The Old Testament Law series (post #4)
This post will finish up our short series on the Old Testament law. I make no claims that the series has been particularly thorough, but I trust that I’ve at least provided some help in understanding what is surely a complex subject. To finish things up, all I want to do is list some selected rules and commands from the law. Since I’ve already devoted a post to the different kinds of sacrifices the law required, I won’t recover any of that ground. My hope is that these diverse selections will give you a good taste of the kinds of subjects the law addressed and how it addressed them.
- One Jew could purchase another Jew as a servant for six years, but the servant went free in the seventh year. If the servant was married and had children when his service began, his wife and kids were set free as well. But if the servant had been given a wife by his owner, and if that union had produced children, the wife and kids had to remain with the owner. In such an instance the servant could choose to remain with the owner for life and keep living with the wife and kids (Exodus 21:1-6).
- If a Jew owned a servant and struck the servant in such a way as to put out the servant’s eye or knock out one of his teeth, the owner had to set the servant free (Exodus 21:26-27).
- If an ox gored a man or woman to death, the ox had to be stoned to death and its body burned. The owner was considered guiltless. If, however, the ox had previously shown a tendency to thrust, and the owner knew this and didn’t keep the animal pinned up, he was to be put to death as well. In some instances, though, he could pay a fine of restitution to the victim’s family and have his life spared. In all cases, the ox was to be killed (Exodus 21:28-32).
- Bestiality was associated with idolatry in ancient times, and any Jew who was caught having sex with an animal was to be put to death (Exodus 22:19-20).
- The Jews could sow and work the land for six years. But the seventh year was to be a year of rest for the land. It was the land’s Sabbath (Exodus 23:10-11).
- If a man had an emission of semen, he was to wash his body and consider himself unclean until evening. If a man and a woman had sex and there was an emission of semen, both were to bathe and be considered unclean until evening (Leviticus 15:16-18).
- Incestual sex, homosexual sex, and adultery were death-penalty offenses (Leviticus 18:1-22).
- Every 50th year was a Year of Jubilee. At the start of this year, all debts were to be canceled, all prisoners and captives were to be set free, and all property was to be returned to its original owners. All Jews were to abstain from working during this year, and the land was to be given a year of rest (Leviticus 25:8-17).
- A Jew could lend money to a fellow Jew, but he could not charge him interest on the loan (Leviticus 25:35-37).
- If a Jewish male died without a son, the inheritance went to the man’s daughter. If he had no daughter, it went to the man’s brothers. If he had no brothers, it went to his father’s brothers. If his father had no brothers, it went to the closest relative (Numbers 27:6-11).
- If a Jewish man made a vow or swore an oath, he had to do according to his word. If a young woman who was still living in her father’s house made a vow or entered into an agreement, the father could overrule her but only if he did so immediately. If he let the matter ride, the vow or the agreement stood (Numbers 30:1-5).
- The Jews could eat oxen, sheep, goats, deer, gazelles, and antelopes. They were forbidden from eating camels, hares, and swine. They could eat water creatures that had fins or scales, but they could not eat water creatures that didn’t have fins or scales (crabs, lobsters, shrimp, etc.). They could eat many birds, but they could not eat birds of prey (eagles, vultures, buzzards, falcons, ravens, etc.) (Deuteronomy 14:3-20).
- A newlywed Jew was not to go out to war or be charged with any business for the first year of the marriage (Deuteronomy 24:5).
- If two Jewish men got into a fight, and the wife of one grabbed the opponent by his genitals, her hand was to be cut off (Deuteronomy 25:11-12).
- The Jews could not sow two types of seed in the same field, plow with an ox and a donkey in an unequal yoke, or wear garments that were wool and linen mixed together (Deuteronomy 22:9-11).
Now, before you classify some of these laws as crazy or weird, let me remind you that all of these were nothing less than THE WORD OF GOD for the Jewish people for centuries. So, before you start criticizing, you’d best remember who it is you are criticizing. I myself don’t fully understand the reasons why God built certain rules into the Old Testament law, but I’m smart enough to know that I’m not smart enough to figure out His mind. Also, I know that when God tells you to do something, He isn’t always looking for understanding on your part. What He is looking for is obedience. That applied to ancient Israel’s keeping of the law, and it applies to us today anytime He speaks.