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A Law about Divorce

Moses said to Israel:

24 Suppose a woman was divorced by her first husband because he found something disgraceful about her.[a] He wrote out divorce papers, gave them to her, and sent her away. Later she married another man, who then either divorced her in the same way or died. Since she has slept with her second husband, she cannot marry her first husband again. Their marriage would pollute the land that the Lord your God is giving you, and he would be disgusted.

Newlyweds

Moses said to Israel:

If a man and a woman have been married less than one year, he must not be sent off to war or sent away to do forced labor. He must be allowed to stay home for a year and be happy with his wife.

Loans

Moses said to Israel:

When you lend money to people, you are allowed to keep something of theirs as a guarantee that they will pay back the loan. But don’t take one or both of their millstones, or else they may starve. They need these stones for grinding grain into flour to make bread.

Kidnapping

Moses said to Israel:

If you are guilty of kidnapping Israelites and forcing them into slavery, you will be put to death to remove this evil from the community.

Skin Diseases

Moses said to Israel:

I have told the priests[b] what to do if any of you have leprosy,[c] so do exactly what they say. And remember what the Lord your God did to Miriam[d] after you left Egypt.

Loans

Moses said to Israel:

10 When you lend money to people, you are allowed to keep something of theirs as a guarantee that the money will be paid back. But you must not go into their house to get it. 11 Wait outside, and they will bring out the item you have agreed on.

12 Suppose someone is so poor that a coat is the only thing that can be offered as a guarantee on a loan. Don’t keep the coat overnight. 13 Instead, give it back before sunset, so the owner can keep warm and sleep and ask the Lord to bless you. Then the Lord your God will notice that you have done the right thing.

Poor People’s Wages

Moses said:

14 If you hire poor people to work for you, don’t hold back their pay,[e] whether they are Israelites or foreigners who live in your town. 15 Pay them their wages at the end of each day, because they live in poverty and need the money to survive. If you don’t pay them on time, they will complain about you to the Lord, and he will punish you.

The Death Penalty

Moses said to Israel:

16 Parents must not be put to death for crimes committed by their children, and children must not be put to death for crimes committed by their parents. Don’t put anyone to death for someone else’s crime.

Don’t Mistreat the Powerless

Moses said to Israel:

17 Make sure that orphans and foreigners are treated fairly. And if you lend money to a widow and want to keep something of hers to guarantee that she will pay you back, don’t take any of her clothes. 18 You were slaves in Egypt until the Lord your God rescued you. That’s why I am giving you these laws.

Leave Some of Your Harvest for the Poor

Moses said to Israel:

19 If you forget to bring in a stack of harvested grain, don’t go back in the field to get it. Leave it for the poor, including foreigners, orphans, and widows, and the Lord will make you successful in everything you do.

20 When you harvest your olives, don’t try to get them all for yourself, but leave some for the poor. 21 And when you pick your grapes, go over the vines only once, then let the poor have what is left. 22 You lived in poverty as slaves in Egypt until the Lord your God rescued you. That’s why I am giving you these laws.

Whipping as Punishment for a Crime

Moses said to Israel:

25 1-2 Suppose you and someone else each accuse the other of doing something wrong, and you go to court, where the judges decide you are guilty. If your punishment is to be beaten with a whip,[f] one of the judges will order you to lie down, and you will receive the number of lashes you deserve. Forty lashes is the most that you can be given, because more than that might make other Israelites think you are worthless.

Don’t Muzzle an Ox

Moses said to Israel:

Don’t muzzle an ox while it is threshing grain.[g]

A Son for a Dead Brother

Moses said to Israel:

5-6 Suppose two brothers are living on the same property, when one of them dies without having a son to carry on his name. If this happens, his widow must not marry anyone outside the family. Instead, she must marry her late husband’s brother, and their first son will be the legal son of the dead man.

But suppose the brother refuses to marry the widow. She must go to a meeting of the town leaders at the town gate and say, “My husband died without having a son to carry on his name. And my husband’s brother refuses to marry me so I can have a son.”

The leaders will call the living brother to the town gate and try to persuade him to marry the widow. But if he doesn’t change his mind and marry her, she must go over to him while the town leaders watch. She will pull off one of his sandals and spit in his face, while saying, “That’s what happens to a man who won’t help provide descendants for his dead brother.” 10 From then on, that man’s family will be known as “the family of the man whose sandal was pulled off.”

When Two Men Fight

Moses said to Israel:

11 If two men are fighting, and the wife of one man tries to rescue her husband by grabbing the other man’s private parts, 12 you must cut off her hand. Don’t have any mercy.

Be Honest in Business

Moses said to Israel:

13-14 Don’t try to cheat people by having two sets of weights or measures, one to get more when you are buying, and the other to give less when you are selling. 15 If you weigh and measure things honestly, the Lord your God will let you enjoy a long life in the land he is giving you. 16 But the Lord is disgusted with anyone who cheats or is dishonest.

Wipe Out Amalek

Moses said:

17 People of Israel, do you remember what the Amalekites did to you after you came out of Egypt? 18 You were tired, and they followed along behind, attacking those who could not keep up with the others. This showed that the Amalekites have no respect for God.

19 The Lord your God will help you capture the land, and he will give you peace. But when that day comes, you must wipe out Amalek so completely that no one will remember they ever lived.

Give the Lord the First Part of Your Harvest

Moses said to Israel:

26 The Lord is giving you the land, and soon you will conquer it, settle down, and plant crops. And when you begin harvesting each of your crops, the very first things you pick must be put in a basket. Take them to the place where the Lord your God chooses to be worshiped, and tell the priest, “Long ago the Lord our God promised our ancestors that he would give us this land. And today, I thank him for keeping his promise and giving me a share of the land.”

The priest will take the basket and set it in front of the Lord’s altar. Then, standing there in front of the place of worship, you must pray:

My ancestor was homeless,
an Aramean who went to live
    in Egypt.
There were only a few
    in his family then,
but they became great
and powerful,
    a nation of many people.

The Egyptians were cruel
    and had no pity on us.
They mistreated our people
    and forced us into slavery.
We called out for help
to you,
the Lord God
    of our ancestors.
You heard our cries;
you knew we were in trouble
    and abused.
Then you terrified the Egyptians
with your mighty miracles
    and rescued us from Egypt.
You brought us here
and gave us this land
    rich with milk and honey.
10 Now, Lord, I bring to you
the best of the crops
    that you have given me.

After you say these things, place the basket in front of the Lord’s altar and bow down to worship him.

11 Then you and your family must celebrate by eating a meal at the place of worship to thank the Lord your God for giving you such a good harvest. And remember to invite the Levites and the foreigners who live in your town.

Ten Percent of the Harvest

Moses said to Israel:

12 Every year you are to give ten percent of your harvest to the Lord.[h] But every third year,[i] this ten percent must be given to the poor who live in your town, including Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows. That way, they will have enough to eat. 13 Then you must pray:

Our Lord and our God, you have said that ten percent of my harvest is sacred. I have obeyed your command and given this to the poor, including the Levites, foreigners, orphans, and widows.

14 I have not eaten any of this sacred food while I was in mourning; in fact, I never touched it when I was unclean.[j] And none of it has been offered as a sacrifice to the spirits of the dead. I have done everything exactly as you commanded.

15 Our Lord, look down from your temple in heaven and bless your people Israel. You promised our ancestors that you would give us this land rich with milk and honey, and you have kept your promise.

The Lord Is Your God, and You Are His People

Moses said to Israel:

16 Today the Lord your God has commanded you to obey these laws and teachings with all your heart and soul.

17 In response, you have agreed that the Lord will be your God, that you will obey all his laws and teachings, and that you will listen when he speaks to you.

18 Since you have agreed to obey the Lord, he has agreed that you will be his people and that you will belong to him, just as he promised. 19 The Lord created all nations, but he will make you more famous than any of them, and you will receive more praise and honor. You will belong only to the Lord your God, just as he promised.

Build an Altar on Mount Ebal

27 Moses stood together with the leaders and told the people of Israel:

Obey all the laws and teachings that I am giving you today. 2-4 Soon you will enter the land that the Lord your God is giving to you. He is the God your ancestors worshiped, and he has promised that this land is rich with milk and honey.

After you cross the Jordan River, go to Mount Ebal. Set up large slabs of stone, then cover them with white plaster and write on them a copy of these laws.

At this same place, build an altar for offering sacrifices to the Lord your God. But don’t use stones that have been cut with iron tools. Look for stones that can be used without being cut. Then offer sacrifices to please the Lord,[k] burning them completely on the altar. Next, offer sacrifices to ask the Lord’s blessing,[l] and serve the meat at a sacred meal where you will celebrate in honor of the Lord.

Don’t forget to write out a copy of these laws on the stone slabs that you are going to set up. Make sure that the writing is easy to read.

Curses on Those Who Disobey

Moses stood together with the priests[m] and said, “Israel, be quiet and listen to me! Today you have become the people of the Lord your God.[n] 10 So you must obey his laws and teachings that I am giving you.”

11 That same day, Moses gave them the following instructions:

12-13 After you cross the Jordan River, you will go to Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal.[o] The tribes of Simeon, Levi, Judah, Issachar, Ephraim, Manasseh,[p] and Benjamin will go up on Mount Gerizim, where they will bless the people of Israel. The tribes of Reuben, Gad, Asher, Zebulun, Dan, and Naphtali will go up on Mount Ebal where they will agree to the curses.

14-26 The people of the Levi tribe will speak each curse in a loud voice, then the rest of the people[q] will agree to that curse by saying, “Amen!” Here are the curses:

We ask the Lord to put a curse on anyone who makes an idol or worships idols, even secretly. The Lord is disgusted with idols.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on all who do not show respect for their father and mother.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on anyone who moves the rocks that mark property lines.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on anyone who tells blind people to go the wrong way.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on anyone who keeps the poor from getting justice, whether these poor are foreigners, widows, or orphans.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on any man who sleeps with his father’s wife; that man has shown no respect for his father’s marriage.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on anyone who has sex with an animal.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on any man who sleeps with his sister or his half sister or his mother-in-law.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on anyone who commits murder, even when there are no witnesses to the crime.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on anyone who accepts money to murder an innocent victim.

We ask the Lord to put a curse on anyone who refuses to obey his laws.

And so, to each of these curses, the people will answer, “Amen!”

Footnotes

  1. 24.1 something disgraceful about her: One possible meaning for the difficult Hebrew text.
  2. 24.8 the priests: See the note at 17.8-12.
  3. 24.8 leprosy: The word “leprosy” was used for many different kinds of skin diseases.
  4. 24.9 what the Lord your God did to Miriam: See Numbers 12.1-16.
  5. 24.14 don’t hold back their pay: The Dead Sea Scrolls; the Standard Hebrew Text “treat them right.”
  6. 25.1,2 whip: Or “rod.”
  7. 25.4 threshing grain: Oxen were used at the threshing place to walk on heads of grain, or pull heavy slabs of wood over it, to separate the kernels from the husks.
  8. 26.12 Every year. . . Lord: See 14.22-29.
  9. 26.12 every third year: Probably the third and sixth years of the seven-year cycle described in 15.1-11 and Leviticus 25.1-7.
  10. 26.14 in mourning. . . unclean: Touching a dead body made a person unclean and unfit to worship God. Ten percent of the harvest belonged to God, and was not to be touched by an unclean person.
  11. 27.6 sacrifices to please the Lord: See the note at 12.5-19.
  12. 27.7 sacrifices to ask the Lord’s blessing: These sacrifices have traditionally been called “peace offerings” or “offerings of well-being.” A main purpose was to ask for the Lord’s blessing, and so in the CEV they are sometimes called “sacrifices to ask the Lord’s blessing.”
  13. 27.9 priests: See the note at 17.8-12.
  14. 27.9 Today you have become the people of the Lord your God: As a result of the agreement that the Lord had made with them, recorded in 26.16-19.
  15. 27.12,13 Mount Gerizim and Mount Ebal: These mountains were separated by a valley.
  16. 27.12,13 Ephraim, Manasseh: The Hebrew text has “Joseph” ; the descendants of Joseph formed the two tribes of Ephraim and Manasseh.
  17. 27.14-26 the rest of the people: Or “all the people who are standing on Mount Ebal.”