Definitely a lot to say about this reading.
Deuteronomy 22: This chapter covers a wide range of topics. The first part focuses on various moral and religious responsibilities of citizenship (i.e. duties toward a neighbor, cross dressing, eating animals from two generations, what to add to a roof, how to treat your vineyard, don’t plow with two different species, don’t wear clothes made of wool and linen, and what to do with your cloak). Funny side note, this makes me think of the years we had gender bender days during homecoming week in high school. They were hilarious.
Next section addresses a virgin bride. Now this is interesting. This part deals with if a man marries a woman who is virgin and after sex he doesn’t like her (text says “despise”) and he slanders her saying she wasn’t a virgin. The woman’s parents have to prove that she was indeed a virgin to the elders of the tribe. The father “shall spread out the cloth before the elders of the town” (Deut. 22.17; NRSV version). I gotta admit, I wasn’t quite sure of the cloth. I read in the notes that the cloth is what the husband and wife had sex on for the first time. I have no idea how the father got access to that. Anyway, if the father can prove her virginity, the man will be punished. He will have to pay the father 100 shekels and remain married to her. If the charges are true, then the young woman is taken to the door of her father’s house and “stone her to death, because she committed a disgraceful act in Israel by prostituting herself in her father’s house” (Deut. 22.21; NRSV).
So…if the man is lying, he has to pay money and the woman has to stay married to him. If the man is correct, then the woman is killed. Another example that I’m sure people think of when they talk about the roles of men and women in society.
More on sex is up. If a man has sex with a married woman, they both die. If a man sleeps with an engaged woman in the town, both will die because he slept with her and she didn’t cry for help. If this happens in the open country, the man will die because the woman may have cried for help, but no one was there to hear her. If a man has sex with a woman (virgin) who isn’t engage or married, then he will pay her father 50 shekels and marry her. Finally, a man can’t marry his father’s wife. Well that’s a relief.
Deuteronomy 23: We read about rules for participating in the lord’s assembly. The following things disqualify someone: crushed testicles and cut off penis, born of an illegitimate marriage (this applies to up to the 10th generation), and ammonites and moabites (also applies up to the 10th generation). Rules for the war camp are also addressed: if a man has a nighttime emission, he can’t stay there that night, the latrines have to be outside the camp, and you have to dig a hole and refill it when you have a bowel movement. You’re not allowed to oppress escaped slaves. A woman can’t be a consecrated worker and neither can an Israelite son. Don’t charge other Israelites interest. Hold all solemn promises. Finally, you can eat your neighbor’s grapes and grain in their yard, but you can’t take it with you.
All interesting things.
Deuteronomy 24: There are a bunch of rules presented in this chapter. A few really resonated with me given the current state of affairs in the US. First, payment for workers. The Bible tells us not to take advantage of poor or needy workers (this includes Israelites and immigrants). Kinda wish this was still followed.
Second, there’s a section addressing the rights of widows, orphans, and immigrants. You’re not allowed to obstruct their legal rights and the people are reminded that they were at once slaves. They also need to leave any leftover grains in the field, leftover olives, and leftover grapes for the immigrants, orphans, and widows.
I really do like that there is a focus on how to treat these groups of people. Again, I do wish they were followed fully.
Acts 28: Final parts of Paul’s journey to Rome. He meets with the Jews in Rome. They hadn’t ever heard of him. He preached about Jesus and some listened and became believers. Others didn’t. He was under house arrest for at least two years, but he continued to preach about Jesus to whomever listened.