Thursday, November 19, 2015

Bible Study Notes in Deuteronomy- Chapter 23

Deuteronomy 23

-Some more sundry laws for the civilization coming into the land were stressed here in chapter 23. Men who had had their testicles or male organ removed were not allowed to enter the assembly of the LORD along with those who had been born from illegitimate births up to the tenth generation. What do you think this says legally about people’s perception of Jesus when He came along? No Ammonite or Moabite was allowed into the assembly of the LORD up to the tenth generation because they refused food and water to the Hebrews in the wilderness on their way to the Promised Land, and because they hired Balaam to curse the Hebrews, which didn’t work out too well. “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.” In fact they were never to seek these peoples’ peace or their prosperity all their days (Deuteronomy 23:1-6). On the other hand, the Edomites, who were their brothers, were not to be detested along with the Egyptians. The Egyptians were to be allowed because they had provided a safe haven for the sons of Israel while they were aliens in their land even though that eventually turned into slavery after hundreds of years (Exodus 1:8-13). The sons of the third generation who were born to them could enter the assembly of the LORD (Deuteronomy 23:7-8).

-When the armies of Israel were to go out against their enemies, they were required to keep themselves “from every evil thing.” Nocturnal emissions, or what we might call “wet dreams,” were considered unclean resulting in that man being excused from the camp until evening with a cleansing bath and return to camp at sundown. Excrement was to be properly disposed of with a spade outside the camp. God walked through this army’s camp to deliver and defeat His enemies. Therefore, the Hebrews camp was to be holy with nothing indecent among them. Else, He would turn away from them and withhold His blessings (Deuteronomy 23:9-14).

-Slave/master relations were delineated further now. A slave that ran from a previous owner and came into a new situation was to remain at the new master’s house. He was to live in their midst in the place of his choosing in a town that pleased him. Masters were not allowed to mistreat any of their slaves. This is the bill of rights for slaves that was extremely humane providing extensive considerations (Deuteronomy 23:15-16). Along with that, God informed His children that none of the daughters of Israel were allowed to be cult prostitutes, nor any of the sons. The harlot for hire and “the wages of a dog” (keleb- a male prostitute or sodomite) were never to be brought into the house of the LORD for a votive (neder- an avowed gift) offering. Both of these are an abomination unto the LORD (Deuteronomy 23:17-18).

-Countrymen of Israel could not charge one another interest on anything that was loaned. Foreigners could be charged interest, but not any of the Israelis. This would ensure God’s blessings in all that they would undertake in the land. It rewarded a spirit of generosity within the community (Deuteronomy 23:19-20). Vows to the LORD would need to be repaid without delay. Otherwise, it would be considered a sin in them and the LORD would require retribution. Refraining from a vow was a better option since it carried no weight of sin in them. The point was this, “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 promised (Deuteronomy 23:21-23, Matthew 5:33-37).” The final two verses deal with being able to go into neighbor’s vineyards and grain fields. Everyone was to share their grapes, but gathers were not allowed to put the grapes in a basket. Standing grain could be plucked, but they were not allowed to wield a sickle in their neighbor’s standing grain (Deuteronomy 23:24-25). This also propagated the idea of generosity and sharing within the society. The land would, in many ways, be communal property.  

-*Application* The humanitarian side of Israel’s society is the thing that should jump out at us the most from this passage. Everyone should be treated with grace, common courtesy, and dignity. We have to remember that God created each one of us as human beings with love and respect. We should love our fellow man and treat him as we would want to be treated. Do unto others as you would have them do unto you. This is the Golden Rule (Matthew 7:12). How good are we doing at that?

Verse to Memorize: Deuteronomy 23:5

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