Lectionary Calendar
Wednesday, May 22nd, 2024
the Week of Proper 2 / Ordinary 7
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Bible Commentaries
Deuteronomy 21

Bridgeway Bible CommentaryBridgeway Bible Commentary

Verses 1-23

Respect for human life (21:1-23)

Murder made the land unclean, and the uncleanness could be removed only by the execution of the murderer (see Numbers 35:29-34). Where the murderer could not be found, the elders of the town nearest the place of the murder had to go to an unpolluted stream nearby and carry out the ritual slaughter of a young cow instead of the unknown murderer. The blood of the cow washed away in the stream symbolized the removal of uncleanness caused by the unlawful bloodshed (21:1-9).

An Israelite had to treat with respect any woman taken captive in war. If he wanted to marry her, he had to realize that, because she had just been suddenly removed from her former home, he had to treat her with special consideration. Therefore, he could not take her as a wife till enough time had passed for her to mourn her parents and adjust to the new way of life. Neither could he sell her as a slave if he later decided he did not want her. He had to let her go free (10-14).
In the case of a man who had several wives, the firstborn son was always the heir, whether he was son of the favourite wife or not. This protected the rights of the firstborn against family jealousies and prejudices (15-17).
Where both parents agreed that their son was so uncontrollable as to be criminally dangerous, they could take him to the rulers for a legal judgment on what to do with him. If the rulers judged the young man to be a danger to the community, he was to be stoned to death (18-21). The body of a person stoned to death was hanged on a tree till evening as a mark of disgrace (22-23).

Bibliographical Information
Flemming, Donald C. "Commentary on Deuteronomy 21". "Fleming's Bridgeway Bible Commentary". https://www.studylight.org/commentaries/eng/bbc/deuteronomy-21.html. 2005.
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