The Word Made Fresh
1If two men who are arguing take their dispute to the judge, the judge will decide who is in the right. 2If the one in the wrong deserves a whipping, the judge will make him lie down and he will be given however many lashes the judge prescribes. 3Forty lashes is the maximum; more would only shame him.
4“Do not put a muzzle on an ox while it treads the grain.
5“When two brothers are living in the same household and one of them dies without a son, his wife may not remarry outside the family to a stranger. Her husband’s brother must marry her and be her husband. 6Her firstborn son will be named after her dead husband so that his name will be preserved.
7“However, if her husband’s brother refuses to marry her, she must approach the elders at the town gate and tell them that her husband’s brother has refused to marry her and give her a child to preserve her husband’s name. 8The elders will then call for the man and if he insists that he has no desire to marry her 9she will approach him in their presence, remove one of his sandals, spit in his face and announce, ‘This is what is done to the man who refuses to preserve his brother’s name. 10From then on his family will be known throughout the country as ‘The House of the One Sandal Man.’
11“If two men are fighting, and the wife of one of them intervenes and grabs her husband’s opponent by his privates, 12you must cut off her hand without pity.
13“Don’t carry two sets of weights, heavy and light. 14Don’t keep in your house two sets of measures, long and short. 15Keep only honest weights and measures, and the LORD will let you live long in the land. 16Everyone who tries to cheat others with dishonest weights and measures is repugnant to the LORD.
17“When you were fleeing out of Egypt, remember how the Amalekites 18attacked while you were worn down and killed those who lagged behind. They had no fear of God. 19Never forget that! And when the LORD your God has given you victory over all your enemies in the land you will inherit, completely eliminate the name of Amalek from the face of the earth.”
1-3: The punishment should fit the crime. Later, in the time of Jesus, there will be a Pharisaic rule that 39 lashes should be the maximum, in case the one giving the lashes loses count and accidentally exceeds the 40 maximum.
4: Let the poor animals eat!
5-10: Now you understand why no family in Israel wanted to be known as “The House of the One Sandal Man.” We can’t be sure, but the implication is that the poor fellow can only wear one sandal from then on.
11-12: Fight fair, girls!
13-16: Honesty in weights and measures.
17: Vengeance on the Amalekites for attacking them in the wilderness. But I have to wonder if this is vengeance more for Moses’ sake than God’s.
The rules are largely self-explanatory, but the punishments are severe and reflect a primitive society-in-process, and I honestly think reflect more of Moses’ wisdom than God’s. We today can strive to live by the simple rule to love the Lord our God with all our heart and soul and mind and strength, and to love our neighbors as ourselves.