Sunday, March 28, 2010

Deuteronomy, Chapters 23-25

Chapter 23

Men with injured testicles or whose penises have been cut off may not worship in the temple. Further, bastards are not allowed in, even unto the 10th generation. Is there anyone in the entire world who doesn't have at least one great-great-great-great grandparent who was illegitimate? I think not. Ammonites and Moabites can't join the congregation for 10 generations, though according to Jerry Falwell, that prohibition only applies to men. Women can marry Israelites and convert. Of course. Edomites and Egyptians can join after 3.

People who have 'nocturnal emissions' are unclean and have to leave the camp until sundown, at which point they can take a shower and come home. So boys between the ages of 12 and oh, 62, pretty much lived in the fields then.

If you get, uh, caught short away from home and have to improvise a field toilet, for god's sake, dig a hole and cover it up when you're finished. This one I happen to agree with, though not for the reason given in the book, which is that god will be walking around and doesn't want to get his shoes dirty. I'm more concerned about my own shoes.

If an escaped slave comes to your village, you should not give him back to his master, but rather should let him live where he likes.

Israelites may not become prostitutes or engage in homosexual sex. Nor shall male or female prostitutes tithe their wages to the church. Jerry is silent on this, which I find odd.

Next, usury is banned. Well, only among Israelites. Charging strangers interest is fine. If only evangelical Christians would pay attention to this one, and try to get payday loan services banned, rather than focus on the verse above it.

Keep your promises.

Finally, a note on hospitality: when in your neighbour's vineyard, you can eat enough grapes to satisfy yourself, but you can't put some in a doggie bag. Same with his corn.

Chapter 24

If you get married, then divorce your wife, then she marries another dude, then divorces him, you can't get remarried. Apparently, the governor of Indiana, Mitch Daniels, a committed Christian, did exactly this, to the sounds of crickets chirping from evangelicals.

Newlywed men cannot be drafted into the army for a year.

No taking the upper or lower millstone for a debt security, because that's taking a man's livelihood.

People who steal slaves and sell them on are to be put to death.

Remember the laws on leprosy, and what happened to Miriam (struck with the disease for accusing Moses of breaking god's laws on intermarriage, which he did.)

When collecting a debt, no going inside the debtor's house, it should be done in the open.

Be nice to the poor and pay your workers on time.

Now apparently fathers can't be punished for the sins of their children, nor can children be punished for the sins of their father. Never mind all those seven verses we've already read, including one in the last chapter that say the exact opposite.

Then another reminder to be nice to widows and orphans, and when you harvest, to let them scavenge the fields.

Chapter 25

Beatings: it's not quite the law of the jungle, but it isn't quite civilised, either. If two men get into a dispute they can take it to a judge. If one is deemed guilty, the judge can order up to 40 lashes, depending on the crime.

Let animals eat while they work.

If a man gets married, then dies without issue, his brother must then marry his wife. Their first son will take the father's name so it doesn't die out. If the brother refuses, the wife can report him to the priests. The priests can then call him before them, and if he admits it, the wife can then loosen his shoe and spit in his face, and his clan will then be known as the house of him that hath his shoe loosed (v. 10).

Next, brawling: if two men are brawling and one's wife interferes and grabs the other by the testicles, à la Jerry Springer, her hand will be cut off.

How can you even take any of this out of context? There is no context. Right after hand-chopping, there are a few verses about using fair weights and measures, then the chapter segues immediately into avenging themselves on the Amalekites. The end for today.

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