This chapter calls Israel to understand their calling to holiness and purity. Holiness protects the life of the individual and others. Seven significant social issues are covered which identify how to be a good neighbor and testimony for the Lord.
Deuteronomy 22:1-3 The first issue has to do with the restoration of lost property and involvement in the care of animals. The example cited is the return of a lost animal. All of us regularly misplace or lose things. If an item is found by a neighbor, it’s to be returned to the rightful owner. If a lost animal was found, it was not to be ignored but returned to the owner. If the owner was unknown or lived far away, the animal was to be kept until the owner came for it. When the owner came for his animal, it was to be returned immediately. This also applied to lost property, not just animals. An Israelite was obligated to help his neighbor in recovering his lost property. Furthermore, he was charged to help if a neighbor’s donkey or ox was struggling with its load or fallen on the road. Animals were not household pets they were a necessary part of what a farmer needed to grow his goods and take them to market. If an ox or donkey was missing or injured, the owner’s livelihood was in jeopardy. Yeshua defined who a neighbor was in Luke 10:29-37 in the parable of the good Samaritan.
Deuteronomy 22:4 We all face crises such as the loss of a loved one or injury due to an accident. Some experience financial crisis or loss of property due to fire or damage to our homes through a natural disaster. God cares for us as we go through these trials and calls His people to involve ourselves in some way. We’re not to look the other way and ignore his need. We’re to help our neighbor in his hour of need.
Deuteronomy 22:5 The third issue addresses part of the current LGBTQ+ agenda specifically transvestism, which is the ban on wearing clothes and adopting behavior of the opposite sex. Moses insisted that Israel not blur distinctions that would compromise the fruitfulness of the nation in reproduction and multiplication of God’s people. These prohibitions address the loss of male and female roles in a healthy society. God’s people were to respect God’s design and not compromise their assigned sexuality by wearing inappropriate clothing. Behavior provokes values just as values promote behavior. God is opposed to anything that blurs the lines between the sexes. Such behavior also in many cases leads to homosexual behavior.
Deuteronomy 22:6-7 In the same way, Israel must recognize that even in the animal world the continuation of life depends on respect for motherhood. This is the fourth issue dealing with life. Even in the case of a bird’s nest, the life of the mother is to be preserved so there will be future generations. This law demonstrates the call for the sanctity of all life which also includes animals. As Israel is on the brink of crossing the Jordan River and engaging their enemies, they are warned about the killing of animals and destruction of the land and its food supply. This law was a provision for their need for food both in the short and long term. Matthew 6:26 “Look at the birds of the air, that they do not sow, nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not worth much more than they?
Deuteronomy 22:8 the fifth issue concerns building codes and public safety. We tend to take such things for granted or even as an unnecessary extra cost, but they demonstrate a concern for our neighbor. Soon Israel would be entering the promised land and this law provided guidelines in the building of their permanent homes. In a land where entertaining and outside dinning was a regular part of daily life for relaxation, conversation, entertaining, cooking, and a play area for small children this law was given to God’s people. Since the roof sat high off the ground, it was necessary to build a railing to prevent accidents leading to injury and possibly death.
Deuteronomy 22:9-11 The sixth issue concerned the call of God’s people to be mindful of the call to purity in public and private actions. This law is a picture of spiritual separation, of God’s people living a pure and distinctive life from the world. Paul used an obscure law about muzzling a working ox (Deut. 25:4) to establish the validity of the importance of pay for those in ministry. In this discussion (1 Cor. 9:1-10), while not denying the validity of the muzzling law, he used it to illustrate that the overriding principle was more important than the original law (1 Cor. 9:9-10). The laws given here fit into the same category. Moses warned Israel against spiritual pollution. Wearing clothes of wool and linen woven together would not destroy a person morally; nor would mixing two kinds of seed in a vineyard. However, mixing the truths of Scripture with the viewpoints of pagan culture will always prove deadly. Israel was not to yoke herself with worldly thinking and ways and thus become defiled. Instead, the nation was to keep these laws to demonstrate their distinctive separateness from other nations. This is the case today among the ultra-orthodox Jewish community there adherence to these and other laws set them apart from the nations and as a people holy to the Lord.
Deuteronomy 22:12 The tassels (tzit tzit) worn on the corners of their garments served as continual reminder: “Throughout the generations to come you are to make tassels on the corners of your garments, with a blue cord on each tassel… and so you will remember all the commands of the LORD, that you may obey them and not prostitute yourselves by going after the lusts of your own hearts and eyes” (Num. 15:38-39). As he walked through the day, the tassels would flap about, occasionally attracting his attention. At that point he was to remember and obey God’s commands and live a life of holiness before God and man. Rom. 6:13 “and do not go on presenting the members of your body to sin as instruments of unrighteousness; but present yourselves to God as those alive from the dead, and your members as instruments of righteousness to God.” “This book of the law shall not depart out of thy mouth; but thou shalt meditate therein day and night, that thou mayest observe to do according to all that is written therein: for then thou shalt make thy way prosperous, and then thou shalt have good success” (Jos. 1:8).
This next section of God’s Torah deals with Laws That Govern Sexual Behavior: Living a Moral and Pure Life in verses 13–30. immorality tears down man, who is the pinnacle of God’s creation. Immorality causes pain and suffering devastating wives, husbands, and children, and eventually the nation. It destroys the family, the foundation of society, the institution God ordained to give purpose and meaning to His people. Immorality breaks up families, destroys homes and causes the core of the nation to crumble. It corrupts the mind and conscience, enslaving those involved to lust which leads to all kinds of lawlessness and corrupt behavior.
Deuteronomy 22:13-15 the first issue concerns premarital immorality. Young men and women are called to keep themselves sexually pure, and parents are to teach their children the importance of being sexually pure. Moses illustrates this with two examples. The first is a case where a newly married man seeks to get rid of his wife by falsely accusing her of not being a virgin. Contrary to the pagan cultures around them, Israel was to live with a sense of the fear of the omnipresent God especially in their dealings with their spouses and children. A man of God was not to slander the reputation of his new wife by trying to disguise his dislike for her by accusing her of an untrue moral offense. If he should defame her with his accusation his claim was not to be accepted at face value. The father and mother of the woman were to call for a hearing before the elders at the gate to clear her name.
Deuteronomy 22:16-19 When the elders gathered the father pleaded the case on the basis of the husband’s dislike of his daughter as a reason for his false accusation. As evidence, he was to display the bed sheet from the wedding night to the elders as proof of her virginity before marriage. If the elders believe his claim, they were to punish the slanderer by fining him a hundred shekels of silver. This was an enormous sum of money at the time, since we know that David purchased the threshing floor of Araunah centuries later for only fifty shekels of silver (2 Sam. 24:24). Such a fine would serve as a warning to any Israelite seeking to get out of a marriage by slandering his wife falsely. Grave damage was done not only to the wife but to her family reputation, the fine was paid to the girl’s father. In addition, the law prescribed that he would continue to be his wife and he could never divorce her as long as he lives. While the man could not divorce her, she was not restricted from divorcing him.
Deuteronomy 22:20-21 If the charge was found to be true by the elders, the woman would be stoned to death. This was not done at the gate of the city, which was the customary place of execution, but instead at the door of her father’s house. Just as false charges damaged the father’s reputation so the daughter’s guilt would be laid at his doorstep. Her sin occurred while she was still in her father’s house. The possibility of such penalties would have served to give pause to young women who might be tempted to be wayward and to give parents a sobering reason to exercise close supervision of their daughters.
Deuteronomy 22:22 We live in a world where premarital sex is expected and not thought as something to be avoided. Promiscuity is an attack on the family and brings insecurity in a relationship and is a poor testimony of the sanctity of marriage. Adultery was an even more serious threat. The man found sleeping with another man’s wife was guilty of a crime not only against her and her husband but also against the institution and sanctity of marriage and also a crime against the community. This was the most serious of wrongdoings in the eyes of God, for the man was violating the most precious possession of the husband. The wife also was willingly and deliberately giving herself to another man, breaking the hearts of her husband and children. For this reason, the adulterous couple was to be executed. The evil was to be purged from the midst of God’s people. Marriage reflects God’s relationship with Israel and Infidelity is one of the key reasons that God divorced His wife Israel. Marriage strikes at the heart of fidelity in society. The nation that condones it will condone many other offenses as well. What improperly happens in private between consenting adults undermines the core of the people. There is no such thing as a “casual affair.” Consider the statistics concerning abortion, sexually transmitted diseases, and government assistance for unwed mothers. Private sexual sin invariably affects the nation. God’s Law is given for our welfare personally and collectively.
Deuteronomy 22:23-24 Betrothal was equivalent to marriage. We see this illustrated in Joseph’s reaction to learning about Mary’s virgin birth in Matthew 1:18ff. Betrothal could be ended only by divorce. A virgin pledged to be married was in the eyes of the law another man’s wife. A dowry had been paid and as such the marriage was finalized. If she was silent while being assaulted sexually in a town this was presumed as an indication of consent. The man who violated her and the virgin herself were considered guilty and subject to the death penalty. Engaged men and women are to keep themselves pure for their marriage. They made a vow to each other and vows are to be kept. God expects us to fulfill our vows. Ecc 4:4-5 When you make a vow to God, do not delay to fulfill it. He has no pleasure in fools; fulfill your vow. It is better not to make a vow than to make one and not fulfill it.
Deuteronomy 22:25-29. Rape is a capital crime, and two examples are given. A similar crime in the country might have a different outcome since it likely involved rape without consent. In this case, only the man was subject to execution. Rape was a crime of assault and violence, likened to murder. The remote location gave the presumption of innocence to the girl, for even if she had screamed, there was no one to rescue her. The second example concerns a man who rapes a young girl who is neither engaged nor married. In this situation, the man must pay 50 pieces of silver to the girl’s father and marry her, and never permitted to divorce her. This assumes that she is willing to marry him and her parents approve of the marriage. This provision was made since her violation would have marred her as a potential marriage partner in the eyes of other potential husbands. This protected the girls honor and assured her of permanent support for herself and any child who might be born from the rape.
Deuteronomy 22:30 This law prohibit marriage to a stepmother as a form of incest. The man’s father has presumably died, leaving a wife behind. Marriage is forbidden on the grounds that it compromises the father’s memory and was deemed as showing disrespect to his father and his wife. Similar law is found in other Scripture (Deut. 27:20; Gen. 9:20-24). This was the sin of Reuben in his sexual relations with his stepmother, the maid of Rachel.