Study Guide

Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 21

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Chapter 21

The List Continues

  • What do you do if you find a dead body in the open country and the murderer is nowhere to be found? Answer: Kill a heifer and have the elders of the surrounding towns wash their hands over it to show that they did not shed innocent blood. Apparently, there weren't a lot of crime scene investigators back in ancient Israel.
  • These verses show how valuable life is. You can't just leave a body alone—you're obligated to do something with it.
  • An Israelite warrior who captures a woman from an enemy is allowed to marry her. But first, she has to shave her head and be allowed to mourn her family for a month. Oh, and if he decides he doesn't really like her, he can free her without selling her.
  • This was a man's world, people. It may sound evilly misogynistic to us, but the reality is that this law was probably an improvement on whatever the status quo was. Context matters.
  • If a man has two wives and likes one but not the other, his firstborn son will inherit his possessions. Even if he's the son of the wife his father doesn't like.
  • The parents of a rebellious son who drinks too much wine and eats too much food can be turned over to the town elders for stoning. Guess he won't be able to eat his parents out of house and home anymore.
  • Sound harsh? We're guessing that even people who follow the Bible pretty strictly don't go along with this one. How can we reconcile this?
  • Don't leave a corpse on a tree all night. Got it.
  • Actually, hundreds of years later in the action of the New Testament, Paul ties this scripture to Jesus's crucifixion in Galatians 3:13. Head on over to "Shout-Outs" for more New Testament scriptures that quote Deuteronomy.

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