Deuteronomy 25


‘When people have a dispute, they are to take it to court and the judges will decide the case, acquitting the innocent and condemning the guilty. If the guilty person deserves to be beaten, the judge shall make them lie down and have them flogged in his presence with the number of lashes the crime deserves, but the judge must not impose more than forty lashes. If the guilty party is flogged more than that, your fellow Israelite will be degraded in your eyes. Do not muzzle an ox while it is treading out the grain.’ Deuteronomy 25:1-4

Moses begins by addressing the topic of justice, Jeremiah 9:23-24. If anyone has a dispute they must take it to the court where the judges will decide if a person is innocent or guilty, Exodus 23:7 / Proverbs 17:15. Justice must not only be done but must also be seen to be done, justice must prevail, Romans 13:4.

Throughout the Scriptures, we often find the righteous being treated as though they were guilty, and the guilty being treated as though they were innocent, Ecclesiastes 3:16 / Isaiah 5:20.

Here Moses says if the guilty person derives to be beaten, then the amount of flogging should fit the crime, Exodus 21:22-25. This was a safeguard against punishment that might be carried out in the heat of the moment or by an angry crowd.

The guilty person would lie face down on the ground and have their backs beaten, Proverbs 10:13 / Proverbs 26:3. They were to be beaten a maximum of forty times, which is the full measure of judgment, Genesis 7:12 / Numbers 14:33-34.

The Israelites were so cautious about this that they would administer only 39 stripes just to make sure they didn’t go over the number allotted for punishment. 2 Corinthians 11:24.

God’s care for animals is seen in the fact if they worked, they were given the right to eat that which they worked for. If an ox worked at treading out grain then it was to be given the right to eat a portion that which it treaded as their wages. To do otherwise would be a matter of cruelty.

The apostle Paul used this law to illustrate God’s will in relation to a preacher’s right to receive wages from the church for his work, 1 Corinthians 9:1-14 / 1 Timothy 5:18.

‘If brothers are living together and one of them dies without a son, his widow must not marry outside the family. Her husband’s brother shall take her and marry her and fulfil the duty of a brother-in-law to her. The first son she bears shall carry on the name of the dead brother so that his name will not be blotted out from Israel. However, if a man does not want to marry his brother’s wife, she shall go to the elders at the town gate and say, “My husband’s brother refuses to carry on his brother’s name in Israel. He will not fulfil the duty of a brother-in-law to me.” Then the elders of his town shall summon him and talk to him. If he persists in saying, “I do not want to marry her,” his brother’s widow shall go up to him in the presence of the elders, take off one of his sandals, spit in his face and say, “This is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” That man’s line shall be known in Israel as The Family of the Unsandaled.’ Deuteronomy 25:5-10

The terms and conditions for this particular law were twofold, first of all, the extended family had to be living together and secondly, the widow of the dead brother had to be childless, Matthew 22:23-28.

If a man dies not having a son, then his brother was to take his surviving wife and she would become the wife of the brother for the sake of producing a son and continuing that man’s heritage, Numbers 27:1-8.

When the dead man’s brother took his brother’s wife as his own and had a son, that young man was to be recognised as the dead man’s firstborn son. Only the firstborn was to take the name of the dead father.

If the man doesn’t desire to take his brother’s wife, the matter was taken to the elders and if the man couldn’t be persuaded to assume his levirate duties, then he had to symbolically demonstrate his intentions before the elders of the city, Ruth 4.

We read here about the seriousness of not fulfilling this law, we see this in the fact that the woman was to remove one of his sandals, Ruth 4:5 / Ruth 4:10 / 1 Samuel 24:21 / 2 Samuel 14:7, and spit in that man’s face, Numbers 12:14.

Barnes, in his commentary, says the following.

‘Planting the foot on a thing was an usual symbol of lordship and of taking possession, Genesis 13:17 / Joshua 10:24, and loosing the shoe and handing it to another in like manner signified a renunciation and transfer of right and title, Ruth 4:7-8 / Psalm 60:8 / Psalm 108:9.’

The shame not only occurred at the point of the woman spitting in the man’s face but he was to live with this shame in that all Israel would look upon his house and say, ‘this is what is done to the man who will not build up his brother’s family line.” The man’s family line would also be called, ‘the Family of the Unsandaled’.

‘If two men are fighting and the wife of one of them comes to rescue her husband from his assailant, and she reaches out and seizes him by his private parts, you shall cut off her hand. Show her no pity.’ Deuteronomy 25:11-12

Moses now deals with a situation where we find two men fighting. The wife of one may want to help her husband by taking hold of the enemy’s private parts to rescue her husband.

This act on the part of the woman was an act against the posterity of a family through procreation and so, if she did this, the woman’s hand was to be cut off and no one was to have pity on her.

‘Do not have two differing weights in your bag—one heavy, one light. Do not have two differing measures in your house—one large, one small. You must have accurate and honest weights and measures, so that you may live long in the land the LORD your God is giving you. For the LORD your God detests anyone who does these things, anyone who deals dishonestly.’ Deuteronomy 25:13-16

In matters of buying and selling, Moses now deals with dishonest scales, Leviticus 19:35-36. Here the consumer was protected in that the seller was never to have dishonest measuring weights in their possession, 2 Samuel 14:26 / Amos 8:5.

If the person measuring the wheat for sale used diverse weights to measure the sale, they would be cheating the farmer. A standard weight that was actually lighter than the true standard would give the merchant more wheat for less money, that is, they would be cheating the farmer.

Notice that not only are they who cheat with weights and measures considered detestable to God but also all who would do acts of unrighteousness. This is something which the Lord detests, Proverbs 20:10 / Daniel 5:27 / Micah 6:11.

‘Remember what the Amalekites did to you along the way when you came out of Egypt. When you were weary and worn out, they met you on your journey and attacked all who were lagging behind; they had no fear of God. When the LORD your God gives you rest from all the enemies around you in the land he is giving you to possess as an inheritance, you shall blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven. Do not forget!’ Deuteronomy 25:17-19

Moses encourages Israel to remember the Amalekites and what they did to them when they came out of Egypt. When Israel had travelled from Egypt through the desert, Exodus 17:9-16 / Numbers 14:45, it was the Amalekites who took advantage of Israel, when they were at their weakest, by attacking them from the rear, Deuteronomy 25:18.

God reminds Israel of this wicked attack and commands that they ‘blot out the name of Amalek from under heaven.’ 1 Samuel 15:1-35 / 1 Samuel 28:18.

Go To Deuteronomy 26


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