Reflections on Scripture

by Wayne Bandy

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Scripture Passage

      Deuteronomy - Chapter 23 (Contemporary English Version)
    1. If a man's private parts have been crushed or cut off, he cannot fully belong to the LORD's people.
    2. No one born outside of a legal marriage, or any of their descendants for ten generations, can fully belong to the LORD's people.
    3. No Ammonites or Moabites, or any of their descendants for ten generations, can become part of Israel, the LORD's people.
    4. This is because when you came out of Egypt, they refused to provide you with food and water. And besides, they hired Balaam to put a curse on you.
    5. But the LORD your God loves you, so he refused to listen to Balaam and turned Balaam's curse into a blessing.
    6. Don't even think of signing a peace treaty with Moab or Ammon.
    7. But Edomites are your relatives, and you lived as foreigners in the country of Egypt. Now you must be kind to Edomites and Egyptians
    8. and let their great-grandchildren become part of Israel, the LORD's people.
    9. When you men go off to fight your enemies, make sure your camp is acceptable to the LORD.
    10. For example, if something happens at night that makes a man unclean and unfit for worship, he must go outside the camp and stay there
    11. until late afternoon. Then he must take a bath, and at sunset he can go back into camp.
    12. Set up a place outside the camp to be used as a toilet area.
    13. And make sure that you have a small shovel in your equipment. When you go out to the toilet area, use the shovel to dig a hole. Then, after you relieve yourself, bury the waste in the hole.
    14. You must keep your camp clean of filthy and disgusting things. The LORD is always present in your camp, ready to rescue you and give you victory over your enemies. But if he sees something disgusting in your camp, he may turn around and leave.
    15. When runaway slaves from other countries come to Israel and ask for protection, you must not hand them back to their owners.
    16. Instead, you must let them choose which one of your towns they want to live in. Don't be cruel to runaway slaves.
    17. People of Israel, don't any of you ever be temple prostitutes.
    18. The LORD your God is disgusted with men and women who are prostitutes of any kind, and he will not accept a gift from them, even if it had been promised to him.
    19. When you lend money, food, or anything else to another Israelite, you are not allowed to charge interest.
    20. You can charge a foreigner interest. But if you charge other Israelites interest, the LORD your God will not let you be successful in the land you are about to take.
    21. People of Israel, if you make a sacred promise to give a gift to the LORD, then do it as soon as you can. If the LORD has to come looking for the gift you promised, you will be guilty of breaking that promise.
    22. On the other hand, if you never make a sacred promise, you can't be guilty of breaking it.
    23. You must keep whatever promises you make to the LORD. After all, you are the one who chose to make the promises.
    24. If you go into a vineyard that belongs to someone else, you are allowed to eat as many grapes as you want while you are there. But don't take any with you when you leave.
    25. In the same way, if you are in a grain field that belongs to someone else, you can pick heads of grain and eat the kernels. But don't cut down the stalks of grain and take them with you.

Deuteronomy - Chapter 23

Entered: February 19, 2007
The miscellaneous instructions continue. These are not to enter the Lord's assembly: a man who has had injury of his sexual organs, one who is of illegitimate birth, an Ammonite, and a Moabite. When Israel's army is encamped against it's enemies, it is to guard the camp from anything offensive. A man who has had a bodily emission is to go outside the camp until evening and then wash and reenter the camp after the sun sets. Bodily waste is to be kept outside the camp. These practices will keep the Lord from turning away from them in battle. Further, Israelites are not to be involved in cult prostitution, nor are the wages from this to used to fulfill a vow before the Lord. They are not to charge interest of fellow Israelites and are to keep any vow they make. However, there is no harm if no vow is made. Finally, they are free to eat all they want from a neighbor's vineyard or grain while there, but are not to take any with them.

Entered: September 12, 2012

Instructions to the Israelites given in chapter 23 relate to those not permitted entry to the Lord's assembly, cleanliness within the military camp, and a section of miscellaneous instructions.

Those excluded from the Lord's assembly or congregation, included eunuchs, illegitimate persons, Moabites, Ammonites, Edomites, and Egyptians. Except for the nationalites excluded, reasons are not given for these exclusions so we are left to guess. Our understanding is not required for us to be obedient to God's instructions if we trust the Lord to be loving and merciful and we are committed to being obedient to Him. Our desire to understand before we obey is a desire to have control. If we give in to this desire to have control we close ourselves off from the abundant life God wants to give us.

The second category, cleanliness within the military camp, had both practical and spiritual implications. Relieving themselves outside the camp and using a shovel to cover the excrement was practical in that it kept the camp sanitary. It was spiritual in that it recognized and honored God's holiness by observing the laws of ceremonial cleanness.

Within the miscellaneous category, the Israelites were instructed to give asylum to escaped slaves from other countries. They were not to become cult prostitutes and not to make vows they didn't keep. Nor were they to charge interest on loans to fellow Israelites. Permission was given to eat freely from a neighbor's vineyard as long as they were in the vineyard, but they could not take grapes out of the vineyard. The same was true of a neighbor's grain field. While granting permission to the hungry to be fed in this way, these instructions also informed landowners to allow this practice.