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Deuteronomy 27

The Curses of Mount Ebal

27 Then Moses and the elders of Israel charged the people, saying, “Keep all the commandments which I command you today. So it shall be on the day when you cross the Jordan to the land which the Lord your God gives you, that you shall set up for yourself large stones and coat them with lime and write on them all the words of this law, when you cross over, so that you may enter the land which the Lord your God gives you, a land flowing with milk and honey, as the Lord, the God of your fathers, [a]promised you. So it shall be when you cross the Jordan, you shall set up on Mount Ebal, these stones, [b]as I am commanding you today, and you shall coat them with lime. Moreover, you shall build there an altar to the Lord your God, an altar of stones; you shall not [c]wield an iron tool on them. You shall build the altar of the Lord your God of [d]uncut stones, and you shall offer on it burnt offerings to the Lord your God; and you shall sacrifice peace offerings and eat there, and rejoice before the Lord your God. You shall write on the [e]stones all the words of this law very distinctly.”

Then Moses and the Levitical priests spoke to all Israel, saying, “Be silent and listen, O Israel! This day you have become a people for the Lord your God. 10 You shall therefore [f]obey the Lord your God, and do His commandments and His statutes which I command you today.”

11 Moses also charged the people on that day, saying, 12 “When you cross the Jordan, these shall stand on Mount Gerizim to bless the people: Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. 13 For the curse, these shall stand on Mount Ebal: Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali. 14 The Levites shall then answer and say to all the men of Israel with a loud voice,

15 ‘Cursed is the man who makes [g]an idol or a molten image, an abomination to the Lord, the work of the hands of the craftsman, and sets it up in secret.’ And all the people shall answer and say, ‘Amen.’

16 ‘Cursed is he who dishonors his father or mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

17 ‘Cursed is he who moves his neighbor’s boundary mark.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

18 ‘Cursed is he who misleads a blind person on the road.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

19 ‘Cursed is he who distorts the justice due an alien, [h]orphan, and widow.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

20 ‘Cursed is he who lies with his father’s wife, because he has uncovered his father’s skirt.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

21 ‘Cursed is he who lies with any animal.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

22 ‘Cursed is he who lies with his sister, the daughter of his father or of his mother.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

23 ‘Cursed is he who lies with his mother-in-law.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

24 ‘Cursed is he who strikes his neighbor in secret.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

25 ‘Cursed is he who accepts a bribe to strike down an innocent person.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

26 ‘Cursed is he who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them.’ And all the people shall say, ‘Amen.’

There’s nothing quite like group accountability, and one thinks they should have gathered and repeated this ceremony often. At any rate, it confirms what Solomon said in the proverbs, one is easily defeated, but a cord of 2 or even 3 strands cannot be broken.

God knows we need each other, that we should not live solitary lives, because He created us that way. Elsewhere, His word reminds us that we should not “forsake the assembling of ourselves together”, or something like that…

So make every effort to engage with your brothers and sisters, even when it’s hard, even when that one annoys you. It makes you stronger, and encourages others too.

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Deuteronomy 26

Offering First Fruits

26 “Then it shall be, when you enter the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance, and you possess it and live in it, that you shall take some of the first of all the produce of the ground which you bring in from your land that the Lord your God gives you, and you shall put it in a basket and go to the place where the Lord your God chooses to establish His name. You shall go to the priest who is in office at that time and say to him, ‘I declare this day to the Lord [a]my God that I have entered the land which the Lord swore to our fathers to give us.’ Then the priest shall take the basket from your hand and set it down before the altar of the Lord your God. You shall answer and say before the Lord your God, ‘My father was a [b]wandering Aramean, and he went down to Egypt and [c]sojourned there, few in number; but there he became a great, mighty and populous nation. And the Egyptians treated us harshly and afflicted us, and imposed hard labor on us. Then we cried to the Lord, the God of our fathers, and the Lord heard our voice and saw our affliction and our toil and our oppression; and the Lord brought us out of Egypt with a mighty hand and an outstretched arm and with great terror and with signs and wonders; and He has brought us to this place and has given us this land, a land flowing with milk and honey. 10 Now behold, I have brought the first of the produce of the ground which You, O Lord have given me.’ And you shall set it down before the Lord your God, and worship before the Lord your God; 11 and you and the Levite and the alien who is among you shall rejoice in all the good which the Lord your God has given you and your household.

12 “When you have finished [d]paying all the tithe of your increase in the third year, the year of tithing, then you shall give it to the Levite, to the stranger, to the [e]orphan and to the widow, that they may eat in your [f]towns and be satisfied.13 You shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion from my house, and also have given it to the Levite and the alien, the [g]orphan and the widow, according to all Your commandments which You have commanded me; I have not transgressed or forgotten any of Your commandments. 14 I have not eaten of it [h]while mourning, nor have I removed any of it while I was unclean, nor offered any of it to the dead. I have listened to the voice of the Lord my God; I have done according to all that You have commanded me. 15 Look down from Your holy habitation, from heaven, and bless Your people Israel, and the ground which You have given us, a land flowing with milk and honey, as You swore to our fathers.’

16 “This day the Lord your God commands you to do these statutes and ordinances. You shall therefore be careful to do them with all your heart and with all your soul. 17 You have today declared the Lord to be your God, and [i]that you would walk in His ways and keep His statutes, His commandments and His ordinances, and listen to His voice. 18 The Lord has today declared you to be His people, a treasured possession, as He promised you, and [j]that you should keep all His commandments; 19 and [k]that He will set you high above all nations which He has made, for praise, fame, and honor; and that you shall be a consecrated people to the Lord your God, as He has spoken.”

There is something that changes our mindset when we give our first fruits to God, rather than giving out of “what we have left”. When we give to Him first, we find that we can make it on what is left, often with some leftover.

But there is another verse that gives an important perspective, “I have brought the first of the produce…which You, oh Lord have given me.” Everything we have, every breath we breathe, the ground we walk on, the shelters we take refuge in, whether large houses or small shacks, are from Him.

Nothing in this universe would exist without Him, and nothing comes to us except that which He created. Thus it is our honor to bring an offering of our first fruit back to Him, in recognition as the source of all we have and all we are.

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Deuteronomy 25

25 “If there is a dispute between men and they go to [a]court, and [b]the judges decide their case, and they justify the righteous and condemn the wicked, then it shall be if the wicked man [c]deserves to be beaten, the judge shall then make him lie down and be beaten in his presence with the number of stripes according to his [d]guilt. He may beat him forty times but no more, so that he does not beat him with many more stripes than these and your brother is not degraded in your eyes.

“You shall not muzzle the ox while he is threshing.

“When brothers live together and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the deceased shall not be married outside the family to a strange man. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her and take her to himself as wife and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her. It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall [e]assume the name of his dead brother, so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. But if the man does not desire to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders and say, ‘My husband’s brother refuses to establish a name for his brother in Israel; he is not willing to perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.’ Then the elders of his city shall summon him and speak to him. And if he persists and says, ‘I do not desire to take her,’ then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the sight of the elders, and pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face; and she shall [f]declare, ‘Thus it is done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.’ 10 In Israel his name shall be called, ‘The house of him whose sandal is removed.’

11 “If two men, a man and his [g]countryman, are struggling together, and the wife of one comes near to deliver her husband from the hand of the one who is striking him, and puts out her hand and seizes his genitals, 12 then you shall cut off her [h]hand; [i]you shall not show pity.

13 “You shall not have in your bag [j]differing weights, a large and a small. 14 You shall not have in your house [k]differing measures, a large and a small. 15 You shall have a full and just weight; you shall have a full and just [l]measure, that your days may be prolonged in the [m]land which the Lord your God gives you. 16 For everyone who does these things, everyone who acts unjustly is an abomination to the Lord your God.

17 “Remember what Amalek did to you along the way when you came out from Egypt, 18 how he met you along the way and attacked among you all the stragglers at your rear when you were faint and weary; and he did not [n]fear God. 19 Therefore it shall come about when the Lord your God has given you rest from all your surrounding enemies, in the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance to [o]possess, you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under heaven; you must not forget.

The bit about the ox seems almost out of place, but this chapter is all about justice, and what is fair. It isn’t fair to muzzle an animal while he is working, especially tempted by the very grain being threshed.

I would dare say any of these things would have been regarded as “common sense”, but we are good at ignoring what we know to be right, and need reminders, just like the Israelites did here.

We need to be daily talking to God and reading His word, otherwise we miss those reminders, and it becomes easier and easier to ignore what is right and just. That’s obviously not the only reason for building our relationship with God, but it’s a good side effect.

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Deuteronomy 24

Law of Divorce

24 “When a man takes a wife and marries her, and it happens [a]that she finds no favor in his eyes because he has found some indecency in her, and he writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out from his house,and she leaves his house and goes and becomes another man’s wifeand if the latter husband [b]turns against her and writes her a certificate of divorce and puts it in her hand and sends her out of his house, or if the latter husband dies who took her to be his wife, then her former husband who sent her away is not allowed to take her again to be his wife, since she has been defiled; for that is an abomination before the Lord, and you shall not bring sin on the land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.

“When a man takes a new wife, he shall not go out with the army nor be charged with any duty; he shall be free at home one year and shall give happiness to his wife whom he has taken.

Sundry Laws

“No one shall take a handmill or an upper millstone in pledge, for he would be taking a life in pledge.

“If a man is [c]caught kidnapping any of his [d]countrymen of the sons of Israel, and he deals with him violently or sells him, then that thief shall die; so you shall purge the evil from among you.

“Be careful against [e]an infection of leprosy, that you diligently observe and do according to all that the Levitical priests teach you; as I have commanded them, so you shall be careful to do. Remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam on the way as you came out of Egypt.

10 “When you make your neighbor a loan of any sort, you shall not enter his house to take his pledge. 11 You shall remain outside, and the man to whom you make the loan shall bring the pledge out to you. 12 If he is a poor man, you shall not sleep with his pledge. 13 When the sun goes down you shall surely return the pledge to him, that he may sleep in his cloak and bless you; and it will be righteousness for you before the Lord your God.

14 “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your [f]countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your [g]towns.15 You shall give him his wages on his day [h]before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his [i]heart on it; so that he will not cry against you to the Lord and it become sin in you.

16 “Fathers shall not be put to death [j]for their sons, nor shall sons be put to death [k]for their fathers; everyone shall be put to death for his own sin.

17 “You shall not pervert the justice [l]due an alien or [m]an orphan, nor take a widow’s garment in pledge. 18 But you shall remember that you were a slave in Egypt, and that the Lord your God redeemed you from there; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.

19 “When you reap your harvest in your field and have forgotten a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it; it shall be for the alien, for the [n]orphan, and for the widow, in order that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands.20 When you beat your olive tree, you shall not go over the boughs [o]again; it shall be for the alien, for the [p]orphan, and for the widow.

21 “When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not [q]go over it again; it shall be for the alien, for the [r]orphan, and for the widow. 22 You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I am commanding you to do this thing.

I think it’s important that generosity is not just a new idea, or even a part of the New Testament. Generosity, and caring for the needy and poor, was even a part of the Israelite law before they ever entered the land of promise.

It shows God heart through all of this. It is not selfish, but generous, loving, and focused on others (us namely). Much of serving God is in getting our eyes off ourselves, in order to put to death our selfish nature, and following God’s plan for our lives.

Generosity is a great way to do this, as it reminds us there is always someone who is needier than ourselves. No matter how much we think we don’t have, there is always someone we can help.

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Deuteronomy 23

Persons Excluded from the Assembly

23 “No one who is [a]emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of his descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the Lord. No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the Lord; none of their descendants, even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the Lord, because they did not meet you with [b]food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of [c]Mesopotamia, to curse you. Nevertheless, the Lord your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the Lord your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the Lord your God loves you. You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.

“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the Lord.

“When you go out as [d]an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.

10 “If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not [e]reenter the camp. 11 But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may [f]reenter the camp.

12 “You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13 and you shall have a [g]spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn [h]to cover up your excrement. 14 Since the Lord your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to [i]defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see [j]anything indecent among you [k]or He will turn away from you.

15 “You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has [l]escaped from his master to you. 16 He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your [m]towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.

17 “None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. 18 You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a [n]dog into the house of the Lord your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God.

19 “You shall not charge interest to your [o]countrymen: interest on money, food, or anything that may be loaned at interest. 20 You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your [p]countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the Lord your God may bless you in all [q]that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to [r]possess.

21 “When you make a vow to the Lord your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, [s]and the Lord your God will surely require it of you.22 However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23 You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the Lord your God, what you have [t]promised.

24 “When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes [u]until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your [v]basket.

25 “When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.

Throughout many of these instructions there is an expectation of generosity. The chapter starts with exclusions from the assembly of the Lord, but turns to the fact that God has (and will) turn the curse of Balaam into a blessing.

With the blessings of God (even when don’t “feel” blessed), comes a responsibility to be generous. We are only stewards, all we have comes from God, and thus we are to keep an open hand rather than a closed fist.

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Deuteronomy 22:13-30

Laws on Morality

13 “If any man takes a wife and goes in to her and then [f]turns against her, 14 and charges her with shameful deeds and [g]publicly defames her, and says, ‘I took this woman, but when I came near her, I did not find her a virgin,’ 15 then the girl’s father and her mother shall take and bring out the evidence of the girl’s virginity to the elders of the city at the gate. 16 The girl’s father shall say to the elders, ‘I gave my daughter to this man for a wife, but he [h]turned against her; 17 and behold, he has charged her with shameful deeds, saying, “I did not find your daughter a virgin.” But [i]this is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.’ And they shall spread the garment before the elders of the city. 18 So the elders of that city shall take the man and chastise him, 19 and they shall fine him a hundred shekels of silver and give it to the girl’s father, because he [j]publicly defamed a virgin of Israel. And she shall remain his wife; he cannot [k]divorce her all his days.

20 “But if this [l]charge is true, that the girl was not found a virgin, 21 then they shall bring out the girl to the doorway of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her [m]to death because she has committed an act of folly in Israel by playing the harlot in her father’s house; thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

22 “If a man is found lying with a married woman, then both of them shall die, the man who lay with the woman, and the woman; thus you shall purge the evil from Israel.

23 “If there is a girl who is a virgin engaged to a man, and another man finds her in the city and lies with her, 24 then you shall bring them both out to the gate of that city and you shall stone them [n]to death; the girl, because she did not cry out in the city, and the man, because he has violated his neighbor’s wife. Thus you shall purge the evil from among you.

25 “But if in the field the man finds the girl who is engaged, and the man forces her and lies with her, then only the man who lies with her shall die. 26 But you shall do nothing to the girl; there is no sin in the girl worthy of death, for just as a man rises against his neighbor and murders him, so is this case. 27 When he found her in the field, the engaged girl cried out, but there was no one to save her.

28 “If a man finds a girl who is a virgin, who is not engaged, and seizes her and lies with her and they are discovered, 29 then the man who lay with her shall give to the girl’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall become his wife because he has violated her; he cannot divorce her all his days.

30 [o]A man shall not take his father’s wife so that he will not uncover his father’s skirt.

We have this odd idea today that you can have sex without any commitment. And while that is legally true, it is not true in any other sense. God as very clear about it with the Israelites, that having sex was not “outside of marriage”, it IS marriage.

In those days, engagement was the promise to become married, and the act of sex was what it meant to become married. And it reflected the gravity of the act of sex. It is not a light frivolous thing to be played around with. It is very intimate, it bonds two people together, and it should not be thrown around like some play thing.

Likewise, for married folks, don’t take it lightly, but do not abuse it either. It is not a tool to be used for leverage, it is a bonding process, and should be respected and cherished (on both sides).

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Deuteronomy 22:1-12

Sundry Laws

22 “You shall not see your [a]countryman’s ox or his sheep straying away, and [b]pay no attention to them; you shall certainly bring them back to your countryman.If your countryman is not near you, or if you do not know him, then you shall bring it home to your house, and it shall remain with you until your countryman looks for it; then you shall restore it to him. Thus you shall do with his donkey, and you shall do the same with his garment, and you shall do likewise with anything lost by your countryman, which he has lost and you have found. You are not allowed to [c]neglect themYou shall not see your countryman’s donkey or his ox fallen down on the way, and [d]pay no attention to them; you shall certainly help him to raise them up.

“A woman shall not wear man’s clothing, nor shall a man put on a woman’s clothing; for whoever does these things is an abomination to the Lord your God.

“If you happen to come upon a bird’s nest along the way, in any tree or on the ground, with young ones or eggs, and the mother sitting on the young or on the eggs, you shall not take the mother with the young; you shall certainly let the mother go, but the young you may take for yourself, in order that it may be well with you and that you may prolong your days.

“When you build a new house, you shall make a parapet for your roof, so that you will not bring bloodguilt on your house if anyone falls from it.

“You shall not sow your vineyard with two kinds of seed, or [e]all the produce of the seed which you have sown and the increase of the vineyard will become defiled.

10 “You shall not plow with an ox and a donkey together.

11 “You shall not wear a material mixed of wool and linen together.

12 “You shall make yourself tassels on the four corners of your garment with which you cover yourself.

While many of these are just good common sense, the first passage stands out to me. It is very nearly an answer to Cain’s question, “am I my brother’s keeper?” In some ways, I think it answers the question with a “yes” and then takes it one step further.

Not only are we to look out for our fellow man (love your neighbor as yourself), but we are to watch out for their property also. If it has been lost, we are to restore it, or set it aside and keep it safe so that it can be restored when they come looking for it.

Serving God means always looking out for the best interests of others. That’s what Christianity is all about, making sure others know they are in mortal danger, and sharing the good news with them.

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Deuteronomy 21:10-23

Domestic Relations

10 “When you go out to battle against your enemies, and the Lord your God delivers them into your hands and you take them away captive, 11 and see among the captives a beautiful woman, and have a desire for her and would take her as a wife for yourself, 12 then you shall bring her home to your house, and she shall shave her head and [g]trim her nails. 13 She shall also [h]remove the clothes of her captivity and shall remain in your house, and mourn her father and mother a full month; and after that you may go in to her and be her husband and she shall be your wife. 14 It shall be, if you are not pleased with her, then you shall let her go [i]wherever she wishes; but you shall certainly not sell her for money, you shall not [j]mistreat her, because you have humbled her.

15 “If a man has two wives, the one loved and the other [k]unloved, and both the loved and the [l]unloved have borne him sons, if the firstborn son belongs to the [m]unloved, 16 then it shall be in the day he [n]wills what he has to his sons, he cannot make the son of the loved the firstborn before the son of the [o]unloved, who is the firstborn. 17 But he shall acknowledge the firstborn, the son of the [p]unloved, by giving him a double portion of all that [q]he has, for he is the beginning of his strength; to him belongs the right of the firstborn.

18 “If any man has a stubborn and rebellious son who will not obey his father or his mother, and when they chastise him, he will not even listen to them, 19 then his father and mother shall seize him, and bring him out to the elders of his city [r]at the gateway of his hometown. 20 They shall say to the elders of his city, ‘This son of ours is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey us, he is a glutton and a drunkard.’21 Then all the men of his city shall stone him to death; so you shall remove the evil from your midst, and all Israel will hear of it and fear.

22 “If a man has committed a sin worthy of death and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, 23 his corpse shall not hang all night on the tree, but you shall surely bury him on the same day (for he who is hanged is [s]accursed of God), so that you do not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you as an inheritance.

Lest anyone think the commandment to honor your father and mother was just for fun, this shows that God takes family very seriously.

Not only should a man treat His wife with respect, whether He chooses to love her or not, she should not be mistreated, even if she was “only” a captive from another land.

And on top of that, if a son does not listen to his parents, the penalty was death. Now, this wasn’t just, “hey, I don’t want to clean my room today”, it was a pattern of continual and persistent rebellion. The punishment was death, but the reward for honoring your parents is a long life. Family is a big deal to God, closer than any friend, and we need to value and honor those closest to us, and never take them for granted.

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Deuteronomy 21:1-9

Expiation of a Crime

21 “If a slain person is found lying in the open country in the land which the Lord your God gives you to [a]possess, and it is not known who has struck him, then your elders and your judges shall go out and measure the distance to the cities which are around the slain one. It shall be that the city which is nearest to the slain man, that is, the elders of that city, shall take a heifer of the herd, which has not been worked and which has not pulled in a yoke; and the elders of that city shall bring the heifer down to a valley with running water, which has not been plowed or sown, and shall break the heifer’s neck there in the valley. Then the priests, the sons of Levi, shall come near, for the Lord your God has chosen them to serve Him and to bless in the name of the Lord; and every dispute and every [b]assault [c]shall be settled by them. All the elders of that city [d]which is nearest to the slain man shall wash their hands over the heifer whose neck was broken in the valley; and they shall answer and say, ‘Our hands did not shed this blood, nor did our eyes see it8 [e]Forgive Your people Israel whom You have redeemed, O Lord, and do not place the guilt of innocent blood in the midst of Your people Israel.’ And the bloodguiltiness shall be [f]forgiven them. So you shall remove the guilt of innocent blood from your midst, when you do what is right in the eyes of the Lord.

It’s interesting that the guilt was placed upon an entire village if someone was dead and no one saw the crime committed. They were very strict about having at least two witnesses to a crime, and it was a serious thing to charge someone with murder. There was to be no speculation, unless it was witnessed, or the guilty came forward, the entire community bore the guilt until a sacrifice was made.

It’s possible this form of punishment was a tool, such as we might use, where the whole group is punished (or has it hanging over them), until the one who did the deed confesses. It almost seems a part of human nature, that folks do not like to see someone else suffer for their crimes.

Obviously there are exceptions, with psychopathic behavior and such. In the same way, there is a punishment that hangs over the entire human race, but in this case we are guilty. We have all sinned, and all have doom hanging over us. But there is a solution, a payment has already been made, and as much as we should wish that our fellow man not to suffer, we should wish to share the good news of Jesus with them.

We should not be silent, as the culprit in these cases might have remained, but we have good news instead, which is for all people. Do not be silent, share it!

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Deuteronomy 20

Laws of Warfare

20 “When you go out to battle against your enemies and see horses and chariots and people more numerous than you, do not be afraid of them; for the Lord your God, who brought you up from the land of Egypt, is with you. When you are approaching the battle, the priest shall come near and speak to the people. He shall say to them, ‘Hear, O Israel, you are approaching the battle against your enemies today. Do not be fainthearted. Do not be afraid, or panic, or tremble before them, for the Lord your God is the one who goes with you, to fight for you against your enemies, to save you.’ The officers also shall speak to the people, saying, ‘Who is the man that has built a new house and has not dedicated it? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man would dedicate it. Who is the man that has planted a vineyard and has not [a]begun to use its fruit? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man [b]would begin to use its fruit. And who is the man that is engaged to a woman and has not [c]married her? Let him depart and return to his house, otherwise he might die in the battle and another man [d]would marry her.’ Then the officers shall speak further to the people and say, ‘Who is the man that is afraid and fainthearted? Let him depart and return to his house, so that [e]he might not make his brothers’ hearts melt like his heart.’ When the officers have finished speaking to the people, they shall appoint commanders of armies at the head of the people.

10 “When you approach a city to fight against it, you shall [f]offer it terms of peace.11 If it [g]agrees to make peace with you and opens to you, then all the people who are found in it shall become your forced labor and shall serve you. 12 However, if it does not make peace with you, but makes war against you, then you shall besiege it. 13 When the Lord your God gives it into your hand, you shall strike all the [h]men in it with the edge of the sword. 14 Only the women and the children and the animals and all that is in the city, all its spoil, you shall take as booty for yourself; and you shall [i]use the spoil of your enemies which the Lord your God has given you. 15 Thus you shall do to all the cities that are very far from you, which are not of the cities of these nations [j]nearby. 16 Only in the cities of these peoples that the Lord your God is giving you as an inheritance, you shall not leave alive anything that breathes. 17 But you shall [k]utterly destroy them, the Hittite and the Amorite, the Canaanite and the Perizzite, the Hivite and the Jebusite, as the Lord your God has commanded you, 18 so that they may not teach you to do according to all their detestable things which they have done for their gods, so that you would sin against the Lord your God.

19 “When you besiege a city a long time, to make war against it in order to capture it, you shall not destroy its trees by swinging an axe against them; for you may eat from them, and you shall not cut them down. [l]For is the tree of the field a man, that it should [m]be besieged by you? 20 Only the trees which you know [n]are not fruit trees you shall destroy and cut down, that you may construct siegeworks against the city that is making war with you until it falls.

Here we see again the instruction to destroy all who lived in the land God promised to Israel, but something else quite different. He lays out different ground rules for the conquest of other cities and nations. They are not to kill everyone, but first offer terms of surrender.

But the most interesting part to me is the first passage, which reminds one of the army of Gideon later on in the book of Judges. Basically, if you had an excuse not to fight, you shouldn’t be in the battle. Even more so, if you were afraid, go home! The people were first told to trust in God for the victory, so if you couldn’t trust God, you didn’t belong in His battle, plain and simple.

I think that still applies to us today, when we “do battle” against whatever it might be, we need to trust God. Without that, we might as well give up already and go home. For with God, all things are possible, but without Him, the battle is not worth fighting.