Study Guide

Book of Deuteronomy Chapter 24

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Chapter 24

A Motley Mix: Divorce Court, Kidnapping, Leprosy, Loans, and the Poor

  • A woman who has been divorced twice cannot remarry her original husband. And a newly married man is free from military duty for one full year after his wedding.
  • Stealing someone's livelihood or kidnapping someone and selling them into slavery counts as murder in this book. The Bible definitely links human life to occupation and social status.
  • Guard against leprosy, and remember what happened to Miriam. Because she criticized her brother Moses, God gave her leprosy—so be careful how you treat your siblings. (Parents, you might want to keep this verse handy.)
  • Now we get some laws concerning loans and pledges. A person's garment can be given as collateral for a loan, but it has to be returned by sunset so that the neighbor can sleep on it. The garment essentially takes the place of loan papers and reminds the debtor that he owes money.
  • Check out how case-based this law is. This obviously happened, and that's why the provisions are so specific. Imagine being that guy. "Hey, that's me! I swear!"
  • Parents and children are responsible for their own crimes: one cannot be put to death for the misdeeds of the other.
  • Wait a second. We hear quite a bit in the bible that your children can be punished for your sins, and vice versa (we're looking at you, Job). The problem is that that religious admonition is not necessarily good for society at large. Deuteronomy has religious laws, but it also is concerned with practicality, and it's just not practical to punish families for the crimes of one. 
  • And finally, we get some laws concerning the poor. Namely, some grapes and grain are to be left on the tree or in the field for the needy. Why? Because the Israelites were slaves in the land of Egypt. They know what it's like. Check out Ruth 2 for a story about the needy picking up grain during harvest.

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