Deuteronomy 23: Why Some Laws Are Worth Keeping

Reading through Deuteronomy can make you react in all kinds of fun ways.

In chapter 23, you stumble across this law: “No one whose testicles are crushed or whose penis is cut off shall be admitted to the assembly of the Lord.” and think WHAAAA?!

But then you keep reading and you find “With your utensils you shall have a trowel; when you relieve yourself outside, you shall dig a hole with it and then cover up your excrement.” That’s when you think to yourself hey, this seems like a pretty good law.

Today, let’s stick with the ones that seem like good ideas. K?

Runaway Slaves

Runaway slaves that find their way to Israel are not to be returned to their masters. And not only that, they are allowed to stay wherever they like and are not to be oppressed.

One could make the argument that they get preferential treatment.

In countries where forced prostitution (slavery) is rampant, runaways are not protected by the police. Often, they are returned to the brothels and punished.

I also think of my own state of Oregon. When it was founded, the people didn’t want it to be a slave state (good) BUT they also didn’t want freed slaves living here (bad) (look at point #7)

It was kind of supposed to be a “black-free zone”

So, this law seems like it would be a good one that we could learn a thing or two from.

Charging Interest

Israelites were not allowed to charge other Israelites interest on any kind of loan. They could charge it to foreigners (though they didn’t have to), but not to each other.

What if Christians refused to charge interest on each other? What would that do? And what would happen if we just decided to extend that to everyone? What if we just cancelled debts?

I’m no economist, but I think the correct answer would be “chaos.”

BUT what if we created a new system where no interest was the norm? What would that do?

Our world would start to look very different.

My Mom recently started a non-profit micro-finance loan . . . thing. Sorry, I really had trouble thinking of a word for it. It’s called MicroBusiness Mentors.  They use interest-free loans to help people in Uganda and The Philippines start business. Check it out if you are interested!

So maybe this is also a law that is worth keeping?

Enforced Generosity

The Israelites had a different view of property than we do. If one of them had a field or a vineyard, anyone was allowed to come eat their fruit provided they only used their hands. No storing or reaping. Just picking and eating.

Isn’t that weird?

The law requires them to be generous with their stuff!

What would that be like if someone just came over to your house and took a book off your shelf to read?

What if they just borrowed your car (they would fill it up, of course!)?

What if they just came and picked some tomatoes from your garden?

But I’ll be honest with you, I kind of like that idea. I want to live in a world where that kind of thing is possible. I don’t want to be afraid of things like that.

I think that is a law worth keeping.

What do you think? Are there any laws you have read in Deuteronomy that you think are worth holding on to? 

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4 responses

  1. Im with you. Let’s live there. Deuteronomy is WEIRD. Im ready for a new book, however, I love how you humanize the laws that they are given and give us a real world perspective. I wish every non-believer could read your blog to get a better hold of the reasons why God gives them these seemingly off the wall laws! Thanks again!

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