Justice and charity, continued. Levirate marriage. Miscellaneous laws.
VERSE 1. If there is a controversy between men, and they come to judgment and the judges judge them, then they shall justify the righteous and condemn the wicked.
The judges have two assignments:
justify the righteous. People whose deeds are righteous should not be convicted of a crime.
condemn the wicked. People who commit crimes need to be convicted.
However, the judges will become corrupt. Then they will fail in the above two assignments. Justice itself will be perverted.
VERSE 2. It shall be, if the wicked man is worthy to be beaten, that the judge shall cause him to lie down and to be beaten before his face, according to his wickedness, by number.
VERSE 3. He may sentence him to no more than forty stripes. He shall not give more, lest if he should give more and beat him more than that many stripes, then your brother will be degraded in your sight.
no more than forty stripes. This was a severe form of corporal punishment. It meant to be flogged with a whip, as many as 40 times.
In later centuries, it was restricted to 39 times. It was referred to as forty stripes minus one. Saint Paul was punished in this way:
2 Corinthians 11:24. Five times I received forty stripes minus one from the Jews.
your brother will be degraded. They believed that limiting the flogging to 40 times would preserve the dignity of the person being punished.
In comparison, the Code of Hammurabi permitted 60 lashes.
shall not muzzle the ox. They put grain stalks on the threshing floor, and had oxen walk on them in order to break them up.
Since the animal was working for them, they should be kind to it.
Saint Paul saw this command as demonstrating that the LORD God cares about a working ox.
And similarly, that God cares about human laborers, especially those laboring for God’s kingdom.
1 Corinthians 9:9. For it is written in the law of Moses, “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.” Is it for the oxen that God cares,
1 Corinthians 9:10. or does he say it assuredly for our sake? Yes, it was written for our sake, because he who plows ought to plow in hope, and he who threshes in hope should partake of his hope.
VERSE 5. If brothers dwell together, and one of them dies and has no son, the wife of the dead shall not be married outside to a stranger. Her husband’s brother shall go in to her, and take her as his wife, and perform the duty of a husband’s brother to her.
Her husband’s brother shall go in to her. This is the one circumstance where marriage was permitted between close relatives. It is referred to as Levirate marriage.
Levirate marriage has been practiced by societies in which marriage outside the clan was forbidden.
the duty of a husband’s brother. What is this duty? It is described in verse 7 below.
VERSE 6. It shall be that the firstborn whom she bears shall succeed in the name of his brother who is dead, that his name not be blotted out of Israel.
VERSE 7. If the man doesn’t want to take his brother’s wife, then his brother’s wife shall go up to the gate to the elders, and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to raise up to his brother a name in Israel. He will not perform the duty of a husband’s brother to me.”
to raise up to his brother a name. The duty of a brother is to impregnate his brother’s widow.
VERSE 8. Then the elders of his city shall call him, and speak to him. If he stands and says, “I don’t want to take her,”
VERSE 9. then his brother’s wife shall come to him in the presence of the elders, and loose his sandal from off his foot, and spit in his face. She shall answer and say, “So shall it be done to the man who does not build up his brother’s house.”
in the presence of the elders. This is an official event.
spit in his face. This is a form of public humiliation.
VERSE 10. His name shall be called in Israel, “The house of him who had his sandal removed.”
VERSE 11. When men strive against each other, and the wife of one draws near to deliver her husband out of the hand of him who strikes him, and puts out her hand, and grabs him by his private parts,
grabs him by his private parts. This was quite forbidden.
Your eye shall have no pity. The New Testament reverses such statements:
James 2:13. For judgment is without mercy to him who has shown no mercy. Mercy triumphs over judgment.
VERSE 13. You shall not have in your bag diverse weights, one heavy and one light.
VERSE 14. You shall not have in your house diverse measures, one large and one small.
VERSE 15. You shall have a perfect and just weight. You shall have a perfect and just measure, that your days may be long in the land which the LORD your God gives you.
perfect and just weight. They are to be heroes of integrity.
VERSE 16. For all who do such things, all who do unrighteously, are an abomination to the LORD your God.
VERSE 17. Remember what Amalek did to you by the way as you came out of Egypt;
VERSE 18. how he met you by the way, and struck the rearmost of you, all who were feeble behind you, when you were faint and weary; and he didn’t fear God.
VERSE 19. Therefore it shall be, when the LORD your God has given you rest from all your enemies all around, in the land which the LORD your God gives you for an inheritance to possess it, that you shall blot out the memory of Amalek from under the sky. You shall not forget.
Unless otherwise noted, all Bible quotations on this page are from the World English Bible and the World Messianic Edition. These translations have no copyright restrictions. They are in the Public Domain.