1663.) Deuteronomy 23

Consider this chapter to be by-laws for the compassionate and caring community that God is developing.

Consider this chapter to be by-laws for the compassionate and caring community that God is developing.

Deuteronomy 23 (English Standard Version)

Those Excluded from the Assembly

1“No one whose testicles are crushed or whose male organ is cut off shall enter the assembly of the LORD.

How can we read this and not think of John Wayne Bobbitt? His wife cut off his “male organ” during a marital argument.  A few months later, they were divorced (surprise!).

2 “No one born of a forbidden union may enter the assembly of the LORD. Even to the tenth generation, none of his descendants may enter the assembly of the LORD.

Some later Jewish writers defined this as someone who was born of an incestuous relationship between Jews; others said it refers to those born of mixed marriages between the people of Israel and their pagan neighbors (as in Nehemiah 13:23).

–David Guzik

3 “No Ammonite or Moabite may enter the assembly of the LORD.

The Moabites and the Ammonites not only treated Israel cruelly on their way to the Promised Land, but also they were a people from a “forbidden union.” Moab and Ammon were the two sons born to the daughters of Lot through their incest with their father (Genesis 19:30-38).

Even to the tenth generation, none of them may enter the assembly of the LORD forever, 4 because they did not meet you with bread and with 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. 5But the LORD your God would not listen to Balaam; instead the LORD your God turned the curse into a blessing for you, because the LORD your God loved you. 6You shall not seek their peace or their prosperity all your days forever.

7“You shall not abhor an Edomite, for he is your brother. You shall not abhor an Egyptian, because you were a sojourner in his land. 8Children born to them in the third generation may enter the assembly of the LORD.

Edomites were the descendants of Jacob’s brother Esau. Egyptians hosted the Israelites for some 400 years; the Israelites arrived as a large family and left as a nation.

Uncleanness in the Camp

Cleanliness is next to godliness!

9“When you are encamped against your enemies, then you shall keep yourself from every evil thing.

10“If any man among you becomes unclean because of a nocturnal emission, then he shall go outside the camp. He shall not come inside the camp, 11but when evening comes, he shall bathe himself in water, and as the sun sets, he may come inside the camp.

12“You shall have a place outside the camp, and you shall go out to it. 13And you shall have a trowel with your tools, and when you sit down outside, you shall dig a hole with it and turn back and cover up your excrement. 14Because the LORD your God walks in the midst of your camp, to deliver you and to give up your enemies before you, therefore your camp must be holy, so that he may not see anything indecent among you and turn away from you.

Now something like this would have been handy for the Israelites in the desert . . .

from New International Biblical Commentary:  Deuteronomy
by Christopher Wright

There are many countries where the routine burial of excrement would have a marked effect on the health of millions of the world’s population where, without adequate latrines, people defecate in the open and insect borne diseases spread easily.  Since God was aware of the effects of germs long before humans knew of the existence, we may be impressed yet again with the correlation between holiness and health.  Physical cleanliness, ritual cleanness, and moral holiness were interrelated.

Miscellaneous Laws

15 “You shall not give up to his master a slave who has escaped from his master to you. 16He shall dwell with you, in your midst, in the place that he shall choose within one of your towns, wherever it suits him. You shall not wrong him.

Despite the rewards offered, many people followed their faith and risked their lives to help slaves get to freedom.

Despite the rewards offered, many people followed their faith and risked their lives to help slaves get to freedom.

Galatians 3:28 (NIV)

There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus.

17“None of the daughters of Israel shall be a cult prostitute, and none of the sons of Israel shall be a cult prostitute. 18You shall not bring the fee of a prostitute or the wages of a dog

–which is to say, the earnings of a female temple prostitute or of a male temple prostitute–

into the house of the LORD your God in payment for any vow, for both of these are an abomination to the LORD your God.

19 “You shall not charge interest on loans to your brother, interest on money, interest on food, interest on anything that is lent for interest. 20 You may charge a foreigner interest, but you may not charge your brother interest, that the LORD your God may bless you in all that you undertake in the land that you are entering to take possession of it.

We are called to be generous even as God is generous.  For the sake of those in need in God’s kingdom — to whom could you be financially generous today?

21 “If you make a vow to the LORD your God, you shall not delay fulfilling it, for the LORD your God will surely require it of you, and you will be guilty of sin. 22But if you refrain from vowing, you will not be guilty of sin. 23You shall be careful to do what has passed your lips, for you have voluntarily vowed to the LORD your God what you have promised with your mouth.

Ecclesiastes 5:4-5 (ESV)

When you vow a vow to God, do not delay paying it, for he has no pleasure in fools. Pay what you vow.  It is better that you should not vow than that you should vow and not pay.

24“If you go into your neighbor’s vineyard, you may eat your fill of grapes, as many as you wish, but you shall not put any in your bag.

Deu23 Muscadines
25If you go into your neighbor’s standing grain, you may pluck the ears with your hand, but you shall not put a sickle to your neighbor’s standing grain.

Snacking is one thing. Harvesting is another.



This chapter of Deuteronomy urges us to take seriously the needs of the weak and vulnerable. Of course we know that one way to love God is to love our neighbor, but how do we put flesh on those bones? Is this a question that rings in our minds every single day?

HERE  Jars of Clay sings “They Will Know that We Are Christians by our Love.”


English Standard Version (ESV) The Holy Bible, English Standard Version Copyright © 2001 by Crossway Bibles, a division of Good News Publishers.

Images courtesy of:
community plan.   https://www.shanehomes.com/Assets2/Thumbnails/assets/community/27/lots/overall_newbrighton.gif?scale=1.00
Bobbitt.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/0ed0e-johnwaynebobbit.jpg
bath tub.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/23-bubblebath.jpg
latrine.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/23-latrine.jpg
runaway slave reward poster.    http://images.wisconsinhistory.org/700099990556/9999009089-l.jpg
zero interest.    https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2015/09/18be0-zerointerest.gif
Guard my mouth.   https://dwellingintheword.files.wordpress.com/2010/03/mmdc2bmouth2bguard.png
muscadine grapes.   http://www.floridahillnursery.com/images/Noble%20Muscadine%20grape%20vine.jpg

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