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21. Various Laws

If one be found slain in the land which the Lord thy God giveth thee to possess it, lying in the field, and it be not known who hath slain him: 2Then thy elders and thy judges shall come forth, and they shall measure unto the cities which are round about him that is slain: 3And it shall be, that the city which is next unto the slain man, even the elders of that city shall take an heifer, which hath not been wrought with, and which hath not drawn in the yoke; 4And the elders of that city shall bring down the heifer unto a rough valley, which is neither eared nor sown, and shall strike off the heifer’s neck there in the valley: 5And the priests the sons of Levi shall come near; for them the Lord thy God hath chosen to minister unto him, and to bless in the name of the Lord; and by their word shall every controversy and every stroke be tried: 6And all the elders of that city, that are next unto the slain man, shall wash their hands over the heifer that is beheaded in the valley: 7And they shall answer and say, Our hands have not shed this blood, neither have our eyes seen it. 8Be merciful, O Lord, unto thy people Israel, whom thou hast redeemed, and lay not innocent blood unto thy people of Israel’s charge. And the blood shall be forgiven them. 9So shalt thou put away the guilt of innocent blood from among you, when thou shalt do that which is right in the sight of the Lord.

10When thou goest forth to war against thine enemies, and the Lord thy God hath delivered them into thine hands, and thou hast taken them captive, 11And seest among the captives a beautiful woman, and hast a desire unto her, that thou wouldest have her to thy wife; 12Then thou shalt bring her home to thine house; and she shall shave her head, and pare her nails; 13And she shall put the raiment of her captivity from off her, and shall remain in thine house, and bewail her father and her mother a full month: and after that thou shalt go in unto her, and be her husband, and she shall be thy wife. 14And it shall be, if thou have no delight in her, then thou shalt let her go whither she will; but thou shalt not sell her at all for money, thou shalt not make merchandise of her, because thou hast humbled her.

15If a man have two wives, one beloved, and another hated, and they have born him children, both the beloved and the hated; and if the firstborn son be hers that was hated: 16Then it shall be, when he maketh his sons to inherit that which he hath, that he may not make the son of the beloved firstborn before the son of the hated, which is indeed the firstborn: 17But he shall acknowledge the son of the hated for the firstborn, by giving him a double portion of all that he hath: for he is the beginning of his strength; the right of the firstborn is his.

18If a man have a stubborn and rebellious son, which will not obey the voice of his father, or the voice of his mother, and that, when they have chastened him, will not hearken unto them: 19Then shall his father and his mother lay hold on him, and bring him out unto the elders of his city, and unto the gate of his place; 20And they shall say unto the elders of his city, This our son is stubborn and rebellious, he will not obey our voice; he is a glutton, and a drunkard. 21And all the men of his city shall stone him with stones, that he die: so shalt thou put evil away from among you; and all Israel shall hear, and fear.

22And if a man have committed a sin worthy of death, and he be to be put to death, and thou hang him on a tree: 23His body shall not remain all night upon the tree, but thou shalt in any wise bury him that day; (for he that is hanged is accursed of God;) that thy land be not defiled, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

The object of this precept was to banish inhumanity and barbarism from the chosen people, and also to impress upon them horror even of a just execution. And surely the body of a man suspended on a cross is a sad and hideous spectacle; for the rights of sepulture are ordained for man, both as a pledge and symbol of the resurrection, and also to spare the eyes of the living, lest they should be defiled by the sight of so horrible a thing. Moses does not here speak generally, but only of those malefactors who are unworthy of the honor of burial; yet the public good is regarded in the burial even of such as these, lest men should grow accustomed to cruelty, and thus become more ready to commit murder. Moreover, that they may take more careful heed in this matter, he declares that the land would be defiled, if the corpse should be left hanging on the cross, since such inhumanity pollutes and disgraces the land. And this was more intolerable in Judea, which God had given as an inheritance to his elect people, that he might be there worshipped reverentially, and purely, every profanation being excluded. The man so hanged is called 4242     See margin, A. V. “the curse of God,” because this kind of punishment is detestable in itself. God, indeed, does not forbid criminals to be crucified, or hanged on a gallows, but rather gives His sanction to this mode of punishment; He only, by His own example, exhorts the Israelites to abhor all atrocity. Although, therefore, He does not disapprove of the punishment, He still says that lie abominates those that are hanged on a tree, that the scandal may be immediately removed; nor does He call them accursed, as if their salvation was to be despaired of, but because the hanging was a mark of His curse. This passage Paul applies to Christ, to teach us that He was made κατάρα (a curse) for us, that He might deliver us from the curse of the Law. (Galatians 3:13.) For, since all are guilty of transgression, and thus the whole race of mankind is implicated in the curse, there was no other mode of deliverance, except that Christ should substitute Himself in our place. Nor was God unmindful of His sentence, when He suffered His only-begot, tea Son to be crucified. Hence it follows that He submitted Himself to our condition, in order; that we might receive God’s blessing; since He was

made sin for us, that we might be made the righteousness
of God in Him.” (2 Corinthians 5:21.)


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