BIBLE STUDY SERIES #518, 519 and 520

28 October, 2001

DEUTERONOMY 22: SOCIAL LAWS - PART II

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies on the Great Plan by which The Almighty God is steadily drawing His Creation towards the perfection of His Kingdom reveals that this plan centres upon the formation of one selected line of people chronicled in The Scriptural Record, which descends through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thence through the whole history of the nation of Israel, and therein to provide, in the person of Jesus Christ, the focal point of His mighty purpose. This series has brought us from the call of Abram in Genesis 12, down to Deuteronomy 22, the first twelve verses of which we had read and briefly discussed. Let us quickly review those twelve verses to clarify the notes which we find in The New Bible Commentary:

Verses 1-4 pertain to care of lost animals or raiment, and helping one's neighbour with a fallen animal. In verse 5, Clothing of each of the sexes was not to be worn by the opposite sex. Verses 6-7 pertain to care of birds on nests, verse 8 to parapets built to prevent accidents, and verses 9-11 to prohibitions against mingling seeds, work animals and garment fibres. Verse 12 enjoins the creation of fringes on vestures.

The New Bible Commentary has some useful thoughts on these first twelve verses under the heading "Various rules of charity and purity", stating "The miscellaneous character of the precepts in verses 1-12 has puzzled those critics who regard these chapters as a legal code, but it is natural enough in a spoken discourse. Verses 1-4 breathe the spirit of the Sermon on the Mount." The words "Thou shalt not see ... and hide thyself" can be compared to the story of the good Samaritan in Luke 10. Mention of "a bird's nest" in verse 6 draws the note "In Palestine bird life is important in keeping down the numerous insect pests: this rule therefore was wise as well as humane ... . The words "A battlement" of verse 8 yield the note "The flat roof of an Eastern house is where the host entertains his guests in the evening; therefore a parapet is a necessary precaution." At verse 9, "Divers seeds", we find "Two kinds of seed (RV). These rules have a practical value with a spiritual background. ... Unnatural combinations lead to confusion and discord; so does compromise with the world. The words "A garment of divers sorts" (verse 11) is, in the RV, "a mingled stuff." "The Hebrew word is of foreign, probably Egyptian, origin. Garments of this kind would not wash readily. The purpose of fringes (12) was to be a distinctive sign to themselves and others that they were the Lord's people. (Cf. Nu. xv. 37-41.) It was the 'fringe' of Christ's garment which the woman touched and was healed (Lk. viii. 44)."

Keil and Delitzsch, in introducing their comments on the remainder of this chapter under the heading "Laws of Chastity and Marriage" write "Higher and still holier than the order of nature stands the moral order of marriage, upon which the well-being not only of domestic life, but also of the civil commonwealth of nations, depends. Marriage must be founded upon fidelity and chastity on the part of those who are married. To foster this, and secure it against outbreaks of malice and evil lust, was the design and object of the laws which follow." Now let us read the rest of this chapter, beginning with verse 13-21, but as we do so, please keep in mind that where execution is invoked, it is a circumstance arising as part of the entire law code to which the people of Israel had universally agreed under strict discipline. It is not something which may be applied in some other legal context.

13. If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
14. And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
15. Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel's virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
16. And the damsel's father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
17. And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter's virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
18. And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
19. And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
20. But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21. Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father's house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father's house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

Of these laws, Keil and Delitzsch continue: "The first, (vers. 13-21) relates to the chastity of a woman on entering into the married state, which might be called in question by her husband, either from malice or with justice. The former case is that which Moses treats of first of all. If a man took a wife, and came to her, and hated her, i.e. turned against her after gratifying his carnal desires (like Amnon, for example, 2 Sam. xiii. 15), and in order to get rid of her again, attributed 'deeds or things of words' to her, i.e. things which give occasion for words or talk, and so brought an evil name upon her, saying, that on coming to her he did not find virginity in her.... , the parents of the young woman were to bring the matter before the elders of the town into the gate (the judicial forum ... ) and establish the chastity and innocence of their daughter ..." (This would be by the customary means as practiced for centuries by tribal peoples, using the marriage-night bed-clothes). If the judgment went against the man, he was to suffer both chastening, (that is to say, by the rod) and also a fine of twice the amount as the fine imposed upon the seducer of a young maiden. Also he lost the privilege of divorce from her.

However, if the man had testified truthfully, and the girl was not a virgin when married, the elders were to bring her out before the door of her father's house, and the men of the town were to stone her to death. This was "not so much because she had committed fornication as because notwithstanding this she had allowed a man to marry her as a spotless virgin, and possibly even after her betrothal had gone with another man." We now pass on to verse 22:

22. If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

Here again, the sentence is one to which the entire people have agreed. There are a variety of possible benefits to a society which is prepared to express such intolerance towards the transgression of agreed rules, but it has probably occurred to you that it all seems very far distant from the present moral condition prevalent throughout most of society today. Perhaps we are living in those days of which Christ prophesied in Matthew 24:38 when speaking of social conditions which were to come in the last days of our present dispensation, of a similar patters to those of the time before Noah entered the ark.

23. If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
24. Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour's wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.
25. But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:
26. But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
27. For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.
28. If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
29. Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel's father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

Here, the law is simply being reviewed and brought to the minds of the younger generation. The law, as stated in Exodus 22:16-17, yields the additional ruling which allows the father to refuse this arrangement, and to receive a payment equivalent to the dowry of virgins.

30. A man shall not take his father's wife, nor discover his father's skirt.

The intent of this provision of Law is to prohibit incest.

I might add my own thoughts, in connection with all these commandments which call for execution by the method of stoning. A certain symbolism appears to be involved. It has occurred to me that this method of execution might have been specifically designed to convey this symbolic meaning: The Stone Tablets given at Mount Sinai contained The Ten Commandments of The Law of The Lord, and those who had broken that Law by their actions had, in a sense, morally broken those stone tablets. Indeed, in later times the Babylonians had the expression "breaking the tablet", meaning to break a covenant. and the use of broken stones might thus be thought appropriate as the means of removal of those who had thus sinned.

4 November, 2001

DEUTERONOMY 23: LAWS OF INCLUSION & EXCLUSION

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

Our series of Bible Studies on the Great Plan by which The Almighty God is steadily drawing His Creation towards the perfection of His Kingdom reveals that this plan centres upon the formation of one selected line of people chronicled in The Scriptural Record, which descends through Abraham, Isaac and Jacob, and thence through the whole history of the nation of Israel, and therein to provide, in the person of Jesus Christ, the focal point of His mighty purpose. This series has brought us from the call of Abram in Genesis 12, down to today's study in Deuteronomy 23.

Introducing this chapter under the heading "Regulations as to the Right of Citizenship in the Congregation of the Lord", Keil and Delitzsch note "From the sanctification of the house and the domestic relation, to which the laws of marriage and chastity in the previous chapter pointed, Moses proceeds to instructions concerning the sanctification of their union as a congregation: he gives directions as to the exclusion of certain persons from the congregation of the Lord, and the reception of others into it (vers. 1-8); as to the preservation of the purity of the camp in time of war (vers. 9-14); as to the reception of foreign slaves into the land, and the removal of licentious persons out of it (vers. 15-18); and lastly, as to certain duties of citizenship (19-25).

1. He that is wounded in the stones, or hath his privy member cut off, shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD.

Introducing this chapter, The New Bible Commentary states "The exclusion of emasculated persons was a protest against heathen practice and helped to prevent its introduction into Israel." It adds a reference to Leviticus 21:16-23, which should be read in this connection. That reference says, in effect, that no person who has any blemish (of which examples are listed) may act as an Aaronic Priest. The probable symbolism may be more clearly understood if we remember that the High Priest was a symbol of Christ Himself, in His perfection, entering before The LORD into the Holy of Holies. Keil and Delitzsch believe that the regulation, pertained to the mutilation of the nature of man as created by God. Continuing:

2. A bastard shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to his tenth generation shall he not enter into the congregation of the LORD.
3. An Ammonite or Moabite shall not enter into the congregation of the LORD; even to their tenth generation shall they not enter into the congregation of the LORD for ever:

Keil and Delitzsch consider the reference, not to those born out of wedlock, but to be of those begotten of incest or adultery. Here, The New Bible Commentary notes a reference to Nehemiah 13:1-3, a passage which reaffirms this passage at a later time in history, and it then continues "Although Egypt and Edom fought against the men of Israel, Moab and Ammon sought the ruin of their souls, as found in Numbers 22", (through a curse from the hired prophet, Balaam.)

4. Because they met you not with bread and with water in the way, when ye came forth out of Egypt; and because they hired against thee Balaam the son of Beor of Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse thee.
5. Nevertheless the LORD thy God would not hearken unto Balaam; but the LORD thy God turned the curse into a blessing unto thee, because the LORD thy God loved thee.
6. Thou shalt not seek their peace nor their prosperity all thy days for ever.

Here we might note the Companion Bible comment that the word "Moabite" is here rendered in the masculine, and therefore does not include Ruth the Moabitess. However, I believe that this is arguing a fine point of distinction, and it is not necessary if we realise that at the time of Ruth, the inhabitants of North Moab (i.e. "Moabites" by domicile) were the Tribe of Reuben, and not racial Moabites at all, for those had been thrust from that land by Amorites some time before, whom Israel had in turn displaced.

7. Thou shalt not abhor an Edomite; for he is thy brother: thou shalt not abhor an Egyptian; because thou wast a stranger in his land.
8. The children that are begotten of them shall enter into the congregation of the LORD in their third generation.

Keil and Delitzsch note that this is allowed on the basis of kinship ("he is thy brother"). I would suggest at this point, and holding that phrase clearly in view which states that "an Egyptian" belongs in the same category as regards candidature for inter-marriage "in the third generation" into Israel, as "an Edomite" which "is thy brother" that this recognition also provides a strong suggestion of a kindred relationship of the rulers of Egypt at the time of Joseph with the Shemites which included Abraham. If this be accepted, Asenath, the wife given to Joseph by Pharaoh would thus be validated as a genealogical ancestor from racially kindred peoples, and thus not a racial foreigner after all. It is no small point, as Asenath is sometimes suggested as an eminent example of a foreign infusion to the lineage of Israel.

There follow here, as The New Bible Commentary points out, "various social rules":

9. When the host goeth forth against thine enemies, then keep thee from every wicked thing.
10. If there be among you any man, that is not clean by reason of uncleanness that chanceth him by night, then shall he go abroad out of the camp, he shall not come within the camp:
11. But it shall be, when evening cometh on, he shall wash himself with water: and when the sun is down, he shall come into the camp again.
12. Thou shalt have a place also without the camp, whither thou shalt go forth abroad:
13. And thou shalt have a paddle upon thy weapon; and it shall be, when thou wilt ease thyself abroad, thou shalt dig therewith, and shalt turn back and cover that which cometh from thee:
14. For the LORD thy God walketh in the midst of thy camp, to deliver thee, and to give up thine enemies before thee; therefore shall thy camp be holy: that he see no unclean thing in thee, and turn away from thee.

Here, we might bring the practicalities of the situation down to something which will be very easy to understand. Not having a sewage treatment facility, a camp of perhaps something over a million people would find such a rule quite essential on several grounds. (We might even underscore the essence of the rule in a slightly humorous vein, as we think of crossing a park or lawn and finding that we have stepped in something where a dog has relieved itself!) "Cleanliness in the camp", as The New Bible Commentary notes, "is ordered both for health and personal purity. The presence of Jehovah in their midst is a constant plea for holiness."

15. Thou shalt not deliver unto his master the servant which is escaped from his master unto thee:
16. He shall dwell with thee, even among you, in that place which he shall choose in one of thy gates, where it liketh him best: thou shalt not oppress him.

The New Bible Commentary mentions, that "We see here a prophecy of the liberation of the slave once he sets foot on the holy land of freedom." This speaks of slaves fleeing from foreign lands into the protective land of Israel.

17. There shall be no whore of the daughters of Israel, nor a sodomite of the sons of Israel.
18. Thou shalt not bring the hire of a whore, or the price of a dog, into the house of the LORD thy God for any vow: for even both these are abomination unto the LORD thy God.

At this, the reference points out "The degrading temple prostitution common at heathen shrines is forbidden to the children of Israel." Keil and Delitzsch draw attention to the point that these whores and sodomites would be Israelites. Foreign whores and sodomites were to be totally excluded in any case, as the Canaanites were expelled or slain.

19. Thou shalt not lend upon usury to thy brother; usury of money, usury of victuals, usury of any thing that is lent upon usury:
20. Unto a stranger thou mayest lend upon usury; but unto thy brother thou shalt not lend upon usury: that the LORD thy God may bless thee in all that thou settest thine hand to in the land whither thou goest to possess it.

Again the reference notes, regarding loans to foreigners, that these "were usually of a commercial character, and therefore a charge of interest was unobjectionable; but it was forbidden, as contrary to the law of love, when the loan was from a rich man to his poor neighbour. Cf. Ex. xxii. 25; Lv. xxv. 36."

21. When thou shalt vow a vow unto the LORD thy God, thou shalt not slack to pay it: for the LORD thy God will surely require it of thee; and it would be sin in thee.
22. But if thou shalt forbear to vow, it shall be no sin in thee.
23. That which is gone out of thy lips thou shalt keep and perform; even a freewill offering, according as thou hast vowed unto the LORD thy God, which thou hast promised with thy mouth.

Again, the reference notes that the reader should see Numbers 30:3 (which speaks of a woman who might also "vow a vow unto the LORD, and bind herself by a bond, being in her father's house in her youth"; a reference which permits two limitations to this rule), and Deuteronomy 12:6 and 26. (concerning places of vows and offerings). Continuing at verse 24:

24. When thou comest into thy neighbour's vineyard, then thou mayest eat grapes thy fill at thine own pleasure; but thou shalt not put any in thy vessel.
25. When thou comest into the standing corn of thy neighbour, then thou mayest pluck the ears with thine hand; but thou shalt not move a sickle unto thy neighbour's standing corn.

Here we find that "The vineyards and cornfields in Palestine were open to the passer-by, and the yields were so plentiful that he might take what he would. When the Pharisees complained (Mk. ii. 23, 24) of the disciples plucking the ears of corn, it was not in reference to this ordinance, which expressly allowed this action, but because they held that to rub the ears was a species of threshing, and therefore a violation of the sabbath rest."

11 November, 2001

A REVIEW: REMEMBRANCE CONTESTED

By Douglas C. Nesbit, B.A.

In 1997, I gave some thoughts about Remembrance which, as Remembrance Day has come again, seem the most appropriate to quote once more. For this occasion, we are therefore setting aside our normal routine of Bible Studies.

For many families, who live in the Anglo-Celto-Saxon lands of the world especially, this day will probably be marked in some fashion by parades or other observances relating to the commemoration of the multiplied sacrifices of many lives in valiant effort, in wars fought to preserve the heritages of the nations concerned. Such Remembrance Days form a tradition which relies increasingly upon the aging memories of the elderly; of many people now infirm and no longer able to participate forcefully in public debate, and upon the deep love of relatives for those buried in cemeteries in many lands, and those who have no known grave. It is, indeed, a service conducted as a sort of royal duty by the noble souls within the populace whose own lives are themselves frequently marked by self-sacrifice and patriotism of a high order; a motivation which is deeply felt, perhaps more intensely now than at any other time of the year.

However, there is, embedded in such attempts to recognise and to review these national attainments of such patriotic military episodes of our history a newer struggle, for the very recognition of such patriotic endeavours is given a pat on the back, and then a push out the door by those intent upon creating a one-world government which pretends the objective to give status to everyone but which, in fact, by such egalitarian propaganda, would impart no status to anyone except the elitist strata which aspires to total power to control. This desire is cloaked by sweet words, demanding, "in the name of all humanity" that we all give up liberty in exchange for ease, all the while obscuring the fact that without liberty, one cannot control the sources of that ease, which will consequently swiftly evaporate when the elitist tires of the charade and demands Caesar's seat and prerogatives.

This development has been at work throughout every nation for more than a generation. Led by elitists among mega-bankers and inter-national organizations, and supported by many in universities and education in general, propagandised through the kept mass media and supported by politicians of every stripe with an eye towards re-election to the public trough, and judiciary rulings which bend to the winds of the "politically correct", this new vision is not a friend of true Biblical beliefs and faith, for it serves an alien god.

There is a natural sense of justice in Remembrance Day observances which mark the valour of the former generations, but this is pitted against a newer, frivolous and quite foreign sentiment among the demoralised and rootless youth which answers to the herd instinct in dress, demeanour and selfish transient amoral behaviour of every kind. Remembrance is family and neighbourhood giving due recognition to the gift of life and limb by the best the country had to offer. It pits the memories of the aged against the media inculcated false conscience of a world view which casts a jaundiced eye upon any observance which cannot be shared by everybody on the face of the planet.

The great plan of The Almighty God for all humanity is ultimately the only workable option within the constraints of Creation and human participation, and the organizational pattern of this plan is termed "The Kingdom of God." It addresses, with the widest and most detailed wisdom of the Creator Himself, the whole of human need and satisfaction. It has been an age-long agenda which The Almighty initiated from the first design of His own will. It involved the selection of a proven person, of proven lineage, to gender a people of service, to serve as kings and priests upon the earth. It is a design which involves a Divine King, a Law code designed with the greatest love, a people of conscience and a will to reflect His divine nature, and space upon the earth within which to promote and to demonstrate the perfection of God's love through His perfect laws. The whole is to emerge as a system of delight and glory. The temporary interference by those who lack the vision of this enterprise will eventually yield with the energizing of His presence. That is the promise, and He Who has made promises is the Ever Faithful One Who demonstrated His Own Love through a voluntary acceptance of a terrible death, vindicated through Resurrection and Ascension to Glory.

The Patriarchs were Abraham and Sarah, Isaac and Rebekah, Jacob and his wives and family, the Tribes of Israel who were to be the people of The Kingdom. The Royal lineage stemming from the God of Sinai, Who there delivered the loving wisdom of His Royal Law, onward, down through the sceptre of Judah's line to His human surrogate, King David, and his royal descendants among whom was Jesus the Christ. There can be only one correct solution to human ills, and that design is here being implemented. All else is destructive and tawdry show of ignorance and arrogance

Surely, those remembered on such an occasion as Remembrance Day have, however inadequately, sought in the main to reflect The Almighty's High Purposes through the desperate struggles of war, its sweat and wounds, and their own early graves. Such people are surely of the family of The King, and it is well to remember their gift to their families, their neighbourhoods, indeed their nations, of our own and later generations.

We of the British-Israel-World Federation continually assert, with what we consider ample evidence, that the vast majority of those who descend from the ancient Tribes of Israel of the Biblical record are today found chiefly in those of Anglo-Celto-Saxon and kindred peoples. They form the modern expression of the root and core of that Holy Nation which is the developing establishment of nationhood under Divine control, for the benefit of all humanity.

There is, in the Old Testament a Scripture recorded by the Prophet Malachi, which is quite well known, at least in part. It is Malachi 4, and it forms the last few words in the entire Old Testament. I would like to read this scripture to you now. It states:

1. For, behold, the day cometh, that shall burn as an oven; and all the proud, yea, and all that do wickedly, shall be stubble: and the day that cometh shall burn them up, saith the LORD of hosts, that it shall leave them neither root nor branch.
2. But unto you that fear my name shall the Sun of righteousness arise with healing in his wings; and ye shall go forth, and grow up as calves of the stall.
3. And ye shall tread down the wicked; for they shall be ashes under the soles of your feet in the day that I shall do this, saith the LORD of hosts.
4. Remember ye the law of Moses my servant, which I commanded unto him in Horeb for all Israel, with the statutes and judgments.
5. Behold, I will send you Elijah the prophet before the coming of the great and dreadful day of the LORD:
6. And he shall turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers, lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.

The significant thing which I would like to draw to your attention in that quotation is the fact that there would come a day when it would be necessary for some prophetic work to be done, in order to "turn the heart of the fathers to the children, and the heart of the children to their fathers" for the threat otherwise is "lest I come and smite the earth with a curse.". Surely this involves the fathers' heartfelt urging, and taking the time and effort to re-establish contact with the younger generation. It would not be a just act on God's part to impose a curse if God's Law was at that point being respected and being obeyed, so quite obviously, at this stage, the youthful generation will not have much of a clue as to the requirement to observe the Law of The LORD, let alone a heart to undertake observance of the same.

This turning must involve these youth in a search for their roots, and that means both a genealogical revelation as to their descent from Israel of old time, and their legal obligations inherent within that relationship, to obey that Law of God, as well as a spiritual re-establishment with the verities which their fathers down the generations through history have upheld, and which it has been left to the present generation to forget!

Let us reaffirm our commitment as a people and as the nations of modern-day children of Israel to carry out that proclamation of the requirements so that when the Second Advent occurs, the earth will not suffer that curse, the threat of which forms the final words of that Old Testament which Jesus called "The Scriptures" in Luke 24:25-27. On the road to Emmaus, Jesus called those who did not pay attention to the details of those Scriptures regarding Himself "fools and slow of heart to believe." With that in hand, in our Bibles, we had better not act in a manner which might incur such a condemnation at His return. Next week we will return to our Studies in Deuteronomy.

RETURN TO BIBLE STUDY
RETURN TO B.I.W.F. HOME PAGE