The lovely Maureen O’Hara acted in many movies… I’ll let those who do not know who she is examine her profile on IMDB or some other similar website. Although Miracle on 34th Street was probably one of her most memorable films, it’s not one of my favorites…one of my all-time favorite movies is none other than The Parent Trap. Maureen O’Hara was brilliant as the mother of separated twins Susan and Sharon (both delightfully played by Hayley Mills. I flippin’ HATED the remake with Lindsay Lohan, just like I was majorly displeased with the remake of Freaky Friday, another childhood favorite, which originally starred Jodie Foster and Barbara Harris).
Maureen O’Hara died recently at the ripe age of 95. Rest in peace. Your body of work lives on.
May I say something before I get into Deuteronomy?
I understand women are under a lot of pressure to conform, but we bring a lot of it on ourselves. When we stop looking to the media and whomever else to decide what is considered beautiful, I am sure we’d all be a lot happier. I love looking at old pictures. Not just of classic Hollywood beauties, but older pictures in general, to see when women actually looked like natural, regular women, not these plastic build-a-body women we see today on Botched or shows like that. Since when did it become such a bad thing to look like this:
Farrah Fawcett, Kate Jackson and Jaclyn Smith–Charlie’s Angels, of course!
Phylicia Rashad–who doesn’t love Clair Huxtable??
I could have posted hundreds more pictures, both of beautiful celebrity women AND some regular Janes. Point is, I don’t understand how or why the ideals of beauty have changed to where so much unnatural is being accepted in the place of working with your own natural beauty. I’m not saying women shouldn’t use makeup or experiment with their hair, paint their nails, etc. What I am bothered by is the Fix-a-Flat behinds, lips plumped up with fat, and ZZZ breasts. If God intended for everyone to have a huge behind, soup cooler lips and back-breaking breastises He would have given them to us. (And yes, I said breastises).
You know what I don’t understand? People are so fickle, and what is considered fashionable is likely to change from minute to minute. Years ago, typically Black features like big lips and even big behinds weren’t fashionable. Now all of a sudden big lips and huge butts are in. I even remember there being an uproar about an article in Allure magazine that was a tutorial on how White women could get Afros–at one point in time, Afros were a no-no… they still are in the corporate world, as far as I can tell…So what happens if those fashion standards change? Are people then going to get the reverse procedures done, and are they going to keep destroying their bodies based upon what some random person has decided is in or not? Kind of pathetic. Everyone is not supposed to look the same.
Now on to Deuteronomy chapter 23, now that my little beauty rant is over. It begins by discussing people who are cannot join in worship.This chapter starts off with a super-random statement–that a man with a crushed testicle or missing a part of his sex organ cannot worship with the other men of Israel. This is a confusing passage, because I can understand how a man with a crushed testicle or other type of injury might be considered unfit for specific types of service to the Lord, but to not even be able to worship with the other men seems harsh–unless that man’s condition is the result of having been a willing participant in some type of pagan ritual where this type of mutilation occurred. Once again, everything God is doing is so that the Israelites will be a set apart, sanctified, holy people, completely unlike the people who are currently in the land they are going to inhabit, Canaan. It is my humble opinion that this verse and a lot of others that seem kind of random or have little explanation behind them are God’s way of making sure His people don’t look anything like the other people. I will have to research this passage a bit more carefully.
People born to unmarried parents cannot join in worship either, nor can his descendants down to the tenth generation. Again–admittedly this sounds harsh. I will never pretend to like everything the Bible says. Some things God decreed that I did not understand. What I DO know is that thank Jesus these regulations do not apply to us today! ALL are welcome to accept Jesus as Lord and Savior, and all are free to worship Him. What was considered unacceptable, unclean and blemished per the Old Testament standards can be made acceptable, clean and pure by the blood of Jesus Christ. Whenever I read these passages and think “Geez God… what was the point of that???” I just remember how the Old Testament points to the necessity for Jesus. This is another passage of Scripture for which I have no explanation. In my modern mind, it seems harsh that a person would be punished for sins committed by their parents, but God has already said that would be the case in previous Scriptures. And THAT again shows us how Jesus just paved that perfect way… with Him the only sins we’re accountable for are our own. We don’t have to deal with our parents’ sins (at least not in terms of blessings and salvation. Not saying our parents’ wrongs might not influence our lives).
The Israelites are never to make friends with the Ammonites and Moabites, the individuals who refused assist the Israelites as they journeyed from Egypt and hired Balaam to curse them. They are not allowed to join in worship, and the Israelites must never make peace with them. There are some people that the Israelites are to embrace: The Edomites, who are their relatives and, interestingly enough, their former masters the Egyptians. Those people are allowed to worship God alongside the Israelites.
Even when the Israelites are encamped against their enemies they are still to remain set apart and keep themselves and their campground holy. Any man who has a nocturnal emission that renders him unclean he is to go outside the camp, bathe himself with water and re-enter the camp as the sun sets. There is to be a place outside the camp for Israelites to relieve themselves. They are to dig a hole and once they have finished their business, they are to cover their excrement so as to not offend the Lord their God who walks through their camp.
Another set of miscellaneous laws follows. If a slave has escaped his master and runs into the arms of another Israelite, that Israelite is not to give the slave back. The escaped slave is allowed to choose a place to dwell within one of the cities that he has escaped to. I suppose this is because of the regulations God has given the people regarding the treatment of slaves. Remember that slaves were supposed to be treated well, and were allowed the option of freedom after seven years or during the Year of Jubilee, whichever came first. I guess only slaves that were being mistreated would flee their masters, so apparently in that situation it is okay to do. They are not to be turned back over to a harsh master.
The sons and daughters of Israel are forbidden from being cult prostitutes. This warning obviously stems from the practices and rituals performed by the native Canaanites, as I believe I have discussed in previous posts. Temple prostitutes were especially popular in terms of worshiping Baal. Verse 18 says that “You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog into the house of the Lord your God for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the Lord your God”. There has been some discussion as to what this verse means, particularly in terms of “wages of a dog”. It is my humble understanding that God is referring to male prostitutes when he talks about the wages of a dog, and that no one who has acquired money via involvement in prostitution ought to bring that dirty money to the house of the Lord for any reason. I’m definitely open to other explanations though :-)
Israelites are not to charge interest on loans made to other Israelites, although they can collect interest on loans made to foreigners. Israelites are to be careful in terms of making vows to the Lord–if they make a vow and fail to fulfill it they will be held accountable. As such, it is best not to make a vow at all, so as to not become guilty of any sin. Vows made to the Lord are voluntary, even now. God requires us to live a certain way and wants us to do things to bring glory and honor to him, but he does not physically compel us to do anything. It is a choice we get to make on our own. So if we tell God we are going to do something, we should make good on our promises to him as he does with his promises to us. (I could go on a marriage rant here, because it baffles me as to why marriage is so hard for people these days, but I’ll refrain).
Israelites are to be hospitable toward one another and respectful of each others’ property. If someone went into their neighbor’s vineyard, they were allowed to snack on some of their grapes, but could not take a doggie bag. The same applied if they went into their neighbor’s field of grain. They could eat some of the free grain but weren’t expected to get greedy and take a sickle (one of those farm tools that kind of looks like a question mark, used for cutting grain–has a wooden handle and a curved blade) and get more than they ought.
Chapter twenty-four begins with laws concerning divorce. When I first read this years ago it seemed kind of convoluted and made my head spin, so I’ll do my best at being brief:
- Man marries woman.
- Man decides he does not want to be married to woman.
- Man writes her a certificate of divorce and sends her out of his house (how kind).
- Woman marries another man.
- Second man either A) also decides he wants nothing to do with woman and writes her a certificate of divorce or B) dies.
- The man in numbers 1-3 cannot re-claim woman as his wife after she has been defiled.
Not sure why the woman would want anything to do with the man who has divorced her, but we’ve all heard stories of couples who have married each other two or three times after realizing it was a mistake to divorce. I guess the moral of the story is you shouldn’t take marriage and divorce lightly.
Verse five begins a new series of miscellaneous laws. If a man has just married, he is allowed to remain from fighting with the Israelite army for a year, giving him time to enjoy his new bride. Verse six tells us that Israelites were not allowed to take someone’s mill or upper millstone as part of a pledge. Of course I looked that up, because I wondered what the significance may be of those two items. Turns out those tools were a part of someone’s job, so basically God was not about to allow someone to take away someone’s livelihood. If an Israelite was caught stealing a fellow Israelite to enslave him or sell him, he is to be put to death. In the case someone is afflicted with leprosy, they are warned to follow the instructions given them by the Levitical priests to a T. When an Israelite went to collect on a pledge, they were not to go into the person’s home, but instead were to wait outside for the person to bring what was owed to them outside. If the pledge is that of a poor man, and, from the way the Scripture is written, is his cloak, the person to whom the pledge was owed was forbidden to sleep in that pledge overnight. It is to be restored to the person before sunset. I know these days most of us have several sweaters, a couple winter coats, some jackets, some hoodies, etc. that can keep us warm on these crisp fall days and, unfortunately, soon-to-come blistering wintry winds. The same was not the case back in these Old Testament days. People had one cloak on which they slept and protected them from the elements. God wanted the Israelites to treat all people well, even the poor, and even those who owed others money.
Oppression of hired workers who are poor is prohibited, whether they are native Israelites or sojourners. The poor person is to be given his wages that same day. People are responsible for their own sins–fathers are not to be put to death for the sins of their children and vice versa. Justice is to be fair in all cases, and there should be no perversion of justice against the sojourners, widows and orphans–three highly vulnerable groups of which God showed great tenderness and mercy. His mercies extend to cover all of their needs–for those who are blessed enough to have plentiful crops and harvests, they are commanded to let those vulnerable individuals glean from their fields: “When you reap your harvest in your field and forget a sheaf in the field, you shall not go back to get it. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, that the Lord your God may bless you in all the work of your hands. When you beat your olive trees, you shall not go over them again. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. When you gather the grapes of your vineyard, you shall not strip it afterward. It shall be for the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow. You shall remember that you were a slave in the land of Egypt; therefore I command you to do this” (vv. 19-22).
Can you imagine this type of society, where everyone has a vested interest in looking out for everyone else?
I can’t. Not in these times.
I’ve said it before, and I’ll continue to say it–God’s way is selfless, man’s way is selfish. This society is heavily vested in man’s way. We’ve become far too individualistic for our own good. Why are people these days so mean and nasty? Their selfish black hearts are in bad shape. Think of the last time you did something nice for someone, an act you performed just out of the kindness of your heart. Didn’t it make you feel good? Didn’t you want to do it again? It’s unfortunate that when we read stories about people doing nice things for others we get happy, because it should be NORMAL BEHAVIOR, not EXCEPTIONAL BEHAVIOR. SMH.
On to chapter twenty-five…
If two men have a dispute and present themselves to the judges, and the judges render a verdict finding one man guilty and the other innocent, the guilty man’s punishment may be a beating. In this case, the man is to lie down and be beaten in the presence of the judge. No more than forty lashes is to be given. Then that quickly the Word jumps to talking about oxen. An ox is not to be muzzled when treading out the grain (maybe so it can eat some of it? I don’t know).
Next is another slightly convoluted marital situation:
- There are two brothers.
- One of them dies and has no son, but has a wife.
- The surviving brother has the option to take the wife as his own.
- If the wife gives birth to a son, she is to name the son after her late husband, so as to not blot his name out of Israel’s register.
- The brother may refuse the wife.
- The wife can speak to the city’s elders about his refusal, and they are to speak with him.
- If he consistently refuses to take the wife, she is allowed to pull his sandal off his foot and spit in his face. He has degraded his brother’s memory by allowing his name to be removed from Israel. I suppose the shoe was a sign of dignity, and thus removing it symbolized a loss of dignity.
If two men fight and the wife of one of the men tries to help her husband and grabs the offending man’s testicles during the fight, her hand is to be cut off. This reminds me of a discussion I have had several times with my husband. It’s actually kind of funny. We’ve talked on numerous occasions (jokingly) about what I would do if he ever got into a fight while I was around and started to lose. He said even if he is losing I am NOT supposed to jump in for a couple of reasons:
1. I might get beat up right along with him… LOL
2. Or, I might kick the guy’s behind and emasculate my husband in the process (that sounds more like me)…
I wonder if other men feel the same way? Either way, I thought the conversation was pretty funny. It was just one of many that illustrated how men and women often think differently, because until he said that I figured there was no way I could ever watch him get beat up.
There is a brief discussion on fair weights and measures: “You shall not have in your bag two kinds of weights, a large and a small. You shall not have in your house two kinds of measures, a large and a small. A full and fair weight you shall have, a full and fair measure you shall have, that your days may be long in the land that the Lord your God is giving you. For all who do such things, all who act dishonestly, are an abomination to the Lord your God” (vv. 13-16).
The people are then reminded to remember what Amalek did to them as they were on their way out of Egypt, how he attacked them when they were at their most vulnerable. Once the Lord has given them rest in their new land, the Israelites are to blot out the Amalekites from under heaven.
Chapter twenty-six begins with a concept we’ve discussed on many occasions–that of the offering of the firstfruits. Once the Israelites are established in their new land they are to offer the first some of their first fruits to the Lord while recounting the story of their deliverance from Egypt. In verses 12-13 God says that “When you have finished paying all the tithe of your produce in the third year, which is the year of tithing, giving it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, so that they may eat within your towns and be filled, then you shall say before the Lord your God, ‘I have removed the sacred portion out of my house, and moreover, I have given it to the Levite, the sojourner, the fatherless, and the widow, according to all your commandment that you have commanded me. I have not transgressed any of your commandments, nor have I forgotten them”. Remember that in every third year the people were to fill the storehouses with produce for the Levites, the poor, the widows, the sojourners, and the fatherless (Deuteronomy 14:28). The Lord has promised to make Israel a great nation, and if they will obey, they will be set higher than other nations.
In chapter twenty-seven, Moses instructs the people to build an altar of uncut stones on Mount Ebal when they cross over the Jordan into the land the Lord is giving them. In verses 9-10 we see that this thing is really becoming official official:”Then Moses and the Levitical priests said to all Israel, “Keep silence and hear, O Israel: this day you have become the people of the Lord your God. You shall therefore obey the voice of the Lord your God, keeping his commandments and his statutes, which I command you today”. After they cross the Jordan and enter the new land, they are to assemble at Shechem, where the tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph and Benjamin are to stand on Mount Gerizim to hear God’s blessings upon the people, while Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan and Naphtali were to stand on Mount Ebal to hear the curses.
The Levites are to declare the following curses to all of the people (after each curse is pronounced, the people reply with an “Amen”):
1. Cursed is he who makes a carved or cast metal image and sets it up in secret
2. Cursed is anyone who dishonors his mother or father.
3. Anyone who moves his neighbor’s landmark is cursed.
4. Anyone who mislead a blind man down a road shall be cursed.
5. Anyone who perverts justice to those vulnerable sojourners, widows or orphans is cursed.
6. Anyone who lies with his father’s wife and thus uncovers his nakedness is cursed.
7. A person who lies with an animal is cursed.
8. A person who lies with his sister is cursed.
9. Cursed is the person who lies with his mother-in-law.
10. Cursed is anyone who strikes down his neighbor in secret.
11. Cursed is anyone who takes a bribe to shed innocent blood.
12. Anyone who does not confirm the words of this law by doing them is cursed.
I wondered if there was any significance to how God gathered the tribes together, i.e., was there any special reason why he grouped the tribes the way he did to receive the blessings and the curses? I found what appears to be a sensible argument at http://www.twoagespilgrims.com/doctrine/mount-ebal-to-mount-gerizim-from-cursed-to-blessed/:
“The list of tribes in Deuteronomy 27:12-13 composing the two groups is also striking. Those on Mount Ebal, the mount of cursing, are the tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali, sons of Bilhah and Zilpah, slave women of Jacob’s two lawful wives. Those on Mount Gerizim are Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Joseph, and Benjamin. Those on Gerizim, the mount of blessing, are children of Jacob’s lawful wives, Leah and Rachel (Gen 35:23-26). Reuben is the exception—though he was one of Leah’s legitimate sons, he was cursed because he had sexual relations with Bilhah, his father’s concubine (Gen 35:22; 1 Chron 5:1)” (May 2010).
There you have it. I love that there is just so much to be learned in the Bible, and that God has given so many people the gift of Biblical wisdom that we might learn from one another. (I’ve looked at other postings at that site too–pretty good stuff there).
Blessings and curses for obedience are given in chapter twenty-eight. The curses are the opposite of the blessings, so I will briefly describe the blessings. If the Israelites would just obey God, they would be set high above all other nations. They will be blessed in all ways–their produce, their fields, their children, everything would multiply and be fruitful. They will reap the benefits of God’s boundless protection whether they are in their own cities and fields or not. The other peoples will see these benefits, recognize that God is with them and be afraid. The Israelites would “abound in prosperity” (v. 11). They will lend to many nations but never borrow. The exact opposite is the case if they disobey. Every part of them would be afflicted–their land, their bodies, their produce… and a king from a foreign nation would be set over them.
Here is a particular passage that makes me want to retch at the very thought of it:
“They shall besiege you in all your towns, until your high and fortified walls, in which you trusted, come down throughout all your land. And they shall besiege you in all your towns throughout all your land, which the Lord your God has given you. And you shall eat the fruit of your womb, the flesh of your sons and daughters, whom the Lord your God has given you, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemies shall distress you. The man who is the most tender and refined among you will begrudge food to his brother, to the wife he embraces, and to the last of the children whom he has left, so that he will not give to any of them any of the flesh of his children whom he is eating, because he has nothing else left, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in all your towns. The most tender and refined woman among you, who would not venture to set the sole of her foot on the ground because she is so delicate and tender, will begrudge to the husband she embraces, to her son and to her daughter, her afterbirth that comes out from between her feet and her children whom she bears, because lacking everything she will eat them secretly, in the siege and in the distress with which your enemy shall distress you in your towns” (vv. 52-57).
People are going to start eating each other??? GRODIE! But it does in fact begin to happen. The most vivid exchange I can remember involving eating one’s child is in 2 Kings 6. It’s a pretty disturbing passage about a time of famine and a mother boiling her son.
To sum it up, if the people disobey they face the consequence of ultimate, thorough destruction.
And now I must lay down. I have been sleeping a lot more the past few days. I have been physically exhausted and sick to my stomach. I rarely get sick to my stomach, so I knew once that started happening something was amiss. And I was right. I took three pregnancy tests and they all came back positive. So my party of four will become a party of five sometime in May. I am very excited, but I am looking forward to the time when I can eat again and not have to suffer the consequences. I want to eat everything and nothing at the same time. I get to where I can go from content to ravenous in 0.005 seconds, and then when I placate myself with food Mattphanie decides not to appreciate it (I called both my son and daughter Mattphanie before we knew what their sex was. It’s a mash-up of our names). I’ve noticed I’m sicker during the day than I am at night, but that is subject to change. I’m taking it all in stride, resting when I need to, eating when I can. I thank God for this because our family needed some good news. God is still blessing us even as we continue to grieve my Dad, who I still miss (and always will) dearly. God took someone very important to us home, but he sent someone else for us to love and teach him all about his wonderful Granddad.