Pastoral Commentary for Deuteronomy 23:9-25:4
Author: Pastor Bob Nordlie
"Cleanliness is next to godliness" is an old proverb that many people attribute to the Bible. It's not found anywhere in Scripture, but if its basis was in the Bible then it might have been taken from the first few verses of today's reading. God commanded Israel to avoid uncleanness in the camp, and to make sure to practice proper sanitation. God's distaste for slavery is demonstrated by His command not to return a refugee slave to his master. Concern for fellow Israelites was to be shown by not charging them any interest, although a foreigner could be charged interest. Also a fellow Israelite could eat freely from your vineyard but not fill a basket, and could pick grain from your field, but not take a sickle to your crops. If a vow was made to God it was to be paid in full. Regulations about divorce showed God's desire for marriage to last, as a woman divorced from a second husband was not to remarry the first. A newly married man was to have a full year with his bride, exempt from military service, to strengthen the marriage relationship. Various rules about commerce also demonstrated the concern God wanted His people to have for their fellow Israelites, and especially for the poor and needy, the widow and the fatherless, as well as the alien in their midst. A maximum penalty of 40 lashes was intended to protect the dignity of the offender. Jesus suffered many more at the hands of the Jews and the Romans. His dignity was not preserved, but as Isaiah prophesied: "his appearance was so disfigured beyond that of any man and his form marred beyond human likeness" (Isaiah 52:14).