Laws Regarding Murder, Marriage And Delinquent Sons

World War II had ended. On September 2, 1945, General Douglas MacArthur spoke to the world from the Battleship Missouri anchored in Tokyo Bay, “Today the guns are silent ... the skies no longer rain death ... the seas bear only commerce ... men everywhere walk upright in the sunlight... More


In this portion of Scripture Moses explains various Israelite laws.  He tells how an unsolved murder is to be handled (vv. 1-9). The town nearest where the body is found is to assume the responsibility for the crime. They were to take a young heifer that had never been worked and break its neck symbolizing that the crime deserved capital punishment. The elders of the city were to wash their hands over the heifer symbolizing their innocence in the matter. This ritual demonstrated how extremely valuable God considers life.

Family laws are dealt with (vv. 10-21). First the law for a man marrying a woman captured in war was given (vv. 10-14). It is assumed that this woman would have been taken from outside the borders of Palestine because Deuteronomy 7:1-4 prohibits the marrying of a Canaanite woman. The marriage could not take place immediately. A full month had to be allowed for the captive woman to prepare psychologically for her new life as an Israelite. Also, it gave the prospective husband opportunity to observe her and reflect on his initial decision to take her as his wife. Although Polygamy was allowed, Monogamy is always the divine plan for marriage in the Old Testament (vv. 15-17). The firstborn son must always be given the double share of the father’s inheritance and never any favoritism shown to the other children. Severe punishment and even death was to be dealt to a rebellious son (vv. 18-21).


It is obvious that disobedience and rebellion in the Old Testament were never tolerated in the home or allowed to continue unchecked.  It was a very serious matter then and it needs to be a very serious matter today.

Deuteronomy 21:1-23 (English Standard Version)

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