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This passage covers sometimes strange instructions for divorce, kidnapping, charity, limits to punishment and marriage to bear an heir.
The chapter starts with a judgement on how a divorce is to be enacted. The man gives the wife a “certificate of divorce” and she was free to remarry. The man, however, could not divorce a wife for a frivolous matter. The verse says that he has found indecency in her and that is why he is divorcing her. The Hebrew word that is translated as indecency is עֶרְוָה ervah (Strong’s lexicon No. H6172), which means “nakedness” or “shame.”
When a man marries a woman, he is to love her as Christ loves the church and be willing to give up his life for her (Eph. 5:23–27). The man is to take care of his wife so she can do her job — take care of the children and the household — well.
Kidnapping is a death penalty offense. Ripping a person away from their family unit and selling them into slavery has the same effect on that family as if the person had been murdered. This judgement acknowledges that pain. The fact that our current culture does not take kidnapping seriously doesn’t diminish the seriousness of that crime.
Lending to the poor
If a poor person borrows money from you and all they have for a pledge is their cloak or blanket that they use to keep them warm at night, you are to return the cloak at night so he can use it so his health and life are preserved. This text is an example of not charging usury to a fellow member of Israel.
Job opportunities and charity for aliens, widows and orphans
This passage tells us that we are to provide job opportunities and charity to the alien, the widow and the orphan. God tells them the reason that they are to do this is that they were slaves in Egypt. When they were in Egypt, they did not get to keep the work of their hands so they were to remember that. Now that they are in the land of promise, they are to give the alien, the widow and the orphan an opportunity to work and reap a reward from the work of their hands just as they are reaping a reward from the land.
Punishment fit the crime
If a person is convicted of a crime, they are to be punished but they are not to be over-punished. The punishment is to fit the crime. The Torah says the reason that you are not to over punish the criminal so that person will not be “degraded in your eyes.” The Hebrew word that is translated as degraded is קָלָה qalah (Strong’s H7034), which also means “dishonor, lightly esteem.”
Instructions for what families were supposed to do if a man died without leaving a son as an heir seem very alien to us. The widow was to present herself to the surviving brother. If the surviving brother refused to procreate an heir with her, she was to take the matter before the judge, and the insolent brother was to be humiliated before the widow and the elders by having his sandal removed from him.
What’s really in play in this passage is a loss of inheritance rights. God told Israel through Moshe that wherever their feet walked their descendants would possess (Deut. 11:22–25). To only have one sandal was cutting oneself off from that inheritance and part of God’s mission.
Speaker: Richard Agee. Reader: Jeff. Summary: Tammy.