Deuteronomy Chapter 24

Moses, under the direction of the Lord, was at this point, repeating and renewing the laws of the Lord for the Israelites. He had already covered many things that they needed to know in order to be worthy to live with the Lord among them, as well as many that would keep them a happy and prosperous people. One of the things of importance, was how their relationships should be treated, especially in marriage and family. His sermon continues with the following:

1 When a man hath taken a wife, and married her, and it come to pass that she find no favour in his eyes, because he hath found some uncleanness in her: then let him write her a bill of divorcement, and give it in her hand, and send her out of his house.
2 And when she is departed out of his house, she may go and be another man’s wife.
3 And if the latter husband hate her, and write her a bill of divorcement, and giveth it in her hand, and sendeth her out of his house; or if the latter husband die, which took her to be his wife;
4 Her former husband, which sent her away, may not take her again to be his wife, after that she is defiled; for that is abomination before the Lord: and thou shalt not cause the land to sin, which the Lord thy God giveth thee for an inheritance.

The law of divorcement is given here. If a man found his new wife to be unclean, or unchaste, he could divorce her and send her on her way, free from any tie to that man. If she remarried, and then was divorced again or became a widow, the first husband was not to take her as his wife again.

5 When a man hath taken a new wife, he shall not go out to war, neither shall he be charged with any business: but he shall be free at home one year, and shall cheer up his wife which he hath taken.

A newly married man, was not to go to war or business that would take him away from his wife, for the first year of their marriage. There is great importance in a happy and loving marriage, and there is something to be said of a marriage that starts off as a priority for that man and his wife.

6 No man shall take the nether or the upper millstone to pledge: for he taketh a man’s life to pledge.

I am not sure if I understand this completely, but I think that when the people made pledges or promises to one another, they would give something as a token of that pledge. The Israelites were not to take the parts of a millstone as a pledge token, either the upper or lower stone, because these were necessary parts of a tool for grinding grain. An individual needed this tool to be able to sustain himself and his family. I think that it meant that they were not to take something that was used as a life-sustaining tool, because it was as if they took the man’s life as the token of the pledge.

7 If a man be found stealing any of his brethren of the children of Israel, and maketh merchandise of him, or selleth him; then that thief shall die; and thou shalt put evil away from among you.

The Israelites were not to make slaves of each other for profit. They may have had slaves of other nations, though I am not sure on that, and they had Israelites who became their servants, but they were not to make their fellow Israelites into property to be sold. The act of selling their brothers as slaves, was a sin worthy of death. I can’t help but think of Joseph of the twelve tribes and how his brothers sold him into slavery to be rid of him, which was a big part of Israelite history, and would have been strictly forbidden by the Mosaic law, which came over 400 years later.

8 Take heed in the plague of leprosy, that thou observe diligently, and do according to all that the priests the Levites shall teach you: as I commanded them, so ye shall observe to do.
9 Remember what the Lord thy God did unto Miriam by the way, after that ye were come forth out of Egypt.

They had been given strict laws and customs with regard to those who had leprosy. In order for their nation to continue to thrive, they needed to be diligent in following those things. They were reminded here, that the Lord could give and take away, when it came to leprosy, just as had been done to Miriam, the sister of Moses, during their journey in the wilderness.

10 When thou dost lend thy brother any thing, thou shalt not go into his house to fetch his pledge.
11 Thou shalt stand abroad, and the man to whom thou dost lend shall bring out the pledge abroad unto thee.
12 And if the man be poor, thou shalt not sleep with his pledge:
13 In any case thou shalt deliver him the pledge again when the sun goeth down, that he may sleep in his own raiment, and bless thee: and it shall be righteousness unto thee before the Lord thy God.

When others borrowed from them, they were to let them give their own pledge, or token, and were not to go into their homes searching for them. Those that had little, were not to have their pledges kept from them overnight. Probably because they would have needed that thing in order to get by, especially if the pledge was part of his raiment, or his clothing.

14 Thou shalt not oppress an hired servant that is poor and needy, whether he be of thy brethren, or of thy strangers that are in thy land within thy gates:
15 At his day thou shalt give him his hire, neither shall the sun go down upon it; for he is poor, and setteth his heart upon it: lest he cry against thee unto the Lord, and it be sin unto thee.
16 The fathers shall not be put to death for the children, neither shall the children be put to death for the fathers: every man shall be put to death for his own sin.

There was to be no oppression of their servants. When he was due pay, they were to give it, or be held accountable for the prayers to God from that servant. I think that servants were usually paid on a daily basis, depending on the work they did, so at the end of a days work, they were to be given the payment they had worked for. Also, men were to be held accountable for their own sin. If a man sinned worthy of death or another punishment, his children would not be held accountable, or vice versa. This idea of holding anything against the family, was reserved for the curses of the Lord, who sometimes would promise a curse upon the generations of the wicked if they did not repent. I think this would only be acceptable of the Lord, because God alone can know and judge the posterity or the family of men.

17 Thou shalt not pervert the judgment of the stranger, nor of the fatherless; nor take a widow’s raiment to pledge:
18 But thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in Egypt, and the Lord thy God redeemed thee thence: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

They were not to take advantage of strangers, and especially those in need. They were instead, to remember, that they had once been slaves in need of deliverance, and the Lord had provided for them. They were commanded to do likewise and deal justly with all people.

19 When thou cuttest down thine harvest in thy field, and hast forgot a sheaf in the field, thou shalt not go again to fetch it: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow: that the Lord thy God may bless thee in all the work of thine hands.
20 When thou beatest thine olive tree, thou shalt not go over the boughs again: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
21 When thou gatherest the grapes of thy vineyard, thou shalt not glean it afterward: it shall be for the stranger, for the fatherless, and for the widow.
22 And thou shalt remember that thou wast a bondman in the land of Egypt: therefore I command thee to do this thing.

Any parts of their fields, that were missed during harvest, were to be left for gleaning. Those who were poor and in need, had allowance from the Lord, to glean crops from the fields. The owners of the fields, were told to remember their situation in Egypt, when they were strangers in the land, but given the things that they needed.

A lot of this chapter seems to have been about the importance of treating others with kindness. Treating others with a decent amount of respect makes a nation stronger. It is so important for us to give to others what they are due, to help those in need, and to be sure we don’t take advantage of others. I think that everyone experiences times of need, physical or spiritual. We should remember those times and recognize the Lord has provided for us, often through the helping hand of others. If we desire to be active and true disciples of Jesus Christ, we need to extend our kindness to our neighbors and strangers. It is a commandment, that we love others as we do ourselves (see Matthew 22:36-40). We would not want to be treated unkindly, to be taken advantage of, or left without any help in our own moments of need. Others do not want these things for themselves, either. A happier and more prosperous people would be found, if we would remember how the Savior wants us treat one another.

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