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Deuteronomy - Chapter 21

Bible Study Notes
Deuteronomy 21:1-9 If a murdered person is found and no one knows who killed him, the nearest city shall sacrifice a heifer that has never worked down to a valley with running water and break its neck. The priests shall come forward. The elders of the city shall wash their hands and testify they had nothing to do with the person's death nor see their death. They asked the Lord to accept their atonement and not hold them accountable of the innocent blood shed.

Notes: This distinctly indicates that final judicial authority in the theocracy of Israel rested with the priests.

Deuteronomy 21:10-14 A captured woman during battle in the outer lands may be taken as a wife, but she must shave her head, trim her nails, remove the clothes she was captured in, morn for her parents a full month, and then can the marriage take place. If the man does not desire her any longer, he shall let her go free, not make her a slave or sell her for money.

Notes: These discarded items were symbolic of the casting off of her former life and carried purification symbolism. Ladies on the eve of captivity dressed to be attractive to their captors. Divorce appears to have been common among the people, perhaps learned from their time in Egypt, and tolerated by Moses because of their “hardness of heart”.

Deuteronomy 21:15-17 If a man has two wives, one loved and the other unloved, the first born, regardless if it was from the loved or unloved shall have the double portion as an inheritance.

Notes: The law protects the rights of the firstborn even if he is the son of the unloved wife.

Deuteronomy 21:18-21 A son who will not obey their parents shall be brought before the elders of the city to be stoned to death.

Deuteronomy 21:22-23 If a person is put to death for a crime and is hung on a tree, the body shall not remain on the tree all night, but must be taken down and buried the same day, for a hanged man is cursed by God.

Notes: After an execution, the body was permitted to hang on a tree for the rest of the day as a public display of the consequences of disobedience. However, the body was not to remain on the tree overnight, but was to be properly buried before sunset.

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