Laws about strays, birds, sex
Protect neighbor’s property1 If you see a neighbor’s cattle or sheep straying, don’t ignore it. Take the strays back to your neighbor. 2 And if the owner doesn’t live close to you, take the strays home with you and keep them safe until the owner comes to get them. Then give them back. 3 Do the same with stray donkeys, clothing left behind, or any other property that belongs to your neighbor. Don’t ignore what you find and leave it where you found it. 4 And if you see your neighbor’s donkey or ox injured and lying on the road, don’t walk off and leave it. Stop and help get the animal back up.
No cross-dressing5 You’re not allowed to cross-dress. Women shouldn’t wear men’s clothes and men shouldn’t wear women’s clothes. The LORD your God finds that disgusting.
Baby birds are fair game6 Let’s say you’re traveling along and see a bird’s nest. Maybe it’s in a tree or on the ground. You see a mother bird sitting on her eggs or with her young. 7 Don’t scoop them all up and go. Leave the mother. You can take the eggs and the young birds. But if you want to live a long a prosperous life, don’t take the mother.
Building code and other codes8 When you build a house, put a wall around the top of your flat roof. This will help keep people from falling off the roof. And if they do fall, it won’t be your fault. 9 Don’t mix plants in a vineyard. That’s forbidden. If you grow different crops together or different kinds of vines, you’re going to lose the entire harvest. You’ll have to donate it to the worship center. 10 If you want to plow, don’t team a donkey with an ox. 11 Don’t mix and match wool and linen. You can’t wear something woven from both. 12 Wear tassels on the four corners of your coats.
“My wife was not a virgin”13 Let’s say a man grows to hate his wife. 14 So he starts a rumor. He says he didn’t marry a virgin—or at least he didn’t find any evidence she was a virgin. 15 That cues the woman’s father and mother to bring the evidence to the city leaders who meet at the city gate. 16 The father’s speech to the leaders might go something like this: “I gave my daughter to this guy as a wife. What does he do? He turns against her. 17 He goes public with charges that she shamed herself. He tells people, ‘I didn’t find any evidence she was a virgin.’ But look at what I’m holding. This is the evidence.” And he spreads out the cloth. 
18 City leaders need to condemn the lying husband. 19 Hit him with a fine of 100 silver shekels, which is two and a half pounds. He publicly shamed an Israelite virgin. For that, he’s not allowed to divorce her for as long as he lives. 20 But what if the husband’s charge is true? What if there’s no evidence the woman was a virgin when she got married? 21 In that case, take the woman to the front door of her father’s house. That’s where men in the city will stone her to death. She has disgraced herself by having premarital sex in her own father’s house. Eliminate this kind of evil from your community so it doesn’t spread.
More laws about sex22 If you catch a man having sex with a married woman, both need to die. Eliminate that evil before it catches on. 23 If a man comes to town and has sex with a girl engaged to someone else, 24 stone them both to death at the city gate. Kill her for not crying rape or calling for help. She was in the city. Someone would have heard her. Kill the man because he took someone else’s future wife. Eliminate that evil from your community.
25 But if a man finds an engaged girl out in a field and rapes her, execute only the man. 26 Don’t hurt the girl. She did nothing wrong. This rape is like a murder case. 27 The girl was a helpless victim out in the field where no one could hear her or save her. 28 If a man is caught having sex with a virgin who isn’t engaged 29 Fine the guy 50 silver shekels, which is one and a fourth pounds. Then make him marry the girl because he ruined her reputation. He’s never allowed to divorce her. 30 A man is not allowed to marry his father’s wife. That’s a dishonorable way to treat your own dad.
There’s no rationale given. But perhaps the idea is to preserve the bird that can reproduce what the person just took. Maybe it’s a bit like living off the interest. You don’t touch the principal.
People used flat roofs like we use porches, decks, and balconies. They would dry their meat and produce in the heat of the day. They would sit there in the cool of the evening. And sometimes kids would play there; they would be most at risk for falling off if there wasn’t a wall to keep them in. Ditto for anyone who went up there to get drunk or to roll in the hay. Without a wall it could be a freefall.
It’s unclear if this is about mixing vines or growing other plants in a vineyard, such as veggies between the rows or fruit trees here and there. The law requires a vineyard to be just a vineyard of one kind of grape. If that law is broken, the harvest is qadas, in Hebrew. It can mean “devoted to God” in a negative way, like the doomed citizens of Jericho or animals destined for sacrifice. That’s why some Bibles translate it as “defiled.” It can mean “holy,” “reserved for sacred use,” and “set aside.” The point is that the vineyard owner didn’t get to keep his wine.
Perhaps because cattle are ritually clean and donkeys are not. Ritually clean animals were kosher to eat and fit to sacrifice to God. Donkeys were neither.
The “why” is a mystery. The word for “woven” seems to come from the Egyptian language. So, some scholars guess that something happened in Egypt that contributed to this law.
The tassels or fringes of thread were to help the Israelites “remember the laws the LORD gave you” (Numbers 15:37-41). See also Matthew 23:5.
The evidence would likely have been blood on the sheet or the woman’s clothing after the couple had sex for the first time. Some kept those for situations just like this.
That’s 1.1 kilograms.
Well, hum. That punishes the lying husband by forcing him to keep the wife he didn’t want. But it seems unfair to the woman who might want to trade up for an honest man. On the plus side, this judgment kept a roof over the woman’s head and clued the city leaders to keep any eye on this jerk of a husband.
That’s 570 grams.
This is another situation that might seem unfair to the girl, especially if this was rape—which it could have been. On the other hand, this assured the girl that she wouldn’t be put out on the streets to take care of herself. She would have a husband and a home and possibly a family. Otherwise, who would marry her? David’s daughter, the princess Tamar, never married after her half-brother, Amnon, raped her. She lived a desolate life in the home of her full brother, Absalom (2 Samuel 13:20). And she had the status of a princess. It could have been her own choice. But what guy in this patriarchal age, when men thought they were MEN, would want to marry a woman who had sex with her brother?
Many scholars presume that the father has died and the son is wanting to marry his step-mother. We can hope they got that right.
- Sorry, there are currently no questions for this chapter.