9/8 Reading (Deuteronomy 13-15; Acts 26)

Deuteronomy 13: Chapter deals with the danger of false prophets and false gods. Three scenarios are given. First, a false prophet. The people are told to kill them. Second, a relative. The people are told to kill any relative that tries to lead them away from God. Third, an entire city. The people are told they have to destroy every person, animal, etc in the city as well as the city itself.

All of these seem to be pretty harsh.

Deuteronomy 14: Reminder of the dietary laws that were introduced in Leviticus 11. Also a reminder of saving a 10th of whatever your fields produce each year for God. The people are told at the end of this chapter that they need to put a 10th of their crops at the city gates every third year so the Levites, immigrants, orphans, and widows will have food.

So, is this all that they have to do for these other groups? Thankfully I read in the notes that these different groups are addressed later in Deuteronomy (24.17-22). That’s a relief.

Deuteronomy 15: Every seven years debts are cancelled and slaves released. The following passage resonated with me:

Now if there are some poor persons among you, say one of your fellow Israelites in one of your cities in the land that the Lord your God is giving you, don’t be hard-hearted or tightfisted toward your poor fellow Israelites. 8 To the contrary! Open your hand wide to them. You must generously lend them whatever they need. 9 But watch yourself! Make sure no wicked thought crosses your mind, such as, The seventh year is coming—the year of debt cancellation—so that you resent your poor fellow Israelites and don’t give them anything. If you do that, they will cry out to the Lord against you, and you will be guilty of sin. 10 No, give generously to needy persons. Don’t resent giving to them because it is this very thing that will lead to the Lord your God’s blessing you in all you do and work at. 11 Poor persons will never disappear from the earth. That’s why I’m giving you this command: you must open your hand generously to your fellow Israelites, to the needy among you, and to the poor who live with you in your land. (CEB Study Bible p. 289 OT; Deut. 15.7-11)

I like that there is emphasis on how to treat poor people, but find it interesting that this is just for Israelites. How to treat poor non-Israelites is addressed earlier, but not much details are provided.

We then learn how they are to treat Israelite slaves every 7 years and how to treat them if they want to stay on as slaves.

Notes from the NRSV version say the following about the forgiveness of debt: “On accession to the throne, ancient Near Eastern rulers would sometimes grant one-time cancellation of debts, return land confiscated by the crown, and free indentured slaves” (p. 274). Interesting!!!!

Oldest male animals were set aside for the festivals that are addressed in the next chapter.

Acts 26: Paul’s fifth defense speech, this time in front of King Agrippa 2, his sister Bernice, Roman governor Porcius Festus, and other military and public officials in Caesarea. Paul goes into more detail here about his journey. This retelling of his story reminds me of how incredible his journey has been. Even the King agrees at the end that Paul has done nothing wrong. The King even says that if he had not appealed to Caesar, then he would have already been released.

The one thing that does stand out to me is this following statement: “At this point in Paul’s defense, Festus declared with a loud voice, ‘You’ve lost your mind, Paul! Too much learning is driving you mad!’” (CEB study bible, p. 269 NT; Acts 26.24) Hmmm…too much learning! Say what? Makes me think about experiences I’ve had in the past when some people have said to me that I’ve spent too much time learning throughout my life. Again, say what?

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