Deuteronomy 5-26: The Second Address (Part 3)

Original Publication Date
June 18, 2016
Jan 10, 2023 2:03 AM
DeuteronomyChapter StudyTithesRelationshipsServants and SlavesSexual AssaultWomenCommandments
Bible References

Deuteronomy 21-26

This is another page that I feel would be better served if broken up. Once I get everything imported to the blog I’ll come back and clean this up.
Table of Contents
This page was originally posted on my Blogger version of the blog on June 18, 2016 The content below has a few minor tweaks for clarity, and additional references, and some updated information.


This post covers the last third of Moses' second address. The address spans from Deuteronomy 5 to 26, but this post focuses on the information covered in Deuteronomy 21-26. In these chapters Moses talks about familial issues (such as marriage and parenting), murder, rape, tithes and fair business practices.

Unknown Murderers

In some cases (probably most cases if the murderer could help it), a murder may occur without a witness. The city closest to the where the murder occurred was assumed to harbor the victim's killer. (It's not like they could flee by car or plane.) Therefore it was up to the elders of that city to make it right. This required a ritual in which the elders brought a female cow that had never been used for work to a valley that was not sewn or cultivated; there the cow was to be beheaded. After killing the cow, the elders washed their hands of the blood. This was the testimony of the elders that the people the city had neither seen or committed the murder.

Captives as Wives

In the case of captives, an Israelite man could take a wife, if he desired (women couldn't take husbands because men were never taken as captives). However, there were steps that had to be taken. The woman had to shave her head, which was symbolic of her humility—even today cutting off hair often symbolizes a new beginning. The man had to allow the woman a full month to mourn her parents along with anyone else she'd lost in the battle/war. The woman was to be elevated to an equal as his wife, as opposed to a slave. If the man chose to divorce her at a later point, he could not sell her as though she were a slave; she was to go freely wherever she chose. Since rape is condemned in Deuteronomy 22:25-27, this passage is addressing consensual relationships between captives and Israelites. This also debunks the myth that the Bible forbids interracial or cross-cultural marriage. As long as both the man and woman worshipped Him, He didn't seem to have a problem.

Firstborn Inheritance

In the case of polygamy, there was the possibility that one wife would be loved and the other despised (like Jacob's wives, Rachel and Leah). If the firstborn son was the son of the despised wife, he was not to be cheated of his inheritance. Instead, he was to receive a double portion of the inheritance. This would likely ease jealousy among brothers, avoiding situations like that between Joseph and his brothers.

Rebellious Children

Most children go through a "rebellious" phase, and all of us get in trouble at some point. However, some children are uncontrollable. If a child was unbearably rebellious and still wouldn't heed his/her parents, the child was to be brought before the elders and stoned. Key words in describing the children that were to be punished are glutton and drunkard, which not only indicated something more serious than sass-mouthing, but the age of the children. Likely this is referring to post-adolescent children, perhaps even adult offspring.

Like most of the 10 commandments, the penalty for not honoring your parents was death. The command to honor our parents parallels our relationship to God, the Father. If we can't love and obey our earthly parents who physically clothe, feed, and protect us, how can we love and obey God? This may be part of the reason God set the penalty for breaking this law so high.

Death by Hanging

Those put to death for sin were often hung from trees, perhaps as a reminder of their shame. Israel was not to leave such a body hanging after sunset. Since dead bodies were unclean to touch, the curse of the dead body would spread to land if they left it hanging too long. Death in this manner was considered a most shameful way to die—a disgrace not only to the man but to God, as we are made in His image and thus a reflection of Him—because only those who transgressed the law died in this manner.[1]

Various Laws

Lend A Hand

If you saw your neighbor's livestock roaming free or running away, you were to take them to your neighbor (as opposed to watching idly). If you didn't know who the animals belonged to, you were to hold them until someone came to claim them. This principle was true of anything one found that had been lost—clothes, animals, etc. If you saw someone's ox fall, you weren't to hide away, but to approach and offer a hand. God is commanding compassion and helpfulness among man. The basic concept is, if you see someone in need, you are to go help that person: a precursor to "do unto others as you would have them do unto you."

This hit me as I re-read it; only months ago my parents and I drove down the road and saw a calf out of its pasture standing by the highway. We didn’t drive to the house of the owner and report the calf out or shoo the calf back in to the pasture, we kept driving. In our society today, it’s very easy to keep moving because we don’t actually know our neighbors and Satan has put fear in to us. My dad is often speaking of how the other person could shoot you; my mom has a fear that beggars will wait until you pull out your wallet and rob you. All though these concerns are valid, the fact that they stop us from helping people proves they aren’t thoughts from the Most High. Ever since I left my hometown where everybody knows everybody, I’ve been trying to navigate that balance of being prudent and being helpful. I believe that Holy Spirit will tell us when to help and when to steer clear; the catch is training ourself to drown out our own fears to be able to hear the Holy Spirit’s voice. This is a work in progress for us all.


Women and men were not to wear each other's garment. People often make this one of the hardest and most difficult commands to understand today. Some denominations interpret this to mean women can't wear pants (i.e., Pentecostal). I saw a blog post where a woman gave up clothing we consider unisex like t-shirts (I'm quite curious as to whether she gave up sneakers and tennis shoes as well). The problem with these interpretations is that pants aren't reserved for men, especially not in the way society sees skirts and heels for women today. No one would bat an eyelash if they saw a woman in pants, but people will stare if they see a man in a skirt. The irony is that at one point in time, no one wore pants... Robes, which were basically dresses and skirts, were worn during most of Biblical history.

If one doesn't want to take into consideration the change of fashion over time, recognizing the fact that there are women's pants and men's pants just as there were women's robes and men's robes in Moses' day, then I would think they would also have to advocate dressing in the same manner that Moses' contemporaries dressed. Why would pants, which weren't made for men at that time, ever be ok for a man if fashion was not allowed to change?

I think God's intent for this passage, was to inform us that it should be easy to distinguish a man from a woman. Women should not be masquerading as men (i.e. Mulan) and men should not be masquerading as women (i.e. drag queens). I'm sure we've all met people that we couldn't figure out if they were male or female just by looking at them. I know I've met several people like this.

From there, of course, comes the question of being transgender. Being transgender isn't discussed in the Bible. Some would probably use this verse (Deuteronomy 22:5) to suggest the Bible condemns being transgender, but does it?

I would say that in order to come to the conclusion that the Bible condemns changing, you have to use multiple verses and think through the process. With this verse, you have to ask, if you have a sex change—let's say male to female—does God consider you a female now, or are you still a male? In that case, you are a male dressing as a female, which God calls an abomination. Also, during the transitioning time, you were definitely a man dressing as a woman, so it seems you would have to break God's law to get to the end result. Further, we saw in the last part of Moses' second address, self disfigurement is forbidden. Would not changing your external reproductive organs into other reproductive organs be disfiguring your original organs? Further, the assumption that a person is one gender in their mind and another gender physically, implies that God made a mistake: that He put your consciousness in the wrong body. God doesn't make mistakes, however. Further, one could argue the idea that you are being a false witness against yourself by presenting your self as one gender when you were actually born another.

One of the most important things to remember in the discussion of sin (particularly the LGBT+ community since people have a tendency to laser focus on these areas while ignoring things like premarital sex, pagan holidays, unclean food, etc.) is the full picture of Messiah’s sacrifice. Reading the Old Testament really helped me to understand that “the wages of sin are death.” Any sin requires payment of blood. The most egregious (essentially breaking the Ten Commandments) required the offender to be put to death. Other sins were “transferrable” and transferred to an animal which was sacrificed in the offender’s place. The role that Messiah plays is that He acts as that animal which takes the offender’s place. While there’s definitely discussion to be had about purposefully committing sin vs. deception or accidental sin (Hebrews 10:26), the main point is that almost all sin can be forgiven through the sacrifice of Messiah. The idea of attacking, killing, or otherwise harming people who are in sin (or whom we perceive to be in sin) is archaic, not because we’ve “evolved” or “transcended,” but because Messiah took His rightful place as priest and judge.

I think the Bible gives us reason to believe God does not approve of being transgender, but I do not think there is one specific verse that outright condemns the practice; you can only come to that conclusion by using the context of several verses to draw a conclusion. More importantly, I think that a person who has undergone gender reassignment surgery, but repents and returns to God spiritually is still saved. I don't know if the surgery is reversible (it probably costs a ton if is), but I would assume the ramifications of that would be between that person and God. Remember it is not our position to judge people but to love and share the truth. This means treating people with respect even if you disagree.

Also, remember that while a person may be in sin due to believing that they are transgender, you and I are in sin ourselves (in some way form of fashion—Romans 3:23). This one aspect of someone does not constitute the whole of the person—there are likely people who are transgender that are doing more for their neighbor than those who are not and calling themselves a Christian. This is why we are to extend grace to others and worry about fixing ourselves!

Preservation of Life

When the colonists began moving West in the U.S., they found sport in hunting the buffalo, as well as, to cut off supplies needed by Native Americans. This act put the American Buffalo in danger of extinction (luckily conservation efforts have kept the species from disappearing).[2][3]

God created each animal with a purpose and wanted to make sure the Israelites respected the balance of nature. It would do them no good if they hunted their source of food, clothing, and cleansing to extinction. God tells the Israelites that when they came upon a nest with a mother and her eggs (or babies), they were not to take both. This was to assure that either the mother or the babies survived to create more life.

Construction Guidelines

When you build a house today, there are rules and regulations that require certain safety features or precautions usually specific to the location. God issued the same type of guidelines for the construction process in Israel. The types houses they built had flat roofs, which were often used for sleeping. This opened the door for the possibility of someone falling off the roof, so God required them to have a railing on the roof.

Mixing Types

This is another one of those interesting passages that take a few read throughs, and some studying to understand. In Deuteronomy 22:9-11, God forbids the Israelites from mixing types together. Oxen and donkeys weren't allowed to plow together, seeds could not be mixed together, and clothes of blended cloth were not to be worn. (I discussed these commands in more depth when they appeared in Leviticus 19:19 in my post 📖Leviticus 19-20: Righteousness).

Of course the stand out question is does this mean the 50% cotton, 50% polyester shirt you have is against God's law? In the first iteration of this law (Leviticus 19:19), the materials specified are wool and linen. In Deuteronomy, God mentions this specific combination again. Most sources agree that God is specifically talking about wool and linen as opposed to the general mixing of clothes.[4][5][6][7] It is important to note the possible reasons why God instituted this law before we can understand how and if it is applicable today.

According to some sources, the priestly garments and and many of the adornments for the tabernacles were to be woven of both linen and wool, but when I reread the chapters on these topics, I only see linen being used. One source clarifies that the wool element comes from the dyed threads they were to use (see Exodus 28:6-8). From this, the claim is that the prohibition was to separate the holy from the average, similar to the way only a king wears a crown.[5][8] The implication is that it was not a moral issue so much as a separation issue. Still there are others who state that this is an issue of quality; garments that are 100% anything (silk, cotton, linen, wool) are more durable and of higher quality than those that are from mixed materials.[6]

The third possibility listed is the fact that wool and linen when blended have been scientifically proven to cause problems.[4] I am still looking to verify this claim.

A final claim is that the mixing of things is symbolic, relating to Paul's command in the New Testament not to be unequally yoked. This claim asserts that mixing types is like mixing sin with righteousness, which is of course not something we are to do.[13]

Premarital Sex Allegations

If a man was to accuse his new bride of not being a virgin at the time of their marriage, he brought shame upon her. A man could not idly accuse a woman of such without having a chance to prove otherwise. The parents of the bride were to produce the "tokens" of her virginity—likely the cloth were she bled on her wedding night. If the man was proven wrong (the parents produced the tokens), he was to be chastised and required to pay the father of the bride 100 shekels of silver for tainting the name of the woman. By studying the original language and the historical context of the Bible, scholars conclude that the chastising was a physical punishment, not merely a verbal scolding.[9] After the ordeal, the man could not divorce the woman.

On the other hand, if the man was found to be right and the woman's innocence was not proven, she was to be stoned. Sexual purity was (and still is in God's eyesight) considered a huge deal. On top of this, there is the implied issue of lying. Deuteronomy 22:28-29 tells us what is to happen to unwed, unbetrothed virgins who have sex (hint: death is not the answer). Clearly, the issue in a man finding that his new wife was not a virgin is that he had been lied to and betrayed. Sex outside of marriage was essentially the same as committing adultery. Marriage between a man and a woman is symbolic of the covenant between man and God. Just as God calls idolatry whoredom, which was punished with death, sleeping with anyone other than your spouse, even if you didn't have a spouse yet, was considered whoredom and punished with death. God makes it perfectly clear that His people were only to have sex within the confines of marriage. Note that in cases of premarital sex, it was nearly impossible to prove a man had committed the crime unless he was caught in the act or admitted to it, which is why we are only given a scenario in which the woman is accused.

Some things worth noting here: 1. All of the covenants God made with man were sealed with blood (circumcision, sacrifices, etc.) Similarly, the marriage covenant is sealed with blood during consummation. While I believe it is possible that blood can be shed even if the woman is not a virgin (and possible that a woman doesn’t bleed if she is a virgin), it is more likely that a woman bleeds if she is a virgin. This is part of why so much emphasis was placed on virginity going in to a marriage. 2. A more scientific motivation for keeping sex confined to married couples is that as long as both people are faithful, the likelihood of contracting STDs/STIs is very small.

If an unmarried woman who was not engaged had sex, the man was required to marry her as well as pay the father 50 shekels of silver. This money was compensation of the dowry that would have been traditionally required in a typical marriage. The verse doesn't specify if the sex is consensual or if this is a case of rape, which seems so drastic compared to the strong condemnation of rape earlier in the chapter! Why would God force a woman to marry her rapist? This verse parallels the law given in Exodus 22:16-17, where we see that the marriage could be refused, forcing the man to pay without receiving a bride.

There are many things to be taken into consideration when thinking about this situation. Now that the woman was not a virgin, it would be hard for her to find a husband; she would have been considered defiled even though it was not her fault. On top of that she would be unable to take care of herself as a single woman. Women did not work, and her father's inheritance would have passed to her brothers (unless she had none). This arrangement was to ensure the woman had at least one choice for a husband. (Also note that in the case of consensual sex, this law forced men to marry the women they convinced to sleep with them, which discouraged leading women on to get sex.) In addition, the man could not divorce the woman if the marriage was accepted; he was stuck with that decision. He couldn't divorce her even in the case of adultery! Likely, however, the father would refuse the marriage in the case of rape and if the woman never found a husband, her brothers would be responsible for caring for her. No one in the Old Testament is ever forced to marry their rapist.[10][11]

Furthermore, there seems to be contention on whether the phrase "lay hold" means "seize" which implies rape, or simply means convince. Earlier in the chapter the word "forced" is used to indicate rape. Well known theologian John Gills contends that the original Hebrew used in this verse doesn't mean rape, but refers to consensual sex.[12] Gills' explanation makes the most sense to me. From this perspective, this is merely forcing men not to be players. Unlike today's society where some men try to sleep with as many women as they can before settling down, this would force them to be serious about any woman they chose to have sex with.


Which brings us to the topic of adultery. In the case of adultery where both the man and woman were identified, both the man and the woman were to be stoned. However, if the act was a result of rape, only the man dies. God reminds us that there is no sin (fault) in the woman who is raped. The sin of rape is equated to killing a man. Many believe that Deuteronomy 22:24-27 seems to imply rape only occurs outside the city, however, this is not what is the verses are saying. Within the city, it was expected that if a woman was raped, she would cry out and someone would hear her. The person who heard the woman crying out would either rescue her and prevent the rape, or act as a witness to the event. Contrarily, in the country, it was unlikely that anyone would hear the woman cry out, thus they were to believe her by her own word without witness.


God also warns sons not to sleep with their father's wives (as Reuben did to Jacob). This seems like a given considering God forbids both incest and adultery.

Exclusions from the Congregation

From official churches to rogue individuals, there are lots of people today who try to exclude people from the body of Christ. Before Jesus opened the door to all of humanity, God actually specified who could not be accepted into the congregation of Israel in Deuteronomy 23. None of the people excluded were being punished for committing a sin so much as from being the evidence of sin. Generally speaking, the congregation included adult males (at least 20 years old) who had been circumcised per the covenant and represented the holy community. God restricted those that would taint the holiness of the community as a reminder to the Israelites of the lingering effects of sin. Included in the list of excluded persons were those who were eunuchs, anyone born out of wedlock, Ammonites, and Moabites.

Note that being “excluded” from the congregation was not like what Churches today refer to as excommunication or disfellowshipping. The people in these passages were still under YHWH’s protection—as evidenced by the fact that all women were excluded. Likely the “congregation” is meant to mean the governing body or the leadership. Further reading from one doctrine can be read here. No matter how tricky this passage may seem, we know that it doesn’t condemn the people themselves because Ruth was both a woman and a Moabite and it is from Ruth that we get David, Solomon, and Messiah.

These people were not at fault and exclusion from the congregation was not a punishment, but a reminder to those who were in the congregation. The person born out of wedlock was the evidence of sexual impurity in the nation. Ammonites and Moabites were created through incest (Lot's daughters' sons were the progenitors of these two groups); also they were hostile to Israel during the journey through the wilderness. They too were a reminder of abominations man had taken part in since the fall. The more people that were excluded from the congregation actually spoke negatively on those who were included because the people outside were evidence of the failures of the people inside. The people who were excluded were not sinners themselves, but byproducts of sins. Thus, it wasn't an issue where if 90% of the population was excluded, the 10% were elite; the fewer people excluded from the nation, the closer the Israelites were walking with God (he blesses their offspring to be healthy and no children are born out of wedlock when the Israelites are obedient).

Scholars believe that this command not only served as a reminder, but a deterrent to keep the Israelites from creating eunuchs.[14] The exclusion lasted forever in the case of illegitimate children, Ammonites, and Moabites. However, Isaiah 56:3-4 tells us the eunuch, though excluded from the congregation, are promised a home with God if they keep His commandments. Clearly God is not abandoning these people. The exclusion did not keep them from worshipping God or exclude them from salvation. Likely, they were simply barred from being counted in the census or holding office.[14]

Inclusions in the Congregation

God also describes who is included in the congregation of Israel. They were not to turn their backs against the Egyptians and Edomites. The Edomites are described as their brothers, which is quite literal since Esau, father of the Edomites, was the brother of Jacob, father of the Israelites.

The Egyptians were to be forgiven for their treatment of the Israelites and could enter the congregation at the third generation. It is interesting to see that God had mercy on these people—particularly the Egyptians who participated in idolatry. What was different about them verses the Ammonites or Moabites or Canaanites? Was it their inability (or lack of desire) to covert the Israelites?

A parallel thought to remember when considering God's inclusion of the Egyptians is that this act magnified His ability to deliver them but minimized the cruelty of the Egyptians. Jesus tells us we are to forgive people, this is exemplified in God's command to first forgive their brothers (Edom) and then their captors (Egypt).[16]

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. Deuteronomy 23:7 KJV
I want to call out this verse because there is a growing movement of people who claim caucasians are actually Edomites and express a hatred for them. They cite verses like Malachi 1:2-3 and the many pronouncements of Judgement against Edom as evidence that God hated Edom and as an excuse to hate Edom as well. Regardless of God’s judgement on Edom, we see in Deuteronomy 23:7 that the Israelites were commanded not to hate Edom and to remember Edom as a brother.


Purity was a must, so uncleanness was not allowed in the camp—especially during war. If someone became unclean in their sleep they were to depart that morning, then wash their self that evening and return. They were to relieve themselves at the side of the camp, using a paddle to uncover a hole for their waste, which was to be covered afterward.


Interestingly, the Israelites were told not to return runaway slaves to their masters, nor to oppose their slaves. While they were not to turn away or force slaves back to their masters, they were commanded to turn away the sexually impure, particularly those involved in cult prostitution. Along with not accepting these people into the congregation, they were not hire these people either. If it wasn't obvious before, clearly God was not ok with prostitution.[15]

Slavery & Kidnapping

The Israelites were commanded not to steal people, especially not for he purpose of servitude or selling. Anyone who was found guilty of such a thing was to be put to death. Regardless of whether the man was a stranger or brother, a servant was not to be oppressed. The Israelites were to pay their help on time and without delay.


Usury is the practice of charging obscenely high interest rates. The Israelites were not to place these types of interest rates on anything they leant to their neighbors. On the other hand, loans to strangers could be leant with high interest rates, probably because strangers would have a higher risk factor. All Israelites were bound to the same morals and obligation to pay back their debts and deal honestly, while strangers were not.


Once a vow was made to God, though it was made voluntarily and thus not required, it was considered stealing not to continue to uphold or complete a vow taken. As such, it was considered a serious sin to renege on a vow to the Lord.


If a man walked through his brother's or neighbor's vineyard (or field of corn—possibly any field, but only corn and vineyards are specified directly), it was fine for him to take a little but he was not to take enough to place in a vessel (a basket, bag, etc.). The person could have just enough to fill their hunger—which seems to go hand in hand with leaving crops for the poor—but couldn't make a profit from someone else's handiwork.

Domestic Life and Relationships

Moses discusses a series of issues that affect the Israelites' domestic life.

Marriage and Divorce

Marriage was a serious contract; it was supposed to last forever. God likens His relationship with His people as a marriage which explains why marriage was so important to Him. It's a lot easier to commit to someone who is flesh and blood than someone you can't see. Like our relationship with God, marriage was supposed to be binding for life.

Divorce was only allowed on certain occasions. In these verses, God is addressing divorces based on "uncleanness." Men were not allowed to simply divorce their wives because they liked someone else better, and throughout the New Testament we see that adultery is listed as the only legitimate reason to divorce someone. However, the law provides rules for divorces not concerning adultery to prevent men from treating their wives poorly after they decide they no longer wish to be married.[17]

In Deuteronomy 24, we learn that if a man divorced his wife, she was free to marry another, however, under no circumstance was she ever allowed to go back to her first husband if she took a second. This stipulation was to force the man to really think about his action. Neither divorcing her second husband nor the death of her second husband made this woman available to her first. The divorce made them dead to each other because death is the only thing that severs the bond of marriage.[17]

Another marriage issue Moses discusses at the beginning of chapter 24, is the honeymoon phase. A newlywed man was to be free from work for an entire year! His sole duty during that time was to make his wife happy. He was also exempt from war for this same reason. God expected the husband to put all his effort in to pleasing his wife and building a home together during that first year.


A pledge was basically collateral, such as how they take your license before you can tour an apartment.[18]

In some cases, this may have been an "I owe you" situation and in others it may simply have been a temporary trade (for instance I may give you something of value as a pledge to use your horse for the day). Millstones could not be taken as a pledge, because they were required for grinding food. Both the upper and lower stones were necessary for survival and God didn't want people forcing others to die (or suffer more debt) over a pledge. He thus forbid anyone from taking such an object for payment or collateral. in addition, God specifies that pledges to taken from the poor were to be returned before night so that they would not have to be cold. This is also discussed in Exodus 22:26-27.


The Israelites were to learn about the plague of leprosy from the Levites. With this knowledge, they were to be diligent in quarantining those identified with leprosy. Moses gives the example of his sister Miriam being quarantined in the wilderness. In using this example, Moses was also declaring that it didn't matter who had the plaque, they were to be quarantined regardless. Miriam was the sister to both the leader and the high priest, and she was still quarantined.

Sin & Family

Children who damage someone's property usually aren't held liable for the damages, but it is very likely that parents will have to pay the bill. In the case of sin, however, parents can't bail out their children. They were not to die for their child's sin. Similarly, a child was not to be put to death for his father's sins. Here we learn that each person is ultimately responsible for his own sins.


The Israelites were not to twist the law to harm the strangers, orphans, or widows. Neither were they to change to the law to help the rich. Taking a widow's garments for a pledge is discussed as Moses impresses fairness upon the people. Like millstones, the widow's garment couldn't be taken from the her as a pledge. God tells them to remember that they were once slaves in Egypt and how they were treated, but God spared them. For this reason they should obey God, and for this reason, they should spare those around them.

Crops were to be left in the field for the less fortunate (widows, orphans, and strangers). They were to freely glean from these crops—this is how Ruth meets Boaz. Both olive trees and vineyards fell under this law as well. This made sure that the poor had something; while it may not have been the best of the crop (beggars can't be choosers, right?), it would keep them from starving. This method provides for the poor, but still leaves reason for one to want to get out of poverty. Remember, the poor had to pick their own food, they weren't simply handed the crops. This is God's version of public assistance.

This mercy was also applied to animals. The Israelites weren't to muzzle an ox as they tread through the cornfield. The ox was owed the fruits of his labor.

Relationships & Mercy

When problems arose between people, a judge was to determine who was guilty of wrong doing. If the judge found the act worthy of punishment by lashing, they were restricted to 40 lashes, anything more was deemed cruel and vile. For comparison, in the American South, the number of lashings a slave could receive was dependent upon the master. There is evidence to show that some slaves received as few as 39 (within the Biblical range), to as many as 200 lashings as punishment.[19]

The Quran (the basis of Islam) allows for up to 80 lashes, but Muslim countries such as Saudi Arabia are much like the so-called Christian slave owners and may deliver well beyond that limit. Saudi Arabia issued a sentence of 7000 lashes for two men in 2007 (though they are not given all at one).[20]

Duties of a Brother-in-Law

Known as a Levirate marriage, a woman widowed before having children was to marry her husband's brother to produce a line to inherit the deceased husband's possessions and name. This is seen in Genesis 38 with Judah's daughter-in-law Tamar. When Judah's eldest son passed away before Tamar could conceive, he sent his middle son to marry her (read more about this example here). The firstborn child was to receive the deceased husband's name. The other children would received the brother's name.

If a man did not perform this duty, the woman was to take him before the elders. If he was found guilty and still refused his duty, she was to remove his shoe and spit in his face. While this punishment seems strange today, it would have been demoralizing back then (actually, it would be pretty demoralizing today, too). He would then be known as "the house of him that hath his shoe loosed" (how embarrassing?).[15]

Immodest Women

"Kick him were the sun don't shine" is a common phrase and popular for getting back at a man, but God would never give you that advice. The Bible tells us that a woman who attempts to help her husband in a fight by taking hold of the other man's "secrets" (i.e. private parts) was to lose her hand and no one was to pity her. Besides the obvious, the logic is that this action may prevent the man from having children, hence the harsh punishment. The ability to continue one's line, as discussed above in "Duties of a Brother-in-Law", was the closest thing to immortality people had and it was a huge deal. A man who couldn't produce heirs or a woman who was barren was considered incomplete.[15]

Another possible reason for the severity of the punishment was the concept of fairness. Most societies had rules of honor in fighting. Even today, one would consider it a "low blow" or an unfair shot if someone were to go for the groin in a fight. On top of that, she would be interfering with a fight that should have been settled between the two men. Further, if the woman did damage the man's ability to reproduce or injure him, he may have been considered a eunuch, which would then exclude him from the congregation.

Just Weights

The Israelites were supposed to carry just weights. These weights would have been used to measure money when buying or selling. In Deuteronomy 25:13-16, God is condemning the practice of cheating people of their money. Everything was to be fair.


Deuteronomy 25:17-19, God gives us the reason why He despises Amalek and the Amalekites. He reminds the Israelites that Amalek brought an army to attack their rear, smiting the weak and feeble. Amalek did not fear God, which automatically made him an enemy. In return, God wanted the Israelites to blot Amalek's existence out of history. Paradoxically, God commands them never to forget blotting Amalek out of history. I think what is meant by this series of commands from God, is that their ability to wipe away the memory of Amalek was to be an example for all generations to come. All the people would ever know about Amalek is that at one point he existed, he made God mad, and the Israelites destroyed his legacy. Aside from that information, the response would be "Amalek, who?" We will see the continuing conflict between the Israelites and the Amalekites over the course of the next few books.

Offering First Fruit

When the Israelites were settled in the promised land, they would eventually plant and/or harvest crops (some things were already planted). The first of these crops were to be given to God at the Temple via the priest. They were to recite their history from Israel's entry to Egypt through God delivering them—the highlights at least—before giving the first fruits to God. Likely, this is a reference to the Feast of Harvest (or Pentecost).


Every 3rd year tithes went to the Levites, strangers, widows, and orphans. During the other two years, the tithes went directly to God. This measure helped the less fortunate in the same manner welfare or public assistance help the poor today. In the New Testament, Jesus continues to stress the importance of giving to others in need.

35 For I was an hungred, and ye gave me meat: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in: 36 Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came unto me. ... 40 And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.

Matthew 25:35-40 KJV

Keep the Commandments

Once again, God reminds the Israelites to keep His commandments. Remember, this task is their end of the bargain in the covenant, so it is often stressed by God.

References and Footnotes

  1. "Deuteronomy 21:22 Commentary". Bible Hub. 2016
  2. "American Buffalo Are Endangered". Endangered Species. 2000
  3. "Are buffalo endangered?". Reference.com. 2016
  4. "Mixed Fabrics". Beyond Today. January 2011
  5. "Why does the Bible speak against wearing clothing made of different types of fabric?". GotQuestions.org. 2016
  6. "Should a Christian Wear Clothing of Mixed Fibers (Leviticus 19:19)?". Church of the Great God. 2016
  7. Gilson, Tom. "Why Wearing Clothes of Mixed Fabrics (Leviticus 19:19) was Warong". Thinking Christian. January 2013
  8. "What’s So Wrong with Mixing Wool & Linen?". Our Rabbi Jesus. July 2013
  9. "Deuteronomy 22:18 Commentaries". Study Light. 2016
  10. Hanegraaff, Hank. "How could the Bible command a rape victim to marry her rapist?". Christian Research Instituate. 2016
  11. "Does Deuteronomy 22:28-29 command a rape victim to marry her rapist?". GotQuestions.org. 2016
  12. Gills, John. "Deuteronomy 22:28 Commentary". Bible Study Tools. 2016
  13. Ford, Mike. "Wool and Linen". Church of the Great God. 2015
  14. "Deuteronomy 23:1". Bible Hub. 2016
  15. Holman Bible Publishers. Holman KJV Study Bible. pg. 338, 340. 2014
  16. "Deuteronomy 23 Commentary". Bible Study Tools. 2016
  17. "Deuteronomy 24 Commentary". Bible Study Tools. 2016
  18. "PledgeMerriam Webster. 2016
  19. Simkin, John. "Whipping of Slaves". Spartacus Educational. August 2014
  20. Malone, Noreen. "How Many Lashes Can One Man Take". Slate. November 2008

Back to 📕Deuteronomy overview

Other Pages to View

Bible Studies


Related Studies



Related Studies


Related Podcasts

Related Experiences


Related History

Ecclesiastes 8-10: Wisdom
EcclesiastesChapter StudyCommandmentsLeadershipDeathMoney
Proverbs 10-22: More of Solomon’s Wisdom
ProverbsChapter StudyPrideWisdomAngerRepentance and ForgivenessWomenJusticeLyingCommandmentsRelationshipsMoney
Homosexuality in the Bible
LeviticusSexual ImoralitySexual AssaultRelationshipsLawCommandmentsLove
Joshua 7&8: The Battle of Ai
JoshuaChapter StudyDeuteronomyCovetTheft
Deuteronomy 1-4: The First Address
DeuteronomyChapter StudyMoabAmmonFalse Deities and ProphetsCommandmentsMosesRepentance and ForgivenessJoshua (person)
Cross Referencing the Books of Law
Deuteronomy 31-34: The Final Address
DeuteronomyChapter Study
Deuteronomy 28: The Curse of Israel & The Black Israelite Theory
DeuteronomyChapter StudyRacismIsraelGenealogy
Deuteronomy 27-30: The Third Address
DeuteronomyChapter StudyBlessings & CursesCovenant
Deuteronomy 5-26: The Second Address (Part 2)
DeuteronomyChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsLeviPriesthoodIsraelJusticeJudgementTithesClean and Unclean
Deuteronomy 5-26: The Second Address (Part 1)
DeuteronomyChapter StudyCommandmentsLawIsraelLeviFalse Deities and ProphetsCovenant
Numbers 16-18: Rebellion
NumbersChapter StudyIntercessory PrayerAaronPriesthoodTithesDeath
Leviticus 19-20: Righteousness
LeviticusChapter StudyAppearanceCommandmentsLawSacrificeAdulteryWitchcraftFood and DietFeasts & Holy DaysJustice
Leviticus 24-25: Expectations & Appropriate Behavior
LeviticusChapter StudyFeasts & Holy DaysBlasphemyLawServants and SlavesTemple
AaronExodusCharacter StudyLeviticusNumbersDeuteronomy
MosesExodusCharacter StudyLeviticusNumbersDeuteronomy
S.O.A.P. Method
ExodusTithesMoneyStudy the Word
Do Not Take the LORD’s Name in Vain
CommandmentsDeuteronomyExodusNames of GodBlasphemy
Do Not Steal
Do Not Covet
Exodus 32: The Golden Calf
ExodusChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsMosesAaronCommandmentsRepentance and ForgivenessIntercessory Prayer
Do Not Kill
Honor Thy Mother and Father
No Other Gods
CommandmentsLawFalse Deities and ProphetsExodusDeuteronomy
Exodus 18-20: God’s Commandments
ExodusChapter StudyMosesAaronCommandmentsSinaiFireLeadershipLaw
Genesis 27-36: Jacob & Esau, Two Nations
GenesisChapter StudyWomenJacobLeahEdomRachelTithesFalse Deities and ProphetsDinahSexual AssaultCircumcisionLeviSimeonGenocideTheft
Keep the Sabbath Holy
Nehemiah 7-11: Restoration of Jerusalem
NehemiahChapter StudyTithesGenealogyRepentance and ForgivenessSalvationFeasts & Holy Days
Do Not Bear False Witness
CommandmentsFalse Deities and ProphetsLaw
Judges 2: Provoking God
JudgesChapter StudyFalse Deities and ProphetsCommandmentsCanaan
Acts 15: Disagreements in the Church
ActsChapter StudyPaulPeterLeadershipCommandmentsSalvationCircumcisionRepentance and Forgiveness
Do Not Commit Adultery
No Graven Images
CommandmentsLawFalse Deities and Prophets
PSALMS to God is a blog, podcast, and YouTube channel that discusses many topics and issues, always keeping YHWH as the anchor. Hosea 4:6 says “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge”—here, the aim is to always ask questions and study to find the answers. You can keep up with new content by signing up for the weekly newsletter.