Deuteronomy Chapter 21  PDF  MSWord

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Go to Bible: Deuteronomy 21
Deu 21:1

“If a corpse is found on the soil that Yahweh your God is giving you.” Deuteronomy 21:1-9 is an important section of Scripture because it shows that just because a person or a town did not actively sin or commit a crime does not mean that they did not have any responsibility for a sin or crime done near them. Far too often people want to ignore something that they think they had no part in (and in fact did not have an active part in) when in fact their sin, or lack of aggressive obedience to God, helped to open the door for the sin or crime that was committed. The Bible says that God will bless the land and people if they obey Him, but have they been truly obedient? Have you, or the people of your area or town, really obeyed God? Are you and the town steadfast in prayer like God says to be? Do you obey the commands of God like He says to? Did you put the right leaders in place who guide the people in righteousness? All these kinds of things are actually participation in the great war between God and the Devil, between Good and Evil, and they affect the amount of demonic activity in your life and in your community. So when a town falls short of genuinely obeying God it does have some culpability in sinful activities that occur in and around it, and that is why God commanded that if there was an unsolved murder, the elders of the town had to do a sacrifice of atonement to have the sin forgiven. That is also why people in the Bible pray for themselves and the people of the land (cp. 2 Chron. 6:14-42; Neh. 9:32-38).

Deu 21:2(top)
Deu 21:3

“a heifer.” A heifer is a young female cow that has not yet had a calf.

Deu 21:4(top)
Deu 21:5(top)
Deu 21:6(top)
Deu 21:7

“answer and say.” “Answer and say” is a common idiom. There is no question spoken, it is an answer or statement about the situation.

Deu 21:8(top)
Deu 21:9(top)
Deu 21:10(top)
Deu 21:11(top)
Deu 21:12

“into the midst of your household.” Biblical households were large and usually the family was large and the extended family lived next to, or even with, a person. So a young woman—likely no older than 15—whom a man brought home as a wife was not just alone with the man, but was with his entire family and extended family. At that point, depending on how well the girl was accepted by the family and treated by them, her life could be a good one or a living hell. No doubt many girls in that situation got treated as slaves by the family.

Deu 21:13

“take off the clothing of her captivity.” There is much more to this than we might generally expect. In those ancient days when clothes were handmade and families were large it was quite common that the only clothes a person had were the clothes they had on, and that clothing was usually traditional to the family or clan that the person belonged to. So to take off one’s clothing and put on the clothing of another nation, clan, or family was to abandon one’s family and one’s nation and become a member of another nation, clan, or family, which could be very difficult emotionally. A modern example might be a tried and true Ohio State University alumni having to wear a University of Michigan Jersey all the time. Another example from history was when the Barbary Pirates, who were Muslims, captured European ships and made slaves out of their captives. They made them wear Muslim clothing and the European slaves complained bitterly about it because they felt it betrayed their identity as Christians. For the young captive girl, as difficult as leaving her old family identity might be, the way to peace and success for her was to move forward and become part of the family she now belonged to. That was true for the captive girls from any country. After all, it was a common custom to kill the men and take the women captive.

“weep for her father and her mother a full month.” The Law made sure that men who captured a girl to take home and marry gave the girl a full month to adjust to her new situation before the man who captured her had sex with her. To fulfill the Law the man must show some restraint and respect for the girl, not just basically rape her. The Hebrew text is idiomatic and reads “a month of days,” which means a full month. The fact that the girl wept for her father and mother—who were likely dead—for a full month was in keeping with the custom of allowing a full month for mourning someone’s death (see commentary on Deut. 34:8).

Deu 21:14(top)
Deu 21:15(top)
Deu 21:16

“make the son of the beloved the firstborn.” According to the way God commanded that inheritance be handled, the firstborn son got twice as much as any other son. So if a man only had two sons, the elder would get two-thirds and the younger one one-third. This could be difficult to do. We can well imagine that that wife who was loved would put tremendous pressure on her husband to honor her son by giving him the right of the firstborn. Daughters were not considered for inheritance as they would be part of the family into which they married.

Deu 21:17(top)
Deu 21:18(top)
Deu 21:19

“elders...gate.” In the biblical culture of the Old Testament it was the custom that the elders and judges of a city would sit at the city gate (Gen. 19:1, 9; Deut. 21:19; 22:15; 25:7; Josh. 20:4; Ruth 4:11; 1 Sam. 4:18; Esther 2:19, 21; 3:2; Lam. 5:14; Dan. 2:49). [For more on the elders at the gate, see commentary on Prov. 1:21].

Deu 21:20(top)
Deu 21:21

“Then all the men of his city are to stone him with stones so that he dies.” There is no investigation as to the accuracy of the parents accusation. The fact that parents would come forward to have a child executed is all the evidence needed, but beyond that, the child lived in the community and his reputation would be well known. Also, it was the men of the city who stoned the child, the women were excused from that action.

Deu 21:22

“tree.” The Hebrew word can also allow for this to be a wooden stake. What was actually used in any given case would have been determined by what resources were in the area.

Deu 21:23

“his body is not to remain all night on the tree, but you are to surely bury him the same day.” It is amazing that this command in the Law was fulfilled in Jesus Christ even though that fulfillment was not done intentionally. It usually took people two or three days to die on a cross in Roman crucifixion, and since Roman crucifixion was done in part to terrorize the people into submitting to Rome, the Romans had no reason or intention to take Jesus’ body down from the cross in a way that fulfilled the Mosaic Law. Similarly, when the religious leaders shouted “Crucify him” to Pontus Pilate and gave Jesus to the Romans to be crucified, they had no specific intention of having the law of Moses fulfilled in Christ. But by God’s design, it was the Passover when Jesus was crucified, and the scrupulously religious Sadducees and Pharisees did not want any human body, not just Jesus’ body, hanging on a Roman cross during their feast day (John 19:31). So they directed that Jesus and the people crucified with him be treated in a way that would assure they would all die so the dead bodies could be taken down that day (John 19:32). Jesus, for his part, gave up his life, the others died by the purposely accelerated process of crucifixion. The end result was that, although Jesus had no control over it, and neither the Romans or Jews intentionally planned it, even in his death on the cross as a sin offering (2 Cor. 5:21) and a curse on our behalf (Gal. 3:13), Jesus fulfilled the Law. His dead body was taken from the cross before sunset—he did not remain all night on the cross.


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