Deuteronomy
Introduction 1-2 The Emasculated and the Illegitimate Child 3-8 Who May Not Enter the Assembly 9-14 Cleanness of the Camp 15-16 Mercy Towards an Escaped Slave 17-18 Against Cult Prostitution 19-20 Not Charge Interest to a Countryman 21-23 A Vow Must Be Performed 24-25 Taking the Fruit of One’s Neighbor
Introduction

The spirit of all the precepts given here and in the previous chapter is instructive. God deigns to take note of all these things. He also teaches His people sensitivity, courtesy, respect for others, tenderness. They are feelings that repel the roughness and drive the hardness out of the hearts.


The Emasculated and the Illegitimate Child

1“No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD. 2No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his [descendants], even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

In verses 1-141“No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.2No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his [descendants], even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.3No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their [descendants], even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD,4because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.5Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.6You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.7“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land.8The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.9“When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.10“If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp.11But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp.12“You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there,13and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement.14Since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you. we see two names for the people of God:
1. the assembly of the LORD (verses 1-81“No one who is emasculated or has his male organ cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.2No one of illegitimate birth shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of his [descendants], even to the tenth generation, shall enter the assembly of the LORD.3No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their [descendants], even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD,4because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you.5Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you.6You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days.7“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land.8The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD., six times) and
2. the camp (verses 9-149“When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.10“If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp.11But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp.12“You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there,13and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement.14Since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you., six times).

With the “assembly of the LORD” is meant the meetings of God’s people; the “camp” is about fighting and being able to do so. Both are connected with God’s presence in the midst of His people. It is about the assembly of God, not of us. If we understand this properly, it will save us from looking for ourselves. We will therefore guard the holiness of that place.

Not ”enter the assembly of the LORD” seems to refer to the meetings of God’s people to honor Him. Four categories are excluded from participation in the religious meetings of Israel. This exclusion should prevent any member of the people from entering into a connection with any of the persons mentioned.

In the case of an emasculated person, external intervention was made in the God-created nature of the reproduction of life. These are those whom the Lord Jesus speaks of, when He speaks of “eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men” (Mt 19:1212For there are eunuchs who were born that way from their mother’s womb; and there are eunuchs who were made eunuchs by men; and there are [also] eunuchs who made themselves eunuchs for the sake of the kingdom of heaven. He who is able to accept [this], let him accept [it].”). Such an act is contrary to the character of God’s people. Therefore, such a person may not be accepted as a member of God’s people.

[NB This prohibition also gives food for thought when it comes to modern means and techniques to prevent conceiving children without any medical necessity.]

The eunuch mentioned in Acts 8 is an example of the grace that goes beyond the law (Acts 8:26-3926But an angel of the Lord spoke to Philip saying, “Get up and go south to the road that descends from Jerusalem to Gaza.” (This is a desert [road].)27So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,28and he was returning and sitting in his chariot, and was reading the prophet Isaiah.29Then the Spirit said to Philip, “Go up and join this chariot.”30Philip ran up and heard him reading Isaiah the prophet, and said, “Do you understand what you are reading?”31And he said, “Well, how could I, unless someone guides me?” And he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.32Now the passage of Scripture which he was reading was this:
“HE WAS LED AS A SHEEP TO SLAUGHTER;
AND AS A LAMB BEFORE ITS SHEARER IS SILENT,
SO HE DOES NOT OPEN HIS MOUTH.
33“IN HUMILIATION HIS JUDGMENT WAS TAKEN AWAY;
WHO WILL RELATE HIS GENERATION?
FOR HIS LIFE IS REMOVED FROM THE EARTH.”
34The eunuch answered Philip and said, “Please [tell me], of whom does the prophet say this? Of himself or of someone else?”35Then Philip opened his mouth, and beginning from this Scripture he preached Jesus to him.36As they went along the road they came to some water; and the eunuch *said, “Look! Water! What prevents me from being baptized?”37<And Philip said, “If you believe with all your heart, you may.” And he answered and said, “I believe that Jesus Christ is the Son of God.”>38And he ordered the chariot to stop; and they both went down into the water, Philip as well as the eunuch, and he baptized him.39When they came up out of the water, the Spirit of the Lord snatched Philip away; and the eunuch no longer saw him, but went on his way rejoicing.
). The word “eunuch” (Acts 8:2727So he got up and went; and there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure; and he had come to Jerusalem to worship,) is literally “emasculated”, which is a castrated. Yet he is introduced into the blessing of God. Grace gives that way because grace in the work of Christ destroys the previous state (cf. Isa 56:3-53Let not the foreigner who has joined himself to the LORD say,
“The LORD will surely separate me from His people.”
Nor let the eunuch say, “Behold, I am a dry tree.”
4For thus says the LORD,
“To the eunuchs who keep My sabbaths,
And choose what pleases Me,
And hold fast My covenant,
5To them I will give in My house and within My walls a memorial,
And a name better than that of sons and daughters;
I will give them an everlasting name which will not be cut off.
).

The holiness of God never disables the grace of God, by which obstacles can be removed. Without the commandment being invalidated, people can be brought into the church of God. Grace never destroys God’s holiness, but maintains it completely. Grace unlocks a way in which God’s holiness is fulfilled. That way was opened by the Lord Jesus on the cross.

The emasculated can also be seen as someone who confesses with his lips that he is a Christian, but his life does not show it. There can be no fruit in ‘an emasculated’. He has no connection with the vine (Jn 15:44Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither [can] you unless you abide in Me.). It is often difficult to determine whether someone is an ‘emasculated’.

An illegitimate child or mongrel is someone who has been conceived in fornication. The word is found one other time in the Old Testament in Zechariah 9: “And a mongrel race will dwell in Ashdod” (Zec 9:66And a mongrel race will dwell in Ashdod,
And I will cut off the pride of the Philistines.
). The time period “the tenth generation” does not mean that the eleventh generation can be part of it. This expression should be understood as an always enduring matter. Thus the Lord Jesus says that forgiveness must be done up to “seventy times seven” (Mt 18:2222Jesus *said to him, “I do not say to you, up to seven times, but up to seventy times seven.). That is also in the sense of always.

In a spiritual sense, illegitimate children are people who do not participate in the discipline of God, because God does not know them as sons (Heb 12:88But if you are without discipline, of which all have become partakers, then you are illegitimate children and not sons.). They seem to belong to God’s people, but that is only to the eye. Inwardly there is no life from God.


Who May Not Enter the Assembly

3No Ammonite or Moabite shall enter the assembly of the LORD; none of their [descendants], even to the tenth generation, shall ever enter the assembly of the LORD, 4because they did not meet you with food and water on the way when you came out of Egypt, and because they hired against you Balaam the son of Beor from Pethor of Mesopotamia, to curse you. 5Nevertheless, the LORD your God was not willing to listen to Balaam, but the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you because the LORD your God loves you. 6You shall never seek their peace or their prosperity all your days. 7“You shall not detest an Edomite, for he is your brother; you shall not detest an Egyptian, because you were an alien in his land. 8The sons of the third generation who are born to them may enter the assembly of the LORD.

Apart from certain persons, certain peoples are also not allowed to join God’s people. The Moabites and Ammonites have a certain connection with God’s people, but in the course of their history they have proven their aversion to God’s people. On the one hand they refused the people of God the food they had asked for, and on the other they sought to curse the people of God.

As in the previous verses, there is a prohibition on the entering into the people of God of members of these peoples up to the tenth generation. That this is a prohibition forever is evident from the application of this law by Nehemiah (Neh 13:11On that day they read aloud from the book of Moses in the hearing of the people; and there was found written in it that no Ammonite or Moabite should ever enter the assembly of God,). In the time of Nehemiah, we are more than ten generations later.

God not only reminds His people of the evil treatment of these peoples. He also reminds them that He has turned the curse into a blessing. The reason for this is that He loves them. So they have not missed anything by what they have been refused and the hateful approach they have experienced. On the contrary, it gave God the opportunity to assure them of His love.

In the same way, we may also look at the conduct that some so-called brother people sometimes show with regard to the believers. Those who truly belong to the Lord will face the rejection and hatred of the nominal Christians. Moab and Ammon are family of the Israelites. There is a connection with God’s people. We can think of people who grew up in a religious family, but then turned away and even tried to bring curse upon God’s people.

But also in these peoples there are persons who, despite the prohibition, are introduced into God’s people. Ruth, the Moabitess, is a good example of this. She is an object of grace, who changes her state, without compromising holiness.

Edom and Egypt have never been part of the blessing of God’s people. Edom is about close natural relatives. With Ammon and Moab this relationship is further away. They are children of Lot, the nephew of Abraham and therefore family of Jacob, the ancestor of God’s people. Edom is a brother to the flesh. “Esau (that is Edom)” (Gen 36:11Now these are [the records of] the generations of Esau (that is, Edom).), is Jacob’s twin brother.

Edom is always the irreconcilable enemy of Israel. This can clearly be seen in the book Obadiah (Oba 1:1-211The vision of Obadiah. Thus says the Lord GOD concerning Edom—
We have heard a report from the LORD,
And an envoy has been sent among the nations [saying],
“Arise and let us go against her for battle”—
2“Behold, I will make you small among the nations;
You are greatly despised.
3“The arrogance of your heart has deceived you,
You who live in the clefts of the rock,
In the loftiness of your dwelling place,
Who say in your heart,
‘Who will bring me down to earth?’
4“Though you build high like the eagle,
Though you set your nest among the stars,
From there I will bring you down,” declares the LORD.
5“If thieves came to you,
If robbers by night—
O how you will be ruined!—
Would they not steal [only] until they had enough?
If grape gatherers came to you,
Would they not leave [some] gleanings?
6“O how Esau will be ransacked,
[And] his hidden treasures searched out!
7“All the men allied with you
Will send you forth to the border,
And the men at peace with you
Will deceive you and overpower you.
[They who eat] your bread
Will set an ambush for you.
(There is no understanding in him.)
8“Will I not on that day,” declares the LORD,
“Destroy wise men from Edom
And understanding from the mountain of Esau?
9“Then your mighty men will be dismayed, O Teman,
So that everyone may be cut off from the mountain of Esau by slaughter.
10“Because of violence to your brother Jacob,
You will be covered [with] shame,
And you will be cut off forever.
11“On the day that you stood aloof,
On the day that strangers carried off his wealth,
And foreigners entered his gate
And cast lots for Jerusalem—
You too were as one of them.
12“Do not gloat over your brother’s day,
The day of his misfortune.
And do not rejoice over the sons of Judah
In the day of their destruction;
Yes, do not boast
In the day of [their] distress.
13“Do not enter the gate of My people
In the day of their disaster.
Yes, you, do not gloat over their calamity
In the day of their disaster.
And do not loot their wealth
In the day of their disaster.
14“Do not stand at the fork of the road
To cut down their fugitives;
And do not imprison their survivors
In the day of their distress.
15“For the day of the LORD draws near on all the nations.
As you have done, it will be done to you.
Your dealings will return on your own head.
16“Because just as you drank on My holy mountain,
All the nations will drink continually.
They will drink and swallow
And become as if they had never existed.
17“But on Mount Zion there will be those who escape,
And it will be holy.
And the house of Jacob will possess their possessions.
18“Then the house of Jacob will be a fire
And the house of Joseph a flame;
But the house of Esau [will be] as stubble.
And they will set them on fire and consume them,
So that there will be no survivor of the house of Esau,”
For the LORD has spoken.
19Then [those of] the Negev will possess the mountain of Esau,
And [those of] the Shephelah the Philistine [plain];
Also, possess the territory of Ephraim and the territory of Samaria,
And Benjamin [will possess] Gilead.
20And the exiles of this host of the sons of Israel,
Who are [among] the Canaanites as far as Zarephath,
And the exiles of Jerusalem who are in Sepharad
Will possess the cities of the Negev.
21The deliverers will ascend Mount Zion
To judge the mountain of Esau,
And the kingdom will be the LORD’S.
), which is entirely devoted to Edom and his attitude towards Israel. The prophet leaves no doubt that Edom will be fully judged. But that is only after Edom has shown his perseverance in hatred towards his brother throughout his history. God will not seal the fate of a man or a people until He has tried all means to convert a people or a person. When there is no hope of conversion, He exercises His righteous judgment. Here it is not so far and the door of grace is still open for Edom.

Egypt represents the people of the world, in the midst of whom we are. Egyptians can enter, not because of the former connection or friendly act, but because of the sacrifice of Christ, His death and resurrection. The harsh treatment that the people have had to endure in Egypt is not mentioned here. Only the good things they experienced there are remembered here. We can think of the early days, when Joseph was viceroy of Egypt (Genesis 42-50).

Grandchildren are allowed to enter the people of God. The third generation does not mean the third generation after the promulgation of this law. It is counted from the time that someone from these nations starts to attach the true religion and serve the true God. Their sons are the second generation and their grandchildren are the third generation. The grandchildren are given part in the religious and social privileges of God’s people. They can take up positions and marriages.


Cleanness of the Camp

9“When you go out as an army against your enemies, you shall keep yourself from every evil thing. 10“If there is among you any man who is unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he must go outside the camp; he may not reenter the camp. 11But it shall be when evening approaches, he shall bathe himself with water, and at sundown he may reenter the camp. 12“You shall also have a place outside the camp and go out there, 13and you shall have a spade among your tools, and it shall be when you sit down outside, you shall dig with it and shall turn to cover up your excrement. 14Since the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp to deliver you and to defeat your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy; and He must not see anything indecent among you or He will turn away from you.

This is about struggle, not the struggle itself, but the equipment. Every admission of evil, even the slightest, reduces the power to fight. The power to fight lies in the presence of the LORD in their midst. When the army goes out, He goes out with them along. That is a powerful consolation, but also a matter of great seriousness. We see here that God cares about everyday things that have a negative impact on our spiritual strength, for it are “the little foxes that are ruining the vineyards” (Song 2:1515“Catch the foxes for us,
The little foxes that are ruining the vineyards,
While our vineyards are in blossom.”
).

Moses mentions two forms by which a warrior can become unclean: by a nocturnal emission, the so-called ‘wet dream’, and by a fecal matter. The warrior can’t help these two things. No blame is on him. He is not responsible for it, because they belong to the natural existence of man.

These are indeed things that make someone unclean, but they are not forms of uncleanness that arise from the will of man. We can regard them as everyday matters. It’s about what we call little things, about which you don’t worry. Yet they are forms of impurity. In order that we may remain aware that God cannot tolerate any form of impurity in His presence, Moses gives his instructions for this.


Mercy Towards an Escaped Slave

15“You shall not hand over to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16He shall live with you in your midst, in the place which he shall choose in one of your towns where it pleases him; you shall not mistreat him.

It is about a slave from a foreign land, not a countryman. The land of God is a place of refuge for such persons. David deals in this way with the Egyptian young man who fell into his hands. This boy is the slave of an Amalekite man whom David takes care of (1Sam 30:11-1511Now they found an Egyptian in the field and brought him to David, and gave him bread and he ate, and they provided him water to drink.12They gave him a piece of fig cake and two clusters of raisins, and he ate; then his spirit revived. For he had not eaten bread or drunk water for three days and three nights.13David said to him, “To whom do you belong? And where are you from?” And he said, “I am a young man of Egypt, a servant of an Amalekite; and my master left me behind when I fell sick three days ago.14We made a raid on the Negev of the Cherethites, and on that which belongs to Judah, and on the Negev of Caleb, and we burned Ziklag with fire.”15Then David said to him, “Will you bring me down to this band?” And he said, “Swear to me by God that you will not kill me or deliver me into the hands of my master, and I will bring you down to this band.”).

The assembly should be a place of warm welcome, safety and freedom of movement for people who have escaped from their hard master. The Israelites know out of experience what the service means under a hard master and what it means to be freed from it.

It must not be a flight to avoid a just sentence. Paul does send Onesimus back (Phlm 1:10-1210I appeal to you for my child Onesimus, whom I have begotten in my imprisonment,11who formerly was useless to you, but now is useful both to you and to me.12I have sent him back to you in person, that is, [sending] my very heart,) and the Angel of the LORD commands Hagar to go back to Sarah (Gen 16:99Then the angel of the LORD said to her, “Return to your mistress, and submit yourself to her authority.”). The reasons for this are different. In any case, they are not be sent back to merciless masters.


Against Cult Prostitution

17“None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, nor shall any of the sons of Israel be a cult prostitute. 18You shall not bring the hire of a harlot or the wages of a dog into the house of the LORD your God for any votive offering, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.

The prohibition of cult temple prostitution should not be necessary. That Moses mentions it, indicates that he knows the people, that they are capable of such abominations. This commandment has proved necessary, for it was later shamefully transgressed (Hos 4:1414I will not punish your daughters when they play the harlot
Or your brides when they commit adultery,
For [the men] themselves go apart with harlots
And offer sacrifices with temple prostitutes;
So the people without understanding are ruined.
; 2Kgs 23:77He also broke down the houses of the [male] cult prostitutes which [were] in the house of the LORD, where the women were weaving hangings for the Asherah.; Mic 1:77All of her idols will be smashed,
All of her earnings will be burned with fire
And all of her images I will make desolate,
For she collected [them] from a harlot’s earnings,
And to the earnings of a harlot they will return.
). This concerns both male and female prostitutes. The word for male prostitute is ‘dog’ and is used figuratively here in the expression “wages of a dog” (cf. Rev 22:1515Outside are the dogs and the sorcerers and the immoral persons and the murderers and the idolaters, and everyone who loves and practices lying.).

God absolutely does not want any sacrifice from such people. It is “an abomination” to Him (cf. Pro 15:88The sacrifice of the wicked is an abomination to the LORD,
But the prayer of the upright is His delight.
). Such persons even dare paying certain vows with money obtained in this shameful way. In their own eyes it also gives them some kind of approval to continue their sinful business (Pro 7:14-1514“I was due to offer peace offerings;
Today I have paid my vows.
15“Therefore I have come out to meet you,
To seek your presence earnestly, and I have found you.
). But God cannot accept anything that puts penance and repentance aside.

We can only honor God with sacrifices that we have obtained in an honest and honorable way. So it’s not only about what we give, but to God it also is important how we acquired it.


Not Charge Interest to a Countryman

19“You shall not charge interest to your countrymen: interest on money, food, [or] anything that may be loaned at interest. 20You may charge interest to a foreigner, but to your countrymen you shall not charge interest, so that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land which you are about to enter to possess.

Moses forbids taking interest of a countryman. The brother who has to borrow money has become poor and is in great need. He does not lend money to afford more luxury, but to stay alive. Requiring such a person to pay interest only makes his situation worse. Whoever does so, reveals a greed for money. A stranger may be charged interest. Such a person borrows for business purposes, not to stay alive.


A Vow Must Be Performed

21“When you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay to pay it, for it would be sin in you, and the LORD your God will surely require it of you. 22However, if you refrain from vowing, it would not be sin in you. 23You shall be careful to perform what goes out from your lips, just as you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God, what you have promised.

Making vows is taken seriously. We should be careful not to make reckless statements (Pro 20:2525It is a trap for a man to say rashly, “It is holy!”
And after the vows to make inquiry.
; Ecc 5:4-54When you make a vow to God, do not be late in paying it; for [He takes] no delight in fools. Pay what you vow!5It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.). It is also good to think when singing songs of dedication, in which we promise to live completely for the Lord. We should not sing such a thing thoughtlessly, but consciously. At the same time there will be a prayer for the Lord’s help in making it happen. A vow must be performed.


Taking the Fruit of One’s Neighbor

24“When you enter your neighbor’s vineyard, then you may eat grapes until you are fully satisfied, but you shall not put any in your basket. 25“When you enter your neighbor’s standing grain, then you may pluck the heads with your hand, but you shall not wield a sickle in your neighbor’s standing grain.

This law indicates that there will be an abundance of wine and grain in Canaan. The little bit taken and enjoyed by someone, will not be missed by the owner at that abundance. This law provides help and support, for example, for poor travelers who can be strengthened and refreshed by it. The disciples of the Lord Jesus make use of this ordinance (Mt 12:11At that time Jesus went through the grainfields on the Sabbath, and His disciples became hungry and began to pick the heads [of grain] and eat.). They are not reprimanded by the Pharisees because they do it, but because they do it on a sabbath. According to their homemade laws, this is forbidden, but not by God’s law.

God wants His people to be a giving people. He wants them to learn not to stand on the right of possession, but to grant others of the abundance. It is a proof of hospitality. It teaches us to be sharing. What we give away is not lost, but will increase gratitude. At the same time, care is taken to ensure that this sharing is not abused. When giving a finger, not the whole hand should be taken.

The vineyard speaks of the joy in the heavenly land. The grain speaks of the Lord Jesus as the food of the land. Everyone has his own joy in the fellowship with God and receives personal strength by being engaged with the Lord Jesus.

We may also enjoy each other and build each other up in what the Lord has given to another. However, this must be done with due caution. We may enjoy and be built upon what others have written, but it should not just be repeated by us when we pass it on to others. It must first be processed by ourselves and put into practice. If we only repeat what others have discovered in the Word of God, we have been busy with the basket and sickle on the field of the other.

We may use what someone else has written, but we must do it in the right way. For example, when preparing for a ministry, we should not quickly go through a commentary and then pass on what we quickly read. It must first become a fruit of our own vineyard by processing it in our own heart with the Lord. Then it has become our property and we can pass on what we enjoyed ourselves and by which we are built up.


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