Day 77 (March 18): Marrying captive women, rights of firstborn, rebellious sons, rules on living, sexual purity, worship laws, Edomites and Egyptians may worship, lots of other regulations

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Deuteronomy 21:10-25:19

Questions & Observations

Q. (Deuteronomy 21:15-17): I’m confused.  I didn’t think God cared about birth order.  We saw that with the story of Jacob and Esau and Joseph and his brothers, among others.  Can you explain if “firstborn rights” are truly handed from God?  If so, why the contradiction with the earlier stories?

A. There’s not a contradiction in my mind.  What I have said on previous occasions is that God does not make considerations of birth order when selecting people for HIS purposes.  The people he selected and chose to bless (Jacob, Joseph, Isaac, etc.) were not the firstborn sons, but this does not mean that God makes no consideration for the way that society ran at that time: the firstborn son was to be given the largest share of the inheritance in order to maintain the family heritage from generation to generation.  This is very much in keeping with what God is doing here: setting up a society that will prosper, and be able to keep the land that God gives them.  In this time period, the best way to ensure land was passed from generation to generation fairly was that the firstborn son got the “lion’s share”.  But when it comes to who God desires to use for His purposes, birth order does not, and will not, matter.  Wait until we see how He picks King David.

O. (22:8): This sounds like modern-day legal issues.  How funny they are relevant today.  Luckily, not that many people have to get on roofs.

O. (22:20-21): I have just now realized another way of preventative measures the Israelites had in place: discouragement.  If they don’t obey, they get stoned.

Q. (23:1): Do I dare ask, how this could happen?

A. Well, I suppose it could have been the result of an attack or accident, but basically, this is talking about eunuchs: male slaves who had their genitals removed (usually as boys) as part of their entry into a life of slavery.  This could be because of the work they were assigned, such as with women, but also because by removing the man’s genitals, it would, in theory, prevent him from focusing on his own plans for family or personal gain.  Eunuchs were therefore considered good and desirable workers who would be loyal to their masters.  I am unclear what it is about being castrated that got them excluded from the assembly — I’ll research it, because it will come up again — but I can tell you that one of the first Christian converts is a Ethiopian eunuch.  This is just one more place where the work of Jesus Christ brings salvation to ALL people, even those who had been previously excluded.

O. (24:5): If only this was valid today.  A one-year honeymoon would be wonderful!

Q. (25:5-6): Didn’t the NT revoke this law?  The law was just for the Israelites to protect the family lines?

A. Be careful with the terminology.  Nothing about the NT revoked the ways of the OT, it simply replaced them with a different system, that was not dependent upon human effort.  But the answer to your question is yes, this was all about protecting family lines.  This is actually the way that Ruth will be able to claim a new husband in her story coming up.

Q. (25:7-10) What?  More comedy?  Was having a sandal pulled off disgraceful?

A. I’m not sure.  It appears that this is an attempt at public shaming, in order to, once again, maintain family lines.  These verses will also come into play in Ruth.

Q. (25:11-12): The testicles hold the seed of the family lines?  So, harming them is a huge offense?

A. I think that’s part of it.  But also, since this law is set up based upon rules of retaliation (eye for an eye), and since the woman would, obviously, not have the parts in question, the hand is selected for the reprisal.  Isn’t that fun!

That last batch of rules was definitely miscellaneous!  Good for keeping me awake at the end of a long day.  Hope yours was grand!  See you tomorrow!

Day 71 (March 12): Moses gives instructions from God, Moses recaps 40-year journey

Woohoo!  We made it through Numbers.  Next up, Deuteronomy and, then, the Israelites finally get to the Promised Land. 

Welcome to BibleBum where we are exploring the entire Bible in one year to better learn how to follow God’s instructions and discover the purpose for our lives.  The BibleBum blog uses The One Year Chronological Bible, the New Living Translation version.  At the end of each day’s reading, Rob, a cultural history aficionado and seminary graduate, answers questions from Leigh An, the blogger host, about the daily scripture.  The information helps readers grasp confusing parts, find deeper meanings and sometimes it may surprise you!  To start from the beginning, click on “Index” and select Day 1.  Take the challenge.  You won’t regret it.

Today we start Deuteronomy the fifth book of the Bible.  For background information about Deuteronomy, go to http://www.biblestudytools.com/nlt/deuteronomy/.  We will be referring to this link before every new book to provide information about the author, time it was written and other scene-setter material.

Deuteronomy 1

Questions & Observations

O. (Deuteronomy 1:12): Moses is certainly someone who is pure at heart.  Remember when after God chose him to take the Israelites out of Egypt that he told God he was not a good speaker.  And here, he is so blunt to the people.  Maybe it’s that old age thing where the older someone gets they are not afraid to tell you what they are thinking.  This verse just puts a little humor in the Bible for me.

Q. (2:5,9): This verse almost sounds like there is another whole story out there where God is governing other nations.  Did God say that he gave Seir to the Edomites and Ar to the Moabites in the Bible?  I love how we are seeing so much continuity in the Bible.  We have read about Esau and the Edomites and Lot and the Moabites before.  I know there are a lot more connections to come.

A. Though they are not the “chosen” people, in these verses we see that God remains faithful to other descendants of Abraham: either directly as with Esau, or indirectly as with Lot.  Note that this is despite the moral failings of both of these men.  God is generous indeed!  The verses that we read about here are where the territory is declared for these other tribes, so I don’t think there is another reference.  These holdings, and more importantly, God’s protection of them from the Israelites themselves, just point to the generosity of God, especially in places where we note that God’s blessings extend to future generations of those who faithfully serve Him.

Q. (3:11): Now that’s tall.  Now I can understand the Israelites fear of giants.  Do you know anything about if it still exists?

A. That is indeed a big bed, but it doesn’t given any indication of how big the king was.  Anyway, my notes indicate that they are probably not referring to a place of nightly sleep, but rather a sarcophagus: an elaborate above ground tomb — think of the one for King Tut of Egypt and you’ve got the idea.  So, they are describing a bed for eternal sleep.  According to my notes, iron sarcophagi have been found in this area of the Middle East- Amman is the modern day capital of Jordan

Q. This whole day’s reading looks like a review of Numbers.  Is there anything special we need to take from this review?

A. I would say there is not a lot to note that we did not already cover in our look at Numbers itself.  Israel was given the promise of God to enter the land given to Abraham, but in fear, they doubted that even God could help them conquer this land of giants.  Because of this doubt, God condemned them to wander for 40 years, but now the next generation was on the cusp of claiming their birthright.  Moses is taking the opportunity to share his final thoughts on how the people have come to this point, and how they can avoid the mistakes of the past.