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Monday, September 3, 2012

Responsibility, Adultery, Rape and Liability in Deuteronomy

Today's Reading:
  • Deuteronomy 21:1 - 22:30
  • Proverbs 12:11
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Deuteronomy 21:1 - 22:30
Today's reading was a list of rules and regulations.  Some of them I do not recall reading before, but that doesn't mean they weren't there, just that I don't remember.  The rules covered many things,and I found many of them interesting, so I'm going to just jot down a list.

The first thing that caught my eye was in verses 21:1 - 21:9. These are instructions on what to do if a person is murdered and you do not know who did it.  In these situations the elders and priests must perform a ritual to cleanse the community from the guilt of murder.

What strikes me about this is that murder is a community sin.  Murder isn't the only community sin, however -- many of these punishments are designed to purge the sin or evil from the community.  I see that, at least according to the Old Testament, that God deals with people at the community level.  I don't know if there is ever a shift where the Lord deals with mainly individuals (since I haven't read much of the New Testament) , but from what I'm reading so far, the community/nation/etc that you belong to matters and can be judged as a whole.  God knows our individual hearts and we will be saved at death as long as we are faithful believers in Christ.  Since a community is composed of individuals, I suppose it would make sense to say that the heart of the community will reflect the majority of people in it, and for that reason the Lord can (and has) purged many entire communities from the land. 

Moving on to verse 22:22:
"If a man is discovered committing adultery, both he and the woman must die.  In this way, you will purge Israel of such evil."
This verse tells me that there isn't a  so-called "double standard"for adultery, in that women are unfairly judged while the men go free.  There are other verses in this chapter that reiterates the point, where both men and women are charged equally.

Verses 22:-25 - 27 talk about rape.  If a woman is raped, she is "as innocent as a murder victim."  I don't have much to say about this, except that the Lord considers the rape victim to be innocent. I have never been raped, but I imagine that many women who have struggle with realizing that they are victims.  Just know that in the eyes of the Lord, you have nothing to be ashamed of.

Verse 22:1 - 4 talks about responsibility.  If you see your neighbor's lost property then you must retrieve it and keep it safe until it is returned.  If you see your neighbors animals running away, you must alert your neighbor.  If you see your neighbor's animal collapsed on the side of the road, you must help your neighbor to get it back on it's feet. We have a responsibility to others in trouble, we are told not to look the other way.

There are many interesting verses in these chapters, but the last I will focus on is 22:8:
When you build a new house, you must build a railing around the edge of its flat roof.  That way you will not be considered guilty of murder if someone falls from the roof.
Even today, when we own property, we can be considered liable if something causes harm to another person while they are on our property.  In some cases it wouldn't matter if the person was on our property illegally, we could still be held liable.  This verse makes me think of the dangers of pools.  Many people have small pools set up in their yards, and every year there are stories of drownings.  In the most heart-wrenching of cases, these were pools owned by neighbors instead of the person who has the young child.

I have a three year old, I have refused to even put our pool up for the past two years because of his ability to get into anything, no matter where it is or the obstacles you place in front of it.  It doesn't matter, he can get into anything.  When we did have a pool up, we'd always remove the ladder so that no one could easily climb in.  That wouldn't ultimately inhibit a determined child like mine from getting into the pool, but it might at least defer them for awhile.  So please, if you have a pool, take some measures to keep neighborhood children out of it.  The same goes for any glaring hazard on your property.  

Proverbs 12:11
A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.
This verse made me laugh out loud, I guess because I wasn't expecting it to conclude with "has no sense."  I expected it to say something like, "goes hungry" instead.  Either way it's the truth, if you're going hungry because you're chasing fantasies, then you don't have any sense.

I don't think this verse discourages against having dreams.  But if you're chasing the next big thing, or spending all your money plus more on this idea you're sure is going to make you rich, then take a clue here.  There are people who strike it rich accidentally,  but for the rest of us, we work hard.  Work hard first, chase those other things with more hard work.  The Lord expects us to work hard, it is mentioned over and over again.  If you want to achieve your dreams, then work for it.  Don't expect it to just fall from the sky and land in your lap.