Deuteronomy Chapter 22

In this chapter, Moses continued the sermon to the Israelites who were preparing to enter the promised land. He would now go over some of the details to the laws on how they were to treat one another and those things that belonged to each other. He began with instruction regarding the things that others may have lost.

1 Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ox or his sheep go astray, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt in any case bring them again unto thy brother.
2 And if thy brother be not nigh unto thee, or if thou know him not, then thou shalt bring it unto thine own house, and it shall be with thee until thy brother seek after it, and thou shalt restore it to him again.
3 In like manner shalt thou do with his ass; and so shalt thou do with his raiment; and with all lost thing of thy brother’s, which he hath lost, and thou hast found, shalt thou do likewise: thou mayest not hide thyself.

They were commanded that they should not take the things that belonged to one another and had been lost. They were to return lost items to their rightful owner. This applied to their animals, clothing, and any other property they found that did not belong to them. If the owner did not live near them, they were to keep the animal until that man came looking for it, and then return it without any difficulties arising. It has always been common decency to honestly return someone’s belongings when they were found.

This is a lesson I just had to talk to my daughter about on Sunday. We found something on our seat at church, and my daughter immediately said, “finders, keepers”. We talked about how it did not belong to us and we should not take it for ourselves just because we found it. It is interesting to me, how quickly the natural man in us could cause us to take things, if we do not already have a clear understanding of what it means to steal. This item was not one of any real lasting value, that I could see, but I took the opportunity to teach my daughter that it doesn’t matter what the lost thing may be. Even if it is never found by its owner, God knows the intents of our hearts and taking something that belongs to someone else, is not honest or in keeping with the covenants we make with God.

4 Thou shalt not see thy brother’s ass or his ox fall down by the way, and hide thyself from them: thou shalt surely help him to lift them up again.

They were to do the kind thing, when the animal of another fell down by the way, which was to help the animal. This would help to preserve the animal, so that it would be able to serve its purpose for whomever to which it belonged. There is a scripture referenced in the footnote, which I believe is so true. In Doctrine and Covenants we read the following:

27 Verily I say, men should be anxiously engaged in a good cause, and do many things of their own free will, and bring to pass much righteousness;
28 For the power is in them, wherein they are agents unto themselves. And inasmuch as men do good they shall in nowise lose their reward.
29 But he that doeth not anything until he is commanded, and receiveth a commandment with doubtful heart, and keepeth it with slothfulness, the same is damned.

When we notice some way that we can help another, we should be anxiously engaged in doing that thing. If we are unable to help, we should still have compassion in our hearts, and the desire to do all that we can do.

5 The woman shall not wear that which pertaineth unto a man, neither shall a man put on a woman’s garment: for all that do so are abomination unto the Lord thy God.

Men and women were not to wear one another’s clothing. Cross-dressing was not appropriate under the law of Moses.

6 If a bird’s nest chance to be before thee in the way in any tree, or on the ground, whether they be young ones, or eggs, and the dam sitting upon the young, or upon the eggs, thou shalt not take the dam with the young:
7 But thou shalt in any wise let the dam go, and take the young to thee; that it may be well with thee, and that thou mayest prolong thy days.

If they found a bird’s nest with eggs or hatchlings, they were commanded that they should not take the mother along with the baby birds. They were to let the mother go, but could keep the babies for themselves. I am not sure what the purpose of this law was, other than perhaps the idea that taking both would stop the cycle of life for that mother bird, because she may have contributed to the creation of more birds in the future. Men would prolong their days, or live longer lives, if they followed this part of the law.

8 When thou buildest a new house, then thou shalt make a battlement for thy roof, that thou bring not blood upon thine house, if any man fall from thence.

They were to build their homes with a battlement or a railing, on the roof, so that people would not fall off the roof and cause innocent blood to be spilt.

9 Thou shalt not sow thy vineyard with divers seeds: lest the fruit of thy seed which thou hast sown, and the fruit of thy vineyard, be defiled.

They were to grow pure crops of only one type of seed, so that the plants would remain pure.

10 Thou shalt not plow with an ox and an ass together.

They were to use animals of the same kind, to plow their fields. I would think that this would make more sense anyway, because of the size of animals. I imagine that combining two different types of animals would make it unnecessarily difficult for the animals to do their work.

11 Thou shalt not wear a garment of divers sorts, as of woollen and linen together.

The Israelites were to wear clothing with the same material, and not to mix them at one time. Again, I do not understand why, other then possibly to stand as a reminder to remain pure.

12 Thou shalt make thee fringes upon the four quarters of thy vesture, wherewith thou coverest thyself.

They were to wear fringes on the edges of their clothing. These were a reminder of their covenants and the law.

13 If any man take a wife, and go in unto her, and hate her,
14 And give occasions of speech against her, and bring up an evil name upon her, and say, I took this woman, and when I came to her, I found her not a maid:
15 Then shall the father of the damsel, and her mother, take and bring forth the tokens of the damsel’s virginity unto the elders of the city in the gate:
16 And the damsel’s father shall say unto the elders, I gave my daughter unto this man to wife, and he hateth her;
17 And, lo, he hath given occasions of speech against her, saying, I found not thy daughter a maid; and yet these are the tokens of my daughter’s virginity. And they shall spread the cloth before the elders of the city.
18 And the elders of that city shall take that man and chastise him;
19 And they shall amerce him in an hundred shekels of silver, and give them unto the father of the damsel, because he hath brought up an evil name upon a virgin of Israel: and she shall be his wife; he may not put her away all his days.
20 But if this thing be true, and the tokens of virginity be not found for the damsel:
21 Then they shall bring out the damsel to the door of her father’s house, and the men of her city shall stone her with stones that she die: because she hath wrought folly in Israel, to play the whore in her father’s house: so shalt thou put evil away from among you.

If there was a man who married and then decided he did not love her and spoke against her to others, claiming she was not a virgin when given to her, her parents could take the tokens of her purity before marriage, to the elders. The man was to be chastised by the elders, and he would pay the parents a fine of hundred shekels of silver for the shame he tried to bring to her and her family. Then, he was to be required to keep her as his wife for the remainder of his life. If she had not been a virgin or the parents could not prove his accusations to be false, she was to be stoned at the door of her father’s house, for the sin of pretending to be a virgin.

22 If a man be found lying with a woman married to an husband, then they shall both of them die, both the man that lay with the woman, and the woman: so shalt thou put away evil from Israel.

Any person caught in an act of adultery, was to be put to death.

23 If a damsel that is a virgin be betrothed unto an husband, and a man find her in the city, and lie with her;
24 Then ye shall bring them both out unto the gate of that city, and ye shall stone them with stones that they die; the damsel, because she cried not, being in the city; and the man, because he hath humbled his neighbour’s wife: so thou shalt put away evil from among you.

A betrothed woman in Israel, was not to be any other man of her own choice. For the Israelites, a woman belonged to her future husband, just as much as she would when they eventually married. To be intimate with her, was like stealing her from her betrothed. If she was intimate with another before her marriage and did not say no to the man, then they were both to be put to death.

25 But if a man find a betrothed damsel in the field, and the man force her, and lie with her: then the man only that lay with her shall die:
26 But unto the damsel thou shalt do nothing; there is in the damsel no sin worthy of death: for as when a man riseth against his neighbour, and slayeth him, even so is this matter:
27 For he found her in the field, and the betrothed damsel cried, and there was none to save her.

If a betrothed woman was forced into acts of intimacy (raped), he was guilty of death, but the woman was not because she had committed no sin.

28 If a man find a damsel that is a virgin, which is not betrothed, and lay hold on her, and lie with her, and they be found;
29 Then the man that lay with her shall give unto the damsel’s father fifty shekels of silver, and she shall be his wife; because he hath humbled her, he may not put her away all his days.

If an unmarried and not yet betrothed woman, had her virginity taken, the man was to pay her father for her, marry her, and keep her all his days.

30 A man shall not take his father’s wife, nor discover his father’s skirt.

No man was to commit any adulterous acts with the wife of his father.

I feel like these laws, were laws that would cause the people to be a kinder people. A nation would have greater peace and happiness, if people cared more for the well-being of others. The spirit can only dwell among those who remain worthy of it. Acts of immorality, stealing, being inconsiderate of others, lying about another’s purity, and so on, would drive the spirit from their midst. We should think on these things as well. What types of acts cause us to be decent citizens and neighbors? What things could cause contention, fighting, unnecessary death, or the destruction of the body or spirit of another person? Do our acts welcome the spirit into our lives, or drive it away? I am grateful for the laws of God and even though they may seem to others to hold one back, I know that they bring happiness to all around, because they give greater freedoms and peace to everyone. I know that when we are kinder to those around us, we allow the spirit to dwell with us and influence our lives for good.

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