In today’s reading we’re still working through specific laws for Israel that fall under the general command to be set apart as God’s holy people.
The theme that runs through chapter 21 is assuring that sin is not allowed to set up camp in the land. A ritual is assigned to dealing with unsolved murders, and instructions are given for properly dealing with captives, rebellious children, and hangings. And you’ll even hear a law that sounds like it came straight from the story of Jacob.
Chapter 22 and the beginning of 23 present a series of cases where mixing together of certain things is prohibited. Some of these will sound peculiar while others, such as disallowing the Ammonites and Moabites into the assembly, are derived from history. Many mark a distinction from the nations around them, remembering the LORD’s charge that Israel be set apart. Listen in chapter 23, however, that not all nations are treated the same: Egypt and Edom are different, based on Israel’s history with them.
At the end of today’s reading is again a curious mixture of laws about economic justice intermixed with laws about idolatry. We saw this same pattern in chapters 16 and 17, as though there might be some connection between the two.
These laws might be difficult to read through both because of their variety and their content. I’ll remind you again that we’re tourists in this land, visiting a different time and culture. It’s important to hear what they would have heard 3,400 years ago.
It’s also important to recognize that there are certain social constructs that God chose to address and others He didn’t. I encourage you to ask hard questions of the text while accepting that all of God’s purposes might not be discovered in this life.
Our verse for this week is Matthew 22:39: And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.
Deuteronomy 21 to 23. Now let’s read it!
And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself.