Richard Agee

Deuteronomy 22-23: Laws on finding lost items, cross-dressing, bird hunting, conduct in war, tithing ill-gotten gain, inappropriate relationships

Deuteronomy, Leviticus, large parts of Numbers and the latter chapters of Exodus are not just a lists of rules and regulations. Deuteronomy, in particular, documents the thoughts of Elohim, illustrated by how often Messiah Yeshua and the apostles quote from it. By studying these commandments, statutes and judgments — at times difficult to understand — we can see a small glimpse of how God thinks, not in the past tense but in the present tense.

We’ve covered various topics in Deuteronomy 22 and 23 in earlier journeys through Deuteronomy. This time, let’s focus on these tough topics.

Law of finding lost property

Deut. 22:1–4

We are not to live by the rule “finder’s keepers, losers, weepers.” We are to live by God’s word and He tells us that when we find something belonging to our neighbor, we are to do our best to find the owner and return it. Even with a live animal, such as a donkey, or a pet, we are to take it home, give it food and water and then when the owner arrives, you are to give back the animal or item without seeking a reward or reimbursement for the food and water.

Law of gender-specific clothing

Deut. 22:5

We are also not to use clothing to deceive people about our identity. Our gender identity is to be clear and obvious. Women are not to pretend to be men, particularly men of war. Men are not to pretend to be women.

Law of hunting birds with chicks

Deut. 22:6–7

We also told not to kill a mother animal when it is raising vulnerable chicks. Otherwise, the hunter is committing the mother and the young to death. God is a God of compassion.

Law of making covenants with surrounding nations, imitating them in battle

God forbids the Israelites to enter into any kind of covenant relationships with Moabites or Ammonites because of the betrayal related to Baalam, “even to the 10th generation.” But God tells them to have mercy on the Edomites (who are their brethren) and on the Egyptians, who were their hosts. The Hebrew word here comes from the Hebrew word מִצְרַיְם mitzraim (Strong’s lexicon No. H4714), means a “dam builder.” The sons of the third generation of the Edomites and the Egyptians are allowed to join the people of Israel in a covenant relationship. 

“When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing” (Deut. 23:9). We have no excuse to be evil, just because our enemy is evil. We are not to imitate our enemies. In recent days, our soldiers have been accused of desecrating the corpses of their enemies, which have brought reproach on us and have had to be rebuked publicly and their actions disavowed.

Law of tithing ill-gotten gain

If you are making money from illegal activities such as prostitution, sales of illegal drugs or mafia machinations, are not to mock the Lord by tithing on it as though pretending that the money you earned in evil was a “blessing” from God. We are also not to loan money to our fellow believers charging interest. God will give us the interest.

Laws of inappropriate relationships

Deut. 22:13–29

This section covers various inappropriate relationships. The first verses deal with the consequences of adultery and forcible rape. The last verses, Deut. 22:28-29, deal with a different kind of illicit relationships. Even though most English translations translate the interaction as a man defiling a virgin and “seizing” her, the Hebrew word תָּפַשׂ tafas (H8610) does not imply physical force. The virgin is not the victim of kidnapping, she is more likely the victim of an older man who used seductive words to convince, seduce and woo her into a relationship that she otherwise would not consider. The man is required to marry her and he can never divorce her because he seduced her and misled her. 

Isaiah 47 tells us that God will punish the Chaldeans and the Babylonians for how they treated the Israelites during the exile. Even though God used them to punish the children of Israel, He turned around and had to punish the Chaldeans and Babylonians because of the viciousness and mercilessness of their treatment of the children of Israel. No one will come and save them from God’s punishment. We ask ourselves what is this talking about. God does use non-believing nations to punish believing nations and enact judgement against them when they turn away from Him and refuse to listen to the words of God. God had a reason to send the Assyrians against Israel and Nebuchadnezzar against Judah.  

We look at our nation and understand that God hasn’t changed the way He deals with the errors of the nations of the world, just as He hasn’t changed the ways He chastens people individually. God held the nation of Israel to a higher standard and they failed to uphold that standard and He had to rebuke and punish them. 

If you don’t know how to do please God, the Scriptures show you how to please Him, all the word from Genesis to Revelation show us these lessons. They are written for us, not just for those who lived 3,000-plus years ago but for today too.

Reader: Jeff. Speaker: Richard Agee. Summary: Tammy.

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