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The next group of laws deals generally with the theme of property: what to do with livestock (whether it’s yours or someone else’s), what kind of clothes to make and wear, how to build a house, how to grow crops. But this theme is defined so broadly to embrace all these laws that they are likely also gathered together by the same mnemonic principle as the previous group.

22 Moses: If you see your neighbor’s ox or sheep wandering away, don’t ignore it. Bring the animal back to its owner. If the owner lives far from you, or if you don’t know whose animal it is, bring it back to your house and take care of it until the owner comes looking for it, and then return it to the Israelite. Do the same thing with a donkey or a garment or anything else a neighbor might lose. If you find it, don’t ignore it; take care of it until the owner comes looking for it. If you see your neighbor’s donkey or ox has fallen down in the roadway, don’t ignore it. Help that person get the animal back on its feet.

A woman must not wear men’s clothing, and men must not put on women’s garments. The Eternal your God is horrified when anyone does this.

If you come across a bird’s nest by the road, either in a tree or on the ground, and there are baby chicks or eggs in the nest and the mother bird is keeping them warm, don’t take the mother with them. You must let the mother go, but you may take the chicks or eggs for yourself. If you do this, God will bless you; everything will go well with you, and you’ll live a long time.

When you build a new house, make sure you put a low wall around the edge of the roof so that no one will fall off and be killed. That way there will be no bloodguilt on your house as a result of your negligence.

Whether it be home construction, dietary practices and food preparation, or farming and livestock, Israelite customs should reflect the correct order and division of humans, animals, and plants. Further, all practice should encourage life, and not death.

Moses: Don’t plant your vineyard with two kinds of seed. If you do, everything that grows there will not be pure, both what grows from the seeds and what grows on the vines. 10 Don’t plow with an ox and a donkey yoked together. 11 Don’t wear any material made of both wool and linen.

12 Make tassels for the four corners of the cloak you wear, as a reminder of God’s instructions.

The laws in the next group all address cases where sexual relations may have taken place outside of lawful marriage. This is considered not just immoral but also a threat to a foundational institution of Israelite society—the family. Sexual indiscretion is therefore punished with execution, in order to remove the threat from the midst of the community. In a context where a rival pagan value system exerts a constant push away from the pattern of life God outlined, such bold consequences are necessary to keep the nation on track while forming this new type of society.

Moses: 13 What if a man marries a woman and has sexual relations with her, but he ends up hating her, 14 falsely accuses her of shameful things, and slanders her publicly, saying, “I married this woman, but then I discovered she wasn’t a virgin”? 15 If this happens, the girl’s father and mother can clear her name by providing evidence of her virginity to the elders in a legal proceeding at the city gate. 16 The girl’s father may tell the elders, “I gave my daughter to this man as his wife. But now he dislikes her 17 and has falsely accused her, telling me, ‘I found out your daughter wasn’t a virgin!’ But here is the evidence of my daughter’s virginity.” If the parents can provide the evidence by spreading out the cloth for the elders to see, 18 the city elders must punish the husband. He is to be beaten 19 and then fined two and a half pounds of silver, twice the amount of the bride price he paid before the marriage, which will be given to the girl’s father because this man publicly slandered one of Israel’s virgins. He can’t ever divorce her after this; he has to keep her as his wife. 20 But if the charge is true, and the girl wasn’t a virgin, 21 then bring her to the door of her father’s house. There the people of her city will stone her to death because she did something no Israelite should ever do: she was a fornicator while she was living in her father’s house! Expel the wicked from your own community.[a]

22 If it’s discovered that a man has been having sexual relations with a married woman, both the man and the woman must be put to death. Expel the wicked from Israel this way.

23 What if a man meets a girl who’s a virgin but who’s engaged to someone else, and he has sexual relations with her? If this happens in the city, 24 bring them both out to the gate of that city where the public will stone them to death: the girl, because she was in the city and could have cried for help but didn’t, meaning she consented; and the man, because he violated another man’s wife. Expel the wicked from your community this way. 25 But if this happens out in the country—if a man finds an engaged girl out there and overpowers and rapes her—then only the man must die. 26-27 But don’t do anything to the girl; she did nothing wrong and doesn’t deserve to die. When this man came after her, she cried for help, but no one was there to respond. She’s as innocent as the victim of a sudden murderous attack—there was nothing she could do.

28 If a man meets a girl who’s a virgin and who isn’t engaged to someone else, and he forces himself on her, when what he’s done is discovered, 29 he must pay 20 ounces of silver to her father as a bride price, and she will become his wife. He can’t ever divorce her after this because he’s dishonored her.

By marrying her, the rapist ensures she will be cared for during her lifetime because no other man would marry a woman who isn’t a virgin—even under such circumstances.

30 A man is not allowed to marry a woman who was once married to his father. He must respect the privacy and dignity of his father’s intimate relations with his wife.

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