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Deuteronomy: Cliff Notes Edition

Posted: Wed May 15, 2019 9:13 pm
by GethN7
The biblical book of Deuteronomy (which means "second law") contains a recap of most of Leviticus and Numbers, but it also includes some new laws and expansions on older ones those books do not cover.



The new material will be covered in this post, with any specific historical trivia not explained in the original text noted.





One Place of Worship: The Israelites were commanded to worship only at the place designated by God, all other places were to be destroyed, especially those where sacrifices to other gods were made.



It further notes God would designate a suitable place in the lands of each tribe.





Prophets: Anyone who claimed to be a prophet who advocated worship of any god other than God was to be killed by stoning by the whole community. Prophets whom God ordained would be the only ones authorized to perform supernatural feats, and then only on God's behalf.





Idoltary: Any place or city encouraging idol worship was to be burnt to the ground as a burnt offering to God.





Asherah Poles: Asherah was a Semitic fertility goddess, and any tree dedicated as a monument to her was not to be planted anywhere near the altars of the Lord.



Some religious scholars believe this was done to distance God (Yahweh or YHVH, also called El) from other Semitic cultures, where intermingling of deities was common, and further lines up with God's instructions for the Israelites to set themselves apart from other cultures. She was also referred to as Astarte in Babylonian tradition.





Justice Provisions: God expected courts and officials for the dispensing of justice to be set up in every town of tribe, and he commanded they not accept bribes or show favoritism to anyone.





Witnesses; No crime could be prosecuted on the word of only one witness. Two or three were needed at minimum. Any malicious witness was to be put to death as they intended the accused.





Higher Courts: If ordinary courts could not settle a lawsuit, they could be appealed to the priests of the Lord's temple. Any decision they made would be final and binding.





Kings: If the Israelites wanted a king, they must have the following qualifications for leadership.

1. They must be native of an Israelite tribe, they could NOT be a foreigner.

2. Could not accumulate large numbers of horses nor silver and gold.

3. Had to have a copy of the law given to him by the priests which he was to review for the duration of his life to remind him of his place.





Laws Concerning Warfare:



1. All places war was waged against must be offered terms of peace. If accepted, the conquered would serve the Israelites. If not, they were be laid to siege and the males of military age killed, the rest were to taken as spoils of war. (assuming they were not near the territories of Israel's borders)

2. Before battle, all males who were newly married, recently obtained new property, or simply were scared to go to battle were to be released from service before the troops were organized and the command structure put in place.

3. For Canaanite nations, no city laid siege to could have any fruit trees destroyed for siege works, only non fruit trees were allowed to be harvested for this purpose. Their people were to be utterly destroyed to prevent the spread of their idolatrous ways.





Unsolved Murders: If a person was found in the Promised Land dead, their murderer unknown, the following had to be done to cleanse any guilt from the people:



1. The cities nearest the body must be measured for the one closest to the deceased.

2. The elders in the nearest city had to take a heifer that had never been yoked for labor and brought down to a valley with flowing water.

3. With the Levite priests in attendance, the elders must break the heifer's neck, wash their hands over the heifer, and pray for the guilt of bloodshed to pass over them, attesting they saw not the murder nor knew the murderer.





Taking of Captive Women as Wives: They were to be allowed to mourn her family for a full month, Then, after changing their clothes, trimming their nails, and shaving their hair (done most likely for reasons of sanitation), she could then be lawfully married.



If later divorced, she was to be let free to go wherever she pleased, and could not be sold as a slave.





Child Birthright; Firstborn sons had priority, even if a man had more than one wife and favored the children of one wife over the other, the firstborn of the unfavored would be higher priority than the other wife's children.





Disposition of Criminals; If a criminal was executed by hanging from a tree, they had to be cut down at sunset and properly buried, they could not remain overnight.





Miscellaneous Laws:



Crossdressing was forbidden.



Houses with roofs one could walk on had to be secured with a rail or those who fell from them would be considered murdered by the house owner.



Note: This is quite similar to a law found in 'The Code of Hammurabi", right down to the punishment.



A bird nest could be relieved of it's young but the mother was to be left there.



Any fallen animal of a neighbor had to be assisted without fail.



Vineyards and fields could not be planted with two types of seed.



Wool and linen could not be woven together.



Oxen and donkeys could not be harnessed to work under the same yoke.



Oxen could not be muzzled when treading out grain.





Martial Purity: If a man accuses his wife of not being a virgin when they have sexual relations, one of two things would happen:



1. If proof of the virginity could be established, the man would be fined a hundred shekels of silver for defaming an innocent woman and could not divorce her for life, having already dishonored her.



2. If he was right, she would be stoned to death for adultery.



If a virgin pledged to married was raped, one of two things would happen:



1. If she called for help and no one heard her or she was heard, she would go free and only the rapist would be punished



2. If she did not, both were to be punished with death.



A man could not married the former wife of his father. He also could not remarry a divorced wife later.



A virgin NOT pledged to be married, if she was raped, that would force the man to pay the father fifty shekels of silver and he would have to marry the woman as atonement for defiling her, he could not divorce her life.





Purity of the Assembly:



Anyone whose genitals were crushed or cut (and thus emasculated) could not enter the assembly of the Lord.



Ammonites and Moabites were to not be allowed into the assembly, even to the tenth generation of descendants.



Note: The Book of Ruth would be something of an exception, though it's indicated Ruth and Naomi went native and thus became Isrealites culturally, which would have been acceptable under God's law.



Edomites (due to being descended from Jacob's brother Esau) and Egyptians (since the Israelites were once guests of that country) were allowed to have the third generation onward of their descandants enter the Lord's assembly.



No one of an illegitimate marriage was to be allowed under any circumstances.





Purity of the Camp:



During war, all soldiers who were unclean were remain outside the camp until the next evening, having washed themselves in the interim.



In the camp, there must be an established latrine outside the camp, and all excrement was to be promptly buried by order of the Lord, so they would not show him anything defiled.





Escaped Slaves: They were to be liberated and NOT returned to their masters.



Note: As the Israelites were enslaved, this was done to remind them how terrible it was for them, and some scholars speculate this was done to discourage the practice of slavery.





Shrine Prostitutes: Both sexes were forbidden to be this, and God would not accept any of their earnings as offerings.





Property and Personal Laws:



1. No Israelite was to charge another interest. Only foreigners could be charged interest.

2. All vows of offering to the Lord had to be fulfilled.

3. Anyone walking through a neighbor's field or vineyard could pick kernels of grain or grapes by hand, but could not bring a basket to collect them.

4. Millstones could not be taken as a pledge for a loan, that would hold someone's life as security.

5. Kidnappers were to be punished with death.

6. Cloaks (doubling as blankets at night) COULD be taken as security, but had to be returned at night for the use of the loanee for their comfort at night.

7. All poor natives or foreigners were to be paid their wages promptly, they could not be withheld.

8. Fathers and sons were to be punished only for their own sins, not that of each other.

9. Any excess leavings in fields and vineyards were to be left for the poor and alien as charity.

10. While otherwise forbidden, if a brother died with no heir, the surviving brother must marry his brother's wife and have children by her so his family line would not die out. He could refuse, whereupon his sandal would be take, she would spit in his face, and his family line was known as the Family of the Unsandaled.



Note: Family lineage was highly important for the descent of property.



11. If two men were fighting and the wife of one of them seized him by the privates to restrain him, her hand was to be cut off.

12. Weights and measures were to be honest and accurate.

13. The Amalekite people were to be utterly destroyed, without mercy, for they showed none towards the Israelites at any point.

Re: Deuteronomy: Cliff Notes Edition

Posted: Fri May 17, 2019 10:18 am
by ccgr
Good write up as usual. Thanks for sharing this!