah.
But Israel and the Church, the two entities with TRUE TIES to the
Almighty, do not obey God. In many cases it's because those claiming to
be "christian" are not True [C]hristians. Today's church whines about
what they call pharisaical judgmentalism. We're "not under law but under
grace" (Ro6:15) Grace, grace, grace, graaaaeeeessss! The world will
know we are Christians by our "love" (Jn13:35) Love, love, luuuuuv! But
notice that the apostle of love says this...
"By this we know that we love the children of God, when we love God and
keep His commandments. For THIS IS THE LOVE OF GOD, THAT WE KEEP HIS
COMMANDMENTS. And His commandments are not burdensome." (1Jn5:2-3)
Last lesson we asked: How is man adjudged? Conduct. How is love for God
discerned? Conduct. Obedience. If we behave as if God did not exist, by
the fact that we disobey Him at every turn, and find excuses for why His
commands don't mean what He said. And John is even stronger...
"He who says, I know Him, and does not keep His commandments, is a liar,
and the truth is not in him." (1Jn2:4)
The reason today's church appears, so much, to be like the world, is
because they are LIARS. They are not True Believers. They do NOT love
the Lord. Their allegiance is to "other gods". Forget anything about
civil laws... they don't even adhere to the #1 Commandment!
Without #1, the rest of this series will be wasted time and effort.
But even if physical 'stoning' is not meted out in this lifetime, God is
not without vengeance. He still has the Lake of Fire reserved for those
who hate Him.
"Therefore know that Jehovah your God, He is God, the faithful Mighty
God who keeps covenant and mercy for a thousand generations with those
who love Him and keep His commandments; and He repays those who hate
Him, to their face, to destroy them. He will not be slack with him who
hates Him; He will repay him to his face. Therefore you shall keep the
commandments, the statutes, and the judgments which I am commanding you
today, to do them." (De7:9-11)
Meat, Fat & Blood
In a past series "Life is in the Blood"
and when Jesus died on the cross and shed His blood (1Pt1:19, Re1:5) we
are given the glimpse prophetically as to the significance of Jesus'
"He shall see the travail of His soul, and shall be fulfilled" (Is53:11)
Even though this topic is not specifically addressed in these chapters,
it is a subject that is often observed in "civil" settings. But since it
actually also is related to "no other gods", let's talk about it here,
as a sort of addendum to the previous lesson, before continuing on.
After the flood, in addition to plants, God gave animal meat for human
consumption as food. However, the regular sacrifices also consisted of
-eating- the meat of the sacrifice. I have often wondered what the
'atmosphere' of these feasts was: solemn or festive? And also, is this why Daniel and his three friends asked for "vegetables" instead of the king's "daily portion"? (Dan1) Was the king's meat 'cooked' on the pagan altars to the gods?
Jesus, the fulfillment of the OT sacrifices, gave His own body and says,
"This is My body which is given for you" (Lk22:19, 1Co11:24)
"Unless you eat the flesh of the Son of Man and drink His blood, you do
not have life in yourselves" (Jn6:53)
Perhaps this is symbolism for how we are...
"...one, as You, Father, are in Me, and I in You; that they also may be
one in Us, that the world may believe that You sent Me. And the glory
which You gave Me I have given them, that they may be one just as We are
one: I in them, and You in Me; that they may be made complete in one,
and that the world may know that You sent Me, and love them as You love
In the physical world, we -become- 'what' we eat. The substance and
chemicals of the food become digested and work their way into the very
cells of our bodies; part of the physical essence of our bodies. Thus,
was the -eating- of the OT sacrifice a physical 'type' of our spiritual union with Christ? I don't know. The typical Lord's Supper as I have observed and participated in them have been 'solemn' occasions; remembering Jesus' "death". (1Co11:26) How did they eat the OT sacrifices?
But just as God continually reminds Israel against idolatry, He also
repeats the concept of not offering sacrifices any ol' place; but they
were to bring it to the "door of the tent of meeting" (Le17:9) Idolatry
would find "high places" and "groves" on every hill and mountain, and at
junctions of hiways. They would worship their -many- gods in -many-
different places. Israel was not to do that.
However, a person could go hunting or slaughter livestock and eat meat,
anywhere, as meals. (Le17:13, De12:15)
But they were not to eat the blood. And when I see the prohibitions
against blood mentioned within the same context as offering sacrifices,
I have to think it is more than just about the "soul" of the creature,
but it is also related to the sacrifices, and the warnings against idolatry.
Notice this wording...
"You shall not eat anything with the blood, nor shall you practice
divination nor fortunetelling." (Le19:26)
When the Church partakes the Lord's Supper, we partake the "fruit of the
vine" (Mt26:29) which -symbolizes- Jesus' shed blood.
But when satanists partake their rituals, they partake in blood communions, with -actual- blood. The TV reality show "Survivor" (which I stopped watching years ago after the first two seasons) features "immunity IDOLS" and other things with a pagan feel. I happened on one episode where they had poked a hole in the artery of a cow, which was profusely pouring out blood, and their 'challenge' was to come along with cups, fill their cups with that blood and drink it. In this country the native people, when they go hunting and have killed their prey, if they are 'practicing' their ancient "great spirit" religions, first thing will cut open the animal, cut out the kidney, and eat a bite out of the raw kidney. (Even -today- they do this, this is NOT 'ancient' practice long-ago forgotten. One of my neighbors does this.) The kidney, of course, being a 'blood' organ. Down through history when ancient tribes would engage in warfare, the warriors would drink the blood of the most respected enemy combatant. Warriors hoping to gain some of the spirit of their enemy; add their bravery to their own. Hunters, to take unto themselves some of the "great spirit" through the spirits of the animals; spirit guides. All these, having to do with "other gods". (This neighbor also practices catholicism. Perhaps similar to the mating of VooDoo and Catholicism in the Caribbean regions?)
And so, if Israel was straying into idolatry, the pagan sacrifices also
included the drinking of blood and necromancy. And as Paul says,
"...the things which the Gentiles sacrifice they sacrifice to demons and
not to God, and I do not want you to have fellowship with demons."
Also the injunction was against eating fat. Why? I don't know. But even
at the very beginning with Cain and Abel, they knew to offer the "fat".
(Ge4:4) And throughout the Law, through Moses, the fat was put on the
altar and burned "like incense" (Ex29:13) If we read through the law,
anything to do with the specially mixed oils and incense, was not to be
replicated and used by people for private use. Under the levitical
system worship was to be done -at- the tabernacle/temple; not here and
there and anywhere somebody wanted to do it.
Now, when we read through these chapters, there is such an emphasis on
bringing the animal to God's altar, that a bit of fear might be in order
about just eating meat for a meal. These injunctions were about
sacrifices. The holy things were to be eaten at the tabernacle.
"When Jehovah your God enlarges your border as He has promised you, and
you say, Let me eat flesh, because your soul longs to eat flesh, you may
eat as much flesh as your soul desires. If the place where Jehovah your
God chooses to put His name is too far from you, then you shall
slaughter from your herd and from your flock which Jehovah has given
you, as I have commanded you, and you shall eat within your gates
whatever your soul desires. Just as the gazelle and the deer are eaten,
so you shall eat them; the unclean and the clean alike shall eat them.
Only be sure not to eat the blood, for the blood is the soul; you shall
not eat the soul with the flesh. You shall not eat it; you shall pour it
on the earth like water. You shall not eat it, that it may go well with
you and your children after you, when you do what is right in the eyes
of Jehovah. Only, the holy things which you have, and your vows, you
shall take and go to the place which Jehovah chooses. And you shall
offer your burnt offerings, the flesh and the blood, on the altar of
Jehovah your God; and the blood of your sacrifices shall be poured out
on the altar of Jehovah your God, and you shall eat the flesh. Take heed
and obey all these words which I am commanding you, that it may go well
with you and your children after you always, when you do what is good
and right in the eyes of Jehovah your God." (De12:20-28)
There were two ways that fat could be used: 1) to be burned "like
incense" on the altar, as a "soothing aroma" (Le3:16), and 2) as
material for "work" (Le7:24) What was fat used for? Making soap,
But blood was not to be used for anything. It was to be poured out on
the ground, and covered with dirt.
"Any man of the sons of Israel, or of the strangers who sojourn among
you, who hunts and catches any animal or flying creature that may be
eaten, he shall pour out its blood and cover it with dust; for it is the
soul of all flesh. Its blood is its soul. Therefore I said to the
children of Israel, You shall not eat the blood of any flesh, for the
soul of all flesh is its blood. Whoever eats it shall be cut off."
Perhaps we have the Scriptural basis, here, to adjudge what is being
done these days in the medical/scientific fields. Jesus said,
"And do not fear those who kill the body but are not able to kill the
soul. But rather fear Him who has power to destroy both soul and body in
The body is the "temple" (1Co6:19) or "tent" (2Co5:1,4, 2Pt1:13); the
physical dwelling place for the spirit and soul while we live on this
earth. The body is made up of 'stuff', which at death decays back to
dust. (Ge3:19) Our spirit comes from God, and is that which, breathed
into these bodies through the lungs into the blood, becomes the "living
soul". (Ge2:7, 1Co15:45) While the blood is visible and contains
'stuff', it is also more. 'What' more? Does science even know the full
extent? That is the domain of Jesus' authority. (Heb4:12-13) It has been
witnessed often enough to know that 'something' more is involved, that
when somebody receives significant blood in transfusions, or something
like a transplanted heart or kidney (blood organs), that such people report having dreams of people and memories that were not part of their
original life. They have 'memories' of things they did not experience.
In receiving the blood, they received of another person's soul...their
And in a related topic, this is also why stem cell research and
manipulation is so wrong. First of all, where embryos are involved, they
are killing fully conceived -people-. The essence of that new person has
been assembled and is alive. But even if they manipulate non-embryos,
but inject one person's DNA data into another person, it is like with
the blood. They are taking from one person's essence and inserting that
into another's essence. Whereas it is -God- who forms us in the womb.
What should it matter if somebody were to use animal blood as mere
'substance'? Just 'stuff'? As the animal sacrifices were a 'type' of
Jesus' crucifixion, in the same way animal blood is a 'type' of the
essence of life. As Paul says,
"For it is written in the Law of Moses, You shall not muzzle an ox while
it treads out the grain. Is it oxen God is concerned about? Or does He
say it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is
written, that he who plows should plow in hope, and he who threshes in
hope should be partaker of his hope." (1Co9:9-10)
To RESPECT LIFE.
So, in review:
When life is extinguished, the soul goes back to the ground from whence
it was taken: as preachers intone at funerals, "Earth to earth, Ashes to ashes, Dust to dust." (Ge3:19, Job10:9, Ec3:20)
- Meat can be eaten as (mere) 'food' anywhere. But if it was in
sacrifice to God, it was to be offered in the prescribed manner, on the
altar, at God's house (tabernacle/temple). Sacrifices were not to be
done any ol' way an individual person wished to do so, in any place,
hill, grove or hiway intersection.
- Fat was not to be eaten. It could be used as 'stuff' to do work with.
But if it was part of the slaughter for sacrifice, it was to be burned
on the altar as a "soothing aroma".
- Blood was not to be eaten. Nor could it be used as 'stuff'. It was to
be poured out and covered with dust. And other than levitical
sprinkling, it was not offered as sacrifice. Even during the sacrifice,
it was poured on the ground next to the altar. And covered with dust.
And for the Believers, the spirit is taken into God's presence, at "home with the Lord" (2Co5:8), waiting to be "[brought] with Him" (1Th4:14) at the Resurrection to be joined up with their resurrected bodies.
"If you buy a Hebrew servant, he shall serve six years; and in the
seventh he shall go out free without payment" (21:2)
First of all, as we begin these next sections, let's start out by saying
that I don't have all the answers to all questions that will be coming
up. There are some things in these verses in Exodus that seem to be a
bit different from things found in Leviticus. Also, we need to keep in
mind that what we read here is -to- "Israel", not necessarily the world
at large; in some things there are differences given between the
treatment of fellow-Israelis vs their treatment of gentiles whom they
might purchase as permanent slaves. As we proceed to other topics there will seem to be punishments for certain things, but then other seemingly similar situations will not have the same punishments, and there will be no explanation for the differences.
So now... what about this whole subject? Isn't slavery "sin" and
terribly "evil"? In our typically "western", English-speaking cultures,
we believe in our "God-given" inalienable rights of "life, liberty and
the pursuit of happiness". Inalienable... cannot be given to another,
cannot be taken away. I can do whatever I want, and nobody is going to
tell -me- WHAT TO DO! No sirree! Generically, what does Paul say?
"Let each one remain in the same calling in which he was called. Were
you called while a slave? Do not be concerned about it; but if you are
able to be made free, rather use it. For he who is called in the Lord
while a slave is the Lordís freedman. Likewise he who is called while
free is Christís slave. You were bought at a price; do not become slaves
of men. Brethren, let each one remain with God however he was called."
For the most part in that chapter Paul is talking about marriage. And in
the next lesson, indeed, we will see -female- servitude in a related
subject as marriage. But notice that Paul says, if you can find your way
to freedom, take it. And through Moses also:
"You shall not deliver up to his master a slave who has escaped from his
master to you. He shall dwell with you in your midst, in the place which
he chooses within one of your gates, where it is agreeable to him; you
shall not oppress him." (De23:15-16)
But if a Believer finds themself in servitude, Paul says, essentially:
Don't worry about it. "Remain" in that situation to which you have been
called. Whatever life may dish out, in reality, we are -all- 'slaves'
one way or another. Even if free, Paul continually called himself a
"bondservant" of Christ. And for that matter, some of the wealthiest
people on earth, are not most of them really 'slaves' to whatever it is
that makes them wealthy?
The servitude to which Moses speaks is INDEBTEDNESS. Later there will be
discussion of -kidnapping- and the punishment for doing so. (De24:7)
Grabbing people, stealing them, and holding them against their will, nor
with any legal authority to do so. Such a scenario makes one think of
those who were, wholesale, abducted from Africa, brought over to foreign
lands, and sold FOR PROFIT of the slave merchants. Merchandising in
human souls. This country had -that- scourge of slavery. While the
slaves have since been emancipated, old habits die hard in some minds;
and modern political agendas also like to take advantage of whatever
they can continually stir up, to keep old wounds festering, rather than
allowing new generations to pursue new lives, not blaming each other for
the faults of past generations. However, to be sure we know the
difference: American slavery was based on the greed of the traffickers
who kidnapped them, not the indebtedness of the slaves, themselves.
"And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and has
sold himself to you..." (Le25:39a)
This is the case, like happens all the time: a person comes on hard
times, and isn't quite able to make ends meet. Perhaps there had been
drought, and not being like a rich person with a "cushion" to tide
through the hard times, he comes to the end of his resources. What to
do? He 'sells' himself to the creditor. He works for the person to pay
off the debt. Indentured (binding contract) servitude.
But also notice the injunction to the creditor:
"And if one of your brethren who dwells by you becomes poor, and has
sold himself to you, you shall not compel him to serve as a slave. As a
hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall serve you
until the Year of Jubilee." (Le25:39-40)
Just because he's your slave, don't treat him harshly. In many cases
where people would care for the stranger, widow and orphans, God
continually exhorted to treat them hospitably, remembering their own
servitude they had served in Egypt, where they served "with harshness"
"You shall not rule over him with harshness, but you shall fear your
God...regarding your brethren, the children of Israel, you shall not
rule over one another with harshness." (Le25:43,46b)
This servitude was not 'forever'; but for six years...
"and in the seventh he shall go out free without payment" (21:2)
Now, here (vs3-5) we come to something where there seems to be
disagreement. Perhaps not all the details are written, which the people
in those cultures naturally understood? They didn't -need- to be
written? But let's look at all aspects.
Here, in whatever state the man entered servitude, was the state in
which he was set free. If he entered single, he left single. If he
entered married, his wife left with him. But if he entered single, and
his master gave him a wife, she could not leave with him. (This somewhat
bleeds over into the next lesson on Female Servants) In those cultures
wives were 'purchased' (Remember how Jacob worked for seven years each
for Rachel and Leah); which might possibily be where the wedding "ring"
originated. (?) In those cultures one's signet ring was one's legal
signature; as it might still be today in certain oriental cultures?
Years ago in Japan it was the "han" (hahn), the -stamp-. When you see
oriental art, that red (round/square) stamp in the corners is the
artist's 'signature'. So, perhaps the wedding ring tradition began back
in the days when rings -sealed- a 'business deal'?
But the man loves his wife and kids, gotten during his time in
servitude. Perhaps he doesn't -have- a family heritage to return to? He
had been unattached, and in debt, and here life has been good. He has a
home, a place to live. He decides to stay on as a permanent servant.
They go to the temple and his seal of servitude is an awl hole in the
Service is not like a -slave-, but a "hired man".
The man would have to work anyway. Here, instead of wages, he gets a
roof over his head, food to eat, and a family; all the things that wages
would normally support. And within Israel, God's standards were to
-treat- one another fairly. God was continually reminding them, in
comparison to how other nations did things, to remember the service they
had endured in Egypt...to -NOT- be to each other as the Egyptians had
been to them.
Now, this passage seems a bit austere. He came in with nothing, he
leaves with nothing.
But God's intention for Israel was NOT to have permanent slaves of
"As a hired servant and a sojourner he shall be with you, and shall
serve you until the Year of Jubilee. And then he shall depart from you;
he and his children with him; and shall return to his own family. He
shall return to the possession of his fathers. For they are My servants,
whom I brought out of the land of Egypt; they shall not be sold as
slaves. You shall not rule over him with harshness, but you shall fear
your God." (Le25:40-43)
Jews could buy permanent slaves of non-Jews...
"And as for your male and female slaves whom you may have from the
nations that are around you, from them you shall buy male and female
slaves. Moreover you shall buy the children of the strangers who sojourn
among you, and their families who are with you, which they beget in your
land; and they shall be your property. And you shall take them as an
inheritance for your children after you, to inherit them as a
possession; they shall be your permanent slaves. But regarding your
brethren, the children of Israel, you shall not rule over one another
with harshness." (Le25:44-46)
Jews could be redeemed by a rich relative. But even if nobody redeemed
them, at the year of Jubilee, Jews were to be released from servitude:
"He shall be with him year by year as a hired servant, and he shall not
rule with harshness over him before your eyes. And if he is not redeemed
in these years, then he shall go out in the Year of Jubilee; he and his
children with him." (Le25:53-54)
And when somebody came to be in need, asking for a loan, stinginess was
not to be on the lender's mind...
"If there is among you, of your brethren within any of the gates in your
land which Jehovah your God is giving you, a man who is in need, you
shall not harden your heart nor shut your hand from your needy brother,
but you shall open your hand, to open unto him and lend, to lend to him
sufficient for his need in whatever he is lacking. Beware that there not
be a thought in your wicked heart, saying, The seventh year, the year of
release, approaches; and your eye be evil against your needy brother and
you give him nothing, and he cry out to Jehovah against you, and it
become sin unto you. You shall lend to give to him, and your heart shall
not tremble to give to him; because for this thing Jehovah your God will
bless you in all your works and in all to which you put your hand."
So... the lender might 'lose' a bit lending to the poor. God says to not
worry about it. Give to the poor willingly, and God will more-than
reward for the good heart, by prospering the lender.
And God here says something that Jesus re-iterated:
"For the needy will never cease from the land; therefore I command you,
saying, You shall open, to open your hand unto your brother, to your
poor and your needy, in your land." (De15:11, Mt26:11)
And notice how God says to send out the released servant:
"And when you send him away free from you, you shall not send him away
empty; you shall richly adorn him from your flock, from your threshing
floor, and from your winepress. From out of whatever Jehovah has blessed
you, you shall give to him. You shall remember that you were a slave in
the land of Egypt, and Jehovah your God redeemed you; therefore I
command you this thing today... It shall not be difficult in your eyes
to let him go free from you; for he has served you six years for double
the wages of a hired servant. And Jehovah your God will bless you in all
that you do." (De15:13-15,18)
Those returning from exile had a problem with this, and Nehemiah had to
scold them for mistreating each other and says,
"...now indeed, will you even sell your brothers? Or should they be sold
to us? Then they were silenced and found nothing to answer. Then I said,
What you are doing is not good. Should you not walk in the fear of our
God because of the reproach of the nations, our enemies?" (Neh5:8-9)
Also, those who are employers, who pay wages to those hired...
"You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether
one of your brethren or one of the sojourners who is in your land within
your gates. Each day you shall give him his wages, and not let the sun
go down on it, for he is poor and is sustaining his soul with it; lest
he cry out against you unto Jehovah, and it be sin in you." (De24:14-15)
If we look at all these things, is it not like Jesus taught...
"And as you would have men do to you, you also do likewise to them."
The "love your neighbor as yourself" principle.
I believe what we see here is both economy and humanity. How to conduct
finances, and also how to treat a fellow-human. Today is one of the
wealthiest times in human history. Even the poor today, many centuries
ago would have been considered wealthy. Look! They've got running water,
indoor plumbing, technological gadgets, clothes, shoes. Even the poorest
person has at least a couple of coins rattling in their pocket. And how
many of them have at their disposal what would make a king's chariot
look like nothing... they can jump into a vehicle, turn the key, and off
they go in comfort.
But times have not always been this good. Perhaps an illustration from
the Great Depression years ago will help illustrate this "servitude" God
is exhorting about. My father grew up on the family farm in central
N.Dakota. It was wheat, cattle and the feed to raise the cattle. The
neighbors were dairy farmers. They worked with horses and man-power.
During the Great Depression (where you've seen pictures of the soup
lines in the bigger cities), on the farms there wasn't much money,
either. My father would tell about, when he was a kid, these couple of
men who would show up as the growing season was starting, as farm work
needed to be done. No words were exchanged between them and grandpa.
They would simply show up, grab some tools, and go to work. They would
get fed at meal times. (Grandma would ramble on in her forgetful years,
retelling about cooking for the work crews) They would sleep in the barn
in the hay loft. They would work all season. Fall came, they were on
their way; until 'next' spring, when they showed up again. There wasn't any money to -pay- them. They came, worked, got fed and housed. That's what they came for. Work in exchange for subsistence. And grandpa got help for the farm.
In ancient times this was the synergism that often existed. And
typically, the workers were the 'slaves' of the owners. How these slaves
were acquired might have been through trade, purchase or conquest.
History has been cruel to humanity... thanks to Adam and Eve and sin.
And as in the case of those from Africa who were kidnapped... well...
they were not the first in history to be so-treated. That's no excuse.
But facts are facts. Nevertheless slavery has always existed.
Notice that God is not abolishing slavery. But He establishes limits and
guidelines. Just because Israel was God's elect, He did not abolish
slavery in Israel. Nor because a person was a fellow-Israeli did not
mean the servant could sluff off.
"And those who have believing masters, let them not despise them because
they are brethren, but rather serve them because those who are benefited
are believers and beloved. Teach and exhort these things." (1Ti6:2)
But God also provided a "debt free" date; but not based on the bottom
line of a ledger page or spread sheet. Six years of service, and then
the seventh, Freedom. God also provided the same for nature. The land,
after six years of farming, the seventh was to be a sabbath. Modern
farmers observe the practice known as summer fallow. Plow it, cultivate
it, but don't grow any crops on it. Give the land "rest" (sabbath).
This sabbath principle was not just for Jews, but also for the gentile
"and the seventh day is the Sabbath of Jehovah your God. In it you shall
not do any work; you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male
servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your sojourner
who is within your gates." (Ex20:10)
In the beginning, because of sin, God's edict was...
"In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the
-How- does one work? What is man's relationship with each other in this
endeavor of working? If the economy has money, one works, earns money
and -pays- for food and housing. When there wasn't money, other
relationships were forged. And God did not negate those arrangements.
But when it came to His own elect, Israel, He established an order of
compassion, equity and justice.
Female Slave Wives
"And if a man sells his daughter to be a female slave, she shall not go
out as the male slaves go out" (21:7)
In ancient times there was no such thing as feminist rights or women's
lib. While we certainly know the story of Jacob falling for the 'hottie'
Rachel, on the wedding night her older sister Leah was substituted. And
rather than making things right, Laban suggests to Jacob that he take
-both- as wives; for 14 years labor. We certainly have the Song of
Solomon, but Solomon was wealthy, and in those circles marriages were
often political arrangements between nations. For the most part, in
eastern cultures, marriages were arranged. The parents would "make
deals" to match up their sons and daughters with each other. They would
"give" and "take" their children in marriage. (1Co7:38, Ezr9:12,
Neh10:30, Jer29:6) But also, often, wives were purchased. A man's wife
was his 'property'. Even of Sarah to Abraham notice Peter's words...
"as Sarah obeyed Abraham, calling him lord..." (1Pt3:6)
And so, when a daughter was sold to a man, she was not only his slave,
but likely also his 'wife' by the conjugality of the relationship. As
such, being his 'wife', since she was "betroathed" to him (vs8), she was
not free to leave on the 7th year. By the physical union the two became
"one flesh". According to the culture it might have been a "sale" with
servitude and ownership, but in God's eyes it was also "marriage". And
as Jesus said...
"So then, they are no longer two but one flesh. Therefore what God has
yoked together, let not man separate." (Mt19:6)
But God also allowed for the "hardness of...heart" even though it was
not His intent from the beginning. (Mt19:8) If the wife was not
"agreeable" to the man, he could let her be redeemed. (vs8)
A man might purchase a woman for his son. (vs9) And as such, she would
be his 'daughter'. She was part of the family. We see several examples
of this: where Samson sees a woman and asks his parents to "get her for
me" (Jdg14:2-3) Shechem defiles Dinah and asks his father to "Get this
girl for me as wife" (Ge34:4) Or when Abraham's servant goes to "take a
wife" for Isaac. (Gen24:4)
In the beginning God made them "male and female" (Ge1:27, Mk10:6) Not
male and female[S]. But again, during Israel's time God did not
necessarily undo everything that culture had become. Just as last lesson
we observed that servitude was often the economic practicality for
working people to survive, under the hand of a blessed patron; in a
similar way the sustenance of a female was, to be in servitude to a
master, which then also often involved a conjugal arrangement. So, a
master might have multiple wives, if he didn't give/appoint a female
slave to a male slave as that male slave's wife. (21:4) You see, in
those cultures things were not always "romantic" as Hollywood makes
everything out to be.
So, a man has a slave/wife; and then gets another wife. (vs10) The
attention to the new wife is not to diminish what he is to the first
wife. Food, clothing and conjugal rights. And if he reneges on any of
these three things, the slave/wife can "go out free". (vs11) The
marital squabbles of: If you don't, then I won't...don't hold very much
weight. She could then say: If you won't, then I'm outta here!
"If a man has two wives, one loved and the other hated, and they have
borne him children, both the loved and the hated, and if the firstborn
son is of her who is hated, then it shall be, on the day he bequeaths
his possessions to his sons, that he shall not make the son of the loved
wife the firstborn before the son of the hated, the true firstborn. But
he shall acknowledge the son of the hated wife as the firstborn by
giving him a double portion of all that he has, for he is the beginning
of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his." (De21:15-17)
Notice that near his death, Jacob acknowledges Leah (the 'hated' wife) as being his wife, along with Abraham and Isaac and their wives. (Ge49:31)
Now, regarding kings God commanded...
"Neither shall he multiply wives for himself, that his heart not be
turned aside" (De17:17a)
And we see what happened with Solomon and his thousand wives...
"For so it was, when Solomon was old, that his wives thrust his heart
aside after other gods; and his heart was not perfect with Jehovah his
God, as was the heart of his father David." (1Ki11:4)
But men could acquire wives from the plunder of battle.
"When you go out to war against your enemies, and Jehovah your God has
delivered them into your hand, and you have taken them captive, and you
see among the captives a woman with a beautiful figure, and desire her
and would take her for your wife, then you shall bring her home to your
house, and she shall shave her head and do her nails. She shall put off
the clothes of her captivity, remain in your house, and mourn her father
and her mother a month of days; after that you may go in to her and be
her husband, and she shall be your wife. And it shall be, if you have no
delight in her, then you shall set her free, but you certainly shall not
sell her for money; you shall not treat her as a slave, because you have
humbled her." (De21:10-14)
It might be warfare; it might be plunder; she may now be a 'slave'; but
there is to be compassion and dignity. She might be a "slave", but she
is not a "sex slave". She is a woman. Warfare involves death. Let her
mourn her family. Let her purify herself through her monthly time. Let
her "do her nails"...feel 'pretty' again. Let her have -time- to
transition into your family.
Now, I do find this interesting, that for all the "separation" God
requires of Israel from the pagans and idolatry, and the propensity for
spouses to turn a person away from God to the pagan idols, that God was
allowing for Jewish men to take pagan captives as wives. What about
Paul's exhortation later that marriage should be "only in the Lord"?
(1Co7:39) Is it that the spirituality of a household is governed by the
man/father/husband? After all, just because a household is (officially)
"Godly", doesn't mean that -everyone- in the household is a Believer, in
their heart/s. I don't know... just observing and asking. If the husband
was also the 'master', his word was law. If he led in times of worship,
everyone complied. It was his duty to "teach [the laws] diligently to
[their] children" (De6:7); and by the same token, he could outlaw the
mention of pagan deities and ways within his own household. Israel in
the wilderness was following the rituals, but Joshua also chides them to
"put away the foreign gods which are among you" (Josh24:14,23)
If the law was given, that if somebody was worshiping other gods, to
take them out and stone them, and Joshua knows there are these gods, why
were they not stoning people for their idolatry? I don't know. Perhaps
it's as Jesus said, in spite of Law, the practicality is that the tares
-will- be growing up among the wheat; and if the campaign to root out
the tares is too severe, some of the wheat might get uprooted, too. But
the tares are reserved for judgment at the harvest. (Mt13:25-30)
You see...some people castigate God for His harshness. But actually, God
is quite merciful. He lets an awful lot "slide", without addressing it
in judgment...right away, 'now', suddenly "zap!"
"For He knows our frame; He remembers that we are dust." (Ps103:14)
And as they worshipped with the sacrifices, the sacrifices which
represented atonement for sin, the singers would sing...
"For He is good, for His mercy is eternal" (2Ch5:13, 7:3,6)
And God -did- make life to procreate, and the drives to accomplish it.
So, this is where you are in life. Here are the guidelines on how to
Marriage & Sexual Issues
"If a man seduces a virgin who is not betrothed, and lies with her, he
shall give a dowry, the purchase price for her to be his wife. If her
father utterly refuses to give her to him, he shall pay money according
to the dowry of virgins." (22:16-17)
What is marriage? Is it the signatures down at the courthouse? Is it
the pronouncement of the priest: I now pronounce you man and wife. (?)
Is it the slipping of rings on each other's fingers? Is it -the- 'kiss'?
Jesus said, "what God has yoked together" (Mt19:6) How does God -yoke-
together a man and woman?
God brought the woman to the man and pronounced, "and having cleaved to
his wife, they are one flesh" (Ge2:24) Paul clarifies what "cleave"
means when he speaks of prostitution, "he who is joined to a harlot is
one body" and they are "one flesh" (1Co6:16) That's the sexual act;
that's what harlotry is about. And if this needs any more clarification,
it is to "go in to her" and be her husband, she is his wife. (Ge29:21,
In other words: have sex with an unattached female? Whatever the culture
requires, do it. She's now your wife.
However, God also does not go contrary to His established order and
hierarchy of chain-of-command. In Numbers ch30 are the rules regarding a
woman's authority, whether it be her father, husband or God. Even in the
matters of vows/promises to God, a woman's father or husband have the
authority to annul the woman's vow, if she made a "rash utterance"
(Nu30:6) When Jephthah made a vow of a rash utterance, he ended up killing his own daughter. (Jdg11) The woman has a safeguard; if she submits to her male authority, he can rescue her from herself. God made man in His own image; He then made the woman out of man's rib, in the man's image, and brought her -to- the man. (Ge2:22-23, 1Ti2:13) The hierarchy of authority is, in this order: God, Jesus, Man, Woman. (1Co11:3)
And so, if a man seduces an unattached female, her father can keep her
from a potentially bad marriage if he sees that the man is a
piece-of-work, and doesn't want his daughter 'stuck' with such a person.
But if the father doesn't intervene, they are married.
What about when a man and attached woman (either married or engaged) are
"If a man is found lying with a woman married to a husband, then both of
them shall die; the man that lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you
shall put away the evil from Israel. If a young woman who is a virgin is
betrothed to a man, and a man finds her in the city and lies with her,
then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city, and you
shall stone them to death with stones, the young woman because she did
not cry out in the city, and the man because he has humbled his
neighborís wife; thus you shall put away the evil from among you."
How does this differ from the matter Jesus was asked to adjudicate?
"they said to Him, Teacher, this woman was caught in adultery, in the
very act. Now Moses, in the Law, commanded us that such should be
stoned. But what do You say? This they said, testing Him, that they
might have something of which to accuse Him. But Jesus stooped down and
wrote on the ground with His finger, as though He did not hear. So when
they continued asking Him, He raised Himself up and said to them, He who
is without sin among you, let him throw the first stone at her."
If the woman was caught "in the very act", where was the man? The law
said that "both of them shall die". If she was caught IN THE ACT, it
would have been easy to determine -who- the man was, so that he might
also be brought to trial.
But what about rape?
"But if a man finds a betrothed young woman in the field, and the man
forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lay with her shall
die. But you shall do nothing to the young woman; there is in the young
woman no sin deserving of death, for just as when a man rises against
his neighbor and kills him, even so is this matter; for he had found her
in the field, and the betrothed young woman had cried out, but there was
no one to deliver her." (De22:25-27)
This, too, is different from what they do in muslim countries. A woman
gets raped and -she- is stoned, and nothing happens to the man. It was
not the woman's fault that the man attacked her. The perpetrator is to
be punished, and the innocent one goes free.
Also, notice that engagement/betrothal carries the same weight as
marriage. They have not yet met in the marriage bed, but they have made
their pledges. As Paul speaks of "first faith" of widows' first
husbands, but now wish to get married again. (1Ti5:11-14) Marriage is
not merely the -physical- "one flesh" union, but also the emotional and
spiritual promise and fidelity. Thus, is not "cleave" also, not just
physical, but also physical, emotional, spiritual; the same way we are
in Christ: spirit, soul and body. (1Th5:23)
Of course, sexual issues also cover other various aspects:
--Not all sexual misdeeds received stoning. In the case of the bitter
water of jealousy, the woman is not stoned, but she becomes unable to
bear children. (Nu5:13-31) Having children was considered a "blessing"
(Ps127:3-5, De28:4,11); and so being childless was considered a
"reproach" and a "curse" (Is4:1, De28:18)
--If a person was with an engaged woman, who was a slave, there was no
punishment, because she was not "free". A tresspass offering was to be
made. (Le19:20-22) This one I don't understand. I understand the woman
not being punished, because she is not free; but why is not the man
punished, like in the case of rape?
--Incest of all sorts is forbidden. (De27:20-23)
--Bestiality is forbidden (De27:21, Le18:23) and the guilty is to be
--No cross-dressing; it is an abomination (De22:5)
--No "dirty fighting". Involving the opponent's genitals while fighting
is forbidden. If a man's wife grabbed his opponent's genitals to help
out her husband in the fight, her hand was to be cut off. (De25:11-12)
In today's society, in some circles, this seems to be a primary attack
target; part of today's perversity. The knee to the groin.
--No unequal yokes in marriage. Paul says, "Only in the Lord" (1Co7:39)
When Israel was sent to destroy Midian, the men brought back, alive, all
the women and children, and Moses chides them,
"And Moses said to them: Have you kept alive all the women and let them
live? Behold, these women caused the sons of Israel, through the counsel
of Balaam, to trespass against Jehovah in the matter of Peor, and there
was a plague among the congregation of Jehovah. Now therefore, kill
every male among the little ones, and kill every woman who has known a
man by lying with a male. But keep alive for yourselves all the female
children who have not known a male by lying with him." (Num31:15-18)
The adult women were pagans, and when Israel and Midian intermarried,
they seduced Israel away into idolatry. In keeping alive the female
-children-, presumably it was thought that they could be "trained up"
(Pr22:6) just as any Israeli child could, in the fear of God? Regarding
the pagans whom Israel was going into the land to dispossess...
"Nor shall you make marriages with them. You shall not give your
daughter to their son, nor take their daughter for your son. For they
will turn your sons away from following Me, to serve other gods; and the
anger of Jehovah will burn against you and quickly destroy you. But thus
you shall deal with them: you shall break down their altars, and shatter
their pillars, and chop down their groves, and burn their graven images
with fire." (De7:3-5)
And then, a couple of other things which modern society doesn't think
"When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens that she finds
no favor in his eyes because he has found some uncleanness in her, and
he writes her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends
her out of his house, if she has departed from his house, and goes and
becomes another manís wife, if the latter husband hates her and writes
her a certificate of divorce, puts it in her hand, and sends her out of
his house, or if the latter husband who took her as his wife dies, then
her former husband who sent her away cannot take her back to be his wife
after she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before Jehovah,
and you shall not bring sin upon the land which Jehovah your God is
giving to you as an inheritance." (De24:1-4)
And yet, to Israel God says...
"They say, If a man puts away his wife, and she goes from him and
becomes another manís, shall he return to her again? Would not that land
be greatly polluted? But you have committed adultery with many lovers;
yet turn back to Me, says Jehovah." (Jer3:1)
If there has been infidelity in a marriage, a person who sticks strictly
to the -letter- of the Law would say that the original couple cannot be
reconciled. And yet I have heard of cases where, after the sin, one or
both parties came to the Lord in Saving Faith, and became reconciled.
Were they in error to do so? The legalist would say Yes. But in God's
own dealings with Israel we see His 'grace' and mercy. Let's remember
that not every trespass received a stoning. God's Mercy is Eternal.
--There was another tradition that I don't suppose is done in today's
western cultures. If a man married a woman, and then died without
children, if the man had a brother, the brother was to take the widow
and provide seed for his dead brother, to raise up children through his
widowed sister-in-law. And it was such a serious issue that, if the
brother didn't wish to perform this service, the widow could take him
before the elders and humiliate him publicly. (De25:5-10)
This was the situation under which Boaz took Ruth as wife. But
obligation dictated that he needed to offer the option to a 'closer'
relative, and when that closer relative declined, Boaz was free to take
Ruth. (Ruth ch4)
On the other hand, when Onan refused to give his sister-in-law his seed,
God killed him. He was just going to 'have sex' (fool around), but not complete the act. (Ge38:6-10) Which, then, became the beginning in the
series of events which led to Judah fathering Perez through his own
daughter-in-law Tamar; who was also in the lineage to the birth of
However, in God's economy, "fruitfulness" is His blessing and design.
Which is why...
"If a man lies with a male as one lies with a woman, both of them
have committed an abomination. They shall be executed to death. Their
blood shall be upon them." (Le20:13)(Le18:22)
There is no possible way that males together can procreate. And for
their perversity God completely destroyed and annihilated the cities of
Sodom and Gomorrah.
Nor is it a case that God doesn't want men to 'love' each other. David
and Jonathan loved each other in such a way that David wrote a song upon
the occasion of Jonathan's death, "your love to me was wonderful,
surpassing the love of women" (2Sa1:26) John was the disciple "whom
Jesus loved" (Jn13:23, 21:20) But it should be clearly understood that
'love' is not 'sex'. Sex is an act of procreation, which is simply
impossible between men. True love far-surpasses what sodomy practices!
As we see in our world today, things related to sex are likely THE #1
AREA OF PERVERSITY. People and animals aren't meant to procreate.
People of the same gender are not equipped to procreate; the body parts
don't even 'fit' that way. Procreation is intended the way God designed
it, "male and female". I'm sure there are many passages we have not
addressed on this subject. But Scripture addresses it much, in similar
proportion to how much humanity has corrupted it. And God gave this
exhortation in summarizing it...
"Do not defile yourselves with any of these things; for by all these the
nations which I am casting out before you have been defiled; for the
land is defiled. Therefore I am visiting its depravity upon it, and the
land is vomiting out its inhabitants. You shall therefore keep My
statutes and My judgments, and shall not do any of these abominations,
neither the native nor any stranger who sojourns among you (for all
these abominations the men who were in the land before you have done,
and the land is defiled), that the land not also vomit you out when you
defile it, as it vomited out the nations that were before you. For
whoever does any of these abominations, the persons who do them shall be
cut off from among their people. Therefore you shall keep My charge, so
that you do not do any of these abominable customs which were done
before you, and that you do not defile yourselves by them: I am Jehovah
your God." (Le18:24-30)
Personal Assault (21:12-27)
"You shall not murder" (20:13)
First of all, we need to understand words, and be sure we are using the
correct words. For the 6th Commandment the KJV says, "Thou shalt not
kill"; and so then various activists, when arguing against Capital
Punishment and the Bible crowd, will retort that "the Bible says you
shall not kill"; and since capital punishment is an act of -killing-,
they are against capital punishment. But these same people will argue
tooth-n-nail for a woman's "right to choose" to kill her unborn baby
within her own womb; but they re-word it to say "aborting fetal tissue",
as though the baby was merely a harmful 'lump' that needs cutting out.
"He who strikes a man so that he dies shall be executed to death.
However, if he did not lie in wait, but God allowed the meeting into his
hand, then I will appoint for you a place where he may flee." (21:12-13)
The Hebrew word includes killing in 1) premeditation, 2) accidental, 3)
as avenger. In other words, a person who was alive, is now dead;
whatever the motive or cause. But this passage specifies the guilty
person is to be killed. Does God's Word contradict itself? As Israel was
taking possession of God's inheritance to them they were told to go in
and kill the pagans and obliterate evidences of their pagan idolatry.
Was God contradicting Himself? Do not kill; but kill...??
In English the word "kill" indicates that a living person is now dead.
To "put to death" or "deprive of life". As I browse through the
dictionary definition, there doesn't seem to be any moral, emotional or
purpose for the killing. Simply: that which was alive has been made
To accomodate the Hebrew aspect of "premeditation" we have the English
word "murder": "The unlawful killing of one human being by another,
especially with premeditated malice"
And for the Hebrew aspect of "avenger" we find "execute": "To put to
death, especially by carrying out a lawful sentence".
And so, this passage, along with some others, describe and explain
what are capital offenses, and which are not.
First of all, PLOTTING to kill. This is premeditation and planning in
the first degree. There's no 'accident' involved. From the depths of the
heart the person has murder on their mind, and they carry it out. They
are to be EXECUTED. Supposing the ruling powers have sent the officers
to arrest him, and he flees and hides in the temple or grabs the "horns
of the altar", thinking: Surely they won't -defile- God's temple to shed
"...you shall take him even from My altar, that he may die" (vs14)
As we see later as Solomon has risen to the throne, Joab has been guilty
of shedding innocent blood during David's rule, deserving execution, and
runs to the altar. Solomon sends the executioners and tells them to "Go,
fall on him". Joab has run to the tabernacle and the executioners are
reticent to go in (only the priests were to enter), so they send back to
Solomon, and he confirms the order to go in and execute him (1Ki2:29-31)
The shedding of blood is one of the highest priority laws. After the
Flood, God gives very -few- laws, but the one He does give is regarding
"Surely the blood of your souls will I require; at the hand of every
living thing will I require it, and at the hand of man. At the hand of
every manís brother I will require the soul of man. Whoever sheds manís
blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made
So, the temple or altar might become defiled? The un-punished murder of
innocent blood is a far greater defilement.
"The earth is also defiled under its inhabitants" (Is24:5)
When Cain killed Abel, God said...
"The voice of your brother's blood cries out to Me from the ground"
Being made "in the image of God", when somebody commits murder they have
transgressed against God's character and essence. God "gives to all
life, breath and all things" (Ac17:25) God -breathed- into man of His
spirit, and man became a "living soul" (Ge2:7) Murder is not only
against the -person- who is now dead, but against God's very spirit, who
gave that life. Jesus said, "I am the resurrection and the life"
(Jn11:25) For a murderer to kill another person is to execrate Jesus
Christ; because "in Him we exist" (Ac17:28, Col1:17)
Now, if the death was accidental, Israel had Cities of Refuge where the
killer could flee, and then face what we call trial "by jury". (Nu35:24)
That whole chapter goes into detail. Supposing the two bumped into each
other, and the one fell and died, that is accidental. Supposing people
were chopping wood, and the ax head flies off the handle and hits
another person such that they die, that is accidental. (De19:1-13)
But a person grabs a stone, a club, some other object by which to make
his -beating- of the other person more effective, and the person dies...
that is murder. The murderer is to be executed. Perhaps, as people are
wont to do when fighting, they don't have any intention to -kill- the
other person; they just want to 'beat the snot' out of them; but their
fighting becomes so intense that one of them dies. It doesn't matter the
intention of the killer: They were fighting, and one of them died. The
one remaining alive is a murderer. He did not -have- to fight. He could
have "given place to wrath" (Ro12:19), and if he had done so, they both
would still be alive. But he chose to fight, and it resulted in death.
The murderer is to be executed. If the -other- person had been more
successful, and the one being discussed was killed, instead, then the
-other- person would be the murderer, and -he- would be executed.
And there are some other categories:
"Honor your father and your mother, that your days may be long upon the
land which Jehovah your God is giving you" (20:12)
The striking of a parent; and the passage does not even say that they
are killed; such an assault is to be met with execution. Even one who
(merely) "curses" a parent, with words, was to be executed. (Le20:9) In
those days, even a rebellious son who refused to be disciplined and
corrected, was to be brought before the rulers and executed.
When I was a child there were some things that were JUST NOT DONE. A
child did not sass back, or hit, or any such thing a parent (or adult).
It was not just my family, but some of the families of my peers. Such
infractions would receive a swift slap across the face, a grabbing of
the ear and hussled ushering into the other room where the paddle or
belt was quickly soundly applied to the seat of understanding, or some
other similar punishment. Today, kids do all sorts of things to their
parents, and instead of punishment, they get video-taped and sent to
"Funniest Videos" where everybody laughs, and if they were rebellious
enough and people laughed hard enough, perhaps they win money. We have a
generation where teens mistreat their parents, and the parents whine and
wring their hands in despair....Whatever can we dooo?? We just can't do
ANYTHING to make them behave. We've done everything we can think of! Some years ago I remember the case where a teen was beating his father in the head with a ball-peen hammer, and instead of taking control and ushering the teen to punishment, the father pleads with the son, "I love you, I love you". Well, this passage explains what could happen in Biblical Israel. But in today's mixed up world it is called "child abuse".
"Train up a child in the way he should go; and when he is old, he will
not depart from it." (Pr22:6)
But it must begin when children are young...
"Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child; the rod of correction
shall drive it far from him.... Do not withhold correction from a lad,
for if you beat him with the rod, he will not die." (Pr22:15, 23:13)
"To whom shall He teach knowledge? And whom shall He make to understand
the message? Those weaned from the milk and removed from the breasts.
For precept must be upon precept, precept upon precept; line upon line,
line upon line; here a little, there a little" (Is28:9-10)
If this training has not been done before the teens years, minus a "boot
camp" experience, it's likely too late.
'Done 'everything' you can think of? NO YOU DIDN'T!
God is a God of LIFE: He gives life and sustains life. When a murderer
kills another human being, they are mocking God's life. And when an
offspring curses or any other way assaults their parents, they are
mocking those who gave God's life to them by procreation and nurture.
What about (merely) kidnapping, but not killing the person?
"He who steals a man and sells him, or if he is found in his hand, shall
be executed to death" (vs16)
A few lessons ago we discussed the sort of slavery that existed in
America years ago. Those guilty of slave trade were deserving of death.
To steal a person away from freedom is the same as taking away his life;
destroying his soul. When a criminal is holed up and holds hostages to
gain advantage against the SWAT team gathered outside, when he
eventually stands before a judge, the verdict is the death penalty.
Perhaps nobody got hurt? Nevertheless he put them at risk, with total
disregard for their lives... their souls.
"If a man is found kidnapping any of his brethren of the children of
Israel, and has treated him as a slave or sold him, then that kidnapper
shall die; thus you shall put away the evil from among you." (De24:7)
On the other hand, if a thief is caught in the act and in the struggle
is killed, "there shall be no blood shed for him" (22:2) He shouldn't
have been stealing. This subject will be covered in more detailed in a
couple more lessons.
Now, if there is a fight with injuries, but no death, there is no
execution. (vs18-19) However, the one who caused the injuries is to make
compensation for lost time while disabled, and make provision to help
the person be healed.
If a person beats their servant such that they die immediately, they are
to be executed. (vs20) They might be their "property", but nevertheless,
the servant is a -person-. However, if the servant dies after a day or
more, then there is no retribution because the servant was part of the
person's "assets". (vs21) Now this, I don't understand. Is not a human
life a human life? If the master was not to treat a servant harshly, why
is the servant's -life- not worth more beyond a day? Or perhaps the
servant was being rebellious and was receiving punishment; and so, how
harsh was the punishment? I'm not going to try to figure this out here.
If a person strikes a pregnant woman in such a way that it induces
labor, and the baby is born; if the baby remains healthy, the guilty
party is punished, but not executed. (vs22) However, if the baby is
"then you shall requite soul for soul" (vs23)
Besides the Psalms 139:13-17 passage, this right here is likely the
clearest Scripture addressing the facts and reality of the abortion
issue. A pregnant woman is acted upon by another, -causing- the baby to
emerge from the womb before its natural time. If the baby is OK, it's
like a premature birth. But if the baby dies...is that not the gist of
what abortion does! God does not consider the pre-born baby mere "fetal
tissue". The baby is a LIVING SOUL. If the baby's SOUL is taken, then so
is the SOUL of the guilty party. "soul for soul" This language could
not possibly be any clearer.
And it closes this little passage with a principle: Whatever a person
perpetrates upon another person, either in death or injury, is to be
done to the guilty person. But this is not permission for the execution
of personal vendettas. Jesus spoke to this...
"You have heard that it was said, An eye for an eye and a tooth for a
tooth. But I tell you, Do not resist evil. But whoever hits you on your
right cheek, turn the other to him also." (Mt5:38-39)
Jesus was teaching the "give place to wrath" concept. But what about
when a person has injured another, on what basis is punishment to be
meted out to satisfy -justice-? Remember the (so-called) Golden Rule
"And as you would have men do to you, you also do likewise to them."
God had given the principle...
"You shall not take vengeance, nor bear any grudge against the children
of your people, but you shall love your neighbor as yourself: I am
So, did God contradict Himself? Don't take vengeance; but "eye for eye,
tooth for tooth" ?? Remember the name of this series? "Civil Laws" When
disputing parties are standing before a judge, on what basis does the
judge adjudicate and pass sentence? Whatever the guilty party is guilty
of, return to them IN KIND, at the JUDGMENT OF THE COURT. Remember the
definition of "execute". The carrying out of a "LAWFUL SENTENCE"...
ordered BY THE COURT. Not just somebody taking revenge (getting even;
gonna make you pay!) into their own hands.
However, again, regarding servants: If a master hurt a servant, giving
them a permanent injury or disability, the servant was to be released;
given their freedom, in exchange for the hurt done to them. (vs26-27)
These laws were not -just- for Israel. A stranger could not waltz into
Israel and commit crimes, and when confronted to retort: Well, in -my-
country we can do these things. YaRight! No!
Sometimes people use the expression "Judeo-Christian" when speaking of
morality and legal codes. These laws that God gave to Israel are God's
Laws. It doesn't really matter if a person is a Jew or not. Right is
right, and wrong is wrong, and justice is justice. Period.
"You shall have the same law for the sojourner and for the native; for I
am Jehovah your God." (Le24:22)
Animal Assault (21:28-36)
What did he know, and when did he know it?
"If an ox gores a man or a woman to death, then the ox shall be stoned
to death with stones, and its flesh shall not be eaten; but the owner of
the ox shall be acquitted. But if the ox tended to thrust with its horn
in times past, and the owner has been given warning, and he has not kept
it restrained, so that it has killed a man or a woman, the ox shall be
stoned and its owner also shall be put to death." (vs28:29)
The opening question, here, is one that political pundits were tossing
around, back ten years ago, when the 9/11 event killed thousands in New
York City, when they were trying to assign blame onto President Bush for
the event. Those were Bush's political enemies, looking for fodder for
their agenda. However, it is a question that often needs to be asked.
Last lesson we observed that culpability for murder is based on motive.
But here we also learn that a person can commit murder due to neglect.
An example was given: if people are out chopping wood, and the ax head
flies off the handle, hits another person and kills them, it is deemed
'accidental'. The person is NOT a murderer.
But something the example did not address: Supposing the person sees the
ax, he can 'wiggle' the head on the handle, and does nothing to 'fix'
the ax nor to tighten up the head; the head flies off and kills
somebody. Is he guilty?
This passage with animals (oxen) who can have tendencies to butt into
things and gore them, I think can answer the 'ax' question.
What is the ox's 'tendency'? Just like people, animals have temperaments
and personalities. As an animal is with a person, they often take on the
temperament of their owner. Just as you can tell what people are like
from observing their children; often the same is true from observing a
person's animals. A mean-spirited and nasty person will often have a
dangerous and vicious dog that, anytime it gets out of the yard, or
loose from its tether, will run around the neighborhood in a rampage,
killing cats and biting people. A farmer using animals as beasts of
burden and labor, depending on how the farmer treats the animal, the
animal will tend to be either docile or always easily agitated. As the
"A righteous man understands the soul of his animal, but the tender
mercies of the wicked are cruel." (Pr12:10)
Of course, an ox is a big animal. Even in a usually gentle environment,
sometimes things set animals off. What might cause an ox to get spooked
and gore a person? Whatever the case, if an otherwise gentle animal
kills a person, the animal was to be killed. But the owner was off the
However, there are some animals that just never are tamed, but must
always be guided with heavy hand. Even the animal's owner must
continually take precautions. And so, the owner, through negligence,
lets the animal loose, and it gores and kills a person...both the animal
-AND- the owner are killed. The owner knew the animal's tendency and did
not keep it under control.
This is often the case when a vicious dog violently attacks somebody,
they are often collected by animal control and euthanized.
A couple of exceptions: Perhaps the case is such that execution is not
proper? Maybe there were extenuating circumstances? Perhaps something
happened beyond the owner's control and the ox got out? Remember, this
is being adjudicated before the judge (priest), and it doesn't seem
right to execute the person, a fine is imposed (vs30)
And this, like some other things that I don't understand: if the ox
gores another's human SERVANTS, the penalty was a fine of "thirty
shekels of silver" (vs32) Why a fine? Why not execution? Are servants
not of equal value as free persons? Is their soul not as significant as
a free person? Is blood not blood? This I don't understand
Or is this a prophetic type of when Jesus would be 'sold' for 30 pieces
of silver? (Zec11:12-13, Mt26:15) As Jesus came and gave Himself in the
form of a "bondservant" (Php2:7)
But there is also law regarding animals, as property.
Dig a pit and don't cover it, and your neighbor's animal falls into it
and is killed...the one who dug the pit is liable for the dead animal.
There's a reason construction zones put up barriers, cones, flashing
lights and reflectors for night time. Is it the life of the animal God
is concerned about? "Or does He say it altogether for our sakes?"
(1Co9:9-10) The animal is of value to its owner in terms of his
livelihood. The animal is killed, the owner's productivity suffers. Do
harm to another person, compensation is due.
And even with animals to other animals, when -owned- by people. An ox
gores another ox and kills it. Are the costs split equally? Or was the
one ox -known- for goring? If so, its owner must compensate for his own
It is a matter of -responsibility-. We do not live life, caring only
about -self-. Cain asked God, "Am I my brother's keeper?" (Ge4:9) When
God answered, "The voice of your brotherís blood cries out to Me from
the ground" (vs10), He was saying, essentially, "Yes, you are!" In that
case, Cain had killed Abel with malice aforethought. In the previous
lesson we discussed -direct- killing and injury of a fellow-human; where
one makes -direct-, personal, physical contact to effect injury or
But in this lesson we see that responsibility is held also for INDIRECT
contact and consequences. The things we are directly responsible for, if
those things cause death or injury to others because of our neglegence
or inattention to circumstances or events; it is as if -we- had actually
personally done those injuries.
What about that "ax" question? If an ax head is 'loose' on the handle, any reasonable person is going to assume that at some point the head might go flying off. It -could- happen. Just as in the case of an ox that -tends- to want to gore, so you know you better keep it in check, otherwise eventually it's going to kill somebody; same with the ax. The person knew the head was loose, and did nothing to fix it. If it kills somebody, certainly it was an "accident"; but was totally preventible. The person who didn't prevent the accident, by fixing the ax, is guilty of murder.
"And whoever kills a beast shall make compensation; but whoever kills a
man shall be put to death. You shall have the same law for the sojourner
and for the native; for I am Jehovah your God." (Le24:21-22)
Theft and Loss (22:1-15)
"You shall not steal" (20:15)
Now, finally, we get to a commandment that does not require the death
penalty for disobedience.
"If a man steals an ox or a sheep, and slaughters it or sells it, he
shall restore five oxen for an ox and four sheep for a sheep...if the
thing stolen is found in his possession alive in his hand, whether it is
an ox or donkey or sheep, he shall restore double" (22:1,4)
Is not the text pretty self-explanatory.
...And in these lessons, as with all writings at this website, I hope the reader is looking up the passages and reading them. These studies aren't intended to address every last word individually; assuming the reader has the ability, also, to read with understanding...
What is the explanation for the differences in restitution? Is it that,
in the one case he has stolen and made merchandise for profit, where the
other he still has possession? In Proverbs it says...
"They do not despise a thief, if he steals to satisfy his soul when he
is hungry. But if he is found, he shall restore sevenfold.." (Pr6:30-31)
The tithe was collected for the poor, widows, orphans and Levites. It is
not wrong to eat what belongs to someone else, if they 'give' it to the
poor. But it is wrong for the poor to -steal- it.
Around Spokane, where I live, there are people all over, standing on the
sidewalks at intersections, holding signs with various messages, looking
for hand-outs. The other day as I was coming out of Walgreens with the
jug of milk I had just purchased, I hear this voice to the side and
behind me: Sir, do you have some change? And I turn to see this man
sitting in the shade on the sidewalk, leaning against the building.
About a year ago this old man used to walk by, pushing this old
dilapidated bike (with his stuff strapped to it), and two scruffy
scrawny dogs dragging along ahead of him at the end of this rope. He
looked to be genuinely in bad shape; as did his dogs. On the other hand,
more currently there is this person I can see regularly from my store
windows, with his dog that is usually full of energy, running and
jumping around at the end of the leash, but when I have happened to
drive or walk by to see what his sign says: "I need food for my dog".
And I've seen him over there 'training' his dog not to be so
rambunctious, but to conform to the image of poverty, and droop his
tail. With today's economy what it is, there truly are people hurting,
and a person might feel a tug to give them a little something. On the
other hand, it is pretty well known that there are the pan-handlers who
"work the system". I've heard tell that some will -drive- their fancy
'newer' model vehicles, park them, and go stand wherever it is they
stand, and rake in the money by the fist-fulls. They make more money
pan-handling than many do at well-paying jobs. This one a block over
from the store, here, I have seen on occasion when he was walking
to/from his 'home'(?) to the street corner, and where he was walking
to/from was a neighborhood, certainly not the upper crust; but certainly
also not the down-trodden part of town. He apparently -has- a 'home' he
'commutes' to/from to his street corner, where he begs for "food for his
When I was in high school, my dad pastored this little church, and we lived in the parsonage, next to the church building. (My mother had died a few years previously, so it was the two of us) One evening as we had just sat down to supper, there is this knock at the door. This hobo, obviously on hard times: Can you spare a little change for bus fair? They never just ask for "money", but what they always attach some 'purpose' for which they need it. The hobo didn't get any money, but was invited in to share in our supper. (bachelor cooked, and served onto the plate directly from the cooking pans; no intermediate serving bowls [that would require more washing, you see]; no fancily spread table) Well, after that, on a few other occasions, right at supper time (they might not have had a watch, but they knew what time it was!), others would knock, asking for money, and get invited in for a meal, instead. They were obviously in need, and apparently the word got around in their community that they might be able to get a meal at this particular Baptist parsonage.
But do you give to panhandlers? How does one know they are -truly- in
need, or are they merely 'acting' the part? Like the Gibeonites who put
on torn and tattered clothes, old dried out water bottles, and worn out
sandles, fooling Israel that they were from a "distant land" in order to
con Israel into a peace treaty; when they actually lived next door to
But you steal? The cops are called and you get hauled off to jail.
What if you hear a "prowler" who happens to be stealing, you grab
'whatever' you feel like grabbing as a 'weapon', go sneak in on them to
confront them, and a scuffle ensues; and when it is all over, the thief
is lying there, dead. The home owner is NOT guilty of "murder". He was
stealing and got caught, and the homeowner was rightfully protecting
what was his, even being "fully armed". (22:2)(Mt12:29, Lk11:21)
Supposing the thief is injured and doesn't die? Supposing he has nothing
with which to payback what he stole? In that economy he was to be "sold
for his theft" (22:3) Today, perhaps that would translate to prison
time? But not capital punishment. He was just stealing -things-; not
physically hurting people.
In God's economy there was no such thing as "criminal's rights". Even in
the case involving accidental death, where the one who killed was not
guilty of "murder" nor was executed; nevertheless, if he wanted to be
safe from the kinsman avenger-of-blood, he needed to live in the city of
refuge until the high priest died. (Num35:25-28) He could not be
declared "not guilty" and go home. Even after being declared "not
guilty", if he left the city of refuge, and the avenger found him and
killed him, that was his tough luck. God's economy was heavily weighted
in the direction of NOT KILLING, whether murder or involuntary
manslaughter... and in the direction of retribution against the wrong.
"Surely the blood of your souls will I require; at the hand of every
living thing will I require it, and at the hand of man. At the hand of
every manís brother I will require the soul of man. Whoever sheds manís
blood, by man his blood shall be shed; for in the image of God He made
These next verses I should think are pretty much self-explanatory, and
we don't need to spend a lot of time. You can read them. The concepts
and principles follow on what we've already observed.
In farming society, one farmer out of negligence allows his animals into
his neighbor's fields, and they eat and trample the neighbor's crop, the
owner of the offending animals is to compensate for the damages and
loss. Somebody starts a fire and it does damage, he is to compensate for
the damages. (22:5-6) Does this not make sense!
And then, what about the "he says, he says" cases? One's word against
the word of another. As sometimes happens, somebody offers to store
goods for another, but while in storage, they are stolen. Or animals are
hurt or die while being kept? Or a person borrows something from
another. Supposing the thing is hurt or broken while being borrowed, vs
the same thing is hurt or broken while the owner is -there-, not only
loaning, but also helping. (22:7-15)
There is a concept here that the person who is "in charge" at the moment
is also "responsible" for what happens under their watch. Like the
little saying by which certain politicians or managers in charge in this country will -own- their own responsibility.
"The buck stops here"
Sometimes disputes require a 3rd party, where...
"...the matter of both of them shall come before the judges; and
whomever the judges declare guilty shall restore double to his neighbor"
The basic concept that occurs throughout is that: If a person causes
injury or damage to another person, they are to MAKE GOOD. Make
restitution. Make compensation for the injury or loss they have caused.
Take 'responsibility' for their actions.
Supposing a guilty person wants to make compensation, but the person is
no longer alive and/or there are no relatives TO WHOM to make
"But if the man has no relative to whom restitution may be made for the
wrong, the restitution for the wrong shall go to Jehovah for the priest,
besides the ram of the atonement with which atonement is made for him."
Also for "unintentional" trespasses they had offerings they made to God.
"Thus the priest shall make atonement for the soul who sins
unintentionally, when he sins unintentionally before Jehovah, to make
atonement for him; and it shall be forgiven him." (Nu15:28)
However, the law is not only about "don't do this", or what happens if
you did wrong. The law is not only 'reactive', but also proactive.
"You shall not see your brotherís ox or his sheep going astray, and hide
yourself from them; you shall turn them back to restore them to your
brother. And if your brother is not near you, or if you do not know him,
then you shall bring it to your own house, and it shall remain with you
until your brother seeks for it; and you shall restore it to him. You
shall do the same with his donkey, and so shall you do with his garment;
with any lost thing of your brotherís, which he has lost and you have
found, you shall do likewise; you cannot hide it. You shall not see your
brotherís donkey or his ox fallen down along the road, and hide yourself
from them; you shall help him lift it up to make it stand." (De22:1-4)
Well.... isn't this just being "neighborly"? As this is being prepared,
this year has seen an unusual number of devastating storms and tornadoes
in the eastern half of this country. Many towns leveled into
non-existence, and hundreds of deaths. The news stories continually show
neighbors helping neighbors: sifting through the rubble, cleaning up,
helping to rebuild, providing temporary housing and meals to those whose
homes were wiped out. The news reporters, often from large cities where
people tend to go about, "minding their own business", and not getting
involved with neighbors, express wonderment at how everybody is helping
each other; and the typical response is something on the order of: This
is what we do. As if it is an -assumed- response.
SOMEBODY IS IN NEED... YOU HELP THEM!
But the reminder is also given regarding the blood. There is a
difference between humans and animals. There are some today who wish to
treat animals just like mankind. They promote "animal rights". They
would string up anybody who would harm any animal. But in God's
Treating People (22:11-27)
"You shall neither mistreat a sojourner nor oppress him, for you were
sojourners in the land of Egypt" (vs21)
Why is something like this commanded? Shouldn't this be normal natural
behavior: to treat other people well? The nations that Israel was about
to conquer were evil and violent. Anybody who has read the Bible will
recall when Abraham and Sarah went into Egypt, Sarah was called his
"sister"; Abraham fearing that the natives might kill him on account of
her beauty (Ge12) and again at Gerar (Ge20); as did Isaac with Rebekah
A reading from Jasher ch19 might prove enlightening.
When a stranger would come to Sodom they might strap him down to a bed
and 'stretch' him until he died. Why? Just because they wanted to. If a
poor person came to town, they might bestow gold and riches upon him,
but not allow him to eat; so when he died of starvation, they would
clamor upon him and strip his body of his clothes and jewlery. Or if
somebody wounded a person, making them bleed, the one who did the
wounding would require "payment" from the one he injured, for providing
the 'service' of making his "blood flow". When a man came to Sodom, the
edict was declared that he was to be left on the street to starve to
death, but one of Lot's daughters snuck food to him everyday. And so, as
the man wasn't dying, the people of Sodom were curious as to why he
wasn't dying, and caught her in the act of showing kindness, took her
before the judge, and the judgment was that she was tossed into the fire
and burned to ashes. Stuff like that. Their evil was not -just- that
they did things, men-with-men. (Ro1:27) But they were worse than wild
beasts in terms of normal human civility.
"for [Lot], dwelling among them, his righteous soul was tormented from
day to day by seeing and hearing their lawless deeds" (2Pt2:8)
God often reminds Israel 'why' they are to do certain things. They had
spent time in Egypt under cruel bondage. That scene in the movie "Ten
Commandments" (if I remember correctly; it's been so long since I've
seen it) where the slave falls and is crushed under the rolling sled
carrying the huge cut stone or something-or-other, and nobody takes pity
to stop and rescue him, as he gets crushed alive, might tend to show a
bit of realism as to what things were like in those times. Just because
Noah was a "preacher of righteousness" (2Pt2:5), and his family was
"perfect" in their genetics (Ge6:9), did not change the fact that Noah
was only "one of eight" and they came from a time when the earth was
"filled with violence" (Ge6:11) Noah, himself, might have been
righteous, but his family was not. What was it that Ham did to Noah?
(Ge9:22) A precursor to what Sodom was known for? And they continued the
"violence" that existed before the flood. The flood wiped out the
genetic mixing that was going on between the demons and human females
(Ge6:1-2); but it did not suddenly make everybody righteous, loving and
civil to one another.
And so God calls upon Israel's -memory- of what they had endured, and
were now liberated from. Remember how bad you had it, and don't do the
same thing to strangers that come into your territory. Remember: "love
your neighbor as yourself" (Le19:18). As Jesus would say...
"As you would have men do to you, you also do likewise to them" (Lk6:31)
And so then, what about the poor in your midst? Don't afflict them.
Leave the gleanings of your fields so they can gather and be fed.
What does this mean for "welfare" the way it is typically run today?
This law was for "widows and orphans". There had been a legitimate
family unit, but the bread winner is dead. Is this God's license for
today's slothful whores to sleep around, never get married, beget
children by many different men; and the more children, the more
'benefits' the government will pay? In God's economy, earlier in the
series we saw how promiscuity was to be eradicated by stoning. In God's
economy there would not be the freeloading bitches. (please excuse the
language. But a female dog is called a "bitch", and they often gad about
with multiple males. These females are behaving like dogs. God's
judgment is to those where "Outside are dogs" and "prostitutes" Re22:15)
Since our current culture is run by Caesar, it is certainly a 'better'
thing when the laws require "single mothers" to get training and work
towards getting employment. The law on "gleaning" was so widows could go
'work' in the fields and gather their food.
They also had the tithe. (De14:27-29, 26:12) Notice, as you read these
references, that this tithe was for the Levites (who were not given an
inheritance/livelihood of land on which to grow crops because they were
in service to God) -and- the poor. The tithe was one of the gifts to God
for their system of 'welfare'. It was for those in legitimate need; not
prostitutes, tramps and drunkards.
"If anyone does not desire to work, neither shall he eat." (2Th3:10)
Today's hussies 'work the system'. Another baby gets them more money
from the government. They do not deserve to receive from the "tithe".
God's tithe was not intended to support whore and prostitute "single
mothers"! In God's economy there is no such thing as a "single mother".
Procreation requires "male and female" who are "fruitful" (Ge1:27-28)
But God also knows that there will always be the legitimately poor.
"For the needy will never cease from the land; therefore I command you,
saying, You shall open, to open your hand unto your brother, to your
poor and your needy, in your land." (De15:11 see also: Mt26:11)
And also, related to this...
"If you lend money to My people who are poor among you, you shall not be
like a moneylender to him; you shall not lay interest on him" (vs25)
Remember previously we saw God chiding them about being stingy when they
knew the 7th year of "release" was coming; realizing they might not get
back everything they give. Your family (all Israel was 'family' to each
other through Jacob's 12 sons) is in need? Don't be stingy. Give to
them. Don't be making money off of their hard times like a profiteer. Go
ahead and charge interest to foreigners, but NOT FAMILY. (De23:19-20,
Le25:35-37) If you take care of family, God will richly reward you.
And in treating those in misfortune, who more than a blind person...
"Cursed is the one who makes the blind to wander off the road. And all
the people shall say, Amen!" (De27:18)
As one reads in the Gospels, there are the accounts of the blind,
sitting by the way, asking for handouts. Whether a blind person, widowed
or just (plain) poor who are in need, God says to treat them well. If
the well-to-do mistreats the downtrodden, and they cry out to God, -who-
is God going to listen to?
"I will hear and give heed to their cry; and My anger will burn, and I
will kill you with the sword; your wives shall be widows, and your
children fatherless...I will give heed, for I am gracious" (vs23-24,27)
Treating God (22:28-31)
What is cursing? Is it merely the asking of God to 'damn' somebody or
some thing? (Please pardon while we give some examples here) What if
somebody merely says "dad gummit" or "darn" or any one of a dozen
"colorful" expressions of "pardon-my-french" that people might use? Is
not the intent of the heart the same?
"But I say to you that for every idle word men may speak, they will give
account of it in the day of judgment." (Mt12:36)
In teaching, Jesus said it this way...
"Woe to you, blind guides, who say, Whoever swears by the temple, it is
nothing; but whoever swears by the gold of the temple is a debtor. Fools
and blind! For which is greater, the gold or the temple that sanctifies
the gold? And, Whoever swears by the altar, it is nothing; but whoever
swears by the gift that is on it is a debtor. Fools and blind! For which
is greater, the gift or the altar that sanctifies the gift? Therefore he
who swears by the altar, swears by it and by all things on it. He who
swears by the temple, swears by it and by Him who dwells in it. And he
who swears by Heaven, swears by the throne of God and by Him who sits on
How might people curse God or a ruler? When Paul was brought before the
kangaroo court, he lashes out...
"God will strike you, you whitewashed wall! For you sit to judge me
according to the Law, and do you command me to be struck contrary to the
and when informed that he had just bad-mouthed the high priest...
"I did not know, brethren, that he was the high priest; for it is
written, You shall not speak evil of a ruler of your people." (Ac23:5)
Years ago, when Clinton was president, I went out to the local Air Force
Base public open house day, and since the local base is a re-fueling
tanker base, they had flown in a B52 bomber from Minot, NDakota for the
show, to be on display. The pilot is standing there next to the plane,
so I struck up a conversation with him, and made passing comment about
"how busy" Clinton was keeping them, what with the conflicts at the time
in the Balkans and Kosovo. He would not take up that topic to run with
it, even to agree or disagree. A year or so later went to visit some old
friends I had known in Upstate New York years earlier, but he was now an
orthopedic surgeon in the Army, over near Tacoma. Christians. During
visiting I brought up a similar sort of topic about the kind of
president Clinton was, his lies and impeachment, etc, hoping to get
feedback from a -Christian- enlisted person; and -mum- was the word. He
was in the Army, and Clinton (good or bad) was his Commander-in-Chief.
In what sorts of ways do people speak ill of (curse) God? If only, God
would do X, Y or Z: as such, condemning how God is dealing with whatever
the case is. Praying, Lord, Lord, Lord DO THIS THE WAY WE ARE DEMANDING
OF YOU (because we have Jesus' 'resurrection power'): expecting God to
hop-to to our will, as though He was the servant and we were the boss.
God might have created the universe, but He did it through evolution,
like the scientists say: doubting the Scriptures and as such, calling
them lies and fairy-tales.
This passage says...
"You shall not delay to offer the first of your ripe produce and your
juices. The firstborn of your sons you shall give to Me." (vs29)
There is this commercial that runs: these two are eating and there is
one last croissant roll left, and they both want it, so the one shows
with his finger where he proposes to cut it, to the 'side' of the fat
middle flap, he wants to keep the 'big half' and give the other the
smaller part and says, "That's -half-" ... "No it isn't!" ...until
somebody comes along to stop the argument with another plate -full- of
rolls. They can now each have their own 'whole' roll.
"When you vow a vow unto Jehovah your God, you shall not delay to pay
it; for Jehovah your God will seek to require it of you, and it would be
sin in you. But if you abstain from vowing, it shall not be sin in you.
That which has gone forth from your lips you shall keep and do; that
which you have voluntarily vowed unto Jehovah your God, what you have
promised with your mouth." (De23:21-23, Ec5:4-5)
What do we give the Lord? The left-overs after we've first been
satisfied? The small half? In order not to be committing murder, the
firstborn of their children were redeemed. Samuel, on the other hand,
being the firstborn was 'given' to God for service, and grew to become
the prophet that annointed David king. But in farming culture, that
firstborn animal was 'profit' and 'livelihood'. After the long growing
seasons the firstfruits of the produce was (tasty) food to eat. The
first of the corn, peas, and such are the most tender and sweetest. The
first and best was to go to God, to His priests and their families.
Let's leave off preaching and go to meddlin' a moment. If you happen to
be blessed enough to have a congregation or fellowship where you have
a God fearing and Bible teaching pastor, what does he get? What goes
into the offering plate? The -first- of your expenditures, or what's
-left- after paying the bills?
Here God is exhorting Israel how they should give. Not cursing and
giving are lumped together into the same thought. Did they obey?
"For I, Jehovah, change not. Therefore you sons of Jacob are not
destroyed. From the days of your fathers, you have turned aside from My
statutes and have not kept them. Return to Me, and I will return to you,
says Jehovah of Hosts. But you say, In what way shall we return? Will a
man rob God? Yet you have robbed Me. But you say, How have we robbed
You? In the tithe and the offering. You are cursed with a curse, for you
have robbed Me, even this whole nation. Bring all the tithe into the
storehouse, so that there may be food in My house, and test Me now with
this, says Jehovah of Hosts, whether I will not open the windows of
heaven for you and pour out a blessing until there is not enough room to
store it." (Mal3:6-10)
A reading of the entire book of Malachi would be in order right here.
Here's just one thought...
"You offer defiled food on My altar, and say, In what way have we
defiled You? By saying, The table of Jehovah is to be held in contempt.
And if you offer the blind in sacrifice, is it not evil? And if you
offer the lame and the sick, is it not evil? Bring it now to your
governor. Will he be pleased with you or receive you favorably? says
Jehovah of Hosts." (Mal1:7-8)
God gave His FIRSTBORN, only begotten Son. (Jn3:16) And just as the
sacrifices were given, on the 8th day Jesus was circumcised. (Lk1:59)
Firstborn animals were to stay with their mothers a week, and on the 8th
day they could be sacrificed. (vs30) Animals torn by wild animals were
not to be eaten/sacrificed; being thus defiled were to be thrown to the
dogs. (vs31) Only the first and choice was to be presented to God. And
God says, in this context...
"You shall be holy men unto Me"
And another thing I don't know that I understand, but in this context is
"The firstfruits of your land you shall bring into the house of Jehovah
your God. You shall not boil a young goat in its mother's milk" (23:19)
Don't curse God.... Treat His fruitful creation with respect. In Him
"all things consist" (Col1:17) Have respect for the mother/offspring
relationship. Death is a serious matter, even for animals; especially
for mothers who just gave birth. When I was young I would sometimes
happen upon the hen -as- she was laying the egg. Just like for women
giving birth, it is painful and hard work for that hen. Each egg we ever
eat was supplied through much suffering. There is a reason they cackle!
If you ever engage in egg-throwing fights...Shame on you! As to do that, might as well fling babies, puppies and kittens, and laugh hysterically when they go "Splat!" Working on one
farm I had occasion to be involved in 'pulling' a couple calves from
cows that were having problems. If it won't come by just grabbing and
pulling, you put the wire stretcher on the front legs of the calf and
start pulling, and the cow starts pushing, the cow is in labor.
Sometimes they don't make it. That line between birth and death is a
delicate one. And remember what we've already observed about the blood
and soul. We can eat animals... but show respect for the life/soul that
"You shall not eat anything that dies of itself; you may give it to the
sojourner who is within your gates, that he may eat it, or you may sell
it to a foreigner; for you are a holy people unto Jehovah your God. You
shall not boil a kid in its motherís milk." (De14:21)
"If a birdís nest happens to be before you along the way, in any tree or
on the ground, with young ones or eggs, with the mother sitting on the
young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you
shall let the mother go free, and take the young for yourself, that it
may be well with you and that you may prolong your days." (De22:6-7)
Although misguided by pagan demon-worship, the American Indians have
good intentions when they "thank" the animal they are about to butcher,
for giving its life and providing its meat to them. Their thanks should
be to the Creator, God Most High, not the created thing. (Rom1:25)
In another couple lessons we'll see the standards for cleanliness.
Eating animal flesh that died of itself (De14:21) or is "torn by beasts"
(vs31) was forbidden. They might not have discovered microbes, nor had
microscopes by which to see what was harmful, nor knew the source of
sickness, but God knew. When He gave standards for cleanliness, it was
also, by definition, standards of holiness and good health. Keeping
separate from filth and disease. As God was making Israel into a holy
nation, He also promised...
"I will put none of the diseases on you which I have brought upon the
Egyptians. For I am Jehovah who heals you." (Ex15:26)
False Testimony (23:1-9)
When the 9th commandment is taught to children in Sunday School it is
usually changed around to say, "You shall not lie" Don't tell a lie.
Always tell the truth.
But as this passage goes on to describe, it is so much more than that.
It is legalese for behavior in court, law suits, prosecution and
persecution. It is a judicial standard.
When it says to "not RAISE a false report", that word "raise" suggests
that things might otherwise be at peace, but a person is concocting and
-creating- an incident. For what reason? It doesn't say. But the passage
also speaks of "enemy" (vs4); not everybody gets along. And so, somebody
who doesn't like another person finds some incident or item over which
to create an accusation, the outcome of which they desire to inflict
punishment upon the person they are falsely accusing.
When a person does such a thing, what is to be done?
"If a false witness rises up against any man to testify against him
regarding apostasy, then both men in the controversy shall stand before
Jehovah, before the priests and the judges who hold office in those
days. And the judges shall investigate thoroughly, and indeed, if the
witness is a false witness, who has testified falsely against his
brother, then you shall do to him as he had thought to do to his
brother; thus you shall remove the evil from among you. And those who
remain shall hear and fear, and thereafter they shall not again commit
such evil among you. Your eye shall not pity: soul for soul, eye for
eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot." (De19:16-21)
On the other hand, supposing somebody is witness to some situation that
-should- go before the judges, but for whatever reason they shrink back
and don't say anything?
"If a soul sins and has heard the utterance of an oath, and is a
witness, whether he has seen or known of the matter; if he does not
report it, he bears guilt." (Le5:1)
Things are to be -just- and -righteous-. As is said in other places to
"let your yes be yes, and your no, no" (Mt5:37, 2Co1:17-19, Ja5:12) As
"You shall not have in your bag a stone and a stone weight, a great and
small. You shall not have in your house an ephah and ephah, a large and
small. You shall have perfect and just weight stones, a perfect and just
ephah; that your days may be prolonged in the land which Jehovah your
God is giving to you." (De25:13-15)
The law also says...
But this person who is at enmity really wants to 'get' this person, so
he solicits unscrupulous people to be "witnesses" with him; like Jezebel
did to Naboth (1Ki21) to get the garden for her husband Ahab...
"You shall not follow the majority in doing evil, nor shall you testify
in a dispute so as to turn aside after the majority to thrust aside
Supposing he offers money as a bribe...
"And you shall not take a bribe, for a bribe blinds the clear-sighted
and perverts the words of the righteous" (23:8 De16:19)
And furthermore, supposing one who is an enemy has animals that have
gotten loose and you see them. Or supposing the enemy is in a pickle.
The passage speaks of things as they were in ancient times. Let's speak
of suppositions today. Supposing your enemy is doing work under his
vehicle and the jack gave way, and he is now pinned and can't get out.
His dogs are out and roaming the neighborhood? Pick up the phone and let
him know. Go over and block and re-jack up the vehicle and pull him out,
and if necessary, give him medical attention.
This passage is about righteousness and justice. Doing what is "right".
Not taking out personal vengeance on an enemy. Respect your neighbor's
rights. As you do, he also stands before God. God gave you property, He
also gave to your neighbor; even if he is your enemy. Don't move his
Remember: "And as you would have men do to you, you also do likewise to
Jesus said this to Jews, who had as background these passages we are
studying. Even if he is your enemy, are there certain things you would
hope for from your enemy if you were in straights? Well then, do
similarly for him if he is in a pickle.
So, the matter goes to court, and the judge issues a verdict. The
judge's verdict stands. Supposing somebody wishes to challenge the judge
and refuses to abide by the ruling? In this country they have what is
called "contempt of court". I don't know the system; but do they not
have temporary imprisonments. If a witness is refusing to answer
questions, they might be hauled off to prison until they agree to
testify; or this or that. Things were a bit more brutal in Israel...
"And the man who acts presumptuously to not heed the priest who is
standing to serve there before Jehovah your God, or the judge, that man
shall die. Thus you shall put away the evil from Israel. And all the
people shall hear and fear, and no longer act presumptuously."
In Israel, the priests were the judges. They not only represented the
Law, but they also were God's representatives. When a person refused the
priest, it was as if they had blasphemed God. You disobeyed God at the
peril of your life.
What were the punishments? In prior lessons we observed Restitution:
making right what had been wronged. In some cases the punishment was
capital punishment. In other cases it might be stripes...
"If there is a dispute between men, and they come to court, that the
judges may judge them, and they justify the righteous and condemn the
wicked, then it shall be, if the wicked man deserves to be beaten, that
the judge shall cause him to lie prostrate and be beaten in his
presence, according to his guilt, by number. He may beat him forty times
and no more, lest he should exceed this and beat him with many stripes
above these, and your brother be degraded in your eyes." (De25:1-3)
Paul mentions being beaten by the Jews "forty stripes minus one"
(2Co11:24) The maximum God ordained, "minus one"; which was a Jewish
And of course, for whatever offense for which a person was punished,
punishment was not commuted. One person was not punished for another's
"Fathers shall not be put to death for their sons, nor shall the sons be
put to death for their fathers; every man shall be put to death for his
own sin." (De24:16)
As Paul says...
And so, the person has been condemned to death; what then? If he is to
"The hands of the witnesses shall be first against him to put him to
death, and afterward the hands of all the people..." (De17:7, 13:9)
And once he is dead...
"If a man is guilty of a sin deserving of death, and he is put to death,
and you have hung him on a tree, his corpse shall not remain overnight
on the tree, but you shall surely bury him that day, so that you do not
defile the land which Jehovah your God is giving you as an inheritance;
for he who is hanging is accursed of God." (De21:22-23)
This phrase, "He who is hanging is accursed of God" is prophetic to
Jesus hanging on the cross. (Ga3:13) But also, even in guilt, a dead
person has given up their soul. Just as the blood was to be covered with
dirt, a dead person was also to be buried.
Now... just as justice is to be fair and truthful, it is also to be
equitable. Don't treat one person one way, and another another. This
passage speaks of differentiating between the "needy" (vs6) and "poor"
(vs3) Supposing a person cannot afford a high-priced attorney who is
skilled at twisting words and logic, and has a reputation for getting
the guilty off scott-free. That's not how justice is to be meted out. It
is to be based on the facts and truth.
Also, the law is the law for all people: the native as well as the
foreigner. Just as the observance of Passover was the same for the
foreigner as the native (Nu9:14), the matter of civil law was also the
"And if a stranger sojourns with you, or whoever is among you throughout
your generations, and would present an offering by fire, a soothing
aroma unto Jehovah, just as you do, so shall he do. One ordinance shall
be for you of the assembly and for the stranger who sojourns with you, a
perpetual ordinance throughout your generations; as it is for you, so
shall it be for the sojourner before Jehovah. ONE LAW AND ONE CUSTOM
SHALL BE FOR YOU AND FOR THE STRANGER WHO SOJOURNS WITH YOU."
And finally, along those same thoughts, the thing God continually
repeats and reminds them....
"Also you shall not oppress a sojourner, for you know the soul of a
sojourner, because you were sojourners in the land of Egypt" (23:9)
Odds and Ends
"When you besiege a city many days, to make war against it to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by wielding an ax against them, if you can eat from them; do not cut them down. For is the tree of the field a man, to be besieged by you? Only the trees which you know are not trees for food you may destroy and cut down, to build siege works against the city making war with you, until it is subdued." (De20:19-20)
With the kind of non-detailed study like we are doing here, there are some 'civil' topics that don't really lend themselves for inclusion with the other bigger topics; nor are they big enough to make individual studies out of them. So let's just throw them together, here, shall we.
So, with this topic, is God going "green" here? Is He an environmentalist and promoting "sustainability"? "Save the forests" and all that stuff? Is God making sure there is 'food' to eat? ...for people and animals? I don't know. But one thing I notice with God's laws is that He made all living things to be "fruitful". Back in the first couple chapters of Genesis He mentions several times, for mankind, animals, plants....to "be fruitful", multiply and fill the earth. Whatever is edible from trees is their 'fruit'; their fruitfulness.
"When you build a new house, then you shall make a railing for your roof, that you may not bring blood upon your house if anyone falls from it." (De22:8)
Remember back to the "loose head" on the ax handle concept? Similarly, if a person has people access to a potentially hazardous place, but does not provide a safety rail, and a person falls and dies; would that not be the same as "murder", as we discussed in that lesson with the ax. That is one thing that today's world seems to understand, having various government "safety" agencies to govern and regulate various standards for buildings, vehicles, roadways, etc.
"Take a head count of all the congregation of the sons of Israel, by their families, by their fathersí houses, according to the number of names, every male by head, from twenty years old and above; all who are able to go to war in Israel. You and Aaron shall number them by their armies." (Nu1:2-3)
The age for military enlistment was 20. In this country it is 18. For years the age for drinking and voting was 21. Is this somewhat a universally understood age at which a young man attains to adulthood?
On the other hand...
There is a certain age by which certain maturity is attained to conduct earthly physical things. But God's service requires a bit added development. When selecting a pastor for the Lord's work Paul says...
"not a new convert, that he not be puffed up with pride and fall into the same condemnation as the devil" (1Ti3:6)
Around the time this is being prepared, there have been various things going on in the news, and individuals being interviewed on TV. I notice when they interview older teenagers, they appear to possess a measure of maturity. But I also see myself back at that age. I was filled with fire "for the Lord" and was gung-ho to serve Him. But as an older person now, having a lifetime of experiences I have been through, and the errors I was trapped in, not realizing back then that they were errors, but I was gung-ho in those errors, -THINKING- that I was serving the Lord, and pleasing to him. What would have happened if I had waited till I was 30 to begin serious service? At 20 there was NO WAY that I was qualified to minister to adults! But I'll tell you what! Back then, I KNEW IT ALL. I thought!
"When a man has taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war nor leave for any business; he shall be free at home one year, and bring gladness to his wife whom he has taken." (De24:5, 20:5-7)
Well now! Doesn't this go counter to what often happens in our modern societies. I remember the accounts from many different wars where there might be an engaged couple, and he is being deployed to go fight, and will be away for some time... and they scramble to HAVE THE WEDDING so they can be 'married' BEFORE HE LEAVES. They might get married, have the honeymoon night, and the next day he reports to take off.
Now, as I recall the history of this nation, there was an era when this nation's morality -began- to descend to eventually become what we see today. Those days were called the "Roaring 20s" They came on the heels of "The Great War", WWI. The jazz, parties and dancing. Servicemen during times of war find entertainment where they can, and they come home with the same mentality. Dancing with swapping of partners. When the girl's new husband is off to war, but she is at a party, she meets up with some other man whom she enjoys dancing with. Same with her husband overseas. So men and women are meeting each other, mixing it up, getting married, getting divorced because while he was away, she was playing; or while he was away he met somebody. And then, after WW2 was the 50s and the introduction of Rock-n-Roll and everything that has come about since then. Both of these phenomena, on the heels of major wars. When military personnel go to war, by its very nature, it splits families up: either temporarily until they come home, or permanently through divorce or death. Again... God's design is "fruitfulness". If a couple get married, and get separated immediately, that is the opposite of God's design.
OK...so, we picked on "warfare". The passage also addresses leaving for business. Don't get married with the idea that one is immediately going to be far away for business. Either get married and stay put, get married and move together so you can be together... or, don't get married. Marriage is about "cleaving" to each other (Ge2:24, Mk10:7, Eph5:31); not forming a union and then splitting up right away. A husband and wife are supposed to be -together-.
Marriage is a picture of the Believer's relationship with Jesus Christ. (Eph5:23) Jesus does not save us and then take off and leave us stranded. Certainly He went to Heaven with the promise to "come again and receive [us] to [Himself]" (Jn14:3) But through the indwelling sealing Holy Spirit of promise (Rom8:9, Eph1:13) He fulfills the promise, "By no means will I ever leave you nor ever forsake you." (Heb13:5b) Even though we don't see Him right now (1Pt1:8), we know His presence through the Holy Spirit. (Jn16:13-15)
"to make a distinction between holy and unholy, and between unclean and clean, and to teach the children of Israel all the statutes which Jehovah has spoken to them by the hand of Moses." (Le10:10-11, 11:47, 14:57)
But Israel disobeyed...
"Her priests have violated My Law and defiled My holy things; they have not divided between the holy and profane, nor have they declared between the unclean and the clean; and they have hidden their eyes from My Sabbaths, so that I am profaned among them." (Ezk22:26)
As we wind down this series on "civil" laws, we have addressed the intended passages from Exodus 21-23 that started the series. But as one goes through the rest of the Pentateuch/Torah (Genesis thru Deuteronomy) various other statutes are scattered here and there. Some things are not necessarily issues that modern-day courts might feel the need to address. They are, more, things that civilized people just -know-. Some things modern technology has discovered and knows, which ancient peoples did not. But God knew them and taught Israel -safeguards-.
Israel was a -theocracy-. In theory, -God- was supposed to be their -King-. But as we see from the Ezekiel passage, and as the rest of the Bible and History inform us, Israel was not faithful to God. They did not obey his laws and statutes, and... suffered the consequences. The things in this series about "no other gods" and about "treating God" were to Israel, the theocracy. Modern nations might not adhere to them, seeing as how they typically espouse -religious- "freedom"; Caesar allows his subjects to worship -any- god/s they choose. And of course, in their denial of the Most High, they often suffer the consequences, as He brings periodic judgment upon them for rejecting their Creator.
God's laws to Israel included both the Civil and Levitical aspects. We have tried to limit this series to the "civil". The levitical included various -ceremonial- dippings, sacrificing of animals, dipping of blood, anointing of oils, burning of incense, washing under running water; all prescribed according to the specific topic. Things which the writer of Hebrews says, "which cannot make him who performed the service perfect in regard to the conscience" (Heb9:9) Our eternal standing before God is not based on the physical rituals, but the -heart-.
"For he is not a Jew who is one outwardly, nor is circumcision that which is outward in the flesh; but he is a Jew who is one inwardly; and circumcision is of the heart, in the Spirit, not in the letter; whose praise is not from men but from God." (Rom2:28-29)
But even though, in Christ, we no longer adhere to the Levitical rituals, many of the statutes were of 'practical' -physical- benefit. There is a whole series of statutes in Leviticus 11-15 that cover things regarding the eating of clean/unclean animals, giving birth, skin blemishes and leprosy, and physical discharges. You can read these chapters for the specifics. But let's just consider a few highlights:
Fish with scales could be eaten, but if they did not have scales they were not to be eaten. A non-scaled fish that immediately comes to mind is the catfish/bullhead. These have a slimy smooth skin, and they are bottom-feeders. Now, in the midwest, around the Mississippi River regions, catfish is considered a delicacy. They even grow upwards of 4ft long, or more, and I've heard the tales of people trudging around in the shallows and physically picking them up, out of the water, to then butcher them for eating. Also, not without the incidents where the fish might have 'stuck' the person in the stomach with their barbs.
Science tells us that we -are- what we eat. If a person eats onions or garlic, their sweat and body odor can often smell like onions or garlic. You can tell what they've been eating, by what they smell like. After first growing up in Japan, and then living in the midwest, and then NDakota, I didn't much care for catfish and bullheads. They always tasted "slimy" to me. Same with duck. Duck bob their behinds up in the air, while with their beaks they go foraging around in the bottoms. Think about the eco-system. As pollution and debris washes into the water drainage system, the stuff the creatures above (in the clean water) discharge fall down into the bottom areas, where the catfish and ducks come along and forage. Same as pigs and dogs, compared to cattle and sheep, that feed on above-ground grass. Some of the carrion birds in the 'unclean' list are birds that eat dead animals. Why are they dead? What -disease- did they die of? Or even if not a disease, how long have they been dead, and what microbes are now growing in the rotting flesh, which the bird also eats. Just like -we- are what we eat, so are the animals we eat...they are what they eat. If they were feeding on unclean, diseased and rotting substance; and then we come along and eat them; we, in turn, are eating of disease and rot. And a couple lessons ago we observed God promising Israel -not- to have all the diseases of Egypt. Part of that was accomplished by Israel eating "clean" foods.
I don't know enough about the birth process to understand everything God commanded there. Nor why a mother would be "unclean" longer when giving birth to a daughter, than when giving birth to a son.
But some of the rest makes 'sense' with modern medical understanding. Certain rashes you don't scratch lest it spread. Open sores that are oozing another person doesn't want to touch, lest they catch it. There is lots of washing to wash away the infection. When a person has had a condition that discharges into the clothing, the clothing is washed. These are things that make sense to us. But ancient peoples did not understand the connections. God taught them to Israel. And even if they didn't understand, if they obeyed, they could remain healthy. When Miriam was punished with leprosy, God uses an example of spitting. Today they have PSAs to teach people to cough/sneeze into their elbows, and to wash their hands after being in public. Something that is making the news recently is the matter of how much fecal matter is found on things like shopping carts. People don't wash; they put their babies in the carts with dirty diapers; it sticks to the carts, and others come along and handle them. The Japanese have a national tradition that I don't recall hearing about from any other nation: If somebody has a cold, they wear surgical-like masks over their nose and mouth, to contain their own cold germs. Sometimes, even healthy people will wear them to keep from catching whatever might be floating around in the air during the cold and flu season.
We think nothing of it, we have toilets. But God even gave a directive about when doing certain bodily functions, to take a spade and dig it into the ground and cover it.
"and you shall have a spade among your tools, and when you sit outside, you shall dig with it and turn over and cover your excrement." (De23:13)
Don't be like most animals (except cats) that just go, and there it is, for anybody to come along and step in it, or some beasts to come along and eat it. (Where did cats learn, by nature without needing to be trained, to dig and cover?) I don't know if Japan is today like it was in the 50s when I was a kid there, but many other countries still are... where the sewage ran in ditches along-side the roads, and people would 'use' the ditch. And then farmers and others who grew produce would bring the produce and 'wash' it in those same ditches. How "clean" was that?? As I think back to those days, I guess that's why we never ate 'raw' veggies, but everything was well-cooked.
In Israel, if somebody had a severely communicable disease like leprosy, they were "unclean" and would take up residence "outside the camp" (Nu5:2-4) away from the general population. Don't -contaminate- what is clean with what is unclean. If you've just cleaned/windexed a window or mirror, you don't keep it clean by -touching- it with dirty hands. The clean mirror will -never- make the dirty hands clean; nor will the dirty hands -ever- clean a mirror.
This business of physical cleanliness not only keeps people -physically- healthy, but is a type/picture of how we should conduct ourselves spiritually. The writer says...
"For the bodies of those animals, whose blood is brought into the sanctuary by the high priest for sin, are burned outside the camp.... Therefore Jesus also, that He might sanctify the people with His own blood, suffered outside the gate. Therefore let us go forth to Him, outside the camp, bearing His reproach." (Heb13:11-13)
"Outside the camp" was a place of filth and reproach. A place NOT to go. Certainly NOT a place from which to partake. Just as a sick person can infect the healthy, so too the sinful life when embraced will infect the spiritually holy. Since this ministry is aimed, somewhat, at those claiming to be "Christians", this same concept applies to the apostasy.
IT IS NOT POSSIBLE to embrace the ways of apostasy, and not become infected. Just as with Israel, they did not keep the unclean out; when a Church congregation refuses to keep the apostates and unsaved 'out' of the assembly, they will NEVER (IT IS NOT POSSIBLE) clean-up the unclean that are in their midst. But the unclean -WILL- tarnish their holiness.
In the days of the boy-king Joash, Jehoiada the priest set about to restore holiness, and it says...
"And he stationed the gatekeepers at the gates of the house of Jehovah, so that no one who was in any way unclean could enter." (2Ch23:19)
You see, God was making Israel into a COMPLETE PACKAGE. Many of you, like I must say about myself, probably have tended to read through the Pentateuch with all the multitude of variations and subtleties of the clean/unclean laws, and all the sacrifices, blood sprinklings and anointing oils, the washings, dippings, quarantines and everything that made up "Israel" and possibly have considered it 'boring' reading. After all, why do I need to read all that? That was for them. We do things differently. Perhaps it all seems 'tedious'. Why can't God just "let live" already, and just have Israel observe the "important" rituals.
"Now may the God of peace Himself sanctify you completely; and may your whole SPIRIT, SOUL, and BODY be preserved BLAMELESS at the coming of our Lord Jesus Christ." (1Th5:23)
God was "detailing" Israel. There is an auto detailing business up the street from me. I've not been there, but these shops typically -clean- vehicles. They clean them more carefully than I do my own vehicles. I wash, vacuum, take the windex to the windows. With the motorcycle's plastic windshield I 'wax' it (so it doesn't get scratched). But I do not get into every nook and cranny; I know that as soon as the wind blows some dust around, or it rains, it's just going to be dirty again. But -detailing- shops do. By definition. They take Q-tips to the little recesses of heater vents, control panels and switches; take special chemicals to the tires, and clean the corners and creases of the wheels. And when a customer gets their vehicle back, it is cleaner than 'show-room'.
Our bodies are the temple of the Holy Spirit. (1Co6:19) Does not a holy God deserve a -clean- temple! Our souls are our personhoods which either obey or disobey God. Our souls are what make our bodies -do- whatever it is that others see. And our spirits are that which knows God.
These "civil" laws cover more than worldly human civil laws do because they are given to God's people. God's standards are higher than satan's. That's why they cover the SPIRIT: "no other gods" SOUL: servants, treating people, behavioral issues BODY: sexual, cleanliness, etc.
The reason the world's civil law continues to fail is because it is minus God. They think their strength is that they are tolerant of all religions. But they do so at the rejection of their Creator. They cannot possibly succeed without God and His holy standards, and His Salvation.
Spirit, Soul and Body... -BLAMELESS- before God.
"looking for the blessed hope and glorious appearing of our great God and Savior Jesus Christ" (Tit2:13)
And "..we know that when He is revealed, we shall be like Him, for we shall see Him as He is. And everyone who has this hope in Him PURIFIES HIMSELF, just as He is pure" (1Jn3:2-3)
"...just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her, that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the Word, that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish." (Eph5:25-27)
Return to EXODUS in the 'Walk-thru' series